The attack on marriage is really an attack on the human person, and his dignity, for the devil seeks to pervert our true purpose, to pervert God's holy design. For many of us, we cannot march in protests or write dozens of letters or call numerous times to urge legislators to vote for the Truth. But one thing we can all do is pray and fast. We have designated one day each week to fast for these intentions:

1. That marriage may be preserved, promoted, and understood as God's plan for creation.

2. For all marriages that they may reflect the love of the Trinity.

3. For broken marriages that Christ bring healing and conversion to the spouses' souls.

4. For those who are married, for the sanctification of their marriage and their spouse. For those who are single, for their future spouse and vocation.

Monday, October 31, 2011

All Hallows Eve


Happy All Hallows Eve!  There is a great article posted today by a Dominican priest about Halloween, giving the history of the day and its Catholic roots. I always thought that the ghouls and ghosts were modern inventions but apparently not:
"It seems Irish Catholic peasants wondered about the unfortunate souls in hell. After all, if the souls in hell are left out when we celebrate those in heaven and purgatory (All Saints Day and All Souls Day), they might be unhappy enough to cause trouble. So it became customary to bang pots and pans on All Hallows Even to let the damned know they were not forgotten. . . .
And the tradition of dressing up actually came from the French:
 ". . .  this custom arose in France during the 14th and 15th centuries. Late medieval Europe was hit by repeated outbreaks of the bubonic plague — the Black Death — and she lost about half her population. It is not surprising that Catholics became more concerned about the afterlife. More Masses were said on All Souls’ Day, and artistic representations were devised to remind everyone of their own mortality.  We know these representations as the "Dance Macabre" or "Dance of Death," which was commonly painted on the walls of cemeteries and shows the devil leading a daisy chain of people — popes, kings, ladies, knights, monks, peasants, lepers, etc. — into the tomb.  Sometimes the dance was presented on All Souls’ Day itself as a living tableau with people dressed up in the garb of various states of life. "
 Read the rest of the article here to found out how the two traditions eventually intermingled and how trick-or-treating came into the mix.

There is an ongoing controversy as to whether we, as Christians, should participate in a day that the culture uses to promote the occult.  Indeed the emphasis on the day has become similar to Christmas (in the commercial sense) with the seasonal costume stores set up like Christmas shops, and decorations on the lawns.  Yet many Catholics have found a great way to bring it back to it Christian roots by emphasizing the feast of All Saints Day. By dressing as and learning about the saints, children get excited about the faith through the lives of these inspiring men and women.  We can also take it as a tool of evangelization if we go throughout our neighborhoods trick-or-treating as the saints, being little lights for Christ. 

We can go one step further by reminding ourselves, our children, and our friends that November is the month of All Souls.  The souls are helpless without our prayers, and many are just waiting to be released from purgatory so they can enjoy eternal happiness in heaven.  Pray for the souls you knew and those who have no one to pray for them.  Have a holy day!

Update: As regards to Guy Fawkes Day (which was mentioned in the linked article), it is important to point out the following:  the author of the article failed to point out that this day of "celebration" in England has been historically marked by acts of violence against Catholics.   Raucous crowds often gathered to burn the pope in effigy.  Though the anti-Catholic nature and rhetoric have been toned down, its still important to note its origins.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Encouraging Signs in the Fight for Life


Everyday we are seeing more encouraging signs in the fight for life.  Thomas Peters, over at Catholicvote, reports that a new Arizona law has already produced a drop in abortion rates.  This law did not even restrict abortion: it requires parental consent for a minor, legally bounds providers to give women accurate information about the abortion and other choices, enforces a 24 hour waiting period, and requires a licensed doctor to perform the abortions.

