Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I Wish I was a Whale

In 1984 or so,when I was a graduate student, writing instructor, and divorced mother of two small children, I wrote a pro-life opinion piece that was published in the Minnesota Daily. In the article, I described waiting for a bus with my children one frigid day in downtown Minneapolis and seeing protesters parading with bloody photos of battered baby seals. They didn't seem to be attracting any censure, which seemed unfair to me, since protesters who carried photos of bloody aborted babies are roundly condemned.

I was reminded of that article last week, when a friend from my traditional Latin Mass schola gave me a Pro Life Zinger check to pay for some local honey I'd picked up for her. The check is printed with a cartoon of a pregnant woman on her way to an abortion clinic. A thought balloon originating from the womb of the cartoon woman says, "I wish I was a whale."

It is not an exaggeration to say that as a society, we often seem to have more compassion for the offspring of seals and whales and owls than we have for our own species.

The Life Checks company that makes the ProLife Zinger checks is not trying to make light of abortion. They are trying to provoke a reaction against it. In case you are interested in this cause and can handle a little scorn, you can purchase Life Checks for yourselves by contacting 1(888)524-3257 http://tinyurl.com/proLifeZingerChecks

We Cannot Deny We Are Aware of the Atrocity

THIS PHOTO SHOWS: Schwabmunchen 2 after the Allies liberated Germany. German civilians were forced by the Third Army soldiers to dig up bodies, make coffins, and give the victims more-decent burials. The photo shows about 500 Germans attending burial services for the victims. The German pastor conducting the services said local residents were unaware of the atrocity.

In Germany during Nazi rule, if a Catholic protested in front of a death camp, perhaps with a sign that said, "Stop the Killing!" he or she would almost certainly have been killed too.

Here and now, if we protest in front of a place where abortions are performed, we only risk scorn and perhaps a feeling of futility. Some of us might get arrested. The abortions continue in spite of our prayers, works, and occasional sufferings. Thanks to the peaceful, prayerful protests, a few lives are being saved here and there, but many long years have passed since abortion was legalized, and still every year millions are being mutilated and killed in their mother's wombs.

In the face of great evil done in the name of a faulty ideal, it seems that even well-meaning individual citizens are pretty much helpless to stop it.

I suspect that there may come a time when people like me, who stand by helplessly, complaining perhaps to one another, but not doing anything more that an occasional prayerful vigil at an abortion clinic, we may be condemned for our complicity because we didn't go far enough. That thought struck me recently when I've been looking at movies that showed how American soldiers punished Germans who had lived near the death camps.

Old army films on YouTube from 1945 show how the Americans rounded up the well-dressed middle class Germans from nearby villages, brought them to the camps, and made them dig up the dead from the mass graves and rebury them. The Germans were forced by the Americans to perform these tasks amidst the putrid stacks of rotting bodies that the Nazi guards had slaughtered and left behind before the guards had run away.

The actions that the Americans took against the Germans who lived near the camps reveal that the Americans must have felt that the villagers should have done something to stop the horror, no matter what it might have cost them. I wonder if that is a realistic thing to believe, that the so-called good Germans could have made a difference?

It's impossible to believe their claims that they didn't know what was going on. The stench of the smoke coming out of the crematorium chimneys alone must have been a dead giveaway of what was going on inside.

I have been known to tactlessly predict to abortion supporters that when the world wakes up and exposes the heinous crimes of our abortion-justifying society, people who stood for the "right" to abortion will be held accountable. Now I also think that we who stand by and wring our hands might also be held to that same standard.

I remember as a child after World War II hearing members of my family wonder, "How could the Germans have stood by and done nothing?" How, indeed?

But, as I think of it, the killing in both cases is quite similar to the atrocities practiced by the Romans at the time of Christ. The Romans were no less brutal than the Nazis with their gladiator games and crucifixions. If one person in a village fought against the Roman or the Nazi occupation, the rest of the town was decimated. Decimation meant that one out of ten of the people in the town were killed in retribution.

Maybe for us it's a mix of things that's stopping us: Helplessness and fear. We have not been punished yet for disagreeing, but that day might yet be coming.

