Thursday, October 31, 2013

Blessed Chiara Luca Badano, Pray for Us!

Blessed Chiara Luca Badano, Pray for Us!

Sometimes we’d prefer that our lives be a different story than the one God seems to be writing.  In our fragile existence it doesn’t take much to turn a romance into a drama, or an adventure into a tragedy.  At a glance, the story of Chiara Badano—an only child conceived after 11 years of marriage, who died at 18 after a bout with a painful form of bone cancer—looks like an empty tragedy, but not from the perspective of the Divine Author.  

Chiara seemed to have everything going for her as a teen.  She had a loving, holy family and a rock solid faith that was nurtured by retreats and youth ministry programs.  She was popular amongst her friends and was liked by boys.  It’s not hard to see why.  She was beautiful.  Chiara loved to hang out in coffee shops.  She was great at tennis, swimming and mountain climbing.  Her outgoing personality and adventurous spirit made her dream of becoming a flight attendant.  Chiara had a bright life ahead of her. 

One day while playing tennis, Chiara experienced excruciating pain in her shoulder.  Shortly afterwards she was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma.  She watched her bright future slip away.  But it’s here that the real story of her life begins—the story of heroic virtue.

Chiara’s joy was explosive and it only increased with her suffering.  After one very pain-filled night she said, “I suffered a lot, but my soul was singing.”  Google pictures of her on her death bed.  Her eyes look like pools reflecting the glory of heaven.  One of her doctors remarked, “Through her smile, and through her eyes full of light, she showed us that death doesn’t exist; only life exists.”  Cardinal Saldarini heard of this amazing teen and visited her in the hospital.  Awestruck, he said, “The light in your eyes is splendid. Where does it come from?”  Chiara’s reply was simple:  “I try to love Jesus as much as I can.”

Chiara had a profound sense of redemptive suffering.  She often repeated the phrase, “If this is what you want, Jesus, so do I.”  Like any teenage girl, she loved her hair, but with each lock that fell out she’d pray, “For you, Jesus.”  She frequently refused morphine, saying, “I want to share as much as possible in His suffering on the cross.” 
During one of her many hospital stays Chiara took walks with a depressed, drug-dependent girl, despite the pain of walking from the huge growth on her spine.  When she was encouraged to stop and rest she said, “I’ll have time to rest later.”  Ever thinking of others, she said, “I have nothing left, but I still have my heart, and with that I can always love.”  

Chiara requested to be buried in a wedding gown.  As the end of her short life drew near she told her mother, “When you’re getting me ready, Mum, you have to keep saying to yourself, ‘Chiara Luce is now seeing Jesus.’”
She died on Oct. 7, 1990.  Her parents and friends were with her.  Her last words were: “Goodbye. Be happy because I’m happy.” 

Thanks to her local bishop, Chiara was declared “Servant of God.”  For anyone wondering if Chiara’s cause for canonization was only opened to comfort grieving parents and friends, God recently put his stamp of approval on her story.  A young boy in Italy was dying from meningitis.  His organs were shutting down.  There was no way to save his life.  His parents learned of Chiara’s story and sought her intercession.  He was fully healed.  A panel of doctors has ruled that there was no medical explanation for this turn of events.  On September 25, 2010, she became the first member of Generation X to be beatified!

Reflecting on her pending death, Chiara said: “Previously I felt … the most I could do was to let go.  Instead, now I feel enfolded in a marvelous plan of God, which is slowly being unveiled to me.”  The story of our lives with all its riveting twists and painful turns is written by an author who loves us very much, and for him, even death is only a comma, not a period.  The greatest protagonists in life’s story are the saints.  They shared the eternal perspective of the Author.  That’s why not even the most profound pain could take away their hope. 
Here’s to yet another teen saint! “Blessed Chiara Luce Badano, pray for us!”

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Obamacare failure stories

Think tank collects Obamacare failure stories

A North Carolina think tank has set up a website to gather the stories of people who are worse off under Obamacare.
The anecdotes come from people who have either lost their health plans or are experiencing steep increases in their premiums and deductibles.
So far, the Civitas Institute, a conservative think tank based in Raleigh, has posted 50 Obamacare failure stories on its “I Couldn’t Keep My Plan” website.

Civitas undertook the plan to fact-check President Obama’s vow, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep you health care plan, period.”
“The only thing that will change for you under this plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums. That will be less than you are spending now,” the president also said.
That promise has not panned out, as millions of people across that country have been informed that their health plans don’t meet Obamacare’s new requirements.
For example, California’s Kaiser Permanente recently sent notices to 160,000 people who will be dropped from their insurance plans. At least 300,000 people in Florida will lose their plans.
“This is outrageous!” one woman wrote to Civitas.

“Currently our premium is $300.43 and will rise to $767.68 next year. On top of the huge premium increase our deductible will be $5,500 per person and $11,000 for the family (there are two of us).”
The woman wrote that she and her husband will buy cheaper insurance plans and pay a penalty. People who either don’t purchase insurance or whose policies do not meet Obamacare’s strict coverage standards must pay a penalty.
Under Obamacare health insurance plans that aren’t grandfathered in must cover a wider range of illnesses and conditions including pre-existing conditions, mental health, and maternity care.
One 63-year-old woman submitted her story to Civitas:
“I purchased a Blue Advantage Bronze 5500 insurance plan from BCBSNC for $94.00 per month. I received a letter on September 24 stating that beginning Jan. 1 my new premium would be $651.48. Affordable Health Care??? Are you kidding me?”
A man from New York submitted the story of his wife, an adjunct professor whose workload will be trimmed because of Obamacare.
“The school is going to restrict her to 2 classes/sem because that is the cutoff for part time work. She usually teaches 3-4.”
Many employers across the country have cut employees’ hours to avoid the Obamacare mandate that says that employees averaging greater than 30 hours must be covered by their employers.

