Monday, March 12, 2012

International Adoption- The Saga Continues......

So, we continue to wait to hear from the Russian court if we should proceed or forget about Russia for adoption.  No news today, and we were hoping to hear from them.  Maybe there was another snowstorm in Moscow.  Wait, there's a snowstorm everyday in Moscow!

No matter what, I guess we should start prepping for a home study.  So, I'm pretty close to putting together a fund-raiser.  I will have tickets made up soon for it.  Thinking we will do a giveaway of a "New Ipad", or whatever it is they will finally call it.  You can most certainly bet I will be posting about it once we proceed.

Did I tell you I am freaked out by this?  That I cannot simply the believe the overwhelming responses I've received in regard to this issue?  That we are afraid of hurting a little boy who so deserves to be loved.  But I worry.  Don't sound surprised by this, I will admit only under extreme scrutiny or torture (like being forced to watch "Wall-E" over and over without the benefit of Jameson's) that I worry about very many things at all.  But I worry for everyone involved here.

I am freaked out about the overwhelming body of evidence that points to the fact that little boys that come out of Russia have great difficulty attaching/bonding to their new families.  Even boys that have spent some time with their biological family before becoming part of the Russian orphanage system have some issues, but ones that have never been in a family setting, and reach certain ages have the deck stacked even further against them.

And oh yeah, and let's not forget the language issue.  My pitiful excuse for Russian comprehension is non-existant.  Any grasp I had of the language was lost years ago.  How do we communicate with a little boy who speaks no English, and prepare him to enter school?  The math says that if we start this now, best case we get him home by the end of the year.  Do we keep him home from December until next summer and put him in school the following August?  Or do we immerse him in the language and put him in kindergarden right after Christmas?  What school would even take him?  Not to mention we don't even know how well he can get around, or if he has the cognitive ability to grasp the material.

So we sit, and we pray.  And we wait, and we pray.  We discuss, we research, we try not to become overwhelmed by the body of evidence that says that if we bring this little boy into our home, that he may never adapt, that he might not ever function independently.

Does anyone out there know anyone that can offer advise?  We are willing to listen, and to prayerfully consider all options.  But we don't want to hurt this little boy, and we need to know if we are up to the challenge. 

St. Jerome Emiliani, pray for us

Blessed Mother Teresa, pray for us

Blessed Pope John Paul II, pray for us

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Here Comes the Catholic Church

I really enjoyed this video from Father John Hollowell from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.  It is his response to the Planned Parenthood video from Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood.

There are many arguments to why employers should not be forced to pay for contraceptive services for their employees.  Simply, why would I want those chemicals in my wife and daughters?  Why would I want to interfere with God's plan for us?  Who am I to tell God that He, the Creator of the Universe, does not know what He intended for us?

If you cut away the spite, the lies, the hatred, and find what is true, good, and beautiful, it is not hard to see that God's plan should always be our plan.

But back to the video from Father Hollowell:

I really like the part at the end- before the music, when he quotes JRR Tolkien- The board is set, the pieces are now in motion.  At last we come to it, the great battle of our age. I truly believe this to be the forefront to the great battle of our age.  As you know, our freedoms are being challenged daily.  The government tells us to violate our conscience in the name of "preventative health care" for women.  Recently, I saw a news piece where universities and employers are demanding access to current and prospective students and employees Facebook accounts- they are asking for and expecting usernames and passwords, or expecting to "look over your shoulder" while you log in and they scroll through your wall.  I can't even imagine what next could look like, but I am sure we will see it soon.

If you are interested further in the Father Hollowell's blog site click here.

Catholic Media- Is this really the best we can do?

This was originally posted on Catholic Phoenix on March 24, 2011, and thought I had posted here, but guess what, I didn't!

I saw a blog post regarding the movie "There Be Dragons" courtesy of OSV via New Advent today, and thought I would share this.

Please enjoy:

On March 15th I was surprised to learn (via Facebook) that it was “Catholic Media Day.” What I saw was a number of persons and groups promoting their own books, websites, publications, etc. Now I have no problem with this, but it caused me to ponder what I think of when I hear the term “Catholic Media.”

