Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Back up and running!

Perhaps you've seen AOL's recent ad, and perhaps you haven't, but my ongoing disgust at them ended with the cancellation of my subscription late last Friday night. Mind you, I am an avid internet junkie. I work in front of a computer screen during the day and maintain a blog as well as keep up with family and friends through e-mail, which usually consumes an additional hour or two in front of my home computer in the evening. Loosing access to the internet over the past 5 days has been a little bit more than a struggle for me!

Let me tell you a little bit about AOL's recent ad. It was an in-your-face use of gay romance to sell their ISP. In our culture, "sex sells." Typically, this has been through images of man and woman in passionate embrace that often border on pornography. However AOL has learned something that I am quite certain many more companies will begin to catch on to: in a culture where homosexuality is becoming an epidemic, the "sex sells" message must also appeal to this sexually deviant crowd. Much like advertisements are in Spanish to appeal to our Hispanic brothers and sisters, companies will appeal to this sexual minority using the "sex sells" philosophy that jives with their lifestyle choices.

Because Christians have failed in our duty to protect life, human sexuality and common decency on many levels, there is widespread acceptance of contraception, abortion on demand, promiscuity, homosexuality, and the list goes on and on. (This has been called the "Heterosexual Revolution" by Stephanie Coontz, and I blogged about this here.)

I called AOL and canceled my subscription immediately after seeing the ad, and this was at 10pm on a Friday night! Not only that, I told them why they just lost a customer.

As the alternative, I have chosen Sienna Communications for my new ISP. The price is cheaper than AOL, and setup was just as easy. Another perk: they donate a part of my bill monthly to the charity of my choice, and I choose Priests for Life. (Thanks be to God, I found them and am "up and running" much quicker than I expected!)

It's not only the programs, projects and events that a company chooses to sponsor, but also the content of their ad and the anti-Christian agenda that they consistently push that are important. We saw this with the Carl's Jr. ad's earlier this year featuring Paris Hilton making love to a hamburger… When possible, stand up for what is right!

Here are some more ideas of how mainstream Catholic pro-life people have used their talents to serve the Church and spread the Gospel message.

ParishPay. ParishPay uses a system much like "PayPal," but the purpose is to make direct donations to your parish through the internet. What a great idea!!

Café Fiat. Café Fiat was only brought to my attention today, sadly because they are temporarily closed. This coffee shop/ deli used their business to host Catholic speakers, spread the pro-life message and evangelize while serving amazing food.

One More Soul. One More Soul has a directory of NFP only practitioners. What a gift!!

For those interested in boycotts and protests of companies that advertise for or advertise by means of contradicting the Gospel message, please visit American Decency Association or Life Decisions International.

As our beloved Pope John Paul the Great said, "Place your talents at the service of life!!"

Monday, August 29, 2005

Temporarily out-of-order

Due to temporary lack of internet access, posts and all other communications will resume after the Labor Day holiday. I sincerely apologize! God bless you!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Why do they care? PPNYC on rape

In a desperate attempt to champion the rights of the abused, Planned Parenthood New York City is advertising on their website for a survey being conducted by The New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault. It seems odd that the number one abortion provider in the country (though not number one in NYC) is advocating for the rights of the abused. Their 2003 year report tells us why:

"After three years of advocacy, PPNYC and our sister organizations won passage of a new state law requiring hospitals that treat rape survivors to provide them with information about emergency contraception (EC) and to dispense EC on-site if a woman requests it."

In the event that emergency contraception is not successful (it is only 78-86% successful according to the Planned Parenthood), it means additional revenue for them through surgical abortion. A rape victim is potentially an emergency contraception or abortion customer if that person does not receive proper counseling after the assault. If counseled improperly, then she will mistakenly believe that a pregnancy resulting from rape ought to aborted as a part of her healing.

Testimonies of women who have conceived in rape that are included in Victims and Victors by David Reardon show rape victims, like all women, need love and support, not abortion.

"Even though I didn't have any say about the abortion, it has had a greater impact on my life than the rape/ incest." -Edith Young (p. 132)

"My sister was being sexually assaulted by my brothers for a number of years when she got her first abortion at the age of sixteen. Had she been questioned by anyone as to how a minor like herself had come to be pregnant in the first place, she could have been saved from any further abused within the family. This is indeed what should have happened in any agency that claims to be concerned about preventing child abuse. As it turned out, she was given the abortion without my parents' consent or knowledge and then returned to the same environment." -"Julie Anderson" (p. 135-136)

"I was raped by my father when I was fifteen years old… I was violated and betrayed over and over by my father, who God created to love and protect me. I was humiliated, hurt and violated again by the abortionist." –"Denise Kalasky" (p. 124-125)

Whether the efforts of the NYCAASA are pure, I am not sure yet. Rape for sexual assault victims only perpetuates their victimization. It does not help them. Let's let the victims who are brave enough to speak out continue to spread the message on behalf true health care and post- traumatic treatment.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Q: What do abortionists say about unborn pain?

A: "Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester" (abstract from "Fetal Pain" in the Journal of the American Medical Association)

This is the conclusion made by two abortion rights activists along with their colleagues. Posing as experts in the area of fetal pain, Eleanor Drey, an abortion clinic owner and activist for unrestricted abortion rights, Susan J. Lee, a medical student and former NARAL employee, and three other medical professionals interpret limited research in the area of fetal pain without any clinical research of their own. Had these professionals taken advantage of all of the research available on this subject, they would have clearly seen that unborn children do feel pain; some research has even shown pain is felt as early as 10 weeks in the womb.

Of course, pain or no pain, abortion is a grave offense against life. Or, as Fr. Frank Pavone said yesterday, "there are many painless ways to kill both born and unborn. That doesn't make it right." Abortion supporters want to show that the unborn do not feel pain in order to justify their killing and deny their full humanity.

