Friday, October 15, 2021

Reflecting on the Rosary

I am pleased to say that the Rosary is my favorite prayer.  The root of my love for this prayer comes from my parents as both of them prayed the Rosary on a regular basis. In my younger years we also prayed the Rosary as a family. While I can't say that I have prayed the Rosary on a consistent basis throughout my life I can say that is has always been my go to prayer both when I was anxious and when I wanted to spend some quiet time with the Lord. 

Like many boys at a young age I remember getting a Rosary as a gift during important moments of my faith life and though I am not a big collector of Rosaries there are a few that mean a lot to me. In most cases I have use my Rosary ring as it is something I tend to keep in my left front pocket. I think the main reason for that is that while I do love to pray inside of a Church I also like to pray when I am moving around my house, which means that there is not chance for my Rosary to get caught on something.

Many people describe the repeated prayers of the Rosary as a mantra, a rhythm that is supposed to assist us with our concentration. As a drummer this is something I can really appreciate because while many discuss how the universe moves in rhythm I was conscious of that before ever coming across the concept. One of my favorite times to pray the Rosary is when I am watering my plants because I really love the sound of the prayer in my head while hearing the consistent flow of water.

While some question how this repeated prayer is of any benefit to us I also like to think of the gift it can be to us when we are angry or hurt and not in a condition to know what to say to Our Lord. Such moments are when these memorized prayers are of great assistance to us.

Being a part of the Universal Roman Catholic Church, I know of the traditions and practices that are known by my brethren around the world. While I prefer to pray in private I have very fond memories of attending Catholic conferences with people from around the world as we prayed this simple prayer that I grew up with. It was both exhilarating and comforting to know that I am part of this tradition that is truly, catholic! 

The Rosary to me is also an equalizer. In other words, it can be done by anyone who simply comprehends what is going on. Therefore, the people next me to could be highly educated or illiterate, rich or poor, famous or unknown. It doesn't matter. And Our Lady and Our Lord hear our prayers equally. 

Now I would like to offer some short observations on the Mysteries of the Rosary. 

 

The Joyful Mysteries

As a student of the Theology of the Body these Mysteries are very moving to me because of the fact that they center around the Incarnation. Of course this is not just the moment when God became man but also showed humanity our true value. To come into this world as one of us always reminds me of the love that Our Lord has for us. This empowers me most during those moments when I struggle both with myself as well as my relationships with others. 

Of course the Nativity could not occur without Our Lady's Fiat, which always reminds me to pray fo the same faith and courage as Our Lady. And, since we pray these Mysteries twice a week I focus on this regularly during my spiritual journey. 


The Sorrowful Mysteries 

What is interesting for me is that I rarely meditate on my own struggles as much as I pray for the struggles of others. I tend to focus a lot on those who are persecuted with violence or even slander as my heart pleads with the Lord to be with them. I also focus on those who have carried burdens for many years as I wish them the peace that only God can offer. 

There are also times when I focus on Our Lord's suffering, usually after I hear a religious song that speaks of Our Lord's Passion. It is always important for me to remember all that Jesus endured for us, from the rejection He encountered during His ministry to the complete suffering He endured during His Passion. 


The Luminous Mysteries. 

I still remember when Pope Saint John Paul II added these Mysteries and right away, I loved them! It just made sense that we had some Mysteries from Our Lord's earthly ministry and our Holy Father gave us some beautiful moments to meditate on. 

These are my preferred Mysteries to pray with my ministry partner, especially when it comes to The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God because that is what we are all called to do. Further, the Institution of the Eucharist always reminds me of how Our Lord left Himself with us, which is why I always love attending Mass. 


The Glorious Mysteries 

These Mysteries have always been my source of hop, which is why I am filled with joy when I complete them. The thought of Our Lord not only conquering death but also the the thrill it must have been for His followers to see their faith rewarded. Meanwhile, the Risen Lord is also a gift for us while the witnesses to His Resurrection wish for us to see the same thing that they saw on that fateful day. Further, while I am aware of Our Lady always being with us while we pray the Rosary, thus, allowing us the chance to fulfill Matthew 18:20 as he pray alone, I also feel the presence of the apostles as they are participants in the first two Mysteries. 

The last three Mysteries are also moving to me. I always pray to be open to receiving the same Spirit that came upon the early Church during Pentecost so I too can fulfill God's will. Then, as I reflect on all that Our Lady endured during her time with Our Lord I rejoice at the way Our Lord honored His Mother when she was welcomed into heaven. 


Let us conclude this blog with the following from St. Louis de Montfort:


The spiritual rewards are without measure. 


Carlos Solorzano
BA & MA in Religious Studies from Cal State Long Beach
Certified Through the Theology of the Body Institute
Co-Founder of Humana Corpus Dignitate

https://www.hcdtalks.com/

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Our Lady of Courage

Many Christians say that we are living in very trying and dangerous times. That is certainly true but one thing that Christians have to realize is that there has never been a safe time to follow Jesus Christ. His way has always been counter cultural and while different eras of history as well as geographic location could determine the type of danger we face, we must realize that each threat is real as are the feelings of fear and rejection. 

This was a reality not only for Christians in the early Church but for Jesus' family. In this year of St. Joseph we reflected on all that we can learn from Jesus' earthly father in an earlier blog (https://blog.hcdtalks.com/2021/03/honoring-st-joseph.html) but during this month of Mary we will now reflect on what we can learn from the courage displayed by our Blessed Mother. 

Yes, there are places in the world right now where being a Christian is a threat to your physical life. There are organizations out there right now who provide updated information on such threats.   https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/ However, we should not forget the struggles that many of us face in the secular world, which has created an atmosphere where people of faith are not welcomed to share their beliefs while those with other forms of subjective beliefs are allowed to speak openly. It has become such a part of our culture that such attitudes exist in some Catholic schools where faith filled students are frowned upon when they speak of their faith outside of the classroom...while still being on campus.

As part of Humana Corpus Dignitate Catholic ministry I, along with my partner Angelica Delallana speak openly about how we are available for talks on some of the hard topics in our Church. Still, that does not mean that we do not face our own doubts and fears, especially when it comes to the potential backlash from those with a great passion for the opposing view. Therefore, a lot of what I am going to share in this blog is not just for those reading it but also for myself as well as my partner in ministry.

We are always reminded to take our concerns and struggles to Jesus. Still, we are reminded that aside from His love and grace Jesus has also given us the Communion of Saints in order to offer us various examples of how we can live as He wishes. No better example of this than the Queen of all Saints, which is why I took the time to write this blog to honor our Blessed Mother during this Month of the Rosary. 

 

Who is This Woman? 

The name Mary is the same as Miriam, who was the sister of Moses & Aaron, which also means that it is a name of great status. The name is defined as bitter or grieved, which might serve as a sign of things to come in our discussion. 

One of the titles that Our Lady is known for is the Virgin Mary. Some believe that it refers to her being a virgin at the time of Jesus' birth while others see it as a reference to her perpetual virginity throughout her life. There are those who actually challenge the belief in the virgin birth based on the Hebrew word almah, which is found in Isaiah 7:14. This word refers to a young woman of marriage able age. It is true that such a woman may not necessarily be a virgin but that does not mean she is not a virgin. 

The Greek translation uses the word virgin for almah and while this could challenge the idea of Mary's virginity at the time of Jesus' birth we have to also consider Joseph's intention to divorce her since he believed that she had been with another man (Matthew 1:19) as well as Gabriel's Annunciation where he explained to Mary, who was clearly a virgin at the time of this exchange, that the child's conception in her womb would be will of the Most High (Luke 1:35). Perhaps we are seeing not so much the fulfillment of the Law but the fulfillment of a divine revelation that began with the prophet Isaiah that would be fully pronounced by the angel Gabriel, who as stated to Zechariah in Luke 1:19, stood before God. 

This divine revelation would be fully manifested in Mary's Fiat in Luke 1:38: Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. This is a beautiful portrayal of her faith in God's promises to His people (Luke 1:55) and is also the reason why she is described in Catholic Tradition as being Jesus' first disciple due to the fact that she knew Who she was carrying in her womb. Still, there was a great risk in accepting this blessing. As stated by Leslie Church: Never was a daughter of Eve so dignified as the Virgin Mary was, and yet in danger of falling under the imputation of one of the worst crimes; yet we do not find that she tormented herself about it; but, being conscious of her own innocence, she kept her mind calm and easy, and committed her cause to Him that judgeth righteously.

 

Holy Mother of God, teach us to accept Jesus' call for our lives and to have the courage to accept this mission knowing of the peace that He will give to us once we get closer to Him.


The Birth of the Promised One 

Matthew 2:1-4 tells us that Joseph had to take his family to his hometown of Bethlehem to enroll in the census. Censuses were taken to assess taxation and to find those who would be available for military service.  It occurred every 14 years and there is actual documentation from the years 20 to 270 AD. Jews were exempt from military service so the purpose for this census during the time of Jesus' birth was for taxation reasons.

Taking the journey to Bethlehem was both necessary and a great challenge for the Holy Family as it was 80 miles from Nazareth with travel and accommodations being far from comfortable. Travelers were responsible for their own food with innkeepers only providing fodder for the animals as well as fire for their guests to cook. It was certainly disappointing for this difficult journey to end with Joseph and Mary having to stay in  manger where animals feed but the Spirit within our Blessed Mother most likely gave her an insight as to the meaning of this struggle. William Barclay suggests that the reality of no room in the inn being a symbol of the cross: there was only room for Him on the cross since He seeks entry in the over-crowded hearts of men. With that being said, perhaps we could also suggest that Jesus was rejected from the beginning and in this case, our Blessed Mother was also a part of this experience.

After the birth of Jesus, the Holy Family were visited by shepherds, who were despised due to the fact that they were unable to keep the ceremonial details of the law, the meticulous hand washing rituals along with the other rules and regulations. They were also seen as robbers, thieves and outcasts, so it would seem odd to have them be present at the birth of Jesus since the cultural tradition was to have local musicians serenade boys that were born (Note: Jesus' birth brought a chorus from heaven, see Luke 2:13-14). Of course the presence of the shepherds speak right away of the mission of Jesus: I did not come to call the righteous but sinners (Mark 2:17).  

In this episode we see how much was gained from the courage of our Blessed Mother to take this trip to Bethlehem. Not only was she able to assist her husband in honoring his legal duty but also saw how the birth of Jesus was already changing the lives of others.  


Holy Mother of God, teach us to trust the paths that the Lord gives to us knowing that He will lead us to those who need to know Him. 


Simeon on the Suffering to Come
 
While the Holy Family was safe from Herod the reality of what was to come was further stated by Simeon during the Presentation of our Lord.  Although Jesus speaks of division in Matthew 10:34-36 it was foretold by the righteous and devout Simeon from Jerusalem.  As stated in Luke 2:34: Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted. As stated by Barclay: Towards Jesus Christ there can be no neutrality. We either surrender to Him or are at war with Him. And it is the tragedy of life that our our pride often keeps us from making that surrender  which leads to victory. Still, to be a part of this journey would mean that Jesus' family would also suffer. As further stated by Bergant & Karris: The shadow of the cross falls upon the Holy Family. Suffering would also be expected by Jesus' later followers (Matthew 16:24). 

This was of course best demonstrated in The Rejection at Nazareth (Matthew 13:54-58). While the Gospel does not state clearly if Mary was present she certainly would know of the episode and have suffered knowing that this occurred in her hometown of all places. As stated by Church: There are those who will be prejudiced and enraged against him. In other words, how could the Promised One be such a simple man that we have seen grow up before our eyes? The question though should be, why not such a person since these people are descendants of a faith tradition with a history of God using people from humble backgrounds to do His will.


Holy Mother of God, teach us to see with the eyes of faith, those who the Lord sends to us with a genuine faith in order to lead us to your Son. 


The First Sign 

At the Wedding of Cana, we find out in John 2:3 that they had run out of wine. When Mary informs Jesus of this predicament His response was: Woman, how does your concern affect me? (John 2:4). According to Barclay, while we are unaware of Jesus' tone when He responded to Mary we are aware of the fact that this was a common phrase at the time. If stated in anger, it represented a complete disagreement. If stated gently, then it was not so much reproach but misunderstanding. It was Jesus' way of letting Mary know that He was able to deal with the situation.

To those in the modern world, the use of the word woman may be seen as insulting but we must remember that Jesus used the same word on the cross when He gave our Blessed Mother to John (John 19:26-27). Barclay tells us that this was a sign of respect, similar to the English word Lady. Barclay further tells us that use of the word woman in this way was also known in other ancient cultures as we also saw it used by Odysseus in addressing Penelope, his well beloved wife and by the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus when he addressed Cleopatra, the famous Egyptian Queen

Mary had complete confidence in Jesus as her prompting of Jesus to do something about the lack of wine gave Him the chance to offer a glimpse of His glory. Still, with Jesus also stating in John 2:4 that His hour had not yet come, we sometimes fail to recognize the courage it took for her to show that confidence in public because after all, Jesus could easily have denied her request. Still, like most loving sons,  Jesus essentially changed His plans, which was not a foreign concept in the Jewish tradition as we have numerous occasions of God working with a situation that did not quite go according to plan. However, in this case, Our Lord did it in order to address His mother's concern for the wedding party.  


Holy Mother of God, help us to stay the course when struggles interrupt our plans. To trust in your Son to be there with us as He continues to guide us on our way. 



The True Family of Jesus 

Acts 2:44 tells us this about the first Christian community: All who believed were together and had all things in common. For this to occur the community would have to live in a very family like atmosphere knowing that most if not all of their fellow Christians were not blood relatives. Such an idea had to be taught by Jesus, who made if very clear in Mark 3:35 that His family are those who do the will of God

Mary certainly understood what that meant but there is still the reality of Mark 3:33 when Jesus said:
Who are my mother and my brothers? While we can focus on Mary being conceived without original sin, thus, not being one to retaliate or harbor any ill will towards Jesus. Still, we cannot forget that she was a human being with a mother's heart for her Son.
 
Aside from that, Jesus also challenged his own people to look beyond what was familiar to them....and this was not the first time. We can look to the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37), where Jesus featured the goodness of a person who would not have been highly regarded by His own people.  However, in the idea of who is truly a member of Jesus' family, He takes it to a more personal level. Consider this statement by Bergant & Karris: In a society that placed a very high value on blood relationship, Jesus' teaching about His disciples forming a spiritual family would be quite challenging. 

The struggle was also beyond Jesus' words in terms of what made up His true family. John 7:5 tells us that Jesus' brothers did not believe in Him (for clarification of the use of the word brothers please see: https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/jesus-had-brothers). While this seems tragic it is not exactly something many of us are not familiar with. While many of us recognize the special bond we have with our families we also recognize the value of a genuine friendship. As stated by Barclay: Friendships are founded on common ideals & experiences. True love is found on obedience (John 15:14). True kinship is not always a matter of flesh and blood. Such relationships begin with a choice on who to befriend and/or marry, so the power of choice is in fact grounded on something that could be defined as deeper than blood. 

Some of us are blessed not only with such friendships and marriages but also faith communities. Working with people who truly seek to live the Gospel as the first Christian community from Acts of the Apostles. A community that Our Lady was also a part of. This goes to show what can be achieved through the power of God's grace along with our commitment to live as those who do the will of God. 
 

Holy Mother of God, teach us to open our hearts and welcome our neighbor not just as a child of God but as a member of both God's family and our family. 


The Suffering Mother

Theologians speak of Jesus being abandoned by the Father on the cross even though Our Lord said in John 10:18: No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. In other words, Jesus was always aware of the fact that He would Rise after laying His life down for others.  

Historically speaking, Jesus was not alone on the Cross. As stated in John 19:25: Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Mind you, this went on after Our Lord's apostles had already abandoned Him. Some argue that the women faced no risk of danger due to their lack of status in the ancient world. However, Barclay responds with the following: It is always a dangerous thing to be an associate of a man whom the Roman government believed to be so dangerous that He deserved the Cross. It is always a dangerous thing to demonstrate one's love for someone whom the orthodox regard as a heretic. In other words, the women had to be concerned of the backlash they could receive both from the Romans as well as the Jewish leaders but had no regard for that because, as Barclay says, perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). 

This perfect love is most apparent in all of these women but only one of them was Jesus' mother. Therefore, she also endured a pain that these other women could never endure. Jesus is both her Son and Her God. Therefore, her suffering was one that only she could know. Jesus was the fulfillment of God's promise to humanity but He could only have one mother. Therefore, even though we grieve at the thought of what He did for all of us none of us could ever know the suffering of Mary, the Mother of Our Lord. 

As we try to contemplate all that Mary could have felt at that moment let us look to Barclay's reflection: If Mary did not understand she could still love. Her presence was the most natural thing in the world for a mother. Jesus was a criminal to some but He was her Son. The eternal love of motherhood is in Mary at the cross. 

In other words, Mary teaches us what it means to be a mother.

And yet, there is still more for us to learn in Barclay's reflection. 

There is something infinitely moving in the fact that Jesus in the agony of the Cross, when the salvation of the world hung in the balance, thought of the loneliness of His mother in the days ahead. He never forgot the duties that lay to His hand. He was Mary's eldest soon, and even in the moment of His cosmic battle, He did not forget the simple things that lay near home. To the end of the day, even on the Cross, Jesus was thinking more of the sorrows other than of His own. 

We can speak a lot on Ephesians 5:25-27 but that teaching came from this moment of Jesus on the Cross. Here is the moment when Our Lord demonstrated the self-denial that He calls for all husbands and fathers as He both cared for His mother while also giving Her to us: the Church. His Bride. 

Jesus teaches us what it means to be a husband and a father. He died for all of us while also giving us what we need (Matthew 7:9-11 & Luke 11:11-13). In this case, His mother. 

Further, had it not been for Mary's courage from her Fiat to the moment she would suffer the agony of watching her Son die on the cross, we would not have her as our mother along with her example of what it means to have a courageous faith.  
 

Holy Mother of God, teach us to love when our hearts are broken and please comfort us when we are close to losing hope in the promises of your Son. 

  

Conclusion 

We have so much work to do but in the midst of that work we also have much to endure. We have seen many people of faith lose their careers, their status, their reputations as well as their peace of minds. People of faith have always faced rejection from family and friends. In other words, the people of Christ do in fact carry many crosses. 

One of those crosses is the burden of fear. While many American Christians speak of us not having to live in parts of the world where our faith can cost us our lives we still have the burden of rejection, which for any person is a great challenge since we are both communal beings and people of faith who are called to share the Gospel with others. 

Let us look to Our Lady as an example of courage and know that we can turn to her for inspiration and guidance on how to endure our own struggles. Allow her to show us the maternal gaze of her Son while we seek to follow and imitate Him. 

 


Carlos Solorzano
BA & MA in Religious Studies from Cal State Long Beach
Certified Through the Theology of the Body Institute
Co-Founder of Humana Corpus Dignitate

https://www.hcdtalks.com/

 

Sources

  • https://bible.usccb.org/bible 
  • https://www.catholic.com/magazine/online-edition/did-the-father-forsake-jesus
  • Achtemeier, Paul J. (editor) Harper's Bible Dictionary Harper San Francisco 1971 p. 610
  • Bergant, Dianne & Karris, Robert J (editors). The Collegeville Bible Commentary. The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN. 1986 pgs. 422, 865, 881, 941-942
  • Brown, Raymond. An Introduction to the New Testament. Doubleday, 1997. pgs. 232
  • Church, Leslie F. (editor). Matthew Henry's Commentary in One Volume. Zondervan Publishing House, 1961. pgs, 1204, 1419 
  • Barclay, William. The Gospel of Matthew Volume 1. The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1975 pgs. 18-21 
  • Barclay, William. The Gospel of Matthew Volume 2. The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1975 p. 53
  • Barclay, William. The Gospel of Luke. The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1975 pgs. 20-23, 26-27
  • Barclay, William. The Gospel of John Volume 1. The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1975 pgs. 97-99
  • Barclay, William. The Gospel of John Volume 2. The Westminster Press, Philadelphia, 1975 pgs. 255-257

Sunday, October 3, 2021

The Marriage is the Key to the Salvation of the Family (Sunday Reading Reflection 27th Sunday in Ordinary Time October 3, 2021)

Because of the hardness of your hearts he wrote you this commandment.  But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.'"

- Mark 10:5


Recently my 3rd grader son had been taught about the 10 Commandments in his Catholic school. I was watching an action-packed television show from my phone that I had watched many time before. This time with the knowledge he was just given, my son asked me, “Mommy, can you stop watching that? It doesn’t follow the 5th Commandment.  I realized how important it was for my son to live God’s will fully and how important it was that I followed His Commandments.  I was reminded how much our children watch what we do, even if we don’t put it directly in front of them.


The family unit is key in ensuring the well-being of our children’s and bringing them closer to God.  This starts with the parents and the marriage they have established.  Jesus, Himself, gave the example of the sacrifice a husband should make in order to ensure that “[his] wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your home your children like olive plants around your table.”  Jesus the bridegroom was "made lower than the angels,” gave Himself wholly to His bride, we the Church, in order to bring “many children to glory”.  It is our responsibility as parents to bring our children into salvation. And we must do so humbly and wholly, giving ourselves to the glory of God, leading by our actions and example.


   Unfortunately, we often fall short, giving in to our own selfishness and not considering the good of our families.  In the Gospel, the Pharisees make reference to a commandment in which Moses talks about a bill of divorce should a man be displeased with his wife (Deut 24).  Jesus explained to them that this happened because of the mindset of the people. But just like the Pharisees, what people do not consider is the whole text.  Moses then emphasized the importance of a husband staying home in his first year of marriage “for the sake of his family, to bring joy to the wife he has married.” There is great importance for the bond between husband and wife to be established first before any other duty, even to his country, and charging the husband to do so.  What kind of relationship have we established in our own marriages that in turn affect our children?


Jesus then goes on to remind them of the relationship that God had intended in creation. “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.” (Gen 2:24)  God meant for us to live in the perfect companionship with one another.  Notice in the beginning of the first reading, God did not mean for us to be alone.  Yet no matter what kind of creatures he created, it was not until woman was created that Adam found the one who was suitable. But God created woman from a rib of Adam.  In order to make the perfect companion, Adam had to give a part of himself into her, and it was God who brought them together.  How willing are we to give ourselves to each other and allow God to bring us together?  How can we  teach our children to love if we do not give love to each other?  How do they live life fully and joyously and seek the the Kingdom of God if we do not model the same genuinely?

Friday, October 1, 2021

Weep for the Unborn Children

 Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children, for indeed, the days are coming when people will say, ‘Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed. – Luke 23:28-29

              It was a Wednesday that I went to the Adoration Chapel and decided to pray my scriptural Rosary.  The verse for the bead had the beginning of the above: Do not weep for me… but for your children.  Yet I was compelled to read further, so I turned on my Bible application and was dumbfounded.  It hit me in that very moment that we are in the midst of the days when people are “blessing” the “barren, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed.”  As I picked my Rosary back up and continued to pray the mysteries of the Passion of our Lord, I did begin to weep.

              On September 1, 2021, the state of Texas enacted Senate Bill 8, more commonly known as “The Heartbeat Act” which states that “a physician may not knowingly perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman if the physician detected a fetal heartbeat for the unborn child.”  Once news broke that the bill was passed, a social media frenzy began, and news feeds were flooded either supporting the enactment of the bill by pro-lifers or denouncement of the bill and expressed disappointment in the legislation of the government of Texas by pro-choicers.  As my Facebook and Instagram feeds became inundated with outrage for the law, it became even more apparent that the legal status of abortion is not the issue.  Instead of fixing the problem, it seems to have caused an even greater rift and division in society.  The problems go deeper than can or can’t.  It is about will and won’t.

              How have we come to this?  How can people, especially women, be so willing to even consider the possibility of ridding her body of the innocent child in her womb, essentially killing her unborn baby?  We as a society have found ways to get immediate gratification for our desires without any thoughts of the long-term effects of our actions.  But methods we have manufactured to fix the consequences in a broken society are merely bandages that cover the surface.  Yet the wounds run deep, without any sign of healing.  And as we continue to hemorrhage out the very dignity of the human person, we are barely clinging to life as we attempt to hold on to the ideals that diminish our humanity.

              The paradigm shift began in the 1960s and spilling into the 1970s.  The babies born around the time of World War II were now adolescents and adults who rejected the conservative values set by their parents.  The sexual revolution began, along with the first FDA-approved oral contraception and the eventual 1973-ruling of the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade which ruled that women had the right to an abortion.  The 1960s also brought about the second wave of the women’s rights movement in which women fought for equal opportunities and equal pay as men.  Women felt empowered with the ability to control their bodies and to achieve success in ways that historically was not allowed.  Children would be seen as a hindrance to achieving goals.  The option to not have children also gave women the freedom to be as promiscuous as their counterparts without fear of consequences.

              As women have striven to become more valuable in positions outside of the home and worked for equality with their male counterparts, the value that they hold as women have been reduced to mere objects of fantasy and pleasure.  As Pope Paul VI predicted in his famous Humanae Vitae (Of Human Life), in the widespread use of contraception, “men may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.”  In continuing the opening verse, Jesus, Himself, said “for if these things are done when the wood is green what will happen when it is dry” (Lk 23:31).   The option to not only prevent fertility but to terminate pregnancy without any regard for the long-term emotional and physical side effects has created a free-for-all perspective.  There is more sense of entitlement for physical pleasure, unaware of the emotional bond that the sexual act brings between two people.

The desire for control has also played a huge roll.  The on-going mantra for “My body, my choice” has rung loud and clear all over the world.  Yet, studies have shown that a majority of women felt pressured into having an abortion, expressing that they did not freely and willfully choose to terminate their pregnancy.  The pressure to do so came from the partners themselves, or other family members, including parents, or even friends.  While women fight for the right to control what they do with their bodies, abortion has also been used to control women.

The mental health consequences on abortion that are not discussed.  There are several reports that claim there is no increased incidence of depression and anxiety in those who had undergone elective/induced abortions.  Yet, there are studies that show that women who have abortions the risk of Post Abortion Stress Syndrome, the term given to those who suffer from post-traumatic stress following an induced abortion.  In the study, it states that “women while terminating pregnancy are not aware that they will require psychological support later due to subsequent psychological effects they experience.”  

It must be stated that abortion is not often an easy decision to come to.  In his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, Pope Saint John Paul II recognized that this choice is often made out of fear, either for her own health and safety, for the sustenance of the family, or fear of the environment the child may grow up in.  Pope Francis acknowledged that “there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart”.

The true underlying issue is that from a young age, girls and women are not fully informed and girls, from a young age, should be encouraged to see the beauty of themselves without needing the validation of a relationship.  The solutions to fix the problem after the issues have occurred is prominent.  There are many reports that hormonal contraception is safe and effective.  Yet so few women actually know how the hormonal contraception works on their bodies and the risks that they take, especially with long-term use.  The abortion narrative has been pushed, seeming to be an easy solution, and the abortion clinics who profit push the hardest.  Women who have undergone abortion later state that they were not informed enough or taught enough.  They were never shown an ultrasound of their babies, are unaware of the risks they are taking undergoing the procedure and were never told of other options.  This battle for control is to the point that violent attacks and vandalism has occurred between pro-choice and pro-life advocates.  This has become a war between a mother’s right to choose to live her life as she pleases and a child who never got to choose to live.   St. Faustina, herself, a mystic and doctor of the Church, felt the unrelenting pain of the unborn children which no modern medicine of the time could relieve or cure which Christ had revealed to her.

If only women could see their value beyond the superficial and see the another much deeper truth of “My body, my choice.” If only that mantra could be transposed to choosing to value their bodies so as to not give it to whomever as they seek for the immediate gratification of lustful desires or the need to quench the ache of loneliness and affection.  If women could just not to give their bodies to those who desire them only for a meaningless moment of pleasure and refuse to see the gift they truly are. If only women would truly know the miracle of the natural order of their bodies, their ability to conceive as an indication that there are things going right with them and nothing as wrong; that their monthly cycle is a method the body cleanses itself in order to stay healthy.   If they could understand the heartache for the women who realize could not choose to have their own child as they struggle through the pain of infertility.  If only others could understand the beauty God had created so they could cherish their beauty deep down to their soul and not just to satisfy the flesh.

What it all comes down to is love, the greatest Commandment.  In the book of Matthew, Jesus tells us to love God... love others, and to love ourselves in this very order.  Now our society has diminished and even rejected a love for God, and the love for ourselves has become the most important without regard for others.  The love we have for ourselves has become conditional, dependent on the superficial ideals society has placed on us rather than to accept who we truly are.  We have chosen artificial means to ensure we continue in our own selfish desire.  If only we learned to give ourselves in love, not lust, and to act in love toward others could be the key to making abortion unthinkable, regardless of legality.