To be completely honest, the thought of most Catholic media makes me cringe. I frequently hear people comment how wonderful EWTN television is, and I stop to wonder if I am watching the same channel. The production quality of the programs leaves a lot to be desired, in my own opinion. The material for the most part is magisterially sound but poorly produced. I look at how the shows are put together and wonder if they are using the same sets that they made when the network was founded. I tried to get my daughter to watch one of the children’s programs one morning, and it was so saccharine sweet that I found her rolling her eyes and myself wishing the show would be over soon. With no commercial advertising, I guess there is not any other way to demand better quality.

On the other hand, I switch over to Trinity Broadcasting, a Protestant network, and find a completely different quality of show entirely. 21st century technology appears to be employed, and an effort appears to be made to meet their audience where they are. Are all the movies made about the Bible made by Protestants? You would never know a movie about the Bible was made by a Catholic, at least in my own experience (Mel Gibson doesn’t count!). Yet, on any given weekend, you can switch over to TBN, and catch a movie on Genesis, the Gospel of John, and the band plays on.

My next beef is with Catholic Radio, at least in my own experience, Immaculate Heart Radio in Phoenix, and various stations in the Western United States. Now I understand fully that these are listener supported stations, and they rely on donations, gifts, contributions in order to fund their operations. I was pleased to be “charter supporter” when IHR held their first pledge drive last spring. But I must admit that after our commitment came to the year’s end, my wife and I asked ourselves where we thought our gifting dollars were being best utilized. Regrettably, we found that our confidence in IHR was not what I had hoped it would be.

I find that many call-in type shows are usually aired before we get to hear them in Phoenix, with the exception of Catholic Answers Live, which does air live in the afternoon, but we get to hear the replay the next morning. This is fine if you only hear one version, or do not care to call in. However, if you hear Tuesday’s show live, you might find yourself hearing the exact same show the next morning as you drive into the office. In addition, the station seems to play music of some sort at the end of each hour, but in the time that I have been listening I have yet to hear a complete song. These sorts of things make me wonder about the “testimonies” of people that claim to have had their life transformed by Catholic Radio.

All this makes me ask the question, “Is this really the best we can do?” Or if it’s not, why is the product produced? I know there are wonderful, glowing examples of what Catholics are capable of. I see the young men who produced The Human Experience and know that it doesn’t require high finance, but high creativity to produce something meaningful, appropriate, and capable of delivering the Truth of Christ to the world. One need go no further than the movie Bella to see that the message of the Gospel of Life can be promoted in a way that draws anyone in who views it. I see the quality of the work done by the Catholics Come Home ad pieces and see that media designed for mainstream society is not only capable of being produced, but is being seen in communities across the country. Now, if we could just get that type of material out in other arenas…………..

What can we do? How do we break this cycle of truly bad media? How can we make it less cringe worthy? For my own part, I have chosen to vote with my dollars, and with direct contact with the management of IHR (which for the record went unanswered). I would ask that others consider ways that we can make a change. Most of us are partakers of the product, so if enough agree with me, then perhaps as a part of the whole we communicate our desire to be nourished in our faith in a way that reaches out to a broader cross-section of the community, and perhaps bring others closer to Christ.

Monday, March 5, 2012

International Adoption- Who would have thought....

For those of you that know me, you probably know that my wife and I have been considering adopting for some time.  Truth is, there has been some real foot dragging in the whole thing (yes, you are quite correct, it has come from me!).  Cannot really say why, could not give you a decent t reason if my life depended on it, unless of course, you throw "fear of the unknown" in, well then yeah, I guess that might cover it just fine, thank you.

Our first course of thought was to go the foster care route, and that may not be completely ruled out for the future, but being able to get into the classes has been a challenge, and oh yeah, did I mention the whole dragging my feet thing?

