Thursday, November 7, 2019

All You Who Are Weary

People tell me things.  I don't know why they do but ever since I was a young adult, strangers have told me their story.  I was quite shy when I was young, so it wasn't a case of me striking up conversation, people would just randomly tell me things.

From an older man at a bus stop poignantly telling me that this was his last commute because he had retired today, to a Dutch guy working on a French campsite endearingly offloading all his woes every time I appeared to collect my little ones from the activities...his flip-flop strap was broken, the tent was so hot, the shops were far away and such other problems which seem small to me, but to a young adult away from home for the first time, can seem like heavy burdens which can be eased by sharing them with someone else's Mammy and have someone else's Mammy say 'There, there..' .
On another occasion, an older waitress in Pizza Express close to the Grenfell Tower in London came back to my table to tell me about her 11 year old who also loves ballet like my daughter and how she worries about her, two mothers with likely very little in common except the universal burden all mothers carry which is eased simply by it's acknowledgement by a stranger. I promised to pray for her and she asked the same from me.

Maybe I have a Mammy face, maybe I look safe, but my now young adult children never cease to be perplexed at the collection of people's burdens I collect as I go about my unremarkable days.

The first time I visited America was Autumn of last year.  It was the first time I'd made such a big journey by myself.  It was a funny journey because, as I had feared, I missed every single connection I'd booked.  As it turned out, this ended up being a blessing which itself is a story for another day.  Well anyway, while I was sitting in Newark airport waiting for my rescheduled flight, looking out over the Manhattan skyline, the ballgame on the TV screens, clutching my first ever dollars and struggling unsuccessfully to keep the smile off my face at the delightful reality that here I was, actually IN America, a waiter came over to assist me with the iPad style menu I was clearly having difficulty navigating (an innocent abroad for sure!).  Within a few moments I found he was from Egypt...he had been in America for so and so years...he had a little boy...he worries about his son that he'll turn out well and so on.  I thanked him for helping me with my order and gave him some encouragement regarding his son, namely that HE had to be a good husband and father and MAN so that his child would have a good template to imitate.  He was so grateful I thought he was going to hug me. Such simple advice to be so gratefully received.

It set me thinking.

Why was I in America?  I went to America to spend some time with my friend who had been unwell.  Nothing more, just to sit in an armchair (eating Chick-Fil-A and Dunkin Donuts) and be with a friend who was suffering.  This was a friend I first met in the comments box on a Facebook page for people carrying the same burden...the rare illness of their child.  What started as a comforting reply to a question asked has grown into a lifetime dear friendship.  Truly the internet at it's very very best.  In spite of all the dangers and pitfalls of the internet, we have to also remember that the people on the internet are indeed real people whose burdens we are called to carry.  As time has gone on and Facebook moved on from trading cows on FarmVille, I have uncovered some truly human consequences of online interaction.  Before a trip to Rome some years ago I posted that I was going and that I would be carrying the intentions of my Facebook friends to the tombs of Pope St John Paul, St Josemaria, St Monica.  I didn't expect to know people's actual requests but by that night, instead of packing for my early flight I was sitting at the computer crying at the heartbreak my friends were asking me to place at the feet of these great saints.  Heavy burdens under which the most saintly would buckle.

If there's one thing we all agree on it's that life is no bed of roses.  We've always known this. However,  I have of late noticed a growing despondency even where it shouldn't be - among Catholics.  I can understand this.  Things are bad...they're very bad.  Life is heavy. The world is heavy. People are carrying heavy crosses and there seems to be no place of respite because those places too seem to be disappearing in front of our very eyes.  We've become afraid to share our burdens with the world because the world's answer to burden always seems to be death.  Kill the child, kill the elderly, the sick, the lonely, kill the marriage, kill sports, privacy, innocence and ideas we don't like...kill whatever it is that causes us discomfort, that challenges us or prickles our conscience.  Hey...Kill God, why not?

The world seems bad, it's as though the human race and Western civilisation is in a state of self deconstruction.  Only Pollyanna cannot cry the words of Shakespeare 'Oh woe is me, to see what I have seen, to see what I see' .

I get it, many of us are indeed sad.  We are burdened with the heavy world. Perhaps we should be despondent and fearful and sad.   But should we really?  Let's delve a bit.  Saints indeed buckle.  Jesus buckled under the cross, under the heavy heavy weight of our sins...three times.  I often consider he fell to show us that getting up again and again, and yes, again, is the path he walked and the one we can indeed walk with him.  Someone once asked Pope John Paul whether he got sad about the state of the world, about all the troubles and sufferings and all the people who do not love God?  He replied God does not need a sad Pope, God needs a joyful Pope.  When we think of John Paul, we think of his joy, his smile, how he embraced the world, kissed it even.  The world is not bad.  It is GOOD.  God saw what he had made and it was good. The world is good, God said so.

