Friday, September 30, 2005

Vocation and concupiscence

Dr. Donald Asci, professor of theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville's Austria campus, wrote a great book on marriage and the conjugal act called The Conjugal Act as a Personal Act. Though I first heard about this book almost 4 years ago, I am finally beginning to read all the way through it. It contains a wealth of information from a historical point of view reflecting on a proper understanding of marriage. The front of the book calls it a "study of the Catholic concept of the conjugal act in light of Christian anthropology."

In this post, I would like to reflect briefly on the concept of concupiscence, especially in the much-disputed words of St. Paul to the Corinthians (1 Cor 7:9): "But if they cannot exercise self-control they should marry, for it is better to marry than to be on fire."

At first glance, this quote seems to lower man and woman to the level of beasts who are unable to control themselves. If this selfish attitude is applied to marriage, it will not create a better situation, but it will result in the use of each other. Selfishness results in resentment, not love.

However, another idea of how concupiscence is to be tackled brings reconciliation, love and mutual help. "Concupiscence is only remedied through the lawful use of the generative faculty; that is, as ordained to procreation. Concupiscence is remedied when the sexual faculty is ordered to its proper use and purposes, primary of which is procreation. Likewise the end of mutual help is related intrinsically to procreation. Mutual help is meant to include the common life of the spouses that they share on the basis of their marital friendship. This common life is marital, or conjugal, inasmuch as it includes and is ordered to the procreation and education of children."

He goes on to quote John Gallagher in the following words, "However the common life of spouses is distinguished by its 'internal relation to the primary end, which differentiates the conjugal union from every other human association.'"

Bringing this idea back around to the title of the post, many simply choose the vocation of marriage because they feel unable to exercise a life of self-control through celibacy. It is a truly honorable vocation for a priest, brother or sister to forgo sex for the sake of the Kingdom of God, however marriage ought not be seen merely as a "license to have sex." On the other hand, it is cooperation between spouses by means of their God-given sexual urge for the sake of rearing children to know, love and serve God.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

"Feministas"

I found a treasure in my inbox a few days ago. It was an email from a pro-life leader in Peru who is currently working on a pro-life conference. After explaining to me, entirely in Spanish, why he was writing, he spent some time reflecting on the current situation in Peru, which consists basically of hostile take over of the moral beliefs of the people by progressive people and feminists.

He describes the feminists in the following words: que de instinto maternal no les queda absolutamente que nada. Roughly translated, this means: those for whom the maternal instinct means absolutely nothing.

This definition commands reflection from the reader.

I used to think of myself as a "feminist " for a very brief time during the past few years as a pro-life'er. I thought, Well, I have the proper understanding of feminism, therefore, I must be a feminist. However, this is not entirely accurate. In this culture, the feminist is the woman for whom the maternal instinct is seen as an impediment to her being, not as an integral part of her being. They fail to recognize that if it were not for our physical and psychological differences, we couldn't even make claims to feminism because there would be no distinction between the sexes.

On the other hand, there is only one identifying factor on a birth certificate: boy or girl. That identification is not only the definition of our place in society, but also helps to form us in to mature, healthy adults.

Our nature is inscribed on this sexual differentiation; it creates instincts within us that are both God-given and work with our free will. This is spoken of in the first few chapters of Genesis both as a consequence of the fall as well as an indication of what being fully human is meant to be.

For men, instincts may include providing for a family. For women, instincts may mean nurturing.

Because sexual pleasure has been all but completely divorced in the mind of modern society from commitment, fulfillment or obedience, many think that sexuality is complete divorced from our being, however it is integral to our beings. Understood and exercised properly brings fullness and peace, void from feelings of shame, guilt or incompleteness.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Some of my thoughts on the "gay rights" movement

There has been more than a fair share of news stories lately on the continued efforts on behalf of homosexual activists to promote their radical and deviant agenda. Here are a few to give you a taste:

Ontario Health Minister Invites US Homosexual Medical Workers to Move to Canada
Worries About Scotland Adding Homosexuals to Hate Crimes Law
Scouts targeted in San Diego: Homosexual, atheist activists to march on camp
Judge rules gay couples can receive health insurance benefits

In addition, a courageous move by the Catholic Church that will ban gay men, whether celibate or not, from the priesthood has triggered another wave of rage amongst the forces within the culture of death.

The many "pro-family" groups that have arisen in the past few years amongst conservative circles are experiencing more than a few difficulties. The pro-life (anti-abortion) movement is simply too overwhelmed with the responsibility of bringing an end to abortion and euthanasia to work on the offense against anti-family forces, yet these newly formed pro-family groups lack the funding, exposure and support.

With so much work to do and so little resources, I propose a strategy change within the pro-life movement. What would happen if we really got back to the basics? How well would our arguments hold if we shifted our focus to promoting an understanding of the human person in light of natural law in lieu of our many defensive techniques

In the beginning of the summer, I attended a day-long conference given by Christopher West, during which he touched on all of the subjects regarding the pro-life/pro-family movement from the point of view of a proper understanding of human sexuality. This type of education is necessary for a complete understanding of the Church's teachings simply because taken one issue at a time, it is nearly impossible to fully grasp.

I have been blessed with an undergraduate degree in theology with a minor in human life studies. But even with this, I recognize that there is some much more that must be learned about the Church's teaching and its practical application to our lives.

