Monthly Archives: October 2013

Why is it a sin to use drugs?

Every form of a person’s dependence on legal substances (alcohol, medications or tobacco) and even more so on illegal drugs is an exchange of freedom for slavery: it damages the health and life of the person concerned and also does great harm to the people around them. Every time a person loses himself or forgets himself by becoming intoxicated, which can also include excessive eating and drinking, indulgence in sexual activity, or speeding with an automobile, he loses some of his human dignity and freedom and therefore sins against God. This should be distinguished from the reasonable conscious and moderate use of enjoyable things.

Pro Life gearing up to campaign for repeal of abortion act

 

By Sarah Mac Donald – 14 October, 2013

 
Former Fine Gael representatives lend support to
PLC’s grassroots campaign.

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He said he and his colleagues who were expelled from the party for opposing the abortion act now found themselves “outside our political party because we honoured our commitment – the pledge that our party made to the Irish people” on abortion.

Deputy Flanagan was joined by his colleague in the Reform Alliance, Senator Fidelma Healy Eames, who told CatholicIreland.net that she had “absolutely no regrets” over her expulsion from the Fine Gael parliamentary party for her opposition to the abortion act.

“I think this was meant to be – I have absolutely no regrets. It is a really exciting time,” she said.

Admitting this was the first time she had attended a pro life event, she said, “I have found this movement very important. They respect life to such a huge degree and they want to protect life in all its forms and in all its difficulties.”

Referring to Hilary Ní Lorcáin’s moving testimony about the life of her baby daughter Margaret who lived just two and a half days, Senator Healy Eames said she had been really impressed by that.

“We need to lobby for peri-natal care and peri-natal hospice care. Whether you live one day or 40 days or 40 years – every life counts.”

The Pro Life Campaign was forced to change its venue due to demand for places at the AGM. According to a PLC spokeswoman, the venue where the organisation traditionally holds its national conference seats 400.

“We were expecting at least 600 people to attend this year’s conference. That’s why we were forced to switch venue just a few days ago,” Cora Sherlock of the Pro Life Campaign said of the decision to move to the RDS in Dublin.

Asked why there was still such enthusiasm for the issue when the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act had been passed into law, Ms Sherlock responded, “The Fine Gael leadership told its backbench TDs that once the legislation passed through the Dáil the pro-life movement would become deflated and defeated.” She said they were wrong on that.

The Pro Life Campaign spokeswoman said the task ahead for pro-life supporters was “to undo the false perception that the Government’s legislation is about life saving treatments for women and not abortion.”

“As more and more people come to realise that an abortion regime has been introduced, support for the repeal of the legislation will grow,” Cora Sherlock said.

“We will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that members of the public are given an opportunity to hear exactly what the Government’s legislation entails. Repealing this unjust law will not be easy but the work in achieving that goal has already commenced,” she warned.

Other speakers who addressed the conference in addition to Hilary Ní Lorcáin were Adele Best of Women Hurt and Steven Ertelt of LifeNews.com which now has over 750,000 readers around the world.

Meanwhile, Senator Fidelma Healy said she was “proud of the Irish people for the message they delivered to the Government on the Seanad vote” and this was greeted by cheers and applause from up to 600 pro-life supporters in the RDS.

“I think the lack of listening [by the Government] had an impact. The growing sense of arrogance, the bullishness, definitely there was a reaction by the Irish people against that,” she commented to CatholicIreland.net

The Irish people are after doing a wonderful thing in my view by rejecting the Seanad referendum, she said. “They are after saying ‘stop, pause, and rethink’ and they are throwing a lifeline to An Taoiseach. I am saying listen to that lifeline and take it on board and recast the future for Fine Gael because Fine Gael is a very fine party.”

She expressed support for the PLC’s forthcoming nationwide grassroots campaign which is aimed at getting the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act repealed, but she urged pro life supporters not to wait until the 2016 general election but to begin selecting people to stand in next year’s local elections in May 2014.

