Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Birth of A Child

Christmas. What does this miraculous event mean to those who believe? When God became man in the person of Jesus Christ, He succeeded in both consecrating and redeeming human life in one miraculous moment in time and eternity. This event, in which the Lord became a little child, entrusting himself to the care of a human mother, adds a dimension of holiness to motherhood that is joyously depicted in the nativity scenes of the Christmas season. Yet, the vocation to motherhood and the gift of new life are increasingly devalued in our largely Christian country. The growing specter of over 48 million abortions since 1973 demands nothing less than the full attention of every Christian of our generation, and the lifting of every voice in protest.

The worst crimes against humanity have been perpetrated at those times when certain groups of people are perceived as less than human. The horror of the Holocaust, the tragedy of African slavery, the destruction of Native Americans, and the Rwandan genocide are only a few examples of times when otherwise ordinary, upstanding people participated in unspeakable crimes against entire populations with their society’s tacit approval and seemingly without qualms of conscience.

The holocaust of abortion is being permitted today precisely because many deny the humanity of the unborn child. The fact that life begins at conception is increasingly evident as medical science detects signs of life in the tiniest embryo, which, left to its natural course, will grow into a human child. If the most basic human right to life is unprotected, can any human rights truly be upheld?
In his Gospel of Life, the late Pope John Paul II warns of the dangerous ground we enter when we tolerate the destruction of the most helpless among us:

"A society lacks solid foundations when …
it asserts values such as the dignity of the person,
justice and peace, but … radically acts to the contrary
by allowing human life [to be] devalued and violated,
especially where it is weak or marginalized.
Only respect for life can be the foundation
and guarantee … of democracy and peace."

It is worth noting that, in retrospect, that many believe the Church did not protest loudly enough at the atrocities committed during the Holocaust. How will history judge today’s Christians if we remain silent as the number of abortions continues to mount?  We have reached a crossroads in the history of our nation as Congress deliberates on health care reform and seems about to permanently redefine abortion as "health care."  The time has come for our generation to speak out against this ultimate violence perpetrated against women, children, and families - let your representatives know that abortion is not health care!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

To a Beloved Child of God

In the hope that this message might help even one person who is struggling with pain and terminal illness to choose to live out their life to the last moment and reject the temptation to suicide, the following letter is written from God's perspective, addressed to that one unique, unrepeatable, and valuable person:

Dear One,

You are a child of God, created in His image. Nothing can revoke or remove your inherent dignity. Yes, it is humbling to be helpless, to lose your independence, to need the help of others in your physical distress. But know that you bestow a great gift on your caregivers, who are becoming holier by their service to God, who dwells within you. Remember that Jesus also humbled himself, becoming obedient, even to death on a cross. In your suffering, you are being drawn into that mystery of sacrifice, of redemption, of salvation. You are being drawn closer to Christ. Mother Teresa described what you are going through as a sign that you have come so close to Jesus on the Cross that He can kiss you. This closeness means that you may be pricked by the thorns in His crown or hurt by the nails, but it also gives you the chance to become totally united with Jesus.

Please do not reject the eternal life that Jesus wants to give you. The mystery of suffering may only be fully appreciated when we no longer have the ability to suffer. I heard once that the only two things that make the angels envy us are the Eucharist and suffering. Can you imagine, the angels envy us our ability to suffer with Christ? Reject not the cup which He offers you, it is the cup of salvation – yours, but not yours alone, for the world needs your sacrifice. Offer it for those you love, offer it for the redemption of the world. Reject not the Cross, for it is love. Jesus did not refuse to suffer and die for us, how can we as Christians refuse to suffer with Him?

In your distress, read the Passion accounts in Scripture and ask Jesus to unite your suffering with His. Ask to have the Psalms read to you. Listen to the ancient voices of God’s chosen ones crying out to Him and join your voice to theirs. You are His chosen one, too. God will hear you and comfort you. You are God’s precious child from the moment of your conception to the moment you draw your last breath. Trust in Him. Do not despair, but hope. Be faithful to the very end. Your suffering in this brief life will become the source of your greatest joy in eternity.

Keep your eyes on the Crucified One, and you will be filled with His strength.

True Human Dignity in Life and in Death

         Last November, Washington State became the second in the nation to legalize physician-assisted suicide. This issue affects all of us, especially in these times as we consider what shape health care reform in our country should take. Do we need to protect our “right to die” – or our right to live? The following article is my response to that question, posed by our local newspaper, the Tri-City Herald, in a community conversation in which I participated.


TRUE HUMAN DIGNITY IN LIFE AND IN DEATH

Does it really matter how we describe Initiative 1000? Can’t we agree on a single term, whether it is “death with dignity,” the “right to die,” or “assisted suicide”? Our community conversation at the Tri-City Herald began with this question. We soon acknowledged that our choice of words matters a great deal. Platitudes about “rights” and “dignity” are very appealing, so proponents of the initiative preferred those terms. Opponents opted for the blunt but accurate “physician-assisted suicide.” The word suicide carries negative connotations, so if our goal is to convey the unpleasant reality of what this initiative actually proposes, that term must be used. When someone, whether they are old or young, sick or healthy, takes their own life, it is suicide. Is this the kind of “right” we really want to fight for? Have we as a society so completely lost our collective mind that we are now defending our “right” to choose death by lethal drugs – and do we really want our health care providers to become dealers in death?


