Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Natural Family Planning and the Freedom of Conscience Act

A little known and very misunderstood teaching of the Catholic Church has to do with Natural Family Planning.  The church does teach and encourage married couples to be responsible and discern the number of children in their family, while always insisting that there is an openness to the gift of a child.  This teaching is given to us both to uphold the beauty and dignity of sex within marriage while realizing it’s ultimate meaning.  The gift of sex is given to humanity for two purposes: Babies and Bonding. 
This is especially important in regards to the government health care contraceptive debate: “On January 20, 2012, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reaffirmed a rule forcing virtually all private health care plans to cover sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs, and contraception.” 

This is all so unfortunate because there is a way to safely, effectively, healthy and morally moderate child birth.
  I received this article from a parishioner Dr. Jim Ohliger:

“Increasingly studies show that rates equivalent to those with other contraceptive methods are readily achieved in the developed and developing worlds. Indeed, a study of 19,843 poor women in India had a pregnancy rate approaching zero. Natural family planning is cheap, effective, without side effects, and may be particularly acceptable to the efficacious among people in areas of poverty.”
 
To read this article in it’s entirety

Understand Natural Family Planning.  This is the only form of family planning acceptable.  All forms of contraception are gravely sinful and may even cause abortion to occur.

Natural Family Planning is 99% effective and just as effective as the pill, condom, and other contraceptives but respects and reverences the nature and beauty of sex within marriage that is open to life.

To read this study in it's entirety follow this link:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1678728/


Listen to a great lecture or read the transcript
"Contraception: Why Not?"  http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/sexuality/se0002.html 

To learn more about this sign up to attend one of the training sessions:

http://www.clevelandcatholiccharities.org/mfm/NFP.htm


To learn more about religious liberty and 

Conscience protection: 
http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/conscience-protection/


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pentecost: Beach Ball Bouncing World Record


“When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled,
they were all in one place together.”  



It looks like Amherst has made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.  This past week at Amherst Middle School, if confirmed by Guinness Book, has stolen the beach-ball bouncing world record.  “A tense 15 seconds passed Monday as 711 seventh and eighth graders struggled to simultaneously keep their brightly-colored balls in the air.  As the clock ticked only 31 dropped their ball to the earth.  A whopping 680 passed the challenge.” 

Now you may think, “It’s not that hard bouncing a ball in the air for 15 seconds.”  I read that one of the students was blind and kept the ball up the whole time.  But, try to get 700 junior high students to do that… better yet, try to get 700 people of any age to do anything… together… for any amount of time! 

We hear in the Acts of the Apostles “When the time for Pentecost was fulfilled, they were all in one place… together.”  The people were “Confused because each one heard them speaking in his own language.” 

They had experienced this amazing gift at Pentecost where they were all involved in this amazing moment of community.  They were there, together, speaking the same language, and everyone could be a part of it. 

We have an exciting moment here in our parish (as well as our diocese).  Since November we have been working on the “Rooted in Faith, Forward in Hope Campaign.”  Just this past week we exceeded our goal of raising $1,115,000 in pledges!  244 families have taken part of this. 

We are doing something far greater than getting something in the Guinness Book of World Records here.  “Rooted in Faith, Forward in Hope” is going to help strengthen our parishes, strengthen our faith, educate our children, nurture vocations to the priesthood, and upkeep our service to the poor. 

What astounds me is how difficult it is to get us all to do one thing together.  Even with the beach ball bouncing world record 31 dropped balls (Even the blind boy kept his up)!  With this campaign we’ve also tried to reach every family either by personally meeting them, mailing them, calling them…. And this goal was met by only 244 of our families.  That means that 1,791 families have “dropped the ball” so to speak.  This goal which we weren’t sure was possible has been met by just over 10% of our parishioners!  That is amazing how generous those who are involved have been!  I say this not to criticize but to commend those that have been so generous and to invite and encourage all of us who can still be a part of this campaign.  (http://www.cdcf.org/page.aspx?pid=391 )


It is so difficult to get a large group to do anything together, whether it be keeping a beach ball bouncing or raising the money that will sustain our church.  But, just as the Holy Spirit brought about this great feat nearly 2,000 years ago on Pentecost, where they were all gathered in one place together, that same Holy Spirit is working in our church today.  This is what we celebrate on Pentecost.  When the Holy Spirit brings us together, amazing, astounding events can occur.  We are all invited… each and every one of us to help build the Kingdom of God here on earth.  
 Be a part of it! 




The Ascension: Coming up on Waterskis


“We believe that all the ties of friendship and affection which knit us as one throughout our lives do not unravel with death.” 

This line is used at the Vigil Service for funerals.  I think it’s important that we remember this notion as we celebrate the Feast of the Ascension.  In the Ascension Jesus is not leaving us… he has promised that “I will never leave you as orphans” (John 14:18).  In reality when Jesus ascends into heaven he takes us with Him.  Heaven and Earth are pulled together in the Ascension. 

As the weather breaks and summer is upon us I can’t but help of the image of water skiing.  I love water skiing myself and even more I love teaching people how to get up on skis.  Imagine that the boat is an image of the Ascension, Jesus is in the boat along with the communion of saints.  Here’s the thing though, there’s a rope that connects.  Now the Ascension is a great mystery of our faith and we who are in time and space must experience this as a process or a transition. 

So if you’ve ever water skied you know what it is like to be out there in the water.  Your half floating, half sinking, your skis are going back and forth rather clumsy and you’re holding onto the only thing you can… the rope.  Now comes the moment of transition, the moment of ascension. 

The boat starts to move, there is tension on the rope, and as the boat picks up speed there is some time of transition.  As you are pulled the water rushes over your head, you have to hold on tight to the rope, you can’t see, you have to hold your breath and wait for a moment until the boat begins to plain out.  This is the moment of transition.  It can be fast and disorienting and confusing, but you just hold onto the rope and allow yourself to be pulled out of the water.  And when you do, you find that you are still connected to the boat and everyone in the boat is excited and cheering you on to see that you too have ascended above the water and are skiing! 

The Ascension is a similar experience.  As Jesus ascends it happens suddenly and the disciples are looking at the sky intensely.  Two angels appear to them and ask why they are standing there looking up at the sky and before they know it they are commissioned to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature… in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.  They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."  They too have ascended and are living the resurrected life. 

Where are you in your faith?  Are you experiencing the life of the Resurrection?  Are you living in the Ascension?  Do you believe that your loved ones that have gone before you are still with you?  They are even more present now than they ever could have been here on earth.  “We believe that all the ties of friendship and affection which knit us as one throughout our lives do not unravel with death.” 

So hold on to the rope.  Hold on to Christ.  Allow Jesus to Ascend and bring us with Him so that right here on earth we meet with heaven. 

Hold on to the rope… and hold on to Christ.