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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Bitter Fruit of Selfish Choices: Empty Wombs=Empty Coffers

World Finds Out the Greatest threat
to Economic Prosperity is No People.

by Susan Fox  

“Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary. Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter.” (A sermon of St Bernard: The Whole World Awaits Mary’s Reply)

By Susan Fox

Pope Paul VI was right, and the world is finally waking up to the reality that fewer mouths to feed means less economic
Population Prophet Pope Paul VI:
if only the world had listened, we
wouldn't be in this mess. 
prosperity for the whole world.

It was reported in no less a prestigious source than the Wall Street Journal, which ran a series of stories on the ill effects financially of childlessness worldwide.                

The pope’s landmark papal encyclical Humanae Vitae – almost 50 years old now – warned about the disastrous effects of population control, abortion and artificial contraception. Pope Saint John Paul II called the encyclical, “a truly prophetic proclamation.” More recently Pope Francis condemned the same things – abortion, contraception and population control -- in his environmental encyclical Laudato Si – a shock to climate change liberals locked in a 1970s time warp. 

Most forms of contraception today are actually abortifacients, which cause miscarriages, but do not prevent conception from taking place. The world is involved in child murder on a very large scale.

Partly to blame is the discredited 18th century British essayist Thomas Malthus, who taught the world to fear its own children. He predicted population would outstrip food supplies. He was wrong. Agricultural productivity proved more than capable of feeding the extra mouths.

Now economists are waking up to the horrific cost of contraception. Declining fertility and aging populations worldwide means businesses are running out of workers, consumers or both. Either one means a decline in economic growth. That’s why you see U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan supporting immigration in the new bi-partisan budget signed into law Nov 2, 2015. American businesses need labor! Since the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, 58.5 million potential laborers have been killed in the United States.

Many do not appreciate Ryan’s efforts to bring in more immigrants, while refusing to defund Planned Parenthood, the U.S.’ largest abortion provider. Many of today’s immigrants are involved in a religion that approves violence to non-Muslims. The moniker “Religion of Peace” only applies to those who submissively adopt Islam.

The new “bi-partisan” budget is sickeningly ignorant on this matter. It does not address the source of the labor shortage: the wholesale murder of American citizens in the womb. U.S.taxpayers supported Planned Parenthood to the tune of $528 million in 2014, representing more than 40 percent of the abortion company’s revenues. 

Planned Parenthood Revenues 2013. U.S. taxpayers
supply 45 percent of the abortion providers revenues
If the Republican-led Congress had defunded Planned Parenthood, they would have solved our labor shortage and given us people who share our cultural values. They probably would have also shut down the abortion provider. Few businesses can afford to lose almost half their annual revenues.

Next year, the world’s most advanced economies will watch their working age population decline for the first time since 1950, according to the United Nations, which expects this number to decline 5 percent by 2050 with the number of workers also falling in emerging markets like China and Russia. This means less demand for goods and services worldwide, lower prices, fewer jobs. The world economy is contracting.

Fewer people mean fewer consumers, and the bulging elderly population is entering that period of time when they save, but don’t spend money.  Old people don’t spend, young people can’t spend because of limited income and higher taxes, and so you get the stew the world created with population control.
 Demographics – driven by the Culture of Death – explains why the United States is having a historically weak “recovery” from our recession in the Obama era, 2015 and 2016, while the unemployment rate dropped by 50 percent to a low of 5 percent. There aren’t as many people to fill those jobs. A lot of businesses around my area have signs up saying they are hiring. But they pay low wages, and people would starve if they tried to work there permanently. Certainly, no one could afford to support a family, and that’s why I’m seeing a lot of single young people not marrying and not starting a family. Even with a college education, only low paid work is available.

While the unemployment rate is only 5 percent, underemployment is floating between 14 and 16 percent this year (pre-Trump 2015.) Those are the unemployed, plus those working part time, looking for full time work.

In this category are many people whose income levels fall below the poverty line of $12,000 a year. When the working poor file their taxes, the government gives them a cash credit they didn’t earn, and informs them they are eligible for food stamps. While most people are fined for not having health insurance under the Obama Administration, this group is not. They are free to get sick and throw themselves on the generosity of the local health care facility. One of the things I sharply noted after Obama “Care” was passed was the number of people walking into Urgent Care with sick children asking how much the visit would cost. When they were told $140, many of them walked out. That never happened before. The bill literally threw the poor and middle class out of their health care.

