Tuesday, January 21, 2014

January 22--Day of Poverty

"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." (Mother Teresa of Calcutta)   Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a champion of the extreme marginalized including the unborn.  Her ministry took her to the most impoverished slums of the world to bring the healing love and power of Jesus Christ to those whom society deemed disposable.  She extended this ministry to the most innocent of us all, the unborn, in her tireless campaign to raise awareness of the tyranny and brutality that is abortion.

January 22, is an important date in the history of this nation.  For on this date in 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States, legalized a procedure which, in essence, is nothing short of murder. Abortion. 

To commemorate this infamous decision, hundreds of thousands of people will gather in Washington, DC, for a Walk for Life, reminding society and the government that, despite what the law may say, an unborn child is a child, a child who has a perfect right to life.

The poverty of abortion is in the complete disregard for the one person involved in the decision to take the life of the unborn and that is the baby.  If members of society were to make drastic, life altering decisions without including in the discussion the very class of people it would most affect, the world would be outraged.  Yet, it is true that the unborn, especially those who are unwanted by their parents, are the most marginalized of all.  

It is interesting to note that throughout history, God has chosen just such marginalized to bring His message of love and mercy to a broken world.  When He sent His only Son into the world to redeem mankind from an eternal hell, He didn't choose to have Him born into a noble house with noble surroundings.  Rather, He chose a poor, peasant backwoods girl to bear His Son.  The earthly father He chose to look after His Son, rearing Him in the rich traditions of His Jewish faith, was not some important administrator or priestly member of the temple, but a humble carpenter with very little education and a deep abiding faith in the Father.  

The one who would announce the coming of the Lamb of God to the world, John the Baptist, was, by all accounts, a wild-eyed itinerant preacher living in the desert wearing only animal skins and eating locusts and honey to sustain him.  Who would believe that God was working through a strange man like this?  Yet, John the Baptist is now recognized as the greatest of the prophets and the true herald of the Great King.  By the standards of then and now, he was one of the marginalized.

And then there is the example of David.  David was the smallest, weakest of the sons, yet God chose him to become king of the nation of Israel.  He became powerful and committed two serious sins.  Instead of despairing, David humbled himself and returned to God giving us in the process the magnificent Psalms.  And it is in this example of David as the weakest, that we find God.

God chooses the week, the marginalized and the humble to confuse the mighty and the powerful.  God communicates through individuals, not masses.  He imparts His wisdom to those whose lives, in the estimation of the world, are small and meaningless.  This is because when we humble ourselves before God, we are able to get out of our own way in order to communicate with our Heavenly Father.  It is in our smallness that we find the most meaningful communion with God.  

Therefore, we must become humble, impoverished in spirit, in order to come to God in pure and clear communication.  We must lower ourselves to acknowledge His greatness before us.  The unborn, the weakest and most impoverished among us, bear a great message from the Father.  By their mere existence they proclaim His glory.  They are, as of yet, untouched by the world.  They are pure love, signs of a loving Creator wanting only to love us and nurture us through His Son, Jesus Christ. 

When an unborn child is killed through the process of abortion, the glory of God is denied.  Not only may a child who is destined to be a great leader, or an important scientist, or even a loving parent in the future destroyed, but the glory of God the Father, found in every human being, is obliterated through the darkness of the Culture of Death.   In the world's eyes, this little inconvenience is neatly and quietly disposed of.  However, in reality, the one reality that counts, that of God, His glory and love has been snuffed out.  

In recent months, we have witnessed Pope Francis demonstrating to us the importance of the marginalized, the weakest among us.  In Vatican Square, the Pope embraced a man suffering from a disease which caused great pain and deformity.

The Pope held him close just as we might imagine Jesus embracing the sick of his day.  Time and again we have seen him stop his motorcade in order to get out and greet the parents of a sick child.  He traveled to a prison on Holy Thursday to wash the feet of prisoners.  Certainly, we have seen him embrace world leaders and important members of governments around the world. However, the most powerful images are those of his moments with the least among us.  That is because we know that somewhere inside each and every one of us there resides a small, weak version of our exterior in need of intimate communion with God.  And because our parents chose to bring us into this world, we are given the opportunity to experience this intimacy.

Those who are the weakest, the most marginalized, never get that chance in the way they were created to experience.  His honor, His glory, and sadly, His love is snuffed out the moment the abortion takes place.  And the richness that is life becomes an unspeakable poverty of death, deprived of the light of life and the honor of giving glory to the Father with a life lived in service to Him, Who is the Creator.

And, so, on January 22, 2014, let us pause for a moment and remember those among us who have been all but forgotten by a world that seems to have lost its proper sense of perspective.  Honor them through your prayers and most especially by recognizing the greatness in those who seem to have nothing to give. Remember the unborn children who will be sacrificed for the sake of convenience or any of a thousand other reasons.  May they continue, through their deaths, to give glory and honor to the Father Who has created them and now draws them into the bosom of His love.  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Fighting a Juggernaut

A few days ago, Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor, stayed the implementation of the HHS mandate requiring all employers to provide insurance to provide oral contraceptive, sterilization, and abortifacient coverage for a religious organization of Catholic nuns known as the Little Sisters of the Poor.

The Little Sisters of the Poor's mission is to provide service and care to the elderly.  They have been a presence in Denver, Colorado, since 1917 providing care and concern to the elderly of that community.  It makes no difference to the sisters what those who come to them believe.  They accept anyone and everyone who comes to them for care.  However, the Sisters are inspired by their Catholic faith.  Simply put, because of their beliefs, there are certain things that they cannot and will not morally do.  One of these things is to provide contraceptive coverage through the health insurance they provide their employees.

In her order, Justice Sotomayor ordered the government to show cause why the mandate should be applied to the Sisters since doing so would violate their religious beliefs and convictions.  The Sisters have the option of refusing coverage, however, that would incur an enormous expense on their part.  The fine for refusing to provide this coverage is $100 per day per employee.  The cost to the order thus far has been enormous given the high cost of employing legal counsel these days.

The Obama administration has come up with a "compromise" of sorts.  The administration says that all the sisters have to do is to sign a form that essentially "absolves them" of providing the coverage, shifting the responsibility of this provision to a third party who has no qualms about administering such coverage.  It seems that the government in offering this "solution" is saying that being on step removed from the sin makes the sin not sinful.  In a rather acerbic response, the administration offered, "With a stroke of their own pen...(the Sisters can) secure for themselves the relief they seek..."

This so-called solution brings to mind the "solution" offered to Saint Thomas More by Henry VIII in 1534 when the King demanded that all loyal subjects sign an Oath of Supremacy acknowledging Henry as head of the Church of England as well as the Act of Succession that recognized Anne Boleyn as Queen of England and the child she bore (Henry's out of wedlock) as the rightful heir to the throne. This heir would be Elizabeth I.

The oath began:

I (state your name) do utterly testifie (sic) and declare in my Conscience, that the King's Highnesse (sic) is the only Supreame (sic) Governour (sic) of this Realme (sic) , and all other his Highnesse (sic) Dominions and Countries, as well in all Spirituall (sic) or Ecclesiasticall (sic) things or causes..."

Through the Oath, the Church of England defiantly separated itself from the Roman Catholic Church paving the way for the real reason that Henry wanted this action taken.  He had appealed to Rome to have his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled, allowing for his marriage to Anne Boleyn.  Thomas More, then Chancellor of England and a devout Catholic, refused to sign.  This event is the central turning point in the 1966 film "A Man For All Seasons."

In one scene, Thomas More and his best friend the Duke of Norfolk discussed the signing of the oath.  The following dialogue reminds one of what the administration has offered as a "solution" to the problem of the Little Sisters.

Duke of Norfolk: "Oh confound all this.  I'm not a scholar, I don't know whether the marriage was lawful or not but--dammit, Thomas, look at these names!  Why can't you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship!"

Thomas More:  "And when we die, and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience and, I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?"

Through the offer of their so-called solution, the administration has proven that it doesn't have a clue to the real issue in this matter, nor does it most likely really want to reach a true understanding of the Sisters objections to this provision. Catholic teaching clearly speaks out against contraception, sterilization and anything that leads to or aids in abortion.  These acts are sinful acts.  Period.  Yet, Obama and his HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, are determined to ignore the convictions of the order and force them to participate in something that is against their very existence.  

We live in a world that has now taken upon itself the forgiveness of sins of all sorts even though it has no power to forgive sins.  This forgiveness comes about not out of mercy or compassion, but pure, unadulterated egotism.  Through this secular forgiveness, we are allowed to do whatever it is that we like, regardless of whether or not is is against the will of God.  Through this forgiveness, many are made to feel good and, in the modern way of thinking, feeling good is what life is all about.  As long as we can satisfy all of our appetites, then all is well, paying no attention to whether an act is right or wrong.  In this way, Conscience becomes rudderless and the Truth becomes completely relative and, in effect, irrelevant.  In today's thinking this secular forgiveness translates into freedom.  

It is important to remember the words of John Paul II who once said that "Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought."

For the Sisters to sign off on the responsibility of providing contraceptive services to their employees would not eliminate the sin.  A sin is a sin regardless of what piece of paper may be signed signifying the shifting of responsibility from one party to another.  They would still be directly involved in the provision of services that is clearly against their religious beliefs.  

On the surface, this may seem like a "Catholic" thing.  However, the Catholic Church is only a bellwether of things to come.    Our secular society seems to be bent on eliminating anything Christian be it Christian philosophy or ethics from life.

Thomas More would eventually be isolated, libeled, slandered, tried and convicted of treason, and then beheaded for his refusal to "come with us, for fellowship."  The Little Sisters are now being made victims in a similar way,through the juggernaut known as the federal government.  Although the likelihood of any beheadings taking place in this matter is not to be expected, given the track record of this administration for destroying its opponents through defamation, it is not impossible to think that they might be persecuted in the court of public opinion.