Rotating Header Image

abortion

Continuing The March For Life


 

I’ve just returned from Washington, DC where I had the honor of participating in a 2 day book signing at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. On January 24 & 25, I signed copies of A Worrier’s Guide To The Bible, along with fellow Catholic authors Teresa Tomeo, Dan Burke, Fr. Michael Gaitley, EWTN’s Brother Leo, Regina Doman and Dr. Monica Miller.

I had the opportunity to sign lots of books and meet many friends but, most importantly, I was able to be with hundreds of thousands of people who believe in the sanctity of life! As I sat at my table outside of the book store, I witnessed an endless stream of individuals who journey to the nation’s capital to attend the March For Life. Clergy, religious and lay people all came to make a statement that ALL life is sacred and needs to be protected. I felt an incredible sense of unity as well as frustration as so many people were there to protest the killing of innocent babies. Something about that thought just boggles my mind…we were there to protest the legal murder of the unborn. Huh? Isn’t it true that we live in a “civilized” society?

Rather that get depressed, however, we need to keep doing what 650,000 of us did that day in Washington. We must continue to stand up for life, which means telling the truth about abortion. It’s up to us to do the job that the mainstream media refuses to do. We need to continue to speak up for the silent victims of this modern day holocaust. Take it from me…our workplaces, schools and even our Catholic churches are filled with people who have been tricked into thinking that abortion is simply “the right to choose”. We have to inform them that it is nothing more than violent, bloody and gruesome murder. Since abortion was legalized in the United States, 55 MILLION BABIES have been legally murdered. 55 MILLION! Although it’s important that so many of us came together to visibly march on behalf of life, it should not be a one day event. We should continue to “march” as we return to our homes. The stakes are high, my friends, and it’s up to us to spread the word. Please continue to pray, fast, volunteer and speak out on behalf of those little ones who can’t speak for themselves. Let people know what abortion really is. As Bishop Farrell proclaimed in his homily during the closing Mass for the March for Life, we are making a difference and we WILL one day win the battle. Until then…

we MUST continue to fight!

I Didn’t Care Too Much About Abortion, Until One Day…


 

I’m convinced that the majority of people who support legalized abortion don’t really understand what it involves. Although I’ve been a practicing (more or less) Catholic for my entire life, I was EXTREMELY apathetic about abortion. Yeah, I guess I was pro-life, but I never gave it too much thought. After all, I had my own problems. One day, approximately 20 years ago, something drastic happened and it changed my outlook forever. I saw a picture of an aborted baby in a trash can. A precious life that was intentionally snuffed out and discarded like a piece of garbage. From that moment on I became strongly pro-life.

Many questions have arisen about whether or not graphic pictures of aborted babies should be used by those in the pro-life movement. As I mentioned, it worked for me. I saw all that I needed to see and I’ve done all I can to avoid seeing another such picture. When I originally wrote this post, I included a link to a gruesome photo gallery on the Priests for Life website. After reviewing my comments and reading an excellent blog post from Simcha Fisher on the subject, I decided to modify my post and remove the link. What changed my mind? The fact that it never really dawned on me that the aborted babies used in these pictures were human beings who deserved to be treated with respect and dignity. My zeal for proclaiming the truth about the evil of abortion caused me to lose sight of the bigger picture. Although the use of the pictures can be very effective in some cases, I agree that using them could show a lack of respect for the dignity of the victims.

As a result, I’ve decided to link to another Priests for Life photo gallery, one containing photographic images of fetal development through the first 6 months of pregnancy. I think it makes the point in a much better way. Am I copping out? I don’t think so. Rather, I’d like to think that I learned something today. If we’re really going to win the battle and convert people to the side of life, we all have to be willing to constantly reevaluate our approach and make sure that we don’t let our pride get in the way. Is it wrong to use graphic pictures in certain limited cases? I can’t say for sure, especially since so many lives are at stake. For me personally, however, I’ve decided to go a different route. The important thing is that we continue to expose the myth that abortion is all about choice and let others know what it really is…

Murder!

http://www.priestsforlife.org/resources/abortionimages/fetaldevelopment.htm

Sandy Hook – A Time For Mourning, Not Lecturing!