After the disgraceful abortion referendum in Ireland last year, I think all of us, not just in Ireland, but across the world, felt so broken and buckled that to get up again seemed an unattainable task.  I remember the afternoon of the result I opened my fridge and to my horror discovered that we needed milk!!  I felt almost frozen in fright.  Had my husband been home I would have sent him out into the big bad world like early man out to hunt the mammoth, to bring home the milk I needed for survival coffee. He wasn't home so I had to go out myself, among the savages and demons which were prowling the supermarket.  (I'm nothing if not dramatic).

Later I was talking to my husband about this.  I surmised that this very mindset was a huge temptation when we perceive the world to be bad and people to be bad.  The temptation is to withdraw into our Catholic cave.  Set up our Catholic camps and circle our Catholic wagons lest we be tainted by big bad world.  I see precisely this happening in a creeping way.  Catholics are withdrawing from mainstream society and intentionally circulating in ever more puritanical Calvinistic circles in the name of Catholicism.  We are withdrawing our children from schools (often rightly so), we are abandoning our parishes in droves in favour of those we feel to be more 'Catholic' (absolutely fine since we are free to attend wherever we wish, however the church by and large is territorial, we belong to the parish in which we live.  Our Parish Priest is responsible for us as father even of his Church building is bland and even if he is bland).  We are cutting loose family and friends who do not have our world view.

I am noticing a perceptible Catholic drift away from the world as it is and into an idealised version of the past.  Most worryingly, I am noticing, especially among young Catholics, an increasing preoccupation with demons, exorcists and demonic activity sometimes to the point that their faith seems ever more fearful, concerned with avoiding demons rather than pursuing and embracing Jesus Christ who loves us and who died for us. This is not right.  In fact it is very wrong.   Focusing on Satan and his demons gives them a dignity they do not deserve.  Satan is NOT the equal opposite of God. He is a creature, created by God and who subsequently in his (small h, notice) inflated pride rejected God and chose himself.  God did not create Hell or send Satan and his pathetic Wormwoods there, they freely and knowingly chose it.  If a man sins, it's not because he is possessed by a demon; we are well able to sin off our own bat.  Satan can suggest, stir up, remind.  He cannot make a single person commit a single sin.  Our sins are well and truly our own.  Our sins are what nailed Christ to a cross.  We don't need Satan, we're only too delighted to sin.  Bless me Father for I have sinned, and I'm not really all that was only venial after all...and so satisfying to say that thing...or do that thing...or not do that thing...

The saints remind us that Plenary Indulgences are not all that easy to gain, precisely because detachment form sin is a difficult lifetime task, sin is sticky.

I was in a beautiful Church last All Saints Day with my 9 year old daughter.  She spotted a statue depicting Our Lady and under her foot the writhing serpent.  What a curious sight for a little girl, she asked me about it so I told her about the sin of Eve and how God promised he would send us a New Eve, one who would crush the head of the serpent.  More importantly, I told my daughter to look at the demeanour of Mary.  How powerful: Mary is paying zero attention to Satan, he doesn't deserve her attention.  In Mel Gibson's Passion of The Christ opening scene we equally see Jesus not giving Satan the dignity of his gaze, just as later he didn't dignify the impure depraved Herod with the sound of his Divine voice. SO...don't dignify demons with too many of our thoughts.  That's the example of Jesus and Mary and probably what we should do too. That said, you know who is real, be alert.

Where is all this leading to?  This is what I'm trying to say...we are losing our JOY.  This is not right.  Joyless fearful Christians are questionably not Christian at all.  Sure times are bad, have there ever been times which weren't bad?  The 4th Century contemporaries of St Augustine thought that their times were bad: 'Bad times, hard times, this is what people keep saying; but let us live well and times shall be good.  We are the times, such as we are, such are the times.'   St Teresa of Avila called her times 'A bad night in a bad inn', not too flattering to her times.  Whoever penned the Salve Regina in the 12th Century saw fit to call the world 'This Valley of Tears'.

The world has always been a mix of bad and good, sufferings and joys, sin and virtue.  It will always be that way.  If I had a penny for every time I've seen somebody comment 'Come Lord Jesus' on reports of the newest political and ecclesiastic equivalent to celebrity gossip, well I don't know how much I'd have, a good bit.  I'm guilty, I've thought it myself.  Come Lord Jesus, come and save us from this messed up world, come and smite them all down!! How gleefully I'd watch 'them' get their comeuppance, the villains well and truly vanquished.

