Let the Children Come


So, the United States allegedly now has more than 2,000 children at different facilities, where they remain separated from their families.  What are Christians to think about this situation?

There is a moral question that must be answered before proceeding to what the law allows and does not allow.  As Catholics we should always “Give to Caesar what belongs to him and give to God what belongs to him.”

The Law

          The first thing that belongs to God is the law. If we refer to Thomas More and John Fisher, who publicly stated that they were loyal servants of the King, but God’s first and Henry VIII had both executed.

            Scripture proves to us that one cannot violate God’s laws to obey those of the State when they’re in conflict.  This does not mean that we go out and put his or head on the chopping block.  “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”  If the act or forcefully separating a child from his parent or other relative, is not a neutral act.  We’re talking about separating children from parents who can care for them.   As to those who execute the separation, we have no right to judge as good or evil, until they have been examined by a jury and judge.

The Franciscans of Life first seek to fulfill and proclaim God’s laws concerning human life concerning what the Gospel of Life has to say about life outside the womb.  It is equally sacred, has human rights, and, freedom to make choices, when we reach an age where we can reason for ourselves.  Children have a right to be part of their family if it’s safe.  Parents who have a proven track record of caring for their children, have a God-given right to care for and raise their children.

Daniel Soñé Photography

Children are a gift from God to a man and a woman.  Parenting is often the humanizing trigger in life of the parent.  If we take away from man that which makes him more human we create dangerous people

God gives us civil leaders to guide us in the fulfillment of his commands.  When those civil leaders are out of sync with revealed moral law, citizens with a well-formed moral conscience have the right and duty to insist that the government exercise restraint and good will.

Jews, Christians and Muslims agree that God reveals his law through prophets and their disciples.  Christians know that God revealed his will for humanity through his son, Jesus Christ as well.  He also made use of many great men and women through the centuries.

Good citizenship calls for us to exercise good moral judgment, before considering the law of the State.  God’s law always sets the path that human law must follow.  We must be ready to inform our leaders when they lose sight of the path.  Very often it’s because our leaders do not know God’s position on certain subject.

Rebelling won’t help get these kids back to Mom and Dad, reasonable dialogue and the desire on both parties to find the right path, not outdo each other will.  “Let the children come to me,” says the New Testament.  Muslim, Jew or Christian children first contact with God is through the lessons on justice, peace, and compassion they learn from through their parents.  Our first encounter with God should always be through our parents and family, not in a holding tents.

Undocumented migrant children detained and separated from their parents, waiting to be reunited. Reuters

Published in: on June 26, 2018 at 7:43 PM  Leave a Comment  

Human Trafficking in Our Community


A Respect Life Event

You Are Invited!

For reservations, please see the number in the flyer. There is also a Facebook page.

Please feel free to share this event ( JPEG, PDF, link 1, link 2, link 3).

[Click to Zoom]

Admission ticket will benefit the charitable works of the North Broward (Margate) Pregnancy Help Center, where pregnant mothers and fathers receive FREE support, education, and assistance.

Published in: on May 4, 2018 at 4:38 PM  Leave a Comment  

I’M STILL HERE . . . BLAME IT ON GRACE


All things are possible, if you do whatever he tells you.

I’m finally back to work.  I’m starting off slowly, as I gain my strength.   Being healed is one thing.  Recovery is something else.  Up to today I can get in and out of bed without assistance, dress myself, wash dishes and cook dinner all while in a wheelchair.  Brothers Chris and Bernie were are always attentive to my needs, especially Brother Bernie.  I don’t know how the man does it.  He teaches college, religious education and takes communion to the sick at the local hospital.  On top of that, he has prayer commitments and household chores.  However, he always has time to give me hand when I’m stuck.  I get stuck quite easily and sometimes its comical.

One day I was coming out of the cell, in the wheelchair.  As I left the cell, I turned my chair around, 180 0.  I had never noticed the narrowness of the corridor outside to the cell.  Needles to say, I spent almost 15 minutes trying to turn myself around to go in the right direction and I always ended up facing either the bathroom door or the cell door.  Apparently, I crashed into the walls and door so much that it attracted attention and another brother had to rescue me or I would still be swiveling from side to side in a narrow corridor.

Yesterday, we had our weekly community meeting.  The discussion centered on putting everything in the hands of Christ and his mother.  As we took turns talking, one of the brothers referred to something interesting that happened to me as I was crashing to my death.  Brother said, “If that had been me, I would have been asking God ‘Where are you?’ “Or I would be concerned with what’s happening.  My blood pressure was crashing, my kidneys stops working.  I stopped breathing and had to be intubated.

Now comes the part that interested me.  Brother said that I had not said a word from the time they rolled me out of the emergency room into ICU.  As I was losing air I said, “Pray with me.” He says that I could hardly be understood.  He asked me if I wanted to pray the Rosary and I nodded “no”.  He then asked me if Related imageI wanted to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and I nodded “yes”.  We started to pray the chaplet.  Brother remembers that my voice faded out and the doctor and nurses moved in with all kinds of gadgets to assist my breathing.  Nothing worked.  It was decided to put a respiratory tube down my throat.  If that didn’t work the next step would be to let me go.  The doctors and my family had done everything humanly possible to keep me alive.  They followed Pope John Paul’s example to the tiniest detail.  A tracheotomy would have been an extraordinary measure, without any guarantee that it would work.

As Brother was sharing what he saw and what we did in ICU, he and the other brothers expressed amazement that I had not called out to the doctor for help.  I don’t remember any of this.  But apparently, I never panicked as my organs were shutting down and allegedly I had a look of peace.  While I was in a coma, I remember being in a room with other deceased people.  There was only one way out and it was guarded.  I saw dark shadows come toward me.  I my state of mind I believed that I had died, and these were demons casting lures for my soul.  As they got closer I began to pray, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”  I had great confidence that no evil could touch me under the care of the Immaculate Virgin Mary.  As I prayed the second part of the Ave Maria, I thought to myself, “Try to get past her.”  Her being the Immaculate.

