Effective Leaders Decide About Deciding

 

Every leader should design and communicate how they want to make decisions. Making it clear what you care about, what you need to know about, and what you’re tasking others to move on will help minimize confusion about who should be making which decisions. It also helps clarify when you as the leader can be kept out of a decision, when you should be pulled in, and how requests for your feedback should be communicated.

I’ve learned this the hard way. Because I’m passionate about multiple facets of my company, my executives were getting confused at times about why I was inserting myself into a conversation. Sometimes, it was simply my excitement, and other times, it was from a place of concern. Sometimes, I didn’t see how their execution of a strategy lined up with what I saw in my mind’s eye. This made my executives blurry about what they had the power to act on and when they needed to loop me in — in part because I wasn’t clear on those things myself. Decisions would stall. Frustrations would run high.

But we’re fans of models and visual representations of processes at Duarte Inc., and after talking through the problem and the confusion, the executive team cocreated a new model. In this two-by-two matrix, decisions are categorized into four boxes along axes representing how urgent the decision is and how high or low the stakes are. Each box has a correlating expectation about whether I should be involved, ranging from “Decide without me” and “Inform on progress” to “Propose for approval” and “Escalate immediately.” (See “Help Your Team Make Faster Decisions.”)

Once we landed on the framework, each executive populated a matrix for their own business unit. They piled up all the topics for decisions that needed to be made regularly into the four quadrants. We talked through the choices, and they then had a clear idea of when and to what extent I should (or wanted to) be involved. Each leader could cascade this model as far into their organization as they chose to.

Yes, there are other models about how leaders and managers communicate decisions, like RACI (an acronym for “responsible, accountable, consulted, and informed”), but those are for decisions at the project level, not the executive table. Once we aligned around this model, it became clearer to all of us what I should let go of — while also giving me permission to poke my head in if something was derailing that they thought they had handled.

Here are the kinds of decisions we chose to put into each category.

Decide without me: Your direct reports should have most of their responsibilities piled under this item. This would include successfully executing the agreed-to strategy, fulfilling the duties of their role, hiring, spending, solving personnel issues, and managing the departments through their dashboard. A leader’s job is to help establish missions, not to micromanage how each person gets there.

Inform on progress: A leader may want to “watch” some matters as they unfold. These include initiatives that have risk, general budget creep, or employee issues that might escalate. Sometimes I ask execs to use the channels of their choice to inform me on projects they are working on that I have personal passion for. This way, I stay informed and don’t need to ask about it but still get the joy of watching it develop. We found that before, when I would proactively ask questions, executives thought I was questioning their performance. In reality, I simply wanted to be informed along the way without taking any action.

Propose for approval: Things that come up during the year that fall outside of our planned strategy or approved funding belong in this category. Most approvals can be addressed in our quarterly planning meetings, but sometimes unexpected issues need faster feedback — like spending money over the approved budget, making major policy changes, or quickly deciding on a large opportunity that has popped up. Depending on the scale of risk, the team might send me a handful of slides making a case for the proposal, which I can simply approve over email. Other topics are meatier and need the input and approval of the whole executive team.

Escalate immediately: This category mostly evolves around high-risk or high-reward areas. These include scenarios where there are major risks to the strategic plan, changes in governance, shifts in the market, threats to data security or physical security, or even an unexpected acquisition opportunity.

Probably the hardest category for me as a company leader is “Inform on progress.” It takes a lot of self-control to remember that being informed is not the same thing as being asked to weigh in. Using the matrix has given my staff a polite way of telling me, “Just informing! You said you’d keep your nose out of it, remember? I’ve got this.”

 

Amplify Your Leadership Influence

LEADERSHIP is intentional influence. Influence is a science that can be learned. Understanding how the brain functions is key to developing greater influence.

René Rodriguez, the author of Amplify Your Influence, says influence is “about understanding how our brains, and those of our audience, process information.”

