The Prophetic Message of Humanae Vitae

It’s been 50 years this July 25th since Pope Paul VI released the Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae (On Human Life).

There’s even a documentary about it that is being screened across the country.

There’s so much to be said about this prophetic letter, negative and positive. Most people talk today about the negative effects – how it caused such a rift between the Church, between priests and bishops who didn’t agree with the Pope’s message, between Catholic couples who ignored it altogether, between secularists who thought the Church was being old-fashioned and “should just get with the times.”

No matter what your feelings are on the Church, one cannot help but read the letter (it’s only 6 pages) and come to understand that, tragically, what Pope Paul VI predicted has come to fruition.

Section 17 of the document is the most “famous” for what the Pope saw as the notable and disastrous effects on society if birth control were to be embraced, namely – increased marital infidelity, a general lowering of moral standards, reducing women to mere objects, as well as the government and public authorities imposing their use on everyone.

Plenty of theologians and people smarter than I have written extensively on Humanae Vitae. I added a new section to the blog specifically for it.

As for me and this post, I just thought I’d offer some common sense logic as far as this document goes and express my thoughts on what I came to understand after reading it for the first time a few years ago.

First, a fun fact: Did you know that long before Pope Paul VI wrote HV, there already was a 100% guaranteed effective method of preventing pregnancies? It’s called abstinence.

Not the most glamorous word. Not a word that gets us very excited. It’s pretty blah, I admit. But maybe that’s because it’s not a virtue. It doesn’t take PRACTICE to be abstinent.

It DOES take practice to be chaste, though. And that challenge of practicing chastity, especially with someone we love and are deeply and completely devoted to, is difficult for people to adhere to. And I think, at least in my opinion, this is a key reason why so many folks became bitter and dissident from HV. They don’t like being told what to do.

And all they saw/heard when this document was released was “No.” But they never heard the WHY. They just heard a Rule and didn’t hear the love behind it. It’s really a pity because Pope Paul VI was just trying to do what the Church does – Mother us. Guide us. And protect us from going down a destructive and sinful path.

So let’s look at each of the main predictions and see how they match up to today’s reality:

  • Decline in morality and uptick in divorce

Last I checked, despite the controversy over the ACTUAL percentage, it looks like around 42-46% of marriages end in permanent separation or divorce.

Among some studies I found, many of them ask participants open ended question of why they got a divorce and infidelity was in many of the top 5 most common answers.

So what’s the link between infidelity and contraception? Well, I had never thought of it this way, but think about it – Men who cheat/women who cheat won’t do it if there’s a possibility of their spouse finding out, right? But how would they know? If the woman gets pregnant.

So where does the Pill come in to play here? Well, if a woman is taking a contraceptive that prevents her from becoming pregnant, you can clearly have an affair much more easily. And if she does become pregnant, she can always get an abortion and the “problem” goes away. And no one is the wiser.

What is argued from the pro-life Catholic perspective is that the Pill tells the man and the woman that sex is all about pleasure. We’ve eliminated the possible outcome of a pregnancy so we can just “have fun” with no consequences.

But that’s not pleasure – that’s USE. The man uses the woman for her body only. And the saddest part is hearing other women argue against this and say that this is crazy talk. But it’s not. It’s the truth. Maybe that’s not the INTENTION of the woman. Because of course, who the heck wants to be used and then discarded once the man gets tired of her? But this is exactly what the pill/contraceptives do.

Another way women are treated as objects is through exploitation in prostitution and human trafficking. According to Mary Leary of the Columbus School of Law at The Catholic University of America, sex trafficking and prostitution is a $40 million industry in D.C. alone.  “Women are seen as one-dimensional objects – commodities – to be bought and sold in this “modern-day slavery.”

And then you have women being used for their eggs through surrogacy, egg donation and in vitro fertilization.

Seriously though, what happened to our moral compass?  I try to think, for me, personally, how was I influenced as a youth/young adult? Who did I look to and who was I influenced by when it came to what was immoral vs moral? Of course, the Church. And the 10 commandments. But, I was also easily influenced by the culture. And when I think of the culture I think of tv and what was popular in those years. For me, when in high school and college, the biggest hit tv show that I think *most* of my generation watched was “Friends.”

Watching some of the repeats now on syndication, I am shocked at how much every single episode is literally about sex. Apparently someone with a lot of time on their hands counted 2,000 references in all of the episodes. And this was on NBC, this wasn’t HBO’s Sex and the City. This was one of the most popular sitcoms on TV in the 90’s-early 00’s.

And I would argue the quality of the tv shows on today haven’t gotten much better as far as morals. And let’s not get started on movies. Fifty Shades of Grey ring a bell?

I’m not about to blame the decline of morality on one tv show or one movie. It’s just that we have to admit at some point that things started to take a turn for the worse.

Abortion stats are widely known.For those that aren’t aware, we’re at just over 60 million unborn babies killed in the womb in the United States since Roe v Wade.

The stat on children born out of wedlock is staggering – about 2/5th’s of all births are to unmarried women. In the African American community it’s extremely high at 72%. 

I found the reason for this increase from an article particularly fascinating:

“The increased availability of contraception and abortion made shotgun weddings a thing of the past. Women who were willing to get an abortion or who reliably used contraception no longer found it necessary to condition sexual relations on a promise of marriage in the event of pregnancy. But women who wanted children, who did not want an abortion for moral or religious reasons, or who were unreliable in their use of contraception found themselves pressured to participate in premarital sexual relations without being able to exact a promise of marriage in case of pregnancy. These women feared, correctly, that if they refused sexual relations, they would risk losing their partners. Sexual activity without commitment was increasingly expected in premarital relationships.

