Sunday, September 28, 2008

Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

To serve or not to serve. In today's Parable, the first son says that he will not but later repents and does the will of the Father. The second son, who initially responds with enthusiasm, but walks away. In the second reading, we hear a full example of Jesus Christ, the son of God, reduces himself to become a slave, a servant, and obediently accepted even death. Contrast this with the legend of Satan who vowed he would rather rule in hell than to serve in heaven.

We are given the choice: Serve or not serve. Do we empty ourselves, seeking to provide for another's good, or full of pride, act in a selfish manner? Hearing the call is not enough - we have to follow through, too. Let us serve the Lord, let our commitment to Him be sure and strong!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A Powerful Conversion

Priests for Life Forces Members of Congress to Face Carnage of Abortion by bringing in a former abortionist. The whole article is powerful, but Dr. Levatino's testimony is especially powerful. While the goal of the campaign was simply to present the truth of what abortion truly is (the ending of a human life) and therefore based on facts and logic, it was a personal tragedy that helped him see the truth. May many more, from our lawmakers to the abortionists, hear the truth.

Despite recent 'statements' from high-ranking Catholic politicians (culturally Catholic, at least) stating that the Church has no clear teaching on this, life begins at fertilization. It is an article based on science. That life has dignity and value, this is the article of faith. The choice of abortion is a choice to kill that life. There is no wiggle room - abortion is murder. The fetus is a unique life with different DNA, eventually (still in the womb, of course) unique fingerprints, brain activity, heartbeats, fingers and toes. The child may have a different blood type than the mother, even! This is not a tumor, a mass of flesh, or a product of conception.

Dr. Levatino points this out. Warning: his descriptions are graphic, but necessary.

"Once you have grasped something inside [the uterus], squeeze on the clamp to set the jaws and pull hard - really hard. You feel something let go and out pops a fully formed leg about 4 to 5 inches long. ... Reach in again and again with that clamp and tear out the spine, intestines, heart and lungs.

"The head of a baby that age is about the size of a plum and is now free floating inside the uterine cavity. ... You will know you have it right when you crush down on the clamp and see a pure white gelatinous material issue from the cervix. That was the baby's brains. You can then extract the skull pieces.

"If you have a really bad day like I often did, a little face may come out and stare back at you."

Dr. Levatino, while still practicing as an obstetrician-gynecologist, told that he ended his career as an abortionist after personal tragedy struck.

"My wife and I had an infertility problem," Levatino said. "We were unable to have children, and after several years of effort, we were very, very fortunate in being able to adopt a little girl whom we named Heather. As sometimes happens, after years of effort -- and I mean three surgeries on my wife's part and everything else -- we finally adopted a child, and my wife got pregnant the very next month. We ended up with two children just 10 months apart. We were very blessed that way.

"On June 23, 1984, my son was trying to cross the street, and my daughter, who was always the little mother, was running after him to tell him not to do that, and she was struck and killed by a car.

"If you haven't gone through that kind of tragedy, you don't have a clue. You may think you can imagine it, but trust me: You have no idea what it's like to lose a child, in any way.

"What do you do after a tragedy? You mourn for a while and you try to get back into your routine. I don't know how long after her death I had to do my first D&E abortion. I remember reaching in and literally ripping out an arm or a leg and looking at it in the clamp and I got sick. When you start an abortion you can't stop. If you leave anything behind, you [can] bet your patient is going to come back infected, bleeding or worse.

"I soldiered on and I finished that abortion."

But, Levatino said, something had changed.

"For the first time in my life I really looked at that pile of goo at the side of the table, and all of a sudden I didn't see her wonderful right to choose, and I didn't see the $600 wad of cash that I made in 15 minutes, and I couldn't think about what a great doctor I was because I took care of her problem. All I could see was somebody's son or daughter."

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time

All are called to work in the vineyard of the Lord. Whether it is in the beginning of our day, or toward evening, the Lord is searching for us, inviting us to work for Him. At the end, it really will not matter to Him when we started, the reward (eternal life) will be the same for all. On one level, it might seem unfair. But when we understand that God gives His very best to all, it reminds us it is not about us, but about Him all the time. This should not, however, delay us from responding when we hear the invitation! We work so that we may know Him. We work because we love Him! We work because we know our true worth is in being faithful servants. This is our purpose.

May we hear the Lord's invitation, and respond.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Congratulations to Bishop LeVoir

This day was a great day for the Diocese of New Ulm, as we received our fourth Bishop, ordained in our See City. It was a wonderful day of celebration and joy, and the Holy Spirit was strongly present.

May God Bless Bishop Levoir for his 'Yes' to the Holy Father's call to accept the episcopacy. May he be given the grace and strength to lead us for years to come!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Feast of the Triumph of the Cross

This weekend, we celebrate the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross. This feast is a double-anniversary. It first commemorates the finding of the True Cross by St. Helena (mother of the emperor Constantine) and the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the site of the Crucifixion, burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. This feast, though, is bigger. It is like a mini-Easter - it is a celebration of the Cross, a reminder of the grace that we have been given because of the Cross.

We know that our modern world is filled with so much evil. At times, it might even seem that the evil is winning. But the Cross stands as witness that there is something infinitely more powerful than evil - God. In the cross, Christ accepted what was vile, ugly, and utterly destructive. In His death, he submitted himself to the forces of evil. But His resurrection destroyed death and sin. Everything is changed, transformed, by Christ, though for now we ourselves continue to deal with evil, knowing that it is already conquered. Nothing can conquer God, nothing can overwhelm Christ and His love for us.

Understanding the love of Christ for us, and the triumph of the Cross, how can we give less than our All to Him?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

Jesus provides the model of 'conflict resolution' for dealing with a brother who is in the wrong. There is an understanding implicit, though, that there is such matters that require addressing. First, the brother is to be addressed one-on-one. If that is ignored, two or three others need to witness the confrontation to assure all that is said is true. Then the Church is to be notified, and if the brother continues to be obstinate in sin, then he is to be treated as a Gentile or tax collector. Note that this is not an abusive treatment, but one that requires separation for the worshipping community and prayer for conversion. Jesus continues to tell the Apostles that they have the authority to bind and loose. This is not an 'ontological' binding and loosing, but a juridical one. What is meant by this distinction is that Jesus does not give the ability to change 'reality' or truth, but one's conversion and forgiveness. It seems to be necessary so that gathering in Christ's name may be holy, and that He be truly present.