I am a firm believer in the inherent goodness of each individual person. For this reason, I find in difficult to believe that a woman will actually have an abortion, that a man will actually cheat on his wife with a man, that young people will actually engage in premarital sexual affairs, etc… Yet, all of these things happen. It is so hard for me to believe that the people behind the culture of death are exactly the same as the people behind the culture of life: they are human beings made in the image and likeness of God. They have been given the tremendous gift of free will and the responsibilities to choose wisely. The difference comes with what each individual chooses to do with his or her free will: a choice to follow and serve God or a choice to follow and serve the devil.

Let us pray…

Monday, September 26, 2005

Baby-making

The trend in modern though is one of possession of children in lieu of recognizing them as a gift from God. In his recent appearance on EWTN Live Fr. Frank Pavone was faced with a caller who expressed her grief due to the fact that she was barren. This woman is now quite elderly and a widow with no children. Yes, children are always seen as a great blessing, and enduring old age without children must be difficult, however grief hardly seems like the appropriate response. The emotion of grief is more about over loss of something or someone, not over something that could have been.

With that story as an introduction, I will change the topic a little bit to talk about this general attitude of disassociation between sex and children. The trend of contraception enables couples to experience sex without children. On the other hand, technology such as in-vitro fertilization enables couples demand fertility from their bodies in a completely unnatural way: divorced from the sexual union.

The Telegraph of London featured an article about the growing trend in IVF due to the fact that women simply don't want to have sex, yet they desire a child. Just as legalized abortion has devastated the lives of hundreds of millions of women, men and family world wide as well as contributed to many other social ills, this article shows some of the nasty effects of IVF on the lives of couples and families. Of course, the effects may never fully explain why IVF is wrong, however they do help make the case stronger.

In her post on this article, Dawn Eden says the following:

"[Dr.] Cannon explains that her patients are commuter couples who don't have time for sex, but it's hard to believe that there aren't problems in the marriages as well. After all, if a spouse really want to have sex, he or she will forgo the extra trip to the gym."

There more than just a few problems with the attitude that Dr. Cannon explains, and Eden hits the nail on the head in suggesting that there must be marital problems as well. First, if couples do not have time to have sex with one another, how on earth will they have time for caring for a child!? Next, if they are so consumed with work, an exterior social life or "gym time" to make time for sex, how can they say their commitment is rightly ordered to begin with?

It seems that these couples have forgotten that the sexual union is an integral part of their marital life. It enables them to express love for one another as well as to open up the doors for accepting the gift of a child.

Dr. Cannon suggests that couples have sex two or three times per week in order to achieve pregnancy. While it will be immensely helpful for couples to engage in the conjugal act two to three times a week in order to strengthen their marital relationships, this is only part of the equation. In order to achieve pregnancy, those unions must take place during the fertile time. This is one of the purposes of natural family planning.

Eden observes the healthy Catholic family as an example of success in marital life:

"I look at the observant-Catholic married couples I know, and say what you will, no doctor warns them that they're missing out on sex. And I don't just mean that from the number of little ones they bring to Mass. You can tell from their affection for one another."


Resources:
Couple to Couple League provides instructions on Natural Family Planning.
Elizabeth Ministry helps women who are enduring the joys and sufferings of the child-bearing years.
The Silent No More Awareness Campaign is a campaign to bring women and men to reconciliation and healing after abortion while exposing the devastation it brings to their lives through public witness.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Monday, Sept 26: "Family Dinner Day!"

Family Research Council reported in yesterday's Washington Update that Monday, Sept 26 is Family Dinner Day, sponsored by the CASA Organization. This is certainly a celebration worth celebrating not only on Sept 26, but every day! Not only do children, especially teens, benefit greatly from the family meal, but this concept is integral to our very beings.

Research

CASA is the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. Their research is summarized in a wonderful article by Jamie Lee Curtis, "Guess who's coming to dinner?"

"In a 2003 back-to-school survey of 1,987 adolescents aged twelve to seventeen, CASA determined that teens who ate dinner with their families five or more nights a week were at half the risk of starting to smoke, drink or use drugs. The teens were also twice as likely to get As in school as the teens who dined with their families two nights a week or less. This concept is mind-blowing, yet so simple."

This is among the most important reasons that one of the premier goals of CASA is to promote the idea of the family meal.

The meal as a gift

Having the family meal is about more than just eating together, but also about the act of appreciation for the preparing of the meal. Often, people offer a thanksgiving to God before eating, with a special blessing for "the cook." This very action of reception and thanksgiving affirms the one who labored for much time to give this simple gift. Often, this is the wife, as this is often one of her responsibilities as a wife. Amongst her other duties, she spends a great part of her day thinking of and preparing a meal to nourish her husband and children precisely because she loves them.

Says Jamie Lee Curtis in the above-mentioned article:

"And yet, if the quintessential nuclear family that takes time out for dinner each evening was an elusive ideal for people forty years ago, it’s all but extinct today. In the modern era, Mom and Dad rush home from work to eat a few quick bites with the kids before heading out to a social function or a meeting. Other nights, everyone is so busy with various activities that dinner begins to resemble a game of musical chairs. Each person winds up reheating leftovers on his or her own timetable, or the family orders takeout before everyone rushes off to do something 'more important.'"

