Thursday, December 29, 2005

30th anniversary of Persona Humana

Today is the 30th anniversary of the Catholic Church document, Persona Humana . This document was written in response to many questions about sexual ethics and proper human response to sexuality that arose during the sexual revolution. In the beginning of the document, we read, "The Church cannot remain indifferent to this confusion of minds and relaxation of morals." The Church was certainly not blind to the detrimental effects of the sexual revolution, which was not borne out of thin air, but fostered through the lobbying, propaganda and coercion of the birth control movement over several decades.

From section 3 of the document, we read:

The people of our time are more and more convinced that the human person's dignity and vocation demand that they should discover, by the light of their own intelligence, the values innate in their nature, that they should ceaselessly develop these values and realize them in their lives, in order to achieve an ever greater development.

This is commonly known as "conscience." Conscience is the moral authority within each person that acts based on the knowledge it has of the rightness or wrongness of a particular decision or circumstance. Many people have used "conscience" to mean any number of things, but most specifically an ignorant bliss which can easily excuse any evil or harmful action.

Dr. Donald DeMarco, a professor of philosophy in Canada, wrote a wonderful article addressing the impact of an ill-informed conscience on personal actions. It is worth quoting as we study the document that was the Church was blessed to receive 30 years ago today. This article, "Contraception and Being a Person," primarily addresses the way which contraceptive use violates the very meaning of personhood. His analysis of conscience is especially fitting.

This popular and commonly held view of conscience is false even to the meaning of the word "conscience". Etymologically, the word "conscience" (in Latin &It; con + scientia) literally means with knowledge. One's conscience cannot be formed in an intellectual void. Conscience, to be properly formed, requires knowledge…

Conscience is enfeebled when it is divorced from truth (or knowledge of what is true). At the same time, when conscience possesses truth, freedom is not compromised in the process. Conscience, truth, and freedom all thrive, so to speak, in each other's presence. One freely chooses to act in a certain way because his informed conscience tells him that it is the right way to act.

Many students have off several weeks at this time in order to take a break from studies, earn money for living the coming semester, travel and visiting with families. Why not take some time during these few weeks to organize a study group of this document? It is only a few pages in length (the small booklet edition I have is 26 pages long, however is now out of print. Please print it from the above link.) A fuller understanding of the logic, based on knowledge, behind the teachings of the Catholic Church on sexual ethics will help many to understand how to truly live human personhood.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Holy Innocents

Today is the feast day of the Holy Innocents. The Gospel today is from Matthew 2:13-18, and he is quoting from the prophet Isaiah at the end of the reading:

When the magi had departed, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.

This story is a modern day parallel as well. Children are slaughtered by the direction of selfish pressures of society, family or other responsibility, much to the dismay of mothers who suffer this great loss of her child who is "no more." However, this story gives hope to the mother of an aborted child that she will one day see her child again in heaven. Young, innocent and not even able to rationalize yet, these children are holy saints of the Catholic Church, the first martyrs who witnessed to Christ's life.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The popularization of euthanasia

The amount of Terri Schiavo-like euthanasia cases is growing. The media is giving spotlight attention and rave reviews to the "courageous" and "agonizing" decisions parents, doctors, courts, children, guardians, caregivers and others are making to murder these disabled or terminally ill individuals. Another case was brought to my attention today, and it is truly heartbreaking: the case of Dylan, a 5-year old child with severe Cerebral Palsy from a stroke that he suffered since before his birth. The article was careful not to mention his age, but only the amount of time he was "one this earth." The article was also careful to dehumanize him throughout his life simply based on his physical disabilities. The only point of humanizing the situation was highlighting the conflicting emotions of his parents while the decided to starve him to death, which the story claimed as "discontinuing life support."

Another point that should be made about the article is the way it highlights the "spiritual battle" that the parents suffered in deciding to starve their child. They even met with their pastor, Pastor Buddy, in order to discuss the situation, and Pastor Buddy proceeded to bless their lethal decision. This is eerily similar to the tactics used by the birth control movement as they sought to gain widespread acceptance of birth control use: they targeted religious leadership in all denominations seeking their divine blessing for their sin in order to better market it to the "Average Joe."

