Bulletin (January 20, 2002)

If God let us see the difference every one of our prayers made, throughout all of history and all of humanity, we probably would be unable to get up off our knees again.”

--Catholic Christianity by Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy, Boston College.

Obviously I have not reached the awareness Dr. Kreeft describes. Still, for close to a year I have been making a Holy Hour almost every Thursday from 5 to 6 a.m. My body protests when the alarm goes off at 4:30, but I tell myself, “Come on, Felipe, you would get up this early to go fishing. Can’t you do the same for the Lord?” After I am up and over in the chapel, it almost always turns out to be the most beautiful hour of the entire week.

If you have not signed up for a weekly Holy Hour, please consider doing so. Certain hours, like during the night, Saturday morning from 10 a.m. to noon and Sunday afternoon from 3 to 7 p.m. particularly need volunteer adorers. Of course, you can come anytime, without signing up, but by doing so you will help ensure that this apostolate continues at Holy Family. Next weekend, after all Masses, we will have people available to answer any questions and to sign those willing to make this commitment.

Prayer begins with the acknowledgement we are creatures, dependent on the One who made us, that he is not only the source, but the goal of our lives – and that every second He holds us in existence. It is natural that prayer leads us to gratitude for the gift of human life.

Especially today, we need to pray for is a deeper reverence for human life, from conception to natural death. This Tuesday is the 29th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision which took from unborn children the protection of law. As Pope John Paul II stated: “To claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others. . . . This is the death of freedom.” ( The Gospel of Life, no. 20)

When they met last November, the American bishops addressed crucial issues such as terrorism and the crisis in Africa. They did this from the basis of the Church’s consistent teaching regarding human life. They had this to say about the Legacy of Roe v. Wade:

In January 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States gave our nation Roe v. Wade and its companion decision Doe v. Bolton, and in so doing effectively removed every legal protection from human beings prior to birth. The legacy of Roe is virtually incalculable. In its wake it has left death and sorrow and turmoil:

· the deaths of millions whose lives were destroyed before birth and even during the very process of being born

· countless women traumatized so deeply by abortion that they spend years struggling to find peace, healing, and reconciliation

· men who grieve because they could not "choose" to protect a child they helped bring into existence

· a society increasingly coarsened by toleration and acceptance of acts that purposely destroy human life

These attacks on human life are carried out within the family and with the active involvement of those in the healing profession—institutions that traditionally have protected the weak and the vulnerable. Often they are carried out at the urging of fathers who, rather than protecting their child, believe their only responsibility is to help pay for an abortion. And today, those who support and provide abortion freely acknowledge that killing is involved, and choices once treated as criminal and rejected by the common moral sense have become socially acceptable.

In 1992, the Supreme Court reaffirmed Roe v. Wade—in large part, it said, because admitting error and reversing a prior decision would undermine the Court's authority. It said also that "people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail" (Planned Parenthood v. Casey). In other words, Americans had come to rely on legalized abortion as a backup for contraceptive failure.

In 2000, in Stenberg v. Carhart, the Court expanded the abortion liberty beyond killing in utero; it now wrapped in the mantle of the U.S. Constitution the practice of killing during the process of birth. Abortion has come to be seen by many not only as a "right" to end a pregnancy prior to birth, but as a guarantee that a child aborted will not survive. This is clear in regard to partial-birth abortion, as well as in the growing reports of children who, having survived mid- and late-term abortions, are put aside and left to die because they were not supposed to live in the first place.

Today, some seek ways to alleviate human diseases through research that involves the deliberate destruction of human embryos. Such research, it is claimed, will enhance human life, when in actuality it "reduces human life to the level of simple ‘biological material' to be freely disposed of" (The Gospel of Life, no. 14). Often these embryos that are targeted for experimentation were created in laboratories by in vitro fertilization in attempts to assist couples struggling with infertility. Such efforts, however, embrace the manufacturing of human life without considering the consequences, including the many ethical dilemmas resulting from such misuse of scientific technology.

Crucial to restoring a culture of life in our society is recognizing the sanctity of marriage: that in the sacrament of marriage the couple reflects the love of Christ for his Church and cooperates with the God in the creation of human life. I am happy to report that in 2001 we had an impressive number of marriages here in Holy Family. Forty-seven couples made their vows before the altar in our church. This is the third highest number of marriages in the last two decades. In 1998, fifty-one couples got married in Holy Family. The record was set in 1983 with sixty-three couples marrying in our church.

I don’t know if we will break the 1983 record, but we are off to a good start with two marriages already in January. Seven and half couples came last Sunday for our marriage preparation. Our goal is to help every young couple be as ready as possible to take on the great challenge – and vocation – of married life.

We also want to support married couples in the crucial issue of family planning. Darcy Hemstad, R.N. will be here next Sunday at 1:45 to help any couples who wish to begin charting or review their charts in order to use the Billing Method. Regarding this issue, the U.S. bishops made the following statement:

It is noteworthy that as acceptance and use of contraception have increased in our society, so have acceptance and use of abortion. Couples who unintentionally conceive a child while using contraception are far more likely to resort to abortion than others. Tragically, our society has fallen into a mentality that views children as a burden and invites many to consider abortion as a "backup" to contraceptive failure. This is most obvious in efforts to promote as "emergency contraception" drugs that really act as early abortifacients.

Finally: Do not forget this Thursday evening is our parish listening session. It begins at 7 p.m. and will go till 9 p.m. It is important that our Parish Council knows yours concerns and needs in order to begin the formulation of a strategic pastoral plan for Holy Family.