The brain uses the reticular activating system (RAS) to sift through all of the messages we are bombarded with at any given time. From our vantage point, it filters out what is important and what we can ignore. As communicators, we have to learn how to appeal to our audience’s RAS to gain their attention. Working with the brain, our ideas can gain faster acceptance and is the idea behind the Amplifii Method.

 

The AMPLIFII Method
Frame > Message > Tie-Down
 

The Amplifii method is a three-step sequence. Rodriguez tells us that sequence is everything. “Sequence is positioning your message and delivery of a message, story, or presentation in a way that aligns with the biological and neurological makeup of how our brains are wired to receive it.”

Frame

If you don’t provide the frame for your message, the audience will provide their own frame based on their past experiences, which may run counter to your intended message. If we don’t frame the message, we will lose it. “Story is a powerful device to control the narrative. But there are many other framing devices, too, including props, quotes, jokes, statistics, and even music.”

The frame is designed to draw in your audience, create credibility, and build trust. But it does not build influence. “The frame sets the context for you to deliver your value proposition or core message. If delivered effectively, the message sets the stage for influence.”

Message

The goal of the message is to be clear and eliminate the need for assumptions of the part of your audience. It is essential to have a unique perspective. “To have influence, we must not only get others to see things from our perspective but fully understand their perspective as well.”

When using clichés—and they can be powerful and sum up a lot of meaning—always qualify them. Acknowledge it is a cliché, and then explain exactly what it means to you and your audience.

 

With the frame and your message, your audience doesn’t know where you’re going until the tie-down. That way they don’t jump ahead and fill in their own frames and conclusions, and so they remain open to your message and tie-down.

 

Tie-Down

The tie-down gives meaning. The frame and message without a tie-down are “like a joke without a punchline. It’s unfinished and doesn’t add value.”

 

The tie-down explicitly outlines the precise value of the message in the context of what is important to the audience and their current needs. When you can accomplish all that, the magical outcome is influence.

 

Naturally, self-awareness plays in your ability to influence anyone or anything. “Anyone can learn the skill of influence, but if we lose sight of how our behaviors affect those around us, those skills are for nothing. No skill or technique will make up for a lack of judgment or being tone-deaf.”

A Very Simple Example

Of all the examples Rodriguez gives, this example quickly gives you a taste of the Amplifii process. In a job interview, Janice is asked, “Tell us something you’re proud of in your life.” She responds, “I earned straight A’s my senior year in high school.”

The answer is straightforward and direct. And gets the job done. But it leaves the listeners open to process it any way they want through their own biases and experiences. They can think she finally worked hard her senior year, or maybe she was privileged and had everything handed to her. Without providing a frame, what she was trying to convey could easily be lost.

A better answer using the Amplifii process looks like this:

 

FRAME: “Unfortunately, growing up, I was surrounded by adults who told me I wasn’t very smart. When adults tell you that as a child, you begin to believe it, and I hard a hard time in school. But something happened in my senior year in high school. I looked at myself in the mirror and said, ‘I’m either going to believe them forever or I’m going to do something about it and prove them wrong.’ I decided I was going to do something about it. And I did.

MESSAGE: “I got straight A’s my senior year.

TIE-DOWN: “I share that story with you because, if I do get the opportunity to work with you and your team, there will be times when we will be under pressure with our backs against the wall or facing seemingly unsurmountable challenges. I promise you this: I’ll be right out there working next to you as hard as I can to overcome the challenges in the same way I overcame challenges in my own personal life, but this time for you and your team.”

Families of murdered army couple accuse Nigeria military authorities of neglect, demand justice

Bankole Abe May 25, 2022
THE families of the army couple killed in Imo State, Linus Audu and Gloria Matthew, have accused the Nigerian Army of neglect.

They are also demanding justice for the couple, who were reportedly abducted and beheaded by yet to be identified gunmen while traveling for their traditional marriage rites.

Speaking on behalf of the families in a video posted on BBC Hausa Service, Gloria Nneka, the sister of Linus Audu, also appealed to the Nigerian Army to help recover the corpses of the couple and two other family members who were killed in the incident.

