Christian Persecution: Muslim Trafficking Networks Target Coptic Christian Women

This is a such a tragic story.  As you watch this news package from CBN News, please pray for Mary and all of the Christian girls who are being targeted by Muslims.  

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Patheos Election Month Coverage: Faith Matters, Yours and Mine

The cogent question about any candidate for elective office is always What will he or she do with the power if they get it?

We’ve come a long way since the days that candidates shook hands, kissed babies and stood on the backs of flat-bed trucks to make their pitch for office at the State Fair. Nowadays, it’s not only possible but highly likely that you will go through an entire campaign season and never meet any of the people who are asking for your vote.

You will see their faces and hear their voices on television and in radio ads, see them perform in debate circuses and hear their friends asking you to vote for them on robo calls. But the candidate his or herself will be as hermetically sealed away from you as the ebola virus at the cdc.

Sifting through the slick advertising and carefully-coached debate responses to get to an answer to the all-important What will he or she do with the power if I give to them question is daunting. Unless you’re a little bit psychic or a whole lot familiar with politics, it’s downright impossible. How does anyone judge which lies are total lies and which are partial truths when they’re trying to discern the facts about someone they’ve never met and who is being branded, packaged and sold to them like a can of corn?

That makes the question of faith even more important than it would normally be. Faith, for all its tricky points, is still a tough one to completely fake. Oh it can be done, but the doing of it almost requires a willing compliance on the part of those who are getting faked out.

For instance, (I’m painting a bulls-eye on my back by saying this and I know it) does anyone really think that Rush Limbaugh or Newt Gingrich are nice people? Is there anyone out there who thinks that when Vice President Biden says he (1) knows abortion murders a child, (2) is opposed to abortion personally, (3) wouldn’t have one himself (whatever that means), but won’t tamper with the law, that he’s making any kind of sense?

We pretend we do. We pretend that the vicious things some pundits say don’t count against their Christian witness, that the logical hash politicians make of their Christianity in order to say they are Christian and total party loyalists both at once makes as much sense to us as they hope it will.

But do we really? Do we really believe this? There’s a kind of complicity in these political lies that lives in the no-thought land of those who lie and those who chose to believe them. It seems to fall along the lines of I’ll pretend to believe your lies if you tell me what I want to hear.

So if a Rush Limbaugh or a Newt Gingrich is saying ugly things about someone we don’t like for reasons we agree with, we pretend that they are not behaving like callous demagogues, but are demonstrating stalwart Christian fealty. If the Vice President wants to save medicare, we will let him get by with his claims to be going in two directions at once on a core moral issue. We pretend that he’s stumbled on some heretofore lost jewel of logic that protects religious freedom rather than privatizing and limiting the applications of faith in public life.

For politicians and their acolytes to successfully lie to us about faith, we’ve got to be their willing accomplices. We must, in short, chose to believe them in the face of every objective criteria to the contrary.

And that, my friends, is where faith comes in. Not their faith. Ours.

The question isn’t should politicians be allowed to reference their faith in public discussion and debate. Of course they should. It is also not a question of whether we are free to consider our religiously-based values in picking who we will vote for. Of course we can.

The question is, will we put our faith ahead of our party loyalties and our feel-good, my-guy-against-your-guy tribal togetherness and hold these people accountable? It isn’t our job to make them tell us the truth. Our job is to stop being so eager to believe them when they lie.

Our job, as Christians, is to put Jesus ahead of our political parties. We need to follow Him, not them. And we need to stop letting them get by with facile lies that we know very well are facile lies about their faith commitments.

Let’s take the issue of abortion for a moment. I don’t think for one minute that we have a choice between a pro abortion candidate and a pro life candidate in this election. We don’t have the option of voting pro life. Our choice is between one candidate who promises us abortions. And another candidate who promises us lots of abortions. That’s it. Pro Life doesn’t get in there.

Take the issue of waging war to generate corporate profits and build empire. We don’t have a candidate on the ballot in this presidential race who we can trust to absolutely not commit American troops for any reason other than the protection of the people of this country. What we do have is a choice between a candidate who is partly sold out to corporate interests and corporate desire to make war for money, and another candidate who is totally sold out to corporate interests and the plan to make war for profit.

I could do this on almost ever issue. I could go on all day taking one issue after the next and explaining how both parties and their candidates are not representing you and me.

But the point here is not that the political parties are shills for special interests. The point is that when you are a Christian you have to stand clear of this and demand better of them.

We live in a Democracy. Involvement in our political process is both our right and our duty. As Christians, we have a job of work in front of us to bring the Kingdom. We are here in this life to be Kingdom Builders.

If we are going to do that in the political process, we need to start taking a clear stand for Gospel principles at the precinct, state political party and ballot box levels. When one of our political pundits we agree with starts sounding like hate-filled brass, we need to send them an email telling them we are switching the channel and then actually switch the channel. When one of our politicians raises moral reasoning to an oxymoronic level, we need to let both him and our party officials know that we know the he’s lying.

If we start doing this consistently, they’ll get the message in a surprisingly short time. The only reason they’ve sunk this low in their behavior is because we have rewarded them for doing it.

Does faith matter in this election? Absolutely. But the only faith that really matters is the one that empowers you and me to walk our talk of Christian faith in all aspects of our lives, including the political.

That, and not more gummy rhetoric, is what can save this country.

Thousands Call Planned Parenthood Asking for Imaginary Mammograms

According to Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood clinic director and one of the organizers of “Call Planned Parenthood for an Imaginary Mammogram” thousands of pro-life people called to Planned Parenthood yesterday to ask for the mammograms.

The day before the calls were scheduled to begin, Planned Parenthood issued a statement admitting that it does not offer mammograms. President Obama stated incorrectly in this week’s Presidential Debate that they did offer mammograms. He was repeating claims made by the President of Planned Parenthood in television interviews earlier. (See here.)

An article from LifeSiteNews detailing the story says in part:

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 18, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – The day before hundreds of pro-life activists prepared to flood Planned Parenthood’s offices with requests to schedule a mammogram, the organization issued a statement admitting that they do not offer the cancer screening procedure at any of their facilities.

The calls were placed today as part of “Call Planned Parenthood to Schedule Your Imaginary Mammogram Day” – an event organized by pro-life activists in response to President Obama’s statement during the presidential debate Tuesday that the abortion organization offers mammograms.

“There are millions of women all across the country, who rely on Planned Parenthood for, not just contraceptive care, they rely on it for mammograms, for cervical cancer screenings,” the president had said, repeating a claim he had made earlier this summer in an interview with Glamour magazine.

But Obama isn’t the only one.

The notion that Planned Parenthood offers mammograms is one of the most enduring myths about the abortion giant. The claim is regularly trotted out by pro-abortion politicians eager to defend taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, but wary of invoking its controversial status as the country’s leading provider of abortions.

And it’s no wonder the myth persists. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards herself sowed confusion by citing “mammograms” among her organization’s services in February last year.

Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director turned pro-life activist, and one of the organizers of the “Call Planned Parenthood” day, told LifeSiteNews.com that she and other organizers estimate that more than 1,000 calls have been placed today to schedule mammograms. More than 1,800 people replied to a Facebook event page saying that they would participate in the event, with another 150 responding “maybe.”

Johnson described the event as “extremely successful,” pointing to Planned Parenthood’s statement as a major victory.

Pro-life groups have been hot to expose the false mammogram claim ever since Richards’ “mammogram” remark, which was made in response to a proposed bill to cut Planned Parenthood’s funding in February 2011. In reaction the pro-life organization Live Action called dozens of Planned Parenthood clinics to schedule a mammogram, only to discover that not one of the clinics offered the procedure.(Read more here.)

Today is Call Planned Parenthood, Schedule an Imaginary Mammogram Day

Live Action News has declared today, October 18, 2012 “Call Planned Parenthood and Schedule an Imaginary Mammogram Day.”

This is in response to Planned Parenthood’s inaccurate claims that it does mammograms. President Obama made similar claims in the Presidential Debate this week.

These false claims of medical care that Planned Parenthood does not usually offer go hand in hand with Planned Parenthood’s claim to be America’s “Number One Women’s Health Care Provider.” That particular claim can only be true if you limit your definition of “women’s health care” to abortion.

In truth, Planned Parenthood is an international population control organization with a history of involvement in eugenics. It has pushed birth control methods on women such as the IUD, Depo Provera and the morning after pill, which are much more dangerous for women than less invasive forms of contraception.

Planned Parenthood has a history of attacking anyone who tries to reduce its funding. Foremost among it’s method of attack is to label any attempt to limit funding of Planned Parenthood as a sexist attack on “women’s health.” The most recent example of this is the way that Planned Parenthood attacked Komen Breast Institute when Komen tried to shift grants they’d been giving to Planned Parenthood to other providers.

Claims that Planned Parenthood provides mammograms appear to be an attempt to cast the nation’s number one abortion provider as a full-scale women’s health outlet. The reasons behind this have very little to do with the facts, and quite a bit to do with Planned Parenthood’s constant push for more government funding.

The Live Action News article says in part:

Call Planned Parenthood and Get a FREE Imaginary Mammogram!
by Kate Bryan October 17, 2012 29 Comments

If you were watching the 2nd presidential debate last night, you probably remember President Obama’s claim that Planned Parenthood does mammograms. (Aww, bless his heart. Obama actually thinks that his buddies at the abortion-giant Planned Parenthood do mammograms.)

Mr. President, I’d like to welcome you to the real world – where Planned Parenthood does not do mammograms.

Just over a year ago, Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards was caught in the middle of a massive lie, when she said on national television that Planned Parenthood does mammograms. Well – Live Action was watching (or as Planned Parenthood says, Live Action “women were watching”) and decided to investigate her claims. (See the YouTube video below to view what Live Action found.)

Last night during the debate, President Barack Obama gave a shout-out to his girl Cecile Richards and her pro-abortion posse at Planned Parenthood, and he repeated Cecile’s false claim that Planned Parenthood does mammograms.

It’s time for the president of the United States, Planned Parenthood, Hollywood starlets, and everyone else who has spouted this ridiculous claim to snap out of their fairy-tale world and back into reality, where Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms.

Now – here’s where it get’s fun!