To give you an idea of how devastating low wages are in Denver in 2015, average apartment rents are $1622 a month, with one-bedrooms going for $1305. At the same time, this year, U.S. home ownership has dropped to the lowest level since 1967. U.S. household wealth fell $1.23 trillion in the third quarter driven by a decline in the stock market. This further slowed business growth and borrowing.

My husband and I used to laugh -- and cry --when we looked at which U.S. companies were donating to Planned Parenthood. America’s second largest automaker, Ford Motor Co., regularly donated to Planned Parenthood until recently when they – and other large corporate donors -- demanded their name be removed from the abortion company’s public list of donors. The Center for Medical Progress released undercover videos this year showing Planned Parenthood manipulating abortions to get healthy baby parts to sell for research. Many people were disgusted. So Ford and other corporate donors disappeared from Planned Parenthood’s shiny balance sheet.  

But the damage was done. Ford’s previous donations ensured the death of their future customers. Now they are working hard to sell cars abroad because of weak demand in the United States. Fifty-eight million potential Ford Motor Co. customers were killed by abortion in the United States since 1973. 

Some investment advisors are comparing the world  economy today in 2015 to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Falling commodity prices, stock market declines with subsequent less wealth, layoffs and businesses shutting down – all that adds up to no means to support your family. Commodity prices are 
falling to their lowest levels reported since 2002, according to one index. “There's a fire sale on raw materials like copper, aluminum, gold and oil, raising concerns about the health of the global economy” read one headline on CNN Money.

Laugh Out Loud. CNN Money waxed and waned about over-supply. But there is an old adage in economics. Price is determined where supply meets demand. You could also say there is inadequate demand. Falling commodity prices speak to a worldwide business downturn. It’s bad news for emerging economies and poor nations that depend on the sale of raw materials.
Barack Obama got his wish. At the beginning of his first term, he said he was glad about higher oil prices because they would discourage consumption. But he wished they would rise more slowly so people could adjust. The world adjusted. There are less people, less business activity and the price of oil has plunged to below $50 a barrel.  But that is not good news anymore. It is the last gasp of a dying world economy.

Graph shows today's velocity of money declining to below Depression Era levels. People stopped spending, jobs dried up, economic activity came to a standstill in the Great Depression of the 1930s. Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
“The price of gold is collapsing because money velocity is collapsing. In other words, individuals have zero confidence in their jobs and in the world economy." said business pundit George Gray. The velocity of money -- the rate at which people spend money -- has crashed to levels lower than the Great Depression, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. When there are more transactions being made throughout the economy, velocity increases, and the economy is likely to expand. The opposite is also true: money velocity decreases when fewer transactions are being made; therefore the economy is likely to shrink.

Higher taxes put a brake on money velocity as well. It is  impossible to measure how much taxes have gone up under Obama  since    they were imposed in such a piecemeal fashion. But there is no doubt that everyone’s take home pay has declined or remained unchanged. Pope Francis is wrong about his disdain for the “trickle down” effects of lower taxes because they increase the velocity of money! Everyone benefits when the velocity of money increases, the economy expands and there are more high paying jobs.

The Obama Administration created money hand over fist during the last seven years. Yet its excessive monetary expansion has completely failed to stimulate economic activity largely due to higher taxes, less people working and consequently a declining rate at which Americans spend money. It seems that despite the popularity of this Democratic Administration among liberals, they -- like everyone else -- are showing distrust by failing to spend. But there are also fewer people to spend and fewer people to earn. The world is literally curling up into itself.

The same thing happened in the 5th century before the fall of the Roman Empire. Roman citizens suffering under the burden of high taxes actually hoped the barbarians would invade. Just like today, Romans lived in a “white-haired world” and imported foreign workers to fill their labor needs. (The Church in the Dark Ages by Henri Daniel-Rops) Romans were paying people to have children, just like Norway today, which boasts it has the most pro-family policies in Europe, but still suffers below replacement level population growth – 1.9 children per family in 2013. All of Europe is in the same depopulation boat.

So where are the long lines at U.S. soup kitchens? We won’t see that during this downturn. We have welfare. There are more welfare recipients in the United States now than there are full-time workers. People are enjoying their Obama unemployment and underemployment seamlessly hidden in their own American homes -- 105 million full time workers in 2013; 109 million people receiving welfare at the end of 2012.

