Sunday, December 21, 2008
One of my observations of this Advent season is when I recently traveled to the mall to perchase a gift for my girlfriend. There were two teenage girls who were fighting over a set of earrings. I found this disturbing and as I went about making my purchases I found similar scenes. What have we become as a people? Have we become so materialistic about Christmas that we cannot love our brothers and sisters in Christ? Yes we must prepare for Christmas. But I must stress that in these next two days we focus on preparing the soul as well as our house.
Let us remember that Christ did not come to be born in a palace with the Pharisees and Sadducees and the High Priest of the Temple tending to His every need. Jesus humbled Himself and was born in a stable. He chose to be born amidst animal feces and hay and was placed in a manger or in other words a feeding trough. Jesus Christ, God incarnate, whom the the universe cannot contain, became humble to the point of being born in the most unsanitary of conditions. He chose to humble Himself even further "to the point of death, death on a cross. Because of this God exulted Him and gave Him the Name above all other names, so that at the name of Jesus every knee shall bend."
So what is Christmas all about? What are we celebrating? We celebrate when He came and we prepare for His second coming when He will come in glory to judge the living and the dead. So with what is left of this Advent season let us prepare our souls to receive the King of kings, the Lord of lords, and the Prince of peace. Let us celebrate that hour when the Blessed Virgin Mary gave birth to our Redemption and became the Mediatrix of all grace. Then let us rejoice with the Angels and give thanks and adoration to God. Most of all, while we are decorating our homes let us decorate them as if Christ Himself were coming over to stay and eat with us as he did with Zacheus the tax collector.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
A LifeSite article explains that rather than coming out of altruistic motives, developed nations developed a strategy in the 1970's to reduce the birth rates around the world so as to limit competition. This strategy was drafted by Henry Kissinger, and in many ways has been realized through the promotion of abortion and contraception abroad.
Pope John Paul II spoke of this in Evangelium Vitae:
The Pharaoh of old, haunted by the presence and increase of the children of Israel, submitted them to every kind of oppression and ordered that every male child born of the Hebrew women was to be killed (cf. Ex 1:7-22). Today not a few of the powerful of the earth act in the same way. They too are haunted by the current demographic growth, and fear that the most prolific and poorest peoples represent a threat for the well-being and peace of their own countries. Consequently, rather than wishing to face and solve these serious problems with respect for the dignity of individuals and families and for every person's inviolable right to life, they prefer to promote and impose by whatever means a massive programme of birth control. Even the economic help which they would be ready to give is unjustly made conditional on the acceptance of an anti-birth policy. -Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae 16A way in which this plan has backfired is the demographic decline of the Western world. The birthrates of European nations have fallen below replacement levels. The European average of 1.3 children/woman falls well below the 2.1 needed to sustain the population. The Russian population is expected to decline by a third by 2050. Here in America, it's right at 2.1, but that is largely due to higher birthrates among immigrants. At some point in this century, the world's population is going to plummet dramatically. Economies will follow if there are not enough people to sustain them. Our own country's strategy could prove to be its undoing. This topic is explored in the documentary Demographic Winter.
Whether it is in developed or developing countries, we should not view this decline as a positive. All should be welcome at the table of life, and policies that attack human life will have disastrous results.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
A Zenit report shows that there was an intimidation campaign against Catholic churches ahead of Venezuelan elections. Vandals spraypainted "Homeland, socialism, or death" on the walls of churches in the state of Barinas.
Add that to Christian persecution in the Middle East and China, and we see a pretty grim picture.
I think that we in the Western world, however, have long felt that this a distant concern. Sure, we may suffer ridicule for our beliefs, but at most it is a soft persecution; our society's belief in human rights and religious freedom should protect us from anything like this happening here. And in that sense of security, we ignore what is happening before our very eyes.
Look at how many reacted after Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, passed in California. There was a website created as a blacklist of those who supported the measure. An elderly woman holding a cross at a protest had it knocked out of her hands, before it was trampled on. A group of Christians praying were threatened and abused just for being in a "gay" district.
Look at the fight over abortion. Many bishops are concerned that if the Freedom of Choice Act (which Barack Obama has promised to sign) passes, Catholic hospitals will be forced to choose between performing abortions or losing their funding. If this were to happen, a large number of Catholic hospitals could shut down rather than comply with the new law.
