Friday, June 15, 2018

The Great Unmentionable

'We have tested and tasted too much, lover –
Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder.'

(Advent.  Patrick Kavanagh,  1904-1967)

With the fall of Ireland to the cult of abortion I think it’s pretty much glaringly obvious that we are in a mess, not just Ireland, we, all of us, we’re in a mess. There’s so much to say about it, analysis and dissection about where it all went wrong, was the campaign lacking, did we do enough, maybe the posters could have been better, maybe the leaflets could have been done differently, could we have talked to more people, started sooner and so on and so on.  Nothing of that counts now, we are where we are and the world is a mess.  People are unhappy in spite of wealth, in spite of better health, more freedoms.  We have everything and nothing and we’re left there like children surrounded by too many toys yet having a tantrum.

 As the children’s song goes ‘I want this, I want that, and then I want some more...I like this, I like that, I like the whole store, the more I see the more I want, the more I want and see, I want the thing I saw yesterday on TV’

We wanted it all, we wanted other people for ourselves and for our pleasure and entertainment and for our satiation, and that is precisely what we got.  We grabbed, and took and still not satisfied we kept and keep grabbing and consuming to the point that to kill another because they’re too young, or too old, to add to our personal quest for comfort and convenience and pleasure means nothing.  We cheer and weep for joy at the thought of it, as if the very killing itself is a satiation of pleasure or of some perverse thirst. Humans have always derived pleasure from death.  Look at the Roman arenas, look at the public executions all over Europe where ordinary folk vied and shoved for front row seats,  look at the bestselling true crime books and rags, the more grisly the higher the sales.  We love death and it seems we love it’s author.  In the trail  of our  march toward ‘freedom’ and ‘autonomy’ what have we left but carnage?  We’ve embraced a culture which glorifies death, which promotes it,  where other humans, even those we profess to ‘Love’ are disposable and dispensable, where a healthy body is seen as a disease and it’s healthy consequence seen as a disaster or an encumbrance.  

Abortion isn’t the cause of the problem, at one time it was an unthinkable evil for the vast majority of people.  Yes it took place but it was never thought of as the great Goddess it’s now hailed as. It was looked upon with rightful horror, because the concept of a mother killing her child, whatever her despair, for despair it must be, was so opposite to the maternal human nature which was the norm.  Most women were maternal and children were treasured. Most marriages were intact, most children had their parents and knew that siblings and cousins and little neighbours were just normal parts of normal life. 

And now we have abortion.  Cheered and sacramentally adored as the mark of women’s advancement.  We have wails and tears of elation because now we don’t find any shame in the idea that a child is ripped from the womb, the safe harbour to which she is entitled.  The womb is where the unborn child belongs, not the incinerator, not the trash can, not the pearlised coffin we had crafted for her before we had her killed because she was imperfect, or a twin or because we love you but not now, maybe another time...maybe later, yes, maybe later when the time is just so. 

Abortion didn’t cause itself. Something else caused it.  We caused it. We caused abortion the minute and day we decided to grab and take and consume the other and simultaneously decided to not give, to not sacrifice, to not love.  In every war the innocent always suffer most.  In every war children, being the most innocent suffer more than everybody else, they’re dependent on bigger people to keep them safe.  In war big people tend to not keep children safe.  And the war here is that between men and women.  Abortion is simply the carnage.  Contraception is the bomb. 

There, I’ve said it. 

Fifty years ago the world was warned.  Fifty years ago the holy and gentle pope who warned us paid a heavy cost.  Fifty years ago,  in the year of free love and protest and the rapid  acceptance of the ideology that sex was not about marriage or love and even less had it anything to do with new life and our responsibility to that new life, our quiet shepherd stood alone against a baying and dissenting world and wrote in black and white what the consequence would be if we chose that severing of the intimacy between man, woman, sex and fertility.  In the beautifully tender and short encyclical Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI reiterated God’s plan for the transmission of human life and for the intimate relationship between love, marriage and babies.  In 1968, so sure that the Church was going to change the teaching, which until the 1931 Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church, had been taught by every Christian denomination that artificial contraception was intrinsically wrong and damaging to the bond of marriage and indeed as so eloquently described by Mahatma Gandhi, a truly good man, to the widening society starting from the natural male/female relationship and infecting every other aspect of culture from there out, that many, of not most Catholics and Catholic priests and seminaries had already adopted a laissez faire attitude to the practice and it was neither corrected nor discouraged since it was going to imminently change anyway.  Then came the encyclical, all hell broke loose (quite possibly literally).

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Barely was the ink dry on the page than the dissent began.  Like petulant teenagers priest after priest, theologian after theologian added their disobedient Non Serviam to the list of those who thought they knew better than Christ’s Vicar.  Instead of being Christ’s shepherds lovingly leading his sheep and little ones into the safe fold, they became guardians of what Pope St John Paul II would later call the Culture of Death.  Seminaries rather than teaching seminarians the content of Humanae Vitae were instead lectured on how the pope was wrong and not with it and he's old and celibate and wears a dress so what would he know.  He knew all right and he wrote down what would happen.  In a profound tragically prophetic manner that saint who suffered told the world the disaster which awaited.  But so enamored were we with the idea of more sex, more fun, less encumbrance, less of those pesky babies which so cramped our style that we shouted him down and closed off our ears.  So for fifty years Christ’s little lambs have not only not been taught about Christ’s loving plan for man and woman, or about how children are the greatest gift, even when they mean inconvenience or even suffering, they have been actively DENIED such teaching.  The wolves have been devouring the lambs ever since.  

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And that’s where we are today.  Everything Pope Paul predicted has come to pass. 

Infidelity and moral decline? Who among us can look around us and claim that we live in a sexually faithful and noble culture? None of us.  

Lost respect for women? Check.  So lacking that we don’t even respect ourselves any more.  A woman in her natural state is seen as something flawed.  Femininity is some sort of betrayal to the ‘sisterhood’, everything which for centuries was considered beautiful about women, in particular her life giving nurturing faculty is disdained as at best simply a path to personal fulfilment  but more usually an impediment, a disease to be medicated away.  Contraception and her conjoined twin abortion are the only two elements of medicine which take something healthy and break them, which make them unable to function.  

There's nothing new under the sun, for thousands of years women have been made to mutilate or suppress their healthy female bodies so as to make them available for sex whenever a man (or indeed, she) so choose without the natural result which is sometimes new life.  Demeaning methods from intimately inserting camel dung or other concoctions to usurp fertility, to ingesting or wearing all sorts of poison or disgusting talismans or animal entrails, always the woman, always to enable consequence free sex.   But hey, the pill changed all those dangerous demeaning practices.  Or did it? Instead of poisons and animal excrement women ingest  a pretty little pill in pretty packaging, pink you know...because feminine.  A pretty pill of artificial hormones which affect every cell of their bodies and psyche.  Hormones which affect every detail of ourselves from how often we blink to mood to the type of man we find attractive. Sure, people always went to lengths to avoid pregnancy but by and large womanhood, marriage and babies were things which were respected.  Children were considered a blessing and a joy.  Even a disabled child was believed to have been kissed by an angel whereas now the diagnosis of disability all too often hails the kiss of death. Oh how things have changed. 

Some years ago I had a friend, actually more an acquaintance, who confided in me that she was expecting her seventh child and regardless of the delight of her and her husband, was afraid to tell anybody else, apart from me, because of the remarks she would surely get.  18 years later I currently have a friend nervous to announce the news of her third pregnancy because she is fully aware of the disdain which will follow.  THREE, hardly Guinness record breaking, yet scandalous and shocking...’Handmaid’s Tale’ and all that. Because having children is demeaning and un-modern and there’s something a little bit dirty or common about it.  That’s how little we regard that integral part of womanhood, our fertility is shameful and nasty and just fix it!! 

Women are not broken or faulty, they are beautiful, and healthy and to give life and feed that life is not an illness to be medicated or surgically ‘fixed’ like we’d fix an oul cat.  
Female fertility is not something to be so hated or mocked.  We have taken a beautiful meadow and doused it in paraquat lest anything should flower in it.   The mother a disease to be medicated, the child in the womb, a mere weed to be plucked out and tossed.  

Abuse of governmental power? 

Need we look any further than western aid programmes which impose population control, forced abortion and forced sterilisation across the developing world.  Barely can an aid agency receive funds unless they commit to birth control programmes or the pushing of abortion.  Need we look further than European governments which cap children’s allowance at two children? Need we look further than individualisation of tax systems which essentially fine one income families? Everything working against the natural family and motherhood as things of great value. 

The illusion of unlimited dominion over our bodies?

Well that can of worms is well and truly overflowing.  The chemical and surgical mutilation of even children’s bodies in the name of gender identity is so scandalous and yet cheered and hailed as the Golden Calf.  We believe we are masters of life and death.  When we want to die, or our elderly or sick to die, that’s our choice.  The unwanted child?  A clump of cells to be discarded, but not before we make maximum profit from the body parts of that clump.  By and large we don’t want children but when we do want one the human cost to others, including that child, is not even an afterthought.  I want, I get. Simples. 

Indeed we are in a mess. The human race is in a mess and we are suffering even through the cheers and tears of ‘joy’.   The scenes of adulation in Dublin last month struck more to me like the spectacle of an overwhelmed indulged child in a toy shop, she wants everything she sees but cares for none of it.  She wants the packaging because it’s shiny and attractive and looks like it will fulfil the desire for happiness.  The next man...or woman, the next party, the next career, the next whatever is the latest next thing. What that child needs is not shiny marketed tat, she needs her one safe comforting doll which gives security and grounding and calm which is there no matter how rough life gets, but she is not being offered her doll, because Repeal, and because Patriarchy.  Instead of empowered strong women all I see is a herd of broken girls, longing for the thing they don’t even know how to look for.  What deeper desire than to be loved and known unconditionally.  What deeper desire than to be told ‘I accept you, all of you, forever, you, your body and yes, your life giving ability, I love YOU because you are the only YOU’? Where are they hearing it? Nowhere. You cannot give what you do not have so how can these girls give sacrificial unconditional love to a helpless unborn child when it is likely they have never known it themselves, instead of Love we have ‘hot’ instead of I give myself to you we have I take of you, I love you except...babies.  And men too, how broken is manhood when it too is seen as a disease, when masculinity is seen as a danger to the world? Where computer games and teenage pursuits are still the priorities of  the 30 something teen man.  Oh indeed we are broken and lost and wailing.  

You know when you look at a mess so bad that even beginning to fix it is unimaginably difficult.  You pick up one thing,  look at it and, not knowing where it should go because there isn’t anywhere to put it, you just put it back down again walk away despondent because it looks like it will always be like this.  It’s easier to drift along in chaos than to set to, than to pick up one piece and tend to it then the next and the next.  

The answer is there and has been there all along except it is the great unmentionable.  When you look at each problem and start to unravel it further and further you find that the threads are all leading to the same root.  The relationship between mankind and sexuality is severely damaged.  For the sake of consequence free sex, for the desire for the pleasure but not the cost which looks like suffering and work and inconvenience but is actually deep deep joy and fulfilling love, the man woman relationship has changed from a union of equals to a battle of power.  Just as the Pope saint predicted.  He knew his words would have a personal cost, he knew he would suffer.  In fact, nobody realised until after his death just how much.  It would have been easier to go with the world, he would have been praised and adulated as progressive and compassionate and woke and we would have hurtled forward in delight at our newfound freedom and free love and childless dissipation.  Had he done that, fifty years later we would have no prodigal son’s father to return to.  We would have no father waiting and watching to lovingly RUN to meet us when we realise that eating pig fodder from a trough is not happiness.  We would have no father to embrace us and hug us and reclothe us in the dignity fitting the son of such a loving father, the sin forgotten and forgiven.  Lord, I have sinned against Heaven and against you, such simple humble words which resulted in a banquet.  

The banquet is waiting, all we have to do is turn up.  We have grabbed and spent our inheritance but however low we fall, that loving father is waiting to run to us.  He won’t impose himself but he has been there all the time.  Waiting patiently for his pitiful broken children to turn to him. The feast is there, Humanae Vitae is the answer to our problems,  Karol Wojtyla, and later Pope John Paul II left us food and medicine.  His works Love and Responsibility and later, the greatest treatise on the human person and sexuality ever to be written, ‘Man and Woman He Created Them’ now better known as Theology of The Body, are potent and healing medicine, if only we turn to the doctor and admit we’re sick...nay, we’re dying...please save us! 

I am convinced that we will never even start to rid the world of the great evil of abortion, that we will never even start to heal the wounds carried by the now adult children of divorce, that we will never even start to repair the crime and poverty and hopelessness of so many communities until we start to restore the male/female relationship to it’s original state.  Jesus himself told us ‘but in the beginning it was not so’.  Before our hardness of heart took over God’s plan for man and woman was self giving love.  Our hardness of heart has led to self love taking, quite the opposite thing. 

Contraception has done us no favours.  Women haven’t benefited.  Men haven’t benefited and as sure as hell, children haven’t benefited, especially the little ones killed in their millions.  Unless we address the great unmentionable, the great false god of contraception, we cannot begin to heal. 

Maybe the 50 year anniversary will be that year when we start.  I hope so. 



  1. Sitting having my morning coffee and my heart sank and rose and sank and rose again as I read your excellent reflection. I am the mother of 7. Before blessed with children, I was introduced to these poisonous lies from the "sexual revolution" and pretty much bought them. All I experienced, as did the young women I knew, was confusion, pain, anger and hard heartedness because the fruit of these lies is poison to the soul. You are so right. The first brokenness between man and woman in the Garden has come full circle in the 20th and 21st centuries. From that initial break only choking weeds of sorrow of hostility has grown. The gentle Popes wrote, spoke, pleaded and warned us. Yet, with prayer, fasting, sharing, reaching out I refuse to believe it is hopeless. Maybe we can only bring the light and love of God's truth to one poor soul at a time but that is SOMETHING. And we must not weary of well doing...Great Writing! I am a writer, too, and really enjoyed your piece. Thank you!!

  2. Thank you for this powerful post. As an American and a Catholic, and a mother of three girls who I watch struggle with the way the world wants them to see themselves, I was so heartbroken to see Ireland take this path. You are so right in your diagnosis of the real issue, and I pray the moment of repentance, of transformation, is drawing closer.

  3. thanks Jennifer. we lost a battle but the war is won. God always gets good out of evil. We are people of hope. Alice O'Connor


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