Monday, October 27, 2008

100th Post!!!

I have now made it to my 100th post! I'd like to thank all of my loyal readers. Without you, I doubt I would have even made it to 50 posts. I have made some changes throughout the year+ that I've been writing this blog. I have added some links on the right side of the blog. I invite you to click on these links occasionally, especially the recommended links. As I find more good resources that promote life, I'll be sure to post them as well. If you have any comments or recommendations, I welcome your thoughts. Below I have listed 10 of my favorite/most popular posts. The post may be old, but the message never gets old. If you missed some of my older posts, you can always go back and find all my posts in the blog archive also on the right side of the blog. Once again, thank you all and God bless!

In God's Image and Likeness

How is Faith Lost?

Middle School Provides Birth Control



I Know Just Two Certainties

Happy Father's Day

Will Catholic Vote Be the Difference?

Christian Responsibility

Respect Life Sunday

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My First Prayer Vigil at Abortion Facility

This morning I kept my promise and I went with 5 women from St. Michael the Archangel to the nearest abortion facility to pray. When we got there at 7am, there were already several people from St. Thomas the Apostle. Total, we had 42 people. My arms are a little sore from holding signs for 3 hours. It is a pain that am happy to endure. We were not allowed real close to the abortion facility, but we were able to stand on the sidewalk on the main road. I was not able to see any of the women enter the abortion clinic, but I heard that there were 15 abortions at this location today. They average 20-30 abortions on Saturdays, so hopefully our presence dissuaded some women but even 1 is too many and I left sad that I couldn't dissuade more. One of the abortionists from the facility spoke to one of the leaders of the prayer vigil as he was driving away. The abortionist was trying to rationalize what he is doing by stating there is a large number of children available for adoption. The number he gave was not accurate, but the fact that he even took the time to talk to this woman shows that it is bothering him. The day was mostly peaceful. We had a couple men drive by and honk their horn and yell and one man drove by and showed us his middle finger. Despite these few, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Several honked in agreement, some waved and gave a thumbs up.

Of the 6 people from St. Michael the Archangel that went to pray, this was the first time for 3 of us and one of the women hadn't been in a prayer vigil for 5 years. This is very exciting. Obviously, I was the only man from our small group and all the women were very pleased to see me there. So much so that one asked if I would "tell my story" and asked if I wanted to set up a committee. I said I would do anything that I can to help spread the pro-life message. One woman with us is a hairdresser and was thinking of more ways that she can make a difference. She voiced an idea of forming a "hairdressers for life" group that would donate 50% to pro-life activities. Many good people are doing many good things and many good ideas were tossed around. There are many ministries that you can get involved in, but I encouraged you to get involved in at least one. I've just done this once and it is already so rewarding to me. I plan on continuing participating in pro-life ministry. Please consider what you can do to make a difference and go out and do it!

Thanks for all of you who have wished me a happy birthday. Thank you mom and dad for choosing life. God bless!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi

As Christians, we are called to live of life of service to God and others. Perhaps no one has ever so eloquently spoken about our call to service than Saint Francis of Assisi. This is one of my favorite prayers. May we keep these words on our mind and in in our hearts.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen

Happy birthday Elizabeth! I hope you have a great day everyday, but especially on this day - you little nut! God bless!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stay Strong

Planned Parenthood is not happy about the 40 Days For Life Campaign. We are seeing several instances where people are being persecuted for peacefully praying outside abortion clinics. We are now just past the half way point in the 40 Days For Life Campaign. The other night I participated in a webcast for 40 Days For Life's midpoint rally. It was very inspirational. There are many great people working very hard to end abortion. It is very important in this election season to make abortion the number one voting issue. If a politician does not respect the life of the most innocent person, an infant, what makes us think he'll respect our life? How can we trust a man with those convictions? We can't and we should not vote for such a person. Our country needs a conversion of heart. We need to overturn Roe vs. Wade and be the leader in the world in promoting life. All this said, the president will not make this happen. We must make this happen. The abortion problem is not here because of who's sitting in the White House, it's still here because we, good Christian men and women are sitting in our house. We must go out and join those in prayer, fasting and community outreach. We should make it a priority to take on this issue and educate people about the evils of abortion. I am at fault as well. I have not done nearly enough. I must do more. For this reason, I will make my first ever trip to an abortion clinic here in Marietta, GA at 7:00 AM on my birthday - October 25th. This is a great sacrifice, but in the grand scheme of things my sacrifice is very small. I can think of no better way to celebrate my birthday than to go to the abortion clinic and pray for an end to abortion. Below is an email I received today from the director of 40 Days For Life. Stay strong and never lose faith. We WILL end abortion in this country. God bless!

