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.

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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.

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:

Text:

“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.

Walking for Life is Fun!!!

This past Saturday was the day of the Northern California Pro-Life Walk-a-thon. I drove down to Elk Grove Park with Our Lady of Lourdes Parishioners, Soraya and her mother Ana, to lend our support (and stretch our legs) in the 3.6 mile walk. All the proceeds for the day went to help fund five crisis pregnancy centers in the Sacramento Diocese. One of my favorite parts of the walk were the very awesome and enthusiastic junior high schoolers from St Joseph’s Parish in Elk Grove, who made us feel like hero-marathoners every time we passed the water and cup-cake table!

THANKS SO MUCH for the smiles and joy you brought to all of us!

And of course, all of the smiles and walking and encouragement was for one purpose; so that little ones will have a chance to take hold of life and run with it, like this little walker does!.

A little walker and her family :-)

A Big THANK YOU also goes out to all of my sponsors for the walk-a-thon. There are a few donations still coming in, and I think we (you and I) will just break $1,000 to help out those CPC’s! Put that together with the numerous priests of the diocese who also hit the trail, we can rejoice!

Next year, it will be even better, I am sure. May our Lord bless each of you, as we continue to work to defend life in all its stages.

Next Event: Walk for Life West Coast, in San Francisco on Saturday, January 21st, 2012. For more information, check out the website. I’ve already reserved my space on one of the many buses coming from Sacramento, CA for the event. Are you coming? Let me know! I’d love to meet you!

Walking for Life – Update

I posted a while back that I would be walking, to raise money for five crisis pregnancy centers in Sacramento Diocese. That walk is just two weeks away!

Today, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Bob Dunning, the host of the Bishop’s Hour on Immaculate Heart Radio to talk about the walk-a-thon. It was my first time on radio, so I didn’t know what to expect.

So, come listen and let me know what you think:

Bob and I, talking about the walk and prolife issues.

Here’s how you can help us to help women who find themselves in crisis pregnancy:
 
  1. Pray for the women in need of assistance.
  2. Pray for success of the Walk.
  3. Ask the Lord how you can contribute.
  4. Go to this site.
    • On the pull-down menu, select “I want to sponsor a walker in the walkathon.” Click to proceed.
    • Scroll down, fill in the necessary information.
    • Choose which of the five crisis pregnancy centers you wish your donation to support (you can learn about the centers at below links).
    • Choose the ‘name of the person you wish to sponsor’ (I am listed as ‘Sister Doty, Lisa Marie – Sacramento’) [Hint, hint :-) ]
    • List amount you plan on sponsoring me for.
    • Click proceed, and follow the rest of the steps (you will be referred to the corresponding donation page for the CPC you chose, to complete your transaction), OR
    • If you would rather sponsor a walker by check, make your pledge at the site above, and instead of continuing when you are referred for payment, please make it payable to: Catholics for Life. Include a note containing the name of the walker you wish to sponsor and the name of the CPC to which you wish to donate the funds.  Mail it to: Catholics for Life, P. O. Box 156, Carmichael, Ca. 95608.

If each visitor donates one dollar, that’ll be a tremendous help!

For more information about the walk, go to the Walk-a-thon website. Or, read the flyer here.

God bless you!

Ranking of the Saints

Taylor Marshall over at Canterbury Tales listed where some saints fell in the birth order:

“Here are the birth orders of some of the world’s greatest Christians:

  • St. Thérèse de Lisieux – Doctor of the Church (ninth child)
  • St. Ignatius Loyola – founder of the Jesuits (eleventh)
  • St. Francis Xavier – perhaps the greatest missionary (thirteenth)
  • St. Catherine of Siena – Doctor of the Church (twenty-fourth)”

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It made me think. What if there are other saints waiting to be born, but society or parents deem they can’t afford to have them? As families become smaller and smaller, are we exterminating saints?

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
Abortion...one 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!

