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.

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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.

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

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  

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  

WHAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED BY THE PRO-LIFE MOVEMENT?


This week, hundreds of thousands will be marching in many cities around the country in defense of life.  There are some important points to keep in mind these days.

First:  Abortion will not go away because people protest one day a year.  There must be a concerted effort on the part of all pro-life people to educate their neighbors and families on the issue.

Second:  Images of baby body parts are impressive, but they don’t tell the full story.  We must begin to tell the full story.  EVERY HUMAN BEING HAS THE RIGHT TO BE BORN GUARANTEED BY NATURAL LAW.  The fact that the Constitution does not cover the child in the womb, does not mean this child has no right to be born.  What it means is that the amendments and laws passed have been short-sighted and must offered protection to the pre-born person.

Third:  Christ said that certain demons could only be driven out by prayer and fasting.  We invite those who are interested to follow the Franciscans of Life in the matter.  We fast every Wednesday and Friday.   We abstain from meat on Fridays.  This is part of the sacrifice that we offer for the protection of life and the salvation of souls.

Fourth:  Abortion is not a religious issue.  It is an issue of justice.  Every woman has the right to medical care; but no one has the right to medical care at the expense of another person’s life.  The child in the womb has as much right to be in this world as do the parents.  Our struggle is not a struggle against abortion, but a struggle for justice for everyone from conception to natural death.

Fifth and final point:  There must be a national effort or campaign that promotes the right of men and women to be parents.  It seems that the argument against abortion is about a woman’s right to “medical care”, completely ignoring or even looking down on men and women who strongly believe that they have the right to conceive and parent a child.

Published in: on January 12, 2019 at 2:46 PM  Leave a Comment  

New Year’s Thought from the Franciscans of Life


The Franciscans of Life wish every one of our family, friends, and benefactors a Happy and Blessed New Year.

We want to remind everyone that January first is not only New Year’s Day in the western calendar, but it’s also a special solemnity in honor of Our Lady.  It’s the Solemnity of the Mother of God.  It is the only feast day that we celebrate honoring Our Lady’s “divine maternity”.

In a world where motherhood and childbearing are often viewed as a burden or an inconvenience, at the very least, Catholics remember that motherhood is a gift from Heaven.  God becomes man and is born into a human family.  Every one of us has existed in the mind of God the Father for all eternity.  This “divine thought” becomes a human being at conception.  God has seen us in His image and likeness since the beginning.

Let us pray that this year, humanity will awaken from the nightmare of abortion and euthanasia.  Pray that nations come to respect life, from the womb to the tomb, as a mystery that comes from God and is destined to return to God at a time according to His plan.

Topic shift:  the Franciscans of Life have completed our year-end review.  We planned our days, schedules and activities for this new year, to allow us more time for silence, solitude, prayer, penance, a fraternal life.  Like every human family, a community of consecrated persons, religious or lay, is called to live as a family that reflects the community of the Holy Trinity.

It is very easy to get caught up in the “to do’s” of everyday life, to the point where doing becomes man’s only source of satisfaction and enrichment.  Unfortunately, becoming or being is forgotten and replaced by doing.  We hope that others will join us in the quest to become people of deeper prayer, more sacrificial penance, and joyful members of families, parishes, and communities.

       

Finally, it is with great joy that we announce that Brother Bernardo will profess perpetual vows on January 7, 2019.  I [Br. Jay] will have the honor of receiving those vows in the name of our community.

Brother will vow to live in obedience to God, the Church, and the constitutions and superior of our community.  He will surrender the right to own property and will vow to live the rest of his life without property, money, or special distinctions.  He will vow to live celibate chastity until death, so that he may devote every moment of his life to Christ, the Immaculate, and the people of God.

Franciscans of Life also make a fourth vow: to proclaim the Gospel of Life to the voiceless.  We follow the example of St. Francis and his command to the first Franciscans, to live in peace with all men, to have a special place in our hearts and their mission for the poor, elderly, sick and abandoned.  The Gospel of Life demands in a special way that we treat all travelers and immigrants with respect and charity.  Please pray for Brother Bernardo and for the Franciscans of Life, that we may be faithful to the end.

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May the new year bring many blessings into your lives.  Let us pray that it will be a year where man moves closer to peace, deals more justly with other people, and detaches from excessive material goods to the detriment of his soul.

 

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Franciscans of Life in Defense of the Family


While driving down the road to Mass, I noticed a trailer park that I had not seen nor heard of before.  It sits in the center of a middle-class neighborhood.  It looked overcrowded with trailers.  There was no paved road leading into the development.  People lived in trailers, not mobile homes.  The trailers did not appear to be sturdy nor new.  They looked rather shabby.  For a moment, I saw a woman walking through the trailer park.  I did not have time to take a close look at her, which would probably have been rude.  Her clothes gave her away as a member of a low economic class.

A trailer park. (c) Caren Mack Photography

When we arrived at the church, I began to pray; but all I could think of was that trailer park and the woman. Questions began to surface in my mind.

