Friday, July 29, 2005

Natural Family Planning

There are fundamental differences between NFP and contraception. This post is not a lesson on the method of these two polar opposites, but an analysis of mentality behind each. An understanding of the difference between NFP and contraception demands that we look to the supernatural. Without that, it is impossible to fully understand the mystery and beauty of human sexuality. And without that understanding of human sexuality, it is difficult to see why contraception is wrong.

Many people explain this by saying it is the "intention" that matters the most, ignoring the fact that contraception is inherently wrong. "The end justifies the means," they say. In both instances, pregnancy is avoided. Should it matter whether a couple takes the virtuous road using NFP to get there or the sinful road of contraception? The simple answer is "yes."

The "intention" that matters the most is the deep, mysterious language spoken by the conjugal act. This act is the "communication" between spouses, in which they come together fully as persons for the sake of union and procreation. When either of these aspects is hampered with, the communication is broken down, nearly destroyed, and the path toward other vices such as divorce, abuse and abortion is inevitable.

When contraception is used, the intention is no longer to love one another fully, but to use each other to achieve pleasure. When the marital act happens outside of the vows of marriage, it too is only a means for the couple to achieve pleasure because the intention to give to one another is impossible without commitment. Commitment is made only through marriage vows.

One more point is that NFP can also be used to achieve pregnancy! So, the differences between NFP and In Vitro Fertilization are worth taking a glimpse at.

NFP demands that a couple recognize the Divine hand of God in their conjugal life and in the planning of children. Because the ends of marriage are the procreation and education of children, a couple is tempted to believe that they have a right to have children. In reality, it is God who chooses when and whether a child is conceived. The couple must be open to this possibility in every conjugal act, and they must be willing to accept when it is not God's plan that a child be conceived as well.

Archbishop Raymond E. Burke of St. Louis wrote a wonderful column in last week's St. Louis Review. He summarizes a proper understanding of marital love in these words.

"According to God’s plan, the conjugal union has two inseparable meanings. On the one hand, through the conjugal union, the married couple express the full gift of themselves to each other for the good of the other. Engagement in the conjugal union while not giving oneself completely to the spouse betrays the meaning of the act and leads to the breakdown of mutual respect and trust. On the other hand, through the conjugal act, the couple share with God Himself in the procreation of offspring made in God’s own image and likeness and redeemed by the outpouring of Christ’s life on Calvary. Even though every conjugal act does not, in fact, result in the procreation of new human life, the act contains in itself the expression of the procreativity or fertility of both spouses. To deny or to frustrate the life-giving dimension of the conjugal act is to distort the act, at its foundation, leading to the breakdown of mutual respect and trust between the couple."

Please read the USCCB's "game plan" for observing NFP Awareness week. This provides many ideas and educational resources. This is great for anyone who is preparing for marriage and wants to know why the Church insists on NFP!

Next year, for NFP Awareness week, it is my hope that every diocese and parish will joyfully and actively educate on the truth of NFP through vigorous campaigns. I certainly intend to be a part of this Week next year.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Natural Family Planning Awareness Week

Monday, July 25 was the 37th anniversary of the promulgation of Pope Paul VI's monumental document, Humanae Vitae.

To celebrate this joyous document, this week has been "Natural Family Planning Awareness Week." Please take some time to study and pray over this document. It requires trust and a tremendous amount of faith God and the Church.

Please read the column written in two parts (part 1 and part 2) by Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona.

If you are married or preparing for marriage, please visit the Couple to Couple League website for more about NFP as well as information about classes.

Tomorrow's reflection will discuss contraception, NFP and the role of the Church in this matter.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The UN strives to protect children, or not

The Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute reported in last week's Friday Fax that the United Nations is pushing for legislation to ensure so-called sexual and reproductive rights for children. Their definition of children? Age 10-24.