Something is lost when food is ordered in or the meal is eaten at a restaurant. I have always found it peculiar when families eat Thanksgiving or Easter meals at a restaurant, for example. This phenomenon eliminates the gift-giving factor of the meal, but reduces it to an item that can be charged and service that can be tipped. It also renders it impossible for restaurant workers to spend that special time with their families. In fact, in some Mexican towns with populations of over 5,000, there is not a single restaurant in the town. It is simply unthinkable that a meal would be prepared by anyone but the people that will partake of it.

Reflections of a young person

Reflecting upon her summer with myself and our friend Christopher, Michele, philosophy student at Christendom College, said the following about the communal nature of eating. "Especially through those simple evenings of dinner, housekeeping and leisure did I find something profoundly humanizing, although the realization came later. Eating in solitude is a very lonely thing. We are the only creatures in this world that really have a sense of a meal, that communal affirmation of life through nourishing it, through enjoying the way our Creator intended us to be."

Even amongst friends the meal is "a kind of spiritual imitation of the self-sacrificing and life-giving natural family." Even away from family and living in New York City where she was deprived of her "usual modes of recollection in the beauty and privacy of nature," she found other forms of beauty "in the day-to-day living with friends." She concludes by making reference to the Nicomachean Ethics where Aristotle "explains that what friends do together is to live together… I came to realize more deeply why our Lord said, 'I have called you friends.'"

The Eucharist: the highest meal

From Michele's last sentence, we can see why our Lord used the meal as the foundation of the highest sacrament in the Church: the Eucharist. It is this integral part of our being, and all can relate to it. Often, a first date involves going out to dinner. Such is with Christ. His "date" with us is in the form of the Holy Mass, most especially in receiving Communion.

The gift of Himself is what makes the Eucharist unique. In the Catholic tradition, we truly believe that Christ is present in the Host after the words of consecration are said by a priest. Each Catholic then approaches the altar, the family table, to receive. Back in the pew, we offer our prayers of thanksgiving for the great gift, such as in the blessing before a family meal the blessing is said.

This year is the year of the Eucharist, and we must take this opportunity more fully understand the gift given in the Eucharistic meal.

Reflections of society

The instance of "order ahead, pick up to go" restaurants and fast-food chains, I believe, is a direct response to the breakdown of the family in society. Those who are single or who do not take the time (most often because they do not have it!) to prepare a meal often find themselves resorting to these options. This further dehumanizes the concept of a family meal.

For example, on Friday night, the secretary at my doctor's office was discussing with myself and other patients what she was going to do for dinner. "O, I'm picking it up!" she said. "There is no way I am going to take the time to cook after working all day." This comment reflects a twisted sense of priority among the family. In lieu of spending money on fancy haircuts, nice clothes, golfing trips and expensive cars, families ought to recognize the importance of the sacrifices necessary that one parent (traditionally the mother) is able to be home to prepare a meal.

But, I can't cook!

Fears such as lack of cooking skill ought not be downplayed; practice makes perfect, or at least better! For me, I am not so good at cooking. I go through stages where I will perfect certain dishes, such as mashed potatoes, tri-color pasta or wraps. It seems that my ability to cook has not been fostered largely because I have no one to cook for. During the summer, with the company of Christopher and Michele, I was able to fine-tune my cooking skills. For this reason, it is especially important for young, single people to form such communities of friends to share the cooking responsibilities. This will help to prepare them for marriage in a practical way. Then in partaking of the meal, they are able to exercise the giving and receiving and also to engage in fruitful and healthy conversation. This is the very act of sharing their lives with one another of which Michele spoke.

Of course, one more aspect of food as gift is actually giving! Another skill that I further developed this summer was baking pies. One of my greatest joys now is to bake a pie to present to a friend. The recipient can always tell when such a gift is made with love, and the right and perfect thing to do in the reception of that gift is to express gratitude through consuming it together, enjoying it together.

Pleasure in eating

Many recognize that the things most necessary for our survival as a species are enjoyable to the point of being pleasurable. God made eating, breathing, rest and sex pleasurable for a reason! Just as it is disordered to have sex alone, one might suggest that eating alone is disordered. Our very bodies pine for the company of a communal meal just as they pine for procreation.

Conclusion

As a child and even to this day, my family ate together daily. I would constantly hear "Be home at 6!" no matter what situation or event was happening. At the time, I did not recognize the importance of this event, but my parents had the wisdom to see it. My grandparents lived with my family, and all of us would sit around the table nightly. Grandpa would tell stories; Grandma would tell jokes; Dad would read a page out of his latest book; Mom would share her wisdom; each of us kids would discuss our days, our feelings and our other thoughts and opinions. We shared our lives, our faith and our family through this basic concept. We truly knew each other from this experience. The meal always ended with desert and then night prayers.

Let's make the family meal a daily celebration in our lives!

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

One issue?

Pro-life activists are often accused of many things. Among the most popular, we are accused of being "one issue" people or simply crazed fanatics. These view is well represented in a recent article in the New York Times, despite the truths contained therein about the shame, secrecy and despair of abortion. Here, I wish to address the former claim about pro-life'ers briefly.

