CONSCIENCE IS NOT A TECTONIC PLATE


We are facing recent proposals to extend access to abortion until the time of birth for any reason.  In the mind of some legislators, if a child is born alive after an abortion attempt, it is justifiable to allow the infant to die.  That is, not to provide and lifesaving medical assistance.

There are some Catholic legislators and politicians who support unrestricted abortion.  When asked about their Catholic faith, the response is usually to claim that the Catholic Church respects the primacy of conscience and in their conscience, they are not committing a sin.  They lean on the documents of Vatican II to justify this position. Others claim that their faith is separate from their politics, because their faith is personal and their political position on abortion is dictated by their constituents.  The worse part of this is that many voters hear or read statements from these politicians and they assume that the politician knows what he or she is talking about.  Nothing can be further from the truth.

In the first place, the primacy of conscience as is exposed in the documents of Vatican II must be understood in a manner consistent with Catholic tradition.  That is, with that which the Church has always believed about conscience.

Neither Vatican II nor any other authority has said that each person has the right to determine what is right and wrong.  The very thought of such is a recipe for anarchy.

The primacy of conscience means that no one has the authority to impose on an individual any action or an ideology that is inconsistent with a well-formed conscience.  A well-formed conscience is one that subscribes to that which the Gospel and the Church have proclaimed as right and wrong.

A Catholic whose conscience is contrary to what the Church has always believed and taught on the right to be born is either acting with an uneducated conscience that does not know the tenets of his or her faith or with a “convenient” conscience that allows him or her to be elected to public service.  This begs the question, is such a person honest?  Do I want someone whose moral convictions are shaped by his or her constituents?  Constituents change.  They subscribe to one thing today and another tomorrow.  Many choose that which is convenient to them and others aren’t aware of the rightness and wrongness of their choice.

Any politician guided by such a fluid set of values is one who has no respect for absolute values.  He or she believes that right and wrong depend on the individual, not on an absolute natural or moral law.  A person who steals should not be condemned for his actions, because his conscience justifies stealing or because he doesn’t know that stealing is immoral.

An individual who alleges to be Catholic but supports and believes that ideas and actions contrary to their faith are morally acceptable in the public square, such a person is unfaithful to the faith that he claims is an important part of his life.  He or she is dishonest.  Such a person lives as a dual human being.  He’s holds one thing to be absolute in his home.  In the political arena right and wrong is not determined by absolute truth, but by the popular mindset.  Rather than standing on firm ground he or she stands on a floating tectonic plate.

Image result for tectonic plates

When right and wrong are determined by modality, the term “absolute” becomes obsolete.  Nothing is right or wrong.  Everything is relative.

Faithful Catholics must form their conscience according to what the Catholic faith has always believed, regardless of what many Catholics do or say.  Catholic truth is Gospel truth.  Gospel truth is not determined by the ideas and actions of men, not even those who are clergy or religious.   Because Father N supports abortion does not mean that he is right.  Father N is stepping outside of what the Church has always believed and has become a magisterium unto himself.  He is an unfaithful priest.  Receive the sacraments from him, but do not follow his teaching if they are contrary to the faith of the Church.

Politicians have the same obligation as any other Catholic to be faithful to the Catholic Church’s long held beliefs.  One cannot allege to be a person of faith and be unfaithful.  This does not mean that a Catholic politician is imposing his Catholic beliefs concerning abortion or any other moral issue on the people he represents.  It means that he represents his constituency with integrity, not a mind that believes one thing today and another tomorrow.  Such a person is not trustworthy, because he or she does not stand on solid ground.  Rather he or she stands on tectonic plates that move randomly.

 

Published in: on September 26, 2019 at 9:59 PM  Leave a Comment  

HUMAN RIGHTS ARE NATURAL RIGHTS


Contemporary society is reaching deeper and deeper into the barrel of darkness, sentencing many more to death than did Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, and Castro.  Euthanasia has been identified as a human right.  While everyone has the right to die, no one has the right to take a life, except in self-defense from a dangerous aggressor.  The moral prohibition against taking a life applies to suicide and assisted suicide as well.  While we own our lives, we don’t own life.  Man did not create his life.  It is gift that only God can take away according to His eternal plan.

Today’s man has assumed the authority to euthanize anyone whose quality of life does not meet our standards.  Of course, such standards are not absolute.  They a different from one social group to another.  These include children with Down Syndrome, people with mental health problems, the elderly and the terminally ill.  Unfortunately, those who make such decisions use subjective judgement.  The fact that the judgement is subject and not absolute invalidates the authority and the right to take a life, no matter how distressing the person’s state.

Alongside the tragedy of euthanasia is the increase liberalization of abortion.  Some groups have determined that abortion on demand, from conception to the time of labor is a human right.  But what about the rights of the human being in the mother’s womb?  According to the law, the person in the womb has no rights.  Some go as far as saying that a child born alive after a failed abortion has no right to medical care and may be left on the side to die.

We have moved from the idea that the embryo in the womb is “glob” of cells to the extent that we approve of infanticide, because the person has no constitutional right.