So, on February 25, 2012, I attended the 5th annual Catholic Men's Fellowship Phoenix conference, this year held at Grand Canyon University Arena here in Phoenix.  For those of you that missed it, let me tell you, you truly missed something special.  1800 men from all over the Valley of the Sun and beyond converged to truly learn what it means to "Defend and Proclaim" our faith.  A blog post on that great day to follow, but let me return to the matter at hand.  As the day progressed, as we heard Bishop Thomas Olmsted defend and proclaim the faith, as he charged us to be the men that God intended us to be, and as the other speakers of the day covered their various topics of interest, I felt something happening.  In past years I would find myself coming home, feeling energized, telling my wife how wonderful things are going to be, how transformed I am (this time), and that you will see a profound change in me!!  I promise!  We've all had that feeling right?  Then about Tuesday, Wednesday, the feeling fades, and what really changed in the end after all?  Usually not much.  Yeah, I'm that guy.

Probably the same reasons I couldn't be a Protestant are exactly why those kinds of things tend to work against me.  Recalling Screwtape's own explanation to the dear Wormwood regarding the concept of undulation, one should recall that the human experience is one of peaks and valleys, and lest we forget that the highs do not last forever, so too should we recall the neither do the lows.  Keeping that in mind, I looked for some things to excite me and energize me but not so that they would blind me to what our lives truly look like. 

What ended up happening was something far more radical.  After a good solid confession, a great conversation with a good priest who was willing to listen to me, and oh yes, the bliss of being forgiven.  Repentance and Absolution are truly among the great gifts of the Church, surpassed certainly by and perhaps only by, the Eucharist!  After the last speaker, as a group we got time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, directly in the presence of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord, I was simply awestruck.  I found myself saying, "Jesus, you gave yourself, the sinless victim, that we might join you in Heaven one day.  Tell me what I need to do, and I will respond.  Your will, not mine, be done."

And that was that, right?  There was no surge of feeling, the was no angels playing harps, no "voice of God" giving me instruction.  There was pain in my knees, intense pain.  10-15 minutes kneeling on concrete is not for most.

So I went home, told my wife about the day, told here I think I joined the Knights of Columbus, but I'm not sure, that it was a good day, enjoyed being with my friends, that Josh and Sebastian Bautista (two fine young men, one discerning the priesthood) seemed to enjoy themselves.  I made a point to say that I was not riding a high, but that I wanted to find something I can use to be the man God wants me to be.

Along comes Monday, and what do I see but a post from my friend Leila Miller about this website, Reece's Rainbow, which specializes in international adoption for special needs children, especially those with Down's Syndrome, but other afflictions as well.  Scrolling through the pages, you find stories that break your heart, and some that give you pause, as you realize that in America, many of these ailments would not even be issues here.  If a child was born with them, you would get the treatment necessary.  Not so in many countries overseas.

Then there was this little boy who caught my eye.  He's a cutie, but after talking with my wife, we say that someone with his issues may be well more than we could handle.  We mistook him for another that was bedridden amongst other issues.  So I put him out of my mind.  Moving along.

The next morning, my friend Leila (you remember Leila, right?) posted a video of this little boy.  For a host of reasons, I am not yet posting his video.  But he stole my heart, I told Leila via Facebook, "I want him!  I want to bring him home"  And then God answered, the Holy Spirit immediately began working through a number of people, promising support, offering encouragement, ensuring that if we are willing, they would help us to ensure that we could bring this boy home.  This did let us meet some great people already.  A special thanks to Carla (you HAVE to read her story here) who gave me the courage to ask some hard questions.  And to show that through God, all things are possible, if not challenging, we find that if we but say yes, God will lead us through that which He has lead us to.

So we begin.  Those first questions, round one.  Stay tuned.

But before I go for now- thought I would pray an Angelus:

The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary
       And she conceived of the Holy Spirit

Behold, the handmaid of the Lord
       Be it done unto me according to thy Word

And the Word was made flesh
       And dwelt among us

Pray for us O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
       Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the Glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ, Our Lord.  Amen

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Preparing for Lent

As we begin this Lenten season, I thought I would share a few thoughts, but before I get too far, I would like to give a hat tip to a few sources that have helped me prepare for this reflection. Earlier this week, my friend Tom Perna wrote a great reflection on Psalm 41. I’m hoping he will give a similar treatment on Psalm 51 for Ash Wednesday. I found it particularly interesting that as we begin Lent, much focus is brought to our sinfulness, our weakness, that we must also find comfort in that if we will give ourselves fully to God, we will find the joy of salvation, through God’s loving mercy.

Second one is not to a friend (yet, but would like to know him!) is Father Dwight Longenecker, Parish Priest at Our Lady of the Rosary in Greenville, South Carolina. You may have read his blog, but I have found that I would like to add his book, The Gargoyle Code, to my reading list now. It is based on CS Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters¸ and focuses on two gargoyles during Lent, beginning on Shrove Tuesday. That post made me realize that the Enemy is always working against us, and never sleeps, constantly plotting our destruction. Fr Longenecker posted this excerpt today, and I pray he will forgive me for not seeking permission in advance, but I hope that you might find it to be efficacious and certainly poignant as we begin to prepare for the Resurrection of the Lord.

Those of you that attend Mass on Ash Wednesday will see the most peculiar phenomenon: In many cases, the church will be packed to the rafters, even though it is not a Holy Day of Obligation! I have often wondered why people that cannot find their way to any mass on any Sunday will search high and low to find a place to receive ashes on their forehead. Sometimes I wonder if we should not be seeking to get ashes every Sunday, if that would draw them in. This makes me ponder the message of today’s Gospel reading (Mt 6:1-6, 16-18), where Jesus warns us about practicing our piety in order that other men may see it. WOW! So why then, are we going to Mass, and then walking about showing them off all day? Doesn’t this seem to contradict precisely what Christ is telling us? So, I dug a bit, and then of course, I should have just turned to New Advent for the answer! On Ash Wednesday ashes are put on us by the priest to remind US that we are mere mortals, not so we can show off!”

Lent is a time for prayer, fasting and alms giving. We must also be mindful of Christ’s warning to be careful in how we approach this. Do not do it simply for the viewing pleasure of others, seek humility, meekness, and discretion in how you proceed on your Lenten journey. This morning we were all mindful to prepare for today in most ways that it were an ordinary day, teeth were brushed (even by the 12 year old!), clean fresh clothes, I took time to shave, while being mindful that today we are entering into the desert, and pray that with the Father’s mercy, and the Son’s saving grace, we will be a better instrument of the Spirit’s work in the world. We will attend mass this evening, and receive our ashes, and then go home together, strengthened by the graces received in attending mass with our community.

We have of course made some choices in things that we would offer up for Lent, most I will not mention, but the one I will is our choice to offer up the viewing of television during Lent. I was on the fence on this one until yesterday. I said to myself, “Self, you are strong; you can control your television viewing. That silly lady you married is being, well, silly.” Then I read the excerpt from The Gargoyle Code for Shrove Tuesday, and knew that I had to enter into this joyfully, and to provide my family the leadership and loving example we need.

Another goal is to refocus my prayer life, to keep it private as we are reminded by the Lord, but to find intentionality in my prayer. As the spiritual head of my household, I know that if I am not praying well, then my family is not praying well. A speaker at a conference once told us, “Prayer is your relationship with God!” So, if I my prayer life is not what it should be, then it stands to reason that my relationship with God is not what it should be. Let us use this time to strengthen our relationship with God that we might hear Him in the whisper in the wind, and find our place with Him in Heaven.

I am not suggesting that if you are not regularly praying that you should leap into a full Rosary every day! If you can do that, then you will be richly rewarded, but many try this and fail. Years ago, I was told to start off with an Ave and a Glory Be. Then up to a decade of the Rosary, and so on.

Alms giving is a subject that frequently causes many to cringe. But why, I wonder? All things come from God, though we may not recognize it as such. Our time, treasure and talents are from God, we are called to share them, not to hoard them. For what comes of that which we stockpile when we go to our eternal reward? You are dust, and to dust you shall return. At a later time, I will talk about how we plan for our alms giving, our charity. For now, I would remind you to set aside a portion of your time, your talent, and of course, your treasure to return back in gratitude for the life we are given.