The article states:

"While public conversation about abortion is dominated by advocates with all-or-nothing positions - treating the fetus as a complete person, with full rights, or as a nonentity, with none - most patients at the clinic, like most Americans, found themselves on rockier ground, weighing religious, ethical, practical, sentimental and financial imperatives that were often in conflict."

The article seems to accuse both pro-choice and pro-life activists with refusal to compromise or work for common ground on the abortion issue. Pro-life activists are especially criticized here for the problem of abortion because it seems as if we do not do enough to provide alternative options for pregnant women. Blame is not placed on the abortion industry that pries on vulnerable women for profit while offering empty promises.

The champion for promoting real choices for pregnant women has been Frederica Mathewes-Green, author of Real Choices: listening to women; looking for alternatives to abortion. Frederica has a unique way of addressing the abortion problem from the view of helping both mother and child for the sake of family and society.

In fact, what many don't realize is that the pro-life movement (and even some in the pro-choice movement) spends much effort not only providing for pregnant women, but also rescuing them from the clutches of society that try to convince them that even trying to have a baby is a grave irresponsibility. We work against society, media and culture, clinging to the hope of Jesus Christ. Pro-life activists recognize the needs that women have and seek to meet those needs. We understand that the conflicts that women have are not a violent desire to kill a child, but it is a response to despair in the fact that "religious, ethical, practical, sentimental and financial" issues are overwhelming.

Let’s use an analogy that is easy to relate to: Hurricane Katrina. The response to that tragedy was largely unorganized. The hit was expected, however the amount of damage was by far under-expected. So… in this situation, we are not only helping those whose lives are devastated by the disaster, but also using our experience to devise a new plan. Part of that plan is not only to have better crisis intervention response teams prepared, etc, but also to have the water drainage systems and levies inspected and in proper working order. It would be silly to suggest that only one of these things is important; it is all important. Such is with the pro-life message. Our message must be comprehensive and truly revolutionary. It must address the needs of women and families.

In high school, I was actually forbidden to write papers about contraception or abortion because it was a Catholic high school and "the issue is settled," I was told. "There is no need for you to address a topic that was already defined by the Church." Now I see that maybe the problem is that it abortion not addressed enough by the people in the Church in response to the firm teachings of the Church that guide us.

Monday, September 19, 2005

NEJM addresses China's one-child policy

Every once in a while, the New England Journal of Medicine offers free access to an article, which is always an opportunity I appreciate being a starving college graduate who can never get my hands on the paper copies (those lucky students!). This month, they offered more articles than usual, and among them was an article addressing a highly controversial and rarely discussed topic: the government-enforced one-child policy in China. A second article, also offered free of charge, addresses the evolving healthcare system in China. I am only going to address the former in this post.

First, the article gives a little background on the "birth regulation policy" that was formally developed in 1979 to curb births among the "baby boomers." Between 1970 and 1979, it was highly recommended that a couple follow the "late, long, few" advice. This advice suggested that a woman wait for her first child, leave many years between children, and to have only bear one or two children. This mentality cut the birth rate in half in just 10 years, from 5.9 to 2.9, however "after the one-child policy was introduced, there was a more gradual fall in the rate until 1995, and it has more or less stabilized at approximately 1.7 since then."

The authors of the article speculate that "the policy itself is probably only partially responsible for the reduction in the total fertility rate… It is reasonable to speculate that there would have been a further decline in China's total fertility rate had the voluntary policy of the 1970s continued." I highly doubt this fact. When forcibly dictting the lives of married couples, they tend to desire to rebel. Social or cultural influence cannot universally convince all couples that having one child is desirable; brainwashing and moral dictatorship can.

This information given in the study is helpful in providing a foundation for studying the issue, however I am deeply concerned with some of the data and conclusions that are given in the article. There was strict application of this policy, which in most regions meant that only one child was permitted. In rural areas, there were exceptions, such as if the first child was a girl, a second child would be permitted (in hopes of bearing a boy "to continue the family line").

The authors rightly admit that "the policy depends on virtually universal access to contraception and abortion," citing a whopping 87% usage rate of contraceptives. On the other hand, they fail to give proper "credit" to the forced implementation of the policy.

Heavy reliance was given to the long-term contraceptive measures of sterilization and IUD insertion. However, even with the forced use of certain contraceptives, somehow, 13% get away with no use of contraception. This assumes that this 13% is naturally sterile, abstinent or desiring pregnancy. Because pregnancy is only allowed once in most cases, the idea that women are not using contraception because they attempt pregnancy is also unlikely. These discrepancies open the door for non-sanctioned pregnancies which result in coerced or forced abortions. It is not likely that these forced abortions are properly documented nor included in statistics.

Of course, these declining birth rates have created a problem that is also seen in the United States: not enough young people to care for the elderly. In the United States the birth rate is at 2.08 which is not much higher than China. The Social Security program is going bankrupt simply because there are not enough young people paying into the system. This has been brought about by the decline in the cultural acceptance of children, and thus the lowered birth rate. In the US, China and around the world, this phenomenon opens wide the door to euthanasia.

Steven Mosher of the Population Research Institute was the first American social scientist to travel to China to study this policy. The year was 1980, and to his horror, he witnessed forced abortions and sterilizations, coercion and dictation in the area of childbearing (a couple was required to obtain permission before achieving pregnancy) and other human rights abuses. He wrote a first-hand story of "Chi An" in A Mother's Ordeal.

