Thursday, October 30, 2008

John Paul II, We Love You!

Thirty years ago this month, the Polish Cardinal Karol Wojtyla was elected Pope. His papacy had a profound impact on the Church and on the whole world. Whether helping to bring about the end of the era of Communist domination in Eastern Europe and Russia or speaking out against the dangers of materialism and the "culture of death", Pope John Paul II proved a worthy successor to the chair of St. Peter, "the Rock". He was firm in his faith and convictions and would not yield, despite overwhelming pressure to do so. He stood AGAINST THE WORLD.

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

Fulton Sheen on Our Lady of Fatima

This is very powerful, and definitely worth seeing as we mark the 91st anniversary of the miraculous events at Fatima.

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

Pray the Rosary for the Election

I want to take the time and call upon all those who read this blog to pray for this election. The stakes have never been higher in an election because we have never had a clearer choice between the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death. Make no mistake: if we don't elect pro-life leaders this election, we will not be able to end abortion for decades. If we have extremely pro-choice Justices on the Supreme Court, Roe vs. Wade will not be overturned. Period. If we have an extremely pro-choice Congress, they will do away with any limits on abortion. Period. If we elect the most pro-abortion candidate we've ever had for President, he will sign the "Freedom of Choice Act", doing away with any pro-life laws that have been passed. Period.
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.

Father Frank Pavone- "Risk It!"

Fr. Frank is the head of Priests for Life, which is one of the most powerful pro-life organizations in America. He makes it simple- though we may struggle in getting out our pro-life message, what we have to lose is nothing compared to what we have to gain; namely, life. Don't sit on the sidelines! Don't wait around hoping somebody else will change the culture! Do your part! RISK IT!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Abortion and the African-American Community

All of us are affected by abortion. One third of my generation isn't here because of it. More children are aborted each day in the United States than people who died in the 9/11 attacks. Abortion not only destroys life in the womb, but it destroys families, hurts women, and helps fathers to avoid responsibility. Even if we don't know anyone who has had an abortion, we see its effects around us.

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

St. Therese of Lisieux: "The Little Flower"

If I were to recommend one book besides the Bible that every Christian should read, it would be Story of a Soul, the autobiography of St. Therese. So many lives have been changed by this simple Carmelite nun who died 111 years ago yesterday. She is one of only three women to be declared a "doctor of the Church". She is one of only two Western saints (the other being St. Francis of Assisi) to be recognized as a saint by the Eastern Orthodox Churches since the split with the Roman Catholic Church. She has been called by popes "the greatest saint of modern times." But what is so remarkable about this frail little nun who died at the age of 24?

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 Consequences of the Culture of Death

Last Saturday, a young man from Derby, England, was standing at the top of a parking garage threatening to jump. His peers encouraged him to do so, shouting for him to jump and even asking if he could bounce. When he did jump and fell to his death, people gathered around him- to take pictures on their cell phones. (This is from an article in the Daily Mail, but be warned before you click on the link that occasionally some of their advertising is inappropriate. Article)

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 Speaks Out Against Assisted Suicide

In a recent LifeSite article, we learn that Martin Sheen is starring in a new radio spot voicing his opposition to Washington's I-1000 ballot initiative, which would legalize assisted suicide. Many pro-euthanasia activists are hoping that passage of the initiative would lead to other states accepting the practice.

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.