Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Do not love the world or what is in the world.
If anyone does love the world, the love of the Father finds no place in him,
because everything there is in the world -
disordered bodily desires,
disordered desires of the eyes,
pride in possession -
is not from the Father but is from the world.
And the world, with all its disordered desires, is passing away.
But whoever does the will of God remains forever.
It sounds like it could be Pope Francis' message today, but it's a little older. It's from 1 John 2: 12-17.
As Americans, we love the world - I mean we really love the world. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The pursuit of happiness usually means a healthy dose of capitalism and materialism. He who dies with the most toys wins, right? Gluttony, lust, greed, selfishness - we have them all in spades. I'm certainly not preaching at everyone else - I have them too.
Isn't it ironic that one of the ways the world has perverted Christmas is to focus on all of these things? We look forward to eating too much and getting gifts. Even in one of the most holy times of year, the world manages to entice us with these sins. Don't get me wrong - there are wonderful things in the Christmas season that get emphasized even by our culture. We are expected to gather with our families, donate to the poor (although this might be more motivated by end of the year tax considerations) and even attend church. For some this might be the only time of year they do these things.
This week I'm enjoying time with my children. We're doing some fun things together, just hanging out and generally trying to get away from the stress and worries of life. I'm trying to keep it simple. It's not always easy. I think Heaven will be like that - no stress or worries and just being in the present with loved ones and God. I want to keep my focus on that because what the world is offering seems to result in an endless pursuit for more with no satisfaction.
I won't lie - I like the good things the world offers. I'm just trying not to love it.
Monday, December 29, 2014
I was talking to a priest friend and a seminarian this morning and I was bemoaning the fact that it takes a long time for a man to become a priest (about 7 years). My priest friend pointed out that family life can be equally hard, but there is very little preparation time for marriage. As an example, our diocese has a preparation time for marriage which is considered long - 9 months.
I've always thought of priests as holy people, but never thought about God's call to those of us who are married and have children as models of holiness. Most young people will choose a vocation of marriage and parenthood, yet there is very little preparation for that. The best "preparation" is by example. Children look to their parents and dating couples look to other married couples they know. Are we really holy families?
With all the pressures of family life, it's good to stop and take a look at where our priorities should be. Although the following reading from Colossians inevitably results in lots of eye rolling and smirks among families while it is read at mass, it is the guide we are asked to follow as holy families:
Brothers and sisters:
Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,
heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,
bearing with one another and forgiving one another,
if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.
And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts,
the peace into which you were also called in one body.
And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,
as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another,
singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Wives, be subordinate to your husbands, as is proper in the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives, and avoid any bitterness toward them.
Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord.
Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they may not become discouraged.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph were the first Holy Family. We can be holy families too if we have the same dynamic as the Holy Family did - Jesus was in the center.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me;
He has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners;
To proclaim the year of the Lord's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn;
To provide for those who mourn in Zion -to give them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
My whole being shall exult in my God;
For he has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with a garland,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its shoots,
And as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up,
So the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.
In Luke, chapter 4, Jesus reveals that he is the person spoken about in Isaiah 61.
This is a different Messiah that is in other passages described as the Prince of Peace. This is someone who is more counter-cultural, more revolutionary. He will deliver God's justice in a spirit of righteousness. Not everyone is getting peace. This is consistent with what Jesus tells us we should expect when he comes again. Perhaps this is why we should have at least some penitential attitude toward Advent. Jesus comes to bring peace and joy, but he also comes to bring "the day of vengeance of our God." Things will change. Are we ready for change? Are we ready to be revolutionaries?
It seems to me that given what is happening in the world and our own country, the time is coming soon or might already be here. We need to be ready to espouse joy, but with a sense of righteous change.
Friday, December 12, 2014
One of the things about Advent that confuses me is whether it is supposed to be a time of penance like Lent or a time of joyful anticipation. I have heard both. Our friends at The Catholic Underground call Advent "Lent Lite." I like that. On one hand the Church uses purple liturgical garments and that is the color of Lent and penance. On the other hand, the time before Christmas is joyful - we are waiting for the coming of the King. It is a little difficult to know which way we are supposed to go.