Carefully chosen euphemisms can obscure the truth - that a life well lived to its natural end is a beautiful reflection of true human dignity. When my mother died at the age of seventy-five, she seemed old beyond her years. Long years of suffering from multiple illnesses had taken their toll when a final debilitating stroke left her incapacitated, unable to speak, and near death. The family gathered around her, talking to her, offering her sips of water, and coaxing her to eat. She died with my father at her side, holding her hand. For her headstone, my father chose to have an engraving made from a photo taken on their wedding day, when the two first joined hands in a love that would last forever – a photo of their two hands, adorned with wedding bands.

Love is truly all that lasts forever. Pride melts away, replaced by humility, but this does not rob us of dignity. It is part of our preparation for eternal life, where only love remains. It spoke volumes to me to realize the depth of my parents’ love for one another. What message is conveyed to our children if we choose to dispense with a terminally ill loved one rather than offering them the comfort and reassurance they need at their most difficult hour?

Some years later, at the age of eighty-two, my father was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. The tumor caused him great pain when swallowing but because of his age, he was discouraged from seeking aggressive treatment. Finally, he found a doctor who promised that surgery would restore pain-free swallowing. However, complications during the surgery resulted in a difficult recovery. When he was well enough to resume eating, he found it impossible to swallow at all. After a month in a rehab facility with no progress, he was told that he might need feeding tubes the rest of his life and sent home without a glimmer of hope for a normal life. Two more months passed without change, and my father began to wonder if life was worth living. Perhaps if some misguided “angel of mercy” had appeared at that time with a lethal dose of drugs, offering him the “right” to “die with dignity,” my father would be in his grave today. But just one month later, after connecting with the right therapist, he regained his ability to swallow. It was not long before the family celebrated his return to health with a steak dinner at his favorite restaurant.
 
“It’s on me,” Dad said, “This could have been my funeral.”

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Nature of Marriage

When I was expecting my daughter, my obstetrician didn’t prescribe an elaborate diet, but gave me these simple words of advice: “Choose foods that are as close as possible to their natural state.” Nourishment is abundant in the foods that nature provides. What can be learned by applying that same approach to questions concerning marriage, sexuality, reproductive health, and family?

Consider the human body. Men and women naturally complete one another in the sexual union, and together have the potential to generate life. No such natural physical union or capacity for reproduction is possible in a homosexual relationship.

Consider the children. Extensive research shows that the traditional family with two biological parents provides the best possible environment for children. (For links to research, visit the American College of Pediatricians website: http://www.acpeds.org/ ). Same-sex unions deprive any children involved of their right to parents of both sexes.

Consider the reproductive system. Same-sex couples (or heterosexual couples who contracept throughout their child-bearing years) miss having the children they naturally desire. Many such couples turn to artificial fertility technologies. These costly and difficult technologies are a poor substitute for nature.

Consider what it says to a little girl to discover her mother was a paid surrogate, or what it means to a boy to realize fatherhood can be reduced to a sperm donation.

Consider the young people. With the push to normalize homosexuality, adolescents may be encouraged to seek a permanent solution to a transient gender identity crisis. The girl who was abused by her father, the boy whose dad abandoned him, the young woman whose lover pressured her to abort a child: all desire love and family, but the wounds they carry may not have healed and they turn to a person of the same sex, someone who seems safe. They are in need of compassion and guidance, not sex-change surgery or same-sex marriage. No one is born with the wrong body. We each have the body nature intended for us, even those who face disabilities or challenges - including the challenge of same-sex attraction.

Consider the human race. Same-sex marriage, widely practiced and accepted, is cultural suicide. Children are our hope for the future.

Consider why we insist on holistic health care in other areas but have become convinced that reproductive health is best achieved through unnatural means. Abortion, artificial contraception, sterilization, homosexuality and sexual promiscuity are routinely promoted by the very agency that claims to provide women’s healthcare – Planned Parenthood.

Consider the fruits of following this agenda for nearly forty years: rampant STDs, pornography, infertility, post-abortion trauma, increased homosexuality, and family breakdowns. Yet, popular wisdom insists Planned Parenthood is the premier women’s healthcare provider and our government funds them with millions in tax dollars. If you wonder what Planned Parenthood’s motive is, read their plan for population reduction in the U.S., compiled in 1970 by Frederick Jaffe, at this web site: http://uscl.info/edoc/doc.php?doc_id=49&action=inline

Finally, consider who is being targeted for this population reduction – those who Planned Parenthood’s founder, Margaret Sanger, referred to as “human weeds.” Could it be your children – and mine?

With gratitude for her lifetime of work, I dedicate this article to Jacqueline Kasun, pro-life activist and author of "The War Against Population," (1999, Ignatius Press), who died on January 1st, 2009.