  1. Why did people live in such a place? It’s not a safe place.  A hurricane can come through and destroy many of the old trailers in the park and hurt many more people like the woman whom I saw.
  2. Were the men and women who lived in this poverty the people who came to our emergency pregnancy centers looking for an abortion; which is contrary to what we do.
  3. How long had they lived in such a state that they had begun to take it as “normal”?

(c) Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

As a human community, a social body and as a Church, no effort should be spared to help these families safeguard family values, from respect to unborn life and senior citizens who often need assistance to accomplish the tasks of daily living.  The first and most important value is the family itself.  Any attempt to alter the natural definition of family contributes to the creation of such impoverished communities.  Until we acknowledge the dignity of the family brought together through matrimony and that no other type of relationship is analogous to this divine plan, there will not exist the indispensable human act, the recognition of the world’s obligation to protect the family not redefine it.

(c) Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The promotion of the family is the first step in the process of protection.  Protection is a process.  It is not a single isolated act, legislation or moral law.  To eliminate impoverished communities such as what I describe above, Catholics must cooperate with each other and organizations to protect the definition of the family, to identify what humanity needs to maintain families in healthy environments, and activate systems within the political, industrial and ecclesial world that recognizes that these are real families living in squalid conditions.

Until the world recognizes that natural society is founded on marriage and procreation, we will continue to focus on meeting the demands of those who lobby for marriages and family structures that are inconsistent with God’s plan for humanity.  One can say that the energy, time and money involved in redefining family and parenthood has been stolen from the poor.

Special interest groups do require our attention and services.  It would be a great injustice to ignore the dignity, needs and humanity of special interest groups.  However, our outreach must be rounded, like the flame of a camp fire.  You can sit on any side of the fire and feel its warmth and use the light that such a fire gives off.  If we redefine the properties of fire and force it to fit into our definitions, those who are in search natural fire are ignored.  Attention, protection and support is usually provided to those with deep pockets.  If there is anything left of the flame, we allow those who are poor to gather around a dying flame in search of a little light and warmth.

Catholics must pay close attention to Saint James when he says, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.  Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”  We cannot just say that we believe in the family and its place in society.  Catholics must engage legislators, business people, and other members of the community to protect the social priority of the family.  When this happens, our eyes will be opened, and we will see those families who have been left out of the mainstream.

 

It does not take much: volunteering an hour or two a week, tutoring their children, educate the adults in the real meaning of family and provide them with some of the basic supplies needed to begin to work toward the expression of the family that was Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  Our families must reflect the family of Nazareth, not through stories, paintings or statues; but by our everyday lives.

 


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Brother Jay Learns Meekness and Firmness from Caring Healthcare Professionals


OK!  So where has Brother Jay been since March?  I was on dialysis for three months.  But my kidney function improved.  It’s not perfect, but it works.  Doctor says I may need dialysis in the future, but not for now.

I miss the people in the dialysis center.  You get the same people scheduled at the same time, after a while you become family.  The patients were very nice.Male Doctor Holding Clipboard

What can I say about the staff?  Nurses, technicians, doctors and administration were the most delightfully people I Dialysis device with rotating pumps.have ever had the pleasure of meeting.  Best of all, they knew what they were doing, and everyone walked by and greeted you.  For me, it was an example of Christian service.

Let’s stop and think how often we lose our patience with a spouse, a child, an older parent, or a disabled family member.  Do we remember that Mary, the Mother of the Lord, did a charitable act going to Elizabeth, even though she was pregnant too?  Read the Magnificat in Luke’s Gospel.  Mary begins saying, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”  She doesn’t begin the conversation telling Elizabeth how tired she was.  Riding on camels and donkeys, up to the highlands of Palestine was not an easy trip.  Then there was always the fear of highway robbers.  We never hear Mary complain.  However, let us not confuse meekness with weakness.

Going back to the dialysis center, the staff was very meek and gentle, but when they had to be demanding with the patients, they could be very straightforward, without being rude or authoritarian.  They often gave the patient a choice between A and B, explaining the risks involved in both choices.  They stepped back and let you discern what you wanted to do.  Every choice had to be explained.  You couldn’t choose A because it sounded better than B.  You were expected to explain why you believed A was better than B for you.

Let’s go back to the Mother of the Lord.  When Jesus was 12-years old, he, Mary and Joseph made a family pilgrimage to Jerusalem.  On the third day of the return trip, Joseph and Mary realize that Jesus was not with them.  They retrace their travels back to Jerusalem, hoping to find him.  When they find him, something very interesting happened.

It is not Joseph who asks Jesus to explain himself, which would have been his right as the patriarch of the Holy Family.  It was his mother who spoke up.  This was at a time in Jewish history when women didn’t speak before their husbands.  They certainly could not walk freely around the temple.  Certain parts were off limits to women.

Mary does not concern herself with man-made laws.  She was a mother, concerned for her son.  When she finds him, her dialogue with him is not as poetic as her dialogue with Elizabeth.  She said, “Why have you done this to us?  Don’t you know that your father and I have been looking for you for three days?”