The story told therein was the beginning of the United States policy to grant asylum to women escaping their own country for reasons having to do with the birth of a child. This policy was established by the first President Bush, who also removed US assistance of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) because of its support of sterilization and abortion. Though revoked under Clinton, this became policy again under the second President Bush. In fact, a report today gives details of over $30 million that President Bush withheld from the UNFPA this year.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

More rants on Planned Parenthood

On my way home from meeting a friend this evening, I sat on the train (subway) with Planned Parenthood propaganda staring me in the face. "Birth control gives me the power to plan my future," they boast. "Planning is power. PPNYC." Ugh!

Outraged, I called my friend Joe, a seminarian and student at Ave Maria University. I expressed my disbelief, being sure that I was within earshot of the other passengers of the train. "What a load of lies!" I exclaimed. I was half tempted to rip the sign down, however I decided it would not be prudent to demonstrate such rage or violence.

Other ads that are a part of this campaign are so bold as to raise birth control to the heights of godliness. "Birth Control makes all my other choices possible," one ad claims. Really!?

These ads are done in the name of "prevention," so says PPNYC on their website. "Planned Parenthood of New York City is proud to present our new campaign to promote birth control usage and reframe the conversation to focus on prevention." They go on to explain that the campaign is in response to a challenge put before them in an op-ed in the Atlanta Constitution recently. This op-ed asked that their programs begin to re-focus on pregnancy prevention.

Never once in these ads is the idea of abstinence mentioned as a means of prevention. Never once are youth, families or other people of child bearing years challenged to exert self-control of their sexuality and to preserve themselves in purity for the sake of marriage. Yet, they boast that they hold the power of humanity in the form of little pills and devices that undermine the true meaning of our sexuality.

So, I began thinking. What really gives us the power to plan our futures? The answer was easy, maybe because my hands were folded around a prayer book based on the Diary of Saint Maria Faustina, my 'easy reading' for a train ride. The answer is faith and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ. Through our willingness to listen to him and devote our lives to him, we truly have the power to plan our lives. This live is one without excuses, pains, sin, suffering or lies.

The campaign of PPNYC only serves to convict me more and more of the absolute, un-excusable responsibility of the pro-life movement to address the problem of contraception. Groups like the Planned Parenthood promote contraception with the hope of gaining customers for abortions when (not if, because it almost always does) fail. In the pro-life movement, we only have the strength for so long to perform a "clean-up" job, that is cleaning up the problem of abortion without destroying the cause of it. In order to spread a message that will effectively answer all of the questions about abortion, sex and the meaning of human life, the questions of "why" must be addressed.


Recommended reading/ listening:
If you like to read, please read "Contraception, why not?" by Janet E. Smith, available here. If you don't like to read or don't have the time, please obtain this talk free of charge on CD or cassette from One More Soul.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Euthanasia through abortion

Whether he admits it or not, George Tiller effectively killed Christin A. Gilbert in January of 2005. While enduring a 4-day procedure for the late term abortion of her child, Christin suffered fatally from an infection called sepsis. Oddly enough, this case involves so many of the so-called "exception" cases to abortion: conceived through rape, mental disability and late-term.

First, a little background about Christin is necessary. At the time, Christin was a 19-year-old high school student. She also had Downs' Syndrome. She was a much-loved friend and classmate and a star on the school softball team. Her pregnancy was the result of a sexual assault. For whatever reason, the abortion was not sought until she was over 25 weeks pregnant. These three factors rarely find themselves in the same case, however Christin's case is unique and tragic.

Here we have a young woman who loved so openly that she doubtlessly found it easy to trust in others. It is true that many people with Downs' Syndrome find it easy to trust and love. However, her trusting was taken advantage of through a wicked sexual assault.

Imagine for a moment how terrified Christin was. She was in no way ignorant of the circumstances surrounding her. She was a bright girl, and had successfully achieved a high-school education, something many "normal" children are not even able to achieve. Some say that the disabled are unable to process emotions or even have emotional attachments, however it is clear this is not the case with Christin. If Christin was able to achieve so much academically, she could certainly sense the abuse happening to her through out the sexual assault, abortion and medical malpractice leading to her death.

The fear and confusion in the life of this young lady leading up to and during her abortion is simply unacceptable. Terrified after the experience of sexual assault, Christin was led to an abortion clinic, to be left there in the hands of incompetent health care providers.

The solution to the problems present in this case is not to have had her on contraceptives in case such a situation ever happened. Nor is the solution to quickly turn to abortion because of the pregnancy was the result of rape or that it was the child of a disabled person.

The solution is for the family, who loved her enough to welcome her into their lives to accept her pregnancy, explain it to her lovingly, and to continue to love her unconditionally. The solution is to find the perpetrator of her sexual assault and punish him to the fullest extent of the law. The solution is also to guard the lives of the mentally and physically challenged from those who seek to take advantage.

This is a situation I can't help but call "euthanasia through abortion."

Operation Rescue (OR) has provided continuing coverage of the death of Christin. The autopsy confirmed that Christin did indeed die from "complications of therapeutic abortion." However, the details of this case reveal that Christin suffered far too many abuses against her.