Behind the defense of abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide and infanticide is not the best interest of humanity.  Those who attack restrictions on these heinous acts against human life have their personal goals in mind, not the best interest of the subject or the community.  Politicians will support anything that is currently fashionable, with no reflection on the morality of that for which they vote.  Women opt for abortion because the birth of a child complicates their life.  But they do not stop to remember that pregnancy is the result of a specific behavior.  We prefer to eliminate that which is the natural end and result of the sexual act, but we have no interest in exercising self-restraint and discipline.

The fallacy is that life goes back to normal after the death of the other.  Nothing is further from the truth.  Memories, guilt, remorse, psychological problems, and a sense of loss are the natural result of death on demand.

The hopes and beliefs of those who promote the killing of another human being are not grounded in absolute truths.  Were they grounded in such truths, the result for the person who remains alive would be inner peace.  Inner peace is the natural result of actions grounded in absolute truth, such as the inviolable dignity of human life.

The taking of another person’s life or that of a preborn child can be compared to the desire for wealth.  The individual believes that he will achieve happiness and peace when he reaches a certain standard of life.  What we see is that those whose goal in life is wealth and comfort are never satisfied.  They always need something else.  To believe that taking a life by abortion or euthanasia is will bring peace and satisfaction to the survivors is just as false.  Our lives are not happier, better, or healthier.  We continue to struggle with our human condition.

God who is the Absolute Good has built the desire for the good into the essence of every human being.  This desire makes it possible to find Him who is the Good.

Everything else that we believe is absolutely good for us, usually is not good enough to satisfy and lead us to a place of peace and happiness.  Terminating another person’s life is designed to rid the survivors of a burden.  Such is not an act of love.  It is a self-serving act.  We can delude ourselves into believing that we’re thinking of the good of the subject.  The truth of the matter is that the good of each individual is best served when humanity looks for and applies solutions that enhance life and guarantee the right to be born and to die naturally.

Love has nothing to do with the termination of life.  The termination of life is a violation of natural law.  Life is given to us through nature.  We do not create it.  The right to be born and the right to live until our life on earth is fulfilled is guaranteed to us by nature and violated by man.  Human rights stem from natural rights.

We must take an honest look at our choices, actions, and failure to act and as ourselves if these were true selfless love.If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll be quite surprised by our logical conclusion.

Published in: on August 6, 2019 at 10:06 PM  Leave a Comment  

THE FIRST LINK OF TOTALITARIANISM


I’ve read three disturbing articles this week.

IImage result for tyrannical staten the first article, leaders in Congress are promoting legislation that would make legal all abortions until the end of the pregnancy.  Who or what gives the the State absolute power over life and death?  It is man who has created the State, not the other way around.  The State exists at the service of humanity.  To grant the State absolute authority over life and death is the beginning of fascism.  Hitler, Lenin, Mao, Castro, and others have claimed absolute authority over their fellow citizens.  What was the outcome?  Death of millions of people, genocide, poverty, isolation, Communism, war, and the destruction of infrastructures that support human live and activity.

In the same breadth, certain legislators believe that a child born alive after an abortion attempt, need not be provided medical care or protection under the law.  In other words, the child is left to die (or helped to die!) which adds up to infanticide.

Another very well-known story is that of Vincent Lambert.

After a car accident he was in what is called “minimally conscious state”: not in coma and not connected to any machine, he was found responsive to a voluntary breathing test, as well as perceiving pain, emotions, and awareness of environment. Also he could not swallow correctly, therefore an artificial way to provide him with food was required to prevent starvation. In 2013, health care workers notice behavioral manifestations to Vincent’s toilet care, which they interpret as an “opposition” to said toilet care. The opinion of the medical team was a bit extreme: they resolved, solely on the basis of this impression, that Vincent “refused to live”! Factoring in a discriminatory opinion about his current severe state of disability, they decided to decrease hydration and stop feeding, essentially sentencing to a slow death.

Mr. Lambert died Thursday, July 12.  After being sedated into unconsciousness, he survived for nine days without food and water.  According to doctors and lawyers, he was in a vegetative state.  The term “vegetative state” has yet to have a conclusive definition.  One thing we know in this case.  This man breathed, had a pulse and to the best of our knowledge, his vital organs were functioning.    Vegetables do not breath, nor do they have a pulse.

Once upon a time we believed that the role of healthcare was to cure and to give comfort to the suffering.  Human beings were never compared to vegetables no matter how disabled they might be.  Killing was never included in any philosophy of healthcare.

Not only does the denial of food and water accelerate the patient’s death, it also imposes a very heavy and painful experience on family members and loved ones for whom this person has a significant place in their hearts and lives.   It usually divides families and leaves profound scars.

This I know from personal experience, when my sister was denied food and water because she was dying.  The provision of food and water was considered extraordinary, as if food and water were not a human right given to us by the Creator.  Man does not create the laws that provide food and water.  Those laws are beyond our control.  Yet, many people believe that man has the authority to manipulate that which he has not created and does not own.  Nature, and nature’s God, provide food and water.

