Too Scared to Speak

In the past 6 months I have shared many articles on social media about pro-life and bioethical issues that are most controversial in our world, especially concerning those about abortion and birth control with the occasional post about homosexuality, gender identity, and so-called “same sex marriage.”

It never seems to fail that each time I post, one of my Christian friends privately messages me and thanks me for speaking up and not being afraid for saying what they wish they could say. At first it was random, but lately it’s been a more frequent occurrence. And the verbiage is usually similar – A common theme of fear.

“I’m not brave enough like you to say anything. ”

“It’s so great that you have so much courage to speak up on such controversial issues.”

“I can’t speak up like you do, I’m a wimp.”

Courageous? Brave? It’s strange that people use these words to describe a simple keystroke. I mean, really, how difficult is it to click the word “share?”  But what is even more strange is the “fear” that people have in their own hearts.

What are we afraid of? If we know this is truth, what is there to fear?

I suppose the biggest fear is fear of losing an argument. Fear of losing friendships maybe. Fear of looking foolish. Fear of what others think of us.

But something I think we need to be more fearful of is Ignorance. If we don’t stay informed of these pressing issues, then this allows misinformation to spread. And let’s keep in mind one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to “Instruct the Ignorant.” So that means, in this Jubilee Year of Mercy issued by Pope Francis, that we not only have a duty to seek the truth ourselves, it means we need to share the truth. (The “ignorant” isn’t meant to be an insulting term here; it simply means the “uninformed.”)

For example, the controversial undercover Planned Parenthood videos:

I have met with and conversed with a few people who have never even seen a minute of any of the undercover video footage from the Center of Medical Progress and journalist David Daleiden. Not surprising when you read that none of the major media outlets gave it more than 39 seconds of coverage.

But just today, a grand jury in Houston has found Planned Parenthood not guilty of any wrongdoing and decided to bring charges up against Daleiden himself. Oh and one of the DA’s is on the board of Planned Parenthood. Sigh…

To those of us in the pro-life movement, this would seem like a huge step backwards, especially considering the March for Life in D.C. and the Walk for Life in San Francisco were so successful.

But see, I think of this as a misstep by Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry. I think, rather, I pray, that this will be their undoing. How?

Because now they will be forced to take the stand. Of course, nothing is going to stop liars from lying, even under oath. But I predict one of these doctors will have a major conversion.

If “Jane Roe” could have a conversion, would it not also be possible that one of these abortion doctors could have one as well?

Today in the Catholic Church we recognize the Conversion of St. Paul. St. Paul had the biggest conversion ever. Like, if there was an award for conversions, this dude would receive the award, hands down. The  guy was pretty awful when he was Saul, persecuting followers of Jesus left and right.

Reading about him was one of the catalysts for me when I myself “came back” to the Church after a short departure.

Reflecting on him tonight I can’t help but think, “Wouldn’t it be great if one of these PP docs or workers had a conversion? Wouldn’t it be awesome if they decided to find a way to give life instead of taking it away?”

Do you know what’s stopping them?

Probably the same thing that stops you from sharing or speaking up on controversial topics like abortion: Fear.

They probably have no idea how to leave the industry. Think about it – What would they do if they left? How would they make a living? What would their co-workers think?

Enter the awesome website run by Abby Johnson called And Then There Were None. She seeks to help former abortion workers (yes, even doctors themselves) to leave the industry for good. To date, they have helped approximately 200 workers out of this darkness and on to the path to healing and recovery.

She helps them speak up when they are too afraid.

So let’s set the example and show people we aren’t afraid of a little debate, of a little controversy, of a little action.

We have truth on our side.

  • Looking for ways to help the unborn from the inside out? Consider writing a “Love Letter” to abortion clinic workers in your city/state. Before someone can be converted, they need to know they’ll have support when/if they leave. This means we don’t shout obscenities and awful things to them when we stand outside abortion clinics. This means we love them and pray for them. We hate what they do for a living. But we always love them because they are humans and worthy of respect and dignity.
  • If you’re looking for simple ways you can help the unborn and promote the pro-life message, here’s a short article from Word on Fire.
  • For other helpful websites that speak the truth when it comes to bioethics and the Catholic Church teachings, especially the unborn and human dignity, I recommend the following:

National Catholic Bioethics Center

Life Site News

Live Action

LifeTeen

EWTN

 

 

 

An Impossible Discovery

Galatians 3:28-29

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.

An Impossible Discovery by Father Vincent Nagle, from the book Praying with St. Paul

“It was December and the beginning of summer vacation for the students in Kenya. Myself and a missionary priest I had just met were standing in a field far from Nairobi waiting for the students to start arriving for a vacation together. I had arrived in the country just a couple of days before for the first time, to begin a new mission. As I stood there I could not have felt more estranged. I did not know anyone coming, I did not know the language, I had never been to sub-Saharan Africa, and there was almost nothing planned for the days ahead. And as the young men and women started to wander in, bedraggled from hard travel, and we had a first bad meal together, my anxiety increased.