In his address, Steven Ertelt lashed out at the biased media coverage of the Gosnell case, the US late term abortionist, noting that it was 56 days into the trial before the mainstream media in the US reported on the case.

However, he also said that abortion in the US has fallen to its lowest point in 36 years and that 44 abortion clinics had closed in the last year in the US. Some 6265 remain which is down from a high of 2,20o in 1991.

Meanwhile, Edel Best recounted her personal journey from aborting her son at 25, aborting her daughter at 30 and being on the way to her third abortion at 33 when she had a life changing encounter with God.

Asking why more women who know that abortion is not good for women’s health don’t come forward to tackle the misinformation out there, she said they were effectively silenced by the media.

Explaining that difference that her faith had given to the healing process, Edel Best said “secular counselling can only deal with guilt but it can’t deal with shame.”

Don’t Glamourise Teen Suicide future Primate Appeals

By editor – 14 October, 2013

Archbishop Martin concerned that “glamorising”
suicide could trigger copycat tragedies.

Photo courtesy: RTE

Photo courtesy: RTE

 

“I am saddened to meet youngsters suffering from depression. I was involved in counselling in the school, it was terribly sad to find young children who could not cope with life at 13, 14 and 15,” he said.

“One of the things I cannot accept is how suicide is glamorised. We have to be careful after such a tragedy that we do not romanticise it in any way. I would be very clear in trying to get across to young people the terrible pain it leaves in the aftermath.”

He underlined that society’s response to suicide ought to be a compassionate one but that the trauma for the parents and family left behind was often heart-breaking.

“It is an awfully traumatic thing for a parent to see young people take their own lives. To see suicide becoming part of the life of teenagers, to have them witnessing it, being in the same class as people who took their own lives. Then you go into the class as principal and try to talk to them and help them understand it.”

“It is heart-breaking to see parents blame themselves,” he said. “You see parents exasperated, wondering: why? why did they do this? It is such an awful thing the way it just tears a family apart.”

“But teenagers are subject to influences outside of home influences. In many ways, their childhood lasts a short time, catapulted into the adult world at a very young age. That brings a lot of risks. You are living life at a high-risk level.”

“A lot of young people maybe have been sheltered from an awful lot from knocks in their lives. To see a young boy where a relationship breaks down, suddenly he feels his whole life has no meaning.”

“It is a cry for meaning. It is a cry for purpose. I would always be a very strong believer in a faith-based education system. It tries to give young people a sense of direction in their lives, it’s not just about churning out grades, getting points in exams.”

“This pretence that your sense of direction in life is not the business of school? It is, very much. In the aftermath of suicide, to be free to talk about God and faith, it is a really important thing.”