I remember looking toward the Blessed Mother, who stood quietly at my feet. I think she was praying; but I am not sure.  Coming from the same direction that the Immaculate had come, came St. Teresa of Calcutta.  At first, I made sure that it was her and not an evil spirit trying to trick me.  When I looked into her eyes, I recognized the depth of her love.  Which was the case when she was alive.  Her eyes always spoke of love.  I don’t remember if I said it or I thought it.  The words that came out of my mouth were, “Mother Teresa, you picked up the homeless and the dying from the streets and gave them a home where they could meet God as human beings, not animals.”

 

With that, she touched me.  She touched along the sides of my kidney.  She placed her frail old hands on my chest and finally, she signaled that I could leave.  But she didn’t speak, neither did the Immaculate.  All the communication took place without words.  I can’t explain this.

I DON’T claim this to be miracle or and end of life experience; but I’m not sure that it was a dream either.  After more than two weeks, I opened my eyes and tried to recognize everyone standing around me.  I saw my brothers and the medical team.  I couldn’t speak clearly, so I communicated with my eyes and my hand that I wanted the brothers to call my friend, Father Jeff.  When arrived he told me that he has already given me all the sacraments that I needed for a Christian death.  But I wanted to tell him about the Immaculate and St. Teresa of Calcutta.  Given that a breathing tube has just been pulled out of my mouth, I could only make sounds.  We talked and finally he gave me his blessing.

If we fast forward to last night, one of the brothers said to me.  “The only thing that you did was to pray.  Everything else was the work of  Grace.”  I sincerely believe this.  If we place our lives in the hands of the Immaculate at the foot of the altar, she will always command the angels and saints to fulfill God’s will for us.  But she will never leave us.  She will find a way to make us “presentable” before her son.  But we must be willing to be John, the Beloved Disciple who stood by her at the foot of the cross and embraced her as MOTHER.

Published in: on April 24, 2018 at 3:14 PM  Comments (7)  

Something Missing


Let me wish all our readers a Happy and Blessed Easter season.  Moving right along, I have heard several sermons and talks on the meaning of the Resurrection of the Lord, but something has been missing.  I believe that I may have figured out what has been missing for me.  One of the several gospels read on Easter Sunday includes the meeting of Mary Magdalen and Jesus in the garden and the race to see the tomb with their own eyes by Peter and John.  But there are some key details in John’s gospel that cannot be ignored, especially these days when people often believe that the Resurrection was a spiritual event rather than a truly physical rising from the dead.

Let us examine facts handed down to us by those who saw.  It’s interesting, if someone delivers a lecture on the structure of the atom or the source of human chromosomes, we accept as fact, what someone closer to the subject says even when their statements are theories that have yet to be Image result for empty tombobserved through human experience.  This is not the case of John’s resurrection narrative.  Every statement was made by an eye witness, followed by many other witnesses.

When Mary Magdalen peers into the tomb, there is no corpse.  In the garden, she encountered a man whom she believed to be the caretaker and asked him where they had taken Jesus’ body.  But when the man responds, Mary’s eyes are opened, and she recognizes Jesus Christ.  She runs to the apostles and delivers the Good News, “I have seen . . .”   She does not describe Christ to be any different from before he was crucified, except for his wounds.

John tells us that Peter and the Beloved Disciple ran to the tomb, with the beloved disciple arriving first, because he was younger and faster. He does not enter the tomb until Peter arrives.  In this simple act of respect, John points to the Image result for empty tombprimacy of Peter, an honor never applied to any other apostle.  Peter is always first.

Both men probably went to the tomb with mixed feelings.  The body could have been stolen or Jesus was truly alive.

Here we run into small but crucial details. Peter enters the tomb.  Apparently, John stood closer to the exit.  It is he who reports that the shroud laid neatly on the slab where Jesus’ body rested.  But there was another important detail.  The veil used to cover the face of the deceased was not with the shroud.

As John looks around, he sees the veil on another shelf, neatly folded.  This begs the question, since when do grave robbers tidy up after they snatch a corpse?  Robbers would have probably wrapped the body in the shroud to hide the identity of deceased, if they ran into anyone; but this is not what happened.  The tomb was left in perfect order.Image result for empty tomb

The evangelists testify that Jesus appeared before them in the upper room, but came through the wall, not an open door.  If this point stood alone, one could consider the Resurrection a spiritual event or even a symbolic story to drive home the point that Jesus is alive.  But what happens after these sudden appearances of Jesus among the disciples and the travelers to Emmaus leave no doubt that they saw a physical Jesus, with a body scarred by the wounds of the cross.

In one narrative Jesus invites Thomas to place his hands inside the wounds.  On another occasion, Jesus asks the apostles for something to eat.  Spirits don’t eat.  They have to nutritional requirements.

The two travelers on their way to Emmaus reported that they had met a MAN.  He walked with them and spoke to them.  But they did not recognize him until be breaking of the bread.  It is at this point in the meal when the words of consecration are spoken.  “This is my body . . . This is the cup of my blood.”

First, those words had been spoken only by Jesus.  The Apostles were present at the Last Supper, but we are not told that there were strangers in the room with them.  Only the apostles and Jesus knew those words.  But here was a man who appeared to be a stranger repeating those words at the precise moment during the meal where Jesus first said these words, at the breaking of the bread.

The travelers then realized that this was truly Jesus who walked and talked to them as he explained the scriptures and then disappear.  This was not a spirit, but a real man of flesh and blood.  Yet, he could disappear in an instant.  Somehow, some way, this body had been stripped of human limitations.  He no longer needed to walk long distances, knock on the door or eat.  These narratives were handed down to the first-generation Christians by people who had seen Jesus alive, Matthew, John, Peter and by people who trusted the credibility of the eye witnesses.