Social Security recipients are getting no benefit increases next year in 2016, a sign that inflation doesn’t exist, but neither does their retirement income cover their costs. The retired elderly are working at low-paying jobs alongside our youth.  They check my groceries at Wal-Mart and hand me food samples at Costco. Many of them suffer while they work, trying to stand for hours at a time with bad hips and other ailments. One was fired recently from a major wholesale retailer because she said, “Merry Christmas!” They are supposed to use the less religious phrase “Happy Holidays.” Since Obama took office in 2009, the number of elderly (65 and older) living in poverty rose 30 percent to 4.6 million in 2014.

Mexicans returning to Mexico
Now to top it off even Mexicans are returning home because of better job opportunities in Mexico. For the first time since the 1940s, more Mexicans are leaving the U.S. than arriving, according to a new Pew Research Center report issued in November, 2015.

But perhaps the biggest nod to the truth of Humanae Vitae was when China announced on Oct. 29, 2015, that it was ending its one-child per family policy and allowing Chinese citizens to have two children.

Chinese propaganda for the One Child Policy
China has woken up to the ill effects of allowing only one child per family – a policy choice which Pope Paul VI warned against in 1968. Recognizing that many feared world population would outstrip available resources, he urged public authorities:“(To rulers of nations) The family is the primary unit in the state; do not tolerate any legislation which would introduce into the family those practices which are opposed to the natural law of God.”

Marriage, he said, is not the result of “blind evolution of natural forces. It is in reality the wise and provident institution of God the Creator, whose purpose was to effect in man His loving design. Husband and wife, through that mutual gift of themselves, which is specific and exclusive to them alone, develop that union of two persons in which they perfect one another, cooperating with God in the generation and rearing of new lives.”

“Marriage and conjugal love are by their nature ordained toward the procreation and education of children. Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute in the highest degree to their parents’ welfare.”

China didn’t listen. Now it is faced with an aging population, a labor shortage, and a gender imbalance – more men than women creating a shortage of brides. The gender imbalance has increased the crime rate in China and will exacerbate its shrinking population. These trends threaten its economic prosperity.

The Chinese Tiger – once feared for its enormous population and military might – is facing a demographic crunch that could render it toothless. “Too Little, Too Late,” demographers said regarding China’s move to abandon its 35-year-old One-Child Policy. A loosening of the policy two years ago resulted in a small bump in births, and demographers expect this one to have little effect. Like the rest of the world, Chinese families have become used to selfish choices.

A typical Chinese response to the change in policy is that of Li Shuning and her husband, both age 32. They have one son, and don’t want any more. “For a second child, my answer is no, no, no. Doesn’t matter what the policy is,” she told the Wall Street Journal.

My Chinese neighbor, who was part of the first generation to feel the effects of this draconian policy, feels the same way. She has multiple siblings, but only one child, and she doesn’t regret it. But she told me a story that illustrates the costs of China’s interference in one of the most intimate areas of human life. In China, a child needs both a father and mother to be a registered citizen eligible to attend school and work. My neighbor said the husband of one of her friends in China went to prison for fraud. His wife was pregnant with their child. But without a father, the baby would have faced insurmountable obstacles in citizenship and schooling. So she had an abortion.

“No statement of the problem and no solution to it is acceptable which does violence to man’s essential dignity; those who propose such solutions base them on an utterly materialistic conception of man himself and his life,” said Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae, quoting his predecessor Pope John XXIII

China didn’t listen, but neither did many in the Catholic Church. The encyclical led to a virtual firestorm of rebellion. Even one year before Humanae Vitae was published, the Land of Lakes Conference of U.S. Catholic Educators insisted that they must have autonomy from The Catholic Church. “There must be no theological or philosophical imperialism,” educators warned, pitting academic excellence against obedience to the Church.

Many historians of American Catholic higher education said with this statement, Catholic universities in the United States fully embraced Modernism – the ambition to eliminate God from all social life -- while the Catholic Church itself completely opposed it. I once read a Catholic newspaper editorial, in which the author said, “We must stop Jesus idolatry.” Jesus is God. Worship of God is never idolatrous unless you are a “Catholic” modernist.