Cardinal Bertone ends mandate as Secretary of State

“At this moment”, the Pope said, “I wish to share with you all my feelings of gratitude”. Addressing Cardinal Bertone, he continued, “I see in you, above all, the son of Don Bosco. We are all marked by our history. Thinking of your long service to the Church, both in teaching and in the ministry of diocesan bishop and in your work in the Curia, up to your role as secretary of State, it seems to me that the uniting thread is made precisely of the priestly vocation … which has led you to fulfil all your duties … with deep love for the Church, great generosity, and with that typically Salesian mix that unites a sincere spirit of of obedience with a great freedom of initiative and personal inventiveness”.
The pontiff underlined another aspect of Cardinal Bertone’s service, “the attitude of unconditional faithfulness and absolute loyalty to Peter, a distinctive characteristic of your mandate as Secretary of State, both in relation to Benedict XVI and to me during these months. I have been aware of this on many occasions and am profoundly grateful to you”.
“Finally, I would like to thank you also for the courage and patience with which you have faced adversities – and there have been many”, added Pope Francis, citing the example of Don Bosco’s dream in which he and his young followers pass along a path covered with a trellis of roses. From the outside one sees only the roses but gradually, as they walk, they begin to encounter sharp thorns and are tempted to leave, but the Virgin Mary exhorts them to persevere and they eventually find themselves in a beautiful garden. “The dream would represent the strife of the educator, but I think it can be applied also to any ministry of responsibility within the Church. Dear Cardinal Bertone, in this moment I like to think that, even though there have been thorns, Mary Help of Christians has certainly not failed to lend a hand, and will not fail to do so in the future. We all hope that you may continue to enjoy the treasures that have characterised your vocation: the presence of Jesus-Eucharist, the help of Our Lady, and the friendship of the Pope. Don Bosco’s three great loves: these three.
“And with these thoughts, we extend, in absentia, the most cordial welcome to the new secretary. He well knows the family of the secretariat of State, having worked there for many years with passion and competence and with his characteristic capacity for dialogue and negotiation. In a certain sense it will be like a homecoming”.
The Pope concluded by asking the staff of the secretariat of State to pray for him, and Cardinal Bertone then gave a short address recalling his seven years of service to the Holy See, first with Pope Benedict XVI, whose pontificate was characterised by “seeing the Church understand herself in depth as communion, and at the same time able to speak to the world, to the heart and the intelligence of everyone, with doctrinal clarity and high thought”. For Cardinal Bertone, Benedict XVI was “a reformer of consciences and of the clergy. His pontificate was distinguished by strong pastoral projects. … He suffered greatly on account of the ills that plagued the Church and for this reason he gave her new legislation in order to strike out decisively the shameful phenomenon of paedophilia among the clergy, without forgetting the initiation of new rules in economic and administrative matters”.
“Today I see in Pope Francis not so much a revolution but rather continuity from Pope Benedict XVI, although with differences in terms of accents and aspects of personal life. … Listening, tenderness, mercy, and confidence are outstanding features I have experienced with you. … And I cannot finish without underlining two expressions that reinforce this continuity: the gift of spontaneous and inspired counsel, and the common and fervent Marian devotion. There is no better image of the two Popes than that which juxtaposes the photographs of each one gathered in prayer before the statue of Our Lady of Fatima; Pope Benedict in Fatima, in the Year for Priests, 2010, and Pope Francis before the same image in Rome, in the Year of Faith, to place the entire Church in a state of penance and purification”.
The cardinal concluded by expressing his wish that the new secretary of State will be able “to untangle the knots that still prevent the Church from being in Christ the heart of the world, the longed-for and incessantly invoked horizon”.

Pope Francis: Beware of Idolatry and Hypocrisy

2013-10-15 Vatican Radio

 . Once again, the liturgy of the Mass elicits from Pope Francis a reflection on the traps that punctuate the life of faith: To become an apostle of one’s own ideas, or a devotee of one’s own well-being, rather than that of God; speaking ill about someone because he does not conform to certain formalities, forgetting that the “new” commandment of Christianity is love of neighbour without ifs and buts. From the words of St. Paul, the Pope goes on to condemn the sin of idolatry, that of people who – as the Apostle says – “for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give Him thanks” preferring to worship “the creature rather than the creator.” It is an idolatry, the Pope said, that “stifles the truth of the Faith” in which “is revealed the righteousness of God”:

“But since we all have need to worship – because we have the imprint of God within us – when we do not worship God, we worship creatures. And this is the passage from faith to idolatry. These people, idolaters, have no excuse: because having known God, they have neither glorified nor worshipped Him as God. And what is the way of idolatry? He says clearly: ‘they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened.’ The selfishness of their own thoughts, the omnipotent thought, that which I think is true: I think the truth, I make the truth with my thought.”
The critics of Saint Paul, two thousand years ago, went to the idolaters who prostrated themselves before reptiles, birds, and four-legged creatures. And here, Pope Francis immediately responds to the objection that this problem doesn’t arise, because no one goes around worshipping statues. It’s not so, the Pope replied: idolatry has found new forms and fashions:
“Even today, there are so many idols, and even today there are so many idolaters, so many who think they are wise. But even among us, among Christians, eh? I’m not speaking about them, I respect them, those who aren’t Christians. But among us – we’re speaking within the family – they think they’re wise, they know everything… They’ve become foolish and exchange the glory of the incorruptible God with an image: myself, my ideas, my comforts . . . Today, all of us – I go ahead, eh! It’s not only something historic – even today, along the way there are idols, even a step forward . . . We all have within ourselves some hidden idol. We can ask ourselves, in the sight of God: what is my hidden idol? What takes the place of God?”
If Saint Paul calls the idolaters foolish, in the day’s Gospel Jesus says the same thing about the hypocrites, in the person of the Pharisees who are scandalized because the Master hadn’t washed as was the norm before sitting down at table. “You Pharisees!” Jesus replied. “Although you cleanse the outside of the cup and the dish, inside you are filled with plunder and evil.” And He adds, “But as to what is within, give alms, and behold, everything will be clean for you.”
“Jesus counsels: don’t look at appearances, go by the truth. The plate is the plate, but what is important is what’s on the plate: the meal. But if you are vain, if you are a careerist, if you are ambitious, if you are a person that always puts himself forward or likes to advance yourself, because you think you are perfect, give a little bit of alms and that will heal your hypocrisy. This is the way of the Lord: it is to worship God, to love God above all things and to love your neighbour. It’s so simple, but so difficult! This can only be done with grace. Let us ask for this grace”.

Pope Francis: Women called to Service, not Servitude

 
  2013-10-12 Vatican Radio

       
“Many things can change and have changed in our cultural and social evolution, but the fact remains that it is the woman who conceives, carries in her womb and gives birth to the children of men,” the Pope continued. “And this is not simply a biological matter, but carries a wealth of implications for the woman herself, for her way of being, for her relationships, for the way in which we lend respect to human life and to life in general. Calling a woman to maternity, God entrusted the human being to her in an altogether special manner.”
The Pope warned that there are two dangers always present when speaking about this topic, calling them “two extreme opposites that destroy woman and her vocation.”
“The first is to reduce maternity to a social role, to a task, albeit noble, but which in fact sets the woman aside with her potential and does not value her fully in the building of community. This is both in the civil sphere and in the ecclesial sphere,” explained the Holy Father.  “And, in reaction to this, there is the other danger in the opposite direction, that of promoting a type of emancipation which, in order to occupy spaces taken away from the masculine, abandons the feminine with the precious traits that characterize it.”
Pope Francis also spoke about the special gifts given to women in the Church.
“ I would like to underline how the woman has a particular sensitivity for the ‘things of God’, above all in helping us to understand the mercy, tenderness and love that God has for us,” he said.  “ And it pleases me to think that the Church is not ‘il Chiesa’ [‘the Church’, masculine]: it is ‘la Chiesa’ [feminine]. The Church is a woman! The Church is a mother! And that’s beautiful, eh? We have to think deeply about this.”
The Pope said the document Mulieris Dignitatem arises in this context and offers a profound, organic reflection, with a solid anthropological base, enlightened by Revelation.
“From here, we must restart that work of deepening and of promoting, for which I have already hoped many times. Even in the Church, it is important to ask oneself: what presence does the woman have?” he said.
“I suffer – speaking truthfully! – when I see in the Church or in some ecclesial organizations that the role of service that we all have, and that we must have  – but that the role of service of the woman slips into a role of “servidumbre” [Spanish: servitude]. . . But when I see women that do things out of “servitude” and not out of service,” said Pope Francis.  “And that it is not understood well what a woman ought to do. Can she be valued more? It is a reality that is close to my heart and for this I wanted to meet … and bless you and your commitment. Thank you, let us move this forward together! May most holy Mary – a great woman, eh? – the Mother of Jesus and of all God’s children, accompany us. Thank you!”

Pope Consecrates World to Immaculate Heart of Mary

 

2013-10-13 Vatican Radio

 In the Psalm we said: “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous things” (Ps 98:1). Today we consider one of the marvellous things which the Lord has done: Mary! A lowly and weak creature like ourselves, she was chosen to be the Mother of God, the Mother of her Creator.

 
Considering Mary in the light of the readings we have just heard, I would like to reflect with you on three things: first, God surprises us, second, God asks us to be faithful, and third, God is our strength.
 
