Sunday, February 22, 2009

Humbly Regard Others as More Important than Yourselves

One interesting passage of Scripture that has challenged me a lot through my last years has been the following " Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others" (Phil 2:3-4). Perhaps my difficulties stem from my own pride and my failure to observe and even understand fully what this passage is asking of me. I find the whole thing challenging, and the challenge grows as these verses are followed by the invitation to have the same mind and attitude of Christ. Wow, that is a real challenge. But the part that I have found a real difficulty even in understanding it is the one that says humbly regard others as more important than yourselves. Perhaps my difficulties came from the awareness that no two people have the same qualities and gifts, and one can truly say that this person possesses these qualities and this other person does not. So it is possible to compare at least demonstrable qualities. However, I am also aware that it is not possible to judge the interior life of a soul, and only God can do that. Only God can determine who will have the highest degree of glory in the life to come. As far as we are concerned, it seems to me, the first task is to avoid comparisons to begin with. In fact Jesus Christ gives us an apparent paradox for those who like to be first, when He says: "Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven" (Mat 18:4). So you in order to go high you have to go low, or as Scripture says "whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted." (Mat 23:12). So here I had to look at Christ and His humility, Christ certainly knew that He was superior to others ontologically, spiritually, morally, etc. yet, He came and humbly regarded every one of us as superior to Him, and for that reason He came to serve each of us and even gave His life for each one of us. That is humility. And I understood that it is not a matter of being higher and lower than other people, it is not a matter of comparisons, it is a matter of considering every single human being on the face of the earth as superior to me, so that I can indeed have the same attitude of Christ who came to serve ALL, without making distinctions at all. The words "consider others as more important" or superior, it is not a statement of fact, only God knows that, but it is a statement about an ATTITUDE. This means that I will freely choose to look at others as superior to me so that I can serve them with joy and readily, in fact, I consider each person as worthy of my service, so that I can live what Scripture says, "each looking out not for his own interests, but everyone for those of others" (Phil 2:4). Now the complete grace is not just to understand it, but also to live it out, day in and day out. Now pray for me :-)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Forty days for Life campaign

The next forty days for life will begin on February 25th and end on April 5th. It consists of 40 days of prayer and fasting with the idea of ending abortion. It is 40 days of constant and watchful prayer in front of specified abortion centers. In my area we will pray at Family Planning Associates: 2777 Long Beach Blvd. #200Long Beach, CA 90806.
If you want more information or want to check what is available in your own area please check the official website:

Living in the Present Moment

Perhaps one of the most helpful things in my spiritual life has been the idea of living always in the present moment. It is simple, and yet is a grace that is beyond simple understanding. In what does it consist? In my mind is the idea to live in reality, that is to live in the present moment, for only the present moment is real, the past is gone, the future is not yet here, only the now is what it is, only in the now is my opportunity to fulfill my desires and aspirations. It is very easy for many of us to live trapped in the past and its pitfalls, wishing in one way or another things had been different, and yet we are simply unable to change what the past is, and we waste the opportunity to live in the present moment at the fullest and with the opportunity it brings. At other times we may think about the future and how in the future I will do this or that, or when I get this or that I will be this way or that way, but the truth of the matter is that the present is all I have, and it is in the present that I can, and have the potential to direct my life towards the end for which I was created, that is union with God. It is in the present moment that I am being loved by God and it is only in the present that I can respond to that love also in an unconditional way by His grace. It is in the present that the indwelling of the Trinity takes place in my heart and my chance to live in union with God is being offered to me. It is now, that I have the opportunity to love God with all my heart, with all my soul, and my whole strength, it is now that I have the chance to love my neighbor, it is now that God is dwells in my heart, it is now that I can choose to say YES to God like Mary did in all things in her life, it is now that I can choose to be a saint with the help of God, it is the now which is real. It is in the now that I can find peace and joy, even in the middle of difficulties for God is with me now, and I do not even have to fear about the future for as some saints have said God is already there, so He will meet me when I get there and no matter what the circumstances of that future are He will lead me, guide me and provide for me, so I have nothing to worry about it. It is the present moment the time to be grateful , and even in the now I can be grateful about future blessings that God will certainly provide out of His generous nature. It is in the present moment that I am being challenged to allow myself to be loved by God and to respond to that love with total trust, it is in the present moment that I am being given the opportunity to live in the presence of God and experience His mercy.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Most FAITHFUL Catholic Colleges