Look at some of the more militant atheists, such as Richard Dawkins. Some atheists have taken on a new approach, promoting atheism with a "missionary" zeal. As they attack faith in God as unreasonable, they cling to a far more unreasonable faith in "chance".
There is a split in our culture between two irreconcilable ideologies. The truths of Christianity cannot be changed because they are out of favor with the public (although many try to do so). "Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies just because they become fashions," as GK Chesterton said. But those fallacies ARE the fashions today. Abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage, etc., will continue to be promoted as "rights", and anyone who attacks these so-called "rights" will be painted as intolerant, unreasonable, and fanatical. This is where we are today- we are marginalized for our belief in absolute truth. The relativistic society of today promotes the idea that there are no absolutes as an absolute truth. It says with Pilate, "what is truth?"(John 18:38)
I feel we are coming to a time of a more overt persecution of the Church in the West. The world is moving in a direction that is incompatible with the Gospel, and I feel that we will only shift course with great difficulty. Human rights are no longer to honor and protect the dignity of the individual, but the desires of the individual. Freedom of religion is giving way to freedom from religion. Everything is being redefined.
I have felt in recent months that something is coming that we need to be prepared for. That Christians can no longer be complacent. That we need courage for the future. I'm sure this sounds odd to a lot of people, but I know there are many out there who feel the same way.
Whatever happens, we can't face it with fear. Today we celebrated the Feast of Christ the King. Christ is Lord over all, and we need to give all to Him. We need to allow Him to reign over all of our selves, to claim His dominion over our weaknesses and failings as well as our strengths. We cannot give in to fear, for Jesus is the Lord of love, and "perfect love casts out all fear." (1 John 4:18) But we have to be aware of what is going on around us, as well, and awake from our slumber.
We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church . . . must take up. —Cardinal Karol Wotyla, reprinted November 9, 1978, issue of The Wall Street Journal
Thursday, November 13, 2008
This is a great story and calls to mind Norma McCorvey, the Roe in the Roe vs. Wade decision, who became a committed pro-life activist in the 1990's. She entered the Catholic Church and now has her own pro-life ministry. This was an incredible conversion and a moment of rejoicing for the pro-life community.
I bring these up because a lot of us, myself included, have been demoralized about the future of the pro-life movement after the election of Barack Obama. His campaign promises and previous votes on the issue should be cause for concern for all who believe in the sanctity of human life. However, as the above stories demonstrate, we should NEVER UNDERESTIMATE GOD'S POWER TO WORK MIRACLES. God can work wonders in a person's heart, and we need to pray for this to happen with our President-Elect and all elected officials. We need to pray for those who provide abortions, that God may touch their hearts and awaken them to what they are doing. We need to pray for all those who advocate abortion, that they may instead seek to promote a Culture of Life. We need to pray for women who have had an abortion, that they may find the healing they need. Now do I think it's likely that all of the sudden Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi are going to start being pro-life activists? Of course not, because in human terms, it's impossible. But then again, nobody thought it was possible for Dr. Adasevic or Norma McCorvey, either.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
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I would like to bring about to the forefront of our minds a thought that provoked me about a week ago and hasn't left my mind since. This may seem like a semantical discussion of sorts but I think it is worth talking about. The question is do we as the Church the people of God go to Holy Mass, or attend Holy Mass? I believe there is a difference and I hope to arouse our thoughts to probe deeper into own individual lives as Christians.
First, it must be said that the Holy Mass is the greatest act the Church does. Therefore, our attitude must reflect the solemnity of the occasion. As a cradle Catholic I grew up sometimes dreading Sunday mornings when my mother would call me into the kitchen for Sunday breakfast. I knew that once I finished breakfast I would be asked to put on my "Sunday best." Eventually I grew out of this stage that we all experience from time to time as children and I realized the importance of Holy Mass. It is the holiest thing I do as a Catholic.
Now most people will use the terminology, "I'm going to Mass." There is nothing wrong with this but this does raise the question in my heart: "Am I just going to Holy Mass, or am I attending Holy Mass?" The difference between going to and attending Holy Mass is HUGE.