Gloria, who spoke in Hausa, confirmed that her brother, his wife, their father and younger brother were killed by suspected members of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB) in an ambush in Imo State.

“On May 1, my father, my younger brother, my elder brother, and his wife were travelling to the east to pay his wife’s dowry before IPOB stopped them on the road.

“My father is a retired soldier, and my younger brother Danladi Isah, they stopped them and killed them.

“They used the number of my brother’s wife to call us and sent us the video of the killings.

“Up till today, the Army has not said anything. Nobody has called us; nobody has visited us.

“Please, I beg, anyone who knows how this video can get to the Chief of Army Staff, I don’t have anybody, but I have God.

“Let them help us to get their corpse so we can bury them properly. It is justice we want,” Gloria said in the video.

The ICIR reported that Gloria and Audu were said to be on their way to “fulfil the traditional rites for their wedding in the company of Audu’s father, younger brother and Gloria’s 10-year old daughter” when they were attacked.

Reports say they were attacked by four armed persons at an area not far from Banana junction in Orlu, Imo State. 

President Muhammadu Buhari had, in a statement issued on May 4, described the beheading of the soldiers as “barbaric” and “unacceptable”, 

Meanwhile, efforts to reach the Army spokesperson, Onyema Nwachukwu, were unsuccessful.

Boy gets text from stranger, hours later he’s dead at home

FBI warns of new scam targeting children

The FBI calls what happened to California teenager Ryan Last “sextortion.”

In the aftermath of her son’s death, Pauline Stuart of San Jose used the word “evil” to describe those who preyed on the boy.

Stuart talked to CNN about the incident, which began in February when Ryan — a straight-A student and Boy Scout — was texting back and forth with someone he thought was a girl.

A few hours later, Ryan would be dead.

Immediately after he sent a photo, the teen received a demand for $5,000, accompanied by a threat to send the picture to his family and friends if he did not pay up. After Ryan said he didn’t have that much money, the demand was lowered to $150, which he paid — but the scammer didn’t stop there.

“They kept demanding more and more and putting lots of continued pressure on him,” Stuart said.

“He really, truly thought in that time that there wasn’t a way to get by if those pictures were actually posted online,” Stuart said. “His note showed he was absolutely terrified. No child should have to be that scared.”

“How could these people look at themselves in the mirror knowing that $150 is more important than a child’s life?” she said. “There’s no other word but ‘evil’ for me that they care much more about money than a child’s life.

“I don’t want anybody else to go through what we did.”

“The embarrassment piece of this is probably one of the bigger hurdles that the victims have to overcome,” FBI Supervisory Special Agent Dan Costin told CNN. “It can be a lot, especially in that moment.”

Costin said scammers in sextortion cases are often from Africa or Southeast Asia.

Will Nigeria Survive The Violence Spiral?

Outrage trails killing of pregnant woman, four children in Anambra State, South East Nigeria
Vincent Ufuoma May 25, 2022

— 2mins read

ANGRY reactions have continued to trail the murder of a pregnant woman and her four children by suspected members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Anambra.

The incident happened in the Orumba Local Government Area of the state on Sunday.

The victims, who were said to hail from Adamawa State, were identified as Harira Jubril, and her children- Fatima, Aisha, Hadiza, and Zaituna.

In an interview with BBC News, the woman’s husband, identified as Ahmed Jubril, said the incident was his worst experience.

 

According to him, the wife was expected to give birth this week before her gruesome murder.

He noted that his wife and kids were returning from her sister’s place, where they had gone to spend the weekend, before they were attacked.

“Fatima, my eldest daughter, was nine years old, followed by her sister, Aisha, who was seven, then Hadiza, five years old, and Zaituna, two years old,” he said.

“I went to work that day, and upon my return, my brother told me what happened. I later went to visit them in the hospital.”

The Sarkin Hausawa in Orumba North LGA, Sa’id Muhammad, who confirmed the incident to Daily Trust, said many of his people have been killed in similar manner.