Our friends at And Then There Were None came up with a creative and hilarious idea to help expose the truth even more — and launched the official “Call Planned Parenthood to schedule your imaginary mammogram” day!

Tomorrow is “Call Planned Parenthood to schedule your imaginary mammogram” day, and this is your opportunity to call Planned Parenthood and their comrades out on the false claim that Planned Parenthood provides mammograms.

Planned Parenthood, the president, and countless celebrities have spouted this fallacious claim, and they refuse to admit that they are wrong. So – we’re going to expose the truth (again), and we need your help!

What to do:

TOMORROW, Thursday October 18, 2012

Call 1-800-230-PLAN (7526) to get your local Planned Parenthood center.

Then – tell Planned Parenthood you would like to schedule a mammogram. (Read more here.)

Here is what Live Action found when it investigated

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The Existential Reality of Unbelief and Atheist Anomie

“This is My Body.”

The priest says this, then holds the wafer aloft. The bells ring and the church falls silent.

This is My body.” This bread, that, in the words St Faustina gave us, is the body and blood, soul and divinity” of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

This is My body … the body He spoke of when He said, “he who eats of my flesh … shall never die.”

If this is true, then nothing else matters.

If it’s a lie, nothing matters at all.

A few years ago, an atheist friend of mine leaned over the lasagna on the dinner table between us and said, “Life is nothing, really. You’re born. You live. You die. None of it matters.”

That is the existential reality of unbelief. That simple statement represents our ultimate reality if we are nothing but animated matter. Unbelief is not the liberating viewpoint its proponents like to claim. After those who fall prey to it get past the ‘freedom” to use and be used, to break all the rules and kick over all the barriers of passé Christian morality, they inevitably arrive at the great alone where life without meaning, living without hope defines their reality.

The question of whether or not the priest’s words are true when he proclaims “This is my Body” and elevates that wafer involves a lot more than whether or not there is more to us than they can take apart in an autopsy. It is more than the gift of life after death. What it represents is life, not just after death, but before it, as well.

I lived about 17 years of my life in rebellion against God. I had my reasons. Even now I think they were rather good ones. During those years, I lived as my own god. I decided what was right and wrong. I made my own rules. And I lived by them.

I did many of the things that people who attack Christianity do today. I made fun of churches when talking to my friends. I was ardently pro-choice, and that led me into an active dislike of Christianity and the power of Christian witness. I joined Americans United for Separation of Church and State and I looked forward to the day when churches would lose their tax status. My reason was simple: I wanted the voice of faith to go silent so that I could do what I wanted without anyone trying to tell me no. I was perfectly free to walk my own path, but I didn’t like the constant push back from people of faith about what I was doing.

It was as simple, and as selfish, as that.

What I didn’t reckon with was that being your own god has a peculiar price attached to it that no posturing unbeliever ever mentions. Not only can you be your own petty god, but you must be your own god. Not only can you set your own rules and define your own morality, but you must set your own rules and define your own morality. And when you do harm to others, as you will, the remorse you feel is as cold and pitiless as the philosophy that brought you here.

I never got to the point my friend described in the restaurant that night. I was still young and healthy, with my own eventual death a long way off in a future I couldn’t imagine, much less see. There wasn’t any emotional head-butting against the hard wall of my own mortality. I just failed at being a good person.

Without the “rules” I so despised, I tripped over the edge of what I knew was right and tumbled soul-first into the world of doing what I knew was wrong. The obfuscations worked for years. They tamped down the unease, silenced the questions and made me feel just fine about myself. But there came a day when the truth broke through and I found myself face to face with the fact that I had hurt other people.

Being your own god means that you will come to a day when you either have to face the harm you have done and are doing to other people and change your ways, or you will chose to ignore it and give yourself away to a life of indifference about the pain you cause. If you go the first direction, you will plunge into the pain of remorse and grief. If you go in the second, you sentence yourself to the dry living and lonely dying of life as your own useless god.

I took the first course. It was while I was on that path of remorse and grief that I reached out to the God I had pushed away for so long. I discovered that He was right there, He was real and He loved me with a love like nothing I had ever experienced before.

As usual, there were a lot of things I didn’t reckon with in that turning to God. One of the most important was that the experience of knowing Him re-oriented my view of myself and life. When you look at the world through godless glasses, what you see is what my friend described to me. “Life is nothing. You’re born. You live. You die. None of it matters.”

That is the atheist life view. It is the inevitable and unavoidable conclusion to the belief that reality has no spiritual dimension and that there is nothing to existence but the material universe. Life is nothing. We are nothing. None of it matters.

There comes a point in the life of every person I’ve known who holds this life view when bitterness and anger seem to overwhelm them. The self-portrait atheists peddle to others of themselves as urbane philosophers with a cogent and rational grip on reality doesn’t hold up when you spend much time with them. I lived 17 important years of my adult life with unbelievers as their fellow unbeliever. I know a lot of people who are atheists. I’ve seen them go through all sorts of life situations.

One of the things that is most jarring when I watch them is how their bitterness increases with time. These are tormented people who are trapped in an arid view of life that offers no hope or meaning.

Christianity, on the other hand, provides meaning and symmetry to all of life, including some of its worst happenings. Life matters when you are a Christian, all of life, every life. What you do matters. You matter.

Life for a Christian is more than eternal. Living life forever with a worldview as arid and hopeless as that of the atheist would be a sentence, not a gift. But life when it is viewed through the lens of faith, is rich with meaning and purpose.

Bad things happen to all people. But Christians can see meaning in them. We can know that God will ultimately use even the worst bad thing for good. Nothing, not even death, is the end of our story, and seen through the lens of eternity, the things that overwhelm the atheist do not overwhelm us.

“This is my Body,” the priest says and lifts the wafer, the Host, for us to see, that what he says is true. It is the Bread of Life Abundant.

Full Text of Wednesday Synod Interventions

I thought you might like to read the Interventions from last Wednesday’s Synod.

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 18, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Official Summary and Full Texts of Wednesday afternoon’s Interventions at the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Faith.
* * *
SIXTEENTH GENERAL CONGREGATION (WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 17 2012 – AFTERNOON)
- RELATIO POST DISCEPTATIONEM
- AUDITIO AUDITORUM (III)
Today, Wednesday, October 17 2012, at 4:30 p.m, in the presence of the Holy Father, with the prayer Pro felici Synodi exitu, the Sixteenth General Congregation began for the reading of theRelatio post disceptationem (Report after the Discussion).
President delegate on duty H. Em. Card. Laurent MONSENGWO PASINYA, Archbishop of Kinshasa (DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO).
Some auditors also intervened.
A period for free discussion followed.
At this General Congregation, which ended at 7:00 pm with the prayer of Angelus Domini 254 Fathers were present.
RELATIO POST DISCEPTATIONEM
The General Relator, H. Em. Card. Donald William WUERL, Archbishop of Washington (USA), intervened for the reading of the Relatio post disceptationem (Report after the Discussion).
In his second report, at the conclusion of the general discussion of the Synodal theme in the Hall, the General Relator summarized the different interventions heard in these days in the General Congregations and offered several guidelines for orientation to facilitate the works of the working groups.
Full text is published below.
Holy Father
Synod Fathers
Brothers and Sisters in the Lord
“You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8).

The Synod on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith began with the celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy in Saint Peter’s Square. Our Holy Father offered us guidance with the reminder that one of the ideas that came forth from the Second Vatican Council and that has such an important emphasis in the New Evangelization is the understanding of the universal call to holiness and how every Christian is by definition a protagonist in the work of evangelization. “One of the important ideas of the renewed impulse that the Second Vatican Council gave to evangelization is that of the universal call to holiness, which in itself concerns all Christians (cf. Lumen Gentium, 39-42).”

The saints are evangelizers who bring the Word of God into the world through the witness of their lives. Two examples of this efficacious work of inculturation of the Gospel are St. John of Avila and Saint Hildegard of Bingen, who were declared Doctors of the Church by Pope Benedict XVI at the beginning of this synod.

As we began our deliberations in this aula, once again our Holy Father offered us words of inspiration. In his meditation during the opening prayer, Pope Benedict reminded us that confessio is the first of the two great pillars of evangelization. We must know and proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ. But the second of these pillars is caritas – love. It is only when we have the word inseparably lived in love that we achieve the evangelization so hoped for in this synod. “Faith has a content: God communicates himself, but this ‘I’ of God really reveals itself in the figure of Jesus and is interpreted in the ‘confession’ that speaks to us of his virginal conception at the Nativity, the Passion, the Cross, the Resurrection” (Meditation, October 8, 2012).
Also in the October 11th celebration at which the beginning of the Year of Faith was proclaimed and the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Council was recognized, the Holy Father indicated another important direction for our work. He said: “During the Council there was an emotional tension as we faced the common task of making the truth and beauty of the faith shine out in our time, without sacrificing it to the demands of the present or leaving it tied to the past: the eternal presence of God resounds in the faith, transcending time, yet it can only be welcomed by us in our own unrepeatable today” (Homily, October 11, 2012).

For the past several weeks, we have listened attentively to the reflections on what the New Evangelization means and how the Church might best address concerns that have led to this call by our Holy Father for a New Evangelization. Thoughtful interventions on the part of the synod fathers, as well as the auditores, fraternal delegates and special guests, have enriched our sessions. The ng1033 Ordo Synodi Episcoporum states that it is the task of the Relator Generalto produce a relatio post disceptationem that summarizes as best as possible the discussions so that the next step of the process can continue.
These following reflections are intended in some way to help the discussion in the language groups (circoli minori) as they prepare propositions to offer to the Holy Father at the conclusion of our work. With these observations I also include a number of points for development.

In this relatio, I will summarize some of the observations presented under the following headings:
1. The Nature of the New Evangelization;
2. The Context of the Church’s Ministry Today;
3. Pastoral Responses to the Circumstances of Our Day; and4. Agents / Participants of the New Evangelization.
1. The Nature of the New Evangelization

In the synodal discussions there emerged very clearly the understanding that the foundation of the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Faith is above all the work of the most Holy Trinity in history. God the Father sends his Son who brings with himself the authentic Good News of who we are in the power of the Holy Spirit. The Church is involved in this movement of Divine Self-revelation which begins with the Blessed Virgin Mary under the action of the Holy Spirit receiving in her womb the Word of God who became flesh in her to be able to be given to the whole world. It is the Word made flesh who offers his words of everlasting life to those who place their faith in him. After his death and Resurrection, Jesus sent the Church, his Spouse and new Body, into the world to continue his evangelizing mission.

