Welcome Friends!

A Catholic blog about faith, social issues, economics, culture, politics and poetry -- powered by Daily Mass & Rosary

If you like us, share us! Social media buttons are available at the end of each post.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

CANADA'S SHAME: Peaceful Pro-lifers get Prison, Canadians Killed Seconds Before Natural Birth.

by Susan Fox
(Editor's Note: Mary Wagner was released from prison on July 25, 2015, after serving 7 months as a "prisoner of conscience" in the Vanier Centre for Women outside Toronto. Fellow Canadian prisoner of conscience Linda Gibbons went back to prison Sept. 2, 2015 after holding a sign outside an abortion clinic.) 
Pro-life Defender Mary Wagner in Poland
in better times.
She was imprisoned Christmas Eve in Canada
Poor St. Peter, he healed a lame beggar, and that’s when his troubles began.

“Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (Acts 3:6)

And then the man
“jumped” to his feet, and began to walk.

So Peter and John were hauled off to jail for an act of kindness.

When they were released, the elders of Jerusalem admonished them to stop teaching or preaching in the name of Jesus. But who should they obey? God or man?

“Peter and John, however, said to them in reply, “Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges. It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20) Answer: Obey God.


So it is with Canadian Pro-Life Witness Mary Wagner imprisoned on Christmas Eve in a Maximum Security Prison in Milton, outside Toronto, for interrupting the “lawful enjoyment” of the business of an abortion clinic. So here are special businesses that “enjoy” the murder of children, an act that many in the world call a “crime against humanity.”

In Canada, a child can be killed up to seconds before natural birth without any penalty. About 100,000 unborn Canadians are killed every year through surgical abortion out of a population of 33 million. It is estimated that four million have died in 45 years in a country in which all “persons” are guaranteed the right to life.

Welcome to the Civilization of Death.

Ironically, Mary Wagner did not try to interfere with the business of the abortion clinic: the doctors/nurses performing abortions, the bookkeepers keeping records, and the secretaries answering the phones.

But she did enter the clinic to influence mothers whose “choice” has been enshrined in secular society as a “human right.” But apparently that “human right” is only sacred if they intend to abort their child. Clearly, they are not allowed to change their minds.

Most of those women aren’t there because of choice anyway. They will tell you their parents, their boyfriends, their statutory rapist or their fears of career/financial insecurity is forcing them to have the abortion.

What is Mary’s crime deserving of a maximum-security prison cell on Christmas Eve? She politely entered the Bloor West Women's Clinic in Toronto two days before Christmas, handed out roses, cards and requested the mothers let their children live, offering real assistance in an attempt to remove their fear.

For similar acts Aug. 12, 2012, Mary Wagner was jailed and spent almost 2 years in prison. An abortion clinic worker testified in Mary’s 2013 trial that she caught her kneeling at the feet of a patient and offering her a rose. Oh my. That would frighten me too! As the ridiculous Queen of Hearts in Wonderland yelled, “Off with her head!”

Canada’s consciences have been lulled to sleep in the recent decades because of a law that says if you are caught and convicted three times trying to influence decisions of women in or near an abortion clinic, you go to jail for increasingly longer terms per each offense. “People have a sense of being defeated by this,” Wagner said in a Polish television interview.

Even pro-lifers standing on a public sidewalk outside an abortion clinic are arrested. “Canadians are used to the status quo,” Wagner said. “The sense of defeatism and apathy (on the subject of abortion) is widespread in the country.”

Canadian pro-life witness
Linda Gibbons
The poster reads:
 "Why Mom? When I have
so much love to give."
I have witnessed many times outside an abortion clinic on a public sidewalk in the United States, and by Canada’s law I should be in prison for life. We witnessed the largest protest in the history of the pro-life movement on Aug. 22, 2015 in 354 locations worldwide with total participation  greater than 78,590 people. But for the same “crime,” Canadian Pro-Life Defender Linda Gibbons has spent 10 of the last 25 years in prison.

