H/T Love Undefiled
Steve Chapman, Reason Magazine / April 23, 2007
Most Supreme Court decisions can be read over breakfast, at least after your first cup of coffee, but the one last week upholding a federal ban on partial-birth abortion is not one of them. This procedure is one of those topics, like war and sausage, in which ignorance is bliss. But five justices refused to be accomplices in shielding the public from the truth.
The court cited one nurse's account of this procedure. The doctor, she said, "delivered the baby's body and arms -- everything but the head." At that point, she said, "The baby's little fingers were clasping and unclasping, and his little feet were kicking. Then the doctor stuck the scissors in the back of his head, and the baby's arms jerked out... The doctor opened up the scissors, stuck a high-powered suction tube into the opening, and sucked the baby's brains out."
The striking fact about the debate here is not that some people are appalled and revolted by what is done in these instances, but that some people are not. They don't flinch from the violence visited on well-developed fetuses in the name of reproductive freedom. Any abortion, in their eyes, is a justifiable abortion.
So they were furious last week when the Supreme Court said that while it was prepared to permit a vast array of abortions, it was not obligated to permit these. It upheld a law passed by Congress in 2003 making it illegal for doctors to use this method to destroy a fetus.
The court's critics portray the decision as a brazen attack on the health and safety of women. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in her dissent, said it would "put a woman's health at greater risk." The National Abortion Federation issued a statement calling the ban "harmful to women's health."
But Fred Frigoletto, past president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which opposed the law, suggested that's not likely. "From the point of view of the patient," he told National Public Radio, "we are not going to be significantly encumbered, because of the other alternatives." The American Medical Association has said, "There does not appear to be any identified situation in which [it] is the only appropriate procedure."
Nor is there much evidence to suggest it is used to protect the physical well-being of patients. Early in the debate, Ron Fitzsimmons, head of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers, told The New York Times that, as the Times put it, "in the vast majority of cases, the procedure is performed on a healthy mother with a healthy fetus that is 20 weeks or more along." A report by the Kansas Health Department found that 182 partial-birth abortions were performed in the state in 1999 -- and that none was done to protect the physical health of the mother.
Why didn't the ban include an exception for the health of the woman? Because the Supreme Court has said the exception must include not only physical risks "but all factors -- physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age -- relevant to [her] well-being." The exception cancels the rule.
If abortion-rights groups truly wanted to preserve this option in cases of significant risk to the mother, they could push for a narrow health exception for these instances. But they want to preserve partial-birth abortion for all instances, because any limit "on the right to choose" is intolerable.
Ginsburg can't for the life of her understand why anyone cares which type of abortion is used in these instances. "The law saves not a single fetus from destruction," she noted.
She's right. So why forbid one method of destroying fetuses while allowing others? Because in this method, as the AMA has explained, the fetus "is killed outside the womb."
If the fetus were entirely outside the womb, of course, the term for the procedure would not be "abortion" but "infanticide." And you could make the same argument for infanticide that abortion rights supporters make for this method: If the outcome is a dead fetus, what's the difference?
The real challenge for abortion-rights advocates is not that this law will prevent abortions or impair the health of women getting them. It's that it treats the fetus as more than a disposable inconvenience -- as a living entity entitled to a measure of respect and protection. Once you take that step, there is no telling where it may lead.
Mons Burke says that a big issue, perhaps the big issue, between the sexes today is "respect." This is so for young people, including teenagers, just as it is for older adults, he says. Often when a teenager meets another of the opposite sex, there is "attraction," but also a feeling of "admiration" and even "reverence" for this new person. Soon, "maybe almost immediately, a "more physical element" begins to come in. This feeling comes from an attitude towards the other sex in general. However, if the attraction is deep, a teenager will try not to let the physical element come into the relationship too much, because he or she will be feeling "too much reverence."
"Without respect and without reverence, it is not love," Mons Burke says. "Young people need to be encouraged to see that love implies respect."
Mons Burke, who is writing a new chapter, addressed to young people, for his book Covenanted Happiness, said he has been greatly impressed by Pope John Paul II's theology of the body, with its meditation on Jesus' words about God's plan for human- kind in marriage.
To view the previous interview post go here.
Have you ever wondered why the subject of sex is part of nearly every TV show, advertisement, song, and movie? And the sex shown or sung about is usually glorious—with no pain inflicted on those involved.
Rarely do we see the pain that comes, for example, from selfishness. Did you ever think about what society would be like without selfishness in relationships?