Lets have a close look at 'Come Lord Jesus'.  Just why do we want Lord Jesus to come?  Truth be told, I'm guessing we want Jesus to come because what lies ahead looks a bit too much like hard work.  Come and relieve me of this uncomfortable task, put me into Heaven already!!  Come Lord Jesus because I'm too lazy for my times.  Why didn't you put me into a time of ease, like the heyday of Christendom, the times when government, Kings, writers, architects, composers and craftsmen were glorifying your name? I'd have been great in those times, I'd have been 'stunning and brave ', going along with the river of Christians, being Christian.  Why, oh why, oh why did you put me in these rotten times Lord?  But Augustine tells us we are the times.

My mother used to repeatedly remind me and my siblings that God places us in precisely the time he wants us in.  For you and me that means now.  Withdrawing from the world as it is today is rejecting God's wisdom in placing me here and now.  What an honour it is to be chosen to live in difficult challenging times, what an honour to witness to Christ when the world is not singing Glory to God in The Highest but rather cursing him, denying him or, even more likely, plain shabby old apathy toward him.  It would be so easy and comfortable to withdraw into our cosy Catholic citadels and let the wolves devour the world.  One problem with this though, that would not be Catholicism.  Pope John Paul spoke about this in Crossing The Threshold of Hope.  Some Eastern religions have the aim of going deeper and deeper into ourselves and there finding the divine, the small d divine which is our own self awareness to the exclusion of the world.  This is not compatible with Catholicism.  Each of us has a task given to us by nature of our Baptism, it's not inward, it's OUTWARD.  The nature of God is out and out and out, an ever flowing torrent of outward, creative, life-giving love.  An outward flowing of Joy.  Therein lies the secret...JOY.  Not the 'kind we might call physiological good spirits-the happiness of a healthy animal...happiness that comes from the abandonment of everything and the abandonment of yourself to the loving arms of Our Father God' (The Way 659).  

Each of us is called to make holy our times.  We aren't called to preserve the purity of our personal air, we're called to purify the air of those around us.  How can we win hearts if our own heart is miserable?  How can we place Christ as the pinnacle of the world if we think the world is bad? How can we point to Heaven if our own view of Heaven is obscured by the shadows of demons?  We cannot. We don't need to carry the sins of the world, of ideologies which cause so much division.  We don't need to take upon our shoulders the sin of Eve, or the neglectful Adam who just stood there.  Jesus has already carried those sins.  The weight of the world is too heavy for us, the entire world and it's sinful history is not our cross.  Our cross is today, it's the weather, the neighbour, the school run, the aching back and the traffic jam.  Pick up those crosses with a smile and we will surely change the world.

Until we realise that God is Joy, that we have a Happy God who wants us to be happy, not just in Heaven, but on Earth too, we will be bogged down in the mire of the world, our feet weighted like lead, unable to soar, unable to raise our hearts to God, unable to taste the sweetness of his love.  We have a God who delights in making us happy, who lavishes us with beauty in every form.  Creation is beautiful. It doesn't just look beautiful, it smells, sounds, tastes and feels beautiful.  God wants us to be happy today he wants us to be joyful. Only Joy will win hearts.  Only joy will remedy the joylessness of the world.  A miserable Christian is a paradox.  A fearful, suspicious Christian is a paradox.  Authentic Christianity shouts it from the mountaintops.  Open WIDE the doors to Christ, not barricade them in case the world gets in.

Today I can climb my mountain...that mountain of ironing I could so easily curse, or the mountainous effort to limit my phone addiction and be present for the very people right in front of me.  Maybe that mountain is a hospital bed, or a graveside.  Or maybe it's faithfulness to an undeserving spouse, or autism, or depression...any one of the myriad problems that go with the human condition and wherein we can witness that YES, we are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song...even when sung through life's tears.  Those witnesses can speak louder than the best apologists or the slick debaters.

As Christmas approaches you are guaranteed to see the annual scrooge articles, condemning the world, the trappings, the food, the glitter of Christmas, even Santa Claus gets it in the neck .  To these party poopers I say this...Merry Merry Merry Christmas!! Catholics should have the best banquets.  I attended a Christmas meditation some years ago in which the priest related the story of being on an outing with a number of men when one produced some fine Cuban cigars.  Each cigar was worth a hefty sum of money.  What struck the priest wasn't the cigars but the box in which they came.  It was of the finest wood, smoothed and polished to perfection.  A fitting presentation to a fine cigar.  

I passed the Tiffany & Co store in Harrods a few years ago, how I looked so longingly at the beautiful sparkling display.  A woman emerged from the shop elegantly dangling the recognisable turquoise bag from her hand.  If ever I get a gift from Tiffany I will dangle the bag elegantly from my hand for the next year, even if it is only to carry my car keys and my receipts from Lidl!  I'll want everyone  to know I got something from Tiffany, that someone loved me enough to give me such a gift.   You see, we put precious gifts in precious packaging.  The more precious the gift the more effort we put into the packaging.  What greater gift has ever been given than the gift of God the Son.  God made man and given to an undeserving bunch of sinful miserable complainers such as us for no other reason than that he loves us and that he told us he would.    What packaging we should prepare!! The best for Jesus.  The Catholics should surely have the best parties, the Bridegroom has come, we are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!  There is no compatibility with Alleluia and Bah, Humbug! We are the ones who know who and why and who wins in the end.  We know whose head gets nonchalantly crushed under the pure heel of Mary, we don't cower at his ugly name.  We're not afraid or ashamed and we're not going to reject or retreat from this world and this time we have been put into.  How can we not look into the eyes of Christ, who loves us and our hearts not soar like a bird?    

St Peter tells us 'Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer' (Rom 12:12)

The times are what they are and all we can do is be holy, be saints, be the joy that attracts the world.  and 'always be prepared to give an answer to anyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that is in you' (1 Peter 3:15).  

So there you have joyful, keep praying, be hopeful.  And be a saint, a happy saint. 

And if my husband is reading this...don't buy me Tiffany, just ask them to give you the bag!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Never Surrender...Oh Really?

Some years ago we had gerbils.  We had this idea that if the children showed commitment toward little things we could trust them with the greater thing of a dog.  It's not a fair test.  In fairness, gerbils are boring little creatures by and large.  They don't interact, you can't teach them much and they're a little bit too similar to vermin to really win hearts.  Our children hadn't really asked for them in the way they had begged and pleaded for a dog.  I suppose you could say I imposed the 'wee beasties' on them hoping they wouldn't notice that they weren't dogs.  Well they weren't so easily fooled and lost interest in them pretty fast.

That is to say all for one child, our youngest.  A lion-hearted little creature, once she loves it is for always and she loved those little 'mice'.  As a toddler she would let them out of their cage to play with her...have you ever tried catching two gerbils running in opposite directions while a toddler squeals with joy at the spectacle.  I had to padlock them in.  Then she would read them stories, push their cage to wherever she was playing so they could see her and as they got older and less active they were happy to sit and watch the cute YouTube videos she would put on my phone and hold to to their window for them to enjoy.

Gerbils don't have a long life span, a few years.  Ours lived slightly over expectation as even though I had little interest, they were little creatures with just one life which we had freely taken upon ourselves.  We looked after them well and they had a good life.  Well finally one, then another 'went on holiday' never to return and we were left with one lone sleepy gerbil.  One morning Little Girl was doing her usual check when her older sisters tried to explain to her that the little object of her childish affection was more than asleep.

'I'm afraid he's not asleep, he's dead'

'He IS asleep!!, I've seen him do this before, he'll wake UP!'

'He's not going to wake up, he's gone to heaven with all the other little pets'

'YOU might give up...I NEVER give up!!'

Even in the face of stark evidence this child believed that her will would prevail.   She didn't like something therefore her will could make it otherwise.  Her stout protestations reminded me of  Sir Winston Churchill's 'We will NEVER surrender!'

Why do I tell this story? you may ask.  I'll tell you why.  I do a lot of driving these days and a lot of driving means a lot of thinking.  I have been thinking about our post-Christian, post-truth culture and, in particular about the catastrophic blow it has wrought upon the relationship between men and women.  The recent confusion about what it even means to be a man or a woman seems to have appeared overnight, a new fashionable ideology with shallow roots.

Unfortunately, the roots of the gender movement are far from shallow and have been incubating for many decades.  An entire culture does not embrace an extraordinarily fantastical idea, such as that a man can be a woman, unless it has been slowly and imperceptibly prepped for such acceptance.   The emperor's subjects did not suddenly become blind to his nakedness, they had been already prepared to be so foolishly duped by fear of the opinion of others, fear of standing out from the crowd, fear of this, fear of the point that their fears overrode truth so they cheered and gushed and gasped at the non existent grandeur of  the Emperor's 'gowns'.

Not one person looking at the emperor saw anything but his naked body and his bloated grotesque vanity, yet every single one was happy to proclaim otherwise.  'Beautiful clothes, gorgeous...'Fabulous even!'  Yes, fabulous, oh so fabulous.  That 'fabulous' movement where seedy men dress as hideous demonic perversions of women and young mothers are unbelievably tricked into thinking it's somehow a good idea to allow their children to be groomed by these men under the guise of 'story-time'.  How can we not see the naked emperor in this?  Our culture is cheering the phenomenon of child drag queens and the mutilation and sterilisation of ever younger children by the transgender craze.  In fact our culture cheers everything which rebels against natural order.  We have been so well marinaded we are overcooked.

 Every story has a beginning.  I suggest that the beginning of this goes right back to the actual beginning.  To Genesis.  God's design for mankind was the perfect fit.  A mutual delight in the other without conflict, male and female he created them.  .  After the fall this was distorted...I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed' (Gen 3:15).  Why did Adam and Eve don some sort of covering for their bodies?  Before the fall each only willed the good of the other, the gaze of Adam held no danger to the naked Eve.  The naked Adam had no shame because his body was for the good of his wife.  His gaze held no self interest.  Their differences were completely in harmony, no jealousy, no pride, no grasping of the other for self interest.  Adam was what Eve was not and she was what Adam was not.    And then things went awry.  Adam's desires were no longer for his wife but for his own satiation.  Eve no longer wanted to be helpmate.  They covered their bodies because it was his body which manifested his maleness, what made him MAN.  Eve's body was what manifested her femaleness...what made her WOMAN.  Adam as man became inclined to dominate, Eve as woman became resentful...enmity between the two.   Man and woman have been horn-locked in the battle to some extent ever since.

And here's where I get back to the little girl and her protestations that she will NEVER give in.   She is a little girl, not an ounce of guile.  Children under the age of reason are to some extent a mirror of our original state.  Parents smile endearingly at the uninhibited nakedness of the toddler after a bath or on a beach.  We smile and say 'The innocence of Adam...Oh for such innocence'.  Even though innocent, as a child of such parents she has inherited the human tendency 'I will never give in'.  Man and woman are deadlocked, each rebelling against the natural order, each inflicting unhappiness on themselves and on the other.  Yet somewhere in us we long for the original harmony.  As women, we long for release from the underlying resentment of being 'looked' at, we wish we didn't feel so resentful at the label 'helpmate'.  As men, we long for a release from the suspicion with which the world views us.  We long for a release from self-centred longings and from our wrongful concept of superiority.  We know things aren't quite right.

I'm currently reading the 'bible' with my 9 year old.  It's an excellent graphic-novel style presentation which is perfect for that age. (The Action Bible. God's Redemptive Story. Ill by Sergio Cariello) I'll admit I'd never actually tackled the Old Testament chronologically before, what an exciting tale!!  My little daughter and I are currently wandering in the desert with the Hebrew people, Moses has just broken the tablets bearing the Ten Commandments.  Who would blame him? What a rum lot the Hebrews were.  Complain, complain, complain.  Unfaithful, ungrateful, self-interested...remind you of anything? It reminds ME of every single generation since time began.  Literally Moses had barely turned his back and the Hebrews were adoring the golden calf. Oh my goodness! What a bunch!

Every generation has had it's Golden Calf.  I think it's fair to say that our current era's Golden Calf is our EGO.  Like the child who thought she could will the impossible and make it possible, we think we have domination over the impossible.  In our inflated sense of entitlement and self interest we see even our bodies and our nature to be impediments over which we can impose our will.  Nowhere more is this war waged than between the sexes.  No, I tell a lie.  Our war is no longer simply between the sexes, but precisely with sex itself.  What is the greatest pariah in the Western world today than a woman who is happy to be a woman, who is happy to embrace her fertility, to care for her children and to love, care for and support her husband?  What is considered more demeaning  than for a woman to 'identify' as wife?  Not much, except a wife who is financially dependent on a man and is happy to make him dinner.

Women as a whole reject their own bodies and their life-nurturing capabilities.  We no longer see anything special in the feminine.  Not alone that, we no longer see anything special in the masculine either.  The market-leader of razor blades were only reflecting current thought when they made their patronising anti-man advert.  The ensuing boycott to the sum of eight billion dollars was at least an encouraging indication of the remnant of some sort of common sense.

Our Ego-God has one commandment: Non Serviam.  I will not serve.  I will not submit to nature, to my body, to God and, by Jinny, I'll not serve any man!

A few years ago I was at Sunday mass when the reader announced from the lectern 'There will be no second reading today', closed the book and walked away.  Three guesses which reading was too choking for him that he felt need to censor the word of God?  Actually one guess.  Got it in one. St Paul. Oh St. Paul, how you set the cat amongst the pigeons when you wrote those words.  The most misinterpreted, the most misquoted, the most reviled passage from the entire bible...Ephesians 5.  A whole passage reduced to a one line monstrosity.

Wives...submit to your husbands.

Oh dear.  

Such a problematic one liner.  Remember we live in an age where to use the maximum 280 characters on Twitter means your tweet will be scrolled on by because it is just too long.  St Paul did indeed write those words.  The thing is, he wrote a lot of other words both before and after them.   As women, our rebellious selves recoil from such subservience.  As men, our fallen nature grasps at those words as licence to rule and dominate, even to cruelty.  For generation after generation the misinterpretation of the role of husband as head and the role of wife in submission has caused untold damage to families.  The idea that a husband should dominate his wife is unbecoming to any Christian.  The idea that a wife submits to her husband to the point that simple household decisions must be approved by him is equally unbecoming for any Christian.

Neither of these extremes is correct.  Even a simple reading of Eph 5: 21-32 rubbishes these theories.  Pope St John Paul has unpacked this passage in such a beautiful and freeing way.  For the sake of this piece not becoming unwieldy, the reference is Theology of The Body Number 89, General audience of August 11 1982. 

In brief, the Pope explains the original nature of marriage 'In the beginning, it was not so'.
Husband and wife are equally called to submission, a mutual full gift of themselves to the other.  There is no humiliation in submission in this context.  God created man and woman as equal.  Equal and different.  Catholicism recognises marriage as a reflection of the Holy Trinity, a prefiguring of our ultimate union with God.  Within The Blessed Trinity we know that God The Father, God The Son and God The Holy Spirit are equal. All God, none less or more God than the other two persons.  And yet, within that equal trinity God the Son is subject to the Father, God the Ho;y Spirit is sent by Jesus and thereby clearly subject to him.  God the Father is Father, the head.  In creating woman subject to her husband and him as the head God is not reducing one and elevating the other.  If that was true, it would mean an inequality within God himself and we know this cannot be.

Our culture is ailing.  False ideologies always bring sickness and unhappiness to the world.  Marriage is ailing.  Young people do not want to marry for many of the reasons above, even older couples are divorcing at an unprecedented rate.  This is a tragedy not just for families but for the world.  Pope John Paul famously said 'As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live'.  The restoration of the whole world depends on the family.  It depends on men becoming men of character.  It depends on women reclaiming womanhood.  It depends on husband and wife, family by family,  husband and wife both 'subject to one another out of reverence to Christ'.

Well I think that's lovely.  There's nothing to resent.  G.K. Chesterton nailed it when he wrote 'The most extraordinary thing in the world is an ordinary man and an ordinary woman and their ordinary children'.  The ordinariness of families based on the mutual submission of husband to wife and wife to husband is precisely the instrument God can use to re-tune the entire orchestra of mankind.  That means you, that means me.  Ordinary and equal and loved by God.  How do we know this? Because we are here.

In case you're wondering. Although they failed the gerbil test, our children are passing the little schnauzer test with flying colours, and so am I.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Skyping God

I was in a conversation recently which stemmed from a young mother lamenting the practice of churches being locked in the evenings, a time which was one of the few windows she would be able to spend some time in Eucharistic Adoration.  

As we know, our western culture has fallen far from the Christian roots on which it was built.  Values such as care for each other, our environment, regard for things belonging to other people and even more so, the things of God, were Christian values embedded into culture by Christians living them.  Since casting off Christianity, the West has been piggybacking on the remembered habits of Christianity. Concepts such as kindness, manners, forgiveness, respect are products of Christianity.  Christianity humanised the culture, imparting dignity on our interactions and, though it’s politically incorrect to say this, it put a stop to the oftentimes savage practices such as, in the extreme, human sacrifice and cannibalism.  Read the eyewitness histories of certain now desirable tourist destinations and you will be thankful that Christian missionaries landed their boats in those places, many times paying the price of martyrdom. Pre-Christian Society was not a pretty sight. 

 Have you ever flown in an airplane over a shipping passage such as between Ireland and Britain or Ireland and France? It never fails to astonish me how a ferry or cargo ship can have almost reached it’s destination yet it’s white wake is still visible quite from the point of departure.  The sea holds the memory of the ship passing long after it has passed over the horizon.  I think that sight is a good analogy for today’s Europe and America.  Western culture is currently treading water without lifejackets in the fading wake of Christ, the ship from which we so gleefully cast ourselves.  We thought our strong legs, strong arms, strong lungs where self sufficient. The sea was azure and so enticing.  However, our bodies, our culture and habits, were strong precisely because they were linked with those attributes of Christ.  We did fine for a while, we’re just dandy,  check us out riding the briny waves not a care in the world, basking in the wake, the illusion which has bit by bit by bit been fading and losing the flavour and essence of Christ.  Without Christ, our legs won’t hold out much longer, our once strong arms are waning and our lungs are ever tiring, less and less able to fill with life giving oxygen, less and less able to dispel choking toxins.  

Without the ship there’s just the deep, deep, deep sea.  
The surface sparkles were enticing to us.  We were tricked into believing that casting off the ‘restrictive’ security of Christianity we would somehow attain something greater of our own invention.  We made the error of Adam and Eve,foolishly believing we could be our own God.  We could hew our own personalised furrow without him, not stoping to realise that the sparkles are not the sea but mere reflections which mask the grave danger beneath.  The sea, mankind unguided by God, has a merciless appetite and will devour the weary and the foolish and give nothing back. 

This is where our culture is now.  An ever darkening, ever more frightening place with neither rock nor ship on which to depend.  And it seems the depths are fathomless. We are returning to a state of pre-Christian savagery where the strong devour the weak. we’re back to child sacrifice, or ‘post-birth abortion’ and a total(itarian) abandonment of rational thought as is so grandly displayed in bully-boy rainbow flags and gender ideology.  We no longer leave our bicycle leaning against a wall and expect it to be there when we return.  We cannot leave our homes unlocked because they will surely be ransacked.  And now, inevitably, we cannot leave our churches unlocked.  Once the place of sacred asylum, of peace, solace and oftentimes physical shelter for the weary, the worried, the unloved and the homeless, the churches must now be locked because they are no longer considered untouchable safe places.  

When I was working in the inner city I used to attend lunchtime mass in a Franciscan church.  Several of the regular attendees would pass the time during mass sleeping slumped on a pew bench.  Shabby homeless old men who had nowhere else to go except for the shelter of God’s house where they would at least be warm and receive some human contact and be treated as humans by the bare-footed friars.  I passed that church recently with my daughter and had to mumble to her not to make eye contact with the small assembly of drugged addicts bickering on the steps of the locked church.

 I’m sure it was a difficult and heavy hearted decision for the Franciscans to lock their doors.  How many times had they cleaned up syringes and excrement from that consecrated place.  How many handbags and wallets were taken, how many altercations took place before they had to padlock the doors, opening only at times when security was available to keep people safe?  

Some years ago my own parish, a respectable town, had to make the sad decision to lock up at sundown, not because of drug addicts but because of teenage brats urinating for bravado, pilfering the pennies from the poor box or simply using it as a place for what my father used to call ‘blackguarding’.  As we know, countries such as France have concerns more serious than schoolboys up to no good.  One by one desecration and fire is the fate of unguarded Catholic Churches.

How did I get from inconvenient Eucharistic adoration times to desecration of European churches? Oh yes, the necessity of padlocks and keypads on churches because neither buildings nor people are automatically safe in the sanctuary any more.  I put forward the suggestion that if actual adoration isn’t available due to the church being locked, or illness or caring for little children, that many parishes have 24 hour webcam focused on the tabernacle and the flickering sanctuary lamp which tells is Jesus is home, and that it could be a nice idea to spend time with Our Lord in that way.  I commented that it was nice that at the same time that churches need greater security and shorter open times that God, with his usual finesse,  had left us a way of being present of keeping him company, albeit by webcam.  

A friendly debate ensued with some thinking that was a good idea and others disagreeing.  A priest was quoted as saying that only adoration in person was acceptable as the other was no better than looking at a printed picture.  

I disagree.

I’m going to make the case for Skyping God:

My nephew’s children’s maternal grandparents live on the other side of the world.  They are not humanly able to spend long periods of time physically close.  However, with the technology each of us carries around in our pockets and handbags, those children have a well established intimate relationship with their adoring grandparents.  Between Skype and FaceTime they check in regularly, have long chats, show their artwork, their wobbly teeth and send virtual kisses to their very present though distant Grandparents.  

One of the connector pieces on EWTN promotes Eucharistic Adoration.  I love the bit where the girl explains 

‘I look at Him, and He looks at me’.  

That is the precise essence of Eucharistic adoration.  A two way gaze. I look at my Love and My Love looks at me. Love transcends proximity.   God’s love transcends both time and space. He is not limited by pixels or bytes.  He is already closer to us than water is to a fish.  

Every Christmas and Easter the Holy Father gives his traditional Urbi et Orbi blessing..To The City and To The World.  This blessing is received by millions of the faithful via satellite link, via radio, tv, internet.  It is God’s blessing, in no way lessened or diluted on it’s trip into space and back.  St Josemaría Escrivá tells us to often cast our hearts to the tabernacles near us, to unite with them during the day, to keep our Lord company by greeting him as we drive past churches or other places where the Blessed Sacrament is present.  Our Lord gathers these loving greetings with great joy.  He is never outdone in love and he rejects none of our loving offerings, even if they are just from a passing car. 

When my children were smaller we would regularly pass by my husband’s workplace as we went to and fro from shops, schools and so on.  We’d look out to see if we could spot Daddy’s car parked in it little space beside the ancient yellow cottage which is his surgery.  Sometimes it wouldn’t be there if he was on a house call.  However, it was typical that they’d excitedly spot his car, like the sanctuary lamp, indicating that Daddy is there.  I’d tell them to blow a kiss because he loved getting unexpected caresses while he was working.  How lovingly those little wind-borne kisses floated my husband’s way.  I would ring him later to inform him he had received those kisses.  He’d hug them and tell them how happy and loved he would feel when those invisible kisses came his way.  Personally I have faith that my husband was indeed helped through his sometimes difficult or heart wrenching days by his little children’s love filled thoughts, because what is love but heart connecting to heart?  Either way, my husband was always delighted that his children were sending him kisses as we drove past where he was.  For sure, the children benefitted, their love for their father was enriched by those little acts of devotion. 

  A number of years ago,  Bishop Javier Echevarría, then Prelate of Opus Dei, was on a pastoral visit to the people of Opus Dei, their extended family and friends in The Philippines.  One of the major struggles families in The Philippines encounter is the reality that employment can be very difficult to find and oftentimes either the mother or the father has to work abroad simply to keep the family above water.  At one large get-together with 10,000 people, The Father, as he was affectionately known, spoke about this in very very clear and urgent tones.  This physical separation is a grave danger to families.  Long distance marriages are very difficult to maintain over extended time.  The absence of physical presence, day to day life, marital intimacy all create unique struggles for those families.  He encouraged those who find themselves in these difficult circumstances to do all in their power to keep those separations as short term as possible, to try if at all possible to keep the family as a physical unit. Then he went on to advise those couples to remain intimate as best they could even though apart.  He suggested connecting on the internet through the likes of Skype to talk about family life, to pray together, to just relax and enjoy each other.  The love of husband and wife, on which the children and the family depend even more than economic security, was to be urgently and consistently nourished with the use of the technologies which are widely available today.  This surely must be one of the greatest benefits of the Internet.  

In my own family, our eldest daughter was able to join in her smallest sister’s birthday party via FaceTime from France.  Oftentimes during that year away from home she would just leave FaceTime on as she pottered around her room, just so that she could enjoy family life from afar.  We weren’t even always talking just as you wouldn’t always talk to someone in the same room.  You just know they’re there and enjoy their company. As St Francis is so often (though erroneously) quoted as saying “...sometimes use words..”  

This is how I feel about checking in on Adoration either from some grand and exotic shrine or from your humble and ordinary local parish via webcam. 

 I think the priest mentioned earlier may have mistakenly thought the person was asking whether Sunday duty may be fulfilled by watching mass online (it isn’t).   I don’t think any man would suggest a person not FaceTime their mother because it’s not as good as being with her in person.  Perhaps if the mother was living locally and we only interacted with her via a phone screen instead of actually visiting her, it may indicate a serious relationship flaw. However, if we regularly visit our Mom, it doesn’t exclude the delight of FaceTime chats at other times.  Certainly if visiting in person is not a possibility,  FaceTime is, quite literally, a Godsend 

I’m reminded of the computer homepage my husband used some years ago for quite some time.  It was the Vatican TV webcam from St Peter’s Square, Rome.  He used to say that he’d feel connected to the universal church by glancing at the great basilica, hear the fountains and watch the pilgrims milling about. He was reminded to pray for the Holy Father whose then apartments were visible on the webcam.  Obviously it was a far cry from being in Rome but I thought it was a very filial thing to do.  I am sure that God saw and delighted in his loving son doing that very simple act to stay connected in a tangible way. 

Jesus is our spouse.  He is our Divine bridegroom.  Like any bride we long for that connection with our spouse.  So the church is locked? So we’re bedridden, disabled or just a plain old overwhelmed mom keeping all the plates spinning and not always managing.  Do you think for a second that the Bridegroom who waits for us in the quietness of the tabernacle is going to avert his gaze from us because our connection is in computer pixels and therefore not good enough? 

I love when my husband texts or phones me for tiny moments during the day, I love that continued conversation, those little connections which remind me that I’m on my spouse’s mind, that I’m in his heart.  I’m excited and hopeful that some day my husband can retire and was can spend all day chatting, I still have so much to tell him like ‘y’know who I saw uptown’ and important questions such as ‘would you like some tea?’. In the meantime I’ll delight in those technology enabled moments of heart onto heart with my spouse.  Is God not the greatest spouse? Does he not long for connection with us? Does he not desire our simple bits of news and childlike questions?

God sees us anyway.  We are always in his gaze.  He sees our efforts.  One of my favourite scenes in the Gospel is Jesus’ encounter with Nathaniel.  Jesus says to him ‘I saw you under the olive tree’.  We don’t know what Nathaniel was doing when Jesus saw him.  We know it was something good, perhaps it was as simple an act as trying to tune in the live webcam from his local parish church which happened to be locked because other people have forgotten that it was precisely Jesus who gave us this great civilisation with it’s beautiful, now locked Churches.  

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.