“We don’t go there to be arrested,” Gibbons said in an interview with “Beyond the Talk.” “We go there to be the last opportunity to rescue a child from being decapitated, dismembered and disemboweled.” And to the mothers, she offers real assistance and one last chance to change their minds.

Police arresting Linda Gibbons.
Do they feel foolish handcuffing
a peaceful little old lady?
The other critical gift she offers is fetal development information. Gibbons has met many grieving mothers after the abortion. They often explain they were entirely ignorant of fetal development. One woman told her she had asked the abortion doctor what a four-month-old unborn child was like, and she was told, “It is a blob of cells.”

Gibbons showed her the model of a child at that stage of development and the now-childless mother was heartsick. The unborn child looks like a tiny human being even at eight weeks from conception. I saw my son Raphael at that stage right after his miscarriage, whole and entire. I recognized my husband’s long legs and face. He was our son! Reality is different than what the words “blob of cells” conveys.
Linda Gibbons and Mary Wagner
The two are good friends, and support one another
in and out of prison. 
Both Gibbons’ and Wagner’s rights have been violated because Canadian law also guarantees an individual “freedom of expression, conscience and religion.” And the Criminal Code says you cannot go to jail for using reasonable means to prevent an assault upon another person. At the heart of the issue is the Canadian government’s stubborn refusal to recognize a “person” in the womb. In Mary’s trial, the judge refused to hear testimony even from a non-Christian embryologist. No doctors, no scientists were allowed inside the courtroom.  
 
While largely ignored by big media in U.S. and
Canada, Mary Wagner's arrest is headline news
in Poland, where they are organizing a protest on
Jan. 8 outside the Canadian Embassy in Warsaw




Mary Wagner is a hero in the predominantly Catholic country of Poland. “Although it seems unbelievable that in Canada someone was sentenced to prison for Catholic beliefs, it unfortunately happens,” one Polish newspaper opined. Poles have created a petition to the Canadian Prime Minister, rightfully declaring Canada’s continued incarceration of Mary Wagner to be a violation of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.
 Article 19 of the Declaration states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

“The Canadian government takes great pride in boasting of its "human rights" positions - well, why is there another standard for our Angel for Life, Mary Wagner?” Toronto Catholic Witness blogger Barona pointedly asked. He has created a new Twitter hashtag, #RosaryforMary, inviting all to pledge to pray the Rosary for Mary Wagner.

So pro-lifers in Canada may not even defend themselves in court by saying they are there to protect the life of the child. In Wagner’s lengthy court trial, she tried unsuccessfully to use this reasoning to defend her actions in the abortion clinic. Her ultimate goal is to get the Canadian government to abandon its stubborn refusal to recognize the personhood of an unborn child. One of her judges angrily told Mary, “If you think you have the right to tell other women what to do you are wrong and your God is wrong!”

Both the judge and Legal Aid Ontario refused funding for her defense beyond the most basic charges. Crown counsel argued that when Wagner said she was trying to protect the child, she was “manufacturing” a defense to act as a guise for her political beliefs. That’s like the pot calling the kettle black!
 
Polish Facebook Page honoring Mary Wagner
Mary’s journey into witnessing for the unborn child began in Denver in 1993 during World Youth Day. “Pope John Paul II spoke to my heart: ‘Do not be afraid!’” Mary said. Saint John Paul II’s thinking very profoundly affected Mary throughout her trials because repeatedly in interviews she acknowledges that the Pope asked Catholics to disobey unjust laws.

Pope Saint John Paul II deeply
influenced Mary Wagner at World
Youth Day in Denver in 1993
“Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection,” wrote the prophet John Paul II in the Gospel of Life.

The second event that led Mary into pro-life witnessing was a trip to the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz. At least 1.1 million people were killed in Auschwitz gassed with a pesticide, a very painful death. Ninety percent of them were Jews.

“That was a very profound experience for me to see a place where there was a complete disregard for a certain group of people,” Mary said. “And then I read the guest book – ‘May this never happen again!’ People had written that over and over again.”

“But I thought, ‘This is happening again.’” She said God was preparing her “for a greater commitment to give more of myself in the struggle to protect life.”

