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Archive for June, 2013

Life can sometimes be extremely disappointing… unrealized dreams, loss of a loved one, failed businesses; sometimes life seems to have no meaning or purpose.  I have a friend who is a wife and mother, and has spent decades caring first for her children, and then her parents.  ‘Pat’ once shared with me her dissatisfaction with life; she had a degree in journalism, but never found a job in her field.  Instead she dedicated most of her life to caregiving, even though she did work briefly in an unrelated field.  My friend felt her life was wasted and unfulfilled, and she had a lot of regrets.

I was shocked at her revelation, as she had taken me under her wing when I was young, and was very kind to me.  Her thoughtfulness made me feel welcomed, and made a difference in my life, softening my hardened heart.  I think it’s a natural desire to want to feel that your life matters, that you are having an impact in the world.

Victor Frankl was a psychiatrist in Austria in World War II when the Nazis invaded.  Since he was Jewish he was sent to Auschwitz, one of the worst concentration camps.  There he suffered starvation, bitter cold, relentless work and constant misery as he watched his fellow prisoners become ill and die. He managed to survive, and after the war he wrote a book called “Man’s Search for Meaning”.  He wrote “Life holds a potential meaning under any conditions, even the most miserable ones”.  His book outlines the horrors of his experience, as well as the resilience of the human spirit.  He describes the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread.  He discovered when prisoners found some meaning in life, they were able to survive.  The ones who felt there was no purpose to life simply died.

There is an old, sappy song that never fails to make me cry, called “Thank You”, by Ray Boltz, about a man who went to heaven.  Upon his arrival, someone called his name and as he turned the other man said

    “You used to teach my Sunday school, when I was only eight, and every week you would say a prayer before the class would start, and one day when you said that prayer, I asked Jesus in my heart…Thank you, for giving to the Lord, I am a life that is changed…Thank you for giving to the Lord, I am so glad you gave”.

“One by one they came, as far as the eye can see, each life somehow touched by your generosity; little things that you had done, sacrifices made, unnoticed on the earth, in heaven now proclaimed…I’m sure there were tears in your eyes as Jesus took your hand and said my child look around you, great is your reward…

Your sacrifices and acts of kindness may seem to go unnoticed, and you may never know until you reach the pearly gates the number of hearts that have been touched by your efforts.  Fr. Solanus Casey is a great example of the way little acts of grace can hugely impact society.  Fr. Casey had never studied German, and since all his classes in seminary were in German, he struggled to pass his difficult classes.  “Because he was judged to have performed insufficiently well in his seminary studies, Casey was ordained a “sacerdos simplex”, a priesthood rank that prevented him from hearing confessions or preaching doctrinal sermons.” (From Wikipedia)

So this gentle, humble priest basically became the receptionist, or doorman, enrolling thousands in the Seraphic Mass Association for healing and other favors. As those in need filled out the card, he would patiently listen as they also poured out their hearts.

Soon many of those he had entered in the Association experienced miraculous healings and astonishing answers to their problems.  Fr. Casey recorded every request, including those for healing of cancer or tuberculosis, financial and other needs.  He also recorded the 700 cures, conversions and other solutions.  The people of Detroit quickly developed a great love and affection for this compassionate priest, and when he became gravely ill their need to be near him was so intense, his superior had to move him to an isolated friary in Indiana so he could get rest.  But his location became known and busloads of people soon came to visit their beloved priest.

After Fr. Casey died, the visitation hours were extended for days, and over 20,000 grateful mourners came to pay their respects to this humble doorkeeper.  The other priests in his monastery were stunned; they had no idea this quiet man had touched so many lives.

When life is disappointing and full of bitter lemons, make lemonade!  On Mother’s Day my husband had to work, and my daughter and son-in-law were out of town.  So I made a pan of eggplant parmesan and delivered it to a young mother with four small children.  Her husband made mimosas, and we had a marvelous time sipping our mimosas while rocking on their front porch, watching the children frolic.  So when life seems empty, try to find your own mission – your own sense of purpose.

Song “Thank You”

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I tend to be overly critical and judgmental, which causes friction with my friends and family.  My constant negativity has at times made my daughter feel as though she can’t do anything right.  As I progress spiritually, I have learned to be more affirming and positive, which has made life much more peaceful for everyone.  This change of attitude has also helped me to evangelize more effectively.  

