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Living in Italy and working with an American news channel is usually a great combination — but it does have its downside.
Because of the six hour time difference, if anything happens in the evening in the United States and FOX wants me to comment on it, the call from the New York offices comes in the middle of the night! When my phone rang early this morning at 12:30 a.m., I assumed it was the alarm clock, and almost turned it off. The producer on the line told me about the death of Ruth Graham.
Ruth, as many of you know, was Billy Graham’s wife, who died last night at about 5:00 p.m. in their mountain home in Little Piney Cove, surrounded by her husband and their five children.
Here are a few inspirational statements from Billy Graham and family members:
• “Ruth was my life partner, and we were called by God as a team. No one else could have borne the load that she carried. She was a vital and integral part of our ministry, and my work through the years would have been impossible without her encouragment and suport.”— Billy Graham
• “I am so grateful to the Lord that He gave me Ruth, and especially for these last few years we’ve had in the mountains together. We’ve rekindled the romance of our youth, and my love for her continued to grow deeper every day. I will miss her horribly, and look forward to the day I can join her in heaven.” — Billy Graham
• “She would help my father prepare his messages, listening with an attentive ear, and if she saw something that wasn’t right or heard something that she felt wasn’t as strong as it could be, she was a voice to strengthen this or elliminate that. Every person needs that kind of input in their life and she was that to my father.” — Franklin Graham
For those of you sitting in your offices and unable to watch the videos, this morning I focused my comments on two simple ideas:
First of all, Ruth Graham is known worldwide for her kindness, elegance, quiet humor, and strong-will. But above all, she is leaving us a legacy of loyalty to God and family. What impressed me about Ruth was her sense of priorities. She was a well-educated and a prolific writer, but she felt no need to be a competitor with her husband — she was perfectly content to be his soulmate and team member. Ruth wasn’t obsessed with making a name for herself and she generally steared clear of the limelight. In her own words, she found her worth and meaning in being “first of all, a daughter of God, a wife to my husband, and a mother to my children.” Some radical feminists may have a hard time celebrating such a selfless legacy. But, in my opinion, Ruth has left the world the only kind of greatness that lasts forever, the love of God and love of others. And I think that’s worth celebrating!
My second comment was in relation to the Congresssional Gold Medal awarded to both Ruth and Billy Graham in 1996. It is the the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States Congress. The honor was in recognition of their “outstanding and lasting contributions to morality, racial equality, family, philanthropy, and religion.” When I read this, I had to ask myself, “would today’s congress ever do something like this again?” Keep in mind that the honor is awarded to any individual who performs “an outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity and national interest of the United States.” A recipient must be co-sponsored by two thirds of the membership of both the House of Representatives and Senate before their respective committees will consider it.
In other words, the Congress in 1996, considered the advancement of morality, family, and religion as promoting the prosperity and national interest of the U.S. Would that still be the case today, just 10 years later? Or have we bought into such political correctness that nobody would dare say morality, family, and religion are actually good things for the country as a whole?
If we want our children and grandchildren to recognize true moral and religious greatness — as seen in people like Ruth and Billy Graham — we can’t allow a false understanding of the separation of Church and state to get in the way of the true spirit of freedom of religion that our founding fathers considered so important for the progress of the nation.
My prayers, thoughts, and gratitude go out to the entire Graham family.
God bless, Father Jonathan
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Today’s Selection of Interesting Articles:
Values and Politics
• Britain’s New Prime Minister to Give Up Power to Pick Church Leaders
• Pro-Life MLK Niece Says Obama’s ‘Quiet Riot’ Comment Misses Point
• McCain Called Out on Religion
• Atheist Books Intensify Battles in Culture Wars
• On Abortion, Hollywood is No-Choice
• Putting Faith in Search for Rights
• A Door Opens for Easing Stem Cell Ethical Dilemma
• Sextuplets in Arizona and Minnesota: Rare But Could Become Increasingly Common
Not All News is Bad News
News Which Never Made the News
• Challenge to Gay Marriage in Massachusetts Falls Short
• Georgia Governor Issues State Proclamation for ‘Day of Prayer’ for Rain
• Censorship Could Change the Face of the Internet for Some
• Jammed Cities Consider Charging Those Who Drive During Rush Hour