So, if A=B and B=C, then A=C, and the UN is telling us that reproductive rights, their code for abortion and unrestricted access to contraceptives, ought to be available for children as young as 10. A simple knowledge of biological development shows that puberty usually doesn't start until 12 for girls and 14 for boys.

The UN presents their plan as a method by which they will reduce poverty in third-world conditions. On the contrary, they are destroying the innocence of the future generations, driving them in to further poverty and despair by force-feeding them lies about their own human sexuality. It's time for human rights organizations focus more on protecting human rights and innocence, providing for their real needs such as housing, nutrition and healthcare, rather than creating bigger problems by pushing an agenda on a vulnerable people.

Why would these pre-pubescent children need access to abortion and contraception? My speculation is to cover up for sexual abuse, to reduce the population of these poorer countries, and to continue to demonstrate tyrannical control over their personal lives. This is a grave violation of human rights and dignity. It creates a situation in which young girls and young women become the objects of abuse not only from abortion itself, but also from the events that lead up to her abortion: unjust sexual crimes committed against her person for the sake of the gratification of her aggressor. I speculate that few pre-pubescent or pubescent girls, especially those in third world countries, willingly submit to sexual relations, but only submit due to social or personal pressures from men who desire sexual gratification.

Men who abuse women sexually, emotionally and physically ought to be reprimanded. Their activity ought not be condoned or encouraged. In lieu of fostering vice in our young boys through unrestricted access to contraception, we ought to foster virtue through encouraging self-control, fidelity and respect for women. Tragically, in some cultures, many young boys do not grow up with a strong role model in their fathers, uncles, brothers and community. They, in turn, imitate the vice they grow up with. Consequently, this despair and abuse is passed from one generation to another.

World leaders are catching on that abortion is violence against women. As reported by Friday Fax a few weeks ago, Krisztina Morvai of Hungary commented on her disagreement with the obsession of the UN on creating accessibility to abortion when she said, "one thing that is invisible and lost in the debate is that abortion is bad for women.

"No woman actually wants to have an abortion. We have this illusion that women have free choices. But abortion is a terribly damaging thing psychologically, spiritually and physically."

Ms. Morvai also looks forward to the day when abortion will be seen for what it is, "torture in the field of human rights."

The responsibility for abortion must also be placed on men, she states. After all, most women resort to abortion not because they desire to destroy their child, but because they do not have the emotional or practical support of the father of the child.

A careful analysis of this tragic situation reveals the importance of the role of the family in society. Within this structure, a structure of mother, father, siblings and grandparents, a child is raised witnessing love and virtue. It is these things the child will then imitate.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Crossroads Pro-life Walk

As some may have noticed, my blog did not appear on Friday night. This was because I hit the hay early in anticipation of meeting up with Crossroads uptown at (gasp!) 7am. This was a very joyful reunion for me because I walked with Crossroads on the 2002 walk from San Francisco, CA to Toronto, ON for World Youth Day to Washington, DC.

We prayed at the clinic at Park and 30th with the CFR Friars. There were three women who "turned around," and decided to carry their children to term after discovering all of the free resources available to them throughout the City.

After lunch with the Friars, 4 of the walkers and myself, clad in "PRO-LIFE" t-shirts headed out for a whirlwind tour of New York City. After a short walk through Harlem to the train station, we took a ride all of the way down to Wall Street to see the typical New York City sights.

Today, I was able to visit with them again for a few hours. We enjoyed dinner with Fr. Frank Pavone and the other priests associated with Priests for Life, and the walkers told us more about their experience this summer.

This group of kids does not walk to raise money or to gain glory. They don't walk to get a tan or meet friends. They walk to spread the pro-life message and to encourage Christians to get involved with the fight to build a Culture of Life.

In seeing this tremendous and inspiring Christian witness, it was only fitting that today is the saint day of St. James (St. Giacomo). St. James was the first apostle to be martyred for his Christian witness.