Gentleness, encouragement and understanding, looking for virtues in another, and searching for common ground fosters friendship and trust.  After trust is developed, one can let down their defenses and not fear they will be attacked because their beliefs are different.  When someone’s defenses are up, you may as well zip your lips and walk away; nothing you say will matter.  Only authentic kindness can melt hardness of heart.  St. Paul tells us in 1st Corinthians 9:22 “To the weak I became weak, to win over the weak.  I have become all things to all, to save at least some.”

Strive for insight into the reasons behind someone’s opposing point of view; most atheists have been badly hurt and their hearts have turned to stone.  Many of the most staunchly pro-choice individuals have participated in an abortion; if they face the truth, they have to acknowledge their guilt and pain.   Callously claiming “abortion is murder” will drive the nail deeper into their heart; these wounded hearts need kindness and understanding, not a lecture on sin.  Being so obnoxious has been detrimental to the pro-life movement.

As Patrick Madrid explains in his book Search and Rescue “To win your family and friends to the faith, you must develop the heart of an apostle (one who is sent) – a heart full of love for Christ and for souls.”  St. Francis de Sales is a shining example of charity in action; in the severe anti-Catholic atmosphere in Geneva, Switzerland in the 16th century, where Calvin burned at the stake any priest he found, St. Francis won over 60,000 souls who had rejected their Catholic faith.

Even though St. Francis was deeply disappointed that so many had abandoned their Catholic faith, he didn’t treat them condescendingly.  This stalwart saint didn’t set out “to win arguments or to accumulate converts as if they were trophies; on the contrary, he had a deep love for those he was sent to evangelize…He loved them with the love of Christ – not in a superior or haughty way, but with the humble love of a man who goes in search of a lost brother.” (From Search and Rescue)

A huge deterrent to evangelization is our ego, which causes us to put ourselves first; our ego can blind us to our true motivation, of winning the argument at all costs.  I find myself thinking that I have to ‘prove’ I’m right, and the other person is wrong.  I have to keep reminding myself the goal is to bring the light of the gospel, not to see others as potential trophies.  As theologian Scott Hahn reminds us “You can win the argument and lose the person”.

Fr. Matteo Ricci is a fantastic example of becoming “all things to all”.  In 1583 he and fellow Jesuit Michele Ruggieri went to China and “became thoroughly Chinese (and still Christian) in order to bring the message of salvation to the Chinese in a way that they could understand, respect, and ultimately embrace”.  Fr. Matteo was personally taught by Christopher Clavius, “the great Jesuit mathematician, physicist and astronomer who helped construct our modern-day Gregorian calendar”.  Because of “money-hungry foreign traders”, many Chinese viewed Westerners as “ignorant foreign aggressors”; to counter this prejudice, Ricci and his companions were allowed to dress in the manner of Chinese scholars.

With Fr. Ricci’s extensive knowledge of geology, mathematics and science and his ability to assimilate into Chinese culture, he was able to “win acceptance and respect”, helping him to successfully convert three important Chinese scholars.  These key converts brought safety for future missionaries, allowing Catholicism to blossom and bear abundant fruit.  The novel approach of presenting Christianity “not as something new or alien to Chinese culture, but as it’s fulfillment” was enormously successful. (Quotes from “The Word Among Us”)

So take time to examine your relationships with family and friends; examine discussions you have with those whose viewpoints are the complete opposite of yours.  Do these discussions cause you angst, or make you irritated or upset?  Is your ego a problem?  Perhaps it’s time to “agree to disagree” and work on building trust and friendliness; try to find the good in every person you meet, instead of examining their faults.  Rather than criticizing and tearing someone down, emphasize their positive attributes.

Even if you disagree with another’s decision or course of action, try to be as supportive as possible.  You can certainly offer advice, but if your advice is rejected, realize that everyone’s journey is their own; they will have to make their own way, including mistakes.

Jackie Kennedy Onassis had an uncanny ability to zero in on someone’s worthy qualities, and then encourage them to live up to that worthiness.  In 1975 Grand Central Station was about to be demolished; Jackie Onassis was horrified.  Her grandfather, James T. Lee had helped build “old Manhattan”, and Onassis was passionate about historic preservation, “having restored the White House to its former glory and saved Washington’s Lafayette Square from being replaced by ugly government office buildings in the early 1960s”.  She joined the Municipal Art Society and hand wrote a letter to Mayor Beame petitioning him to save this historic landmark.  (From “The Atlantic Cities”)

The Surprising Role Jackie Kennedy Onassis Played in Saving Grand CentralOnassis knew she had to persuade the mayor to spend money he simply didn’t have to to preserve this beloved train station. “Jackie understood that Beame, in desperate straits politically, needed to be a hero.”  In her letter, Onassis wrote “Mayor Beame…is it not cruel to let our city die by degrees, stripped of all her proud moments, until there is nothing left of all her history and beauty to inspire our children?”  She continued “It would be so noble if you were to go down in history as the man who was brave enough to stem the tide” (referring to the demolition of Penn Station, from “The Atlantic Cities”).

