On the Feast of the Holy Innocents, Celebrate the Craziness of Life

Today we recount the story of Herod, a man who had no problem with killing others because he perceived them a threat to his throne. He put to death his own children for this reason, and we hear today from the Gospel of Luke he ordered the death of a whole town’s population of boys under the age of two:

The angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said,
“Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt,
and stay there until I tell you.
Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him.”
Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night
and departed for Egypt.
He stayed there until the death of Herod,
that what the Lord had said through the prophet might be fulfilled,
Out of Egypt I called my son.

When Herod realized that he had been deceived by the magi,
he became furious.
He ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity
two years old and under,
in accordance with the time he had ascertained from the magi.
Then was fulfilled what had been said through Jeremiah the prophet:

A voice was heard in Ramah,
sobbing and loud lamentation;
Rachel weeping for her children,
and she would not be consoled,
since they were no more.  (Matthew 2:13-18)

Yes, there was much lamenting that night in Bethlehem. The loss of the life of an innocent child is a heartbreak to the parents. Yet, as a society, are we failing to protect them? Particularly those in the womb? We allow a mother to end the life of her own child on demand, and the number of children who are no more is approaching 57 million in the United States since 1973; and 40 million in the world this year alone.

On this day we commemorate the Holy Innocents who lost their lives at the whim of one man who saw a threat to his reign in the fulfillment of foretold prophecy of the Messiah (Jesus Christ). In a way, we are still killing the innocent because they are a perceived threat to our freedom; seen as a burden; we feel we are not prepared to nurture them; … the list goes on.

So, what are we to do? Let us begin by praying for the end of abortion, and if you are on Twitter, use the hashtag #PraytoEndAbortion. Let us remind each other that life is to be celebrated in its very messiness; and that in doing so, we will find joy.

Here is a great video that shows the pretty real messiness of being young parents, and what it means to embrace the craziness new life can bring. Enjoy.

May the Holy Innocents assist us to bring about an end to abortion, and embrace a culture of life. Amen.

Barely Saved

What would it be like to go to a doctor’s office for a check-up only to be told, “Sorry, the chances that you will overcome your current diagnosis are slim. I highly suggest you euthanize yourself.”

Foolish to think this way? Yes.

Would you get another opinion? Of course.

And yet, one mother experienced a similar situation when she was pregnant with her sixth child. She had German Measles (Rubella) and the doctor’s diagnosis wasn’t pretty. The child was to be born mentally challenged, with a cleft pallet, respiratory problems, blind and deaf. He suggested it would be better if she terminate her pregnancy. 

“Think about your other children and the burden this child would cause (both in time and money),”  he counselled. 

Foolish to think this way? Our society says, “No. It’s very reasonable. After all, she can have other children, right? She had five other children at home to think about.”

Should she get a second opinion? Or a third? Our society would ask, “What for? You’ve heard the outcome. The child has no hope for a normal life.”

The woman is confronted with a serious decision that threatens her conscience. She was taught that life is sacred. Could she simply choose to end the life that had begun in her by God’s grace? Isn’t God aware of the circumstances in His omniscience? 

Many women today are the battle ground between their conscience and public opinion. For 40 years, public opinion has won out, with the conscience numbed by the decision of Roe versus Wade, and the legalization of abortion in the United States. And, over the last 40 years, we have seen 59,477,972 (and counting by the minute) children’s lives terminated in the United States. This severance of life has flowed over the borders of America to the death of how many more children around the world in countries that followed suit in their policies, under the guise of ‘women’s health’? 

Is our society better off since then? The words of Pope Paul VI come back to us as a haunting prophecy. After mentioning how abortion is an illegal (by laws of the Church and man’s conscience) means of regulating children, he lists other unacceptable forms, including sterilization and contraception, and goes on to list the consequences if society does not heed this ‘warning’:

“Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.

Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife.”

Humanae Vitae, Number 17, 1968

I ask again, Has our society become a better place since January 22, 1973? Are we better off with the absence of such a large percentage of the generations under 40 who lost their lives due to legally being slain in the womb of their mothers? 

No, our society is not better. Mother Teresa of Calcutta understood this well in her defense of the unborn:

“We must not be surprised when we hear of murders, killings, of wars, or of hatred…If a mother can kill her own child, what is left but for us to kill each other?”

Have we as a society lost all disregard for life that it is only valued if it doesn’t create burden to us? Where ‘mercy’ is re-defined as putting one to death because their prognosis suggests they cannot have a ‘full life’?  Who will judge? Who determines the fullness of another’s life? Who will protect the smallest, most vulnerable of our society?

And what about the woman in the story above? She did get a second opinion and was told the same. She would be better off aborting her child. She chose, rather, to listen to her conscience and to preserve her trust in God.