The most FAITHFUL Catholic Colleges in the US according to a study published by the Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education -- the research division of the Cardinal Newman Society -- in terms of fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church and campus life are: Ave Maria University, Aquinas College (Tenn.), Belmont Abbey College, Benedictine College, The Catholic University of America, Christendom College, The College of Saint Thomas More (Texas), DeSales University, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Holy Apostles College & Seminary, John Paul the Great Catholic University, Magdalen College, Mount St. Mary's University, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy, St. Gregory's University, Southern Catholic College, Thomas Aquinas College, The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts (N.H.), University of Dallas, University of St. Thomas (Texas), and Wyoming Catholic College.
The Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education's mission is to study Catholic colleges and universities in accordance with the guidelines of Ex corde Ecclesiae and in a manner faithful to the Holy Father and Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Keep in mind these colleges when applying for higher education.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Retreat- Saturday February 28th

There will be a retreat at St. Peter Chanel Church in Hawaiian Gardens, CA, on Saturday February the 28th from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The theme is "St. Paul and the Mercy of God." To register please call the office at 562 924 7591 or register online at:
click in the right tab titled RETREATS

Retreat: God Alone Suffices

About two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to give a retreat to about 90 women at the Sacred Heart Retreat House at the Carmelite Convent in Alhambra. The theme of the retreat was:
If anybody would like to get a hold of the CDs of these talks please contact the retreat House:
Retreat Master: Fr. Fernando Cuenca, OMV
Date of the Retreat: January 30th to February 1st.
Contact Us: Telephone (626) 289-1353
Address: 920 East Alhambra Road, Alhambra, CA 91801

Monday, February 16, 2009

Ash Wednesday and Lent

“Rend your hearts, not your garments, and return to the Lord, your God”. (Joel 2:13). The liturgical use of ashes originated in the Old Testament times. Ashes symbolized mourning, mortality and penance. In the Book of Esther, Mordecai put on sackcloth and ashes when he heard of the decree of King Ahasuerus to kill all of the Jewish people in the Persian Empire (Esther 4:1). Job repented in sackcloth and ashes (Job 42:6). Prophesying the Babylonian captivity of Jerusalem, Daniel wrote, "I turned to the Lord God, pleading in earnest prayer, with fasting, sackcloth, and ashes" (Daniel 9:3). Perhaps the best known example of repentance in the Old Testament involves the story of the prophet Jonah, who finally obeyed God's command and preached in the great city of Nineveh. His preaching was amazingly effective. Word of his message was carried to the king of Nineveh. "When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in the ashes" (Jon 3:6). In the New Testament Jesus also made reference to ashes, "If the miracles worked in you had taken place in Tyre and Sidon, they would have reformed in sackcloth and ashes long ago" (Matthew 11:21). The Church adapted the use of ashes to mark the beginning of the penitential season of Lent, when we remember our mortality and mourn for our sins. In our present liturgy for Ash Wednesday, we use ashes made from the burned palm branches distributed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year. The priest blesses the ashes and imposes them on the foreheads of the faithful, making the sign of the cross and saying, "Remember, man you are dust and to dust you shall return," or "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel." Ash Wednesday is also a day of both fasting and abstinence. As we begin this holy season of Lent in preparation for Easter, we must remember the significance of the ashes we have received: we mourn and do penance for our sins; we convert our hearts to the Lord, who suffered, died, and rose for our salvation, and we are reminded of this reality when the priest places the ashes on the form of a cross on our foreheads; we renew the promises made at our baptism, when we died to an old life and rose to a new life with Christ; finally, mindful that the kingdom of this world passes away, we strive to live the kingdom of God now and look forward to its fulfillment in heaven.
Lent is the forty day period before Easter, excluding Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday up to the Mass of the Lord’s supper. The forty days remind us of the fasts by Moses on Mount Sinai, and by Christ in the desert before He began His public ministry. Lent is followed by the Sacred Triduum which begins with the Mass of the Lord's Supper, continues on Good Friday, and ends with the Easter Vigil.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Day of Prayer to Consecrated Life -Crisis of vocations

On Sunday we celebrated in the Church the day of consecrated life. We face a crisis of vocations at all levels to be honest, but there is real need even more so of the radical witness of consecrated men and women. In the document titled "The Service and Authority of Obedience" the prefect of the Congregation of Institutes of Consecrated life, mentions the challenge that consecrated people face when it seems that consecrated life is weakening and disspearing. In that same document the prefect mentions how the superiors of communities must remind their members of "the perennial values of this kind of life, because today, as yesterday, and as always NOTHING is MORE IMPORTANT, BEAUTIFUL AND TRUE than spending one's life in the service of the Lord and for the littlest of his children." So why the crisis? When Benedict XVI came to New York last year, he spoke to the Bishops and mentioned that the flourishing of vocations or their lack of are indicators of the vitality of the local Churches. Wow, what a statement, perhaps the lack of vocations in the US is related to our lack of vitality as a Church, something that nobody has ever been able to acknowledge. But why is our Church lacking this vitality necessary to promote vocations? Well I have several ideas:

1. Lack of faith, which is manifested in lack of prayer for vocations. I am surprised to find how few people pray anymore for an increase of vocations to the consecrated life, even consecrated people seem to have given up, and prayer for vocations is either non-existent or at the very least not one of their priorities. NO PRAYER ---> NO VOCATIONS.

2. Lack of appreciation for the value of religious life. Many people are either ignorant about consecrated life and many others simply have a distorted image about consecrated life. The images that the media portrays about consecrated life are repulsive, uninviting, unattractive. Consecrated people and priests are depicted many times as being out of touch with life, living within a medieval frame of mind, closed off, out of date, repressed, mean, etc. Just the opposite of what consecrated life is in reality, although there are perhaps a small minority of individuals that could come close to fit the typical representations of the media. :-)

3. The emphasis on a distorted notion of freedom and the narcissistic trends of our culture, make difficult for young people to think beyond themselves and to make commitments. And this is the case for consecrated life, the priesthood, or marriage. People are simply afraid of making commitments, in fact, they are so concerned with themselves, that the notion of living for someone else seems foreign to many of them. To think of a life time commitment seems an unattainable goal. This emphasis on self and personal autonomy makes also very difficult for a young person to think that freedom can indeed be perfected through obedience after the example of Christ. The obsession with an undifferentiated personal freedom at any cost does not leave space for the understanding of a proper notion of freedom in so far as this one is and should always be ordered towards love.

4. The havoc that pornography has created in our youth, has destroyed many souls in the process and many possible vocations. Young people do not think is possible to live a vow of chastity. Chastity is certainly a medieval concept for many of them, archaic at the very least, out of touch with reality, simply impossible to live. The youth have been taught that they cannot discipline their desires, all they can do is to avoid the nasty consequences, and this mentality has perverted the sacred notion of sexuality and sex. So not only vocations to the consecrated life suffer but also the vocations to marriage. Due to lack of purity marriages also fail at greater rates every day.

5. The materialistic mentality of our society and the worship of technology, and the comforts of our society leave very little room for the appreciation of a life of poverty. Why rock the boat so to speak when you are so comfortable. Perhaps with the economic crisis that we are facing now some people may come to their senses and realize that material possessions are also elusive and therefore they cannot be ultimately the source of our confidence and happiness.

6. Lack of a true witness of consecrated people. Communities of consecrated life have adapted too well to their surrounding culture and the comforts and the commodities that this world offers, and do not present a radical witness or a real challenge to those young people that are seeking to give up their life for something worthwhile. So we as consecrated people have failed our youth, and I think it is important that we assess our lifestyle and do not conform to the standards of our society, but that we truly live our vows in a radical way, in a way that people can truly see in us Christ obedient, Christ poor and Christ chaste. The challenge is on us, those who have already committed ourselves to live this life.

7. Lack of prayer and silence on the part of the young people. In a world saturated with noise and information, young people are never silent, they always have their ipods, their iphones, their sound systems, their TVs, computers, bombarding them with all kinds of information and noise. How are they going to be able to listen to the voice of God? It certainly will be more difficult. Young people need to be challenged to reflect, to think, to pray, and to be able to do this they need silence, this is how the heart and the spirit really grow.

8. There are many other reasons, but the last one I will mention here is that young people are rarely invited to consider a vocation to the consecrated life or the priesthood, as a healthy, and possible way of life for them. Few of us priests preach about the beauty of consecrated life, if the reader happens to be a priest I would challenge you to consider honestly how often you preach and challenge young people to prayerfully consider the possibility of being called to live a consecrated life. How will they come unless they are also invited? So we have to have the courage to invite others and like the words of the Gospel often say, young people, DO NOT BE AFRAID, the Master is waiting for you :-)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Traditionalist Anglicans Seeking Union with Rome

One of the main focuses of the Papacy of Benedict XVI has been the desire to bring unity within the Church and also unity with separated Churches and Ecclesial communities. This is in continuity with the principles of ecumenism established by the Second Vatican Council and put into practice by Paul VI and John Paul II as well. Last year there was an approach by the Traditionalist Anglicans who were disenchanted with the new policies of the Anglican Communion, especially their refusal to take a strong stand against the ordination of homosexual Bishops and even more fundamentally the refusal to confess that the practice of homosexuality is simply sinful and incompatible with the values proclaimed by the Gospel. There are also other significant issues like the ordination of women, and the blesssings of homosexual marriages. At that time during the summer the Anglican Bishop Andrew Burnham of Ebbsfleet pleaded for "magnanimous gestures from our Catholic friends" to accommodate those Anglican traditionalists who were seeking to enter the Catholic Church. There was the possibility that a large number of conservative Anglicans might seek to enter the Catholic Church. Talks have been conducted with Cardinal William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and Cardinal Walter Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity. Another Anglican prelate, Bishop Keith Newton of Richborough, was reportedly involved in the conversations as well.
Interestingly enough because he is married, Bishop Burnham himself cannot expect to become a Catholic bishop. While married Anglican priests have been accepted into the clergy of the Roman rite, the Catholic Church has maintained the rule of celibacy for bishops. Yet Bishop Burnham has continued to seek full communion. And it seems like Pope Benedict has been listening to their requests and considering the different options to bring them into the Church without creating conflicts with the local Catholic Churches of England and even Australia where a large number of believers is also seeking communion with Rome.

I guess one issue to be concerned about, and I am sure the Cardinals and the Pope are aware of it, is the possibility that these people are joining the Catholic Church simply as their last refuge, and my hope is that they truly embrace the Catholic Church for what the Church is, and uphold the truth and the faith that she proclaims in its entirety.
Recently there has been talk of this reunification taking place soon. Vatican officials have been working on the terms, which could include a separe prelature for the Traditionalist Anglican Communion, similar to the Opus Dei. We will see what happens.

We must bless Pope Benedict XVI for his ecumenical efforts, and for remaining true to the principles of Vatican II like his predecessors, one of them being the fact that any dialog with other Churches or communities is based on the truth, and the truth and the faith cannot be compromised, while maintaining and open dialog which includes a respectful to approach to listen to one another in a spirit of charity. We must continue to pray for this gift of unity among all Christian Churches and ecclesial communities.

The Director of the Legion apologizes and asks forgiveness

This link is an article published by CNA. The director of the Legion Fr. Alvaro Corcuera apologizes for the first time for all the suffering. He wrote this letter while praying in front of the Eucharist and I think it is a very nice letter that goes along with the article I wrote below. It still does not address the issues of reformation, the issues of healing for the victims, and the need for purification within the Order itself, but it is a great beginning.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Legionaries of Christ and Fr. Marcial Maciel

The Legionaries are admitting that their founder Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado who died last year, has surprised the Legion with aspects of his behavior who were not appropriate for a Catholic priest. The behavior was not specified. But there are different stories circulating in different blogs and news agencies that affirm that Fr. Marcial had a double life that included inappropriate sexual relationships with minors - sexual abuse- and seminarians, and other inappropriate relationships with women, including the fathering of at least one child - presumably a girl-. These news come after he was disciplined by Pope Benedict XVI in 2006, because the Pope gave credibility to the allegations of seminarians who claimed they had been abused by Fr. Marcial. Fr. Marcial was removed in the same year from active ministry. Any person with any common sense would see that the actions of Fr. Marcial have been deplorable and one also has to think about the many victims that he has left behind. One of the sad parts of this story is the campaign of denial that most of the Legionaries have undertaken throughout the years to protect their founder and present him as a model of virtue and holiness. But the image has been crumbling down for years, and now it seems like the image is about to fall.