“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20).
Jesus has freed us from the power of sin and saved us from death. The Church receives from her Lord not only the tremendous grace he has won for her, but also the commission to share and make known his victory. We are summoned to transmit faithfully the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. The Church’s primary mission is evangelization.
In his opening reflection, our Holy Father reminded us that the Church has taken the word “evangelium” and interpreted it in a new and life-giving manner so that our proclamation of it is a share in the prophetic ministry of the apostles – of the Church.
In the same reflection, our Holy Father underlined the primacy of God in evangelization. It is God who speaks and acts in history. We, by means of the fire of the Holy Spirit, are called to work humbly with God through our profession of faith and love through which the Word of God passes through us to touch others.

The Church never tires of announcing the gift she has received from the Lord. The Second Vatican Council has reminded us that evangelization is at the very heart of the Church. In Lumen Gentium, the fundamental text and nucleus of the Council’s reflection on the life of the Church, the Council fathers emphasized “the Church has received this solemn mandate of Christ to proclaim the saving truth from the apostles and to carry it out to the very ends of the earth” (17).

The duty to announce the saving truth is not just the responsibility of clergy and religious. On the contrary, this synod highlighted the important role of every disciple of Christ in the mission of spreading the faith. The discussion accentuated the crucial and vital participation of every Catholic, especially through the eager dedication and gifts of the lay faithful to the mission of evangelization.

Question 1. Through baptism, all Christians are given a personal calling which gives them the dignity of being evangelizers. How can the Church foster greater consciousness among all the baptized of their missionary and evangelizing responsibility?

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb 13:8) and as such, he makes “all things new” (Rev 21:5). This Good News involves the many moments of evangelization. One is the mission ad gentes, that is, the announcement of the Gospel to those who have never heard of Jesus Christ. Another moment in evangelization is the ongoing catechesis and growth in the faith that is a normal part of Christian development. Then there is also the New Evangelization which involves the pastoral outreach to those who have heard of Christ and began once to practice the faith but for one reason or another discontinued.

Question 2. One urgent activity, usually part of parish life, involves the initial proclamation of the faith and its gradual development. How can the Christian community become more aware of the importance of this catechetical and educational activity?

2. The context of the Church’s ministry today
In the beginning of our efforts we were greatly aided by the reflections from bishops representing five continents who spoke to us of challenges and at the same time of the communion of the Church. All of the interventions expressed aspects of the actual situation making reference to continental synodal documents and apostolic exhortations offered by both Blessed John Paul II and our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.
Even as they were diverse in particulars, all of the continents manifested a need for the New Evangelization insofar as their own cultures are affected by the process of secularization, even though it is displayed differently in diverse geographic areas.
Signs of the New Evangelization in Africa, America, Asia, Oceania and Europe include the small Christian communities in a variety of forms that have become living centers of evangelization. Revitalized parishes continued to be the focal point of Church renewal. The action of the laity is an essential and fruitful development. Some also highlighted the mega-trend of globalization and its effects, especially on the young. At the same time, all emphasized that at the heart of the New Evangelization is Jesus.

One particularly delicate situation emerged in the interventions regarding the Middle East. We were reminded of the importance of the presence of Christians in that area and that those Catholics have great gratitude for the recent exhortation, Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, and particularly for the visit for our Holy Father to Lebanon that was a greatly appreciated testimony to the Church in that part of the world dominated now by Muslim influence. There was a clear effort to promote interreligious dialogue as an instrument of peace. There was also recognition of the difficulties that Christian communities face.

The presence of the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams and the fraternal delegates, demonstrated the strong ecumenical commitment of the Catholic Church. This was also noted by a number of synod fathers.
Question 3. Many interventions made clear that there is a consensus that this is a moment of reappraisal of the ministry of the Church in a way that recognizes the new situation in which the Church exercises her perennial ministry of bringing the Gospel of Christ to the world. What have been some fruitful experiences of this activity?
Many fathers spoke of the secularism and indifference to religion that are a part of the culture in many parts of the world. Therefore the Church needs to face the challenges of a world that looks elsewhere for its inspiration.

Many interventions noted the great ignorance of the faith – even of the most basic elements of the faith – that is prevalent throughout even those countries that have a long Christian history.

Question 4. In view of the diminished knowledge of the content of the faith and the lack of appreciation for the Gospel message, what new steps have been taken to promote clear, engaging and complete teaching, particularly to the young?

Globalization also presents unique challenges. The emigration and immigration of large numbers of people have caused dislocation of them from the cultural, social and religious context of their faith. Many religious and human values have been overshadowed by secularism.

Much of culture today presents a vision that weakens the social fabric of society. Some fathers offered examples of local violence and others of a diminished religious freedom. All of this is a challenge the Church faces in many parts of the world. Many fathers spoke of the importance of the means of social communications, particularly new electronic media, as the Church attempts to carry out her ministry of proclaiming the Good News. Some pointed out that it is not enough simply to present Christianity and Christian values on the internet or in religious films. It is necessary to enter into the language of the new media. The Church needs to learn the art of communication from the actual practice of modern social communication.

Question 5. The synod highlighted the seriousness of the challenges facing the Church today that hinder the transmission of the faith, among them an absence of the transcendent in a secularized culture. What are some of the challenges of secularization and what are some potential and existing remedies?

3. Pastoral Responses to the Circumstances of Our Day
There is a need to reinforce the idea of ecclesial communion, a bonding with God and therefore among ourselves as Church. We heard of the need to address the sacraments, particularly the Sacraments of Initiation, the Sacrament of Penance, and above all the focus on the Eucharist.

The overriding need of this age is a spiritual renewal that is the task of the Church to proclaim and effect. Spiritual renewal is the most important element of the New Evangelization insofar as it involves the renewal of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ and a catechesis that fosters our spiritual growth.

Question 6. The proclamation of the Gospel is primarily a spiritual matter rooted in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through the Church. How can the Church better create spaces and moments for an encounter with Christ, and better foster a spiritual renewal, conversion and faith formation among all the baptized?

Our personal commitment does not rest on our own individual resolve alone. The First Letter of Saint Peter reminds us, “You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pt 1:23).

The Holy Spirit enlivens our commitment as we seek to rediscover the truths expressed in the creed. The Spirit strengthens us as we entrust ourselves to the life of grace and virtue promised in the sacraments. The Spirit bolsters our confidence as we open the deepest places of our hearts so that his gifts might strengthen us to live our faith. The New Evangelization should overflow into the very society in which we live. Culture is the field of the New Evangelization. Culture refers to the daily ethos, the various networks of understanding and meaning that give rise to the many, everyday connections between the person, community and society. Culture forms the vital link that relates the person to the community and the community to society.

Along these lines the opportunity to promote the “Courtyard of the Gentiles” was highlighted as a great contribution to the evangelization of culture.

Still others reminded the synod that care of the sick and those who suffer participates in the very essence of evangelization. The sick, those who have disabilities and those with special needs are also able to be agents of evangelization.

One of the repeated themes is the need to highlight the role of the Church as the very presence of Christ in the world today. The Church is not extraneous to the plan of Christ for salvation. A number of bishops spoke of the need to reinforce the role of the Magisterium of the Church when dealing with all of those who are engaged in teaching the faith, whether at the level of theological speculation or teaching at the elementary, secondary or university levels, and in all the expressions of catechesis.

Question 7. The Christian life is characterized by the transformation of the whole person in response to the call to holiness. How can the Church assist all the baptized to live the Christian faith and serve as a witness to the transforming power of God in our history?

Among the pastoral responses that received considerable mention were the works of social justice and the works of charity as an identifying part of the life and ministry of the Church. The ability of the Church to carry out her many works of love, whether in the area of social justice, service, health care or education were seen as part of her identity and a sign for others to recognize the presence of God working in our world.

Question 8. Testimony to Christ’s charity, through works of justice, peace and development, is part of the New Evangelization. How can the Church’s rich social doctrine better proclaim and bear witness to the faith?

Many synod fathers called for a new Pentecost. They spoke of seeing the action of the Church today, enlivened by the Holy Spirit, as a reflection of the energy in the early Church when the apostles set out to bring the first disciples to the Lord. Many of the fathers spoke of the similarity between those early days of the Church and our moment in time today. In this context, it was suggested that there be a formal consecration of the world to the Holy Spirit.

Parishes throughout the Church are the recognized place where for the most part the life of the Church unfolds. Many times the significance of parishes in the unfolding of the New Evangelization was highlighted since this is the “locus” of so much of the experience of people with the Church.

At the same time, the need was affirmed to emphasize the importance of small faith communities as foundational to the work of the Church today in effecting a new Pentecost.

Several synod fathers drew attention to small communities and made the point that they should not become detached from the larger parish family. Each pastor has to be able to work with all of the people entrusted to his care and not be limited to one small part of it.

Question 9. Parishes and small Christian communities occupy a key place in the New Evangelization. How can the parish and these small faith communities better foster and coordinate pastoral initiatives for the New Evangelization? How can the customary pastoral practices in the day-to-day life of these Christian communities be moments in the New Evangelization?

We heard of education into the faith as the starting point for renewal or reinforcement of the New Evangelization, the reintroducing of the world to Jesus Christ. Some fathers highlighted the educational element, especially of the young, as constitutive of the New Evangelization and how we will be able to move into the future bringing people back to the experience of Christ. Synod fathers pointed to the need to find practical and concrete ways to provide young people the proper education in the faith. It is particularly apparent that these moments include instruction of children and adolescents.

Question 10. Since the release of The Catechism of the Catholic Church, great progress has been made in catechetical renewal. How can the Church devise a program of catechesis which is both basic, complete and inspiring in the search for truth, goodness and beauty? The youth are the future of the Church. How can the Church better educate and catechize the youth to the greatness of a relationship with Jesus Christ through the Church, challenging them to commit their lives more fully to Him?

In this perspective, there were those who spoke of putting a renewed emphasis on the minister of catechesis. Catechists can be of great help in the New Evangelization and particularly in the context of families as they communicate the faith to their children.
Question 11. Catechists play a crucial role in the transmission of the faith. Is now the time to give the catechist an instituted, stable ministry within the Church? How can the Church better assist catechists in their important ministry?

