Gay Marriage, Civil Partnership Laws Used to Attack Religious Freedom

Gay marriage proponents use the argument that no one will be forced to abandon their faith if same-sex marriage becomes the law.

However, in actual practice, religious institutions have been forced to shut down and individuals have lost their jobs all around the world when gay marriage has become the law.

Civil partnerships, which basically give the rights of gay marriage, but call it something else, have had the same effect.

Catholic Charities in Illinois and the District of Columbia have been forced to close their adoption agencies because of these changes in the law. Catholic Charities in Massachusetts was forced to close it adoption program because of anti-discrimination laws.

Catholic schools in Canada have been attacked over gay marriage, and in the UK people have been fired for refusing to participate in civil partnerships.

Now, Colorado is looking at a change in their law which would have similar results.

 

I have added emphasis by using bold type to the CNA article describing this. It reads in part:

Denver, Colo., Jan 18, 2013 / 12:02 am (CNA).- A new version of a proposed Colorado civil unions bill has dropped provisions that protect agencies from being forced to place children with same-sex and unmarried opposite-sex couples – a change that could put at risk Catholic Charities’ adoption and foster care services in the state.

Jennifer Kraska, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, told CNA Jan. 16 that there have been “significant” changes to the bill from last year’s version, which failed to pass.

If the legislation passes this year, civil unions for two people of any sex would be legally equivalent to marriage under state law. The 2012 Colorado Senate bill proposing to create the unions had stated that the bill “shall not be interpreted to require a child placement agency to place a child for adoption” with a couple in a civil union.

That language, however, is absent from the 2013 bill, S.B. 11.

Kraska said this change means the legislation has the potential for “serious conflict with religious liberty” regarding religious institutions involved in charitable services as well as adoption and foster care.

Mark Rohlena, President and CEO of Catholic Charities of Central Colorado, said if the bill passes it could threaten the religious liberty of agencies like his that decline to place children with same-sex couples or unmarried opposite-sex couples.

“We feel it would be a very sad commentary if Colorado forced religious institutions or those who believe in a different framework to do something against their conscience,” he told CNA Jan. 16.

If Colorado law forces the Colorado Springs-based agency to violate Catholic teaching, he said, “we probably would cease the operation of our adoption programs.”

“That risk is always there,” he said. “I think that we would try to explore every avenue available to us to provide this vital service to the community.”

He said a shutdown is “very well what could happen” given precedents in other states.

When Illinois passed a civil unions bill in 2010, its backers promised that religious freedom would not be affected. However, the next year state officials used the law to end Catholic Charities agencies’ $30 million in state contracts for its work in caring for about 2,000 foster children each year. The state ruled that the agencies were discriminatory against unmarried couples and homosexual couples.

In 2010, a “gay marriage” law in the District of Columbia forced Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington to end its foster care and public adoption program because the law required it to serve homosexual couples.

Massachusetts’ anti-discrimination law forced Catholic Charities of Boston to end its adoption program, one of the oldest in the country. (Read more here.)

US Citizen Imprisoned in Iran for His Christian Faith Could Face Execution

Imprisonned pastor Saeed Abedin with his family.Credit: American Center for Law and Justice.


US asked to intervene for Christian citizen jailed in Iran

Washington D.C., Jan 16, 2013 / 04:55 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A U.S. citizen imprisoned in Iran for his Christian faith could face execution if the government is not pressured to release him, warned an international religious freedom advocacy group.

“As more individuals and governments around the world take notice of Pastor Saeed’s case, the pressure on Iran to release him and stop violating religious liberty will increase,” said Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the Washington, D.C. – based American Center for Law and Justice.

In a Jan. 14 post on the law center’s website, Sekulow explained that immediate action is essential “as the Iranian regime is clearly bent on rushing through a sham trial that leaves counsel unprepared and in the dark about the nature of the charges against their client.”

Pastor Saeed Abedini, 32, is a U.S. citizen who initially invoked the anger of the Iranian government by helping start house churches after converting from Islam to Christianity.