 

Before I begin this post, I want to make a few things clear. I am 100 percent pro-life and have written about the evils of abortion many times. In addition, I pray the rosary with a group of people each week outside of an abortion clinic. I believe, as the Catholic Church teaches, that abortion is murder. No exceptions…it is ALWAYS murder! I also believe that most people who support abortion are unaware of what takes place as unborn children are pulled from their mothers wombs. I feel that there is a great need to educate the world as to what really takes places under the guise of “the right to choose”. All things considered, however, I think it is WAY too early to compare the murders that happen legally in this country every day with the horrible crime that took place on Friday at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

Twenty children (between the ages of 6-7) were gunned down at close range, 6 adults unexpectedly lost their lives and faced their judgment (quite possibly unprepared to do so), the lives of those who lost loved ones in this tragedy were shattered at a time of year when peace and joy should be the prevailing message. A community, a country and the entire world is devastated and confused, perplexed as to how God could allow this to happen.

I have been seeing way too many comments on Facebook and other social media sites that are using this tragedy as an argument for many different agendas. In my opinion, this is not the time for Planned Parenthood comparisons, statements about the need for gun control laws or criticism of President Obama for expressing outrage and sorrow for what transpired. Rather, it is a time to pray for our brothers and sisters who lost their lives. It’s a time to mourn along with those who were affected in any way by the tragedy. It’s a time to do what we can to live out our Christian faith every day, which includes loving one another. It’s also a time to remember that there is evil in the world, but that the Prince of Peace, who we are preparing to welcome can and will bring good out of that evil.

There will come a time when we should point out the need to mourn for the many children who are legally murdered every day, but it’s too soon. There will be a time to discuss gun control laws or the need to return God to public schools. However, the victims from the Sandy Hook massacre have not even been buried yet. Let’s first show some respect and compassion for those souls who passed away and for their families, many of whose lives will never be the same.

How Should Catholics Vote?


 

Sorry if this disappoints you, but I’m not going to tell you who to vote for in the upcoming United States presidential election. What I will do, however, is give you some Catholic voting guidelines based solely on Church teaching. I will echo the words of Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput and remind Catholics that primarily we should primarily vote AS CATHOLICS, not necessarily as Democrats or Republicans. And we should not take that responsibility lightly, as one day we’ll have to defend our position when we stand before God on our judgment day.

How should we vote in the upcoming presidential election? Let’s look at some comments by the United States bishops, from their document, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship (A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States) as well as my own observations. For the sake of brevity, I will focus on one issue, the right to life. There are other issues that are important, but this one should be at (or VERY near) the top of every Catholic’s voting issues list.

As Catholics, who should we vote for?

7. In this statement, we bishops do not intend to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote. Our purpose is to help Catholics form their consciences in accordance with God’s truth.

This is good. While the Church will not tell us who to vote for, she should and will provide us with the guidelines needed to vote as Catholics. More than “just another opinion”, when the successors of the Apostles speak…we should listen!

How should conscience come into play when voting?

17. Catholics have a serious and lifelong obligation to form their consciences in accord with human reason and the teaching of the Church. Conscience is not something that allows us to justify doing whatever we want, nor is it a mere “feeling” about what we should or should not do.

In other words, we MUST look to the teachings of the Church when making moral decisions. Voting is a very serious moral obligation and should be done in accordance with the teachings of the Church. As Catholics, we have the responsibility to explore and understand the teaching of the Church before voting.

Are some things always wrong?

22. There are some things we must never do, as individuals or as a society, because they are always incompatible with love of God and neighbor. Such actions are so deeply flawed that they are always opposed to the authentic good of persons. These are called “intrinsically evil” actions. They must always be rejected and opposed and must never be supported or condoned. A prime example is the intentional taking of innocent human life, as in abortion and euthanasia. In our nation, “abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others” (Living the Gospel of Life, no. 5). It is a mistake with grave moral consequences to treat the destruction of innocent human life merely as a matter of individual choice. A legal system that violates the basic right to life on the grounds of choice is fundamentally flawed.