That last sentence is particularly of interest. That’s the definition of the hook-up culture. Sex without commitment. It’s happening right now. It’s happening on college campuses at this very moment. And with the internet and online “dating” sites like Tinder and goodness knows what else (do we really want to know? I sure don’t) the hook up culture shows no signs of slowing down or stopping.

Keep in mind that quote above is from an article in 1996. I would argue things have only gotten worse in the past 20 years.

  • The lack of respect for women and treating them as objects

I’ve already covered this with the hook up culture and sex outside marriage (sex without commitment) but I would throw in the rampant use of online pornography and the now infamous #MeToo movement. 

  • Government would forcibly use contraception abortion and sterilization for population control.

In other words, if two people can control their own family population, what’s to stop the government from enforcing their own population control onto their countries?

The most glaring example of this was the Obama Administration and the HHS Mandate; forcing pro-life/religious organizations to provide their employees with contraceptives and abortifacients.


So what’s the Good News?

I think there’s a lot of hope for the future. I think many women, especially young women, are waking up to the fact that the sexual revolution sold them a bunch of lies. Freedom does not equal happiness and empowerment. There’s nothing empowering about raising a child alone because the father left and wasn’t ready to commit. There’s nothing empowering about taking a level 1 carcinogen that could possibly cause you to have a stroke. There’s nothing empowering about getting a ride to an abortion clinic to kill your unborn child. And there’s nothing empowering about waking up next to a man in bed after a one night stand. There’s nothing empowering about your spouse leaving you for someone else. There’s nothing empowering about finding out your infertile because you were on birth control for decades because your doctor told you as a teen that it would clear up your acne. And there’s nothing empowering about selling your body for money or drugs.

This is empowering? No, this is degrading. And women, and men, and children, all deserve better.

The answer to how the Church can fix this mess is still the one it’s always been and continues to be – Prayer. And speaking the truth in love. Women are speaking up. Mothers are speaking up. Priests and Bishops are speaking up.

Keep the conversation going.

Let’s not wait another 50 years before we speak up again.

 

 

When We Love The Least of These…

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St. Francis of Assisi – Ann Arbor – March 3rd – 40 Days For Life Mass, Holy Hour with Exposition and Benediction, Rosary Rally & Rose Procession

Celebrant: Fr. James Conlon, Pastor

Initial Reaction: Another parish, another giant baptismal font! 🙂 IMG-8883

So I originally had plans to pray outside the Planned Parenthood in Ann Arbor this day at 10am. But when I went to sign up, it said on the website that a special event was planned at nearby St. Francis of Assisi. Never one to miss an opportunity to attend a different parish for daily mass for my Daily Mass Project, I made sure to change my plans so I could go to this.

Upon walking in, I actually saw the pipe organ first. (The picture below is from Wikipedia): Saint_Francis_of_Assisi_Catholic_Church_Organ_Ann_Arbor_Michigan

And then made my way to the center to get a picture of the sanctuary and altar, where a statue of Mary was placed surrounded by the roses, which we carried later to Planned Parenthood.

 

You may also see a basket with rosaries hanging out of it; those were also provided for the Rosary rally, as we recited the rosary as we walked.

As I waited for mass to start, I just sat in silence and prayed for the priest to give us some inspiration as this was clearly a mass centered around the pro-life movement. I thought about how I hear from people in the pews who are passionately pro-life like me and wish “Fr. So and so would talk about this from the pulpit more often!” I understand this argument because I too have sat there and wished that more priests would talk about tough topics more often – divorce, same sex “marriage,” contraception, abortion, pornography. And there are priests who do in fact preach this from the pulpit and I do commend them. But I think we all have to admit – aside from the anniversary of Roe in January, do you ever hear a priest talk about abortion? Do you ever hear them mention Rachel’s Vineyard? Do you ever hear them mention the men who regret lost fatherhood?

I have a feeling people will respond to this by saying, “It’s not the time or place for a priest to talk about those subjects during a homily. Give them a break.”  And I would tend to agree with that. But, when you consider that 70% of women who are post-abortive call themselves Christian, and 1 in 4 in women in the USA will have an abortion by the time they are 45, maybe you want to say something about that? And you may be right, a homily is when the priest breaks open the Gospel and the readings and makes it relevant to our lives. How can he possibly link abortion to a Gospel? I agree that’s not such an easy thing to do. That’s probably really unfair to ask a priest to do that.

On the other hand, we can’t just keep ignoring it. It’s happening in our world. Right now. Today. 3,000 babies are killed every day in the United States. I for one, think, that’s worth discussing.

I understand the risk of “losing” parishioners if they hear a message they don’t agree with and walking out. I was one of them! I heard the most ridiculous mission talk from a priest when I was 22 that made my blood boil. What was the subject of his talk? SIN. I was too stubborn at the time to realize that he was speaking the truth.

I thought to myself, “I can’t believe that I attended a church with all these hypocrites!” Looking back, obviously, I was convicted. And we can choose to stay or we can choose to leave in those moments. And I “left” (meaning I didn’t go to mass the following Sunday, had a particularly heartbreaking chat with God shortly after, and came back).

But I didn’t really acknowledge what I had heard from that priest until a decade or so later. I stayed in denial about sin for a LONG time and avoided confession because of it. And finally, 15 years later, I was in a place where I was ready to hear the truth (again) and this time, I embraced the faith, instead of running from it. And I pray for the conversion of those who haven’t stepped foot into a church because they fear condemnation. I pray that they will be led back to the fold and the laity will embrace them as a fellow sinner and lead them into the light. That doesn’t require a passionate and amazing homily from the priest (although it would be great!) – that requires love and compassion from us in the pews. So it starts with us.