So many focus on the “suffering” part of Lent. We should instead focus on the chance this is for us to grow in relationship with Christ, uniting all that we do, all that we are to Him, and especially, yes, to offer up our sufferings in unity with Him on the Cross at Calvary. He alone has borne our sins; He alone could provide us with justification. Only through Christ, the Son, can we find the Father. Only in these times of challenge can we change our lives and convert our hearts that we can properly receive the love intended for us from all eternity.

During this time of Lent, please do not think of it as an arduous task, something to be painstakingly endured and to suffer through. Empty yourself of worldly wants and open your hearts to be receptive of the gift that God so lovingly wants to bestow on all His children. Pray without ceasing, that your relationship with God will never cease, and you will find your life change in ways you could never imagine. Give until it hurts, and then give a little more. All of this, not so your neighbor can marvel at your piety, but that you might be grow in love with Our Lord.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This Isn’t Really About Contraception, is it Mr. President?

On January 20, 2012, the Health and Human Services agency, led by former-governor Kathleen Sebelius, presented a rule that would require most employers to provide contraceptive services and products to their employees at with no copay requirements. The exemptions to this rule are so slim that it is speculated that even Jesus Christ and His Apostles may not have qualified for the religious exemption, because He chose to serve those that may not have been members of his specific religion.

The ensuing uproar caught the President off guard it is said. Others say the President knew exactly what he was doing. Did he really expect that virtually every Roman Catholic Bishop in the United States would rise up against this evil regulation? Did he expect the Bishop of Phoenix to tell his flock “We cannot- will not- comply with this unjust law”?

Did he expect that other Bishops and priests would start praying the St. Michael the Archangel prayer at the end of Mass?

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle! Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, oh Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast into Hell, Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the earth, seeking the ruin of souls, Amen.

I seriously doubt that the President expected he would lose the support of his toadies who proclaim themselves Catholic, yet openly discount the teachings of the Church as wrong, or not applicable to them. At least for the moment, anyway.

Never fear! Compromise is here! On February 10th, the President held a brief press conference, where he told the country that he would accommodate religious freedom while making sure that women have access to preventative health care, including contraception, at no additional cost, no matter where they work. Instead the insurance company will be required to directly offer the woman contraceptive care at no additional charge. He goes on to say that even if a woman’s employer is a charity or hospital that has not a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company, not the hospital or charity, will be required to reach out and offer the contraceptive care free of charge without copays and without hassles.

Let me break here for a moment- at no point do I think that contraceptive or abortive or sterilization services should be provided. I do not think it is a personal choice, I think it is inherently and intrinsically evil. The end does not justify the means.

As a businessman and insurance professional, I can tell you, nothing is free. Every item of coverage is calculated at some point. On the non-insurance side, let’s look at mobile telephones. At some point most carriers offer one or more of their handsets for free (subject to signing a two-year contract. How free is that?) This does not mean I can walk into the local Sprint store and ask for two or three of their free phones, unless of course I am prepared to commit to and pay for their service. Likewise, in the case of where the President is mandating that insurance companies pay for services that they do not “charge” for, at some point, you can sure believe a cost is calculated. Someone pays for that. You guessed it. The employer, the employee at some level (most employers do not provide free healthcare to their employees, even hospitals), and guess what? You the consumer end up paying for those services as well when you buy the employers products.

Well, after the President’s statement on 10 February, most of the Presidents toadies fell right back into the fold, saying that this compromise was great, and awesome and wonderful, and oh, never mind, it just made me sick. Later in the day, the USCCB issued a statement condemning the “compromise” calling it no compromise at all.

The President calls the rule “cost neutral” since it saves money by keeping women healthy. Pregnancy is not a disease! Has it been forgotten that chemical contraception causes cancer? Has it been forgotten that chemical contraceptives are abortifacient? What happens when the chemicals cause a miscarriage and results in excessive hemorrhaging, frequently resulting in hospitalization?