The third disconcerting article that I read is the story of a couple who became pregnant.  Sonograms revealed that the mother was carrying seven babies.  Like any human being in such a situation, the couple was in shock and worried.  The birth of twins, even triplets, though not frequent, is rarely a risk to the life of the parents or the children.  However, the birth of seven children puts parents in a position where they must cooperate as a couple to plan for the care and welfare of these seven human beings and their own.  They must work together to help the pregnancy progress.

The attending physician suggested to the shocked couple, selective reduction.  Selective reduction is an engineered Image result for multiple fetuses in the wombphrase to disguise random abortion.  The parent is given the opportunity to decide how many of the children in the mother’s womb must live and die.

Let’s examine the first problem. In selective abortion, what guarantee is there that the physician will extract the child the parents choose to terminate?  Do physicians have enough knowledge to distinguish the value of child A from child B to extract one of them?  Does such a distinction actually exist when the child is still in the womb? The answer to both questions is NO.  Medicine is not, and has never been, an absolute science: it is based on trial and error, and ever developing understanding of the human mind, body, and life.  Knowledge that we have yet to master.

Fortunately, the parents were not to be persuaded by the physician’s suggestion.  They chose to proceed with the pregnancy and let God decide the outcome.  Today those four men and three women are 20-years old and contributing to the world in which they live in a variety of ways.

Lastly, I would like to share my experience with my maternal family.  My grandmother had 17 live births.  One of these were twins, totaling to 18 children.  Three died at different points in childhood and 15 survived.  I often ask myself if my grandparents had opted to abort one or more of their children, would I be here.  Would my mother have survived?

Each of my uncles and aunts occupies a singular place in the heart of our family.   Those 15 adults gave my grandparents 65 grandchildren, 40 great grandchildren and several great-great grandchildren.  All have been well educated and no one has ever been arrested.

As we get older, members of my family have died.  The first to die was my mother.  I will always be grateful to my grandparents for my mother.  She was the perfect mother for her children.  She was intelligent, competent, disciplined, humorous, faithful, honest and above all, woman of great faith.  My siblings and I were the beneficiaries of these gifts.

Every time one of my aunts or uncles dies, I feel a great sense of loss.  Each of them was unique.  None of them could replace the other and I miss all of them, because I grew up close to them, protected by their love and generosity.

I’m 66-years old, the father of two and grandfather of one, Yet, neither of my children nor my granddaughter can fill the empty spot left by one of my deceased uncles and aunts.  Just as no one can occupy the place of my children and granddaughter.

The very idea of watching one of my loved ones die by of dehydration and starvation makes me nauseous, because I saw them do this to my sister.  We her brothers suffered a great sense of impotence against a legal system that protects euthanasia disguised as medical care.

I will never forget my last conversation with my sister.  While she was hospitalized, she called me, and she was crying.  I asked her what was wrong.  Her last words to me were, “I don’t want to die.” But the law was not on her side.  She became unconscious, with moments where she recognized family members and she rejoiced when her favorite niece flew in to visit her and to say goodbye.  “Look who’s here,” she said with a wide smile on her face.  This happened many years ago.  To this day, my family cannot forget watching her die and feeling helpless.

Abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, infanticide, war, hunger, and thirst are not natural.  If humanity understood that there is such a thing as absolute right and wrong, some of these evils would not exist.

We have absolutely abolished the concept of absolute truth, right and wrong.  We believe that we’re right in saying that truth, good and evil are relative.

When one man or woman is denied the right to be born or the right to die naturally, the first link in the chain of totalitarianism has been forged.

Image result for chain link

Published in: on July 14, 2019 at 9:50 PM  Leave a Comment  

The Pinnacle of Arrogance


Much has happened during the first half of 2019 to stir the human conscience.  While some legislators try to place restrictions on abortion, which would protect the life of the preborn child, others have legislated that abortion is permissible up to the end of the pregnancy.  In some cities, the government has declared that it would pay for abortions of its residents and of those who come from other places seeking such service.

The battle between good and evil has intensified.  While states regulate abortion, organizations, special interest groups and individuals are using every means available to block the enactment of such restrictive laws.  Certain legislators have publicly stated that those who restrict abortion “hate women”.  Another popular junior legislator has publicly denied the holocaust of abortion.  The saddest thing of all is that some religious leaders have preached the abortion is “a gift from God”.  To the best of my knowledge, no Catholic bishop has made such a statement.  But I don’t live in every Catholic diocese.  I neither condone nor condemn those whose position on this grave issue I don’t know.

We must examine certain important facts.  Unfortunately, this article can turn into a book if we were to discuss all the faults in the reasoning of those who are pro-abortion.

Let’s carefully examine the one myth,  “pro-life people hate women.”

First, accusing someone of hating another group, sex, or religious community must be proven using observable and measurable hateful acts that targets women or anyone else.