However, the two parties arrived at an agreement in 2009 allowing the pastor to travel freely in the country if he stopped working with the underground churches. He instead turned his focus toward humanitarian efforts with non-religious orphanages.

Nevertheless, the pastor was arrested in September during a trip to work with those orphanages and visit family, the American Center for Law and Justice said, and he has been imprisoned illegally for more than three months.

Now, Sekulow warned, Abedini is scheduled to go on trial before one of Iran’s most notorious “hanging judges.” (Read more here.)

Gay Marriage Trumps Freedom of Conscience in European Court

Standing Against Christian Persecution

Gay marriage trumped freedom of conscience in the European Court of Human Rights yesterday.

The Court handed down rulings on four contentious cases which had been brought before it by British citizens. In three of the cases, it ruled with the British government and against the citizens.

Here’s how it went:

1. British airways employee Nadia Ewelda won the right to wear a cross around her neck to work without being fired. Part of the reasoning was that other British Airways employees were allowed to wear religious symbols of other faiths, including turbans and scarves.

2. A British nurse lost the right to wear a cross around her neck to work. The Court based this ruling on the idea that the cross might somehow pose a job hazard by accidentally touching an open wound or something.

3. Two other British citizens, a registrar and a relationship counselor, lost their cases. They had been fired for refusing, on the basis of their religious beliefs, to participate in civil partnership ceremonies for gay couples.

Religious groups are hailing these rulings as “victories,” based on the lone case that allowed a flight attendant to wear a cross to work. This which confounds me. Christians consistently lose in the courts, as the many atheists who buzz by this blog every time I write on the subject try to remind us, and I think these rulings are no exception to that.

One of the things that struck me about these rulings is that they were so specific. Evidently, the European Court of Human Rights does not rule on broad issues of law in the same manner that our Supreme Court does. These rulings were basically, “We uphold this case, but not this.” If the court ruled on principles of law rather than just the specific cases, it didn’t come through in the news stories I read.

I’m not sure what that means in terms of the scope of these rulings. If these truly are specific rulings on specific cases and not on broad points of law, then that could be significant in terms of impact. I’m not saying that’s how it is. I don’t know.

I may not understand the scope of these rulings, but I do know that they were not a “victory” for Christians or freedom of conscience. I also think they were a harbinger of what’s to come for all of us.

Advocates of gay marriage here in the United States are quick to say that re-writing the legal definition of marriage will not impact religious liberty, that no one will be forced to perform gay marriages if it is against their conscience. This clearly flies in the face of the collective experience throughout the Western world.

So far as I know, in every country that has legalized gay marriage, or, as in the case with this ruling, civil partnerships, it is just a matter of time, and usually not much time, before people are losing their jobs because they do not want to participate in performing these marriages.

The Los Angeles Times article describing these court cases reads in part:

By Emily Alpert
January 15, 2013, 1:14 p.m.
A Christian employee was wronged when British Airways insisted she remove the small cross she wore around her neck, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday.

But judges rejected claims by three other British Christians who claimed they had been discriminated against in the workplace, including two who had refused to provide their services to couples of the same sex.

Religious freedom is “one of the foundations of pluralistic, democratic societies,” the European court wrote, but religious freedom can nonetheless be restricted where it “impinges on the rights of others.”

Judges decided 5-2 in favor of Nadia Eweida, who was sent home without pay for violating the British Airways uniform code more than six years ago. At the time, its rules banned any visible jewelry. Eweida returned to work several months later after the company changed its policies, but continued to press her case against the British government for failing to protect her freedom of religion.

The European court found that British courts had failed to strike a fair balance between her rights and British Airways’ wish to “project a certain corporate image.” Other employees had already been allowed to wear other kinds of religious apparel, including turbans and head scarves, without any impact on the British Airways brand, it added. The court ordered the British government to award Eweida more than $2,600 in damages and $40,000 for expenses.

“I feel vindicated, that Christians have been vindicated, both here and in Europe as well,” Eweida told the BBC after the decision was issued, a cross visible around her neck.

Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted that he was “delighted” by Tuesday’s decision, a rare bit of British government praise for the European court. The ruling was also cheered by rights groups.