First: God surprises us. The story of Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Aram, is remarkable. In order to be healed of leprosy, he turns to the prophet of God, Elisha, who does not perform magic or demand anything unusual of him, but asks him simply to trust in God and to wash in the waters of the river.  Not, however, in one of the great rivers of Damascus, but in the little stream of the Jordan. Naaman is left surprised, even taken aback. What kind of God is this who asks for something so simple?  He wants to turn back, but then he goes ahead, he immerses himself in the Jordan and is immediately healed (cf. 2 Kg 5:1-4). There it is: God surprises us. It is precisely in poverty, in weakness and  in humility that he reveals himself and grants us his love, which saves us, heals us and gives us strength. He asks us only to obey his word and to trust in him.
 
This was the experience of the Virgin Mary. At the message of the angel, she does not hide her surprise. It is the astonishment of realizing that God, to become man, had chosen her, a simple maid of Nazareth. Not someone who lived in a palace amid power and riches, or one who had done extraordinary things, but simply someone who was open to God and put her trust in him, even without understanding everything: “Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). That was her answer. God constantly surprises us, he bursts our categories, he wreaks havoc with our plans. And he tells us: trust me, do not be afraid, let yourself be surprised, leave yourself behind and follow me!
 
Today let us all ask ourselves whether we are afraid of what God might ask, or of what he does ask. Do I let myself be surprised by God, as Mary was, or do I remain caught up in my own safety zone: in forms of material, intellectual or ideological security, taking refuge in my own projects and plans? Do I truly let God into my life? How do I answer him?
 
 
 
In the passage from Saint Paul which we have heard, the Apostle tells his disciple Timothy: remember Jesus Christ. If we persevere with him, we will also reign with him (cf. 2 Tim 2:8-13). This is the second thing: to remember Christ always – to be mindful of Jesus Christ – and thus to persevere in faith. God surprises us with his love, but he demands that we be faithful in following him. We can be unfaithful, but he cannot: he is “the faithful one” and he demands of us that same fidelity. Think of all the times when we were excited about something or other, some initiative, some task, but afterwards, at the first sign of difficulty, we threw in the towel. Sadly, this also happens in the case of fundamental decisions, such as marriage. It is the difficulty of remaining steadfast, faithful to decisions we have made and to commitments we have made. Often it is easy enough to say “yes”, but then we fail to repeat this “yes” each and every day. We fail to be faithful.
 
Mary said her “yes” to God: a “yes” which threw her simple life in Nazareth into turmoil, and not only once. Any number of times she had to utter a heartfelt “yes” at moments of joy and sorrow, culminating in the “yes” she spoke at the foot of the Cross. Here today there are many mothers present; think of the full extent of Mary’s faithfulness to God: seeing her only Son hanging on the Cross. The faithful woman, still standing, utterly heartbroken, yet faithful and strong. And I ask myself: am I a Christian by fits and starts, or am I a Christian full-time? Our culture of the ephemeral, the relative, also takes its toll on the way we live our faith. God asks us to be faithful to him, daily, in our everyday life. He goes on to say that, even if we are sometimes unfaithful to him, he remains faithful. In his mercy, he never tires of stretching out his hand to lift us up, to encourage us to continue our journey, to come back and tell him of our weakness, so that he can grant us his strength. This is the real journey: to walk with the Lord always, even at moments of weakness, even in our sins. Never to prefer a makeshift path of our own. That kills us. Faith is ultimate fidelity, like that of Mary.
 
The last thing: God is our strength. I think of the ten lepers in the Gospel who were healed by Jesus. They approach him and, keeping their distance, they call out: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” (Lk 17:13). They are sick, they need love and strength, and they are looking for someone to heal them. Jesus responds by freeing them from their disease. Strikingly, however, only one of them comes back, praising God and thanking him in a loud voice.  Jesus notes this: ten asked to be healed and only one returned to praise God in a loud voice and to acknowledge that he is our strength. Knowing how to give thanks, to give praise for everything that the Lord has done for us.
 