President Obama receiving honorary degree from
Notre Dame University in 2009
Catholic historian Philip Gleason described the Land of Lakes document as "a declaration of independence from the hierarchy and a symbolic turning point," which made clear that the Church's "cold war with modernity" was over. Its bitter fruit was the welcome Notre Dame University issued to U.S. President Barack Obama in May 2009 when he received an honorary degree from the “Catholic” University and delivered their commencement speech. Obama is the most pro-abortion president in U.S. History. Last time I checked, the Catholic Church was still teaching,  “Thou shalt not kill.”

Unfortunately, rebellion against Humanae Vitae in Canada was not limited to the universities. The Canadian conference of bishops created a right to dissent by personal conscience. It’s called the Winnipeg Statement, and it was decided a mere two months after Humanae Vitae was published. Western Catholic Reporter Douglas Roche exultantly reported, “The issue is over in Canada. Catholics are free to use contraceptives if their informed conscience so prompts them!” And the Canadian bishops have never disavowed the Winnipeg statement.

The notorious Paragraph 26 of the Winnipeg Statement establishes a right to personal conscience. Those who accept the teaching of Humanae Vitae are nevertheless told that in some circumstances, they need not observe it. They are free in good conscience to use contraception and go to Holy Communion. Sadly, many in the United States are probably just as ignorant. In 2012, the Guttmacher Institute reported that 98 percent of those identifying themselves as Catholic have used a method of contraception other than Natural Family Planning at some point in their lives. One of my dearest Catholic friends suffered breast cancer because of contraception use early in her marriage, and now she is wringing her hands because her daughter-in-law is making the same mistake.

To this day Canadians regard themselves as “ahead” of the Vatican on the issue of birth control and homosexuality. 
They are waiting for the Church to reform. They will be waiting a very long time. A Canadian Priest Questions The Sinfulness of Contraception and Its Linkage to Abortion

“The prime victim is the Catholic family,” said Canadian Msgr. Vincent Foy in an article published in 1988. "Since Winnipeg, the use of contraceptives has increased until Catholic Canada has one of the lowest birth rates in the world and is on a suicide course. The contraceptive mentality has spread.” He added that this mentality leads to a host of other evils -- adultery, venereal disease, homosexuality, pornography, sterilization, child abuse, abortion and euthanasia.

Free speech in Canada has also suffered, and two women --
In better times, Canadian pro-life defenders
Linda Gibbons & Mary Wagner. Both are in prison now.
Mary Wagner and Linda Gibbons -- have been jailed regularly trying to shine a light on the plight of unborn Canadians. They violate Canada’s unjust and illegal “bubble zones” to try and offer alternative assistance to women waiting for an abortion. See: Canada’s Shame: Peaceful Pro-lifers Get Prison, Canadians Killed Seconds Before Natural Birth

This 1960s rebellion of private conscience created a veritable tsunami of abuse and false teaching during the ‘60s and ‘70s.  Few understood that when you argue the right to private conscience versus the teaching of the Church, you are opening the door to a host of monsters: heresy, crime, sin
Adultery, venereal disease, child abuse, pornography 

and acts of faithlessness in the vocations of marriage and priesthood. The informed conscience is intended to guide us when facing concrete issues in our daily life – do I give money to the beggar standing on the corner or not? What does the Church teach? Can I use contraception tonight? What does the Church teach?

The Church’s teachings are intended to be our guide to daily decisions facing our conscience. Conscience is not intended to determine whether church teachings are correct. That approach jumps into the realm of judgment, forcing every man to become his own independent authority.  Imagine the burden of being pope 24/7! Imagine Moses approaching God on Mt. Sinai with his own list of suggested commandments! “Lord, this is what my personal conscience teaches!”

Even the pope is not free to teach what he wants – he must teach what the apostles taught 2,000 years ago! It is called the deposit of faith. Pope Paul VI called his own teaching in Humanae Vitae, “Not our law, but the law of God.” But the poison of nominalism entered Catholic thinking during the past century. There are no universals, just accidentals in nominalism. So many saw the pope’s teaching as just one opinion among many. Truth exited the world stage.

The poison of personal conscience disturbed marriages, led to divorce, undermined priestly celibacy and the male-only priesthood. Whereas the U.S. ranks of priests and nuns had been growing in the first half of the 20th century, starting in the 1960s, the trend reversedBetween 1965 and 1971, the American Catholic Church lost 10 percent of its priests.