In the beginning of the birth control movement in the 1920s, Margaret Sanger and her allies sought with fervor the endorsement of birth control by religious leaders. And it worked, with the exception to the Catholic Church. In the mist of the raging battles over the legitimacy or illegitimacy of birth control, Pope Pius XI wrote for his landmark encyclical Casti Connubii. Sanger, of course went so far as to criticize Pope Pius under the public urgings of several major media outlets. In her response, she wrote:

The Pope made it perfectly plain that Catholics are expected to give up health, happiness and life itself while making every other conceivable sacrifice rather than to have dominion over nature's process of procreation. His letter denies any claims of poverty, sickness or other hindrances to proper child rearing that are valid reasons for the scientific limitation of offspring. As for the breeding of criminal, diseased, feeble-minded and insane classes, the Pope opposes every method of control except that of suggesting to these unfortunate people to please do not do it any more…

On must deplore the fact that Pope Puis should have chosen this tie of the world's distress from unemployment, poverty and economic maladjustment to advertise doctrines and advise conduct which can only tend to aggravate that distress…

Assume for the sake of argument that God does not want an increasing number of worshipers of the Catholic faith, does he want the throng to include an increasing number of feeble-minded, insane, criminal and diseased worshipers?

Sanger also condemned the use of periodic abstinence (under which NFP falls) as not being a method of birth control. She purports that because birth control is not abortion (chemical abortifacients were not developed at this time, 1931), then the Pope ought not compare the two. (It is also noteworthy to mention that Sanger was baptized and raised Catholic before she abandoned the Church to embark on her birth control crusade.)

She has quite some audacity to criticize the Pope! All movements of persistent sin, especially sexual sin and sins surrounding the value of human life strive to decriminalize the sins in the eyes of the Church and believers in order to spread their agenda. Most people are not wiling to persist in sin, but with the blessing of a church or religious leader, these sins create cataracts over the eyes of people, causing them to be blind to their own grievous faults.

And thus the euthanasia movement teamed up with the mainstream media continue to persist in winning the hearts and minds of the "Average Joe" to the euthanasia cause by highlighting renegade spiritual leaders and denominations.

The above quote from Margaret Sanger is taken from Blessed are the Barren by Robert Marshall and Charles Donovan. This book is available from Ignatius Press and was published in 1991. Please see page 136 for the quoted text. That entire chapter, chapter five, highlights "Planned Parenthood competing with religion."

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The wrong way to minister to sexually confused youth

When I was in high school, I was completely scandalized when my parish priest along with the youth group director of the parish and several wealthy families became key players in the development of a gay advocacy group in the Charlotte, Time Out Youth. Their slogan says it all about them, "It's OK to be gay!" they purport.

I had always known that there were several gay persons at our parish, and I always knew that engaging in homosexual relations was not compatible with being Catholic. Within 3 or 4 years, a parish that would boast of standing room only on Sunday mornings became what resembled a ghost town. Most families left out of complete disgust and outrage. The few that stayed did so in hopes of changing the parish. My family finally left about 2 years ago for a neighboring parish, turning away from the parish where we all received our first Communion and Confirmation. Now, the families and individuals left at that parish have a grip on their homosexual agenda.

So, when I ran across the announcement from the Diocese of Cincinnati today that they are developing a new program to promote advocacy for homosexual youth. The program does not sound promising in the least.

Reading the document, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, we are provided with a morally licit and logically sound guideline for handling such situations. It presents a model of sex education that begins in the home, taught by parents, who are always the first teachers of their children.

I have seen personally how improper ministry to the sexually confused does not promote a true Catholic identity, but only serves to break down the Church. Perhaps Church supported groups, particularly ones supported by the Catholic Church, can take some advice from the what the Church actually teaches in implementing programs and groups to assist sexually troubled youth.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

"Walking wounded"

(This post is not as well-thought out as I would have liked, but I do hope that you understand what I am trying to say!)

I am not sure where this phrase comes from, but it fits perfectly in the reality of our generation: all of us are walking wounded by the aftereffects of the sins on many levels, with the foremost of them being abortion. Abortion was and still is sold to women as the last-ditch solution to the "venereal disease" of an unplanned pregnancy (as Dr. Willard Cates of the Centers for Disease Control once said).

Fr. Frank Pavone has an article co-written with Dr. Philip Ney on the phenomenon known as "survivors syndrome." According to the article, all of us are survivors of abortion in one way or another, whether because we have biological siblings who were aborted or if we experienced abortion ourselves.

