Social Justice Corner ~ by Erin Lynch
August 12, 2018 ~ Statement from Archbishop Gomez on changes to the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty (Paragraph 2267)
For some years now, I have expressed my concern that the death penalty is both cruel and unnecessary and I have called for its abolition. So, I welcome the changes to The Catechism of the Catholic Church on the death penalty and I am grateful for Pope Francis’ leadership in working for an end to judicial executions worldwide.
The Church has come to understand that from a practical standpoint, governments now have the ability to protect society and punish criminals without executing violent offenders. The Church now believes that the traditional purposes of punishment — defending society, deterring criminal acts, rehabilitating criminals and penalizing them for their actions — can be better achieved by nonviolent means.
The Catechism now says the death penalty is “inadmissible” — it should not be used — because it violates the dignity of the person and because “more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.”
The Catechism is not equating capital punishment with the evils of abortion and euthanasia. Those crimes involve the direct killing of innocent life and they are always gravely immoral. By definition, the lives of almost all those on death row are not “innocent.” But as St. John Paul II said: “Not even a murderer loses his personal dignity, and God himself pledges to guarantee this.…” The Church today is pointing us in a different direction. Showing mercy to those who do not “deserve” it, seeking redemption for persons who have committed evil, working for a society where every human life is considered sacred and protected — this is how we are called to follow Jesus Christ and proclaim his Gospel of life in these times and in this culture.
The full statement can be read at www.la-archdiocese.org/org/oljp
July 29, 2018 ~ Humanae Vitae and the Church’s Perspective on Reproduction (Reprint from the Office of Life, Justice, and Peace, ADLA)
July 25, 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s landmark teaching on birth control. While some claim that women’s liberation is tied to accessible birth control, the Church steadfastly proclaims that contraception is unhealthy for women and harmful for marriages. What’s more, science backs up these claims and offers alternatives. God did not leave us with an impossible command! Instead, the Church offers a loving solution. Through the use of fertility awareness methods of Natural Family Planning, spouses can make use of the natural workings of their bodies to plan or postpone pregnancy.
For more information, please visit archla.org/nfp or call 213-637-7250. Resources you will access include: NFP vs. Hormonal Contraception Fact Sheet, Humanae Vitae via digital copy, and Archbishop Gomez’s column “The Fruit of Love.” Or, you can visit FactsAboutFertitlity.com for more information on the types of NFP available and archla.org/fertility awareness for more resources.
In truth, it is not the Church that maintains an anti-woman, anti-sex bias. Rather, the Church is the incomparable witness to the dignity of women, as well as to the full reality of sex.…The contraceptive mindset cannot avoid scapegoating women’s bodies as the cause of both personal and societal problems. By contrast, the Church, with critical and prophetic clarity, points out that it is selfish desire, not the female body, that is the source of our problems…. But “reproductive health” ought to refer to having a healthy reproductive system. Healthy reproductive systems are fertile. When disease or injury disrupts the functioning of a woman’s reproductive system, she goes to a doctor to restore it—unless, that is, the disruption is deliberately caused through birth control. Then the disruption is viewed as furthering her “reproductive health.” Archbishop Charles Chaput spells out the underlying logic: “At the heart of contraception, however, is the assumption that fertility is an infection that must be attacked and controlled, exactly as antibiotics attack bacteria.” …Critical thought on this subject, as reflected in this former Pill-user’s account, is all-too-rare: “I was eating organic vegetables, drinking hormone-free milk and using chemical-free cleaners. I knew deep down that birth control pills did not fit into my parameter of healthy living.”… While sex accomplishes many things beyond procreation in a relationship, maintaining an openness to children prevents sex from becoming narcissistic. Children point one to the future, to the great unknown, to projects and plans bigger than just me or even us. If children are taken out of the equation, then it becomes easy to reduce women’s bodies to what is useful in the here and now. -Excerpted from http://schurchlife.nd.edu/2018/07/24/humanae-vitae-in-light-of-the -war-against-fertility/ (by Angela Frank)
July 15, 2018 ~ Picking a New Supreme Court Justice- The Importance of Focusing on Every Citizen’s Fundamental Right to Freedom of Speech & Religion
It would be disingenuous not to acknowledge that there is almost absolute polarization among our populace regarding the issue of abortion and the process of selecting a new Supreme Court Justice. The nomination process will undoubtedly become centered around this single issue, with senators voting for or against the nominee solely on each one’s perceived notion of how the nominee would vote in a rematch of the Roe v. Wade case. For so many people this single issue has become the crux of illuminating whether our nation will, henceforth, support our “fundamental” human rights.
I would like to humbly offer that there are some fundamental rights for all people, as directly stated in our Bill of Rights, that are currently in danger of being irrevocably altered. And, if these rights become anything less than absolute, our country will be set on a course upon which return is impossible and the affects disastrous. The rights of which I speak are those of Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion (the right to practice one’s faith freely and remain free of any form of government sponsored religion, including secularism). It does not matter whether one agrees or disagrees with any specific case, if we aren’t all protected in holding our opinion or practicing our faith, then none of us are. Let’s just say, it may feel good to win the battle, but it will be devastating to lose the war.
