Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Catholics, Planned Parenthood, Birth Control, and Heresy

In an effort to justify (and excuse) birth control and require those who conscientiously object to provide it to others, Planned Parenthood has come up with a cute little meme. As Christians everywhere traverse the dangerous territory of skewed morality, our rights to deeply held religious beliefs are being put to the test.

The pro-abortion faction is no longer satisfied with thrusting their ideology on everyone through straightforward advertising. Now they have devised a fraudulent method to entice Christians to conform to their way of thinking. Enter abortion giant, Planned Parenthood. Known for ‘cute’ ways of rationalizing deadly behavior; they have created memes for all of us to share.
By choosing the meme that indicates your belief system – Catholic, Baptist, Christian, Muslim, etc. – you can now brightly proclaim that you have deviated from long-held religious beliefs, no matter which form of faith you practice.

Let us be clear. The purported support is for access to birth control. What they really mean is that the Little Sisters of the Poor and other Christian groups, businesses, and organizations should be forced to provide free birth control, contrary to their firmly held religious beliefs.

The Counter-Planned Parenthood Meme

With righteous indignation, my daughter created a counter-meme. In this graphic, she exposes the heretical nature of supporting and using artificial contraception. After all, publicly and loudly proclaiming to support a practice that has been condemned by the Catholic Church since her inception certainly is not acceptable for Catholics. Not only does practicing birth control represent a sinful act for these individuals, but by their public support they are also leading others astray by scandal.

The pulse racing response to the counter-meme has been enlightening. There have been arguments for using the pill for everything from acne to poly-cystic ovaries. Some stubbornly relate that the decision is ‘between me and my God”. Referencing Natural Family Planning (NFP) for a preferable and healthy alternative has been mostly met with silence.

What Is Heresy?

Another considerably negative response has been addressed toward the consideration of heresy being committed. I can understand the hesitancy in using the word – heresy – especially when seemly judging the souls of others. But is that what is intended? Is it possible that some of the accused may be committing heresy? Let’s take a very brief, historical walk through the Catholic Church and her approach to both birth control and heresy.

Let us first take a look at heresy and automatic excommunication. According to the 1983 Code of Canon Law (CIC), aside from abortion, “eight other sins carry the penalty of automatic excommunication: apostasy, heresy, schism (CIC 1364:1), violating the sacred species (CIC 1367), physically attacking the pope (CIC 1370:1), sacramentally absolving an accomplice in a sexual sin (CIC 1378:1), consecrating a bishop without authorization (CIC 1382), and directly violating the seal of confession (1388:1)”.

Here it is understood that “heresy is the obstinate doubt or denial, after baptism, of a defined Catholic doctrine”.

Citing Humanae Vitae and Popes

Ever since (and before) Pope Paul VI promulgated his encyclical, Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life), the highest Catholic authority has held to the prohibition of all forms of artificial birth control/contraception. While this teaching was difficult to accept by some, its affirmation of the consistent moral teaching of the Church on the sanctity of life was fervently upheld - by both Saint Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

This uninterrupted teaching of Catholic Doctrine affirms the danger of contraception to the life of marriage/family (and therefore society as a whole). Given the medically confirmed fact that the Pill (as well as some other forms of birth control) acts as an abortifacient agent, the consequences progress even to the ending of unborn life.

Therefore, ignoring this clear position of the Church or doing the mental gymnastics required to justify the use of birth control, could indicate an “…obstinate doubt or denial, after baptism, of a defined Catholic doctrine” – heresy.

Just because birth control, per se, was not specifically mentioned does not negate the severity of departing from a position held by the Church since its inception. Can you imagine how long the list would be if each and every form of heretical belief was individually listed?

When Is It Not Heresy?

It is vitally important for Catholics to realize that “No one is automatically excommunicated for any offense if, without any fault of his own, he was unaware that he was violating a law (CIC 1323:2) or that a penalty was attached to the law (CIC 1324:1:9). The same applies if one was a minor, had the imperfect use of reason, was forced through grave or relatively grave fear, was forced through serious inconvenience, or in certain other circumstances (CIC 1324)".

However, I do submit that this stubbornly held belief (contrary to irrevocable Church teaching), shouted to the world, can become heretical. Willful ignorance, after being informed of Church law, is also a means of denial.

Meme vs. Meme

Planned Parenthood persists in twisting and misrepresenting people of faith. Historically, their meme campaigns rely on misinformation and skewed logic. Bright colors and catchphrases are employed to grab the attention of the public and lead them to accept a misconstrued sort of reality. When countering sound bites and eye-catching graphics, a similar approach often brings the misconception to light. In creating a similar meme, many people are given the corrected message.

Discussions and even heated debates allowed the truth to break to the surface. I daresay that many Catholics were lead to reexamine their own consciences concerning the topic of birth control and the Church. To this extent, even with the misgivings of some, fighting fire with fire elicited a response that was both educational and effective. Is this method everyone’s cup of tea? No. Just as pro-life advocates and even saints employ(ed) different means of preaching the Gospel, the tone of memes are subject to the particular approach of the messenger.

So, was the intention of the countering meme to unequivocally imply that every woman using birth control is a heretic? Absolutely not. However, I do submit that this stubbornly held belief (dangerously contrary to irrevocable Church teaching), shouted to the world, can become heretical.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

6 Things About Christmas You Might Not Know

At my age of ‘slightly 60’ you’d think I’d know a thing or two about the Season. After all, I've faithfully celebrated Christmas my entire life. Yet a couple of these revelations surprised me. They might just surprise you too!

Why We Hang Stockings

Why do we hang stockings at Christmas? Watch this brief, informative video so find out about the true story of the REAL Santa Claus.

The Christmas Tree

We’ve often heard that the Christmas Tree has pagan origins. What is it with people accusing the Catholic Church of either being pagan or usurping pagan holidays and symbols? Here is another take on the subject that has a much more saintly tone.

Biological and Chronological Reason to Believe Jesus Was Born in December

We’ve all heard the naysayers, “No one knows when Jesus was truly born. People just had to pick a date and so they transferred His birth to a pagan holiday”. Well, there might just be a few pieces of proof, found both in scripture and the calendar.

For another take, check out this helpful information.

The Significance of Swaddling Clothes

Do you know the significance of Jesus being swaddled at birth? Watch this brief video! Jesus truly is the Lamb of God!

Jesus' Birth in Bethlehem Prefigures the Eucharist

What's amazing is that from the first instant of the Incarnation (God made Man) we were given a discourse on the Eucharist. There have always been subtle ways that point to Christ's role in our Salvation.

Bethel - Means the House of God.
Bethelehem - Means House of Bread.
LaMange (the manger) - Means t o consume.

The Season of Christmas BEGINs on Christmas

Contrary to popular sentiment on the Hallmark Channel or children’s stories, Christmas is a Season. The days leading up to this Season is the Season of Advent (now celebrated for four weeks in most churches). Christmas Eve ends Advent and Christmas Day heralds the Season of Christmas. Check out the neatly laid out basics by National Catholic Register.

So, there we have it, some things you may or may not have known about Christmas. How many were already familiar to you? Let us know in the comments. Three of these were news to me!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

We Need Advent to Properly Celebrate Christmas

Leading up to the festivities of Christmas, Advent can bring many pressures to an already hectic time. Keeping Christ in Christmas is certainly our first objective but life's realities must garner our attention as well. Balance needs to be found so that you approach the Season in a way that is right for you. As an individual, your life is unlike the life of any other. Your family responsibilities, job obligations, and the things that just happen - this all fits into the equation of what makes up the entire picture of your life.

Sometimes stepping back and looking at the whole picture is a helpful means of finding balance for your reality.

1. Don't feel inadequate because you are not keeping up with all of the many opportunities to have the best Advent ever. You cannot do it all. You probably are not even able to fulfill your own personalized agenda each and every day. Be honest with yourself and grab onto the things you can do and prioritize. That way, your spiritual life will remain at the top but, your other duties will also stand a chance.

2. Instead savor Advent - a season purposely focused on waiting and preparation. Every day, try to find a quiet moment to allow God to fill the spaces in your heart that need comfort, courage, and grace. For a mom, that might only be available early in the morning, late at night, or while waiting in the car while performing mom’s taxi service. Yet, you can make it special nonetheless. Breathe deeply and invite Him in.

3. Do not think you have to be Martha Stewart or recreate every 'wow' project on Pinterest, some years I make the most perfect cookies, from scratch. There are the cookies of my German heritage and there are the cookies that look picture perfect with colorful icing. I manage to get it all in because I feel inspired and because life has allowed it that year. Other years, it simply fails to happen. There might be too many choir and Christmas play practices. Or maybe I have chosen to sew a few gifts. Sometimes I simply feel uninspired. I have had to learn to just let life ebb and flow. The main thing is to make it to confession, prepare for His Coming, and to make sure others feel (and see) Christ's love in me.

4. Instead simplify by choosing one or two things per day, so that you can enjoy Advent with your family. Maybe you are like me and you want to be structured but your mind wanders restlessly between all of the objectives I have set up for myself. When that feeling threatens to steal my peace of mind, I go to the time-honored system of list making. The list begins with the most important objectives and dwindles down to the optional. If I set my mind to completing the items on my list, one at a time, it all of a sudden becomes doable.

5. So the second (or third) Sunday of Advent has come and gone. Don't throw your hands up in despair because Advent has already begun and you're feeling behind. Is it really too late? Not a chance. Remember, we serve a God of many chances. However many days remain, that is how many opportunities you still have to 'get with the program'. What is your hold up? Start today!

6. Don't over emphasize the material - whether it's preparing a feast (or replicating a French pastry shop), gifting, or decor. Some years the financial picture is less promising than you would like. That is the year that you give from the heart. Some of the most memorable gifts have been the ones that cost very little but hit just the right spot in the heart. Bags made for the girls out of left over fabric, a heritage cookbook, or a specially handcrafted booklet. These are actually the ones most cherished.

8. In the rushed and demanding days leading up to family gatherings, savor each aspect, make each prayer, book, project or gift sublimely important by pouring your love into it. Allow Jesus to sit at your side and offer these gifts to Him as well.

When everything on your list is checked off, the last package is wrapped, and your special times with Jesus have strengthened your spirit, that is when you will become most aware of the beauty of the Season. The glow of the faces around you as you attend Mass, the soothing nourishment your soul receives when receiving Him in the Eucharist, and the afterglow of the remembrance of a humble Child Who came to save us all - that will be your Gift.

The hurry and worry will be washed away. Your preparation and readiness to greet Him will all fall into place and you will realize that we truly need the anticipatory time of Advent to fully celebrate Christmas.