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Straightening Our Crooked Road
April 15, 2014

At last, Holy Week is upon us. It is a time of sincere reflection, penance, and prayer as we prepare for Easter—the celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, King of heaven and earth.

For the millions battling against the culture of death, this is a time to move away from the day-to-day conflict and to ponder the sacrifice Jesus made for all of us. Father John Hardon, S.J., understood our need to use these days for contemplation, teaching, “The resurrection of Christ is the great vindication of divine justice, which elevates those who humble themselves. In the words of St. Thomas, ‘Since Christ humiliated Himself even to the death on the cross out of love and obedience to God, He was therefore exalted by God even to His resurrection from the dead.’ It is this glorification of His risen humanity to which Christ refers in St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises when He says, ‘My will is to conquer the whole world and all my enemies, and thus to enter into the glory of my Father.’”

Those enemies of Christ are the very same enemies we encounter every day. 

They are the abortionists like Eduardo Aquino who aborts babies in Corpus Christi, Texas, because he has hospital privileges at a Catholic hospital!

They are the caregivers of the elderly and infirm who abuse the trust of those in their care with insensitive attitudes and deadly practices. 

They are the organizations like Planned Parenthood that spend millions of our tax dollars to rob our children of their innocence and threaten their very souls.

It seems at times that there is no earthly way to stop such evils, and yet the truth is that our efforts in the service of God and His laws require a complete understanding that this is His struggle. Our work is dedicated to teaching the truth with love and mercy—reaching out to the ignorant and helping these poor souls, one by one, to understand truth. 

Yes, it is a challenge, but the rewards for such efforts are eternal if our intentions are right. This requires that we examine all that we do with a clear understanding of what it means to exercise rectitude of intention instead of pursuing our efforts with the false desire to be politically correct, to garner public attention, or to win favor with the powerful of this world. 

Of course this is not easy to do, but this week provides a great time to start the spiritual exercise of straightening our personal crooked road.

Catholic apologist Barbara Kralis defines this activity in terms of rectitude of intention: 

Our fallen human nature and our lack of virtue, all due to sin, tempt us many times to do things for our own power and glory. This is especially found in excessive activism. When this happens, our works remain empty because we lack Rectitude of Intention.

We cannot think of Rectitude of Intention without thinking of John the Baptist. The Baptist preached truth to a wicked generation and he cared neither for his safety nor for political correctness. In fact, John lost his head because he did not conform to popular cultural consensus.

And so we come to this Holy Week with a desire to honestly assess what we do and how we do it. We pray for the wisdom to move forward with a renewed sense of purpose and principle. We think about our personal love for Christ and our desire to always act in a way that reflects Christ’s love to a spiritually starved society.

St. Josemaria Escriva put this in perspective when he wrote, “Go about your professional duties for love’s sake. Do everything for the sake of love and (precisely because you are in love, even though you may taste the bitterness of misunderstanding, of injustice, of ingratitude and even of failure in men’s eyes) you will see the result in the wonders that your work produces—rich, abundant fruit, the promise of eternity!”

May your Holy Week be truly blessed.

The Persecution of Sister Jane Dominic Laurel
April 11, 2014

Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, a Dominican nun who has recently come under fire for a presentation she made to a group of Catholic students in North Carolina, has been doing the same type of presentation for years. Her subject matter is Catholic teaching on the truth about human sexuality—popularized by Pope John Paul II as the “theology of the body.” 

Those who applaud her presentations and find nothing offensive about them have written what an “extraordinarily refreshing” speaker sister is, capable of communicating basic truths “about who we really are with a hopeful view of life and love and the happiness we were created to share.” 

When Sister Jane Dominic spoke to a group of Catholic high school students in Texas, one reporter wrote, “She used many examples to explain the differences between men and women and how those differences—biological and psychological—were instilled by God into our bodies and souls to inform us of what it means to be masculine or feminine. She discussed how the entire female body says ‘active receptivity’ and how the entire male body says ‘life-giving initiative’ and how the designs of our bodies communicate this to us.” 

Furthermore, according to a Women of Grace blog, “Sister Jane, who has a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, said she has given the talk more than 80 times in 25 states without a problem.” 

So why the hubbub in North Carolina? It is alleged that she taught the students that homosexuality is wrong and offensive to God. Though we do not have the text of her presentation, we get the gist!

After Sister Jane Dominic’s talk, students wrote a petition that listed 10 objections to her speech. The closing statement in the petition declared, “We the students of Charlotte Catholic High School are confused why time was spent condemning the practice of homosexuality.”

In addition, “Sr. Laurel’s critics have complained about a section of her talk in which she discussed scientific findings related to the causes of homosexuality. According to the Charlotte Observer, she was accused of using ‘suspect anecdotes, antiquated data, and broad generalizations to demonize gays and lesbians as well as divorced and single parents.’”

