"What matters in life is that we are loved by Christ and that we love Him in return. In comparison to the love of Jesus, everything else is secondary. And without the love of Jesus, everything else is useless." St. John Paul II
++++++++++++++++++++God's timing is not our timing, but He is never late.++++++++++++++++++++
Layers - in the knowledge of God and the path to holiness
Learning about God is like unwrapping a head of lettuce, pealing back one leaf at a time. Always there is another leaf below. We will eventually reach the center of the head of lettuce; but we will never unwrap everthing there is to know about God.
The path to holiness is like pealing an onion. God shows us what is sinful and convicts us that we have sinned. No matter how sweet the onion, there are always tears in the peeling. No matter how sweet the grace of repentence, there are always the pain of letting go of the sin. As the peeling of the onion reveals another layer, so God shows us what we lack in holiness, drawing us ever closer to "be(ing) perfect even just as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matthew 5:48
What I Believe
Why I am and always will be a Catholic. "So Jesus said to them, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. Tthe living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever." John 6:53-58 The words and actions of man cannot sanctify. Only the priest, empowered by his ordination, can invoke the Holy Spirit to transform the bread and wine into Jesus so we can receive Him - Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity into our bodies and souls. This is the core of the Catholic Church; without this there is no purpose or meaning to the Catholic Church. There are other ways to holiness, to grow in grace; there is no better way than union with Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.
Pope John Paul II Speaks to Women who have had Abortions
Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), #99
I would now like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You will come to understand that nothing is definitively lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child, who is now living in the Lord. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone's right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.
Abortion and the Christian, by John Jefferson Davis, is a thoughtful, well-written analysis written in 1984. The arguments -pro and con- are still being debated today; so almost 30 years later, it is still relevant. Pro-abortion? This is a chance to look at the issues without the layers of rhetoric of the past decades. It is a book just over 100 pages on The Evangelical Christian Library. Even though it is addressed to Christians with a chapter on the Scripture, non-Christians still find value in reading the other chapters.
From the back cover:
Abortion is a topic of immense
importance. Not only is it a burning controversy in its own right, but it is
also symptomatic of a larger crisis in contemporary values. At stake is the very
meaning of human life.
In spite of 1.5 million abortions
annually in America, there is much the public does not know about what has
become the nation's most common surgical procedure on adults. The Christian
public, in particular, needs a more thorough understanding of the questions
surrounding abortion -- questions like, What does the Bible say about prenatal
life? When, if ever, is abortion justified? What are the medical risks of
abortion? Are the unborn individual persons, biologically, spiritually,
Building on a broad base of biblical
data, John Jefferson Davis answers these and many other questions related to the
ethics of abortion. In so doing, he equips readers to challenge current
assumptions in the areas of law, medicine, and social concern, and to affirm the
value of human life both in and out of the womb.
Dr. John Jefferson Davis is Professor of
Systematic Theology and Christian Ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
in Hamilton, Massachusetts. He was a Danforth Graduate Fellow and Phi Beta Kappa
graduate of Duke University, where he earned the Ph.D. degree in systematic
As requested, I am sharing this letter with anyone interested in spreading these words of wisdom regarding the fallout from the world’s contraceptive mentality. This very bright young woman who was raised in Nigeria and now living and working in Great Britain is speaking out against Melinda Gates and her effort to raise nearly five billion dollars to pour additional contraceptives into countries in dire need of food, clean water, medical supplies, better infrastructure systems etc.
Our dear sister, Uju, is a regular listener to Ave Maria Radio and an EWTN viewer. She contacted me via e-mail and asked me to help her edit her editorial and have it published in the United States to get the word out about what her homeland and other countries like Nigeria really need. Her letter stresses how contraception is indeed controversial, despite what Mrs. Gates and Planned Parenthood would like us to believe, for a long list of important health reasons for women and because it would make tough situations, as I mentioned, much worse.
Since I was on the road speaking last weekend, I did not have the opportunity to sit down and edit the letter, so our friends at The Catholic Free Pressin the Worcester, Massachusetts diocese stepped in to help and were also the first to have it published. I am hoping to get this published for Uju in other outlets across the nation. Pass it around and help spread the truth. http://www.catholicfreepress.org/commentary/2012/08/10/unlimited-contraceptives-for-africa-why-not/
This letter was written by Obianuju Ekeocha, a 32-year-old Nigerian woman. For the past six years she has been living and working as a biomedical scientist in Canterbury, England. Most of her family and many friends still live in Nigeria.
