Saint Paul Students for Life: Public Prayer for Life

This post was written for Saint Paul Students for Life by frkenmikulcik. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

In Ireland, this Sunday, we celebrate the ‘Day for Life’. The bishops made their appeal in a special pastoral message which will be read and distributed in all Catholic parishes on the island this weekend and which also marks the start of a month of prayer around the theme “Choose Life!”, announced last month. Ireland’s Catholic bishops have called on “all who believe in the equal dignity and beauty of every human life” to “join us in calling on our public representatives to respect the humanity and life of children in the womb and to reject abortion.”
Throughout Canada and the US, something similar called the 40 Days for Life is currently in course. It began on the 26th of September and runs until the 4th of November. There have now been ten coordinated 40 Days for Life campaigns since 2007, mobilizing people of faith and conscience in 440 cities across the United States and Canada, plus cities in Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Belize, Denmark, England, Georgia, Germany, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Poland, Puerto Rico and Spain.
On Friday, 5th of October, a small group of students from St. Paul’s University and some others gathered to pray the Rosary and the Divine Mercy Chaplet outside the abortion clinic in Bank Street here in Ottawa. To be honest, I was slightly nervous as this was my first time to participate in any kind of public display of Pro-Life prayer. Thankfully in Ireland, abortion is still illegal and we don’t have abortion clinics or abortion mills. Before we went to Bank Street, we went to St. Patrick’s Basilicaand prayed before the Blessed Sacrament. From there onwards I was at peace. I asked the Lord to give me strength to be his instrument, silent and convinced of the precious gift of life.

We made our way down to the venue where a small group of people had already gathered to support the 40 Days for Life.One of the priests pointed out the location of the clinic as we were standing on the opposite side of the busy street. In my head I guessed that it would be a backstreet dingy and dark building but this was a shiny main street building, flanked by McDonalds and Curves. The irony is that Curves, an international chain of women’s gyms, often direct their advertisements towards women who want to get back their figure after giving birth! A glitzy Rolex jeweller shop front was the main attraction of the whole building. No-one would know that on the third floor of this same building, abortions were taking place. There was something very eerie about the normality of life around this centre of death. I wondered to myself, how many people know what goes on in there? Or if the people in the Rolex jewellers are aware of what is going on over their heads as they spend hundreds of dollars on jewellery. Again, ironically, one of the priests pointed out to me that the trees on the street are all protected by netting so they don’t get damaged. Somewhere along the way our priorities have seriously gone out of synch!
We prayed the Rosary, taking a decade each. Some people stopped and stared. Others awkwardly moved along quickly or ignored us pretending not to see us. Children waved and smiled. Life went on around us. People ate their lunch on the street benches beside us as teenagers giggled and laughed, texted and called friends. As we prayed, I offered each Hail Mary for those mothers, prayed that Mary, our Mother, would touch their hearts so as to welcome the life that God had allowed them to conceive. She knew too well what it was like to experience a pregnancy that was not expected, not planned, yet it was God’s will that she bring forth a child.
It was very fitting that we also prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy on the feast day of St. Faustina. Each invocation ‘for the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world’, reminded me also of Jesus’ words: “forgive them Father for they do not know what they are doing”. Deep down, I believe that these mothers and fathers do not know the full extent of the harm which they are doing to themselves, not to mention, their unborn baby.

This little but powerful group of prayer meets every Friday to pray whether it be sun, rain or snow. Next Friday, 12th of October, 2nd day of the Year of Faith, the students from St. Paul’s will pray at the site for the whole day from 7am to 7pm to continue the prayer for the 40 Days for Life. The Word of God will be proclaimed throughout that time too. On this day, our priests will offer Mass for this intention. Many others who cannot make it to pray on site will pray from their homes, their communities or wherever they may be. Please join with us wherever you are and pray that hope will shine through for those who see abortion as the only way out. If we create a culture where life is valued, we really will live the fullness of life which Jesus promises us (Jn 10, 10).

Sr. Mary-Louise PDDM

Read the comments at the Saint Paul Students for Life website.