This law, of course, caused an uproar among the abortion lobby and Planned Parenthood community, just as in Virginia, when AG Ken Cuccinelli required clinics to go by the same regulations as hospitals.  Nothing should surprise us any longer about the abortion community's responses to common-sense laws.  These laws do not even address the personhood of the baby in the womb, and yet are still attacked.  Why?  Because even though they might not be revealing the whole truth, they are leading people to the truth and NOW and Planned Parenthood and NARAL must know that when people get a piece of it, they are going to eventually look for the whole of it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Real Life Love Story


Marriage may be under attack from all sides, but there are still many who hold a high regard for it.  A couple in Iowa, who were married 72 years, died yesterday holding hands in the hospital.  Here is an excerpt from the article:
"Gordon died at 3:38 p.m. holding hands with his wife as the family they built surrounded them.
'It was really strange, they were holding hands, and dad stopped breathing but I couldn't figure out what was going on because the heart monitor was still going,' said Dennis Yeager. 'But we were like, he isn't breathing. How does he still have a heart beat? The nurse checked and said that's because they were holding hands and it's going through them. Her heart was beating through him and picking it up.'
'They were still getting her heartbeat through him,' said Donna Sheets. 
At 4:48 p.m., exactly one hour after Gordon died, Norma passed too. "
 In the movie, Shenandoah Valley, a young man asks to marry Jimmy Stewart's daughter.  Jimmy Stewart asks him, "Do you like her?" His reply is,"Yes, I love her."  Bu then, Stewart's character agains poses the question, "I did not asked if you loved her, but if you liked her?"  Marriage is a beautiful vocation but it can only be truly enjoyed by both spouses when their love transcends the initial excitement and passion. How wonderful it is when it deepens to an enduring friendship!  It is a cliche to say our spouse is our best friend, but it should be an aim of all marriages to be each other's closest companion.  So many great saints experienced this strong bond of friendship both within and outside of marriage: Clare and Francis, Benedict and Scholastica, Francis de Sales and Jane Frances de Chantal are examples of those lived outside of it.  Even though "at the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage but are like the angels of heaven." (Mt. 22: 30)   I do know that there will be friendship in heaven. Praise God for the love He has given to us to have and share with others! 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

No Greater Love. . .


Fortunately, it has become rarer that women die in childbirth due to the tremendous advances in medicine over the past fifty years or so.  However, it is sometimes still the case that a woman must choose between her own life and her unborn child's.  A brave, single mother in Oklahoma recently made the ultimate sacrifice for her little girl, Dottie Mae.  Read about it here.

The story not only proves the strength of love but family as well.  The woman, Stacie Crimm, was unmarried but this did not deter her resolve to bring her child into this world.  She asked her brother to care for her infant if she did not survive.  And he and his wife are now raising Dottie Mae with their four children.  Would her decision have been different if she was not close with her brother?  Perhaps, but hopefully not.  It is obvious, though that close family ties both support and encourage life-affirming decisions.

Monday, October 17, 2011

No Men Allowed


 Bill Bennet has an excellent article today in reference to the disturbing subject of the decline of men (or what some would call a "crisis of maturity"). It's a short but compelling read.

It does look like a lot of young men today appear to be stuck in their adolescent years, whether it's seen in their decision to delay marriage,  refusal to get a serious job (or at least put themselves on a career path), or remain dependent on their parents long after college.  Troubling symptoms of this "crisis of maturity" include: a near-addiction to technological stimulation (internet, TV, video games), drinking, and, in some cases, struggling to converse about anything other than sports or pop-culture. 

Sadly, this problem is not relegated to the secular sphere alone.  Despite a renewal of faith in young adult Christian communities, many Christian men remain unwilling to commit to a vocation.  The intellect may be more tuned in some men, but the lack of maturity - and putting off one's calling (another "vocations crisis" so to speak) persists.

The truth is the Feminist Movement  (via contraception and abortion) not only deeply wounded women by divorcing the natural desire to be a mother, but it also divorced men away from their natural desire to father and take responsibility. 

Men can be strong and virtuous. The heralded knights of medieval times not only displayed heroic actions but heroic virtue as well.  We can cultivate virtue by encouraging responsibility: responsibility for actions, trusting boys and men to first take charge of themselves (physically, mentally, morally) and then trusting them to care for others.  

 Women love to be in control, and allow their men to take a back seat.  As a woman to other women: let's allow them to drive the car again. And men, don't wait for women to hand you the keys, take them from her and take some responsibility.