Those who make such statements must prove what they say.  The burden of proof is on them.  Anyone who takes their opinions as dogma, without any evidence, is not acting intelligently.  They’re drinking the Kool-Aide.

If someone said that all Black people are thugs, all Hispanics are drug dealers, or all wealthy people care only about themselves, aren’t those very broad generalizations?  Many of us would be outraged by such allegations and demand proof or condemn the speaker of hate speech.

However, when someone says those who vote for restrictions on abortion hate women, is that not hate speech?  Does that not pit one group against another, rather than inviting the other to a mature dialogue in search of Truth?

Such statements are dismissive and condescending.  It is dismissing the person who is prolife and the woman in a crisis pregnancy, offering her no support or empathy.  On the contrary, if offers a quick way out for politicians that can leave a lasting scar in the life of a woman.

But that risk is not taken into consideration, because it requires commitment from the greater community to be supportive of women in crisis pregnancies and to hold their partner responsible for his preborn child.  Many believe that challenges can be solved if we throw a few million dollars at them.  As if money can truly liberate us from our social and moral responsibility.

We need to help the world’s legislators see that throwing money at a problem does not make it go away.  Society has a duty to protect every human being’s right to life, especially those who are not guilty of any crime, whose only “crime” is to have come into existence.

If being born is an inconvenience or an evil, does that mean that our conception and birth was without any inconvenience to our parents?  Did our conception not demand of our parents a change of life and agenda?  That’s a very haughty position to take.  “I’m allowed to be here, because I was never a challenge or required my parents to change; but the conception of children today, presents a challenge to parents, is a burden to society and a crime against humanity.”

If these statements do not touch us, or our loved ones, then we can make them freely and sleep well at night.  Is this true social progress, or the height of arrogance?


THE ABSENCE OF GOD


Sometimes we face hardships in life.  Usually one prays to God for a solution.  Sometimes, we start to believe that God is absent.  He doesn’t care about human concerns.  This leads us to despair, cynicism, carelessness in our sacramental life, such a going less and less to Confession and Holy Communion, and abandoning prayer altogether.

We must ask ourselves, “Does Jesus lie?”  Did he not say that He would be with us until the end of time?  Didn’t he also say that we could do nothing without Him?  Jesus never made empty promises, promises that he did not intend to keep.

We may feel like Mary Magdalene when she discovered the empty tomb.  She was afraid that Jesus had been taken away.  Suddenly, she heard His voice behind her calling out her name, “Mary”.  Jesus had been standing behind her all along.  He had not left her to despair.  She worried instead of looking for Jesus.

When we feel that Jesus has been taken away from us. We begin to speculate that God doesn’t care.  He created man and now sits back watching how life unfolds as if He were in a theater.

To believe that God created the universe only to observe implies that God needs to be entertained.  Wasn’t this the belief concerning Greek and Roman gods?  When the Greek and Roman empires fell, were there any pagan believers present to rescue the poor, the wounded, the abandoned or to help raise up humanity?  However, when catastrophe,

(c) Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

war and natural disaster happen, Christians rise to the occasion in response to the needs of those who are hurting.  Their faith in Jesus and His grace drives them to respond to the weakest and the most vulnerable.

Let’s look at this logically.  If Jesus had not walked out of the tomb, for 2,000 years millions of people have believed in a myth.  But how to explain supernatural experiences, conversions, visions, and the development of Christianity.  While it is true that millions have subscribed to Islam for 1,500 years, but what has Islam done for mankind?

Christianity has been the impetus for institutions of learning, healthcare, charitable services, and the preservation of culture.  The Catholic Church has been the sponsor and protector of the arts, scientific research, and missions all over the world.  She is the largest charitable benefactor in the world, despite the many sinful people who are part of the Church.  Charity, love, grace, and penance can never be obscured by sinful men.  These only appear to be absent when we focus on the sins of men to the detriment of all that is good and holy in the Church and the world.  When we focus on sin, without taking note of the larger population of faith and committed Catholics, we begin to fall into darkness.

Christ is always with us, but we must be like Mary.  We must keep looking and never lose our trust.  God’s plan for humanity is not necessarily compatible with humanity’s plan.  Nor does God operate according to our rules and timetable.  He is the Law Giver, not man.  He existed before time and will exist after the end of time.  Man will die leaving behind a legacy or not.  In which case he is forgotten and becomes an invisible part of human history.

Christ is part of human history.  He was born, lived, and died at a specific time and place.  However, as the Gospel of John tells us, He existed before all else.  He existed before history.  He becomes incarnate within history for our salvation.  He was executed for our sins; but he walked out of the tomb on the third day.  He can never be killed again, not even by our lack of faith.

It’s time that humanity tare down the walls it has built between itself and God.  The walls will come down when man realizes that he is not God, acknowledges his arrogance, and stops trying to control life and the world around him.

God is the Law Giver, not man.  When we stop trying to create laws that conflict with God’s law, we will be free of our blindness and we shall see God’s presence among us.

God has never been absent.

