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Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth.  Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.  Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore, it says: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”

Ephesians 5:8-14

Yesterday, we attended the Confirmation of the oldest son of a family with whom our family is close. It struck me during Mass that this passage from the second reading applies very aptly to the young people; indeed to all of us.  This entire chapter of Ephesians gives good instruction on the importance of right thinking.  In our modern context, it is a sure shield against moral relativism.

Pray for our Confirmation recipients.

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The uprisings in the Arab world continue to spread and the next target may well be Syria.  Ed West, the journalist blogger I linked in the previous entry, writes about the possible collateral effects should the current Syrian dictatorship be the next to fall.  I myself have not wished to see any of the Arab dictators toppled because the map seems to be moving to ever more increasing Islam fundamentalism, but Mr. West’s observations regarding Syria cause me to be especially prayerful for the outcome.

But whatever our sympathy for reformers, should we be so eager for regime change? Perhaps we should be sceptical. Because if the Assad family go, there’s a fair chance that the language spoken by Jesus Christ will go too. Syria is a predominantly Sunni Muslim country but it also has significant Shia and Christian minorities. The Assads themselves are Alawites, a Shia sect of Islam dismissed by hardline Sunnis as “little Christians”, who celebrate Easter and Christmas and use bread and wine in their religious services. Whatever else they’ve done, the Assads have managed to keep the country, a mix of Sunni, Shia, Druze, Alawite and Christian, free of conflict. After what happened in Iraq, especially to that country’s poor Christian minority, do we dare risk the same thing in Syria? I’m not even sure the Israelis, the Assads’ arch-enemies, want that.

Syria has an awesome Christian heritage. Damascus itself has a beautiful Christian quarter with a relaxed, slightly Gallic atmosphere, and such treasures as the house of Ananias and an Orthodox cathedral on Straight Street, where St Paul had his conversion.

And about 40 miles north and 5,000 feet up there’s a town called Maaloula, nestling on a narrow stretch of hillside road and accessible only through one road (which still has a gate), where Aramaic is still spoken as the main language, which Lonely Planet compared to finding a Latin-speaking town in the Umbrian hills. There one can visit a fourth-century Orthodox convent of St Sergius and Bacchus, and hear the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic (when I went it was full of Iranian Shia women in chadors, as Shia Muslims revere the shrine). It’s an incredible scene.

Read the entire essay here.

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Sorry for another repost of someone else’s article but I stumbled upon this gem that is absolutely worth a look.  (Plus, I know if I post the article on my website, I’ll always know where to find it!)

Rob Dapreau of Catholic Phoenix writes this essay on what “carrying our cross” means, and even more, how to carry it.  He writes,

…Christ willingly embraces both our cross and our crucifixion. He does so freely, out of love. Why he would do this is a mystery so great that it is incomprehensible when looked at from a paradigm of justice. We can only begin to understand it when we look at it through eyes of love.

When I taught high school, I would often ask my students what should be done about a society that was officially instituted to provide for the common welfare of its members, but in practice, systematically took advantage of one of them. The exploited person was always expected to eat cold food, take cold showers, and wear old clothes, so that the others—who rarely showed appreciation and regularly showed contempt—could have the best of everything.

They would decry the injustice and suggest everything from castration to crucifixion as a remedy. Then I’d drop the bomb on them: “That’s your family, and that exploited member is your mom.”

Crickets.

The thing is, most moms, like Jesus, aren’t motivated by justice; they’re motivated by love. This means they find happiness in making their loved ones happy. A good mom is more than willing to deprive herself for her children, but even a great daycare worker will strike if you try to make a mother’s level of commitment into the standard employees are expected to meet.

Love is the only thing that can make sense of sacrifice. The only right response to sacrificial love is love. We show our love and gratitude to Jesus by keeping his commandments, including the one with which I started this post.

Here are some things to consider as we try to follow the way of the cross.

The rest of his essay is just as good.  I especially like his reminder not to drag our cross, but to bear it cheerfully.  I find myself dragging mine from time to time, so this was a great visualization and nudge.  Read the rest here.

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Many babies died to get this picture.