Take Mary. After the Annunciation, her first act is one of charity towards her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth. Her first words are: “My soul magnifies the Lord”, in other words, a song of praise and thanksgiving to God not only for what he did for her, but for what he had done throughout the history of salvation. Everything is his gift. If we can realise that everything is God’s gift, how happy will our hearts be! Everything is his gift. He is our strength! Saying “thank you” is such an easy thing, and yet so hard! How often do we say “thank you” to one another in our families? These are essential words for our life in common. “Excuse me”, “sorry”, “thank you”. If families can say these three things, they will be fine. “Excuse me”, “sorry”, “thank you”. How often do we say “thank you” in our families? How often do we say “thank you” to those who help us, those close to us, those at our side throughout life? All too often we take everything for granted! This happens with God too. It is easy to approach the Lord to ask for something, but to go and thank him: “Well, I don’t need to”. As we continue our celebration of the Eucharist, let us invoke Mary’s intercession. May she help us to be open to God’s surprises, to be faithful to him each and every day, and to praise and thank him, for he is our strength. Amen.

Pope Francis: Mary’s Faith Unties the Knot of Sin

2013-10-12 Vatican Radio

During the evening’s event, the Pope welcomed the statue, which was processed through Saint Peter’s Square, and led the faithful in reciting the Seven Sorrows of Mary. The Holy Father then offered a reflection which focused on the Blessed Mother’s faith, explaining that her “faith unties the knot of sin.” Sin, he says, is “is a kind of knot created deep within us,” and these knots “take away our peace and serenity.”
It was Mary’s “yes” which “opened the door for God to undo the knot of the ancient disobedience.” She is “the mother who patiently and lovingly brings us to God so that he can untangle the knots of our soul by his fatherly mercy.”
The Pope also reflected on how it was Mary’s faith that “gave flesh to Jesus.” Believing in the Incarnation, Pope Francis continued, “means giving him our flesh with the humility and courage of Mary, so that he can continue to dwell in our midst.”
The Holy Father then reflected on Mary’s faith as a journey, saying how “she precedes us on this pilgrimage, she accompanies and sustains us.” To say that her faith is a journey is to say that “her entire life was to follow her Son.”
Mary understood that the journey of the faith passes through the Cross, from the time Herod sought to kill the newborn Jesus until his passion and death on the Cross. “And when she received word that the tomb was empty, her heart was filled with the joy of faith: Christian faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
Pope Francis concluded his address by turning to the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, saying: “we thank you for our faith, and we renew our entrustment to you, Mother of our faith.

Don’t be Naive, The Devil Exists, Pope tells Congregation

 

 

“We should not be naïve,” the Pope continued. The devil is a reality, and refusing to recognize the struggle between Jesus and the devil is a way of only “halfway” accepting the salvific role of Jesus Christ. The Lord came to end “the enslavement the devil has over us,” the Pope said. He reminded his congregation of Christ’s words from the day’s Gospel: “Either you are with me or you are against me.”

Pope Francis urged the faithful to guard against the devil, relying on the Holy Spirit and remaining vigilant against temptations.

Pope Francis invited to address European Parliament

Concerned by the prospect of Europe’s “slow but inexorable decline,” Schulz wrote that Europe “must again be animated by a renewed sense of dedication to clear objectives. But what should these objectives be?”

Schulz’s answer was threefold: “Europe must be judged on the basis of how it treats the least,” “Europe must be a force for dialogue,” and “Europe needs to be judged on the basis of the prospects it offers to the youth.”

“The tragedy of Lampedusa and the deaths of migrants in the Mediterranean represent indelible scars for Europe,” said Schulz, who called for greater engagement with the countries of origin and the development of a rescue system.

Noting that the youth unemployment rate in Europe is 23.7% — and 61.5% in Greece, 56% in Spain, and 40.1% in Italy — Schulz added that Europe is betraying its young citizens, even as he defended the European Parliament’s efforts to address the problem. “Why should youth believe in the European project when their own personal projects have been so dramatically compromised?”