Sunday, January 22, 2017

I Have a Piece Published...

Over at the National Catholic Register Today telling the story of how the Blessed Mother persisted to get me back in the habit of the daily rosary.  Please share, like, tweet and leave a comment.  Also, if you're thinking, you didn't get off to a big start of a New Year's Resolution, try asking the Virgin Mary to help you say a rosary a day.  She's very willing to help.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The March for Living

I love the March for Life. This year, it's being held on the 27th of January.  I've walked in it, I've covered it for a story, and I've met people who came from all over the country and braved horrible weather to walk in it.  

I am pro-life, and that means I believe abortion to be a grave evil that harms the mother, the father, the abortionist and the child.  Abortion is the world's solution because it doesn't require involvement, it doesn't involve commitment, sacrifice or love.   It seems like a quick fix.  As a Catholic, as a human being, I believe we cannot solve an evil (being alone and pregnant), (rape), (incest), (lack of access to medical care), (poverty) with another evil (abortion).   It is to my sensibilities, a means by which society can ignore such evils and allow them to persist.    I am pro-life which means I know there aren't easy or simple fixes to the problems of life, any problem of any weight requires involvement, committment, sacrifice and love.   The question always thrown to the pro-life advocate is, "What are you going to do?" and that's where we need to make a visible sign to the world that we are more than just against something, we are for life.

To be pro-life is to wish we could fund crisis pregnancy centers providing obgyn care in every city across the country so that women wouldn't feel they needed to turn to abortion, and reduce adoption regulations and fees so that it could be considered more often as a viable alternative.   To be pro-life is to ponder, how do we change hearts (which is much harder), than merely defunding something.  

We have organizations like And Then There Were None, and Sisters For Life and National Life Center, and Project Rachel which provide help to practitioners who want out, expectant mothers who need help both during and after the pregnancy, and those who suffer from having experienced an abortion, both recent or deep past.  

However, we do not always focus on the reality, to love, we always need to expand outward, to do more.  The march is a great way to hearten those who know, the child in the womb needs protection, but it needs to be about more than abortion, as grave and hard as it is.   We need to be talking about the innate dignity of each person, so that we are pro-life from conception to natural death.

The unborn child has dignity.
The pregnant mother has dignity.
The father of the unborn child has dignity.
The unborn girl has dignity.
The unborn boy has dignity.
The unborn tripplet has dignity.
The unborn child with Down Syndrome has dignity.
The unborn child with any other condition one can diagnose within the womb, has dignity.
The born child with an addiction has dignity.
The child born in poverty has dignity.
The child born with a fragile medical condition has dignity.
The toddler who is behind on benchmarks has dignity.
The toddler who struggles with a temper has dignity.
The child with hyperactivity has dignity.
The child who doesn't like school has dignity.
The child who struggles with reading has dignity.
The child who never turns in homework, has dignity.
The child who doesn't speak, has dignity.
The child diagnosed with autism, has dignity.
The child diagnosed with cancer, has dignity.
The child who is depressed, has dignity.
The child who is overweight, has dignity.
The child who never seems to be clean, has dignity.
The child who is hungry has dignity.
The child who is always sick, has dignity.
The child who is homeless, has dignity.
The child diagnosed with whatever it is, has dignity.
The teen who is rude, has dignity.
The teen who is loud, has dignity.
The teen who is always late, has dignity.
The teen who struggles to pay attention, has dignity.
The teen who doesn't struggle and doesn't pay attention, has dignity.
The teen who leaves early, has dignity.
The teen who has it all together, has dignity.
The teen who seems hopeless in all things, has dignity.
The young adult who doesn't have a job, has dignity.
The young adult who doesn't go to school, has dignity.
The young adult who isn't going to the best school, has dignity.
The young adult who dropped out of school, has dignity.
The young adult who still doesn't know how to be an adult, has dignity.
The young adult with young children, has dignity.
The young adult without children, has dignity.
The middle class adults have dignity.
The poor adults have dignity.
The well off adults have dignity.
The adults without jobs have dignity.
The adults with jobs have dignity.
The adults with houses have dignity.
The adults without homes have dignity.
The married have dignity.
The single have dignity.
The divorced have dignity.
The degreed have dignity.
The skilled have dignity.
The adults lacking degrees have dignity.
The adults lacking skills have dignity.
The older have dignity.
The injured have dignity.
Those with handicapping conditions have dignity.
Those with handicapping conditions we can't see, have dignity.
Those with metal illness, have dignity.
Those with addictions have dignity.
Those with deterriating conditions have dignity.
Those who are dying have dignity.
Those who are alone have dignity.
Those who have nothing, have dignity.
Those who are powerful, have dignity.
Those who are powerless, have dignity.

Everyone, regardless of age, sex, gender identity, race, creed, economics, education, career, politics, capacity and development, has dignity.  I could go on, but the idea is everyone. All ones.  Every single one.  There is no person here now, or ever before, who is not innately a person of value not for what they've done, or how far they've come or the power or riches they may or may not have, or the skills they've acquired and talents they've harnessed, but for being.  

We should be about celebrating the innate dignity of all.  

To that end, we should be extending an invitation to create a summer event, parallel to the March for Life, about the Dignity of All, The March of Living.  We'd hold it in the summer when it would be easy on families and in multiple cities across the nation.  This march would not based on a concensus of political values or one sex or against anything.  Such a march for all would be an attempt to reach out and make sure everyone knows about all the magnificient ministries out there which can help anyone who fits into any of these categories plus any I failed to mention.

We could invite charities of all kinds to be part of the march, and have it every year, as a grand celebration not just of life, but of ministering to life at all of its stages, so that people who might not agree with those who advocate against abortion, could discover we are more than merely against abortion, we are for life and here is how.  We could show the world, "Look how they love each other."
There would be ministries for caring for the sick, for the dying, for the hungry, for the homeless, for the veteran, for the incarcerated, for the addicted, for the recovering, for the jobless, for the struggling, for children, for legal help, for financial help, for whatever kind of help, for elderly, for the educating of all, for inviting all to be part of how we would be the hands and feet of Jesus, ministering to all.   It would be a celebration of service and life.

At the end of the day, we would have a concert, celebrating our gifts and our grattide for all, and give everyone a lit candle, and ask all of them to recognize, they are that singular light in the world, and that if every one were allowed to be nurtured and remain lit, the world itself would be luminous. Now go, and nurture someone else's light, to make the world lighter.

Thursday, January 19, 2017


This week, one of the classes I assist worked on essays discussing disillusionment.  We'd read The Great Gatsby, and were debating whether Gatsby's relentless romanticism and hopefulness that Daisy would come, Daisy would call, and he and she would live happily ever after, was a good thing as Nick opines, or a delusion which should have been discarded when she married Tom.  

We'd given examples, "Finding out about the Tooth Fairy or Santa," learning a friend wasn't, or being let down by a classmate, parent, teacher or other person.  We'd discussed the first component necessary in being disillusioned, having trust and hope in something or someone.   So is it a good?  One could not say it was healthy in the case of Gatsby, and several students declared him to be insane to pursue her when he could have anyone and he had everything.  However the funeral reveals the stark reality.  He had everything of matter, and nothing that mattered.  Some of my students lamented the weight of the waste of Gatsby's life and felt mystified he'd have such depth of feeling for someone who seemed so casual in her feelings for everything.

Other students understood Nick's appreciation of Gatsby for his "all in" way of living.  These students wanted that romanticism to be real.  They wanted a "Re-illusioned" world where anything was possible and maybe, maybe if George hadn't shot him, Daisy would recognize what she might lose by not leaving Tom.  

The discussion took place in pieces, punctuated by talk about the fight that took place between two girls that morning.  Oddly, the students didn't recognize the very passions which drove the quarrel between two students, was also the result of two visions of the world.  One world held there is no place that is safe, there is no relationship one should hold as fixed.  The other side thought even if it was a fight, there was a reason, and the fight settled very little, as the passions remained.  

If we have a goal with education, it is to walk the line of growing hope and bolstering the steel in each student to face reality.    We have to do both and, revealing that we cannot know all ends of our actions or the outcomes of all relationships, and yet must act in all things with some degree of anticipation about how things will play out.  The students wrote over and over again of a wanting to not have to be disillusioned.   They want the dream of having someone be that lavishly in love.  They want the dream of being able to somehow build one's self out of nothing.   They want to think, they can one day arrive and have everything. They also presume, when they arrive, the friends at the party will be real.  That's what they want. It's what Gatsby wanted.   No one wanted to think they had to despair to face reality.

All I could think was, me too.  

So I pondered, perhaps it is time to create some story which allows for the re-ordering of our understanding about hopes and dreams.  They aren't an illusion or a delusion, but a means of imagining a reality better than what we face.  They may be a goal.  They may become a reality.  They aren't a guarantee, but they are a catalyst for everyone who ever embraces them, to make the world something other than the disillusioned mess it is now.  

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