Bakers and florists whom are not free to decline their services for a gay marriage; medical professionals who are threatened with the loss of their job if they will not participate in abortion procedures; pregnancy centers that are legally required to post and provide abortion services information to clients; prayer groups that are being legally forced down the street from abortion clinics where they want to pray and offer information to people; tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood for abortion services; the firing of coaches for offering a pre-game prayer; threats to the seal of confession for our Catholic priests; religious institutions and orders being legally required to pay for contraception and abortion services.
At the risk of perseverating, when the Bill of Rights is threatened in one instance it is threatened in all. Each of us is admonished by Christ to value the dignity of our sisters and brothers, regardless of agreement or disagreement with the views they hold. Further, treat others as you would wish to be treated if your places were reversed, for in the future they just may be.
June 17, 2018 ~ U.S. Bishops' Migration Chairman Urges Administration to Keep Families Together
June 1, 2018
WASHINGTON—The Department of Homeland Security has recently acknowledged implementation of the policy of separating families arriving at the U.S./Mexico Border. Most Reverend Joe S. Vásquez, Bishop of Austin and Chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Committee on Migration, issued the following statement in response:
"Forcibly separating children from their mothers and fathers is ineffective to the goals of deterrence and safety and contrary to our Catholic values. Family unity is a cornerstone of our American immigration system and a foundational element of Catholic teaching. 'Children are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward.' (Psalm 127:3) Children are not instruments of deterrence but a blessing from God.
Rupturing the bond between parent and child causes scientifically-proven trauma that often leads to irreparable emotional scarring. Accordingly, children should always be placed in the least restrictive setting: a safe, family environment, ideally with their own families.
My brother bishops and I understand the need for the security of our borders and country, but separating arriving families at the U.S./Mexico border does not allay security concerns. Children and families will continue to take the enormous risks of migration—including family separation—because the root causes of migration from the Northern Triangle remain: community or state-sanctioned violence, gang recruitment, poverty, and a lack of educational opportunity. Any policies should address these factors first as we seek to repair our broken immigration system."
June 10, 2018 ~ The Things That Get Between Us and Saying "Yes" to God's Invitation
I am sure that each one of us can bring to mind times when the opportunity to volunteer, mentor, be a caregiver, participate at Mass or in some other way live out our faith more actively was placed squarely in front of us. Speaking for myself, I can honestly say that I must have said “NO” hundreds of times when these moments arose before I finally started to say “Yes!”
Why do we act this way? It is so clear in our faith that we are to see Christ in others and treat them as such. Haven’t we all experienced the joy of rising to the occasion and giving selflessly? The opportunities to participate in something greater than ourself are endless. So why say no?
There seem to be two likely reasons for our avoidance of following the path God sets in front of us. The first could be an unwillingness to devote ourselves to yet another time commitment in the hectic world in which we live. The rationale behind avoiding altruistic commitments in the greater laundry list of our lives is valid- everyone is busy with work, family, and the demands of everyday life. Spending our time participating in something that doesn’t produce a tangible result for us usually comes in low on the priority list. The second reason for our automatic “no” is much deeper. I think that somewhere deep inside the human psyche we understand that once we start down certain paths there is no turning back. Once we cross the threshold of becoming more Christ like, it is very hard to turn back. Being our better self requires acknowledging who we are meant to be, and once we acknowledge that, how can we live as any less?
I encourage each of us to take up the challenge and dive in. Just say yes! If you have any interest in helping with the poor, taking up the challenge of immigration, advocating for the elderly and at-risk populations in end-of-life issues, being a voice in the legislative process, supporting efforts to support foster kids and families, or any other interest with a focus on human dignity, please find a way to take that first step. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to be find ways to get involved, particularly here at SMT with your own parish community. And if that is too much for today, say hello to the Mass Coordinator next Sunday and offer to hand out song sheets or pass the collection basket- it’s easy!
June 3, 2018 ~ Opportunities for Summer 2018
Art Exhibition by our own Fr. Donie- Come to the Parish Center on June 2nd (evening) and June 3rd (all day) to see some of Fr. Donie’s beautiful work. All proceeds will go to charity.
State wide Election June 5- Make sure you have thoughtfully prepared your sample ballot before voting day, and don’t neglect having conversations about the candidates and measures with new voters like your children of voting age!
Bishop Barron’s new series, The Mass- This amazing video series will be launched on June 12th. Understanding the Mass is the best start to developing a love for the Eucharistic celebration and Bishop Barron is inspiring! Please go to www.wordonfire.org for more info.
Knights of Columbus golf tournament- Being held on June 23rd, our KofC will once again raise funds through the fun and community building event. This year sponsors and golfers will have a choice of which charitable efforts their funds will support. See our SMT bulletin for details and consider supporting these committed and generous men through your participation.
SMT Fellowship events- Join the community after a Sunday 5:30 Mass (generally once a month summer through early fall) for a glass of wine and some tasty bites at this congenial gathering.
Catholic Pro-life Camps for teens and adults- Vox Vitae offers a day camp for teens and evening talks for adults on July 8-13. Including an impressive slate of speakers like Bishop David O’Connell, the camps look thought provoking and educational. Contact www.voxvitae.org.