The gospel today, from the Gospel of St. Matthew challenges us to serve others through our work. "Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave" (Mt. 20: 26-27). I pray that upon meditating on this Scripture, I may more fully realize my role in the pro-life movement and my vocation to serve and love others.

Crossroads will end their walk in two weeks in Washington DC. Please check the Crossroads website and blog for more information.

Hate and venom?

Thursday's post was polluted with scandalous language and rude comments from "Jeremy" from Quebec. I respectfully deleted his comments in order to maintain a sense of decency on my blog, however Jeremy posted his statements on his blog for all to see. (Please forgive me for not using "trackback;" I'm not sure exactly how that works!)

Please read his comments, and then return here for my response.

First of all, Jeremy, you claim that Canada is much more accepting of diverse ways of life than the US will ever be, yet you are so vehemently opposed to my message that you drape your response in expletives! That hardly promotes meaningful dialogue in which either can understand each other. In lieu, it creates a war of misunderstanding and accusations.

I would only care about your "bedrooms" if it affected society at large. The personal lives of individuals always have an effect on society. Your "bedroom" extends to laws, societal attitudes, the spread of disease, corruption of the youth through bad example and education, and more. Humans do not live in small bubbles. Sadly, you have seen this through your own struggle with addictions, recovery, disease, etc. Our vices lead us to pain and suffering.

You accuse me of "hate and venom" while you shout these expletives at me!? You have migrated to Canada in search of acceptance and diversity, yet if you were content, you would have no need to come electronically down here to shout at me for expressing my own diverse way of life! It is a radically diverse way of life, a way of virtue and self-giving service to others for the sake of peace and happiness. Yes, my friend, those are the things that Christianity is made of!

Lastly, Jeremy, you have left the Catholic Church, and I can see from your blog that you still have much resentment against her. Maybe it is because of the teachings and traditions do not condone your lifestyle? I can't help but wonder why you resent her so much, and on behalf of my beloved Church, I apologize for any way in which you were unjustly hurt by her.

I welcome and invite any dialogue with you, to come to a mutual understanding of each others' lives.

But, please, please keep it "G" rated!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Tragedy for our Northern Neighbor

This week, Canada redefined the meaning of marriage in civil law to include vows between any two people, whether they be homosexual or heterosexual. This a tragedy for our Northern Neighbor, and puts the definition of marriage in our own civil laws in jeopardy.

Canada is the fourth nation to sanction sodomy behind Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium. This is a dead-end situation not only for these countries, but also for the world because of the bad example they have given to so many other nations and individuals.

This step was much to the chagrin of both Canadian Bishops and The Vatican.

Please read news stories on Life Site News from yesterday and today. Life Site News is a Canada-based pro-life news service.

I am terribly troubled by this turn of events, and I beg you, my dear reader, to join me and millions of other Catholics and people of good will in praying for a restoration of the proper understanding of human sexuality in our world through the establishing of civil laws that conform to the natural law and divine law.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

What it means to be a faithful Catholic

The naming of President Bush’s nominee for the Supreme Court Vacancy has caused pro-life and pro-choice forces to come out in full force proclaiming their support of or dissent from the pick. Among the statements that were release today was one from Francis Kissling of Catholics for a Free Choice. Because I will not link to her site, you can read her press release on US Newswire. This statement makes many false statements about Catholic teachings.

Ms. Kissling criticizes the assumption that “a faithful Catholic is obliged to follow church positions on issues like abortion, contraception, access to reproductive health services, end of life decision-making, the death penalty and gay rights” by claiming that “faithful Catholics hold a wide range of views on what the constitution demands, regardless of their personal religious views about the morality of these issues."

The agenda of Catholics for a Free Choice is in clear opposition to the teachings of the Catholic Church. In her statement today, Ms. Kissling reiterates many of her fundamental misunderstandings of the Catholic Church. In fact, Ms. Kissling entirely misses the point of being a faithful Catholic, which is that such person is Catholic faithful to all of the teachings of the Catholic Church. Unfaithful Catholics are those who consciously defy the teachings of the Church on matters of importance, while still proclaiming their allegiance to the Church. This is duplicitous and gravely sinful.

Ms. Kissling also stated, "an educated Catholic knows that they have a personal right to dissent from church positions and an even stronger responsibility to protect the right of all Americans to follow or disregard the teachings of their denominations on these issues."

These statements presume that Catholics are educated to dissent from Church teachings. On the contrary, Catholics are expected to know and follow the teachings of the Church. If the teachings of the Catholic Church do not guide the moral decision making of an individual member, that individual is not longer a member of the Roman Catholic Church.

Lastly, Ms. Kissling stated that "modern Catholic social thought accepts and supports a legitimate distinction between church and state."

Ms. Kissling has a grave misunderstanding of the “separation of Church and state.” This concept does not mean that Catholics or Christians of any denomination are disallowed from bringing their values into the political sphere, but that the State is unable to dictate how individual churches conduct their services and religious business. This concept does not mean that Catholics or Christians of any denomination are disallowed from bringing their faith-based pro-life, pro-family, pro-woman values into the political sphere, but that the State is unable to dictate how individual churches conduct their services and religious business. Ms. Kissling further advances the agenda of the Culture of Death through her dissent.

Ms. Kissling's statements are false and only serve to confuse Catholics and others who are unsure of the teachings of the Catholic Church. Make no mistake, Ms. Kissling's cooperation with abortion, contraception, euthanasia and gay rights is not sanctioned by the Catholic Church. They bring scandal to the Church.

Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life issued a press release responding to these heresies.

“Our response is simple,” said Fr. Frank. “Nobody is forced to be a Catholic, but if you don't subscribe to Catholic teaching, have the honesty and integrity to say that you are no longer Catholic. But don't try to have it both ways.”

“Another problem with her press release is that it suggests that abortion can be justified. Here we don't even have to enter the question of Catholic Faith. We just have to read the descriptions of the procedure and look at the pictures. It is an act of killing. Neither a private citizen nor a Supreme Court nominee can justify this act of violence. Those who claim that killing children has any place under our Constitution, or in any civilized society, have more than a problem with Catholic Faith. They have a problem with fundamental human rights,” said Fr. Pavone.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A new friend

The following article was published in the most recent Priests for Life newsletter. Because it is written by me, I would like to share it with you. During the past week, Fr. Mark and I have been able to get to know each other better by sharing an office. Along with Fr. Giacomo Capoverdi, Fr. Mark has celebrated daily Mass for the past 10 days in the chapel, giving me the rare opportunity to attend daily Mass. Thank you Fr. Mark and Fr. Capoverdi!

Fr. Mark Clarke, CMF joins Priests for Life for full-time ministry

As Priests for Life welcomes Fr. Mark Clarke CMF, we would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to him. Fr. Mark is a Claretian Missionary, and has been ordained a priest for just over two years. Throughout his formation, Fr. Mark was very involved with respect life issues through study as well as ministry, and has a burning desire to continue this ministry for life.

Fr. Mark's Masters Thesis focused on the U.S. bishops' treatment of the abortion issue from 1990 through 2000. He focused not only on abortion in the context of family, health care, justice and peace, and respect for life, but also in relation to euthanasia and capital punishment.

"I view respect life ministry as very comprehensive -- to recognize the inherent dignity of the human person and also the dignity of human sexuality," said Fr. Mark. "The focus of our work is not only on abortion, but also on contraception and how that relates to the whole human person."

His ministry work has led him to forming a student respect life club with students from Providence High School in San Antonio, Texas. The club's motto was "Respect Life, Respect Yourself," and the students were taught the positive and life-giving message of abstinence until marriage and the reality and consequences of the culture of death related to abortion. The students communicated this message to their peers through media, skits, art, and involvement with pro-life activities. Fr. Mark also facilitated a parish respect life program in Long Beach, California.

Of coming to work with Priests for Life, Fr. Mark "is excited and very blessed to have this opportunity… to be with a very established and visible organization." He is looking forward to learning as much as he can about the pro-life movement as well as being able to preach and teach the message of the Gospel of Life. Fr. Mark has desired to work with Priests for Life because he recognizes his call to full-time respect life ministry.

To his fellow priests, Fr. Mark would like to offer the encouragement in preaching the message of life. "Do not be afraid to communicate the truth and beauty of this teaching," said Fr. Mark. "If in doubt, pray for the wisdom…of the Holy Spirit."

Fr. Mark's complete biography is posted here. He will be based in Amarillo, Texas. He is available for speaking engagements by contacting Priests for Life.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Reaching out in love

More and more, I hear from women and men who write to share their story of friends, neighbors or coworkers who have had an abortion. In fact, one teenager today wrote that she and her sister hung up on their friend when she called after the abortion to say she was in pain. They were upset because they had offered to let her live with their family and handle her doctor bills, yet she sought the abortion because she did not have the support of her boyfriend.

As pro-life individuals, we do not know how to properly react to the abortion. These are honest concerns, and for someone who is pro-life, the news of an abortion by a friend or relative brings a mixed bag of emotions. Anger, rage, regret and sorrow are some of these emotions. Though this friend did commit a selfish act by aborting her child, no woman who truly understands what abortion is seeks an abortion. As Fr. Frank says, "women do not have abortions because they are exercising their freedom of choice, they are having an abortion because they feel they have no freedom and no choice."

Frederica Mathewes-Green puts it well when she says, “No one wants an abortion as she wants an ice-cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal, caught in a trap, wants to gnaw off its own leg.”

Whether an individual had the opportunity to minister to this friend during her decision making process, it is never too late to share the good news of Christ's forgiveness. In fact, it is likely that she is experiencing intense feelings of guilt and remorse and does not know how to process these feelings. Society will not validate her feelings, and women do not talk openly about any of these feelings after abortion. During this time, you have a unique opportunity to share with her in reconciliation by giving her information about post-abortion ministries. I encourage you to do this. Healing for both the pro-life individual and the acquaintance will come in ministering to her during this time of despair.

Rachel's Vineyard is a safe place to renew, rebuild and redeem hearts broken by abortion. Weekend retreats offer you a supportive, confidential and non-judgmental environment where women and men can express, release and reconcile painful post-abortive emotions to begin the process of restoration, renewal and healing.

The National Silent No More Awareness Campaign is an effort to make the public aware of the devastation abortion brings to women, men, and their families. The emotional and physical pain of abortion will no longer be shrouded in secrecy and silence, but rather exposed and healed. This effort is a key to make abortion unthinkable and persuade society that women deserve better than abortion.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Another strike at the family

The state of Illinois has issued more than one strike at the family and the intimate life between husband and wife during the celebration of “July is Health Care Month.” Among the insults, there is a $10 million dollar grant approved by executive order by Gov. Rod Blagojevich to fund embryonic stem cell research and the launching of a new contraception website. This websiteÂ’s purpose is to promote contraceptive use through persecuting doctors, pharmacists and insurance providers who wish to opt out of participation in these grave offenses against life.

First Lady Patti Blagojevich was instrumental in the launching of the website, where she claims “women can learn how to have their birth control covered by insurance.

In the introduction, Gov. Blagojevich likens the use of contraception to the use of Viagra, an argument that attempts to justify mandatory contraception as it will provide equal rights to health care that men currently enjoy.

Morally speaking, the use of male enhancement such as Viagra is disputable. After all, its purpose is to enhance a good, not destroy it. However, drugs of this type are frequently abused within marriage and used outside of marriage in adultery and fornication.

The use of contraceptives, however, is always wrong, whether inside of or outside of marriage. It destroys the conjugal act by suppressing the procreative aspect of it, as well as driving a wedge of disobedience in the couple's sacramental vows to bear and raise children in the Faith.