I do know that the euphoria of secular Christmas is NOT the way to go. Continuous Christmas music begins on Thanksgiving and store decorations are put up on November 1 after Halloween comes down. Everyone has parties, puts up a Christmas tree and sends out cards before Christmas. It's a manic celebration that lasts the entire month of December. Worse yet, it drives me crazy when I hear about people who push back from the table after Christmas dinner and proceed to take down their Christmas decorations. The party's over - Christmas has arrived.
Where is the waiting and watching? Christ was born once, rose once and will come back one more time. The rest of the time in salvation history has been spent waiting - looking skyward, praying Maranatha (which can mean "Come Lord Jesus!" or "Our Lord Has Come!"). It seems like Advent should better represent that - the proper way to wait. The patient way to wait. The humble way to wait. We should prepare ourselves - not just by decorating, buying gifts and going to parties - but by personal reflection and prayer. That sounds so rational - but gosh it's hard when everything around you is in party or hustle mode!
So I think Advent should be reverent, humble and joyful anticipation of the coming of Jesus Christ, whether celebrating his birth or looking forward to his return. I think it's a little like cleaning your house before the guest arrives. Cleaning is no fun and hard work, but doing it in anticipation of a long-awaited visit makes it a lot more joyful and exciting.
So when my Christmas cards and gifts are late or I never get around to having a party before Christmas, I say good riddance - people are more likely to notice my card or gift after Christmas and goodness knows their calendars will be more open!
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Isaiah 9: 2-7
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness - on them light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest,
as people exult when dividing plunder.
For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For all the boots of the tramping warriors
and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
For a child has been born for us, a son given to us;
authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness
from this time onward and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.
Cue the music:
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
The story of St. Juan Diego is that of a simple man. Born in the 15th Century in what is now Mexico, he saw a vision of a woman who identified herself as the Virgin Mary. She told him she wanted a church built on the site in her honor. Juan Diego went to the local bishop to make the request, but the bishop asked for evidence that the woman was actually the Virgin Mary. Juan went back to the location of the first vision and Mary appeared to him again. She asked him to go to the top of the hills and pick the flowers he would find there and take them to the bishop. It was winter and the roses Juan Diego found on that hill were Castilian roses (not then grown in Mexico). He gathered the roses and put them in his tilma, a traditional cloak.
When Juan Diego found the bishop he opened his tilma to show the bishop the roses as proof the vision was that of the Virgin Mary. But the bishop didn't notice the roses which fell to the floor. He was transfixed by the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe that was on Juan Diego's tilma. Needless to say, the bishop believed and a basilica was built on the site. The tilma with the iconic figure of Our Lady of Guadalupe is framed on the wall in the basilica where you can see it today.
Monday, December 8, 2014
First, let's review what it's about. This is one of the Marian dogmas - things you have to believe in order to be a Catholic. It causes so much confusion until you give it a little thought. Mary is the Mother of God (also a Marian dogma) and that has been an accepted teaching since the earliest days of Christianity. The Mother of God cannot be stained with original sin. So, when Mary was conceived by St. Anne and St. Joachim (her parents), she was preserved from the original sin of Adam which stains us all. Only four people have been created and born free from original sin: Adam & Eve (sinless before the fall), Jesus and Mary. Mary is the new Eve - why should she bear original sin when she was going to bear the Son of God?
Sunday, December 7, 2014
I need to stay back, to live in the waiting, to reflect more on the message. But oh, what a message! I could read this all day. The poetry is captivating, but it's the message that is even more riveting. He's coming. God is coming. Enough with the fits and starts of history, the inconstancy of God's people. He's coming to save - a fresh start for God's people. A time when God will dwell with his people.
Isaiah 40: 1-11
Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid,
that she has received from the Lord's hand double for all her sins.
A voice cries out:
"In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken."
A voice says, "Cry out!" And I said, "What shall I cry?"
All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.
Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good tidings, lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah, "Here is your God!"
See, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him;
his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.
He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms,
and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead the mother sheep.
If the language isn't beautiful enough, as a musician I hear the music too. If hearing the message that way appeals to you, here it is:
Saturday, December 6, 2014
St. Nicholas - giving back in Christ's name before it was cool. Hope you find a little bag of gold in your shoes.
Friday, December 5, 2014
We've done this before during Advent and it is really rewarding. People are genuinely grateful for what they receive. Isn't that interesting? People are genuinely grateful for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a few Christmas cookies. Thing is, you can tell it's not necessarily about the food. More often the comments we get are "Thank you for coming out to see us and thinking about us."
The other thing that strikes me whenever we do this is "We should do this at other times of the year." The poor receive more at Christmas than at other times of the year and Christ didn't limit his generosity to a virgin birth in a stable. He gave his life - the last three years of his life was a continuous ministry. The poor are with us all year and they need us to come out and think about them all year round.
Maybe this year instead of giving more gifts that won't be remembered two days after Christmas, we should make a gift to the poor and needy. For many of us that may mean writing a check to a mission, but if it is possible for you, try going to a homeless shelter or a food bank. Look at the grateful faces who receive your gift. You might just get a gift yourself.
Thursday, December 4, 2014
I challenged my children to each find a charity that supports poor children. They will pray for the charity by name during Advent and if God puts it on their heart, they will donate their money.
Here is a video from the Advent Conspiracy which brings these concepts to light from a secular as well as religious perspective. It's from 2011, but Advent Conspiracy brings the message of giving every year. Find out more at www.adventconspiracy.org
Go light up the world.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
This is one of my favorite passages of the New Testament. It pretty much sums everything up in a couple of verses. Think of just how much the Holy Spirit was moving through this inspired author less than 200 years after Jesus Christ died! Equating Jesus - who they knew as a man - with God the Creator of Life! Stunning.
My kids are 11 and 13 so some of our Advent Calendar is pitched to a slightly younger audience. Here is the message they are receiving today:
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
My kids have Hershey kisses included in their Advent Calendar - sorry there are limitations to the internet.
Monday, December 1, 2014
Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Friday, August 29, 2014
If you are reading this blog, you have been on the Internet long enough to know about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge - where people dump cold water over their heads, challenge three friends to do the same, and donate to the ALS Association. While I may accept a challenge, I won't donate to ALSA.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
She lived in the 3rd Century and married a man who wasn't exactly the nicest guy. He didn't beat her, but he was loud and mean and a womanizer. What was her response to the verbal and psychological abuse? She prayed. Yep, that's it. She prayed and he converted. Her cranky mother-in-law was converted too!
Monica also had three children. Her oldest son was a brilliant thinker, but a pagan with a bad temper and a wandering eye just like his father. He lived with a mistress and fathered a child out of wedlock. Monica and her tears followed him from Africa through Italy, much to his chagrin. More important than her tears and her tailing him was her prayers. She constantly prayed for her son and his conversion. Finally, he relented, converted and was baptized.
Her son was St. Augustine of Hippo, one of most greatest thinkers and theologians of the Church.
Her life wasn't easy and her patience was sorely tested during all those years of praying without an answer, but she persevered. She is a model for mothers. You don't need "bad" kids to know that being a good mother always involves patience, doggedness and prayer.
St. Monica, pray for us.
Saturday, August 23, 2014
No one wishes to suffer. Even Christ begged the Father to avoid suffering: "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will." Matthew 26:39. (Certainly Jesus knew what was coming, but perhaps He said that to show us His human nature.) Would we appreciate the gift of the Incarnation if He had not suffered and died? Can you measure the good that has come to the world from Christianity?
God's will be done.
Friday, June 6, 2014
Today is the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landing in Normandy, France. On that day many courageous men offered their lives to defend and liberate a people from a morally bereft regime that put more confidence in genocide and genetic engineering to create a world it envisioned rather than God's plan for the salvation of all souls.
Today in a world that is moving ever closer to an apathy and indifference that will again create a power vacuum, let's remember the sacrifice of the men who died and others who were forever changed on those beaches in France 70 years ago. Please listen to the prayer of President Roosevelt as he pleaded with God to accompany the sons of this nation into a righteous battle. Would a government official say a prayer today - in an address to the American public, or have we already given our government over to godlessness?
Friday, April 18, 2014
At the risk of being labeled an Arian heretic, I like to think about Jesus' human nature and how hard the Passion was for him. I'm not talking about "The Passion of the Christ." I know Jesus' passion was very violent and physically painful (really torture), but what about the mental anguish? He clearly had second thoughts about dying the way he did: "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me." Matthew 26:39. Jesus was not running from the ordeal he would suffer, ("Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will." Mark 14:36), but the Gospels are unified and very clear that he was distressed: "He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground." Luke 22:44. He wished it could be different; he was distressed; he was afraid for his disciples: "Get up and pray you may not undergo the test." Matthew 26:41. Clearly, this could have gone another way. Was he afraid? Did he think there could be a different path before he accepted the Father's plan? My heart breaks that he went through all that anguish for me.
That's the Jesus I think of during Holy Week - the man who was mentally tortured about how his death would go down and the fallout for his disciples. I also think about the same God who "so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life." John 3:16.
Would you watch one hour with Him?
Thursday, March 20, 2014
Why do people die "before their time"? If we, as people of faith, know they are going on to a place where every tear will be wiped away and there is no more suffering, why do we grieve them so much? Shouldn't we be happy for them? Why should someone fight an inevitable terminal illness and work so hard to stay alive even if life for them is so painful?
I thought a lot about these questions today. I definitely understand why we grieve. It is frightening and difficult to accept that someone we love so much, someone who is our life partner, someone with whom we are so intimately entwined is gone. Even people of great faith feel a deep sense of loss and pain. But what about the person who is dying?
As I pondered it, the answer came roaring at me like a flood. Life is a unique and special gift from God. It's a one shot thing. We only get one chance. Even people who don't know God have an instinct to preserve their lives. I think it's because everyone understands life has purpose and worth. The Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1721 says it best: "God put us in the world to know, to love, and to serve him, and so to come to paradise." We inherently know we are here for a specific reason, even though we might not be so sure about what that reason is. I believe that's why we fight so ferociously to stay alive, even when the end is so close and we are suffering. The mind and the body want to live. We want that chance to know, to love and to serve.
I'm sure for many people death can be very scary, especially if you are not sure what comes next. I don't claim to have any special insight into that and the unknown scares me too. However, in the core of my being, the same core that will struggle to stay alive for as long as possible, I know one thing:
Thursday, March 13, 2014
(1) refined sugar;
(2) use of my cell phone for anything other than telephone calls or text messages (no apps, FB, Twitter, etc.); and
(3) use of my car sound system (radio).
I really thought sacrificing refined sugar was going to be hard and I am reminded of Christ's suffering every night when I really want something sweet. However, I was not prepared for the real mortification - going without my car radio.
I drive 60 miles a day during my work commute. I'm not used to sitting in silence. It feels weird. When I get into the car, I immediately feel like something is missing. It's just automatic - I want to hear noise. The silence is deafening and it's hard to be a captive to the silence.
I am making good use of my time. I'm praying. Lots of rosaries and Divine Mercy chaplets. They have been great, but I am still looking for more. The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses this issue:
"Contemplative prayer is silence, the 'symbol of the world to come' or 'silent love.' Words in this kind of prayer are not speeches; they are like kindling that feeds the fire of love. In this silence, unbearable to the 'outer' man, the Father speaks to us his incarnate Word, who suffered, died, and rose; in this silence the Spirit of adoption enables us to share in the prayer of Jesus." CCC 2717
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Thursday, February 13, 2014
Monday, February 3, 2014
One of the most common misunderstandings non-Catholics have about Catholicism is our devotion to Jesus' mom, Mary. We call her the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and many, many more titles, but bottom line, she's Jesus' mom. We don't see that as just another woman in the salvation story. She's His mom.