Published in: on June 12, 2019 at 8:29 PM  Comments (1)  

The Palm Branch, the Needle on Our Compass


About 2,000 years ago, Jesus rode into Jerusalem to the cheers of the crowds honoring a king waving palms and laying their mantles on the ground to protect Jesus from the dirt in the city streets.  But Jesus knew this would be his last entrance into Jerusalem.  He was walking into the hands of his executioners.  Armed with faith in the Father and the courage of the Holy Spirit, he entered the city where he would be scorned, insulted, brought to trial with false charges and eventually he would be killed.

On Thursday of that week Jesus borrowed an upper room where he was to eat the Passover meal with his friends, the apostles.  It was at the meal that he gave the Apostles the power to do as he had done, change bread and wine into his body and blood.

He gave this gift to his apostles, not only for their benefit, but for the benefit of all who would listen to the preaching of the Good News that the man executed on Friday walked out of his tomb on Sunday morning.

For the first 200 years or so after the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, many believers were executed in the cruelest forms, because they refused to deny the truth that they knew about Jesus the Christ.  These martyrs were not morose men and women who wanted to die and who deliberately sought death.  Like Jesus, they loved their friends, family, and home.  But like Jesus, they could not deny the truth, even if it cost them their lives.

Today, millions of Christians around the world celebrate Palm Sunday, the day when Jesus made his triumphant entry into the city of execution. Unfortunately, many people regard it as a special day of the year when they received blessed palm branches.  Churches are packed with people who would normally miss Sunday Mass.  On this Sunday, they get something for free and fulfill a cultural and family tradition.

We have forgotten that Jesus did not enter Jerusalem to be honored with palms and “hosannas”.  The palms were icing on the cake.  Jesus entered Jerusalem to suffer and give his life to redeem mankind.   He was willing to put up with false accusations, disrespect, scourging, a crown of thorns penetrating his head, and finally nails trespassing through his hands and feet.

Palm Sunday should remind us of Jesus’ obedience to the father, of his humility, his dignity, and his love for mankind.  These were the forces that led him to the cross, not the political power of the high priests and the Romans.

Today, many of us respond with drama, vitriol and even violence when someone says or does something disrespectful.  The common excuse is, “I’m not Jesus.”

True enough, none of us are Jesus.  But Jesus says to us, “Take up your cross and follow me.”  He makes this imperative several times in the Gospels.  Yet, many of us recoil from the slightest offense, an illness, an unwanted pregnancy, poor health, and anything that could potentially inconvenience us or cause pain.  Just as the martyrs did not seek death, nor did Jesus, the voice of God the Father must be heard and obeyed.  We’re not commanded to be doormats, to seek to get sick, or to take an aggressive stand when we believe that we’re being humiliated.

We are called to be like Christ, to speak the truth when others try to hurt us or hurt another person; but we are not called to punish the world for its sins, cruelty, or foolishness.  That’s not the man that we see entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.  Jesus simply spoke the truth and took the consequences for preaching the truth.

For those of us who attend mass on Palm Sunday, the question is, are we willing to speak the truth with dignity and respect?  Are we willing to accept pain and suffering that is a natural part of life, without reneging, bullying others under the pretext of suffering, or casting doubt on God?  Are we willing to keep silent, as Jesus did when he faced the Sanhedrin, realizing that there was nothing he could say that would change their mind and their arrogance?  Are we willing to respond to others as Christ responded to the questions asked by Pontius Pilate, with dignity, honesty, respectfully and frankness, without argumentation or vitriol?

Palm Sunday is the first day of Holy Week.  The week is holy because Christ’s words and actions were not driven by sin, desire to get revenge, an urge to punish the world, or an effort to hide his true mission.  His humility, living the truth and his love for those who sinned as well as those who were holy never wavered.  In the face of pain and death he says to the Father, “Not my will be done, but yours.”

On this great day of the liturgical year, we must think about how we respond to natural events that may be painful, how we respond to those who are rude or even cruel, how we respond to those who surround us when we’re sick or dying.  Palm Sunday is the beginning of a week where we remember Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.  Palms should be the needle of the compass to guides our lives.  Holy Week is made holy by Christ’s passion and death.  Those of us who act contrary to Christ’s actions, soil that which is holy.

Let us never forget that Christ gives us the Holy Spirit who strengthens us with the necessary grace to face any difficulty.  But we must be willing to do as Christ did. Seek opportunities for silence and avoid the distractions of the world, to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit guiding us to make every week of the year, holy.

Published in: on April 14, 2019 at 9:15 PM  Leave a Comment  

To bear with one’s neighbor as Christ does


As we approach Holy Week it’s important to examine our conscience and to ask ourselves, “Have I looked at mothers and fathers who submit to abortion with kindness or with aversion?”

God gives us rights from the moment of conception

Abortion is a heinous crime that cries out to God for vengeance.  While it is true that the unborn child is the innocent

victim whose life is taken during the early stages of human development, one must ask, what of the mothers and fathers who agreed to abort their unborn child?  Are they aware of the gravity of their choice?  If so, do they mourn the death of their unborn child?  Do they hide their grief and their guilt so as not to be judged by others?