Confusion reigns, and it is leading to some seriously broken hearts. People today seem more confused about the meaning of love and the purpose of sex than perhaps ever before. Many people are searching for the meaning of life and love but don’t realize that the answer is actually right in front of us; the key to finding that love we’re all looking for (even if we don’t know it) is hidden in God’s original design of our bodies and souls. Yes, you read that correctly. This Catholic curriculum is stating that God has actually hidden in our design as “male and female” a key to the secret of love.
Here’s a quick explanation. You’ll notice that this theme repeats itself many times throughout the Theology of the Body for Teens curriculum. If you can grasp this early, you’ll understand the lofty (but awesome) concepts in the pages and discussions ahead. Here goes: Our sexuality is a gift through which we can choose to be generous or selfish. Society has flipped the idea of “self-giving” on its head. In fact, many “love stories” portrayed in the modern culture could more appropriately be called “lust stories.” Why is this important? Because “love” involves being generous —like God—while “lust” is sexual desire that is selfish—apart from the love of God. Not to be confused with sexual attraction (which is good), lust is almost purely self-seeking. As renowned youth leader John Crudele succinctly says, “Love seeks to give; lust seeks to get.”
Are You Obsessed, Too?
Many people in the world think that the Catholic Church is obsessed with the topic of sex, saying that it has all these “rules” about it. In reality, it’s our culture that is obsessed with sex. Think about it. The next time you’re in a supermarket, look at all the magazines near the check-out counter. Virtually every one will be dominated with headlines about sex. Or, better yet (maybe, worse yet), think of the various shows on primetime television on any given night: they are loaded with sexual content that is either explicit or implied. The view of sex put forth by much of the world actually robs humans of dignity. The real problem, though, is that we often come to think about sex as the world does, instead of in the way that God intended.
The Call to Love as God Loves
We humans are called to love one another. We are not called to dominate or oppress or use others, but to respect them as persons made in God’s image and likeness. This call to love is actually “stamped” into our very bodies. The physical union of man and woman in the sexual act (also called the “marital act” because it is intended to express marital love) is actually meant to be a foreshadowing of the union that we will all experience in heaven. That heavenly union is not a sexual one, to be sure, but it is real—more real than anything we have (or will) experience here on earth. It’s a perfect union between God and mankind—for eternity.
This union was also foreshadowed in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible. In it we read about God’s original plan for unity with our original parents, Adam and Eve. But confusion reigned and there was a rupture—a breaking—between God and man. Because of this rupture, lust became a reality. A “twisting,” if you will, took place in our hearts. Instead of seeking the good of others, we desire to seek our own good, often at the expense of someone else’s dignity.
Yet God created us for union with Him. He gave us an “echo” in our hearts of the love that He intends for us all. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is an attempt to identify and find that love that God intends for us. If you seek, you will find it. It simply takes work on our part along with God’s amazing grace...
The following is excerpted from an interview with noted Catholic theologian Monsignor Cormac Burke conducted by The Melbourne Record in 2007.
A former judge of the Roman Rota has called for Catholics to play a bigger role in counter-acting divorce among friends and family members.
Monsignor Cormac Burke visited Australia this week to give lectures in Melbourne and Sydney. The theme of his Melbourne talk, delivered at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and the Family, was the importance of commitment in marriage. In an interview with The Record, Mons Burke warned of some of the dangers confronting marriages in the modern world.
People outside the marriage, especially relatives and friends, can play a crucial role in helping married couples get through these periods of sometimes "atomic" explosion, Mons Burke said. "It's very important that relatives and friends bear in mind that every couple goes through difficulties, and perhaps difficulties that seem insurmountable.
"Sometimes there is an 'explosion' against the other partner. The wise friend should listen, and say nothing, because many of these things can, and do pass. "Friends can do a lot of harm, otherwise," Mons Burke said.
The former judge warned particularly against the question of rivalry between the sexes, and what he calls "global judgments" about the other sex. "Someone might say: 'you're quite right, all men are like that, or all women are like that'," Mons Burke said. "That can not only be unwise but, from a Christian point of view, it can be a very grave sin, showing a lack of prudence and a lack of charity." The better thing in such situations is to say nothing, and after the other person has cooled down, offer them a more balanced picture of their spouse, he said.
