Sunday, December 21, 2008

As We Come Closer to Christmas

Believe it or not Christmas is just three days away. In the next two days people will be preparing gifts for loved ones, hustling to the store to buy that last gift, and some people may even be freaking out about preparing a Christmas dinner, decorating the house, and making sure everything is just right. Except that is, for their souls.

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

Pope Benedict on Population Control

In the Pope's message for the World Day of Peace (January 1st, 2009), he discusses the relationship between poverty and population control. He rejects the widely held belief that higher population leads to more poverty; in fact, he says, the evidence shows otherwise. He points out that there are four billion more people than at the end of World War II, yet many nations have managed to come out of poverty.
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 16
A 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.