That woman is my mother. My life was saved because she didn’t follow the voice of ‘professionals’, but rather to the voice of her motherly heart.

Thank you Mom! 


What can we do to overturn the tide of the closed heart?

1.  Pray and Fast for the end of abortion, and for the change of mentality about life in all its stages, that it is worth protecting. Some suggestions by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

2.  Use science to understand the truth of the development of the life in the womb. Here are some amazing pictures that may inspire you.

3. Show your support for life by joining one of the many ‘Walks for Life’ around the country. 

4. Know what the battle is about. Read this story about New York Governor Cuomo’s proposal to make late-term abortions unlimited and on demand. Yes, it’s come to this.

5. Pray some more, and ask your friends and family to do the same.

God bless you. 

Not Given a Chance

Working in parish ministries of catechesis, my Sisters and I often encounter laity who are walking (it seems) on a tightrope of faith, risking the fall into a waiting social climate that is unforgiving. Often, we are at the receiving end of the stories as we work to encourage others in their journey of faith, and many times find no words of consolation to give, but only to stand with them in their struggle or pain. Sr Jenny recently received a heartbreaking letter from “Francis”, who shares a recent experience of a friend, and a request for prayer (reprinted here with permission):

My friends, last night someone close to me who works in a labor and delivery unit informed me she had to dress and clean a dying survivor of an abortion. The patient was told by her doctors that her unborn child would have a low survival rate and took the doctor’s recommendation to abort her child. The child was then given a poison while in the womb and was expected to be a still born. However when the child was delivered the baby was found to be still alive but dying. My friend was then asked to take the now born dying baby to have the baby’s foot prints taken, cleaned, and dressed as his little heart grew weaker and the baby gasped for air. While the child was dying she was also told to prepare both a birth and death certificate. Finally once completed, she then proceeded to pray over the dying child as the baby’s soul departed this world.

First please pray for the poor soul that was murdered and left to die (after birth) last night. Please pray for my friend who is now traumatized from having to witness and be involved in this act last night. Please pray for the mother that she come to repent for her actions but also find consolation from the void she now has. Please pray for the doctors and medical staff that recommended and performed this mortal sin. Finally please pay for me as well so that my wife and I will have the strength to comfort our dear friend.

– – –

There are many unanswered questions that rise up in my mind, and make me realize how much work is yet to be done for the protection of the unborn.

Is it possible that hospitals are still performing abortions today? The letter suggests as much. Was the mother counselled as to other options? We don’t know. Did the mother experience trauma, when she learned her child was not dead but dying?  The baby was pretty far along for it to be a live birth after given lethal doses of ‘poison’ (perhaps saline injection, often used with babies more than 16 weeks old).   Would the baby have survived if allowed to grow a little more in her mother’s womb? The birth and death certificate. The child was left to die with no medical assistance, other than to be cleaned and foot-printed, perhaps held by the assistant until death took her.

Who is to blame? The doctor? The consenting mother? The assistant helping in delivery that day? A society that has lessened the life of this little soul for reasons we don’t know?

Let us pray for all those involved in this case of abortion, and for all the others affected each day by abortion in our country and in the world. May our Lord open hearts to the truth of this terrible sin against life, and give us courage to continue to win the fight in protecting these little ones.

This little soul wasn’t even given a chance, but was written off before she had wings to even try. Let us remind us of the miracle of life taking place in the womb, and pray for the day when a little girl will not be aborted and left to die.

We Create the Culture We Live In

During the eight and a half years I lived in Rome, I witnessed a visible culture shift in the values of the local society. My first year or two there, it was common place on any given weekend to see families picnicking in Villa Doria Pamphili Park, or out shopping together on a Saturday afternoon. But as the years passed, it was too evident that the family life of the city seemed to be getting lost, and I wondered, “where did the families go?”

It doesn’t happen overnight, but it happens, that a society finds itself looking around wondering, “how did we get here?”, despite warnings from those around them that were voicing the alarm that went unheard.

Today, we hear a lot being discussed about the degradation of our American values, and many are asking this very question, “how did we get here?” and “Was it something that happened overnight, or did we too have voices pointing to the signs, that we simply chose to ignore?”

The central part of the answer to these questions is addressed by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput in his discourse on the defense of human dignity at the University of Pennsylvania last November. His discourse was built around four points.

Man’s Special Dignity.

…the whole idea of “moral witness” comes from the assumption that good and evil are real, and that certain basic truths about humanity don’t change. These truths are knowable and worth defending. One of these truths is the notion of man’s special dignity as a creature of reason and will. Man is part of nature, but also distinct from it…. But the greatest difference between humans and other animals is the grave. Only man buries his dead. Only man knows his own mortality. And knowing that he will die, only man can ask where he came from, what his life means, and what comes after it…When Christians and other people of good will talk about “the dignity of the human person” and “the sanctity of human life,” they’re putting into words what we all instinctively know—and have known for a very long time. Something elevated and sacred in men and women demands our special respect…We live in a society that speaks persuasively about protecting the environment and rescuing species on the brink of extinction. But then it tolerates the killing of unborn children and the abuse of human fetal tissue as lab material.