If I were to just go to Holy Mass I'm probably missing out on the point. The point of Holy Mass is to give thanks to God for having sent His only begotten Son into the world to die for our sins. We give thanks to God the Father for His infinite mercy in forgiving us of our sins and we offer our gifts upon the altar through the Priest. If I'm just going to Holy Mass I'm not letting God show me His love through the Holy Mass. The other problem this poses is that it provides a situation where I as a Christian may begin just "going through the motions" and not actively pursuing my faith.
On the contrary, if I am attending Holy Mass, then I am completely disposed to receiving grace upon grace poured out during Holy Mass. I am fully active in giving glory to God for His infinite mercy, love, and forgiveness. I am completely contrite and sorrowful for my sins and attentive to everything that is happening at Holy Mass. As I receive Holy Communion I am completely aware that I am truly receiving Jesus Christ in His Body and Blood, soul and divinity. When I consciously set my gift upon the altar through the Priest I am giving my cares, my anxieties, my intellect, and my whole being unreserved and unconditionally to Jesus who will return grace upon grace.
So let me come out of the clouds for a minute and speak on practical terms.
The difference between going to and attending Holy Mass is not a semantical diologue but rather an examination of our attitudes. We must be completely disposed to receiving Holy Communion by making proper examination of ourselves and preparing prayerfully to receive God - Jesus Christ made manifest before our very eyes at each and every Holy Mass. Every Sunday we ought to both go to and attend Holy Mass.
When we rise each and every Sunday morning our first thoughts should not be, "I have to go to Mass today," but rather, "I get to attend Mass today." Our whole day then should revolve around preparing for Holy Mass. It is one of the blessings of living in a nation that allows for religious freedom. We ought to eat it up. We get to attend Holy Mass. We get to approach the altar of God and receive the very Flesh and Blood of God and to adore Him. It is the holiest act we as Christians do. The very action of the Holy Mass confers upon us as laypersons the graces necessary to perform our daily tasks with love and devotion, whether it be as students, parents, teachers, or even scientists.
I ask you to consider within yourself whether or not you simply go to Holy Mass (which is awesome) or whether or not you attend Holy Mass (which is greater).
After much prayer I humbly accept the invitation to write for this blog. I suppose I should introduce myself as well. My name is Kevin (otherwise known as Kwilk) and for a time I discerned the possibility of the Holy Priesthood and the Religious Life. I have been Catholic for over 24 years and as of a year ago began studying Meteorology at Illinois Central College. I look forward to contributing my thoughts in this blog.
To all our veterans.
To all who have worn the uniform.
To all who have sacrificed.
To all who have defended freedom.
To all who have fought for our country.
To all who faced incredible danger far away to ensure security at home.
To all whose courage has made liberty possible.
Friday, November 7, 2008
Any hopes of advancing pro-life principles through legislation will have to be put on hold, too. Nancy Pelosi, who has distorted Church teaching on abortion, is unlikely to change her tune. During the Bush administration progress was made, but if Obama keeps his campaign promise of signing into law the Freedom of Choice Act all restrictions on abortion would be overturned. What are we to do?
It is NOT the time to give up. The pro-life community needs to step up its efforts more than ever. As it says in the John Paul II movie, we must "meet this abyss of hate with an abyss of love." We need to step up efforts in any way we can. When women are faced with fear because of an unwanted pregnancy, let our love guide them to embrace life rather than our indifference guiding them to the abortion clinic. We are not defeated, because Christ has conquered death!
Here's Father Pavone's take on the election results:
What do you feel are some ways in which the pro-life community can respond to this election?
I thought it was well thought out and very well said:
Cindy and I would like to take a moment to thank you for your loyal and steadfast support during the course of this campaign. Governor Palin, her husband Todd, our families, friends and campaign staff extend our deep appreciation for your tireless dedication, support and friendship.
It is the end of a long journey and your support through the ups and downs has meant more to us than you may ever know.
Although we were disappointed with the results, we must move beyond this campaign and work together to get our country moving again.
It is our sincere hope that you will join us in putting our country first and continue to work to keep our nation safe, free and prosperous.
We urge you to join us in not just congratulating Senator Obama, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together as a nation. Whatever our differences may be, we are all fellow Americans.
We are truly blessed to live in this great country and call ourselves Americans, and we will forever be her loyal servants.