Synod fathers spoke of the need to reclaim the Catholic kerygmatic tradition in order to speak the Word of God boldly, in season and out of season, to reclaim the prophetic voice of the Church, to discern the signs of the times that call for the New Evangelization and to engage in proclaiming and living a Catholic response to these signs of the times.

In the same light, a number of synod fathers highlighted the importance of popular piety as an expression by the people of God of their faith.

There was considerable consensus around the value of pilgrimages, especially to Marian shrines. This phenomenon offers a great possibility for evangelization.

Finally, the New Evangelization was recognized as not just a program for the moment but a way of looking at the future of the Church and seeing all of us engaged in inviting, first ourselves to a renewal of the faith and then all those around us into the joyful acceptance of life in the Risen Christ.

4. The Agents / Participants in the New Evangelization
Attention was given to the role of the family. It represents the instrument by which the faith is passed on, even in the most difficult situations. Encouragement has to be given to family life and particularly today when it is suffering so much under the pressures of the new secular vision of reality.

Question 12. As the domestic Church, the family is indispensable not only to the transmission of the faith, but also to the formation of the human person. How can the Church better support and guide the family in its crucial ministry to proclaim the Gospel and take a more active role in the transmission of the faith and human values?
The synod also spoke about the fundamental role of women in the life of the Church and the place of the mother of the family in the transmission of faith.

Systemic and coherent pastoral outreach requires the ongoing permanent formation of priests in the understanding of the joyful proclamation of the Gospel to an age that has little formation into the mystery of Christ.

Those who are preparing for priesthood have to be formed in an understanding of the uniqueness of their ministry and its relationship to evangelization. They also need to be formed in a recognition that they will be dedicating their lives to the service of the Church as celibate priests.

Question 13. The priest occupies a unique place in evangelization and the transmission of the faith. How can the Church foster a renewed missionary imperative to the ministry of priests?

The Church has been blessed by the ministry and witness of women and men in the consecrated life who continue to bring Christ’s love to the world through a great variety of activities. Consecrated life is itself a sign that points out to others the truth of the Gospel.

Many highlighted the role of the laity in the work of the New Evangelization. At every level, whether in the professional areas of education, law, politics, business or in all of the areas of engagement of lay people, it is the task of the individual Catholic to invite people back to the practice of the faith. This is done in word but also and primarily in deed, action and our way of living.

Question 14. The laity are indispensable to the New Evangelization. How can the Church more fully integrate the laity in the organization of the local Church, so that both laymen and laywomen are involved with priests in the evangelization of the community?
A certain number of interventions also highlighted the phenomenon of migration, which is so widespread in our time. It often happens that Catholics arrive in a new environment and are no longer active in their faith. Welcoming and embracing them in the community can be a form of New Evangelization.

The emphasis of Mary, Mother of the Church and of the New Evangelization as a model and patron for our efforts was highlighted a number of times. Above all, her faith prompts us to respond in the same way. It was because of her faith that the Word of God entered into our world. In imitation of Mary, we can bring about through our faith and witness to the life of the Spirit, a change in the world in which we live.

As we begin our work now in determining the propositions that will guide the efforts of this synod in presenting to the Holy Father a frame of reference for his reflection, it seems appropriate therefore to list a number of points among many possible themes:
1. The gratuitous intervention into our existence of God’s love expressed in various ways, but finally and fully in his Word made flesh – Jesus Christ;
2. The gift of the Holy Spirit that enlightens our minds and strengthens our hearts to accept God’s Word and live it;
3. Christ is the subject of our faith and the personal encounter with him invites us to become disciples;
4. We encounter Christ in and through his Church which is his new Body;
5. Christ and his Gospel are at the heart of the Church’s proclamation;
6. All the faithful, laity, religious, and clergy are called to be open to a new Pentecost in their lives;
7. Passing on the content of the faith, the creed, is the task of everyone, but especially in families, in parishes and small communities.
8. The parish is the place where most experience the life of the Church;
9. Some themes of the New Evangelization include the family, marriage, faith formation, religious freedom, care for the poor and the role of the laity; and
10. Mention should be made of practical expressions of the evangelizing work of the Church that seem to be successful.

Conclusion
The growth of the seed takes time. The intentional and deliberate action of diligent and consistent outreach to inactive Catholics on a personal level will plant new seeds as we renew our efforts to proclaim God’s Word and repropose it to those who are now distant from the Church.

The Sower entrusts the seeds to us. We already know our difficulties, the tensions, our restlessness, our faults and our human weakness. Nonetheless, he calls us and places the seeds in our hands and entrusts them to our stewardship. The seed is the beginning of fruitfulness. Planting the seed calls us to live the Word of God and share it with joy.
May Mary, Star of the New Evangelization and example for every disciples, missionary and evangelizer, intercede for us that the work of this synod may result in abundant fruit for the glory of God and the salvation of all men and women.
Thank you.

[00228-02.05] [NNNNN] [Original text: English]

AUDITIO AUDITORUM (III)
The following Auditors intervened:
- Rev. Sister Maria Antonieta BRUSCATO, F.S.P., Superior General of the Society of the Daughters of St. Paul (BRAZIL)
- Mr. Francisco José GÓMEZ ARGÜELLO WIRTZ, Co-founder of the Neocatechumenal Way (SPAIN)
- Rev. Zoltán KUNSZABÓ, Permanent Deacon of the Archdiocese of Esztergom-Budapest (HUNGARY)
- Dr. Michel ROY, Secretary General of “Caritas Internationalis” (ITALY)
- Mrs. Lydia JIMÉNEZ GONZÁLEZ, Director General of the “Cruzadas de Santa María” Secular Institute (SPAIN)
- Dr. Florence DE LEYRITZ, Member of Alpha France Association (FRANCE) and Dr. Marc DE LEYRITZ, President of Alpha France Association (FRANCE)
- Prof. Franco MIANO, President of Italian Catholic Action (ITALY)
The summaries of the interventions are published below:
- Rev. Sister Maria Antonieta BRUSCATO, F.S.P., Superior General of the Society of the Daughters of St. Paul (BRAZIL)

In my intervention I refer to numbers 59 and 62 of the Instrumentum laboris, which I find answers the challenges facing the Church today by the media and digital culture, “the forum of civic life and social experience” (IL 59) and a space for an evangelization, from which to widely spread the Good News of the Gospel.
I praise and bless God for the growing ecclesial sensitivity towards the communication known as new civilization (Ecclesia in Africa, 71), the first aeropagus of modern times (Redemptoris missio, 37), a true and proper culture: that is to say a way of existing, of being in the world.

Paul VI knew this well, from the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi he stated: “The Church would feel guilty before the Lord if she did not utilize these powerful means that human skill is daily rendering more perfect. It is through them that she proclaims ‘from the housetops’” (no. 45).

The enlightened interventions by the last Pontiffs, especially on the occasion of the World Day for Social Communication, have moved and supported the local Churches and other ecclesial organizations to use professionally the various instruments of communication and today’s new media for the proclamation of the message of salvation.
No. 62 of the Instrumentum laboris indicates some of the dangers of the digital culture which however do not cloud the potential of this new communication, able to offer greater possibilities of knowledge, of exchange, of solidarity. The questions call with great for those in the Church that are bold enough “in entering these ‘new aeropaghi’”: how to be effective communicators of the Mystery of God who is communion, witnesses of the love of God who is hope?

In distant 1926, Blessed Giacomo Alberione, the founder of the Pauline Family, wrote: “The world needs a new, long and profound evangelization… Proportionate instruments are needed, and souls lit by faith”.

And this is the big challenge that we must also answer today.
[00317-02.02] [UD037] [Original text: Italian]
- Mr. Francisco José GÓMEZ ARGÜELLO WIRTZ, Co-founder of the Neocatechumenal Way (SPAIN)
The Letter to the Hebrews states, “Since all the children share the same human nature, he too shared equally in it, so that by his death he could set aside him who held the power of death, namely the devil, and set free all those who had been held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death”.

Do we really believe that men, for fear of death, are held in the slavery of the devil all their lives? If we do, then this Synod should say with St Paul: “Caritas Christi urget nos. For the love of Christ overwhelms us when we consider that if one man died for all, then all have died; his purpose in dying for all humanity was that those who live should live not any more for themselves, but for him who died and was raised to life”.

St Paul says that God wanted to save the world through the foolishness of the kerygma, which announces this news.

Faith comes from listening and today we find ourselves in a secularized society that has closed its ears.

If we want to evangelize, we need to give the signs that open the ears of contemporary man. But how can a Christian community reach this stature of loving faith in the dimension of the Cross and perfect unity? Here we find the need for the post-baptismal catechumenate to make faith grow.
[00311-02.02] [UD031] [Original text: Italian]

- Rev. Zoltán KUNSZABÓ, Permanent Deacon of the Archdiocese of Esztergom-Budapest (HUNGARY)
This intervention is based on twenty years of mission experience in Budapest, Hungary and central Europe. The lives of hundreds of people, often entire families have changed thanks to the following principals. This key is a very simple one: to hold fast and believe the spiritual law of evangelization, which the Church, explaining to us Holy Scripture reveals. These are also referring to Instrumentum Laboris points 131 to 141 on the first proclamation of the Gospel and in point 28 on the content of the Gospel.
Because of the Conciliar and post-conciliar documents the entire process of transmitting the faith is clear before us. It begins with a proclamation, which is the Kerygma, that is to say the Gospel of Jesus Christ, including a call to conversion and repentance. Then a process of catechesis, based on the faith born of the first hearing of the Good News. It is very important that we clearly see this process and we follow this order.
It is also very important for New evangelization to be clear about the content of the basic Gospel. We must make it clear that this is a salvific message today just as much as long ago. Sin tears men from God just as much today as it did in the time of the Apostles. If we preach the Gospel faithfully, we will also see that this leads to the sacramental life, people will want to be cleansed by the water of baptism, to be reconciled through the sacrament of repentance, and to commune with Christ through the Holy Eucharist.