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“The woman was from Adamawa State. Before her death, she lived in Orumba South, and on Sunday, she visited her friends with her four children.

“It was on her way back home in Orumba South that she was killed. She was being conveyed by a commercial motorcyclist when they were ambushed by the gunmen. They murdered her and her four children but the motorcyclist escaped,” he said.

Reactions

Nigerians have condemned the incident on social media with many demanding that the perpetrators must be brought to book.

 

 

 

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Meanwhile, IPOB has said it has no hand in the killing.

“IPOB has nothing whatsoever to do with the death of a Hausa woman who was with her children on Sunday and we strongly condemn the dastard act by criminals sponsored by Northern politicians,” IPOB spokesman Emma Powerful said in a report by PUNCH.

“The ESN (Eastern Security Network) does not work like bandits and terrorists because we know what human blood represents,” the IPOB spokesman added while claiming that “terrorists and jihadists” allegedly imported into the South-East were behind the killings and other violent incidents in the zone in recent times.

Affirming Teens in their God-Given Dignity

It is a rough time to be a teenager. The combined pressures of school, relationships, social media, and a constant negative news cycle are bearing down heavily on this generation. Teenagers today are lonelier and more depressed than ever before. According to a recent study, the number one reason why teen depression rates are so high is social media use. This is closely related to the second reason, which is that “sociality” is down.  According to the article “Why American Teens Are So Sad” that recently appeared in the Atlantic: ‘Teenagers (and teenage girls in particular) are uniquely sensitive to the judgment of friends, teachers, and the digital crowd.’

A related concern is not the social media itself, but the activities that social media replaces. In the article, Laurence Steinberg, a psychologist at Temple University, states: “It’s well established that what protects teens from stress is close social relationships.” It is becoming clear that as social media use replaces time spent with peers, the resulting isolation is having a serious detrimental effect on our teenagers.

While in some ways it may be easier to shrug off these problems as someone else’s responsibility because we feel small and powerless against these seismic social forces, we also need to realize that as Christians, this is not an option. It’s not an option to just wait and see what will happen to these little ones.

As Christians, we are called to love our teens, and in doing so, to help them see their dignity and value as beloved children of the Father. Easy to say, hard to do. Because, as any parent knows, you can’t just tell a teenager anything and expect your words to reach deep into her heart and soul. Rather, she has to comprehend it for herself—hearing, understanding and then adopting the knowledge into her personal world view, making the truth her own and allowing it to inform her ideas, decisions and actions. And just how, exactly, do we go about helping her to do that?

At Endow, we have come to understand that the best way for a teenager (or any person!) to learn and take hold of fundamental truths is through talking it out with other people. In discussing and dissecting an idea with others, a person can internalize information in a way that just hearing it cannot replicate. Through discussion and sometimes even debate, she discovers not only the truth of what she thinks, but also learns to see things from various perspectives. She is able to form relationships–lasting, meaningful relationships–based on that thirst for knowledge, building a foundation for true happiness.

For this reason, Endow set out to create a study series specifically for high school-aged girls. We believe that these young women deserve to know the truth, and deserve a chance to make it their own. While there are many great resources that teach the truths of the Catholic faith, this series is unique in that it teaches not just the ‘what’ of the faith, but also the ‘why’ and specifically, why it is so important to a teenage girl. Our aim is to help her to know why to care, why the faith matters to her, right now, at this pivotal moment in her life.

With this goal in mind, we chose four major themes on which to center our studies—Created for LoveCreated for CommunityCreated for Holiness and Created for Mission. Each of these four studies focuses on different relationships that help to give purpose to our lives. In Created for Love, the major focus is on the individual relationship with God—helping to demonstrate what it means to be created in God’s image, and the implications of seeing all of humanity this way.

In Created for Community, we look at how each of the major categories of relationships (family, friends, significant others, etc.) helps us to be the person God intended us to be. We see how our communities help define who we are, and how we help to define our community.