Dear Mike,
Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortionchain, does NOT like 40 Days for Life.
The billion-dollar organization -- that rakes in$336.7 million tax dollars each year while aborting289,750 children -- is always fighting to protect itsbottom line.
And it has brought out one of its tired old ploys forthis fall's 40 Days for Life -- a campaign it calls"Pledge-a-Picket."
Planned Parenthood supporters are asked to make adonation for each person who prays outside itsfacilities, claiming that pro-lifers are helpingto raise money for the abortion business.
Planned Parenthood has been using this tactic innumerous cities across the country where 40 Days forLife campaigns are disrupting customer income.
To further demonstrate how much 40 Days for Life isimpacting Planned Parenthood's revenue stream, theorganization has now rolled out a national campaignattempting to counter the impact of 40 Days for Lifewhile raising funds for the abortion operation.
They use a web-based blog called, "I am Emily X,"which uses a made-up character that represents, "asmall group of Planned Parenthood employees," whocontinually accuse 40 Days for Life participants ofharassing clinic workers and customers.
To give an example, the blog reported this Tuesdayfrom Nebraska where the abortion workers have countedmore than 350 volunteers participating in the 40 Daysfor Life campaign thus far. (Great job, Nebraska!)
"Emily X" then condemns a group of Catholic priestsand lay people who came out to peacefully pray therosary together outside their doors, saying, "I worryabout how intimidating the sound of all those voicesat once can be," before claiming that the rosary,"has been corrupted as a tool to frighten women."
That's what they call intimidation?
First of all, if Planned Parenthood triesPledge-a-Picket in your community, please don'tchange what you're doing!
You are NOT raising money for Planned Parenthood.This is a deceptive campaign meant to dissuadefaithful people whose prayers are cutting in to theabortion chain's bottom line. You are praying to endthe evil of abortion -- PLEASE DON'T STOP!
Devanie Cooper, the local 40 Days for Lifecoordinator in Memphis, gave a great answer when aWREG-TV reporter asked her about Pledge-a-Picket."Prayer and fasting works better than money does,"she said. "We're going to win this; God's going towin this."
The 40 Days for Life team in Manchester, NewHampshire is noting the real effect this campaign ishaving on Planned Parenthood.
Mike and his wife pray outside near the end of thebusiness day. "We observe that the people working atthe clinic leave all at once and very quickly inorder to avoid any interaction with us," he said. "Ibelieve that deep down in their souls they know thatwhat they are doing is evil."
I suspect that the 40 Days for Life team in Spokane,Washington is having a similar impact. Why else wouldPlanned Parenthood send eight of its own employeesoutside with signs promoting "choice"?
"Two or three more joined them within the next halfhour," said Inga. "They lined up on the curb oneither side of our prayer volunteers, with an'in-your-face' attitude, mocking us with their looksand laughter. This was the first time in eithercampaign that we have encountered this kind ofpersecution."
Inga said only two people were signed up to pray atthe vigil when this happened, but God had otherplans. The people who were scheduled to leave thevigil stayed and kept praying -- and other peoplekept arriving to join them until more than two dozenfaithful believers were gathered in prayer outside ofPlanned Parenthood.
When 5 o'clock came, the Planned Parenthood employeesgave up and went home. But the 40 Days for Life teamcontinued to pray.
"We all felt great cause for rejoicing that we hadbeen found worthy to suffer for truth and life," Ingasaid. "Truly, this is a sign that we are somehowgetting under their skin, disrupting business,causing women to not keep their appointments,possibly even saving lives of babies and keepingwomen from a lifetime of regret."
Please keep Planned Parenthood and its employees inyour prayers. A call to conversion can be extremelyunsettling to those being called. But the call isstrong, and it is real.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Back Home Again

We just got back home from our trip to Bowling Green. We had a really good time. It's been so long since I've seen my family and I got to see them all except my brother Steve (who was on a trip in North Carolina) and my sister Anna (who had homecoming this weekend). I also got to meet my nephew Sam for the first time and he is so cute. He's a very big boy. I told his dad that he looks like an offensive tackle or linebacker. I'm glad to be back home, but I never like to leave my family.