Homily Reflection:  Fr. started by thanking us for our witness for the unborn. It was the feast day of St. Katherine Drexel, who was a very wealthy socialite turned religious sister. She was determined to bring love and hope to a world so full of hate and evil. Her family had a great heart for those who were seen as the “lowest.” She saw them as her brothers and sisters in Christ and grounded all of her work in prayer. And prayer is what Fr. said we ourselves, as we set out to process to Planned Parenthood to stand up for the unborn, prayer is what we needed first and foremost.

He also mentioned that we all have gifts from God. And we can use these gifts to promote a culture of life; we can use our voices, our presence outside clinics, our writing skills (holla!), our time, our talents, to promote the kingdom of God.

He said as the baptized, we bear the stamp “Property of Jesus Christ,” on us at all times. We may tarnish it, but we wear it. Ain’t that the truth? I can relate to that. How many times have I tarnished this “stamp?” But I still wear it, messy as it is!

As for abortion and the culture of death, Fr. James said that there are many who promote choice, who try to silence the Christian message, to put it to the side and so, make it a private matter because then it can be controlled and not visible.

But the Saints never did that! We will find ways around these clever maneuvers that abortion advocates will try in order to silence us!

We need to remember that it is God alone who creates and ends life.

Life does not end in butchering. It ends in the promise of eternal life.

The witness of love is always greater than the witness of death


Can I get an amen people!?

After mass there was Exposition and Benediction and Father read some beautiful prayers centered around the unborn, family, motherhood and fatherhood and pro-life efforts.

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We then processed out singing Hail Holy Queen, as the servers carried the statue of Mary the ENTIRE way to Planned Parenthood. What a great witness to see young men carrying Our Lady and leading us as we prayed the Rosary!

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Many people honked their horns in support of us, a few gave us the middle finger (As an Ohio gal, I wish I could just say it’s a “Michigan thing,” but we all know that’s not true) 😉  And one beautiful daughter of God shouted at us from her car. I couldn’t make out what she was saying but it was something along the lines of, “Why don’t you pray for the children already born?”  To which I would tell her, We do.

As we arrived at PP we chanted the Salve Regina. We then placed roses on the island outside Planned Parenthood, which I later found out is public property.

 

I just want to thank 40 Days For Life Ann Arbor Chapter for putting this awesome event on. What a gift to be able to spend part of our day marching and praying and worshiping on behalf of the unborn.

It’s not too late to get involved in your local 40 Days for Life chapter. It’s NEVER to late to stand up for the unborn. Click this link to find your local chapter and sign up for an hour to pray outside the clinic or find out to get involved in other ways. You could literally save a life!

 

 

 

 

St. Andrew in Saline, Patrick Coffin, and The Rose Mass for the Unborn

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Saint Andrew the Apostle – Saline, MI – Wednesday – 7pm – January 17th

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Celebrant: Fr. Francis

Initial Thoughts: I walked in just as some sort of youth group was concluding with what seemed like 2nd or 3rd graders sitting and listening to a catechist tell them, “We need to be quiet because people are coming in for Reconciliation and Confession.” Very sweet (and humorous) to see about 50 kids turn around and stare at me as I was the only one there.

Homily Reflection: Fr. made a great humorous comment about the 1st reading which ends with these words:

Then David ran and stood over him;
with the Philistine’s own sword which he drew from its sheath
he dispatched him and cut off his head.

To which the lector then says: “The Word of the Lord” and we respond “Thanks be to God.” 

…he cut off his head – Thanks be to God! What a thing to say!

He had a few more things to say about 1st and 2nd Samuel being about this desire for God – this passion that the people at that time had to say “I’ve come to do your will.” Fr. remarked that maybe we’ve lost that passion today. Most of all, the people wanted to be faithful. And he concluded by challenging us to reclaim that desire to be a faithful people.

Holy Moments: Confession before mass was a wonderful gift, but I actually enjoyed the quiet in between the time that confession ended and mass began. They played some Gregorian chants and dimmed the lights while people went to Reconciliation. I took the time pray but I also looked around at the folks waiting in line. You had a Mom with her kids and having them line up and sit as quietly as they could as she ushered them in to go to the priest. Then she took her turn. There was the young man who sat and waited with his head and his hands. I prayed hard for him. There was the older man who seemed to be at peace and joyful as he exited the confessional. It just made me feel so blessed to be Catholic and to have access to this Sacrament, where we hear Jesus say, “You are forgiven.”

And this actually serves as a great transition to my next Chuch on the list…St. John Vianney.


St. John Vianney – Shelby Township, MI – January 21 – Patrick Coffin

Celebrant: No one, (duh) since it wasn’t a mass but I’m checking this one off the list for the Daily Mass Project since I made the 53 minute trip, in the dark, in the fog, just to see one of my favorite speakers, Patrick Coffin.

His talk entitled, “Ignite!” was about an hour long and was meant to inform and educate those of us in the Catholic church on how we are called to be disciples, that we are meant to live lives of holiness, and that we need to work on spreading this Good News. But, too often we are “lukewarm” about the faith and therefore, a ton of people are leaving it! Not good. But the Good News is that Jesus did indeed instruct us, that by the power of the Holy Spirit, we have the gifts necessary to speak the truth in love to those who are open to hearing it. We aren’t going to convert anyone. But we can begin to help them see that there is a God who loves them, who created them, and wants them to be happy. In fact, it’s a great summary of Unleash the Gospel from Archbishop Vigneron, which you can read here.

You can listen to the talk here.

Some of my favorite talking points from Patrick:

“We [Catholics] have access to the God of the Universe as present in the tabernacle as He will be at the end of history when He returns. As present in the tabernacle as He was when He walked on this earth, when the most beautiful Jewish woman in the world said Yes to an angel’s marriage proposal at the Annunciation. We have this amazing gift.”

” The last words of Blessed Solanus Casey before he died are the words that we should be saying everyday. That should be our prayer. “Lord I give you my soul!”

“You can’t give what you don’t have. If you don’t have this indispensable amount of understanding about who Jesus is, you’re not going to be an effective disciple. It doesn’t mean you have to read big fat books, it doesn’t mean you have to be Thomas Aquinas. It just means you have to be willing to say Yes to what the Holy Spirit wants to do in and through your life.”

“Nothing here below lasts forever. So we have to be careful about whom and what we hitch our horse to. We have to belong first and foremost to Jesus Christ.”

There was a time for Q&A afterwards which brought up a number of different topics like  how to handle family members with SSA, to how to bring back lapsed Catholics to the Church, and the difference between being repentant and being forgiven through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. <—-this was my favorite part because it prompted Patrick to speak these words which I love to reflect on:

“When we confess our sins, we are obeying what Christ wants for us and what we’re made to do. We want to confess our sins. We’re just chicken to. We’ve done things we can’t undo. We’ve hurt people…We need a Savior. We need someone to take those sins away. To delete them.”

“Our Lord knows us quite well. He knows what we need and we need to hear the words: “I absolve you.” And that I is not Fr. Smith or Bishop so and so, that’s Christ Himself. “I absolve you from your sins.” There’s no more beautiful words. That’s the most exquisite form of I love you, “I absolve you from your sins.”

Indeed. The most exquisite form of I love you. Indeed it is.


The Rose Mass for the Pre-born – OLGC- January 24th

IMG-1774Most folks know me as unapologetically pro-life, no exceptions. And this Rose Mass has always intrigued me. I had heard about it over a year ago, hoping to do something very similar at my church in Cleveland. Well, God had some pretty big plans in mind because not only did I get to witness this mass this year, I was an active participant. Click here to watch it (already queued up for you to watch the “Rose Walk.”) IMG-8804It was such an honor to be asked to read the reflections for each year abortion has been legal in this country. As I read each reflection, a walker came up to the sanctuary and placed a rose in an empty crib. Walkers choose the year for a number of reasons – it could be the year they were born, it could be the year they were married, for some, it’s the year their aborted child would have been born. We never know the reasons they choose the year, but it’s not necessary to know. What’s important to see and to hear the impact legalized abortion has had on all of us. IMG-8789(1)It was quite emotional towards the end, as it’s tradition to have a pregnant woman walk up for the final year. I couldn’t help but choke up as I read the final words as 45 people stood at the front of the worship space next to a crib with all 45 roses placed in it. Representing the 60 million unborn babies that didn’t get chance to live. It should cause us all to stop and think of how we can be a voice for the unborn.

 

In the words of Fr. Prentice, who was the celebrant for this mass, “Let us ask the intercession of Our Lady to put an end to abortion. This must stop.”

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Listen. Learn. Love. Life

 

quote-i-m-norma-mccorvey-the-former-jane-roe-of-the-roe-vs-wade-decision-that-brought-legal-norma-mccorvey-77-30-47This past weekend, the woman known as Jane Roe of Roe vs Wade, Norma McCorvey, passed away at the young age of 69 from heart failure.

Her sad passing puts abortion back in the headlines for a little while. While her death is in no way good news, the fact that people are reading about her life is good. Why? Because people are learning that she never even had an abortion. They are learning that she was deceived by her lawyers, encouraged to lie about her pregnancy, and immediately discarded after the ruling was brought down. She changed her mind on abortion years later and fought to undo the damage.  What an incredible burden to carry for your entire life – to know that your case made abortion legal. I can’t imagine the torment and internal battle that she went through.

“I think it’s safe to say that the entire abortion industry is based on a lie…I am dedicated to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name.” Norma McCorvey, aka Jane Roe

Thinking about her conversion and how she changed from being pro-choice to completely pro-life, I thought about testimonials and listening to the voices of those we disagree with.

Do we really listen to what they have to say or are we too busy shouting our own opinion and defending our views? Are we so afraid of the possibility that we may actually change our mind too?

This brings me to the Women’s March on Washington.  This march took place the day after the inauguration. And the media covered this in full force. In fact, the media seemed to be spending an unprecedented amount of attention on this march that seemed to have no clear agenda.

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Believe it or not, this picture is actually from the Women’s March on Washington. Students for Life of America ended up LEADING the march for about 15 minutes before pro-abortion activists tried to rip up their signs and scream their slogans of “My Body My Choice “over them. But because of the absolute disorganization of this Women’s March, no one was there to say when it started. Kudos to SFL for actually starting the march with their 3 huge banners. Here’s video of their experience there.

But there was one clear message they sent: No Pro-Life Women Allowed.

As I looked at the pictures of the women and and children marching in D.C. that day, I really only had one reaction: Sadness. It made me feel such pity for these women, young and old, holding up signs with vulgarity and mocking their own gender. You can say these vulgar images were just one part of this Women’s March. And you would be correct. But who got the most attention from the media? The more vulgar or outrageous the sign they carried or the costume they wore, the more attention they got.

Who’s voice was left unheard? Probably women like my friends and family who marched. The ones who say they marched for equal pay for men and women. Those who marched for the abused woman. The ones who marched for paid maternity leave and the rights of disabled women.

I am in complete agreement that these are rights worth fighting for.

But when the organizers of this Women’s March come out and say, “We want to see an end of violence against women” but in the next paragraph of their “Unity Principles” say how they are FOR unlimited access to abortion, how can we stand together in that? What about violence in the womb?

If they hadn’t promoted this event to be a pro-choice feminist event, even more women would have joined the cause! It would have been unprecedented to see all of us standing together. But that didn’t happen. Pro-life feminists were left out.

“I’ve noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.” – Ronald Reagan, September 22, 1980.