Then, after dinner, some of the students, the teachers, the priest, and I all sat down together. We asked, “What do we want from these days ahead?” What strongly emerged among us was that we wanted to meet Christ that week. We wanted the One in whom we see our destiny to become visible among us. We wanted him, the meaning of everything. What had seemed alien to me now was familiar. They wanted what I wanted. What they had encountered and had brought them to that place was precisely what had brought me.

After that I have always been able to hear the stupefaction in the words of Saint Paul as he describes what is impossibly unfolding in the people before him. Their hearts, touched by Christ, are one. Gulfs once believed unbridgeable, between mentalities, histories, and cultures, are joined in the unity of an identical commotion in their hearts. Their desire has become one, him. Differences no longer have the last word. The encounter with Jesus Christ has revealed for each the heart of the other. In all our estrangements, let us beg for Jesus to reveal himself, giving us our communion with all.”

Fit In Your Faith Today: We can learn a lot from this reflection from Father Vincent. People may be different from us, we may feel threatened by them. We may just think we couldn’t possibly have anything in common with those who are different from us. But we can see and hear, even if we don’t speak the same language, that our hearts are the same. They all seek to know Christ. If there is someone in your life whom you don’t interact with because they are “too different” from you, ask them. Ask them if their heart is the same as yours – You might discover the impossible – that you seek the same thing!

 

Not an Inspired Message

1 Corinthians 13: 1-2, 8-10

I may be able to speak the languages of human beings and even of angels, but if I have no love, my speech is no more than a noisy gong or a clanging bell. I may have the gift of inspired preaching; I may have all knowledge and understand all secrets; I may have all the faith needed to move mountains- but if I have no love, I am nothing. 

Love is eternal. There are inspired messages, but they are temporary; there are gifts of speaking in strange tongues, but they will cease; there is knowledge, but it will pass. For our gifts of knowledge and of inspired messages are only partial; but when what is perfect comes, then what is partial will disappear.

Fit in Your Faith Today: Are you falling for an “inspired message” from the secular world about Valentine’s Day and about Love? Remember who and what is love: God. God is love. (1 John 4:7-10) Let us show one another THIS kind of love not just today, but every day. Not just with chocolate and flowers, but with actions and words.

Falling Short while Looking Up

Romans 3:23-24

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God with undeserved kindness, declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 

Today’s verses really hit the nail on the head as far as sin goes: We all fall short. We all sin. You can categorize some sins into “Big” and “Little” sins but in the end, we all fall short of His standard. Even Paul recognized this in his letter to the Roman.

It’s somewhat of a relief to read this though, because we probably put a lot of pressure on ourselves to live up to certain expectations; maybe from our spouses or parents or co-workers and friends. We might fall short in those relationships, too. But it’s comforting to know that God understands that as humans, we are not perfect and will have moments of walking away from God. In those moments of sin, we aren’t living up to His expectations.

But there’s Good News: He declares that we are righteous. When God forgives our sins, our record is wiped clean. As the Deacon at my parish told me just yesterday, “God can read our hearts.”  When we stray, and we confess that we have strayed, God welcomes us back. He can read our hearts that we are sorry.

So while you may feel you are falling short, remember to look up. Look up to Him, confess, be forgiven, and walk the path of righteousness that God has set for you.

Fit In Your Faith Today: Where are you falling short, not just in God’s eyes, but in other parts of your life? We are not perfect but we can strive to be better Christians by looking up to God, before we fall down and sin again. Confess and be forgiven, then get up again.

 

What God Wants From Us

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus.

To be joyful always, to pray constantly, to be thankful throughout our lives – This almost sounds like an impossible task.

We can always find a reason to be unhappy, a reason to stop praying and a reason to be ungrateful. We can find many reasons to think, “Prayer doesn’t work,” or “What’s there to be happy about? I can barely pay my bills!” or “Who should I thank for hitting my car and not even bothering to leave a note?!”

It’s difficult to turn those unfortunate circumstances around and think, what’s so good about this situation I’m in?

This passage from St. Paul reminds us, no matter what, there’s always something to be thankful for. We kind of have to search for it sometimes. It’s not always so obvious.

For instance, to be joyful always, even when it’s not exactly a joyous occasion can be really challenging. It’s not in our nature. But let’s some circumstances and try and reverse them:


 

Loss of a loved one after a long battle with a debilitating disease. How can we find joy in such a sad circumstance as this?

The joy can be found in the friends and people who come to support you during the wake or viewing. The joy can be found in the stories and memories that are always with you and never leave. The joy can be found in the photographs when your loved one was healthy and vibrant. The joy is found in the life that person lived while they were here. And there’s joy knowing your loved one is no longer sick. The pain and suffering is now over.