Instead of following the human tendency to criticize and berate the mayor for being indifferent and shortsighted, or aggressively trying to make him do the right thing, Onassis encouraged him to become a man of vision and character.

 

 

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Many years ago I found an exceptional book at a used bookstore titled “Worship Old and New”, by Robert E. Webber, a Professor of Theology at Wheaton College.  This was was a virtual gold mine of information for a history buff like me, who is passionately interested in early church history.  Webber’s extensive research revealed little documentation of the early liturgy until Justin Martyr’s writings in the middle of the second century.  The reason for the lack of written material according to Webber is that “Worship was of such vital importance to the Early Christians that they consciously withheld information” in a deliberate attempt to protect it from the pagans.

Webber did find references to the structure of the early forms of worship in letters written by Pliny, Governor in 111 A.D., as well as in the Didache, an early church manual dating from around 100 A.D.  By piecing together bits of scripture references to the Eucharist with the prayers in the Didache, we can see a rough form of worship which was similar to the early Jewish ritual of worship.  By the middle of the second century, the order of the early form of the mass begins to emerge.

Just as in the service at the synagogue, the liturgy started with scripture readings and a homily (called the Service of the Word), followed by the Eucharist, which included the Kiss of Peace and the Eucharistic Prayers.  Next was the Amen (Response), distribution of the Eucharist, and the collection for the poor and needy.

In his new book, “Consuming the Word”, Scott Hahn claims the New Testament isn’t simply a collection of writings, but instead makes the assertion that the early Christians considered the Eucharist as the ‘New Testament’. In the  first chapter of the gospel of John, St. John does tell us “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

The same word Logos, describes the “pages of scripture , as well as the person of Jesus”.  According to Scott Hahn “Jesus always acts and thinks in accord with biblical revelations.  It is no exaggeration to say that the mind of Jesus was saturated with the teachings and concerns of the Scriptures…Jesus regards ‘what scripture says’ and ‘what God says’ as one and the same thing.”  In the transformation of the bread and wine into the flesh and blood of Jesus, God uses the weak and frail priest, empowering him with supernatural grace to ‘stand in for Christ’ (persona Christi),  and to turn the Word, by way of ordinary food, supernaturally into the flesh and blood of Jesus.

In the Old Testament the “word made flesh” was foretold by the prophet Ezekiel, who was told in a vision to “eat the scroll” (second chapter of Ezekiel), and was then instructed by God to “go to the House of Israel and speak with my words to them”.  In Revelation 10 St. John had a similar vision when a “mighty angel” appeared to him with identical instructions. Justin Martyr describes the writings of the apostles as their “memoirs”, and called them a “prelude to the Eucharistic offering” in the liturgy.  Since the Eucharist was known as the ‘New Testament’, the term was stretched to include the ‘memoirs of the apostles”.

Hahn continues by explaining the word “Eucharist” itself means ‘thanksgiving’, which is reminiscent of the sacrificial rite in Jerusalem temple called the “todah, a sacrifice of bread and wine offered in thanksgiving to the Lord.  Jews in the Greed-speaking world sometimes translated todah as eucharista.”

The lectionary of the Catholic Church, which many protestants have adopted, selects readings from the bible on a three year cycle; Year A uses Matthew’s gospel, Year B uses Mark, and C uses Luke.  St. John’s gospel is used intermittently on feast days or to fill in gaps from some of the shorter gospels.  The first Christians adopted a lectionary, or pre-selected list of writings, following the Jewish custom of reading the entire five books of the Torah every year.  The Torah readings included readings from the prophets and sometimes the Psalms.