Maybe we aren't supposed to rise up and take the strong actions it might take to turn things around? The early Christians didn't fight the Romans, they concentrated on being holy themselves. But still, shouldn't we be doing everything in our power to make the killing stop? I don't know. I really don't know.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Questioning Two of Obama's Notre Dame Commencement Statements About Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Reducing the "Need" for Abortion

[Y]ou have to search far and wide to find out about the fact that embryonic stem cells have already been proven to be too undifferentiated to be useful. They morph unpredictably when injected into another person, not changing into the desired sort of cells but often becoming cancer cells.

...Obama doesn’t realize that the fallacy of "free sex" and the fallacious idea that we cannot control ourselves outside of marriage have led to accepting abortion as a price a woman has to pay for her “freedom.”

See below for more.

[Photo: Rev. Fr. Jenkins, President of Notre Dame, Beams at Obama's Compliments]

During his commencement speech after receiving an honorary law degree at Notre Dame University on May 17, 2009, President Barack Obama made two statements that obviously contradict Catholic Church doctrine. And after both statements, to my sadness, thousands of the badly catechized Catholic graduating class and their families cheered.

Pity the Poor Families Awaiting Great Cures for Family Members. Or Pity Them for Being Fooled by the Embryonic Stem Cell Hype?

Obama mentioned Catholics who believe that it is wrong to kill a human being for research purposes in the same breath with parents who have been propagandized into thinking that stem cell research may be their only hope for a child suffering from an uncurable disease such as diabetes. And to my sadness, thousands cheered.

This uncritically accepted statement is yet another indication that embryonic stem cell research has been hyped so much that it is protected from normal scientific accountability. The fact is ignored that only adult stem cells have actually proven useful. They are already being used. My podiatrist uses them to help in healing foot bones after surgery. But you have to search far and wide to find out about the fact that embryonic stem cells have already been proven to be too undifferentiated to be useful. They morph unpredictably when injected into another person, not changing into the desired sort of cells but often becoming cancer cells.

Setting aside how embroyonic stem cell research is a heinous act because it ends the life of a human being, it should be reconsidered because it is also a futile act. Many embroyos are already been killed for this research, and their cells are being experimented upon. And the results so far are zero.

Reducing the "Need for Abortion"--By What Means, Licentiousness Combined with Contraception? Or Self Control Along with Obedience to the Will of God?

Obama also mentioned one of his campaign slogans that convinced at least one Catholic niece of mine of his good will,that we should work to reduce the “need” for abortion. And to my sadness, thousands cheered.

Obama didn’t talk about the means he would use to meet that goal: contraception.

Many "modern-thinking" Catholics refuse to admit that contraception is a root cause behind the abortive mentality, even though the Church teaches against it as the grave evil that it is. Pope Paul VI spoke of these and other consequences in his Humanae Vitae.

Contraception supports the mindset that intimacy outside of marriage is a great good that should be defended at all costs, even when it costs the lives of children through abortion when they are conceived when they aren’t wanted, and it often costs the heartbreak of the mother, the father, and/or the grandparents, who might want the child if their freedoms to choose life hadn't been eroded.

Obama seems not to realize that the fallacy of "free sex" and the fallacious idea that we cannot control ourselves outside of marriage have led to accepting abortion as a price a woman has to pay for her “freedom.” As a journalist friend recently wrote me, it is a sad thing that women have been convinced that their freedom depends on their being able to kill their own children. I have always noted that the loudest spokesmen for "freedom of choice" have been ... men, like Hugh Hefner, licentious proponents of mens' being able to access women for sex at any time without any commitment.

Wake up! There is never any “need” for abortion, no matter what the circumstances are of the child’s conception. It is always and everywhere true that two wrongs (rape and abortion, incest and abortion, a child’s deformity and abortion, a woman’s inability to carry a child to term without risk to her life and abortion) do not make a right. Two wrongs never never make a right..

It is also a lie that teaching children about sex separate from marriage and making contraception freely available reduces unwanted pregnancies. But that topic is for another day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Conservatives are Happier! Is This Old News to Everyone But Me?

Conservatives are more likely to be older, married and religious, all of which increases happiness [quote from "How Our Unconscious Votes," Newsweek May 26, 2008]

I found the above quote in an old Newsweek in a break area at work. I know this is almost a year old, but I've been out of touch. :-) Below is more of the context from the article.
In a 2006 survey by Pew Research Center, 47 percent of conservative Republicans described themselves as "very happy," but only 28 percent of liberal Democrats did. That led columnist George F. Will to write that "liberalism is a complicated and exacting, not to say grim and scolding, creed. And not one conducive to happiness." ... The right-left happiness gap existed not only in the United States but in nine other countries, too. In part, that's because conservatives are more likely to be older, married and religious, all of which increase happiness.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Few Things Can Constitute a More Explicit, In-Your-Face, Denial of Catholic Seriousness than the Choice of Pro-abortion Commencement Speakers

Father Richard John Neuhaus, the late editor of First Things wrote the following in 1999 about pro-abortion commencement speakers:
It is exceedingly tiresome when college and university administrators protest that they don’t do what they so obviously do do. While effusively affirming their devotion to their ‘Catholic identity,’ they deny it by the most egregious of actions. One university president assures me that it has been made perfectly clear that this year’s commencement speaker will not be ‘honored’ in any way.' What twaddle. Being chosen as commencement speaker is as great an honor as most institutions provide. Chatter about ‘Catholic identity’ or, even more tenuously, ‘education in the Jesuit tradition’ is, a Jewish friend observes, comparable to advertising ‘kosher-like’ hot dogs. Few things can constitute a more explicit, in-your-face, denial of Catholic seriousness than the choice of pro-abortion commencement speakers. (First Things, August/September 1999)

Obviously, Father Neuhaus would have a lot to say about Notre Dame University's invitation to pro-abortion Presiden Barack Obama if Neuhaus was alive today.

What's Stopping Anglicans Who Want to Join the Catholic Church?

Musings Prompted by Bits from Newman's Apologia Pro Vita Sua,

As you may know, John Cardinal Henry Newman was a famous convert to Anglicanism in 1845, and he is being considered for canonization by the Roman Catholic Church. The first time I tried to read Newman's Apologia Pro Vita Sua (Defense of One's Life), I found it dull. Praise I'd previously seen for Newman's writing style was always of the sort on the back cover of my paperback edition of the Apologia. The blurb claims that Newman is "is one of the great masters of English prose." After recently revisiting the book, I found that at the very least the ideas it expresses are growing on me, so I'm glad I gave it a second look.

Yesterday I grabbed the Apologia Pro Vita Sua to have something to read while I was eating breakfast. Opening at random to an appendix, I found some apt observations that are related to modern issues around ecumenism, and to the reception of Anglicans into the Catholic Church.
Newman wrote:
I am bound to state plainly what I feel and have felt, since I was a Catholic, about the Anglican Church. I said, in a former page, that, on my conversion, I was not conscious of any change in me of thought or feeling, as regards matters of doctrine; this, however, was not the case as regards some matters of fact, and, unwilling as I am to give offense to religious Anglicans, I am bound to confess that I felt a great change in my view of the Church of England. I cannot tell how soon there came on me,—but very soon,—an extreme astonishment that I had ever imagined it to be a portion of the Catholic Church. For the first time, I looked at it from without, and (as I should myself say) saw it as it was. Forthwith I could not get myself to see in it any thing else, than what I had so long fearfully suspected, from as far back as 1836,—a mere national institution....

Newman went on to write about the good that the the Anglican Church has done to him and to many others and how he could not wish to oppose it as long as the Anglican Church was teaching authentic doctrine, especially since the Catholic Church in England at that time was so small in numbers.

Not for its own sake but for the sake of the many congregations to which it ministers, I will do nothing against it. .. What our duty would be in a different time and in other circumstance, supposing for instance the Establishment lost its dogmatic faith ... is another matter altogether.
Doubtless the National Church has hitherto been a serviceable breakwater against doctrinal errors, more fundamental than its own. How long this will last in the years now before us, it is impossible to say, for the Nation drags down its Church to its own level; ... I should wish to avoid every thing ... which went to weaken its hold upon the public mind, or to unsettle its establishment, or to embarrass and lessen its maintenance of those great Christian and Catholic principles and doctrines which it has up to this time successfully preached..

I don't doubt that Newman would now say that the "different time and other circumstances" he mentioned are now upon us, in the face of how the Anglican Church apparently has "lost its dogmatic faith."
To give one example, one Anglican bishop, the Bishop of Durham (in 1985), announced his lack of belief in the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection and implied he was not alone among Anglican bishops to disbelieve in these doctrines. When I looked into the Episcopal Church in the 1970s, Episcopalianism being the American version of Anglicanism, I found that they prided themselves in being all-inclusive in doctrine. For example, whether you believed in the Transubstantian or not, the church wanted you to feel at home. The doctrinal deviations and the ordination of women and of even flagrantly practicing homosexuals as priests and bishops has driven droves of Anglicans into the Catholic Church.
It inspires me that whole groups of Anglicans are attempting to swim the Tiber together. I have read of whole congregations from the Church of Ireland and the Traditional Anglican Communion (which has been separated from the Anglican Church for twenty years), who have petitioned Rome to be admitted. I also heard a passing reference once to Episcopalian congregations in the United States who have also done the same. I can't find any details about any the outcomes of any of these requests except at the website of the Traditional Anglican Communion. The last communication they received about their September 2007 petition to join the Catholic Church was a letter from Archbishop Levada in July 2008. Levada's letter was cordial and encouraging, but the letter seemed to put the TAC request into a holding pattern.
I am not diplomatic by nature or by training, and so it seems wrong to me that anyone who wants to join the Catholic Church would being denied. But at the same time I know that the Church has to carefully consider many issues that are outside my ken.
The letter to the TAC from Archbishop Levada mentioned that their request had to be considered in the context of how the situation within the broader Anglican church had "become markedly more complex." Maybe the Church does not want take in the TAC in fear that it would close the door forever on the possible reunion of mainstream Anglicans and Roman Catholics, even though the chances for reunion between two religious groups with such divergent beliefs seems well nigh impossible to me.
Knowing what I do about how hard it is to get even a few people to agree on matters of faith, I believe it is a downright miracle that whole groups of Anglicans have been converted together and desire now to worship in union with Rome. My heart is with them. I pray that the Anglicans who are united in this desire will be welcomed home.
I'll end with another quote from Newman:
I cannot deny, what must be ever a sore point with Anglicans, that if any Anglican comes to me after careful thought and prayer and says, 'I believe in the Holy Catholic Church, and that your Church and yours alone is it, and I demand admittance into it,' it would be the greatest of sins to reject such a man, as being a distinct contravention of Our Lord's maxim, "Freely ye have received, freely give."

Further reading:
Damian Thompson's "Holy Smoke" article, "Anglicans facing ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s’ says Cardinal at Lambeth"<
John Cardinal Henry Newman's "Apologia Pro Vita Sua
Fr. Richard Neuhaus, the late editor of First Things journal, was a convert also. When Fr. Neuhaus died recently within a month after the death of Cardinal Avery Dulles, another convert, a blogger at the blog of a third prominent Catholic priest convert, Father Rutler, wrote: [W]hat a great time he and Dulles must be having being introduced to Cardinal Newman and that really great convert -- St. Paul!"
On a personal note, I couldn't be an Anglican or Episcopalian for the simple reason that these religions were started by Henry VIII. Watching The Six Wives of Henry VIII gave me a pretty good idea of what kind of a man HE was.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Worker's Prayer to St. Joseph, Patron of Workers

O Glorious St. Joseph, model of all those who are devoted to labor,
obtain for me the grace to work conscientiously,
putting the call of duty above my natural inclinations,
to work with gratitude and joy,
in a spirit of penance for the remission of my sins,
considering it an honor to employ and develop by means of labor the gifts received from God,
to work with order, peace, moderation and patience,
without ever shrinking from weariness and difficulties,
to work above all with purity of intention and detachment from self, having always death before my eyes and the account that I must render of time lost, of talents wasted, of good omitted, of vain complacency in success, so fatal to the work of God.

All for Jesus, all through Mary, all after thine example,
O Patriarch, St. Joseph.
Such shall be my watch-word in life and in death. Amen.

From the Angelus Missal, “Work, imposed upon man as a penalty, is transformed into a blessing through his communion with the life and work and death of Jesus Christ, a communion effected by the active part he takes in the sacrifice and Communion of the Mass – with St. Joseph as model and patron. This feast [the May 1 feast of St. Joseph the Worker] was instituted by Pope Pius XII in 1956.”

Painting of St. Joseph, the Carpenter by Georges de la Tour from Wikipedia Commons