Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Women do deserve better!

No one can deny that at conception a sort of big bang occurs (pardon my French) at which point a new life is put into motion. A life is conceived that will develop from that moment. The perpetual discussion of when a fetus becomes a baby or when a baby develops personhood distracts from the obvious fact that the story of a new life has begun at conception. Each of us can trace our personal story back to the moment of our conception. It was our conception that was the decisive moment before which I did not exist and after which my personal existence had begun. It makes no sense to trace my development back to some arbitrary point four weeks or three months or however long after I had been conceived.

If my mother had an abortion one week after conceiving me then I wouldn't be here. My life would have been quenched out of existence. Sperm and eggs and fetuses are not interchangeable, we know that because of our unique DNA footprints. Many women decide to have an abortion because they don't feel ready to raise a child now. They often have planned pregnancies later. The language of 'choice' and 'family planning' makes it sound like the planned baby I am having now is the same baby that would have been born three years ago had I not had an abortion. But they are not the same baby. I chose that this baby would live. I chose that the first baby would never live. Two babies. Only one allowed to live.

Anyone who truly respects the dignity of each person and believes that each individual has an equal right to exist (and how can equality exist without an equal right to be alive??) must believe that abortion is wrong since it deprives the person whose DNA has already been 'used' and stamped on a particular zygote the right to exist. Even from a secular perspective this is a gross violation of the right to life. Nobody wins PowerBall twice. No two zygotes are alike. And for the Christian person this is especially obvious. Each person is assigned a soul and the soul is not re-used. Human beings have a body. And only one body.

Two of the greatest hypocrisies of the pro-choice movement are the assertions that 1.) those who are aborted are better off never having lived a life that could be full of suffering and that 2.) their mothers are better off without them. And yet from this perspective, one would expect the movement to be led by people who wish they had never been born and cry out that they were denied the right to non-existence. It should be filled with mothers crying out that their children have ruined their lives and that everything would be so much better "if only I'd had an abortion!". This is not the case. Why? First, because we know that even most pro-choice individuals would 'choose' their own existence over non-existence. And second, because we easily recognize the horror of a mother rejecting her own child. The latter is also evidenced by the fact that many women will justify abortion over adoption because "if I'm not going to raise him then I don't want anybody to raise him." However, these two tragic assertions betray our innate understanding of two aspects of the natural law that is written on our hearts.

First, it is clear that we recognize the duty of each person to endure whatever suffering life brings from birth until natural death, because if suicide is truly the mercy some make it out to be then no one would need to fear another person's suffering to the point of procuring abortion just in case. In most cases, the child could simply grow up to the age of reason and then personally decide whether or not to end his/her own life.

Second, when we hear women saying things like "if I'm not going to raise him then I don't want anybody to raise him", this reveals the natural law written on our hearts that says that it's wrong to reject one's child and that every child deserves to be loved and cared for by his/her biological parents.

Perversions of the natural law, while incapable of completely obscuring God's Truth, result in so many women throughout the world who have been scarred by abortion and are haunted by visions of their lost children, knowing by experience that there is no way to destroy one's child and not suffer for it. It is a difficult situation. Anyone who has committed this offense and recognized the horror of it needs emotion and spiritual healing rather than condemnation. But the lies have to stop. Women certainly do deserve better than abortion.

The right to exist and the right (and duty!) to continue to live until a natural death, whether that natural death comes within the womb or five days after being born or at age 96, is a right more fundamental than any other worldly right and must not be compromised even in an attempt to alleviate the worst suffering, be it physical, mental or emotional. Even our rationalizations bear witness to this truth.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

A Spiritual Root Canal.

Below are notes from an examination I made following a regional retreat led by Monsignor Esseff for the Lay Missionaries of Charity. This retreat marked the conclusion of a particularly difficult year during which I was prone to negative introspection. On the positive side, I became aware that my fear of displeasing others often paralyzes me, which is no surprise in our politically correct culture where one of the worst evils is to offend someone. This realization initiated an ongoing struggle toward greater assertiveness and freedom from the dreaded guilt complex. I posted an excerpt a while back but it may be worth posting the longer version.

A Spiritual Root Canal
2014 Lay Missionaries of Charity Regional Retreat, Mount Pocono PA

I feel like there are enemy strongholds (at least one) that oppress me and due to the LMC retreat and some other things that have happened (and possibly due to things that will happen soon), the enemy feels threatened and is trying to make my life miserable. By the grace of God, although I have fallen into misery at times, I have been emotionally steady for the most part.

This stronghold inhibits my spiritual life and manifests typically as fear and resistance to performing good works; sometimes I feel that no matter how badly I want to do a good work no amount of coaxing or threatening myself can get me to do it. In fact, the more effort I put into trying to overcome the resistance the worse I seem to fair. Evil thoughts enter my mind saying things like "I've always failed before so this time will be no different." "Even if God were to give me the words to say I would not say them because I'm such a coward." Obsessive guilt and rationalization always follow.

Many people have offered advice and suggested that I am simply weak-willed. They tell me that in every situation I have a choice as to what I will do and I need to more strongly exert my will to make the right choice. But I feel like my will can never be strong enough to overcome an enemy stronghold.