I remember that period of time. My pastor asked my mother to counsel a young priest planning to leave the celibate priesthood and get married. Sadly, she was not successful, and he left. He married the mother of one my grade school classmates, and I felt sorry for the boy.

In the name of personal conscience, chastity itself was under attack. In some seminaries, it was taught that since homosexual acts were not part of marriage, a priest in “good conscience” could engage in such acts without breaking their vow of celibacy. Natural Law and the Roman Catholic Church condemn such thinking, but it was the Church that suffered when this heresy opened a dam of vile practices. In the United States since 1950, over 17,000 minors were abused by 6,000 clergy at a cost of over $3 billion in settlements, according to studies conducted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Some bishops looked the other way and continued to move offending priests from parish to parish. In Los Angeles, it was Mexican children who suffered. In New Mexico – perhaps one of the most devout Catholic states in the Union – the mixed Spanish-Indian mothers wept for their little sons. In Boston, it was the children of the poor. While liberal Catholic prelates mouthed platitudes about serving the poor, they permitted the rape of their children. 

Many theorized that “being open to having children” – a necessary condition for a valid Catholic marriage -- could apply to the totality of married life rather than to each single act. So a married couple could use artificial contraception to space their children, but still have children. Humanae Vitae strictly condemned this thinking, which was contrary to the Church’s teaching on moral theology. A person’s character is set by every act of virtue he takes. He is not of good character because sometimes he acts virtuously, but because he consistently tries to act virtuously.

Pope Paul’s response to this was “Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good, it is never lawful – even for the gravest reasons – to do evil that good may come of it.”

And that is why, my dear friends, any single act of contraception, is wrong. “Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong,” Pope Paul VI concluded.

However, Pope Paul VI did encourage Catholics to use the naturally infertile times in a woman’s cycle to have marital intimacy if there are good reasons to postpone another child’s birth. These infertile periods are naturally given to us by God, and to use them properly requires self-mastery and spousal communication. Hence Natural Family Planning actually assists spouses in their spiritual growth.
The science involved in understanding a woman’s cycles has rapidly advanced thanks to Humanae Vitae. Pope Paul VI encouraged doctors and scientists to learn how to properly 
help men and women – not to see their fertility as a disease – but rather understand how to cooperate with it. Natural Family Planning can be used to help infertile couples conceive and also postpone birth naturally.

My husband and I – married 32 years during this dark period of church history – practiced Natural Family Planning in our marriage. We affectionately called Humanae Vitae our “Human Vitamins.” We wanted our marriage to last, and it has! 

But I knocked on the door of a Filipino woman in the Seattle area in the 1990s, and she told me she left the church, and was not free to return. “Why?” I asked, “You are always welcome to return!”  So she told me the story. She was married in the Church, and a Catholic priest told her husband, they could use contraception in “good conscience.” They did, and he left her. Now she lived with another man without marriage, and couldn’t leave him because he provided her sole support. Because of contraception, that poor woman had devolved into a commodity for the use of man, bought and paid for.

“The truth expressed in Humanae Vitae does not change,” Pope Benedict XVI told participants in the International Congress organized by the Pontifical Lateran University on May 10, 2008. “The key word to enter coherently into its content remains "love"...Man is truly himself when his body and soul are intimately united...Yet it is neither the spirit alone nor the body alone that loves: it is man, the
Pope Benedict XVI offering Mass 
person, a unified creature composed of body and soul, who loves
. If this unity is removed, the value of the person is lost and there is a serious risk of considering the body a commodity that can be bought or sold.”

“If the practice of sexuality becomes a drug that seeks to enslave one's partner to one's own desires and interests, without respecting the cycle of the beloved, then what must be defended is no longer solely the true concept of love but in the first place the dignity of the person. As believers, we could never let the domination of technology invalidate the quality of love and the sacredness of life,” Pope Benedict concluded. 

But that is exactly what the world has done. It has allowed technology -- a pill, a device if you will -- to invalidate the quality of love between spouses, and to violate the sacredness of life that union produces.

Now we must swallow the bitter fruit, helpless to stop the train wreck in our world economy, the devastation in the Church and our personal lives.

Praying outside the abortion clinic in Denver recently, I watched a young black woman drive out of Planned Parenthood’s parking lot, a look of stunned sorrow upon her face. She had lost her baby and all hope for the relationship that conceived the child. Reduced to a commodity that could be bought or sold, she left the clinic. There is no freedom in doing evil. The “choice” for evil always leads to slavery. Freedom is found in choosing the good.