To get to the point, the idea for this post came while on an ice skating marathon in the City this weekend at Bryant Park. They had a beautiful Christmas tree that must have been 8 stories tall. Every ornament was the same, so I was curious what the ornament was. Disappointed, I read of the political agenda behind their seemingly Christmas display. "We all have AIDS," each ornament read.

What on earth are they proposing here? That we should all share this devastating disease much like we all share the emotional trauma of abortion? There is a difference, however, in that most AIDS cases are amongst those who have persisted in deviant sexual behavior such as homosexuality and fornication while knowing the physical effects of the disease. There are even those who chase the AIDS virus around and derive pleasure through spreading the disease. Everyone knows that AIDS is a disgusting disease that leads to a painful and unsightly death.

On the other hand, no woman gets an abortion simply because she wants to live with the harmful after effects. A woman who resorts to abortion does so because she perceives that it has many positive after effects such as freedom from the responsibility of a child, health reasons, financial stability, etc. Women do not desire the harmful consequences which by far outweigh any perceived "good" that can come from the procedure. No one knows of these devastating side effects, or they would never consider abortion a viable option in light of a difficult or undesired pregnancy

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Peace and justice in the bedroom

Once or twice a month, I get to meet with some of my favorite people: the priests and pastoral associates of Priests for Life. These folks provide me with encouragement, wisdom and a plethora of ideas for spreading the pro-life message, particularly with regards to contraception. You, my dear reader, will notice that I am going to focus more and more on this subject from now on in this blog.

I am firmly convinced that reliance on contraceptive devices has erased all sense of rationality and stability in marital relationships. This chaos has spilled over into society, because when there is not peace and justice in the bedroom, how can there be peace and justice in other aspects of private and public life? There can't be.

Let's compare it to one's spiritual life. For the sake of argument, let's make our subject a priest. He is a parish priest, serving as the assistant pastor of a parish with 2500 families. The monsignor is getting older, and therefore many of the administrative duties fall on our young priest. He has to manage the finances of the parish, oversee the scheduling of all events in the Church, celebrate Mass two times per day, be available for all pre-cana and baptism prep classes, and runs the religious education program. He also serves on the board of the local pregnancy resource center and prays at the abortion clinic two mornings per week. Wow! He is a busy man! With all of this pastoral responsibility, it can be quite easy for our young priest to forget to take one or two hours out of each day to spend with Our Lord in prayer. One hour would consist of praying the Divine Office throughout the day, and the other hour would be spiritual reading, meditating on Scripture, silent prayer, and celebrating the Holy Mass.

But, as the days, weeks and months pass, our priest lets his personal prayer life slip farther and farther away, to the point that he rarely says the bare minimum requirements of the Office. His time is captivated by outward duties, and interiorly, he is in shambles. His productivity at the parish has been decreasing more and more. His spirit and willingness to serve have been eroded. Soon enough, all of his good works become moot because the purpose of his vocation is no longer met. He no longer yearns to love and serve God, but only sees his duties as a job. He no longer spends his time falling deeper and deeper in love with God, but spends his time making things appear sufficient in secular affairs.

Eek!! God forbid this happen to any priest. Let's apply this to marriage through the use of contraception. Couples begin their marriage committed to each other and their vocation. Each takes their role seriously to server the other and to sacrifice for the good of their marriage. In their goodness, they give life to 5 wonderful children. Outward pressures of children's extracurricular activities, parental involvement demands, more work hours to provide material goods for the children and other things drive these wonderful parents to resort to the use of contraception. They think they can handle no more children in their marriage.

Through the use of contraception, their love for each other fades. The no longer see each other as an equal person to be loved, but an object to be used for infrequent sexual gratification. Each is no longer willing to make even the small sacrifices for the other. They harbor grudges and resentments toward each other for small things, then for minor things, then for large things. A wedge is driven into their love, and in the end, there is no more commitment to one another or the great sacrament that they share together. They divorce. The children's faith and trust and innocence are destroyed. A bad example is given to the children of other families in their neighborhood. The courts get involved, dictating the every action of the parents' involvement in the lives of the children. The children are emotionally harmed beyond repair.

You see, without peace and justice in the bedroom, there cannot be peace and justice in the world.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Our Lady of Guadalupe and abortion

Today is the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe- Happy Feast Day!

This is an especially important feast day for Catholics in the pro-life movement because Our Lady of Guadalupe, or OLG as she is lovingly called, is the patroness of both the Americas as well as the unborn.