"The pro-life movement faces more than the challenge of demonstrating that abortion kills a human being," said Fr. Frank Pavone in his 2002 booklet Pro-life: today and always. The pro-life movement "faces the challenge of reminding people why killing is wrong in the first place."

Ironically, the pro-abortion forces not only want to perpetuate the lies that abortion is not the destroying of human life, but also claim that one of the reasons unborn human life is less than human is because it is not capable of perceiving pain.

The topic of fetal pain has not been a stranger to Fr. Frank lately, issuing a column on the subject two weeks ago and a press release yesterday.

Prophetically, Fr. Frank stated the following in his recent column:

"Many abortion supporters will, of course, continue to deny reality. As Bertrand Russell wrote, 'A fisherman once told me that fish have neither sense nor sensation, but how he knew this, he could not tell me.'"

And so they have…

For further news coverage including details about legitimate studies on fetal pain, please see Abortion fetal pain study authored by abortion rights activists at LifeSite.net.

The National Right to Life Committee issued a very thorough response; please click here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Eucharistic Adoration on Staten Island

Finding such a treasure is not easy, so when I ran across this schedule, I decided it must become available on the internet for weary travelers, students, and residents living on Staten Island. Thank you to the Eucharistic Guardians of Staten Island for compiling the list. Please check MassTimes.org for exact locations and contact information for below listed parishes.

Of course, the bigger treasure is being able to spend time in Eucharistic Adoration!

Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration:
Holy Child Church, Amboy Rd and Arden Ave
Alba House (Adoration chapel in school at west end of campus), 2187 Victory Blvd

Seven Days a Week:
St. Paul Church (in chapel), 145 Clinton Ave, West New Brighton, 8am-8pm- begins with Mass at 8am followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

Monday through Saturday:
St. Peter Church (in chapel), 53 St. Mark's Place, 7am-12pm- begins with Mass followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament

Monday through Friday:
St. Clare Church (in chapel), Nelson Ave, Great Kills, 9:30am-6:30pm, Eucharistic Adoration
St. Charles Church (in chapel), Hylan Blvd, New Dorp, 12-6pm- Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament
St. Christopher Church, Midland Ave, Grant City, 12:30-5:30pm- Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament

Every Monday:
St. Ann Church, 101 Cromwell Ave, Dongan Hills, 7-8pm- Holy hour
Holy Rosary Church, Jerome Ave, South Beach, 8-9pm- Adoration and silent holy hour

Every Tuesday:
St. Christopher Church, Midland Ave, Grant City, 7:30pm- Holy hour

Every Friday:
Holy Family Church, Watchogue Rd, 9:30am-3:30am- Adoration with 9:30am Rosary, 3pm Divine Mercy Chaplet and Benediction, and 8-9pm holy hour.
Immaculate Conception Church, Targee St, 8-9pm, Holy hour in Spanish

Every First Sunday:
Disciples of the Divine Master, 60 Sunset Ave, 3-4pm- Holy hour and Benediction

Every First Monday:
St. Charles Church, Hylan Blvd, New Dorp, 7:30-8:30pm- Holy hour and Benediction

Every First Friday:
St. Ann Church, 101 Cromwell Ave, Dongan Hills, 7-11pm- Adoration
Blessed Sacrament Church, 840 Delafield Ave, 6-7pm- Holy hour of reparation for priests, followed by Benediction and Mass at 7pm
Holy Child Church, Amboy Rd and Arden Ave, 7:30-10:30pm- "Praying for Life" with Rosary, Mass, procession of the Blessed Sacrament and Benediction
Immaculate Conception Church, Targee St, 9:15am-8pm- Exposition of teh Blessed Sacrament and Mass at 8pm in Spanish
Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, New Dorp Lane and Richmond Rd, 9am-9pm- Adoration
St. Roch Church, 602 Richmond Ave, 9:30am-7:30pm- Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, ends with Benediction
St. Teresa Church, 1634 Victory Blvd, 12:30-7:30pm, Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament followed by Holy hour of Reparation to Sacred Heart of Jesus 7:30-8:30pm
St. Thomas Church, Amboy Rd and Maguire Ave, 8am-7pm- begins with Mass followed by Exposition of Blessed Sacrament and ends with Benediction at 7pm

Monday, August 22, 2005

iPLEDGE: an agenda?

Today, the Food and Drug Administration launched the website to accompany their iPLEDGE program for reducing the instance of pregnancy in women taking the acne medication isotretinoin (by its generic name, more commonly known as Accutane). The reason for this is the high risk of birth defects in children who are conceived during the use of this drug.

The important thing to note about the iPLEDGE program is that it is not optional. It is obligatory, government funded and government mandated. In fact, this program is run much like the coercive techniques of China's one-child policy. Except with iPLEDGE, it is not abortion that is mandatory, it is contraception. In order to be prescribed the medication, the woman must test twice within 19 days with a negative pregnancy test, "pledge" to take use at least two different contraceptive medications or devices in order to prevent pregnancy, and take a monthly pregnancy test with doctor supervision. Every girl, teen age female and woman is required to participate in the program, except those who have had a complete hysterectomy or bilateral oophorectomy (removal of both ovaries), or are doctor certified as post-menopausal.

Isotretinoin is the only drug that has been developed to treat the severe form of acne known as "nodular acne." These are deep, painful red sours that are the size of an eraser or larger. Side effects are serious for this drug, and include depression, psychosis, suicide, birth defects, serious brain problems (bad headache, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, seizures and stroke), stomach area problems (severe stomach, chest and bowel pain; trouble swallowing or painful swallowing; new or worsening heartburn; diarrhea; rectal bleeding; yellowing of your skin or eyes; and dark urine), bone and muscle problems (back pain, join pain, broken bones and muscle weakness), hearing problems, vision problems, lipid problems (fats and cholesterol in blood), serious allergic reactions, blood sugar problems, decreased red and white blood cells, and more. Beyond wondering why this drug is even on the market for safe use, the FDA has made birth control mandatory before a prescription for the drug will be given.