“Nadia Eweida wasn’t hurting anyone and was perfectly capable of doing her job whilst wearing a small cross,” said Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil liberties group Liberty. “British courts lost their way in her case and Strasbourg has actually acted more in keeping with our traditions of tolerance.”

Religious conservatives were also pleased Eweida had triumphed, but their enthusiasm was dampened by the fact that the European judges turned down the three other discrimination claims. Although it sided with Eweida, the court said a British hospital was justified in barring a nurse from wearing a crucifix because it could touch an open wound or a patient might pull on it. Protecting health and safety were more weighty reasons to ban the cross than buffing a corporate image, it concluded.

Judges also rejected the claims of a relationship counselor and a former registrar who balked at providing their services to same-sex couples. The counselor was fired for violating company policies that he had agreed to; the registrar was disciplined and warned that if she did not perform civil partnerships, she would be terminated.

Christian groups argued that other registrars could have performed the service. “What this case shows is that Christians with traditional beliefs about marriage are at risk of being left out in the cold,” said Mike Judge, spokesman for the Christian Institute, in a statement Tuesday. (Read more here.)

Bishops Call for Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage for Life

Nine Days Of Prayer, Penance And Pilgrimage

On January 22nd and January 25th our nation will remember the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Since that tragic decision, more than 55 million children’s lives have been lost to abortion, and the lives of millions of their parents have been shattered.

As part of the bishops’ recent call to prayer, “Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage” will take place January 19-27, 2013.

This time period, focusing on the theme of pilgrimage, includes:

Blessings of pro-life pilgrims (en español)
(See page 10, 2012 Respect Life Program Liturgy Guide)

Novena – Sign up for daily emails below, or text “9days” to 99000 to receive it through daily text messages!

Youth and young adult activities (“Pro-Life Profiles” and a high school age video contest)

Closing Eucharistic Holy Hour
Text “9days” to 99000
To receive this novena by daily text messages!

To sign up for the Novena, go to the USCCB website or click on the link in the sidebar to the right of this post.

Ohio School District Defies Freedom From Religion Foundation

It isn’t civil disobedience. It’s disobedience of bullies with a word processor.

Refuse to let them tell you what to do.

That’s all it takes to stand up to the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the self-appointed United States Supreme Court in absentia who rains down threatening letters on unsuspecting government officials at laser printer speed.

Just don’t do what they tell you to do.

A case in point is the Jackson Country School District in Ohio. They’ve decided to keep a portrait of Jesus right where it is, despite receiving their personal copy of the ubiquitous FFF threat.

The Christian Post article describing this situation reads in part:

By Anugrah Kumar , Christian Post Contributor
January 12, 2013|2:55 pm

Hundreds of community members hailed a school district in Ohio for deciding to let a portrait of Jesus Christ stay at the hallway of a middle school, which was threatened with a lawsuit by Freedom From Religion Foundation.

“I’m certainly not going to run down there and take the picture down because some group from Madison, Wis. who knows nothing about the culture of our community or why the picture is even there, wants me to take it down,” Jackson County School District Superintendent Phil Howard told WKKJ.

In a Jan. 2 letter to the district, the FFRF demanded the portrait, which hangs in the Jackson Middle School building, be removed, saying it is unconstitutional government endorsement of Christianity.

Howard said the portrait – placed in 1947 by a local chapter of the Young Men’s Christian Association – is one of several displays in the school’s Hall of Honor. “We’re not violating the law and the picture is legal because it has historical significance. It hasn’t hurt anyone.”
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/jesus-portrait-to-stay-at-ohio-school-defying-atheist-demands-88147/#XigDdUag7uk2vOat.99

French Official Says ‘No’ to 800,000 Marchers, Will Push Ahead with Gay Marriage

Supporters estimate 1 million.

Official estimates range as high as “at least 800,000.”

That’s how many people showed up to support marriage in Paris Sunday. They came from all over the country, and they engaged in a peaceful march through  the streets of Paris carrying signs that made it clear they were not attacking gay people, but supporting marriage. 