 

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And each one said to his neighbour: Come let us make brick, and bake them with fire. And they had brick instead of stones, and slime instead of mortar:  And they said: Come, let us make a city and a tower, the top whereof may reach to heaven; and let us make our name famous before we be scattered abroad into all lands.   Genesis 11: 3-4

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“Life once conceived, must be protected with the utmost care; abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.”  Gaudium et Spes, Second Vatican Council

 

IVF.  In vitro fertilization, also called artificial insemination.  The joining of an egg and sperm in a laboratory, creation of life in a test tube.  For some, it is a miracle.  They wonder at the majesty and brilliance of the medical profession, the advances man has made and exclaim what good man can do.  They forget, ignore, or willfully deny that man can do no good without God for God is the source of all good.  Our civilization is baking the bricks of our own technological Tower of Babel, and when we reach the top, when the medical community solves the riddle of life, we won’t need God anymore.  We’ll be like gods ourselves.

What a comforting thought. 

“After all,” we tell ourselves, “isn’t it God’s fault that there is poverty, want, ignorance, war, injustice, death and decay?  Isn’t it God who ignores our prayers and denies us what we desire, fails us in our wants, frustrates our right to have what we want when we want it?”  Well then, let’s not rely upon God.  His plan wasn’t very good and we can make a much better one.  Let us then make our own path.  Take the painful situation of infertility, of an absence of our own flesh and blood children.  Who is God to deny us our right to bear children?  I am entitled to have children, when and how I like, and it is not God placeto deny me, nor yours to judge me.  Like Lot’s daughters, we conspire, “Let us go into our doctors’ houses and lie with them so that we may have children.”

From UK‘s Daily Mail comes this priceless story of a 58 year old single woman who through IVF now has twins.  That’s her in the picture above, holding one of the children.  This story exemplifies all that is wrong with the western society’s brave new world of medical and technological advances.  Without moral grounding, you get this sort of thing.  To sum up the story, 58 year old Carole Hobson, a lawyer, decided that now that she was in her 50s, she wanted a child.  She admits never wanting one before.  Her boyfriend of eleven years felt differently.  So she ditched him and started her quest to get her some kids.  This involved an egg from India, sperm from Scandinavia, 5 rounds of IVF treatments, one abortion, £20,000, a team of National Health Service medical staff (paid for by British taxpayers), the birth of twins and the hiring of a fulltime nanny.   So single senior citizen gets her brand new kiddies with national healthcare, goes back to work and drops off the longed-for children with the college student who is going to raise them.  Sounds like a very happy ending, right?

Actually, interestingly, tellingly….no.

In one of those twists that reminds us who is God and who is not, mother Carole Hobson is overwhelmed and full of regret.  As the newsreporter writes–

Carole, sleep-deprived, pole-axed by the reality of caring for baby twins and anxious for their still fragile health, appears to illustrate perfectly the proverb: ‘Be careful what you wish for . . . you might just get it.’

But it’s early days yet and, to be fair to Carole, she looks far less frazzled than I’d expected, given the demands of twins. She seems to be  incredibly well and has a calm, loving commitment to her babies — but it’s hard to detect any sign of euphoria.

….

She was admitted to Medway Maritime Hospital as an emergency on December 17, suffering from pre-eclampsia and a winter respiratory virus. The decision to deliver the twins was made on Christmas Eve after Carole’s liver and kidneys started to fail.

‘Half an hour before the Caesarean, I was shown around the neo-natal unit where the twins would be taken after their birth and that’s when I sobbed my heart out, thinking: “What on earth have I done?” ’ says Carole.

‘I was crying for my babies and what they might have to go through to survive. That’s when the enormity of the situation hit me and I doubted whether I’d done the right thing.’

No, she didn’t do the right thing.  She did a very selfish thing and has brought those children into a life in which there is no father or mother, their legal mother may die before they even come of age and her plan is for nannies to raise them.  Those poor kids.  And I note that it is a funny time for her to wonder what her babies have to do to survive, given all that they had done to survive up to this point.  She had been pregnant with triplets but chose one to murder in the womb.  That’s called “a selective abortion” and is so frequent in IVF pregnancies that not having one or more abortions is rare.  So both of these twins had already survived one of her choices.   And these babies were born on her 5th round of IVF, meaning that literally 20-30 babies had already died prior to their arrival.  So dozens of dead babies preceded these tiny twins in life. 

What drives a person to such lengths?  Well, selfishness mostly.  It sounds to me as if Carole is greatly in need of love, a relationship with God and forgiveness, as her life decisions seem to be on a path of increasing destructiveness.

She described to me the extraordinary lengths she went to in order to achieve her goal, batting away any criticism of her quest for late, single motherhood with clear-headed logic and well-rehearsed argument.