The highlight of my mission work was the Budapest City Mission in 2007. When answering the call of His Eminence Cardinal Peter Erdö, the entire archdiocese, joined in unprecedented unity to declare and share the Good News. The Kerygmatic preaching, and the invitation to join the community of love that is the Church, has since changed many lives, especially among the poor, the homeless and marginalized people and many of the youth.

[00197-02.03] [UD014] [Original text: English]
- Dr. Michel ROY, Secretary General of “Caritas Internationalis” (ITALY)
The practice of charity is a constitutional element of the nature of the Church and her mission of evangelization, and all in the Church are involved.
The new evangelization must show that the diakonia of the faith and the diakonia of charity are not separate and independent, but it is a question of one single diakonia with two aspects. Even more: the motor of the mission, the bearer of the vision should always be the diakonia of charity.

Because of this, charity must be the structural element of the self-same nature of the Church if she wishes to be evangelizing. It is worthwhile for the Synod to give her the place due to her in the reflection on new evangelization and for her to be encouraged and reinforced in her evangelizing dynamism.

Charity lived in the Spirit not only makes us missionaries, but evangelizes us as well. And today, we joyfully recognize that there are many, every day more and more, workers of charity, volunteers and employed, who make of their work in the social-charitable action of the Church the explicit field of their involvement in evangelization. We would like for them to have a place among the topics dealt with, on the manner in which Christian faith should be transmitted today.

We acknowledge that the practice of charity is one of the signs of credibility of the Church. We can often see, in our Caritas, brothers and sisters who come to us from indifference, agnosticism and unbelieving, through the socio-charitable service, discovering what the joy of believing and placing one’s life in the same phase with Jesus Christ within the Church truly means. We would like for the evangelizing characteristic which they bear within themselves to be recognized in a great number of actions that are carried out in the service of charity and the way of exercising them.
This does not mean that we do not recognize the need, at the same time, to deal with the evangelizing dimension of charity and formation in this domain, so that we may know how to make this service raise questions on the reasons and meaning of what we do, inviting to conversion and easing the proclamation of Jesus and His Gospel. In the same way we must cultivate the spirituality that can give consistency to the evangelizing characteristic of charity. The Synod could provide a good service to the new evangelization if it would give us positive orientations on the attention to be brought on formation and spirituality in the charitable action, which allows the revival in her of her evangelizing force.

The fundamental question in new evangelization is not only in knowing how to proclaim the Gospel, but in asking ourselves if the Gospel we proclaim is a good news for the poor, and if we, as Church, can make this Gospel credible. The service of charity must be the motor of the mission and its sign of credibility.
[00233-02.02] [UD020] [Original text: French]

- Mrs. Lydia JIMÉNEZ GONZÁLEZ, Director General of the “Cruzadas de Santa María” Secular Institute (SPAIN)
The Instrumentum laboris (nos. 147-149) calls us to do the work of evangelization, education in the current difficult situation of the “educational emergency”. In this sense, how do we have to be Catholic educators, what should Catholic school be like? I would like to indicate some ways:
1. – Maintaining Catholic identity of our schools.
2. – Establishing in our schools serious and integral program of faith formation.
3. – Creative fidelity to the founding charisma.
4. – Practice of virtues through a serious program of education of the will.
5. – Affective Educational Program. Encourage the practice of charity.
6. – Personalized attention.We have seen, with sorrow , how many students in our Catholic schools, rigorously educated in the study, have become social leaders who are enemies of the faith and the Church. That our schools are not centers of very “educated” but “unbelieving baptized.” And we have also seen with joy, how in colleges, universities, where the identity is maintained and the education of the faith is carried out, vocations emerge from its own Congregation for all conditions of Christian life. The Bishops are asked to pay special attention to the Catholic-owned centers in their dioceses. Ensure that they do not disappear and maintain their clear Catholic identity as an effective contribution to the formation of new credible evangelizers.

[00306-02.03] [UD027] [Original text: Spanish]
- Dr. Florence DE LEYRITZ, Member of Alpha France Association (FRANCE) and Dr. Marc DE LEYRITZ, President of Alpha France Association (FRANCE)
The Alpha Board is an instrument of kerygmatic announcement in the service of parishes and chaplaincies created 30 years ago and proposed in 160 countries, in 110 languages. Close to 20 million individuals followed it, many of whom had vivifying encounters with Christ. What lessons can be drawn from this experience for pastoral conversion?

Three great processes structuralize evangelization: 1. A first evangelization lived as a time of initial conversion allowing for the personal encounter with Christ; 2. The formation of disciples favoring the apprenticeship of Christian life; 3. The development of leaders through the recognition of the missionary potential of the laity and their deployment within the Church and in society.

Few pastors effectively know how to articulate these three processes which are detailed in Evangelii Nuntiandi, Chap. 2: This transformation leads to not believing in the sympathy, the sympathy to conversion, the conversion to the life of the disciple, and the life of the disciple to the mission.

For New Evangelization not to be diminished to a mere slogan, and for the communities to be the fertile terrain where disciples-missionaries may grow, priests must develop the ability to lead the pastoral with an organized and systematic approach. It is key to articulate these processes amongst themselves in a pastoral continuum that links the first proclamation to the development of missionary disciples, on the basis of their spiritual gifts, that could make the Kingdom of God radiate around the Christian community.

The New Evangelization requires new pastoral competencies. The Munus Regendi is brought up here. We have conceived for the profit of priests and bishops formations of pastoral government. Experience shows us that we can conceive the Church like a community apprenticeship where one must find again to place oneself in the listening of the Word of God to grow in faith, to form as disciples and practice a pastoral government that is profoundly evangelical.

[00309-02.02] [UD029] [Original text: French]
- Prof. Franco MIANO, President of Italian Catholic Action (ITALY)
The laity is called to participate in the entire mission of the Church, “they carry out for their own part the mission of the whole Christian people in the Church and in the world” (LG, 31). The Council message thus places the lay vocation in a particularly meaningful light that expresses a lively feeling of co-responsibility in the local Church and in the Universal Church. The discovery-rediscovery of this vocation, of the profound feeling of lay participation in the whole mission of the Church, appears to be one of the fundamental tasks which new evangelization is facing.

New evangelization requires new abilities of relation and relationships, individuals who know how to tell, with their life, the marvels of God, needs ties to a good, beautiful, true life. Here then, the intrinsically community dimension of the life of the Church, which has its foundation in the great gift of communion, today, asks to be evermore valued, with the goal of a renewed announcement of the Gospel to men and to women of our time. Even in the consciousness of the plurality of itineraries which are so rich in our ecclesial life, we again think about the parish, the place where we find our houses, where our families live, where the first relationships are built.

In the life of the parish, and even before at the service of the diocese, Catholic Action may represent a privileged place where the proper dynamics of relations in an ecclesial way are activated, where each one learns to understand that the great gift of faith and all the gifts received have a community destination. The vocation proper to Catholic Action, according to the indications of Vatican Council II, is in placing itself at the service of the whole, in being associated diocesan laity, in being able to be the concrete laboratory for new evangelization in the reality of the particular churches, around the Bishop, giving perspective and activation to the pastoral orientations. We offer our availability to the pastors of our particular Churches on behalf of the many lay faithful who await demanding formative proposals, intense personal relationships which being an association helps to cultivate, committing ourselves to walk the path of holiness, following the many saints and blesseds to become witnesses and apostles in the contexts of life: youths, adults, children, families, teachers, students, professionals, workers… all involved and protagonists, all responsible in evangelization and in the new evangelization to favor in the individuals we meet daily a new encounter with the Lord.
[00312-02.02] [UD032] [Original text: Italian]

JP2 Feast Day Approved for American Church

Blessed John Paul II has a new feast day here in America.

The Congregation of Divine Worship has approved the celebration, setting the feast day for Oct 22. It will be observed as an optional memorial in the United States. Oct 22 was chosen because that is the day he was inaugurated as Pope in 1978.

Pope John Paul II is one of my heroes. I’ve read many of his encyclicals and been inspired by all of them. His writings on women are especially dear to me. I think that when he consecrated Russia to Our Lady, he set the stage for what no one ever thought you happen: The non-violent dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us.

Stop Slogan-Voting. Stop Hate-Voting. Stop Being Manipulated. DELAYED UNTIL NEXT MONDAY

I’m going to delay this week’s installment of Stop Slogan-Voting. Stop Hate-Voting. Stop Being Manipulated. until next Monday.

We’re just about ready to turn the corner from diagnosing the problem to talking about solutions. That may be a good place to take a breather, anyway.

Tune in next week, and thanks for your support and input as we’ve made this journey together.

Have a blessed Monday, my friends!

The HHS Mandate: Erasing the Bill of Rights

Frank Weathers, who blogs at Why I Am Catholic, usually says it better. His post, Why the HHS Mandate is a Foul and Dangerous Thing, is no exception. It begins with a cartoon that encapsulates the whole messy mandate and its assault on our basic freedoms in a drawing. I put the cartoon below. Can anybody say it better?

Read the rest of Frank’s fine post here.

No Endorsement: Dems for Life Give Obama a Pass

Democrats for Life does not endorse Obama

BY BEN JOHNSON
Mon Oct 15, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 15, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – An organization dedicated to promoting the pro-life cause from within the Democratic ranks says it will not endorse Barack Obama for re-election as president of the United States in 2012.

“Our policy is to endorse candidates that are both pro-life and Democrat. We do not endorse Republican candidates and we do not endorse candidates who take a public position to support abortion,” Democrats for Life stated. “Since neither of the candidates meet our criteria, we will not endorse a candidate in the 2012 Presidential Race.” [sic]

Obama has been called the most pro-abortion president in history by many pro-life organizations.
DFLA also declined to endorse Barack Obama in 2008 and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry in 2004.

Although there are some 21 million pro-life Democrats according to the group, and polls show a majority of Democrats support some abortion restrictions, the party has grown increasingly hostile over the last four years.

“We seem to acknowledge all the big diversity within our party, but when it comes to life, it’s awful silent,” former Congressman Bart Stupak told CBN News last week.

This spring, Democrats for Life asked the party to change its platform to recognize that Democrats hold “differing positions on issues of personal conscience, like abortion and the death penalty.”

Instead, the party adopted the most pro-abortion platform in its history, calling for taxpayer-funding of abortion through all nine months of pregnancy. (Read more here.)

