John Jalsevac

Divine discontent

John Jalsevac
John Jalsevac
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December 22, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – About a month ago I was sitting in the leather armchair in my living room. It was late at night and very quiet. I was reading something – I don’t remember what – when suddenly I fell to thinking.

Unfortunately what I fell to thinking about was work. I say unfortunately because I strive to be strict with the separation between work and personal life. I find that if I’m not strict, work has a nasty way of creeping up and seeping into those precious and necessary quiet hours of family, reading, thinking and prayer.

But this time around it was understandable. The following day more than a year’s work, and quite a few years’ worth of dreaming, was about to come to fruition: the following evening the new LifeSiteNews website was going to be launched.

Probably no one was quite as excited about this as me. I’d been thinking about this perhaps from the first day I started working for Lifesite over six years ago: why shouldn’t our website be just as good as that of any mainstream news network?

Ever since then I’d been looking for the opportune time to make this project happen. And once the opening presented itself earlier this year, I assumed the role of “project manager,” working with the design firm to hammer out the details for the site, and monitoring its execution.

For the past several weeks I had been extremely impatient to get the new site off the ground (only our long-suffering web designer knows how impatient), as the inevitable delays piled up.

But on this silent Saturday night, when the goal was in sight, and the thing was almost certainly going to go live the following day – all of a sudden my mind was swept with an overwhelming wave of total indifference. I no longer cared. This new website didn’t matter one whit. I could take it or leave it.

This was very curious indeed.

When I told my wife the following day about the experience, she suggested that perhaps it was a mental defense mechanism – perhaps I was afraid of disappointment, that the site wouldn’t measure up, and so subconsciously I had lowered my expectations.

As reasonable as this sounded, it didn’t quite jive. In truth, I wasn’t afraid that the site wouldn’t meet expectations – it had turned out better than I had ever imagined possible. No, what had happened to me was much more than a psychological trick, a mere mechanism to cushion my ego against disillusionment.

There is a clever poem by the metaphysical poet George Herbert, in which he imagines God creating Man, and bestowing upon him a variety of gifts. Strength, beauty, wisdom, honor, and pleasure – all are bestowed liberally upon this new creature by a beneficent God.

But when God comes to one final blessing, “rest,” he hesitates, and then decides against giving it. While man can keep all the others, God says, “let him keep them with repining restlessness”:

Let him be rich and weary, that, at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to My breast.

My readers will undoubtedly hear in this an echo of that famous quotation from St. Augustine: “My heart is restless until it rests in Thee.”

What had happened on that Saturday night was that I had been given a taste of this divine discontent. For a brief moment I was pulled back from the tiny pinprick of time and space which I occupy and given a panoramic view. In short, I was given the gift of perspective. I saw how little it mattered whether or not Lifesite has the best website or not, and I knew that apart from God, all my strivings were worth naught.

In a sense my wife was right: I was afraid of disappointment. But it was disappointment on a grander scale. I had poured all my energies into this project – it had consumed my every waking hour in recent days. I thought about it as soon as my eyes opened in the morning, and as I drifted off to sleep at night. And yet, even though I was fundamentally pleased with the result, the painful truth remained that it had no power whatsoever to sate the divine thirst that parches the soul of every created rational creature that has been separated from its Maker.

During that brief respite from work that Saturday night, I had made room for this revelation. Such is the power of even a little silence. And so, I finally did what I needed to do, and had not done: I got off the chair, dropped to my knees in the lamplight, and offered up all my work to God, and prayed that He might do something good with it and that it might prove the means by which I would see Him one day, face to face.

And then I experienced peace.

During this Christmas season, why not find a few moments of silence in which to open yourself up to this divine discontent, which the saints have said is nothing else than the desire for God, and which we so often bury beneath a mountain of meaningless thoughts and frenetic tasks? Not only is the experience and acceptance of this divine discontent the foundation of a life of true prayer, but it is also the only route to true peace.

In a discourse on the psalms, St. Augustine explains that when the psalmist writes “In the anguish of my heart I groaned aloud,” he is referring to this divine restlessness, this burning desire. And then Augustine explains Paul’s exhortation to Christians to “pray without ceasing” thus: “The desire of your heart is itself your prayer,” he says. “And if the desire is constant, so is your prayer. … Whatever else you may be doing, if you but fix your desire on God’s Sabbath rest, your prayer will be ceaseless.”


