Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.
So many pro-life leaders I know, including myself, have been falsely accused in public of advocating or even doing violence. Pregnancy centers, which compassionately serve parents and their babies every day, have been falsely accused of deceiving the public. Activists who try to change the laws have been falsely accused of opposing democracy.
The litany goes on and on, and proves that pro-life people are living this beatitude. They should rejoice, for their reward in heaven indeed is great. The children, who cannot know how much pro-life people love them, cannot repay them. They will be repaid in the resurrection of the just.
Archive for the ‘Courage’ Category
Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven.
STATEN ISLAND, NY – Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla began her first visit to the United States with a visit to the New York headquarters of Priests for Life on Monday, July 11th, to enshrine a photo and relic of her mother, St. Gianna Molla, a patron saint of the pro-life movement.
“God loved my mother very much,” Dr. Molla said while addressing the staff of the Catholic, pro-life ministry, but she added that “God chose her among many saint mothers. There must be many saint mothers in Paradise.”
St. Gianna Beretta Molla was a physician who grew up near Milan. When she and her husband, Pietro, were expecting their fourth child, St. Gianna learned she had a tumor in her uterus. She decided against a hysterectomy that would have saved her life but killed her unborn child. Gianna Emanuela was born April 21, 1962. Her mother died on April 28.
“I would not be here with you if I had not been loved so much,” said Dr. Molla, who lives near Milan.
Dr. Molla spoke of her mother’s upbringing in a very religious family. St. Gianna was the 10th of 13 children, five of whom died in childhood. Her younger sister became a nun and two brothers became priests. One of them, Father Alberto Maria Beretta, has been declared a “Servant of God” in the cause for canonization.
St. Gianna, born in 1922, was a deeply religious young woman who chose to become a physician because she saw it “as the most effective means of apostolate,” according to her daughter.
“All my mom’s life has been a hymn to life,” Dr. Molla said. “She died in the same exemplary way she lived. Her holiness represents something extraordinary…a holiness in which everyone can feel at home.”
Accompanied by Thomas McKenna, founder of the St. Gianna Physicians Guild, and Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, Dr. Molla hung a photo of her mother holding her sister, Mariolina, in the lobby of Priests for Life headquarters. Below the photo is a relic of St. Gianna – a piece of cloth from a garment worn by the saint.
The St. Gianna Physicians Guild encourages doctors to become pro-life advocates. McKenna said the guild enshrines photos and relics of St. Gianna in medical offices, and encourages doctors to become members. A lapel pin from the guild is often a conversation starter for a doctor and his or her colleagues. If someone asks about the pin “all you do is tell the story” of St. Gianna’s life and sacrificial death, he said. Father Pavone and Janet Morana, executive director of Priests for Life, were made honorary members of the guild.
“We need to show that faith and morality go together” for doctors, McKenna said.
Speaking of St. Gianna during Mass in the Priests for Life chapel, Father Pavone said, “the act of sacrifice she made at the end of her life was not an isolated act,” but the culmination of a life of piety.
In a homily focused on Jesus’ words “This is My body,” Father Pavone said that many mothers today say, “This is my body, I can do what I want, even if it means killing the baby. St. Gianna said, ‘this is my body, given to you.’ “
Dr. Molla said she came to know her mother through the memories of her father, who died last year at the age of 98. She was taught not to feel guilt over her mother’s death, and her siblings were reassured that the mother who was taken from them would have died for them as well.
“My mother chose to risk her life for me, but she always hoped God would save her life, too,” Dr. Molla said. “God prepared for my mother a bigger design. I am happy to share my mother with all those persons who are in difficulty.”
Dr. Molla will speak at events in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California and Nebraska. On July 23, she will participate in a conference in Kansas City, MO, organized by the St. Gianna Physicians Guild to address end-of-life issues.
For more information on her visit, please visit www.stgiannaphysicians.org.
Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit www.priestsforlife.org.
