Archive for the ‘Respect Life Leadership Conference’ Category

Mercy for Abortion Victims

Saturday, September 10th, 2016

Blessing of the Memorial to the Unborn

Deacon Larry Brockman

As we gather together to bless our memorial to the unborn,  let us recall some very insightful words from our newest canonized saint- St. Theresa of Calcutta.  St. Theresa said, and I quote:  “Abortion kills twice.  It kills the body of the baby and it kills the conscience of the mother.  Abortion is profoundly anti-women.  Three quarters of its victims are women: half the babies and all the mothers.” End quote.

St. Theresa was always keen in her understanding of the poor.  And the poorest of the poor are those whose spirits are broken.  Truly, St. Theresa understood the long term implications of abortion- that the women who have abortions are wounded, broken, and suffering- they are victims, poor in spirit.

Studies have shown that in the first weeks after an abortion, the majority of women are emotionally paralyzed by the event, some 80 percent.  They don’t want to talk about it; they can’t talk about it.  By the 8th week, some begin to open up.  Those that do, express negative feelings and emotions-  55% express guilt; 44 percent experience nervous disorders; and 31 percent regret their decision.  More than one in ten required psychotropic medication from their doctors just to cope.

And, it doesn’t seem to get better with time.  In a Canadian study done over 5 years,  25 percent of post abortive women made visits to psychiatrists, some 6 times higher than the control group.  Other studies over multiple populations have shown that post abortive women are from 4 to 6 times more suicidal.  Post abortive women are indeed victims, they are poor in spirit.  St. Theresa understood this.  And as with other victims, St. Theresa understood the need for the Church to be merciful to such victims and minister to them.

All of us gathered here are sickened by the blight of abortion.  It has taken over 40 million American lives in less than 50 years; and almost 25% of American women have had abortions sometime in their lifetime.  There are avowed “Catholics” at the highest levels of our government defending a woman’s “right” to abortion.  The clinics are unhealthy and data shows it’s all about the money for the providers.  Despite having fought the problem for decades, we don’t seem to be winning.  And so, we project anger and disgust at this major problem.  This anger and disgust is certainly justified.  It’s easy to be angry at the system; it’s easy to be angry that people make the wrong decision.

But we need to understand something very profound about our anger.  Our attitudes can be misunderstood by the surviving victims of abortion- the post abortive women.  Our anger and frustration can be interpreted as a lack of willingness to extend mercy to them.  At a time when these women feel guilty and abandoned,  when they have recognized that they have made a mistake, and that they need to take a step to make a change in their lives;  it is at exactly that time, they may feel shut out by those who can help the most because they sense the anger we have over abortion, and they interpret that anger as being directed at them.

St. Theresa understood that; and she was always there to open the fount of mercy that God has for his people.  All of us are sinners in one way or another.  All of us need the mercy that God is willing to extend to us.  One of the things that is special about Christianity is the fact that God is a God of Love; and that God is love.  God loves all of us.  And there is much rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents.  All of us have an obligation to make that love apparent to our brothers and sisters who need it the most.

Pope Francis has commissioned all of us to extend mercy during this year of Mercy.  His papal message made it clear that the Church needs to go out where the people are rather than wait for them to come to us.  That is a challenge.  But chances are, every one of us knows someone who has had an abortion.  They are likely hurting in the ways I indicated earlier.  But they have separated themselves from the Church.

I go to Health Central Hospital twice a week to help the chaplain.  The Chaplain sends me to all those who indicated they are Catholic on the incoming census.   Last Ash Wednesday I distributed ashes there.  As I entered one patient’s room, and asked the lady if she would like ashes.  She told me she no longer goes to Church because, because…  She just knew that she was not worthy of receiving ashes.  I told her that God loves all his creation, and that He is constantly looking for his lost ones.  I told her that she was precisely the kind of person who needed that Ash Wednesday blessing the most.

But there simply are not enough Deacons and Priests to go around to minister to all of these women like that.  That’s where all of you come in.  These post abortive women are all around us.  They may be defensive about their situation; they may be tight lipped about it; or they may be openly distraught and in despair.  But with our eyes and ears, we need to be Christian witnesses and bring them back to the fold.  Through our help, we can turn these victims into strong soldiers for Christ.

At the end of every Mass, it is my privilege to say these words.  Hopefully, you will take them to heart because that is what we need to bring post-abortive women back into the fold.  “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life”.

The Culture of Life Versus the Culture of Death

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

Respect Life Leadership Conference

Keynote Address

Dc. Larry Brockman

The Culture of Life and opposition to the Culture of Death- that’s what our efforts in Respect Life are all about.  And all of us in this room are committed to life.  We feel passionate about life and we have demonstrated that over and over again in the activities in our parishes.