The reason for this protest was a proposed law that would re-write the French legal definition of marriage, changing it from one man and one woman to Parent 1, Parent 2. 

The government response was much the same as what Americans are becoming accustomed to: “Harlem Desir, the leader of Hollande’s Socialist Party, said the protest would not affect the proposal’s progress.”

The question is whether enough other French lawmakers are willing to follow along. Despite the usual characterizations of the marchers as homophobic pawns of “the right,” the march brought a lot of elements of French society together on one question. Does the government really want to go in your face with all of them? 

Excerpts from the Miami Herald article describing these events say: 

Holding aloft ancient flags and young children, hundreds of thousands of people converged Sunday on the Eiffel Tower to protest the French president’s plan to legalize gay marriage and thus allow same-sex couples to adopt and conceive children.

The opposition to President Francois Hollande’s plan has underscored divisions among the secular-but-Catholic French, especially more traditional rural areas versus urban enclaves. But while polls show the majority of French still support legalizing gay marriage, that backing gets more lukewarm when children come into play …

… ”This law is going to lead to a change of civilization that we don’t want,” said Philippe Javaloyes, a literature teacher who bused in with 300 people from Franche Comte in the far east. “We have nothing against different ways of living, but we think that a child must grow up with a mother and a father.”

Public opposition spearheaded by religious leaders has chipped away at the popularity of Hollande’s plan in recent months. About 52 percent of French favor legalizing gay marriage, according to a survey released Sunday, down from as high as 65 percent in August …

… ”They’re talking about putting into national identity cards Parent 1, Parent 2, Parent 3, Parent 4. Mom, dad and the kids are going to be wiped off the map, and that’s going to be bad for any country, any civilization,” said Melissa Michel, a Franco-American mother of five who was among a group from the south of France on a train reserved specifically for the protest.

Support for gay marriage – and especially adoption by same-sex couples – has been particularly tenuous outside Paris, and people from hundreds of miles from the French capital marched Sunday beneath regional flags with emblems dating back to the Middle Ages, chanting “Daddy, Mommy.” …

… Harlem Desir, the leader of Hollande’s Socialist Party, said the protest would not affect the proposal’s progress. The Socialists control Parliament, where the bill is expected to be introduced on Tuesday, with a vote following public debate at the end of January.

“The right to protest is protected in our country, but the Socialists are determined to give the legal right to marry and adopt to all those who love each other,” he said. “This is the first time in decades in our country that the right and the extreme right are coming into the streets together to deny new rights to the French.” (Read more here.) 

Deacon Greg Kandra and Frank Weathers have also blogged about the Paris march for marriage. 

 


Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/13/3180337/thousands-rally-against-gay-marriage.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/13/3180337/thousands-rally-against-gay-marriage.html#storylink=c

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/01/13/3180337/thousands-rally-against-gay-marriage.html#storylink=cpy

We’re in the Efforts Business, God is in the Results Business

My friend Judge Twyla Gray died a year ago last October after a twenty year battle with breast cancer.

A few months before she died, she gave this speech at TEDxOKC.

Twyla and I were first elected to the Oklahoma House of Representatives together in 1980. She and her husband, Charles, set up the blind date that kicked off the courtship between me and my husband. Twyla was a brilliant woman whose career ultimately led her to spend many years as a District Judge.

She was also a prayerful Christian and a devoted wife and mother.

I think her comments here say quite a lot about vocation in this life.
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You have to wait a few seconds for the video to start.

Mother Teresa’s Speech to National Prayer Breakfast Feb 5, 1994

Mother Teresa gave this speech at the National Prayer Breakfast on February 5, 1994.

On the last day, Jesus will say to those on His right hand, “Come, enter the Kingdom. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and you visited me.” Then Jesus will turn to those on His left hand and say, “Depart from me because I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me to drink, I was sick and you did not visit me.” These will ask Him, “When did we see You hungry, or thirsty or sick and did not come to Your help?” And Jesus will answer them, “Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me!”