She explained how it wasn’t until her late 40s and early 50s that — having lacked all maternal instinct in her 20s or 30s, while she forged her career — she came to bitterly regret her childlessness.

Her then partner of 11 years, a geologist, was not keen on the idea, so Carole decided to go ahead alone, effectively sacrificing their relationship on the altar of motherhood.

In pursuit of doctors who would help her, Carole travelled from Kent to the Ukraine, back to London, to Cyprus and finally to a fertility clinic in India — which treats women up to the age of 63 — where her fifth attempt at IVF proved successful.

‘I felt incomplete without a child,’ she said, explaining that she went to India because of shortage of egg donors elsewhere.

‘I want to seize every opportunity that medical science can offer me, as a woman. Some people might accuse me of being selfish or going against nature, but isn’t it going against nature to perform transplants or heart surgery? I’m no more selfish than any other woman who wants a family.’

Sin is like this.  We get embroiled in a few sins and before you know it, we have lost our relationship with God.  We may search to replace Him even.  I think that’s what happened here, with the helpful assistance of the Tower-building medical community.  Why didn’t someone say no?  Cause medical professionals are builders not moralists or ethicists.

So let’s review Catholic moral teaching:

Heterologous artificial fertilization violates the rights of the child; it deprives him of his filial relationship with his parental origins and can hinder the maturing of his personal identity. Furthermore, it offends the common vocation of the spouses who are called to fatherhood and motherhood: it objectively deprives conjugal fruitfulness of its unity and integrity; it brings about and manifests a rupture between genetic parenthood, gestational parenthood and responsibility for upbringing. Such damage to the personal relationships within the family has repercussions on civil society: what threatens the unity and stability of the family is a source of dissension, disorder and injustice in the whole of social life. These reasons lead to a negative moral judgment concerning heterologous artificial fertilization: consequently fertilization of a married woman with the sperm of a donor different from her husband and fertilization with the husband’s sperm of an ovum not coming from his wife are morally illicit. Furthermore, the artificial fertilization of a woman who is unmarried or a widow, whoever the donor may be, cannot be morally justified. (italics in original)

Why does the Church teach this?  Is it because she is out of touch?  Is it because she is run by a bunch of old guys who have no idea what desire feels like?  Is it because God hates us and wants us to be disappointed, frustrated and miserable?  No.  No. No.  It is because of love.  God will show us the path to life.

The Church’s Magisterium does not intervene on the basis of a particular competence in the area of the experimental sciences; but having taken account of the data of research and technology, it intends to put forward, by virtue of its evangelical mission and apostolic duty, the moral teaching corresponding to the dignity of the person and to his or her integral vocation. It intends to do so by expounding the criteria of moral judgment as regards the applications of scientific research and technology, especially in relation to human life and its beginnings. These criteria are the respect, defence and promotion of man, his “primary and fundamental right” to life, his dignity as a person who is endowed with a spiritual soul and with moral responsibility and who is called to beatific communion with God. The Church’s intervention in this field is inspired also by the Love which she owes to man, helping him to recognize and respect his rights and duties. This love draws from the fount of Christ’s love: as she contemplates the mystery of the Incarnate Word, the Church also comes to understand the “mystery of man”;  by proclaiming the Gospel of salvation, she reveals to man his dignity and invites him to discover fully the truth of his own being. Thus the Church once more puts forward the divine law in order to accomplish the work of truth and liberation. For it is out of goodness – in order to indicate the path of life – that God gives human beings his commandments and the grace to observe them: and it is likewise out of goodness – in order to help them persevere along the same path – that God always offers to everyone his forgiveness. Christ has compassion on our weaknesses: he is our Creator and Redeemer. May his spirit open men’s hearts to the gift of God’s peace and to an understanding of his precepts.  (footnotes removed) (emphasis mine)Introduction to INSTRUCTION ON RESPECT FOR HUMAN LIFE IN ITS ORIGIN AND ON THE DIGNITY OF PROCREATION REPLIES TO CERTAIN QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

Christ our Creator and Redeemer has compassion for us and God forgives.  I am praying that this mother who is realizing the repercussions of her monumental decision, will find in her disappointment, fear and difficulty that God loves her and her children and wants her to choose Him from now on.  This is a moment that could change this woman’s life.  We all have these moments and we know as believers that God takes the fruits of our selfish decisions and works His plan through it.

Read the full Daily Mail article here.

