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.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Grow old for thee but not in front of me


When speaking of the overwhelming disrespect given to the elderly in our society, my father often relates a quip said to him by a colleague who hailed from a Southeast Asian country: "Americans live with their dogs and treat them like people and put out their old people [in nursing homes]; we live with our elders, giving them the utmost respect and eat our dogs."  Though a bit of a grotesque image, it makes the point.  The elderly deserve our respect and attention.  

Why is it, that in the wealthiest country in the world, we have so many nursing homes?  For most of civilization, the elderly lived with their families when they were no longer able to care for themselves.  Grandparents or great aunts and uncles spent quiet time with the children, giving advice, telling stories, loving them faithfully.  Especially in larger families, where perhaps children cannot always receive undivided attention from an adult, the elderly can give the attention and affirmation children need. They no longer could work, but always could love.  Living with younger family in close quarters can be very difficult on both parties, but patience and humility will abound if prayerfully sought.  We can imitate our Lord in this regard for surely Christ, Himself, was very attentive to His grandparents, Anne & Joachim.  

The instances of living with and taking care of family have gradually disappeared for many reasons.  In America, the advent of Social Security was a greater hindrance to the family than most realize.  Paul A. Rahe, professor of History at Hillsdale College, wrote a very interesting piece a few weeks ago which touched upon this subject:
"And [the bishops] welcomed Social Security . . . They did not stop to ponder whether public provision in this regard would subvert the moral principle that children are responsible for the well-being of their parents. They did not stop to consider whether this measure would reduce the incentives for procreation and nourish the temptation to think of sexual intercourse as an indoor sport. They did not stop to think."
Of course, government assistance and abundant wealth have seemingly obscured the obligation and duty to care for one's relatives.  There is a hardly a need to take in an elderly relative when most have the money to pay for assisted living or nursing homes.  But, by not living with the elderly or being around them often, people give in to their most selfish tendencies.  They who were once proud and strong in their youth have become needy and helpless (if not physically yet, at least emotionally).  

Yet there is another, more subtle reason, for inattentiveness to the elderly.  Young and middle-aged people do not want to acknowledge their own immortality, their own humanity.  The fact, that at some point, they too will be old and needy.  There is a very poignant scene in an old movie from the sixties entitled The Trouble with Angels.  (The film is a comedy which makes its more serious moments stand out all the more.)  In the scene, the students are helping out at a Christmas party at a nursing home when the protagonist, Mary, overhears a tearful elderly woman pour out her sorrows to the Mother Superior.  She tells her how her children never visit, and have not asked her to either; she recounts how much she loves them, and how much did for them as children.  This heart-wrenching scene forces Mary to confront the Mother Superior, telling her," I hope I die young. . . " Mary vicariously, albeit briefly, experiences this woman's loneliness, understanding what Mother Theresa deeply understood: "Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the greatest poverty."

The United States does not have the extreme material poverty present in most other countries, but it does have an abundance of elderly and lonely people.  It is much easier to care for the poor by giving away clothes, or writing a check.  And this is very important to do, as Christ told us that "to whom much is given, much is expected." (Despite what some believe, I am pretty sure Our Lord meant for us to give to the poor, not the government.)  

But how much harder is it to also make the time to visit a lonely relative?  To pick up the phone and call?  To write a note?  To have someone over for dinner?  To prayerfully consider welcoming a relative to one's home to live?
"For if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do the same. If you lend money to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit [is] that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, and get back the same amount" (Luke 6: 32-34)
 Respect for life means reverence for the dignity each individual person in our world, and in our everyday lives.  Let us seek to pay particular attention to those who are do not always receive this most deserved reverence.  It is helpful to remember that we are all made in the image and likeness of God.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It's not about Women's Health


In the recent debate about the HHS mandate, that forces private insurers to pay for contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients, the administration and its allies have constantly emphasized that this is about "women's health". While it is important to repeat the mantra that this is about "conscience, not contraception", we should also expose the ridiculousness of this argument.  The International Agency for Research on Cancer, an arm of the UN, lists birth control as a Class I carcinogen.  (Its important to note that the UN is hardly in the business of revealing the cancerous nature of the pill considering it forces underdeveloped countries to accept it, and other forms of birth control, in exchange for humanitarian aid.)

One cannot even say its about women's empowerment.  Ironically, though the Left often argues that the Pill gave women more power by giving them the choice when to have children, it actually enslaved them to men and forced women to relinquish their greatest power: the power and choice to say "no."  Of course, the abuse of women existed since the beginning of time, but never did women consent to it as they do now.  Removing the intended and logical consequence of sexual intercourse (conception) allowed men to never have to accept "no" for an answer.  Women have become powerless (outside and inside marriage), and the curse of Eve continues: ". . he shall rule over you".  (Gen. 3:16)  

Two women (one an author, the other an economist) have written an excellent article over at National Review dissecting this issue further, debunking the myths about empowerment and health and putting forth a logical argument for natural family planning.  I encourage you to read it. (The Pill is Not Good for Women)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Beautiful Video and Startling Truth


I happened upon this video today.  It visualizes the journey from conception to birth.  Miraculous and mysterious are the most appropriate and applicable terms for this journey.

In addition, here is an excellent piece by George Weigel from yesterday, entitled "The Libertine Police State".

Thursday, February 2, 2012

February 3rd Fast

"Everything has a particular end and obeys a law.  Everything develops toward a predestined end.  God has traced a way for each of us. . .  Both our earthly and eternal happiness depends on following our vocation very carefully." (St. Gianna)
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. . ." (Jer. 1:5)  Since the beginning of time God chose each one of us for greatness: to be with Him forever in eternal happiness.  To attain that end, He has a set a specific path for each one of us to follow.  He sets this path to lead each of us to the source of eternal Love: Himself.  Our vocation is our path; it is our way to heaven.  One must be determined to have his prime focus be on this path.  Nothing should deter him from his purpose: to embrace the life God has given him and to look nowhere else for peace, joy, and happiness.

Before we are called to a vocation, it is common to question the call, and ask ourselves whether we are up to the great task God has set before us.  Even after we enter our vocation, we may struggle some days, frustrated by our own weaknesses.  Yet, God would not have called us to a particular state of life if He did not give us the grace sufficient to live it.  Not only that, as our Creator, He knows us more intimately than any other soul and knows our weaknesses but also knows our strengths.  We must be confident that He has prepared us for our vocation.

In knowing that, we must embrace our vocation whole-heartedly.  The reason for our existence is to "know, love and serve God in this world so as to be happy with Him in the next."  Our vocation is the means and the way to attain our ultimate end.  In this age of self-service rather than self-sacrifice, a time when fidelity is no longer seen as a virtue but as an out-of-date ideal, it is extremely important to "follow our vocation very carefully." God Bless you!

More of the Same


Another interesting article about the emerging war between Church and State.  Despite popular thinking to the contrary, there are people who actually believe and live the Church's teaching on life and are in prominent positions.  From Senator Marco Rubio, a rising political star from Florida:
"Rubio, who opposes abortion rights, told POLITICO that he and his wife personally adhere to the church’s dictates on contraception. (“I can tell you that none of my children were planned,” he said with a chuckle.)" 
Read the rest here.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The War Won but the Battles continue


A couple important news stories for today:

First, conservative columnist, and Catholic mother, Michelle Malkin wrote a great piece today about the Obama administration's assault on religious liberty, appropriately entitled "First, they Came for the Catholics."

Second, a great victory for pro-lifers: the Susan G. Komen foundation has defunded Planned Parenthood.  Read the story here.