Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Final Push during Lent: Do something big

I hope your Lent has been going well. Mine has had its ups and downs, but I would say this is one my best so far. I am going to try to do something a little extra for the lsat week of the Lenten Season before the great Feast of Easter, the most important day of the Christian calendar. Easter should truly be a celebratory time. Like the end of a race. You will feel much better if you put your all into the race and did well at the end, than if you did not put any effort throughout. Therefore, let us do something for Christ near the end of Lent. Something that may seem hard. Whatever you are doing now, do a little more.

For example:

If you gave up meat on Fridays, give it up for Monday as well.
If you go to Mass daily, pray the rosary also.
If you donate $20 to church each week, donate $40.

That's one example from each of the 3 Eminent Good Works: Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. Of course the first is technically abstinence from meat, but you can also try eating less as well to fulfill fasting. Perhaps this year you can also consider eating little or nothing for Good Friday. Of course the Church has prescribed minimum requirements, but rather than simply fulfilling those, why not try going above and beyond and doing something difficult.

It would be very hard to beat the Black Fast. This was practiced by Catholics many centuries ago, and sounds very very difficult, almost impossible. It is as follows (source: Catholic Encyclopedia):

In the first place more than one meal was strictly prohibited. At this meal flesh meat, eggs, butter, cheese, and milk were interdicted (Gregory I, Decretals IV, cap. vi; Trullan Synod, Canon 56). Besides these restrictions abstinence from wine, specially during Lent, was enjoined (Thomassin, Traité des jeûnes de l'Eglise, II, vii). Furthermore, during Holy Week the fare consisted of bread, salt, herbs, and water (Laymann, Theologia Moralis, Tr. VIII; De observatione jejuniorum, i). Finally, this meal was not allowed until sunset.

This is a very ancient form of fasting. The sheer difficulty of this fast make is nearly prohibitive for most. I think once you get to this level, you are sacrificing a lot for Christ. Remember though, it is not our suffering, fasting, prayers, or almsgiving that get us to Heaven or make us holy. Only Christ can do this. We must enjoy ourselves to his Passion - why not this Lent?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Earth Hour: a good idea for Catholics?

Earth Hour is designated by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), formerly World Wildlife Fund to reduce consumption of energy. It lets us experience what it is like to reduce our use of energy and see how it affects our lives. It makes us more thankful for the energy we have and the ability to use it. But how does it square with Catholic thinking?

Looking at all the evidence points to the fact that Earth Hour is something Catholics can be proud to participate in, as long as they keep certain things in mind. The Vatican has been at the forefront of promoting conservation and policies which are beneficial to the Earth. It even sponsored an international conference on climate change to address the issues. Pope Benedict XVI has been very active in promoting proper stewardship of the Earth in a way that is sustainable to future generations.

Pope Benedict is especially concerned with how the environment has a major impact on poor countries and people and says that we share in our solidarity with others by helping the environment. The Pontiff said "In dialogue with Christians of various churches, we need to commit ourselves to caring for the created world, without squandering its resources, and sharing them in a cooperative way."

Many monasteries and churches were built on beautiful grounds with lots of nature around. There is a sense of peace that comes from nature. I remember hearing about a monastery that was built on a desolate swamp. Nobody would dare live there because it was so inhospitable. But this did not deter the monks who went there. They spent years working the land and promoting healthy and environmental ways to improve the situation. They were very successful and soon every type of wildlife and plant life was growing and it became a beautiful paradise on Earth.

We should have the same mentality when we approach the environment. We should appreciate God's work in nature and spend time there to be with God. But we should not go too far.We as Catholics understand that the Earth is here for us and that we are the pinnacle of God's creation.

We ought to enjoy and share the nature that God has provided us. We should not feel unworthy to be on this Earth or feel as though we are simply a nuissance or a pest on the Earth. While we treasure the planet, we must remember to keep things in perspective. Every child is a gift, therefore the Earth can never be overpopulated. We thank God for all his gifts, but especially our own lives and the lives of those around us. In the light of this most recent Earth Day, let us thank God for all the gifts he gives us.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Obama Nation? More like Abomination!