Beware of Technology without Moral Compass.

Science and technology have expanded human horizons and improved human life in vital ways over the last century. They’ve also, at times, done the opposite…Knowledge without the virtues of wisdom, prudence, and, above all, humility to guide it is not just unhelpful. It’s dangerous. Goethe’s poem, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice—which some of us probably know from the Mickey Mouse cartoon based on it—sticks in our memories for a reason. We’re never as smart as we think we are, and we have a bad track record when it comes to preventing the worst uses of our own best discoveries.

Science involves the study of the material world. But human beings are more than the sum of their material processes. Trying to explain the human person with thinking that excludes the reality of the spiritual, the dignity of the religious, and the possibility of God simply cripples both the scientist and the subject being studied—man himself.

In other words, scientists too often have a divided heart: a sincere desire to serve man’s knowledge, and a sincere disdain for what they see as the moral and religious delusions of real men and women. If this doesn’t make us just a little bit uneasy, it should. Both faith and science claim to teach with a special kind of authority. One of the differences is this. Most religious believers accept, at least in theory, that they’ll be judged by the God of justice for their actions. For science, God is absent from the courtroom.

God is not mentioned in the Constitution, but not because He’s unwelcome.

In effect, God suffused the whole constitutional enterprise. Nearly all the Founders were religious believers, and some were quite devout. Their writings are heavily influenced by biblical language, morality, and thought.

America could afford to be secular in the best sense, precisely because its people were so religious. The Founders saw religious faith as something separate from government but vital to the nation’s survival. In his Farewell Address, Washington famously stressed that “religion and morality are indispensable supports” for political prosperity. He added that “reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” For John Adams, John Jay, James Wilson, Alexander Hamilton, Charles Carroll, George Washington, and most of the other Founders—including Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin—religion created virtuous citizens. And only virtuous citizens could sustain a country as delicately balanced in its institutions, moral instincts, and laws as the United States.

Here’s my purpose in mentioning this. The American Founders presumed the existence of natural law and natural rights. These rights are inalienable and guaranteed by a Creator; by “nature’s God,” to use the words of the Declaration of Independence. Such ideas may be out of fashion in much of legal theory today. But these same ideas are very much alive in the way we actually reason and behave in our daily lives…

The irony is that modern liberal democracy needs religion more than religion needs modern liberal democracy. American public life needs a framework friendly to religious belief because it can’t support its moral claims about freedom and rights with secular arguments alone. In fact, to the degree that it encourages a culture of unbelief, liberal democracy undermines its own grounding. It causes its own decline by destroying the public square’s moral coherence.

Dignity of the Human Person goes beyond Religion.

The pro-life movement needs to be understood and respected for what it is: part of a much larger, consistent, and morally worthy vision of the dignity of the human person. You don’t need to be Christian or even religious to be “pro-life.” Common sense alone is enough to make a reasonable person uneasy about what actually happens in an abortion. The natural reaction, the sane and healthy response, is repugnance…

Rejection of abortion and infanticide was one of the key factors that set the early Christians apart from the pagan world. From the Didache in the First Century through the Early Fathers of the Church, down to our own day, Catholics—and until well into the twentieth century all other Christians—have always seen abortion as gravely evil…

Working against abortion doesn’t license us to ignore the needs of the homeless or the poor, the elderly or the immigrant. It doesn’t absolve us from supporting women who find themselves pregnant or abandoned. All human life, no matter how wounded, flawed, young or old, is sacred because it comes from God. The dignity of a human life and its right to exist are guaranteed by God. Catholic teaching on abortion and sexuality is part of the same integral vision of the human person that fuels Catholic teaching on economic justice, racism, war, and peace.

These issues don’t all have the same content. They don’t all have the same weight. All of them are important, but some are more foundational than others. Without a right to life, all other rights are contingent….Society is not just a collection of sovereign individuals with appetites moderated by the state. It’s a community of interdependent persons and communities of persons; persons who have human obligations to one another, along with their human rights. One of those obligations is to not intentionally kill the innocent. The two pillars of Catholic social teaching are respect for the sanctity of the individual and service to the common good. Abortion violates both.

In the American tradition, people have a right to bring their beliefs to bear on every social, economic, and political problem facing their community. For Christians, that’s not just a privilege. It’s not just a right. It’s a demand of the Gospel…Believers can’t be silent in public life and be faithful to Jesus Christ at the same time. Actively witnessing to our convictions and advancing what we believe about key moral issues in public life is not “coercion.” It’s honesty. It’s an act of truth-telling. It’s vital to the health of every democracy. And again, it’s also a duty—not only of our religious faith, but also of our citizenship.