If his life's work to destroy the disabled while still in the womb, what would deter him from destroying the life of a disabled patient who is 19 years old? OR speculates about this as well. "Tiller is a man who prides himself of ridding society of the unfit or the imperfect. He describes himself as the "doctor of last resort" for women bearing children with "fetal anomalies" including Downs' Syndrome. He has made it his job to kill disabled people in the womb under the guise of alleviating their "suffering."

While it could be speculated whether she understood that she was pregnant, there is no doubt that she felt the fear and uncertainty of her frantic family. She also was suffering from the trauma of the sexual assault, which only 25 weeks later was further compounded through the late term abortion sought at Tiller's Kansas abortion clinic.

This is a tragic case of failure of society to protect the weak and helpless.

Highlights on Planned Parenthood article on Fr. Frank Pavone

The Planned Parenthood is getting very scared about Fr. Frank's new priestly society, the Missionaries of the Gospel of Life (MEV). Here is an excerpt from yesterday's article:

"According to a report released by the Institute for Democracy Studies (IDS), Pavone and his organization endorse illegal activities and are linked to extreme elements in the anti-choice movement, while at the same time presenting a moderate, non-violent face to the public. The report notes, 'Priests for Life say they oppose violence, but their actions send a different message.'"

No, in fact, it is violence we are working against- violence in the womb. Fr. Frank always says that.

It has been said that you know you are succeeding when the enemy is scared. Keep up the good work, Fr. Frank!


Please see Priests for Life for more information.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Sterilization: poison for marriage

Waiting in the packed waiting room of the chiropractor's office, a young couple came in with an almost-six-months baby. The mother sat down next to me while the father retrieved the child from his carrier and held him up, kissing him affectionately.

All in the room turned toward the child and began to proclaim his cuteness. It was easy to see how the child got his looks: he had a tall, handsome father with blond hair and an muscular build. His mother was short with an amiable face, olive complexion and curly hair.

The child was fascinated by a set of twins near the front of the waiting room, carefully looking from one young woman to the other. Everyone giggled in delight, commenting on his curiosity. I suggested to the mother that maybe the child will have twin sisters one day, and he can be fascinated every day of his life.

"Well, if they don't come in the next pregnancy, he's not getting them," she responded. "I'm only having one more pregnancy, and then he's getting fixed." She pointed to her husband.

My heart was saddened, and I knew this was a moment given to me by God to witness to the damage that sterilization brings to couples and their marriages. Earlier in the day, I had been sharing with a man who was greatly troubled about his wife's plans to get her tubes tied during the upcoming birth of their third child. Her reason was fear: all of her deliveries had been through cesarean section, and she feared for her health because another c-section would be risky.

I shared with from the stories that I read in a book compiled by One More Soul called Sterilization Reversal: A generous act of love. In these stories, couples share the chilling details of their decisions to seek sterilization, the detriment it brought to their marriages, and their journeys to understanding and accepting the fullness of their fertility in light of the marriage covenant. Here are some excerpts from Brad and Kerry's story.

"I told Brad to have a vasectomy because I was afraid of getting pregnant," said Kerry. "I was afraid of the comments that other people would make if I got pregnant again [with the fifth child]. I did not want to have to tell my family we were pregnant again and hear the disappointment in their voices…"

After years of using various birth control devices and methods, "I waited for a year for the magic to come back into our marriage after the vasectomy—but it never did. Where was the spontaneity? Where were the good times? Why did our communication worsen?

"Our marriage did not get better after the vasectomy. Our communication was less, and everything in the marriage was worse."

Their marriage almost ended in divorce due to the division the vasectomy brought into their lives. Only after conversion and the Sacrament of Confession did they come to love one another again, and in that love made the decision to have the sterilization reversed.

"I was not aware of it at the time, but the effects of the reversal would have a profound effect on me, too… We had a marriage to put back together, [but still] did not want another baby at this time. We had learned that sterilization did not enhance our love for each other, but using NFP helped us to communicated better and, in the end, helped us to be one—spiritually, emotionally and physically."

The Catholic Church forbids intentional sterilization. It is a sin against chastity within marriage. In the 1968 document Humanae Vitae, this is specifically addressed as an illicit means of regulating birth. After mentioning the offense in procured abortion, contraception is addressed in theses words.

"Equally to be excluded, as the teaching authority of the Church has frequently declared, is direct sterilization, whether perpetual or temporary, whether of the man or of the woman. Similarly excluded is ever action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" (para. 14).

Surprisingly, many of the couples cited in Sterilization Reversal were unaware of this fact, or that because they failed to understand why the Church taught this, they were unwilling to accept it. However, the Church is sensitive to the needs of her people, while at the same time demanding suffering and sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel.

"Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection" (para 17).

Quoting again from in Sterilization Reversal, a wise mother speaks of how this "contraceptive mentality" is fostered in youth and how its roots are deep in our culture:

"The analogy that would later come to me was that if an alcoholic comes in for health care, we don't tell him to continue to drink. We advise smokers to stop smoking and obese people to lose weight; but if teens admit to being sexually active, we act as if they can't control themselves. So instead of counseling about chastity, we hand out the contraceptives!"

We pray especially for the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima for the intention of healing and understanding for all married couples, especially those tempted by sterilization. We pray also that all children and young adults may grow up to understand and live a life of chastity.

Friday, September 9, 2005

Pro-life help for Katrina victims

In lieu of a post tonight, I am taking this opportunity to make yet another plea to my dear readers on behalf of all of the pregnant women, babies and young children in need after Hurricane Katrina.