There are too many details to include in one sermon, but some of the more salient ones could have helped those who still have doubts about the historical reality that was the Resurrection.  Unfortunately, too many preachers have failed to mention the greatest truth of all.  Jesus rose from the dead, was seen by others to whom he chose to reveal himself and there are details in the Gospels and other first century writings that are very important, such as the orderly tomb, and the invitation to Thomas to put his finger into the pierced hand of Jesus.

We must always remember that Christ died and rose for our benefit, to remove the shackles of Adam’s sin and open the gates of heaven for the just. This time of year, catechists, preachers and leaders must always remember to emphatically place the risen Christ in human history.  This single fact changed the course of world history.  People forget these things.   If they are not spelled out during Easter.  There will be something missing in the message.

 

Published in: on April 7, 2018 at 1:34 PM  Comments (2)  

As Lent Continues…


We are now in the fourth week of Lent. The year seems to be moving fast, as the season of joy quickly made room for the season of penance and atonement.

As you know, this has been a difficult time for our community, as our Superior was hospitalized in critical condition and it appeared that he was at the end of his earthly journey. He may wish to describe his journey later on. As a bystander, I can mention that he was unexpectedly sick and that his condition at the ER became critical. Our good friend Fr. Jeff, Pastor of St. Maximilian Kolbe parish, came in as quick as possible to anoint Brother Jay.

He was in an induced coma and a ventilator for two weeks, surrounded by the love and prayers of his community, his family, friends, and benefactors. Friends from across the globe joined in prayer. The amount of support he received was overwhelming, and a true blessing for those of us who still need Brother Jay in our formation and daily life as a mentor, guardian, and even “just” as a friend.

While at the hospital he received the best care but we also witnessed the ongoing struggle between two mindsets, one fed by the Culture of Death that focuses on giving up, taking shortcuts, and ultimately trying to “focus on the quality of life” (that is to say, slowly push over the edge the person who is chronically or terminally ill), the other one fed by the Gospel of Life, manifested by many who expressed hope and even faith in the improvement and recovery of Br. Jay, if it be God’s will.

To make a long story short, Brother Jay recuperated slowly, was eventually transferred to an acute rehab center where he met the kindest people but also was under a strict schedule that involved early rising, hours of physical and occupational therapy, and lights off at midnight. Brother Jay went into induced coma praying the Divine Mercy chaplet and, ever since waking up and having the ventilator removed, resumed as much as possible his prayer life. This was a powerful example for us his brothers and disciples, and also for those who take care of patients who are chronically or terminally ill.

By the grace of God he completed his rehab program faster than anyone could have predicted, and was discharged to the motherhouse. His journey is far from over, and his medical condition remains, as always, delicate, therefore we do appreciate your prayers and, if possible, even a bit of your support. However if “the flesh is weak”, “the spirit is willing”. Tonight we gathered again to “look back” at the last month or so and make plans to “move forward” in accordance with our charism. We have many ongoing projects and we have not slowed down our Lenten penance one bit.

We would like to take this opportunity to promote an upcoming Respect Life Ministry event. As you know, the Franciscans of Life work closely with Respect Life Ministry Archdiocese of Miami, particularly through our joint venture, Project Joseph, still led by our Superior. And by the way, we would like to acknowledge the support received by the Knights of Columbus towards promoting and expanding Project Joseph. This is very motivating. We are especially grateful for the dedication shown by the Sir Knight Ed Suazo, who was trained and installed as Project Joseph mentor at the South Dade Pregnancy Help Center near FIU.

We would also like to acknowledge that we have been invited by Ave Maria University for their upcoming Pro Life Workshop to give a talk on pro-life ministry to men. Given the recovery of our Superior we are not sure we will be able to attend but we strongly encourage you to support this event. It is worth noting that one of the conference organizers is an FIU Campus Ministry alumni with an outstanding record of dedication for the proclamation of the Gospel of Life.

We cannot conclude without mentioning that our prayers have been and will continue to reach out to those affected by the nearby tragedy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which occurred on the very day when the Universal Church gathers to receive the ashes as a sign of penance for the sins of the world and the remembrance that “we are dust, and to dust we shall return” and we are therefore to “repent and believe in the Gospel”, which is the only way to eternal life.

One of the victims was a CCD teacher at a nearby parish known to some in the CCD staff at St. Max, while another one was a parishioner of Nativity Catholic Church and one of our brothers was able to attend his funeral, one among a large crowd including survivors from the event, veterans from the military (as the victim was a veteran himself) and also the Governor and H.E. the Archbishop. We pray to the Almighty for the eternal rest of the souls of the victims and for the healing and consolation of those affected directly or indirectly by this tragic event.

(c) Jim Rassol / Sun Sentinel

We also and especially pray for the conversion and healing of the perpetrator, who has been demonized by the media, forsaken by many (his natural parents have passed away), and now faces the inhumanity of the death penalty.

Last, we pray for all those who have made use of this tragic event – many in good faith! – to further or fuel their political agendas through the media (including the social media outlets) and even through social activism. Let us never forget that (a) there are much larger and deeper roots to this evil that would become visible if we took at step back and engaged in some introspection, and (b) that a society that has forsaken all faith in the true God, has embraced a relativistic concept of good and evil, and promotes, as it were, in a bipartisan effort, the Culture of Death, has entirely lost its moral and ethical compass, and therefore will never be able to bring about, by mere legislative changes, peace and social justice as understood and taught by the Catholic Church.

