Friday, July 31, 2015

On Not Leaving Jesus Out of the Pro-Life Movement

I'm an enthusiastic supporter of Pro-Life Allies, a coalition of nontraditional and traditional pro-lifers united in an effort to save babies regardless of ideological disagreements on virtually every other issue. Having help from the nonreligious community, the LGBTQ community, the non-Christian community, the non-white community, the non-old-white-Republican-male community, is an essential element of the contemporary pro-life movement as it faces a world drifting away from religious dogmatism and cultural conservatism. Whether this drifting is a good thing or a bad thing is most certainly up for debate, but the proud position of Pro-Life Allies is that abortion -- and ultimately, the entire culture of death -- cannot be taken down without help from all angles.

And while I am an enthusiastic supporter of Pro-Life Allies, and wish in no way, shape, or form to take away from their abundantly awesome message and methods, I do want to make something VERY clear (eesh, that reminds me of Cecile Richards. I promise the next thing I say isn't going to be a lie):

As believers in Christ who make up His Church on earth, we will do the world, and the entire pro-life movement, a major disservice if we do not take ourselves to prayer.

The release of the videos showing Planned Parenthood for who they really are behind closed doors has had me reeling; I can barely sleep, let alone think about much else. Watching the remains of little baby Emmett being sifted through and callously regarded as nothing more than profit in a petri dish left me feeling helpless and completely useless. What the hell can I possibly do? How can I help? What can be done?

And a steady, constant force welling up from deep within my spirit prompts me: pray.

Don't try to kid yourself: this is a battle of good against evil, and of God against Satan and the works of darkness. Nothing short of Satan could possibly be behind this evil. These children, created in the image of God, are being ripped from their mothers' wombs and all signs indicate that their body parts are being sold. This is disgusting.

We can -- and should -- acknowledge that this evil is profoundly contrary to the standards of care the medical community should be held to, to the ideals feminism are founded on, to humanitarianism and pacifism, to life in a civilized society. But we would be foolish to neglect this simple reality: these acts offend God, and there is no use going to war with the devil if we aren't equipped with the authority, power, and mercy of Jesus Christ to be our swords and shields.

I am thankful that Pro-Life Allies has not at all insisted that we steer the pro-life movement away from religion (they have, rightly so, rather insisted that the pro-life movement need not only belong to the religious).

But let me emphatically state, in the words of Jesus Christ: "You can do nothing apart from me." (John 15:5)

And again, from Paul: "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13)

This world needs God. And we, the Church, need to be lending His mercy and aid to all things we participate in. Prayer is where we draw our strength. Prayer is where we align our will to God's. Prayer is the well from which all graces for our ordinary, day-to-day life flow. The Catechism urges us:
Christian petition is centered on the desire and search for the Kingdom to come, in keeping with the teaching of Christ. There is a hierarchy in these petitions: we pray first for the Kingdom, then for what is necessary to welcome it and cooperate with its coming. This collaboration with the mission of Christ and the Holy Spirit, which is now that of the Church, is the object of the prayer of the apostolic community. It is the prayer of Paul, the apostle par excellence, which reveals to us how the divine solicitude for all the churches ought to inspire Christian prayer. By prayer every baptized person works for the coming of the Kingdom.

As believers, we owe it to the pro-life movement to pray. As believers, we owe it to the world to unite ourselves to God, who is perfect though we are not. As believers, we owe it to women and their children to concern ourselves with the concerns of the One who cares for the oppressed, the marginalized, the helpless, the hopeless, the needy, and the dying.

And so, I am begging you: please pray for the pro-life movement. Please pray for an end to the devastation Planned Parenthood is inflicting on the world. Pray pray pray and pray some more. I really can't say it enough.

We need prayer. The pro-life movement needs prayer. Maybe we could make abortion illegal without prayer, but I don't want to try. And here's one thing I do know: the culture we live in will not change without the help of our redeeming God. We need Him. Don't forget.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

"Thank you, Lord, for waking me up today."

I've seen several different posts passed around on Facebook over the last few months that mention something about being thankful that God let you wake up another day. It is a moving concept, and one I'm thankful so many of my friends find comfort and peace in.

However, being someone with a mental illness, I don't particularly find it comforting. I find it, in fact, rather bitter. And I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Let me begin by saying that I am NOT saying we shouldn't be thankful to wake up every morning! We most definitely should be. "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it."

What I am saying is that, sometimes...that's really hard. There are mornings scattered across my life when I wake up and am pointedly ungrateful to see the light of another day; days I wake up wishing, hoping, and praying that someday soon I won't wake up.

It's dark. It's morbid. It's true -- and not just for me.

Life is hard, and sometimes we don't want to participate anymore. It's not necessarily that we want to die, though that can and sometimes is very much the case. Sometimes it's just a constant thought that life would be easier if we didn't have to live it. I know not everyone will understand that sentiment, but I hope to relay a message to those who do:

You are not bad for being unable to feel thankful to be alive.

You're not bad for having a difficult time finding meaning in your life.

You're not a bad Christian for asking Gpd to bring you home more often than you thank Him for your life on earth.

You're not a bad person for wanting to curl up in a ball and avoid anyone and everyone.

You're you, and you have feelings. And you, you-who-has-feelings, are so, so good.

See, whether we feel it or not, one thing that is constant in our lives is the deep and abiding love God has for each of us. And, rest assured, along with loving you, He likes you.

He made you and He claims you and even when everything feels off and miserable He wants you in His life. He died for us. That doesn't change because of our feelings, or lack of.

I'm not a psychologist and I'm not a self-help guru. I don't have all the answers, and for this topic, I very well may not have any answers.