The monsignor, a quietly spoken Irishman, is a canon lawyer and a member of the Dublin bar. He is also a professor of modern languages and has published extensively on moral theology, conscience and the anthropology of marriage. He currently teaches at Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya. Mons Burke said that moral theology, rather than canon law, had always been his primary field of interest... (to be continued)
Culture suggests art; and the Chinese are renowned world-wide for an artistic tradition that goes back thousands of years, and is still expressed today with that fine touch of delicacy and beauty so often lacking in modern western art. I was reminded of this just yesterday when looking once again at one of those marvellous representations of Our Lady, Queen and Empress of China. What taste, I thought, the artist has!; what sense of beauty and tenderness!; just to look at that work of art raises one's heart to God.
Such works of art, then, inspire us to thank God not only for having made his Mother so beautiful and given her to the world, but for continuing to raise up truly artistic persons today, and to endow them with the talent and the desire to offer the world new representations of the beauty of Creation and of the even greater beauty given to us through the Incarnation.
Gifts to the world: that is what the true artist offers. John Paul II recalled this in his Letter to Artists of 1999, addressed "to all who are passionately dedicated to the search for new epiphanies [i.e. expressions] of beauty so that through their creative work as artists they may offer these as gifts to the world".
The creative work of artists: how rich and enriching it can be. And the more unique and worthwhile the creation, the longer it lasts, carrying with it a touch of immortality. As one twentieth century writer, speaking of the artistic urge, put it: "you make something through your invention..., and you make it alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality" (Ernest Hemingway, Writers at Work, 1963).
But so often the modern celebration of life - when it believes only in mortality, not in immortality, is so hollow and offers nothing to enrich life. To believe in death, to believe that with death everything definitively dies, is not to believe in life. The only value I see in my own life is that its satisfactions outweigh its pains - for the time being. The moment that is no longer so, I can terminate it.
These thoughts are not far from our topic, for it is in the family, in the home, where life begins and is cherished and is meant to grow, being life always possessed of true immortality.
Are our homes focal points of life - which also means of youth and energy and joy and optimism? Or is there a lifelessness precisely there, where life should be at its most expressive? Do we have too many devitalized and depersonalized homes? One family just like another; one couple, two or even three children; all hooked together on TV, or separately on internet, and the same in the neighbouring flat and the one above and the one below. A "home alive" is the great artistic venture project God is proposing to married people: the creation of a family visibly stamped with the culture of life, with a burgeoning personality, with something humanly and divinely original to it.
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice saying, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
Prayer for the unborn baby by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen to our Lady of Guadalupe Intercessor for the Unborn
Say this prayer each day for one year and a child in danger of abortion will be saved.
Jesus Mary and Joseph;
I love you very much,
I beg you to spare the life
of the unborn bady
that I have spiritually adopted;
who is in danger of abortion - Amen
To harbor no envy, no anger, no resentment against an offender is still not to have charity for him. It is possible, without any charity, to avoid rendering evil for evil. But to render, spontaneously, good for evil -- such belongs to a perfect spiritual love.-- St Maximus the Confessor
The following is an excerpt from the article “Advice from Fr. Philip Neri’s Confessional,” by Fr. Philip Neri Powell, O.P., Ph.D. It's quite long but well worth the read. Visit his website here. Go here for the previous post in this series.
9. Temptation: Temptation is the pressure we feel when our disordered desires rise up and urge us to indulge them against God’s will for us. Entertaining a temptation is not a sin. Merely thinking about lying is not the sin of lying. However, if you decide to lie and do so “in your heart,” then you have lied whether you actually give voice to the lie or not.
10. Resistance: When you resist temptation on your own you are rejecting God’s grace and denying the victory of the Cross. There is no reason to resist temptation. You are perfectly free not to sin. Rather than steel yourself against temptation and fight like mad to resist the sin, turn and face the temptation square on. Name it. Hand it over to God. And move on. Resistance is actually the first step we take toward the sin. Be honest: how many times have you resisted a temptation only to submit to it eventually? What you are doing is habituating yourself to surrendering to sin. Break the cycle here by taking control of the temptation itself. Let’s say you are being tempted to lie to your professor about cheating on a paper. Say to God, “Lord, I am being tempted to lie to Dr. Jones about my paper. I give this temptation to you to deal with. I’m going to the library. Amen.” This is both an act of the intellect and an act of the will. Habituate yourself to using Christ’s victory over sin and stop resisting temptation!
Fr. Phillip Neri Powell
Advice: St. Philip Neri once took a penitent to the top of his church. He handed the woman a feather pillow and told her to rip the pillow open and scatter the feathers. She did so, watching the thousands of feathers fly all over the city. He then told her that her penance was to go and collect every feather. Such is the nature of gossip.