As I say at the beginning, this is not about contraception, is it? Fundamentally, what we must realize is this an attack upon the religious liberties granted us by the First Amendment of the Constitution. It is an attack upon our freedom of speech as well. These are core tenets of the fabric of our nation, and with the stroke of a bureaucrat’s pen, we are seeing them taken from us not by legislation, but by regulation. The fact that this rule is has been given until August of next year to be implemented further suppresses our right to free speech and religious liberty by attempting to not make it a “political” issue.

I never thought I would find myself in agreement with Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles, who is well-known for his liberal stance on a number of issues. To say I was thunderstruck when I read his February 11, 2012 blog post entitled "Just a Minute, Mr. President!" would be an understatement. His statement says exactly what the problem is, and what is the greatest outrage:

As a Catholic American, I am outraged not only by your incredulous contortions to justify your untenable position, I am insulted that you would think that Americans who value and treasure our Constitutional freedoms would even question your overreaching infringement on individual freedom of religion and freedom of conscience.Your "accommodation" actually makes the entire matter far worse. Every effort must be undertaken to reverse your ill-conceived revocation of our Constitutional rights

So Mr. President, while I appreciate that you would like for us to believe that you are looking out for the women of our nation, I believe you have shown us your true colors, and that what you most ardently desire is a nation formed in your image, and for your newly minted ruling class to be the arbiters of what amounts to conscience and morals. I realize that you are not the morally relativistic man I thought you once to be, but find your moral compass pointed in a direction I cannot accept. Your path to morality threatens the existence of our nation and of our people. You perpetuate a Culture of Death, and whether you wish to acknowledge it or not, formally cooperate with evil when you support the notion that a child in the womb has no rights, making it perfectly okay, by your standard, to end that life with no sense of remorse that a human life has been lost. How many future Presidents have died because of this? How many chances for the cure to cancer have been lost for the sake of convenience?

No Mr. President, this is not about contraception, it is about LIFE! It is about freedom, seeking to do the will of God because it is good, not doing what you want because it feels good. And you cannot tell me that you support good morals in private, yet assert the right to make poor decisions in public. One day, you will be called accountable for your actions, and I pray that mercy is had upon you on that day.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Suffering in Marriage

There are few that would argue there is a certain amount of suffering attributed to being in a Christian marriage, though it could be argued that in the last half of the twentieth century it has gained a new significance, as society seeks to reduce the role of suffering within marriage. The assault upon marriage from secular society, and attempts to change the original intent of marriage further attack God’s plan for Man, another consequence of The Fall. Suffering takes on a new role when it speaks of original experience and its relationship to original solitude. Suffering aids us in the recovery of our original vocation, and contraception not only impedes that recovery, but actually increases suffering in opposition to God’s salvific plan. Not only does contraception work in opposition to God’s plan, but prevents the sort of suffering intended to allow us to rejoin Him in Heaven.

Father Jose Granados tells us, “Suffering is a language of the body that speaks of original solitude and original unity in one breath.” This language reveals itself most fully in the example set in the life of Christ, who gave fully of Himself in many situations, most vividly in His Passion and Death upon the Cross. Through Christ’s suffering, we are given first an example of how to live, how to approach life, and to ultimately be prepared to give that life up for another, as He gave His life for all. In this example we can then find new meaning for what love truly is, more than just a feeling, a high that cannot hope to be sustained. Love is in fact an act of the will, a total self-sacrifice that holds nothing back. In this total love, this complete sacrifice, we find our place in God’s plan, which is to know, love and serve God in this life. In the Genesis accounts of Creation, God creates Man in one act, “male and female, He created them,” (Gen 1:27). Only in Gen 2 does Scripture speak of Adam first, and then Eve being created from the rib of Adam, lending chronology to the sequence, not stating that woman was afterthought of God, but conceived in the mind of God from the beginning.