Jill Stanek has been keeping pro-life'ers up to date on the status of the pregnancy resource centers in Louisiana and Mississippi that need our assistance after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. These centers exist in every major city of the country, maintain themselves by volunteer work and generous donations from their community. They link pregnant women to resources and support during pregnancy. Without these centers, many women would resort to abortion because the support for her and her child would simply not exist.

The need for PRCs has risen due to Katrina. Less pregnant women now have the resources to continue their pregnancies, and the centers have been devastated by the storm.

Americans have been coming out in full-force to support those whose livelihoods were lost by this storm by donating money, housing space, time, and more. However Jill reports that the PRCs have been largely neglected in their pleas for donations due largely to the fact that they exist on a small budget to begin with. They simply do not have the money for intense advertising and fundraising campaigns, and some experience difficulty achieving grants from local and federal government.

Jill gives several suggestions of ways to help a PRC, and cites the example of a church from Illinois that is packing a semi truck full of baby supplies. One church in New Jersey is also holding a yard sale/ donation drive to send down to the PRCs.

Please consider a gift today in support of women and children in need.

God bless you!!

Thursday, September 8, 2005

Let's not loose this one!

Since the tragic death of Terri Schiavo, many more cases have come to light of euthanasia and assisted suicide, such as Sun Hudson from Texas. Sadly, many of our brothers and sisters die every day out of misguided mercy, lack of understanding of humanity, or just plain greed.

A case was brought to my attention today about a man in Florida named Scott Thomas. Scott suffered a blow to his head in early September 2004, and has been in successful rehabilitation since that time. He has been sustained through a feeding tube although he is able to swallow. According to the website, during his time in the hospital and in rehabilitation, Scott's wife Eliza has been vying for custody in order to have her husband's feeding tube removed.

Thankfully, Scott's mother Pamela has been successful in winning custody battles. Through her dedication and love, Scott has thrived. Currently, he is in need of many resources to continue his rehabilitation, including funds for legal counsel. The legal battle could be as brutal as it was for Terri Schiavo.

The father of Terri Schiavo has joined the fight for Scott's life in the following words. “The suffering our daughter endured and her death over the course of nearly two weeks was horrific. I am pleading with Mrs. Thomas to please reconsider her decision to seek the removal of Scott’s feeding tube and to allow him to receive the therapy and rehabilitation he needs to improve. I beg Mrs. Thomas to give her husband a chance."

Please consider a donation to support Pamela Patton as she fights for Scott's life. So much has been learned from the life and death of Terri Schiavo; let's not loose this fight!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Celebrating special needs children!

A recent article on the attitude shift among doctors to the diagnosis of Downs' Syndrome indicates that physicians are increasingly able to see the joy in every child.

Brian Skotko, a medical student from Harvard has done extensive research in the field, partly inspired by his own 24-year-old sister who has DS. He calls this negative attitude "a woeful lack of sensitivity and even objectivity." A diagnosis of DS before birth or after birth has been met with the same attitude: that early detection could save the family from embarrassment. Early detection, of course, means the next step is the abortion of this child with special needs.

Naturally, the Planned Parenthood has been a force behind this agenda. As the famous slogan of their founder goes, "every child should be wanted and loved." While it is a lofty goal for every child to be loved and cherished, the Planned Parenthood's goal is simply not that.

Their agenda not only speaks to the "time and place" to have a child, but also the physical features or abilities of the child. Margaret Sanger herself, the founder of the Planned Parenthood, believed in creating an elitist race where there would be no minorities, poor people nor people with disabilities. Their goal is to make it a social sin for a child to be born when he or she is not physically attractive, healthy and born into a wealthy family. The advocate abortion and contraception in all other cases.

Sadly, doctors have taken this seriously and redefined the right to life accordingly to mean that only a certain type of child is capable or worthy of being loved based on his physical health.

According to a study conducted by Skotko, mothers chose to continue their pregnancies after an adverse pre-natal diagnosis, not because of encouragement by their physician, but because of a number of other factors including conscience, religions influence and partner's opinion. "The majority [of mothers] had been scared and anxious after getting their screening test result, largely because DS had not been explained to them or, for those who already knew something about the condition, because up-to-date information had not been given," Skotko found. In more recent years, however, physicians were more supportive and encouraging of a child with special needs.

Earlier this year, Skotko gave a 10-point plan for helping doctors to communicate the adverse diagnosis with the new parents. Please share this information with your doctor.

Resources available for parents (and for physicians to share with parents):
Christian Homes and Special Kids

National Downs' Syndrome Congress

Saturday, September 3, 2005

Pro-life pregnancy centers need help after Katrina

For more information on how you can help, please read this letter on Jill Stanek's blog.

Please be as generous as possible. We all know that the abortion clinics are on the prowl for pregnant women in crisis.

God bless you!

Friday, September 2, 2005

Plan B? How about Plan C!!

The pending decision over allowing OTC status for the morning after pill is causing quite a bit of commotion. The FDA has yet again postponed their decision on the matter. The debate has become further politicized as Susan Wood, Assistant Commissioner for Women's Health and Director at the FDA, resigned her position earlier in the week. Next, the American Academy of Pediatrics has released their statement in support of allowing this dangerous medicine to be available without physician supervision, even to adolescent girls.