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Quebec groups launch court challenge to euthanasia bill

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

As announced when the Quebec legislature adopted Bill 52, An Act respecting end-of-life care, the citizen movement Living with Dignity and the Physicians’ Alliance against Euthanasia, representing together over 650 physicians and 17,000 citizens, filed a lawsuit before the Superior Court of Quebec in the District of Montreal on Thursday.

The lawsuit requests that the Court declare invalid all the provisions of the Act that deal with “medical aid in dying”, a term the groups say is a euphemism for euthanasia. This Act not only allows certain patients to demand that a physician provoke their death, but also grants physicians the right to cause the death of these patients by the administration of a lethal substance.

The two organizations are challenging the constitutionality of those provisions in the Act which are aimed at decriminalizing euthanasia under the euphemism “medical aid in dying”. Euthanasia constitutes a culpable homicide under Canada’s Criminal Code, and the organizations maintain that it is at the core of the exclusive federal legislative power in relation to criminal law and Quebec therefore does not have the power to adopt these provisions.

The organizations also say the impugned provisions unjustifiably infringe the rights to life and to security of patients guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. They further infringe the right to the safeguard of the dignity of the person, which is also protected by the Quebec Charter.

In view of the gravity of the situation and the urgent need to protect all vulnerable persons in Quebec, they are requesting an accelerated management of the case in order to obtain a judgment before the Act is expected to come into force on December 10, 2015.


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Colorado baker appeals gvmt ‘re-education’ order

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By LifeSiteNews staff

A Colorado cake artist who declined to use his creative talents to promote and endorse a same-sex ceremony appealed a May 30 order from the Colorado Civil Rights Commission to the Colorado Court of Appeals Wednesday.

The commission’s order requires cake artist Jack Phillips and his staff at Masterpiece Cakeshop to create cakes for same-sex celebrations, forces him to re-educate his staff that Colorado’s Anti-Discrimination Act means that artists must endorse all views, compels him to implement new policies to comply with the commission’s order, and requires him to file quarterly “compliance” reports for two years. The reports must include the number of patrons declined a wedding cake or any other product and state the reason for doing so to ensure he has fully eliminated his religious beliefs from his business.

“Americans should not be forced by the government – or by another citizen – to endorse or promote ideas with which they disagree,” said the cake artist’s lead counsel Nicolle Martin, an attorney allied with Alliance Defending Freedom. “This is not about the people who asked for a cake; it’s about the message the cake communicates. Just as Jack doesn’t create baked works of art for other events with which he disagrees, he doesn’t create cake art for same-sex ceremonies regardless of who walks in the door to place the order.”

“In America, we don’t force artists to create expression that is contrary to their convictions,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “A paint artist who identifies as homosexual shouldn’t be intimidated into creating a painting that celebrates one-man, one-woman marriage. A pro-life photographer shouldn’t be forced to work a pro-abortion rally. And Christian cake artists shouldn’t be punished for declining to participate in a same-sex ceremony or promote its message.”

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In July 2012, Charlie Craig and David Mullins asked Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, to make a wedding cake to celebrate their same-sex ceremony. In an exchange lasting about 30 seconds, Phillips politely declined, explaining that he would gladly make them any other type of baked item they wanted but that he could not make a cake promoting a same-sex ceremony because of his faith. Craig and Mullins, now represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, immediately left the shop and later filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division. The case now goes to the Colorado Court of Appeals as Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Craig.

“Jack, and other cake artists like him – such as those seen on TV shows like ‘Ace of Cakes’ and ‘Cake Boss’ – prepare unique creations that are inherently expressive,” Tedesco explained. “Jack invests many hours in the wedding cake creative process, which includes meeting the clients, designing and sketching the cake, and then baking, sculpting, and decorating it. The ACLU calls Jack a mere ‘retail service provider,’ but, in fact, he is an artist who uses his talents and abilities to create expression that the First Amendment fully protects."

Celebrity cake artists have written publicly about their art and the significant expressive work that goes into the artistic design process for wedding cakes.


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Prisoner of conscience Mary Wagner appeals her conviction

Tony Gosgnach
By Tony Gosgnach

TORONTO -- As promised, Mary Wagner has, through her counsel Dr. Charles Lugosi, filed a formal notice of appeal on numerous points regarding her recent, almost two-year-long court case that ended on June 12.

Justice Fergus O’Donnell of the Ontario Court of Justice rejected every application made by the defence – including for access to abortion center records, public funding, standing for a constitutional challenge and for expert witnesses to be heard – before he found Wagner guilty and sentenced her to five months in jail on a charge of mischief and four months on four counts of failing to comply with probation orders.

