Removing the Blindfold

October 15, 2010

I have to admit that I have a hard time believing in miracles.  It’s a strange thing because I believe in the miracles chronicled in the bible.  But I have a hard time believing the miracles that happen around me.  The gospel reading this Sunday really spoke to me.  Jesus healed 10 leapers, but only one came back to give thanks to God.  What happened to the other 9?  Did they believe in their miraculous healing?  Did they see what happened to them with their hearts?  Would I be the leaper who came back to thank and praise God, or would I be completely oblivious to what happened?  Or worse yet, would I be ungrateful for the miracle?

I am a product of today’s modern society.  As a society, we have made tremendous gains in technology, science and industry.  And as a result, we tend to be blinded by our own knowledge.  We are distracted by our own achievements.  In some cases, we have explained away God or the need for God.  The pride we gained through our accomplishments has made us blind to the spiritual forces around us.  We are quick to explain away those little miracles with science or chance.  We are reluctant to give God the credit.   Our society has become very secular.  And I am right in the middle of it.  How do I take off the blindfold?  How do I regain that innocent child-like faith that so easily recognizes influences of God in everything around her?  How do I live in the world but not be of the world?

I think the first step is to acknowledge that the blindfold exists.  You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.  So, since I know the blindfold is there, I can seek to remove it.  But I find the process of removal is not easy.  I have been convicted lately by pride.  In fact, I would not be remiss to assume the majority of the threads that make up the fabric of my blindfold are strong and stubborn pride.  In my latest trip to the confessional where I once again poured out my sin of pride, Father gave me the Litany of Humility as my penance.    After praying this prayer, I realized that pride can disguise its self in many ways.  Not only are the desires of praise, extolment, and honor rooted in pride, but also are the fears of humiliation, ridicule, and suspicion.  If we could rid ourselves of pride, then we would not fear being wrong or being suspected or being forgotten.    We would not seek honor, praise or recognition.  Imagine how free we would be.  If I could remove the pride from my eyes, I wonder what miracles I would see? 

So how do I take off the pride?  How do I see with those child-like eyes again?  Jesus shows us what it is like to live without pride.  He never worked to gain anything for himself.  He never feared what people would think of Him.  He never sought the approval of anyone but His Father.  He sacrificed His perfect, pride-less lifeblood to gain our lives.  He laid all of Himself on the altar at Calvary in complete surrender to the will of the Father.  And in that surrender, God conquered hell for us.  He found a way to bring us home to His presence.  Jesus shows us the awesome beauty in surrender.

So, I think that the key to conquering pride is found in surrender. When we truly lay everything down on the altar and seek the Father’s will, we become free.  We don’t spend energy seeking glory, praise and approval.  We are not afraid of being wronged, despised or forgotten.  We put others before ourselves so that they may become holier- even more holy than you or I.  Isn’t that what Jesus asks us to be?  To be an arrow pointing to Him?  To be His mirror so that when we gaze at Him, others see His reflection in us?    St. Augustine says:

You who do not see God will, by loving your neighbor, make yourself worthy of seeing him. By loving your neighbor, you cleanse your eyes so you can see God.

When we completely surrender ourselves to Him at the foot of the cross, He reaches down and removes our blindfold.  He pays the price so that He can remove it and He frees us from ourselves- our pride.  But first, we must surrender-wholly and completely surrender.  And then He takes our surrendered beings molds us into the creatures we were meant to be; creatures who love Him and each other as He loves us.  And with that love, we see the world through His eyes.  We see Him along with His miracles in every person He places in our path.  And then we can’t help but to serve and love our neighbor because, in doing so, we serve and love Christ himself.

 I fear that this kind of surrender is going to take me a lifetime.  There are some days when I  surrender a little more of myself and the blindfold falls away for a moment.  And there are other days when I am clearly trying to navigate my own way through life completely blinded by the world.    When the blindfold falls away, I do see things differently.  The beauty of the world is so vivid.  The exhaustive love in my heart overflows into the deepest corners of my being so that I can’t help but share it with others.  I am easily overwhelmed by all the needs in the people around me.  And that leaves me happy to rejoice in my own suffering in order to provide some relief for theirs.  But when I am blinded, creation’s beauty isn’t as spectacular as the world’s distractions.  The instinct to succeed and win approval takes over.  The fears of ridicule and failure guide my thoughts and decisions. Suddenly, my neighbor’s problems are not nearly as big as my own.  And before I know it, I am surrounded by the cold grayness the world and my blindfold have to offer.

It is my prayer that the Lord will keep calling me to the foot of the cross.  That He will continue to bring me to my knees in surrender.  And with every piece of myself I place in His hands, He molds me into the person He created me to be.  I pray that one day my blindfold will fall off forever- that I will have surrendered everything to my Lord just as He surrendered everything to me.  How beautiful it will be to see the world be through His eyes.  How lovely it will be to see Him in everyone around me.  How privileged I will be to love and serve all the neighbors the Lord places in my path with a happy heart.  And then, how magnificent it will be to witness His miracles and then give Him all the praise, glory and honor forever and ever.

Litany of Humility

Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930),
Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Lori is a stay-at-home mom to her two boys and the children she loves on during the day at her home daycare.  She loving supports her Husband’s calling as a High School Band Director.  Originally from New Orleans, she was raised in the Southern Baptist Church and converted to the Catholic faith while in college.  When she has a rare free moment, she publishes her thoughts and musings at www.lorislifeandtimes.blogspot.com and is a columnist for catholicmom.com.

Catholic university says it declined Obama appearance over logistics

August 12, 2010

Austin, TX (CNA).- As President Obama makes a fundraising tour for the Democratic party through Texas, St. Edward’s University has announced its decision to decline a White House request for the president to speak on campus. The college cited timing issues as the primary motive for its decision.

St. Edward’s University, which was founded by Fr. Edward Sorin of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, the same priest who founded the University of Notre Dame, sits on a hill top in Austin, Texas. It reports enrolling around 5,000 students and a commitment to critical thinking, social justice and ethical practice.

When President Obama made his recent visit to Austin, the college was asked to be a venue for a presidential speech. However, the school declined the offer.

“St. Edward’s University is honored to have been considered a potential venue for President Obama’s recent visit to Austin,” said university spokeswoman Mischelle Diaz in a Wednesday statement. “Regretfully, it was not a good time for us to consider this. With the short notice provided – only 3 to 4 days – a visit of this importance and magnitude would have been difficult for a campus of our size.”

Diaz noted that a presidential visit “requires and deserves more resources than we were able to provide at the time.” She also mentioned that the university’s staff is busy preparing for the new school year in a variety of ways.

As part of their “thoughtful consideration” of the visit, Diaz noted that, since school is not yet in session, “the vast majority of our student body, and many faculty members, would not be present to participate in a presidential visit.”

Although some reports have drawn parallels between St. Edward’s University and the University of Notre Dame, which attracted the ire of many Catholics by honoring President Obama at its commencement exercises, Diaz informed CNA “as the statement explains, our reasons were logistical.”

Migration and Refugee Services Receives Romero Human Rights Award from University of Dayton

March 27, 2010

WASHINGTON DC (MetroCatholic) - The University of Dayton, in Ohio, has announced that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Migration and Refugee Services (USCCB/MRS) is the recipient of the 2010 Archbishop Oscar Romero Human Rights Award.  The Ceremony will take place March 29, at the Immaculate Conception Chapel of the university.
           
Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration expressed gratitude upon receiving news of the award.
           
“I am very proud that MRS is receiving this award because it is an acknowledgment of the excellent work that the people in MRS have done for so long, often times without the recognition that they deserve,” Bishop Wester said. “I would also like to recognize the many institutions, associations, and individuals who work with us to welcome the strangers in our midst.  Without their dedication and perseverance in these matters we would not be able to achieve the many successes have to date.”
           
In its official announcement, the University of Dayton cited the reasons for conferring this honor to MRS.
           
“Since 1975, Migration and Refugee Services has coordinated the resettlement of more than 800,000 refugees through dioceses nationwide. During the last decade, the department has advocated for laws to stiffen penalties for human traffickers and provide protection and relief to victims, and to increase Congressional appropriations for refugee protection and assistance.”   
           
Ambassador Johnny Young, Migration and Refugee Services executive director, will accept the award on behalf of the agency while Bishop Wester will deliver the Romero Human Rights Award address with a reflection on “Whatever You Did for the Least of These.”
           
The Oscar Romero Human Rights Award was created in 2000 to honor the ministry and martyrdom of the late Salvadorean archbishop slain 30 years ago while officiating Mass at a hospital chapel, for his vocal defense of the human rights of the poor and disenfranchised and against violence. The award is presented to an individual or organization that has earned distinction for promotion of the dignity of all human beings and alleviation of the suffering of the human community in the spirit of Christian humanism.
           

Mark Ensalaco, the university’s human rights program director, reflected on the meaning of the award.

“We are trying to honor Romero’s ministry and martyrdom by addressing the very serious human rights issues we confront here and now,” Ensalaco said. “We are focusing on the rights of migrants and refugees and the awful scourge of human trafficking which we know is taking place all around us. The selection of Migration and Refugee Services as this year’s award recipient is really an expression of the University of Dayton’s recognition of the importance of its work.”

Past recipients of the University’s Archbishop Romero Award include: Juan Méndez, president of the International Center for Transitional Justice and United Nations special representative on the prevention of genocide; Casa Alianza, which operates programs to help homeless and abandoned children in Central America, Honduras, Mexico and Nicaragua; Radhika Coomaraswamy, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women; Juan Guzman, the Chilean judge who prosecuted the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet; and Bernard Kouchner, co-founder of Doctors Without Borders.

Clarification Regarding Nuns and Healthcare

March 19, 2010

Washington DC (MetroCatholic) - A recent letter from Network, a social justice lobby of sisters, grossly overstated whom they represent in a letter to Congress that was also released to media.

Network’s letter, about health care reform, was signed by a few dozen people, and despite what Network said, they do not come anywhere near representing 59,000 American sisters.

 The letter had 55 signatories, some individuals, some groups of three to five persons.  One endorser signed twice.

There are 793 religious communities in the United States.

The math is clear. Network is far off the mark.

 Sister Mary Ann Walsh
Director of Media Relations
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Fr. Pavone to Nuns: Right to Life at Heart of Social Justice

March 19, 2010

WASHINGTON, DC (MetroCatholic) -  Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, today responded to the letter from several dozen leaders of women’s religious congregations who expressed support for the Senate health care bill.

“First of all, contrary to its claim, this statement does not represent 59,000 nuns; it represents the approximately 59 nuns who signed it. Secondly, while the bishops’ analysis of the health care bill relies on the expertise of legal analysts, it is not clear what expert analysis these signers have relied on. Third, it is absurd to advocate social justice while risking the expansion of a holocaust. The right to life is at the heart of social justice. We can’t pursue one by sacrificing the other,” Fr. Pavone said.

Earlier this week, Priests for Life called upon all clergy and religious to visit the local offices of their US Representatives, and to echo to them the bishops’ call to reject the bill in its present form. In the light of this letter from women religious, Priests for Life will redouble its efforts to bring the voices of millions of Catholics to this debate in the days ahead.

Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit www.priestsforlife.org.

Florida Young Adult Receives National Award For Efforts To Support Farmworkers

November 11, 2009

WASHINGTON DC (MetroCatholic) - Brigitte Gynther, 27, coordinator of Interfaith Action (IA) of Southwest Florida, is the recipient of the 2009 Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award for her role in  supporting and empowering farmworkers from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), as they pursue fair wages, improved working conditions, and an end to modern day slavery in the fields.  
           
Gynther will receive the award at a reception on Monday, November 16, during the annual fall meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in Baltimore. The Cardinal Bernardin Award was established in 1998 by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the domestic anti-poverty effort of the U.S. bishops. 
           
Gynther first became involved in IA’s work after visiting Immokalee, Florida while a student at the University of Notre Dame. Moved by the plight of the farmworkers, her efforts to mobilize fellow students were instrumental in encouraging the university’s involvement. As coordinator of IA, Brigitte has played a key role in mobilizing faith communities throughout the country, whose support has been essential in convincing Yum Brands, McDonalds, Burger King, Whole Foods, and Subway to pay tomato pickers an extra penny-per-pound, which translates to nearly a doubling of their wages. Brigitte has also championed endeavors against human trafficking and worker slavery, and played an influential national role in the development of the national Campaign for Fair Food movement. 
           
“Catholic social teaching lifts up right relationships, working together in respect,” says Gynther, describing her work as building a bridge so that farmworkers and people from other backgrounds enter into genuine relationship with one another. Gynther also emphasizes the need
 “to look at root causes of farmworkers’ struggles and help people see that we can do something at the systemic level.”
           
Bishop Roger P. Morin, Chairman of the USCCB Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, praises Gynther and her work: “Brigitte’s commitment to standing with the Immokalee workers is a powerful illustration of CCHD’s work to empower low-income people to address the root causes of poverty in their communities. Her support for the farmworkers’ struggle to ensure that human dignity and basic rights are protected is an illustration of the Gospel call for the faithful to stand in solidarity with those who are vulnerable (Lk. 4:18-20).”
           
The Cardinal Bernardin New Leadership Award honors a Catholic between the ages of 18 and 30 who demonstrates leadership in fighting poverty and injustice in the United States through community-based solutions. It is named for the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, former archbishop of Chicago and a leading voice on behalf of poor and low-income people, who understood the need to build bridges across ethnic, economic, class and age barriers.
           
Four other young Catholics from across the country were recognized as finalists for the award: Elizabeth Garlow, for her work empowering small business owners in Boston; Sergio Lopez, for his development of Catholic social teaching resources for youth ministers in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles; Raquel Orbik, for her work to facilitate experiences of solidarity for students at Creighton University; and Mary Theresa Slavkovsky, for her social justice outreach to fellow students at Seattle University.

Upcoming CCHD Collection Focuses On Aiding Struggling Families Amidst Economic Downturn

October 21, 2009

WASHINGTON DC (MetroCatholic) - “Families are struggling. Faith is calling” is the theme of the 2009 Collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which will be held in most Catholic parishes the weekend of November 21-22.
           
The economic crisis has left many in the United States without security: the security of having a job, of having health care or a sufficient retirement fund. U.S. Census poverty figures reveal that the number of people currently in poverty in the United States is estimated at 39.8 million, almost 3 million more people than the previous year’s readings. For most of these families, however, these kinds of security have always been out of reach, and the current crisis has amplified their struggle.
           
“The mission of CCHD is crucial in 2009: To uplift and embolden all who are one layoff or one medical scare away from the poverty line—and all who are already there,” said Bishop Roger Morin of Biloxi, Mississippi, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Subcommittee on CCHD.
           
For nearly 40 years, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development has embodied Catholic social teaching through the pursuit of justice and the upholding of the dignity of the human person. Since 1970, CCHD has funded community groups that create affordable housing, obtain fair wages and provide job training, as well as other organizing projects led by low income individuals to help people and resolve problems in their communities.
           
CCHD’s primary source of support is the once-a-year CCHD Collection held in U.S. parishes. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds support projects in the diocese where the funds are collected.
           
“This year, our call as Catholics to bring glad tidings to the poor…to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free (Lk 4:18) is more important than ever before,” said Bishop Morin in a letter inviting parishes to be as generous as possible.
           
CCHD funds programs where poor and marginalized people are empowered to make decisions, seek solutions to local problems and find ways to improve their lives and neighborhoods. Economic development initiatives help poor and low-income people develop new businesses, create new jobs and develop assets that are owned by families and communities. CCHD also provides educational opportunities for Catholics to learn about poverty, interact with those affected by it and reflect on a faith response to it.
           
In 2008, CCHD-funded groups involved 776 Catholic parishes, 18 Catholic Charities agencies and 51 religious communities. CCHD is a complement to the direct-assistance mission of Catholic Charities agencies and other Church emergency relief programs. It helps make long-term changes in the economic condition of communities by supporting projects that address the root causes of poverty.
           
In 2009, a total of $7,735,613 was awarded to 250 grantees throughout the United States. A sample of 2009 CCHD nationally funded projects and the dioceses which recommended them follows. For a detailed list of the most recent grants, visit www.usccb.org/cchd/grants.

Faith and Action for Strength Together                                             Diocese of St. Petersburg

Faith and Action for Strength Together (FAST) is comprised of 30 dues-paying member parishes and other congregations working on issues related to education, transportation and affordable housing. FAST has won many public commitments including a full day pre-kindergarten for low income children, funding to complete the creation of 3,000 new affordable housing units, expansion of school-discipline programs in struggling public schools and commitments to address areas where drugs and crime are rampant.

Progress Center for Independent Living                                               Archdiocese of Chicago

Progress Center for Independent Living is empowering persons with disabilities to live satisfying and rewarding lives outside of institutions. Progress Center’s services include intensive one-on-one peer mentoring, disability rights training, outreach, community organizing and advocacy.

United Workers Association                                                                Archdiocese of Baltimore

The United Workers Association is an organization of low-wage workers who are organizing for better wages and working conditions. UWA’s Living Wages at Camden Yards Campaign resulted in raised wages for cleaners at the stadium from a flat rate that averaged less than $4.50 an hour in 2003 to the state’s living wage rate of $11.30 an hour today.

Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength (MOSES)      Archdiocese of Detroit

MOSES is a congregation-centered, interfaith and interracial, interdenominational, urban and suburban community organization. Currently MOSES is working on issues including improving public transportation in Southeast Michigan and bringing a full-service grocery store to within Detroit’s city limits.

Movimiento por Justicia en El Barrio                                                 Archdiocese of New York

St. Cecelia’s Parish in East Harlem works with over 400 primarily Mexican immigrant members to focus on tenant issues. Additionally, they have ongoing negotiations with the Mexican Consulate aimed at improving services to the Mexican immigrant population in NYC.

Golden Agers for Progress                                                                           Diocese of Stockton

Established by Catholic Charities of Stockton, Golden Agers for Progress (GAP) is a network of senior citizen leaders who are identifying needs and issues facing seniors in a four-county area. GAP’s current goals are to secure the use of local transportation fund monies to establish door-to-door transportation for senior and disabled adults in Stanislaus, San Joaquin and the Mother Lode counties and research possible inter-county solutions.

USCCB Pro-Life Committee Chairman Releases Statement For Respect Life Sunday

October 6, 2009

WASHINGTON DC (MetroCatholic) - In a statement to mark Respect Life Sunday, October 4, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia called attention to those who are most vulnerable in recent debates on health care reform – the unborn, the poor, the elderly and the immigrant – and called upon Catholics to “examine how well we, as a nation and individually, are living up to our obligation to protect the rights of those who, due to age, dependency, poverty or other circumstances, are at risk of their very lives.”

Cardinal Rigali chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Cardinal Rigali noted that the lives of the unborn are those most at risk in America and “despite the opposition of 67% of Americans to taxpayer-funded abortion, all current health care proposals being considered by Congress would allow or mandate abortion funding, either through premiums paid into government programs or out of federal revenues.”

Noting that the unborn are not alone in being under attack in current proposals, Cardinal Rigali called for health care that recognizes the humanity of the immigrant. “How can a just society deny basic health care to those living and working among us who need medical attention? It cannot and must not,” he said.

Cardinal Rigali also addressed a dangerous and false cultural attitude that some persons are not worth protecting because of their perceived “low quality of life.” He stated that “death is not a solution to life’s problems. Only those who are blind to the transcendent reality and meaning of human life could support killing human beings to mitigate economic, social or environmental problems.”

“The antidote to such myopia is to recover an appreciation for the sanctity and dignity of each unique human being,” he said.

Begun in 1972, the Respect Life Program stresses the value and dignity of human life. It is observed in the 195 Catholic dioceses in the United States. This year’s theme is “Every Child Brings Us God’s Smile.” The full statement follows and may be found online at www.usccb.org/prolife/programs/rlp/09rigali-stmt.pdf.

STATEMENT FOR RESPECT LIFE SUNDAY
Cardinal Justin F. Rigali
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Pro-life Activities
September 29, 2009

Respect Life Sunday, this year celebrated on October 4th is a day set aside for Catholics in the United States to reflect with gratitude on God’s priceless gift of human life. It is also an occasion to examine how well we, as a nation and individually, are living up to our obligation to protect the rights of those who, due to age, dependency, poverty or other circumstances, are at risk of their very lives.

In the current debate over health care reform, it has become evident that a number of Americans believe that the lives and health of only some people are worth safeguarding, while other classes of people are viewed as not deserving the same protection. Such an attitude is deplorable, all the more so in the context of health care. Sanctioning discrimination in the quality of care given to different groups of people has no place in medicine, and directly contravenes the ethical norms under which Catholic hospitals and health care providers operate.