In Created for Holiness, we examine the universal call to Holiness, both in itself and in the context of vocation. Since most teens are single, we also take time to think about how a person can live her unique call to holiness in any state in life and even as a young, single person.

In Created for Mission, we take a broader look at our wider communities, helping girls to see how their desire to impact the larger world around them flows from their identity as a daughter of God. Presenting the pillars of Catholic Social Teaching, this study helps teens to think through how they can personally impact the different layers of community in which they live and move.

Each of these four studies uses the lives of the Saints to illustrate their themes, showing how different Saints (St. Teresa of Avila, St. Josephine Bakhita, St Maria Goretti, among others) lived their call to holiness individually and uniquely, but in full appreciation of the Gospel. Through examining the lives of these influential women (and some men), the girls begin to see how their own path to holiness will involve their unique and unrepeatable personality, gifts and talents, enabling them to complete their own particular mission in the world. The stories of these Saints allow the ideas of the chapters to come alive, giving concrete examples of how to live these truths in a very real way.

Our teenagers challenge us. They push us to think and re-think, and give us both fear and hope for the future. The time has come for us to challenge them—by presenting them the truth of the Gospel and allowing them to wrestle with these truths until they become a part of their being. Challenge your teen to join an Endow discussion group. Encourage her to invite her friends, and encourage your friends to send their daughters. Consider signing up to lead a group, if you feel called—Endow is here to help with any questions, we promise—because all of our daughters deserve to know how much God loves them, and what a marvelous and fulfilling life He has in store for them, if only they give Him a chance.

Abortion’s Bed of Lies

Sex and the City

Decades ago, for seven years, I served in a college ministry in which I befriended, counseled, and prayed for countless female college students. I celebrated their wedding engagements, wept over their lost loves, walked them through mental health crises, and commiserated their many sexual regrets.

In all that time, I did not know one woman engaged in casual sex who could think of a meaningful reason she was doing it. Instead, when asked, “What is sex for?” most would look at me perplexed or, more often, slightly amused.

The time was the late 1990s, and the series Sex and the City was hot and new. The show, which ended up spanning six seasons, spawning two feature films, and becoming so popular that it remains in syndication, features four young New York City women who lean on each others’ friendship as they drink Cosmopolitans, chase careers, and bed men.

The series opens with one character wondering, “Can women have sex like men?” meaning, can women detach themselves emotionally from one casual sexual encounter to the next in a quest for sexual pleasure and personal empowerment.

The show’s answer was a resounding “Yes!” since the series ends with each woman getting her happy ending regardless of how promiscuous, flaky, or callous she had been over the show’s 94 episodes.

Back in the real world, however, things were different. The dozens of women I counseled found very little to recommend casual or even short-term-commitment sex. Rather, try as they might, to a woman, each reported having to contort herself emotionally and mentally in an attempt to drain sex of its deeper meaning.

In his book Sex, Economy, Freedom and Community, Wendell Berry explains the phenomenon. He describes human sexuality according to two opposing mentalities. The first, which I’ll call communitarian sexuality, operates within the context of love, family, community, intimacy, and fidelity.

Berry argues that just as the family is the basic unit of the human community, so the sexual relationship between husband and wife is the nexus of the human family. He describes married-lover sex as connecting “to one another, to forebearers, to descendants, to the community, to Heaven and earth. It is the fundamental connection without which nothing holds, and trust is necessary.”

The second type of sexuality, which Berry calls “the cult of liberated sexuality,” could not differ more from the first. And sadly, it dominates modern American life. This sexuality has brazenly “liberated itself from several trusts of community life…It rests on the easy giving and breaking of promises…having forsaken trust; it has become political.”

Abortion, suggests Berry, is a natural and necessary extension of the cult of liberated sexuality because sexuality, untethered from the moorings of community, family, and trust, increasingly loses coherence the more its paroxysms proliferate. And, lacking coherence, sexual chaos ensues characterized by sentimentality, bitterness, destruction, divorce, child abandonment, hypocrisy, legal wranglings, abortion as birth control, teen pregnancy, promiscuity, and pornography.