Saint Francis of Assisi wrote in one of his admonitions,

Blessed is the man who bears with his neighbor according to the frailty of his nature,” (admonitions of St. Francis).

To be aware of the deep-seated guilt in the conscience of the post abortion parent, instead of judgment and indignation, requires spiritual sacrifice and often the courage of the crucified Christ who forgave rather than condemned. This kind of courage requires sacrifice and strength to go against our natural temptation to lash out at such people.

Why does Saint Francis say that we’re blessed if we bear with [our] neighbor’s human frailty? If we look at the story of the woman caught in adultery, we will find the answer to this question.

Jesus asks her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared.

“Go now and leave your life of sin,” (John 8:10-11)

Kindness toward the post abortive parent, along with encouragement to avoid this and other sins, is to do as Christ does.  That is how we become blessed.  Along with blessings that God may bestow on us for such mercy and kindness,  to behave toward the sinner as Christ did draws us closer into his blessed nature.

Infra-red photo of the hurricane

Men and women who struggle with the guilt of abortion are carrying a cross, but they’re not moving in a forward direction.  Each day is another walk around the same circle of grief, shame, and guilt.  People of faith have a moral duty to point those who carry such a cross in the right direction.  This is a spiritual work of mercy.

We must remember Christ’s words, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me,” Luke 9:23.

We cannot erase a chapter from another person’s history book, nor should we want to do so.  However, we can point the sinner toward Christ.  We have a duty to counsel the sinner to carry the cross that that’s a consequence of abortion and turn it into a holy life, denying themselves of self-pity, instead following Christ through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Holy Mass, and daily prayer.

Those who treat their neighbor as they would want to be treated are truly blessed.  Christ’s love and mercy shines through us.

Abortion vs. Human Aspiration


I’ve been thinking, trying to understand why people who are pro-choice and those who are pro-life have been speaking for four decades and have yet to hear each other.

The abortion argument has focused on the dark side of conception.  The fertilized egg is just that, an egg, like any egg that you would find in a refrigerator.  It can be discarded because it’s not alive.  Until very recently, medical science had denied that humanity of the fertilized egg.  But one can deny the truth only for so long, before it becomes impossible to hide it.

Morality was central to the argument.  An abortion is murder.  People found myriads ways to justify the act of abortion and ignore the behavior of which conception is the natural outcome.  When speaking about abortion, we make it a woman’s issue.  Why?  Because coupling is left out of the discussion.  Therefore, there is no need to involve the father, much less consider his point of view.  It’s as if women conceived without any assistance from a man or as if the man’s contribution to the dynamic of conception is less important that that of the female, simply because her body hosts the unborn child for 40 weeks.

Hosting is not part of conception.  Human beings serve as hosts to bacteria and viruses; but we don’t consider these cells and organisms to be part of our body.  We’re certainly not their progenitors. Just as an example, we understand and accept that we carry the flu virus, but it’s not part of who we are.  We’re the host.

We try to rid ourselves of the virus with little or no success, because viruses are difficult to kill.  We also have no sense of responsibility for the life of a virus or bacteria, because neither will ever become more than what we see under a microscope, a virus, or a bacterium.  That’s the extent of their reality.

The fertilized human egg has the potential to become a man or woman who makes wonderful contributions to the world around him or her and to the wider spectrum of society.  To dislodge it from its host is not the same as fighting a virus or bacteria, which have no future, no potential to contribute positively to humanity.  If left undisturbed, the fertilized human egg can become a great man or woman, even if it’s just in his home or field of employment.

The killing of a defenseless human being, who has done no harm, is a great moral evil, greater than we think.  Killing a human being, is bad enough.  Abortion robs humanity of that which could have been.

Every human being aspires.  Our ability to aspire is not learned.  It is innate to our humanity.  Our pet dog or cat doesn’t aspire to be more than what it is.  Yet we have strong laws and penalties to protect them from human cruelty.  We human beings aspire.

At what point in our development do we begin to reach beyond ourselves and our present life context?  Who knows?  But once a child begins to speak, he or she can tell you that they want to be a firefighter, a dancer, a doctor and much more.  Becoming a physician, firefighter, dancer, and more are realities beyond one’s current state, be it in the womb, in a crib or in kindergarten.

The destruction of a fertilized egg is greater than the destruction of human matter kills the future destroying the good that this person can do in the world.  It kills aspirations proper only to that person.  Some of which he could realize, if left to develop and be born.

Herein lies the disconnect between prolifers and prochoice.  Today we don’t place much value on aspiration.  To aspire is often considered to be “day dreaming.”  It is discouraged.  Instead, adults direct the young toward a goal that will make the parent feel satisfied or that will satisfy a social need.  It’s more about the parent and society than the individual person.

Unless we begin to value human aspirations that transcend our physical and social boundaries, it will be difficult for some to consider abortion a crime against humanity.