Presidential Debate 2: Abortion, Planned Parenthood, HHS Mandate

President Obama raised the specter of a war on birth control during the debate last night. According to him, Governor Romney, if elected, is going to limit your access to contraceptives. This particular set of claims has become almost pro forma whenever pro abortion people debate those who are pro life. These statements are untrue. However, as with many lies that are so easily told today, they gain traction simply by virtue of being repeated again and again.

The people who keep pushing this lie base it on four assumptions, all of which are untrue.

1. They equate any opposition to unlimited funding for Planned Parenthood with a “war on birth control.”
2. They ignore the simple fact that legal access to birth control as a private matter is, as a result of a Supreme Court decision, protected by the Constitution of the United States.
3. They equate attempts to force religious institutions to pay for birth control with all legal access to contraceptives. They seem almost to be saying that if they can’t force churches to violate their teachings women will not have access to contraceptives. This is such an obvious lie, but they keep repeating it.
4. They erroneously imply that a lack of contraceptive availability is the cause of almost all abortions.

All four of these assumptions are untrue. But that doesn’t stop Planned Parenthood and its supporters from pushing them as if they were absolutely accurate at every turn.

There was no lack of this nonsense in the debate last night. I think it is ridiculous to say that Governor Romney is in any way attacking or waging war on contraceptive availability. The people who try to claim this are doing it by equating Planned Parenthood with all contraceptive availability. This is simply not true.

Yet President Obama made these same charges in the debate last night.

I could talk about many different issues which were covered in the debate, but I’m going to limit myself to this one. It is an essential point for pro-life people to understand and to be able to articulate. There are far too many people who are unaware of how inaccurate these charges are.

The following YouTube video is a good example of how this biased viewpoint can be presented in a subtle and effective fashion. It’s convincing, even though what it’s implying is not true. Have a look at it and see if you can spot the manipulations.

YouTube Preview Image

Politics, Religion and Lilies That Fester

To Dolan or not to Dolan? That was the question.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan and his offer to pray the Benediction at the two political conventions were all the news a few weeks ago.

It seems that he offered to pray at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. The Republicans, who are sharper tacks all around when it comes to currying religious political favor, answered with an immediate yes and then used their publicity machine to spread the word.

They made the most of the fact that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the head of all the bishops in these United States, was going to dip his vote-getting toe into their little pond. In their glee over what they obviously wanted to play into a de facto endorsement by the Catholic Church, they did everything but put out press releases saying, “We bagged the big guy!”

The Democrats, on the other hand, dissed the good Cardinal and his attempt at bi-partisan even-handedness by not even bothering to reply when he offered to pray the benediction at their convention. Their message, which was equally loud and clear, was “We don’t need no traditional Christians.”

It would have stayed like that if the Republican publicity machine hadn’t set off a mini-firestorm with its announcements. It looked, as the Rs intended, like Cardinal Dolan was playing favorties between the two political parties. Gloating Republicans slapped him on the metaphorical back while outraged Dems denounced him for being a partisan political hack.

Forced to defend himself, he explained that he had offered to pray at both conventions, and the Republicans had accepted his offer. The Democrats, on the other hand, had not even acknowledged it.

The officials who run the Democratic Party evidently had their heads stuck so far up their own militant secularism that it took them a couple of days to figure out that this wasn’t the big vote-getter they had originally believed. This gave time for the whole thing to become the church-state fight du jour.

Cardinal Dolan, and through him the Catholic Church, became one of the many bones of contention that allow the two political parties to chew on one another in their never-ending quest to get to 51% of the electoral vote.

After a few days of dealing with public indignation over this bit of hubris, the Ds evidently decided that maybe one itty bitty prayer wouldn’t compromise them all that much. Cardinal Dolan and his benediction were a pill they would swallow.

The two political parties want slightly different things from the Church. The Republicans want control of the Church’s moral voice so that they can use that voice to win elections. The Democrats, who have given up on using the Church’s moral voice, want to silence the Church, and, as much as possible, strip it of all its ministries.

Both parties want to bend the Church to their purpose and their will. The Republicans want to do this by patronizing the Church. The Democrats by attacking it. The result in both instances would be to slice and dice the Church down to an equally voiceless political carcass to be fed on and ignored.

That is precisely what the Rs and the Ds have done to every other denomination who has worked with either one of them. The so-called liberal Christian denominations and the so-called “evangelical” or “conservative” denominations have both carved up the Gospels to suit their politics. We expect certain denominations to give us a hatched up phony Gospel supporting corporatism, and the economic rape of the American people. We know that certain other denominations are going to come blaring in with their truncated Gospel supporting abortion on demand and same-sex marriage.

We expect it. We know it’s coming. And truth be told, this weary wariness of what are obviously bogus claims to holiness on the part of these denominational-leaders-political-operatives is a big part of what is driving the ugly secularism that is developing in this country. We just don’t believe these guys are speaking for anybody but themselves.

These religious leaders have so destroyed the Gospels on which they stand in order to fit in with their political crowd that they are useless and shorn. They don’t have a moral and prophetic voice left.

The only denomination I’ve seen that has stood against this, the only voice that has refused to edit the gospels down to a political convenience in the name of getting their boy elected is the Catholic Church.

My great fear is that the pressures of fighting these fights against the out-of-control secularism and social nihilism that are tearing at our society will erode the Catholic Church’s determination to stay clear of politics and follow the Gospels. I am afraid that the Church will allow itself to become another bite of power in the maw of these two political parties. I dread the day on which the Catholic Church’s moral and prophetic voice is cast before political swine. I dread it to my core; not only for my Church, but for my country.

I hope and pray that I will never hear the American Bishops endorse a political candidate or a political party. As a Democrat, the way my party treated Cardinal Dolan disgusted me. If I had any remaining ability to be ashamed of my party, I would be ashamed of them. If I was a Republican, I would be equally ashamed of them, for different reasons.

I have seen the way that Republican office-holders treat the religious leaders who pushed to get them elected once they are in office. I have also seen those same religious leaders cow-tow to the elected officials and back down on the very moral issues that they say prompted them to be politically involved in the first place. It is an ugly and disillusioning thing to have to watch.

I don’t know how to be cynical enough about both these two political parties. I try, but my cynicism just can’t keep up with them.

I am not cynical about my Church. I go to mass and touch Jesus in the Eucharist and I am healed. There’s no way to be cynical about that.

I understand that the bishops are trying their best to defend the Church in what is an unprecedented attack in the HHS Mandate. I understand how grave this is. I also know, sadly, that both parties want the Mandate, each for their own reasons.

The Mandate helped the Republicans bag the big guy. It is probably why more and more Catholics are switching from Democrat to Republican. I think it is why the Democrats rudely ignored Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s generous offer to pray at their convention. Both parties are playing to their base, and right now their lead violin is the Catholic Church.

The only church that the politicians I know still respect at all is the Catholic Church. I think there are two reasons for this. First, the Catholic Church is big. It represents millions of votes. Second, neither party has succeeded in getting the Church to edit the Gospels to suit their politics. The Catholic Church still calls both parties to task when they violate the teachings of Christ. The same Pope who refuses to bend the Church’s 2,000-year-old teaching on the sanctity of human life also refuses to support neo-con goals of corporate dominance and the endless wars of empire. I don’t know of any other church that does this.

There’s an old saying in politics; keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. The Church is the enemy of both the Democrats and the Republicans for the simple reason that it has, at least until now, refused to be co-opted by either of them. Politicians want to control, to co-opt groups and organizations and turn their purposes to the politician’s use. That is what the Republicans have succeeded in doing with a large number of denominations and what they are currently trying to do with the Catholic Church.

If they can’t control and co-opt, then politicians try to strip the person or group of power and influence so that they can’t give them any trouble in the future. It’s the classic “you’re either with me or against me” scenario played out in terms of budget items, regulations and laws. That is what the Democrats are trying to do to the Catholic Church right now. They have, as their Republican counter-parts have, managed to co-opt a large number of denominations; to get them to interpret the Gospels in ways that favor Democratic party goals. But they’ve given up on ever being able to turn the Catholic Church to their purposes.

Enter the HHS Mandate, the refusals to give grants to Church organizations who won’t refer for abortion and all the other ugliness we’ve seen and will continue to see.

The bottom line here is that neither political party is anybody’s friend. Nobody’s. Not yours. Not mine. And certainly not any church that preaches and teaches the Gospels of Christ.

Do we need the Church to step up and be the prophetic voice of God in our society? Oh my, yes we do. We need them more now than ever before.

But the very fact that we need them so badly is a reflection of what choppy water they are going to encounter as they do this. Our culture is trapped in a downward spiral. It is disassembling itself morally, spiritually and economically. Only the truth of the Gospels can equip the American people to save themselves from themselves. We need revival, but we will never get it from anyone less than a true follower of Jesus Christ.

Politics and politicians have to be engaged. We live in a democracy, which makes involvement in politics our duty as well as our right. But our god must be God, not our political parties.

Too many good people have been led astray  by bad shepherds who have taken the R or the D for their god, and have taught us to do the same. These religious leaders have become false prophets and failed shepherds who lead the flock astray. They are like Shakespeare’s lilies, who, when they fester, stink far worse than weeds. One failed religious leader does more damage than many militant secularists.

My humble suggestions to the bishops, and any other religious leader who is thinking about involving themselves in politics, are these:

1. Never, never, never compromise the Gospels of Christ for any political party. Call the Republicans out on their economic policies and blast away at the Democrats for their attacks on the sanctity of human life and marriage. Don’t compromise the gospels for these birds. Please.

2. Be prepared to be disliked, pandered to and, if the pandering fails, accused and abused. The world does not like real Christians. It never has.

3. Let the laity be the ones to slug it out in the political trenches, but arm us with good teaching and absolute fidelity to Christ so that we may do it well. Teach us. Lead us. Inspire us.

The Catholic Church is the only effective moral and prophetic voice left in this country. My plea to Cardinal Dolan and all the bishops is please, don’t allow my Church to become another religious political pawn.

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David Green, Hobby Lobby CEO, Explains HHS Lawsuit

David Green, CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby Stores, issued a statement yesterday concerning the lawsuit Hobby Lobby, Inc filed against the HHS Mandate. I thought you might find it edifying to read. The source for this article is Charisma News. Check it out for similar stories.