The liturgy has evolved over the last 2,000 years, especially in different geographical areas.  Currently there are seven Eastern rites in full communion with the Holy See of the Roman Catholic Church.   According to the The Catholic News Agency “These rites so listed: Latin, Byzantine, Alexandrian, Syriac, Armenian, Maronite, and Chaldean, are actually families of liturgical expression. These rites are the descendants of the liturgical practices that originated in centers of Rome, Antioch, and Alexandria.”  Since communication was limited, each region developed their own style; the Byzantine liturgy was formed by St. James, and then modified by St. Basil and St. John Chrysostom in the fourth century.

The Byzantine liturgy includes churches that are Russian, Ukrainian, Slovak, Greek, Ruthenian, Hungarian and Albanian; the Alexandrian Rite, now known as Coptic, is Egyptian, and the Syrian rite is from Syria.  I find these different rites, all approved by the Roman Catholic Church, to be fascinating, because there is so much controversy today about the liturgy.  Many were horrified at the way the mass was altered after Vatican II, including Pope Benedict, who was appalled at the way it was changed so abruptly.  The Pope is a liturgist, and is well aware that most people don’t adapt well to change.

Many of the changes after Vatican II were misinterpreted, which is the reason Pope Benedict reformed it in 2011.  In the second Vatican Council,  one important goal was to foster a greater understanding of the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  Before Vatican II 70% of Catholics believed the Eucharist was the actual flesh and blood of Jesus; presently only 30% of Catholics believe in the real presence.

From the “Constitution On The Sacred Liturgy” we’re told “It is very much the wish of the church that all the faithful should be led to take that full,  conscious and active part in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy, in which the Christian people ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people’ have a right to and which they are bound by reason of their baptism”.

By “active” the document went on to explain “To develop participation, the people should be encouraged to take part by means of acclamations, responses, psalms, antiphons, hymns, as well as by actions, gestures, and bodily attitudes.”  Sadly many took this to simply mean more lectors and the creation of extraordinary ministers, failing to realize the main goal was for the participants to be more “engaged”, and not to necessarily do more physically.

Another mistake after Vatican II was the rejection of Latin from the mass.  According to the above document “The use of the Latin language, except when a particular law prescribes otherwise, is to be preserved in the Latin rites”.  Basically, the prayers that stayed the same were supposed to remain in Latin and Greek, and the prayers which changed weekly, were supposed to be in the vernacular.  Neither Latin, nor Gregorian Chant were supposed to be totally removed.

Because of these and other errors that occurred when the liturgy was changed, some Catholics believe the modern mass is invalid (most of these are followers of the St. Pius X Society).  As a result of the changes, there definitely has been a loss of sacredness and reverence, which is possibly partially responsible for the declining respect for the Eucharist, but I firmly believe the modern mass is valid.  Attending the liturgy of the Byzantine Rite, which is quite different from the Roman, or Latin Rite, has given me a much broader sense of the universality and diversity within the Catholic Church.

For those who insist the modern mass in invalid, I think perhaps legalism may be an issue.  If the Byzantine and other six Rites are valid, and quite different from the pre-Vatican II Latin Rite, then apparently the Church is not limited to only one form of liturgy.

Rather than focusing on the external aspects such as kneeling or standing (there isn’t any kneeling in the Byzantine Rite), or whether the priest faces east or west (in the former Pre-Vatican II liturgy the priest faced the same direction as the congregation – toward God); instead focus on the mystical transformation, right before our eyes, of ordinary bread and wine in Jesus Christ.  Focus on the divine life you share, every time you receive communion!

 

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Today is the feast day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, but don’t let the archaic name fool you into thinking this day isn’t important; devotion to the Sacred Heart is ancient, dating back to St. Bernard and Anselm in the 12th century. sacred heart of jesus photo: sacred heart of Jesus sacred_heart_of_jesus.jpg This devotion became quite popular in 1673 when Jesus appeared to a nun, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, with a series of messages lamenting the indifference and ingratitude of many Christians. Jesus emphasized his desire for a closer, more intimate relationship with his children.

In the meditation for today from the Word Among Us, the ‘heart’ is described as the core and “as the essence of a person, the place where someone’s deepest desires, longings, and fears reside”. Today at mass Fr. Josh Allen described Jesus stretched out on the cross at calvary, with his heart being in the center as an intersection where our hearts collide.  The heart is the most important organ, supplying vital nourishment to the rest of the body. When our hearts are united with his, grace pours through his heart to our own, moving aside our “self”, and filling us with his mercy, forgiveness and peace.