Sadly I have also noticed how the media rejoices in this type of news, and they almost gloat with the crisis that the Legionaries are facing, many of them hope the Legionaries will disappear from the face of the earth. I believe that this rejoicing on the part of the media is not so much due to a real sense of justice or morality, but more along the lines of using any opportunity available to tarnish the image of the Church as a whole.

Many of them are predicting the destruction and the falling apart of the Legionaries and that may well happen. But people forget also that although Fr. Marcial is the founder of the Legionaries, there are also hundreds of wonderful and great priests that are part of the Legionaries. Today they have close to 800 priests and over 1300 seminarians. The Legionaries have also founded a lay movement called Regnum Christ which has over 70000 members. They own and direct several schools and Universities located in different parts of the world, they also run radio and TV stations, and own several magazines and newspapers as well. It is a solid network, that has done a tremendous service and good to the Church, especially in the times in which we live. Sometimes we forget that God writes straight with crooked lines, and even if it is true that Fr. Marcial committed all those acts that are imputed to him, there is also the reality that God works through wounded instruments and brings good even through defective vessels. Is not that our story as well? And proof of that is the fact that God has done marvelous things through the Legion. It is also true that the Legion has enjoyed many blessings from God and the Church has been blessed in turn by the Legion. It is very easy to point the finger and discredit everything that the Legionaries have done without acknowledging all the real good they have done.

I personally do not like the formation program of the Legion and some attitudes of the Legion in general, but I still can recognize that there are many wonderful things they are carrying out. I personally considered the Legion at one point while discerning my own vocation but based on what I had heard from ex-seminarians and other priests I chose not even to visit them. In my mind they appeared to be too rigid, too much of a military mentality for me, they tended to be somewhat isolated, perhaps cliquish. Sometimes they are perceived as aloof, and they have a reputation for revering their superiors, basically there is no room for constructive criticism. This structure probably has favored the lack of accountability of the superiors of the Legion, and especially the founder, who was almost idolized within the community.

Yet, at the same time I have high admiration for the Legion, for their mission, their zeal, their dedication, their orthodoxy, and for the many positive fruits the Legion has produced throughout the years. I do not think it is fair to identify the whole Legion with the sinful actions of their founder. I do not think is fair either to demonize the Legion and their apostolates based solely on the actions of the founder. One must retain what is good and reject that which is unhealthy within the organization. I think this could be an opportunity for purification within the Legion and for restructuring. I have heard some comments from other priests in some of their blogs that seem also to rejoice at the recent news of Fr. Marcial. I hope that we as Catholics will be very merciful towards the Legionaries and not jump the wagon of rejoicing at the pain of others.

The Legion will certainly enter into a crisis, no doubt about it, but a crisis can also be an opportunity to grow. It is reported in some of these blogs that there are already groups within the Legion that seem to want do distance themselves from their founder, whereas others want to maintain the connection with Fr. Marcial regardless of his failings, perhaps divisions within the Legion loom in the horizon. Perhaps some of the priests will eventually face the reality of their founder and eventually grow disenchanted with the Legion and may choose to leave. We do not know at this point. I hope however that this will be a time for purification and renewal within the Legion, a time of redefinition, a time for the Legionaries to grow in humility and accept their own mistakes and even cover ups. I hope it will be a time to do what Fr. Marcial inspired them to do, without imitating his actions.