On June 29th the Church honors the Apostles Peter and Paul. We pray that we will be faithful to the teaching and grace handed down from the Apostles. At the heart of that faith “that comes to us from the Apostles” is the teaching on the Sanctity of Life. The fact that God cares for human life is the basis of all He does for us; the fact that He has entrusted us to the care of each other is the basis for all we do for each other. Peter and Paul had relied on the Lord to sustain them in many battles. That is true of the Church throughout the ages, yet “the gates of Hell will not prevail.” These words apply well to the battles to defend a Culture of Life against a Culture of Death.
This weekend we observe Father’s Day. We thank God for faithful fathers who, like God Himself, give and protect life. Let’s also pray for fathers who are afraid to be fathers. Thousands of times a day, children are aborted, not because of a choice of the mother, but because of the choice of a father, who fails to show the faithfulness and willingness to protect the child he has helped conceive. At other times, fathers tried to stop the abortion, but the law excludes them from the final decision about the abortion. Men do suffer grief after the abortion of their child. Healing programs are available for these fathers.
Let us pray today for all fathers. When their child is unexpected, may they welcome that child and encourage the child’s mother to say yes to life.
STATEN ISLAND, NY – An image and relic of St. Gianna Molla will be enshrined permanently in the offices of Priests for Life when the saint’s daughter visits the United States next month.
Dr. Gianna Emanuela Molla’s July 11th visit to Staten Island will be part of a tour that will culminate July 23 in a daylong conference in Kansas City hosted by the St. Gianna Physician’s Guild.
St. Gianna Beretta Molla was canonized a saint in May 2004, the last saint to be canonized by Blessed Pope John Paul II. She was a dedicated wife, mother and physician who sacrificed her life when, pregnant with her fourth child, doctors discovered a tumor in her uterus. She opted for a risky operation to remove the tumor that preserved the life of her child rather than undergo a hysterectomy. Six days after giving birth to Gianna Emanuela, she died from complications.
“It is a blessing for any nation to be visited by the daughter of a saint and to be reminded of a life of heroic virtue,” said Father Pavone. “In this case in particular, however, the visit of Gianna Emanuela is a call to America to recapture its own heart, to rekindle its commitment to the right to life, which it was founded to protect. St. Gianna Molla can teach America what true freedom is meant to be – a gift in the service of life!”
On July 12th at 7 p.m., Father Pavone will be the celebrant of a special Mass at the shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, PA. Following Mass Dr. Molla will speak about her mother and several relics will be exposed for public veneration.
To view Dr. Molla’s schedule of events, please visit www.StGiannaPhysicians.org
Read more about her visit from the St. Gianna Physician’s Guild
Early in my work at Priests for Life a woman wrote, “I can’t help but think that if twenty years ago I heard a sermon in my Church against abortion, I would have found the strength to keep my baby instead of killing my baby.”
Since then, countless women, as well as men, have said the same. One day after Mass someone said, “Father, I had an abortion, and when I hear it spoken in Church, it does hurt – but please, keep preaching about it, because I gain great comfort in knowing that as a result of that preaching, someone else in the congregation will be spared having to go through all the pain that abortion itself brings.”
Many priests are afraid to preach about abortion, and many of the laity ask me why. Fear, ultimately, is irrational; it is the abandonment of the help that comes from reason.
Yet one of the most frequent answers priests will give to the question of why they don’t address the issue is, “I don’t want to hurt those in the congregation who have had abortions.”
Priests spend years of prayer and effort to develop the compassionate heart of a Good Shepherd, who tends to the wounds of the flock, applies the healing balm of God’s love and mercy, and never does anything to hurt the flock.
But that should lead to preaching about abortion, not silence about it. The reason? Silence hurts the flock. One reason silence hurts is that it does not interpret itself. The priest may indeed have the best of intentions for keeping silent about abortion, but the woman or man sitting in the congregation and suffering from his/her involvement in abortion does not know those intentions. The fact that nothing is said about abortion may lead such a man or woman to conclude one of three things:
a) Father doesn’t know about the pain I have from my abortion;
b) Father knows my pain, but doesn’t care;
c) Father knows and cares about my pain, but there’s no hope. Nothing can be done to heal it.