As we have gathered here to pray together, I think it will be beautiful if we begin with a prayer that expresses very well what Jesus wants us to do for the least. St. Francis of Assisi understood very well these words of Jesus and his life is very well expressed by a prayer. And this prayer, which we say every day after Holy Communion, always surprises me very much, because it is very fitting for each one of us. And I always wonder whether 800 years ago when St. Francis lived, they had the same difficulties that we have today. I think that some of you already have this prayer of peace — so we will pray it together.

Let us thank God for the opportunity He has given us today to have come here to pray together. We have come here especially to pray for peace, joy and love. We are reminded that Jesus came to bring the good news to the poor. He had told us what is that good news when He said: “My peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you.” He came not to give the peace of the world which is only that we don’t bother each other. He came to give the peace of heart which comes from loving — from doing good to others.

And God loved the world so much that He gave His son — it was a giving. God gave His son to the Virgin Mary, and what did she do with Him? As soon as Jesus came into Mary’s life, immediately she went in haste to give that good news. And as she came into the house of her cousin, Elizabeth, Scripture tells us that the unborn child — the child in the womb of Elizabeth — leapt with joy. While still in the womb of Mary — Jesus brought peace to John the Baptist who leapt for joy in the womb of Elizabeth.

And as if that were not enough, as if it were not enough that God the Son should become one of us and bring peace and joy while still in the womb of Mary, Jesus also died on the Cross to show that greater love. He died for you and for me, and for the leper and for that man dying of hunger and that naked person lying in the street, not only of Calcutta, but of Africa, and everywhere. Our Sisters serve these poor people in 105 countries throughout the world. Jesus insisted that we love one another as He loves each one of us. Jesus gave His life to love us and He tells us that we also have to give whatever it takes to do good to one another. And in the Gospel Jesus says very clearly: “Love as I have loved you.”

Jesus died on the Cross because that is what it took for Him to do good to us — to save us from our selfishness in sin. He gave up everything to do the Father’s will — to show us that we too must be willing to give up everything to do God’s will — to love one another as He loves each of us. If we are not willing to give whatever it takes to do good to one another, sin is still in us. That is why we too must give to each other until it hurts.

It is not enough for us to say: “I love God,” but I also have to love my neighbor. St. John says that you are a liar if you say you love God and you don’t love your neighbor. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live? And so it is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is not true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.

It hurt Jesus to love us. We have been created in His image for greater things, to love and to be loved. We must “put on Christ” as Scripture tells us. And so, we have been created to love as He loves us. Jesus makes Himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, the unwanted one, and He says, “You did it to Me.” On the last day He will say to those on His right, “whatever you did to the least of these, you did to Me, and He will also say to those on His left, whatever you neglected to do for the least of these, you neglected to do it for Me.”

When He was dying on the Cross, Jesus said, “I thirst.” Jesus is thirsting for our love, and this is the thirst of everyone, poor and rich alike. We all thirst for the love of others, that they go out of their way to avoid harming us and to do good to us. This is the meaning of true love, to give until it hurts.

I can never forget the experience I had in visiting a home where they kept all these old parents of sons and daughters who had just put them into an institution and forgotten them — maybe. I saw that in that home these old people had everything — good food, comfortable place, television, everything, but everyone was looking toward the door. And I did not see a single one with a smile on the face. I turned to Sister and I asked: “Why do these people who have every comfort here, why are they all looking toward the door? Why are they not smiling?”

I am so used to seeing the smiles on our people, even the dying ones smile. And Sister said: “This is the way it is nearly everyday. They are expecting, they are hoping that a son or daughter will come to visit them. They are hurt because they are forgotten.” And see, this neglect to love brings spiritual poverty. Maybe in our own family we have somebody who is feeling lonely, who is feeling sick, who is feeling worried. Are we there? Are we willing to give until it hurts in order to be with our families, or do we put our own interests first? These are the questions we must ask ourselves, especially as we begin this year of the family. We must remember that love begins at home and we must also remember that ‘the future of humanity passes through the family.’