7. Doubt/Not praying: These sins can also be understood as a perversions of God’s Truth. One thing we have to get clear, however, is there is doubt and there is Doubt. Little “d” doubt is acceptable if and only if you are truly confused about or unsure of the right way to think about and believe an article of the faith. Being ignorant of a teaching can lead to doubt, so can the complexity of some of our beliefs. Big “D” Doubt occurs when you are actually rejecting a de fide (of the faith) teaching of the church for no other reason than you don’t like the teaching or that you the teaching teaches against your favorite sin. This occurs a lot with contraception, masturbation, and pre-martial sex. So, when you confess “doubt” be sure and distinguish between the two. Doubt often leads us to stop praying or to stop using the sacraments.
Advice: Know your faith! You are responsible for knowing and living the faith as it has been given to the Church. If you are truly confused about a teaching, ask for help or get a copy of the Catechism. If you find yourself Doubting, try saying to yourself: “I am one person in a two-thousand year old Church. I’m smart but I’m not Two-Thousand Years Smart, so I will assent to this teaching and assume that my rejection of the teaching is based on my ignorance and not on the falsity of the teaching.” This is a properly humble way of approaching difficult teachings. When you find yourself unable to pray with any eagerness or force, just pray anyway…”fake it ‘til you make it through the dry spell.” Prayer is a habit like any other and requires constant maintenance. Prayer is the means by which God speaks to us, so keep the channel open even when you are convinced that there’s no one on the other end. Think of yourself lost on a deserted island and you have a radio. When you give up hope that you will be rescued, you will turn the radio off. How will the rescue team find you then? Leave it on so you catch anything that might come through. In fact, pick several times during the day when you will sit with the radio and broadcast your location.
8. Lack of charity: This is a really BIG sin. This sin perverts God’s love. First, we are commanded by Christ to love one another. He never says that we have to like one another. This is the whole problem with equating “loving others” with “being nice to others.” We should be nice to other out of a sense of civility but the failure to be pleasant or polite is not a sin. When you find yourself actively working against the Good of another person, then you are in trouble. Charity requires that we will the Good of the other at all times. I can truly dislike someone and still will the Good for them. In fact, there may be more merit to loving someone you dislike. “Willing the Good” requires that we treat others as persons with their own ends, meaning we treat others as fellow creatures created in the image and likeness of God. We cannot use people as means to other ends. This is uncharitable.
Advice: Giving thanks for everyone in your life is key to being charitable to these people. Pay attention to how you are thinking and feeling about the people you interacted with daily. For everyone you meet send up a prayer that whatever they need to grow in holiness will be given to them. If there is someone you really, really dislike make that person a part of your daily thanksgiving. Have a Mass said for them! Beware one common pitfall: “Please, Lord, help Philip to change his ridiculous ways and make him a agree with me about X.” This is a prayer to change me to fit your expectations of who you want me to be. For some reason, I find mothers are terribly burdened with this temptation, especially when it comes to their children! Try instead: “Lord, I give you thanks for Philip. Grant him all he needs to grow in holiness.”
O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!
Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.
For information about the image of Christ shown above click here. To learn about Saint Faustina, the Divine Mercy Chaplet or Divine Mercy Sunday see Who is Saint Faustina? and The Sunday After Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday.
Here is another example from Psalm 27: "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom do I fear? The LORD is my life's refuge; of whom am I afraid?"
This same kind of repetition occurs often in the Prophets.
The reason is simple: this is poetry, and one of the most important aspects of poetry in any language is the imaginative use of language to say the same things in many different ways. Here are some examples from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet: "She doth teach the torches to burn bright!","What light from yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun."
At Easter each year the Pope gives Easter greetings in many languages. Most of them say much the same as in English: "Happy Easter." But there are two others that say it differently.
The Polish version is "Wesolego Alleluja!" which means, [I wish you a] "Happy Alleluia!" How beautifully this expresses the spirit of the feast.
The best, however, is the Greek: One person says, "Chrystos aneste," and the other answers, "Alethos aneste." This means: "Christ is risen - He is truly risen."
At Christmas we are often reminded that "Jesus is the reason for the season." Easter reminds us that Jesus is the reason - period! The reason for everything that we say and do as Christians, the reason for the magnificent music and beautiful flowers, for our coming together to worship. All this is for one reason and one reason only: Christ is risen! He is truly risen!
The account of the Passion is one continuous narrative, very similar in all four Gospels. Not so with the narratives of the Resurrection appearances. These are isolated scenes and, while there are some similarities, each Gospel has its own stories to tell.