Today, let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.
With warm gratitude,
Cindy and John McCain
Thursday, November 6, 2008
While there certainly were failures that need to be noted, I think it's wrong to find someone to whom we pass the blame. Rather, we need to learn from our failures and the Democrats' success. We need to look at why Reagan was so successful in 1980 and 1984 and why the Republicans took the House in 1994. We can't criticize the Democrats for "throwing people under the bus" and then turn around and do it ourselves. Was McCain a perfect candidate? No. He wasn't my first choice for the nomination, and I'll admit I was a bit disappointed that he won it. However, though I may have disagreed with him on some policies, he was and is a man of honor, and was a far better option than Barack Obama. Pointing fingers gets us nowhere; we need to move ahead.
There are many Republicans out there who represent hope for the future leadership of the party and the country. In the future, we will be doing profiles on some of these Republicans to give you a better idea of where the party is going. That's where we need to look- the future. Scapegoating is not the answer.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Now that the election is over, I think its appropriate to transition to this blog as I discuss what I took from the this election:
In 2006, I became involved with politics at a state and nationwide scene. My commitment to the pro-life movement no longer was shuttered, but became wide open once I realized the political forum which its played in.I learned of Senator Sam Brownback Presidential Campaign from Billy Valentine and Terry Schilling, two great pro-life student champions.
Sam was raised in Kansas from very rural roots, and has defied all odds to become one of best senators of all time. Brownback's commitment to protecting life was not just merely opposing abortion, but became a pro-life, whole life philosophy, something that I really liked. I decided to extern for his campaign last spring. Little did I know that this would be one of the most grueling, yet most enjoyable times of my life. Our work was all grassroots, working to identify like-minded voters and converting them to support Senator Sam Brownback. We never ran on television or radio ad, funnelling our money in phone calls, door to door, and get out the vote efforts for the Iowa Straw Poll. We were able to deliver a hard fought 3rd place victory for Sam. Although this was well earned, I couldn't bring myself to help with the caucus team, since this would've take me away from my classwork, and I was only a year away from graduating.
It was difficult thereafter for Sam to take off due to the lack of fundraising and lost momentum after the straw poll.When Sam dropped out on October 21, 2007, I immediately supported Mike Huckabee, a evangelical Christian leader from Arkansas. While I respected Brownback's decision to support John McCain, I felt that my true loyalty lies in the pro-life movement, and that we need to elect the best pro-lifer into office. I never seriously worked on his campaign due to time constraints, but I made phone calls in a couple of key states, such as Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida.
Fortunately for pro-lifers, Mike's victory in Iowa helped to pave the way for Mitt Romney's downfall out of the race and prevented a flip flopper from receiving the nomination. While many conservatives criticized Mike for staying in the race longer than he needed to be, it helped to keep John in the news. I knew Mike wasn't going to win, but it prevented the Democrats from taking over the debate.
Therefore, it was easy to choose John McCain because of his pro-life values, conservative principles, and he was definitely the best candidate to go against the Democrats. However, the catch-22 for McCain was George Bush. Either Bush's endorsement was a no-win scenario in this election.My support for McCain early on was minimal at best. I was never really that excited about John McCain until Sarah Palin was chosen as his VP, an event I had the opportunity of witnessing. Once McCain wised up and felt we needed to energize the conservative base was when I really was brought on board. I signed up to volunteer 3 times a week at the local Victory Center, and decided to establish the College Republicans at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. I knew that we had hope for once, and it actually came in the polls in September when McCain was leading. However, the financial crisis became too much to bear. It was difficult for McCain to cut himself loose from the strains of the economy as well as the general dissatisfaction of the campaign. Obama and the Democrats prevailed.
What are the essential items that I will take away from this election:
1. Its not the most electable candidate, but the best candidate who will prevail. This was certainly true as all the front runners: Giuliani, Romney, Thompson; all were denied the nomination for the GOP. McCain was nearly bankrupt and totally out of it. Brownback had more money at one point. It goes to show that the American people can't be bought in any election.
2. The pro-life movement is down, but not out. Our nation is moving towards the center-left in this election, and that we are going to miss some more pro-life leaders. However, we still have much hope in state and local offices which will promote pro-life candidacies.
