++++++++++++++++++++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.

Visitation Catholic Church

Visitation Catholic Church

Thursday, January 31, 2013

40 Years of Abortion

Our Founding Fathers are remembered for the sacrifices that they made to bring this nation into beingThey are also remembered for what they did not do, abolishing slavery.  The legal perpetuation of slavery led to not only the suffering and deaths of untold numbers of slaves and the bloodbath of the Civil War, but also to the social ills that we experience even today.
Abortion was declared legal, nationally, 40 years ago.  The abortion industry was founded on the lies of those who pushed for legalization in the State of New York. (See The Hand of God-autobiography of Dr. Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of NARAL).  The lies have continued through the efforts of NARAL and Planned Parenthood, among others.  As the Founding Fathers are remembered for not ending slavery, so this generation of politicians will be remembered in history as the generation that believed and acted on the lies of the abortion industry, instead of seeking the truth.  Over 50,000,000 people have been legally aborted since 1973. We already see the consequences of legalized abortion today in the increased violence in our society.
No matter what other legislation has been passed, no matter what good has come out of that legislation, failure to end abortion in this country will define this administration and this Congress, maybe not in current times, but ultimately in history.
There is no justification for ending a human life.  If one believes in God, then every human life ought to considered a miracle, for science with all that it has learned, cannot even now tell us how we become what we are.  Saying that one is personally against abortion, but...is a cop-out and means nothing for the one being aborted. (Try to say that you are personally against gun violence but that you respect someone else's choice to shot someone.) Yes, abortion is now legal, but legal does not make it right. Make it right.
(Not in letter)
From Abortion Facts:
Fact #1: Every abortion kills an innocent human being.
Every new life begins at conception.  This is an irrefutable fact of biology. It is true for animals and true for humans. When considered alongside the law of biogenesis – that every species reproduces after its own kind – we can draw only one conclusion in regard to abortion: every single abortion ends the life of an innocent human being.
Fact #2: Every human being is a person.
Personhood is properly defined by membership in the human species, not by stage of development within that species. A living being's designation to a species is determined not by the stage of development but by the sum total of its biological characteristics.
Fact #3: Beginning at conception, every pregnancy involves two or more bodies.
No matter how you spin it, women don't have four arms and four legs when they're pregnant. Those extra appendages belong to the tiny human being(s) living inside of them. At no point in pregnancy is the developing embryo or fetus simply a part of the mother's body.
Fact #4: It is just, reasonable, and necessary for society to outlaw certain choices.