When we were planning our wedding, I told the parish administrator who was with our ceremony that I wanted to include "flowers to Mary," a moment where I could take flowers to a statue of Mary and say a prayer. I was told that they didn't do that unless there was a specific devotion to Mary. I told them I had a special devotion. I'm not sure if I really considered it that at the time, but it was important to me to include it in our wedding. I remember asking Mary to pray for our marriage.
I think a lot of people don't understand what it means to "pray" to Mary. I don't think Mary has the ability to do things only God can do. When I "prayed" to her during my wedding, I wasn't asking for her to do anything really supernatural. I was just asking her to join me in praying for our marriage. I know my mother was praying, why wouldn't I want Jesus' mother interceding for His blessing on our marriage?
When we were having difficulties having a baby, there was a moment in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, New Mexico where I said a prayer before an image of Mary. I didn't realize it at the time, but it was La Conquistadora, Our Lady of the Rosary, the oldest image of Mary in the Americas. I laid it all there - my fears, the pressure, all of it. As I stood up, I felt a real sense of release. I knew there was another person helping me. It's the same kind of thing I would ask my mom.
I recognize that a devotion to Mary and her unique role in the Church can't be fully described in this short post. However, I do think it's a starting point to understanding of how she helps me, mothers me, intercedes for me.
After all, if you want help trying to persuade a guy to do something, who better to ask than his mother, right?
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
By now most people have heard that Pope Francis is on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. I loved the cover photo of him smiling and waving, but the picture printed with the article, sitting sideways in the shadows - very cool, very hip. That's awesome, I thought, even Rolling Stone recognizes this man as a fresh face in the Catholic Church. I couldn't wait to read the article. I found an online version of the article and dove right in.
Now, I expected the typical misquotes/misinterpretations that the secular media love to attribute to Pope Francis with the suggestion that he's going to turn Catholic teaching on its head. That's fine, I thought, that wouldn't be the first time, and hey, if it gets people to take a second look (or come home) to the Church, that's OK.
Much of Mark Binelli's piece was pretty good. He describes a general audience and the passionate reaction of the throngs to Pope Francis. He gives a detailed and interesting view into Pope Francis' life as a young priest in Argentina and his ascension to cardinal. He also gave a lot of print to how Pope Francis is reforming the Curia, the body that works with the pope on the operations of the Church.
But there was a good deal of nastiness and Church bashing. Binelli focuses most of his vitriol on Pope Emeritus Benedict, making it personal: "After the disastrous papacy of Benedict, a staunch traditionalist who looked like he should be wearing a striped shirt with knife-fingered gloves and menacing teenagers in their nightmares . . ." (Why didn't he just come out and say Freddy Kruger?) I guess Mr. Binelli has an axe to grind. (Sorry, I couldn't help it.)
Alright, I thought, this is a "liberal" secular publication, I shouldn't be surprised to read a negative criticism of Pope Benedict compared to Pope Francis. Then I reached page 2. Wow. I was met with a spew of anti-Catholic bashing. I guess the good news is that Pope Francis isn't mentioned on page 2 until the end of the last paragraph. The bad news? After spending a paragraph on a detailed tour of the "truly terrible popes" in history, Binelli uses several paragraphs to offer a scathing evaluation of the papacy of Pope Benedict, followed by accusations that tie him to American GOP politicians, who are then accused of being members of Opus Dei. (No, not that!)
Binelli gives a lot of attention to Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis' first apostolic exhortation on spreading the Good News in today's world. He predictably focuses on the alleged indictment of capitalism (which is neither the theme or the substance of the document) and smears it in the faces of American conservatives. Sigh. I expected that too.
I think the part of the article that left me cold was Binelli's insinuation that Pope Francis is a wolf in sheep's clothing, even if it a wolf he admires. According to Binelli, he can tell that Pope Francis really does support Liberation Theology ("liberation theology has clearly influenced his own papacy, most markedly in the language of Evangelii Gaudium"). He also spends a lot of time stressing that Pope Francis doesn't really care about Church teaching on social issues relating to homosexuality, marriage, divorce, contraception and abortion. I did have to giggle though, when he implied that a questionnaire distributed in Catholic parishes about these family issues constituted a "nod to democracy." He also suggests that Pope Francis plays in political intrigue, describing his "dexterity - and, if the situation demands, ruthlessness - as an operator." (Of course, this is Rolling Stone!).