This Lent, let us reflect on the absolute, unconditional dignity of human life, and on the love shown to sinners and saints by God who dwelt among us, suffered with us, and died for us, only to rise and proclaim that there is no such thing as death for those who follow the Way, in the footsteps of a King whose homeland is not in or of this world.

Published in: on March 12, 2018 at 11:43 PM  Comments (1)  

¿Podremos Salvarnos de nosotros mismos?



English version:  CAN WE SAVE US FROM OURSELVES? 

Esta semana, muchas personas han escrito sobre la causa de justicia social representada por el Reverendo Martin Luther King, Jr. Es bueno recordar la importancia y la necesidad de que aún debemos vencer el odio y las diferentes formas de prejuicio. Además, hay marchas pro-vida, discursos y manifestaciones en todo el país, a pesar de las bajas temperaturas en algunas ciudades. No piense que Dios no nota tal sacrificio. Estos sacrificios son más significativos para él que los “holocaustos”.

A medida que avanzamos, es importante mirar hacia atrás. El que no mira hacia atrás para ver dónde ha estado y el progreso que ha hecho, no tiene idea de qué tan lejos llegar y cuánto más debe hacer. El problema provida es uno de los que debe examinarse en el contexto de una tradición de derechos humanos bien establecida.

Esta semana no es una protesta política contra el aborto, contra el racismo, contra la eutanasia o cualquier otra violación. Si reducimos nuestro lenguaje, nuestra actividad y limitamos todos nuestros recursos para derrocar el aborto y las leyes de eutanasia, existe la posibilidad de que esas leyes nos acompañen por mucho tiempo y puedan afectar muchas más vidas.

Debemos educar a otros. Hay quienes para quien el racismo, el aborto, la eutanasia, la trata de personas y otros crímenes atroces sean “guerras de la cultura católica” o “guerras culturales negras” o cualquier otra guerra cultural que podamos imaginar. Nuestro principal deber moral es ayudar a hombres y mujeres de todas las edades, todas las religiones, todos los grupos étnicos, todos los ámbitos de la vida y cualquier preferencia sexual a abrazar el DERECHO A LA VIDA, no crear más divisiones y más guerras. El derecho a la vida comienza con el derecho a nacer. Pero no debemos sentirnos cómodos porque la cantidad de abortos está disminuyendo mientras que la cantidad de personas mayores, enfermas y discapacitadas que están siendo sometidas a eutanasia está aumentando.

No podemos sentirnos demasiado cómodos con la idea de que personas de color, caucásicas y personas de diversas culturas puedan coexistir en cualquier comunidad. Eso es solo una ilusión. El hombre viene al mundo para más que convivir con otros hombres. El hombre viene al mundo a vivir. Somos el resultado de un principio natural básico llamado “generatividad”, del término “génesis”. Cuando interferimos con el nacimiento, la vida y la muerte, en lugar de seguir las leyes incorporadas en la naturaleza, nos encontramos haciendo lo antinatural. Negar a alguien el derecho de nacer y otorgarle a alguien el derecho de tomar la vida de otra persona o ayudar a otra a quitarse la vida, es un intento irracional de parte de la humanidad que pretende dominar la naturaleza.

Si bien es cierto que no somos bestias del campo que viven y cazan por instinto, somos criaturas de la Tierra. Si ese no fuera el caso, no estaríamos tan agobiados por la ansiedad sobre el medio ambiente y el futuro del ecosistema. Estos son importantes para nosotros ¿Por qué? Consciente o inconscientemente, reconocemos que somos parte del mundo natural y que el mundo natural es necesario para el desarrollo individual y comunitario.

En algún nivel, sabemos que somos seres naturales; entonces, luchamos para preservar el medio ambiente que necesitamos para prosperar. Negarle a un ser humano el derecho a nacer, el derecho a agua y alimentación, en lugar de cuidar del otro hasta que muera sin que nosotros los empujemos por un precipicio, es suponer que tenemos dominio absoluto sobre la misma naturaleza de la cual formamos parte.

Somos parte de la humanidad o somos dueños de la humanidad. La mano no tiene derecho a despedir al pulmón. Tampoco el oído tiene el derecho de despedir al pie. Cada uno es parte de un ser. El hombre o la mujer que autoriza el asesinato del niño, los enfermos, ancianos y discapacitados o que lleva a cabo tal acto, se ha puesto a sí misma por encima de la humanidad.

Un hombre o una mujer que gasta energía en el “derecho a terminar con la vida” en el útero o años después del nacimiento, pretended que ya no comparte la naturaleza humana. Esa persona se ha engañado a sí mismo y a los demás. Muchos creen que aquel que puede terminar una vida o sabotear un nacimiento es una persona poderosa. La verdad es muy diferente. Tal persona es un cobarde que le teme a la humanidad.  Dicho miedo los lleva a buscar dominio y el “derecho” a la intervención sobre quién nace, quién vive y cuándo otros mueren.

Los esfuerzos combinados del Dr. King y el movimiento Pro-vida tienen un solo objetivo y un solo fin: salvarnos de nosotros mismos.

 

Published in: on January 22, 2018 at 11:39 AM  Comments (1)  

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.

The Holy Family: “Plan A”


This Sunday, which is also New Year’s Eve, we celebrate the Holy Family.

In the eyes of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus we find a family that experiences an intense relationship with God while at the same time deeply involved in the everyday struggles of daily life – yes, even Our Lord, who “in every respect was tempted like us yet did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Pious modern considerations aside, we must bear in mind that the Holy Family is not the result of lack of planning. The Incarnation and Nativity of the Savior may have been surprising, but not unplanned. The Holy Family is the very mirror of the Holy Trinity, a mirror thought by the Almighty before the beginning of time and manifested only in the “fullness of time”.