Every day we hear more news from the US concerning Obama's decisions. It seems like he sits down and asks how he can violate Catholic doctrine every move he makes. It almost seems too coincidental to be true. Here is a quick list of some of the stuff Obama has done:

1. Vowed to sign the Freedom Of Choice Act (or FOCA), which would make abortion a constitutional right which would be codified at the federal level. It would erase any good laws concerning abortion and any progress made by the pro-life movement in the past 35 years or so since Roe vs. Wade in the United States.

2. Obama will eliminate funding for sexual-abstinence-only programs. Instead he will promote sex before marriage, the use of contraception and abortafacients, abortion, etc. This programming of course will only lead to more STDs, infidelity, and abortion.

3. Obama has allowed federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Now babies will be brought into existence to be used as medical research tools. Using human persons as medical research tools is very contrary to divine law. It makes a person a mere object to be used by those who are physically stronger.

4. Obama has said that his worst decision as a politician was to support Terri Schiavo in her struggle for life. Terri was mentally hanicapped. She only required food and water to survive. She was not brain dead, she was fully alive with disabilities. Her husband wanted to her to be left to die. Her family said they would take care of her and pay all her expenses, but the judge decided to side with Terri's husband and let her die. Terri died of starvation after all food was refused her. No, she did not die because a machine stopped pumping her heart or because her lungs were not being artifically inflated. She died of dehydration, just like anyone would if denied food and water for an extended period of time. The Rule of Threes states that people cannot generally survive more than 3 days without water. Most the time it can be a week or 11 days. Terri lived for 12 or 13 days after being denied all food and water. She was left to thirst to death.

The list goes on. Obama has heralded the culture of death like no President before him. He has taken a somewhat cowardly path. He chooses to destroy the lives of the defendless. Instead of slaughtering people who can fight for themselves, he goes after the weakest and most vulnerable.

Let us pray that like Bernard Nathanson, who started NARAL, the National Abortion Rights Action League, Obama will see the errors of his ways and plot a new course for life. Although Nathanson performed thousands of abortions, he is now one of the top spokespeople against that industry and he promotes the cause of the Pro-life movement. Let us hope that Obama will see the light and work toward a society that cares about its most vulnerable.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Seal Hunt and Catholic Thinking

Protests over animal rights have grown louder and louder in recent years. Many believe killing animals for any reason is immoral. Others believe using animals for fur goes too far. Some seem to be against only killing certain types of animals. Do any of these positions make sense, and should Catholics have any concern for animals, and to what degree?

Recently one of the main protests for animals has been over the seal hunt. The seal hunt takes place annually in Newfoundland and other parts of Canada. In Newfoundland there are around 500,000 people, but there are approximately 5.5 million seals. That means there are about 11 seals for every man, woman, and child in the province. Trying to imagine a herd of 5.5 million animals is very difficult. These seals are slaughtered, sometimes with gaffs, long sticks with a hook on them. According to DFO, this method kills the animals quickly and efficiently.

Why do people protest the seal hunt more than other animal killings? I believe there are several key reasons.

1) 99% of the world have nothing to do with seals. They are a foreign animal that have little relevance to people. Therefore, seeking to end the seal hunt will have no effect on most peoples' lives. Compare this to protests against eating chicken. Most people eat chicken, so people would then be forced to weigh their animal rights activism with their desired diet.

2) Seals can look very cute. "Baby" seals, who are basically balls of fluff which float around joyfully in the ocean create a very cute image. People personify these little pups and almost make them out to be human. People do not protest snakes being killed or manatees, but people find an affinity with seal pups. They are cute little muppet-like creatures. This of course is illogical. A seal is no more human than a rat, so to judge whether something ought to be killed or be protected based on looks is poor judgment.

3) The terms used evoke emotion. People have been saying "baby" seals so long, it has become common parlance. But think about it. How can we call any animal a "baby". A baby by definition is a human child. I believe it is wrong to call any animal a baby. This has been an effective way for animals rights activists to gain support for their cause. By personifying animals, they evoke clear emotions. You might not mind people culling sea-mammals, but you might well have a big problem with vicious blood-thirsty sealers "murdering defenseless baby seals".

We of course have a responsibility toward animals. God put us on this Earth to be guardians of it and its inhabitants. But we are also in charge of nature and it is here for our benefit. This is hard for many people to hear. I saw an episode of Kill of the Hill, and there was an environmentalist lady there who was praising environmental efforts, and she said it's almost as good as if humans had never existed. Although many people will not say this out loud, behind the scenes, this is what they are thinking. We cannot confuse our human love and compassion with the respect owed to animals. If we do, we do not value animals more, but rather we value humans less. From my own experience, some of the strongest animals rights activists are also very much for abortion. Ironic, isn't it.

Let's look at Catholic teaching on animals:

The Seventh Commandment, according to Catholic Tradition, is "Thou shall not steal". The Catechism puts our obligations towards animals in this category. It states the following:

2415 The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity.195 Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation.196

2416 Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory.197 Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals.

2417 God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image.198 Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives.

2418 It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons.

Therefore, we ought to respect animals, but we should never value them more than humanity.

St. Thomas Aquinas felt the main problem with abusing animals was that it could carry over to our interactions with other people. Here he is rightly ordering our concerns for our fellow man vs. that of animals.

As long as the seal hunt is done in a way that minimizes animal suffering within reason, and is done sustainably, it should be continued for it provides clothing, food, and medicine to humanity.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Feast of the Annunciation (Christ's Incarnation)

Today, March 25th, is the Feast of the Annunication, or the Incarnation. It is when God tells Mary that she is with child through the workings of the Holy Spirit and will bear a son, and his name will be Jesus the Christ. This is a very important feast which takes on more significance during our day and age. The Church recognizes that Christ came into this world in human flesh 9 months before his birth, which we celebrate on December 25th. We recognize this same fact for all people. Although we have a date of birth, we actually come into existence around 9 months prior to this at conception.

Christ's conception is not celebrated as the Immaculate Conception. The Immaculate Conception is actually a feast for Mary, the Mother of God (the Theotokos). It is called Immaculate because she was preserved from the stain of original and actual sin throughout her life from the moment of conception. Of course, we believe she was able to be saved from sin by the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Christ is everyone's Savior, including Mary's. Christ's conception, of course, is immaculate by its very nature, but it is not refered to that way. We usually speak of the Virgin Birth in the case of Christ.

This is a day for Pro-life thoughts and action. Mary treasured Jesus from the moment of his conception and protected him, with the help of St. Joseph. We must protect all human life from the first second of existence as a small person, otherwise known as an embryo. The fact that the universal church honors Christ's conception shows her respect for life at all stages.

Today is not a Holy Day of Obligation, but that does not lessen its signifcance. Let us pray today for an end to abortion. In your prayers, remember Jesus as a small embryo waiting to come into the world. Even then he is God. And remember that all human life whether they are 30, 100, or not even born are equally valuable. Also remember those who suffer from physical and mental handicaps. They too are children of God and must be given full respect and dignity.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Constantine invented Catholicism in 325, right?

Constantine invented the Catholic religion in 325 and decided to make it the official religion of Rome, which allowed it to grow from a tiny religion consisting of a few hundred people to the enormous religion that it is today, with the Pope at the head. Constantine's decision was a very good one for the Pope and his successors who have enjoyed unparalleled wealth throughout the centuries.

Sounds about right, doesn't it? Well, it does for a lot of people, unfortunately. This myth has been circulating for a relatively recent period of time and has been perpetuated by mostly anti-Christians and a few anti-Catholics. The problem is that it is based not on fact, but on lies. Let's analyze the truth of what happened.

The Catholic faith is the original Christianity and continues today as the authentic and true church established by Jesus Christ at Pentecost some 2,000 years ago. The term "catholic" means universal. Part of the Church's character is that it is for all peoples of all times, and is therefore universal. Catholic describes the Church. Using this terminology to describe the church goes back very very far. Our first existing written record goes back to no later than 107 AD and possible before the year 100 and was written by Ignatius of Antioch. He said:

Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.
- from The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans

Therefore, Catholic was described by an ancient Christian theologian probably in the first century.

Concerning Constantine, he did become Christian, but there were millions of Christians in Rome and around the world. Constantine signed the Edict of Milan which legalized Christianity, but he did not sign anything to make Christianity the official religion of the state. This was done by an emperor after Constantine.

The major doctrines of the Church concerning Christ's divinity and the sacraments were firmly established long before Constantine was born. There is much proof of this. You just need to look!

Finally, as for the Popes enjoying enormous wealth, we need look no further than our latest examples. Nearly all popes have lived celibate lives, have not accumulated wealth and spent most of their time writing, teaching and leading. Take John Paul II, for example. He lived a very simple life. He had few possessions when he died. Probably no more than a shoe-box full. He spent many hours each day in pray, went to confession daily, spent time writing and teaching, and going from country to country proclaiming the good news. It is said that the pope remembered the people he spoke to, but rarely recalled his previous meal. This is not the description of a man seeking great wealth and material possession.

As you can see, many myths and lies have been spread about the Catholic Church, but light always prevails over darkness. Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church, so we have nothing to fear. Be thankful to God for the most perfect gift.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Ecumenical Prayer Service for victims of Helicopter Crash

On Wednesday night, people gathered at the Basilica of St. John the Baptist, the Catholic Cathedral of St. John's, Newfoundland for an ecumenical prayer service for the victims of Cougar Flight 491, a helicopter which crashed into the North Atlantic Ocean off Newfoundland, Canada as it was making its way to the SeaRose FPSO on March 12, 2009. All on board, save one man, were killed. All bodies have been recovered and most of the helicopter has been recovered as well. In total, 17 people were killed. This is very tragic for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, and the world over.

At the ecumenical prayer service, there were thousands of people, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Premier Danny Williams, Peter McKay, Justin Trudeau, John Crosby, and many more.

Archbishop Martin Curry was the main presider over the event. He said to make one thing clear and that is that God did not want this to happen. This is a Catholic understanding of the world. God wills that we know him and love him. Evil and bad things that happen to us are not things that God makes happen or wants to happen, but he permits them to happen. Obviously, God being omnipotent could make anything happen or prevent anything from happening, but much of the time, he allows us to make our decisions and allows natural consequences. For example, if I had a young son and I brought him to the bookstore and told him he could pick any book. He might pick Green Eggs and Ham. I would then allow him to purchase it, etc. I did not choose it for him or prevent him from having it. God allowing things to happen without preventing them is called his permissive will, as opposed to his ordained will. God willed the universe into existence, for example. This is the point the Most Reverend Archbishop Martin Currie was making. God didn't desire that those men and women perish, but at the same time, God did not interfere to change the laws of nature so that it would not happen.

During this tragedy, we must pray for the victims of the crash and their families and loved ones. Remember them in your prayers.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

You want the truth? The WORLD cannot handle the TRUTH!

Pope Benedict XVI made his first pontifical visit to Africa this week. During his visit, he made the comment that condoms are not the solution to Africa's AIDS problem. Of course he is right, and that is rather obvious. The Pope did many other things, of a spiritual nature, but of course the media only picked up on his comments about condoms. I believe people are bent on maintaining their sexual promiscuity and anyone who challenges their ability to do anything they want sexually will provoke their unbridled anger. Christ's message said a lot about sexual purity, and while many would like to be considered Christian, they refuse to accept the Church's teachings on sexuality.

The Pope is right about condom use not being the solution, but rather contributing to the problem. In Uganda, they did an experiment where they placed Abstinence as a top priority, followed by "Being faithful" and third if necessary use Condoms. It was called the ABC program. People soon stopped using condoms and focused on abstinence. The AIDS rate decreased dramatically. The Catholic Magazine "This Rock" did a great article on this. Instead of paraphrasing it, I will post it in its entirety here. Enjoy:

Uganda: The Real ABC’s of an Epidemic
The first documented case of HIV/AIDS in Uganda occurred in 1982. From that small but ominous beginning, the curse of AIDS soon engulfed the country of Uganda, much as it swept across the African continent through the 1980s and into the 1990s. For Uganda, the epidemic was especially tragic given the nation’s desperate efforts to recover from the dark years of the dictator Idi Amin from 1971 to 1979 and subsequent years of political instability. By the early 1990s, the infection rate in Uganda of HIV reached 30 percent, and there was widespread agreement that if action were not taken quickly, the very survival of the country would be jeopardized.

President Yoweri Museveni, who came to power in 1986, settled on an aggressive government-sponsored plan that involved posters, radio messages, training, education, and public rallies and that called on the support of community leaders, local churches, and general public. The message was said to be as simple as the "ABCs": "Abstinence, Be Faithful, and if necessary, use Condoms."

Character over Condoms
A funny thing happened in Uganda, however. While condoms were suggested for those who refused to abstain, the greater focus of the campaign was not on the "C" but on the "A" and the "B": abstinence and faithfulness. Ugandans, especially young Ugandans, were urged to wait until marriage before having sex, or to return to abstinence if they were not virgins. Wives and especially husbands were asked to remain faithful to their spouses. And when the "C" was stressed, it did not mean condoms but the embrace of the Catholic Church in Uganda and the suggestion that the proper meaning of "C" should be "character formation."

The mantra of changing behavior rather than perpetuating a condom culture resulted in startling developments. In the late 1980s, 50 percent of females 15 to 17 years old had engaged in sex; this was down to 34 percent by 2000. Uganda’s Demographic and Health Survey of 2000-2004 indicated that 93 percent of Ugandans had altered their sexual behavior to avoid HIV/AIDS.
The results were immediately apparent when Uganda’s infection rate began declining. Adult HIV rates dropped from about 30 percent in the early 1990s to 8 percent in 2002. Today, the infection rate hovers at 4.1 percent. President Museveni spoke at a World AIDS Conference in Bangkok in 2004 and declared forcefully that condoms should not be the definitive public health intervention against HIV/AIDS. He was joined in this call to reality by the Kenyan first lady Lucy Kibaki, who regularly teaches school girls that they should delay sex until after marriage and forget about condoms. (See "Why the ABC Message Worked," page 22.) Uganda’s success made it a model for other African countries and also played a major influence in the current AIDS relief program undertaken by the Bush administration.

Uganda’s progress against AIDS is a story of promoting the culture of life. Everywhere in Africa the Church’s stand on the real ABCs—abstinence, be faithful, and character formation rather than condoms—has been adopted, the HIV/AIDS rates are substantially lower. The 2003 World Factbook of the Central Intelligence Agency reported, for example, Burundi had a 62% Catholic population and a 6% AIDS infection rate; Angola had a 38% Roman Catholic population and a 3.9% AIDS rate; Ghana was 63% Christian with a Catholic population of 12% (in some regions it is as high as 33%) and a 3.1% AIDS rate. In stark contrast, those countries that have steadfastly clung to the myth of condom use as the primary means of preventing the epidemic also have the highest rates of HIV/AIDS. In Botswana, where only 5% of the population is Catholic, 37% of the overall population is infected with HIV/AIDS. In South Africa, with a 7% Catholic population, 22% of the total population is infected.

The UN’s Failure
Undeterred by the success of the Ugandan methods and enraged by an approach that challenges the assumptions of the Western sexual revolution, the UN and other nongovernmental organizations (including UNICEF, the UNFPA, the World Health Organization, and Centers for Disease Control) are placing pressure on Uganda and other countries to offer only condoms as a solution to their problem. In an interview with LifeSiteNews, Martin Ssempa, a Ugandan AIDS activist, denounced the obdurate position of the United Nations and its UNAIDS program, noting, "UNAIDS has no success story. UNAIDS cannot point at any country where they have given advice and that country has brought HIV down" (LifeSiteNews, October 25, 2007). The situation is an ironic one. The Martyrs of Uganda gave their lives by refusing to engage in lurid sexual activities and to surrender their faith. Uganda today is being offered a similar choice by the Western culture of death. Only this time, by adhering to the faith and doing what is right, the Ugandans, along with the rest of Africa, will actually be saving their lives. In both cases, moral courage remains the key to a future of hope.

Matthew E. Bunson is a contributing editor to This Rock and the author of We Have a Pope: Benedict XVI (Our Sunday Visitor, 2005) and more than 30 other books. He was a consultant for USA Today during the funeral of John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict. He is the general editor of Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Almanac, a senior fellow of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology, and a moderator of EWTN’s online Church history forum.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Feast Day of St. Clement Mary (Maria) Hofbauer

Today, March 15th, is the feast day of St. Clement Mary (Maria) Hofbauer, who is the Patron Saint of Vienna, Austria. This date marks the date of his death at the age of 68. He was born in the Czech Republic, in what was Moravia, and is considered the second founder of the Redemptorists, after Alphonsus Liguori.

Hofbauer has special significance for me for 2 reasons.

First of all, my usual parish is St. Teresa's, which is a Redemptorist community. Secondly, my first car, which I still drive has the license plate HOF188. This is amazing because HOF = Hofbauer, and amazingly, he was beatified in 1888. So, my license plate is saying something about Clement's beatification. HOF 188. I am reminded of Hofbauer when I think of my license plate.

As I was searching for a prayer to St. Clement Hofbauer, I found another connection to him. Sometimes I troubled by irrational fears about faith, even though I love it so much, and realize Christ and his Church is the only true path to salvation. This prayer that I found, which is attributed to St. Clement is the following:

A Prayer for the Preservation of Faith - St. Clement Hofbauer

O my Redeemer,
will that dreadful time ever come,
when but few Christians shall be left
who are inspired by the spirit of faith,
that time when Thine anger shall be provoked
and Thy protection shall be take away from us?
Have our vices and our evil lives
irrevocably moved Thy justice to take vengeance,
perhaps this very day,
upon Thy children?
O Thou, the beginning and end of our faith,
we conjure Thee,
in the bitterness of our contrite and humbled hearts,
not to suffer the fair light of faith
to be extinguished in us.
Remember Thy mercies of old,
turn Thine eyes in mercy upon the vineyard
planted by Thine own right hand,
and watered by the sweat of the Apostles,
by the precious blood of countless Martyrs
and by the tears of so many sincere penitents,
and made fruitful by the prayers
of so many Confessors and innocent Virgins.
O divine Mediator,
look upon those zealous souls
who raise their hearts to Thee
and pray ceaselessly
for the maintenance of that most precious gift of Thine,
the true faith.
We beseech Thee,
O God of justice,
to hold back the decree of our rejection,
and to turn away Thine eyes from our vices
and regard instead the adorable Blood
shed upon the Cross,
which purchased our salvation
and daily intercedes for us upon our altars.
Ah, keep us safe in the true Catholic and Roman faith.
Let sickness afflict us,
vexations waste us,
misfortunes overwhelm us!
But preserve in us Thy holy faith;
for if we are rich with this precious gift,
we shall gladly endure every sorrow,
and nothing shall ever be able to change our happiness.
On the other hand,
without this great treasure of faith,
our unhappiness would be unspeakable and without limit!
O good Jesus, author of our faith,
preserve it untainted within us;
keep us safe in the bark of Peter,
faithful and obedient to his successor
and Thy Vicar here on earth,
that so the unity of Holy Church may be maintained,
holiness fostered,
the Holy See protected in freedom,
and the Church universal extended
to the benefit of souls.
O Jesus, author of our faith,
humble and convert the enemies of Thy Church;
grant true peace
and concord to all Christian kings and princes
and to all believers;
strengthen and preserve us in Thy holy service,
so that we may live in Thee and die in Thee.
O Jesus, author of our faith,
let me live for Thee and die for Thee.


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Embryonic Stem Cell destruction and Euthanasia: Evil Sisters

A few days ago, United States President Barrack Hussein Obama announced that he would allow public funding to destroy embryos for research. This fruitless research, which has yielded no results, is the last frontier (or perhaps the beginning of the last frontier) for mad scientists bent on breaking all boundaries.

Human life is sacred. This is a truth that has been affirmed by almost all religions, especially those which are more than 100 years old. There are many instances of medical codes which forbid the destruction of human life, including embryos through abortion. Not surprisingly, none of these codes indicate abortion is alright.

An embryo has all the DNA it ever will. To put it crudely, just add water. In other words, with basic nutrition and water, a tiny embryo will grow to be an adult person. All the DNA is present at the moment of conception. We do not say that a small child is not human because it has not fully developed yet. Therefore, there is a beginning, and that beginning is fertilization.

For the sake of convenience, people started having abortions. The convenience came first, the explanations later. Now they have moved into a new frontier. The frontier of harvesting people in order to find cures. During the holocaust, people were used in experiments for the benefit of others. They were put through many tortures in order to ascertain scientific information. But this was morally reprehensible. The same arguments for this could be used to justify embryonic stem cell research. Many say the embryos will be destroyed anyway, so why not use them for something beneficial? Well, these people in the Nazi holocaust were going to be slaughtered anyway, so why not use them to advance scientific knowledge.

Well, that's what Josef Mengele did, who was known as the Angel of Death. He killed many innocent people to conduct his experiments.

Many will not worry that embryos are being sacrificed. They cannot be seen and they dont "look" human. But even if someone is cruel enough to say this, there is another evil sister to this whole mess. When human life is devalued at any stage, it is devalued in all stages. People are now trying to legalize euthanasia, and this is absolutely terrible.

Ask 1000 people this question: There is a man, 32 years old. He says he is in a lot of suffering. He lost his job, his wife left him, his children hate him. He is now homeless and addicted to alcohol. He says he wants to end his life. Would you give him a loaded gun if it was legal? How many would say yes? I would estimate 5 to 10 percent, and that would be a lot.

Now let's say this: A person is terminally ill. Their life is very sad. They can't see an end to their suffering. Their family does not want to take care of them because they are too much of a burden, and they do not feel loved. They would rather not live. They say you have no right to tell them they cannot die as they please. They ask for help in ending their own life. Would you help them or deny them their request? In a recent poll, 80% of Canadians said they would help in a situation similar to this one. That's shocking! These are the same situations. They just have slightly different circumstances.

Nobody is born with a desire to kill themselves. This develops because of things that happen to them throughout their lives. But when we stop valuing life, we start looking at life in a utilitarian way. We start to ask about people's utility, and not their worth as human beings. We start to ask what they can do for us. We become like animals or robots.

We must all try to elevate our being upward, not toward animal behavior. We must truly become more human. Jesus Christ is the only way to get there.

XP: Not a version of Windows, but a Catholic symbol: ☧

Today I was at Mass at St. Pius X in St. John's, Newfoundland, and noticed a very common symbol, XP. Usually it's stylized as:

XP are the first 2 letters of Christ's name in Greek - chi rho. The full name is ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ. Also, it can be written as: Χριστός.

Notice, this has nothing to do with Windows. In fact, when you think about it, Windows seems like it uses a lot of Catholic words. For example:

Images and Icons: Nowadays these terms refer to large pictures or smaller representations of larger pictures. Prior to their use in computer language, "images" and "icons" were representations of God, Mary, and the saints. Catholics do not worship images or icons, but they use them to remind themselves of a saint or God.

Path: Catholics see this as the path to Heaven, by following Christ. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. However, in computer language this means where a file is located.

If you can think of any more, please let me know!