Births And Rebirths

     Happy Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. On this day two millennia ago, the Apostles were granted the gift of the Holy Spirit, which emboldened and equipped them for the mission with which Christ had charged them:

     Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
     And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

     [Matthew 28:16-20]

     Christ’s final promise to His Apostles was that He would send the Holy Spirit to them, that they might fulfill that mission. That promise was kept ten days after His Ascension. That was also how the Apostles finally gained the courage to leave their refuge and begin their public ministry.

     They needed courage. They had seen Him crucified. Were they to reveal themselves as His Apostles, would not the same fate befall them? And indeed, all but one of the Apostles were martyred in the course of their ministry. Only John, youngest of the Twelve, escaped that fate.

     And two millennia later, we confront a new age of disdain for Christ’s teachings and persecution of those who follow Him. It sometimes seems we have learned nothing from our trials and the sorrows of our forebears. But our enemies have learned something. They no longer crucify. Today they wield weapons far more formidable: ridicule and deceit.


     We were warned:

     Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. [Matthew 5:11-12]

     You don’t need to look very hard, or very far, to see that Christ spoke truly. Some of the abuse even comes from within our own number. Note what’s happened to Harrison Butker. You’ve heard about the talk he gave at Benedictine College’s graduation ceremony, haven’t you? Well, just in case you haven’t:

     I didn’t know the first thing about Butker before the contretemps over that talk erupted on the Web:

  • I didn’t know he’s an NFL placekicker;
  • I didn’t know he has two Super Bowl rings;
  • I didn’t know he’s a Catholic, or a married man, or the father of two children.

     Today I know all those things, and that he’s an admirable speaker as well. I also know this: he is currently experiencing exactly what Christ predicted:

     Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

     Do a Google search on Butker’s name. He’s been attacked from every point of the compass. His employer, the Kansas City Chiefs, is being attacked. His wife is being attacked. Benedictine College is being attacked for inviting him to give his talk. Perhaps worst of all, an order of supposedly Catholic nuns – indeed, the order that co-founded Benedictine College – has attacked his talk as “divisive:”

     The sisters of Mount St. Scholastica do not believe that Harrison Butker’s comments in his 2024 Benedictine College commencement address represent the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts college that our founders envisioned and in which we have been so invested.
     Instead of promoting unity in our church, our nation, and the world, his comments seem to have fostered division. One of our concerns was the assertion that being a homemaker is the highest calling for a woman. We sisters have dedicated our lives to God and God’s people, including the many women whom we have taught and influenced during the past 160 years. These women have made a tremendous difference in the world in their roles as wives and mothers and through their God-given gifts in leadership, scholarship, and their careers.
     Our community has taught young women and men not just how to be “homemakers” in a limited sense, but rather how to make a Gospel-centered, compassionate home within themselves where they can welcome others as Christ, empowering them to be the best versions of themselves. We reject a narrow definition of what it means to be Catholic. We are faithful members of the Catholic Church who embrace and promote the values of the Gospel, St. Benedict, and Vatican II and the teachings of Pope Francis.
     We want to be known as an inclusive, welcoming community, embracing Benedictine values that have endured for more than 1500 years and have spread through every continent and nation. We believe those values are the core of Benedictine College.

     I could hardly have believed it, were it not an official, public statement from the Daughters of St. Scholastica. That it misstates Butker’s speech in the sole objective criticism it makes is merely icing on an already distasteful cake. Clearly, that order of nuns has “gone woke.”

     Isabelle Butker stands staunchly behind her husband. You can read about her at several places on the Web. Her faith is as joyous as his, and just as undisguised:

     Much like Harrison, Isabelle was also a college athlete, playing women’s basketball at Rhodes College in Tennessee. According to her player bio, Isabelle played in 26 games and averaged seven minutes per game.”
     During his controversial speech, Harrison revealed that Isabelle converted to Catholicism after she began dating him. “I had a moment one day where I was asking God, you know, ‘OK, can you just show me what is the right path? Do I go this way or do I go with what Harrison’s doing? And it was weird in that moment, I actually felt like I was physically being embraced,’” Isabelle shared in a May 2019 interview with EWTN. “And we were at Mass at the time, and that was kind of the moment when I decided, ‘I want to be Catholic. This is real, this is the truth.’”
     Harrison and Isabelle tied the knot in 2018. “I will continue to pray for the strength and perseverance to sacrifice for you everyday [sic] of our marriage,” Harrison captioned photos from their big day via X in April 2018. “I love you Izzy!”
     The couple went on to welcome their son, James, in January 2019, followed by their daughter, whose birthday and name have not been publicly revealed. The couple are currently expecting their third child.