The fact, however, is that we do know, we do care, and there is hope and healing. Therefore we speak! We speak about abortion, which is devastating individuals and families more than anything else. We speak about its pain, and we extend the urgent invitation to healing, mercy, forgiveness and peace.
Apostolates of Priests for Life like Rachel’s Vineyard (the world’s largest ministry of healing after abortion) and the Silent No More Awareness Campaign (whereby those who have had abortions and have found healing speak out about it) can assist the priest to convey effectively the message of healing. Then all the rest that we say about abortion will be better accepted, and more will avoid the pain to begin with.
It’s time to flip the fear of preaching about abortion into a fear of what will happen if we don’t.
I often point out that our youth are not simply the “future leaders” of the pro-life movement. They are leaders here and now, in more ways than one.
Often I am asked to speak about the role of youth in the pro-life movement, and to encourage parishes and pro-life organizations to focus more on recruiting youth for this cause. In fact, this is not a difficult task. Youth understand the pro-life message better than many adults, and the most common response they give to the question, “Why are you involved in trying to stop abortion?” is “Because it could have been me.” They are aware that they were not protected in the womb, and could have been killed. They are survivors and they know it.
But most important for us as adults is to understand what will happen when we recruit more youth into the pro-life effort.
They will challenge us. They will remind us of things that we have perhaps forgotten, and will even be able to teach us a new way of activism, and even a new way of thinking.
There is a characteristic young people have when confronting fundamental moral issues like pro-life: they think in straight lines. Unaccustomed to the layers of complication that the years of the more experienced leaders bring, young people can frame certain questions with a simple and direct clarity, and while they always need to be open to learn from those with more experience, they also need to be listened to. We need to let them shape our own thinking.
Young pro-lifers, when made aware that killing is taking place in the building down the street, will say, “Well, let’s go down there and stop it! We should go there and tell them we are not going to leave until the killing stops! If that’s where the babies are that we need to save, what are we doing here?”
Then, when told that a particular candidate for office is in favor of keeping child-killing legal, our youth will declare, “Well, we have to tell people not to vote for that person!”
When they understand the clarity of Gospel teaching about the sanctity of life, they will say, “All the pastors need to preach about this and sign their people up for pro-life activity! It’s more important than anything else!”
Is there not truth in this “straight-line thinking?” Sure, we can teach our youth about the “how-to,” which is not always so simple, but we can also learn to re-focus our attention and energy on fundamental things which, in the end, simply have to be said and done. Maybe we’ve become too complicated; maybe we’re making the “it’s not so simple” lines into easy excuses for cowardice or a lack of confidence.
When we plan pro-life activities, let’s have young people join in our board rooms and strategy sessions. They may not always be in a position to have a vote, but let them have a voice. Their clarity and directness can be refreshing!
The following article appeared in The Washington Times on Wednesday, October 13, 2010.
It is dismaying to hear some pro-life politicians calling for a “truce” on social issues like abortion – possible White House contenders Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour among them. Their suggestion is that it’s more important to do whatever is necessary to get elected than to worry about issues that appear to be intractable.
This tactic is akin to the pro-life and pro-abortion movements agreeing to disagree, an option often considered a reasonable one. It does not require that either side change its views, but simply agrees to allow the different views, and the practices that flow from them.
Sorry, but this is a proposal we in the pro-life movement can’t accept. There can be no truce.
First of all, to ask us to “agree to disagree” about abortion is to ask us to change our position on it. Why do we disagree in the first place? When we oppose abortion, we disagree with the notion that it is even negotiable. We do not only claim that we cannot practice abortion, but that nobody can practice it, precisely because it violates the most fundamental human right, the right to life. To “agree to disagree” means that we no longer see abortion for what it is – a violation of a right so fundamental that disagreement cannot be allowed to tamper with it.