While the intention of the FDA to decrease the instance of birth defects must have been made with good intentions, they are effectively promoting bad health care. They are seeking to avoid a potential pregnancy of a child who potentially will have a birth defect. They are also reinforcing the idea that a child with a disability does not have the right to be born. While the 13-page Patient Introductory Brochure insists that if a woman becomes pregnant while one the drug, she must discontinue use of the drug, it is implied that the pregnancy will be destroyed through abortion.

It is key to note that the package insert for Accutane and the Prescriber's Guide list complete abstinence as an option for preventing pregnancy when using the drug, but it is not mentioned in the Patient Introductory Brochure in any way. In fact, the word is not even mentioned in the Patient Introductory Brochure.

The Prescriber's Guide says the following:

"Before beginning treatment of female patients of childbearing potential with isotretinoin and on a monthly basis, the patient will be counseled to avoid pregnancy by using two forms of contraception simultaneously and continuously one month before, during, and one month after isotretinoin therapy, unless the patient commits to continuous abstinence."

"For this program, all female patients of childbearing potential must fully commit to pregnancy prevention. Abstinence without appropriate contraception is not recommended for patients in the iPLEDGE program who are or have been sexually active. Abstinence may be appropriate when it is a lifestyle choice (e.g., religious practice) and not just a social circumstance (e.g., not having a current partner). If, after counseling, a sexually active patient chooses abstinence without contraception, she must understand that isotretinoin is not recommended for any female patient of childbearing potential who cannot or will not follow the contraceptive requirements of the iPLEDGE program. All female patients of childbearing potential must receive contraception counseling."

There are many issues with the iPLEDGE program that deserve more thorough consideration, however I encourage readers to look into this program and explore the ways that our tax dollars are spent in the name of health. From the scary list of side effects to the coercive contraception policy, it looks like it is time to remove Accutane from the market and to seek a real solution to acne, not a solution that leads to further medical risk.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Multiple abortions: why does that happen?

At least outwardly, both sides of the abortion debate agree that there ought to be less instance of abortion, and that repeat abortions are a tragedy. In her book, Forbidden Grief, Dr. Theresa Burke reports on a meeting of the National Abortion Federation in which one abortion provider dared to suggest that her clinic was apprehensive about performing the 14th abortion on a patient.

The rest of the abortion industry is nowhere near accepting this philosophy, though they appear to frown upon repeat abortions. A response was made in this meeting that this mother of 14 destroyed children validly made the choice "not to contracept" (p. 155).

It is often said that a woman who has multiple abortions is using abortion as a method of birth control. However, let us consider the woman who has had multiple abortions. Experts in post-abortion care (from the pro-life perspective, that is) agree that the post-abortive woman is severely traumatized and may engage in repeat abortions due to the traumatic nature of the event. Women do not engage in repeat abortions as a means of birth control, but only because they do not seem them selves as capable of being a mother after being a woman who has killed her own child.

Dr. Burke describes a woman named "Christine" who had 6 abortions simply because after the first, she could no longer see her self as a mother.

"Christine's story illustrates one of the many overlooked consequences of abortion. It is the unspoken but accepted message to a woman that she is inadequate. Instead of being offered support, encouragement, and trust in her ability to care for a child, a woman is persuaded to accept a violent solution that invades her physical and psychological integrity. The result, at the very least, is a lack of self-confidence and a diminished sense of self-worth. When traumatized women lose all confidence in their ability to protect and care for others, they are prone to become entangled in a pattern of multiple abortions" (p. 150).

Due to her initial lack of confidence during the first pregnancy, this woman subjected herself to aborting her own child. Feeling inadequate to perform as a mother, upon discovering a subsequent pregnancy, her self-worth and confidence are already cut down so dramatically that she finds it impossible to see herself as a mother. Here, it is easy to see that the weak woman is the most likely to be the tragic victim of multiple abortions.

A report out of Pennsylvania shows a steady decline in the number of abortions in the state, with a great dispute between pro-life and pro-choice organizations as to how. The pro-life forces attribute the decline to readily available, state-funded alternatives programs. Pro-choice forces attribute the decline to readily available contraceptives. Yet, besides statistics showing a decline in the number of abortions, "We have women who are having two, three abortions over a period of time, and this indicates that women are using abortion as a form of birth control," Marie Vitale said told LifeNews.com.

Ms. Vitale is the education director for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation. Perhaps Ms. Vitale does not understand that women do not submit themselves to multiple abortions for reasons of birth control. In depth post-abortion research shows that women
This claim further alienates pro-life persons from post-abortive women who desperately need our compassion and understanding.

To say that a woman who has had multiple abortions is using it as a method of birth control is insulting to this woman who likely been using some form of contraception in the first place. This contraceptive mentality (that if pregnancy occurs as a result of sex with contraception, the pregnancy, the child, can be destroyed) may have lead to the abortion, therefore the issue of contraception must be dealt with thoroughly for both the woman and her partner. They need to understand that the proper context for the conjugal act is within marriage and open to new life.

This woman may not want children, however, this woman does not understand that she must have a life-style change. Natural Family Planning is recommended for couples who have serious reason for spacing births. In her lifestyle change, a woman must turn away from the destructive things in her life such as alcoholism, eating disorders, which may be consequence of her first abortion. Abortion has been known to lead to many destructive tendencies and habits among women, and it is precisely these things that lead to a second pregnancy, and oftentimes a second abortion, third abortion or more.