Abortion and euthanasia are ALWAYS evil and must ALWAYS be opposed.

Are there any cases when abortion and euthanasia can be supported?

28. The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed.

As a Catholic, can I morally vote for a candidate who supports a grave evil such as abortion?

34. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.

35. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental
moral evil.

Technically yes, but only if the alternative is worse. If you are voting for someone who supports abortion, there has to be an EXTREMELY good reason. For example, his opponent must pose an even greater threat to life than murdering the unborn. In my opinion, that’s just about an impossibility.

How about if neither candidate is perfect when it comes to issues of life?

36. When all candidates hold a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.

Although the bishops allow us to make the choice of not voting, they call it an “extraordinary step”. That means it should only be a last resort. If both candidates support an intrinsic evil such as abortion, our first choice should be to vote for the individual who will do less harm. In the case of abortion, which candidate will cause less children to be murdered?

How does abortion rank when it comes to other issues? What if I feel that the pro-abortion candidate will do a better job with the economy?

37. In making these decisions, it is essential for Catholics to be guided by a well-formed conscience that recognizes that all issues do not carry the same moral weight and that the moral obligation to oppose intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions.

Intrinsically evil acts (such as abortion) carry more moral weight that non-intrinsically evil acts (such as economic issues).

Can I decide to NOT vote for a candidate just because he supports an intrinsically evil act (such as abortion) even if I agree with his other positions?

42. As Catholics we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet a candidate’s position on a single issue that involves an intrinsic evil, such as support for legal abortion or the promotion of racism, may legitimately lead a voter to disqualify a candidate from receiving support.

Yes, you can. Even though Catholics should not be “single issue voters”, you are morally justified in refusing to vote for a candidate solely because he supports abortion. That is a powerful statement by the bishops.

What is the Democratic Party’s position on abortion? This is taken from their website:

Protecting A Woman’s Right to Choose: The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. Abortion is an intensely personal decision between a woman, her family, her doctor, and her clergy; there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way. We also recognize that health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. We strongly and unequivocally support a woman’s decision to have a child by providing affordable health care and ensuring the availability of and access to programs that help women during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, including caring adoption programs.

What is the Republican Party’s position on abortion? This is taken from their website:

The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life: Faithful to the “self-evident” truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion or fund organizations which perform or advocate it and will not fund or subsidize health care which includes abortion coverage. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life. We oppose the non-consensual withholding or withdrawal of care or treatment, including food and water, from people with disabilities, including newborns, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose active and passive euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Republican leadership has led the effort to prohibit the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion and permitted States to extend health care coverage to children before birth. We urge Congress to strengthen the Born Alive Infant Protection Act by enacting appropriate civil and criminal penalties on healthcare providers who fail to provide treatment and care to an infant who survives an abortion, including early induction delivery where the death of the infant is intended. We call for legislation to ban sex-selective abortions – gender discrimination in its most lethal form – and to protect from abortion unborn children who are capable of feeling pain; and we applaud U.S. House Republicans for leading the effort to protect the lives of pain-capable unborn children in the District of Columbia. We call for a ban on the use of body parts from aborted fetuses for research. We support and applaud adult stem cell research to develop lifesaving therapies, and we oppose the killing of embryos for their stem cells. We oppose federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.

We also salute the many States that have passed laws for informed consent, mandatory waiting periods prior to an abortion, and health-protective clinic regulation. We seek to protect young girls from exploitation through a parental consent requirement; and we affirm our moral obligation to assist, rather than penalize, women challenged by an unplanned pregnancy. We salute those who provide them with counseling and adoption alternatives and empower them to choose life, and we take comfort in the tremendous increase in adoptions that has followed Republican legislative initiatives.

The two parties differ drastically when it comes to abortion. Make absolutely certain that you read and understand their positions before you vote!

Although many of us have political party affiliations that go back many years, we should take seriously our duty to vote AS CATHOLICS. There is A LOT at stake in this presidential election and we must carefully examine Mr. Romney and President Obama’s positions on critical issues, such as abortion. In the United States, it is currently legal to murder the unborn. Does this matter to you? It should. Please don’t put yourself in the position of having to explain to God why you didn’t do anything to stop the slaughter. Even worse will be having to explain why you helped the slaughter to continue!

A Story Of Courage And An Urgent Prayer Request

 

It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord works in my life. I often think that I’m doing something for one reason, only to realize that the Lord was attempting to accomplish something completely different by my actions. As many of you know, I’m a full time Catholic lay evangelist. As you can imagine, it’s not easy to earn a living in this line of work. It requires a great deal of trust in God’s Providence (I’m still working on that!) and a close relationship with the Lord (working on that too!). In order to earn some additional income, I’ve been exploring various affiliate programs, which will allow me to earn a percentage of all sales referred by my website. Yesterday, I signed up with ChristianShirts.net and put their link on my website.

I started browsing their site more closely (in order to make sure nothing conflicted with Catholic teaching) and I was startled to see the following message:

Due to the loss of our baby, orders placed recently, today, and in the near future will be delayed. I appreciate your patience. Please pray for us at this difficult time. -Rachelle

I said a prayer and then I followed a link which explained the entire story of Rachelle’s pregnancy and subsequent loss of her child. You can read the full story here (and I recommend that you do because it’s powerful), but in summary:

Rachelle had chemotherapy in her teens, which put her at risk for heart complications during pregnancy. Unfortunately that’s exactly what happened during her pregnancy. She went to a high risk obstetrician, who informed Rachelle that there was a 50 percent chance of her dying if she continued on with the pregnancy. Devastated by the news, this young woman was not prepared for what she heard next. In her words…

She began by holding my hand and asking what religion I was. I replied Catholic, and she said “Let me tell you what I know about God. God is loving and forgiving, and He will understand if you have an abortion.” She added that she had worked in a cardiac clinic and had seen many Catholic women die for the decision to continue with a pregnancy. We had already mentioned that we did not want to terminate, yet she pressed on, even reminding me that I would not want to leave my 18-month-old son without a mother. She made it clear that I would most likely end up in the hospital for several weeks – maybe months – and we had to prepare for that. There was no compassion, no caring about my unborn child that was already loved and very much wanted. When we continued to explain to her that we were not going to have an abortion, she mocked our beliefs and told me that I had better start praying. I left that appointment distraught and beside myself. It was enough to take in that I had a 50% chance of survival, yet to be coerced to try to get me to have an abortion on top of that was just too much.

As if hearing this from her doctor wasn’t bad enough, Rachelle was also encouraged by some family members to abort her child. She refused, stating “I was willing to risk my life for my unborn child. In my eyes, it was no different than risking my life for my born child.” One week later, an ultrasound revealed that her baby had died. Rachelle is currently undergoing further testing on her heart to determine the prognosis for future pregnancies.

In the First Reading from today’s Mass, God used the unaware Assyrians to punish his disobedient people. In a similar way I think he used me as I searched for new funding sources for my work. I thought that I was simply entering into an agreement with a great Catholic company struggling to do the Lord’s work, but more importantly, I experienced a powerful witness of trust in God’s Providence (which I really needed!) and I discovered a woman desperately in need of prayer. I’d ask you to kindly keep Rachelle and her family in your prayers and please consider making a donation for travel and burial expenses. I’ll close with Rachelle’s powerful words…

We think of our business more as a ministry – spreading Pro-life and Christian messages through affordable clothing which will spark conversation – and we make barely enough to pay our bills. It is not about the money. However, we are planning on traveling out of state at some point to bury our baby in the same cemetery where all of our relatives are buried. This will leave us behind in a lot of ways, but we believe it is well worth it for our spiritual and emotional healing. If you find it in your heart to donate for travel and burial expenses, we greatly appreciate it. If you would prefer to donate to a pro-life organization in our baby’s name (which we will announce when we decide on a name), please let us know so we can send a thank you.

More than donations, please keep us in your prayers. I have a long road ahead of me with my heart condition, and we are still praying that testing might reveal that my heart is strong enough to withstand another pregnancy.

Attention, Catholics…Quit Complaining And DO SOMETHING!

 

As Catholics, we’re very good at complaining. We complain about our priests, bishops and deacons being too lax or too strict. We complain about the teachings of the Church being too hard to follow. We complain when we’re asked to contribute to the support of the Church. We also complain about President Obama and his administration’s anti-Catholic policies.

I have to admit that yesterday’s decision by the Supreme Court upholding President Obama’s Affordable Health Care plan was painful. However, nothing that this administration does should come as a surprise. President Obama is a supporter of abortion, same sex “marriage” and his HHS mandate makes clear what he thinks about freedom of religion. What boggles my mind is how any Catholic can be surprised by anything this administration does. What’s even more mind-boggling is how any Catholic (and there were many) voted for him, knowing of his support for abortion alone!

While we may feel frustrated and defeated, complaining and belittling Obama and his Catholic “partners in crime” (Pelosi, Biden, Sebelius, John Roberts) isn’t really going to do any good. Complaining about your priests, deacons and bishops not speaking out is also not very productive. Rather than simply complaining, let’s look at some PRODUCTIVE steps that every Catholic could and should do:

1. Vote like a Catholic! – Anyone who tries to tell you that faith and politics don’t mix is flat out wrong. If we are not voting based on our Catholic principles, then we are NOT living our Catholic Faith. And that is a BIG problem. Our vote should be an expression of our Faith. Casting the other issues aside for a moment, any Catholic who votes for a candidate who supports the legal MURDER of the unborn could be putting their salvation in serious jeopardy. While I have no right to judge anyone’s motivation, I would not want to appear before the Lord (upon my death) and attempt to justify why I voted for a candidate who supports abortion!

2. Pray – While we do not know how or why prayer works, we know that it does. Turning to the Bible, we see that Our Lord prayed on many occasions. In his letters, St. Paul frequently urged his readers to pray and often did so himself. Prayer is effective! We should pray every day for an end to abortion and for God’s Will to be done on earth. Yes, the world is a dark place…yes, there is much evil taking place every day, but we can’t just sit back and complain. We have to pray!

3. Learn the Teachings of the Church – As Catholics, one of our biggest weaknesses is not knowing the teachings of the Church. Far too many Catholics simply go through the motions and don’t understand their faith. How can we live out our Catholic Faith when we don’t understand it? Furthermore, how can we share the teachings of the Church with others if we’re in the dark? I guarantee that, if you approach it with an open mind, studying why the Church teaches as she does will reveal something shocking…the Church is always right!

4. Speak Out! – When our co-workers speak of the beauty of same sex “marriage” or the “right to choose” to murder the unborn, we shouldn’t remain silent. In addition to knowing why the Church teaches as she does, we MUST defend her teachings. I refuse to believe that most abortion supporters know what the practice involves. One would have to be cold and barbaric to condone the cold blooded murder of a child. As knowledgeable Catholics, it is up to us to share the truth with others. Sure, we have to be charitable, but we need to let people know the truth. There are many abortion and same sex “marriage” supporters in the world who would change their position if they knew exactly what they were supporting. We need to be a light in the darkness and proclaim the “Good News” to the world!

5. Get Involved – There are many ways for us to get involved in combating these threats to our beliefs. Praying outside of abortion clinics, volunteering at crisis pregnancy centers, contributing to pro-life charities, circulating petitions in defense of the family are all productive ways to combat the evil in the world. Instead of simply griping about “the world being crazy”, it’s time to get involved!

Above all, remember to stay positive (in spite of what you may be feeling). The Lord knows what He’s doing. While we may not understand why evil exists, we do know that God permits it to happen. One of the reasons is due to the gift of free will. God will never force anyone to follow His Will. Rather, He allows us to choose good or to choose evil. As evidenced by the crucifixion, God can always bring good out of evil. Therefore, don’t become discouraged, keep fighting the good fight, stop complaining and…

DO SOMETHING!

Obama Reaffirms His Commitment To Abortion

 

As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.  I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose and this fundamental constitutional right.  While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue- no matter what our views, we must stay united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant woman and mothers, reduce the need for abortion, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.  And as we remember this historic anniversary, we must also continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams. (President Barack Obama, January 22, 2012)

In order to commemorate the 39th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court Decision that legalized abortion in the United States (and has allowed for 54 million abortions), United States President Barack Obama released a statement in which he emphasized that he remains “committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose” to murder her child and refers to this act of murder as a “fundamental constitutional right”.  In an attempt to make this horrific act more palatable, Mr. Obama then talks about the need to “reduce the need” for murdering the unborn (DUH!), “prevent unintended pregnancies” (as long as it’s done without promoting abstinence), “support pregnant women” (I totally agree with him on this point) and “promote adoption” (Amen!).  He then closes by pledging to “continue our efforts to ensure that our daughters have the same rights, freedoms, and opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams”.  Let’s see if I understand… in order for our daughters to be able to fulfill their dreams, they must retain the right to freely murder their children (????????).

As we commemorate this tragic anniversary,  here are a few of my suggestions:

1. Pray daily for an end to abortion.

2. Don’t fall for the “choice” and “reproductive rights” rhetoric and think about what the pro-abortion supporters are actually saying.  They are promoting the murder of children!

3. If you are Catholic, you must ALWAYS vote for life!  Please etch this message from Mr. Obama in your memory and remember this in November.  Also, remind your fellow parishioners who have Obama bumper stickers on their cars of what the Church teaches!

4.  Pray for Obama’s conversion to the pro-life camp.  I am not judging his motives, but his position is TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE! He is promoting murder as a “fundamental right”.

5. Pray daily for God’s mercy on the United States and on the world…We need it!

6.  Pray daily that more people realize that this issue is more important than how much income tax they pay.

You can read more about the story here.

 


The Feast Of St. Stephen – A Case Of Bad Timing?

“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23)

One day after the beautiful celebration of Christmas, the Church honors the first Christian martyr, St. Stephen.  Talk about bad timing!  Isn’t this supposed to be the season of joy and peace?  Is the Church calendar so crowded that we had to squeeze Stephen in this week?  Wouldn’t he be a better fit during the season of Lent?

In reality, the Church knows exactly what she’s doing and this celebration (and yes, it is a celebration) takes place at the perfect time.  We often  tend to focus on the pleasant aspects of our Catholic Faith and neglect the painful realities that are necessary for followers of Christ.  While most people know that the colors of the Christmas season are red and green, few know the meaning behind those colors.  Green is the color of life and represents the birth of the Savior and the eternal life promised to His followers.  Red, on the other hand, represents suffering and the blood which has been shed for the Faith.  If we compare our lives to a Christmas wreath, we see that the red and the green are intertwined.  If we truly wish to follow the Lord, we must be prepared to suffer in some capacity.

St. Stephen was a deacon in the early Church (Acts 6:1-6) and became to first Christian to be martyred for the Faith (Acts 7:54-60).  What was Stephen’s crime that resulted in his being stoned to death?  He told the people something that they didn’t want to hear!  After relating the story of God’s covenant and the stubbornness of the  Israelites (Acts 7: 1-50), he proceeded to tell his listeners that they were also at fault (Acts 7:51-53).  As a result, they cried out, covered their ears (great way of handling something you don’t want to hear, isn’t it?), and stoned him to death.  As he lay dying, St. Stephen forgave his attackers (Acts 8:60).

In the present age, there are many issues that can cause us to be “martyred”.  Defense of life, condemnation of contraception, loyalty to the Catholic Church and her teachings, refusal to gossip or use foul language, etc.  Any of these things can bring on an attack when proclaimed.  By remaining silent we can sometimes avoid the suffering and backlash that speaking out could send our way.  On the other hand, St. Stephen didn’t care about the consequences.  He accepted the “red” along with the “green”.  He spoke out even though it caused him to suffer and die.

How about you?

“And I tell you, every one who acknowledges me before men, the Son of man also will acknowledge before the the angels of God, but he who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.” (Luke 12:8-9)