The University of Pennsylvania’s motto is Leges sine moribus vanae. It means “Laws without morals are useless.” All law has moral content. It’s an expression of what we “ought” to do. Therefore law teaches as well as regulates. Law always involves the imposition of somebody’s judgments about morality on everyone else. That’s the nature of law. But I think the meaning of Penn’s motto goes deeper than just trying to translate beliefs into legislation. Good laws can help make a nation more human; more just; more noble. But ultimately even good laws are useless if they govern a people who, by their choices, make themselves venal and callous, foolish and self-absorbed.

It’s important for our own integrity and the integrity of our country to fight for our pro-life convictions in the public square. Anything less is a kind of cowardice. But it’s even more important to live what it means to be genuinely human and “pro-life” by our actions—fidelity to God; love for spouse and children; loyalty to friends; generosity to the poor; honesty and mercy in dealing with others; trust in the goodness of people; discipline and humility in demanding the most from ourselves.

These things sound like pieties, and that’s all they are—until we try to live them. Then their cost and their difficulty remind us that we create a culture of life to the extent that we give our lives to others. The deepest kind of revolution never comes from violence. Even politics, important as it is, is a poor tool for changing human hearts. Nations change when people change. And people change through the witness of other people—people like each of you reading this. You make the future. You build it stone by stone with the choices you make. So choose life. Defend its dignity and witness its meaning and hope to others. And if you do, you’ll discover in your own life what it means to be fully human.

Please read Archbishop Chaput’s discourse in its entirety here.


The points made by Archbishop Chaput are applicable looking at the fabric of our society as a whole. How has our society changed over the years? Are we living with a moral compass to guide our decisions as individuals and as a nation? Or, are we as a culture beginning to abandon natural law that governs the human heart, despite religious affiliation or lack of one?

The key for the future of our country lies in what our Founders knew, and I believe we are fast approaching a pivotal point of no return. Chaput said, “America could afford to be secular in the best sense, precisely because its people were so religious. The Founders saw religious faith as something separate from government but vital to the nation’s survival. … And only virtuous citizens could sustain a country as delicately balanced in its institutions, moral instincts, and laws as the United States.”

The point of no return will arrive when secularism is no longer reigned in by virtue and an interior disposition of the individual to want to do good for self and for other. Do you see it creeping in?

I pray we will take to heart the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, and reclaim the delicate balance that has made this republic stand for the last 236-plus years, that the culture we create may sustain future generations.

May God be with us all.

A Day of Penance and Prayer

“The Gospel of life is at the heart of Jesus’ message. Lovingly received day after day by the Church, it is to be preached with dauntless fidelity as “good news” to the people of every age and culture.”
– Bl. John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 1

“The bishops of the United States have designated today as a day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life.”

In keeping with having today a Day of Prayer and Penance, what can we do?

– Go to Mass
– Peacefully praying outside of an abortion clinic
– Fasting
– Praying a rosary or chaplet for the unborn
– Praying for those who have been wounded by abortion
– Visiting and praying before the Blessed Sacrament
– Reading and reflecting on Pope John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae in full
– Becoming involved with a pro-life group
– Write about, or share posts on the issues of life, and post it to your blog,
facebook and/or twitter

What are you doing today, to witness to the gift of life?

Mother and Child, Both are Important

This year’s theme – abortion hurts women – was visible across the backdrop of the main stage of this year’s Walk for Life West Coast. This theme was put into proper context by Father Frank Pavone, at a pre-address at a side-stage before the Walk for Life West Coast got underway:


“We are the ones who are pro-woman. We are the ones who stand, not just for the baby, but rather who say to society, “Why can’t we love them both?”

The difference my friends between those who, we will meet some of them today, who advocate for legal abortion, and us who advocate for life, is not the difference they want the mother to think it is. They want the public to think that we stand for the babies, and they stand for women. But that’s not the difference between the two sides.

The difference between the two sides in this monumental struggle, in our nation and in our world today, is they think that you can separate the mother from child and we say you can’t.

You cannot love one without loving the other.
You cannot protect one without protecting the other.
and you cannot harm one without harming the other.”

Pictures from this years Walk for Life West Coast, 2012, including one with me with Fr Pavone. enjoy!

Walk for Life West Coast 2012 in Pictures

January 22 is the anniversary of the Roe vs Wade decision to make abortion legal in the United States, and this weekend marks that anniversary with the annual March for Life Convention in Washington D.C., concluding tomorrow with the 39th Annual March for Life on the National Mall. Events are taking place all over the country this weekend, to be in solidarity with the voices being heard in Washington.