Joseph of Bethlehem, of the line of King David, was not living at Nazareth by coincidence. He did not meet Our Lady by coincidence. They were soulmates. He is the good, faithful, and discrete servant of God, of whom the Church says: “He made him the lord of his household, and prince over all his possessions” (Litany of St. Joseph, 1909). He is the model of fatherhood for the divine Child.

Mary of Nazareth, of the line of King David, was not just any woman. As the ancient Little Breviary says, “In the beginning, before the centuries, I was created, and for eternity I shall remain. In the holy place I ministered before Him” (Eccl. 24) She is the Woman of whom Genesis spoke. She is that virgin handmaiden that would be found with child, a child to be named “God is with us” (Isaiah 7:14). She is the “Spouse of the Holy Spirit”.

And what shall we say of the Infant, the Child, the Man Jesus, born in Bethlehem, called from Egypt, known as the Nazarene? He is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. He is our Lord and our God. He is the Just One that rains down from above, the King of Glory who comes, the Hope of the Nations. He is “the Living One, who was dead, and now is alive forever and ever” (Rev 1:18). “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given” (Isaiah 9:6).

The Almighty for whom nothing is impossible has brought forth in the Holy Family the mirror of the domestic Church. As the Holy Father reminds us, the Holy Family is united in pilgrimage, and in doing so it teaches us, and our families, to journey together in a life that is a series of small and big pilgrimages.

This relationship of faith, peace, joy, and deep charity is never isolated and exclusive, but rather always open and welcoming towards the other, the neighbor, even the stranger. Do we not see Our Lady and the preborn Christ undertake a difficult journey and a long stay to visit Elizabeth, mother of the Baptizer? Do we not see relatives of the Lord traveling with, and even dedicating their lives to, our Lord? We hear of “his brothers and sisters”, and of James “the brother of the Lord”, and exegesis teaches us that they were not children of Joseph or Mary, but relatives. Does not the Lord after the Resurrection tell the holy women to go back to the apostles with a message that begins: “Tell my brothers…”? And did He not say, surrounded by the crowd, “he who does the wil of my Father is my brother and sister”? Did Mary not welcome John as her son, and John take Mary as his mother? Has she not called upon us time and again as “her children”?

The Lord came “that we may have life, and have it to the fullness”. The Holy Family proclaims the value and inviolability of human life from the first instant of conception to the very last moment of our life on earth, when we experience natural death as willed by God. In this we have the experience of St. Joseph, patron of a holy death, the first of the Holy Family to end the earthly pilgrimage.

Thousands of years – in fact, millions of years, according to the most widely accepted scientific theories – have passed in the life of humankind. “Grow and multiply” was the commandment given to Adam and Eve, and one of the unfortunate effects of Original Sin (welcomed by some confused scientists as a “survival skill”) was the disordered, unregulated search of a mate not merely for reproduction but also for mutual pleasure, often without any stable bonds. We see this even in some of the early parts of the history of the Chosen People of God, to whom the Lord commands not to commit adultery and not to desire the neighbor’s spouse. We witness it in the astonishment of the crowd when Christ says: “He who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart…what God has united no man can divide”.

God’s perfect plan for the human family, like all things in the economy of salvation, developed over time (our time, since God transcends such limitations). Wisdom and knowledge were given to mankind to bring forth order, stability, and holiness in society and in the world.

However, the same Culture of Death that led to the slaughter of the Innocents and to the unspeakable depravity of the pagan nations has slowly regained its grip upon the world at large, thanks to a slow but steady process of secularization that has broken the divine bond between faith and science and relegated religion to the sphere of the few while building altar upon altar to the Idol of Science, the golden calf of modern mankind, from whose udders all seek to drink a life-giving milk that cannot be and will not be. Nihilism and two world wars have brought disillusionment and despair in the hearts of men. A distorted rebound has led to narcissism, hedonism, and the hyper-sexualization of entire sectors of society.

It was only a matter of time before man’s idolatry brought forth artificial means to regulate birth and, when impossible, to terminate preborn life before, as someone once said, “the pregnancy becomes established”, or even afterwards, for no atrocity of old ages can compare to the sanitized surgical procedures employed in “early termination of pregnancy”, or rather, extermination of the unborn through abortion.

Now we have stores, pharmacies, places once honored as houses of healing, not merely selling means of contraception but in fact “joyfully” promoting abortifacient drugs such as Levonorgestrel, popularly known as “Plan B” or “Take Action”, marketed with the absurd misnomer “emergency contraceptive” based on brand-new definitions of “conception” and “pregnancy”.

From a Facebook pharmacy group

And we see some pharmacists and pharmacy staff react with amusement and even joy at the spike of sales of such products during the Holidays – especially during Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas!

The Curse of Babel still weighing heavily upon us, men have become better at verbal engineering than they have at chemical and genetic engineering. Therefore while the methods to tamper with God’s perfect plan for human reproduction are still rather primitive, the Culture of Death has developed beautiful, polished words to define and re-define concepts, with the ultimate goal of rationalize its own selfishness and then, in total delusion, establish it as the superlative of its very essence, speaking of “reproductive healthcare” to describe drugs and surgeries that alter, cut, destroy, and kill. And to all those involved in healthcare, we ask the question – whatever happened of the enlightened ethical principle of Hippocrates, upon whom the medical profession was once bound by oath, which begins with the imperative “Primum, Non Nocere”, “First, Do No Harm”?

The manufacturers of “Plan B” state that their product “is believed to act as an emergency contraceptive principally by preventing ovulation or fertilization. In addition, it may inhibit implantation by altering the endometrium.” In other words, “Plan B” may cause a newly-conceived embryo to die (and be expelled) because it cannot implant itself in the lining of the womb.

“May” is a vague word. Can it be quantified? Yes, to some degree. Dr. Donna Harrison has written extensively on how when “Plan B” is administered one to two days before the egg is due to be released, then egg release is not reliably prevented and breakthrough ovulation occur 71% of the time. Furthermore, most of those ovulations show luteal-phase defect, namely the ovary does not produce enough progesterone to allow the embryo to survive. So, the embryo formed would not survive long enough to produce a positive pregnancy test.