To “agree to disagree” is to foster the notion that the baby is a baby only if the mother thinks it is, that the child has value only if the mother says it does and that we have responsibility only for those we choose to have responsibility for.
Certainly, there are many disputes in our nation about which we can “agree to disagree.” Various proposals, programs and strategies can be debated as we try to figure out how best to secure people’s rights. But these legitimate areas of disagreement relate to how to secure people’s rights, whereas the abortion controversy is about whether to secure or even recognize those rights at all. We can agree to disagree whether certain government programs should be allowed, but not whether acts of violence should be allowed. “Agree to disagree” seems like a neutral posture to assume, but it neutralizes what can never be neutral; namely, the right to life.
Furthermore, the abortion dispute is not merely about conceptual disagreement – it’s about justice. It’s about violence, bloodshed and victims who need to be defended. In the midst of a policy permitting thousands of babies a day to be killed, to “agree to disagree” means to cease to defend the absolute rights of these victims.
We don’t fight oppression by “agreeing to disagree” with the oppressor. It is precisely when the oppressor disagrees that we have to intervene to stop the violence. The fact that the oppressor does not recognize the victim as a person does not remove our obligation to the victim. In the face of injustice, we are not simply called to disagree with it, but to stop it.
Worse even than the notion of agreeing to disagree is the suggestion that abortion is irrelevant as an issue in the 2010 elections because it is “settled law.” No issue is less settled than abortion. More importantly, America’s courts and legislatures have a history of changing “settled law.”
Dred Scott v. Sandford (1856) is the most commonly cited instance. The slaveholder’s right to property eclipsed and subsumed the slave’s right to freedom. But the Constitution eventually was amended to correct the error.
Decisions like Lochner v. New York (1905) show us another error: Employers’ right to contract eclipsed and subsumed the workers’ rights to humane conditions and hours. These abuses were corrected by subsequent Supreme Court decisions like Muller v. Oregon and Bunting v. Oregon.
The “separate but equal” doctrine of Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) sanctioning segregation was overturned by Brown v. Board of Education some 58 years later.
Erroneous decisions like Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918) institutionalized child labor. But this was overturned 23 years later by United States v. Darby. A new development – a “pedagogical moment” – occurred here in constitutional law. The question was whether constitutional rights applied to children, too. The answer was yes.
Many reversals of Supreme Court cases came about when new evidence made it clear that someone’s rights, not previously recognized, were being violated. Thus, Louis Brandeis brought forward the facts about how workers were being harmed.
We are now witnessing the same trend regarding children in the womb. Evidence that has been around for quite some time demonstrating their humanity, and their inalienable right to life, is finding its way into legislatures and courts.
With hundreds of embryological studies, and massive evidence of the harm abortion does to women, such evidence, combined with new legal concepts, can challenge Roe v. Wade in the same way its erroneous ancestral decisions were challenged.
The day after Roe v. Wade was decided, the New York Times headline read, “Supreme Court settles abortion.” It has remained the most unsettled issue on our national landscape.
On September 29, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. Gabriel was the angel who told Mary she would carry the Son of God in her womb. Mary was confused and frightened by this, but Gabriel’s message was, “Do not be afraid.”
Such is Gabriel’s message today to every pregnant mother. “Do not be afraid” to welcome new life, even when it upsets your plans, changes the direction of your life, and requires you to mature in unexpected ways. Do not be afraid if you feel unprepared, or others tell you that you are not ready. If God creates a life in the womb, it’s because He is making you ready, and has plans from all eternity for that child and for you.
Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run so as to win. … I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight as if I were shadowboxing.” The term shadowboxing means that the participant punches at nobody in particular. But when the Church swings, she is supposed to hit something. We have to set specific goals in our fight to overcome evil and extend God’s Kingdom. There are specific enemies of the Church and the Gospel of Life. Our work, therefore, cannot be one of platitudes and generalities.
It needs to begin with research and concrete knowledge of the obstacles in our way. Let’s not shadowbox. Let’s aim to win.