The cult of liberated sexuality, including abortion, its sacrament, rests on a bed of lies. Women and men were not created to express their sexuality in meaningless debauchery fits. No amount of social conditioning, sex-education indoctrination, prime time TV propaganda, or one-night stands will make it so.

The Catholic Church has always taught this. For example, in the 1995 Pontifical Council for the Family document, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, we read:

Ours is a society which is sick and is creating profound distortions in man. Why is this happening? The reason is that our society has broken away from the full truth about man, from the truth about what man and woman really are as persons. Thus it cannot adequately comprehend the real meaning of the gift of persons in marriage, responsible love at the service of fatherhood and motherhood, and the true grandeur of procreation and education.

At the present moment, American feminists and their sympathizers have taken to the streets (and Supreme Court Justices’ front yards), stomping, wailing, and convulsing at the specter of the Court overturning Roe v. Wade. It is difficult to know whether we should pity or revile them.

Refocusing On The Ascension Of Jesus

This article was originally published for Catholic World Report on May 15, 2021.

Certain mysteries in the life of the Church and certain beliefs and practices can become obscure over time, for a variety of reasons. This is evident, I think, in the commemoration of the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. One important factor behind this obscuring of the Ascension is how most dioceses in the United States have transferred this feast day from its traditional position on Thursday—forty days after Easter—to the following. It’s a move that undercuts Scripture and Tradition. Secondly, the feast’s full significance can often be blurred or overlooked because it falls within the end of the Easter season and the upcoming feast of Pentecost.

A third, less obvious but also important, factor that can obscure the Ascension is certain modern biblical scholarship. Scripture scholars such as Rudolph Bultmann have stated:

What meaning …can we attach to such phrases in the creed as ‘descended into hell’ or ‘ascended into heaven’? We no longer believe in the three-storied universe that the creeds take for granted…no one who is old enough to think for himself can really take seriously the fact that there is a God who lives in a local heaven for there is no longer any heaven in the traditional sense of the word. The same applies to hell in the sense of a mythical underworld that exists beneath our feet.i

Such a theological tendency, articulated in Bultmann, can lead in both the academic and popular realms to an undercutting of the full significance of what Jesus does for us in the paschal mystery. Denying the physical and historical nature of the Ascension can feed ideologies that strip Christianity of her divine element. This denial risks dividing the social teaching of the Church from her mission to evangelize and save souls. Such a divide then reduces her mission to secular activism and atheistic humanism, as seen in various neo-Marxist movements and community organizing movements that use groups of people as a political force for change without authentically willing their overall good.

To counter the influence of such a viewpoint, other theologians such as Joseph Ratzinger, encourage us to look at the actions of Jesus in the Scriptures and to more deeply contemplate their meaning in order to better understand the significance of the Ascension.

In the account from the first reading of the Feast of the Ascension, we hear the following:

When they had gathered together, they asked [Jesus], “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” (Acts 1:6-11)

We see that the actions of Jesus at his ascension into heaven culminate with “the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.”ii Pope Benedict XVI describes how the cloud is an element that presents Jesus’ departure “not as a journey to the stars, but as his entry into the mystery of God. It evokes an entirely different order of magnitude, a different dimension of being.”iii

Saint Thomas Aquinas also notes that although Christ ascends by the power of His own person into Heaven, “he was raised up and taken into heaven by the Father, since the Father’s power is the same as the Son’s.”iv This shows the divine intimacy that Christ as God the Son has with God the Father as well as his obedience to the Father in all things as He already showed in His passion.

The Ascension of Jesus reveals that while our existence necessarily involves this present world, it most certainly does not end with this present world. The ultimate purpose of each human person is divine union with God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The entirety of the paschal mystery of Jesus culminating with his ascension into heaven makes this possible. This mystery of our salvation and sanctification in Jesus Christ is at the heart of the life, mission, and identity of the Church.

