Red Cups and Controversy

I am all torn up inside. I made a comment on my Facebook wall recently where I said that words can be harsh, but our hearts are soft… and that we need to be kind. In this world of media, most especially social media, we need to realize the power of our words.  And on media like Facebook, photos as well. Photos can be harsh to see, and sometime evoke memories we work hard to bury.

There was legislation pending about cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, and an article was posted by the local TV station on Facebook. Let me start off by saying that I am 100% pro life, from a NATURAL beginning of life, to a NATURAL end of life. That statement says a lot. That I truly value all life. Insofar as being fertile and successfully bearing children, I know from which I speak. And speaking of photos on social media, when I stated that I did not think abortion was the solution for any life endangering problem, I was assaulted with photos of anacephalic children; of aborted fetuses from ectopic pregnancies; of women dying from ectopic pregnancies. I know what loosing a baby is like. I did not have to see aborted babies to understand their point of view. I had nightmares about some of my labors and the babies I have lost. Thanks for that. But regardless of the pain I felt at the words flung at me, and the horrible photos sent to me, I still stand as 100% pro life and prayed our legislature would do the right thing. I think it is important to stand for what we believe as Christians. Abortion is murder. Period. It is my political line-in-the-sand and a stance I do not waiver from. I believe it is the point from which other character traits can be discerned and I use it to discern things about other people, be they friends, “Facebook friends,” people on social media I do not even know, and politicians in particular.

NoLaw.Abortion.Lincoln.

As if my day/week were not complete, and my tears not enough, along comes another assault. It is known as the Starbucks “Red Cup” controversy and conversation. Ad naseum. The remarks and photos have been hateful, to say the least. The creativity of the memes has been impressive, I will give you that. However, this discussion is so much more than the color of a cup. I just wish people would see where we are headed. I still say most people miss the point. I do not think that our faith is at all decided upon by the color of a cup used by a retail coffee seller. Supporting that company has far more implications than coffee. I had a great discussion with a friend (and she put me on speaker because her daughter was learning these concepts in school) about economics and the power corporations have in our government. Starbucks wields enormous power in the marketplace. They are the largest coffeehouse company in the world. They are one of the largest buyers of coffee crops – around the world. (In 2000, they bought 136,000 metric tons of coffee). If they stop buying coffee, economies are affected. Many countries depend on exporting their coffee to buyers like Starbucks.

800px-A_time_for_a_cup_of_coffee

I love coffee – coffee to drink; I eat roasted coffee beans; love coffee in ice cream; love Kahlua and coffee. I am a coffee lover! And when I discuss it, I feel pretty confident in the conversation, insofar as beans, brewing, the buying and selling of coffee worldwide, and all the different ways to brew it. (French Press is still my favorite method, although good, old, “Cowboy Coffee” is pretty wonderful, too). I learned more than 30 years ago all about importing and exporting coffee beans, reputable buyers, growers, etc. And I can tell you, once Starbucks came into being on the world-wide market, things changed. They have made a huge footprint into the industry. And they allow their economic health and power to impact our government. When we lived in Seattle, Starbucks was a huge presence. In neighborhoods, people purposely avoided them, preferring local coffee brewers to “give the little guy a chance.” Sort of like buying at a vegetable stand versus the grocery store. 

The corporation of Starbucks threw their weight behind Prop 8, the Defense of Marriage proposition. The CEO of Starbucks has made it plain at shareholder meetings and in the press that he defends and supports diversity in all its forms.  Here is a quote from a March 2013 article,

“At the Starbucks annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday, CEO Howard Schultz sent a clear message to anyone who supports traditional marriage over gay marriage: we don’t want your business. After saying Starbucks wants to “embrace diversity of all kinds,” he told a shareholder who supports traditional marriage that he should sell his shares and invest in some other company.”

Mr. Schultz, and Starbucks, also fund Planned Parenthood through their employee matching program. It’s an interesting way for corporations to subvert their funds to their pet causes. Employees get a list and the corporation tells them that if you give part of your salary (pre-tax) to one of these causes, we will match (or even double) your contribution.  Starbucks gives their employees a choice, and one is Planned Parenthood.

The rumors about their lack of support to our Military, both active and veterans, has shown to be largely false, and I admit that. My personal experience was working with Blue Star and Red Star moms, in trying to get them to donate to active duty, deployed servicemen and send coffee in coffee care packages. They refused. That was more than 10 years ago. They wanted to do it in a corporate fashion, ensuring a larger market share and brand recognition. I get that. At the time, it was hurtful. But at least they now supply coffee packets to our servicemen overseas. They took the idea from small, local support groups and did it on their large, corporate scale. At least it was done. For that I am grateful.

DunkinDonuts cup.

This is the new Dunkin Donuts cup. It’s nice. It’s a cup. It was revealed this week, in response to the Starbucks Red Cup reveal. I am not particularly fond of Dunkin Donuts coffee, and their cup doesn’t make me want their coffee, or a donut, more. It is a cup. 

Starbucks red cup

That’s the infamous Starbucks Red Cup. It is a cup. I could care less. The cup is plain. Their other cups used all year long are exactly the same, just white. It is a cup.

Gingerbread-Latte%5b1%5d

This is a holiday cup from 2010, I think. It’s red. It has snowflakes on it. It is a cup. Yippee.

The reason I showed all these cups is because the internet is on fire, and even MSM is doing stories on this cup controversy. Do I think Starbucks is trying to “dis” Christians or do harm to Christmas and the Holiday Season? Of course not. A new hashtag on social media has now popped up, “#Itsjustacup” lets us all know there are bigger issues in the world right now, than the color of Starbucks’ cups. Some people are saying it is just another way corporate America is taking the Christian aspect away from Christmas and making it just another shopping holiday; some particular day in the year in the wintertime where families get together and eat a meal and exchange gifts. For many people around the world, there is no such thing as Christmas, and for many in our own country, Christmas is just what I described – a day to get together, eat, and exchange gifts. And that makes me sad. Christmas, the word itself, means, “Christ’s Mass” – the celebration of the Birth of Our Savior. It is kind of a big deal to practicing Christians. As a Byzantine Catholic, Christmas is big. Not as big as Lent and Easter, but it is big. We have a Fast before Christmas, just like the Fast before Lent. It is called the “Philip’s Fast” or the “Apostles Fast.” Since the Council of Saragossa in 380 AD, the Church has been practicing a special period leading up to Christmas. One of increased Church attendance, reading of Scriptures, and other devotionals. The current St. Philip’s Fast was formally decreed by the Council of Constantinople in 1166 and the council decreed it would start on November 15 and last until December 24. It is called the St. Philip’s Fast because it begins the day after his feast day. The Apostle’s Fast (same fast, other name) is more lenient than our Lenten Fast, but it is a period of preparation. Typically, practicing Catholics do not attend Christmas parties and celebrations until after Christmas. Makes all the local celebrations with employers and well-meaning friends a little dicey, but it can be done. We prepare for the birth of Christ through increased Church participation and through fasting, so for most of us who keep this fast, we won’t be going to Starbucks anyway!

My point in all of this is that we are trying, valiantly, to keep our traditions alive and well. As Christians, we believe, for example, that marriage is only to be between one man and one woman. We believe in the sanctity of all human life. We do not support abortion or other ways to end the life of a pre-born human being. Fertilized human eggs are just that – human – from the moment of conception. They are 100% human and are a separate entity from the mother. They are not parasites; they are babies. Regardless of how they came to be created, they deserve life. Abortion should never be a form of birth control, or gender selection, or other methods of producing designer babies. Corporations who support Planned Parenthood should not be supported, if we can at all help it. It is difficult, and at times impossible, but it is a worthy challenge. I try to do everything I can to not give my dollars to entities who support abortion. Period. Up to and including the coffee I drink. And I was heartily slammed for it, by fellow Christians. I am finding more and more that if I do not fall in line, exactly, with other believers, I can be thoroughly trashed in social media. I had to lock down my Facebook page, as well as my Messenger page. It was painful and so unexpected. One particular series of comments was from a person I did not know, who was in politics, but a “friend of a friend,” who decided I needed an education. He was angry, mean, and hurtful and told me I was the one with the problem. I had asked for his prayers and understanding, and proceeded to be trashed even harder. I just do not understand some people. As I said above, this is about far more than the color of a cup. This is about our culture, our faith, and this country.

Rockwell-freedom from want

In our insane world of hyper-political correctness, we need to be concerned that while we are being so “correct,” we are allowing our own faith to be compromised. And yes, this is a Christian country. We were founded on Judeo-Christian values, by practicing Christians. By holding fast to our beliefs, I am not shoving my faith down someone’s throat. As a Christian, I am called to share my faith. “No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light” (Luke 11:33). Separation of Church and State means that the State cannot dictate which faith I practice. They cannot declare a “national religion.” The protection from a state religion does not, however, mean that Christian principles cannot be inherent in our laws. We have a Christian-based Constitution. Read it. Look at it. Absorb it. The principles inherent in it are Christian-based. We do not live “an eye for an eye” existence, as do the Muslims. We believe in a fair trial by our peers. These are all Christian philosophical stances; they come from nowhere else.

The coffee cup controversy is just emblematic of the inherent problems we are facing in our politically correct times. It is coming to a point where people are going to want to silence all of us who disagree, and we need to be prepared for that. I often have shared that to be a Christian, we need to be prepared to be that “stick in the river” that stands tall and does not bend with the flow. Just because Hollywood actors say things does not make them so. Why is their opinion worth any more than mine? Because they act in movies? Because they can sing? We need to say “no” when it is appropriate to do so. But I am finding that it is becoming more and more difficult to do that. People really do not want to know what you think, especially if it is different from what they are espousing. Be careful of this trend. It is socialist in nature, communistic in many aspects, and can be found in countries with little to no personal freedoms. It is certainly not Christian.

St. Anthony the Great

 

 

“From an infant into an adult…”

PreciousJewelsLast night a dear friend asked me to accompany her to the local hospital’s NICU ward.  For those of you who have never been to one, or know what that acronym stands for, it is a little slice of heaven where gifted doctors and nurses care for those least able to care for themselves, our newborns and preemies.  (Neo-Natal Intensive Care Unit). My friend and her husband are foster parents and we were visiting with the newborn they will soon be bringing home.  She was there to outfit him with a car seat small enough to hold and protect him, and attend a class for parents on germs.  I opted out of the class and made my way to the waiting area or, “family room,” to wait for her to finish the class.  While in the “family room” reading the newspaper, I met a man who was there from South Carolina, visiting his newborn twin granddaughters.  The babies each weighed a pound.  He shared photos of them with me, showing him holding one of the girls.  She completely fit in the palm of his hand.  I cried.  I cried for the miracle of that photo.  When I was birthing my babies, and loosing so many of them, a baby that size would not have survived.  Science has changed so much in the past 30 years, especially in the care of premature babies.

When we were finally able to go and actually see the baby, we first had to de-contaminate ourselves.  That process was interesting!  Once we finally got on the baby’s floor, it was so quiet!  We walked into that room and when I saw that little isolette with that tiny baby in it, tears just rolled down my face.  That little man weighed barely 5 pounds and was already more than 2 months old.  The interesting thing is that he was not due for another 4 weeks, yet.  It was wonderful to meet the nurses caring for these little babies. They love what they do.  They have a heart for these most vulnerable among us, and they are kind, gentle, and loving to all of them.

Hand on baby's backMy friend was able to change the baby’s diapers and then settle in to feed him a bottle.  I sat next to her, and I started to quietly weep.  I have lost babies that size.  I have mourned the loss of my babies, and I think because of that, I just felt so connected to this little guy.  When he smiled, my heart just melted.  Here he was, still supposed to be tucked safely inside his mommy, holding my finger and smiling at me.  What a miracle of life, and modern medicine.  And my heart started to race when I realized – it is still legal pretty much anywhere in our country, to abort a baby this size.  My friend looks at me and says, “Don’t you start crying, because I will, too.” And we both smiled at this little gift of life from God.  How could anyone hurt a baby this tiny?  He was no lump of tissue; he was no “inconvenience” in the life of his mother.  He was born far, far too soon; at least his birth mother chose life for him.

Baby holding fingerEach of us has been vulnerable in our lives. Many of us still are.  But holding that little baby in my scrubbed and itching arms brought me back to the times when I needed the most care, when I was the most vulnerable, and I was thankful for the people around me, who cared for me.  Each day is a miracle because we woke up.  Father Justin Rose, a dear friend and our former pastor, has a saying and it is, “You are not guaranteed your next breath.”  That quote always brings me up short, because my days are definitely getting shorter. I’m no longer that crazy, young woman or little girl. I’m a wife, mother, sister, daughter, grandmother, mother-in-law, friend. But there are many things I no longer am…I am no longer someone’s grand daughter, because that generation has all been laid to rest and I’m certainly no longer a girl, or a teenager. I am still a daughter, but not for many more years.  Those things that I was, I will never be again.  And there are not many other things I will become, as I edge nearer and nearer to my last breath.  I read an article written by a woman who cares for the dying and in it she spoke to the 5 things you regret when you die:  Working too much; not living the life we want, but living what others want for us; wishing you had been able to express your feelings; staying in touch with friends; and letting yourself be happier (http://www.lifebuzz.com/5-regrets/).  The list seems simple enough, and yet, how many of us do these 5 things?

Miracle baby toesLast night, holding that little man in my arms, I thought of all the things in life I have not done, and I am pretty happy with the things I have done.  I try to live as regret-free as I can. I wish I had pursued the things I wanted, more than what my parents and others wanted for me (like choosing the wrong major in college, again and again!!). I think I should have taken the time to write the “great novel” or something along those lines. I realize, as I gain wisdom, how truly little I know.  Learning should never stop.  I am grateful for the love of my family and close friends, and I am extremely grateful for the gift of my faith. I know, without any regrets or doubts, that I am living the life of faith God intended for me.  I am content.  And I have realized that I can still be surprised at things, I can still learn things, and I can still love new people.  It is amazing, our capacity for love. I try to be open to the new things I see in life, the new experiences, the new life buzzing around me.  The oncoming Spring is bringing with it a sort of excitement.  The dark of winter is slowly being replaced by days of 12+ hours of sunshine. The snow is melting – I actually saw grass this morning! The world is turning and new life is all around us.  Lent is an amazing time of reflection and coming out of Lent is a time we run smack-dab into the promise of eternal life.  The Cross is born by Christ for us, and we all add to the weight of that Cross.  We all hoist our own cross on our shoulders and trudge through the winter to the Spring, and the promise of eternity.

Elder Paisios.2Seeing and appreciating the fragility of new life and how we all enter the world that way, reminded me that eventually, we all leave life in the same way – dependent on others for our care, perhaps even the very air we breathe.  We leave the world a shriveled vestige of what we once were. Isn’t it so interesting to think that we come in this world dependent on others and leave the same way? I know some are taken rapidly, without need for palliative or any other sort of care.  But most of us just sort of fade.  And as I look closer at the sunset, and realize that my days are truly numbered, I pray to look forward to it with peace in my heart.  I pray that nothing was left untried that I truly wanted to do and that I loved the best I could, loving everyone around me.

Infant BaptismThrough the grace of our Baptism, Chrismation, and reception of the Holy Communion, God is with us.  He is also there to comfort us with sacramental anointing when we feel weak and vulnerable.  This Lent, I am remembering my own vulnerability, praying for those among us who are completely vulnerable and weak, and daring to open my heart to all of God’s children.

Feeling a little vulnerable today in light of the miracles I witnessed yesterday.  Definitely humbled by those miracles and the working of God in that hospital and the dedicated staff seeing to those babies.  God’s blessings often overwhelm me with the sublime beauty of it all.  Blessed Lent.

St.Barsanuphius

 

“..is the great I AM?”

baby-feet8I typed a link to a you-tube video above because it is my favorite Christmas song, ever.  And I think Kathy Mattea, the singer, did it the best I’ve heard.  Not sure why her version touches me the most, but it does!  The song?  “Mary, did you know?”  The song speaks to the wonder most of us feel, gazing upon our babies.  Only in this case it is particularly poignant, because Mary is the Theotokos, or Mother of God.  Her Son is God, the Christ Child come to save us all.  I’ve spoken before about our period of preparation prior to Christmas, and that it is almost as important as Christmas, itself.

In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.” Luke 1; 26-38 (RSV)  It is agreed in Christian theology that this occurred.  So why would a song writer pen the lyrics to this song, asking if Mary knew all these things about her Son?

Mary did you know that your baby boy would some day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you’ve delivered, will soon deliver you?

Mary did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you’ve kissed your little baby, you’ve kissed the face of God?

Oh Mary did you know?

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak, the praises of the lamb.

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven’s perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you’re holding is the great I AM?

All the questions the writer poses to Mary are all the same questions we should pose to ourselves, as we prepare to receive Him at Christmas; this little baby prepared to save each and every one of us.  Did you know?  Perhaps Mary did not know the details that would surround Her Son during His lifetime.  But she knew, oh yes, she knew He was the Son of God and also “the great I AM!”  In Old Testament terms, the “great I AM” is how people would refer to God, because no one felt that saying His name was appropriate. Yahweh is another term used for “God.”  When we really think about the fact that God manifested Himself as an infant, coming to walk among us as a man, devoid of the pomp and circumstance common to rulers in that age, it is pretty incredible – meaning almost “not-credible.”  Why would God do that? I mean, some of the most amazing things of the Old Testament are when God would do something out-of-the-ordinary, signifying His Presence.  I love the imagery of Moses’ face as played by Charleton Heston, after seeing God in the Burning Bush.  He was astonished; his face was sunburned and his hair bleached completely white.  Or Elijah ascending on his fiery chariot up into the sky?  Moses parted the Red Sea!  But this Baby comes in a cave (in most versions of the story) among the cattle, on a cold night under a cloudless sky.  The Christmas Star appears (only in the Gospel of Matthew) and the Shepherds come to adore the Child (Luke 2:8-18).  It is all so quiet, so serene, so peaceful.  No crowds, no parades, no splendor; a simple birth (“…and she brought forth her firstborn Son…” Luke 2:7).

So did Mary realize the immensity of this event? I think both she and Joseph were fully aware of their participation in the salvation history of God.  We don’t really hear much about Joseph in the gospels from here on out.  Christ was a carpenter, as was Joseph, during His life before His preaching began.  So we know that Joseph influenced Him as a child and young man.  The early years of Christ are shrouded in mystery. Perhaps it was because they were mundane and normal until His ministry began.  So Mary, at His birth, was perhaps not aware of the fullness of His yet-to-be-lived life of ministry and His Ultimate Sacrifice on the Cross.  But she was very aware of HIM!

We celebrated the birthday of our youngest son last night. I cannot fully express what an incredible evening it was.  So much was against it happening, at all, and yet it was a great night.  The weather wreaked havoc on our plans with icy rain, slick roads, closed schools, highways, and transportation.  But it happened, and it happened through the efforts of my husband daring to get our Costco pizzas and our older son and his wife’s determination that his brother’s birthday would be a great one.  They blazed a trail through the ice and snow, bringing friends over and an amazing cake!  They played a pretty amazing prank on me, too!  I loved that!  (Shhhh….they think I freaked out but it was so fun!!).  My son and his friends had a ball together, and I was able to stand back, and watch my children interact and just smile; my heart aglow with it all.

Baby handThe pregnancy I had with my older son was so frightening.  I was in and out of the hospital so many times, that when I showed up at the labor room, everyone knew me by name.  I was there so often, I had my favorite labor-monitoring chair!  He was born 5-weeks prematurely and we rejoiced that he was here, and healthy, and alive.  I was so afraid of NICU’s and the whole preemie process, that when he was born, God lightened our fears!  He was 8 lbs and 20.5 inches long.  All the NICU equipment they had on standby was too small for him.  The oxygen mask, the isolette, all the little t-shirts, booties, blankets and hats – too small.  He was the biggest baby born that day, and the only boy in the newborn section!  Our youngest son had a pretty rough time of it, too.  He was just 18-inches long and only 6 pounds.  I wasn’t used to such little babies! (My middle son’s pregnancy and birth were so normal, I felt neglected by my OB/GYN! He was 8 lbs. 9 oz!).  And as I sat on the couch last night, watching my oldest and youngest sons interacting over a new air-soft gun (given by the eldest to the youngest) my heart just swelled with love.  I was holding my grand daughter, seated next to my daughter-in-law, and chatting with both her and my husband, while our almost-2-year-old grandson ran around the room.  It was pretty much perfect. (Just missing our middle son and his family – whose birthday it also was!!).

handsDid I imagine or envision this event at the births of my sons? When I was holding my oldest boy in my arms, did I imagine him as a husband and father?  Did I see him as a big brother? A soldier?  When my middle son was born with those gorgeous strawberry blonde curls, did I imagine him holding his strawberry blonde baby girl? His marriage? His college graduation?  When my youngest son was placed in my arms, did I see him as that adorable toddler he grew to be? As a teenager? A pilot?  No to any of that.  All I saw, when I held my children, were these precious babies, themselves – little baby boys, alive, wiggly, and beautiful in my arms.

Mary participated in the salvific history of mankind in a special and unique way.  But she also participated in the act of creation, with the Creator Himself, God.  Each of us who bears a child participates in that same creative process with Our Creator.  What a gift, this gift of life is.  And each year, at Christmas, I feel myself participate, once again, with the Theotokos, as she holds her Baby Boy.

Mary, did you know?

King Size Bed

“You therefore must be perfect…”

Gerontissa Gabriella.2I am so distressed today.  There are a lot of words being said, back and forth, across the social media sites today about the lack of media coverage of the abortionist who is being tried for murder.  One of the nurses testified that at least one infant screamed as the doctor severed its’ neck with scissors.  That in and of itself is a horrible thing to testify to, to witness, and to have done.  Wanton-less killing is evil; pure and simple.  And I am a pro-life person through and through.  I have learned, through the years, that being pro-life does not just mean that you are anti-abortion.  It does mean, however, that you believe in the sanctity of all human life, from a natural beginning to a natural end.

And the rhetoric that is being flung against this man, and against the mainstream media, is pretty strong.  I was invited to participate in a tweeting meeting…I have no idea what exactly that is, because I really haven’t figured out tweeting.  I guess it’s like instant messaging a whole bunch of people, all at the same time?  I am unclear on the concept or the need for it.  But I digress.  Part of this invitation included lots of comments from the pro-life contingency.  And that is where my upset stomach comes in.

We cannot say the sort of things that are being said about this man and consider ourselves Christians.  It is one thing to believe that someone is guilty of a heinous crime, and I in no way believe this man is innocent, and it is another to speak with such hatred and vitriolic commentary.  How can someone say they are pro-life and Christian, and wish upon a fellow human being the same atrocities they have committed against these babies?  One commentator said he thinks this doctor should be killed by scissors, without anesthesia, piece by piece until he is dead.  There were so many comments about an eye for an eye and so many Biblical quotes from the Old Testament.  The one most used is: “If two men are fighting and they strike a pregnant woman and her children are born prematurely, but there is no harm, he is certainly to be fined as the husband of the woman demands of him, and he will pay as the court decides.” (Exodus 21:22).  For one thing, this verse is talking about a woman being an innocent bystander when two men are arguing; they accidentally hit her and she miscarries.  Her husband can then demand recompense for the loss of her child.  This is not about abortion.  In the case of abortion, the mother is complicit with the decision to kill her child; she is no innocent bystander, but an active participant.

Christ came to change the world.  Yes, He came to cause division.  Yes, He certainly stirred the pot in the ancient world and tried to change how people viewed themselves and their neighbors.  He instructed us to, above all, love our neighbor and pray for those who persecute us.  He also taught us the value of life…of all life.  We are not to sit as judge, jury, and executioner; that is God’s prerogative.  Certainly, this doctor deserves to be punished by the law.  Pope John Paul II said that the death penalty is just in a just society.  Is the society we find ourselves in right now, a just society? I think not.  We have all sorts of standards, in all sorts of situations.  Very few people believe our judicial system is actually working.  We have more people in jail in America than total populations in some countries.  We house more criminals than any country in history.  But does this system work?  Recidivism, that subconscious desire to return to the world of the prison system, pulls hard at so many of our convicted. They prefer life on the inside versus life in the streets.  We have raised a generation who believe the world owes them everything and they don’t need to do a thing to earn it.  We have one of the most severely under-educated populations in the world, and yet we spend more per pupil than any other nation.

Most of the commentary about this doctor is so hateful and spiteful, and supposedly said by Christians, that it is frightening.  Now be prepared, because I am a person of eclectic tastes.  One of my favorite TV shows is called Supernatural.  The premise is these two brothers, working with angels, are trying to stop the apocalypse from happening. There is a lot more to it than that, but that is the basic idea.  In one episode, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are slowly escaping (the explanation for the whys of that take an entire season) and War has made himself known in a small town in Colorado. When one of the brothers is chatting with War, he asks him why is he poisoning the people?  What is he doing? Is it an incantation, a spell, a drug?  War simply answers that he needs none of that.  Lovely, complacent, Christians (many of the scenes take place in the Catholic church’s basement Hall, where a stunned priest asks, “Wait, you mean the Apocalypse?) can turn on their neighbor when you simply introduce doubt and suspicion into their minds.  He goes on to say that being War is one of the most simple things to be because humanity itself can war on itself, with nothing more than a little nudge from him.  That got me to thinking about the reaction to this doctor.  Hateful.  And the reaction in politics – it is frightening how our hatred spews from the same mouths that proclaim Christ as King.

Today, the vitriol made my stomach just churn in knots.  I grabbed a tums and sat down to write.  What we say and how we act shows where our hearts truly lay.  If we can so easily turn on another human being with such hatred, is it any surprise that things like the holocaust could happen in those quiet, German, suburbs?  Is there any surprise that Planned Parenthood can operate in our towns and cities with no reaction?  Where is the surprise at what a late term abortion entails?  Babies are born alive and then they are killed.  When my sons were born, they were crying almost right away.  Of course a baby will scream when you cut its neck with scissors.  What did we think happened?  But do we really want to impose that same thing on this doctor?  What happened to us that we think that is justified, while decrying ourselves as Christians?  Christ told us, quite specifically, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:44-48)  The fifth chapter of Matthew contains the Sermon on the Mount.  Christ exhorts us to behave above and beyond what our culture expects of us. “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’  But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,  leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.” (Matthew 5: 21-26).

St John of Kronstadt.love others

It frightens me, how easily the hatred and frustrations people bear towards their neighbor comes to the surface.  How can we possibly attract people to Christ when we behave like that?  If someone from the pro-abortion side were to read the comments made on this pro-life site, they would feel even more justified in their position.  They spew things about pro-life supporters, calling us names and telling us how false we are.  Perhaps if we show our underbellies like this, there is some truth in what our naysayers actually say about us.  I stopped reading the sites and went to prayer for these people.  We need to love the sinner, but hate the sin.  It is stated this way in Scripture: If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we have not seen? (1 John 4:20)  St. Augustine is thought to have expounded on that with the love the sinner but hate the sin statement.  There is more evidence that we should not judge our brothers: “Why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying, `Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eyes; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5).  Furthermore, Christ instructs us: “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance. Love will last forever …” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

In no way do these statements of Christ I have opted to quote, nor my commentary, undermine or reduce the crime this man has committed.  In no way do I condone his actions. I believe abortion is evil and wrong, and a choice of convenience. In our hedonistic society, we are all about serving ourselves and not looking out for our brothers.  We think that we have the right of death over life, when in fact, that belongs to God alone.  My point is that the words we use do remain until eternity.  And because eternity is never-ending, our words are never-ending as well.  Do we want to be known for the vitriolic hatred spewed about this man, or would it be better to calm down this hateful rhetoric, push for a life-long jail sentence, and see to correcting the societal ills that approve of abortion in the first place? Let us not sink down into the miasma of hatred from which the desire to kill the unborn sprang.  Let us instead approach the situation with the love of Christ.  He quietly stood among those in a small community, calling for the stoning of the woman accused in adultery.  He alone caused that community to calmly walk away, by asking those without sin to cast that first stone. We can do at least that.  We can put down the stones and allow the man to spend his life in repentant jail time, and try to change the world that caused him to abandon his training as a doctor who saves lives, to one who takes life.

St Silouan the Athonite2

“…but to be silent;”

I have been stimulated to place words down here again by something someone said, and something I heard and/or read.  For me, blogging about things is a way for me to communicate with myself, my husband, family, and friends.  More often than not, my stimulus to write is because I am reading or listening to someone, and it gets my mind reeling with possibilities.  Today is no exception.

I read some articles yesterday about the Pope’s resignation and how the world, most especially the mainstream media outlets, do not get Catholicism, or organized religion, at all.  The other things were an article by an Abbot I love and the introduction to St. John Climacus,’ “Ladder of Divine Ascent,” which is my other reading for Lent this year.  All of those combined, in odd, very odd, ways to bring me to write.

Very few in the western mindset of democracy understand those of us who opt to unite our journey towards God with an organized religion.  Most of the world (especially the western world and most especially, America) has listened to soundbites throughout history and has allowed those limited words to explain 2,000 years of history and tradition.  In my own family, I am the sole practitioner of organized religion.  Quite often, even among friends, I am the die-hard of Byzantine practice and that is rarely understood, as it differs so much from Latin or Roman Catholicism, as well as most Protestant denominations.  In the forward to the “Ladder of Divine Ascent,” the author explains that most western eyes look to monastics as “different” and even the words surrounding monasticism as “different.”  There are a few Roman Catholics who have discovered the wealth contained in monastic orders and they flock to the monasteries for Mass and prayer, even confession, whenever they can.  In the Eastern side of the Church, we breathe with our monastics; we turn to them as friends, as confidants, as Spiritual Fathers and Spiritual Guides.  One of the incredible gifts of being Byzantine is that we are generally a part of either a monastery itself, or we attend quaint little parishes.  The priests and monks are not strangers; they know us.  One of the great joys I experienced was attending a conference on Byzantine spirituality of some sort (it may even have been a Melkite Greek Catholic conference…I am not certain and that part of it did not resonate with me) and the most important thing that came out of it for me was the camaraderie that developed within the small group we came to associate with.  My husband, being an ordained Melkite deacon, immediately congregated with his fellow deacons.  We wives also congregated together. With us, we added a coupe of priests, an archmandrite, and a Bishop.  We had the most amazing dinners together and ended up, all of us, in our hotel room, gabbing the night away.  I was in awe of the level of intelligence, humor, and love for God and His Church that surrounded me that night.  The other deacon’s wife and I huddled in the corner and we whispered together about how cool it was, to witness the repartee that was taking place and the amazing thing (for women) is that neither of us felt the need to speak; we just drank in all the wonderful conversation around us. It is very rare for something like that to occur within other denominations.  The priests, Bishops, and other clerics are just not that available to their people.  And because I have barbequed, fed the poor, prayed, and worshiped with priests and deacons, I feel so close to my Spiritual Fathers, and so do my children. It is a blessing.

This morning I read an article that explains why we women love to talk.  Well, it is not something new under the sun, but scientists can now explain it – biologically and chemically!  I feel so much better about myself! Ha-Ha!  But I point this out because one of the issues I struggle with is keeping silent.  Sometimes silence gains you so much more than chatter.  The noisiness of this world can cramp our relationship with God so very much.  My son and I were sitting in a parking lot last night, waiting for someone to open the gates for our entrance onto a small, local, military base for his CAP meeting, and he made the most interesting observation: “Mom, have you noticed how much noise is all around us?  Did you notice the sounds of all those cars and trucks as we drove here on the freeway?  Even here, up on this hill, you can still hear the sound of all those cars!”  And we chatted a little bit about how very noisy our world has become.  He even said that he cannot wait to get out into the wilds when we move, to experience the quiet of nature.  And I believe that part of the misconception about monasticism and keeping Holy Silence is due to the fact that we rarely are in a position of total silence; there is always a gentle humming of background noises, even in the quiet of our homes.  And people are very uncomfortable in total silence.

St Ambrose

As we enter more fully into Lent, I am pulled to “withdraw” more and more from contemporary noises.  As a chatterbox most of my life, being silent is something very few expect from me.  Many years ago, a friend of mine who was also known to love talking, asked me to attend a weekend “Silent Retreat” at a monastery.  I was scared to death – because I had never been quiet that long, and I was not sure I could do it.  The first few hours were especially difficult, as my friend and I were roommates!  They asked us to not converse – at all!  We did talk over details about rooming together, but then we split up, in order to not talk, each of us exploring the monastery on our own.  There were lectures off and on throughout the day, the Blessed Sacrament was exposed in a side Chapel all day and we could go there anytime we chose, and there were priests available all day for confessions, as well as all the regular prayer times throughout the day, common to monastic life.  Where did I find myself?  Well, I did not stroll the wonderful gardens, nor did I take advantage of the wonderful views, nor did I spend much time in quiet adoration; I was inexplicably drawn to their amazing two-storied library.  Up in the rafters, a rickety “third” floor that was more like scaffolding, they had all the books they were getting rid of.  For a book lover like me, I was delirious!  I lost track of time, finding all these wonderful treasures to bring home!  The smell of a library filled with old books is something only a book lover would treasure, and I did.  I found a niche by a rounded window that I cracked open for the slight, warm, breeze and set to reading books by the Church fathers, some old priests, and even books of prayers. I found myself startled by the sound of the dinner gong.  And I had not spoken a word in an entire day.  It was actually miraculous.  My weekend flew by and my friend and I scheduled that same retreat for several years in a row (until we had just too many children to leave our husbands alone for that long! Ha-Ha!) and we both marveled at how silence was something we both looked forward to each year.

Now that I am older and my home is less chaotic than when all my sons were running through it, I find that keeping quiet is not that difficult.  And I have, on occasion, answered a phone call with a cracked voice, realizing I have not spoken in hours.  And you know what? I have learned more and heard more in silence that I ever have in noise.  The Lord, it is said, comes in a “whisper.”  We have, jokingly, said many times in our family that God needs to use a 2 x 4 so we are sure we get His messages!  But I am learning that in the stillness of my heartbeat, and in the quiet of breathing, God is more present to me.  I am learning to control my thoughts (thanks to Elder Thaddeus and his book, “Our Thoughts Determine our Lives”) and keep my life from becoming too much about all the stresses that assail us on a daily basis.  I find myself reciting the Jesus Prayer, or the Prayer of the Heart, more often during my day (“Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”) and will often stop to place my mind fully on the prayer.  It is amazing when you have these little prayers you can offer all day, how settling they can be.

Abba Agathon

God is pleased when we give all that we are and all that we do, over to Him.  After speaking at length with a friend experiencing a crisis last evening, I shared how much we can change a situation by turning things over to God.  There is this amazing book, which I have quoted before in my posts, called, “Everything You Wanted to Know About Heaven, but Never Dreamed of Asking,” by Peter Kreeft.  In that book, he wonderfully speaks about truly giving everything over to God.  He describes a closet in our hearts/minds that we dedicate to God.  In that closet are shelves, with shoe boxes lining them, each with a label on it.  Each box is labelled for that particular thing or issue (or person and personal relationship) that you cannot handle on your own.  You place that thing in the box, giving it over to God, and close God’s closet door.  You truly have to picture yourself giving this thing to God.  I have all sorts of things in God’s closet.  Because I have that wonderful gift of free will, I will often yank that thing out of God’s closet and think I can handle it on my own.  Once more, God, Who is ever patient with us, will show me that I cannot handle this on my own.  He gently opens that door and I see quite clearly that box, with its lid askew, asking for my “thing” to be put back inside of it.  God is more faithful than any friend we have, who offers to help us out.  God will always come through for us.  His method, His time, His way…but He always answers our prayers.  And sometimes praying can be the single most difficult thing we do.  We also will, more often than not, forget to pray for ourselves.  We always pray for our husbands, children, friends, community and country; but most of us forget to ask God for something.  In the season of Lent, boy oh boy, do I seem to dump everything into God’s boxes!!  His arms are full of all the verbalized shortcomings I have come to own.  But the funniest things is, He already knows all of that about me.  He knows where I am weak and where my strength lays.  He is just waiting for me to humble myself, realize that I can do NOTHING without Him, and to simply implore Him for His intercession in my life.

St. John Climacus’ book, “The Ladder of Divine Ascent,”  is the other book I am trudging through this Lent.  He addresses our incessant need to talk in his book, as so many scholars before and since have done.  One of the messages that came to me was my tongue praises God; my tongue receives God in Holy Communion; my tongue shares my faith with others.  My tongue is a holy instrument. How can I defame myself through my words? How can I defame my Lord and my God through profanity?  How can I allow negativity and strife to surround me and those near me, through my words, said with my tongue? There was a joke emailed to me this week, about a police officer who came up behind a woman who was gesticulating at an intersection, and yelling and screaming, at the car in front of her.  He pulled her over and arrested her.  She was brought to jail, fingerprinted and photographed, and left in a holding cell; she was hysterical, not knowing why.  He later came to her and apologized, saying that he thought she must have stolen the car because she had bumper stickers like “WWJD,” and “Pro-Llife” and “God Saves” and many more on the back of her car and so he thought that her behavior must have been that of a thief!!  We are all tempted to stray; we are all fallible; we are human.  The point is to get back up, dust ourselves off, and re-start on the journey we have begun.  For me, when my mouth gets tired and I realize I have been talking too much, too long, over trivia, I will quite often stop mid-sentence and sit back, realizing I have not only broken with my efforts at “Holy Silence,” I have outdone myself in the chatter department!!!

St Anthony the Great

As St. Anthony the Great tell us, it is not impossible to reach a virtuous life, but it certainly is not easy!  I take great comfort in his words, because I know that God expects a struggle.  Christ told us: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” (Matthew 10:34-36).  And because He promised us struggles, even in our own families, why would we expect Lent to be easy?  The purpose of these 40 days is to struggle.  We are supposed to work towards becoming better at day 40 than we were at day 1.  At the very least, if we spend Lent wisely, we should know more about ourselves at the end of it.  And perhaps we will have picked up some new, positive, habits along the way.  I propose to become a more centered, loving, quiet woman by the time I am praising God on Easter Sunday, for His gift to me of “Eternal Life.”  A gift that I am praying I will become more cognizant of, and worthy of, through this struggle we call Lent.

Blessed Seraphim

“…like the flame of a candle…”

elder epiphanios2

True love is something we all aspire to find in our lives.  We experience so many different types of love.  My first “crush” was a boy named “Armando” when I was twelve.  He had a crush on me, too, and used to walk me home from school; but we did not even touch! No hand-holding permitted!  He was allowed on our doorstep, but no further.  He dedicated a song to me on the radio (something that used to be a regular thing when I was a kid) and I thought I would burst with joy. I often think of that time of my life and cringe a little bit, but also smile.  It is amazing how many twists and turns our lives take, in pursuit of “true love.”

Throughout my childhood and into my early adulthood, I was dedicated to the ultimate search for “true love” and I realize now that it was nothing more than me, trying to fill a hole that only God can occupy.  In this noisy, confusing world, we try to cram as much into living as we possibly can.  Life is lived at breakneck speed and we most often leave a wake behind us consisting of poor choices, questionable decisions, and often, broken hearts.

“In the Christian life, temptations and tests or trials of our spiritual condition are necessary; and as our life, like the furniture of a house, becomes covered with various stains, it is necessary to cleanse it. As for testing objects made, for instance, of silver, instruments are required, so likewise for testing the state of the soul, men are required, like for like, who, willingly or unwillingly, intentionally or quite unthinkingly, show us by their conduct in relation to us, in a manner apparent both to ourselves and others, whether we are obedient to God’s commands, declared to us in the Gospel, or not–whether we live according to the spirit, mortifying in ourselves the desires of the flesh, or according to the flesh, being obedient slaves to the will of the flesh and to carnal thoughts and passions; so that we, recognizing that we are not living in accordance with the will of God, not in accordance with the commandments of our Sweetest Savior, but in accordance with our own sinful and blind will, may speedily amend and zealously follow the commandments of the Divine Gospel.”  (St John of Kronstadt)

And thanks be to God, my experimental lifestyle came to a crashing halt when I met my husband, over 30 years ago.  He was a breath of fresh air and a light for my life.  His faith was a beacon to me, and I was drawn to it almost as much as I was drawn to the man.  I recall kneeling next to him in prayer at Church, while I was still exploring my own faith, and glancing over at him and realizing that his faith was so deep and so intense, I know I could have stood up and left at that moment and he would not have noticed I was missing, until he had finished his prayers.  He pursued his love of God throughout our marriage and eventually entered the Diaconate, where he found his ultimate joy, serving at the Altar.  And his faith radiated out to others who witnessed his love of God, most especially when serving.  Once his vestments came on, he became a Deacon first and foremost, and all the other roles in his life became secondary.  It is a wondrous transformation to witness.  Our journey together has brought us to many highs and many lows….that pretty much describes marriage for most people.  Along the way we have become a part of a community, and we have departed communities.  We have made and lost friends, we have created life and mourned death.  It is a wondrously-intertwined experience and I relish the memories of it all.

crown50_view1_lg

As we vowed to remain together for life, it also was a vow to live a life of faith, together.  The crowns we wore symbolized the nature of married life and the nature of how we treat all those who come into our circle of married life.  Our children have found wives that enlighten their lives and they are blessed now with children of their own.  It was my distinct pleasure to spend a week with our eldest son on the occasion of his son’s first birthday. It was the first time I have been in their home, as they live in Alaska and he has spent most of their marriage deployed in war time.  The week I spent with them was my first chance to see their marriage in action, in their own home.  I cannot express the joy I felt at seeing how much they love one another and as a mother, I was overjoyed at the love his wife has, for my son. It is all a mother wants for her son, to find a wife that will enrich and bless his life.

Our middle son and his wife are expecting their first child in a few months and they know already that it is a girl.  We are so excited, already referring to her by name, and already loving her so very much.  They have been married 8 months now and their lives are very fluid and flexible, with their futures still undecided.  It was a joy to spend a week with them prior to their wedding, in preparation for their vows.  The mother of my daughter-in-law and I were friends through our homeschooling group and we commented once that we should set them up – we were successful!  We did not realize what a great fit they would be for each other and both families were overjoyed at their engagement and marriage.  I don’t think my friend and I ever envisioned being grandmothers together, but it is an incredible feeling.

It is amazing how far our love can go, how stretched we can be to include others in our lives.  The amount of love you have inside of you is infinite, because God will assist you in loving the seemingly unlovable.  We throw away people in our culture in so many ways.  We have abortion readily available and becoming even more the norm than it has been – what a tragedy! We have homeless people who do not belong on the streets for a myriad of reasons (mental health being just one); we throw away so much of humanity without a second thought, and that is just so very sad to Our Lord. Each and every life is precious and each and every person deserves our best, as a culture, and as individuals.

ElderAM.2

We are all created in the image and likeness of God and if we allow ourselves to love with that “Agape” type of love that only God can share with us, it is amazing, truly amazing, where that love can take us.  Our circles grow and grow, and encompass more and more people, with the type of love that God shares with us.  We can love people through prayer and through participation in worship.  We can add names to prayer lists without even meeting the person.  Each time we are asked to pray for someone, even if we just stop for a moment and whisper, “Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me a sinner…and I hold —- up to you in prayer.”  It is a simple way to expand our circle of God’s love for others.  We need not feel that we are bound to take in every homeless person we see, nor are we obligated to feel guilt at passing by that person standing by the freeway exit with a sign declaring they are homeless.  We can, however, pay attention to the homeless shelters in our area; we can volunteer at soup kitchens; we can extend ourselves in so many ways to show our love for our fellow man.  As the quote at the top of this post states, each time we light another candle, that original candle’s flame is not diminished.  I often feel that the more we show the love of God to others, the more God’s love grows in us, and the more we give to others, the more we are given by God.  It is amazing how good it feels to clean up a kitchen after feeding the homeless.  Exhausted? Yes.  Stinky with food and sweat?  You bet.  Happy and satisfied?  Most definitely.  At our parish where we used to live in SoCal, we would feed the homeless and then walk over to the Church for Evening Prayers.  And my heart would be soaring over the people we had touched and having served the poor of our area.  It is an incredible feeling, to help others.  And all of this I experienced (and continue to experience) because I searched for, and found, the love that would fill that hole within my heart.  We are capable of more loving in this life than we can imagine; we just need to trust and love as easily and simply as Jesus Christ instructed us,

A new commandment I give you, to love one another; that as I have loved you, you also may love one another.” (John 13:34)

“…he has light continuously….”

“…and the more resolutely, the more constantly, your heart is turned towards God and His saints the more it will be enlightened, purified, and vivified”.  “Be true in heart always and everywhere, and you will always and everywhere have peace, but especially be true in your converse with God and the saints, “because the spirit is truth.” St. John of Kronstadt

Today is the March for Life in Washington, D.C. and I was glancing through the morning shows on TV and while I was looking, at least, not one announcer or news reporter mentioned it.  To give them the benefit of a doubt, I did not watch every channel, all morning long.  But as I was surfing channels, no one said a thing about it.  Oh, they discussed whether or not Beyonce lip-synced the National Anthem at the Inauguration, but not one word about the March for Life.

It is becoming more and more obvious that the media chooses to ignore things that are not on their own agenda.  I found one channel, and only one, that was running coverage of the March and it was EWTN – the Catholic channel.  As St. John said above, “be true in heart always and everywhere…” and I think that the public arena is being true to their misguided hearts. And it makes me sad.  I read today some statements from the various Orthodox Fathers on abortion and it has been clear, since the Didache itself, that all life is precious.  (The Didache (pron.: /ˈdɪdək/; Koine Greek: Διδαχή) or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles (Didachē means “Teaching”) is a brief early Christian treatise, dated by most scholars to the late first or early second century).  You shall not slay the child by abortions.”

Many of our Church Fathers addressed abortion in the centuries leading up to the Modern Era, but people are just not in tune to the fact that all life is precious. I know there will be many people who do not want to deal with this issue, and I may get bombarded with comments because of my pro-life stance, but for me, this issue tugs at the core of our character, as a culture.  If each and every pro life person did just one act to save one life, then perhaps the millions of babies killed each year would be much less.  The very least those of us who are pro life can do is pray.  And prayer is a major portion of every war we face – and like it or not, the battle for life is a war, not just a battle.  The reason I say this is because we have a generation raised since Roe v Wade who have no concept of living without abortion and see it as a normal choice of birth control.

One of my favorite movies is Cheaper by the Dozen, filmed in 1950, and starring one of my favorite actresses, Myrna Loy. In the movie, she stars as the wife of an efficiency expert and mother of 12 children.  At one point, a woman from Planned Parenthood comes to see her because she has heard about her and her work, not knowing she is also mothering 12 children.  The scene devolves into laughter as her husband and their children make their entrances and the PP rep realizes that it is not a home for wayward youth, but rather, a family. She is horrified and leaves the house rather rapidly.  That scene has stayed with me my whole life.

Sanger quote about lg family

And to think that most people believe that Margaret Sanger had their health concerns at the forefront.  She most certainly did not.  She is one of the reasons abortion is so wide-spread and so accepted.

Sanger statementThe antithesis of what the Church teaches in regards to the sanctity of life is what Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood are all about.  She was a devotee of Adolf Hitler…

Sanger speech

That one woman did more for the downsizing of races, other than white, than any other single human being has done.  Our Lord spoke to having the “faith of a mustard seed” and that if we just believe, we can change the world.  As much can be said for people like Margaret Sanger – one person has indeed changed a culture and a world view.

We need to begin, once again to turn our hearts to God, to stop this awful assault on humanity, to inherently change the way we all view life, and to turn our culture around before we value just things, with no regard to humanity.

John of Kronstadt

Once again, St. John Kronstadt tells us what we need to do, and to do it “henceforth.” The fight for the unborn is just symptomatic of what we have devolved into.  My mom, who is 83, taught me how to love as a mother loves. I have no doubt that my mother would die for me…she dove into a brawl when I was attacked at just 13 years old! All 4’10” of her!  She is brutally defensive and protective of her children, even now.  But she also believes that women have the right to “control their own bodies” and this is where she and I differ.  And it is endemic of how the vast majority of people in our country must believe, or Roe v Wade would be an historical event, not something we live with.

So as a devout Christian and pro life Byzantine Catholic, I choose to light a candle of faith and pray that flame will be spread to others, and then others will spread their flame. I think it is time we just said “no” to the many promptings of evil in our culture and stood for the faith Christ has passed down to us.  Pray…be a prayer warrior for those who cannot care for themselves and are the most vulnerable among us.  This is a gift, this faith we share.  And it is our privilege and our duty to share it with others.  Today, as millions march on Washington DC to share this love of life, let us all join with them, at least in prayer.  Let us share our light of faith and perhaps we can change history.

St Gregory Palamas