I have many Baptist friends and family who rightly claim we should foster a more ‘personal relationship with Jesus’, but I don’t think they realize the apathy of many Christians is nothing new under the sun.  From the early days when Jesus walked this earth many turned their back and walked away from his ‘good news’.  From the rich young man in Matthew 19, who simply couldn’t give up his wealth, and turned away, to his own townsmen who tried to kill him by throwing him off a cliff in Luke 4; to Princess Diana who was drawn to Catholicism as a result of her relationship with Mother Teresa, and would often visit Catholic churches to light a candle, then sadly turned her Princess Diana and Mother Teresa met for 40 minutesback and dove headlong into the ‘New Age’.  From her teens the Princess was fascinated with the occult, and had patronized various psychics, astrologers, and fortune tellers.  She had her own personal astrologer, believed in the power of crystals, and dabbled in feng shui and t’ai chi.  The allure of the paranormal overcame the tiny spark of faith.

The list is endless of those who reject Christ; Zorastian Shapur II in 309 not only rejected Christianity, he tried to stamp it out by massacring all Christians in Syria.  For 2,000 years many simply have been unable to accept Jesus’ message of self-denial and detachment from the world.  Communist leaders from the Soviet Union, to Cuba, to North Korea have consistently persecuted Christians by imprisonment or death, because these leaders are well aware people are much easier to control when they lack faith, and almost impossible to control when they have a “Savior”.

Muslim countries such as Pakistan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia have been particularly ferocious in their persecution of Christians by raping, killing and burning churches. Joseph Fadelle is from Baghdad and is a Muslim convert to Christianity.  He relates the imprisonment, torture and attempted murder by his own uncle he experienced for daring to become Christian, in his book “The Price to Pay”.

But I’m sure the most troubling to Jesus are those who ‘profess’ him with their lips, but not by their actions, as Jesus warns in Matthew 7  “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”  Too many Christians are nominal Christians and possibly go to church only at Easter or Christmas, or not at all.  They rarely think about their faith, and if they have a list of priorities, God is at the bottom.  Some Christians are ‘bench-warmers’; they go to church every week, but rarely consider God the rest of the week, and certainly don’t follow the first Commandment to “have no other Gods before me”.

I can relate to this imbalance, because until 1993, God wasn’t even on my list of priorities!  He was crowded out by my job, my family and the relentless pursuit of helping my husband squeeze out a living from our little restaurant.  Some protestants bash Catholics for idolatry, claiming we ‘worship’ Mary.  I try to set the record straight and explain that most Catholics don’t worship Mary; instead, like most Christians their gods are their jobs, or exercise, or pleasure, or their investments, or their family, television, video games, the internet, or facebook!

Jesus wants you to have a lively, active faith, and is deeply saddened by the lukewarm, as he tells us in Revelations 3:16 “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth. ”  Quite a strongly worded warning!  So today’s feast day is a great opportunity to do a spiritual checkup; are you putting God first in your life?  Do you worry incessantly, or do you need to work on surrendering and trusting him more?  Are you praying daily?  Are you giving to the Church and to charities?  Is God first in your life?  Look at your calendar and list where most of your time, energy and money is spent; there your treasure lies.

If you had to measure your faith on a scale of one to ten, what would it be?  If it’s a one, then you need to make some major changes!  If it is a five, there is definitely room for improvement; if you think your faith is a ten, then I think you need to work on your humility, because a ten is perfect, and according to St. Paul, our entire life is spent “striving for spiritual perfection”.

“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

For more information on the Devotion to the Sacred Heart and the Twelve Promises to those who honor his Sacred Heart, click on link below:

http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2013/06/deacon-bickerstaff-devotion-to-the-sacred-heart/

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So much confusion and division; so many different opinions and views – what is the truth?  Pilate appeared to be seeking the truth when he was questioning Jesus in Matthew 27.  When the crowd cruelly demanded the crucifixion of Jesus, Pilate asked “Why? What evil has he done?”  Pilate’s wife, known in tradition as Claudia, confirmed Jesus’ innocence in a message to her husband “Have nothing to do with that righteous man.  I suffered much in a dream today because of him”.

Pilate ignored his wife’s plea, and intimidated by  the crowd declared “I am innocent of this man’s blood. Look to it yourselves.”  Truth was staring Pilate in the face, yet he heartlessly ordered Jesus to be viciously scourged and crucified in order to appease the crowd.  I have met many people whose reasoning seems distorted, but when you present facts, they turn away; they would rather cling to their twisted logic, rather than face the truth.