Democrats for Life Annual conference- Democrats For Life of America (DFLA) will host its conference from July 20-22, with a focus on rejuvenating the Democratic Party with pro-life Democrats.
Legislative involvement- Meet at the Capitol on June 12 to say “NO” to SB 320, join in on the Californians for Life Call-your-Assembly-Member-Mondays, or just keep apprised of current happenings.
Ponder joining a parish ministry- Lectors & Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, Hospitality, ministries for the poor and support of life from conception to natural death, catechist for faith formation classes, see www.saintmartinoftours.com , ask the Mass coordinator whom to contact or to forward your contact info, or contact the SMT rectory office.
May 6, 2018 ~ Another Look at U.S. Immigration
The current news is full of stories about the arrival of the Central American caravan of immigrants, fights in Congress and border towns over building and funding a southern border wall, DACA youth legalization, and much more. Opinions about these topics range widely and are not necessarily correlated to party affiliation. Often it is our personal experience, or lack thereof, that determines how we feel about any specific immigration issue.
I readily admit two things: first, my own viewpoint has been evolving, and second, there is a lot about U.S. immigration policy that I simply do not know. Case in point, I recently learned about our federal Temporary Protected Status program (TPS). TPS grantees are eligible nationals from designated countries to whom the U.S. extends temporary status to live and work here legally for a limited time. Designated countries are affected by natural disasters, armed conflict, or other extraordinary conditions, and include countries like Haiti, Somalia and El Salvador. TPS includes around 350,000 people, of whom the largest groups are Salvadorans (about 260,000) and Haitians (about 60,000). Nationals from these two countries will see their TPS designation terminated as of September 2019.
The almost 200,000 children of the Salvadorans under TPS are U.S. citizens at risk of having their parents deported if a change of status is not achieved. Also, this Salvadoran population has an extremely high rate of employment, business ownership, mortgage debt, and paying in to social security. In response to this impending deportation deadline, the California legislature has proposed a $10 million funding bill to provide immigration services to these TPS individuals residing here. The bill, AB 1862, is currently working its way through the California legislature.
The Catholic Church is an immigrant church, providing assistance and pastoral care to refugees, immigrants and to all newcomers from diverse backgrounds. We are called directly by Christ to “welcome the stranger among us.” Let us consider these few dollars from the California coffers as small payment in aiding our hardworking neighbors in their efforts to become one of us.
April 16, 2018 ~ SB 320- College: Exams, Papers, Laundry…and Abortions?
The California legislature is currently in the process of creating a fund to provide for and mandate medical abortions in UC and CSU student health centers. The House Senate appropriations committee has passed SB-320, moving it to the Assembly. The Issue: Should it be assumed that a college aged woman who becomes pregnant will automatically want an abortion, cannot access one through her own health care, and should only be supported if she chooses this course of action?
• Services for pregnancy and parenting are negligible on UC and CSU campuses, implying to any woman wanting to bring her baby to term that this is not a viable choice, essentially coercing her to “take the easy road” through an abortion
• Health care through student health centers is not the primary option for most students, who have private insurance (covered by parents until the age of 26), a plan through the state exchange (as was mandated by the Affordable Care Act), or Medicare/Medicaid.
• Abortion providers are within easy reach of campuses if a student wants to pursue that choice.
• No funding or provision for counseling, before or after an abortion, is provided, leaving these women to grapple with all the emotional and psychological effects of the school provided abortion on their own.
• The schools offer no support for the 25% of students who pursue their education while parenting, including no help with childcare, housing, healthcare.
The Catholic Position: The USCCB and the Church, including Pope Francis, unequivocally state that life begins at conception. Abortion is not the answer, but rather, support for parents and families. Many of those with unplanned pregnancies are minorities and otherwise marginalized women who need to be supported in life-affirming choices through counseling, financial support, and a positive reception to their decision to parent or seek adoption for their child. For more information about SB-320 and contacting your legislator with your opposition, please go to www.archla.org/parent. Complete info. on the bill is available at: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billStatusClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB320
April 8, 2018 ~ Finding Christ at the Movies
During Holy Week I was blessed to have some quality family time. One of the experiences we shared was taking the time to see a few movies, something I rarely do. The prevalent Hollywood themes of violence, casual and gratuitous sex, and comic book heroes are simply not where my time and money get spent. However, in acknowledging the power that movies have upon animating us and igniting our imaginations, there are movies that can strengthen our resolve to live as the Catholic Christians God created us to be.
I loved both I Can Only Imagine and Paul, Apostle of Christ. These movies are absolute opposites in their setting of time and place, but couldn’t share more in their exploration of themes of power, forgiveness, redemption, acceptance, love, and the general theme of seeing Christ in others. Moreover, I (finally!) watched The Passion of the Christ, a compelling opportunity to see Christ living out his message. The spirit of social justice, whatever that label means to any particular individual, cannot exist without these ideals as the originating principles upon which one is inspired to action. Anything less is really just some form of personal agenda.
On April 17 (only for that one day) a new movie called The Dating Project will be shown in theatres around town. The film explores how dating, a novelty in our hook-up culture, is at the core of healthy relationships. Consider seeing it!
Like picking salad over French fries, we can inform our better nature by picking the ultimately more satisfying and healthier choice, even in the realm of entertainment. As declared in Psalm 25:4-5, “Make me know Your ways, O LORD; Teach me Your paths.” Even on a Saturday night at the movies we can spend some time better integrating God’s ways and paths into our lives.
March 25, 2018 ~ The Hope and Promise of Holy Week and Easter
So much of our time is filled with news of natural disaster and calamities, human suffering and the general decline of human relationship. The moments of struggle against the secular world are constant. It is easy to lose sight of the Gospel, or Good News, proclaimed by Christ.
As we celebrate Palm Sunday and enter Holy Week, culminating in the glory of our Lord through his Resurrection, let’s focus briefly on some signs of hope in the world around us.
- The emergence of more numerous and recognizable voices for the dignity of life and respect for those faith-based values: movies like Voiceless and I Can Only Imagine, celebrities like former Bachelor star Sean Lowe, Kathie Lee Gifford and Joy Behar, and increasing numbers of politicians creating a dialogue more open to life at all stages.
- A growing movement among young adults to support life, as evidenced by the group Students for Life and its increasing voice in the Pro-Life conversation. http://www.lifenews.com/2018/03/14/watch-awesome-video-has-young-students-explain-why-theyre-pro-life/
- The words of Stephen Hawking, renowned physicist (RIP) and supporter of euthanasia, who said, “However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. While there’s life, there is hope.”
- Success in the courtroom, as evidenced by the victory for religious freedom last week, when a federal judge allowed the Trump administration’s religious exemptions to the Obamacare/ACA abortion mandate to stand.
- An increasing number of States which are prohibiting abortions based on a diagnosis of Down Syndrome, currently law in Indiana, Louisiana, Ohio and North Dakota. Pennsylvania’s legislature is currently working on enacting one, and also currently prohibits sex-selection abortions. (And I, in my naiveté, thought that only happened in China.)
- The overwhelming response on March 12 of 100,000 Irish citizens who took to the streets of Dublin in support of their Eighth Amendment protecting the unborn in response to an upcoming referendum over the possible repeal of the Eighth Amendment. https://aleteia.org/2018/03/12/tens-of-thousands-of-irish-march-to-save-pro-life-amendment/
The hand of God is present in all things, creating good from bad, inviting all to a conversion of the heart. Let us follow His Gospel with strength and fortitude as we extend our hand toward others.
March 11, 2018 ~ What do Lila Rose, Dennis Prager and Censorship have in Common?
I was conversing with my eighteen-year-old son the other day about perceptions and how they affect our behavior. We discussed the idea that if we “disagree” with a position or viewpoint, particularly on some of the most divisive current social issues, shouldn’t we take it upon ourselves to investigate and understand the premises offered by the other? Lila Rose, founder and president of Live Action, and Dennis Prager, radio host, writer, TV commentator and theologian, are two clear and succinct voices to whom I direct all to spend time listening. Whether one agrees or disagrees with them, their challenge to define and defend one’s beliefs in a variety of areas will persuade most of us that we are not quite as well versed in our position as we may have thought. “What a waste of time, I know what I believe and nobody is going to change my mind,” you might be thinking. That may be true, but would you feel comfortable knowing that others, even those offering differing viewpoints to our own, were actually facing censorship? Two of the most popular social media sites today are engaged in just that. Both Google and YouTube are deleting content, denying ads and restricting access to videos because of their conservative content. On March 15th Dennis Prager will be in court against these two tech giants over their censorship of his educational videos. This concerns all, for one never knows when the tide will turn and you will find yourself on the “wrong” side. In my conversation with my son, I pointed to our obligation as Catholics to pursue a better understanding of doctrine and the reasoning behind some of what we might consider more challenging positions taken by the Church. The world censors understanding about Catholics and the Church pretty successfully, clinging to old stereotypes. Our best hope for the world is that we, Christ’s followers and Church faithful, know and spread the authentic Catholic message of love, forgiveness and mercy, while we stand for the right of all to speak as they believe, entering dialogue that educates and enlightens all around us about who we are.
March 4, 2018 ~ The Link Between Mass Shootings and Abortion: How Can We Get This So Wrong?
It would never have occurred to me to draw a link between the horrific school shooting in Florida last week and abortion, but apparently, I have been remiss in seeing how the pro-choice crowd may or may not connect the two.
The teenaged gunman who killed 17 and injured at least 13 others at a Florida school was an adoptee as an infant. One reporter proclaimed that if the mother had aborted him instead of giving birth and putting him up for adoption the incident would not have occurred. Her tweet, “Woman puts baby up for adoption, he grows up to be a violent young man who will spend the rest of his life in prison for a mass murder. Tell me more about how abortions are wrong,” she wrote Thursday. Read more about this truly twisted logic here: https://www.washingtontimes.com/.../ex-mtv-reporter-blames -fla-massacre-lack-abortion
In speaking about gun violence and more legislation limiting guns after the Florida shooting, the very popular Californian, Sen. Kamala Harris, had this to say, “When you see the effect of this extreme violence on a human body and especially the body of a child, maybe it will shock some people into understanding.” There seems to be a true disconnect for staunch pro-choice advocates like Harris between a baby before birth and after, even up to delivery. She continued her comments by saying, “And we cannot tolerate a society and live in a country with any level of pride when our babies are being slaughtered.” More details available here: http://www.lifenews.com/2018/02/20/senator-kamala-harris-protests-the-slaughter-of-babies-in-school-shooting-butsupports-abortion/
We all must advocate for life, born, unborn, old, infirmed, mentally or physically challenged. Let those among us without sin cast the first stone in discarding the life of anyone. Please pray for those with pro-choice, pro-assisted suicide viewpoints every day; our strongest ally in changing hearts and minds is the Holy Spirit.
February 11, 2018 ~ Super Bowl Sunday ~ A Tainted Celebration
The Super Bowl, as one of the most watched and coveted sporting spectacles to attend, takes a prominent place on the calendar of many people each February. Between seventy and one-hundred thousand football fans actually attend the game, with tens of thousands more visitors simply spending time during the ten day Super Bowl celebration in the proximity of the stadium to partake in the partying atmosphere. (Ten days for one football game?!) While the multitudes are eating, drinking and generally indulging in excessive vacation behavior, there are those who are promoting and partaking in the illegal and absolutely evil and immoral sex trade. The level of increase in sex trafficking surrounding large sporting events like the Super Bowl has been disputed over the years, but there is no doubt that it is occurring. Inhibitions are low and money is plentiful for visitors to the host city, making sex trafficking highly lucrative for the traffickers. It is argued by some that society should allow women to work as prostitutes if they so choose. Without directly addressing that viewpoint, I would draw attention to the fact that a high percentage of those being trafficked for sex are minors, have been abducted and held against their will, and do not profit in the least from their involvement in their “work.” In fact, most people of either gender and any age involved in the sex trade are being trafficked by someone. This Sunday, before you begin your Super Bowl party, please join me in praying for the victims of human trafficking. And later, take a few minutes to research a little more about the issue, learn some signs that will help you identify victims, and have the national hotline info handy if you ever find yourself in a position to offer it to someone. National Human Trafficking Resource Center (888) 373-7888 SMS: 233733 (Text "HELP" or "INFO") https://humantraffickinghotline.org/ ~ Erin Lynch, Respect Life Ministry Coordinator
January 14th ~ Events and Opportunities in January 2018
Pope Francis and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) are focused on two important concerns for all Catholics this January- the dignity and primacy of life at all stages from conception to natural death, and the vast poverty pervasive throughout the world even in the most developed and materially blessed countries like the U.S.
9 Days for Life: January 18-26, 2018
“9 Days for Life is a “digital pilgrimage” of prayer and action focused on cherishing the gift of every person's life. A multi-faceted novena highlighting a different intention each day provides reflections, bonus information, and suggested actions. Sign up to receive the novena through a free app, daily emails, or daily text messages. Visit www.9daysforlife.com to sign up and for information on how else you can get involved!” ~ USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities http://www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/january-roe-events/nine-days-of-prayer-penance-and-pilgrimage.cfm #9DaysforLife #OurPrayersMatter
Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children: January 22, 2018
“As individuals, we are called to observe this day through the penitential practices of prayer, fasting and/or giving alms. Another way to take part is through participating in special events to observe the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Call your local diocese or parish to find out what events might be taking place in your area.”~ USCCB
Poverty Awareness Month- U.S. Bishops Catholic Campaign for Human Development
Join the Catholic community in the United States in taking up Pope Francis' challenge to live in solidarity with the poor! Go to http://www.usccb.org/about/catholic-campaign-for-human-development/poverty-education/poverty-awareness-month.cfm for information, resources and a daily calendar.
One Life LA: January 20, 2018
“We invite you to join thousands in declaring a commitment to valuing and protecting all human life, particularly the most vulnerable in our community.”- Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Walk for Life
The walk begins at 12:00pm at La Placita Olvera on Olvera St. and ends at the main event location at Los Angeles State Historic Park. The total distance is about one mile.
The main event with the featured speakers, musicians, and food will take place at the Los Angeles State Historic Park. http://onelifela.org/
Free bus available courtesy of our SMT Knights of Columbus from the SMT parking lot at 11 AM. More details available on back cover of bulletin or on the SMT website.
December 31st ~ Living the Message of Christmas
During this Christmas Octave we invite you to reflect on the ultimate human example of trusting in the will of God by contemplating on how God the Father chose to send his Son into the world under the perilous rule of King Herod and the Romans? How are we doing at integrating this lesson into the workings of our life? With these thoughts in mind, in the name of seeing Christ in each person we encounter, consider a few action items throughout this Christmas Season and in the New Year. Do your due diligence to support organizations that follow the precepts of our Catholic faith. Consider making Catholic based charities your focus. Our Church does outstanding work around the world. When you pass a homeless person with their sign asking for assistance, ask their name, tell them you are praying for them (and do it!) and maybe hand them a few bucks or some non-perishable items from your car. (Softer items like cereal bars, oranges, string cheese, etc. and water.) Find an organization through which you can hand out meals or toys. Shop with your kids for toys to bring to church or any of the myriad organizations collecting for toy drives. Do something special for those in your life like your housekeeper and gardener that work hard serving you to make ends meet for their own families. Visit an elderly neighbor for coffee and a chat- your time and presence will be the best gift they can possibly receive. If we all bring just a little of the spirit of Christmas into the world around us not only will Christ’s light shine a little brighter, but we will undoubtedly receive more than we could ever possibly give. Merry Christmas Season!
December 23rd ~ Living the Message of Christmas
We are in the season of Advent, a time of preparation, reflection and anticipation. Christ is coming- our God in our midst as a tiny defenseless baby. What greater example of trusting in the will of God could God the Father have provided than sending his son into the dangers of the world under King Herod and the Romans? How are we doing at integrating this lesson into the workings of our life?
With these thoughts in mind I ask that we all, in the name of seeing Christ in each person we encounter, consider a few action items in these last couple of weeks around Christmas and the end of the calendar year. Do your due diligence to support organizations that follow the precepts of our Catholic faith. Consider making Catholic based charities your focus. Our Church does outstanding work around the world. When you pass a homeless person with their sign asking for assistance, ask their name, tell them you are praying for them (and do it!) and maybe hand them a few bucks or some non-perishable items from your car. (Softer items like cereal bars, oranges, string cheese, etc. and water.) Find an organization through which you can hand out meals or toys. Shop with your kids for toys to bring to church or any of the myriad organizations collecting for toy drives. Do something special for those in your life like your housekeeper and gardener that work hard serving you to make ends meet for their own families. Visit an elderly neighbor for coffee and a chat- your time and presence will be the best gift they can possibly receive. If we all bring just a little of the spirit of Christmas into the world around us not only will Christ’s light shine a little brighter, but we will undoubtedly receive more than we could ever possibly give. Merry Christmas!
December 10th ~ In a World of Celebrities, Superheroes and Multimillionaire Athletes, Do We Recognize the Real Heroes Among Us?
Wealth and power- we could all name a long list of people in the world we are exposed to every day whom these words describe. They hold sway over our lives through social media, the way we dress and act in an attempt to emulate them, and in our spending. I wonder this- if we were reflect on those to whom we owe all the best that we are or hope to be as a human, would any of these names appear?
So many of us attended Catholic school where we were taught and guided by the firm hand of one or more nuns; those intriguing, smart, sometimes funny, sometimes intimidating sisters, the rock solid presence of our faith day in and day out. These dedicated and hard-working women were omnipresent in our formative years, ever-faithful to their mission.
Who among us has not been guided, whether in school or in church throughout our lives, by a priest who had just the right words to offer? Haven’t we all contemplated the immensity of dedicating one’s life as a priest, with the obligation to obey and the responsibility to steer souls toward God?
This weekend when the special collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious is scheduled, perhaps we should all reflect for a moment on what we wish for ourselves in our older years. At a minimum I imagine we would all like an average day to include some nice meals in a nice home with the care that we require to make us comfortable. Human dignity begins with these basics- shelter, food and loving attention and care. I hope the moral imperative for us, the faithful, to support these men and women who have dedicated their entire lives to the Church, is the obvious path. The least we can do is let them know through our financial support of them as they age of their great importance to us.
Please give generously to the collection for the Retirement Fund for Religious, either at church, through the SMT Parish office, or at retiredreligious.org!
November 26th ~ Some Positive Steps For Which To Give Thanks This Month
Nov 1, 2017: The Ohio House of Representatives passes bill to ban abortion after Down syndrome diagnosis. The identical bill in the Senate is expected to pass. Gov. Kasich would likely sign the bill once approved by both Houses. North Dakota is the only state currently with a law banning abortions after genetic abnormalities diagnoses.
Nov 13, 2017: The U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case against the California law (AB 775- CA Reproductive FACT Act; Jan 2016) that requires free, pro-life pregnancy centers and ultrasound facilities to advertise and distribute information about abortion services and county phone numbers for referrals to Planned Parenthood within their centers.
Nov 14, 2017: The FBI requests thousands of pages of testimony and findings from the ongoing Senate investigation of Planned Parenthood’s alleged trafficking in unborn baby body parts. Attorney Jeff Sessions confirms that verifying these findings could provide a basis for bringing charges.
Nov 16, 2017: The U.S. House of Representatives passes GOP tax plan that allows expectant parents to contribute to their unborn baby’s 529 college savings account during the year of gestation. (No comment on why parents should have to start saving so early!) The bill also restores the long-existing adoption tax credit.
These only represent a fraction of the efforts, bills and cases that work toward the goal of fostering life from conception to natural death. Be informed, vote in elections from local to national, read the current science on life and palliative care, and remember, love of neighbor is “doing what is best for the other.”
November 5th ~ The Tangled Web and Siren Song of Euthanasia
When physician assisted suicide is debated (PAS became law in California in June 2016), the most common focus is on the horrendous suffering and impending death of a young adult who has received a terminal diagnosis. It can be challenging with that given paradigm to express one’s disagreement with PAS, based in science and/or faith, since such opposition leaves one labeled as uncompassionate, naïve, religiously dogmatic and any number of other misnomers. The reality could not be any further from the truth.
Do you know that many countries, including Canada, have already proceeded to full blown euthanasia? This is a HUGE shift from the original guise of PAS, which always required a competent adult to make an informed decision under the supervision of at least two doctors. The current trend is toward euthanizing mentally ill patients, allowing minors to choose suicide, and most recently, having parents and pediatricians consider euthanizing toddlers and babies with a “poor expectancy of quality of life.” (Canadian Pediatric Society report, Oct. 2017). There are multiple reports of hospital doctors pressuring families and hospital patients themselves to disconnect support or actually euthanize the very ill and disabled.
Dignity is NOT an argument for hastening death in these various circumstances, but the antithesis of it. To lovingly care for the gravely ill, the mentally incapacitated and the genetically impaired is the only course of action that confers dignity upon the human; both caregiver and recipient. All forms of PAS and euthanasia are inherently opposed to God’s will and creation. “One’s fundamental human rights and intrinsic human dignity do not wane with the onset of illness or incapacity, and so all must be protected.” (USCCB’s Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, Sept. 2017)
October 22nd ~ How Do We Respect Life?
Is there anyone among us who now has not heard the name Harvey Weinstein? What despicable behavior from a man, one day powerful, wealthy and influential, the next a pariah among all. The sensational side of this unfolding story does nothing to inform us or change us, and transformation is where our focus should lie.
In the Oct 1 bulletin, Fr. Ben wrote about the unspoken epidemic of pornography among us, the scourge that works insidiously to tear apart relationships and souls. I submit that almost all of us are touched, knowingly or not, by issues illustrated by the Weinstein story and pornography. These degrading yet commonplace behaviors, as well as sex trafficking, link directly to our pervasive societal values of money, success and instant gratification and are perpetuated because of myth, ignorance and denial. Integrally linked is our “throw away” culture which leads directly to a twisted logic that somehow defends as humane abortion and euthanasia. What are commonalities between all of these awful practices? A LACK OF DIGNITY FOR LIFE: sexual harassment, sexual assault, using influence/authority for sexual favors, adult pornography, child pornography, deviant pornography, prostitution, homelessness, hooking up, abortion as birth control, physician assisted suicide, euthanasia.
The doctrine of the Catholic unequivocally repudiates each and every one of these anti-life practices as being antithetical to the teaching of Jesus Christ. Each of them aids and abets the other. You cannot pick and choose which are ok and which are not. Anytime you are tempted to argue in favor of any of them as ok, substitute your mother, daughter, husband, wife, or son as the victim and see if you can still justify your arguments. Transformation begins within each of us when we challenge ourselves to choose truth over the convenient path- all life is equal in the eyes of God.
October 15th ~ Respect Life Month Activities & Awareness
October is designated as Respect Life Month, which includes many aspects of respecting the dignity of all human life from “womb to tomb.” Our Archdiocesan Office of Life, Justice and Peace has designated themes for each of the four weeks of October: Week 1- Pregnancy & Parenting; Week 2- Foster Care & Adoption; Week 3- End of Life; Week 4- Healing After Abortion. A variety of saints and servants of God have been assigned to each of the weeks. Please see all of this information and more posted on the Church bulletin board between the side door and the Rectory patio! Many of your fellow parishioners are currently participating in a specific Respect Life event, 40 Days for Life (search Biblical references to 40 for the significance). 40 Days for Life is a campaign of peaceful prayer vigils coordinated at abortion sites worldwide. Our site is at 12304 Santa Monica Blvd, where people gather six days a week for seven weeks (40 days!) to pray peacefully and provide community outreach to those in need of information, support and healing. Our prayer vigil is officially supported by Archbishop Gomez. Our prayer usually focuses on the Rosary, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, various Litanies and other Marian focused approaches. Let’s just say, hardly any of us could even remotely say the Rosary when we began the campaign last year, but now we are called Prayer Warriors! Please see all the information about the 40 Days campaign in the bulletin. Consider driving by and seeing what we are doing, maybe you will be inspired to park and say hello! We have many, many stories of interacting with people on the sidewalk that point directly to God’s love, mercy and forgiveness, as well as protection, for all of us. 12304 Santa Monica Blvd (2 blocks west of Bundy, by Smart and Final)
October 1st ~ The Legislative Battle over Internet Decency Act and Sex Trafficking
Have you heard of the 1996 Communications Decency Act? Few of us probably have, and without knowing what it is, would likely surmise that it places restrictions on what can legally be transmitted electronically. Actually, the act provides the immunity that forced a Sacramento judge to throw out sex trafficking charges against Backpage.com this past August. Backpage.com has long provided an adult page that had become a well-known sex trafficking hub. Despite the page being shut down earlier this year, the sex traffic has continued on the site. The crux of the issue is Internet freedom and legal immunity for sites that condone or promote trafficking. A bipartisan groundswell in Congress to remove immunity from prosecution, that the act provides, is building simultaneously to the efforts among almost all the Attorneys General across the country to have the act changed so companies like Backpage.com are no longer outside the reach of state and local law enforcement. Unfortunately, it is our own California senators, Kamala Harris and Dianne Feinstein, who are some of the few but noteworthy legislators missing from this movement. Silicon valley tech companies and lobbyists are a powerful force in the political arena and our senators are not immune to their reach. The ACLU has also found itself siding with support of free speech over the lives of sex trafficking victims. (LATimes.com/business, Sept 6, 2017) Exemplifying Christ, the Church supports the lives and well being of people above all other considerations. Sex trafficking is horrific in all forms and cannot be excused away as an unfortunate by-product of our Internet culture. Please pray for these victims in the knowledge that the selling of sex is never a victimless crime. Call: 1-888-373-7888 email@example.com www.humantraffickinghotline.org https://polarisproject.org/national-human-trafficking-hotline.
September 10th ~ The Real Victims of the Current Immigration Debate
Wall or no wall… Path to citizenship or mandatory deportation…. Law breakers or contributors to society? The issue of immigration and its focus on those who entered the United States illegally is both broad and deep. Opinions are as strong as they are varied. There is no doubt that millions of adults have made a conscious choice to cross over our border outside of legal channels, and they did leave family and culture that they knew to do so.
However, this is not the case for the infants and toddlers that parents have brought here illegally. All the current young adults who have known no other country than ours, may not even speak the language of their parents, have never met anyone in their family from their country of origin and have been formally educated in our local schools are the absolutely defenseless victims of this complex issue.
As Catholics we hear Jesus rebuke the disciples in with the words, Whoever welcomes one of these children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.(Mark 9:37) These young adults should not be made pawns in the politics of immigration reform in the currently contentious, no-holds-barred political climate in which we are submersed. The DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program has created a suspension of deportation proceedings and temporary employment authorization to work for these undocumented young persons, currently encompassing an estimated 800,000 people (over 200,000 in California).
The current Administration announced this week that DACA is to be terminated within six months. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), along with the California Catholic Conference (CCC) and Archbishop Gomez (USCCG Vice President) of our Los Angeles archdiocese have all taken a strong stance against this action, issuing statements of strong support for all immigrants. In Angelus News Archbishop Gomez calls the ending of DACA “a tragedy,” while the USCCB statement says the “cancellation of the DACA program is reprehensible….shows the absence of mercy and good will.” And further, “As people of faith, we say to DACA youth- regardless of your immigration status, you are children of God and welcome in the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church supports you and will advocate for you.”
Regardless of your personal immigration stance, please pray for these young people as they face the fear and uncertainty of being sent away from the only home they have ever known. And if you are moved by the Holy Spirit to do so, contact your representatives and senators to find and implement a real solution that offers hope.
August 27rd ~ What are you waiting for???
What are you waiting for? Have you found yourself wondering- What can I do? Have you had the feeling that you could or should be more active in living out your Catholic faith? It can be so daunting to find the time, motivation or group that fits our schedule, or to discern the ministry to which we are being called.
Fear not- it is easy here at SMT! Besides the many options for ministry that directly involve Church, Mass and faith formation (EM, lector, hospitality, catechist, etc.) we have two very active, wonderful committees that I encourage all to consider joining: Committee for the Poor and Respect Life Committee
Each of us should be reading the bulletin regularly to stay informed about opportunities in which to engage. For more info on Respect Life Committee, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the parish office for more information. You can sign up to volunteer with the parish community HERE.
Christ admonished us that, "Whatever you do to the least of my brothers you do unto me," so get involved!
August 13th ~ Natural Family Planning ~ Fact vs. Myth
A large majority of women, including practicing Catholics, utilize artificial contraception to plan the spacing of their children or to avoid pregnancy altogether. Does that mean that artificial contraception is more effective, without health risks and a life-affirming choice? In the recent issue of Angelus, Dr. Barbara Golder, MD, JD, elucidates direct answers to these questions and more. It will probably surprise many to learn that interest in NFP has been steadily on the rise and is increasingly found as a topic in mainstream medical journals. Dr. Golder’s response as published in The American Family Physician affirms this growing NFP trend.
Some things you might not know that Dr. Golder highlights:
Studies show NFP to be as effective as other methods of family planning, and without adverse medical side effects (like stroke, breast cancer, depression and lower overall vitality)
While difficult for some couples, there are many resources and support groups, including the Catholic church, to aid couples (like A Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning)
Physicians can write a prescription for NFP, increasing the chance that an insurer will cover the associated costs of NFP (like coaching, ovulation indicators, etc)
NFP is the only green method of family planning, unlike ingesting artificial hormones on a regular basis
Regardless of anyone’s claims, NFP is the ultimate form of respect for a woman’s body, in that she and her partner are working with her natural cycle instead of trying to change it (the ultimate in empowerment and dignity)
Women are more in control of their overall health when they learn to understand the cycles and rhythms of their bodies better, and often detect problems earlier
Poor women around the world have been shown in studies to use NFP just as successfully as the pill, without the cost or potential medical issues, and find it often more accepted culturally
Church Teaching: The Catholic Church views contraception as immoral in that procreation is intrinsically tied to sex according to doctrine. However, since NFP methods engage couples in monitoring a woman’s natural cycle and then choosing whether or not to engage in sexual activity, the Church approves of NFP. In fact, the use of artificial contraception is simply one end of the spectrum encompassing abortion at the other end. Catholic belief demands an openness to life through sex, as determined by God.
Full text of this topic can be found at http:// angelusnews.com/articles/nfp-it-s-not-just-a-catholic-thinganymore and http://angelusnews.com/articles/nfp-it-s-notjust-a-catholic-thing-anymore