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I meant to post this closer to last weekend, but travel and illness kept me from it.  However, I am very happy that our namesake has been beatified.  Chiara “Luce” Badano was declared Blessed on Saturday, September 25, 2010.

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Young Chiara Luce Badano has been an inspiration to me for the way she wholely, unreservedly and intentionally chose to accept God’s plan for her life.  Her joy is palpable in her actions of her life, in her words passed down to us, and in the very photos of her life, especially her long terminal illness.

Blessed Chiara Luce, pray for us!

(Click here to see the very moving video on her life and cause which Rome Reports has posted.)

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St. John the Baptist. Pointing us the way to Christ.

Steve Wood on his EWTN radio program Faith and Family Live was talking about the prophetic ministry of St. John the Baptist.  He made some thought-provoking points worth mentioning here.  He referenced Men’s Conferences and other Catholic conferences.  He asked how their success should be measured, by how good everyone felt when they left, or how troubled they were when they left.  He tied it back to John the Baptist, because John the Baptist wasn’t reassuring his listeners; he was shaking them up and usually telling them things that frankly, they did not want to hear.  He said we should be aiming at our conferences to be speaking truth, even truths that are hard to hear.

Steve also discussed the Baptist’s warning to the Jews that their inheritance as Jews was not enough, alone, to please God and their birthright was not an assured place in heaven. Then Steve applied John the Baptist teaching to us, saying (paraphrased from memory):

There are no “coattail Catholics.” Yes, you have a great inheritance as a Catholic.  Yes, you were blessed that your mom and dad were Catholic and you were baptized into the Catholic Church.  But I’m telling you right now that unless you repent, unless you begin living your life in a way that is pleasing to the promises of Christ Jesus, you will wind up in Hell and not only that: you’ll be in a worse spot in Hell than unbaptized pagansYes, you heard that rightIf you squander your inheritance, that’s where you are going.

That’s a little bit of awesome and a whole lot to digest for some of us.  Steve Wood did credit to John the Baptist today.

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Caught an interesting article in the Detroit Free Press.  I was shocked that Nancy Pelosi was not also attending because this sorta thing seems to be right up her alley — or squarely in her playbook, depending on how you look at it. 

Seems the faithful Christians in the Episcopalian, Methodist and United Unitarian churches here in Detroit are making sure that Conservatives aren’t hijacking Jesus’ message.  That message was apparently not about the Kingdom of God, or the Way to the Father or eternal salvation.  Apparently, Jesus’ message was all about establishing perfect social justice here on little ol’ earth:

Saying that social justice is at the heart of Christianity and other religions, activists gathered today in a Detroit church to say that faith can play an active role in fighting for change.

The meeting at Christ Church Detroit, among the day’s events as part of the U.S. Social Forum, illustrated the role of religious groups in political and social movements.

Three years ago in Atlanta at the last U.S. Social Forum, there was little religious participation, say organizers. But this year, a number of forums, workshops and services are focused on religious organizations and faith. And a Detroit church, Central United Methodist, has been the center for organizing this year’s forum.

“Faith is about justice,” said the Rev. Ed Rowe, pastor of Central United and a social activist. “Without justice, faith is living a lie. If your faith is just about helping only the people who are inside stained glass windows, we ought to quit.”

The U.S. Social Forum is attracting thousands of activists from across the U.S.

Today’s church gathering, which attracted 100 people or more, featured a re-enactment of a parable about laborers in a vineyard in the Book of Matthew in the Bible. In the story, it seems that the “land owner equals God,” said Lily Mendoza, associate professor of culture and communication at Oakland University.

It led to a discussion about the nature of labor, immigrants and power in the modern world.

Jesus started a “peasant resistance movement,” said Jim Perkinson, professor of social ethics at Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit. “Is the CEO of GM or Chrysler … God?”

Local religious leaders with Detroit-based Interfaith Worker Justice are helping organize a number of events at the forum, including a 9:45 a.m. rally Thursday in front of JP Morgan Chase Bank to protest working conditions of some farm workers and to urge that the bank stop foreclosing on unemployed homeowners.

The Free Press also says that Jewish, Hindu, Muslm and Buddhists are also participating.  No word on whether they are planning to join Jesus’ peasant resistance movement.

I am not sure if the Free Press attempted to contact Nancy Pelosi for her comments on St. Joseph the Worker, or her commitment to communist-ecclesiastical dialogue.

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