She is active in her parish and says she is grateful to God for the graces she receives as she serves the Church.
She praises Catholic radio in America, specifically the programs of Teresa Tomeo and Al Kresta, for keeping her “informed and inspired in all the things that ‘matter most,’” and for providing her with a Catholic world view.
She said she was inspired to write an open letter to Melinda Gates after learning of Gates’ move to inject $4.6 billion worth of contraceptive drugs and devices into her homeland.
“The worst part is that no one in Africa (meaning the average African woman or man) knows that Melinda is about to bequeath us her ‘legacy’ which can and most probably will stifle love and life in our continent,” she said.
She is hoping Melinda Gates will hear her “as the voice of the African woman.”
Growing up in a remote town in Africa, I have always known that a new life is welcomed with much mirth and joy. In fact we have a special “clarion” call (or song) in our village reserved for births and another special one for marriages.
The first day of every baby’s life is celebrated by the entire village with dancing (real dancing!) and clapping and singing - a sort of “Gloria in excelsis Deo.”
All I can say with certainty is that we, as a society, LOVE and welcome babies.
With all the challenges and difficulties of Africa, people complain and lament their problems openly. I have grown up in this environment and I have heard women (just as much as men) complain about all sorts of things. But I have NEVER heard a woman complain about her baby (born or unborn).
Even with substandard medical care in most places, women are valiant in pregnancy. And once the baby arrives, they gracefully and heroically rise into the maternal mode.
I trained and worked for almost five years in a medical setting in Africa, yet I never heard of the clinical term “postpartum depression” until I came to live in Europe. I never heard it because I never experienced or witnessed it, even with the relatively high birth rate around me. (I would estimate that I had at least one family member or close friend give birth every single month. So I saw at least 12 babies born in my life every year.)
Amidst all our African afflictions and difficulties, amidst all the socioeconomic and political instabilities, our babies are always a firm symbol of hope, a promise of life, a reason to strive for the legacy of a bright future.
So a few weeks ago I stumbled upon the plan and promise of Melinda Gates to implant the seeds of her “legacy” in 69 of the poorest countries in the world (most of which are in Sub-Saharan Africa).
Her pledge is to collect pledges for almost $5 billion in order to ensure that the African woman is less fertile, less encumbered and, yes, she says, more “liberated.” With her incredible wealth she wants to replace the legacy of an African woman (which is her child with the legacy of “child-free sex.”
Many of the 69 targeted countries are Catholic countries with millions of Catholic women of child-bearing age. These Catholic women have been rightly taught by the Church that the contraceptive drug and device is inherently divisive.
Unlike what we see in the developed Western world, there is actually very high compliance with Pope Paul VI’s “Humanae vitae.” For these African women, in all humility, have heard, understood and accepted the precious words of the prophetic pope. Funny how people with a much lower literacy level could clearly understand that which the average Vogue- and Cosmo-reading-high-class woman has refused to understand. I guess humility makes all the difference.
With most African women faithfully practicing and adhering to a faith (mainly Christian or in some cases Muslim), there is a high regard for sex in society, especially among the women. Sex is sacred and private.
The moment these huge amounts of contraceptive drugs and devices are injected into the roots of our society, they will undoubtedly start to erode and poison the moral sexual ethics that have been woven into our societal DNA by our faith, not unlike the erosion that befell the Western world after the 1930 Lambeth conference! In one fell swoop and one “clean” slice, the faithful could be severed from their professed faith.
Both the frontline healthcare worker dispensing Melinda’s legacy gift and the women fettered and shackled by this gift, would be separated from their religious beliefs. They would be put in a precarious position to defy their faith – all for “safe sex.”
Even at a glance, anyone could see that the unlimited and easy availability of contraceptives in Africa would surely increase infidelity and sexual promiscuity as sex is presented by this multi-billion dollar project as a casual pleasure sport that can indeed come with no strings – or babies – attached. Think of the exponential spread of HIV and other STDs as men and women with abundant access to contraceptives take up multiple, concurrent sex partners.