That’s what abortion is. Humanity is being denied the benefit of one person’s contribution to life, a contribution that may change the course of history.  Every time a child is aborted, humanity is denied the benefit that comes from a person whose aspirations transcend our current state or condition.  We enslave ourselves by cutting off the potential of social, political, economic, intellectual, and spiritual progress.  Abortions trap us in the status quo.  Society cannot grow and become better when there is not a new generation whose vision transcends that of the current generation.

Abortion deprives man of new aspirations.

Published in: on March 21, 2019 at 12:00 PM  Leave a Comment  

Thinking about Lent and Penance


The Christmas Season ended a few weeks ago and we’re already for Lent.  Ash Wednesday is around the corner, the sixth March.

Birth of Jesus

It appears to us that the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary comes before his incarnation and birth at Christmas, at the end of the year.  But that’s not really the case at all.

The Church’s liturgical calendar begins with the first Sunday of Advent.  That is actually “New Years Day” on the liturgical calendar.  January 1st was adopted as the beginning of the New Year in 1752 when Pope Gregory XIII ratified the current calendar, which we call the Gregorian Calendar.

The first solemn Christocentric celebration occurs on December 25th when the Second Person the Most Holy Trinity breaks into human history as the child Jesus.  We celebrate Christmas with great joy and solemnity, because God has humbled himself to become human.

Lent follows the Christmas season on the liturgical calendar, beginning on Ash Wednesday.  It is a time of penitential preparation for the sacrifice of Christ on Good Friday and a time of expectation as we celebrate his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Catholics have always sacrificed something during Lent.  Some people didn’t eat candy, others didn’t east dessert, many would not attend celebrations, carnivals and were not usually married during Lent. These things are good in the eyes of God.  God does not measure quantity, but the intent of the heart.

(c) Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

However, if we look around us at today’s world, we have a lot of reasons to do penance for ourselves and those who don’t do penance.  We have had horrific scandals in the Church’s human element, because its divine character comes from Christ, not from man.  Christ is perfectly sinless.

Our country is split over politics and policies.  Everyday the back stabbing gets worse.  Terrorism has spread to Europe and North America.  Once upon a time it was contained in the Middle East.  That’s no longer the case.

People must abandon their homes out of fear.  They fear that they will be dragged out and killed.  While adults may feel strong enough to combat criminals, those who have children find it very difficult to do so.  What happens to my kid if I were killed in a resistant uprising?

A trailer park. (c) Caren Mack Photography

Poverty also triggers migration.  In the United States, poverty in some of our southern states is never mentioned, but it’s there.  People live in conditions not fit for human beings.  The people migrate to the coasts where they hope to find work and housing in the big cities.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  The same is true for people of many countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.  Families must emigrate from their homes because they don’t earn salaries to support themselves.

This leads to all kinds of problems in the host countries, from a shortage of resources to violence.  The violence is usually rooted in frustration, distrust, or simply there are individuals among the immigrants who have criminal history.  This cannot be avoided.  Every country, every race, every ethnic group has its fair share of criminals and delinquents.

The Franciscans of Life are encouraging all our relatives and friends to offer this Lent for a peaceful resolution to conflict and dishonesty in the world.  Will it happen?  Gabriel said to Mary, “Nothing is impossible for God.”  But let’s sacrifice something that really hurts, without doing damage to our mind or body.

Copyright: Franciscans of Life

Some suggestions for Lenten sacrifice:

1. Turn off the television or restrict its use to a specific time of the day without exceptions.

2. Turn off the game systems and computers.  If you can’t live 40 days without Facebook, try at least three days a week in honor of the Blessed Trinity.

3.  Stop smoking or drinking alcohol.  How many people die because of smoking cessation or because they reduced the amount of alcohol they put in their bodies?

4. Children and adolescents may pick up an extra chore around the house.  If one’s job is to take out the garbage and the parents must remind the young person to do his duty, taking out the garbage is not a Lenten sacrifice.  Taking out the garbage is justice.  It’s your contribution to family life.  Taking on an extra chore from Mom or Dad, is a sacrifice, even if it’s two days a week.

5.  Man has become an extension of his cell phone.  The cell phone is no longer used just for communication when you can’t get to a landline or a payphone.  It’s where people watch movies, play video games, use as time pieces, or status pieces.  There are people who pay their monthly visit to parents or grandparents via Skype.  We can reduce the use of the cell phone and limit it to communication.  It doesn’t have to be our diary, calendar, notebook, or library.  Any or all those applications can be sacrificed and offered in atonement for our sins and those of people who don’t to penance. 

6. For many people, healthy living is a penance:  going to bed early and rising early, going on a diet, engaging in physical activity, or sitting with your family for dinner, even though you know that the kids are going to bicker, complain, play, and do many things that we adults can’t imagine.  Using dinner time as a learning experience can be a healthy sacrifice. 

You may ask, “Why do penance for those who don’t do penance?”  The answer is simple.  What would have happened to our immortal souls if Christ had not offered his life for humanity?

Look at these suggestions and see if you can try one of them or come up with a penance that is truly a challenge for you.