In complete contrast, on January 27th I had the pleasure of attending my first March for Life in D.C. It was an absolutely beautiful experience. All these people of different races, ages, faiths, (yes, atheists too!) and backgrounds coming together to celebrate LIFE.

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The March for Life has Life Principles. The Women’s March had Unity Principles. The goal of the pro-life movement is clear: To show that all human beings are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which is the right to life.

The goal of the Women’s March is not so clear to me. I’m still scratching my head over it.

While I was pursuing their site, I came across something rather interesting under the heading #DayWithoutAWoman. Apparently they are organizing another protest where they are asking women to not show up to work? Again, I’m just confused as to what message that sends. But I would also ask, will abortion workers and women who work at Planned Parenthood not show up to work that day?

But what’s really interesting are the 3 questions they ask that they state are their principles that guide their actions:

  1. Do businesses support our communities, or do they drain our communities?
  2. Do they strive for gender equity or do they support the policies and leaders that perpetuate oppression?
  3. Do they align with a sustainable environment or do they profit off destruction and steal the futures of our children?

I decided to play a little word game and replace the word “businesses” with Planned Parenthood. Let’s see what results we come up with:

  1. Does Planned Parenthood support our communities, or do they drain our communities?

Planned Parenthood locations are mostly in the poorer communities. I’m going to say the answer is DRAIN our communities in the form of killing them before they’re born.

  1. Does Planned Parenthood strive for gender equity or does it support the policies and leaders that perpetuate oppression?  

Considering abortion is the ultimate form of oppression, I’m going to have to again say that PP is actually THE leader in the oppression movement.

  1. Does Planned Parenthood align with a sustainable environment or do they profit off destruction and steal the futures of our children?  

Oh the irony. I find the language in this particular question almost comical if it weren’t so sad. This clearly parallels the goal of the abortion industry and Planned Parenthood = The destruction of children; children have no future when they enter a Planned Parenthood clinic. Their life ends in that moment. And profit??? Yes, they absolutely profit off of the 320,000 unborn lives they terminate in the womb every year. 


Norma McCorvey isn’t alive anymore to have her voice heard. Let’s make an effort to listen to those who have been there, who have believed the lies and have lived to regret them. I believe it’s our duty to hear what they have to say in order not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

And then maybe, next January 22nd, when we gather in D.C. to March for Life, perhaps we’ll be joined by newcomers to our movement. We’ll link arms together with these sisters with hope that one day we can say:

“Let us unite our voices to abolish abortion together.”

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Week 4 -Daily Mass Project

St. Ambrose – Brunswick – Friday January 20th – 5:30pm Chapel Mass

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Celebrant: Fr. Bob Stec

Homily Reflections: Hands down one of the best homilies I’ve heard for a daily mass. And I believe I was meant to hear it. Isn’t that interesting how God plans that out? I was exactly where I needed to be. Prior to coming to mass, I had been feeling just a little down for some unknown reason. And then Fr. Bob begins his homily by saying how a dying man recently asked him, “Father, if God forgives us, does He forget what He’s forgiven?”  After a few words about forgiveness and confession, Father said it doesn’t matter if God forgets or not. All that matters is that He forgives. It doesn’t matter what we did 2 hours ago, 2 days ago or 2 decades ago. As long as we seek repentance and ask for forgiveness, God forgives. The most powerful moment was, as a congregation of 2o or so people gathered in this chapel, we echoed Fathers words: “God forgives. And so we are forgiven.” I couldn’t even get the words out I was almost crying. It was just exactly what I needed to hear. I think there’s just something really special and intimate about daily mass that you just can’t get at a regular mass..and this particular homily was exactly it. Intimate and warm and inviting and quiet enough that I could hear God speak through Father’s words.

Holy Moments: I was asked to help bring up the gifts which I don’t think I’ve done in at least a decade.

As I went up to receive the wine (blood of Christ) I was the last person so I was asked to finish it off. This was a first for me. I don’t normally take more than a little sip of the wine so to take in a huge gulp was just kind of humorous and somewhat of an honor at the same time. I went back to my seat feeling pretty good, too. 😉


St Mary of the Immaculate Conception – Avon – January 21 8:30am

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Celebrant: Not 100% sure but think it was the Pastor, Fr. C. Thomas Cleaton

Gospel MK 3:20-21  – It’s so short that I can just copy and paste it here:

Jesus came with his disciples into the house.
Again the crowd gathered,
making it impossible for them even to eat.
When his relatives heard of this they set out to seize him, 
for they said, “He is out of his mind.”

Homily Reflection: Jesus didn’t fit in. He was different. The crowds were sinners who admired Jesus which caused the Sadducees and Pharisees to become threatened by him. What about us? Don’t we want to be admired? Don’t we seek the approval of others? But that’s not important. The only thing that matters is the approval of God. If we have that, we have everything.

Holy Moments: There was not 1, not 2 but 3! servers for this mass. They were clearly very traditional. It’s a very ornate and sacramental church as you can see from the picture that I quickly took afterwards. (I feel awkward taking pictures of these churches if I’m not the only one in there.Feels like I’m being disrespectful so I try to only use photos from the parishes websites if I can.)

This particular morning was the day of the Cleveland March for Life. I wore my 40 Days for Life Hoodie and someone approached me after mass asking me if I was planning on going to the local March. We reconnected at the march a few hours later. Sidenote: The local march had a really great turnout. The good weather definitely helped! And the speaker, Eric Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League did a fantastic job expressing how far the pro-life movement has come in 44 years since Roe vs. Wade. Very encouraging!


St Mary – Elyria – Monday January 23rd -National Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of the Unborn Child – 5:30pm

 

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Celebrant: Unknown – can’t get on their website to confirm. Forgive me!

Homily Reflection: Given the occasion, the priest discussed abortion and how we can protect the unborn and most vulnerable and weakest in our society. He made a point to mention something that I wish all pro-abortion advocates knew about most pro-lifers: Making abortion illegal won’t change hearts. And making abortion illegal will not end abortion. We know that. So what can we do? We need to help people discover love and see life as a gift. We have the Holy Spirit inside us – we need to bring it out. We need to share love in order to build a culture of life. If not, our efforts are fruitless. Prayer is a huge part of it. But action is needed as well. We need to help people see the that each life has value. And how can we do that? We share the Gospel, we share the message of Christ.

Holy Moments: A lovely woman complimented me on her way out the door about my 40 Days for Life shirt. What can I say, I’m unapologetically pro-life and something like a message on a t-shirt can spark a conversation. You never know who is watching.

Got the big host at communion! Aww yeah. Jackpot.

This begs the question – If I get a piece of the big host at communion 3 masses in a row, is that like the equivalent of a hat trick in hockey or like a turkey in bowling? Because I swear this is going to happen to me during this project. And when it does, I think it should be named after me. Like…the Piccolo effect. 🙂


Next week I hope to have my blog done about my experience at my first ever March for Life in D.C. I was also interviewed (very briefly, about 5 questions) by the New York Times about my feelings on the Women’s March on Washington and my views as a pro-life feminist. So stay tuned for that whenever it publishes!

Where There’s Despair, Let Us Bring Hope

For the past few weeks I’ve been shadowing instructors from a local pro-life group that goes to Catholic and Christian schools teaching junior high students about the current life issues in our world. (I’m delighted to instruct my own class in less than a month.) The curriculum includes facts about abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, as well as the Good News of chastity and how we are all created in the image and likeness of God and what respecting human dignity entails.

Most of the classes are inspiring and educational as these kids learn about people who were born with disabilities, who were told by their parents to abort, but here they are living and thriving. They hear and read testimonials from post-abortive women who now advocate and promote the pro-life message. They hear from rape survivors who became pregnant and gave their child life.

On one particular day, as the 8th graders learned about abortion, I had a moment of profound sadness.

A boy in the class asked the question:

“So what do they do with the baby when it’s aborted?” 

The instructor responded with the truth: “They throw the baby into the trash, into biohazard waste.” 

The look on the children’s faces was something I don’t think I’ll forget.  They just couldn’t believe it. They were shocked and appalled.

I was told later by one of my friends who’s been advocating for the unborn for years that they don’t actually throw them in the trash. At least some places don’t.

“They put them in a grinder and grind them up into pieces,” he said.

Maybe we need to just reflect on that for more than a second.

Dead humans.

In pieces.

In the trash. 

No funeral. No burial. No memorial.  Just thrown into the trash. 

I really have a hard time wrapping my head around all of it. 

I sometimes just sit in plain shock at it all.  

Like looking at the pictures of the victims of the Holocaust. The burned bodies lying on top of one another in black and white photos that I’ve seen. And even having visited a concentration camp when I took a trip to Europe as a teenager – I saw death. I felt it, it was palpable. Even decades later.

And there was another feeling there…

Evil. 

I don’t think I identified it as Evil at the time. I think I just knew the feeling was dark. Only years later as I would tell people that I visited one of the camps did I then recall and think, Oh….so that’s what that was. That was indeed evil I felt. It permeated the site.


 

I get that same feeling over me as I visit and stand outside abortion clinics to pray. There’s this dark, heavy feeling. Like you know something sinister is happening behind those doors but you can’t do anything to stop it at that moment.

It’s a very helpless feeling.

And it can quickly turn into hopelessness. 

It has on occasion.

But thank God for those kids. Thank God for those kids having the courage to ask questions and listen and hear the truth.  This is a lot of their young minds to process. What I would have given to have heard this message at their age!

I noticed something else about these young pro-life warriors:

They have NO FEAR. They are not afraid to engage.  

An outsider reading this might think, “Just wait until they get to high school or college. They’ll be too afraid to fit in to speak up about anything.”

While it’s true that most 20-somethings become easily swayed into moral relativism in college, I still have hope.

You just wait. This generation is braver and smarter than we are. They have much more information at their fingertips than we ever did. Which means they have greater access to the TRUTH, while filtering out the LIES. 

And they aren’t pushovers. They want Authenticity. They want people, adults and peers alike, to be Genuine. Heartfelt. Compassionate. Fighters! Honest! Bold! 

 

So when I look around me at the various people praying outside abortion clinics, when I look around to see who will stand with me to fight for the unborn, the disabled and the elderly, the most vulnerable and weakest in our world, and when I look around and wonder who will have my back at the times when it seems hopeless, I see these kids.

I see hope in their eyes. I see something GOOD that I can cling to and hang on to.

The voiceless have a voice in the youth of today. 

“When the time comes, as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I’ve often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God — and a terror will rip your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there’ll be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world — and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, ‘Spare him, because he loved us!‘”  – Congressman Henry Hyde – author of The Hyde Amendment, which the Democratic Party wants to repeal.


Anytime I blog about abortion, I think it’s important to mention post-abortive healing and counseling:

www.RachelsVineyard.org

www.SilentNoMoreAwareness.org 

www.HopeAfterAbortion.com

www.AbortionWorker.com

Voting as a Catholic

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Recently a priest by the name of Rev. John Lankeit from the Diocese of Phoenix delivered a homily shared by EWTN via their Facebook page and has close to 300,00 views in just a couple days. In this homily, Lankeit made clear and concise points about which political/social issues Catholics can vote on based on prudential judgement, and which issues are non-negotiable.

This is an absolute spot-on homily. It takes a lot of guts to preach from the pulpit on the issue of abortion. But we can’t be afraid. Not when it’s taken 60 million lives from us. There is nothing to be fearful of. We have the truth on our side.