Saint Paul Students for Life: Recent Homily

This post was written for Saint Paul Students for Life by frkenmikulcik. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

Homily for Mass – Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, Ottawa

Sunday, 7 October 2012 – 7.30pm

(Readings: Gen 2:7, 15, 18-24;  Ps 128;  Heb 2:9-11;  Mk 10:2-16]

As we hear in the Book of Genesis, God did not create us to be alone, or to live in isolation.  The Lord says, “It is not good for the man to be alone.”  Rather, God created us to be in relationship with others.  Our lives are a complex web of relationships of all different types.  We can think of the relationship between parents and their children, between our brothers and sisters in our families, and all the other relationships in our families.  We have friends, acquaintances, work colleagues;  people we live in the same house with;  we have the relationship of fellow believers, people we know in the Church.

But, amongst all the relationships of life, the union of a man and a woman in marriage, as a partnership for the whole of life, has been held up, from time immemorial, as a pivotal relationship amongst all the others.  Scripture tells us that it was this way “in the beginning.”  This is the way God created it.  The creation of the partnership of man and woman is part of the final act of God’s creation.

As the scriptural account goes, we know that the original sin disturbed what God created to be.  Once man did what God ordered not to be done, a rupture came into the original beauty of creation.  One of the first things disturbed by the original sin is that the original harmony of the relationship between man and woman is disrupted.  Adam blames his wife for his wrongdoing.  Competition creeps in.  The husband will “lord it over” his wife.  The disruption of the original harmony is such that Moses gives a law that allows divorce.  Moses can’t heal the disruption, and so he does the only thing he can do, he makes a provision to deal with the disruption to married life.

In the first half of today’s gospel Jesus speaks of divorce and adultery in such a way as to reinforce that the original plan – the original beauty – of the one-flesh union of man and woman – was that it was something that was permanent, exclusive, and something that should not be put asunder.  Further, sexual relations with anyone other than one’s wife or husband were not part of the original beauty and order of creation.

In the second half of today’s Gospel we hear about the disciples stopping the children coming to Jesus.  At first glance it can seem that the two parts of the Gospel are not really related.  However, in Jesus’ admonition to the disciples to let the children come to him, and his further statement that his followers need to welcome the kingdom of God in the manner of a little child, Jesus indicates that his disciples need a conversion.  We could therefore say that in order to accept Jesus’ teaching on marriage and divorce we too need a conversion of heart (Terrence Prendergast, Living God’s Word: Reflections on the Sunday Readings for Year B, Toronto, Novalis, p. 144).  His teaching is not easy to live, and for many people, not easy even to accept.  It requires grace.

On another level again, the second half of the Gospel is very closely tied with the first part.  The acceptance of children within marriage is a very real issue, because it would seem that part of the disruption of God’s creation as it concerns marriage is the non-acceptance of children.  This is evidenced through contraception and abortion.  Neither of these reflects the beauty and order of how God created things to be.

We could obviously speak at length about all of those things: marriage, divorce, adultery, contraception and abortion.  But for the purposes of this homily, the thought I want to leave you with is this:  that “from the beginning of creation” God created a beautiful order to human relationships.  And of all those relationships, the one-flesh union of a man and woman – what we call marriage – was part of God’s plan.  Marriage was for the fulfillment of humankind, coming out of God’s concern that it was “not good that the man should be alone.”

Human sin, though, has disrupted the relationships that God intended.   Sin has spoilt the beauty of the order that originally marked God’s creation.  Certain things have come about because of the disruption – and have come to be tolerated, just as Moses was forced to tolerate divorce – but these things are not what God intended, and they are not paths to life.

Jesus Christ came to bring about a new creation.  He came to restore what God intended – to bring people back to the path that God wants us to walk.  Jesus’ work continues in and through the Church: and this is why the Church upholds the dignity of marriage.  This is why the Church teaches that contraception is against God’s plan, and that abortion is wrong.

Jesus is still working to bring about the new creation, to help people embrace the divine plan: which includes the divine vision for marriage and human sexuality.

We know, too, that Jesus is our healer and our reconciler.  We all fall short of the divine plan in our own ways.  To say that the divine order has been disrupted, and that its beauty has been spoilt, these are not just abstract terms.  We bear those wounds in ourselves, in our very bodies.  We are wounded by divorce, by adultery, by contraception and by abortion.  To the extent that that is true, Jesus wants to heal us.  He wants to bring about our conversion so that we can come more and more closer to living the divine plan.  This is not simple.  But Jesus wants to forgive and heal us for when we have failed;  and in the faltering steps we take to live God’s will, Jesus gives us strength and grace and continually wills to lift us when we fall.  This he does most especially through the Sacrament of Penance.  But also – continually – through the Eucharist.

May the Lord open our minds and hearts to be able to see the beauty of his divine plan for human life.  And may we, through our worship tonight, reach out for the Lord as he reaches out to us, to bring us into his kingdom.

Fr. Adrian Sharp

Read the comments at the Saint Paul Students for Life website.

Saint Paul Students for Life: Pope Benedict XVI addresses the Pontifical Academy for Life on infertility

This post was written for Saint Paul Students for Life by fradriansharp. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

The Church pays great attention to the distress of infertile couples, she cares for them and for this very reason encourages medical research. Science, however, is not always able to respond positively to the desires of numerous couples. I would therefore like to remind spouses in a condition of infertility, that this does not thwart their matrimonial vocation. Spouses are always called by their baptismal and matrimonial vocation itself to cooperate with God in the creation of a new human life. The vocation to love is in fact a vocation to the gift of self, and this is a possibility that no physical condition can prevent. Therefore, whenever science finds no answer, the answer that gives light comes from Christ.  – Benedict XVI, 25 February 2012.

Source: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2012/february/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20120225_acdlife_en.html

News report with video on this here: http://www.romereports.com/palio/benedict-xvi-meets-with-the-pontifical-academy-for-life-in-the-vatican-english-6160.html

Read the comments at the Saint Paul Students for Life website.

Saint Paul Students for Life: Pope Benedict XVI addresses the Pontifical Academy for Life on infertility

This post was written for Saint Paul Students for Life by fradriansharp. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

The Church pays great attention to the distress of infertile couples, she cares for them and for this very reason encourages medical research. Science, however, is not always able to respond positively to the desires of numerous couples. I would therefore like to remind spouses in a condition of infertility, that this does not thwart their matrimonial vocation. Spouses are always called by their baptismal and matrimonial vocation itself to cooperate with God in the creation of a new human life. The vocation to love is in fact a vocation to the gift of self, and this is a possibility that no physical condition can prevent. Therefore, whenever science finds no answer, the answer that gives light comes from Christ.  – Benedict XVI, 25 February 2012.

Source: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2012/february/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20120225_acdlife_en.html

News report with video on this here: http://www.romereports.com/palio/benedict-xvi-meets-with-the-pontifical-academy-for-life-in-the-vatican-english-6160.html

Read the comments at the Saint Paul Students for Life website.

Saint Paul Students for Life: True, natural, God-given femininity

This post was written for Saint Paul Students for Life by fradriansharp. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

[The following is a reflection from Saint Paul Students for Life President, Annette Wellman]

I can’t claim to be a good writer, but I can offer you a brief reflection on the awe-inspiring event we had earlier this week.

We spent a good deal of time organizing the event, and hoped for even just ten people to show up. We considered ourselves truly blessed when forty people participated in our Natural Women’s Health and Fertility event. Thanks to the Mother of God for her intercession.

The evening began with an outstanding presentation on the Theology of the Body that led directly into Dr. René Leiva’s discussion on the dangers of the oral contraception and Linda Smith’s teaching of the Creighton Model view of the female body. The Theology of the Body, a teaching of Blessed John Paul II, has spoken to my heart and been transforming for me personally since I first heard it in July of 2007 at a young adult event in my hometown. Fr. Terry Donahue, a priest of the Companions of the Cross and a Saint Paul University alum, shared with us how our human bodies, created male and female, reveal the call to communion, the call to love in the image of the Trinity and as an icon of the love between Jesus Christ and His Bride, the Church (see Eph 5:31-32). Our bodies reveal that we are made for love, for self-donation; we are meant to give our lives through love to others as Christ did on the cross.

“Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it” (Pope John Paul II, Redemptoris Hominis – The Redeemer of Man, 10). God designed us to love and be loved just as He Himself loves, is loved, and is love itself.