3. McCain's call to serve. John McCain called for a generation of Americans to put country above self, that we need to have a leader who won't merely satisfy the selfish desires of Americans, but bring about a commitment to serve our country. He was successful in instilling that in me, as I learned about McCain's service to America, and our duty to serve her country, to cherish and respect her for who she is.
4. While I don't support Barack Obama, I do believe that his election represents the breaking down of tremendous walls that at one point seemed impossible to scale. Many never thought that they would see a black man become President one day. His election represents the walls tore down, and that blacks have opportunities they thought they would never have had.
This election really brought me into the realm of the conservative movement. It also comes when the conservative movement has hit rock bottom. But I have hope that we can prevail, when we can broaden our base and reorganize.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
The Hour of Decision from Mark Mallett on Vimeo.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
He revolutionized Catholic teaching on sexuality in his Theology of the Body, which author George Weigel referred to as a "theological time bomb". He demonstrated true ecumenism without watering down the teachings of the Church. He canonized more saints than any Pope in history, believing that the modern world needed these examples of holiness. He helped to foster devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and recommended to the Church the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. For all of his accomplishments, he is surely worthy of the name "John Paul the Great".
However, his greatness was not due to the number or magnitude of his accomplishments. It was due to his WITNESS. He defended the truth because he loved the truth. He was beloved by millions, not so much because of who he was but because of who he loved: he radiated the JOY of Christ, the joy of one in love with Christ. And he helped millions, myself included, to see what a wonderful thing God's love is. I believe that not only will he eventually be canonized a saint, but due to the vastness and the impact of his teaching, I believe he will one day be a Doctor of the Church.
Anyway, I'm going to be doing a series of posts on Pope John Paul II, his life, his writings, and what it all means to us today. I will be talking about pro-life issues, the Theology of the Body, and various theological concepts. Stay tuned!
UPDATE:Yes, I liked that picture so much that I put it at the top of the site!
Monday, October 13, 2008
Fatima's importance cannot be overstated. We are living in what theologians call "the Age of Mary", a period of time in which Marian apparitions have gained in frequency and urgency. The apparitions before Fatima seem to point forward to it, while those that have taken place afterwards point backwards to it. Fatima was witnessed by tens of thousands of people, believers and non-believers alike. Pope John Paul II attributed his survival of the assassination attempt on him to Our Lady of Fatima. For myself personally, I learned about Fatima at a point in my life plagued with doubt and despair, and it showed me that God is real and that He speaks to us today. Fatima showed me the importance of praying the Rosary, a prayer that is so strong and that has led me closer to Jesus.
Our Lady calls us to turn from sin and to come to her Son, because He loves us and wants us to experience freedom! Mary warned of the Second World War two decades before it began, because she knew that the consequence of our sinfulness is violence. "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."(Rom. 6:23) Through Mary, God is calling us to come out of the darkness and to live in His light!
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!
Sunday, October 12, 2008
This is not only a time to be concerned about America's future in regard to energy, the economy, foreign policy, or things like that. We need to be concerned about where we are going spiritually. I feel that if we are to elect a President that has supported infanticide, we will have crossed a serious line that will spell disaster for our country.
That's why I ask everyone who reads this to offer up a Rosary for the election every day from now to November 4. The Rosary is a powerful spiritual weapon and when people pray it with devotion God will work wonders. Pope Pius XI said, "if I had an army reciting the Rosary, I would convert the whole world." So imagine the power that prayer could have in this election. Pray the Rosary. If you can, fast a day each week. If you're not Catholic, maybe spend an extra 15 minutes a day reading Scripture. And pray about your vote. (Don't forget to vote, either- that part's important!)
I think we've seen the results of putting our country in the hands of politicians. This time, let's put it in God's hands.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Perhaps most shocking is how it has decimated the African-American community in this country. 3 out of 5 pregnancies in the African-American community result in abortion. Blacks once were the largest minority group in the country, but no longer; if those children had lived, that would not be the case. A disproportionate number of Planned Parenthoods exist in black neighborhoods as compared to the rest of the population.