The pro-life community does this "clean up job" after abortion by such programs as Rachel's Vineyard because we understand that abortion has consequences for women emotionally, physically and spiritually. The pro-choice community, through such efforts as "I'm not sorry" continues their philosophy that abortion is good for women, or at least, is not bad or painful for them. Post-abortion efforts that are sponsored by the pro-choice community and abortion industry do not focus on repentance or forgiveness, but on "coming to terms with choice." Nonetheless, as seen in the fact that most abortion appointments end with a "take home bag" of contraceptives, the abortion industry believes that women should take contraception more seriously so as to avoid using abortion as the last ditch opportunity for birth control. This is yet another way that the abortion industry lies to women; it has been proven that in all places where contraception is pushed, the instance of abortion rises. This is due to the contraceptive mentality.

The pro-life community sees abortion not as a means of birth control, but an abuse of women. Therefore, for the pro-life community to say that woman who has had repeat abortions is using it as a means of birth control shows incredible ignorance of the trauma of abortion. For a pro-life'er to say that multiple abortions shows "abortion as a means of birth control," it is as if to subscribe to the pro-choice mentality that abortion is without consequence, emotion, trauma or grief.

"One way in which women who are traumatized by their abortions seek to reassert power over their lives, and simultaneously to 'undo' their abortions is through repeat pregnancies. Unfortunately, this is a very risky proposition. While some women do carry their subsequent replacement pregnancies to term, others quickly discover that the same pressures that led to their first abortions are still there. as a result, they are likely to have another abortion, which reinforces the trauma of the first" (p. 148-149).

The great irony is that society has ultimately failed women, even in the name of feminism and "equal rights for women." The woman who is pregnant ought to be supported emotionally, practically and spiritually by the child's father, her family, her church and her community (in that order). The woman who has been traumatized by abortion ought to be lead back to hope and healing through programs such as Rachel's Vineyard.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The "eerie's" inside an abortion clinic

When the circus of protesters outside of an abortion clinic gets rowdy, the lines on the sidewalk get blurred and the roles of the players change. This is precisely what happened to a woman named "Elizabeth" last weekend.

Elizabeth was approaching a certain Planned Parenthood clinic, telling a friend Christine to meet her there. Confused, a little scared and very tired from lack of sleep the night before, she was caught off guard when greeted by a woman serving as a pro-choice escort and a man opposite her serving as a pro-life sidewalk counselor.

Both stood peacefully on the sidewalk, on the lookout for customers preparing to enter the Planned Parenthood that morning.

"What do you believe?" she asked both of them at once.

The man spoke up first. "We are here to tell women about alternatives to abortion…" His voice trailed off as Elizabeth turned to the woman.

"We believe a woman has choice," she said. "Are you going into the clinic?"

Still musing over her decision, she turned toward the man and repeated the question. "I don't know; am I going into the clinic?"

"Yes, you are going in," he said quietly.

"Come with me," said the woman quickly, shuttling her away from the sidewalk counselor.

Just inside the front door, Elizabeth was met by a security guard who asked her to sign in on a clipboard. She scribbled her name obediently, but was surprised when she was then asked to search her purse.

Defensive and feeling her privacy was being violated, she demanded an explanation.

"Just a routine check for any illegal items," was the answer. This clinic must be scared of certain anti-abortion activists who engage in illegal and harmful activities to deter women from entering the abortion clinic.

Because she did not have an appointment, the security guard directed Elizabeth toward the desk to get further information about services provided and how to make an appointment.

Elizabeth said a prayer and sat down in the large waiting room next to a young black man with his head against the wall and no partner near him. There must have been 30-40 people waiting in the room, yet it was silent, eerily silent.

Curious, she casually began to ask the young man next to her some questions about why he was there and whether his girlfriend was pregnant. Yes, she was 4 weeks pregnant and receiving a pre-procedure examination.

The young father responded to Elizabeth's inquiries with questions of his own. He asked why she was so inquisitive and why she was there. Elizabeth told him how she did not have an appointment, but was only there getting some information.

They continued to chat quietly about their circumstances.

A beautiful, thin black woman emerged a few minutes later, her face washed out, appearing as if wiped out by a truck. After she seated herself next to Elizabeth's new friend, Elizabeth turned to her and asked, "You got an ultrasound of your baby?"

The woman responded with an apprehensive, shocked look, noticing that no one else had referred to her pregnancy as a baby. She said nothing, as her boyfriend tried to warn her in a whisper about Elizabeth's curious nature.

A few moments later, the two approached the desk to pay for their child to be destroyed, and then returned to their seats. This time, they left a seat in between themselves and the curious Elizabeth.

Feeling helpless, Elizabeth sat there praying, deciding what to do next, and could feel the burn of the stare of the abortion-bound mother sitting beside her. She glanced around at the other women in the clinic, feeling the "eerie's" creep into her.

Across the room sat a Hispanic woman who was obviously showing, and Elizabeth's heart wrenched, and she began to feel ill. In her mind, she saw her sister who had given birth only a few weeks earlier.

Across from her, a white woman sat full of anger and all alone. The gruff look on her face told the world that she considered all of humanity to be an enemy to herself. She did not even look up when Elizabeth asked how she was. Hate and anger radiated from her.

Everyone in the clinic found it so out of the ordinary that anyone would talk to them in the waiting room. It was dead silent, as if in line at a funeral procession.

It was easy to see that each woman had come to the Planned Parenthood that day for a different reason. No one was "gung ho" about being there. They all looked like this was just a necessary evil of life.

Elizabeth continued to pray. "Hail Mary, full of grace…"

She breathed a sign of relief when her cell phone vibrated in her purse; Christine had arrived. Before exiting the building, she approached the boyfriend one last time. "If you are feeling uncomfortable, that is your conscience telling you that there is something wrong."