Mary is very firm with her son.  She wants an explanation; but she does not raise her voice or humiliate Jesus to release their anxiety or vent their anger.  She simply laid out the facts.  When Jesus responded, she didn’t quite understand his response.  “Don’t you know that I am about my Father’s work?”  Then he went and was obedient unto them.”

Granted, we’re not all are Mary and Joseph and not every child is Jesus, but the lesson remains applicable.  A truly caring person, whether it’s a parent or a nurse, knoRelated imagews the difference between being clear and firm, and being punitive and unwilling to listen to the other person.

In both scenarios, Mary models for us what I call “grace filled behavior.”  She doesn’t complain about her trip from Nazareth to Elizabeth’s.  She acknowledges that all the good that has surrounded her during her entire life, comes from God.  She doesn’t assault her son with questions and whining about the fear they experienced.  This would be very typical of us.  She asks him what she wants to know.  When he answers, she acknowledges that it’s a reasonable response and says nothing more.  She treasures these things in her heart.

The people that I met at the dialysis center, often reminded me of Mary.  I took every opportunity to let them know.  Most, even the Catholics, don’t connect the dots between the life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and their lives today.  Humanity does not change as quickly as technology and fashions do.

When Mary plays a role in our lives, meaning that she’s not just a holy woman whom we crown every year in May and place her in a manger at Christmas, we experience how real she is in our lives.  She is alive in body and soul, always near us, hoping that we call on her to teach us meekness and firmness or strength, without the shouting, insults, complaining, and punishment that can often do incredible damage to a relationship between two people.

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CAN WE SAVE US FROM OURSELVES?


¿Podremos Salvarnos de nosotros mismos?   Versión en español

This week, many people have written about the social justice cause represented by the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It’s good to remember the importance, and the need that we still have, to conquer hatred and different forms of prejudice.  Also, there are pro-life marches, speeches and demonstrations around the country, despite the freezing temperatures in some cities.  Don’t think that God does not notice such a sacrifice.  These sacrifices are more meaningful to him than “burnt offerings.”

As we progress forward, it’s important to look back.  One who does not look back to see where he’s been and the progress he has made, has no sense of how far to go and how much more he must do.  The pro-life issue is one of those that must be examined within the context of an established tradition of human rights.

This week is not a political protest against abortion, against racism, against euthanasia or any other violation.  If we narrow down our language, our activity, and limit all our resources to overthrow abortion and euthanasia laws, there is a possibility that such laws will be with us for a long time and may affect many more lives.

We must educate others.  There are those who make racism, abortion, euthanasia, human trafficking and other heinous crimes “Catholic Culture Wars” or “Black Culture Wars” or any other culture war that we can imagine.

Our primary moral duty is to help men and women of every age, every faith, every ethnic group, every walk of life and any sexual preference embrace the RIGHT TO LIFE, not create more divisions and more wars.  The Right to Life begins with the right to be born.  But we must not get comfortable because the number of abortion is decreasing while the number of older, sick and disabled people being euthanized is rising.

We can’t get too comfortable with the idea that People of Color, Caucasians, and people of diverse cultures can coexist in any community.  That’s just wishful thinking.  Man comes into the world to do more than coexist with other men.  Man comes into the world to live.  We are the result of a basic natural principle called, “generativity”, from the term “genesis”.  When we interfere with birth, life and death, instead of following the laws built into nature, we find ourselves doing the unnatural.  To deny someone the right to be born and to grant someone the right to take another person’s life or help another take his or her life, is an irrational attempt on the part of humanity to dominate nature.

While it’s true that we’re not beasts of the fields who live and hunt on instinct, we are creatures of the Earth.  If that were not the case, then we would not be so consumed by anxiety over the environment and the future of the eco-system.  These are important to us.  Why?  Consciously or unconsciously, we recognize that we are part of the natural world and that the natural world is necessary for individual and communal growth.

At some level, we know that we are natural beings; so, we fight to preserve the environment that we need to prosper.  To deny a human being the right to be born, the right to care and support until that person dies without us pushing them over a cliff, is to assume that we are masters over the very nature of which we are part.  Either we are part of humanity or we are masters of humanity.  The hand has no right to dismiss the lung.  Nor does the ear have a right to dismiss the foot.  Each is part of a whole.  The man or woman who authorizes the killing of the preborn child, the sick, the elderly and the disabled or who carries out such an act, that person has placed himself or herself above humanity.

A man or woman who expends energy on the “right to terminate life” in the womb or years after birth, such a person no longer shares in human nature.  That person has deceived himself and others.  Everyone now believes that a person who can terminate a life or sabotage a birth is a person of power.  The truth is very different.  Such a person is filled with fear, fear of humanity.  It is in their best interested to have some control over who is born, who lives and when others die.

The combined efforts of Dr. King and the Pro-life movement have one goal and one goal only, to save us from ourselves.