For example, we at Holy Family have been blessed for many, many years with devoted leadership in Respect Life.  Our leadership has been at the forefront in promoting 40 days for life; Orlando Area Billboards that are pro-life; the Spiritual Adoption Program; JMJ Baby Bottle campaigns; Postcards Campaigns to our Congress; Pro Life Auctions; Life Chain participation; White Crosses during the Roe v Wade Anniversary; strong Pro-Life homilies from the pulpit, and many other things.  And our parishioners have been wonderfully responsive as well.  They have been generous in their giving; applauded our homilies enthusiastically; and have participated in our events on a large scale.  For example, we had 3000 sets of postcards submitted in the postcard campaign; and almost as many participants in Spiritual Adoption each year we have done it.  I am sure many of you can say the same great things about your own programs and parishes.  And the point of all that is this: we have been very successful!

Why is it, then, that I have such a nagging feeling inside that something is terribly wrong?  Because I do; I sense that things are getting worse, not better.  I know that, despite the support we have from the parish, some people are leaving the parish because they don’t like our aggressive pro-life stance.  I know that the government is forcing the HHS mandate on us; I know that gender identity, gay marriage, in-vitro-fertilization, embryonic stem cell research, cloning, and assisted suicide are being accepted by American Society and are happening much more often.  And that all gives me that queasy feeling that things are getting worse.  It gives me a gut feeling that the forces of evil are out in front of us and that we are playing catch up; we are not being effective enough.  It reminds me about something my Father-In-Law used to say over and over, that ”The devil travels around the world twice before the truth gets its shoes on”.  So, the question is, what can we do about it?  What can we do to reverse this downward trend?

A couple of months ago, our Parish was fortunate to have a visit from Brother Andres Gutierrez, a transitional Deacon of the Lumen Dei Order.  Brother Andres was on his way to Latin America with the specific mission to set up crisis centers there to counter Planned Parenthood’s international movement.  Brother Andres spoke to our Respect Life Committee about the Vatican and current teachings on Life Issues.  His message to us was truly eye opening.  I am going to summarize that message for you as best I can.

First, Brother Andres said we need to recognize that the forces of evil are focused.  They recognize that life and the family are the main issues that need to be attacked in the fight to take God out of society.  It’s almost as if they have structured a program to attack Pope Paul VI’s encyclical on Humana Vitae point by point.  And so, their attack on life is more fundamental than being Pro-Choice, or for Assisted Suicide and the other things we are fighting against.  Rather, their message is that Man, not God, is in control of life and can define family accordingly.  Let me make sure you all heard that.  The forces of evil are trying to convince society that Man, not God, is in control of life and what family is.  The key to control of life is therefore Bioethics.

Bioethics is defined as the study of the ethical and moral implications of new biological discoveries and biomedical advances, as in the fields of genetic engineering and drug research.  In 2010, Pope Benedict realized this critical link.  At that time he said:  “The recognition of human dignity, in fact, as an inalienable right first finds its basis in that law not written by human hand, but inscribed by God the Creator in the hearts of men”.  He was talking about the “Natural Law” of God.  But by 2010 much had already been written by secular society on Bioethics.  So, Bioethics is something our Church has been playing catch up on with secular society.

The foundation of Bioethics in the Culture of Life is this: that God wills life to each person; it is a gift from God, and that each person is unique and is loved by God.  And so, the dignity of each life that God creates must be respected.  That is what is ethical because it is consistent with the Natural Law of God written in our hearts.  From this flows that life begins at conception; and Catholic Teachings on morality on the bioethics of cloning and in-vitro fertilization.

The foundation of bioethics in the culture of death, on the other hand, is the idea of “self” and the collection of “self” or human society.  Dignity is preservation of self and society’s self-interests.  So, life can and should be controlled and “selected” by humanity to serve those interests.  That is there spin on Bioethics.  From that flow abortion, infanticide, cloning, and euthanasia; because whatever it takes to benefit society as they see it is what is ethical.

Let me use an example to demonstrate just how cohesive and pervasive the culture of death’s position has become.  In our evolving society, the forces of evil are pushing gender identity, gay marriage, and the goodness of in-vitro fertilization and cloning.  How does all that work together?  Gender identity encourages people to “pick” which sex they want to be when they reach the age of reason, and that legitimizes homosexuality.  Similarly, Gay marriage makes it possible for two same sex people to be joined together in “marriage” as a family.  Now when we object that the purpose of marriage is procreation, and that gay couples can’t procreate, their answer is that this is no longer so.  You see a sperm bank, egg donors, in-vitro fertilization, cloning and a host “mother” are all that is needed to create human life.  And not only that, these things can be controlled by Man to produce exactly the desired result- the right sex; the right intelligence; the right looks, etc.  They would say that we don’t need God for life any more

Brother Andres talked about another reason why gay marriage is so important to the forces of evil.  It is because gay marriage breaks down the intended basic unit of life- the conventional family unit.  Our church teaches us that a primary purpose of humanity is marriage and the command to be fruitful and multiply.  A Husband loves his wife and gives totally of himself to her.  A wife loves the Husband, and gives herself back totally to the husband.  The fruits of mutual love between the Husband and Wife in marriage are the children.  In that sense the family unit echoes God, because it echoes the Trinity itself.  The Father gives everything to the Son; the Son gives everything back to the Father; and the fruit of the Father and Son relationship in the Trinity is the Holy Spirit.