He further levied two years of probation, with terms that she stay at least 100 metres away from any abortion site. However, because Wagner had spent a greater time in jail than the sentence, she was freed immediately. She had been arrested at the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site on Lawrence Avenue West in Toronto on August 15, 2012 after attempting to speak to abortion-bound women there. She then spent the duration of the trial in prison for refusing to sign bail conditions requiring her to stay away from abortion sites.

Wagner is using the matter as a test case to challenge the current definition of a human being in Canadian law – that is, that a human being is legally recognized as such only after he or she has fully emerged from the birth canal in a breathing state.

Wagner’s notice states the appeal is regarding:

  • Her conviction and sentence on a single count of mischief (interference with property),
  • Her conviction and sentence on four counts of breach of probation,
  • The order denying public funding,
  • The order denying the disclosure of third-party records,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts on the applicant’s constitutional challenge concerning the constitutional validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code,
  • The order denying the admission of evidence from experts concerning the construction of Section 37 of the Criminal Code,
  • The probation order denying Wagner her constitutional rights to freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on all public sidewalks and public areas within 100 metres of places where abortions are committed,
  • And each conviction and sentence and all orders and rulings made by O’Donnell.

In the notice of appeal, Lugosi cites numerous points on which O’Donnell erred:

  • He denied Wagner her constitutional right to make full answer and defence.
  • He denied Wagner her right to rely on Section 37 of the Criminal Code, which permits “everyone” to come to the third-party defence and rescue of any human being (in this case, the preborn) facing imminent assault.
  • He decided the factual basis of Wagner’s constitutional arguments was a waste of the court’s time and that no purpose would have been served by having an evidentiary hearing on her Charter application because, in the current state of Canadian law, it had no possibility of success.
  • He misapplied case law and prejudged the case, “giving rise to a reasonable apprehension of bias and impeding the legal evolution of the law to adapt to new circumstances, knowledge and changed societal values and morals.”
  • He accepted the Crown’s submission that it is beyond the jurisdiction of the courts to question the jurisdiction of Parliament legally to define “human being” in any manner Parliament sees fit.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code is not beyond the powers of Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
  • He ruled Section 223 of the Criminal Code does not violate the Preamble to, as well as Sections 7, 11(d), 15 and 26, of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • He denied Wagner standing to raise a constitutional challenge to the validity of Section 223 of the Criminal Code.
  • He ruled that Section 223 of the Criminal Code applied generally throughout the entire Criminal Code and used it to deny unborn human beings the benefit of equal protection as born human beings under Section 37 of the Criminal Code.
  • He denied the production and disclosure of third-party records in the possession of the “Women’s Care Clinic” abortion site, although the records were required to prove Wagner was justified in using reasonable force in the form of oral and written words to try to persuade pregnant mothers from killing their unborn children by abortion.
  • He denied Wagner the defence of Section 37 of the Criminal Code by ruling unborn children did not come within the scope of human beings eligible to be protected by a third party.
  • He ruled Wagner did not come within the scope of Section 37 because she was found to be non-violent (in that she did not use physical force).
  • He ruled the unborn children Wagner was trying to rescue were not under her protection.
  • He denied Wagner the common-law defences of necessity and the rescue of third parties in need of protection.
  • He denied Wagner public funding to make full answer and defence for a constitutional test case of great public importance and national significance.
  • He imposed an unconstitutional sentence upon Wagner by, in effect, imposing an injunction as a condition of probation, contrary to her constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.

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Among the orders Lugosi is seeking are:

  • That an appeal be allowed against conviction on all counts and that a verdict of acquittal be entered on all counts,
  • That Section 223 of the Criminal Code be found unconstitutional  and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, as well as the unwritten constitution of Canada,
  • That the sentence be declared unconstitutional and contrary to Section 52 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and the unwritten constitution of Canada or that a new trial be conducted, with Wagner permitted to make full answer and defence, be given standing to make a constitutional attack on Section 223 of the Criminal Code, with the admission of expert witnesses,
  • That the Women’s Care Clinic abortion site be made to produce third-party records pertaining to patients seen on August 15, 2012 (when Wagner entered the site),
  • And that there be public funding for two defence counsels at any retrial and for any appeal related to the case.

No date has yet been established for a decision on the appeal or hearings.

A defence fund for Wagner’s case is still raising money. Details on how to contribute to it can be found here.


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