I was surprised in the West to see so many young boys and girls given to drugs. And I tried to find out why. Why is it like that, when those in the West have so many more things than those in the East? And the answer was: ‘Because there is no one in the family to receive them.’ Our children depend on us for everything — their health, their nutrition, their security, their coming to know and love God. For all of this, they look to us with trust, hope and expectation. But often father and mother are so busy they have no time for their children, or perhaps they are not even married or have given up on their marriage. So their children go to the streets and get involved in drugs or other things. We are talking of love of the child, which is were love and peace must begin. These are the things that break peace.

But I feel that the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child, a direct killing of the innocent child, murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another? How do we persuade a woman not to have an abortion? As always, we must persuade her with love and we remind ourselves that love means to be willing to give until it hurts. Jesus gave even His life to love us. So, the mother who is thinking of abortion, should be helped to love, that is, to give until it hurts her plans, or her free time, to respect the life of her child. The father of that child, whoever he is, must also give until it hurts.

By abortion, the mother does not learn to love, but kills even her own child to solve her problems. And, by abortion, that father is told that he does not have to take any responsibility at all for the child he has brought into the world. The father is likely to put other women into the same trouble. So abortion just leads to more abortion. Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

Many people are very, very concerned with the children of India, with the children of Africa where quite a few die of hunger, and so on. Many people are also concerned about all the violence in this great country of the United States. These concerns are very good. But often these same people are not concerned with the millions who are being killed by the deliberate decision of their own mothers. And this is what is the greatest destroyer of peace today — abortion which brings people to such blindness.

And for this I appeal in India and I appeal everywhere — “Let us bring the child back.” The child is God’s gift to the family. Each child is created in the special image and likeness of God for greater things — to love and to be loved. In this year of the family we must bring the child back to the center of our care and concern. This is the only way that our world can survive because our children are the only hope for the future. As older people are called to God, only their children can take their places.

But what does God say to us? He says: “Even if a mother could forget her child, I will not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand.” We are carved in the palm of His hand; that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God from conception and is called by God to love and to be loved, not only now in this life, but forever. God can never forget us.

I will tell you something beautiful. We are fighting abortion by adoption — by care of the mother and adoption for her baby. We have saved thousands of lives. We have sent word to the clinics, to the hospitals and police stations: “Please don’t destroy the child; we will take the child.” So we always have someone tell the mothers in trouble: “Come, we will take care of you, we will get a home for your child.” And we have a tremendous demand from couples who cannot have a child — but I never give a child to a couple who have done something not to have a child. Jesus said, “Anyone who receives a child in my name, receives me.” By adopting a child, these couples receive Jesus but, by aborting a child, a couple refuses to receive Jesus.

Please don’t kill the child. I want the child. Please give me the child. I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted and to give that child to a married couple who will love the child and be loved by the child. From our children’s home in Calcutta alone, we have saved over 3000 children from abortion. These children have brought such love and joy to their adopting parents and have grown up so full of love and joy.

I know that couples have to plan their family and for that there is natural family planning. The way to plan the family is natural family planning, not contraception. In destroying the power of giving life, through contraception, a husband or wife is doing something to self. This turns the attention to self and so it destroys the gifts of love in him or her. In loving, the husband and wife must turn the attention to each other as happens in natural family planning, and not to self, as happens in contraception. Once that living love is destroyed by contraception, abortion follows very easily.

I also know that there are great problems in the world — that many spouses do not love each other enough to practice natural family planning. We cannot solve all the problems in the world, but let us never bring in the worst problem of all, and that is to destroy love. And this is what happens when we tell people to practice contraception and abortion.

The poor are very great people. They can teach us so many beautiful things. Once one of them came to thank us for teaching her natural family planning and said: “You people who have practiced chastity, you are the best people to teach us natural family planning because it is nothing more than self-control out of love for each other.” And what this poor person said is very true. These poor people maybe have nothing to eat, maybe they have not a home to live in, but they can still be great people when they are spiritually rich.

When I pick up a person from the street, hungry, I give him a plate of rice, a piece of bread. But a person who is shut out, who feels unwanted, unloved, terrified, the person who has been thrown out of society — that spiritual poverty is much harder to overcome. And abortion, which often follows from contraception, brings a people to be spiritually poor, and that is the worst poverty and the most difficult to overcome.