All human love is called to image God’s love. God’s love is free, total, faithful, and fruitful (Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae 9). When we realize that our bodies show that we are called to communion (for the male and female bodies do not make sense alone, only in conjunction with one another), and we recall that we are made in God’s image and likeness (also, we speak of the Trinity as a communion of persons), the next logical point is that our love should image God’s love. Our love must be free, total, faithful, and fruitful. If any of these are left out, we fall short of being an image of the love of God here on earth.

It is in this context of Catholic Church teaching that Dr. René Leiva’s discussion on the dangers of the oral contraception began. He explained how the pill is too often prescribed to get rid of symptoms without actually addressing underlying causes. He spoke of many dangers of the pill, among them an increased risk of breast and cervical cancer, the top two cancers in the world.

Linda Smith, a Creighton model practitioner, explained that the pill treats fertility as a disease. One goes to the doctor for healing, not when your body is working as it ought. This is the first problem with contraception. The second problem (and she spoke of others) is that it masks all underlying problems. There are countless medical problems that cause unstable cycles for women, but the pill skips over underlying problems in order to unnaturally create a 28 day cycle. In contrast, the Creighton model tracks a woman’s cycle through the examination of mucus, bleeding, and other natural biomarkers and through these, finds the root of any problems that a woman may be experiencing.

The summer I graduated from high school, I went to my doctor to figure out why I was having strange cycles. I was having many strange symptoms of which Linda Smith mentioned. My doctor, unfortunately, didn’t care much about what my symptoms were and didn’t try to figure out the cause of my irregular cycles. I was prescribed an oral contraceptive, which I took for three months. He said I could renew it after three months if I wanted, but with the weight gain I experienced from being on the pill, I had no desire to continue taking it.

I was thrilled, as a woman, to see that there is an alternative to just being put on a pill. It was amazing to learn about the different cycles our bodies go through and how beautifully God designed us. We can be aware of this, learn about how the female body naturally works and use that to maintain our own health, to know the cycles of our fertility for when we are unable to get pregnant or when we need to avoid pregnancy if we have discerned so with our husbands for a serious and just cause.

I am not currently married, but within marriage, even if I weren’t Catholic and already believe what the Church teaches, I’d definitely want to use the Creighton Model or another natural way of regulating births. Our presenters pointed out that this gets the husband involved in the decision making, responsibility, and the charting. Throughout my life, I’ve seen guys who find out about the beauty of how the women’s body works, and I’ve seen such reverence in the way they treat their wife or girlfriend. It’s absolutely beautiful. What girl wouldn’t want a boyfriend and husband who treats you like your body has miracles working inside of it (definitely at least at conception!) instead of keeping you around for his own pleasure?

A friend of mine pointed out the vulnerability that this requires on the part of the woman. She has to share everything with her husband if she is going to get him involved in this process. He thought this was a beautiful thing, something that would really bring a husband and wife closer together, helping them to model that free, total, faithful, and fruitful love found in God. That would truly help you to be seen completely by your beloved, as St. Augustine says, “The deepest desire of the human heart is to see another and be seen by that other.”

I’ve kissed boys. A girl can tell the difference between a kiss that is for the boy’s pleasure and a kiss that is actually speaking, “I love all that you are.” Girls, don’t settle for less than this. You deserve to be treated by your doctor for the underlying causes of the symptoms that you are having. You deserve a boy who will treat your body with reverence. You deserve to be kissed not for another’s use, but out of pure love for you. You deserve to be treated like your female body is a treasure. Demand it. That is true, natural, God-given femininity.

– Annette Wellman

Read the comments at the Saint Paul Students for Life website.

Saint Paul Students for Life: What is the Church’s problem with contraception?

This post was written for Saint Paul Students for Life by fradriansharp. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

Many people, I’m sure, probably ask themselves, “Why can’t the Church just get with the times?”  This question might be posed in relation to a number of issues.

The Catholic Church does indeed present a vision of human sexuality.  It is a vision that is challenging, to be sure, the fulfilment of which in a person’s life is a lifetime’s work.  But it is a vision that is essentially positive and life-affirming.  It is also a vision that is internally coherent.

An article written by a Dominican priest, Father James Dominic Brent, is an excellent exposition of the Catholic view of human sexuality.  He specifically shows why contraception does not fit in the Catholic vision.

Read the article here: To Be Someone Radiant.

Read the comments at the Saint Paul Students for Life website.