     The Butkers stand above all of the Sturm und Drang. They have something their attackers don’t: the gift the Apostles received on that first Pentecost, two millennia ago. In every individual who prays for and receives that gift, the Church is reborn.


     I’ll say it again, and in large font so that there’s no mistaking it:

We don’t need governments.
We need Christ.

     That’s what Harrison Butker and Isabelle have: a genuine, undisguised, Holy-Spirit-powered faith and the courage to live and proclaim it.

     What do their detractors have? What do they have to show that compares at all to the Butkers’ unconcealed joy in their marriage, their children, or their faith? What if they were to succeed in destroying him utterly? What joy would that bring them? Wouldn’t they just go hunting for new victims – more of Christ’s people to denigrate and destroy?

     C. S. Lewis called them “those who have not joy.” He was quite accurate in that, possibly more so than even he knew. Their pleasures come from destruction, like the apotheoses of O’Brien’s vision in 1984:

     “The old civilizations claimed that they were founded on love or justice. Ours is founded upon hatred. In our world there will be no emotions except fear, rage, triumph, and self-abasement. Everything else we shall destroy everything. Already we are breaking down the habits of thought which have survived from before the Revolution. We have cut the links between child and parent, and between man and man, and between man and woman. No one dares trust a wife or a child or a friend any longer. But in the future there will be no wives and no friends. Children will be taken from their mothers at birth, as one takes eggs from a hen. The sex instinct will be eradicated. Procreation will be an annual formality like the renewal of a ration card. We shall abolish the orgasm. Our neurologists are at work upon it now. There will be no loyalty, except loyalty towards the Party. There will be no love, except the love of Big Brother. There will be no laughter, except the laugh of triumph over a defeated enemy. There will be no art, no literature, no science. When we are omnipotent we shall have no more need of science. There will be no distinction between beauty and ugliness. There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — for ever.”

     If you ever yearned to know toward what end, what ultimate satisfaction, the enemies of Christ are aimed, there it is. The label doesn’t matter. Socialist? Communist? Humanist? Atheist? Pagan? Satanist? Muslim? Environmentalist? Feminist? They all have that one thing in common: they want absolute and unbounded power over you: what you do, what you say, even what you think. Because it’s the firmest barrier against them, they hate the Church that was born on the Pentecost. And they will do anything whatsoever, including things no decent man could imagine, to tarnish and damage it.


     Today of all days, let the Church be reborn in you. Profess Christ. Embrace Him and His Gospel. Denominational differences fade in importance if you can do that one indispensable thing. For as He said to the Pharisees:

     “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” [Matthew 22:37-40]

     Let the Pentecost come upon you as it came upon the Apostles two millennia ago. And may God bless and keep you all.


    • MGuns on May 19, 2024 at 8:06 PM

    Harrison Butker was a guest speaker at the Stronger Men’s Conference in Springfield, MO during mid April which I was in attendance. He was interviewed by our able Senator Josh Hawley for over an hour about his faith in Christ. He is stanch in his beliefs and credits his talent to the Lord. I and my acquaints were deeply impressed with this young man and his dedication to his faith and family. He has broad shoulders and deep convictions which will help him through the current outrage by the fickle. We need more young men of this caliber.

    • Steve on May 20, 2024 at 7:24 AM

    Good morning Francis, as well as the assembled multitude here. I’m a bit late with my comment, forgive me, but it comes as no surprise the behavior of those nuns. A friend of mine got married back in ‘98 at the chapel of the College of Mount Saint Vincent in the Bronx ( his wife graduated from there) and a few days beforehand, myself and one of the bridesmaids went there to decorate the pews. While we were doing this, I was reading the Latin on the walls of the cathedral and doing my best to translate for the bridesmaid. A nun appeared to greet us and I asked her if she could help with a bit of the translation. She politely told me that she didn’t speak Latin and when I told her that I have a love of the mass and that I wish it would be brought back, the look she gave me was one of beneath contempt, so no, this doesn’t surprise me.

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