He was quite uneasy and appeared as if he couldn't even think straight, but insisted that he was fine.

"You may be fine," Elizabeth said softly, "but your girlfriend isn't. I've been with many women after abortion and it is not pretty. Women suffer much after abortion, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Your girlfriend is beautiful, and your baby will be beautiful too. And, I think you would be a wonderful father."

With that, she wished him well and exited the clinic.

The pro-choice escort greeted Elizabeth as she left the clinic and asked how she was doing. She had a pleasant personality and seemed genuinely interested in how Elizabeth felt.

"It is so sad in there," Elizabeth responded. "It is so sad that women have to do that."

Trying not to argue, Elizabeth tried to explain the "eerie's" she felt being in the clinic and the concern she had that the women may not have been told about alternatives to abortion.

The escort desperately tried to stress the fact that each women "has a choice."

Before leaving to find Christine, Elizabeth looked at her and said "God bless you."

Elizabeth felt a sense of relief from the pro-choice escort, who thanked her and walked away to find more women to exert her misguided compassion upon.

The next morning the "eerie's" that Elizabeth felt when inside the clinic had not yet left her. At Mass, after receiving the Lord in the Holy Eucharist, Elizabeth confessed to God in the silence of her heart for any way she may have sinned because of entering the clinic. Finally, she felt peace in her heart.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Catholic couples and contraception

Today I had the opportunity to meet about fifteen seminarians from around the country. With each, I discussed a different life issue, depending on the particular interest of each seminarian. For some it was current events, for others it was activism, and for others it was all an area of interest because this was their first encounter with the pro-life movement. The most compelling discussion was with Eric from Portland, Oregon. With him, the area of interest was a proper understand of human sexuality.

In the other brief discussions, I noticed that we focused on the defensive, on each little battle that is being fought by the pro-life movement. It is clear that while pro-life warriors fight on one narrowly focused front of abortion, the root of the problem of the culture of death continues to thrive. Currently, their tragic victory is expressing itself in legalized homosexual unions, OTC status for Plan B emergency contraceptives, sex-promotion education to our youngsters, destructive embryonic research, and more. A quick glance at Life Site News, or any other pro-life news source, reveals a shocking amount of current events that are on our plate.

One thing is missing from the pro-life agenda, however. The pro-life agenda is missing the call to promote the proper understanding of human sexuality. Bloody pictures of aborted babies, statistics that show a plummeting population due to disease and low birth rates, and studies showing that children are raised better in a traditional home will not convert hearts. They will only serve as evidence of the culture of death.

The answer lies in getting back to the basics of our human sexual relationships. Pro-abortion groups such as the Planned Parenthood recently celebrated a dark anniversary, the 40th year of legalized contraception. Pro-life forces said nothing. The pro-abortion forces used this opportunity to call for a greater use of and accessibility to contraception not only for Americans, but for people in all nations of every age, especially the young, poor and minorities. Margaret Sanger's birth control movement started with the conviction that birth control must be "legal and accessible," and grew to the barbarism of legalized, restriction-free abortion a few short years later.

The root of the culture of death is seen most tangibly in the common practice of contraception. Though most young Catholics do not understand the Church's teachings on birth regulation, most reject her teachings during or before high school. This is in part due to the sex education programs pushed by pro-abortion forces such as Planned Parenthood. When the time for marriage comes, their misunderstandings and rejections follow them, breaking down a marriage even before it has begun.

Marriage preparation classes are meant to introduce couples to the reality of married life, including the blunt truth about contraception. Sadly, most couples I have spoken with hear only one line about NFP during these classes, and that line says it is "one of many options" that a couple may choose in "following their consciences" in planning their family. Couples remain ignorant of the Church's teachings, teachings that are meant ultimately to help them grow in their marital love and lead them to heaven.

The Catholic Church is not yet prepared to fully address this topic. The knowledge is there in the documents of the Church and the writings of intellectuals such as Pope John Paul II in his Theology of the Body. The courage and conviction are not yet present. As new seminarians are being formed and prepared for the priesthood, they are embracing these teachings with vigor and determination. Young, vibrantly Catholic couples must continue to step forward to run marriage preparation courses, giving a true example to couples preparing for marriage.

We must change our game plan and be on the offense. We must, must, must use our influence, resources and talents to restore a proper understanding of human sexuality. With that, all of our other problems will naturally fix themselves. If the pro-abortion movement boldly recognizes that contraception advances their agenda, why can't the pro-life movement recognize urgency of this topic?

Two real life stories on Why we quit contracepting in this week's National Catholic Register.

Marriage prep program modeled on Theology of the Body has been developed by Christopher West. Please contact Ascension Press.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Distinct sources of stem cells, and their morality

At a parish in New Jersey this weekend, I realized that the problem of ignorance on the topic of stem cells is deep in the minds of the Catholics and the world. This issue has created confusion because of the distinction between morally legit stem cell research and morally offensive stem cell research is not only rarely explained thoroughly nor understood fully.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has an informative fact sheet on stem cell research that many parishes are using as a bulletin insert. Upon seeing this fact sheet in the bulletin, a woman turned to my aunt and myself and said "I agree with embryonic stem cell research. My son had a daughter last year, and I am so glad they kept the blood."

Puzzled, I chimed in, "Are you speaking about the cord blood and placenta?"

She was, and I informed her that stem cells obtained from the umbilical cord blood and placenta are considered adult stem cells because they do not involved the destruction of a human embryo. My aunt went on to explain how embryonic stem cell research is possible only because a human person in the very earliest stages of development is picked apart like a 2nd grade science experiment, piece by piece, for the sake of research. The child no longer exists; on the contrary, the cells, stem cells, of his little body are used to grow various organs and cells for use by researches. This is just as barbaric as surgical abortion, if not more, for these children are often created via cloning for the specific purpose of being picked apart for stem cell harvesting.