Praying at all times in our lives can also be challenging. People may think that prayer couldn’t possibly work because they don’t see the results instantaneously. But the way prayer works is not always instant, it works on God’s time. Also, there’s always something  and someone to pray for. You can pray for the blessings in your life, you can pray for someone else who needs help, you can pray to God for the ability to find the JOY in all circumstances.

Being grateful is also a challenge when times are tough. It’s easy to be grateful when everything is going right for us. But to be grateful when things seem like they’re going downhill can be especially difficult. Perhaps you have lost your job or having a hard time getting over a breakup or divorce. What’s there to be grateful for in these situations?

One saying I like to share is: “No matter what is going on with you, there’s always someone somewhere who has it much worse.”

So although you might not have a job, be grateful for your former boss who wrote that letter of reference for you so you can find a better job. Or be grateful for your previous job that gave you experience that you can put on a resume. If your relationship has just ended, you may feel lost or incomplete.

What’s there to be grateful for here? You can be thankful for a new beginning. You can be grateful that you are now in a position to be solitary and spend time alone, but not lonely! You can be grateful that someone you may have thought was the person for you, is not and that means perhaps the one you ARE meant to be with can now find you.

Fit In You Faith Today: What do you struggle with currently – Lack of joy? Showing ungratefulness? Never praying? Focus on one of these actions this week to grow in your relationship with Christ. As St. Paul has said, “This is what God want’s from you.”

 

 

Pursue Righteousness

1 Timothy 6:11

But you, Timothy, are a man of God, so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 

St. Paul has a final message to Timothy in his letter to him. But the letter is also addressed to all of us!

This is a prime example of picturing the author speaking directly to you when you read scripture. (Some translations say “But you, man of God,”)

The first thing I noticed is Paul’s language here. I love his use of the word “pursue.” And he uses the word “run” from evil. These action verbs definitely give us the impression that Paul was extremely passionate about how he viewed Christian life. There’s no sitting idly by and watching the world around us. Paul wants us to be active participants!

So how do we become active in our faith?

  • Speak up! Maybe you join a committee for the pro-life movement. Perhaps you start a group yourself dedicated to feeding the hungry or helping others less fortunate in your neighborhood. If there’s something you are passionate about like a social concern or health and safety of others, start your own group or committee dedicated to awareness.
  • Run! Training your body is just as important as training your mind. If you want to become active in your faith, you need to study up on it. Open your Bible, read the scriptures, go to mass, become involved in a bible study, write down and share your thoughts with others. Get them to “Train” with you!
  • Sacrifice for good! Giving up something doesn’t have to mean suffering for God. Think of sacrificing something like time. Volunteer your time to help someone else. Do you use social media as a break from reality? Give up the internet and use that time to do something nice for someone else like writing them a note, praying for them, or making them food.

Fit in Your Faith Today: There are plenty of ways to stop being idle and start to being active. Stand up for what you believe in. Stop making excuses for doing works that you know St. Paul would not consider “righteous” or “godly.” Get creative and think of your own way you can run from the evil and pursue righteousness that will contribute to your faith.

 

Honor, Courage and Duty

Philippians 1:20

My deep desire and hope is that I shall never fail in my duty, but that at all times, and especially right now, I shall be full of courage, so that with my whole being I shall bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die.

From the New Life Study Bible: To those who don’t believe in God, life on earth is all there is, and so it is natural for them to strive for this world’s values; money, popularity, power, pleasure, and prestige. For Paul, however, to live meant to develop eternal values and to tell others about Christ, who alone could help them see life from an eternal perspective. Paul’s whole purpose in life was to speak out boldly for Christ and to become more like him. Thus, Paul could confidently say that dying would be even better than living, because in death he would be removed from worldly troubles, and he would see Christ face to face. If you’re not ready to die, then you’re not ready to live. Make certain of your eternal destiny; then you will be free to serve- devoting your life to what really counts, without fear of death.

St. Paul has some awesome words for today’s devotion. He’s praying that he will never fail in his duty. That he’s full of courage and brings honor to Christ, whether he lives or dies. He’s clearly unafraid. His words are truly inspiring and although they were written thousands of years ago, we can still use them today in our daily lives.

We can pray that we never fail in our duty – Our duty to others, our duty to God, our duty to live a Christ-like life.

We can pray for courage – Courage in all that we do, courage to stand up for what we believe in, courage to be brave in the face of illness or adversity.

We can pray to bring honor to Christ – Honorable acts of kindness to others, honorable words to our family and friends, and to make Christ proud of our efforts to honor Him in all that we do.

If we pray for all of these things, we can help others become more like Christ. Although it’s not easy to be Christ-like every minute of every day, we can pray like St. Paul. We can pray for the courage he had. We can pray for the honor he showed. And we can pray that, whether we live or die, we have lived a life worthy of being called Christ-like.

Fit In Your Faith Today: Do you honor the worlds values of money or social status or power? Or do you honor God? If you struggle to follow God and are tempted by the world’s pleasures, pray for the courage St. Paul had. Pray for unfailing love to the Lord and the ability to turn away from the things the secular world considers valuable.