In her book “Adam and Eve After the Pill”, author Mary Eberstadt describes this deliberate ignorance as the “will to disbelieve” (so dubbed by Jeanne Kirkpatrick).   An example of the refusal by many to face the truth in spite of overwhelming facts and evidence occurred during the Cold War.  As Eberstadt states “Incredible as it seems in retrospect, even to those who witnessed some of those years, the moral facts of the Cold War remained disputed at the highest intellectual levels, especially on American campuses, until about two seconds before the Berlin Wall came down.”

For decades leading up to 1989 and the fall of the Berlin Wall, intellects could not agree “about whether communist ideas and governments, in practice, had proved to be a human disaster.”  In universities the elite government and political-science departments were dominated “by the idea that being against communism was somehow worse than being in favor of communism. Astonishing as it seems today, some professors and intellectuals throughout the Western struggle against communism were outright Marxists and believed communism was superior to capitalism.”

The atrocities committed under communist systems caused misery on a scale unprecedented in history; tens of millions of people died as a result of communist policies.  But the response of much of the ‘intellectual elite’ was “denial, heated denial, and damned denial”.  This perverse, deliberate denial of the reality of communism by intelligentsia stretched “from Seoul to Boston, Oslo to Buenos Aires, and just about every point in between”.

This same deliberate blindness exists concerning the Holocaust, and the extermination by the Nazis of millions of Jews.  Kaukab Siddique, associate professor of English and journalism at Lincoln University of Pennsylvania and David Irving are just two of many ‘Holocaust deniers’.  Despite accounts from actual survivors,  photographs and mass graves, these deniers persist in clinging to their contorted version of reality.

Peter Singer, who claims that “killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person” is a Laureate Professor at the Centre of Philosophy and Public Ethics at Melbourne University and founded the Centre for Human Bioethics at Monash University.  He specializes in applied ethics and is a Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University.  How in the world can these brilliant, extremely educated people be so blinded by such blatant  lies?  Singer, who claims that it’s not evil to kill a newborn is teaching ethics at three different major universities?

There seems to be a calculated agenda in many universities to indoctrinate students into liberal, socialist ideology, which is pro-choice, pro-homosexual and highly hostile to Christian values.  Right and wrong have been turned upside down; immorality is championed, and morality is despised.  Graduate student Julea Ward was expelled from Eastern Michigan University’s counseling program because of her belief that homosexual activity is immoral, a view held by the majority of Christians.

Author Mary Eberstadt  saw this exact attempt by many to deny the consequences of the ‘sexual revolution’.  There seems to be a “powerful will to disbelieve in the harmful effects of another world-changing social and moral force governed by bad ideas. That would be the sexual revolution.”  I grew up in the height of the sexual revolution during the seventies, after the birth control pill came out.  It was an extremely confusing time because the media and our culture were telling us that anything was permitted as long as you were a consenting adult, and that you could have total sexual freedom without any consequences.

The birth control pill brought a new freedom to society to engage in sexual activity with anyone, without fear of pregnancy.  The advent of the pill in the sixties removed the inhibitions of many, sparking a revolution and drastic change in our culture.  Currently most students on any campus today can attest to this prevalent attitude; I think we can all agree to this legacy of the sexual revolution.

But just as there was complete rejection by many of the tragic consequences of communism, so today many reject the empirical record of the sexual revolution’s negative effect on women and children.  According to the latest survey by the Census Bureau, the rate of unwed moms rose by 31% since 2005; the average of unwed births was 40.8% of babies born in 2010.  But in the African-American community the unwed birth rate has risen to a shocking 68% of all births.  Paralleling the unwed birth rate is the level of poverty among single parent homes. The poverty rate for single-mother families in 2011 was 40.9%, nearly five times more than the rate (8.8%) for married-couple families.

Can you imagine the effect on poverty if women were taught the radical idea of waiting until marriage to have sex?  Obviously having a husband as a partner to raise children is extremely beneficial from a financial standpoint.  Most unwed moms are uneducated, and by having a child in those circumstances, are never able to rise above poverty.  The fallout from the sexual revolution has been broken families, addictions, skyrocketing divorce rates, higher poverty and abuse rates, and higher rates of sexual assaults against women.  Since the seventies most universities have had seminars and classes designed to help women avoid rape.