Those who are materially poor can be very wonderful people. One evening we went out and we picked up four people from the street. And one of them was in a most terrible condition. I told the Sisters: “You take care of the other three; I will take care of the one who looks worse.” So I did for her all that my love can do. I put her in bed, and there was such a beautiful smile on her face. She took hold of my hand, as she said one word only: “thank you” — and she died.

I could not help but examine my conscience before her. And I asked: “What would I say if I were in her place?” And my answer was very simple. I would have tried to draw a little attention to myself. I would have said: “I am hungry, I am dying, I am cold, I am in pain,” or something. But she gave me much more — she gave me her grateful love. And she died with a smile on her face. Then there was the man we picked up from the drain, half eaten by worms and, after we had brought him to the home, he only said, “I have lived like an animal in the street, but I am going to die as an angel, loved and cared for.” Then, after we had removed all the worms from his body, all he said, with a big smile, was: “Sister, I am going home to God” — and he died. It was so wonderful to see the greatness of that man who could speak like that without blaming anybody, without comparing anything. Like an angel — this is the greatness of people who are spiritually rich even when they are materially poor.

We are not social workers. We may be doing social work in the eyes of some people, but we must be contemplatives in the heart of the world. For we must bring that presence of God into your family, for the family that prays together, stays together. There is so much hatred, so much misery, and we with our prayer, with our sacrifice, are beginning at home. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put into what we do.

If we are contemplatives in the heart of the world with all its problems, these problems can never discourage us. We must always remember what God tells us in Scripture: “Even if a mother could forget the child in her womb” — something impossible, but even if she could forget — “I will never forget you.”

And so here I am talking with you. I want you to find the poor here, right in your own home first. And begin love there. Be that good news to your own people first. And find out about your next-door neighbors. Do you know who they are?

I had the most extraordinary experience of love of neighbor with a Hindu family. A gentleman came to our house and said: “Mother Teresa, there is a family who have not eaten for so long. Do something.” So I took some rice and went there immediately. And I saw the children — their eyes shining with hunger. I don’t know if you have ever seen hunger. But I have seen it very often. And the mother of the family took the rice I gave her and went out. When she came back, I asked her: “Where did you go? What did you do?” And she gave me a very simple answer: “They are hungry also.” What struck me was that she knew — and who are they? A Muslim family — and she knew. I didn’t bring any more rice that evening because I wanted them, Hindus and Muslims, to enjoy the joy of sharing.

But there were those children, radiating joy, sharing the joy and peace with their mother because she had the love to give until it hurts. And you see this is where love begins — at home in the family.

So, as the example of this family shows, God will never forget us and there is something you and I can always do. We can keep the joy of loving Jesus in our hearts, and share that joy with all we come in contact with. Let us make that one point — that no child will be unwanted, unloved, uncared for, or killed and thrown away. And give until it hurts — with a smile.

Because I talk so much of giving with a smile, once a professor from the United States asked me: “Are you married?” And I said: “Yes, and I find it sometimes very difficult to smile at my spouse, Jesus, because He can be very demanding — sometimes.” This is really something true. And this is where love comes in — when it is demanding, and yet we can give it with joy.

One of the most demanding things for me is travelling everywhere — and with publicity. I have said to Jesus that if I don’t go to heaven for anything else, I will be going to heaven for all the travelling with all the publicity, because it has purified me and sacrificed me and made me really ready to go to heaven.

If we remember that God loves us, and that we can love others as He loves us, then America can become a sign of peace for the world. From here, a sign of care for the weakest of the weak — the unborn child — must go out to the world. If you become a burning light of justice and peace in the world, then really you will be true to what the founders of this country stood for. God bless you!

Vocation: Whatever You Do, Do It For the Lord and Don’t Worry About the Consequences

Vocation

 

Today is the beginning of Vocations week.

Many people have a particular vocation. Some people are called to a vowed life as a priest or religious. Others are called to marriage or to create a lay ministry. While these particular vocations are a great gift to all of us, there is a spiritual danger in over-emphasing them. The danger lies in the fact that an over-emphasis on particular vocations can make us forget the first and universal vocation of all Christians.