But how does this help us recover our original vocation? What then, is our original vocation? The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us in paragraph 1699 that Life in the Spirit fulfills the vocation of man. Further, CCC1700 we are again reminded that we are created in the image and likeness of God, and fulfilled in the vocation of divine beatitude. It goes on to assert that this is all left to Man’s own personal decisions, that is, ultimately freewill is given to us that we can choose a life of grace, or a life separated from God. But it is not presupposed that it is our actions alone that determine this, but instead depend upon the grace and mercy of a loving Father in heaven, who wishes nothing more than for His children to return to Him forever.

Simply put then, our original vocation is our call to holiness. In our suffering, in our self-sacrifice, in the giving of all that we have and all that we are, we find the love that Christ has for us, just as He has for His Father in Heaven. In His self-giving love, His total gift of self, we find the one example of the beatific vision that we should all strive for in all that we are. Our suffering, in union with Christ’s suffering on the cross of Calvary, is our path to the recovery of holiness.

If one has an understanding of how suffering relates to original solitude, and how it is fully connected to the recovery of holiness, then certainly there is no question that contraception not only stands in the way of that recovery, but prevents, and seeks to further destroy our call to holiness and unity. If Christ is our example of salvific suffering, then contraception by nature of its existence impedes and nullifies the sacrifice made by Him on the Cross of Calvary.

Contraception interferes with the Trinitarian concept of living giving and sustenance and attempts to take God out of the equation. We learn in catechism classes that the loving act of God the Father loving God the Son, and the Son receiving that love and then fully loving the Father is so fruitful that it generates God the Spirit, who flows fully from both. In this way, the marriage act mirrors the Trinity. That is, the man and the woman fully love each other, giving and receiving, and the product of the love often is a child, or many children. When Man takes matters into his own hands, he takes God out of the equation, and The Fall is recreated. When that cycle is broken, the consequences are frequently detrimental to all involved.

Contraception reduces the dignity of the man and the woman by reducing each other to objects to be used and discarded when they are no longer suitable for the purpose desired. When a person no longer views the other as anything other than a disposable object, the result is what Pope Paul VI spoke of after the introduction of Humanae Vitae in 1968, that is, an increase in abortion, which to date has taken in excess of 50 million lives in the United States alone. This is in addition to the assault on marriage, the huge numbers of children born out of wedlock, and the exponential increase in marriage. In fact, one need not look far to find one or several families that have children born out of wedlock, or suffer the effects of civil divorce.

In the introduction of contraception, the freedoms promised by it are only thinly veiled illusions of slavery. One would do well to recall that freedom is the not the right to make whatever choices one desires, but rather is the decision to do what is right. If a woman can never say no, but feels compelled to always say yes, then is she truly free? If a man feels like he must always be “on”, then how can he achieve self-mastery?

It could be argued that contraception gives persons the freedom to what they will with their bodies, to control, regulate, or even prevent the production of children. We have seen that this can certainly occurs, but at the consequence of divorce, abuse, abortion, and the unwarranted suffering of children in irregular family situations. God intended for children to be raised by their fathers and their mothers, and when we diminish one’s personhood, we deviate from God’s plan. This results in a loss of heaven, which we know to be Hell.

Contraception also prevents appropriate suffering, the act of loving self-sacrifice exemplified by Our Lord in His Life, Death, and Resurrection. If we removed the term contraception, which means against life, and replaced it with conception, which means for life, we would see a dramatic increase of self-sacrifice, total gift of self that is faithful, fruitful and total. If each spouse would live a life of self-gift to one another and their children, contraception would be eliminated because of disuse.

The role of suffering within marriage can best be realized by looking to the example of the Life, Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Christ Jesus. In exploring the mysteries of Christ, we learn more of ourselves as we learn more about God, who shows Himself to love us as completely as He loves His Son. When we seek to fully reflect the Trinity, we find our original vocation, through life in the Spirit. In this life, through the grace and mercy of our Heavenly Father, we find our paths to holiness. We know contraception to be inherently evil, and causes suffering contrary to God’s salvific plan. The freedoms it promises are smokescreen which impedes the suffering that we are intended to endure to join God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit in Heaven at the end of our days.