I wanted to run after her car, yelling: “Your happiness can be restored! Christ makes all things new!”

I have the same message for the world.

“Awake, mankind! For your sake God has become Man. Awake, you who sleep, rise up from the dead, and Christ will enlighten you. I tell you again: for your sake, God became man.” (From a sermon by St. Augustine.) 

Susan Fox
Author Susan Fox has two master's degrees, one in Economics and one in International Trade and Finance. She holds two bachelor's degrees, one in Journalism and one in French. She worked as a business and economics reporter for 12 years in Washington, D.C., San Diego and San Francisco, Calif. and in Spokane, Washington.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Nothing Is Impossible With God! Mary and Elizabeth Rejoice!

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
4th Sunday in Advent, Dec. 20, 2015
Saints Peter and Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ

Last Sunday, the Church celebrated “Gaudete Sunday,” where we were invited to rejoice because we had come past the halfway mark of Advent, and Christmas is near. 

Today we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent (Luke 1:39-45). As we prepare for the Birth of our Lord, this last Sunday of Advent once again gives us a time to rejoice. 

In today’s Gospel 
(Luke 1:39-45), we hear that Mary, pregnant with Jesus, makes a journey to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, who is also pregnant, carrying John the Baptist.

Having learned the lesson that nothing is impossible with God, both Mary and Elizabeth rejoice because they  discovered that God had a unique plan for each of them. Even though they did not fully understand God’s plan and purpose, they rejoiced because they recognized that God had called them to participate in His plan of salvation.

By responding to God’s call to holiness, Elizabeth would become the mother of the last prophet, John the Baptist, and Mary would become the Mother of God. 

As we think about today’s Gospel and the gift of Christmas, let us remember that as Elizabeth and Mary rejoiced together, we too are called to rejoice. 

As Mary and Elizabeth were called to share in God’s plan for their lives, each one of us also is called to uniquely participate in God’s plan for our lives.  

Every one of us was born into this world for a special purpose, and today’s celebration calls us to discover what is our purpose. For it is only when we follow God’s will for our lives, that we will share in the same joy that Mary and Elizabeth experienced.  

Every human being has a mission. And, today’s Gospel calls us to reflect on what  mission God has prepared for us. Some of us are called to a vocation of marriage or religious life. Others are called to be fruitful in the single life. Some are called to be fathers or mothers. Some are called to a certain job or profession. Yet, in whatever we do, all of us are called to glorify God! All of us are called to live in God’s grace. Each one of us is called to eternal salvation.

Today’s Gospel teaches us that God is a God of life. In meeting Mary, Elizabeth recognizes this gift of life as she cries out in a loud voice,
“Blessed are you among women! And blessed is the fruit of your womb!”  John the Baptist
recognizes this gift of life even before he took his first breath as he jumped for joy when he heard the voice of Mary -- she,  who was carrying the Seed of the Author of Life within her own body. 

While still growing in his mother’s womb, John knew that he was in the presence of the One who would fulfill the message of the prophecy we hear in today’s first reading from the Prophet Micah. He foretold that from Bethlehem would come forth the “one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from old,” and who “will shepherd His flock by the strength of the Lord.” (Micah 5:1-4). 

Fr. John Paul Shea 
My brothers and sisters, today’s Gospel passage gives us time to rejoice! God has a plan for humanity. He has a plan for each one of us.

The sad part, however, is that many in our world today do not follow God’s plan of life. This is why we so many souls are lost. This is why we see so much sadness and hurt in our world. 

When we stray away from God’s plan for our lives we are missing the mark. We are ignorant of  who God is calling us to be in relation to Him.  When we turn away from this plan, we damage our relationship with God. This damage is eternal because our lives are eternal. But God does not want us to separate ourselves from Him. He wants us to share in His joy!
God wants us to experience the same joy that Mary and Elizabeth experienced in today’s Gospel passage. It is a joy that is given by listening to God and following His plan for our lives.
As we celebrate the gift of Christmas this week, let us thank God for the gift of eternal life that He offers us through His Son. Let us reflect on what God may be asking of us -- so that we can become all who He calls us to be and attain the gift of eternal life. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Word Was Made Flesh...He Lived Among Us

by Edwin Rodrigues 

Edwin Rodrigues of Chandigarh, India, can be found

at @EdwinEd1667 on Twitter
Two sacred realities are most vehemently denied and opposed.