As an aside, one organization with a long and proud track record of producing men who are strong in character and leadership is the Boy Scouts of America.  This is their Oath:

 On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country;
To obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

And what is the Scout Law? "A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent."  Qualities we all like to see in the men we love, no?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

October 7th Fast


"But a rosary, dear sons and daughters, also means that the mysteries of your future will not always consist of joy alone; they will sometimes bring providential suffering as well.  It is the law of every human life, as every stem of roses, that flowers are mixed with thorns. . . As you have received and will receive joys - those of today and those of tomorrow- with loving gratitude and wise moderation, so too you will receive in a spirit of faith and submission the sorrowful mysteries of the future, when their hour comes.  Mysteries? This is the name which man frequently gives to grief, for although he does not usually seek a justification for joys, he seeks blindly on the other hand for the causes of his misfortunes, and his suffering is twice as great when he cannot discover the reason here on earth.  The Virgin of the Rosary, who is also the Virgin standing on Calvary, will teach you to stay erect under the Cross, however dark its shadow may be, so that from the example of this "Sorrowful Mother" and "Queen of Martyrs" you may understand that the designs of God are infinitely beyond the comprehension of men, and even though they may break our hearts, they are inspired by the most tender love for our souls." 
(Dear Newlyweds, pp.262-263, Pope Pius XII) 

Marriage and life are full of many joys and sufferings.  We are given foretastes of heaven in the midst of our joys, truly feeling His presence and gladly praising God for his many blessings.  But in the midst of sorrow, we can forget sometimes that God is still with us. But also, we are with God.  If we turn our hearts towards Him, we can see Christ on the Cross, and be with Him, comforting Him as He comforts us.  And we do not need to wait for great sorrows or tragedies to happen, to comfort our dear Lord on the Cross.  The fruit of the fifth sorrowful mystery is perseverance.  Most of our sufferings are our daily sacrifices, the drudgery of the office or the home can be our mini Calvary.  But if we persevere with selfless love on Calvary, we can climb to its heights of True Love.  God always revealed Himself on a Mountain: to Moses on Sinai, to Elijah on Horeb, to Peter, James, and John on Tabor.  He now reveals himself on Calvary to us in the ultimate act of love.  As we fast today, lets remember Ps. 126: “Those who sow in tears will reap in joy.”  

And, on this feast of the Holy Rosary and in this month dedicated to Our Lady, lets place our hearts and our families under her mantle! 

"My Kingdom is not of this Earth"


Another reminder today that are government is run by men.  While speaking at a fundraiser last night, President Obama bantered back and forth with an audience member, joking about the new HHS regulation that will force all private insurance companies to pay for contraception. (When the audience member shouted,"Darn right" in response to Obama's mentioning the regulation, the President shouted back,"Darn tooting") The religious exemption clause is so narrow, that I doubt any camel could fit through its eye.  In fact, the Bishops have said that not even Jesus would qualify.  We need to remember that contraception is one of, if not the, root cause of the breakdown of the family, and this promotion and coercion by the government can lead us down the road to the Chinese coercive culture of death.

So what should we do?  We can try to influence our legislatures by writing and calling, but we can also continue to live in life-affirming ways.  Like the early Christians, we live in a very pagan culture that muddles morality and seems blind to objective truths.  But the faith blossomed, not because of the preaching of the pastors, but because of the witness of the martyrs: in their deaths, but also in their lives.  Only those who were baptized could attend Holy Mass because of the dangers of persecution, so others must have come to the faith through the lives of their Christian neighbors.  We too can do this!  "By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:35)

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Prayer without politics


Happy Feast of St. Francis of Assisi!  I have decided to try to blog a bit more than just first Fridays as I come upon different stories of interest each week.

In these times when priests and bishops succumb to the pressures of the world, we should applaud and be proud of those who are given the grace to stand up for marriage and Truth.  With the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military chaplains have now been pressured to perform wedding ceremonies in military chapels.  Archbishop Broglio, of the Military Archdiocese, has stood strong in the face of intense pressure.  Here is the story.

St. Francis had a great love for the Baby Jesus as he was the first to construct the Creche, the Nativity scene.  During this current 40 Days for Life campaign (for those who are unfamiliar with this apostolate please see the link to the right for more information) we are reminded of one of the greatest tragedies that stem from the breakdown of marriage: the destruction of life.  Click on the video below to listen to audio of an Abby Johnson speech last night (its only about 8 minutes).  (Abby Johnson was a former director of a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Texas). One of the best lines was when she said "I was not voted out of the clinic, I was prayed out."