Gay marriages simply can’t and don’t reflect this Trinitarian meaning.  There is no fruit in a gay marriage.  The clinical manipulation of eggs, sperm, surrogate wombs, and the like, is not the fruit of the love in a gay union.  It is an abomination of all that God intended.  If the heterosexual family unit is abandoned by society, so is the reflection of God in the Trinity.  And the result of those relationships will be alternate life styles and man’s idea of society.  God and the will of God will be abandoned with it.

That is the aim of the forces of evil- and it is all based on pride, the ego, and individualistic thinking.  Where did all of that come from?   It can be traced to the ideas promulgated in the age of Reason as ushered in by the Enlightenment.  At its extreme, the Enlightenment teaches that Reason, Science, and critical thinking are tools that provide mankind with all we need to know.  God is not needed.   Let’s face it, our human society is being conditioned by the forces of evil to define that Man, not the Natural Law of God, decides when life starts, what it is, and whether or not it is worth living.

Brother Andres then talked about why the Pope chose the year of Faith.  It seems that Pope Benedict shared with the latest synod of Bishops the idea that Reasoning needs to be purified by Faith because Faith is God’s Revelation of the ultimate truths.  These ultimate truths cannot be arrived at by man’s rules of Reasoning.  God, the Trinity, the Incarnation, the heavenly Kingdom, the Natural Law, and many other things have been revealed to us and cannot be reasoned first.  Faith purifies, centers, provides a foundation for reasoning.  And so, we must be a people of Faith first, and then use science and reasoning to understand the world that God has gifted us with based on the foundation of the truths of faith; a foundation built on solid rock, not sand.

And so, brothers and sisters, if we are going to be more effective against the emerging culture of death, we have got to expand our horizons by changing society to embrace Faith first.  How can we do that, by encouraging all of our Catholics to become people of Faith?  That means getting all of our people to pray, to reflect, and to learn about their Faith.  Our parish is concentrating on bible studies, Catechism classes, Why Catholic, Perpetual Adoration, and adult education programs.  That is a start, but the education in the ways of secular society is so pervasive in everything we do- the news, at work, our TV shows and movies,  that most Catholics don’t understand that they are losing their foundation of Faith.  And I believe that all of us are just as guilty as our brothers and sisters in the pew of not knowing and internalizing our Faith.  Why is that important; because everyone else looks to us as leaders, and will be drawn by our example?

Secondly, we need to define Bioethics so that it is consistent with the Natural Law of God.  Yes, Pro-Life needs to deal with Bioethics and all its tentacles, because that is why we have been losing the battle.  We have been focused on some of the symptoms; not on the root causes.  If we really knew our Faith that would become crystal clear.  At any rate, Pro-Life initiatives need to include a clear and focused position on the definition of humanity and life, one that defines life as a gift from God- it is not under humanity’s control.  Male and female he made them- he didn’t give us the option to choose what we want to be later in life.  The gift of new life comes from the uniting of a man and a woman only- because that is the only way the fruit of the love in marriage is given by God- the children.  And children need to grow up in a family unit consisting of a mom, a dad, and the children- because that family unit is a reflection of the image and likeness of God- the Trinity.

That means no gender identity, no gay marriage, no pre-selection through cloning, no in-vitro fertilization, no contraception, no infanticide, and no euthanasia can be embraced  in a Christian, or even in a Judeo-Christian-Islamic definition of Bioethics.

So, what does all of this mean we should do in the future as Pro-Life leaders?  Well, first of all, we need to realize the Pro-Life fight is bigger than we thought.  It should be centered on Bioethics as a whole.   Certainly we have been blind-sided by the effects of gay marriage, gender identity, and other seemingly unrelated social issues on the culture of life.  So, it will take some reflection and doing by all of us to correct for that.

Second, it means we have to recognize that evil is way ahead of us on the larger issue.  I think that should motivate us to work closer together, as a cohesive group.  One of the things we are trying to do with this conference is to focus on ways that we can all select a subset of the things we are doing as parishes and work cooperatively on them as groups of parishes to be more effective.  It could be 40 Days for Life; it could be a meaningfully large life chain;  or it could be a push against gender identity while this issue is still in the formative stage.  It could be a lot of things, and you will all have the opportunity to discuss them and decide on something here today.  But let me be clear:  We can have a larger effect if we focus on a couple or three things together than if we each go our own way.  And we need a larger effect; one that will get attention from the media and politicians.

Lastly, we need to be united in prayer and Faith.  Together, and with resolve, God will not abandon us.  But true Faith is believing in all the Church teaches, not cherry-picking what we like and don’t like.  True Faith is humble acceptance of the things we cannot understand that God has revealed to us.

Our agenda is quite full today.  And today’s meeting is just one of a series of such meetings.  But from this meeting, this beginning, let us resolve that we can and will make a difference.

Brothers and Sisters: let us pray that God will bless us and our efforts.  That He will recognize our sincerity, our Faith, our zeal, and our commitment to defend Him as the author of all life and to stand firm against everyone that assumes through pride and selfishness that man alone has the answer.  We ask these things through Jesus Christ, Our Lord, Amen.