But I did, really, want to put something out there for any of you struggling who see these posts on your social media profiles: You're not bad for not feeling it.

God doesn't condemn us for having feelings. God loves us in our feelings. God knows about our feelings, and He doesn't see any reason for you to be ashamed of them.

Be assured of my prayers.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

You can't pray the Fatima prayer without at least kind of agreeing with Fr. Barron

I'm sure you've heard by now: Fr. Robert Barron has been elected auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles by Pope Francis. And I'm doubly sure you've heard by now: HE BELIEVES IT IS POSSIBLE TO HAVE REASONABLE HOPE THAT ALL PEOPLE WILL BE SAVED!!!111oneoneone

People are freaking. out. all over social media, putting quotes around 'Fr.' and making passive jokes about the eventually-dead Bishop-Elect being surprised to end up in hell (what the eff). Wild accusations have been thrown around by people I can only assume have never a day in their life read or listened to anything from Bishop-Elect Barron -- accusations like that he doesn't believe in hell, that he said all people go to heaven, that he's a heretic. I could go on. And on. And on. (Especially about the respect priests deserve simply for the fact of being a priest!)

But, while I could spill more ink in defense of Bishop-Elect Barron than has already been spilt, I'll instead refer you here to let him speak for himself.

I have something else to say.

I would like to turn your attention now to the Fatima prayer, given to us by Our Lady of Fatima. This is the prayer Mary urged us to pray at the end of each decade of the Rosary, and it goes as follows:

O, my Jesus,
Forgive us our sins.
Save us from the fires of hell,
And lead all souls to heaven,
Especially those in most need
Of Thy mercy.

"And lead all souls to heaven." Unless we want to accuse Mary of being a heretic, of not believing in hell, or believing all souls will certainly go to heaven, maybe it's time we back off of Bishop-Elect Barron. In fact, I dare say it isn't possible to pray the Fatima prayer with any sincerity if one does not at least HOPE that all people will be saved! This is not the same as claiming to know all people will be saved, nor is it the same as denying the existence of hell. It is grounded in Christian hope and zeal for souls. Nothing else.

As for the concern that a "reasonable hope that all people will be saved" will diminish evangelization efforts, I think the opposite is true. If someone truly HOPES (note: not claims to know) that all souls can be saved, you can bet that person is going to want to do their part. It is, in fact, this hope of mine which urges me to pray for the souls who have left this world who were nothing short of dastardly, such as Josef Mengele and Margaret Sanger. It is due to this HOPE that I am compelled to pray for their souls rather than rest in the false comfort of presuming that they are "among the many who are damned." Has anyone ever considered the danger of presuming most people will go to hell? What happens to evanglization, then, if we believe our efforts will by and large fail and that only a small portion of humanity will ultimately repent and believe in the Gospel?

Stop mischaracterizing a priest (who will soon be a bishop). Stop taking him out of context. Stop disrespecting him. You don't have to agree with him about hope to at very least give him the benefit of studying for yourself in an unbiased fashion what he teaches about the hope of salvation for all people.

Pray for him as he approaches his new assignment. And, pray with him that Jesus will "lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of [His] mercy."

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Defense of Marriage

My friend Jim Warner made a post on Facebook several days ago, and with his permission, I'm posting it here. Jim has an exceptionally important message for those of us who love marriage and want to defend it for what God created it to be. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share his thoughts, and I hope you won't pass up the opportunity to read them.

In watching my brothers and sisters attempt to defend marriage, I have seen arise more often than anything else, one common objection, which typically is voiced along these lines:

“You complain that the sanctity of marriage will be lost once gays can legally marry… Seriously? If marriage is supposed to be an all holy ceremony, then how do you explain TV shows like “The Bachelor” where men/women fight for the love of someone just so they can "win" the show? A heterosexual can marry and divorce more partners in a lifetime than you have fingers on your hands to count, but you don’t want gays to marry the person they love?”

And you know what?

They’re right.

The reason why arguments in defense of marriage are falling upon deaf ears today is because the entity that a lot of (dare I say most?) people are defending is a rotted, hallowed out, pruned and picked over scrap of what was once the glorious Institution upon which society is built and which society relies for its livelihood. What many today call marriage is nothing more than a legal agreement, served at the mere convenience of those involved, and instantaneously dissolvable at will, once that perceived convenience diminishes. It is certainly not the binding covenant, vowed before our Lord ‘till death do us part, which transcends the material world, and which properly constitutes the Sacrament of Matrimony in its merit and splendor.

The tides of social change in the past few years, culminating in last week’s Supreme Court decision, are only the latest step in the logical pathway that we as a society have charted for the institution that we once so highly venerated as marriage. The introduction of travesties like normalized fornication, contraception, infidelity, no-fault divorce, abortion, and pornography have eaten away at the Institution of Marriage like acid on a rock, producing a contraption so unrecognizable that it can, in all honestly, hardly be called “marriage.” To say otherwise—to try to defend the fractured institution that we have sculpted (or rather, chiseled away) these past few decades—would be tantamount to encountering a dying animal on the side of the road, and callously attempting to keep it alive with band aids before sending it on its way, instead of simply putting the poor thing out of its misery.

The *only* way to convincingly defend marriage today is to defend the Institution in its entirety. Defend the sacrament as a unique, unrepeatable expression of eternal Trinitarian Love whose inherent two-fold goal is the cultivation of spousal unity and the procreation of new life, and by whose merits a healthy society relies in order to survive. Fall short of proclaiming this great reality in your defense, and you descend into mere hypocrisy at best. But proclaim this awesome covenant in its fullness and truth, and you will have told the world of one of the greatest powers for good in our time.