This morning at church I was almost overcome by my emotions. When I went up to receive the Eucharist, I caught sight of my mom who was holding Sam. She had the biggest smile on her face. It almost made me cry and I don't even know why. I guess I just had so many emotions flowing at the time. I was trying to concentrate on receiving the body of Christ, but at that one moment I was overwhelmed. I had felt an almost uncontrollable love. I thought about how I am soon to become a parent and I can only hope that I am half the parent for my child as my parents were and continue to be for me. I just have the best family in the world and I am so thankful. I'm a momma's boy. Always was and I guess I always will be. I'll always cherish and love my family and the time I get to spend with my family. That duration of time has dwindled but the quality of time has never been greater. I look forward to our next meeting (most likely Christmas) and I love you all!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I'm Going to Be a Dad!!!

Praise God! Please keep my wife and our baby in your prayers. I pray every day for their health. God has blessed me so much and I can't wait to experience all the great blessings our baby will provide my family. I'm so blessed. Praise God. God bless!


Sunday, October 5, 2008

Respect Life Sunday

-The following letter was read at mass this morning. Please read the whole letter, and reflect on the bishop's words. They are incredibly powerful and true! I have bolded the sections that I believe are especially important. Please forward this on to everyone you know and help spread the word. Thank you and God bless!-

(Bishop of Scranton, PA)

My brothers and sisters in Christ,

The American Catholic bishops initiated Respect Life Sunday in 1972, the year before the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the United States. Since that time, Catholics across the country observe the month of October with devotions and pro-life activities in order to advance the culture of life. This October, our efforts have more significance than ever. Never have we seen such abusive criticism directed toward those who believe that life begins at conception and ends at natural death.

As Catholics, we should not be surprised by these developments. Forty years ago, Pope Paul VI predicted that widespread use of artificial contraceptives would lead to increased marital infidelity, lessened regard for women, and a general lowering of moral standards especially among the young. Forty years later, social scientists, not necessarily Catholics, attest to the accuracy of his predictions. As if following some bizarre script, the sexual revolution has produced widespread marital breakdown, weakened family ties, legalized abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, pornography, same-sex unions, euthanasia, destruction of human embryos for research purposes and a host of other ills.

It is impossible for me to answer all of the objections to the Church’s teaching on life that we hear every day in the media. Nevertheless, let me address a few. To begin, laws that protect abortion constitute injustice of the worst kind. They rest on several false claims including that there is no certainty regarding when life begins, that there is no certainty about when a fetus becomes a person, and that some human beings may be killed to advance the interests or convenience of others. With regard to the first, reason and science have answered the question. The life of a human being begins at conception. The Church has long taught this simple truth, and science confirms it. Biologists can now show you the delicate and beautiful development of the human embryo in its first days of existence. This is simply a fact that reasonable people accept. Regarding the second, the embryo and the fetus have the potential to do all that an adult person does. Finally, the claim that the human fetus may be sacrificed to the interests or convenience of his mother or someone else is grievously wrong. All three claims have the same result: the weakest and most vulnerable are denied, because of their age, the most basic protection that we demand for ourselves. This is discrimination at its worst, and no person of conscience should support it.