Hobby Lobby CEO: Christian Companies Can’t

Bow to Sinful Mandate

David Green
David and Barbara Green

When my family and I started our company 40 years ago, we were working out of a garage on a $600 bank loan, assembling miniature picture frames. Our first retail store wasn’t much bigger than most people’s living rooms, but we had faith that we would succeed if we lived and worked according to God’s Word. From there, Hobby Lobby has become one of the nation’s largest arts and crafts retailers, with more than 500 locations in 41 states. Our children grew up into fine business leaders, and today we run Hobby Lobby together, as a family.

We’re Christians, and we run our business on Christian principles. I’ve always said that the first two goals of our business are (1) to run our business in harmony with God’s laws, and (2) to focus on people more than money. And that’s what we’ve tried to do. We close early so our employees can see their families at night. We keep our stores closed on Sundays, one of the week’s biggest shopping days, so that our workers and their families can enjoy a day of rest. We believe that it is by God’s grace that Hobby Lobby has endured, and he has blessed us and our employees. We’ve not only added jobs in a weak economy, we’ve raised wages for the past four years in a row. Our full-time employees start at 80 percent above minimum wage.

But now, our government threatens to change all of that. A new government healthcare mandate says that our family business must provide what I believe are abortion-causing drugs as part of our health insurance. Being Christians, we don’t pay for drugs that might cause abortions. Which means that we don’t cover emergency contraception, the morning-after pill or the week-after pill. We believe doing so might end a life after the moment of conception, something that is contrary to our most important beliefs. It goes against the biblical principles on which we have run this company since day one. If we refuse to comply, we could face $1.3 million per day in government fines.

Our government threatens to fine job creators in a bad economy. Our government threatens to fine a company that’s raised wages four years running. Our government threatens to fine a family for running its business according to its beliefs. It’s not right.

I know people will say we ought to follow the rules; that it’s the same for everybody. But that’s not true. The government has exempted thousands of companies from this mandate, for reasons of convenience or cost. But it won’t exempt them for reasons of religious belief. So, Hobby Lobby—and my family—are forced to make a choice. With great reluctance, we filed a lawsuit, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, asking a federal court to stop this mandate before it hurts our business. We don’t like to go running into court, but we no longer have a choice. We believe people are more important than the bottom line and that honoring God is more important than turning a profit.

My family has lived the American dream. We want to continue growing our company and providing great jobs for thousands of employees, but the government is going to make that much more difficult. The government is forcing us to choose between following our faith and following the law. I say that’s a choice no American—and no American business—should have to make.

David Green is the CEO and founder of Hobby Lobby Stores.

 

But Leave it There

I respected the woman speaking to me. She and I had the same background, shared most of the same beliefs. But we were at odds that day. She looked at me with the hot-eyed stare of a person who is not to be reasoned with and pointed her finger at me to emphasize her words.

“You can go to church as much as you want,” she said, “but leave it there.”

She was angry with me because I had passed a bill that, among other things, required unemancipated minors to either get parental consent or a judicial bypass before elective abortions.

The abortion wars destroy friendships in politics, and my friendship with this lady was ending over this bill. I could have said a lot of things to her that day, but I sensed some deep wound driving her anger, and I didn’t want to hurt her. So, I held my tongue. I knew as I walked away that this woman who had been my friend was now my enemy.

I also knew that her request that I leave my faith in the church pews was both arrogant and common. Accusations that people who believe in the sanctity of human life are trying to “legislate their religion,” or that they want to “build a theocracy” are standard commentary from the other side of the debate.

I try my best to never reply in kind. I don’t call people who favor legal abortion names. I don’t attack them for slips of the tongue or research their personal lives looking for sexual peccadilloes, embarrassing photos from long-past fraternity parties or ugly divorce testimony.

I do all I can to let them have the low road if they want it so much and keep my focus on the one thing I care about in all this, which is my simple belief that it is wrong to kill people. I won’t use my job to kill people. And I won’t help anyone else kill them, either. I know that sounds almost comically simple. But adhering to it in a legislative environment can get you cursed, reviled, slandered, picketed and, yes, advised to leave your faith at church.

I’ve been getting these demands that I be a sham Christian for years. Go to church all you want. We don’t care. But leave it there. The people who say this are usually in a froth of self-righteousness when they do it. They can look at you with such hatred that it almost scorches your skin. And they almost always toss in a canard about “separation of church and state” to give dignity to what is in reality an outrageous thing to say.

It’s ironic. People are always accusing politicians of being hypocrites, but in this instance we have a large segment of the population actually demanding it of them.

“Go to church all you want, but leave it there” has nothing at all to do with separation of church and state. There is nothing in the First Amendment that says that elected officials may not reference their personal religious and moral beliefs in the decisions they must make.

I don’t believe this lady was worried about separation of church and state. I think she wanted me to live and vote according to her beliefs rather than my own. That’s the core of these attacks. It’s that you’re not doing what they want you to, and attacking you with bogus nonsense about separation of church and state and building a theocracy sounds better than just pitching a fit and saying “Do what I tell you or else!”

Unfortunately, this line of reasoning has advanced far beyond me and what an angry lady said to me in the hallway outside the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Today we have the Health and Human Services Department of the United States Government telling the largest religious denomination in America virtually the same thing and backing it up with what amounts to a draconian threat.

Teach what you want from the pulpit they tell the Church. But if you don’t bend to the government and violate those same teachings in your institutions, we will fine and penalize you out of business. That’s the gist of the HHS Mandate compelling the Catholic Church to provide insurance coverage for birth control and abortifacients for the employees of its institutions.

What it all comes down to is that the Federal Government is telling the Catholic Church “Say mass as much as you want. But leave it there.”

And, yes, this time it really is a violation of separation of church and state.

Stop Slogan-Voting. Stop Hate-Voting. Stop Being Manipulated. Part 8. Hate-Voting = Using the Devil’s Weapons Instead of the Armor of God.

Hate-voting for Christ is an oxymoron if there ever was one.

Hate-voting is the fine art of defaming the people you disagree with in order to punish, diminish and hurt them. Hate-voting destroys your Christian witness. When you say you are a Christian, other people will judge Jesus by you. When you spout a steady stream of invective aimed at people you disagree with politically, you are telling the world that following Jesus means being full of hate, rage and engaging in slander.

Hate-voting destroys your witness for Christ. It also separates you from Him in your heart.

I have no right to attack other people in the name of Christ and neither do you. As the bumper sticker says, we aren’t perfect; we’re forgiven. Stop for a moment. Think honestly about your own sins. You deserve to go to hell. So do I. We are saved, by the horrible price of the cross, from getting what we deserve. We owe a debt we can never repay. We who have been forgiven so much, do not have the right … we don’t have the right … to put ourselves in the place of AlmightyGod and viciously attack other people made in His Image.

It’s not all our fault. We’ve been deliberately manipulated into hate-voting by political pros who make extraordinary amounts of money for getting us revved up and full of hate. Remember the first equation: Your Vote = Their Power? That’s what this expensive manipulation of little ole’ us is about.

Political demagogues abound in our world. They mouth hatred at us from their “news” desks in the corporate press. Faux religious leaders, bent on gaining political patronage, follow suit, declaiming slander from their pulpits. Over in the cheap seats, bloggers chime in by passing along scandalous lies and making up a few of their own.

The political candidates themselves wage campaign battles focused on personal attack and talking about the other guy. We almost never hear one of them talk about what they would do with the power of government if we gave it to them. Even when they do, they confine their discussion of “the issues” to bullet points and bumper-sticker-speak. Both sides do it. Every election.

So, hating isn’t 100% our fault. Anyone who spends too much time listening to the loony hate-filled invective that passes for political discourse in our country today will find hate-voting hard to resist. However, no matter how much we are provoked, no matter how skillfully we are incited, each one of us is responsible for what we say and do. We’re not children. Children don’t hate-vote. Hate-voting is, by definition, the act of a legal and moral adult. I don’t think the old “the media thou gavest me” tempted me excuse will work for us any better than it did for Adam.

Hate-voting gives us the fruits of another, darker, spirit than the one we claim to follow. It’s fruits are bitterness, anxiety, self-righteousness and grandiosity.  It’s like a drug that clouds the mind, and like all mind-altering drugs, it is highly addictive. Hate-voters become addicted to the satisfying sense of power that comes from hurting other people, the grandiosity they feel from elevating the person they oppose to demonic status and then seeing their vote as a high moral drama with themselves as the hero of the story. This sense of power and grandiosity is the high of the drug hate-voting.

The search for another hate-vote fix leads people to keep on piling on the invective between elections, and then to continue hate-voting over and over, election after election. The names and faces of the candidates they oppose change, but their self-righteous certainty that this person is the devil incarnate transfers from one candidate to the next.

Hate-voting is the antithesis of how a Christian should approach their responsibilities as citizens in a democracy.

There is something evil in each of us, me included. None of us escapes original sin. We take nasty delight in repeating vile accusations. We enjoy the feeling of camaraderie that comes with being part of the crowd that hates together.

On the other hand, we do not like the aloneness of being the one who says “Wait a minute. I disagree with this person, but I don’t think he or she is a monster.”

Anyone who takes this stand will immediately find themselves on the outs with the hate-voters in their world. It is never enough for hate-voters that a person is willing to stand and fight for the issues they both believe. They will only accept people into their tribe who are willing to cast aside their thinking faculties and join them in their invective and hate. It is a tribal thing, and it has nothing, nothing, to do with Jesus Christ.

The cost of refusing to join in with the gang hate-offs that inspire hate-voting can be, will usually be, the loss of that cozy in-with-the-crowd belongingness that feels so good to most of us. Following Jesus almost always means standing for Jesus against the crowd. It just does. This is true even when the crowd in question is a group of professing Christians.

The surprising benefit to it is that refusing to hate-vote tends to clear your mind. The addiction to hate, bitterness, and slander fogs your brain. It swings the door to your heart wide open and lets the devil sashay his way in to control of your life.  From what I’ve seen, the more you focus on other people’s sins, the more you forget about your own. The more you forget about your own sins, the more self-righteous you become. The more self-righteous you become, the further away from God you move.