And of course there are bound to be inconsistencies and failures in the use of these drugs and devices, so health complications could result; one of which is unintended abortion. Add also other health risks such as cancer, blood clots, etc. Where Europe and America have their well-oiled health care system, a woman in Africa with a contraception-induced blood clot does not have access to 911 or an ambulance or a paramedic. No, she dies.
And what about disposal of the medical waste? Despite advanced sewage disposal in the First-world countries, we hear that aquatic life there is still adversely affected by drugs in the system. In Africa, be rest assured that both in the biggest cities and smaller rural villages, sewage constitutes a real problem. So as $4.6 billion worth of drugs, IUDs and condoms get used, they will need safe disposal. Can someone please show us how and where will that be? On our farm lands where we get all our food? In our streams and rivers from whence comes our drinking water?
I see this $4.6 billion buying us misery. I see it buying us unfaithful husbands. I see it buying us streets devoid of the innocent chatter of children. I see it buying us disease and untimely death. I see it buying us a retirement without the tender loving care of our children.
Please Melinda, listen to the heart-felt cry of an African woman and mercifully channel your funds to pay for what we REALLY need.
• Good healthcare systems (especially prenatal, neonatal and pediatric care).
Needless to say that postpartum and neonatal deaths are alarmingly high in many Sub-Saharan African countries. This is due to the paucity of specialized medical personnel, equipment and systems. Women are not dying because they are having “too many” babies but because they are not getting even the most basic postpartum care. A childbirth or labor complication can very easily be fatal, for both mother and baby. To alleviate this problem new, well-equipped and well-staffed birthing centers with neonatal units need to be built in easily accessible parts of the poorest communities. And if Melinda Gates really insists on reducing population, she can have highly trained Natural Family Planning (NFP) instructors strategically placed in these women’s healthcare facilities. At least then there would be a natural and wholistic approach.
• Food programs for young children.
This would serve a two-fold purpose if it is incorporated into free or highly subsidized nursery school programs. It would nourish and strengthen the growth of these children, who are so, so vulnerable to malnutrition, and it would also serve to encourage parents to bring their youngsters, ages 3 or 4, to nursery school. In so many parts of Africa, children miss out on nursery school education because it is expensive and considered a luxury reserved for the rich and middle class. As a result, the children miss the first few crucial years when basic math and reading are easily learned. By the time they are considered “ready” for school, at age 7 or 8, they struggle academically. Many of them never quite catch up and so drop out after six or seven years. This is when a lot of young girls are married off as mid- to late-teenage wives who unfortunately would become the perfect recipient of the Melinda Gates comprehensive contraceptive care!
• Good higher education opportunities
Not just new school buildings or books, but carefully laid out educational programs that work – scholarships, internships at higher levels, etc. – are needed. Despite the problems and obstacles to primary and secondary education, a significant number of young girls make it into universities, polytechnics or colleges. The problem however is that, most of the schools and resources are substandard and outdated. As such, the quality of higher education is low and cannot compare to that of more privileged countries. Even though the teachers put in their very best and the students work hard, the system is inadequate and will always produce disadvantaged graduates who are not confident enough to stand with their counterparts who have studied in other parts of the world.
• Chastity programs
Such programs in secondary schools, universities and churches would create a solid support system to form, inform and reassure our young girls and women that real love is that which is healthy and holy. Many African girls are no longer sure about moral sexual ethics thanks to the widespread influence of Western media, movies and magazines. More support should be given to programs that encourage abstinence before marriage and fidelity in marriage. This approach would go a long way to combating the spread of HIV and other STDs through the continent. And it would certainly lead to happier marriages!
• Support for micro-business opportunities for women
The average African women is incredibly happy, hard-working and resilient. Any support both economic and through training would most probably be used well and wisely.
• Fortify already established NGOs that are aimed at protecting women from sex-trafficking, prostitution, forced marriage, child labor, domestic violence, sex crimes, etc.
Many of these NGOs do not have much success because they are not well-funded. Though most of them have good intentions, they lack professional input from those such as psychologists, logisticians or medical personnel needed to tackle various problems.
$4.6 billion dollars can indeed be your legacy to Africa and other poor parts of the world. But let it be a legacy that leads life, love and laughter into the world in need.