Another argument goes like this: “As wrong as abortion is, I don't think it is the only relevant ‘life’ issue that should be considered when deciding for whom to vote.” This reasoning is sound only if other issues carry the same moral weight as abortion does, such as in the case of euthanasia and destruction of embryos for research purposes. Health care, education, economic security, immigration, and taxes are very important concerns. Neglect of any one of them has dire consequences as the recent financial crisis demonstrates. However, the solutions to problems in these areas do not usually involve a rejection of the sanctity of human life in the way that abortion does. Being “right” on taxes, education, health care, immigration, and the economy fails to make up for the error of disregarding the value of a human life. Consider this: the finest health and education systems, the fairest immigration laws, and the soundest economy do nothing for the child who never sees the light of day. It is a tragic irony that “pro-choice” candidates have come to support homicide – the gravest injustice a society can tolerate – in the name of “social justice.”

Even the Church’s just war theory has moral force because it is grounded in the principle that innocent human life must be protected and defended. Now, a person may, in good faith, misapply just war criteria leading him to mistakenly believe that an unjust war is just, but he or she still knows that innocent human life may not be harmed on purpose. A person who supports permissive abortion laws, however, rejects the truth that innocent human life may never be destroyed. This profound moral failure runs deeper and is more corrupting of the individual, and of the society, than any error in applying just war criteria to particular cases.

Furthermore, National Right to Life reports that 48.5 million abortions have been performed since 1973. One would be too many. No war, no natural disaster, no illness or disability has claimed so great a price.

In saying these things in an election year, I am in very good company. My predecessor, Bishop Timlin, writing his pastoral letter on Respect Life Sunday 2000, stated the case eloquently:

Abortion is the issue this year and every year in every campaign. Catholics may not turn away from the moral challenge that abortion poses for those who seek to obey God’s commands. They are wrong when they assert that abortion does not concern them, or that it is only one of a multitude of issues of equal importance. No, the taking of innocent human life is so heinous, so horribly evil, and so absolutely opposite to the law of Almighty God that abortion must take precedence over every other issue. I repeat. It is the single most important issue confronting not only Catholics, but the entire electorate.

My fellow bishops, writing ten years ago, explained why some evils – abortion and euthanasia in particular – take precedence over other forms of violence and abuse.

The failure to protect life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the ‘rightness’ of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community. If we understand the human person as ‘the temple of the Holy Spirit’ – the living house of God – then these latter issues fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house. All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house’s foundation [emphasis in the original]. These directly and immediately violate the human person’s most fundamental right – the right to life. Neglect of these issues is the equivalent of building our house on sand. Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics, 23.

While the Church assists the State in the promotion of a just society, its primary concern is to assist men and women in achieving salvation. For this reason, it is incumbent upon bishops to correct Catholics who are in error regarding these matters. Furthermore, public officials who are Catholic and who persist in public support for abortion and other intrinsic evils should not partake in or be admitted to the sacrament of Holy Communion. As I have said before, I will be vigilant on this subject.

It is the Church’s role now to be a prophet in our own country, reminding all citizens of what our founders meant when they said that “. . . all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Church’s teaching that all life from conception to natural death should be protected by law is founded on religious belief to be sure, but it is also a profoundly American principle founded on reason. Whenever a society asks its citizens to violate its own foundational principles – as well as their moral consciences – citizens have a right, indeed an obligation, to refuse.

In 1941, Bishop Gustave von Galen gave a homily condemning Nazi officials for murdering mentally ill people in his diocese of Muenster, Germany. The bishop said:

“Thou shalt not kill!” God wrote this commandment in the conscience of man long before any penal code laid down the penalty for murder, long before there was any prosecutor or any court to investigate and avenge a murder. Cain, who killed his brother Abel, was a murderer long before there were any states or any courts or law. And he confessed his deed, driven by his accusing conscience: “My punishment is greater than I can bear. . . and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me the murderer shall slay me” (Genesis 4:13-14)”

Should he have opposed the war and remained silent about the murder of the mentally ill? No person of conscience can fail to understand why Bishop von Galen spoke as he did.

My dear friends, I beg you not to be misled by confusion and lies. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, does not ask us to follow him to Calvary only for us to be afraid of contradicting a few bystanders along the way. He does not ask us to take up his Cross only to have us leave it at the voting booth door. Recently, Pope Benedict XVI said that “God is so humble that he uses us to spread his Word.” The gospel of life, which we have the privilege of proclaiming, resonates in the heart of every person – believer and non-believer – because it fulfills the heart’s most profound desire. Let us with one voice continue to speak the language of love and affirm the right of every human being to have the value of his or her life, from conception to natural death, respected to the highest degree.

October is traditionally the month of the Rosary. Let us pray the Rosary for the strength and fortitude to uphold the truths of our faith and the requirements of our law to all who deny them. And, let us ask Our Lady to bless our nation and the weakest among us.

May Mary, the mother of Jesus, the Lord of Life, pray for us.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, D.D., Hist. E.D.
Bishop of Scranton

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Respect People, Not Immoral Opinions

I have great respect for people. We all should respect one another, because we are all great gifts from God. Sure we are all sinners, but we must have respect for life and love our neighbors. However, we should not confuse a respect for a person with respect for all opinions. What do I mean by this? I think I can best explain this by giving an example of a common argument given by pro-choice (mothers choice to kill their unborn babies) advocates. First of all, I’d like to point out that these people are not pro-choice in the true sense because they are just advocating that the mother has a choice in whether or not to terminate the life of her baby. Last time I checked, that does not include giving the father a choice or the unborn baby a choice. Is not the father also involved in the creation of the life forming inside the woman? Since the unborn can not speak up for themselves, we must be the voice for the unborn. For this reason, I label people who are for abortion pro-abortion as opposed to pro-choice. It more accurately labels their position. Some will say they are not for abortion, but they don’t feel they can tell another woman what to do. Newsflash people, that is the same thing as advocating the abortion. Think about it!

A common argument given by pro-abortion advocates is that they don’t feel they have the “right” to tell a mother what to do with her body. They don’t think it’s fair to legislate on an issue of “choice”. They say they want to limit the number of abortions, but they think that keeping abortion legal and using taxpayer dollars to fund institutions like Planned Parenthood will help limit abortions? I think not. Another phrase that irks me is that Planned Parenthood helps to solve “unwanted pregnancies”. Unwanted by whom? The parents? The future grandparents? Society? Every life is a gift from God and just because a couple does not “plan” to have a baby does not mean the baby is unwanted. That is a terrible thing to say and is completely untrue.

I can respect a person who has a pro-abortion view on life. I can respect that they have been given the great gift of life and with that great gift of life comes a gift of free will. I respect that others might have differing opinions than my own. My opinion may not always be the correct opinion, but certain truths have been revealed by God that are not debatable. Life is a moral issue. Those who do not respect life must be confronted in a peaceful but serious way. If one does not respect life, that will most likely lead to several misguided and potentially very dangerous outlooks on life. I cannot respect the immoral opinions that go against God’s teachings and most fundamental truths. I respect the fact that all people are capable of having an opinion, but I must not agree or respect the opinion itself.

Sharing with people the love God has for each one of us is not disrespectful. If anything, talking about tough issues like abortion is the ultimate sign of respect. It is not acceptable to agree to disagree on an issue so great as the issue of abortion. This is a life or death issue and it must be discussed. If a pro-abortion person is uncomfortable talking about abortion, maybe there is a reason for that. Maybe they know deep down inside that abortion is wrong. It is our responsibility to reach out to these people. When we do, we must not be condescending and mean. We must approach these people with the respect that they deserve and always with the goal of helping them understand the greatness and fullness of life. We are not forcing our ideas upon them, but we are offering them tools to discover what is right. We must do this. Jesus tells us we must reach out to those who are in need and millions of unborn are in need of our help.

So next time when you hear someone say they can not force their opinions on anyone else, let them know that they did exactly what the said they would not do: forced their opinion on you. When politicians say that they can not legislate what a woman decides to do or not do with her body, bring up the fact that all our laws are based on choices. Pro-abortion is not pro-choice. If we do nothing, we are not part of the solution but part of the problem. Do not be afraid to voice your opinion, but be prepared for a negative reaction. Strong opinions will always be greeted with strong reactions. Know that many people will criticize and ridicule you. Jesus was no stranger to criticism and ridicule. Do what you know is right and reach out to those who are in need. Respect all people, including the unborn and people in all stages of life, and respectfully communicate with those who do not know or understand God and his great love for all. Do not be afraid, God is with you. God bless you all!