Refusing to hate-vote doesn’t mean you also refuse to say the truth of the situation. It doesn’t mean that you make excuses for sinful acts and give up your intellectual and moral capacities to weigh, evaluate and decide the right or wrongness of policies and behavior. It simply means that you focus on the wrong that is done, and not the person. This will make you more effective in your stand for what you believe, not less so.

The early Christians were confronted with living the Gospel in a world far more hostile and pagan than our own. It must have been tempting for them to turn to violence and terrorism. But St Paul told them to follow another way. “Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil,” he said.

And what is that armor that he spoke of? Was it swords and shields and clanking breastplates? No. It is righteousness, truth, peace, faith, salvation and the Holy Spirit.

There is not one word in this about calling other people names or tearing them down to build someone else up. St Paul further said, that they — and we — are not engaged in a war against people. We are fighting “powers and principalities.”

We can not defeat the devil by using the devil’s weapons. That is why I am so emphatic that we must stop attacking persons and begin talking about the ideas and ideals that we believe. We must lay down the sword of defamation and put on the armor of God — truth, peace, faith, salvation, the Holy Spirit and true righteousness born of a humble awareness of our own sinful state.

This brings us to our final equation. It’s simple to understand and hard to accept. But if we want to live as Christians, we must make the effort.

Hate Voting = Using the Devil’s Weapons Instead of the Armor of God

Miracle Story: Fatima, Warning of Hell and Prophecy for Our Time

A photostatic copy of a page from Ilustração Portugueza, October 29, 1917

 

Yesterday was the 95th anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun at Fatima. I’ve been to Fatima. It was an important turning point in my life that I may write about in the future.

I thought you might enjoy this video commemorating it.

Have a blessed Sunday.

 

 

 

 

YouTube Preview Image

The Gift and the Miracle

“Old age is a shipwreck.”

That quote is attributed to Charles de Gaulle, John Kennedy, Orson Welles and various others. It would seem that a plethora of famous folks feel that old age and its attendant ills and declines is a misery and a curse.

I am taking care of my 87-year-old mother in the weakness of her slow going home and I have to say I disagree with these famous men. Old age is a gift. It is a tenderness and a sweetness and a time of extreme clarity and trust.

My mother was a tomboy. She climbed trees and played baseball. When she wasn’t playing sports, she was an absorbed fan, watching from the bleachers or listening to games on the radio and later watching them on tv. Now, she walks with a cane, and I have to help her up and down, in and out.

My mother loved to drive her car, insisted on owning one. She got her driver’s license, in an era when girls didn’t always get a license, the first day she was eligible and she drove herself where she wanted to go every day after that. Until the day I had to take her car keys from her so that she wouldn’t hurt herself or someone else. Now, she waits for rides and comes and goes according to other people’s schedules.

My mother lit up her first cigarette when she was 17 and smoked like a diesel for the next 70 years. Until the day the doctor told her that another cigarette might shut down her copd-afflicted lungs and I had to ban them from her existence.

My mother, who was and is my most stalwart supporter, my cheering squad, my best friend. No matter what I’ve done, both good and bad, my mother was always there to back me up, stand by me and help me out. I’ve always known, never doubted, never for a single moment considered any other possibility, that she would lay down her life for me anytime, anywhere, any hour or day that I needed it.

If I needed a heart transplant, my mother would say, “Here, take mine.” If I started robbing banks, she’d get mad at the bank.

I talked about my father in another post. My parents were insanely proud of me, totally trusting of me, and they convinced me from an early age that I could climb the Empire State Building bare-handed if I wanted to.

So, why, now that my brave tomboy mother walks with a cane and is dependent on family for all her care, do I say that old age is NOT a shipwreck?

Because, well … because it’s not. It’s a time of life; a return to innocence and trust and a laying down of responsibility and worry. My mother was always a worrier, a half-empty child of the depression who knew that every silver lining has its cloud. But she’s past that now. At some point that neither one of us noticed when it happened, she turned all her worries over to me.

The same mother I’ve trusted all my life now trusts me to care for, manage and make right all the bothersome details of her life. She trusts me the way my children trusted me when they were babies. She is so sweet, so dear, so unbelievably precious, that I could never, ever, never, regard this time of care taking and leave-taking as anything but a gift.

Is taking care of my mother while managing a demanding job a “burden?” Is it something that I resent or wish was different? Nope.

It’s a gift and a blessing. All God ever wants to do is bless us. But sometimes His blessings look different than we expect. We pray, in the words of Janis Joplin, for a Mercedes Benz. We get instead blessings of love, life and the responsibilities for one another that are part of living and loving.

Old age is not a shipwreck. It is one of the times of our lives. It is a gift of grace and beauty; a return to innocence and childlike joy for the one who is aged; a time to cherish and give back for those of us who haven’t gotten there yet.

I would not miss one day of the time I’ve spent with my mother, not from the days she took my hand and walked me safely across the street, to now, when I do the same for her.

That is the gift and the miracle of love.

The War on Girls: NYC Schools Pushing Plan B on Young Girls

In an act of disregard for the health and welfare of young girls, the New York City school system is handing out morning-after pills to girls as young as 14, sometimes before the girls have even had sex.

The morning after pill involves taking higher than normal doses of hormones, which, evidently, concerns almost no one, not even most of the girls’ parents. Parents in the NYC school system can sign an opt-out form for their daughters, but less than 2% have done so. I would imagine that part of the reason for this parental indifference is the way that “Plan B” has been pushed on our society. The risks associated with taking these hormones, especially when they are used as a form of birth control, are minimized or not discussed.

According to the Population Research Council:

At home and abroad, the abortion, family planning, and population control groups which seek to promote MAP ignore the scientifically-proven risks of levonorgestrel (the sole active ingredient of Plan B MAP). These well-documented adverse side effects include significant weight gain (on average 15 pounds), depression, ovarian cyst enlargement, gallbladder disease, high blood pressure, respiratory disorders,4increased risk of ectopic pregnancy5 and death. In some women, these serious adverse effects of levonorgestrel-type MAP could lead to further health risks for bulimia, anorexia, or clinical depression.

While these risks are multiplied with increased use, the advocates of MAP promote its increased, frequent, and repeated use. The makers of Plan-B, MAP suggest it “can be provided as frequently as needed,”6 as if it were candy or Tums. The wholesale promotion by the profiteers is undercut by solid evidence, and warnings advising women and physicians to limit usage, or to not use it at all.7 Norplant, the drug very similar to Plan B, was linked to severe medical problems which were never adequately studied or acknowledged by the FDA or the drug manufacturer (please see PRI’s Norplant information page, posted athttp://www.pop.org/main.cfm?

Also, the psychological pressure this puts young girls under to engage in sex is usually left out of the discussion. I have counseled young women in a crisis pregnancy center. I found that a lot of the young women were not engaging in sex because they enjoyed it. They said that they felt it was required of them. A lot of these girls seemed to have no idea that they could say “no.”

Plan B increases the pressure on young girls to engage in unwanted sex, since it gives boys the argument that they can always “get the morning after pill” from the school nurse. According to an article in the Sunday Times Magazine, quoted by ProLife Alliance:

A group of girls from a deprived area explained the morning after pill was just another way for men to force them into sex. The way these men see it, if there is no possibility of pregnancy, there is no reason for the woman not to have sex with them. One girl said “If you say you don’t want to have sex, they say ‘Give it up, don’t be silly, get down the clinic [to get the morning after pill].’” Another remarked that “boys push you into sex by saying you can take it the next day.”  These women believed that the morning after pill had reinforced their sexual subjection, helping men to force them into sex and placing sole responsibility for the consequences onto their shoulders.

Even affluent young women from public schools, who did not feel forced into sex, were in a less empowered position as a result of the morning after pill.  One said “It’s like it doesn’t matter how drunk you’ve been, or what happened”, because you can still take the morning after pill.  Another noted that she had taken the morning after pill “after a one-night stand where I was so drunk I couldn’t remember the next day if we had used protection.”  The morning after pill reassures them they can get so drunk they lose all memory without consequences.  But the morning after pill only protects them from pregnancy.  When they are that drunk, they are not empowered; they are often incapable of making sexual choices and open to sexual assault and other violence.

In addition to health risks from Plan B itself and the risk of being blackmailed into sex they don’t want, the morning after pill is an abortifacient. Like most of the other risks associated with this drug, the possibility of tricking a young girl into an abortion by schools who are pushing this drug on them does not seem to be addressed. In fact, the drug is touted as a panacea for avoiding abortion. According to a CNA article:

… the most recent study (2007) by Doctors Mikolajczyk and Stanford of the Department of Medicine in Public Health of the University of Bielefeld (Germany) clearly indicates that the pill’s “real effect” includes mechanisms that prevent implantation.

Published by the magazine Fertility and Sterility, the study used data from multiple clinical studies with advanced mathematical models and concluded that if emergency contraception only inhibited ovulation its true effectiveness would only be in a range of 8-49 percent.  If it acted before ovulation and if it inhibited ovulation completely, its true effectiveness would be between 16-90 percent.  The rest of the pill’s effectiveness consists in its anti-implantation mechanisms, which cause an abortion.

As usually happens in these so-called efforts at reducing teen pregnancy, the one person whose welfare is not considered is the girl, and the one person whose responsibility is not addressed is the boy. This pushing of a dangerous drug on young women at such a young age is, in my opinion, just the old sexual double standard, retro-fitted for today’s culture.

The article below discusses this in more detail.

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s a campaign believed to be unprecedented in its size and aggressiveness: New York City is dispensing the morning-after pill to girls as young as 14 at more than 50 public high schools, sometimes even before they have had sex.

The effort to combat teen pregnancy in the nation’s largest city contrasts sharply with the views of politicians and school systems in more conservative parts of the country.

Valerie Huber, president of the National Abstinence Education Association in Washington, calls it “a terrible case once again of bigotry of low expectations” — presuming that teen girls will have sex anyway, and effectively endorsing that.

But some doctors say more schools should follow New York’s lead …

… New York’s program was phased in at health clinics at about 40 schools in the 1-million-student school system starting about four years ago. Since January 2011, it has expanded to 13 additional schools that don’t have clinics. The little-known program was reported on Sunday by the New York Post.

Nurse practitioners or physicians dispense the pills, and parents can sign an opt-out form preventing their daughters from taking part. Only about 1 to 2 percent of parents have opted out, according to the city Health Department. (read more here.)


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