Luke’s Gospel account can be divided into five episodes, all taking place on Easter Sunday:
1) the finding of the empty tomb at dawn,
2) the appearance of the Risen Christ to two disciples walking to Emmaus,
3) the appearance to the disciples gathered in Jerusalem,
4) the commissioning of these disciples to witness and preach in his name,
5) the end of the visible appearances as Christ is carried off to heaven on Easter Sunday night.
One of the most familiar phrases in the Apostles’ Creed is: “We believe in the resurrection of the body.”
“Resurrection” is not the same as “resuscitation” (the act of reviving from apparent death or unconsciousness). In resurrection, this human existence isn’t simply continued. It’s transformed. This human existence, which for some may not have been so good at all…which may have been plagued by mistakes or just bad breaks…this human existence, is transformed into something magnificent. The seed blossoms into what it was meant to be.
That’s why the crucifixion means so much. The body that was put in the tomb was a wreck-broken, beaten, bloody, ruined. But Jesus went through death to a new, transformed, impossible-to-describe human life. On Friday he was a wreck, and on Sunday this broken body was glorious
Fr. Rene Butler
Usually we think of emptiness as not good, when something that is supposed to fill that space is gone.
That was the reaction of most of the disciples who found the tomb of Jesus empty. One important exception was the Beloved Disciple, who ran to the tomb with Peter after Mary Magdalene told them that Jesus’ body was missing. When he entered the tomb after Peter, the Gospel says, “He saw, and he believed.”
In other words, he understood what had really happened, and for him that empty tomb became one of the most beautiful places in the world. You can just imagine him thinking the biblical equivalent of “cool!” “awesome!” “wow!”
We make our churches as beautiful as possible for Easter. And that beauty is enhanced by the fact that our churches are fuller than usual. Ideally the fruit of the empty tomb is a full church, people of faith gathered together to celebrate the Risen Christ, week after week after week.
How wonderful it would be if all Christians realized that their church services are never so beautiful as when they are present, and their church is never so beautiful as when they are in it.
The Lord is Risen, Alleluia! This is the Church’s message to our troubled world tonight (this Day) and for the next 50 days: He is truly Risen!
He is Risen, despite the treacherous greed of Judas which stripped Him of all He had,
He is Risen, despite the cowardice of His Apostles who in the hour of darkness found themselves powerless to aid Him,
He is Risen, despite the blindness of His own people who preferred the sham Barabbas to the true Messiah,
He is truly Risen, in spite of the excessive beating the Romans gave Him,
He is truly Risen, in spite of the four sharp nails that were driven into His Sacred Flesh,
He is truly Risen, in spite of the death He truly underwent as a man, in spite of the three days His cold and lifeless Body spent in the tomb.
No, not greed, nor cowardice, nor rejection, nor beating, nor crucifixion, nor death itself could overcome Jesus Christ. He has overcome them all, He has trampled them underHis pierced Feet.
The Third Day has dawned. His Body rises from this fallen world, glorified, incorruptible, no more to die.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, may this Easter celebration impress deeply upon our hearts and minds and bodies and souls that Jesus our Lord is truly Risen from the Dead.
And as St. Paul reminds us, if then, we have died with Christ in Baptism, we believe that we shall also live with our Glorified and Risen Jesus.
The greedy of this world may rob us of all we have,
We may be abandoned in our time of need,
We may find the world to be against us as Christians,
We may be beaten down by our past sins and by the world and the devil,
But no earthly trials, not even crucifixion or any other earthly death is able to crush our Hope for Resurrection in Christ Jesus our Lord.
May Christ fill you with Resurrection Faith this Easter Day, and all the 50 days of this Easter Season, and may the Joy of the Resurrection renew your family, our parish, and the whole world, for the tomb is really Empty, and Our Lord has truly Risen!
Click here for more homilies by Father Woolley
I believe that at times, God uses pain and suffering to stimulate our spiritual lives - to move us forward - to change us - even bring healing to our lives. Pain and suffering grab our attention and won't let us go until we deal with it and get our spiritual house in order.
You lifted your dear Son from the grave and
made Him a beacon of hope for all mortals.
By overcoming sin and death and hell, may
He take us by the hand and lead us into
the land of bliss and glory where we shall
enjoy forever the company of the whole
May we trust with all our hearts in His
glorious wounds by which He ransomed us
for everlasting life.
Blessed be the name of Jesus, now and forever.