So... with one product used by men to enhance the marital act and the other used by women to destroy the marital act, why on earth does Gov. Blagojevich insist that laws must be enforced “to make sure that women across Illinois have the same access to affordable health care as men do?” This sounds more like abuse of women through objectification.

The governor also removes any ability for doctors, pharmacists or insurance companies to act with prudence and independent in objecting to participation in contraception.

"Whether or not you use birth control should be your decision. With the changes we've made, once you have a prescription, now your private insurance must cover it and your pharmacy must fill it," he states in the introduction.

These irresponsible actions by Gov. Blagojevich ought to be protested vigorously by citizens of Illinois as well as all people of good will.

Please visit Pharmacists for Life International for more information on the rights of pharmacists.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

“Essential Medicine”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has added the RU-486 combination of pills that cause abortion (if taken early enough in pregnancy under careful physician supervision) to their list of "essential medicine." They say this will help prevent more costly and dangerous illegal abortions. There are several things wrong with this argument.

First of all, this drug combination has caused the death of unsuspecting women, many of whom were seeking an abortion in secret.

Secondly, third world countries are ill-equipped to deal with the medical complications that come from use of the RU486 combination of pills.

Third, this drug does not prevent abortion; it causes an abortion.

Fourth, essential medicine and care should be prenatal vitamins and checkups, birthing and breastfeeding classes, proper food and housing, ultrasounds, emotional and physical care.

Fifth, this drug helps to break down the family and the bond of love found in marriage.

Please see RU486 Facts for more information about this drug. For a comprehensive news report, please see Life Site News.

Monday, July 11, 2005

How can we make adoption attractive to women?

Throughout her book, I waited with baited breath for the answer to a pressing question. “How could adoption become an attractive option to a pregnant woman in crisis?” As I read through the first 100 pages of Real Choices: Listening to Women; Looking for Alternatives to Abortion, Frederica Mathewes-Green referred to a study completed by 194 pregnancy care centers. Each one of these centers listed “Adoption appears too difficult (practically or emotionally)” as the number one most common problem as well as the number one most difficult problem handled in their centers.

Reading through the book on a warm Sunday afternoon in the park, I became inspired to more aggressively promote adoption as a healthy option for a mother.

Surprisingly, I discovered that in pregnancy options counseling, “adoption is not even mentioned to clients” in 40 percent of pregnancy counseling situations (p. 111). The reason seems to be that it seems to be difficult to find the right moment to bring up this option to women, and to be able to present it in an attractive way.

Of course, by attractive, I do not mean glamour and bliss, but an example of what love and motherhood really mean. The argument I hear most often against adoption in my work is that “we don’t want some other person raising our child.” This argument can stand up to parenting (it is entirely naturally to want to raise one’s own child), but it cannot stand up to abortion (it is entirely unnatural for a woman to destroy the child that her body naturally protects). Wouldn’t providing the child with a stable home and a two-parent situation be an ideal option for the mother in a crisis pregnancy? How do we convey this in a loving way to the pregnant mother?

BJ Williams, former director of Adoption Services of San Diego, suggests “helping the client think objectively, not emotionally, by posing questions in the third person: ‘Why would someone plan an adoption? Why would someone single parent?’” (p. 111).

Aha! This is the gold I was looking for in the mine of hurt and desperation encountered when helping a woman in crisis. Although this woman will be experiencing confusion and lack of mental clarity, she has not lost her ability to think objectively. Yes, her emotions will urge her to keep and parent her child, but her emotions do not urge her to separate her motherhood from the decision making through abortion. Yet, if neither of those options are, well, options, this must be how we make the third option more attractive. This simple advice has the potential to move mountains.

In this book, Marlena Moore of Bethany Christian Services of Maryland “criticizes the ‘Adoption, not Abortion’ slogan for seeming to assert the child’s interest without explaining that adoption over abortion also serves the mother best. ‘Until we can defend an adoption over abortion for the benefit of the mother as well, our slogan will continue to fall on deaf ears’” (p. 112).

