Friday, September 14, 2012

Start praying today

The election is in 54 days.

To many, that might sound like an arbitrary number. However it is an important number when it comes to praying for a special intention. Fifty-four days represents six sets of nine days of prayer.
notice apostles, Mary and other women,
just like scripture says

The Acts of the Apostles chapters 1 and 2 recounts the story of Peter as he led the Apostles in prayer and preparation for their ministry after the ascension of Jesus. The time between the ascension of Jesus and the Pentecost was a period of nine days. Since that time, the Church has taken nine days of prayer to be an especially powerful period to plead with our dear Lord for a particular intention.

But, pay special attention to Acts 1:14
All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Mary-- the mother of Christ-- is mentioned specifically as present during this period of prayer. During His earthly life, no other person was as close to Jesus as His own mother, just as any mother shares a special closeness to her beloved children. Just like a Queen has a special sway over the decisions of a King, Mary has a special sway over the decisions of her son, Christ the King.

(Don't forget that thanks to polygamy, in ancient times, it was often the mother of the King who was the Queen, not always one of the wives. Hence, we consider Mary to be the Queen of Heaven.)

So, when we pray for a special intention-- like the Apostles did in obeying Christ's command to pray and wait for the Holy Spirit-- it is a good idea to ask Mary to accompany us through the prayer vigil. She has a powerful sway over the Heart of Jesus.

Our country needs so much prayer. Yes, we deserve every evil that comes our way-- especially for the horrific crime of abortion, the longest lasting, most violent war in American history. Over 55 million causalities since legalization in 1973. Unlike other armed conflicts, the War on the Unborn isn't a fair fight. While innocent civilians die in any war, that's never the target. In the War on the Unborn, it's a defenseless, voiceless, innocent little child who is the target of the war tactics of the pro-abortion ideology. 

So, going back to our 54 days of prayer that we are starting today: for Catholics, it is especially important and powerful to pray the Rosary. If you're not Catholic, add a "Memorare" prayer to your other prayers for our Country.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I read the Bible

A few mornings ago, I had an hour just to sit and relax. I picked up my Bible and flipped to the beginning of Malachi. Malachi tells the prophesy wherein the Lord condemns sin and urges His beloved Israel to return to Him. Of course, they have a 1,000 excuses not to.
For I, the LORD, do not change,
and you, sons of Jacob, do not cease to be.
Since the days of your ancestors you have turned aside
from my statutes and have not kept them.
Return to me, that I may return to you,
says the LORD of hosts.
Malachi 3:6-7 
Amazingly, I read the entire short book in one sitting. It made me think of lots of things. Completing that book brought me up to First Maccabees. I tucked my bookmarks in.

But, I want to rewind my story just a wee bit.

About five years ago, I picked up my Bible, and beginning with Genesis, I was determined to read it in its entirety. Throughout his life, my dad has read the Bible many times. I thought this is something I should do too.

Somewhere about half way through the Old Testament, I went to live in a monastery with the Poor Clare Nuns, and they had me start in Matthew to read the entire New Testament. This time, I read the Navarre Study Bible which contains enriching Biblical commentary and historical details.

For those months, I hardly read the Old Testament, but rather I completed Matthew through Revelation-- the entire New Testament.

For Christmas while I was in the monastery, I received a new Ignatius Bible, the Revised Standard- Catholic Edition (RSV-CE). I took my bookmarks out of the old Bible, New American (NAB) translation, and stuck it in the new Bible. But, busy with the Navarre Bible, I didn't get much reading done until I moved back into the "real world."

Upon completing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I also began in the Monastery, I picked up my new, red Bible and began to read again.

And today, I realized I've read the whole Bible!  In the NAB translation, Maccabees comes just after Esther, but in the Ignatius Bible, it's after Malachi! My bookmarks betrayed me and almost made me miss this milestone of my life!

It's nice to finish a good read!