The woman we were conversing with was mistakenly referring to cord blood stem cells as embryonic stem cells, and it is easy to see where the confusion comes from. The process by which the placenta and umbilical cord are saved for further research is morally legit, and it is growing in popularity. Sadly, researchers who obstinately demand millions of tax dollars for their destructive research do not recognize the benefits of umbilical stem cell research.

The last point is that we are not doubting that embryonic stem cell research could be beneficial, however we must remember the basic tenet of natural and moral law that the end never justifies the means.

Action for today: contact your senator and congressman and let him know you want a federal umbilical blood bank in lieu of funding for embryonic stem cell research.

Additional resource: Do No Harm: The coalition of Americans for research ethics

Vatican Document (one of many!): Scientific and Therapeutic Use of Human Embryonic Stem Cells

Friday, August 12, 2005

Policy of non-violence

The Planned Parenthood features on their website what they call "Eye on Extremism," in which they detail anti-abortion activities, placing them on the level of terrorism. While some of the events detailed are not condoned by the pro-life movement, such as the killing of clinic workers by Paul Hill in 1994, most of the events featured are simply lawful expressions of first amendment rights. These lawful events draw negative attention to the Planned Parenthood and result in loss of business. Therefore, the Planned Parenthood gets upset at these pro-life activists.

The Planned Parenthood brands certain pro-life groups, such as Operation Rescue and American Life League, as "extremist or terrorist organizations." Their leaders are also featured as "extremists," with bios that explain their history in detail.

Nonetheless, the pro-life movement adopts a policy of non-violence. Despite the empty claims of the pro-abortion movement that our message is filled with hate and condemnation, we remain steadfast in prayer and service to women, men and children in need.

Monday morning, the pro-life movement received from the Planned Parenthood the "get out of jail free" card that will last from now until we end legalized abortion: an 8 minute film on Planned Parenthood Golden Gate's website that features the killing of pro-life activists. No longer can the Planned Parenthood or any other pro-abortion group claim that our movement, the pro-life movement, is based on hate, lies or violence. This short flick shows loud and clear what the true agenda and attitude of the Planned Parenthood has been all along.

For a "play by play" of the movie, please see Dawn Eden's website.

Action item: watch the entire flick (link from Dawn's site) and write a letter to the editor of your local paper expressing your outrage and disapproval of the Planned Parenthood. If possible, mention specific activities of your local Planned Parenthood affiliate that have undermined pro-life activities, such as the presence of pro-choice escorts at the clinic.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The little cancer-causing Pill

A woman wrote on Monday distraught over the fact that her friend is taking the birth control pill for the sake of avoiding ovarian cancer, which runs in her family. The woman wanted to know whether this was "okay" for her friend to do because she was married. There are a few issues at bay here beyond the fact that she is effectively destroying her fertility for the sake of avoiding cancer.

First of all, I instructed her that her friend ought to abstain completely because of the abortifacient factor of chemical contraceptives. In her case, the first desire is not to destroy her fertility, but to avoid cancer, and therefore taking the Pill would be okay. Destroying one's fertility in this case would only be an undesired side effect. But, because the Pill has been known to allow "break through pregnancy," which results in early abortion, she would be advised to abstain completely in order to avoid the chance of aborting one of her children.

However, I had one more issue with this case. The young woman is taking the Pill for the sake of avoiding cancer. Luckily, at the end of July, the International Agency for Research on Cancer issued a press release outlining their research which showed that while the Pill does decrease the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancer, it has been raised to the heights of "carcinogenic to humans," for the fact that it increases the risk of breast, cervix and liver cancer. Chemical contraceptives were previously considered "probably carcinogenic to humans."

It does not seem logical that any woman would place her body at risk for these deadly cancers, even if for the sake of reducing the risk of other cancers. Meanwhile, in the process a woman on the Pill is destroying her fertility. It has been proven that one of the best ways to prevent many common cancers in women is to conceive and bear a child. This is the body's natural means of protecting itself from cancer.

In 2001, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published findings that demonstrated the link between childbirth and a decrease risk of breast cancer. "There is significant evidence that the timing of normal developmental events like menarche, menopause, and age of first parity have a significant impact on an individual's susceptibility to breast cancer."

Those interested in the medical jargon and technicalities of the study may read the article on the PNAS website.

Monday, August 8, 2005

Michael Schiavo honored for killing his wife

The Florida State Guardianship Association honored Michael Schiavo as "Guardian of the Year" last Friday for his role in killing Terri Schiavo.

This can only mean that to be a successful mother, father, guardian, foster parent or other authority figure, you must succeed in disrespecting the life of your dependent when because of your own personal agenda. Killing is rewarded and praised as heroic and virtuous.

This means that every child at Holy Angels could be killed by his or her parents in the name of compassion. There is no longer any such thing as disability rights. The only "right" for them is now the "right" to die.

Various news reports include the following brief from MSNBC.

Chaplain at Planned Parenthood??

In an unexpected twist of strategy, the "keep your rosaries off my ovaries" crowd has embarked on a new mission: chaplaincy within the work of the Planned Parenthood.

At the cutting edge of all-things-new in the pro-choice movement stands Planned Parenthood of California. A featured article on the website for Planned Parenthood Golden Gate explains this new "ministry" in detail.

In its infancy, the chaplaincy program currently has five such chaplains in various Planned Parenthood office in the country. Lisa Sargent is a five-year-plus veteran of the pro-choice movement, and in the capacity of chaplain, she feels she has truly found her nitch. Yet, redefining God seems to be the only purpose of the Church of the Planned Parenthood.

"Her position is rare - one of five within the national Planned Parenthood organization - and seemingly oxymoronic, violating the stereotypical separation of church and choice," states the article.