Please see Chapter 9 of the book as well as Appendix A for reference to the items discussed in this post. Book available from Ms. Mathewes-Green’s website; please see above.

Friday, July 8, 2005

“Abortion Harms Women”

This message is not an elementary argument against abortion. It is a very thorough and thought-provoking view, which begs for common ground on the issue of abortion. Yet, those who (though understandably) find the most compelling insult of abortion in the death of the child resent the words of this phrase.

The message "Abortion Harms Women" does not neglect the unborn child, but on the contrary, it emphasizes the fact that the mother and child are inseparable. In fighting for the lives of unborn children, it is vitally important that we address the concrete needs of the pregnant woman through recognizing her motherhood. After all, it is not the unborn child that we see, but the woman, and it is that woman's final word that will determine the fate of the child. By addressing her needs, we are able to intervene for the sake of the child.

The message "Abortion Harms Women" has a two-fold purpose here. First, it speaks to the pregnant woman by warning her that abortion may seem like a quick solution to a problem pregnancy. Pro-abortion forces vigorously pursue these frightened mothers that abortion is a good option for them. Abortion providers even recognize that the unborn child is a life, but they argue that the child's life is may be ended for the sake of the mother.

But, abortion is not good for women; the after effects of abortion are physical, emotional and mental. Physical risks include intense pain, sterility, future tubal pregnancies, excessive hemorrhaging, infection, risk of breast cancer, cervical cancer, an increased risk of dying during future pregnancies, blood clots/stroke, perforation of the uterus, future miscarriages, and possible death. Emotional and mental after-effects (commonly referred to as Post-Abortion Syndrome) include depression, thoughts of suicide, inability to forget the child's birthday, nightmares, sexual dysfunction, guilt, inability to bond with future children, instability in future relationships, inability to have romantic love,
Crying at the sight of a pregnant woman, eating disorders, alcoholism, and more.

Secondly, this message reaches out to women who have suffered from an abortion with a message of hope and forgiveness. After abortion, our Faith guides us to trust that the soul of that child is now enjoying Eternal Life, however the mother is now in danger of loosing her soul due to the grave sin she has committed. For the sake of her mental and spiritual well-being, we must be attentive to her needs after an abortion by providing counseling and pastoral care. This assistance is provided by specific post-abortion ministries such as Rachel's Vineyard and the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.

Pope John Paul specifically addressed post-abortive women in his 1995 encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae in the following words.

“I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and to his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone's right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life” (Paragraph 99).

Women who have suffered from abortion must know that the pro-life movement does not judge them for their decision, but that we are eager to help them heal from this tragedy. For this reason, the message from Pope John Paul II is also a message for all Christians. It is a message pleading with us to be patient, forgiving and understanding of women who have suffered from abortion. It is our responsibility to act with deep compassion toward these women in hopes of bringing them back to Jesus Christ in forgiveness and mercy.

In her book, Real Choices: Listening to Women; Looking for Alternatives to Abortion, Frederica Mathewes-Green explains the devastating effect of abortion on women. The introduction to the book provides a glimpse of the treasure held within this book.

“…Pregnancy and birth are a healthy process that should be, as much as possible, left alone. Pregnancy and birth link together women all over the world and throughout all time; that earthly, vital process is the most elemental symbol of women’s strength. Disrupting it by thrusting tools deep into a woman’s body is an obscene as pouring dirty motor oil into a pristine mountain lake” (p. 15-16).

Let us reach out to one another in love!

Action Item: Rachel’s Vineyard has a coffee mug available through Priests for Life that says “From Grief to Grace. Ask me about Rachel’s Vineyard.” This mug is a great conversation starter, and ought to be proudly displayed in offices, kitchens and other public places.