I will admit that after my first read of the article I was much more critical, mostly because Binelli heaped so much contempt on Pope Benedict ("it's hard to imagine a worse choice to meet the particular challenges facing the Catholic Church than Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger"), Church teaching and the Eucharist (calling a Vatican document on it "wonky"and saying that "desecration of Communion wafers" is an "esoteric" sin). However, on further read, the theme that "The Times They Are A-Changn'" is probably true. Pope Francis has certainly attracted a lot of attention from the secular media and he is changing the focus. However, Binelli's suggestion that Pope Francis is a wolf in sheep's clothing may turn out to be true - just not in the way he thinks.
Monday, January 27, 2014
I was in the third grade when the Roe v. Wade was issued. I will never forget sitting in church hearing for the first time that it was no longer illegal for mothers to kill the babies inside of them. I remember how offended I was and shocked that this could be happening. At the time no one believed it would last. I remember thinking that if abortion was still going on when I grew up I would work to make it stop. I don't know if the last 9 days qualifies as a heroic effort, but prayer is a powerful thing and I remind myself daily that we need to keep storming heaven's door for divine intervention in this tragic horror.
In 1973, the Supreme Court decided that a person has an inherent right to privacy, a right which had never been recognized before. The Court argued that whether a woman bore a child was a private decision. I agree. A woman has the right to choose whether she engages in intercourse that might result in pregnancy. For a victim of rape or incest that right to choose has been violated at the time she was not allowed to choose to have intercourse. Once the private choice (or violation of choice) has been made and a human life comes into being, that human also has inherent rights. Namely, the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." There are no other rights if a person does not have the right to life and frankly, the right to life surpasses all other rights.
Since the time of Roe v. Wade, science has definitively established that life begins at conception. We have seen photographs of a baby developing over nine months in the womb. We have advanced instrumentation that allows us to see and hear a baby's heartbeat at 6-8 weeks. We have advanced far enough in medicine to save babies born prematurely who live a full life. Yet we have an archaic decision from 1973 that assumed a fetus had no rights because it was not a life in being. Because a fetus is not a life in being, the argument goes, it has no rights, much less rights which can trump a mother's right to privacy. Today, we know better but we can still legally take away a child's right to continue living from the moment of conception up to the point it is born.
This is simply not right or morally acceptable for a "civilized" country. We are better than that. It degrades us as Americans; more fundamentally it degrades us as a species. For anyone with a conscience to know that abortion ends a human life, there is simply no "right" which justifies it. This isn't a Catholic issue or even a Christian issue. It's a matter of human decency.
Thanks for reading. I promise to return to a less militant tone. This blog is not just about being pro-life; it's about being comfortably Catholic. To me, being Catholic means being pro-life so this won't be the last time I write on the topic. However, in order to regain a better sense of peace, I must step back from being the "defender of the faith" so I can rest in the arms of the Lord.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
We need to support those who offer specific and reliable services to these women so the unknown future has a light at the end of the tunnel. Gimme Shelter is a movie that opened Friday about the journey of a pregnant teen - from a drug addicted mother and foster homes to the dramatically different affluent lifestyle of her father. Surprisingly, neither is suitable for the teen's choice to have her baby.
While some reviewers have panned the movie as unrealistic and heavy-handed, it is trying to convey a lot of messages simultaneously: Kids are abused by parents and a foster care system that keeps shuffling them; wealthy families see teen pregnancy as a matter to be "taken care of"; the Church has guidance available with real answers about the morality of abortion; and there are places where women can find shelter. These are all messages that need to be heard and to get a movie made about any of these topics is difficult at best.