 

Published in: on February 23, 2019 at 7:49 PM  Comments (1)  

ETHICS AND AUTOCRACY


There is much going on in our country and other countries which we must be aware of and keep in our prayers.

Abortion

Just this month, the State of New York passed the most extensive abortion law in the nation and the Commonwealth of Virginia is seeking to follow suit.  Under this new law, a pregnant mother living in the State of New York, and maybe soon, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, has the right to terminate the life of an unborn child up to the moment of labor.

Law makers and some healthcare professionals are justifying this new law, because it is useful if the life of the mother is in danger or the child is not viable.  There are two problems of justice here.

First the life of the mother is given preference over the life of her unborn child, about to be born.  We have two human beings and the law is choosing to save one and kill the other or let him be born and die.  This raises an important question.  What makes the life of the mother more important than the life of the child?  The answer is simple.  The possible death of the mother poses a grave loss to her and to her family.  But the child whose life is being terminated is also family.  Simply, he has yet to meet his living relatives.

The second issue of justice has to do with viability.  Allegedly, if a baby is not viable (capable of living outside the womb), he can be aborted.  There are two questions of justice here.  First, if mother and child were in a car accident and the child seemed to be a higher mortality risk, would anyone agree to terminate that child’s life and save the mother?  Would anyone agree to providing medical care for the mother, while forsaking the life of the child?  If you’re a conscientious person, you would probably answer “NO” to both questions.

A person who understands the right to life of every human being would insist that medical care be given to both mother and child to save both lives.  One may die while doctors try; but such a death is not provoked by the attending physician.  It is the result of the accident, illness, or other beyond human control.  No human being terminated that life.  In most places around the world, the physician would be in serious legal trouble, because he took one life and turned his back on that person for the sake of another.  An affirmative response to this question gives physicians the freedom to make godlike choices.  Does the physician have the moral authority to determine who lives?Image result for right to be born

In the case of a late term abortion, the mother and the physician are assigning, to themselves, authority that belongs only to God.  They are deciding that the child has no right to be born.  The international community and the constitution of many countries guarantees the right to life.  In this case, the law is saying that one has the right to life . . . but at what point:  just before birth or just after birth?  The right to life becomes arbitrary.

Euthanasia

Image result for euthanasia ethicsCall it assisted suicide, call it the right to die or any other name that sterilizes such an act.  The fact remains that living human beings are put to death at the discretion of other human beings, they do not die from causes beyond human control.

Children are euthanized because they have Down Syndrome.  People, young and old, are euthanized because suffer from depression and have lost all desire to live.  Terminally ill people and senior citizens are euthanized to avoid prolonged suffering.  The truth of the matter is that suffering is a normal part be life.  And supporting and comforting those who suffer is our moral duty.  No one, not even the person who is suffering, has the right to choose death if there are possible medical treatments that can save a life or give the person more time to be with loved ones.

In some countries, the state decides who is to be euthanized, because “it’s in the best interest of the citizen.”  Is it really in the best interest of the citizen to terminate his or her life, because they are sick, old, suffer a mental health problem or is naturally intellectually disabled?  The British courts said so when they denied the parents of a two-year old child permission to take the child out of the country to places that were offering medical assistance and hope.

What human being, be it a judge, a relative, a physician or other involved party has the natural authority to determine when one should die?  Where does society draw the line?  Is it OK to help a terminally ill person to die, but provide special services for one who is intellectually disabled or the other way around?

Is it right to draw a line on sickness?  How sick does one have to be that gives others authority to end our life or that of loved ones?

There are civil laws, but as the great philosophers of history have proven, there are natural laws that serve as the foundation of civil laws.  Human beings have the right to legislate when such legislation is consistent with natural law.  Who said that we have the right to circumvent natural law to terminate a life?

Someone may argue “is a kidney transplant natural?”  Is a prosthesis natural?  Neither are safeguarded by natural law; but neither are prohibited by natural law either.

Some states have passed laws that prohibit late-term abortion.  There are states that prohibit assisted suicide and euthanasia.  But the courts have determined that such laws are contrary to the right to choose.

We’re allowing the state the right of the individual to secure the rights of the majority.  But that’s not how morality and ethics work.  One must always choose the greater of two possible good, not what is acceptable to the majority.  The right to life is an unquestionable superior good.  If we make the right to life arbitrary, then all other rights granted to living beings are also relative.  There are no longer absolute rights.

We must pray for guidance for us, law makers and people in crisis situations.  We must also raise our voices to defend the right to be born and the right to live until death is unavoidable.  This includes accidents, wars, natural disasters, and crime.  The victim does not have the power to prevent his death or that of a loved one.  Such life terminating events happen very quickly and are not within our control.

Let us defend our collective right to vote on laws, rather than grant power to arbitrary persons who legislate the right to terminate human life at their discretion.   We have the right to be heard before those laws are ratified.  When the state appropriates citizen’s right to choose life, without the consent of the governed, it’s autocracy.

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Published in: on February 20, 2019 at 8:29 PM  Leave a Comment