Sin By Participation

I once had a discussion with a woman in her twenties who found more than disagreement with Sidewalk Counselors outside abortion clinics who offer prayer and outreach with hope and help for the abortion-vulnerable parents.  This woman maintained that the Sidewalk Counselors were judgmental and accusatory toward “those in need” of an abortion.

 

I sought to dispel the false notions she had of the Sidewalk Counselors and explained that what she says is nonsensical as likely forty percent of all Sidewalk Counselors, maybe even more, have had or participated in an abortion themselves.   There is enormous sensitivity among Sidewalk Counselors that we are there to help dissuade others from putting themselves at risk of suffering what so many of them already do suffer.

 

The woman quickly countered that she wasn’t relying on hearsay, but instead had experience on the sidewalk when escorting a friend to get the “needed” abortion.

 

Not to give too strong a focus on this aspect of the conversation, I quickly mentioned that if her claim was true then she had objectively sinned herself and sought to return to a discussion of Sidewalk Counselors.

 

She quickly interrupted me and asked how she could have sinned if she didn’t have the abortion.

 

This was a teachable moment for me.  We have fallen to a state that our relationship with Christ and His Church is so intensely legalistic and blind.  Though she had gone to Catholic School for sixteen years, it escaped her that one can sin through the cooperation of another’s sin.  This is a teach of the Church, the teaching of a loving relationship with Christ, with which could refresh my Examination of Conscience.

 

In rereading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 1868 explains that we cooperate with another’s sin when we

approve of their sin;

knowingly benefit from another’s sin;

command the sin of another;

counsel another to sin;

concealing the sin or by not hindering them from sinning when one has the obligation to do;

defending the sin;

praising their sinning behavior; or

by facilitating the sin.

 

The issue is less the legal quest for a loophole and much more the trust we give to Jesus Christ is being our God to whom nothing is impossible.

A Renewed Reverence For The Holy Name of Jesus

You are waiting for a bus, and another person waiting complains about waiting and uses the Lord’s name in vain.  Or you are at a sports game and the home team blows a play prompting another fan near you joins along with his expressed frustration the taking of the Lord’s name in vain.  You might be at work and deadlines and pressures lead a co-worker to let off some steam that includes some profane words directed at the Lord.  It’s so common to hear that it may have a diminished shock value to many of us.

 

The name of the Lord is so hallowed that respect for the name is the Second Commandment of the Ten God gave Moses on Mount Sinai.  Christians, bearing the name of Christ, are called to give honor to the name they bear in all that they do.  Catholic Teaching proclaims that there is power in the name of Jesus.  This power includes the power to gather angels to protect and defend.  There is also power in the name of Jesus over the demons who will flee at the utterance of His name.  His name brings hope and fortitude to the despairing and weak.

 

Catholics have a tradition of nodding in reverence to the name of Jesus and even to the Blessed Virgin Mary’s name.  It is a means to give honor and glory to our God that can be joined with an expression vocally or silently of, “Praise the Lord.”

 

There are times that publicly, and there are even instances where  privately, any effort to correct another who profanes the name of the Lord will fail.  Correction and amendment to do better is the goal we seek and if one approach may embarrass the one who profanes from correction, then you may have to simply lift it to God with your own praise.  One can actually use the prompting of another’s profanation of the Lord’s name as a cue to reverence the Lord with a simple nod accompanying an expression of, “Praise the Lord.”

 

It is fascinating that if you use this approach in a circumstance where you don’t have other recourse, know that it can work in the changing of hearts.  In time,  you will notice the diminishment and abandonment of such abuse of the name of Jesus.  It may take some time, but it is compelling when you see that the abuse diminishes and in turn your reverential praising also diminishes because there are fewer promptings to offer that reparation.  You may even have the feeling of emptiness that can only be filled with your praises prompted out of a deeper love for the power and care of Jesus through His Holy Name.

He Did Not Spurn The Womb, We Shouldn’t Either

Job said, “Naked I came forth from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I go back there.

The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD!”  Job 1:21

 

Enwombment is the term proposed in this blog and the prebornChrist.com website that suggests that we are conceived in a physical womb and birthed into spiritual wombs of family, faith, and other circumstances and relationships in order to grow and prepare for life beyond death.  St. Thomas Acquinas had once suggested the family as a spiritual womb.  St. Francis of Assisi wrote in his well known Peace Prayer  of “death is birth into eternal life.”  They seem to agree that we have time and this enwombment between the physical womb and our birth into eternal life to prepare.

 

Enwombment may be in reality a wonderful life-line God has provided each of us in our working out our salvation with Him, but the womb is also a concern that is not given much time or attention from others.  In fact, such benefits of the womb seem to many people as interferences or distractions, if not outright unpleasant.  But why?

 

As the prayer entitled, Te Deum , expresses, Jesus did not spurn the womb but instead entered the womb with all of its circumstances and limitations.  Fear again overtakes the average human with many unwilling or unable to imagine returning to the confines of the womb.  Those enwombed are dependent on others, own nothing but rather are stewards of all received and are both exposed and accountable for their life.  Who would want to seek solidarity with those in the womb?  Ignorance seems preferable to so many who are called to make their needs naked for others to meet; naked with neither distraction nor interference from God’s purpose for their life, and accountable to constituencies, not yet even known.  The unknown challenges that enwombment or solidarity with the child in the womb is unpleasant and may unearth responsibilities of which we are not yet aware,

 

Job, an Old Testament figure, understood well before the New testament was written, “Seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, 19 and all these things will be given you besides.”  Matthew 6:33

 

Regardless of what we seek to do, we will face God naked and vulnerable as we are in the womb.  We pray Christ will dress us in His mercy and sacrifice.  What now seems so important will seem so much more distant when facing death.  And fearfully, much and many whom we dismiss will prove to have been the challenges sent to us by God to strengthen us in trust in Him and to better understand the gifts and blessings He has bestowed on us.  We must use the time now to build that relationship with Jesus Christ that we will have a Happy Death where we trust Jesus Christ with our very souls, which He has in His hands always.

There Can Be Recovery From Perpetual Adolescence

Part II of II

 

A week or two after a giving a talk on the consequences of abortion and on the resources availab e for healing after an abortion, I was approached by a woman who had an abortion well over a decade ago.  She expressed deep interest in what I described as the halting of one’s maturing process at the point of having an abortion or beginning to rely on contraception.  The phrase that stayed with her was “perpetual adolescence” as a consequence of abortion.

 

She expressed how she felt that perpetual adolescence best expressed how she had lived and that she had recently realized that it was unhealthy for herself to live this way.  She told me wanted to begin to  grow-up with the ability to care for others in an adult and truly caring manner.

 

I explained that I received the teaching on this concept from Dr. Theresa Burke and I still needed to find more resources that addressed recovery from perpetual adolescence.   As I understood the topic, there simply were not many resources then available.

 

I did ask her if she has admitted honestly to herself her responsibility in the abortion.  She said yes.

 

I asked her if she understood that it was wrong for her to have the abortion and why it was wrong.  She explained to me that she did understand it was wrong and why it was wrong.

 

I asked if she had sought to make it right with God and her child.  She told me she had.

 

She was then asked if she was now including her child in her prayers, thoughts and life.   She said yes while telling me that her child is with her always.

 

I then asked if she had begun to see other areas of her life that have been adversely affected by her failure to take responsibilities for her actions and she said she had.

 

I noted that she had also been involved in outreach to help those who are vulnerable to abortion.   I finished with telling her that I didn’t have any professional’s documentation for recovery from perpetual adolescence but that I felt she had returned to that point when she had the abortion.  She had taken responsibility for the abortion where she had not taken responsibilities for her child.  And she had begun to make amends for her lapse that had cost her child’s life.  I didn’t have the professional there to back me up, but I assured her that she had begun to grow the moment she returned to the abortion to take responsibility for her role in it.  It was then that she had already achieved considerable healing and she was on the path of growth that now has her even practicing outreach for others.  She had unwittingly been doing all the right things and was growing into a true adult mother and woman.

 

The same can be done by many others of us who have turned away from responsibility and turned instead to rely on contraception, an addiction, relying on an unhealthy relationship, remaining silent when asked to be accountable for what you did, turning to pornography, or one of countless other ways of dodging  the consequences of our actions.

 

We need to ask for the grace to see in what ways each of us may have lapsed in our accountability for our own actions.  We must then ask for the fortitude to return to the point of our earlier lapse with a renewed determination to make amends for its harmful consequences.  Our salvation and our life depend on our returning to shoulder our true responsibilities.    Perpetual adolescence can be overcome by grace and real growth into adulthood.

Perpetual Adolescence The Most Serious Consequence?

Part I  of II

 

Today, July 25, is the 45th anniversary of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae.

 

This may be the document represents the Catholic Teaching that is our present day fault-line.  The practice of artificial contraception has brought the cultural divide between Catholics and others right into the Church itself.

 

Along with widespread dissension in practice has come a serious abuse of the teaching and understanding of following one’s informed and truth-searching conscience.  It has always been true, in part that the Church has taught that you must follow your conscience.  But it is wrong to suggest that this alone represents the Church Teaching on matters of conscience.  The Church and your salvation require you to seek truth always and remain open to the truth when you find it.  Has the truth of Church Teaching on contraceptive been so elusive to those who claim to be following their conscience, or has the truth been rejected in order to pave the way to satisfying an urge that is far less understood than the Teaching?  How many people are controlled by their sexual urges, rather than demonstrating a true mastery over the urges?  Whatever one does not master will only serve to enslave.

 

Relying on artificial contraception is an easy and deceptively flawed alternative to self-mastery.  Giving one’s responsibility over to dangerous and faulty technology is reflective of both human nature and an era where we have been conditioned to question God existence and man’s purpose, but to welcome technology as the savior of life and the quality of life.

 

Artificial Contraception has posed a formidable challenge to responsible sexual relations within marriage alone by giving a false illusion that one can safely and surely evade the consequences associated with a reproductive act, namely reproduction of the human species in the form of a baby.  Such deception leads us to what may be the most serious consequence of artificial contraception, that being the deception of evading consequences of one’s actions.

 

Dr. Theresa Burke, Founder of Rachel’s Vineyard has explained that when one has sought to evade a responsibility, particularly one as serious as matters of reproduction, pregnancy and a new life, the person’s psychology can be affected in relation to all responsibilities.  In further explanation, she spoke of a child being dependent on an adult.  An adult is one who, in addition to taking care of one’s self, can take care of others.  An adolescent is growing from that childhood stage to adulthood, but hasn’t yet attained adulthood.  The adolescent has begun to take on responsibilities for self, but has not yet fully embraced the responsibility of caring for another.  To think one has successfully  evaded the consequences of one’s actions will stop the emotional maturation process until the individual returns to assume the responsibilities of the matter or consequences earlier evaded.

 

The maturation process can be stopped while the person continues to grow chronologically and in knowledge.  It is the maturation of the psycho-emotional aspect of the person that suffers the stagnation.  This is all particularly pronounced when the responsibility is evaded during adolescence.   Thus, we have chronological adults who are emotionally in their adolescence.  If responsibility for one’s actions is never assumed and shouldered, the individual may live a life of perpetual adolescence where responsibility is actually sought to be passed onto others for other matters.  It is a form of dis-integration of the person from one’s actions.

 

Both contraception and abortion can have perpetual adolescence as a consequence.

 

Part II will be made available late on July 26, 2013.

Devotion as Mother to Christ As Old As The Church

The first affirmation Jesus Christ intended for those who do the will of the Father to be His mother is found in the Gospels.  Three of the Gospels recount when Jesus once being informed that His brothers, sisters, and mother are outside.   Jesus responds by raising His hand over His disciples while stating that, “Anyone who does the will of the Father are my brothers, sisters, and my mother.”  See Mark 3:31-35, Matthew 12:46-50, Luke 8:19-21

 

Blessed Isaac of Stella (ca. 1100AD – 1169) entered the Cistercian Monastery of Citeaux of France.  Isaac be became an abbot of the Cistercian monastery of Stella.  He was known for his holiness and the teachings he gave his monks on the spiritual life. (See http://www.crossroadsinitiative.com/library_author/90/Isaac_of_Stella.html and the Liturgy of the Readings)

 

Blessed Isaac of Stella is one who later highlighted this statement of motherhood to Jesus when in a sermon of his he wrote the following:

 

In a way, every Christian is also believed to be a bride of God’s Word, a mother of Christ, his daughter and sister, at once virginal and fruitful. These words are used in a universal sense of the Church, in a special sense of Mary, in a particular sense of the individual Christian. They are used by God’s Wisdom in person, the Word of the Father.
     This is why Scripture says: I will dwell in the inheritance of the Lord. The Lord’s inheritance is, in a general sense, the Church; in a special sense, Mary; in an individual sense, the Christian. Christ dwelt for nine months in the tabernacle of Mary’s womb. He dwells until the end of the ages in the tabernacle of the Church’s faith. He will dwell forever in the knowledge and love of each faithful soul.  

 

Here Blessed Isaac of Stella relied on what Jesus said.  Blessed Isaac of Stella saw the reference in physical terms for the Blessed Virgin Mary while he saw this comment in spiritual terms for the rest of the members of the Body of Christ, the Church.  Clearly this is further validation for a devotion to the Preborn Christ who Christians bear Liturgically and Sacramentally and are destined to become the on-going incarnation of Jesus Christ.

An Awakening to God’s Presence In My Life Through The Mass

While with others on a pilgrimage to Medjugorje,  I was surprised when we were going to our third Mass in three days.  It was a weekday Mass no less.  I remember going over it in my mind accepting that it wasn’t such a  dreadful thing to be doing.  I admitted that in fact there was little else to do there but to focus on God and my relationship to Him.  It was my first retreat, so such thoughts are understandable.

 

I continued to go to Mass each day that week, and I followed the encouragements of the priests and other leaders to participate in Mass more actively than I was accustomed.  For each Mass, I did bring a particular matter to the altar in prayer and listened intently through the readings, prayers and moments of silence.  I began to hear God’s voice and see His hand active in my life and addressing matters I brought up.  God also brought up matters of His concern for me.

 

By the end of the week I began to realize that the Sunday Mass obligation was not too much Mass for me, it instead was too little Mass for me.  I would say that I committed myself to attending Mass every day but that I wanted to go to Mass…I thirst to be present with our Lord Liturgically and Sacramentally always.

 

Weekday Mass is simply a different experience of Liturgy than is offered Sunday and all are encouraged to try it for a week.

Structures of Sin Can be Undermined and Destroyed

In yesterday’s blog posting, there was a reference to Blessed John Paul II’s explanation of “Social Sin” or rather “Structures of Sin.”  Blessed John Paul II, in his Encyclical, “On Social Concern,” went beyond just saying that these Structures of Sin will only be undermined and dismantled through personal holiness.   In short, this statement is true, but is also an incomplete exposition of all that Blessed John Paul II had written as the means to rid society of a Structure of Sin.

 

Blessed John Paul II had written of three specific elements necessary for each person to pursue and put into regular practice in order to take down Structures of Sin.  The first is personal holiness supplemented with solidarity with the victims of the structure(s) of sin and then followed with personal choices that reflect concrete practice of virtue overcoming temptation to contribute another sin to the already accumulated sin.  The latter two certainly grow from personal holiness that will also fortify the solidarity and personal choices.

 

A devotion to the Preborn Christ opens up all sorts of possibilities in terms of solidarity with those who are dependent, the defenceless, the confined,  and the threatened among so many others whose very existence and dignity remains unrespected and unprotected.

 

A devotion to the Preborn Christ is dependent on a touch of grace that overcomes so many cultural prejudice that first needs the opening of one’s eyes to Jesus in the womb.  Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed. John 20:29

Let’s pray for all of us who are blind that we too may see the Preborn Christ as Elizabeth did when filled with the Holy Spirit during the Visitation.  May her words of exclamation then be ours too, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.  And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”  Luke 1:42

 

 

 

A little child shall lead them. Isaiah 11:6

A structure of sin or social sin is first described by Blessed John Paul II in #36 of his 1987 Encyclical, “On Social Concern.”   He introduces the concept that an accumulation of personal sin creates social structures and norms that trivialize and depend on continuing this sin in the lives of countless succeeding individuals.  These structures of sin are exceptionally difficult to remove.  Created by individual sin, they can only be removed through personal acts of virtue and these are born from a pursuit of personal holiness.

 

The culture of America, as we now know it, is very dependent on people’s reliance on contraception, sterilization, and surgical abortion.  Fear of over-extending oneself in family size leads many to disregard or reject altogether the notion of God’s Providential care for those who honor and obey His laws.  The consequences of losing sight of God include the malady of a people who have now lost sight of the value of man.  This concept was also first advanced by Blessed John Paul II.

 

The “imperfect” person is not only seen as without value, but is actually not to be tolerated by many in our society.  This attitude, encouraged by our medical, legal and political communities, put a sense of stigma or blame on parents for bringing such “imperfect” people to term and birth.  In the precise cases where the greatness of a people who value all people for whom they are, we now find America failing severely with fatal consequences for truly countless numbers of human persons.  It is common knowledge that 90% of persons diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome are surgically aborted in the womb.  Parents who stand-up to these betrayals from those in these professional fields who maintain the structures of sin will soon enough contend with family, friends and strangers who see selfishness in the parents fulfillment of their God given calling and duty in preserving the life of their child.

 

One couple, Lacey and Chritian Buchanan, are among those of us who are “imperfect” and they saw the perfection of God in their child and have grown in their sharing of divine love for him and others.  Children really do teach us and give us the opportunity to practice love for another person.  This couple’s story is shared with us via youtube.com.  We can be grateful for their practice of virtue over fear.  Please take the time to see and read the sub-titles of this video, because it is worth it.  Let’s keep in our prayers all parents with such trust in God’s wisdom and Divine Providence.  And let’s pray there are as many such parents as there are persons conceived because we all know everyone but God is a little bit imperfect.

The Buchanan’s original youtube.com link is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWCbkyR0cy0

Their posting and contact information include the following:

Published on Mar  9, 2012

This is my plea to anyone considering abortion. Rethink your decision, no matter the circumstances. I am so glad I chose life!
The Buchanans can be reached via blog (http://christianbuchanan.blogspot.com/) or Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lacey-a…).
Music: Fernando Ortega “Give Me Jesus”; Chris Tomlin “How Great is Our God”

Breaching the Abyss

For all of the challenges that sidewalk counselors outside an abortion clinic who provide outreach confronts, it is no wonder that they can suffer at times a creeping sense of futility.   Sidewalk Counselors all have an understanding that their presence has a much greater positive impact than is apparent on the surface.   The truth of the living person in the womb is acknowledged and shared with the parent(s) and the community.   Prayer for the immediate concern is offered along with any and all assistance that the mother and child perceive they need is made known and available to the parents.  Among many other accomplishments is the powerful effect of holding back untold evil.  Abortion is a sign of a lawlessness in a crumbling society.  The sidewalk counselor is helping to hold back evil through the good accomplished and by reminding society that there is such a battle of good and evil.  Staking one’s actions to the goodness of preserving life keeps the cause and hope of good alive.  We have no idea what evil hasn’t transpired because there is someone with some grip on the reigns of evil impeding its march to some degree.

 

Pray for the sidewalk counselors in their mission and for their success.  And pray their ranks be blessed with growing numbers of people’s prayerful, bodily presence outside these abortion centers.