I can't give a laundry list of services that are available, but there are crisis pregnancy centers throughout the United States that can give referrals to the many independent privately run shelters that offer a place to stay and education and job counseling. In Phoenix, the best known is an organization called Maggie's Place. It offers all of the above in a family atmosphere supported by private donations - no government support. Shouldn't every city have at least one Maggie's Place? If we call ourselves pro-life shouldn't be support these places where mothers and children get a start at a new life?
As noted in today's reflection: "There is absolutely nothing and no one outside of the power of God's loving embrace. Today we remember the children, the mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and all those who have been involved in or affected by abortion. We entrust them to the unfathomable healing mercy of God, recalling the words of Jesus to St. Faustina: 'The greater the misery of a soul, the greater its right to My mercy.' (Diary, 1182). Go HERE to see today's novena prayers and complete reflection.
Thanks for your continued prayers.
Saturday, January 25, 2014
As I write this, the activities are ongoing. Most years, my son's school attends the Walk, but unfortunately not this year. It's too bad - I would have loved to go. A couple of weekend ago my husband and I were in San Francisco. We were surprised - pleasantly so - to see banners advertising the Walk - officially - on lamp posts. In a city that has a reputation for being "liberal" it's exciting to know 50,000 or more are expected to march for life. We are moving ahead.
We still need prayer, probably more than anything else. Let's keep praying. Find today' novena prayers/reflections HERE
Friday, January 24, 2014
I know exactly what it feels like to be "in line" to adopt a baby. Some people would say there is only a "line" for people waiting to adopt healthy white infants. That's not true. Even people who have expressed interest in adopting a child with handicaps, exposed to prenatal drug use and of a different race will wait in that line, usually about 2-3 years. Is that surprising given that for every adoption in this country there are 64 abortions? That statistic includes adoptions of children who are not infants.
I have a dear friend who is in the process of adopting a beautiful toddler who is almost 3. His birthmother is not married, is addicted to drugs and is currently awaiting trial on serious criminal charges. The child's father is not in the picture. Despite these issues, the birthmother made a choice to let her son live. The birthmother's family tried very hard to help raise the baby, but it just wasn't possible. They contacted friends who contacted friends and a miracle happened - a boy found his parents. It is an open adoption so the birthmother's family will still be in this boy's life. It's not surprising that they want to have him in their lives - he is a ray of sunshine to everyone who sees him with his carrot top and stunning blue eyes. His birthmother may have problems but she is a hero. If you want to see more about Riley's story, visit Songs Kate Sang.
To continue your novena for life, visit the USCCB website.
Tomorrow - we're just getting started out here on the West Coast!
p.s. If you are following me on Facebook, sorry if it seems like I'm bombarding you with multiple posts in a day. I'm still getting used to the timing and with a post each day during this novena, I'm a little inconsistent about timing.
Thursday, January 23, 2014
As part of the March for Life events, a Vigil Mass held on Tuesday night included a homily from Cardinal Sean O'Malley. It was very moving and maybe not in the way you might think:
"The Pro-Life Movement needs to be the merciful face of God to women facing a difficult pregnancy. Being judgmental or condemnatory is not part of the Gospel of Life."
Wow. But there's more
"We are all here because we want to save the thousands of innocent children who are being executed by the very people whose mission should be to heal and protect life. The truth is that we can save those babies only by saving the mothers. When they experience God's loving mercy then they will become capable of showing mercy to their children. The Pro Life Movement has to be about saving mothers. We need to focus on the women to try to understand what they are suffering."
The entire homily is well worth your time to watch or read. You can do both at Salt and Light.
|Mother and Child by Pablo Picasso|
Personally, I would love to see more adoption to take the place of abortion. I'm really not sure why, but adoption has become a dirty word in American society. The idea that a mother could give up her baby to strangers seems cruel to many. Is that worse than if she had never given that child an opportunity to be born?
Mothers who carry their babies to term despite the obstacles - poverty, shame, rejection or lost opportunities - they are the heroes. We need to celebrate them. We need to find ways to help them, whether their choice is to raise the child or their choice is to give the child an opportunity to be loved by another family. Those are the real choices.
Tomorrow I want to tell a few stories about adoption.