Any civilized society restricts the individual's freedom to choose whenever that choice would harm an innocent person. Therefore, it is impossible to justify abortion by simply arguing that women should be "free to choose."
Fact #5: The right to not be killed supersedes the right to not be pregnant.
The comparison between a baby's rights and a mother's rights is unequal. What is at stake in abortion is the mother's lifestyle, as opposed to the baby's life. Therefore, it is reasonable for society to expect an adult to live temporarily with an inconvenience if the only alternative is killing a child.
Fact #6: Poverty, rape, disability, or “unwantedness” do not morally justify abortion.
There are all sorts of circumstances that people point to as justification for their support of abortion. Since none of these circumstances are sufficient to justify the killing of human beings after birth, they're not sufficient to justify the killing of human beings before birth.
Fact #7: The differences between embryos and adults are differences of degree not of kind.
Like toddler and adolescent, the terms “embryo” and “fetus” do not refer to nonhumans but to humans at particular stages of development. Human beings inside the womb are smaller, less developed, and more dependent than human beings outside the womb. These are differences of degree, not differences of kind. We can all point to other people who are bigger, stronger, smarter, or less dependent than we are, but that doesn't make our life any less valuable or any less deserving of protection.
Fact #8: Less than 1% of all abortions are performed to save the life of the mother.
It is an extremely rare case when abortion is required to save the mother’s life. Of course, when two lives are hreatened and only one can be saved, doctors must always save that life. However, abortion for the mother’s life and abortion for the mother’s health are usually not the same issue. Since every abortion kills an innocent human being, it is morally abhorrent to use the rare cases when abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother as justification for the millions of on demand "convenience" abortions.
Fact #9: To be only "personally pro-life" is to not be pro-life at all.
If abortion doesn't kill children, why would someone be opposed to it? If it does kill children, why would someone defend another's right to do it? Being personally against abortion but favoring another's right to abortion is self-contradictory and morally baffling.
Fact #10: If there is uncertainty about when human life begins, the benefit of the doubt should go to preserving life.  It is a scientific fact that life begins at conception. However, if one personally has even a shred of uncertainty about when life begins, then they are still morally obligated to err on the side of life and NOT have an abortion. Why? Because to make a mistake about the exact time when life begins is to kill an innocent human being.
Fact #11: Abortion is more dangerous than childbirth.
Not only does every abortion kill an innocent human being in the womb; but abortion is also more dangerous to the mother than if she were to give birth to the child. The evidence overwhelmingly proves that the morbidity and mortality rates of legal abortion are several times higher than that for carrying a pregnancy to term.
Fact #12: Prior to abortion's legalization, 90% of abortions were done by doctors, not by "coat hangers in back alleys.
Some justify abortion on the claim that if it is outlawed, women will abort anyway and may die in the process.  There are 3 problems with this hypothesis. First, it doesn't address the ethics of abortion. Second, laws against abortion would deter most women from having one. Third, there is no evidence that illegal abortions are more dangerous than legal abortions. Of course, even if the "coat hanger" argument was true (it's not), then it's still morally ridiculous to legalize procedures that kill innocent babies just to make the killing procedures less dangerous to the mother.
Fact #13: The 8 week+ unborn baby feels real physical pain during an abortion.
Yes, every abortion kills an innocent human being. Even more alarming is the fact that beginning at the 8th week of development, an unborn baby that is aborted feels pain during the abortion. The baby feels both psychological and real physical, organic pain. Let that sink in. Of course, whether or not abortion is a painful experience to the unborn child being aborted, the child is left no less dead as a result. In talking about the question of fetal pain, we must remember that it ultimately has no bearing on the morality of abortion.
Fact #14: Abortion is condemnable for the same reasons that slavery and genocide are.
Networks of killing centers across the globe are eliminating "unwanted, unborn" children at a staggering rate. Were the context not abortion, the world would be outraged. Call it what you want, when an innocent group of human beings is targeted and exterminated by the millions, that is an injustice on par with any of history's most egregious atrocities. At the end of the day, if the unborn are people (and they  are), then abortion is not only comparable to past crimes against humanity but is also, by sheer volume, the greatest holocaust of all.
Fact #15: Abortion is not a “women's only” issue.
Abortion affects both men and women.  Beyond that, abortion is a human issue, not a gender issue. If abortion kills innocent human life (it does), then everyone, male and female, should stand against it. One doesn't need to be a young girl to take a position against the sex trafficking of young girls, and one doesn't need to be a woman to take a position against abortion.
Fact #16: Every legal surgical abortion stops a beating heart and terminates measurable brain waves.
What do we call it when a person no longer has a heartbeat or brain waves? Death. It's a scientific fact that life begins at conception, but even more obvious; what should we call it when there is a heartbeat and there are brain waves? Life. It is an indisputable fact that each and every legal surgical abortion in America today stops a beating heart and stops already measurable brain waves.
Fact #17: The right to not be killed supersedes the right to privacy.
Some defend abortion by claiming that they have a right to privacy. Whether they have an abortion or not is between them and their doctor. Everyone else should stay out of their business. Of course, if abortion kills an innocent human being (it does), then killing done in private is no more acceptable than killing done in public; and the encouragement or assistance of a doctor does not change the nature, consequences, or morality of abortion.
Fact #18: Abortion disproportionally targets minority babies.
Whatever the intent of the abortion industry may be, by functional standards, abortion is a racist institution. In the United States, black children are aborted at 5 times the rate of white children and Hispanic children don't fare much better. Abortion is the leading cause of death among black Americans. We can debate the racial intent of Planned Parenthood past and present, but we cannot debate the results. Abortion is by no means an equal opportunity killer.
Fact #19: Abortion has become a form of gendercide, shrinking the global female population at an alarming rate.
On top of the fact that every abortion kills an innocent human being, abortion has also become the driving force in eliminating females around the globe. Estimates put the global gender gap somewhere between 100 and 200 million people. Abortion has become the most effective means of sexism ever devised, ridding the world of multitudes of unwanted females.
Fact #20: Laws concerning abortion have significantly influenced whether women choose to have abortions.
Some will concede that every abortion kills an innocent human being. They will also concede that society has a right to outlaw choices that harm innocent human beings. But even after conceding those points, some still do not favor more stringent abortion laws because they  think that they don't really work - there would still be too many abortions.  Historical data, common morality, and basic legal theory prove this line of thinking to be false. 
Selected content reprinted with permission from John C. Willke M.D., Barbara H. Willke R.N., John Jefferson
Davis Ph.D., David C. Reardon Ph.D., Abort73.com, Eternal Perspective Ministries, Abolish Human Abortion, Life Issues Institute, BlackGenocide.org, Heritage House '76, Inc. & The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform..