Whatever we do, if we are Christians, we all have the one overarching vocation of accepting God’s love and living in the light of eternity. We are destined for greater things than whatever we do in the here and now. This life is just a prelude for us. However, it is an important, defining prelude.

Our call as Christians is, first and foremost, to live our lives in the acceptance of His transforming love. Our first job is to say “yes” to the God Who made us, Who died for us and Who calls us to Him until we come home.

I have experienced this call. Every single day of the 17 years of my anti-God period, He called me. It was a pull that never stopped or wavered, no matter what I did or said to the contrary.

Our first and essential vocation as Christians is to simply say “yes” to this call. Our most important vocation is the vocation of beloved children of a loving God.

Everything else flows from that. We are Christians and our first and primary vocation is to let Him love us and to live in the flow of that love. We don’t have to spend hours and days of our lives “discerning God’s will for our lives.”

My experience has been that if God wants you to do something, you’re not going to be able to get out of it. So don’t worry about it.

Who, me?

The God Who called you from death to life can and will call you to any work He has for you. You don’t have to go chasing after Him. He’s right there with you, all the time.

So relax. Accept and believe that living in His love is your vocation. He will use you as He wishes if you just do what He tells you. But first you have to live humbly in that love and walk faithfully in the “yes” you said when you gave yourself to Him.

Your vocation, whether your are a priest, bishop, nun, monk, or housewife, is to live your life and do your deeds as a Christian. If you are an attorney, then your vocation as a Christian is to be an honest, hard-working and generous Christian attorney. If you are a policeman, your job is to never cut corners, never lie, follow the evidence without trying to alter it to fit your ideas, and be an honest, hard-working Christian policeman. Whatever you do, your job, your vocation, is to do the work in front of you as if you were doing it for Christ the Lord, because in fact, you are.

Any job a true Christian puts his or her hand to is a vocation if they do it for the Lord. But the glossiest, most high-profile ministry is dust that blows away with the slightest breeze if they do it for themselves. Our vocation is to live in His love and to follow Him. All the rest will come to us if we do that.

In my opinion, the highest vocation any of us can know is not founding some ministry. It is raising our own children. If you are a father or a mother, then your first vocation in this life is to protect, shape and love the precious lives God has entrusted to you. It is your vocation before God to bring them into a productive and Christian adulthood. If you don’t take care of your own children, nothing else you do in life matters all that much.

Family is eternity work. It is also the dearest blessing in this life.

Today is the first day of vocations week. If you are a Christian, your first and most important vocation is simply letting God love you from death into life. Your second step in that vocation is to follow Him all your days. The third is to do the work that is in front of you in the light of that love and that followership. Whatever you do, do it for the Lord and don’t worry about the consequences. He will take care of that part.

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Co-Worker Introduced John Paul II to His Priestly Vocation

God can use any of us to deliver His message.

A case in point is the charming story of how John Paul II first received his call to the priesthood from a co-worker. This story of how God uses each of us to His purpose is a good one for us to ponder in this Year of Faith. How does God use you in your daily life to bring His light into the world?

The CNA/EWTN News story describing what happened reads in part:

Rome, Italy, Jan 11, 2013 / 03:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- One of the closest collaborators of Blessed John Paul II, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, recounted in Rome a little-known story about the late pontiff’s vocation to the priesthood.

Cardinal Re served at the Vatican Secretary of State and later prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

On Jan. 9 at the Conciliaziones Auditorium – during the presentation of the recital “The Pope and the Poet,” inspired by the life of Karol Wojtyla – he recalled an unpublished episode from the life of the late pontiff.

The cardinal told reporters that in 1939, young Karol Wojtyla had to quit college and work at a quarry to support himself and keep from being deported to Germany.

“There he worked with a miner who set explosives in the mines, and one day the miner told him, ‘I think you would make a great priest.’”

“John Paul II told us that until that moment he had never thought of being a priest. He said, that man who I worked with already saw me as a priest,” Cardinal Re said. (Read more here.)

Join the Discussions of the Year of Faith

Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.


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