However, the overriding message we received from this public furor—which in my mind is much ado about nothing—is that, if a Catholic moral theologian has the courage to set forth Catholic teaching on homosexuality, there will be a hefty price to pay. In this era of tolerance for evil and sin, there is apparently no room to hear the truth. This is so even though that very truth is enunciated plainly and without confusion in the Catechism of the Catholic Church

Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

Note the closing sentence! Now ask yourself one simple question: If this is the actual teaching of the Catholic Church on this matter, how can it be that the articulate, well-thought-of theologian, Sister Jane Dominic Laurel, has now gone “on sabbatical” for teaching that truth to young people?

There is something tragically wrong with this picture. But then again, this is the same Church that is populated by far too many bishops and cardinals who refuse to obey the laws of the Church—especially the canon that requires them to protect Christ from sacrilege. 

Why? Because political correctness demands that pro-abortion Catholics in public life should be given a pass! 

This very same scandal, the gospel of tolerance, has now resulted in the removal of a faithful nun from public view. 

The persecution of Sister Jane Dominic Laurel is a travesty of justice.

Surrogate Parenting Is Wrong!
April 8, 2014

Recently, Christopher White wrote a commentary on the ethical problems associated with “surrogate parenthood for money.” He argued that paying for surrogate parenting is actually a form of human trafficking. His position is an interesting one, particularly because he presents his perspective in the context of many surrogate mothers who have later regretted their decision to carry someone else’s child.

According to one agency specializing in surrogacy, the cost can average between $80,000 and $120,000. A second agency, ConceiveAbilities, lists a base fee of $30,000 “paid monthly from the second heartbeat through delivery” to the surrogate. According to White, “Most surrogate agencies require their surrogates to have already given birth in order to prove they can carry children to term, and the profile of a typical surrogate is a stay-at-home mom or part-time worker looking to contribute to her family’s income, which is usually under $60,000 a year.”

Recently, those concerned about the surrogate mother and her plight released the film entitled Breeders: A Subclass of Women? The film tells the story of women who chose to be surrogate mothers because they needed the money and felt compassion toward those who could not have children on their own. This is altruism of a type that clearly causes pain and suffering when these mothers realize that the child they have carried for nine months is never going to be a part of their lives again.

As tragic as this might be, it is but one of the results of the reproductive technologies of our day run amuck. 

It must also be pointed out that surrogacy has another entirely different set of problems that involves the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community and the way our country is diverging from the traditional view of marriage. Think for a moment about the following examples of why the entire reproductive technology industry is nothing short of a godless attempt to make man in one’s own image without God, without common sense, without moral guidance.

Circle Surrogacy, one of the leading surrogate agencies in the nation, specializes in homosexual couples and their needs. In the article cited above, Christopher White mentioned Circle Surrogacy without noting its specialty. Clearly White did not think he needed to touch on the homosexual parenting aspect.

The American Fertility Association addresses the idea of “LGBT family building” saying,

Everyone deserves to have the family of their dreams and our comprehensive library of articles, fact sheets, handbooks and videos on LGBT family building is a great place to start. On this site you will find information about medical and legal issues facing LGBT . . . individuals and couples when parenthood is the goal. You will also find a directory of LGBT-friendly providers that includes doctors, lawyers, sperm banks, adoption agencies, and egg donor/surrogacy agencies.

Even print media has joined in this new way of thinking about families. For instance, Amazon features children’s books telling stories about homosexual couples as parents. These books are designed to brainwash children by encouraging them to see nothing wrong with the topic of a child having two mommies or two daddies. Titles such as Why I’m So Special: A Book about Surrogacy with Two Daddies and The New Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Mama Bear, Mommy Bear, and Baby Bear are just two of the books in a growing number available for children.

Furthermore, the website “Men Having Babies” panders to this “new normal” concept in many ways and without apology—especially not to the surrogate mother.

When we learn about these new movements in our land and around the world, we have a much better idea of why it is that the Catholic Church was so wise in its fundamental teaching about the sinfulness of in vitro fertilization and surrogate parenthood. 

Pope Benedict warned against “the lure of the technology of artificial insemination” in which “scientism and the logic of profit seem to dominate the field of infertility and human procreation, to the point of limiting many other areas of research.” 

Such technology denigrates God’s design and very frequently makes false promises to those who suffer because of infertility while never mentioning the perverted uses to which the technology is being put today.

Isn’t it long past time to proclaim that God’s plan never causes the kind of suffering and anguish man brings on himself when he attempts to ignore God? Some things will never be normal, but they can be—and are—exceedingly wrong.

Beware! Your Signature Could Kill You!
April 4, 2014

There are a slew of states that have Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST) programs available. We chose to focus on California’s program because of a critical e-mail alert we recently received from long-time pro-life activist Camille Giglio.

Giglio reports that California senator Lois Wolk (D-Napa) has a bill currently being considered in the state legislature. It is SB 1357, the POLST Registry Act. Giglio reports that this bill would make it mandatory that long-term care facilities and hospitals provide everyone seeking entrance to the facility a POLST form to sign along with instructions on completing the form. The bill also creates a statewide registry listing all POLST signers. The POLST form would be handed to all applicants by entities dealing with healthcare, including emergency medical teams (ambulances). 

Please note that in California the EMTs are not required to provide immediate response for requests to resuscitate the patient if he has a signed POLST form!

Further, according to Giglio, “The back side of the POLST form, using small print, advises that physicians and other lower echelon healthcare providers are authorized to complete and sign a POLST form for the patient if that healthcare person deems it to be beneficial for that patient.” 

That alone should kill the bill!

And to make matters worse, POLST forms are given to many patients who are not terminally ill, and many of these patients are told that their signature on the form is mandatory even though signing is supposed to be voluntary! It is the experience of a growing number of patient advocates that more often than not the POLST form, or something similar, is tied to arguments in support of palliative care, which is supposed to be treatment that relieves pain, not treatment that results in death.

In addition, Giglio explained that “palliative care is cost saving to the medical industry and to the government. It is also becoming a very competitive industry with several facilities offering hospice and/or palliative care contained in one city. It is a financially profitable industry to those running the programs.” 

The devil is in the details.

When experts like Elizabeth Wickham, Ph.D., describe palliative care as the vehicle used to drive patients down the “third path,” they are not far off. Once the idea of palliative care is sold to unsuspecting people in need of treatment for severe pain or a critical illness as the road to a pain-free life, the dominoes are set in motion to use the tools of the trade to usher the ill out of life, not just their pain.

Wickham writes, “The Natural Law, which values respect for each life as a unique gift from God, is etched into our hearts by our Creator. Through education, prayer and surrender we can identify and resist the moral pitfalls placed in our way by ‘third path’ proponents who are working to create and institutionalize a palliative care paradigm that does not adhere to the Divine Plan. This will require vigilance and firm adherence to moral principles.”

It was once said that one of the motivations behind Obamacare was cost saving through denial of what some define as futile procedures or tests for various groups of patients. Another term for this at the time was healthcare rationing, as explained at a Congressional hearing last year.

Taken in that context, it is easy to see how the POLST form becomes the most popular vehicle on the third path—a path paved by palliative care providers on the journey toward that very real goal of cost cutting that results in premature death for the infirm, the terminally ill, and the disenfranchised.

Caution! Watch what you sign!

The Obama Mandate and Political Power
April 1, 2014

Many analyses have been published following the oral arguments delivered last Tuesday to the United States Supreme Court on the two cases Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius

The cases revolve around the fundamental question of whether or not a Christian company/business may or may not reflect Christian principles in its employment and other business practices. The particular subject of debate in this matter is the provision of contraceptive/abortion insurance coverage for employees when such coverage is a violation of the corporate principles of the company in question.

Can the government bully the Christian employer or not? 

Apparently Family Research Council’s Cathy Ruse got the answer when she was in the Supreme Court gallery during the oral arguments. She tells of an exchange between Justice Anthony Kennedy and Obama’s Solicitor General Donald Verrilli: “When Justice Kennedy asked the government’s lawyer, ‘So under your argument, corporations could be forced to pay for abortions, that there would be no religious claim against that on the part of the corporation. Is that right?’ And the government’s attorney said yes.”

The government’s position may be downright diabolical to many of us, but Jeffrey Mirus, Ph.D. explains it handily: “The old natural law tradition of the West—in which rational consistency and fairness were perhaps the most easily-grasped components—has given way to the sovereignty of the human will to remake reality according to whatever happens to be desired by those who have political, social, and cultural power.”

And that’s the rub, isn’t it? The coalescing of such man-made power united behind the common goal of tossing God out and bringing the evils of sexual promiscuity in was bound to have results similar to the Obama contraceptive mandate. It’s been building to this for years, after all. 

During the same week as the oral arguments were heard, other signs of this political, social, and cultural power grab were evident in another part of the country. The University of Michigan’s Women’s Studies Department and the Institute for Research on Women and Gender are sponsoring a spring exhibit entitled “4,000 Years of Choice: A Graphic Guide to Reproductive Justice.” Among messages the exhibit imparts to visiting students is that the act of aborting a child is “a life-sustaining act.” Or to put it another way, the expectant mother who kills her child is enhancing and sustaining her own life, even if that goal costs another’s life in the process. 

This twisted perspective represents reinvented reality.

It would seem that the world has gone mad. And still the list of horrors grows. For instance, we read that in Great Britain bodies of aborted babies are burned with the trash to heat modern hospitals. And in America Planned Parenthood is poised to call abortion “miscarriage management” if and when abortion itself is ever outlawed. 

But in the midst of the carnage we can be buoyed by understanding the power of the human will to choose that which is rational and true rather than that which is self-serving and deceitful. Dr. Mirus puts it this way

The will darkens the intellect by ordering it to cease its independent explorations in order to serve what the will desires. This is not something that we can expect to counteract naturally; it is in fact the mechanism which human nature uses to refuse cooperation with grace. Yet paradoxically the pandemic loss of the recognition of reason, and even of nature itself, must be remedied by grace. And so, in the midst of growing suffering and sacrifice for Catholics, it is not only arguments and creativity that we need, but prayer.

The use of political power to deconstruct Christianity does have an antidote. Let us use it.