Unborn children remain the persons whose lives are most at risk in America: Over one million children each year die in abortion facilities. The Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 rendered states powerless to halt this killing. Thankfully Congress and most states acted to prevent public funding of abortions (with narrowly defined exceptions). Yet despite the opposition of 67% of Americans to taxpayer-funded abortion, all current health care proposals being considered by Congress would allow or mandate abortion funding, either through premiums paid into government programs or out of federal revenues.

It bears repeating: Abortion – the direct, intentional killing of an unborn girl or boy – is not health care. Abortion robs an innocent child of his or her life, and robs mothers of their peace and happiness. For 25 years, the Project Rachel post-abortion ministry of the Catholic Church has helped women move beyond their grief and remorse after abortion, helping them find peace by accepting God’s forgiveness and by forgiving themselves and others involved in the abortion decision. Abortion funding can only increase the number of dead and grieving.

Unborn children are not the only human beings disfavored under current proposals. Many people insist that undocumented persons living and working in the United States should not be allowed in any new system to purchase health-care coverage, and that poor legal immigrants be denied coverage for the first five years they are in the United States. Do immigrants forfeit their humanity at the border? How can a just society deny basic health care to those living and working among us who need medical attention? It cannot and must not.

While most Americans agree that those who cannot afford health insurance should have access to health care, some commentators have gone so far as to suggest offsetting the cost of expanded coverage by curtailing the level of care now given to elderly Americans. Other pundits have suggested that treatment decisions should be based not on the needs of the elderly patient, but on the patient’s allegedly low “quality of life” or the cost-effectiveness of treatment calculated over the patient’s projected lifespan. Such calculations can ignore the inherent dignity of the person needing care, and undermine the therapeutic relationship between health professionals and their patients.

 It should not be surprising that the neglect, and even the death, of some people are offered as a solution to rising health care costs. Population control advocates have long espoused aborting children in the developing world as a misguided means for reducing poverty.

Some environmentalists now claim that the most efficient way to curb global climate change is to make “family planning” more widely available in the developing world. They report that an average of 2.3 pounds per day of exhaled carbon dioxide can be eliminated from the atmosphere by eliminating one human being. As used by population control advocates, the innocuous term “family planning” includes abortifacient contraceptives, sterilization, and manual vacuum aspiration abortions.

Oregon, where health care for low-income patients is rationed by the state, has denied several patients the costly prescription drugs needed to prolong their lives, while reminding them that the assisted suicide option is conveniently offered under Oregon’s health plan.

Many scientists justify the manipulation and killing of embryonic human beings in stem cell research, based on unsubstantiated hopes of finding new cures. Yet the facts increasingly show this approach to pose risks to patients, and to women who may be exploited to provide eggs for the research.

 Death is not a solution to life’s problems. Only those who are blind to the transcendent reality and meaning of human life could support killing human beings to mitigate economic, social or environmental problems.

The antidote to such myopia is to recover an appreciation for the sanctity and dignity of each unique human being. One could begin by spending a day with a young child. The average child is a wellspring of joy and giggles, capable of daring leaps of imagination, probing curiosity, and even reasoned (though sometimes self-centered) appeals for justice. Children delight in God’s creation and love their family unconditionally. God gave every human being these marvelous aptitudes, and children can help us recover and appreciate them anew.

 Since the advent of widespread contraception and abortion, a cultural hostility to children has grown. They are often depicted as costly encumbrances who interfere with a carefree adult life. No fewer than six recent books are dedicated to defending the childless-by-choice lifestyle – for selfish reasons, or to counter “overpopulation,” a thoroughly discredited myth. In fact, if married couples were to have more children, Medicare and Social Security would not be hurtling toward bankruptcy. Since 1955, because of fewer children and longer life spans, the number of workers has declined relative to the number of beneficiaries, from 8.6 to only 3.1 workers paying benefits to support each beneficiary. Without substantially more young people to enter the work force as young adults, in 25 years, there will be only 2.1 workers supporting each beneficiary. Eliminating our young does not solve problems even on pragmatic grounds. It adds to them.

 Children, and those who are dependent on us due to disability or age, offer us the opportunity to grow in patience, kindness, and love. They teach us that life is a shared gift, not an encumbrance. At the end of life, we will be judged on love alone. Meanwhile, in the midst of so many challenges to life, we look to “Christ Jesus our hope” (1 Timothy 1:1), who offers to all the world a share in his victory over death.

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