Saturday, I was privileged to participate in the Walk for Life – West Coast, arriving on bus number 32 (out of more than 200 buses reported!) in San Francisco. As Our Lady of Lourdes Parishioners began getting off the buses to assemble the signs for the rally and walk, the sky threatened rain with a light drizzle that kept on for half-an-hour, but it could not dampen our spirits, and in the end, the Lord gave us a beautiful sunny day to testify to Life!

While waiting for the events to get underway, I decided to walk around and capture some of the signs I liked:

Unity in diversity was a sub-theme of the day:

My new friend London
and our very own Bella - Babies are Hipsters too!
One of my favorites - "Yeah Babies"

And some ‘stars’ were on the scene to encourage us:

Our own Bishop of Sacramento Diocese, Rev. Jaime Soto, seen here with our youth of Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church
Father Frank Pavone happened to be waiting at a crosswalk with us for the light to change.
credit: Karl Mondon of Bay City News
And, lots and lots of people out there to support both the mother and the child.

The day was a successful one, with some reports of over 50,000 coming into San Francisco for the walk.

Next year will be the 40th anniversary of Roe vs Wade. As one of the speakers said, ’40 years is significant in the Scriptures. Drastic shifts happen.’

Let us pray that this year begins the ‘drastic shift’ back to a culture that embraces life in all its stages.

Update: St. Blogustine has A great collection of photos from the March for Life – Washington DC

The Anchoress posted many great blog posts on the sanctity of life.

Do the Math – A Look at Generational Effects of Abortion

Jenn Giroux wrote a reflection on the generational effects of  ‘just one abortion’:

“We do not often think about the generational effect of ‘just one abortion’. The taking of one single life wipes out the countless souls who would have followed in all generations to come.

Look at your own Father and do the math.”

So, looking at my own ancestry, I did the math.

My Paternal Grandfather: 1

His Children :  2

His GrandChildren: 11

His Great-Grandchildren: 14

His Great-Great Grandchildren to date: 9

Total lives lost to date if my Grandfather had been aborted: 37


How many would the effect be in your family?



Ranking the Saints, and a response to the question of infant mortality.



Pro-Life Quote: Taking Chances

I was talking with teenagers on the sin of abortion. One of the students said that she supported abortion because babies born to young mothers are more likely to have birth defects or diseases, and many of them will live in poverty. Thus it is best if they are aborted. I responded,

“Don’t you think that death is a strange therapy? What if you went to the doctor and he said to you, ‘You are obviously alive now, but someday, in the future you might loose a limb, or get sick, or you might loose your job and have to go on welfare, so I am going to kill you right now, here in my office.’  What do you think of this? Isn’t death a horrible and strange therapy? You would probably respond that you would like to live and take your chances.”

— Msgr. Charles Pope, Death is No Therapy at All…

Walk for Life – Impressions in Pictures

I’ve been on the road, having participated in the Walk for Life West Coast on Saturday in San Francisco, and unfortunately, I’m only now able to post some first thoughts and pictures of my experience, using a mac-on-loan (It’s times like this I begin to feel envy for the more tech-mobile people out there!).

By good fortune, I’ve recently been befriended by a group of college students out of the Neuman Center at Cal Poly University in San Luis Obispo. They had an extra seat in one of their cars, and texted me a few hours before departure Friday night, asking if I’d like to go to the walk for life with them. I jumped at the chance. The trip up was a joyful one, full of singing and discussions about religious life, college life, and life choices.

We arrived in San Francisco around 10.30 Friday night, and ‘Checked in’ with the Marist Fathers who were so kind as to put us up in a reception hall of Notre Dame des Victoires Church. After dropping off our bags, we made our way through the San Francisco streets to   Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church (It’s a beautiful Church, by the way, and is really worth the visit if you are in San Francisco!).

We spent some time in Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, praying for the following day’s event, and for the end of abortion, and then we returned to our lodgings for a few hours of sleep before rising at six to make our way to the Cathedral of St Mary of the Assumption for morning Mass. The Mass was beautiful, very reverent. It was celebrated by Archbishop George Niederauer, San Francisco, an concelebrated by eight other Bishops of surrounding Diocese, and many priests, including Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life (from whom I received our Lord’s Precious Blood during Mass).

Following Mass, we made our way to Justin Herman Plaza for the rally and walk through the streets. One of the highlights of the rally was the inspiring words given by former Planned Parenthood director, Abby Johnson, who shared with us her change of heart, and new understanding of the value of life:

These twins are a powerful testimony of Life!

The awesome thing, I found, at the rally were the large number of young people, and young families with small children.

Well, pictures tell more than words. For now, let me share some of the captions that struck me:

Abortion Stops a Beating Heart
Save the Baby Humans heart stops, another heart breaks.
Abortion is the Greatest Destroyer of Peace - Bl. Mother Teresa
Give Life, Give Jesus, A Chance

And my favorite on the back of the T-shirts of a group of teens:

How could there be too many children? That's like saying there are too many flowers! - Bl. Mother Teresa

On that happy thought, I thank the Lord that the event went well. It was a day full of joy. Let us pray for the day we can truly rejoice, when every child is safe from having their lives destroyed before they begin.

God bless!

Memorial to the Unborn

Having begun Advent with a Vigil of Prayer for Nascent Life, and inspiring words of Pope Benedict XVI as we wait with the unborn Christ, my thoughts often turn to the plight facing many unborn children today as our society becomes more and more willing to listen to the voices of others to override the innate response we have to protect life at all costs. It is for this, I have on my sidebar this picture of the unborn Christ – He is on His way!

Women are, by their very nature, called to nurture and protect the lives of their children at all costs. Yet, some are willing to go against that instinct and allow others to lie to them that life is not growing in their bodies. And for what? If a mother is not willing to protect the life of her child, what hope is there for our culture – for our future?

What is happening to our society? Some people point the need to reduce the number of births (by means including abortion) to reduce man’s carbon footprint. Others – including heads of state and nations – claim the need to fund abortion under measures entitled ‘women’s reproductive heath’. These point, of course, to taking innocent lives at the words of ‘science’, when at the same time ignore the science that the unborn child is, in fact, a developing human being with his own DNA…the Child is on His Way!

Two bloodbaths of innocents mentioned in the Sacred Scriptures don’t compare to what we as a culture are doing today:

The Book of Exodus, chapter one recounts the slavery of the Hebrews in Egypt, and Pharaoh, afraid of the growing number of the slaves, suppressed them and seeing they were still increasing in number, ordered all Hebrew baby boys to be put to death, throwing them in the river.

The Gospel of Matthew, chapter two retells the story of Joseph rising in the night and taking Jesus and his mother Mary, departing for Egypt by the prompting of an angel. It was revealed to Joseph that the King Herod sought the child because he feared the conquering of his rule. All the boys in Bethlehem and surrounding territories – two years and under – were slaughtered (the Church celebrates their feast day – the Holy Innocents – on December 28th.

Instead of a King Herod killing every child under the age of two because they are a threat to his kingship, we have many calling for the funding of abortion that has killed more than 56 million children since 1973.  What makes this crime more gruesome, is that it is often at the request of the child’s own mother.

I came across this Memorial at Our Lady of Perpetual Help (the parish of my childhood), and I think it leaves us a wonderful meditation on the Gift of Christmas – the coming of the Christ Child.

The words on the plaque below the sculpture read:

Loving God,

Thank you for the gift of family.

Embrace all children denied the miracle of life.

Fill us with good health, love and compassion.

Protect all families and give us strength to serve you.


Let us, then, as we anticipate the coming of the King of Kings, pray in anticipation of all unborn children as well, that each will be welcomed into the world as a gift of unmeasurable price.

Advent: Waiting with the Unborn Christ

This evening the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, gave the following homily during the celebration of first vespers for the beginning of Advent (original in Italian here) [translation mine]:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

with this evening’s celebration, the Lord gives us  the grace and the joy to open the new Liturgical Year, its first stage being Advent, the period that commemorates the coming of God among us. Every beginning caries within itself a particular grace, so blessed from the Lord.  In this Advent will be given, once again, to experience the closeness of Him who created the world, which directs the story and that took care of us, reaching to the height of his condescension to become man. It is this great and fascinating mystery of God with us, God made one of us, is what we celebrate in the coming weeks towards holy Christmas.  During the time of Advent, we feel the Church taking us by the hand, and as in the image of Most Holy Mary, she expresses her maternity making us experience the joyful waiting for the coming of the Lord, that embraces all of us in his saving love and consolation.

While our hearts leap forward toward the annual celebration of the birth of Christ, the liturgy of the Church directs our gaze to the final goal: the encounter with the Lord that will come in the splendor of His glory. This is why, in every Eucharist vigilant in prayer, “we announce his death, proclaiming his resurrection until He comes.” The liturgy never ceases to encourage and sustain us, putting upon our lips, in the days of Advent, the cry with which He concludes the whole Sacred Scriptures, in the last page of the Book of Revelation (Apocalypse) of Saint John: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (22,20).

Dear brothers and sisters, our meeting this evening to begin our Advent journey is enhanced by another important reason: with all the Church, we want to solemnly celebrate the vigil prayer for nascent life. I desire to express my thanks to all those who have joined this invitation and to those who dedicate themselves in a specific way to welcome and preserve human life in various situations of fragility, especially in its early stages. At the very beginning of the Liturgical Year, we live anew the expectation of God made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary, of God that is made small, becomes a child; he speaks to us of the coming of a God who is near, that has wanted to live the human experience, from the beginning, so to save humanity completely, fully. Thus, the mystery of the Incarnation of the Lord and the beginning of human life are intimately connected and harmoniously woven together through the one salvific design of God, the Lord of life of all and of every one. The Incarnation reveals to us with an intense light and in an amazing way that every human life has a highest, incomparable dignity.

Man presents an incomparable originality in respect to all other living things that populate the earth. He is present as a unique and single subject, given intelligence and free will, as well as a material reality. He lives simultaneously and inseparably the spiritual dimension and the corporal dimension. It suggests also in the text of the First Letter to the Thessalonians that was proclaimed: “May the God of peace – writes saint Paul – sanctify you perfectly, and you entirely, spirit, soul and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (5:23). We are therefore, spirit, soul and body. We are part of this world, tied to the possibility and the limits of a material condition; at the same time we are open to an infinite horizon, capable of speaking with God and to welcome Him in us. We work in the earthly reality and through it we can perceive the presence of God and attend to Him, truth, goodness and absolute beauty. We savor fragments of life and of happiness and we long for total happiness.

God loves us in a profound way, total, without distinction; he calls us to friendship with Him; he renders us participants in a reality above every imagination and of every thought and word; his own divine life. With emotion and gratitude we are made aware of the value, the incomparable dignity of every human person and of the great responsibility that we have towards all. “Christ, who is the new Adam – affirms the Second Vatican Council – reveals the mystery of the Father and of his love, also fully reveals man to himself and manifests his highest vocation…With his incarnation of the Son of God he is united in a certain way to every man” (Gaudium et Spes, 22).

To believe in Jesus Christ means to also have a new gaze upon man, a gaze of trust, of hope. Moreover the experience itself and the right reason attest that to be human is the a subject capable of discernment (intendere) and of will, self-conscious and free, unique and irreplaceable, the summit of all earthly realities, that must be recognized as a value in itself and merits to be always welcomed with respect and love. He has the rights of not being treated like an object to be possessed or like a thing that can be manipulated and at will, of not being reduced to only an instrument for the benefit of others and of their interests. The person is a good in its very self and should always seek his integral development. Love towards all, then, if sincere, tends spontaneously to become preferential attention fro the weakest and most poor. On this line we find the concern of the Church for the unborn, the most fragile, the most threatened by egoism of adults and by the obscurity of the conscience. The Church continues to reiterate what she the Second Vatican Council has declared about abortion and every violation against nascent life: “Life, once conceived, must be protected with the utmost care” (ibid., n. 51).

There are cultural tendencies that seek to anesthetize the conscience with specious motivations. With regard of the embryo in the maternal womb, science itself shows evidence of the autonomous capacity of interaction with the mother, the coordination of biological processes,  the continuity of development, the complex growth of the organism. This is not the accumulation of biological material, but of a new living being, dynamic and marvelously ordered, a new unique human being. So was Jesus in the womb of Mary; so was every one of us, in the womb of a mother. With the ancient Christian author Tertullian we can affirm: “It is already a man who will be” (Apology, IX, 8); there is no reason for not to consider a person from conception.

Unfortunately, also after the birth, the life of a child continues to be exposed to abandonment, to hunger, to misery, to sickness, to abuse, to violence, to exploitation. The many violations of their rights that are committed in the world painfully wound the conscience of every man of good will. Before the sad panorama of injustice committed against human life, both before and after birth, I make my passionate appeal to Pope John Paul II to the responsibility of each person. “Respect, defend, love and serve life, every human life!” (Enc. Evangelium Vitae, 5). I exhort the protagonists of political, economic and social communication to do what is in their power to promote a culture always respectful of human life, to procure favorable conditions and support networks for the reception and development of it.

To the Virgin Mary, that welcomed the Son of God made man with her faith, with her maternal womb, with the loving care, with supportive accompaniment and vibrant love, we entrust the prayer and commitment in favor of nascent life. We do so in the liturgy – that is place where we live the truth and where the truth lives in us – adoring the divine Eucharist, in which we contemplate the Body of Christ, that Body that became flesh in Mary by the work of the Holy Spirit, and from her is born in Bethlehem, for our salvation. Ave, verum Corpus, natum de Maria Virgine (Hail, true Body, born of the Virgin Mary)! Amen

40 Days for Life – Hope

Since September 22, people have been praying and fasting to bring about the end of the culture of death in our country and the world as part of the annual campaign 40 Days for Life. There have been times that our prayer has seemed to be in vain, but not today. Prayer is powerful, and is always secretly working even when we feel nothing is going right.

From today’s Post by Shawn Carney, Campaign Director for 40 Days for Life:

A 40 Days for Life coordinator received a call from a woman who was in tears. She is pregnant with her sixth child and her husband had been laid off from work.  They’re struggling financially, trying to care for their five children in a two-bedroom apartment. “She felt like her only option was to have an abortion,” said Wynette in Sacramento, “but her husband lovingly
encouraged her to call the number he found on our 40 Days for Life flier, which had been given to him at church the previous Sunday. He did not want his wife to abort their child.” This woman immediately connected with the 40 Days for Life volunteer — who also has five children … and her husband also hasn’t been able to find work lately. “This turned a challenge into a mutual blessing,” Wynette said.
“The woman, who was strongly considering abortion, changed her mind and has chosen life, while also gaining a new friend in the 40 Days for Life volunteer … all the result of volunteers simply distributing 40 Days for Life fliers at local churches!”
To see photos of the 40 Days for Life vigil in Sacramento, please check out the: 40 Days Blog
The key to changing our culture from one of death to one of life is PRAYER. Please join us in these last days of the campaign.
God bless!

Give the Children to Me

In 1979, Blessed M. Teresa of Calcutta made the case for the unborn, pleading with her listeners, “please don’t destroy the child, we will take the child.” Today, there is a new Mother Teresa in the making in Vietnam. A contractor has taken in more than eighty infants that would otherwise have been aborted:

Tong Phuoc Phuc began his work as an act of thanksgiving to God in answer to his prayer. His wife and unborn child were in danger due to complications of the pregnancy; he prayed they might be spared. He promised that if they survived, he would do something good for others. He began noticing that pregnant women were going into the delivery room and coming out alone, and he then went to the hospital staff and asked for the aborted fetuses, to bury them. The video shows the garden he developed into a cemetery for the unborn, where more than nine-thousand unborn are laid to rest. This in itself is a wondrous work, but it is only the beginning.

His real work is his outreach to at-risk pregnancies, offering women a choice to bring their babies to full term, he takes in the unwanted children as his own. To date, more than eighty babies have been brought to him. Beautifully, out of that eighty, thirty were taken back by their mothers as they were able to care for them.

This man is a shining example for us of what it means to live out our faith. He has taken the Gospel and put it into action in a life-giving way. It is as though he was present in Oslo, Norway to listen personally to the address by Mother Teresa:

“And so here I am talking with you – I want you to find the poor here, right in your own home first. And begin love there. Be that good news to your own people. And find out about your next-door neighbour – do you know who they are?…Because I believe that love begins at home, and if we can create a home for the poor – I think that more and more love will spread. And we will be able through this understanding love to bring peace, be the good news to the poor. The poor in our own family first, in our country and in the world.”

It is clear that Tong Phuoc Phuc understood Mother Teresa’s message perfectly. That in his care for the least of these, he is caring for Christ himself.


‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25:37-40

The Hidden Pearl – Blessed Margaret

“It is time”, Captain Parisio thought to himself. “Today, a son shall be born to me.” He long anticipated this day when an heir would be born, and his hope was dashed in finding out that not only was he not the father of a son, but that the daughter born to him was badly malformed, one leg shorter than the other, her head grossly disproportionate to her body, and blind. There, on a day of anticipated joy, Parisio’s heart was hardened, and no name was even given to this poor baby girl. One of the servants took pity on her, and named her Margaret, which means ‘pearl’.

Margaret was hidden away by her parents. Those who came inquiring about their new child were told that she was stillborn. At the age of six, she was locked away in a one-room cell added on to the small parish church. For the next fourteen years she remained there, hidden away from the world, with only the kind maid-servant who named her and the parish Priest for company. When Margaret was about twenty years old, her parents took her to a church in Castello, where they heard miraculous healings were taking place. Toward the end of the day, as they came to collect their healed daughter, seeing no change in her, they abandoned her there at the Church and returned home.

Margaret, after being hidden away for twenty years, was left to fend for herself. I recommend reading her whole story here.
* * *
The idea of parents hiding their children happens today. It is just as tragic now as it was in 1287. But something beautiful happened to Margaret while in captivity, hidden from the world. Through the kind family Priest, she learned of God, and the great love God had for her. She nurtured her heart with this truth, and made room to believe that even she, in all of her suffering and deformity, there was a purpose. In faith, she accepted this, and in being thrown out into the streets to fend for herself, her faith was tested. All who met her were struck by her kindness and her great love, even deep love she professed for the parents who abandoned her!
Margaret’s parents hid her away, ashamed that they could produce such a horrific looking child. Today, we think their actions as cruel. How cruel would they be, if Margaret was conceived in today’s climate, would she have been born at all? How would a doctor, seeing in the womb the malformed child, counsel his patient? Our society is impoverished. With all of its technology, and modern means, it chooses to embrace another kind of cruelty masked as compassion. Margaret’s life most likely would have been aborted.
Fortunately, the world has known such a kind heart as Blessed Margaret of Castello, who has given us a model of love with which to love those who wished she didn’t exist at all. She in her deformity truly is a pearl of great treasure.