Bulletin (March 28, 2004)

I want to thank all those who participated in the Novena to the Child Jesus. We have many needs as individuals, families and as a parish, and it is important for us to bring them before the Lord, always asking to know His will and to be able to follow it.

During the novena, we prayed for the economic needs of individuals, families and our overall parish. I know a lot of you were praying, as was I, for the success of our annual School Auction. This is a major fundraising event in our parish. Those who worked on setting up the Family Night Auction have the gratitude of all of us – and our prayers, as we prepare for the Live Auction next Saturday.

April 3 will be a busy day for our parish. The Knights of Columbus will have their annual Spring Clean to refurbish our parish grounds. The Filipino community will host a reading of the Passion. And we have the conference by Mark Shea, an internationally famous speaker, who will address the basic question: Why Be Catholic? The conference will begin at 10:30 a.m. and continue till 4:30 p.m. It will include a lunch provided by the Knights and our Stewardship Committee. There is no registration fee, but a free will offering will be accepted. The conference will take place in the school hall.

This Monday we have the first meeting of the Capital Campaign Steering Committee. I have invited representatives of different groups in our parish to a presentation of the priorities regarding our various building and site needs. The Steering Committee will also meet during the summer to lay the groundwork for a fall campaign.

As we face these different challenges, it is important for us to maintain our identity as Catholics. That identity is threatened in a variety of ways. Earlier this month we saw an example. On March 1, the California Supreme Court ruled that Catholic charities must offer prescription contraceptives in their employee health insurance. If this judgment is upheld, the Church will face this dilemma: What comes first – our teachings or our works of charity?

For many people the teaching on contraception does not seem worth defending. However, more is at stake than meets the eye. To begin with, many chemical forms of birth control involve the possibility of early abortion. Although they may not tell it to their patients, most medical doctors and pharmacists will admit that the Pill, Norplant, Depo Provera, “emergency contraception,” etc. sometimes work by preventing the implantation of a newly conceived human embryo. For us - and for most Evangelical Christians - this is abortion.

The fact that chemical birth control and the IUD, are potential abortifacients is a matter of grave concern. But even the act of preventing conception has problems. What it says to the other person is this: “Do something about your fertility. I want you to be available any time I desire you.” Birth control has been called “the silent killer.” Like high blood pressure, people usually don't realize anything is wrong - but it eventually takes its toll. It is hard to ignore the correlation between the introduction of the Pill in the late 50's and the subsequent increase of divorce rates in our society.

Some people think that contraception and Natural Family Planning (NFP) are the same thing. They are not. NFP is based on appreciating fertility, making observations to recognize when that singular gift is present, and when it is not. Contraception, on the other hand, seeks to do away with fertility, to banish that gift. While overall divorce rates have sky rocketed, it is significant that among those who use NFP, the divorce rate is very low. This is true even for couples who practice it not for religious reasons but for health considerations. It involves some work - and maybe even some derision - but it brings real benefits.

NFP could - at least in theory - be used selfishly. However, it has built-in mechanisms (the discipline of periodic abstinence, respect for woman as woman and for the integrity of the human body, the constant attention to the life giving aspect of sexuality, etc.) which help prevent such abuse.

We need to face a hard fact. Our society’s acceptance of birth control has paved the way for other things. In vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood, frozen human embryos, cloning, gay marriage, all involve a similar breaking of the bond between procreation and the marital embrace.

A person who absorbs the contraceptive mentality has little ground to object when two men or two women demand equal rights for their radically infertile union. If there is nothing wrong with birth control, it is hard to say what is wrong with same sex marriage - or indeed, any sexual activity outside of marriage. We risk becoming like King Lear. He gave away his kingdom, and then could only impotently rage about what the new rulers did with it.

The present push for “gay marriage” should be a wake-up call. The first step has to be an examination of our own consciences. It's easy to condemn others, easier still to simply drift with the current. But it takes courage and an open heart to ask the following questions: How have I used - and abused - the gift of sexuality? And what can I do to help set things aright?

The Church, if she is faithful to Jesus, will not “move with the times.” On issues such as birth control and the sanctity of marriage, her message must be the same as His: If you do not repent, you will all perish as they did!

For engaged couples who wish to learn about NFP – and for married couples who need help in practicing it – there are some local resources. Dr. Gina Landicho, M.D. has opened a clinic which is contraceptive free: Mary’s Family Medicine, 425-883-8050. Katherine Eames, 206-230-0455, has information on instructors in the Billing Method, including Dr. Bill Perez, M.D. and his wife Shelly. Scott and Marie Elmenhurst, 425-788-2453, offer courses locally in the Sympto-Thermal Method.

Due to the Chrism Mass this Thursday, we will not have First Thursday Confession. However, Fr. Ramon and I will be available this Tuesday, from 4 to 8 p.m., for the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Quisiera agradecer a todos que participaron en la Novena al Niño Jesús. Tenemos muchas necesidades como individuos, familias y como parroquia. Es importante traerlas al Señor, siempre pidiendo saber su voluntad y la capacidad de seguirla.

Durante la novena hemos rezado por las necesidades económicas de la parroquia y familias. Muchos han rezado por el éxito de la Subasta Anual que es una actividad importante para la escuela y parroquia. Oraciones por todos los que están trabajando y participando en el evento.

Este lunes tendremos una reunión del Comité de la Campaña Capital. He invitado representantes de diferentes grupos para escuchar una presentación sobre las prioridades en cuanto a los edificios y terrenos de la parroquia. El Comité se reunirá en el verano para poner las bases de una campaña en el otoño.

A causa de la Misa de Crisma en la Catedral, no habrá confesiones del primer jueves. Pero, este martes, 30 de marzo, habrá confesiones desde las 4 p.m. hasta las 8 p.m. Es una buena oportunidad de recibir este Sacramento de Reconciliación.

Arrepentimiento es esencial si vamos a tener verdadera alegría. Santo Tomás de Aquino dijo, “Ningún hombre puede vivir sin alegría. Por eso, uno privado de alegría espiritual se entrega a placeres carnales.”

Hoy vemos una mujer que buscaba la alegría tan desesperadamente que estaba dispuesta a poner en riesgo su matrimonio, familia, reputación y su vida. Pero no recibió alegría, quizás ni aun placer. Sin duda el hombre le dijo que bonita era, que podía contar con él, que significaba más para él que la misma vida. Lindas palabras, pero cuando llegó una dificultad, se huyó. Lo que la mujer más temía, ya estaba sucediendo. Fue sorprendida – y no había nadie para defenderla. No podía haber sido más sola o más amarga.

La ironía de esta breve narración es que, cuando sucedió lo peor, comenzó una cadena de sucesos que llegaría a la alegría verdadera. Llegaría a Jesús. Cuando ella le extendió su mano, encontró alegría verdadera. No fue porque Jesús dijo que todo estaba bien, no preocuparse. Al contrario su palabra era bien estricta – pero tierna.

La alegría tiene dos partes. Primero, abandonar el pretexto de tener razón, y en cambio aceptar la misericordia en lugar de la miseria. Segundo, implica disciplina, la resolución de no pecar más.

Peter Kreeft, que es profesor de filosofía en Boston College, desafía a los que creen que la alegría es imposible para ellos. Esto es lo que dijo: Nadia que ha dicho a Dios, “Hágase tu voluntad” y lo entendía en su Corazón, ciertamente encontrará la alegría – no solamente en el cielo o lejos en el futuro, sino en este mundo, en este momento, aquí y ahora.