Can we quantify even further?

Dr Chris Kahlenborn writes that Plan B “has a high potential to work as an abortifacient” and “taken on the day of ovulation or later…it appears to be useless and may actually increase a woman’s risk of becoming pregnant” – a fact verified by pro-Plan B scholars (Trussel, Davidoff). Furthermore, women with a BMI over 30 who take Plan B have a 400% higher failure rate (confirmed by Dr. Anna Glasier).

DOJ recommends Plan B for raped women, but most emergency rooms rarely if ever test women’s ovulatory status (luteinizing hormone and progesterone levels), actually increasing their risk of pregnancy. Dr. Kahlenborn also points out that there is theoretical evidence that Plan B — like other progestins — may cause slowing of tubal transport of the embryo, which increases the risk of ectopic pregnancy (generally fatal for the embryo with or without emergency surgery).

Finally Dr. Kahlenborn mentions that soon we will be able to better quantify the abortifacient effect of “Plan B” through advanced testing – still experimental – that can often detect the presence of pregnancy within 48 hours of fertilization.

But those who state such facts are bound to become pariahs of the academic and research ivory towers, and to be labeled in the public square either with political misnomers or with the good old slogans of “railing against women’s rights”, particularly the “right to choose what to do with her own body” – although it is a fact that the result of a sperm fertilizing an egg is, at best, a new human being and, at worst, a parasite, but in any case an independent being, not part in any way of the mother’s body. And for those who insist on pushing the idea that the fruit of conception “holds the mother hostage for 35-40 weeks”, we must remind you that the mother-preborn relationship is not symbiotic but mutually protective, as countless scientific papers have shown.

In the past Centuy, St. John XXIII and Blessed Paul VI worked arduously in examining views and opinions concerning married life, and especially the correct regulation of births. The result was the groundbreaking, magisterial document “Humanae Vitae”, in which Paul VI, against a worldly tide that sought to strike God’s plan for the family with a “new plan”, declared infallibly that “Marriage…far from being the effect of chance or the result of the blind evolution of natural forces…is in reality the wise and provident institution of God the Creator… that union of two persons in which they perfect one another, cooperating with God in the generation and rearing of new lives… Married love is total…faithful…exclusive…fecund…ordained toward the procreation and education of children”.

While calling upon married couples to embrace responsible parenthood with regards to both biological processes and innate drives and emotions, Paul VI reminded us that there are precepts of natural law, expounded by the magisterium of the Church…established by God, which man on his own initiative may not break. Among these shines forth the fact that “an act of mutual love which impairs the capacity to transmit life which God the Creator, through specific laws, has built into it, frustrates His design which constitutes the norm of marriage, and contradicts the will of the Author of life” and therefore such an act is not just wrong for Catholics, but is in fact “equally repugnant to the nature of man and of woman”.

It is a truth of the faith and a part of natural law that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded, as is direct sterilization and any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation.

While the world and the Culture of Death recoiled in horror at the “atrocious” and “merciless” statement of the Church, lifting up the banners of “overpopulation” and “sexually-transmitted diseases”, and the politically powerful banners of “empowerment of women”, the Holy Father declared in Christ that “though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good, it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it…consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.”

Humanae Vitae was prophetic in understanding the consequences that this mindset would have on mankind: “marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards…man may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires…the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law…the responsibility of procreating life…left to the arbitrary decision of men”.

St. John Paul II reinforced this theme in Evangelium Vitae, discussing all new threats to human life. Specifically mentioning contraception and of the more dangerous “contraceptive mentality”, the Holy Father declared that often contraception and abortion are “fruits of the same tree” and that, even when “practised under the pressure of real- life difficulties”, are a great evil, to be avoided at all costs.

In a very concrete, level-headed stance, the Holy Father also reminds us that “in very many other instances such practices are rooted in a hedonistic mentality unwilling to accept responsibility in matters of sexuality, and they imply a self-centered concept of freedom, which regards procreation as an obstacle to personal fulfilment. The life which could result from a sexual encounter thus becomes an enemy to be avoided at all costs, and abortion becomes the only possible decisive response to failed contraception.”

The issue at hand is not the use of this product or that chemical, but what St. John Paul called “an objective “conspiracy against life”, involving even international Institutions, engaged in encouraging and carrying out actual campaigns to make contraception, sterilization and abortion widely available [and presenting them] as a mark of progress and a victory of freedom”.

St. John Paul points out that, in partial fulfillment of what Paul VI had written, various declarations of human rights show a remarkable contradiction, namely “the mentality which carries the concept of subjectivity to an extreme and even distorts it, and recognizes as a subject of rights only the person who enjoys full or at least incipient autonomy and who emerges from a state of total dependence on others”. In other words, this is a Hobbesian “state of war agaist all” in which “man is a wolf to man” and only the fit deserve to survive. Yet “the theory of human rights is based precisely on the affirmation that the human person, unlike animals and things, cannot be subjected to domination by others”!

Furthermore, St. John Paul points out that this distorted, self-centered, and delusional notion of freedom “marked by a mistaken sense of altruism and human compassion”, “exalts the isolated individual in an absolute way, and gives no place to solidarity, to openness to others and service of them”. Reaching the heights of contradiction, then, in the Culture of Death “freedom negates and destroys itself, and becomes a factor leading to the destruction of others”.

Furthermore, at a biological and psychological level “the body is no longer perceived as a properly personal reality, a sign and place of relations with others, with God and with the world. It is reduced to pure materiality: it is simply a complex of organs, functions and energies to be used according to the sole criteria of pleasure and efficiency. Consequently, sexuality too is depersonalized and exploited”.

“Thus the original import of human sexuality is distorted and falsified, and the two meanings, unitive and procreative, inherent in the very nature of the conjugal act, are artificially separated: in this way the marriage union is betrayed and its fruitfulness is subjected to the caprice of the couple. Procreation then becomes the “enemy” to be avoided in sexual activity: if it is welcomed, this is only because it expresses a desire, not because it signifies the complete acceptance of the other and therefore an openness to the richness of life which the child represents.”

Pope Francis emphasized in “Laudato Si” that this mindset extends indeed beyond the care for self and brings a deterioration of the care we have for our common home:

” How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? “If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away””.

Pope Francis, living one century later, teaches that the world has gone beyond doctrinal relativism and has embraced “a misguided anthropocentrism, a practical relativism [where human beings] give absolute priority to immediate convenience and all else becomes relative…irrelevant unless it serves one’s own immediate interests”. This indeed has given birth to a new idol, this time a true “abomination of desolation”, namely “the omnipresent technocratic paradigm and the cult of unlimited human power”, in an inseparable, contradictory spiral of mutual enslaving and annihilation.

In “Amoris Laetitia”, the Holy Father points out yet another very modern issue, namely how “consumerism may deter people from having children, simply so that they can maintain a certain freedom and life-style”. This is certainly not a difficulty in the face of “forced State intervention in favor of contraception, sterilization, and even abortion”, which “the Church strongly rejects”. He further points out that today’s growing trend to either enter marriage in a hasty way or cohabitate without marriage is “selfish, calculating, and petty…[failing] to recognize the rights of another person and to present him or her to society as someone worthy of unconditional love”.

What are we to conclude?

The mindset that seeks to control beyond all natural and moral law ultimately tampers with the very nature of human beings. It is foolish at best, insane at worst, to tamper with something impressive and delicate like the reproductive system, with consequences that transcend the biological and span into psychology, social development, and human ecology.

Our stance on life, parenting, birth control, contraception, and abortion fundamentally alters and determines our relationship with self, other members of our species, our environment, and other species.

Ultimately, the rationale for contracepting is rooted in very simplistic and hedonistic reasons, backed up by cheap science, industry-funded academia, and politically backed organizational policies.

The Culture of Death to whom so many subscribe has developed all sorts of more-or-less-veritable stories (overpopulation, reducing STDs, reducing world hunger, women’s healthcare, reproductive rights) to justify a simple fact, that stands alone in all its base, brainstem-cerebellum (primitive) selfishness: human want to fornicate with as many mates as possible, no commitments, no matter the consequences, based on external consideration and pheromonal drive. Faith-based and religious considerations aside, from a purely evolutionary standpoint one may even go as far as to argue that such an attitude made sense… 2 million years ago! However, today it is nothing but primitive and irresponsible.

Yet in the first world, it is the foundation of “reproductive healthcare” and is being imposed on its citizens, misused for population control of the pariah of society, and exported to third-world countries whose natural resources are more important than their human resources! How can we open our hearts to migrants, if we are involved in a collective effort to reduce their population in their home countries? How can we become welcoming towards the stranger that unjustly has nothing and out of mercy needs everything, when we are hostile towards the very fruit of the womb, who in justice has nothing and deserves everything?

May the contemplation of the Holy Family, so important and dear to St. Francis, lead us back on the Way, that we may understand or at least humbly and wisely submit to God’s perfect plan for humankind.

A FRANCISCAN CONTEMPLATES ON THE CHRISTMAS CRECHE


[Versión en Español]

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Dear Family:

As the Christmas season quickly approaches, I felt that I should publish an uplifting blog post on the meaning of Christmas and so forth.  The more that I thought about it, the fewer words came to mind.  I guess that much of what I can say about Christmas has been said much more eloquently. It’s difficult to come up with something different.   So, I thought I’d share a theology through history; which I learned from St. Augustine and Joseph Ratzinger.

For those who don’t No automatic alt text available.know, the first recorded Christmas crèche was created by St. Francis of Assisi, after his pilgrimage to the Holy Land.  Some historians place this around the year 1223.  For 794 years the Franciscan family has represented the nativity scene, as St. Francis understood it.

This is important.  His point of reference was what he saw in the Holy Land, what he read in Sacred Scripture and the description that was handed down by oral tradition.  This does not mean that that st josephFrancis’ representation of the Nativity is wrong.  On the contrary, it is the most reliable representation of the birth of Christ, because St. Francis pulled from several sources, including what he saw with his own eyes in the Holy Land.  The more input one has into an event, the more points of consistency and the more differences between the narratives.  Let’s be careful!  We’re talking about differences in the narratives, not contradictions.  None of the narratives of Christ’s birth contradicts the other.  Each contains a piece of information that is not mentioned in another source:  biblical, oral tradition or art.  They fit together like pieces of a puzzle. This makes St. Francis’ representation of the Nativity one of the most reliable in history.  He combined all of the sources that he knew, filling in the blanks in one source, with information from another source.  One may ask himself, “Why is Brother telling us this?”

WP_20151220_001Every year, churches and homes display the nativity using different artistic mediums.  Unfortunately, some displays, even though they are beautiful, include elements that are not historical, such as Santa venerating the newborn Messiah or little towns, complete with trains.  Even more common, is the addition of snow or the figures of the Magi venerating the newborn King.

When St. Francis recreated the first crèche he did it for some very solid spiritual and devotional reasons.

Joseph fatherhoodFirst:  It was virtually impossible for Christians to enter the Holy Land on pilgrimage to the important sites in our salvation history.  Many Christians had forgotten parts of the Christmas story and some people had added or deleted from the original story.

Second:  Many Europeans were illiterate.  The few that could read often lacked enough proficiency in Greek and Latin need to understand Sacred Scripture.  These contributed to the birth of myths about the Nativity.  When one replaces fact with imagination, one runs the risk of misunderstanding what God is revealing about himself.  Francis’ live representation of the Nativity as he learned from personal experience and the various sources helped him, his brothers and the world to see the wonder of Christmas, in all its purity, simplicity, humility and clarity.

Third:  St. Francis lets us see that the Son of God came into the world as a real human being from a human womb and “took the form of a slave, being born in the likeness of men”, except sin, [those men being the peasant shepherd who spent nights caring for the master’s sheep in caveCatholic, Christ, Christian, Churchs and huts unfit for a king].  From the moment that the Second Person of the Trinity broke into human history, he entered the world as a peasant who shared the lot of shepherds.  It’s important to remember that the shepherds worked for someone else. They did not own the sheep.  Jesus clearly reminded us that he had come to do the will of the One who sent him, not his will and that he is the Good Shepherd, meaning that he doesn’t own the sheep.  The Father owns the sheep.  We belong to the Father.

Fourth: The Son of the Father takes on a second nature, human nature.  He becomes the Son of Man, without forfeiting his divine nature as the second person of the most Holy Trinity.  When we look at the infant in the crèche, like St. Francis, we must let our eyes, hearts and minds focus on what we see, not on the beauty of the figures and the display, but on the more sublime beauty. From the fall of Adam, God planned to send one who would crush the head of Evil.  Because man exists in time and space, the first covenant was to be fulfilled in time and space.

When St. Francis created the first live Nativity scene outside of Palestine his intention was as simple as it was deep.  We must look at the nativity scene and go past the beautiful image of the Baby Jesus.  Let us contemplate on the mystery of our redemption.  God becomes a human peasant to show us the true meaning of humility before God Image may contain: 1 personand man.  Unless we are born again as servants, instead of masters, we shall not find Christ among us.

Jesus was conceived in an obscure village in Judea, was born away from his parental home, in Bethlehem instead of Nazareth, or Jerusalem where the Hebrew kings were traditionally born and raised.   He enters Jerusalem as a king to be executed as a common criminal between thieves.

Are we willing and ready to serve and guide the common man of today, as Jesus was, when he broke into human history?

May all of our family, friends, and brothers have a Christmas that transcends beyond the world that we know and reaches for the Star that approaches from the East.

Br. Jay and the Franciscans of Life

Published in: on December 20, 2017 at 10:54 AM  Leave a Comment  

The Gospel of Life is About God’s Work Among Us


 

Jesus and young manSuperior’s Reflection on  A Brother’s Witness   

We assigned Brother to Broward, because the student population is composed of individuals whose lives have been very challenging.  They need more than academic education.  They need to see someone live the Good News (Gospel) that Life is worth every effort that we make each morning when we get out of bed.

Brother Bernardo is a student brother who holds advanced degrees in science and engineering.  He is a member of the Order of Engineers, a brotherhood of engineers committed to serving the community, instead of working for six-figure salaries, which monitors best practices and ethical practices in every field of engineering.  Brother is also working on two Licentiates, one Spiritual Theology and another Adult Education.  He is a few credits short of finishing the Education Licentiate.  For those who may not know, Brother is only 28 years old, born in Havana, to a Cuban mother and an Italian father.  He left Cuba when he was a preschooler and grew up in the Province of Rome with his parents and other Italian relatives.  Brother Bernardo speaks five languages fluently.  He published two scholarly works before his 18th birthday.

In 2006, at the age of 17, he published a book in Spanish, “Desde Numeros a La Computadora” (From numbers to computers) a research project in cognitive relationship between mathematical intelligence and technology.  In 2007, at the age of 18, he published an anthropology book in Italian, “Arkeopolis Numero 0.”  In 2008, at the age of 19, he published his third book, “A Student’s Notes About Programming, in English.”  He shares his notes in programming, with a focus on security and safety.  Finally, in 2016, he wrote the draft for a new book by Brother Jay, “A Franciscan Approach to the Gospel of Life”, a collection of 1,000+ articles and essays written and published by Brother Jay in the United States, Europe, and South America.  It is written in Spanish and English.  Brothers Jay and Bernardo hope to complete this important work by the end of 2018.  If time allows, a Creole translation may follow.

Franciscans of Life are neither deacons nor priests.  We are an emerging community of simple men who vow to live according to the Rule of St. Francis of Assisi.  Our highest goal is to follow the guidance that the Immaculate gave the waiters at the Wedding at Cana, to do whatever he tells us.  Obedience is a way of life for us.  We vow poverty and own nothing as individuals.  As a community, we own only what is needed for healthy living and ministry.  The Regular brothers vow to live in celibate chastity until death and to Proclaim the Gospel of Life by means of words, education and service to those whom the world often forgets.  We live our entire lives in small community houses among the working class, as did the early Franciscans who lived and worked in the fields alongside the peasants of the time.

We do not run high schools or colleges.  Nor do we run hospitals.  Our involvement in parish ministry is limited to religious education of children and adults.   We do not accept administrative posts in parishes and other ecclesiastical organizations.  Our vocation is to be one of the least always trying to do the most that we can for the salvation of souls.

Currently, there are seven brothers.  Two are working in Project Joseph with Respect Life Miami, a formation program for expectant fathers.  The superior of the community is also the Archdiocesan Director of Project Joseph.  Another of our brothers is a Registered Nurse who has served in hospice, caring for patients and providing spiritual support to their relatives and friends.  He has also spent more than five-years providing support services to a young man with severe neurological disabilities, including spending the night with him in the hospital so that his mother could get a few hours of sleep.

My conclusion?  We don’t need to be a big religious order or run large parishes, schools, colleges or hospitals to do preach the Gospel of Life that became incarnate in the womb of the Immaculate.