Reading into the end of it where we see that this form of "chaplaincy" means only to help people justify their sins using the same words that should be used to convict them of their sins, I cannot see how any of her "patients" actually feel relieved by her services.

"She will, however, argue with patients who come in wondering if God can ever love them again because they have had sex, they need contraception or they want an abortion."

This phrase is scary because it redefines "God" as a being who serves us, not the being that we serve. In fact, this "chaplain" must assist her patients in redefining who God is in order to justify his/her sins and bring peace to one's life. This is simply not possible.

This twisted phrase of "separation of..." has come to mean somehow that one can subscribe to a religious/ spiritual ideology, and not let it influence their own idea of morality or behavior. "God will love them anyhow."

This reminds me of Peter Singer's justification of infanticide- the person only has worth if wanted by others.

Thursday, August 4, 2005

Suicide off the charts among young women in China

Various articles last week, including this article show shocking statistics about suicide in China. The fifth most common cause of death across the board is suicide, with over 250 000 suicides per year. Furthermore, the most common cause of death among women ages 20-35 is suicide. This age range is also the childbearing age range and traditionally the age range in which Chinese women marry and are allowed to conceive and bear their one child.

Though numerous sources have reported this data and given various speculations for the cause, none have touched on the idea that China's forced one-child policy could be a contribution factor in the suicide rates. These sources pointed to the pressure women have to perform well in school and jobs, the inability to please one's parents, or loneliness as major contributing factors to suicide.

Because a couple is only permitted one child, most couples would prefer a male child because he will take care of them in their old age. A girl is expected to live with her husband's family and care for his parents in old age, leaving no one to care for her own parents. This also means that couples have engaged in sex-selection in bearing their precious child, and have aborted girls in order to bear a boy child. This leaves far fewer women than necessary to marry and maintain the replacement of the Chinese people. This also leaves each and every Chinese girl with the thought deep in her mind and soul that her parents wished she was a male child.

Feminists ought to be shouting from the rooftops of this abuse to women, yet they continue to scream the over-used lies of personal freedoms that abortion enables women to have. No doubt, as China becomes more "Westernized" in their culture, a sexual revolution has begun, and pregnancy among unmarried Chinese women has become more frequent. The Chinese government does not tolerate married couples to bear more than one child, and they do not allow a non-married couple to bear a child at all. Should an unmarried Chinese woman become pregnant, this is synonymous with abortion.

Case studies and other research indicate that abortion leads to an increased risk of suicide. In her book Forbidden Grief, Dr. Theresa Burke addresses this fact extensively in Ch. 13 (pages 172-178). She indicates that the risk of suicide is even greater among women who abort a wanted child due to lack of practical, medical reasons or emotional support, or other reasons. In addition, a forced abortion results in a greater risk to women's mental health because it is an act of an outside person forcing a woman to forgo her motherhood, her natural desire to protect her child, for the sake of what another says is right or good for her and the child.

"The strong association between suicide and abortion bears witness to how suicidal impulses serve as a means of reenacting a traumatic abortion experience," says Dr. Burke. Any traumatic event, especially in the life of an emotionally fragile person, will lead to thoughts of self-destruction. Abortion is a most traumatic event because the woman's intimate womb is penetrated by cold instruments, cold doctors and a cold ideology. She is abused, neglected and violated, and then she is left to recover in a society where abortion is more common than childbirth, a mere right of passage, something a woman must sacrifice for the sake of her country, her very own people.

So says Chinese psychiatrist, Lui Hong (in article from Telegraph in top of post): "Society is full of pressure and competition, so young people, lacking experience in dealing with difficulties, tend to get depressed." That's right, women lack experience. Maybe that is because they are disallowed to truly live as human beings.

No mention is made by Hong of the cause of these pressures and competitions. It is clear that these young people are being pressured from their birth to fill the role of both son and daughter, to fill the shoes of all the aborted siblings that came before them and all the aborted siblings that are to come after them. They are forced to become obedient to the government's demands on their intimate personal lives, namely when and whether they will bear a child.

Then, when these young people do discovery pregnancy in their young, confused lives, they are herded into the abortion clinics just as their mothers (but not their grandmothers, for the one-child policy only originated in the 1970s) were years before them. These women themselves are brought one step closer to the despair and depression that come from abortion.

For more information about suicide and abortion, please refer to the Elliot Institute. For more information about China's one-child policy, please refer to the Population Research Institute.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

Anti-family quote of the week

Yesterday, a court in the state of California decided that registered homosexual unions now enjoy the same legal rights of spouses. How did this homosexual revolution come about? The answer, suggests Stephanie Coontz, is that marriage is under siege from heterosexuals.

An excerpt from her controversial article won the title of "Anti-Family Quote of the Week" from the World Congress for Families.

"Traditional marriage, with its 5,000-year history, has already been upended. Gays and lesbians, however, didn't spearhead that revolution: heterosexuals did.

"… Heterosexuals were the ones who made procreation voluntary, so that some couples could choose childlessness, and who adopted assisted reproduction so that even couples who could not conceive could become parents. And heterosexuals subverted the long-standing rule that every marriage had to have a husband who played one role in the family and a wife who played a completely different one."

However, this quote is anything but "anti-family." On the contrary, causes the reader to reflect thoughtfully on the blame Christians and marriage defenders have on the current tragedy of homosexuality that has infiltrated our culture. It begs the question, if those who do not address "faith questions" understand that separating procreation from the conjugal act has brought about the homosexual revolution, why are pro-life and pro-family organizations so afraid to admit it?

In Catholic circles, this is referred to as the "contraceptive mentality," and it is easy to see how this has spearheaded the slippery slope into the homosexual revolution. This quote speaks volumes about this all-too-common modern-day philosophy that has lead to the disastrous attacks on marriage and family. Through contraception, husband and wife have defied the vows of their marriage to commit to each other in love for the sake of procreation and education of children. They have turned their marital act into merely a means of pleasure, calling this advancement in the name of love and happiness.

Erasing children from the equation through the voluntary destruction of their reproductive faculties, husbands and wives have given a message to the world that marriage can be self-defined according to their own desires. Procreation no longer matters; only mutual orgasm does.

Yes, marriage is under siege from heterosexuals.

While making all too many valid points about the role of marriage in society and the importance of monogamous unions, Ms. Coontz neglects to address the fact that God ordained marriage from the beginning of time. She claims that marriage served two purposes throughout history that caused same-sex marriage to remain unimaginable: increasing the household labor force through having children and a division between labor by gender between husband and wife.

With the advent of contraception in the early 19th century and assisted reproduction in the 20th century, couples were now free to redefine marriage. "This eroded the traditional argument that marriage must be between a man and a woman who were able to procreate."

Ms. Coontz arrives at a conclusion that the pro-life movement for so long has been afraid to touch: contraception does not have a place in marriage. Contraception has crept its way into nearly every mainstream Christian religion, leaving out only Catholicism. Contraception has successfully crept its way into the marriages of devout Christians andCatholics alike. The procreation of a child is no longer seen as a gift or a miracle, but as a power or a right that couples (or anyone for that matter) can achieve.

In his recent article Designed for Sex, philosopher J. Budziszewski speaks about the true meaning of our human sexuality and how this is properly order toward love and commitment.

"The hinge concept is design. I said that we’re not designed for hooking up, that we’re designed for our bodies and hearts to work together. We human beings really do have a design, and I mean that literally—not just a biological design, but an emotional, intellectual, and spiritual design. The human design is the meaning of the ancient expression 'human nature.' Some ways of living comport with our design. Others don’t" (original emphasis).

I had a discussion with a man at work today who insisted that the most important goal of the pro-life movement is to rid society of late-term abortions because in those abortions a child can feel the most pain, and it is in these abortions that it is most obvious that a child is being destroyed. I was arguing that educational efforts within the pro-life movement must address the topic contraception for it is in a proper understanding of human sexuality that the tide will turn on the Culture of Death.

Ms. Coontz even says, "it is simply magical thinking to believe that by banning gay and lesbian marriage, we will turn the clock."

Monday, August 1, 2005

My friend, a CFR sister

About three years ago, I met a girl named Kirsten Holum from Denver, Colorado. She and I walked with Crossroads during the summer of 2002. After that walk, I did not keep up with my fellow walkers as well as I would have liked, and always appreciated the sporadic updates from those who happened to know each of the walkers. (I still enjoy these updates!)

Kirsten impressed me as an absolutely fascinating young woman. Her mother was a single mom, though I do not remember most of the details surrounding her childhood. She is an avid and very talented photographer, and has an energetic personality and a laugh and smile that are contagious. She is passionate and devout. She also represented the US Olympics Speed Skating team in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, placing sixth in the 3000-meter race.

She grew up as a firm pro-life supporter along with her mother, and frequently prayed the Rosary outside of the abortion clinic in Denver. It was the bold "PRO-LIFE" t-shirt that attracted Kirsten to Crossroads. Yet, God had such a deeper plan for her life, beginning with a long walk across the United States.

Our walk officially ended in Toronto, Ontario, Canada for World Youth Day and it was at that time that Kirsten first heard about the CFR's. I remember she came back to our camp with a bookmark with a prayer and a curiosity about this newly-formed order of sisters.

Fast-forward three years to yesterday. I attending the final profession of vows for 5 Franciscan Friars of the Renewal in Yonkers, and while waiting for Mass to start, from across St. John the Baptist Church, I saw Kirsten whispering excitedly with a woman clad in a teal shirt with a nice camera perched in her hands.

There Kirsten was, clad in a gray habit with a white veil covering her hair. Contacts replaced with glasses; no makeup on her face; her smile was more bright than I had remembered it! Joy radiated from her like a newlywed, and a newlywed she truly is: newly wedded to Christ. My friend Kirsten is now Sister Catherine!

After the Mass of the profession, I headed to the basement for a "nature break," thinking in the back of my head that I would need to find her somewhere in the maze of what must have been at least 700 people. But, God knew how hard that would be, and HE placed her three people in front of me in line! She glanced over, and mid-sentence erupted in joy as we embraced! It was truly a reunion! I couldn't help but think how the apostles must have felt in greeting each other as friends in our Lord Jesus Christ during the early years of Christianity.

Among our catching up, Sr. Catherine informed me that another one of our Crossroads walkers, Katie Wallyn, is now discerning with the CFR's. Katie and I had been close during a few years of college, but drifted away during the latter years. What joy it brought me to her of her devotion and dedication!

At the profession were sisters and priests from at least 15 different orders and dioceses. Among the others that attended were families with many, many children. There were young people; there were old people. There were people from every race. There were people with disabilities. There were people who spoke different languages. It was a truly 'catholic' affair.

It is hard to describe the jealousy I feel in my heart for the sisters. A Godly jealousy, of course. To see and talk to young women and men living a call to abandon themselves so faithfully to God's work for the sake of saving souls. This one experience has caused me to more passionately and intently examine my own vocation, to analyze the state of my own soul and life. Would I be willing to forsake the prospect of marriage and family for the sake of the work of the Lord, the will of God? Would I be willing to abandon all for the sake of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience? Would I be willing to abandon my life to Christ so to achieve that everlasting reward of heaven?

I thank the good Lord for His faithfulness, for the witness of Sr. Catherine and all of the other sisters, brothers, deacons and priests who dedicate themselves wholeheartedly and selflessly to this most admirable call of God.