The Catechism reminds us of this truth where it states:

Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have access to the “Father’s house”, to God’s life and happiness. Only Christ can open to man such access that we, his members, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has preceded us.v

In his passion and death on the Cross on Good Friday, Jesus paid the debt that we owed to God the Father for our sins. In his Resurrection from the dead at the tomb on Easter Sunday, Jesus elevated and restored our human nature in body and soul from the effects of sin and death. The Resurrection then brings every aspect of our nature as human persons back into harmony with grace—supernatural life—in this natural life. The Ascension of Jesus brings our existence as human persons into the depths what grace is: intimate divine union with the Holy Trinity in Heaven in the life of the world to come.

The Catechism further explains the significance of Jesus lifting up to heaven for us as connected to the rest of his passion:

The lifting up of Jesus on the cross signifies and announces his lifting up by his Ascension into heaven, and indeed begins it. Jesus Christ, the one priest of the new and eternal Covenant, “entered, not into a sanctuary made by human hands. . . but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” There Christ permanently exercises his priesthood, for he “always lives to make intercession” for “those who draw near to God through him”vi.

Just as seeing the world around us clearly is essential, so is seeing how every aspect of the Paschal Mystery is redemptive for us in unique and complementary ways. This interlinking of the elements of the paschal mystery is essential to maintain, just as is looking at its unique parts. By supporting this unity of faith upon the mysteries of the life of Jesus, particularly in the paschal mystery, we are aided in keeping our eyes on Jesus in the earthly journey of life so that we are not distracted by earthly projects, passing fads, or fleeting temporal gain.

The Ascension of Jesus reveals both the union of heaven and earth in the Incarnate person of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It also helps us develop a proper understanding of our own present moment in history. Too often, skepticism and atheistic trends found in unbridled secularism can tempt us to enter a certain self-referentiality, wherein we view life divorced from the mystery of faith and view our age as superior to that which came before it. This mindset can affect both secular life and the life of the Church to the point where we forget who we are in the eyes of God and our ultimate responsibilities to Him and our fellow man.

This self-referentiality that divorces the city of man from the city of God is at the heart of the cynical skepticism and outright atheism that the Church has struggled against for most of the twentieth century and in our current day in so many forms. How providential that this year, the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus falls on the one-hundred-and-fourth anniversary of the start of the apparitions of Our Lady in Fatima, Portugal as well as the fortieth anniversary of the attempted assassination of Pope Saint John Paul II in Saint Peter’s Square. Both Our Lady of Fatima and Saint John Paul II knew well the damage such a disposition of atheistic communism can do to humanity in both natural destruction and supernatural darkness.

May the glorious ascension of Jesus into heaven as well as Our Lady of Fatima and Saint John Paul II help us to keep our eyes rightly fixed on the mystery of faith in this world so that we may soar to the heights and depths of its mysteries in the life that heaven imparts to us.

Hillary Rodham Clinton Personally Approved Leaking Russia Details To Media

Facts Matter (May 24): Durham Trial Witness Reveals Hillary Clinton Herself Approved Leaking Russia Details to Media
Facts Matter

FACTS MATTER

ROMAN BALMAKOV

Welcome to day No. 6 of John Durham’s trial against Michael Sussmann—the former Clinton campaign lawyer who is being charged with lying to the FBI.

And, just as expected, this trial is beginning to shed much light on what was really happening behind the scenes during the 2016 election—and beyond—into Donald Trump’s actual presidential term in office.

Specifically, the biggest bombshell to have come out of this case thus far is the fact that, according to the testimony of the Clinton campaign manager, it was Hillary Clinton herself who approved giving the Trump-Russia allegations to the media—not some lower-level aide, not some adviser, not some staffer. It was Hillary Clinton herself.

Resources:

🔵 Sekur:

https://ept.ms/3yW0Wul

🔵 Durham Transcript:

https://ept.ms/3lFNoyl

🔵 Hillary Tweet:

https://ept.ms/3PzpG4u


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