This is no mistake, and not something that can simply be dismissed by saying that poverty rates have something to do with it. Margaret Sanger founded the Birth Control League, later Planned Parenthood. She was extremely racist. She considered blacks to be "human weeds." In 1939, she started the "Negro Project" and said "we do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the negro population". She hoped through contraception and sterilization to reduce the number of those she considered "unfit." Abortion has simply carried on that vision in a horrifying way. Planned Parenthood has not changed its tune at all.
Here is a message that I think people need to hear:
He talks about the death penalty, which I have my own different opinions on that I'll talk about sometime, but the basic point is right: that killing a handful of guilty people, the morality of which can be debated, is nowhere near the gravity of taking the lives of millions of innocent people, which cannot be debated. The Culture of Death is all about blurring the lines. But we need to draw a line and say that ALL life is precious, regardless of a person's race, religion, or socioeconomic status. We need to wake up: abortion does not empower anybody. It hurts women, and it hurts the African-American community.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
What is so remarkable is how unremarkable she was. She didn't possess any great skills, or have any great knowledge. What she did was simply to love- and to love to her heart's fullest. In Story of a Soul, she outlines what she calls her "little way", her "elevator" to Heaven- by doing small acts of great love. This is how she advanced in holiness; she did not preach in the streets, travel to distant lands (although she is patroness of missionaries), or perform great miracles (while she was on earth). She simply loved Jesus in all the actions of her daily life. She recognized that something as simple as a smile when you didn't feel like smiling could be as heroic as any martyrdom. She saw that the Lord does not look so much at our actions as He does the love with which we do them. St. Therese is proof that ALL of us can be saints, by showing love to others in our daily lives.
There's a whole lot I could write about Therese, being that she is my favorite saint. But I think I'll just give you some quotes from her:
Prayer is, for me, an outburst from the heart; it is a simple glance darted upwards to Heaven; it is a cry of gratitude and of love in the midst of trial as in the midst of joy! In a word, it is something exalted, supernatural, which dilates the soul and unites it to God.
Even now I know it: yes, all my hopes will be fulfilled... yes... the Lord will work wonders for me which will surpass infinitely my immeasurable desires.
Love!...that is what I ask...I know but one thing now - to love Thee, O Jesus! Glorious deeds are not for me, I cannot preach the Gospel, shed my blood...what does it matter? My brothers toil instead of me, and I, the little child, I keep quite close to the royal throne, I love for those who fight.
I know of one means only by which to attain to perfection: LOVE. Let us love, since our heart is made for nothing else. Sometimes I seek another word to express Love, but in this land of exile the word which begins and ends (St. Augustine) is quite incapable of rendering the vibrations of the soul; we must then adhere to this simple and only word: TO LOVE.
But on whom shall our poor heart lavish its love? Who shall be found that is great enough to be the recipient of its treasures? Will a human being know how to comprehend them, and above all will he be able to repay? There exists but one Being capable of comprehending love; it is Jesus; He alone can give us back infinitely more than we shall ever give to him.
St. Therese is such a wonderful example and I have a great love for her. If you don't know about her, read her book because you will experience the love of Christ through it. St. Therese, pray for us!
The obvious question in this is: how can something like this happen? To me, it seems clear that it is simply another symptom of the Culture of Death. I don't think the story I told you about a few days ago is unrelated. If children, unborn or born alive, are disposable, and the elderly are disposable, then why not people with mental illness? If we have embraced death at those stages of life, what is to stop us from embracing it in between? What does it say when someone's death is a form of entertainment? Why, in a culture of death, does it surprise us that someone feels their life has no worth?
Shaun Dykes needed to be told that his life was worth living. He needed to know that others valued his life when he had difficulty valuing it. Instead, he was given nothing positive to turn to in his despair. He could not see that his life was a gift from God. This is a tragic reminder to us that being pro-life isn't only about abortion or end-of-life issues. A Culture of Life celebrates the whole of life and respects its dignity throughout. Let us pray for Shaun and his family, and pray for mercy for those who cheered on during his final moments.
Martin Sheen has a deep faith and named himself after Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. He was heavily influenced by Dorothy Day and is very interested in Catholic social justice. I was surprised to find out that he is, in fact, pro-life and has supported Democrats for Life.
Sheen does lean heavily to the left in his political views and usually supports pro-abortion candidates. So I do have my issues with him. But he is fighting for the right thing in this situation and is to be commended for it.