Ms. Wood was an advocate for the pro-abortion cause, and her resignation has been praised by the Concerned Women for America.

The AAP boldly claims that "Emergency contraception has the potential to significantly reduce teen pregnancy rates and this will similarly reduce the abortion rate." They also chide doctors who do not do not discuss emergency contraception with young patients by citing the following statistic: "only 20-25 percent of health care providers discuss emergency contraception with adolescent patients." Their statement is to be included in the Oct 5 issue of the American Academy of Pediatrics Journal.

Yet statistics do not show that accessibility to EC (also called "Plan B," the Morning After Pill or MAP) reduces the instance of pregnancy or abortion. In fact, it has been shown that in places where EC is used at higher rates, teen pregnancy rises as does instance of abortion.

At this time, the FDA has opened up a period of 60 days for public input on the topic. Their proposal is that it will remain a prescription drug for women 16 and under, but OTC for those 17 and older. Yet, they also inform us that no drug has ever enjoyed the dual-status as such.

This plan seems to mirror the policies for distributing EC in the
United Kingdom
, where the drug is available with out a prescription for women over the age of 16. EC is available to all without a prescription in Canada as of April, 2005.

This situation is one example of a separation of powers issue between legislating and public policy making. On one hand, it is entirely appropriate that the FDA would decide such matters, as this was the purpose of establishing the agency. On the other hand, citizens may wonder why there is so much politicking in a government agency that is supposed to be at very least objective.

But, it is inevitable that the FDA is somewhat political. The FDA was established so that Congress does not have to handle these issues. And, the FDA does still rely on input from the public, as we can see in the 60 extension and call for public input.

However, in its approval of RU 486 during the Clinton administration, the FDA clearly failed in their review of a drug that even at that time proved a deadly drug. Now, as many as 6 women have died, including the well-know story of Holly Patterson of California, and 600 have suffered complications from the hasty decision. This goes to show that the FDA needs a political check on it, however

It is also worth mentioning that Senator DeMint of south Carolina has recently introduced the "RU-486 suspension and review act," S-511.

If emergency contraception is allowed over-the-counter, will this be the "slippery slide" that will allow all chemical contraceptives to become available OTC? Perhaps eventually, the deadly drug RU-486 will become available OTC as well.

The solution? Emergency contraception shouldn't even be on any market. Let's try a "Plan C." In lieu of being fed drugs to cover up a destructive and irresponsible lifestyle, abstinence education should be taken seriously. Fidelity within marriage and the openness to children ought to be fostered. Please read Humanae Vitae.

Action Item: urge your pediatrician not to associate himself with the AAP. Urge all your physicians to make a statement to the FDA opposing the availability of EC as an OTC drug. Encourage your Senator to support S-511. Please visit the US Senate website to contact your senator.

Thursday, September 1, 2005

"Humanity in tragedy"

So reads the headline from Tony Perkin's Washington Update today. He goes on to describe the tremendous relief efforts of corporations and individuals, encouraging us to get involved and offer prayers for victims and their families.

Yet, amid this goodness of society, we are truly seeing "humanity in tragedy" as reports pour in of pillaging, shootings at relief helicopters and blame being placed on the members of the National Guard and Armed Forces who are working so diligently in relief aids. There are clearly two sides of humanity in the midst of a tragedy: those on the outside looking in with a solution and those on the inside looking out in despair.

The same can be said of the tragedy that America has been living in for the past 40+ years, during which time the epidemics of contraception and abortion have reigned. These two curses have created great trauma and tragedy in society. Humanity has been suffering relentlessly from the effects of contraception and abortion, yet so many people refuse to recognize the reality of the effects of sin on man.

The people on the outside looking in with a solution are the pro-life activists. These are Christians and Catholics who understand the moral law of the Church and work to promote it. They work actively in pregnancy care centers, legislative bodies, educational efforts, post-abortion care and mission work. They carefully and prayerfully analyze the teachings of the Church to discern the best way to implement them in society. They serve not only in prevention efforts, but also in crisis and "clean-up" jobs.

On the other hand are those who are on the inside looking out in despair. So deep in their tragedy, this is the pro-abortion movement who will self-destruct because they try to pull themselves out by the very same tactics that created the mess. The Planned Parenthood, under the philosophy of creating a perfect race, promoted widespread use of contraception among poor people in order to prevent births. Seeing those efforts fail, they quickly turned toward promoting abortion. Because the business revolves around allowing "sex without consequences," this vile organization also promotes homosexual unions, forced contraceptive use and sex-education. Their agenda has resulted in divorce, promiscuity, sexually transmitted disease, cultural relativism, women who deeply regret their abortions and more.

A recent example is seen in the tragedy of "Katrina." The Planned Parenthood, in lieu of providing pre-natal and delivery care for pregnant victims of Katrina, they are distributing free contraception and morning after pill prescriptions. This is hardly sensible!

So, who will we be in the midst of tragedy? Will we be the ones who pillage, gouge and harass the aid-workers? Or, will we be the ones lovingly extending charity by means of donations, sacrifices and other relief efforts?

In both the current tragedy of Katrina and the ongoing tragedy of the Culture of Death, the most important task of all of humanity is to pray and allow God to move our hearts to advance the Culture of Life and Love!