When she appeared to St. Juan Diego in the 16th century, her message was one of hope and of being Our Mother. She appeared as a pregnant Indian woman, and in her message, she pleaded with the Indians to stop the killing of infants and unborn children. These babies were killed as sacrifices to idols.

In her apparitions, she said:

Hear me and understand well, my son the least, that nothing should frighten or grieve you. Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.

Fittingly, a new study from Oslo, Norway was published today in BMC Medicine comparing the long-term psychological effects of miscarriage with long-term psychological effects of abortion. Not surprisingly, the study shows that while the immediate distress of miscarriage is greater, the long-term trauma and pain caused by abortion is far worse.

The pro-life movement has known this for years. Even for women who were very firm in their decision to abort, many come to regret this "choice" later in life. The explanation for the difference in the degree of suffering between miscarried mothers and aborted mothers also follows a logical sequence. The death of a loved one suddenly is frequently a harder emotional hurdle than the death of elderly or sickly loved one. The distress after an unexpected death is caused by the lack of closure that the survivors have, the lack of knowledge by the survivors of the destination of the individual's soul, and other elements. When someone is sickly, most survivors have a greater sense of closure with the deceased individual; they also feel that the proper "end" has come, and that the deceased one was able to resolve personal issues before death.

Hence, if a woman aborts, she feels that there has been closure. Women who have aborted have even said that they have "talked with the child" and "apologized for the abortion" before committing it. This initial, though false, sense of "closure" helps these mothers to justify the abortion internally and to feel a sense of relief, not guilt, immediately following the procedure. On the other hand, the woman who has miscarried feels she does not have closure with her dead child. She feels that the child's life came to an end before the planned time. This can lead to feelings of despair and grief over the child's death.

In time, mothers who abort will realize that causing the death of the child was wrong, and grief and regret will set in. Those women who suffered miscarriage will, in time, realize that there was little or nothing they could have done to prevent the death of their child and come to peace with it more naturally.

A wonderful prayer for the mother who has miscarried is available from EWTN.

For the mother who has suffered abortion, please visit the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.


Something else wonderful happened today, but I'm not sure if it's public knowledge yet… so, you, my dear reader, will have to wait and see!

Monday, December 5, 2005

Out for the week

The Revolution will be in hiding until Monday, Dec 12 as I prepare for the GRE exam. Please say a prayer for me!!!

Friday, December 2, 2005

Let them have their holiday. Let us have our faith.

My friend Ruben wrote this after hearing stories from people like me who are finding it impossible to find Christ in the commercialism of Christmas

A friend of mine recently went shopping for Christmas cards but came up empty handed – there weren’t any Christmas cards to be found! Had she been looking for “Holiday” cards instead, she would have been in luck.

The successful de-Christianization of our culture has brought this society to the point of celebrating “Holiday”. This is actually very good news indeed! Instead of having to purchase separate cards for Christmas, now one merely has to purchase a single set of “Holiday” cards for use throughout the year. In fact, the “Holiday tree” should be kept up year round and decorated with seasonal “decorations” – elves in December and chocolate rabbits in April.

And who knows, maybe if we celebrated Holiday at other times of the year, it will help the economy! Imagine hoards of people waiting overnight in line for hours for the opening day of “holiday” sales in the spring! I’m surprised the executives at Wal-Mart haven’t already come up with this plan.

On a serious note, maybe it’s time to give these holidays back to the modern day pagans. If people want their holiday tree, so be it. It has such little to do with the Birth of Christ and only muddies the water concerning Advent. Maybe in this way can the message of the birth of Christ be proclaimed with clarity.

Ask children what this Holiday is about, and they’ll respond with words like “Santa Claus, Gifts, and reindeer”.

Call me counter cultural, but I have taught my son that there isn’t a Santa Claus. His mother and I have brought him up to know the story of Saint Nicholas. We explained to him that for others, all they know about is Santa Claus, and that Santa Claus represents a misunderstanding of Saint Nicholas. My son has clarity on the Advent season, and maybe it’s a good thing to separate the commercialized Christmas, and its representative Mr. Claus, from Advent. Let the pagans have their “holiday”, and let us Christians have our faith.

South Africa makes gay unions legal

Really, who is this helping?

On the other hand, the Vatican is firmly taking a bold step in ensuring that they problem of pedophile or abusive priests is ended before it begins by prohibiting gay men to enter seminary or become ordained.