Monday, September 29, 2008
The first comes from Ezekiel:
Thus says the LORD:This calls to mind a homily that a heard years ago from the same priest at the Mass I went to yesterday. He said that of all of God's attributes (love, mercy, wisdom, etc.) one that is never listed is fairness. If God were fair, we wouldn't deserve our next breath. Given how much we offend God on a daily basis, wouldn't it be "fair" for God, who is all-good, to wipe out all of us who are wicked? But thankfully, although God is just, which isn't the same as being fair, He is merciful. And how great is that mercy! We hear about it in our second reading:
You say, "The LORD's way is not fair!"
Hear now, house of Israel:
Is it my way that is unfair, or rather, are not your ways unfair?
When someone virtuous turns away from virtue to commit iniquity, and dies,
it is because of the iniquity he committed that he must die.
But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed,
he does what is right and just,
he shall preserve his life;
since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed,
he shall surely live, he shall not die.
Have in you the same attitudeWas the Cross "fair"? Of course not. Jesus was without sin and had done nothing to deserve the cruel death He suffered. The Cross was the result of our false concept of fairness, that those who pose an inconvenience for us should pay. But He endured it, not because we deserved to be saved, but because in His mercy He desired that we be saved.
that is also in Christ Jesus,
Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
which is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
We have our own concepts of fairness, of who is just and unjust, and who is worthy and unworthy. But we cannot see into a person's heart. Look at the example of this Sunday's Gospel:
Now, did the Pharisees think it was "fair" for Jesus to welcome tax collectors and prostitutes into His Kingdom? No. They felt that as strict observers of the Law they were above criticism, while those who broke the Law were inhuman. They could not see the wickedness in their own hearts, nor could they see the good in others' hearts. But God knows our hearts, and desires to show us mercy if we will just seek it. The Pharisees couldn't seek it because they didn't think they needed it. They didn't think the sinners Jesus embraced deserved forgiveness- and in that respect they were right. None of them did, nor do we. But God gave it to them, and gives it to us, in His infinite mercy.
Jesus said to the chief priests and elders of the people:
"What is your opinion?
A man had two sons.
He came to the first and said,
'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.'
He said in reply, 'I will not, '
but afterwards changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, 'Yes, sir, ‘but did not go.
Which of the two did his father's will?"
They answered, "The first."
Jesus said to them, "Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did.
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him."
No, God isn't "fair", or what we would define as fair. But as that priest who gave that homily said, "Thank God God isn't fair!" We don't need fairness- we need mercy.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Leaving aside the issue of socialized medicine and its flaws, we need to examine what leads to a mindset like this. How do people cease to believe that a sick elderly person has dignity? How can we say that one person's life is worth saving while another's is not?
The answer is relativism. This mindset exists because the lines have been blurred. If you ask the question, "do you support ending the life of a human being because it poses an inconvenience?", any sane person would say "of course not." So how is abortion justified? The definition of when life begins is blurred. We say that that child in the womb is not a life, merely a blob of tissue, or even a "parasite", as I have heard some pro-choicers say. We blur the lines on what is human. As we begin more and more to value "convenience", we adjust our definitions on what is human to fit our concept of convenience. In a generation, abortion went from being outlawed to being allowed in the first trimester, then for virtually any reason at any time in a pregnancy, to the horror of partial-birth abortion, until we reach the point where we are now where a presidential candidate of one of the two major political parties votes against providing medical care for children born after a failed abortion.
In the same way, the lines have been blurred at the end of life. It used to be that a person was to be cared for until the very end. A false concept of mercy started the ball rolling down the slippery slope. People believed that mercy was the ending of a person's suffering, or inconvenience. And this has had disastrous results. It wasn't too long ago when Dr. Jack Kevorkian was seen as a lunatic, a killer, a monster for "helping" people to die. But as the concept of "convenience" gradually became more prevalent, attitudes have changed. This happened first in Europe but is spreading here. From assisted suicide and euthanasia, we moved to the killing of Terri Schiavo and Baroness Warnock's comments.
This is where we are now in our culture: the concept of the sanctity of human life has been replaced by the concept of the sanctity of convenience. Nobody can be allowed to inconvenience me, be it a baby or an elderly relative.