Copyright © 2013 AbortionFacts.com


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Bishop Paprocki on same-sex marriage bill in Illinois
(for text and video options)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Our state's elected lawmakers will soon consider a bill called "The Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act." A more fraudulent title for this dangerous measure could not be imagined. The proposed law is, in truth, a grave assault upon both religious liberty and marriage. All people of goodwill, and especially Christ's faithful committed to my pastoral care in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, should resolutely oppose this bill and make their opinions known to their representatives.

The pending bill would, for the first time in our state's history, redefine marriage to legally recognize same-sex "marriages." But neither two men nor two women - nor, for that matter, three or more people - can possibly form a marriage. Our law would be lying if it said they could.
The basic structure of marriage as the exclusive and lasting relationship of a man and a woman, committed to a life which is fulfilled by having children, is given to us in human nature, and thus by nature's God. Notwithstanding the vanity of human wishes, every society in human history - including every society untouched by Jewish or Christian revelation - has managed to grasp this profound truth about human relationships and happiness: marriage is the union of man and woman.

The bill's sponsors maintain it would simply extend marriage to some people who have long been arbitrarily excluded from it. They are wrong. The pending bill would not expand the eligibility-roster for marriage. It would radically redefine what marriage is- for everybody.

It would enshrine in our law - and thus in public opinion and practice - three harmful ideas:
  1. What essentially makes a marriage is romantic-emotional union.
  2. Children don't need both a mother and father.
  3. The main purpose of marriage is adult satisfactions.
These ideas would deepen the sexual revolution's harms on all society. After all, if marriage is an emotional union meant for adult satisfactions, why should it be sexually exclusive? Or limited to two? Or pledged to permanence? If children don't need both their mother and father, why should fathers stick around when romance fades? As marriage is redefined, it becomes harder for people to see the point of these profoundly important marital norms, to live by them, and to encourage others to do the same. The resulting instability hurts spouses, but also - and especially - children, who do best when reared by their committed mother and father.

Indeed, children's need - and right - to be reared by the mother and father whose union brought them into being explains why our law has recognized marriage as a conjugal partnership - the union of husband and wife - at all. Our lawmakers have understood that marriage is naturally oriented to procreation, to family. Of course, marriage also includesa committed, intimate relationship of a sort which some same-sex coulples (or multiple lovers in groups of three or more) could imitate. But our law never recognized and supported marriage in order to regulate intimacy for its own sake. The reason marriage is recognized in civil law at all (as ordinary friendships, or other sacraments, are not) is specific to the committed, intimate relationships of people of opposite-sex couples: they are by nature oriented to having children. Their love-making acts are life-giving acts.

Same-sex relationships lack this unique predicate of state recognition and support. Even the most ideologically blinded legislator cannot change this natural fact: the sexual acts of a same-sex couple (regardless of how one views them morally) are simply not of the type that yield the gift of new life. So they cannot extend a union of hearts by a true bodily union. They cannot turn a friendship into the one-flesh union of marriage. They are not marital. This is not just a Christian idea, but one common to every major religious tradition and our civilization's great philosophical traditions, beginning with ancient Greece and Rome.

