Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fr. Robert Barron's reply to the new atheists.

Magadan, Russia: Where Abortion Means 'Birth Control'

Rachel's Vineyard, the retreat process for healing after abortion created by Theresa Burke Ph.D., now has a worldwide reach. This outreach now includes Russia, where the numbers of women who have had multiple abortions are astronomical, and the need for healing is vast.

This article, reprinted on the Priests for Life website, tells of the critical need that led to the establishment of a Russian Rachel's Vineyard team.
Magadan, Russia: Where abortion means 'birth control'
By Effie Caldarola
Tidings Online, 7/2/2006

Five women, 47 abortions.
The numbers are almost too much to absorb.
When Father Mike Shields spoke at our parish about his work in Magadan, Russia, you could almost see the people in the pews doing the ghastly math.
I've written about Father Shields before. He is our Anchorage native son who felt God's call to "pray in the camps." Since 1990 he has followed that call to Magadan, a city created by Stalin's government in far-eastern Russia as a gateway to the hard labor camps where millions of Russians died.
"Say 'Magadan' in Russia and you hear 'Auschwitz,'" said Father Shields.
Abortion rates are astronomical in Russia; for many, abortion serves as a form of birth control. In Magadan Father Shields ministers to the many women who've experienced this common but deadly procedure. In retreats called "Rachel's Vineyard," he and others help women walk toward the healing that God's grace can provide after abortion.
"At the end of the retreat, we have a naming ceremony," said Father Shields. Each woman lights a candle and names her aborted child.
During the last ceremony there were five women. And they had 47 children to name.
"We said the Litany of the Saints instead for all those children now with God," said the priest.
Magadan still lives enshrouded under the burden of its past. It was a place where the political dissident, the hardened criminal or the plain unlucky rotted together. Everyone left is a descendant or survivor of that brutality. Every building project, the priest said, turns up more bones.
When Father Shields, still handsome and athletic in his mid-50s, was ordained for the Archdiocese of Anchorage, parishioners weren't surprised to see him gliding through the neighborhood on his roller blades. He was an accomplished skier who once climbed Mt. McKinley, North America's highest peak.
Today he wears the gray habit, emblazoned with a red heart and cross, which he has adopted for his work in Russia. With a spirituality based on that of Blessed Charles de Foucauld, Father Shields lives together with two other men as the Brothers of the Heart of Jesus.
Incredibly, Father Shields' parish hosts the only Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in Magadan, a city of 130,000 in a country drowning in alcoholism. An Anchorage Catholic quickly offered to buy the AA books.
"We didn't need books," explained the priest. "What we needed were pamphlets we could hand out everywhere inviting people to come to AA." So the donor arranged for pamphlets to be printed in New York and shipped directly to Moscow, then on to Magadan. In a country still recovering from the inefficient Soviet system, all mail coming into the country still passes through Moscow.
The Anchorage Archdiocese, in service to the Russian bishop of Irkutsk, overseas and financially supports Father Shields' parish, the Church of the Nativity, in Magadan. The church, in a city mired in depressing Stalin-era architecture, is an attractive new building with offices and a food kitchen.
The night my husband and I took Father Shields to the airport for his long return flight to Magadan --- through Atlanta and Moscow --- we had dinner in a restaurant that happened to have some foreign staff. It wasn't long before the garrulous priest had struck up a conversation --- in Russian --- with a young Polish busboy. Although we had no clue what the words were, it was apparent when the boy asked the priest where he came from in Russia.
"Magadan?" the boy repeated with surprise and obvious revulsion.
"See?" Father Shields flashed us a knowing smile. "Everyone knows about Magadan."

Effie Caldarola is a columnist with Catholic News Service


Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Politics of the Washington State Budget Cuts

This issue should be important to all who value life, especially those who care about the lives of the most vulnerable of our citizens. Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire's recent budget proposal slashes vital services to the disabled, including cutting payment for pharmaceuticals for Medicaid patients. For the permanently disabled adults who need medication, this is a matter of life and death.

It is especially important to those who care for the disabled. My friend Margaret and her husband are the legal guardians of a developmentally disabled young man with severe autism. They took in this young man when his parents were unable to continue to care for him (due to health reasons of their own) because of their strong belief in the inherent dignity and value of every human life. Their dedication and care for him has stabilized and transformed his life, costing the state little to nothing, but the little help they get is now being slashed. People with severe disabling conditions will never be able to be self-supporting and certainly represent the most vulnerable among us, yet this is what is targeted for cuts. This impacts not only the individual families and caregivers, but also the group homes that depend on the medical assistance and the social security disability payments to be able to continue operating. This comes at a time when such homes are already struggling and closing their doors. Gregoire also plans to close a ward at Western State mental hospital, leaving fewer and fewer options for care of the developmentally disabled and the mentally ill.

Gov. Gregoire's plan also calls for eliminating Basic Health, the state's insurance program for the poor, eliminating care for poor women in high risk pregnancies, while barely touching "family planning" funds. And who does Gregoire blame for the cuts? Not state and national spending, but she blasts "Wall Street" and claims the answer is to raise taxes. But would these taxes be earmarked for the disabled? Or is Gregoire using the vulnerable and poor people of our state as pawns in a political game? Is a health care crisis being created where there was none, then as we have heard before, not letting the crisis "go to waste" but using it as a means to your political ends.