If your Bible doesn't contain Maccabees or other "Apocryphal" books, you can buy a new Bible by stopping at the Poor Clare nuns' gift shop in Charlotte. Open until 6pm Monday through Saturday.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A fourth trimester fetus

peaceful prayer
On a lonely Friday night during my freshman year of college, my across-the-hall neighbor and I decided that we would brave the impending snow storm and corresponding freezing weather to join other students in prayer at an abortion clinic in Pittsburgh the next morning. Katie and I had never prayed at an abortion clinic before.

Five A.M. came early. We staggered to the chapel for Mass and then sheepishly got into the car with some upperclassmen for the 45 minute drive. We arrived on the streets of Pittsburgh about 6:30 am, rosaries in hand. We thought we were ready to witness the scene, but the gruesome scene of a crime isn't something you can prepare for.

misguided compassion
The first woman walked up, visibly upset about her "choice," boyfriend in hand.

The memory is over 10 years old; most of the details have slipped away. All I remember is breaking down in tears and praying, "O, God..."

Katie and I were numb-- in heart as well as body-- by the end of the several-hour vigil. Many women walked in that morning. Many compassionate pro-lifers attempted to reach out to them with parenting and adoption resources. I don't remember if any woman accepted it.

a fourth trimester fetus?
What I do remember were the yellow-smocked clinic escorts who prevented the women from receiving the information. One was about our age. He had a cynical look on his face. The other escorts were mostly women -- college-aged through middle-aged-- with the occasional middle-aged male. This young escort really stuck out.

As Katie and I became regulars to this macabre scene, we noticed him every week. He had dedication I wish that more people had for doing good.

One morning, a pro-lifer arrived to pray with us with small children in tow. One child was reclining in a stroller. As Mom and children passed the young clinic escort, he retorted:
Hey! It's a fourth trimester fetus! Can we kill that one too?
I gasped in disbelief. I couldn't help but recall his hateful words when I read 11-year-old Zoe Griffin's experience during a DNC protest-- a display of 3,300 carnations to represent the children killed daily in America by abortion.

In Zoe's words:
"The pro-abortionists turned to us and started pointing at different people, saying, "You're a person! You're a person! Fetuses are not!" Then the [pro-abortion] woman saw me crying and said," You are making this girl cry with your bull____". I couldn't stand any more of those lies. They pushed it too far. In the highest-pitched voice I have ever spoken in, I screamed, "THEY ARE NOT THE ONES MAKING ME CRY! YOU ARE! WITH YOUR DARK HEARTS, YOUR DARK MINDS TURNED AGAINST GOD!"

Who made Zoe cry?
(Photo by Anthony Perlas, for

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Deserve to die?

Did this tree deserve to die?
Remember in The Two Towers when Treebeard the Ent was so upset over Saruman's senseless hostility toward the ancient trees? Killing them fiercely to make room for his evil empire?

"Only lately did I guess that Saruman was to blame, and that long ago he had been spying out all the ways, and discovering my secrets. He and his foul folk are making havoc now. Down on the borders they are felling trees-- good trees. Some of the trees they just cut down and leave to rot-- orc-mischief that; but most are hewn up and carried off to feed the fires of Orthanc. There is always smoke rising from Isengard these days. 
"Many of those trees were my friends,  creatures I had known from nut and acorn; many had voices of their own that are lost for ever now. And there are wastes of stump and bramble where once there were singing groves. I have been idle. I have to let things slip. It must stop!
"I will stop it," he boomed. "And you shall come with me. You may be able to help me. You will be helping your own friends that way, to; for if Saruman is not checked Rohan and Gondor will have an enemy behind as well as in front. Our roads go together-- to Isengard!"

Of course, Tolkien's hidden message is about the evils we allow to happen around us.

In Nazi Germany, people didn't stand up against the dragging away of Jews, gypsies, Catholics and the sick. Slowly and easily, they were able to torment and kill across different socio-economic and religious groups, all because no one had the guts to stand up for their neighbor. Such is the reality of terrorism.