People tell me that I need stronger faith, greater trust in God, more respect for self and love of my neighbor, greater contrition, etc. etc. All of this is true, and I pray for it. The primary battleground happens to be at my job. This is where I fail the most in performing the good works that I feel called to. This makes me unhappy, which is perhaps reasonable. However, for a while, I felt bitter toward God for not leading me somewhere that I could be more spiritually competent. I have a strong desire to feel 'useful' to God, when I need to be satisfied with His love alone. After the last few years of praying about it, I feel that this job is where God wills me to be right now.

People offer me knowledge and advice. They tell me that I'm unhappy because I'm doing things wrong or because I'm seeing the situation in the wrong way. They remind me that I'm there to save souls and that my mere presence is an important witness. I am bringing Jesus to the people who would never go to him. My suffering is a gift that I can offer for their conversions and that will more closely unite me with our suffering Lord.

I've read Practicing the Presence of God and He Leadeth Me and Abandonment to Divine Providence and feel that I have enough knowledge to prepare me one hundred times over for what needs to happen and where I lack. But somehow my heart doesn't listen or understand. I feel like I should continue to struggle in this way until God provides transformational grace. But I see my pride in everything I have related so far. I see it everywhere. Often I can no longer distinguish between what comes from God and what comes from my pride. Everything seems to be pride. I feel lost and like I can no longer trust my ability to discern God's will.

I long for interior silence to stop the constant reasoning in my mind. I need to listen to the voice of God, but I don't know how. Maybe God will teach me if I would just sit in silence for a while. Probably what I do need is more silent adoration. Eucharistic Adoration is my refuge where I find peace. I think that perhaps God wants me to rest in His peace and grow stronger. I am a doer and something inside makes me feel guilty for resting. I think God wants to cure me of that. Allowing me to rest in Him is a way that God shows me his love. I need to learn to rest in order to experience God's love. Maybe I can let Him do the 'doing' for a while. Maybe listening to His voice is not always like receiving orders. Maybe I can listen to His breathing. Maybe I can listen to the voice of God singing a lullaby. Maybe His voice is simply telling me that He loves me. And I ignore that voice. I don't believe that voice comes from God. Because I expect the voice of God to be giving orders. I am accomplishment driven. I tend to show love through loyalty and effort. Maybe God just wants me to love, like I did at the beginning. I wasn't trying to accomplish anything. I just wanted to know God. I wanted to be His friend. Can I hear the brokenhearted voice of God as it cries: "you have lost the love you had at first." Revelation 2:4

I feel like things are being shifted around in my soul and I'm being purged of some things that are not suppose to be there. This is uncomfortable. Something like growing pains. Not a radical change like when God healed me of social anxiety but small, almost unnoticeable changes which are perhaps even more important because they come from deep within. The social anxiety was superficial. It bound me and kept me from freedom in Christ but I always recognized it as something foreign that was not part of my being. I realized that I needed to be set free. However, deep down there are disorders which are firmly rooted and seem to be a fundamental part of my identity. These need to be rooted out and purified. Our Father in Heaven continues to prune me and remove anything that is not of God but this is never a comfortable process. God is performing another spiritual root canal.

Monsignor Esseff says that I am Jesus. A meditation comes to mind. The baby Jesus has been born in my heart. The angels gather round and sing praises saying "Glory to God in the Highest!" Shepherds come and the wise men bringing gold and frankincense and myrrh. The source of this joyful celebration is within me. I will rein with Jesus. I will worship with Jesus. I will die with Jesus. I am Jesus.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Sarah's jubilee year of FAITH.

starting my YOF just a few years late


Since my entrance into the Church on Easter Vigil 2011, I have felt called to dedicate some liturgical years to a particular theme--kind of like a personal jubilee year inspired by the Holy Spirit. Since last year was the Jubilee Year of Mercy, it made sense to stick with Mercy, but in the past I've dedicated years to Joy and Love. This year I feel called unmistakably to a year of FAITH. This ties in nicely with my New Year's resolution.

God wants all of us to experience the Fruits of the Holy Spirit, no matter where we are or what the situation. I have said in the past, "No factory worker has zeal for his work." However, that assertion is not only condescending but also untrue. In the spiritual life as well, we can all have zeal and the Fruits of the Spirit no matter what the circumstances, but Woundedness and Sinfulness prevent us from fully receiving this grace. God will move us readily along the path of healing and conversion if we allow it. I must know the promises of God, believe them, and expect to receive what He has promised. No matter what.

I will no longer say, Because You have allowed me to end up in this situation, it is impossible that…

…I can have peace.
…I can have joy.

I will no longer say, So long as I remain in this place, it is impossible that…

…I can have patience.
…I can have joy.
…I can be healed.

I will no longer be the petulant child of God, because nothing is impossible for Him.

I will be assured that God's hands are not tied by my weakness or even my doubts. God's hands are tied by my stubbornness and hardness of heart and my unwillingness to act in faith at all times, even when I don't feel like I believe.

By His grace…

…I will be joyful always.
…I will pray continually.
…I will give thanks in all circumstances.

Faith is as simple as saying, "Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief."