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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Test of Courage in a Man: Choose Life

by Susan Fox

“Christ, the Son of God, who with the Father and the Spirit is praised as “uniquely holy,” loved the Church as His bride, delivering Himself up for her. He did this that He might sanctify her. He united her to Himself as His own body and brought it to perfection by the gift of the Holy Spirit for God’s glory. Therefore in the Church, everyone whether belonging to the hierarchy, or being cared for by it, is called to holiness, according to the saying of the Apostle: “For this is the will of God, your sanctification.” (Vatican II, Chapter V, The Universal Call to Holiness, #39)

Fred Jaramillo, @chooseliferacer on Twitter gearing up
for his first race Friday July 24, 2015 at Bandimere
Speedway, Denver (photo by Susan Fox)
The test of courage in a man is not whether he undertakes great things without fear.

No. Courage is exercised in the face of fear.

So it is with @chooseliferacer, aka Fred Jaramillo, of Bosque Farms, New Mexico. Raised to love drag racing from the age of 5, and a drag racer since the age of 16, he perhaps could be called courageous because he engages in a dangerous sport. Twice before, violent accidents have taken place right behind the one-time National Champion of the Mopar Mile-High Races in Denver (Super Gas Class) involving his opponent – both times just barely missing him.

But in 2002, Jaramillo decided to marry two of his passions: drag racing and his Catholic faith. This took true grit.

For Fred admits he feared his opponents: people who support abortion. He feared their reaction to a message of life printed large on the side of his cars. He feared unpleasant encounters, sabotage of his autos, blasphemy and persecution.

As a pro-life Catholic, he put a small bumper sticker on his dragster that said, “Every 4th Baby is Aborted.” 

“Somebody saw it and asked if it was true,” Fred said in a break between racing at the 36th Annual Mopar Mile-High National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Nationals on Friday July 24, “The only reason he saw it was because he was close.”

This started Fred and his family – his crew chief and sister, Jenn Green, and fellow racer and father, Phil Jaramillo – to start thinking about the name on their dragsters. (They had four racing regularly until five years ago when they dropped to two. Crew chief Jenn Green was pregnant, and choose to stay at home with her child, another life affirming decision in an overwhelmingly Catholic pro-life family.)

“So we prayed about the name,” Fred said. And they picked the name “Choose Life.” Fred and his family had decided to live more closely for eternity -- exactly as Vatican II said a Catholic layman should.

“But by reason of their special vocation it belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God's will. They live in the world, that is, they are engaged in each and every work and business of the earth and in the ordinary circumstances of social and family life, which, as it were, constitute their very existence. There they are called by God that, being led by the spirit to the Gospel, they may contribute to the sanctification of the world, as from within like leaven, by fulfilling their own particular duties. Thus, especially by the witness of their life, resplendent in faith, hope and charity they must manifest Christ to others.” (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium.)
Uncle Fred Jaramillo sleeping with
his infant niece. Fred has five children,
five nieces & four nephews.

Photo courtesy of Jaramillo Family

Whew. That’s a lot of words to describe the fact that whatever a person’s vocation, the call to holiness is universal. In the Catholic Church, it was sometimes erroneously thought that the call to holiness was only for priests and nuns, not laity. But our understanding changed dramatically with Vatican II. Now the world is the oyster where the laity hopefully manifest Christ to others, as wives, husbands, fathers, car mechanics, newspaper reporters, and yes, even drag racers.

“We are to go out into the world and spread the good news. Our lives may be the only Bible some people ever read,” Fred said, “Our talent and our treasure is to be used for
Fred Jaramillo before the start of races Friday.
His T-shirt reads "Unborn babies feel pain."

Photo by Susan Fox
God’s glory, everything we have is ultimately His.”

In 2002, when they changed the name on the dragsters to “Choose Life,” the response was surprisingly positive. Indeed, I experienced the same thing on Friday. One woman seeing me intensely taking pictures of the Choose Life racecar said something really happy and positive. I don’t know exactly what she said (and she repeated it three times) because we were on the starting line, and it’s impossible to hear anything there. She did ask if Choose Life was my car, and I nodded vigorously, saying yes. Then she said, “......” -- a bunch of stuff I couldn’t hear. But her facial expressions showed happiness and good will. I didn’t leave the track with a black eye.

But one year, Fred met a man at the track who saw the name of the cars, and his reaction was violently negative. Fred said his childhood was so rough he thought he should have been aborted.  But Fred and his family all spoke to him. The next year when he ran into the same man he was friendly. He hadn’t changed his position, but he was a much more gentler person. That was a sign of God’s healing.

In another case of persecution, a man walked up to Fred and demanded to know if he gave all the profits from his races to orphanages. Fred didn’t understand what he was getting at, and he said, “No.” The man argued, “You should.”

This is a common tactic of pro-abortionists. They attack pro-lifers by saying they should be doing the charity that they think would make abortion less frequent – instead of witnessing against the murder of unborn children. Actually, there is a shortage of children available to adopt and the help needed is at the starting line to make sure children are born. That is where Fred and his family are already thoroughly involved.

Through their involvement in the Catholic Knights of Columbus, the Jaramillos raise money for the non-profit Gabriel House Project, which helps pregnant women in need with spiritual, material and emotional support.  The charity provides housing, medical care, job training, parenting classes and jobs for pregnant women in need, married or unmarried -- it doesn’t matter.

The man with the orphanage question also was changed by his encounter with the Jaramillo family. He met them the next year, and cheerfully helped with the air compression on their tires. They had made another friend.

Fred Jaramillo has another passion. It’s called the Internet. He met his wife of 13 years, Deanna, on America Online. He’s on Facebook where he has long witnessed to the pro-life cause. But he resisted joining Twitter until 2013 when Philadelphia Abortion Doctor Kermit Gosnell was found guilty of murdering three children born alive in a late term abortion procedure.

Then Fred entered the Twitterverse to join pro-life tweet fests as @chooseliferacer. Now his Twitter page has almost 7,000 followers and proudly promotes “Defund Planned Parenthood.” It’s not uncommon to see the hashtag #PPSellsBabyParts (Planned Parenthood Sells Baby Parts) in his tweets since the Center for Medical Progress earlier this month began releasing undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials casually discussing the sale of human organs derived from children who are killed in abortions.

Once on Twitter, he naturally found a case that needed his help. A rape victim living in another city was pregnant with triplets and needed medical assistance and food. He sent food, money and baby items. One child died in the womb when she became dehydrated. A second child died after birth. But she had a healthy son, who was adopted by her cousins. “She sent us pictures of the ultrasound,” Fred said.

Drag racing is a funny sport. They don’t try to beat each other to the finish line. They try to stick to the index – 9.5 seconds in the Super Gas Class, which is amateur drag racing. So on Friday Fred won both of his qualifying races coming in at 9.59 seconds and 9.541 seconds. His opponents were alternately too fast and then too slow.

No one has a watch or any way to tell how fast they are going while they are racing, and the race is over literally in seconds! This was a great surprise to me. I started to climb the horrific steps to my seat to watch the race, and realized I couldn’t see the race, which I imagined must go on past the curve in the road to my left.

I started asking questions of a white haired man sitting next to me with orange plugs in his ears. Without taking his earplugs out, and after I repeated the questions numerous times, I finally discovered that the finish line was in my sight. It was those orange cones everyone went through seconds after they left the start! They race one quarter mile.

Choose Life Crew Chief Jenn Green watching as her brother Fred crosses the finish line on the left.
He won. His score is 9.541. His opponent was too slow at 9.583 seconds.  Susan Fox took the successful photo.
Now the actions of Fred’s Crew Chief Jenn Green, his sister, made sense. After both Fred and Phil, his father, took off, she anxiously stood in the middle of the start up line to watch the end of the race, and make sure her father and brother made it safely. The starting line is the best view of the finish.

She said she watched the race where Fred's opponent crashed into a wall. It looked like he dove right into her brother’s dragster, but actually he hit the wall right behind Fred. She found out later, the driver was telling himself, “I’m going to nail him to the tree,” meaning he was psyching himself out to do better than Fred. He emerged unhurt. The dragster was totaled.

Then on Saturday Fred lost his first qualifying race, coming in at an incredible 9.509 seconds. His opponent won by five hundredths of a second, coming in at 9.502.

Phil Jaramillo, however, won his first race on Saturday at 9.522 seconds. He qualified as 13th in his class. But Phil lost his second race. His time wasn’t bad but he finished off by three feet, according to Jenn. Oh well, done early, they came to my house for dinner, which turned into the finish line.

I think I’m hooked. Fred said I would be.

You called it, Bro!

“It pertains to them (the laity) in a special way so to illuminate and order all temporal things with which they are so closely associated that these may be effected and grow according to Christ and may be to the glory of the Creator and Redeemer.” (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium.)

Would you like to read another post about a pro-life business? Pro-Life Coffee: A Lifeboat Tendered to Those Drowning in the Great Sea of the Culture of Death

Monday, July 27, 2015


Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
17th Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 26, 2015
Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ

"Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35)

In today's Gospel Reading (John 6:1-15), Jesus fed 5,000 people with five barley loaves and two fish.

He had the apostles gather the leftovers, which filled 12 wicker baskets.  This feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle which is present in all four Gospels, so it is a significant event. 

A huge crowd was following Jesus after He went across the Sea of Galilee because they had seen and heard of His healings and His miracles. So they were attracted to Him, literally captivated by Him.

The Jewish Feast of Passover was near, so we know that Our Lord’s ministry is soon coming to an end and that He would be taken away to be crucified. 

Jesus and His disciples climbed to the top of the mountain and saw an immense crowd climbing up towards them. Our Lord knows the crowd is hungry, so He performs takes pity on them. 

Now, if we want to truly understand the significance of today’s event in the Gospel, we must first understand that it was truly a miracle. 

In fact, over the past several years there have been false theologians, who say that the multiplication of the loaves and fish was not a miracle. They say the real miracle was not the multiplication of loaves, but the act of caring. The people had plenty of food with them hidden under their coats and Jesus taught them to share. So they all pulled out their surplus of food from under their robes and everyone shared with his neighbor. 

That is the lesson, they say. Jesus did not do a physical miracle; the real miracle was convincing people to share with others.

Fr. John Paul Shea 
My brothers and sisters, what took place in today’s Gospel was a Divine miracle! This is the real lesson that we are to understand in today’s Gospel—that it was a supernatural event. 

In fact, Jesus performed miracles  to show that the Kingdom of God has come into our midst. The people in today’s Gospel understood this. This is why “when the people saw the sign [Our Lord] had done, they said, 'This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.'”

Our Lord Jesus Christ is truly the Prophet! He is the one who has come into our world to lead us into heaven! And He has given us His Church as His Mystical Body until He comes again. 

Our Lord wants us to do acts of generosity. He wants us to feed the poor and visit the sick. But acts of charity are not the primary focus of our Church. The primary goal of our Church is to lead souls to heaven.

Our Church is not a human institution. It is a heavenly institution. We come to Church to experience God! We come into His presence so that we can be fed with the food of heaven in the Holy Eucharist, and then we go out and do acts of mercy.

In fact, the miraculous feeding of the 5000 people is a foreshadowing of the miraculous feeding of the Holy Eucharist, which we will hear about  at Mass next week. The Gospel of John states that the next day after this miracle  that Jesus and His disciples had crossed to the other side of the sea. The crowd of people noticed that Jesus was gone, so they go looking for Him. 

When the crowd comes toward Jesus after crossing the sea, Jesus tells them yes, you are looking for me because you ate the loaves and were filled. But, “do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which [I] will give you (John 6:27). Jesus further says, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. And the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world (John 6:51). 
The miracle of the loaves and fish find its fulfillment in the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the living Bread! He has come down from heaven, and He feeds us with Himself so that we may have eternal life. 

In the beginning of this homily I related how over the past several years that many false theologians have tried to say that the multiplication of the loaves and fish was not a miracle.

This sort of thinking has become the mentality of many Catholics today. Science and technology coupled with our secular, relativistic culture has darkened the minds to many to the supernatural reality of our Church. In fact, since the 1960s many Churches have taken the tabernacle from behind the altar and put it off to the side.

Many modern Churches have been built to look more like a social hall or movie theater instead of a reflection of the heavenly Jerusalem. And many Catholics have lost awareness of the TRUE PRESENCE of our Lord in the Eucharist which is the ultimate miracle God has provided. 
Many today look at our Church as if it is a sort of political party or social club. We hear the terms so often today of liberal and conservative Catholics. Yet, when it comes to the teachings of our Church, there is no such thing as left or right Catholics. 

This sort of thinking is an earthly mentality. We either want to follow the teachings of our Church or we don’t! And if we don’t want to follow the teachings handed down to us by the apostles through the Catholic Church, including the moral teachings, then there are hundreds of other Churches we can join which will cater to our own earthly desires. 

Of course, these Churches, or what we would call "ecclesial communities," do not have the real Bread from Heaven because they have broken away from the Church instituted by Jesus Christ. 

My brothers and sisters, today’s Gospel passage of the miracle of the multiplication of loaves and fish calls us not to focus on what is here below but on what is above! This is why we come to Mass! The crowd in today’s Gospel followed Our Lord because they had filled their bellies and witnessed miracles. We come to our Lord in faith. 

And when we come to Him in faith, it is then that Our Lord provides for us not simply with earthly food, but with heavenly food—the gift of eternal life. Let us come to Him in humility. For He alone will satisfy our needs.

Did you enjoy this homily? There are more. 
Please read: How Desperate Are We for God?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

After Confession: The Gift

By Christopher Ziegler
Poet Christopher Ziegler can be found @CZWriting on Twitter

My mind had fallen
In a muddy rut of sin.
I did not know
How it had happened,
Or where I had tripped the snare
That snagged me.
I was lost.

Delusions and temptations
Were closing in all around
While grace seemed to be slipping
Further, further away.

So I went to confession
And spilled my lapses without guile.

At once I felt a weight was lifted.
The clouds cleared my mind
And I beheld the start of my rut.

I remembered the precise thought
That had swapped God’s will
With my own judgement.

The very thing I chastise others for doing,
I myself had done—
I had indulged the pride of life.

As if to mock God,
My foe had tricked me into hypocrisy.
I am too easily deceived
By that foul cunning.

I must keep my heart meek
At all times and in all questions.
The instant I raise my heart on high,
Gentleness and patience vanish
And I fall prey to my weakness.

God knows best, and I—nothing.
But He gives forgiveness,
And, in confession,
The gift of knowledge.

Would you like to read more about the Sacrament of Confession? Twilight's Confession