Maybe we should ask ourselves these questions:
- Why is my convenience more important than the life of another person?
- Will the lines continue to blur at the beginning and the end of life?
- If so, what comes next? What will we accept in the name of "convenience" 10 years from now?
- What is to stop someone from saying my life is inconvenient?
St. Januarius was martyred around the year 304. Numerous attempts were made on his life before his decapitation: he was thrown into a fire yet unharmed, then unharmed again when thrown to wild beasts. When the man who ordered his decapitation was blinded, St. Januarius healed him and thousands were converted before he eventually died. His relics, including his blood, were taken to Naples, and the miracle of his blood was first recorded about a thousand years later.
This annual miracle is a reminder to us, not only of God's power, but of the fact that the saints are alive in Christ. St. Januarius is more alive today than the time he walked the earth, because in Christ we experience the FULLNESS of life. May we all strive to enter into that fullness!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
What we can learn from St. Robert is fearlessness in proclaiming the truth. St. Robert was not afraid to deal with the controversies of his day, but met them in a spirit of both charity and intellectual honesty. St. Robert Bellarmine, pray for us!
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
I'm a big fan of Fulton Sheen (I hope he'll be beatified soon) and may post more from him in the future.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
The nomination of Sarah Palin has raised awareness of the issue of children with disabilities and of the sanctity of life in general. Pro-lifers were inspired by her refusal to have an abortion when informed that her child had Down Syndrome. This was a strong affirmation of the most fundamental tenet of the pro-life movement, namely that all human life has great value. In other words, she refused to see her baby as a burden but as a blessing.
Contrast this with the attitude of Barack Obama. He famously said that he didn't want his daughters "punished with a baby." More importantly, he voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act- denying medical care to babies ALREADY BORN after a failed abortion attempt.
Apparently, convenience is more important than life.
This great divide was further evidenced in two stories this past week relating to children with disabilities. In one story, a man named Thomas VanderWoude jumped in after his son with Down Syndrome fell into a septic tank. VanderWoude held his son above his head for twenty minutes before help arrived. By the time it finally did arrive, VanderWoude had died, but his son survived.
On the other end of the spectrum, there was the case of the woman in the UK who drowned her 4-year-old daughter in a bathtub because she was "embarrassed" by her child's cerebral palsy. Again, this shows an attitude that favors "convenience" over life, that views children (particularly disabled children) as a burden or a punishment.
How have we come to this point, where whole groups of people are seen as "inconvenient"? How have we decided that certain lives are not worth living? Occasionally, you will get an answer like, "who are we to let these children suffer?" But this is a false compassion. Everybody suffers- it doesn't make us less human. If anything, it makes us more human. We've gotten to the point in this culture where we want to eliminate all suffering, all inconvenience. That's why 90% of children diagnosed in the womb with Down Syndrome are aborted. That's why some who support abortion think Palin made the wrong choice in keeping her son Trig. These people cannot see the value in these lives. Perhaps it is because their measure of a person's worth is how much money they can potentially make, or how good-looking they are, or other superficial criteria. Certainly, in their viewpoint, someone like Terry Schiavo had no worth. What was she able to contribute to society?
But those who support life know that a person's worth is based on the fact that they are made in the image and likeness of God. Millions of us were touched by the story of Terry Schiavo, just as we are by that of Trig Palin. Even if a person is in such a state that they are unable to show love to others, they are able to BRING OUT the love in others in a special way, by virtue of their humanity, by virtue of their being children of God.
Whenever we say that any human life is inconvenient, or undesirable, it is a dangerous road to walk down. People should know- we walked down this road before in the 20th century, and saw the greatest horrors in human history. We need to celebrate life. ALL life. Because it all has value. America has an opportunity to look at herself and see this, and thus become an example to all the world. Here's hoping we open our eyes.
UPDATE: This T-Shirt demonstrates what I'm talking about from those who do not respect life.
I'm Catholic, pro-life, and conservative. I'm a big fan of the Chicago Cubs, Bears, and Bulls, as well as being a fan of the Duke Blue Devils. The title of the blog comes from a comic that I drew back in school called the Hobbly Wobbly Zog. It was pure weirdness, which you will see from me occasionally in this blog. Anyway, enjoy!