Fighting a culture of death is about more than just fighting abortion. We are in this to convert hearts and to restore a proper meaning to human sexuality, a meaning that God intended in the beginning.

Target stores- why can't we just say "thank you!" to them?

Target is one of the very few major stores that is defending the rights of their pharmacist employees against filling prescriptions for certain medications, such as birth control pills and the morning-after abortion pill. They allow pharmacists to opt-out for personal "conscience" reasons. Most other stores, such as Walgreen's are chastising their employees and FIRING them for having a conscience, Target stores realizes the importance of not trampling on the personal religious convictions of their employees. Personally, I think that's a whole lot more important than whether we are saying Happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas, or Bah Humbug!

(My dear reader, please don't misunderstand me... I certainly believe in the true Reason for the season, the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ! Please read previous post here.)

So, while many conservatives and Christians were boycotting one of my favorite stores during the Thanksgiving rush, I rushed in and bought myself a snazzy new outfit! Then, I sent them an e-mail… Thank you, Target! And… Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 1, 2005

RU-486 deaths- Who cares? Not NEJM!

Michael F. Greene, M.D., in this week's article "Fatal Infections Associated with Mifepristone-Induced Abortion" in the New England Journal of Medicine, basically says that the medical community is quite aware that women die from RU-486, but they don't really care. Full text of the article available for free. Read it!

Father's rights to their unborn child

For the past two weeks on his Defending Life show, Fr. Frank Pavone has been highlighting the phenomenon known as "lost fatherhood." Lost fatherhood is the name of the set of symptoms that men suffer from after the loss of a child through abortion. The testimonies of several fathers were shown, as well as their involvement with the National Silent No More Awareness Campaign.

You may be wondering why this is even an issue. Doesn't it seem obvious that a married woman would notify her husband upon the abortion of their child? Sadly, the Supreme Court doesn't seem to think it is necessary to require this precisely because it seems so obvious, however by ruling this way in their 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, they effectively stripped all fathers of unborn children from their legal rights to protect the life of that child from abortion. With the legal precedent set by Roe, this is to be expected, and gives us one more reason to fight for a human-life-at-conception amendment to the US Constitution.

Here are some excerpts from the Casey decision which struck down Section 3209, a provision "which command[ed] that, unless certain exceptions apply, a married woman seeking an abortion must sign a statement indicating that she has notified her husband." The following absurd statements speak for themselves on the extreme nature of the Casey decision.

This conclusion rests upon the basic nature of marriage and the nature of our Constitution: [T]he marital couple is not an independent entity with a mind and heart of its own, but an association of two individuals, each with a separate intellectual and emotional makeup. If the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child… The husband's interest in the life of the child his wife is carrying does not permit the State to empower him with this troubling degree of authority over his wife. (505 U.S. 833, 896)

After all, if the husband's interest in the fetus' safety is a sufficient predicate for state regulation, the State could reasonably conclude that pregnant wives should notify their husbands before drinking alcohol or smoking. Perhaps married women should notify their husbands before using contraceptives or before undergoing any type of surgery that may have complications affecting the husband's interest in his wife's reproductive organs. And if a husband's interest justifies notice in any of these cases, one might reasonably argue that it justifies exactly what the Danforth Court held it did not justify - a requirement of the husband's consent as well. A State may not give to a man the kind of dominion over his wife that parents exercise over their children.

Section 3209 embodies a view of marriage consonant with the common law status of married women, but repugnant to our present understanding of marriage and of the nature of the rights secured by the Constitution. Women do not lose their constitutionally protected liberty when they marry. The Constitution protects all individuals, male or female, married or unmarried, from the abuse of governmental power, even where that power is employed for the supposed benefit of a member of the individual's family. These considerations confirm our conclusion that 3209 is invalid. (505 U.S. 833, 898)

I mention this case specifically because it was the reason that Judge Samuel Alito has been tagged as supportive of the pro-life cause (well, we hope!). Prior to being sent to the Supreme Court, this case was decided by three judges in Pennsylvania. Judge Alito was one of those three, and his opinion was that spousal consent was constitutionally protected.

In light of the upcoming hearings for Alito's confirmation, the New York Times has been featuring several op-eds focusing on the irony of a lack of spousal or fathers' rights. Please read today's article, "Man's right to choose" and an article from a few weeks ago, "Right to be a father."