One 57 year-old man who is self-employed wrote that his premiums with Blue Cross Blue Shield will increase by over $8,000 and that other out-of-pocket expenses for catastrophic care will increase by a similar amount.
“I do not know many that wouldn’t be taking up their pitchforks and torches and storming the Capitol if Congress raised taxes $8,000 to $16,000 in one year and all future years on middle income families.”
One man wrote saying that his wife’s health care plan would increase by 600 percent under Obamacare. To get around the hefty increase the man said a local insurance agent guided him around the law.
“He suggested we find a non-ACA plan and pay the fine if we wanted to save money on the premium. So her insurance went from about $1,200 per year to over $7,000 and if she gets sick, we have to pay even more than before out of pocket.”
Jim Tynen, communications director for Civitas, says that the sampling of stories is part of a widespread phenomenon. “It’s not just one kind of person. It’s all kinds of people facing all kinds of problems.”

“This captures something statistics can’t,” said Tynen in an interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation. People say “Well, I have been responsible. … Why do I suddenly have to pull much more?”
“People are outraged about it.”
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Monday, October 28, 2013

Pray The Rosary

Some people think that they should stop praying the Rosary because they have distractions while they're praying.  They find their mind always flitting off to their list of things to do, to different crises in the family, et cetera, and they think:  Well, I'm offending God by praying the Rosary with all these distractions; therefore, I'll stop, and I'll start again some other time when my mind is clear. 
Bad reasoning.
The devil puts those distractions in your mind in order to discourage you, in order to keep you from praying the Rosary.  So why should you listen to him?  Instead, persevere. 
Keep praying the Rosary, because the worst Rosary isn't the one that's prayed with a few distractions. It's the one that you don't pray at all. 
Keep praying.  And if the devil puts those distractions in your mind, well, stab him in the eye by praying another Rosary.  The more, the merrier.
Blessed Alan de la Roche relates the story of a nun who appeared after her death to one of her sisters and said:  If I were allowed to go back into my body to have the chance of saying a single Hail Mary , even if I said it quickly and without great fervor, I would gladly go through all the sufferings I had during my last illness all over again to gain the merit of this prayer.
If the saints in heaven have so much esteem for one Hail Mary said rapidly, then what must be the value of a whole Rosary?
                                                                        Fr. Johannes Smith
                                                                        Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bishop tells hostile crowd at gay marriage debate: my secretary was murdered by a gay activist

Bishop tells hostile crowd at gay marriage debate: my secretary was murdered by a gay activist

by Fr. Edward Hayes

PHOENIX, June 5, 2013 ( - In what is being acknowledged even by liberal Catholics as a courageous move, Springfield, IL Bishop Thomas Paprocki debated dissident nun Sr. Jeannine Gramick on the topic of gay “marriage” before a decidedly gay-friendly crowd on Friday. In a shocking revelation in his opening remarks, the bishop told the crowd that his former secretary was brutally murdered by a gay activist simply for suggesting that he change his lifestyle.
Heckling and insults from the crowd and were expected and received as the bishop laid out the argument in favor of traditional marriage, after which he concluded, “some of you may be sneering, and I might be lucky if you said you were willing to hear me again on this topic some other time… In the end, I hope that at least a few of you will agree with my remarks.”
Moderated by journalist Robert Blair Kaiser, the event was held at Shadow Rock United Church of Christ Church.
The Jesuit alumni of Arizona, which organized the event, called it “Two Catholic Views on Marriage,” but in his remarks Bishop Paprocki was quick to point out that was a misnomer. “I corrected that, since there is only one authentic Catholic view,” said the bishop. “There are two views being presented here tonight by two people who are baptized Catholics, but only one of those views, the one I will present, is consistent with Catholic teaching, while the other view clearly dissents from Catholic teaching.” 
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Bishop Paprocki began his address to the crowd powerfully noting the media discrepancy in covering the Matthew Shepard murder and that of his own former secretary, a mother of four, who was killed by a homosexual man for urging him to change his gay lifestyle.
"A Google search on the Internet for the name 'Matthew Shepard' at one time produced 11,900,000 results," said the bishop. "Matthew Shepard was a 21-year-old college student who was savagely beaten to death in 1998 in Wyoming. His murder has been called a hate crime because Shepard was gay."
He continued: 
A similar search on the Internet for the name “Mary Stachowicz” yielded 26,800 results.  In 2002, Mary Stachowicz was also brutally murdered, but the circumstances were quite different.
Mary, the gentle, devout 51-year-old Catholic mother of four urged her co-worker, Nicholas Gutierrez, 19, to change his gay lifestyle. Infuriated by this, as he later told police, he allegedly beat, stabbed and strangled her to death and then stuffed her mangled body in a crawl space in his apartment, located above a Chicago funeral home, where they both worked.
I know about Mary Stachowicz, not from the Internet, but personally, because Mary was my secretary at the parish where I was pastor before I was named a Bishop.
She worked part time at the funeral home and part time at the parish. One afternoon, she didn’t show up at her usual starting time. This was unusual because she was always on time. A call to the funeral home disclosed that her car was still in their parking lot and her purse with her car keys was still at her desk, but there was no sign of Mary.
As Mary’s family and friends prayed and worried about her disappearance, Gutierrez prayed with them. Three days later, her mutilated body was discovered in a crawl space in his apartment.
Both murders were senseless and brutal, and I condemn them both unequivocally. However, the fact that there are over eleven and a half million more Internet stories about Matthew Shepard than Mary Stachowicz indicates where popular sentiment lies today on the question of same-sex relationships. Shepard’s story has received such widespread attention because his homosexuality was the chief motive for his murder.
Mary’s murder was widely ignored by the media, despite the fact that she died as a martyr for her faith. 
Bishop Paprocki was unabashed in saying, “the Church’s teaching on homosexuality and marriage is Catholic because it is true, not true because it is Catholic. “
He said: “In other words, the conclusion that same-sex relationships should not be afforded legal status is because it is based on the truth, not just on Catholic teaching. Yet, saying that makes this conclusion all the more controversial. If it were based simply on Catholic teaching, opponents could say in our pluralistic context, ‘You Catholics are entitled to your opinion, but that is not binding on others.’ Instead, saying that truth is the reason that same-sex relationships should not be afforded legal status is offensive to those who deny the existence of truth, who prefer to live in a world dominated by what Pope Benedict XVI termed a ‘dictatorship of relativism.’”
Bishop Paprocki’s full address is available here.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bishop’s bold statement halts ‘blasphemous’ rosary for gay ‘marriage’ inside cathedral

Video: Bishop’s bold statement halts ‘blasphemous’ rosary for gay ‘marriage’ inside cathedral

SPRINGFIELD, IL, October 23, 2013 ( – 

Homosexual activists canceled a planned protest inside a cathedral this week after Bishop Thomas Paprocki issued a statement saying that asking the Blessed Virgin Mary to intercede on behalf of gay “marriage” legislation was a sacrilege he would not tolerate on church property.

About a week ago, the Rainbow Sash Movement announced its intentions to silently pray the rosary inside Immaculate Conception Cathedral on Tuesday afternoon, 45 minutes before evening Mass. Their intention? That the state legislature would pass Senate Bill 10, titled the “Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act,” legalizing same-sex “marriage” in Illinois.
“By standing up in the Cathedral you will indicate you are there to pray the rosary for marriage” redefinition, its website said. “If you come from a specific parish, you can title yourselves 'Friends of (Name of the Parish or Parishes).'”
Bishop Thomas Paprocki, whose See is based in the capital city of Springfield, used his role as shepherd of his people to warn Christians not to profane God by asking Him to publicly degrade holy matrimony.

“It is blasphemy to show disrespect or irreverence to God or to something holy,” he said, citing several passages of the Gospel that “Jesus clearly taught that marriage as created by God is a sacred institution between a man and a woman.”

“Praying for same-sex marriage should be seen as blasphemous, and as such will not be permitted in the cathedral,” he warned. “People wearing a rainbow sash or who otherwise identify themselves as affiliated with the Rainbow Sash Movement will not be admitted into the cathedral, and anyone who gets up to pray for same-sex marriage in the cathedral will be asked to leave.”
“Of course, our cathedral and parish churches are always open to everyone who wishes to repent their sins and ask for God’s forgiveness,” the bishop added.
His strong words – and the presence of police officers around and inside the cathedral – scuttled the protest. Not a single sash-bearer sashayed into the sanctuary.

Instead, outraged gay activists turned to the media.
“We’re not committing blasphemy. The bishop’s committing blasphemy,” said Rick Garcia, political director of the Civil Rights Agenda, an LGBT pressure group founded by attorney Jacob Meister. “That a bishop would say this about me or my people is outrageous.”
According to the State Journal-Register, Garcia contrasted Bishop Paprocki's words with public statements by Pope Francis, whose statements some have interpreted as downplaying the Church's teachings on homosexuality.
Bishop Paprocki's reaction to the Rainbow Sash Movement – a group dedicated to protesting Catholic teaching on homosexuality – differs markedly from some of his brethren. In 2011, the movement publicly thanked former San FranciscoArchbishop George Niederauer for his inaction when churches under his care supported their political agenda. The Vatican has since replaced him with Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, a forthright supporter of the traditional family.

Bishop Paprocki is aware of the danger of defying the homosexual movement. His former secretary was murdered by a gay activist

The future of the Illinois bill remains an open question. After passing the state Senate on February 14 by a mostly party-line 34-21, it stalled in the House this summer after the House African-American Caucus – lobbied by the state's black pastors – pulled its support.
Marriage supporters took the bill's failure to pass in a liberal, Democrat-controlled state as a sign that gay “marriage” is anything but “inevitable.”
Despite being endorsed by Barack Obama, the bill is still 12 votes shy of passage, according to House Speaker Michael Madigan. If passed, the bill “would make Illinois the most hostile state in the country to the religious freedoms of people of faith," said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel at the Thomas More Society, based in Chicago.

Bishop Paprocki's statement reads in full:
The Rainbow Sash Movement has encouraged Roman Catholics to come to Springfield to “have a loud Catholic presence for marriage equality.” They have announced plans to gather at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at 4:30 p.m., just before the 5:15 p.m. Mass, to stand in the Cathedral and indicate that they are there to pray the rosary for “marriage equality.”
It is blasphemy to show disrespect or irreverence to God or to something holy. Since Jesus clearly taught that marriage as created by God is a sacred institution between a man and a woman (see Matthew 19:4-6 and Mark 10:6-9), praying for same-sex marriage should be seen as blasphemous, and as such will not be permitted in the cathedral.
People wearing a rainbow sash or who otherwise identify themselves as affiliated with the Rainbow Sash Movement will not be admitted into the cathedral and anyone who gets up to pray for same-sex marriage in the cathedral will be asked to leave.
*****Of course, our cathedral and parish churches are always open to everyone who wishes to repent their sins and ask for God’s forgiveness.

Most Reverend Thomas John Paprocki

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Some Hard Spiritual Truths That Will Set You Free. A Meditation on a Teaching from St. John of the Cross

I have written before on Five Hard Truths That Will Set You Free. In thispost I would like to ponder Some Hard Spiritual truths that will set us free.
In calling them “hard truths,” I mean that they are not the usual cozy bromides that many seek. They speak bluntly about the more irksome and difficult realities we confront. But, if we come to accept them, they have a strange way of bringing serenity by getting us focused on the right things, instead of chasing after false dreams.

For it sometimes happens that a person can spend his whole life being resentful that life isn’t peachy, forgetting all the while that we are in exile, that we are making a hard journey, we pray,  to a life where, one day,  every sorrow and difficultly is removed, and death and sorrow are no more. But not now.
There is a kind of unexpected serenity in living in the world as it is, rather than resenting the world for not being what we want it to be. For now, the journey is hard and we have to be sober about our obtuse desires and destructive tendencies. And that is why there is a value in calling these insights, “hard truths that will set us free.”

In the very opening section of his Spiritual Canticle, St. John of the Cross lays out a presumed worldview that the spiritually mature ought to have attained. And because he presumes it of his reader, he states it only briefly.
Yet, for us who live in times not known for spiritual maturity, we ought to slow down for a moment and ponder these truths which are not only poorly understood, but even actively resisted today by many who call themselves wise and spiritually mature.
Remember now, these are hard truths, and many today wish to bypass the harder teachings of God. Thus we do well to pay special attention to a Spiritual Master who is deeply immersed in Scripture, as a remedy for the soft excesses of our modern times.