The pending bill is not only a dangerous social experiment about marriage. It is also a lethal attack upon religious liberty. This so-called "religious freedom" would not stop the state from obligating the Knights of Columbus to make their halls available for same-sex "weddings." It would not stop the state from requiring Catholic grade schools to hire teachers who are legally "married" to someone of the same sex. This bill would not protect Catholic hospitals, charities, or colleges, which exclude those so "married" from senior leadership positions. Nor would it protect me, the Bishop of Springfield, if I refused to employ someone in a same-sex "marriage" who applied to the Diocese for a position meant to serve my ministry as your bishop. This "religious freedom" law does nothing at all to protect the consciences of people in business, or who work for the government. We saw the harmful consequences of deceptive titles all too painfully last year when the so-called "Religious Freedom Protection and Civil Union Act" forced Catholic Charities out of foster care and adoption services in Illinois.

These threats do not raise a question about drafting a better law, one with more extensive conscience protections. There is no possible way - none whatsoever- for those who believe that marriage is exclusively the union of husband and wife to avoid legal penalties and harsh discriminatory treatment if the bill becomes law. Why should we expect it be otherwise? After all, we would be people who, according to the thinking behind the bill, hold onto an "unfair" view of marriage. The state would have equated our view with bigotry - which it uses the law to marginalize in every way short of criminal punishment.

The only way to protect religious liberty, and to preserve marriage, is to defeat this perilous proposal. Please make sure our elected representatives understand that and know that they will be held to account.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki
Bishop of Springfield in Illinois

Friday, January 4, 2013

Legislation creating "same-sex" marriage: What's at stake?

Francis Cardinal George, O.M.I.


January 6, 2013 - January 19, 2013

At the beginning of the New Year, 2013, a law is being proposed in the General Assembly to change the legal definition of marriage in Illinois to accommodate those of the same sex who wish to “marry” one another. In this discussion, the Church will be portrayed as “anti-gay,” which is a difficult position to be in, particularly when families and the Church herself love those of their members who are same-sex oriented. What’s at stake in this legislative proposal and in the Church’s teaching on marriage?

Basically, the nature of marriage is not a religious question. Marriage comes to us from nature. Christ sanctifies marriage as a sacrament for the baptized, giving it significance beyond its natural reality; the State protects marriage because it is essential to family and to the common good of society. But neither Church nor State invented marriage, and neither can change its nature.

Nature and Nature’s God, to use the expression in the Declaration of Independence of our country, give the human species two mutually complementary sexes, able to transmit life through what the law has hitherto recognized as a marital union. Consummated sexual relations between a man and a woman are ideally based on mutual love and must always be based on mutual consent, if they are genuinely human actions. But no matter how strong a friendship or deep a love between persons of the same sex might be, it is physically impossible for two men, or two women, to consummate a marital union. Even in civil law, non-consummation of a marriage is reason for annulment.

Sexual relations between a man and a woman are naturally and necessarily different from sexual relations between same-sex partners. This truth is part of the common sense of the human race. It was true before the existence of either Church or State, and it will continue to be true when there is no State of Illinois and no United States of America. A proposal to change this truth about marriage in civil law is less a threat to religion than it is an affront to human reason and the common good of society. It means we are all to pretend to accept something we know is physically impossible. The Legislature might just as well repeal the law of gravity.

What is, then, at stake in this proposed legislation? What is certainly at stake is the natural relationship between parents and children. Children, even if they are loved and raised by those who are not their biological parents, want to know who their parents are, who are their natural family. The fascination with genealogical tables and the opening of adoption records are evidence of this desire to find oneself in a biological succession of generations. No honest “study” has disproved what we all know. Stable marriage between a husband and wife has safeguarded their children, surrounding them with familial love and creating the secure foundation for human flourishing. This natural desire, already weakened in a seemingly more and more promiscuous society, will no longer be privileged in civil law. It will be no more “normal” than any other “family” arrangement. If the nature of marriage is destroyed in civil law, the natural family goes with it.

As well, those who know the difference between marriage and same-sex arrangements will be regarded as bigots. This is where the religious question does come into play. Including “religious freedom” in the title of the proposed law recognizes that religious teaching based on natural truths will now be considered evidence of illegal discrimination and will be punishable by law. The title of the law is ironic if not disingenuous. Those who know that marriage is a union between a man and a woman for the sake of family will carry a social opprobrium that will make them unwelcome on most university faculties and on the editorial boards of major newspapers. They will be excluded from the entertainment industry. Their children and grandchildren will be taught in the government schools that their parents are unenlightened, the equivalent of misguided racists. Laws teach; they express accepted social values and most people go along with societal trends, even when majority opinion espouses immoral causes.

The legalization of abortion is a good example of how an immoral procedure that kills babies in their mother’s womb is first permitted legally in limited circumstances as a necessary evil and then moves in forty years to become a condition of human freedom, necessary to be preserved at all costs, an essential part of “reproductive health care.” We are on the same trajectory with marriage. Model laws creating same-sex unions as civil marriage have been part of legal education for decades. The media have engaged in a campaign on this issue for almost as long a time, desensitizing people to accept as normal something that had previously been recognized as problematic. We are at the end of a tremendous propaganda effort by those secure in their conviction that they are at the cutting edge of human development. But what we’re seeing is not particularly new. Two thousand years ago, the Church was born in a society with the values now being advanced as necessary for a fair society today.

Why this law? Since all the strictly legal consequences of natural marriage are already given to same-sex partners in civil unions, what is now at stake in this question for some homosexually oriented people is self-respect and full societal acceptance of their sexual activities. Because fair-minded people cannot approve of hatred or disdain of others, “same-sex marriage” becomes for many a well-intentioned and good-hearted response to help others be happy. But marriage is a public commitment with a responsibility that involves more than the personal happiness of two adults. Inventing “civil rights” that contradict natural rights does not solve a problem of personal unhappiness.

Some religious people have framed their acceptance of this proposed law as an exemplification of compassion, justice and inclusion. As attitudes, these sentiments have been used to justify everything from eugenics to euthanasia. If religion is to be more than sentiment, the moral content of these words has to be filled in from the truths of what human reason understands and God has revealed. Same-sex unions are incompatible with the teaching that has kept the Church united to her Lord for two thousand years.

The Catholic Church in this Archdiocese has consistently condemned violence or hatred of homosexually oriented men and women. Good pastoral practice encourages families to accept their children, no matter their sexual orientation, and not break relationships with them. The Archdiocese offers Mass and other spiritual help to those who live their homosexuality anonymously (Courage groups) and also to those who want to be publicly part of the gay community (AGLO, which celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary this year). People live out their sexual identity in different fashions, but the Church consistently offers the means to live chastely in all circumstances, as the love of God both obliges and makes possible.

Finally, what is at stake in this proposed legislation was the subject of a few sentences in our Holy Father’s recent end of year address to his co-workers in Rome. Citing the Chief Rabbi of France, Gilles Bernheim, who recently spoke to the impact of the “philosophy of gender” as it affects proposed marriage laws in France, Pope Benedict commented: “The manipulation of nature, which we deplore today where our environment is concerned, now becomes man’s fundamental choice where he himself is concerned. From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be. Man and woman in their created state as complementary versions of what it means to be human are disputed. But if there is no pre-ordained duality of man and women in creation, then neither is the family any longer a reality established by creation. Likewise, the child has lost the place he had occupied hitherto and the dignity pertaining to him. Rabbi Bernheim shows that now, perforce, from being a subject of right, the child has become an object to which people have a right and which they have a right to obtain. When the freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God, as the image of God at the core of his being. The defense of the family is about man himself. And it becomes clear that when God is denied, human dignity also disappears. Whoever defends God is defending man.”

That is what’s at stake now. Despite the seeming inevitability of “same-sex marriage” legislation, each responsible citizen should consider what he or she must now do, as a lame duck legislature, many of whose members are no longer accountable to their constituents, prepares to make a decision that will have enormous consequences for everyone. God bless you.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Truth

The truth is the truth even if nobody believes it, and error is error even if every everyone believes it. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (1895 - 1979)