Thursday, July 7, 2005

A prayer for a seminarian

Among other things, one’s vocation is the means by which that person achieves Eternal Life, and by which that person helps others to achieve Eternal Life. For that reason, the vocation that one chooses is not just a career choice, but a serious path of discernment. In addition to my own brother, I know many young men who are currently in seminary, preparing for the priesthood. It is such a blessing to see the flourishing of God’s calling in their lives.

I found the following prayer in the back of the church a few weeks ago. Please pray it daily for your favorite seminarian!

O Jesus, Eternal High Priest, give your divine assistance to (seminarian name). Speak Your word in and through him. Act in him, love him through his heart. Give him Your own dispositions and feelings. Teach, lead and guide him always. Correct and enlighten him.

Incline him to constant adoration and thanksgiving. Let him live in You and keep him in this intimate union always, so that one day he may stand in your stead- configured to You as Your priest.

O Mary, Immaculate Conception, Mother of Jesus and Mother of priests, pray and intercede for (seminarian name). Amen.

Tuesday, July 5, 2005

A driving force

I frequently receive questions from concerned (or downright irate) Catholics who believe their bishop or priest is hostile to the pro-life message. There are many principles to remember before casting such a rash judgment.

Our bishops and priests are under considerable pressure from many sides and must choose carefully what activities to devote the bulk of their time and energy to. The US Bishops Conference has reiterated time and again the primacy of the pro-life message, especially in their most recent "Pastoral Plan for Pro-life Activities" and "Catholics in Political Life."

This can be compared to the advice given by Pope Benedict in June in St. Peter's Square. He advised those attending the "Angelus" to be careful driving this summer, so as to avoid traffic accidents and needless loss of life. Naturally, our Holy Father cannot be in each and every car on the road this summer. Nor can he write any of the traffic laws of any country or the safety regulations of car manufacturers. In fact, he may not even drive at all! However, he has entrusted us with a message to act upon.

This same principle can be applied to statements of the Bishops on pro-life work. Our Bishops have spoken, and now it is the responsibility of individual Catholics in every walk of life, in ever career and vocation, to act upon this message with fervor!

Monday, July 4, 2005

Happy 4th of July

A special "Hello!" to all of my military men serving overseas, Stanley W, Rob E, Tom A and Richard R! Thank you and God bless you!!!

Posting will resume tomorrow, have a blessed 4th!

Friday, July 1, 2005

Vile and repulsive

A very vocal and vulgar group of individuals are steadily and swiftly altering the course of mankind and history as you read this. It is the gay community.

The gay community is working to normalize their unhealthy sexual habits and in the process scandalize children, disrupt families, spread diseases, destroy free speech and lead the way in promoting moral decay in our society.

In America, this radical group of activists is led by such vile groups as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Planned Parenthood (PP).

Yes, it IS America we should worry about.

This week, Spain and Canada have worked swiftly to pass laws, following in the footsteps of Holland and Belgium to legalize homosexual unions. In Spain, they also enacted what is being called “express divorce,” no-fault divorce for any reason or no reason after 3 months of marriage.

Of course, especially in Spain, this development has been greatly to the disapproval and horror of the Catholic Bishops. Please see this article on Zenit.org for further information.

As many know “gay pride” events were held in major cities throughout the country last weekend. New York’s own embarrassment to the world, Hillary Clinton, was among those who attended the orgy that snaked its way down 5th Ave on a hot Sunday afternoon. (A mere day after she was endorsed by the “great” Billy Graham to run for presidency. Please see Rev. Rob Schenck’s article from Faith and Action.) I will not provide any links to articles about this vile event because most include pictures and descriptions that are borderline pornographic.

Action item? Oppose the ACLU and the PP vigorously. Contact your elected representatives and urge them to oppose any measure that would give any legal recognition to homosexual unions. Also, contact the president and urge him to appoint a pro-life, pro-family justice to the Supreme Court to replace Sandra Day O’Connor.