How often are the disabled seen as trees to be cut down and discarded to make room for something else. In a talk he gave on Tuesday night here in Charlotte, Bobby Schindler explained: "People ask, 'Who would want to live that way?' That's the wrong question. The right question is, 'How can we best serve and care for the disabled?'"

Did this woman deserve to die?
Bobby is the brother of Terri Schiavo. He said a great deal of thought-provoking things about the evils of silent euthanasia that happens to the disabled and others who do not have the resources or voice to speak for themselves.

(If you are not familiar with the story of Terri Schiavo and her death by starvation, read it on the Life & Hope Network > Terri's Story)

For example, Bobby explained how under Obamacare, there is a great danger of healthcare rationing that a patient will not be able to circumvent, even by paying privately for services. In Spring 2011, Burke J. Balch, J.D of the National Right to Life Committee wrote about it for the organization's newspaper.

To implement these recommendations, the federal Department of Health and Human Services is empowered to impose so-called “quality” and “efficiency” measures on health care providers. Doctors who violate a “quality” standard by prescribing more lifesaving medical treatment than it permits will be disqualified from contracting with any of the health insurance plans that individual Americans, under the Obama Health Care Law, will be mandated to purchase. Few doctors would be able to remain in practice if subjected to that penalty.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Helping others reach the goal

This morning on my way home from church, I caught from the corner of my eye a wee box turtle attempting to cross 601! He was about 18" into the traffic- just where a tire would squish him.
In my alarm, I did a u-turn (as fast as you can at 55mph) and hurried back to the rescue. As I flicked on my hazards and pulled onto the shoulder, a pick-up truck zoomed passed my little friend. I watched anxiously to see if it was his end. Phew! The truck missed him.

I jumped out of the car with little concern for the oncoming cars- they were at least a half mile away- and plucked up the little turtle. He immediately retreated into his shell. I walked directly across the road without changing his orientation and deposited him a good few feet into the meadow-like shoulder. He was a bit frightened, I think, because he didn't emerge from his shell, but remained in hiding.

Helping others get to the goal was also the topic of Deacon Jason Christian's homily at church too. Deacon pointed out that we should rush to the spiritual and practical aid of fellow human souls to help them get to our earthly goal: heaven. Much like how readily I went to the aid of the turtle in danger of loosing his life on the dangerous highway.

Of course helping a friend- or a stranger for that matter- to make better choices isn't quite as easy as diverting the path of a turtle. It takes a lot of love, compassion and prayer. I've even heard holy people say that God doesn't always allow us to see the changes we've brought about in people's lives lest we become prideful.

However, Deacon Jason pointed out that two "modern dogmas" inhibit us from being our "brother's keeper." Tolerance and diversity.

"Why would we tolerate that we would watch another human soul go headlong into hell?" Deacon said. "But a Christian must have an interventionist policy because tolerance is trying to convince us that there is no sin. True diversity is dimished, and false diversity is praised, and underlying that is the attitude that there really is no truth."

To many, truth is considered relative, however when the good of all human persons is taken into account in every situation, we can see that there is always an absolute truth.

For example, we can say it would be better for a woman to have the chance to finish school rather than divert her life to motherhood before she is ready. But, that is really only a good argument for abstinence. If she is already pregnant, they we also have to consider the life of the child, who though hidden and easy to forget, also deserves to fulfill the goals and dreams and destiny of his life. A woman has no more right to an abortion than I have the right to shoot dead the valedictorian of my class so I can take her spot as smartest in the school.

(And to convince her she won't feel guilty or regret it afterwards is silly and ignorant. People normally feel awful after they hurt another; why should it be any different for a mother who has been been convinced to abort her little one?)

Moral of the story? Even when it's unpopular or really, really risky, let's help encourage one another to desire and strive for heaven through lives of virtue and love.