One is that God became man -- the poorest man among poor men. 

And the other is that bread and wine are changed into that same God! He is the source and fullness of all riches! 

Christmas is all about the first reality, that God took on human flesh and came to live among us.  Christ instituted the second reality at the Last Supper. God accepted Christ's All-Consuming Sacrifice --  offered once and for all on Good Friday -- when the Son was  nailed willingly to the cross. 

The reality of the Holy Sacrifice is made present again during the celebration of every Holy Mass. After the holy seasons of Advent and Christmas, as we journey through Ordinary Time and approach the season of Lent, it would help us if we paused a little and remembered: “And the Word was made Flesh; And dwelt among us.” 

As weak mortals, we tend to say our prayers instead of praying them meditatively. These two phrases are at the core of Salvation history and our Creed. God said to Moses, “I am Who I Am.” (Exodus 3:14). 

Jesus is God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, and that means He is eternal. He always possessed His Divine Nature and lacked nothing. But for our sake, who are made in His image and likeness, Jesus assumed our human nature in all respects except sin. 

In the order of creation, human beings possess a nature that is lower than that of angels. By taking on our human nature, Jesus abased and humbled Himself, and by doing so He exalted us to such a degree that we became perfected in and through Him, who is not ashamed to call us  brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2).

"For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every respect… .who are being tested”(Heb 2: 16-18). 

This mystery is so profound that we can scarcely begin to scratch its surface; much less plumb its depths or even express it. In such a bid, British pundit and theologian G.K.Chesterton refers to it as “Glory to God in the Lowest!” (Gloria in Profundis)

At the Annunciation, Jesus allowed Himself to be trapped in the temporal realm. He became so tiny, nay, invisible that only 
Mary visits Elizabeth 
through the power of the Holy Spirit, His Real Presence within Mary’s womb was felt by Elizabeth and the unborn John, the future Baptist. 

The King of Kings made Himself so poor that He chose to be born in a stable! The first people to pay Him homage and a visit were poor shepherds, who had no social standing at all in the world. 

Later when the Lord was presented in the temple, Jesus continued to manifest His “dependence” on His Mother, Mary, His foster father, Joseph, and Simeon for the fulfillment of His role. 

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”(Heb 13:8). He makes Himself  vulnerable, exposed to rejection and persecution of His Presence in the sacraments and also in His Mystical Body, the Church -- with which He identifies himself in a very personal way (Acts 9:4 and Matthew 25:40-46).

In fact He identifies Himself with every human being. He is so meek and humble that he conceals His glory and omnipotence and asks us to participate in His redemptive plan. 

Mary is foremost among all human beings to co-operate in His redemptive work. She literally carried Him from womb to tomb. What we meditate on in the 4th Joyful Mystery (Jesus' presentation in the temple), was in reality the first of her sorrows. 
Mary, Mediatrix and Co-Redemptrix
Our Lady is co-redemptrix of the human race because she is Mother of Sorrows. She became co-redemptrix at the foot of the cross by her participation in Our Lord's Passion, which saved us poor sinners!
Though Jesus remains the one Mediator, Mary is Mediatrix of all graces because “in suffering with Him as He died on the cross, she cooperated in the work of the Savior, in an altogether singular way, by obedience, faith, hope, and burning love, to restore supernatural life to souls. As a result she is our Mother in the order of grace.” (Vatican Council II)
“He (Jesus) is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and ….is more excellent than theirs.”(Heb 1:3-4). The Catholic Church, Saints and mystics have always advocated devotion to Jesus through Mary. 

Jesus -- being the perfect, unblemished (Gentle)Man, God and King -- cannot violate the 4th Commandment: “Honor thy father and thy mother.” Therefore He honors Mary as Queen Mother by crowning her as Queen of Heaven and Earth. 

It pleases Him much when we approach Him in humility through her. Mary, remembering that she is the handmaid of The Lord, always recommends our case and petitions to Jesus, who always listens to our prayers and grants them according to His Divine Wisdom. 

St. Joseph Protector of the
 Body of Christ
At times the answer is, “Yes.” At other times,  “No.” And sometimes, He says, “Wait.” But He always answers them and grants us the best. It wouldn’t be out of place to bring to mind that Jesus honors Joseph, His foster-father as protector and patron of the Universal Church. And Holy Mother Church in her wisdom venerates St Joseph under several other titles too.