Prayers to this priest and all the clergy and laity and all who bravely preach exactly what all Catholics and people who consider themselves Christian, to hear. Souls are on the line. You owe it to yourself and the future generations of Americans to listen to this  or read the text below. We cannot claim to be Catholic while enabling the culture of death to continue by voting for a pro-abortion candidate/party.

If you prefer to watch the Homily instead of listen to the audio that I linked above, EWTN still has it up on their Facebook page from Thursday October 6th.

27th Sunday OT (Year C) – October 2, 2016

HAB 1:2-3; 2:2-4; PS 95:1-2, 6-7, 8-9; 2 TM 1:6-8, 13-14; LK 17:5-10

The Devil is a divider who will use almost any tactic to separate Christians from Christ…except for one. He doesn’t typically come right out and say, “Deny Jesus Christ!” because he knows that someone who loves Jesus would immediately reject the suggestion. So, he tends to use more subtle means and subtle words. But more on that later…

For now, let’s deal with something closer to home, and very much in the forefront of many people’s minds: the 2016 presidential election. But let’s do so from a Catholic perspective. Let’s consider the intersection of the practice of our Catholic faith and the exercise of our civic duty, especially when it comes to voting.

Let’s first acknowledge that there has never been a political party in the United States that is perfectly aligned with Catholic teaching on every issue. That does not mean, however, that we are therefore automatically free to vote for either major party, because one party can be much further from Catholic principles on the most important issues than the other party. As a result of that, we are often faced with the task of discerning which party and which policies are most in line with Catholic teaching, and which ones aren’t.

So many issues are subject to the prudential judgment of Catholic voters. What does that mean? It means that Catholics can legitimately disagree, for example, on the best way to address issues such as racial injustice, education, the economy, immigration and healthcare and still remain in good standing in the Church.

There are other issues, however, which touch on matters of intrinsic evil—actions that can never, at any time, under any circumstances be committed, promoted or even enabled by a faithful Catholic. But setting aside issues of intrinsic evil for now, let’s consider some of the more common issues for which Catholics can legitimately exercise prudential judgment.

One such issue is Affirmative Action. This program aims to eliminate perceived disadvantages that minorities face when competing, for example, for admission to college. In our nation, one party favors Affirmative Action to bring justice and balance in our multiracial society. The other party holds that it penalizes high achievers by giving limited spots in the college classroom to less qualified candidates, while denying more qualified students access. One party sees affirmative action as a matter of justice…while the other party sees it as injustice.

 

But, suppose a candidate for president promoted a policy that would make it legal for someone to kill a black person if that black person created a hardship for them getting the education they desired.

How many of you would be comfortable voting for that candidate?

Another issue that falls under the category of prudential judgment is immigration. One of the major political parties seeks to allow immigration with very little restriction. The other party is concerned that unrestricted immigration leads to, among other things, non-citizens taking jobs that could be worked by citizens. One party favors open borders—the other favors “law and order”.

Now, suppose a candidate for president promoted a policy that would make it legal for someone to kill a Hispanic person if the presence of that Hispanic person made it more difficult to pursue one’s career of choice.

How many of you would be comfortable voting for that candidate?

Thank God we don’t have a candidate from either party who says that they condone such policies. Nobody in their right mind would say such a thing—that we could kill blacks or Hispanics—or anyone else—just for the sake of protecting personal economic or educational interests.

Nobody would say it, but, as you’ll see in a moment…

There is a candidate, in this 2016 race for president, who along with that candidate’s political party does, in fact, sanction the killing of blacks and Hispanics in the situations previously described…under one…particular…condition:

That the black person or the Hispanic person is still in his or her mother’s womb.

Now, this candidate and party certainly won’t say it that way, not publicly anyway. Instead, they use words like “choice” or “reproductive rights” or “women’s health” or other sanitized statements in order to cover up what abortion is and what abortion does.

 

Now, before we go any further in discussing the extremely sensitive issue of abortion…

I want to say a word to any woman in this congregation here today—or among those watching or listening on TV or radio—who has chosen abortion:

God’s mercy is bigger than your sin and your pain. In ten years of priesthood, I have often been blessed to welcome a woman back to the merciful embrace of God the Father after she has admitted to, and repented of, her abortion in the Sacrament of Confession. A priest in such a situation has the privilege of assuring the woman that she has never lost the love of God the Father, nor her dignity as his beloved daughter, no matter what she did. And so I say to these women today: You do not have to hide from God any longer. I know it’s exhausting to pretend that your pain is not real, that your loss is not immense and that your choice was not devastating. But when you experience God’s loving mercy even after the abortion, you will really come to know and experience that God’s love in forgiving our most serious sins is even greater than his love in creating us. Your Father has been waiting for you for a very long time. It’s time for you to come home!

So, now, having shared that important word with grieving mothers let’s return to the subject of our duty as Catholics in the public square.

When we consider that a woman can walk into Planned Parenthood and have her baby put to death because she doesn’t want to jeopardize her education or career, we must acknowlege that the shocking scenarios described previously are not only possible…not only real…but also among the most common reasons for abortion in America.

Even the word “abortion” has been drained of its meaning—we treat it like nothing more than a term that starts a heated debate rather than a procedure that stops a heartbeat. Many want to treat abortion as merely one issue among many—but that requires that a person pretend not to know what abortion is and what abortion does.

So let’s stop beating around the bush with regard to the current presidential race:

  • Do you know which candidate and party in this election promotes abortion and even promises to expand its availability here at home as well as abroad?
  • Do you know that this candidate and party intend to make you and me pay for other people’s abortions with our tax dollars—something that has always been illegal?
  • Are you aware that this candidate and party, which until recently, said that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare” no longer even bothers to say that it should be rare—but rather, that it must be available any time, any place, even up to the last moment that the fully formed, full-term baby remains in the womb?

    If you do not know which candidate and party I’m referring to, then you should not even consider voting until you do know! Ignorance in this area is unacceptable, because ignorance in this area costs millions of babies their lives and jeopardizes the souls of many Catholics voters.

    On the other hand, if you DO know which candidate and party want to promote and expand abortion, and you still intend to enable them to continue their war on the unborn with the help of your vote, then it is my duty as a priest to tell you that your soul will be in grave danger, especially if you present yourself for Holy Communion after casting such a vote with the full knowledge of what you’re doing.

    Every election season, when a priest addresses such topics from the pulpit, a certain portion of the population complains that he’s preaching politics:

    “A priest has no business discussing politics in church!”

    That’s what some people say.
    But what does God say to the priest whom he has designated to be spiritual father for the people entrusted to his care?

    The same thing he said to the Prophet Ezekiel: “…I have made [you] a watchman for the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, O wicked man, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked man shall die in his [sin], but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way; he shall die in his [sin], but you will have saved your life. (Ez 33:7-9)

Another of the Devil’s tactics is to encourage us to make excuses for our participation in really bad things by appealing to other good things that we support, which we try to convince ourselves somehow “cancel out” the grave evil we enable.

Take capital punishment, for example. If you bring up abortion, some people will say, “I’m against capital punishment…and if you’re against abortion, then you should be against capital punishment!” Fair enough. What is the biggest objection to capital punishment? That innocent people might be mistakenly put to death. And it must be acknowledged that innocent people very well could be unjustly executed due to the many flaws in our legal system.

And this very reason for opposing capital punishment is precisely the reason that Catholics must never willingly support or even enable abortion with their vote. Because, while some innocent people have no doubt been put to death mistakenly through capital punishment, in abortion an innocent person is always put to death, and never by mistake. It’s always chosen…always intended.

If a person is against capital punishment, then, they necessarily must be against abortion because the intention of abortion is to knowingly and deliberately kill an innocent boy or girl—each and every time.

What about war? People who vigorously oppose the wars in the Middle East, for example, often quote statistics on the great number of innocent people accidently killed in the crossfire. “Collateral damage”—the innocent people killed in war—is, perhaps the greatest tragedy of war. But if a person opposes the accidental killing of innocent people in war, while enabling the intentional killing of the most innocent human beings on the planet with their vote—well…this is hypocrisy of the most extreme kind.

If a person opposes war because of the accidental, unintended deaths of innocent people, they necessarily must oppose abortion because the killing in abortion is neither accidental nor unintended, but always directly willed.

Sometimes we hear the stupendously deceptive claim that a candidate or party will reduce abortions by improving economic or social conditions, while simultaneously promoting abortion as a right worth protecting.

 

But let’s face facts: Abortion is not caused by economics or social conditions. Economic and social factors are, no doubt, circumstances that affect a mother’s decision in some cases, but they are not causes.

After all, if eliminating abortion were merely a matter of economics, or access to healthcare, or other socioeconomic factors, then why do wealthy mothers also abort their babies?

There are plenty of Catholics who, quite rightly, have criticized bishops and priests in recent years for not having spoken out more forcefully against the sexual abuse of children by priests.

Why, then, do many of these same Catholics want to silence bishops and priests who speak out forcefully against killing innocent children?

Why is opposing sexual abuse of children a matter of justice, but opposing the murder of children a matter of “preaching politics”?

Regardless of the resistance, a priest must follow the example of Peter and John in the Acts of the Apostles when it comes to preaching difficult truths. To those who sought to silence their proclamation of the Gospel these Apostles boldly responded:

“Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for I cannot but speak of what I have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19- 20)

A priest is not only protected by the 1st Amendment (at least for now). He is also bound by the 5th Commandment—Thou Shalt Not Kill.

If a priest doesn’t speak up for those most vulnerable in our society, and if the Catholic faithful don’t actively protect the most vulnerable in our society by refusing to enable their deliberate destruction with their vote, then such Catholics are condoning the killing by their cowardice.

And what did St. Paul say to Timothy about cowardice in today’s 2nd Reading?

 

God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self- control. So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord…but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God. (2 Tim 1:7-8)

 

Part of every Catholic’s share in the hardship for the Gospel is that we must repent of our actions that are offensive to God and destructive to our brothers and sisters. And we must oppose the threats to innocent life that are most real and most urgent. Make no mistake! There is no single issue that threatens innocent human life more directly, consistently and urgently than the deliberate killing of baby boys and baby girls in their mother’s womb. No…issue!

In the time since this homily started, at least 30 children have been deliberately executed in the womb in the United States—and that’s just the ones that are reported.

Let me sum up with some very challenging words:

“We have a serious obligation to protect human life, and especially the lives of the most innocent and vulnerable among us. Whoever fails to do this, when otherwise able to do so, commits a serious sin of omission. They jeopardize their own spiritual wellbeing and they are a source of scandal for others. Should they

be Catholics, they should not receive Holy Communion.”

Catholics in the Public Square, 4th Ed., p. 25

Now, I hope you realize that it takes a lot of courage for a priest to communicate such challenging words as these—reminding his people that some actions are so gravely sinful that they render a Catholic unworthy to receive Holy Communion until there is complete repentance.

A priest who is more concerned about the state of his people’s souls than they are themselves, deserves the esteem of his people for his willingness to speak such difficult truth to them with genuine love—to put the welfare of his people’s souls ahead of his own reputation, popularity or comfort. Such a priest should receive respect, admiration and support, rather than their resistance or criticism.

So please pray for, thank and encourage the spiritual father that God has appointed for you and who loves you enough to tell you the truth.

Because the priest who said these particular words…is your bishop…and mine.