Asistir a Misa

¿Asistir a Misa?
Santa Teresa de Ávila suplicaba un día al Señor que le indicara cómo podría pagarle todas los favores que le había otorgado, y Él le contestó: «Oyendo una Misa».
Una santa decía a Nuestro Señor: «Quisiera ofrecerte todas las oraciones de los santos, todos los sufrimientos de los mártires, toda la pureza de las vírgenes...» Y Dios le contestó: «No hace falta que me ofrezcas todo eso. Basta una Santa Misa; ella vale más que todo lo que me deseabas ofrecer».
«Todas las buenas obras del mundo reunidas no equivalen al Santo Sacrificio de la Misa, porque son obras de los hombres; mientras que la Misa es obra de Dios. En la Misa, es el mismo Jesucristo, Dios y Hombre verdadero, quien se ofrece al Padre para remisión de los pecados de todos los hombres y, al mismo tiempo, le rinde un honor infinito.» (San Juan María Vianney, el santo cura de Ars)
Con la Misa se tributa a Dios más honor que el que pueden tributarle todos los ángeles y santos en el Cielo, puesto que el de estos es un honor de criaturas, mas en la Misa se le ofrece su mismo Hijo Jesucristo, que le tributa un honor infinito (san Alfonso María de Ligorio)
Una Misa vale más que irse hasta Jerusalén descalzo o ayunar toda la vida «a pan y agua» o decir todas las oraciones que han dicho los santos o hacer mil sacrificios... Porque una Misa tiene valor infinito, ya que allí se ofrece al mismo Jesucristo, el Hijo de Dios.
Con razón decía san Bernardo: «Más merece el que devotamente oye una Misa en gracia de Dios que si diera todos sus bienes para sustento de los pobres».
El Calvario fue el primer Altar, el Altar verdadero; después, todo altar se convierte en Calvario.
No hay en el mundo lengua con qué poder expresar la grandeza y el valor de la Santa Misa.
Con cada misa aumentas tu grado de gloria en el Cielo; en ella recibes la bendición del sacerdote, que Dios ratifica en el Cielo.
«Al empezar la Misa, póngase bajo la protección de la Santísima Virgen; pídale que le haga comprender la grandeza y el valor inapreciable del Santo Sacrificio de la Misa, y de las gracias innumerables que puede alcanzar para usted misma y para los demás. ¡Ah, si usted pudiese comprender el valor de una sola Misa sobre el Corazón de Dios, y los bie­nes que se podrían conseguir por ese divino sacrificio, si siquiera se molestase en pedir ese conocimiento! Lo que le va a ofrecer al Padre Celestial es la Sangre de Jesucristo: ¡con esta Sangre preciosa puede pagar todas sus deudas, satisfacer su justicia por usted y por sus prójimos, convertir a los pecadores, salvar a las almas, abrir las cárceles del purgatorio a sus parientes, a sus amigos y a tantas pobres almas que gimen lejos de Dios y reclaman el socorro de su caridad! Usted puede glorificar a Dios más por esa sola acción que por las penitencias más austeras y los actos de virtud más heroicos». (María Sofía Claux, alma del purgatorio)
La Santa Misa es el acto más sublime y más santo que se puede celebrar todos los días en la tierra. Nada hay más sublime en el mundo que Jesucristo, y nada más sublime en Jesucristo que su Santo Sacrificio en la Cruz, actualizado en cada Misa, puesto que la Santa Misa es la renovación del Sacrificio de la Cruz.
Misa, Cena y Cruz son un mismo sacrificio.
«Oír una Misa en vida o dar limosna para que se celebre aprovecha más que dejarla para después de la muerte». (San Anselmo)
«Más aprovecha para la remisión de la culpa y de la pena, es decir, para la remisión de los pecados, oír una Misa que todas las oraciones del mundo.» (Eugenio III, Papa)
Con la asistencia a la Misa rindes el mayor homenaje a la Humanidad Santísima de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo.
Durante la Misa te arrodillas en medio de una multitud de ángeles que asisten envidiablemente al Santo Sacrificio con suma reverencia.
A la hora de tu muerte tu mayor consolación serán las Misas que hayas oído durante tu vida. Cada Misa que oíste te acompañará al tribunal divino y abogará para que alcances el perdón.
Con cada Misa puedes disminuir el castigo temporal que debes por tus pecados en proporción con el fervor con que la oigas.
Si la verdad es que Cristo se ofrece al Padre eterno todos los días en la Santa Misa por la salvación de los hombres, ¿vamos a dejarlo solo?
Busquemos la media hora diaria para unirnos a Jesús en la Santa Misa, para adorar al Padre y darle el honor que se merece, para darle gracias por tantos favores recibidos, para aplacar su ira irritada por tantos pecados y darle plena reparación por ellos, para implorar gracia y misericordia para todos los hombres del mundo... En fin, para agrandar nuestro Cielo y hacer más gloriosa la Pasión de Cristo.
Tú, que tanto te gusta hacer el bien, ¿vas a dejar pasar diariamente la ocasión de unirte a la obra más grande que se realiza en la tierra y que es realizada por el mismo Cristo?
«Si supiéramos lo que ganamos con una Misa, jamás dejaríamos de asistir a ella.» (San Juan María Vianney, el santo cura de Ars)

Monday, February 2, 2009

In Vitro Fertilization IVF and Catholic Teaching

With the advent of the octuplets in Bellflower, California, just a few miles away from I live I am confronted with the need to remind people again about the immorality of In Vitro Fertilization IVF. Almost thirty years ago the birth of the first ‘test-tube baby’ to survive to full term was news internationally. The delivery of Louise Brown on 25 July, 1978 in Oldham, England as a result of IVF made medical history. And yet the Vatican raised its voice to warn that the event would have “grave consequences for humanity”. Now, thirty years afterwards, it is time to acknowledge that once again history has proven the Church right. The Catholic Church is not against reproductive technologies that respect the dignity of the human person. But it is against IVF precisely because it fails to respect the dignity of humans and also violates the sacredness of the sexual act and marriage itself. It is important to say at the outset that I recognize the ignorance that exists on this subject even among Catholics. It is also important to mention that any human being conceived through IVF is certainly a child of God and must be loved, respected, and protected. What are some of the problems with IVF then?
First of all, as we know babies engendered through IVF are treated as products rather than human beings. They are "produced" in the laboratory in a petri dish where the egg is fertilized with the sperm of the husband, most of the time with the sperm of a donor. In the case of the woman on California who has given birth to 14 children all of them conceived through IVF without being married we can see clearly many of the problems of IVF. Now women do not have to be married to conceive children, they can simply manufacture their own in the lab. In many case the characteristics of the donor are studied to select certain qualities that hopefully will be inherited by the offspring. There is a utilitarian mentality behind this that gives us the idea that we can create perhaps a better race or a better son or daughter with these specified traits. Children created through IVF are subject to Quality Control procedures and like any other "product" they are discarded (killed) when they do not meet the quality criteria. We must remember that all children regardless of how they were conceived are created in the image of God and they have to be loved.
Second, children conceived in IVF are not conceived from the conjugal embrace, they are not conceived out of an act of love, in fact the conjugal has been substituted by IVF. This is not in accordance with the dignity of human persons who must be engendered within an act of love and not simply lab manipulation. IVF does not help the conjugal act, it simply replaces it.
Third, to collect the sperm, most of the time the donor does it through masturbation, which is another immoral act.
Fourth, when sperm from a donor is used, this means, that the real father of the children is someone outside the marriage. This can create confusion in the child later, and in some cases even unplanned legal repercussions. In most cases the donor will remain unknown which can create problems in trying to trace congenital problems or illnesses that can affect that particular line of the family.
Fifth, when using IVF several embryos are created. Some of them will be implanted in the woman, and the rest will be discarded (another word for killed) or frozen. If they are killed this is a crime done in the name of fertility. If they are frozen, this is the most inhuman form of imprisonment of an innocent human person. Totally contrary to God's will.
Sixth, many of the unused embryos can also be "used" today for experimentation or as sources for embryonic stem cells. This implies the killing of the embryo, the taking of a human life in the name of science.
Seventh, at implantation several embryos are used, since it is likely that not all of them will survive after implantation. This is terrible since many of these embryos that do not succeed in the process of implantation will die inevitably due to the caprices of his/her parents. If all of them happen to implant or many of them succeed in implanting (like the case in Bellflower) then the woman is given the alternative to perform another procedure called selective reduction which basically is a selective abortion. How can we justify IVF at all? In Canada there was an interesting case, one woman gave birth to five children engendered by IVF, more than what she ever wanted. She had wanted only one, so she sued her doctor for "wrongful life," demanding that he pay for the cost of raising the four children she did not want.
Eighth, there is also the moral consideration of money. IVF can be quite expensive, especially if the procedure fails and has to be repeated.
Ninth, babies conceived through IVF have a MUCH higher chance of having physical and mental problems than children conceived naturally.
Tenth, every child has the right to be conceived within a marriage and to have a mother and a father, with IVF you open the door to all kinds of awkward possibilities, including not only single moms having children, but even lesbian couples now having and raising "their" own children. That would be another subject, but as we can see the twisted possibilities are simply on the rise.
This list is not exhaustive, so feel free to add more!

The Paradox of life

I found it very interesting that the "woman" (so far she has chosen not to reveal her name) who recently gave birth to octuplets already had six children who were living with her and her parents. Now this young woman, 33 years of age, after being a single mom with six children chose to have another procedure through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) to bring into the world more children. Several embryos that were produced through IVF were selected and implanted in the woman's womb, and then in the 12th week of her pregnancy she "was counseled about the risks of the multiple pregnancy" and offered the option of selective reduction (another term for ABORTION). The woman wisely (perhaps for the first time) refused to have any of her babies killed and she continued with the pregnancy. Finally after expecting 7 babies, eight actually came out.

First, let me say something about this woman. It is obvious that this woman has a very serious mental or affective problem. How is it possible that a woman already with six children, not married, raising kids on her own with the assistance of her parents, still wishes to have more kids? Is that responsible parenthood? Her mother has said in the interviews that her daughter has been "obsessed" with the desire to have children since she was a teenager and has brought into existence all her children through IVF. So it is obvious that there is something wrong with her. Furthermore the woman and the clinic chose multiple implantations of embryos conceived through IVF. Once again, we have a troubled woman making a couple of very poor decisions: the first one was to choose IVF as a way to conceive children which is an immoral means (read the next posting on IVF), and second was to choose to have multiple implantations. The only smart decision this woman made so far was not to recur to selective abortion procedures to eliminate some of her children. So there is great joy for the conception and birth of the children, but great sadness for the means and the lack of total responsibility on the part of the parents (and that includes the woman as well as the sperm donor).

The paradox of life here is that in a culture that idolizes free choice and even death, and while many women choose to have abortions this woman chooses life at least during her pregnancy. I said during her pregnancy, because the truth of the matter is that usually when a person uses IVF some of the embryos that are produced are not implanted and are either discarded (aborted) or frozen. Even some of the implanted ones usually die naturally. So perhaps this woman even in her desire to have more children has perhaps eliminated consciously or unconsciously some of her own children. Many people that recur to IVF do not even realize this. This life is full of irony, but this happens when we do not respect the life of ALL human beings, when we value more our own choices than the dignity of other people, including the life of the embryo in all his/her stages.

Second, I would like to say something about the so called fertility doctors. The first question is if the doctors in fact tried to dissuade this woman from further impregnation after knowing that she already had six children and she was not married. Or was she simply one of her clients from whom they were used to get money to support their own business? It is true that the doctors are not in the business of telling people how many kids they are supposed to have, but certainly you do not need to be a rocket scientist to see that there was something wrong with their patient either mentally or emotionally or both. In those cases you refer your patient to a competent physician or psychologist to address her issues first. Furthermore it is not stipulated that IVF is a health treatment that MUST be administered for the health of the patient. Even more irresponsible is the fact that the doctors chose to implant at least 8 embryos, perhaps even more in the woman, knowing that she would probably would not opt for selective abortions, and therefore putting this woman in danger of death, for such a pregnancy was not only a risk to the babies (who have a certain chance to implant), but also to the mother. What is wrong with these doctors? Are they simply in the business of making money or are they concerned in the least for the well being of their patients (the mother and the babies)? Of course the answer is a clear and resounding NO!
We live in such a crazy society, and this is what happens when people do not hear God's Word speaking to them, we continue to do as we wish, we continue to harden our hearts, we continue to sin and we continue to destroy each other. May God have mercy on us!