In a 2007 tribute to his mother, Jacqueline Kasun's son Walter said, "It is the power of ideas, widely disseminated, that will win the war against tyranny and oppression in this world.”

Lifesite News reports on her life and legacy: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2009/jan/09010713.html

Saturday, January 17, 2009

To our Legislators: Reject FOCA!

You are welcome to copy and mail this open letter to the Senators who are sponsoring FOCA, the Freedom of Choice Act:

As a voter in this great country, I would like to express my profound opposition to the Freedom of Choice Act. I am deeply saddened to see that you are one of the sponsors of this act. Abortion is the greatest injustice of our times, the legalization of which has resulted in an almost inconceivable 50 million deaths of innocent children in the most vulnerable stage of life, and left an equal number of women traumatized. If you truly care about victims of violence, you could not sponsor an act like FOCA, which threatens to wipe out the very modest legal protections that women and children have gained against the ultimate act of violence against them - abortion.

It is appalling that in many states, children of any age can already obtain both surgical and chemical abortions, abortifacient drugs, and the questionable “counsel” of abortion providers without their parents’ knowledge or consent. Parents are their children’s chief advocates and protectors, yet this legislation now threatens to usurp parental authority nationwide and hand it to abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. This is all the more disturbing considering the fact that Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers will financially benefit from the enshrinement of unrestricted abortion.

The passage of FOCA will also deny medical personnel and hospital facilities their “freedom of choice” by undermining conscience clauses everywhere, impacting Catholic hospitals, nursing schools, and physicians nationwide. Late term abortions limits will be revoked as well, and grassroots efforts to end abortion will be viewed as interference with the “civil right” to abortion. This is a devastating blow to all people of good faith in this country who have worked to end abortion and provide women and children with support during crisis pregnancies.

I call on all Catholic politicians to either abide by Church teachings on the abortion issue, or to voluntarily stop receiving the Eucharist because you have chosen to leave the communion of the Catholic Church and are creating confusion and scandal by your actions.

John Paul II's message to women who have had an abortion

As the 36th anniversary of Roe V Wade approaches, with nearly 50 million children lost to abortion and an equal number of women and families wounded, I would like to share the words of our late, great, Holy Father John Paul II in his message to women who have had an abortion from Evangelium Vitae, the Gospel of Life:

"I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You will come to understand that nothing is definitively lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child, who is now living in the Lord. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone's right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life."
Evangelium Vitae, Paragraph 99

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Problem with Same-Sex Marriage

There is a growing movement today to redefine the meaning of marriage and expand this term, which has always described the union of one man and one woman in that unique relationship which provides the basis of a human family, to include homosexual relationships. After all, shouldn’t we live and let live? Who, other than religious bigots or homophobes, would object to this redefinition of marriage?

Whether we are deeply religious or avowed atheists, “straight” or “gay”, our natural intelligence should warn us all to object. Changing laws and attitudes concerning marriage already indicate what the consequences of this politically motivated movement will be. Here are just a few instances:

· In August 2008, a gay woman won the “right” to an artificial insemination procedure despite the objection of her Christian fertility doctors when the Californian Supreme Court determined that her doctors have “neither a free speech right nor a religious exemption” that would allow them to follow their consciences.

· In Massachusetts, the first state to recognize same-sex marriage, Catholic Charities was forced out of the adoption business in 2006, after serving the public for over 100 years finding homes for orphaned and special needs children, because they refused to compromise their belief that children need both a father and a mother.

· Also in Massachusetts, parent David Parker was arrested, jailed, and banned from his child’s school for requesting the right to opt his kindergartener out of lessons on homosexuality.

It is no coincidence that these cases are first occurring in places where gay marriage has been recognized. In these instances, gay “rights” were victorious. But who are the losers? Doctors and religious agencies lose their freedom of conscience; parents lose their right to determine the best education for their children; and children lose their right to have both a mother and a father, although studies consistently show that the best environment for children is the traditional family with two biological parents (for links to research, visit the American College of Pediatricians website: www.acpeds.org).

If same-sex marriage becomes a civil right, who will be the next to lose their freedom of speech and conscience? We must recognize the destructive effects of redefining both marriage and civil rights. Sexual orientation is not the same as race, creed, or color. We have no civil right to view child pornography or to marry multiple partners because these acts are harmful to children and families – and to society. For the same reason, we must reject this radical redefinition of the family. The family is defined by nature – yes, men and women really do need each other. Although we are autonomous in many ways, when it comes to marriage and family, we complete each other in a unique and beautiful way that is literally life-giving. True marital love is not a matter of demanding rights, but of offering the gift of self to the other, and desiring the highest good for the beloved. From this gift of self, new life is conceived – a miracle that can never happen naturally in a same-sex union. Our children are our future. Desire the highest good for them.

Nicholas Kristof's Birth Control Advice Hurts Women and Demeans the Poor

Photo from theFederalist.com     My response to a New York Times article by Nicholas Kristof promoting birth control for teens was ...