Studies have definitively shown that children growing up without a father have more emotional, behavioral and mental problems than their peers; many suffer from depression, anxiety or addiction later in life. Children growing up in single parent homes are more likely to go to prison and are more likely to be either physically or sexually abused.

Studies also have consistently shown that couples who live together before marriage have a much higher chance of divorce.  It makes sense that when couples live together, they tend to have a more casual attitude toward their relationship, which carries over into their marriage.  If you live with someone, there is often an understanding that if it doesn’t work out, you will simply move out.  Unfortunately this lack of commitment is brought into their marriage, resulting in higher rates of divorce.  Also, many have lower standards when simply dating, and after becoming sexually active wind up living with someone they barely know.  And of course after the binding effect of sexual relations, breaking up is harder, even though the other person may turn out to be a drug addict and abusive.

There is a strange tendency to deny the reality of the above facts; but really not so strange when you realize that total sexual freedom is extremely alluring.  So some will twist facts and figures as Greg Kaufman did in his article “This Week in Poverty-US Single Mothers the Worst Off”, when he claims the main reason for the higher rates of single moms in poverty is that men earn more than women, so if we solve this ‘inequity’ then voila!  Problem solved!  He deliberately ignores the facts that the majority of unwed moms are uneducated when they bear children, and never have a chance to go to school for higher education, leaving them trapped forever in poverty.  And of course he doesn’t consider the fact that logically, two breadwinners are financially much better off than a sole  breadwinner.

I have come to understand that no matter how irrational or outrageous someone’s opinion may seem to be, no amount of factual information will change their viewpoint.  In in his article “The Increase in Single Moms is Actually a Good thing” Hugo Schwyzer writes “Rising rates of illegitimacy, in other words, may signify that more and more women can afford to be choosy. That’s a good thing.” A good thing?  He assumes most unwed moms are educated and are picky about their men.  The reality is that according to the CDC among college grads today, only 12% of first births are outside marriage. For high-school dropouts, who tend to be the poorest population, 83% of first births are outside marriage.  So the reality is that many women are jumping into bed with losers, who have no intention of sticking around to help raise a child, leaving the women trapped in cycles of poverty and welfare.

But Schwyzer will NEVER advise women to be choosy before jumping in bed with a man, or advise a woman that she should pick a man who will treat her with dignity and respect, one who won’t put her at risk for disease or pregnancy, and one who will commit his life to her and their children.  Why?  Because the virtue of chastity threatens the dream of total sexual freedom without any consequences.  And he, like many others, refuses to do that.  Instead he embraces sexual perversion and pornography, and has openly admitted multiple affairs with his students.

Emory professor Andrew Francis adamantly alleges that even though the birth control pill gave our culture heightened freedom to have sex without the consequences of pregnancy, the pill didn’t have anything to do with the sexual revolution, which began in the sixties.  Instead, Professor Francis is insistent that the discovery of Penicillin in 1947, which cured syphilis, is the main reason for the increase in ‘risky sexual behavior’.  By his logic removing fear of pregnancy in 1960 did not really impact sexual behavior in the sixties; the discovery of medication decades earlier to cure sexually transmitted diseases was the impetus.  Hmmmm…

Just as many ideologues refuse to give up their dream of achieving utopia by way of socialism.  I know many who envision a world with everyone given adequate food, housing, and medical care provided by the government.  Although the economic policies of  virtually all socialist countries have been an unmitigated disaster, and most are on the brink of economic collapse, they hold on to their dream of a better world.  I dream too, but faced with staggering amounts of government waste, fraud and corruption, it doesn’t seem likely this dream will ever be achieved through any government agency.  Without the light of faith, most people are too tempted by greed and power.

Late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell routinely aborted full-term babies, so it wasn’t a problem for him to stab and murder babies somehow born alive from attempted abortions.  Continued immorality, whether pornography, sexual sin, killing babies, drugs  or simply our own stubborn pride or anger, clouds our judgment and seriously leads us astray.  The  more intelligent and astute someone may be, the more likely their pride will lead them astray, as demonstrated by the most brilliant theologians and professors and their warped ideology.  And this is why Proverbs 3:5 warns you “not to rely on your own intelligence”.

St. Paul warns us against immoral behavior in Romans 1:18 “The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness…although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks.  Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened.”

If you want to discover truth, dismiss relativism, the belief that there are no absolutes, and turn toward Christ and seek his holiness. Let him bring light into the darkness.  “The truth will set you free” St. John tells us in John 8:32.

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