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

Advent Vigil – for all Nascent Human Life – Update

Pope Benedict will hold a prayer vigil for unborn babies on Nov. 27, the evening before the First Sunday of Advent, at St. Peter’s Basilica in conjunction with Vespers for the Start of Advent and he is requesting that parishes, religious communities, associations and movements the world over host vigils in communion with him.

The Pope said:

“The season of preparation for Christmas is an appropriate time for invoking divine protection over every human being called into existence and for thanking God for the gift of life we received from our parents,”

This Vigil for Nascent Human Life, which has pro-life leaders rejoicing, will be held after Vespers for the Start of Advent. EWTN will televise both celebrations beginning at 11 a.m. ET, Sat., Nov. 27.

The Pope said he will pray for the unborn and their parents, for an end to abortion and research that destroys embryos, for recognition of the dignity of every human life, for the overturning of laws that permit the destruction of innocent lives, and for the healing of those who have acted against innocent human life.

He asks that all diocesan bishops (and their equivalent) preside over similar celebrations involving Catholics in every state of life around the world. (Read in full at EWTN)

Advent begins this Saturday night…candles in churches and homes will be lit…and prayers will be prayed. But this Advent will be different in its introductory tone in many Churches around the world who have pledged to pray in union with the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI for “All Nascent Human Life”. The Pope has made an unprecedented request to all Bishops around the world to reserve first vespers on November 27th for the specific intention of all life on the verge of coming into existence. The Unborn.

The timing for these prayers for children not-yet born, sets the tone for our anticipation of the Christ-child anew. It is also a reminder to us that our Lord, too, began His earthly life in a precarious state of complete dependence upon a woman for all nourishment while being carried for nine months in Mary’s womb. Advent turns our gaze to the anticipation of His coming, and preparation of the great feast of Christmas, and yet, it is the anticipation with the Christ child for the birth of every child.

Are we ready to welcome him? Let us prepare our hearts for the Lord, in our prayers for every child in waiting to be born.

__What Others are Saying __

Prayer materials have been developed by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and the Pontifical Council for the Family, and are available on the USCCB Pro-Life site.

You may also feel a desire to write a note of support of this project to the Pope at the Yes! for Benedict website.

Thanksgiving with the Holy Father By Mary McClusky

Life News: Pope’s Vigil for Nascent Human Life “Could not be more Important

National Catholic Register

Catholic News Agency: Spanish Bishops Encourage Participation

Zenit: Holy Father Urges Participation in Pro-Life Vigil

Fr. Z explains the word nascent very well.

Lisa Graas: Pope Benedict to Celebrate “Vigil for All Nascent Human Life”

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Prayer of Pope John Paul II

O Mary, bright dawn of the new world,

Mother of the living,

to you do we entrust the cause of life

Look down, O Mother,

upon the vast numbers

of babies not allowed to be born,

of the poor whose lives are made difficult,

of men and women

who are victims of brutal violence,

of the elderly and the sick killed

by indifference or out of misguided mercy.

Grant that all who believe in your Son

may proclaim the Gospel of life

with honesty and love

to the people of our time.

Obtain for them the grace

to accept that Gospel

as a gift ever new,

the joy of celebrating it with gratitude

throughout their lives

and the courage to bear witness to it

resolutely, in order to build,

together with all people of good will,

the civilization of truth and love,

to the praise and glory of God,

the Creator and lover of life.

– Evangelium Vitae, 105


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.
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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.

Baby Grows up with iPad

In the last few days, I’ve been exposed to a lion’s share of weak reasoning that an unborn baby is not a human being. I will write more about this in the coming days, but had to share this beauty: The iPad app – Hello Baby, which debuted in April.

The add states:

“From the very first moment your baby starts growing a bond begins to form…allowing the whole family to enjoy the baby’s development, even before he or she is born…you can look at his feet and listen to his heartbeat.”

Hello Baby!

Hat Tip:  Lisa Graas