At the same time, Planned Parenthood's Northwest region has been awarded $20 million this year to do teen outreach from the Dept. of Health and Human Services, while they continue to receive Title X funding. This in addition to the recent mandate by HHS leader Katherine Sebelius that all contraception, including the morning after pill and sterilization is to be covered by insurance with no co-pays regardless of the patient's ability to pay, with no opt out for conscience protections - the conscience protection that is allowed is so narrow that Catholic hospitals and institutions would not qualify, since they serve people of all religions, not just Catholics. This demonstrates the reason the pro-life movement fought Obamacare, because throughout this huge law, authority is given to presidential appointee Sebelius to mandate what she wants without congressional approval.

Instead of prioritizing state spending to protect the vulnerable and uninsured, Gov. Gregoire comes out with a speech blaming Wall Street. While at the same time, SEIU, who is one of the biggest supporters of the movement to blame the country’s economic woes on Wall Street, stands against Gregoire’s cuts. SEIU, who was also one of the biggest forces behind the push for a single payer health care mandate, is purporting to fight the cuts to these programs, while it seems that the Governor and big labor have an identical agenda. Is the slashing of health care being used to create a crisis? You decide.

The pro-life movement that must stand for life, for all, the disabled, the unborn, the elderly, the sick, because of the direction this nation is taking in this regard. Some see the disabled as "useless consumers" - let's take a stand for the value and gift of every human person.

Please contact your state legislators and let them know your stand on this issue. Here is a link to the budget proposal: http://www.ofm.wa.gov/reductions/alternatives/default.asp
If you would like to contact your Washington State legislator on this issue, here is a link to contact information: https://dlr.leg.wa.gov/MemberEmail/Default.aspx

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross - Edith Stein

"My Lord, God, you have led me by a long dark path, rocky and hard/
often my strength threatened to fail me/
I almost lost all hope of seeing the light/
but when my heart grew numb with deepest grief/
a clear star rose for me/
steadfast it guided me- I followed/
at first reluctant, but more confidentl­y later/
At last I stood at Church's gate/
it opened, I sought admission/
from your priest's mouth, your blessing greets me/
red blossom stars show me the path to you...
now I can shout it out, I believe, I profess!" --

Edith Stein,
Jewish atheist,
Catholic convert,
Carmelite nun,
martyr at Auschwitz,
Catholic saint  

The Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street

Just like the Arab Spring, the Occupy Wall Street "youth" movement is being orchestrat­ed and funded by others who seek power for themselves­. What dictator is OWS trying to depose, Pres. Obama? He may be on his way to being a dictator, but not yet. The government oversteppe­d its authority, using tax money to subsidize big business, Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac, favors for big unions, bailouts for Wall St. - this was done by our Democrat controlled Congress and Pres. Obama, who received the lion's share of campaign donations from Wall Street - why is this protest against the bankers instead of the Democrats? 

Those who believe that collapsing our economy will benefit the "99%" are not facing reality.  With the collapse of our free market economy will come chaos, poverty and hunger. Will "the people" then be bailed out by government, and if so, for what cost?  The loss of our freedom and the end of the American way of life. There's a reason why immigrants seek to come to the US - they come seeking freedom that they can attain here because of the free market economy, which makes it possible for anyone to take a little initiative and work hard and make a good life. If you want to live under a Hugo Chavez or a Castro, or in any communist country, go ahead.  There are many countries where the people live under the oppressive dictators but only one U.S.A.  Once the U.S. capitulate­s to the communist ideal, there will be no place left that offers freedom.

Just as the Egyptian military mowed down the peaceful protest by the persecuted Coptic Christians­, once these Occupy Wall Street protesters are no longer useful to those who are manipulati­ng and funding these protests, their rights will vanish. Trading Mubarek for the Muslim Brotherhoo­d and the military didn't bring freedom for minorities or women in Egypt, nor will it bring freedom in the US once we trade the free market for socialism.

The Nature of the Catholic Priesthood

There is such vast misunderst­anding of the nature of the priesthood­, and such vast commentary everywhere by those who hate the Catholic Church. But those who really know and understand what the Church teaches can't help but fall in love with her. Yes, the Church is feminine, just as the priesthood is masculine, and the Church can no more undo that reality as God created it than she can declare a man "mother" or a woman "father". It can't be done by lists of signatures or by politicall­y correct rhetoric, because it does not reflect reality as revealed in the very nature of humanity. 
The Catholic Church teaches reverence and respect for both men and women, yet is reviled, while the world denigrates women by making them sexual objects and is lauded. It makes no sense. The Catholic Church teaches that man and woman, together, are created in the image of God. The Catholic Church teaches that God chose a young virgin to become his own mother, and that she is to be honored and revered, as all women are meant to be honored. Christ took the Church as His Bride, sanctified her and loves her and died for her. We are the Bride. The priest stands "in persona Christi" as the Bridegroom­. The mystery of God's infinite love, told in the beautiful language of human marital love. Ephesians 5.  

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 ...