Lets first look at the quote from St. John and then, by way of a list, examine his points. With this preamble of sorts, St. John begins his Spiritual Canticle:
The soul… has grown aware of her obligations and observed that life is short (Job 14:5), the path leading to eternal life constricted (Mt. 7:14), the just one scarcely saved (1 Pet. 4:18), the things of the world vain and deceitful (Eccles. 1:2), that all comes to an end and fails like falling water (2 Sam. 14:14), and that the time is uncertain, the accounting strict, perdition very easy, and salvation very difficult. She knows on the other hand of her immense indebtedness to God for having created her solely for Himself, and that for this she owes Him the service of her whole life; and because He redeemed her solely for Himself she owes Him every response of love. She knows, too, of the thousand other benefits by which she has been obligated to God from before the time of her birth, and that a good part of her life has vanished, that she must render an account of everything – of the beginning of her life as well as the later part – unto the last penny (Mt. 5:25) when God will search Jerusalem with lighted candles (Zeph. 1:12), and that it is already late – and the day far spent (Lk. 24:29) – to remedy so much evil and harm. She feels on the other hand that God is angry and hidden because she desired to forget Him so in the midst of creatures, Touched with dread and interior sorrow of heart over so much loss and danger, renouncing all things, leaving aside all business, and not delaying a day or an hour, with desires and sighs pouring from her heart, wounded now with the love for God, she begins to call her Beloved…
Let us look at these hard but freeing spiritual insights one by one, with  commentary by me, in red.
The soul has grown aware of her obligations and observed
1. That life is short (Job 14:5).
More than any other age we entertain the illusion that death can be easily postponed. It cannot be. We are not guaranteed the next beat of our heart, let alone tomorrow! It is true that with advances in medical science, sudden death from lesser causes it not as frequent today. But too easily this leads us to entertain the notion that we can cheat death. We cannot.
Life remains short, and we do not get to choose when we will die. Both my mother, and sister died on a sudden, were swept away in an instant. They never got to say goodbye. You do not know if you will even finish this sentence before or article before death summons you.
This is wisdom. It is a hard truth that gives us an important perspective. Life is short and you don’t have a calendar to know how short.
What are you doing to get ready to meet God? What are you getting worked up about and what are not concerned about? Are your priorities rooted in the truth that life is short? Or are you waging bets in a foolish game where the house (death and this world) always wins on its terms and not yours?
There is a strange serenity and freedom in realizing that life is short. We do not get as worked up about passing things, and we become more invested in lasting things, and the things to come.

2. The path leading to eternal life constricted (Mt. 7:14) 
Another illusion we entertain today is that salvation is a cinch, that it is a done deal. The “heresy” of our time is a kind of universal salvation that denies the consistently repeated biblical teach which declares: Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matt 7:13-14 inter al).
In parable after parable, warning after warning, Jesus speaks with sober admonition about the reality of hell and the closing reality of judgment. No one loves you more than Jesus, and no warned you about Hell and Judgment more than Jesus.
Salvation is not easy, it is hard. Jesus said this, not me. This is not because God is mean, it is because we are stubborn, obtuse and prefer the darkness to light. We need to sober up about our stubbornness and our tendencies to prefer “other arrangements” to what God offers and teaches. In the end, God will respect our choice and there comes a day when our choice for or against the Kingdom and its values will be sealed forever.
This is a hard saying, but it sets us free from the awful sin of presumption, a sin against hope and instills in us a proper priority for the work that is necessary to root us in God. Accepting this hard truth will free you from silly and baseless presumption. It will make you more serious about your spiritual life and aware of the need for prayer, sacraments, Scripture and the Church. It will help you have better priorities that are less obsessed with passing worldly things and people, and be more rooted in what it eternal. It will make you more evangelical and urgent to save souls. It will turn you to Jesus and away from Belial and passing pathetic worldly things.

3. That the just one scarcely saved (1 Pet. 4:18) 
Here is a further truth that sets aside modern errors about an almost universal salvation. The fuller context of the quote is this: For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:17-18)
And yet, despite this and many other quotes and teachings like it, we go one presuming that almost everyone will go to heaven. We set aside God’s Word, for human errors and wishful thinking. We substitute human assurances for God’s warnings. We elevate ourselves over St. Paul who said that we should work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Phil 2:12) and spoke of disciplining himself, lest, after preaching to others, he should be lost (1 Cor 9:27). Are we better and more enlightened that Jesus? Than Paul, Than Peter?
Salvation is hard. This is not meant to panic us, but it is meant to sober us to the need for prayer, Sacraments, Scripture and the Church. Without these medicines we don’t stand a chance. And we must persevere to the end.
This hard truth sets us free from illusion and sends us running to the Lord who alone can save us. Smug presumption roots us in the world, Godly fear and sober awareness of our stubborn and unrepentant hearts sends us to Jesus and this frees us.

4. The things of the world vain and deceitful (Eccles. 1:2)
Such a freeing truth. First that the things of this world are vain. That is to say, they are empty, passing, and vapid. We so exult power, popularity, and worldly glories. But they are gone in a moment. Who was Miss America in 1974? Who won the Heisman Trophy in that same year? If you know, do you really care and does it really matter? Empty show, glitter and fools gold, yet we spend billions and watch this stuff forever.
And even though we should fight for justice, for the sake of the kingdom, even here the Scriptures counsel some perspectiveI have seen a wicked, ruthless man,spreading himself like a green laurel tree. But he passed away, and behold, he was no more; though I sought him, he could not be found. (Ps 37:35-36).
And how deceitful is this passing world.! The main deceit of this world is to say, “I am what you exist for, I am what matters, I am what satisfies.” Lies and deceptions on all counts. The form of this world is passing away. It cannot supply our infinite desires. Our hearts were made for God, and only being with him one day will satisfy.
Yet so easily do we listen to the world’s seduction and lies. Too often we want to be lied to and prefer to chase illusions, vanity and indulge deceit.
How freeing this truth is, if we can lay hold of it. We learn to make use of what we need, but begin to lose our obsession with vain and passing things, and our insatiable desire for more. Yes, perhaps you can live without that granite counter top.
This is a very freeing truth if we can accept its hard reality. And becoming more free a deeper serenity finds us.

5. That all comes to an end and fails like falling water (2 Sam. 14:14)
The world is passing away. It can’t secure your future. The world cruel lies that it can supply you is on display in every graveyard. So much for the world’s empty promises: “You can have it all!” Yes, and then you die.
Meditate on death often. Indeed, every night the Church bids us to rehearse our death in night prayer by the reciting of the Nunc Dimittis.
Scripture says, For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come(Heb 13:14). Do you have your sights fixed where true joys are? Or are you like Lot’s wife?
Let this truth free you to have proper perspective. Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God (Col 3:1).

6. And that the time is uncertain. 
You got plans for tomorrow? Great, so do I. Only problem, tomorrow is not promised or certain. Neither is the next beat of your heart. Another hard, but freeing truth.

7. The accounting strict -
Jesus warns,  But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken (Matt 12:36). St. Paul says, He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart (1 Cor 4:5). And adds, So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad (2 Cor 5:9-10). And James chillingly says, So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy (James 2:12-13) What he says is chilling since so many are without mercy today.
If God judges us with the same strict justice we often dish out, we don’t stand a chance. The accounting will be strict, so don’t pile on with unnecessary severity and wrath toward others.
Here is another freeing truth that helps us take heed of the coming judgement.

8. Perdition very easy - I wonder why he might have repeated this? I just wonder….!

9. And salvation very difficult - Hmm… look he repeated this too! I wonder why? Maybe repetition is the mother of studies.

10. [That we are often and strangely ungrateful and unmoved] She knows on the other hand of her immense indebtedness to God for having created her solely for Himself, and that for this she owes Him the service of her whole life; and because He redeemed her solely for Himself she owes Him every response of love. She knows, too, of the thousand other benefits by which she has been obligated to God from before the time of her birth, and that a good part of her life has vanished,
Here is a sober truth that calls us to remember. What does it mean to remember? To remember means to have present in your mind and heart what the Lord has done for you so that you are grateful and different. 
And yet we live so many years and hours of the day in ingratitude. We get all worked up resentful about the smallest setbacks, and almost totally ignore the trillions of blessings each day.
In a sense our ingratitude is obnoxiously massive because of the easy manner with which we mindlessly receive and discount incredibly numerous blessings, and magnify every suffering setback or trial. So much of our life passes in the complaint department. And so commonly we are stingy with even a simple “Thank you Lord, for all your obvious and hidden blessings, thank you Lord for creating, sustaining and loving me to the end, and for inviting me to know, Love and serve you.“

11. That she must render an account of everything – of the beginning of her life as well as the later part – unto the last penny (Mt. 5:25) when God will search Jerusalem with lighted candles (Zeph. 1:12) - Did he repeat himself again? Now why do you suppose he does that?! You don’t think he considers us stubborn, do you?

12. and that it is already late – and the day far spent (Lk. 24:29) – to remedy so much evil and harm. Repetitio mater studiorum

13. [That the unrepentant will experience the wrath to come] – She feels on the other hand that God is angry and hidden because she desired to forget Him so in the midst of creatures,
The wrath of God is really in us, not in God. It is our experience of discomfort before the holiness of God. It is like being used to a dark room, and suddenly being brought into the bright afternoon sunlight. We protest and say the light is harsh. But the light is not harsh. We are incapable of tolerating the light due to our preference for and acclamation to the dark. In the same way God is not  “mad” He is not moody or harsh. He is God. And God does not change.
Thus St. John teaches here, the hard but freeing truth that God is holy and no one is going to walk into his presence unprepared. If we prefer the world and its creatures to the Creator, we thereby prefer the darkness and cannot tolerate the light. Heaven is simply not possible for those who prefer the darkness. And thus Jesus says, And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil (John 3:19) – That’s right, just three verses after John 3:16
And while the sinful soul may “feel” that God is angry and hiding himself, the problem is in the sinful soul, not God.
The freedom of this hard saying comes in reminding us, and urging us to get ready to meet God. He is not going to change. He can’t change. So we have to change, and by his grace, become the light of his holiness.

14. [We Need to Call on the Savior] - Touched with dread and interior sorrow of heart over so much loss and danger, renouncing all things, leaving aside all business, and not delaying a day or an hour, with desires and sighs pouring from her heart, wounded now with the love for God, she begins to call her Beloved
And yes, here is the real point of all these hard truths: to make us love our savior more, learn to depend on him, and run to him as fast as we can. Only when we know the hard truths are we really going to be all that serious.
After all, who goes to the doctor? One who is convinced he has no cancer (even though he does). Or the one who knows he’s got it bad and that ain’t good? The answer is self evident.
Bad sadly the answer is self-evident enough to this current generation where, even in the Church, there are so many who don’t want to discuss any of the hard and sober truths we need to lay hold of before we get serious.

A steady diet of “God loves you and all is well, no matter what…” has emptied our pews. Why? Well, who goes to the spiritual hospital if all they hear is that nothing is wrong and that their salvation is secure, almost no matter what?
The good news of the gospel has little impact when the bad news is no longer understood. What does salvation mean if there is no sin and nothing to be saved from? Now of course the bad news should not be preached without pointing to the good news. But the point is that both are needed.
Thus, St. John’s hard truths are not meant to discourage. They are meant to sober us and send us running to the doctor.
Now look,  you’ve got it bad and that ain’t good. But the Good news is, there is a doctor in the house. Run to him now, he’s calling you!

Vatican strongly reaffirms no Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics

Vatican strongly reaffirms no Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics

VATICAN CITY, October 22, 2013 ( - In a lengthy essay published today, on the Vatican newspaper’s website in five languages, Archbishop Gerhard Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has strongly reaffirmed Catholic Church teaching forbidding divorced and remarried Catholics from receiving Holy Communion. 

Comments from Pope Francis on his return trip from Rio’s World Youth Day regarding divorced and remarried Catholics had led to speculation that a change in the Church’s long-standing tradition on the matter was coming. That perception was strengthened with the announcement of an upcoming synod on families for next October. But when one diocese in Germany did what many considered jumping the gun and proposed guidelines for allowing communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, the Vatican criticized the move, saying it “risks causing confusion.”

Archbishop Muller’s essay further reinforces the Vatican's position, running through extensive Church teaching on marriage and its permanence. It explicitly refutes popular arguments suggesting a change in the practice and in so doing also clarifies other questions concerning some of Pope Francis’ remarks on conscience. 
The archbishop writes: 
It is frequently suggested that remarried divorcees should be allowed to decide for themselves, according to their conscience, whether or not to present themselves for holy communion.  This argument, based on a problematical concept of “conscience”, was rejected by a document of the CDF in 1994. 
Naturally, the faithful must consider every time they attend Mass whether it is possible to receive communion, and a grave unconfessed sin would always be an impediment.
At the same time they have the duty to form their conscience and to align it with the truth.  In so doing they listen also to the Church’s Magisterium, which helps them “not to swerve from the truth about the good of man, but rather, especially in more difficult questions, to attain the truth with certainty and to abide in it” (Veritatis Splendor, 64).
 If remarried divorcees are subjectively convinced in their conscience that a previous marriage was invalid, this must be proven objectively by the competent marriage tribunals.  Marriage is not simply about the relationship of two people to God, it is also a reality of the Church, a sacrament, and it is not for the individuals concerned to decide on its validity, but rather for the Church, into which the individuals are incorporated by faith and baptism.
“If the prior marriage of two divorced and remarried members of the faithful was valid, under no circumstances can their new union be considered lawful, and therefore reception of the sacraments is intrinsically impossible.  The conscience of the individual is bound to this norm without exception” (Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, “The Pastoral approach to marriage must be founded on truth” L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, 7 December 2011, p. 4)
The article also addresses persons who would suggest that the ‘mercy’ of God would trump the rules of the Church regarding reception of communion in difficult circumstances where marriages, while valid in the eyes of the Church, ended in divorce due to violence or other tragedies.  
A further case for the admission of remarried divorcees to the sacraments is argued in terms of mercy.  Given that Jesus himself showed solidarity with the suffering and poured out his merciful love upon them, mercy is said to be a distinctive quality of true discipleship.
This is correct, but it misses the mark when adopted as an argument in the field of sacramental theology.  The entire sacramental economy is a work of divine mercy and it cannot simply be swept aside by an appeal to the same.  An objectively false appeal to mercy also runs the risk of trivializing the image of God, by implying that God cannot do other than forgive.
The mystery of God includes not only his mercy but also his holiness and his justice.  If one were to suppress these characteristics of God and refuse to take sin seriously, ultimately it would not even be possible to bring God’s mercy to man.
Jesus encountered the adulteress with great compassion, but he said to her “Go and do not sin again” (Jn 8:11).  God’s mercy does not dispense us from following his commandments or the rules of the Church.  Rather it supplies us with the grace and strength needed to fulfil them, to pick ourselves up after a fall, and to live life in its fullness according to the image of our heavenly Father.
The essay ends with an appeal for pastoral care for Catholics who find themselves in such difficult situations. “The path indicated by the Church is not easy for those concerned,” it says.  “Yet they should know and sense that the Church as a community of salvation accompanies them on their journey.  Insofar as the parties make an effort to understand the Church’s practice and to abstain from communion, they provide their own testimony to the indissolubility of marriage.”
See the full article from the Vatican newspaper here.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Antinomianism: The Soft Heresy

Antinomianism: The Soft Heresy
By Daniel Ciofani

Souls in Purgatory

The election of 2012 fused principles of state and church demanding Americans follow one distinct path. The country chose to follow a path that is fiscally illogical, covetous of private property, dismissive to personal initiative, mythological towards freedom, repentant to a planet, subjugating of the religious to the secular, deadly to the unborn, disrespectful to the sick and aged, encouraging to the sexually deviant, and destructive to family.

So how could our nation, so strongly and freely steeped in Judeo-Christian principles, have chosen such a path willingly? First, let us quickly address the Judeo portion of our heritage. Quite simply, there used to be twelve tribes of Israel. Now there are but two; Judah and Benjamin (and a sprinkling of Dan). So when and why did the other tribes evaporate? This I will leave to the more learned, but I have a hunch that they weren't doing something right.

Let's focus in on our good Christian friends.There are many makes, models, colors, and flavors of Christianity to freely choose from in our society. After five hundred years of reforming, reshaping, and reshaking Christianity, the truth is that there is not much difference among each of the varieties. Oh sure, on paper or parchment there are fundamental differences, but they are difficult for the average laity to describe without stumbling. Rarer yet are clergy who attempt to describe their branch's differences, for fear of losing half their flock.

This can be interpreted as a good thing, however. After all, Christianity started out as one Faith and the spirit of ecumenism fosters all to become one family again. Perhaps the old passage, "There is one Lord, one Faith, and one Baptism" rings truer than ever. Amidst all the church rules and laws, maybe we can agree with Augustine, "Love, and do what you want!"

So how could a Christian faith so unified with other denominations all across the country vote so consistently to outlaw its own historical and religious values? How could Christianity vote for ideas that run counter to mathematical, logical, civil, moral, and Biblical laws? It's really quite simple. It's not that there aren't enough Christians in the country, for there are plenty. It's because Christians are saved! (Or think they are.) Their prayer, song, and presence in the Lord, made possible through the gift of Salvation, calls them to be exempt from earthly laws. In short, many Christians are practicing a style of Christianity known as Antinomianism. Here is the definition:

an•ti•no•mi•an•ism (noun)
1. Theology; The doctrine or belief that the Gospel frees Christians from required obedience to any law, whether scriptural, civil, or moral, and that salvation is attained solely through faith and the gift of divine grace.

2. The belief that moral laws are relative in meaning and application as opposed to fixed or universal.

In case you are wondering, Antinomianism is a Christian heresy. This gentle and soft heresy is popular for many reasons. First, it's very old. The original Antinomians were Gnostics. They believed that Christianity was a secretive and privileged message that only the learned understood. They were the climate-changers of their day. The Gnostics held those who just didn't get it in contempt. With that secret knowledge, you could do whatever you wanted in this life, because the material world was ultimately unimportant. Antinomianism made a return during the Reformation, and Luther had to formally put the heresy in its place. Sure, the Just shall live by Faith. Sure, good works don't get the job done. However; Faith and bad works means all bets are off. Even the Council of Trent made a case for its specific heresy. All Christians get to clearly understand this one: antinomianism is an equal opportunity Salvation destroyer.

Today Antinomianism is alive and well in all churches. We have all met many Antinomians. They are the Christians comfortable with bankrupting the country and confiscating others' property. They are Christians who somehow believe that Salvation has a quota based on skin color. They are the pro-choice Catholics, and the Anglicans who encourage the homosexual clergy. They include the Lutherans who pray long and hard for their church to finally move from Sola Scriptura to Some-a-Scriptura. They are even the Evangelicals who actively await the destructive end, while not even voting to prevent it. They are Saved, so they do whatever they want, even if it's deadly. All of these Christians use their gift of Faith as an escape valve for their own irresponsible moral, religious, and Biblical decisions and public policy.

And so the next time you attend church, (assuming you still can stomach attending since November 6th) ask your spiritual leader if he or she is an Antinomian. Most will say that they'll have to get back to you on this one, while they go and look it up. When they do respond, they'll contend, of course not! You'll then have to ask them to describe one religious law of the faithful, defended strongly by your church in secular society. If your spiritual leader has no response, then you have met another Antinomian. No matter how the conversation goes, it is common practice for all religious leaders to suggest, for the sake of the Church, that you pray on it. In the meantime, for the sake of the Church, the Devil too, will be preying on it.

Page Printed from: at October 22, 2013 - 01:28:11 PM CDT

Redeeming Grief--God, Man, and Abortion: A New Summons to Hope

God, Man, and Abortion: A New Summons to Hope

Many good things distinguish Redeeming Grief, Anne’s Lastman’s gripping testament to the dehumanizing havoc wrought by abortion. It is the work of a woman who has devoted over seventeen years of her life to helping thousands of fathers and mothers heal from the wounds of abortion. It is an unsparing analysis of the way abortion destroys not only unborn children but the very fabric of the family. And it is the fruit of conversion: Mrs. Lastman has come to her courageous testament after two abortions of her own, which she was only able to survive, as she says, because of “the mercy of God” and her own “profound rediscovered love for him.”
That contrition should be the foundation of so much of Mrs. Lastman’s testimony puts her in lively company. One thinks of the great English defender of life, Aleck Bourne (1886-1974), who, despite initially agitating for the legalization of abortion, went on to found the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child, and Dr. Bernard Nathanson (1926-2011), an abortion doctor for many years in New York, as well as an architect of the American pro-abortion lobby, who became one of the most ardent and heroic of pro-lifers.
In addition to these splendid pro-life converts, Mrs. Lastman’s career evokes that of an even more illustrious figure. “You can depend on this as worthy of full acceptance,” St Paul told St Timothy, “Christ came into the world to save sinners. Of these I myself am the worst. But on that very account I was dealt with mercifully, so that in me, as an extreme case, Jesus Christ might display all his patience, and that I might become an example to those who would later have faith in him and gain everlasting life.”
Redeeming Grief covIn her impassioned appeal to those unaware or heedless of the real enormity of abortion, and in her solicitude for those beguiled into conniving in the killing of their own unborn children, many of whose stories are woven into the text of Redeeming Grief, Mrs. Lastman exhibits an altogether compelling, Pauline authority. In this respect, she calls to mind another convert, John Newton (1725-1807), the former slave driver turned abolitionist and hymnologist, who, in repudiating the slave trade, came to personify amazing grace.

Another differentiating virtue of Mrs. Lastman’s approach is that she recognizes that the essence of abortion is a failure to embrace the God-given gift of life. As she writes early in the book, “for every one of the abortive women whom I have counseled there has been a history in which the Word of God has been totally absent.” Consequently, many of these women often kill their babies out of genuine ignorance of the sanctity of life.

Yet they are not the only ones who fail to grasp the source of life’s sanctity.
 Many pro-lifers preen themselves on making the case for life without making reference to the Lord of Life, as though the all-important relation between the Creator and His creatures had nothing to do with the inviolability of life. Many lose sight of the fact that the guilt suffered by those who betray that inviolability is the voice of conscience, the voice of the Holy Spirit calling the sinner back to the Father of Mercies. Many remain convinced that natural law arguments alone can sway a public opinion ignorant of the God who animates that law. By boldly making God and His love the centerpiece of her study, Mrs. Lastman reminds her readers that it is only by understanding and receiving the love of God that we can understand and protect human love.

Her theological approach also takes into account the full scale of abortion’s evil, something from which many pro-lifers shy away. Indeed, it is striking how few reviewers have accurately described Redeeming Grief. Far from being a “non-judgmental” counselor’s log, as Frances Phillips and Kathryn Jean Lopez suggest, it is a searing indictment of the satanic viciousness of abortion. Above all else, Mrs. Lastman is a truth teller and when she defines her terms she does not shuffle.
Abortion is ultimately not about rights…. It is about hatred, especially spiritual hatred. It is about the hatred Lucifer bears for God and his creation. It is about the cursing of the seed and the crushing of the head. It is about robbing God of children destined for his Kingdom. It is about wickedness wanting tenants for his own accursed kingdom. It is about violence and degradation. It is about dehumanization and death. It is about the mechanization and finally the death of societal conscience possibly leading to the death of society itself.
If Redeeming Grief is full of compassion for those who regret allowing themselves to become agents of this “violence and degradation,” it is never ‘non-judgmental’ compassion, which, she recognizes, would trivialize the grief of those who deplore what they have done in killing their own children. As such, her approach reveals the debt Mrs. Lastman owes to the most perceptive of all pro-lifers, Pope John Paul, II, whose Evangelium Vitae remains the single best book ever written on the topic precisely because it anatomizes so clearly and so charitably the grave inherent sinfulness of abortion.

Still another virtue of the book is that it does not avoid addressing aspects of the culture of death that pro-lifers often sidestep. For Mrs. Lastman, the tragic rejection of Pope Paul VI’s condemnation of contraception, so prophetically set out inHumanae Vitae, lay the groundwork not only of legalized abortion but of all of the moral and spiritual disorders that have come to characterize the pro-abortion ethos. Humanae Vitae,” she writes, “was the document which came out against the social engineers. It attempted to sound the warning bells about possible future disasters. Very sadly it was a document not embraced either by the Catholic world or society in general. Hence the rampant spread of unbridled sexuality, unholy sexuality, contraception on an unimaginable scale, abortions in unprecedented numbers, overt demands for homosexual acceptance as a ‘normal’ lifestyle leading to demands for same-sex marriage, and the slow and insidious disintegration of the family.”

That contraception, sodomy and abortion are sins that mutilate the family is something one rarely hears even from Catholic pro-lifers. As we all know, in a social order where deploring such sins opens one up to charges of bigotry, silence rules, a silence replete with collusion. It is also a silence which consigns young men and women suffering from post-abortion grief to an isolated grief, which gives rise to the nihilism and self-destructiveness that now characterize so many young people. In taking stock of this “disenfranchised grief,” as she calls it, which has become ubiquitous in the wake of Roe v. Wade, Mrs. Lastman asks a number of very pointed questions.
Are the drugs, promiscuity, recklessness their cry to be loved, welcomed, valued, nurtured, guided and directed? Are the dangerous paths embarked upon a rebellion against their perceived lack of value? Are the young consciously atoning for the unjust deaths of millions of their siblings?
Throughout the book, Mrs. Lastman makes clear that unless we acknowledge the intrinsic sinfulness of abortion and other related evils there can be no hope of our coherently combating the culture of death.
Often it has been said to me during counseling sessions: “Now I understand what sin is and what sin does.” Until this time the sense of sin had not been an issue. “Sin” was what religious fanatics spoke about…. As I listen to these and other similar words I am filled with hope, as I see that the spirit’s travail for this loss can be the energizer for future hope.
Here, Mrs. Lastman echoes a memorable passage from a sermon by the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, who knew from the confessional how necessary the sense of sin is to those seeking to disenthrall themselves from the trammels of evil.
True contrition, that is perfect sorrow for sin, is when we are sorry, and sorry for God’s sake. Now people think it is hard to have so pure a sorrow, that to be sorry because we are in danger to be damned may be easy … but to be sorry for God’s sake and not our own—which is contrition—is a thing for saints or the devout and not for ordinary men or loth and lingering sinners. But easy or hard, remember, brethren, this, and root and rivet it into your hearts, that sorrow for sin is a gift of God and that if you ask for it, it will be given. Do not enquire if you have got it; ask for it, beg and pray for it, with tears, with inward tears at least, and strong cries of the heart beseech God to give it to you. Summon your last strength for that. You will have it; you will get it in time enough. God knows our need. God knows our need. I repeat it a third time. God knows our need.
In encouraging those suffering from post-abortion grief to see for themselves the sinfulness of abortion, Mrs. Lastman shows true solicitude for the survivors of abortion, not the false solicitude of those who give out that by glossing over this sinfulness they are somehow doing the sinner a favor. Penance, after all, enables the sinner to come to terms with his post-abortion grief and reconciles him to God, while impenitence aggravates his grief and estranges him from God.
Then, again, Mrs. Lastman shows how an impenitent age attempts to defy its guilt by authorizing the State to have the final say in matters of birth, marriage, family, and death, an unholy compact which has set off a tourbillion of deviance.
A nation which legally mandates that its future citizens may be murdered, has also covenanted itself with death because it has attempted to wrest sovereignty over life and death from God, and placed it in the hands of Caesar… Having done this, it cannot then hope to justly govern its people. Those who have forced the legalisation of abortion cannot then rest because what has been enacted must be protected, and so further abominations must be deemed necessary in order to justify the original act. Thus late term abortions, infanticide, patricide, matricide, euthanasia, same-sex addictions, demands for deconstruction of marriage and demands for same-sex marriage must follow. Beginning with the killing of weakest infants slowly the moral order must collapse.
Particularly odious proof of the collapse of the moral order in England came recently when the Director of Public Prosecutions released a statement on the Crown Prosecution Service’s failure to prosecute two doctors exposed by the Daily Telegraph for carrying out abortions based on gender. In his statement, the Director, Keir Starmer said that “there may be circumstances, in which termination of pregnancy on grounds of fetal sex would be lawful….” Unconscionable bureaucrats like Starmer may never regret condemning babies to the abattoir, but for those capable of contrition Mrs. Lastman has a vital message:
Human beings were not designed to abort children. They were designed to fulfill a desire to give birth; therefore, the damage which abortion does cannot be repaired by psychological or psychiatric measures (although these measures can help) but by God Himself. Only He can repair the damage to the sacred sanctuary where He encounters the creature of His desire. The healing of abortion grief comes when there is an encounter between the sinner and God. When this reconciliation is facilitated then solidarity with God and neighbor (including the aborted infant) is reestablished and reintegration into the human and heavenly family is achieved.
The alternative to acknowledging and repenting of the sin of abortion, as Mrs. Lastman shows, is set out by the author of Evangelium Vitae with great cautionary dispatch: “If it becomes licit to take a human life when it is weakest, wholly dependent on its mother, on its parents, on the strength of human consciences, then what dies is not only an innocent human being but also human conscience itself. And who knows how widely and quickly the cancer of this destruction of conscience will spread.” At any rate, Lastman is surely right when she says that at the root of the culture of death is “a death of desire to know our creator God,” a death for which our absentee Catholic episcopacy must bear grave responsibility.
Having shared with her readers the fundamental threat that abortion poses to the very survival of our civilized humanity, as well as the lives of unborn children, Mrs. Lastman insists that it is precisely in our war with the pro-abortion establishment that our most valiant pro-lifers will emerge.
Perhaps the greatest and strongest warriors against the enemy of life, abortion, and against abortion providers, will be those individuals who have submitted themselves to the procedure and allowed their baby to be destroyed. Men and women who have experienced an abortion and who know the pain, loss, loneliness, regret, guilt, shame, will slowly surface. With a loud voice they will condemn governments, abortionists, societies and individuals who have lied to them, when told their baby was not a baby and there would be no after effects.
This rousingly hopeful passage will give readers some sense of why Redeeming Grief is such a special book and why Anne Lastman is a pro-lifer to celebrate and applaud.