The third event that influenced her was a friend who was working in medical research and his conscience was troubled by what he was working on. She began to pray for this man, “and in that context, it was like God lifted the veil for me and I saw the reality of what happens in an abortion.”

She said she never wanted to see a film of an abortion because it’s disturbing, “but it was as though God was forcing me to see that reality.” And so He began to lead her to draw closer to where it was concretely happening – to the “times and places where our unborn brothers and sisters are being killed.”

Are you Christian? Pro-life? If you are living in the United States, you still enjoy unparalleled freedom to witness on the public sidewalk outside abortion clinics nationwide without fear of arrest. Perhaps the heroic witness of our Canadian pro-life brothers and sisters will inspire you to pray for and speak to people outside the clinics.

But in Canada many ordinary heroes are needed. “I would hope there are enough God-fearing people in Canada who are appalled that Parliament sees no limits on its own authority to pass whatever laws it wants,” said, Dr. Charles Lugosi, Mary Wagner’s counsel. 
 
Dr. Charles Lugosi, J.D.
Mary Wagner's Counsel
“Our Constitution talks about the supremacy of God … and the rule of law, which is based on natural justice … Parliaments cannot pass laws that include some human beings and exclude other human beings from the human family,” he added. “If it starts with the unborn, it will go to the disabled and elderly … This is the time to wake up, get aggressive and get active. Let’s see if people are prepared to sacrifice.”

Yes, it is as my mother warned in the 1960s, there is an ugly creature lurking in the human conscience. Once a man accepts the murder of the unborn, then he has prepared for his own murder. We had legalized abortion in my youth, and now, I and my generation are ripe for involuntary euthanasia in our old age.

In going to jail on Christmas Eve, Mary Wagner’s feet were firmly planted on the Rock of Jesus Christ. It was He, who invited Peter and John to make an act of civil disobedience to Jewish authorities -- authorities who unjustly demanded they stop speaking about Jesus Christ.

And what would have happened if they obeyed man, and not God?

This effort owes many thanks to Toronto Catholic Witness for their courageous reporting on Mary Wagner's arrest. 


Find out about the latest Planned Parenthood Protest on Aug. 22, 2015 here. Planned Parenthood Videos Spark Protest of Biblical Proportions


Sunday, December 28, 2014

THE HOLY FAMILY: Model for all Human Families

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
Solemnity of the Holy Family, Dec. 28, 2014
Saints Peter & Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ

       This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of the Holy Family. 
The fact that today’s celebration comes on the heels of Christmas is not a coincidence. No, today’s Solemnity of the Holy Family is a reminder of God’s will.  God Himself was born into a family to bring salvation to all mankind. So, for God, the family is the cradle for salvation. 
Joseph, Jesus and Mary are models of holy family life.  We can see in their lives how God designed the family for mankind.  
Let me focus on three points. 

Devotion to God

The first point of what constitutes a holy family is devotion to God. What does this mean? It doesn't mean family members are perfect. Even Jesus' family was not perfect. No, such a family puts God first. 
Family members learn and strive to follow God’s commandments. And parents are the first teachers of the faith to their children. As we hear in today’s first reading from Sirach 3:2-6,12-14, “God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.”
Parents must teach children good moral values, and children need to learn godly values taught by their parents. 
Families need to read the Bible together. They need to learn how to understand what God says to us in Scripture. As the saying goes, “A family that prays together stays together.” 
Families are to inspire vocations to the Church. The Church needs holy priests and sisters. Holy vocations are given life in the family. We see this thorugh the example of the lives of many saints. When Saint Therese joined the Carmelite religious order at the early age of 15, she joined  two of her elder sisters in the convent, who had helped form her relationship with God.  Saint John Paul II was inspired to a life of holiness through the influence of his father, who he would often see on his knees praying. 
Devotion to Holy Matrimony
The second point of what constitutes a holy family is devotion to holy matrimony. God teaches us that marriage is sacred. God calls the husband and wife to give themselves fully to one another. 
The marriage act is a unity that is fully expressed in the conjugal act. During this act of love, the man unites with his wife so intimately that the two become one flesh. So a holy marriage inspires a holy family. 
God teaches us that the sacrament of marriage can only be celebrated between a man and a woman. God has made this teaching clear throughout the scriptures.  As Pope John Paul II states in this book, Covenant of Love, “Familial love is precisely the union of a man and a woman in total self-donation, which is physically expressed through their masculine and feminine bodies.” Saint John Paul II further says, “Since it is impossible for two men (or two women) to give themselves physically to one another, any attempted union between them ceases to be a gift. It becomes a using of each other, or, at least, a using of each others’ bodies.” 
Devotion to Sanctity of Life 
Tis the Season to be Pro-Life
The third point of what constitutes a holy family is devotion to holiness of life. Families are to respect life. God made each of us unique, wonderful and special.  Before we were conceived, God knew each one of us. So we are to respect one another as God’s children, those who are born and those who are unborn. 
Through the gift of life, we are to respect each other’s bodies, and we are to respect our own bodies. We are to learn how to control our passions and desires. Mary and Joseph are a good example of this. Although Mary and Joseph were betrothed, they did not have sexual relations. And when Mary became mysteriously pregnant, Joseph did not want to put her to shame. He respected her out of love. Nor did Joseph abandon Mary. No, he loved and cared for her! 
Devotion to sanctity of life means that we do not use birth control. We are to be open to the gift of life in God’s time, not our time. Sexual union expresses love in its fullest meaning, and this love must be kept sacred and special. It is not something to be tossed around or thrown out to the dogs.  No! Sexual union is a bond of communion in the life of the Trinity and is therefore open to new life. 
My brothers and sisters, today’s Solemnity of the Holy Family emphasizes the wonderful gift of the family! It emphasizes our need to strive to live as holy families. This is what our Church needs! This is what our society needs! This is what we need! Holy families! Why? Because we live in a time when the life of the family is under a severe attack. 
The family is the basis for everything that thrives in our human societies. Families are the backbone of the life of human civilization. Once the family goes, society goes.
As we celebrate today’s Solemnity of the Holy Family, let us praise God for the gift of the family. Let us pray for our families here at Saints Peter and Paul, and for all families that we will strive to be devoted to God, devoted to Holy Matrimony, and devoted to  the sanctity of life. 
Through the intercession of the Holy Family of Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, may each one of us grow in a deeper relationship with God who is the Father of all families. May God bless you and your families this day and always.
Wedding Feast at Cana: Mary to Jesus, "They have no wine."




Saturday, December 27, 2014

Merry Christmas! Our Salvation is Born!

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 2014
Saints Peter & Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ
Merry Christmas! Today is the day our Salvation is born! 
In today’s Gospel passage (John 1:1-18), we hear the beautiful words  from the prologue to the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word was made flesh. And made His dwelling among us…  The world did not know him…But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God…” 
My brothers and sisters, these words from our Lord emphasize God’s plan for each one of us! Since the very beginning God created each of us to be His children.  He created each of us in His image so that we can be His sacred, special persons. But we turned away through sin. 
Yet, our God does not give up on us!  He has continued to call us back to Himself. He has given us the commandments. He has given us the prophets. And finally, He has given us His Son, a small child, born in a manger. This small child would grow into a man. He would live with us! He would teach us! And He would prove to us the seriousness of our need to turn back to God by dying the most excruciating death—death on a cross!
Some of you know that I was raised Mormon.  I left the Mormon Church at the age of 12. Although I can remember having spent many wonderful Christmases with my Mormon family, it was not until I became Catholic several years later that I came to understand the full significance of Christmas—that Christmas is the celebration when the divine dwells with creation. You see, Mormons believe in Jesus, but they do not believe that He is divine.  They believe that Jesus is God’s Son, but they do not believe Jesus is God.
My brothers and sisters, if Jesus was not fully human and fully divine, then the whole meaning of Christmas loses its identify. The Catholic Church teaches that our Lord was born into our world so that each one of us can become a new creation. As we heard in tonight’s Gospel passage, God was made flesh, and to those who will accept Him, He will give “power to become children of God!”
Through His nativity Our Lord identifies with us in everything but sin. In order to save us from our sins, our Lord had to be conceived and born. He had to go through the whole process. Jesus got angry. Jesus got tempted. He felt what it was like to be sad. He felt what it was like to cry. He lived among us and died and rose again so that our disordered nature could be healed.  
 Today’s celebration therefore teaches us that God has a plan for each of our lives! No matter what we have done, no matter where we have been, God calls us to be one with Him. But if we want to live God’s plan for our lives we must humble ourselves. Our Lord humbled Himself by being born in a stable and dying on a cross. All He asks is for each of us to humble ourselves by repenting of our sins and by following His teachings and adhering to His commandments!
In just a matter of days our world will enter into the year 2015.   A lot has changed during the past 2000 years  since our Lord walked the earth. The most drastic changes have taken place during the last 100 years. On the outside we seem to be much better off than we were 2000 years ago. We have more stuff, and we can do a lot more things. Yet, on the inside we, the whole of humanity, seem to be more lost than ever. We have gained a lot intellectually and materially, but we are rapidly losing our spirit and joy. 
Throughout Advent the readings for Mass has focused on the second coming of our Lord. So our Church wants to remind us that our Lord is coming again, and He is coming soon. At our Lord’s first coming, which we celebrate today, our Lord came mostly unnoticed by the world around Him. He did not come into our world by riding on the clouds. He did not come with a bang. No. Our Lord came small and humble. And He died small and humble. But when our Lord comes again, it will not be the same. No! He will come riding on the clouds in great power and glory! The earth will shake. The heavens will tremble! And then He will send out His angels who will gather His elect, those who strive to live holy lives. Those who refuse to acknowledge their sinful ways, and refuse to ask for repentance, will be thrown into everlasting fire. 
Today we celebrate the day when our salvation was born! Yet this celebration is not a celebration only in words. It is celebration of action!  It is a celebration of change! Our Lord was born into our world to lead us into a life of holiness. He has come into our world so that we can live in His world. He wants us to live in His light. He wants us to live in His love. He wants us to live in His truth. As we celebrate Christmas, let us focus our hearts on what truly matters: Eternal Salvation. And let us rejoice because our savior has been born! Alleluia! 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

CANADIAN PRO-LIFE WITNESS LIKELY TO SPEND CHRISTMAS IN JAIL ON BEHALF OF UNBORN CANADIANS

MARY WAGNER IS ARRESTED OUTSIDE ABORTION CLINIC IN TORONTO
Reprinted with permission from Witness

www.torontocatholicwitness.blogspot.ca
(Editor's note: The pro-life movement is weaker in Canada than in the U.S. in the sense that it lacks support from some Church leaders, and its legal standing is much less secure.)

Mary Wagner arrested outside abortion "clinic" ~ a report from Radio Maryja, Poland

posted by Barona


Photo: Mateusz Marek, Nasz Dziennik
From Radio Maryja, Poland: 

Mary Wagner, the Canadian pro-life defender, will, most likely, spend the holidays [lit. holy days] in prison. She was arrested yesterday, Dec 23, 2014, and charged with the obstruction of a business. 

Mary Wagner went to an abortion clinic in Toronto to talk with women who had scheduled to kill their unborn children on the day of Christmas Eve.  Her hope was to save at least a few children. In an interview with pro-life defender, Jacek Kotula, Mary stated that she had informed her mother about the arrest. 

 "This is a sad news. There, the  abortion clinics are constantly operational, there is no Christmas, there is no freedom, there all the time is the killing of innocent children.  Mary could not just look at this, and for some time she has gone to clinics, prayed and converted girls; urging them to ensure that they do not kill their children. Yesterday she was arrested. I am in contact by email with Mary Wagner's parents.  They requested of us Poles, for prayers for her; that, at our Christmas Eve vigil suppers, we pray for her, and to be with Mary, for this will be another Feast Day spent in jail", said Jacek Kotula. 

Mary Wagner,  for prayer and conversation with women at abortion centres had previously been imprisoned for more than two years. She shared her life's testimony during her visit to Poland this past October.
(Trans. Barona)
Please pledge to pray the Rosary for Mary and her intentions @Twitter #rosaryformary

See also Witness' article, Poland is Praying for Mary Wagner

Fr. Paul Nicholson was with Mary Wagner when she was arrested. This is from his Facebook page: 

Early this morning, I was with the remarkable Mary Wagner, as she prepared to rescue mothers from committing the abomination of abortion. She enters the abortion mill and presents each tragic mother with a rose, gently admonishing her to think over her scheduled abortion. She is direct, but she is very gentle. We were only a small little group, as we went out to support Mary. She was eventually arrested and taken into custody. The three big police officers, who came to collect, seemed to be as cold as a day in December. But I am sure something inside them felt, that this was no ordinary prisoner. She, like the unborn child, was an intruder. She, like the unborn child, had to be removed. Mary expressed the radical form of solidarity. She will be spending Christmas in prison, as a prisoner of conscience. Will you spread the news that Mary has made herself a victim with all the little victims of abortion? Or are you too concerned about what people will think of your Facebook posts? Look, we all are subject to human respect, but at least we should be brave enough to publicly praise such a modern day hero. Think of Mary Wagner when you are with family and friends this Christmas. She deserves your respect!Remember the babies who have no one to speak for them.

Fr. Nicholson has made a YouTube Editorial Concerning the Event: Solidarity with the Babies: The Heroism of Mary Wagner

Reprinted with permission from Vox Cantoris of Toronto, www.voxcantor.blogspot.ca


Wednesday, 24 December 2014


Mary Wagner - Heroine for Christmas, heroine for Christ!


While we are busy preparing all our Christmas treats and gifts, yesterday on December 23, someone else prepared some gifts. Her name is Mary Wagner and she is a heroine for life. In the early hours of the morning, Mary prepared roses and little cards which she would give as gifts to women causing her to be placed under arrest for violating a 35 year-old "temporary injunction" against the civil right of standing in front of an abortuary. Mary crossed into the so-called "bubble-zone" and entered within its doors. The zone is to keep any person from counselling or praying or quietly standing within it away from any abortion mill in Ontario. Three burly officers "as cold as December" to quote Father Paul Nicholson, arrested Mary and led her away.

This is not the first time, Mary has spent time in jail before for protecting children, aiding women and trying to force the courts to overturn this unjust injunction. She is a champion of human and civil rights and lawful civil disobedience.

Mary has chosen the better part. She has chosen to spend her Christmas in jail from where she does her best work counselling and praying for the women there and helping them resist the temptation to kill their babies.
TO READ THE REST GO HERE
Mary Wagner previously incarcerated for pro-life witnessing outside abortion clinics
Use this hashtag #RosaryforMary to pledge to pray a Rosary for Mary on Twitter.
If you don't know the Rosary, any prayer for Mary is welcome.
God is the Father of all mankind!
DON'T MISS THE LATEST NEWS ON Mary Wagner
Canada's Shame: Peaceful Pro-lifers get Prison, Canadians Killed Seconds Before Natural Birth

Monday, December 22, 2014

EUTHANASIA: Rejecting the Comfort of Christ

by Lawrence Fox 

Thirty-year-old Brittany Maynard seemingly chose to end her life on Nov. 1, 2014, although she said truthfully just days before, “It doesn’t seem like the right time now.” 

The Comfort of Christ
Given months to live with terminal brain cancer, the young woman moved to Oregan so she could take advantage of the state’s assisted suicide law.

Even though many pro-life people, who were dying naturally, tried to share their witness with Brittany, what she was never offered by her family or friends was the promise of hope. For our society has rejected the comfort Christ offered in his Passion, Death and Resurrection.

The Catholic Church reflecting upon the life of Christ recognized that with Baptism the whole person (body and soul) entered into the life, death and resurrection of Christ (not something symbolically but substantially rooted in a promise). Jesus said to his disciples, “Unless you pick up your cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple.” (Matthew 16:24) That is a promise. 

Soren Kierkegaard (Danish Philosopher 1813-1855) wrote a pamphlet titled: “Sickness unto Death.” It is an excellent read especially given the post-modern rush to re-canonize “suicide” as an expression of pagan virtue. 

Kierkegaard said that for the pagan, suicide represented the mingling of courage with despair as an expression of virtue. What the pagan wanted was courage rooted in the virtue of hope.“Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey,” Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his second encyclical, “Saved in Hope.”

While the pagan honored suicide as virtue, he yet waited for the Church to preach the virtue of true hope. Hope is a virtue rooted in a promise -- a promise founded upon Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life. There is a part of the prayer at the end of the Rosary which goes:
“Pray for us O Holy Mother of God, that we may be worthy (able) to receive the promises of Christ.”

JESUS’ PROMISES CUT BOTH WAYS

“If you obey my commands, then you will be my disciples, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” Jesus promised. (John 8:31, 32) So many of us miss the first part, “If you obey my commands…” We want freedom but we live like slaves. That is because true freedom is the ability to say, “Yes” to God and His commands and “No” to ourselves and our commands.

The City of God is in principle populated by men capable of saying “Yes” to God and to a
loss of self, wrote St. Augustine in his work, “The City of God.” The city of men is in principle populated by men who say “Yes” to self and to a loss of God.

God builds His city by teaching and enabling men to live as God. Man builds his city by teaching and demanding men to live as men. To commit suicide is tragically man living like well, merely a man.

Post-modern man no longer lives the virtue of hope, since he has rejected the commands and promises of Christ. As such, the post-modern man has re-embraced “suicide” in order to act out the pagan mingling of courage and despair. Soren Kierkegaard states that modern man in the mid-1800s was in a much worse condition than that of the pagans prior to their hearing of the Good News. 

The pagans at least were waiting for a message of hope. Post-modern man has rejected the Good News or replaced it with something unnatural. In essence, peoples which were once Christian are now living the negative promise: “Then it (the demon) goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there (in the previously possessed person). And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation." (Matthew 12:45)

The Christian lives God’s Plan for his life, and the virtue of hope shines, according to Kierkegaard. This Danish philopher helped me to better understand the source and power of hope by looking at the opposite condition which he identified as “despair” or “sickness unto death.”

Sometimes apophatic knowledge comes by looking at the negative of that thing. Kierkegaard pointed out that Satan exists in absolute despair. His judgment, intellect, will, actions and all his conversations are rooted in despair. Satan was created with great intelligence, beauty, and glory. He was asked to do something and he refused, “I will not obey!”

There is only one God, but Satan chose the lie and shared it with Adam and Eve: “There is NOT only one God.” They accepted the lie, which resulted in their spiritual deaths and that of their children -- namely us. Who was it that said, “Adam burped and we all starve?” 

While reading Soren’s words, I thought about the words of Jesus to his disciples, “Satan was a liar and murderer from the beginning.” Despair expresses itself by lying and murdering the innocent. Think of all the evil perpetrated with a lie which leads to greater violence and murder.

The pagan deeply longed for hope. Christianity brought this hope to the pagans. Soon the pagans stopped slaughtering their own children, stopped performing human sacrifice, suicide was diminished, and monogamy increased, and for a time neighboring lands developed a code of conduct even for war. Now their rejected evils have come back in spades -- even within the Church.

Something happened in Europe, truth and freedom somehow became separated from obedience to the commands of Jesus Christ.

It began with Luther’s doctrine, Justification by Faith Alone. This doctrine certainly has diminished charity in the Mystical Body of Christ. The evidence of this lack of charity is the perpetual multiplications of schisms and separations within the body of Christ. You shall know the tree by its fruits.

Today, St. Paul’s concern that every effort be made to maintain communion and not grieve the Holy Spirit is meaningless outside the confines of the immediate or particular congregation. This is an expression of nominalism – the denial of universal truth. Paul writes:
“Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:3-6)

Luther taught the opinion of “imputed justice.” A person makes a claim of belief in Christ Jesus and justice is imputed to that person. That person by “faith alone” becomes clothed cosmetically in Jesus’ righteousness while dung and dirty rags remain underneath. Luther’s opinion of imputed justice - properly understood – ends up arguing against Jesus’ total victory over sin and death. 

Imputed justice argues that the power of sin remains intact within the Mystical Body both on earth and in heaven. Underneath, sin clings like dung. That does not sound like heaven. It sounds like something out of the mouth of Mohammed and not the mouth of Jesus. And yet, I have heard Christians explain to me time and time again Luther’s theory of imputed justice using the same example. I explain to them – when I can – “You have not truly thought through that analogy.”

“What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.” (Romans 6:1-7)

Through the grace of faith in baptism, the initiate become members of Jesus' mystical body, a new creation in Him. Jesus’ suffering and death was death to man's sin.  Participating in the sufferings of Christ brings about a death to sin, a purging and death to self. "But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:13) 

Jesus offered to the Father that which man could not give on his own: “perfect love and thanksgiving.” Because of Adam’s sin, man ought to provide recompense but cannot. God is able to provide satisfaction, but justice demands that humanity provide satisfaction. A conundrum exists. 

God became man so that in the human flesh satisfaction for sin could be made. Jesus was like us in all things but sin. Therefore he could freely offer to the Father that which was not required of himself; a free complete giving of Himself at the hands of humanity. The Father received such recompence gladly, and in response gave to the Son all authority in heaven and on earth.

Pope Benedict offering Christ and all the faithful
back to the Father
The ultimate expression of hope is Jesus with all authority offering us back to the Father -- not as dung cosmetically prettied up as Luther taught -- but as people who through suffering have learned to no longer live for ourselves but for God through the power and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

The 4th Eucharistic Canon of the Roman Catholic Mass says these words:
“And that we might live no longer for ourselves but for him, he sent the Holy Spirit from you, Father, as his first gift to those who believe, to complete his work on earth and bring us the fullness of grace.”

COMFORT IN SUFFERING?

For those attracted to the healing ministry, please be of sound mind for St. Paul’s 2nd Letter to the Corinthians is very insightful in this manner: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” (2 Corinthians 3:7)

SHARING IN THE CHRIST’S SUFFERING AND COMFORT

Years ago, I understood why Jesus left the Holy Eucharist with His Church: the Eucharist enables the Christian to share in His comfort
The Comfort of Christ 
which flows forth from His suffering. I later heard this confirmed in a film about Medieval Franciscan philosopher John Duns Scotus. In the film, Scotus states: “Jesus left us the Eucharist so that He could comfort us.”
 

An excerpt from the 4th Eucharistic Canon of the Mass reads as follows: “We now celebrate this memorial of our redemption. We recall Christ's death, his descent among the dead, his resurrection, and his ascension to your right hand; and, looking forward to his coming in glory, we offer you his body and blood, the acceptable sacrifice which brings salvation to the whole world. Lord, look upon this sacrifice which you have given to your Church; and by your Holy Spirit, gather all who share this one bread and one cup into the one body of Christ, a living sacrifice of praise.”

In other words by participating in the Holy Eucharist, the recipient shares in Christ’s suffering and comfort. Both flow from the Sacrament of the Altar into the faithful recipient’s heart, mind, and body. In this way, the Christian is clothed with Jesus’ righteousness both inside and out.

Sadly, no one informed Brittany Maynard of the comfort Christ offers before she got involved with the advocacy group, the so-called “Compassion” & Choices. 

In a video released just before her death, she said, ““I still feel good enough and I still have enough joy and I still laugh and smile with my family and friends enough that it doesn’t seem like the right time right now (to end her life).” 

But the next day, she was dead.

“Human life is a journey,” Pope Benedict
Mary, Star of the Sea,
Guide us on life's journey
concluded his encyclical on hope.
“Towards what destination? How do we find the way? Life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route. The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history. But to reach him we also need lights close by—people who shine with his light and so guide us along our way.”