It might help to take a pause and reflect on what the meaning is of being made “In His own image and likeness.”  A simple answer is that beginning with Adam, God has created every individual member of humankind with a soul, which is in the image and likeness of God since God is a Pure Spirit. "In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear." (Catechism of the Catholic Church)

Through the Incarnation, Jesus assumed a human nature without ceasing to be God. Thus, the Second Person of The Trinity is fully God and fully human (albeit without the blemish of sin). He is one Person; a Divine Person with two natures; a Divine Nature and simultaneously a human nature. Through his Sacred Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection, Jesus has redeemed, restored, and sanctified human nature; elevating what was lost at The Fall of our first parents to that which rightfully could have been exclusively His own. And so we can dare to cry, “Abba! Father”…. and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…… if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.” (Rom 8: 14-17)

Jesus, Mary And Joseph epitomize hope for pro-lifers!!!

If Jesus reflects the Father, Mary reflects The Son because she is always pregnant with Her Divine Spouse, the Holy Spirit. So unique and beautiful is her vocation that she is ever Virgin, Mother, and the faithful wife of St. Joseph. 

From all accounts it is amply evident that under the custody of St Joseph, the Holy Family always prevailed over all attempts and assaults on their sacred union as a human family. It wouldn’t be incongruent to say that St. Joseph received grace and strength from Jesus through Mary and gave it back to them.

To begin with, in his righteousness Joseph overcame the first “hurdle of comprehending” the mysterious nature of Mary’s pregnancy and all else that ensued. This he did by co-operating with grace and through TRUST --True Resolve Under Severe Testing (Johnnette Benkovic,Women of Grace Live). He responded positively to the messages of the angel and did as he was told. He lived,
The angel came to Joseph in a dream
worked hard and provided for Jesus and Mary. He verily defended Life itself. (Jn 11:25)

As we witness the vicious attack on the sacredness of life in its various ugly forms -- abortion, euthanasia, contraception, pornography, substance and drug-abuse, same-sex-unions etc, we have reasons for faith and hope even when all appears bleak in the face of this onslaught.

In our day and time, we have so many pro-lifers who stand up for the unborn, the victims of sexual abuse, the elderly and the defenseless. This Gospel of Life is written on the hearts of every human being who follows his well-formed conscience. 

The stalwart of heroes of our times -- especially Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Pope Saint John Paul II, Mother Angelica and all who speak for the little ones using modern means of communication -- are aggressively taking on the culture of death. Through intense prayer, beginning with Holy Mass, the sacraments, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Holy Rosary and other pious activities, we can reclaim lost ground.

That is the redemptive power that emanates from Jesus Christ. He always has the victory -- even when all seems over. He alone knows how to bring life out of death…. So much so that there is great power in powerlessness, as exemplified and demonstrated from His Cross. 

So today, under the tutelage of Joseph, we can say that a true man is one who honors, upholds and protects every woman. He is indeed a man of grace! 

Conversely, every woman who emulates Mary is a woman of grace!! And The Holy Family is the most pro-life family of all time!!!

Gloria in Profundis

There has fallen on earth for a token 
A god too great for the sky. 
He has burst out of all things and broken 
The bounds of eternity: 
Into time and the terminal land 
He has strayed like a thief or a lover, 
For the wine of the world brims over, 
Its splendour is spilt on the sand. 

Who is proud when the heavens are humble, 
Who mounts if the mountains fall, 
If the fixed stars topple and tumble 
And a deluge of love drowns all- 
Who rears up his head for a crown, 
Who holds up his will for a warrant, 
Who strives with the starry torrent, 
When all that is good goes down? 

For in dread of such falling and failing 
The fallen angels fell 
Inverted in insolence, scaling 
The hanging mountain of hell: 
But unmeasured of plummet and rod 
Too deep for their sight to scan, 
Outrushing the fall of man 
Is the height of the fall of God. 

Glory to God in the Lowest 
The spout of the stars in spate- 
Where thunderbolt thinks to be slowest 
And the lightning fears to be late: 
As men dive for sunken gem 
Pursuing, we hunt and hound it, 
The fallen star has found it 
In the cavern of Bethlehem.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton