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January, 1998

TOTALLY CATHOLIC E-ZINE - January Issue, 1998

Welcome to Totally Catholic E-zine, the newest Email magazine designed specifically for traditional Roman Catholics. This forum will provide informative articles and commentary on issues related to the One True Faith. UPDATE (4/27/98)T.C.E. is no longer available in the e-mail format.


ďOn Making Connections...Ē by Maria Compton-Hernandez, T.C.E. Editor

A few weeks ago I was party to a conversation about how strange it is--all of the sudden, it seems, young teen mothers are giving birth to babies, then throwing them in trash dumpsters, clumps of bushes, or hiding them in coffee cans under the sink. How sick, how sad! It seems a new, bizarre case like this appears in the national news every month or so. Why now? One never even heard of such horrid deeds even 20 years ago. It took less than an instant for my sister to respond, "It's because abortion is legal and the law of the land!" Of course, how true. If it's okay to kill a baby literally up until the moment of its natural birth via a 'partial birth abortion', then why not just moments after birth? Surely, that is what must be running through the minds of the young mothers who choose to dispose of their babies in such appalling ways, as if they were inconvenient garbage. The abortion connection--it's so easy to see.

When Mother Teresa commented that "the fruit of abortion is nuclear war", she left the pro-abortion masses in confusion. "What? What on earth does nuclear war have to do with a 'woman's right to choose'? What is this nun talking about!" was their indignant outcry. For those of us in the pro-life movement, nothing made more crystal-clear sense than this profound statement by a modern, living-day saint. Of course, abortion, all forms of it in its many detestable stages, has truly cheapened the value placed on human life to the point that a country can literally wipe out millions of souls with one well-placed nuclear device. How can they not see the connection between abortion and nuclear war?

I, like the rest of the country, stood by in admiration as a courageous young couple from Iowa refused the medical community's call to 'selective reduction'--a euphemism for aborting one or more babies in a multiple pregnancy so that the remaining ones would have a better chance of survival. The couple placed the matter of carrying septuplets in God's good hands--and He mightily rewarded them by putting the medical community's prediction to shame and blessing them with seven beautiful, healthy babies. I was saddened, though, when I read in the paper that the father, when asked if they planned to have any more children, commented with a wink and a grin, "OH, NO! That's been surgically taken care of!" They, although staunchly pro-life like so many, have not made the connection between contraception and abortion. Several forms of contraception are actually abortifacient, but all forms, including surgical sterilization, take complete creative and life-giving power away from God and kick God out of the triangular nature of a marriage--husband, wife, and God. When a couple contracepts through birth control or sterilization, they are, in effect, telling God that they know what's best when it comes to that aspect of their marriage, and they totally remove Him from the picture.

Pope Paul VI saw the connection between contraception and abortion, not to mention many other societal ills. He prophetically wrote in the encyclical "Humane Vitae" that if widespread use of contraception came into practice, the result would be an increase in sexual promiscuity, marital infidelity and divorce, abortion, and even euthanasia. All of these things have surely come to pass. Teen sexual promiscuity has reached record levels--the number of sexually active teens in high school, even middle school, is staggering. Fornication, sex outside of marriage, has risen to new heights. Marital infidelity has assisted in the near 50% divorce rate, which we now accept as common. And euthanasia is slowly being protected and encouraged by society through such state laws as the new Oregon Assisted Suicide Law and the activities of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, of whom which no court has yet found guilty.

As I hold my sixth beautiful newborn baby in my arms, I ponder on making connections....between contraception and abortion....between abortion and murder. Itís all around us - how much clearer can it be? Sometimes the connections are subtle, but they are there. Thatís the way the devil works, subtly, one step at a time, tearing us further away from God as one act which was once considered sinful is now commonplace: 75% of Roman Catholics today contracept or have been surgically sterilized. It moves us further down the slippery slope, to the widespread use of abortion, which now serves as a method of contraception in itself for many couples. Why is it a surprise that the next logical step would be outright murder, or even nuclear war?

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1. Scriptural Reasons.

The Bible presents Mary as a person whom God set apart to play a vital role in His plan of salvation. What other human being can claim the unique position as child of the Father, spouse of the Holy Spirit and mother of the Son? Mary is fully human and, while not a fourth member of the Holy Trinity, she is joined in a way no fully human person ever was before. Dr. Alan Schreck expresses this so eloquently when he writes, "God honored Mary by eternally predestining her to be the Mother of the Savior -- the one through whom God Himself would enter into human history."(Gen. 3:15, Is. 7:14, Jn.17:5) "What greater gift or dignity could God give to a human being? This honor given to Mary reveals the dignity of all women; a woman is more important in God's saving plan than any angel or other spiritual being."

We see the foreshadowing of Mary's role in salvation history in God's prophecy/promise wherein He warns satan that He "will put enmity between you [satan] and the woman". This is given specifically in addition to the prophesied enmity between the seed of satan and the seed of the woman, Jesus (Gen. 3:15). Because God willed her to be diametrically opposed to the evil one, Mary is often pictured stepping on the serpent (satan). Through Mary's 'yes' and obedience, came the "offspring of the woman", Jesus, who crushed the head of the serpent, defeating satan and his work.

Some non-Catholics mistakenly believe that the Church credits Mary for being chosen on her own merits -- attributing all credit to her rather than God. At the same time, they would have it that God did all and that Mary should receive little or no credit. The Catholic Church teaches that Mary received special graces and gifts from God enabling her to accept the role that God offered. Mary, like all human beings, had complete free will to accept and fulfill her part in God's salvation plan or to reject it.

Like Jesus' parable of the talents(Mt. 25:14-30), we are given various graces and gifts by God and it is up to us to use and develop them or waste what was freely given. Mary made full use of what God bestowed upon her and we honor her because she fulfilled her part in God's plan just as He desired. Remember : "To whom much has been given much will be expected"(Mt. 13:12 & 25:29, Mk. 4:25, & Lk. 8:18). And for those who respond well, the promised rewards are great! It is like the difference between Michelangelo or Raphael deciding to take a "safe and reliable" job as housepainters instead of developing their artistic talents to the fullest and giving the world some of the most beautiful art ever created. Imagine what the world would have lost from so many people gifted by God if they had refused to work with and develop what was given them; had Mary done so, it would have been the greatest of all tragedies.

A. The Annunciation

Scripturally, Jesus Himself says Mary is blessed -- not merely because she gave birth to Him -- (Lk.11:27), but because she heard the Word of God and kept it (Lk.11:28; see Lk. 1:38 & 45, 2:19 & 51). Mary receives a totally unique greeting from the Archangel Gabriel, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" (Lk.1:28). In the Jewish tradition of naming, you are what you are named. (Think of Abram to Abraham, Sarai to Sarah, Jacob to Israel, Simon to Peter, etc.) Mary is addressed as 'full of grace' in place of her name. Karl Keating explains, "The phrase 'full of grace' translated from the Greek 'kecharitomene' signifies more than just 'to look upon with favor' but 'favor or grace that transforms' and indicating a fullness or a perfection of grace. Mary was filled with divine favor in a special singular way." Never before had a heavenly creature so addressed a human being. The archangel honored Mary because God had so honored her.

B. The Visitation

Elizabeth, moved by the Holy Spirit, greets Mary: "Blessed are you among women" and "Blessed is she who has believed!" (Lk.1:42 & 45). Mary has been especially favored by God -- elevated above all other women. God Himself, speaking through Elizabeth, declares this to be so. Elizabeth, still filled with the Spirit, also says: "And who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me? (Lk.1:43). This corresponds to 2 Sam.6:9 and King David's reverence for the Ark of the Covenant. Mary is venerable ('made sacred by association '-- Merriam-Webster dictionary) because she is the Mother of Jesus -- God the Son.

by Vivian Burns

(End part one - look for parts 2 and 3 in upcoming T.C.E. Issues)

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