A response to the Planned Parenthood story

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Here is an op-ed piece by Archbishop Blaise Cupich (Chicago) which appeared in the Chicago Tribune for August 4, 2015.
The release of videos of Planned Parenthood physicians discussing the market for tissue harvested in abortions has produced varied and strong reactions, and has, ironically, given us a reason for hope and an opportunity as a nation.

The tapes have generated a visceral reaction independent of how they were made or whether Planned Parenthood was making a profit. Rather, the widespread revulsion over the tapes arose because they unmasked the fact that, in our public conversation about abortion, we have so muted the humanity of the unborn child that some consider it quite acceptable to speak freely of crushing a child's skull to preserve valuable body parts and to have that discussion over lunch.

Yet, the outrage expressed by many at the physicians' callous and flippant attitude toward trafficking in human body parts is evidence that American hearts have not been irreparably hardened by the steady devaluing of human dignity in our society. This awakening of our conscience gives hope that deep within the hearts and souls of Americans there still resides the truth that an unborn child manifestly is a human being, entitled to rights and respect.

This newest evidence about the disregard for the value of human life also offers the opportunity to reaffirm our commitment as a nation to a consistent ethic of life. While commerce in the remains of defenseless children is particularly repulsive, we should be no less appalled by the indifference toward the thousands of people who die daily for lack of decent medical care; who are denied rights by a broken immigration system and by racism; who suffer in hunger, joblessness and want; who pay the price of violence in gun-saturated neighborhoods; or who are executed by the state in the name of justice.

The open and generous nature of the American people has the capacity to astonish and push boundaries. We crowdfund, sign petitions, dump buckets of ice on ourselves and embrace new ways of relating to our environment. Can we use our shared outrage at all these affronts to human dignity to unite us and begin a national dialogue on the worth of human life?

If we create a framework for decision-making that is biased toward life, supportive of families and fair to people of all circumstances, our policies, legislation and commercial decisions will be vastly different. We then can begin to take needed actions and reforms that make a difference in the lives of those who are discarded and considered disposable.

The nation's children, families, poor, workers and senior citizens deserve more than lip service. They deserve more than outrage. They deserve real support, protection and solid action.

And so do we to be true to what is best in us.

Blase Cupich is the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Chicago.


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Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 8/4

you're a friend who never forgets me,
a teacher whose word instructs me,
a trainer who makes me stronger,
a doctor who heals my soul,
a coach who improves my abilities,
a word whose truth enlightens me,
a mentor whose wisdom guides me,
a chef who feeds my hunger,
a lover whose passion saves me,
a harbor whose shelter secures me,
a mother who tenderly holds me,
a nurse whose attention restores me,
a companion who walks beside me,
a brother who watches my back,
a fort whose walls defend me
a path whose peace preserves me,
a ruler whose law protects me,
a father who gives me a blessing,
a counselor who understands me, 
a guide who guards my every step,
a prophet who sees right through me,
a judge who has mercy upon me,
a sister whose care is enduring,
a master who gently reproves me,
a servant who saves and sustains me,
a spirit who lives within me,
a redeemer who offers his life for me...

You're my Lord,
O God,
and you love me...



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Monday Morning Offering: 8/3

Morning Coffee by George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

I offer you my praise
for your patience
when I think that I'm too busy
to make some time for prayer...

I offer you my thanks
for your understanding
when I'm confused and I'm unsure
of where to turn and what to do...

I offer you my praise
for your mercy
when I fail to love
in thought and word and deed...

I offer you my thanks
for everything you've given me,
especially for gifts
that I have yet to find and use...

I offer you my praise
for seeing my friend's face
across your holy table,
for our being one in prayer...

I offer you my thanks
for all the grace you offer me
more often than I know,
in more ways than I can count...

I offer you my praise
for the people in my life
who care for me and help me
when I am most in need...

I offer you my thanks
for the faith I have in you,
and the trust I have in others:
the hope that keeps me going...

I offer you my praise
for always being there for me
when trouble's at my door
and I'm feeling all alone...

I offer you my thanks
for memories of joy,
those souvenirs of grace 
that mend and heal my heart...

I offer you my praise
for your word
in the scriptures, in my prayer
and on the lips of wiser friends...

I offer you my thanks
for your abiding love,
so freely, fully given
and with no strings attached...

I offer you my praise
for interludes of peace 
that come between rough patches
and keep me on your way...

I offer you my thanks
for your strong arm
to help me when I'm weak
and when I'm ready to give up...

I offer you my praise
for your Spirit, always moving,
in my mind and in my thoughts,
in my heart and in my soul...

I offer you my thanks
for your calling me
to stretch and grow and deepen
my relationship with you...

And I offer you my praise and thanks
for all the times you stay by me
when I forget
to offer you my thanks and praise...



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Homily for August 2

Homily for the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
(Scriptures for today's Mass)
Audio for Homily

The Israelites, freed from servitude in Egypt,
are crossing the desert on the way to the Promised Land and:
They. Are. Hungry.
In fact, they are so hungry that they tell Moses
 “You know what, Moses? We had it better as slaves back in Egypt
where we had bread and meat every day.
Maybe we should have stayed there!”

Do we see, do we understand what’s going on here?
This isn’t just about choices on a menu.  
Here are people:
who would trade in their freedom - for the sake of comfort;
who would surrender their autonomy - in return for pleasure;
who would lay aside their beliefs - in favor of personal satisfaction.

Such an ancient account may at least at first sound primitive to us
but it tells a story very much alive in our own day
and it raises questions for how we live.

What’s at stake in this story?
A willingness to concede freedom, autonomy and belief
in the interest of personal comfort, pleasure and satisfaction.
• Is any other dynamic more powerfully steering moral discourse
in our times than this one?
• Is any argument more closely protected
and more difficult to counter,
than a stand in favor of individual and personal liberty?
• Are any of today’s hot-button issues
NOT  heavily influenced and often decided on just this basis?

Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong
with individual and personal liberty.
Christian faith and morals staunchly defend this –
but always, always in the context of our relationship with God.

And our relationship with God speaks directly
to this dynamic in our culture.
Our relationship with God circumscribes our freedom -
in order to protect it for us.
Our relationship with God defines our autonomy –
so that we might be self-giving;
And our relationship with God holds us to live as we believe –
so that order might be preserved and chaos avoided.

- God is not opposed to our comfort
but calls us to comfort others before caring for ourselves.
- God is not opposed to our pleasures
but calls us to find our greatest happiness
in bringing joy to others.
- And God is not opposed to personal satisfaction
but calls us to recognize the Creator
as the source of all our talents,
being careful not to find or take our own satisfaction
at the expense of another’s.

Do you remember hearing last week
of the throng Jesus fed with five barley loaves and two fish?
Some of them are still following Jesus in today’s story.
And Jesus knows they’re looking for more to eat
(they’re hungry!)
but he cautions them not to seek and work
only for food that perishes
but to work for food that nourishes the soul.

What kind of food do you and I work for?
Well, the truth is we do work for food that perishes:
we need to eat and to put food on the table for our families.
And Jesus would have no objection to that.
But he’s asking us if we also work,
if we work as hard,
for food that is truly lasting.

And a good test of that question
would be for each of us to look at:
- how persistently we invest in our own personal freedom;
- how jealously we guard our personal autonomy;
- how honestly we live what we profess to believe.

And an even more telling test would be for us to look at  
how faithfully we allow our relationship with God
- to draw the limits of personal freedom;
- to shape our surrender of self for others;
- to guide us in deferring to God’s word and will
in the choices and decisions we make every day.

In the story from Exodus,
God sends the quail and the manna to feed the hungry Israelites.
Later we’ll read of how they tired of being served
this miraculous food every day,
and began to complain that it was “wretched food.”
A perfect example of comfort, pleasure and personal satisfaction
trumping a people’s relationship with God.

In the gospel Jesus offers us food
greater than the “manna in the desert.”
He offers us “bread from heaven” which he promises
will give us life that will never perish.
It’s that very Bread
with which Jesus will feed us today, at his table.
Our Eucharist is the Bread of which he spoke.

forgoing all comfort, pleasure and personal satisfaction,
generously and graciously allowed
- his freedom to be stripped from him;
- and his personal autonomy to be nailed to the Cross
- so that his faithfulness might be our peace.

What he offered for us on the Cross
he offers us today in the Sacrament of this altar.
Come to his table and eat the Bread of Life
and drink from the Cup of Salvation
for this, indeed, is the food God offers us
 “which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”


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Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 8/2

Photo by Gates Dupont 7/31/2015

I knew, Lord, not to expect any blue
in Friday night's blue moon
but it was, indeed, a full and brilliant moon,
the second in July...

So this year,
full moons came a baker's dozen:
13 for the price of 12
and none would complain about that...

But I wonder how many of the regular 12
shine bright and full above me,
each and every month,
without my ever taking notice...

On how many days
and how many nights,
am I too busy
to lift my eyes,
to marvel and enjoy
the solar system:
revolving and moving,
sparkling and twinkling,
waxing and waning,
rising and setting:
a light show beyond my dreams
and right in my back yard...

No entrance fee, no charge,
no cost beyond the time it takes
to walk outside
and lift my eyes
in gratitude
and lift my heart
in prayerful thanks
for the universe outside my door
and the light you play upon my life
and on my soul...

Let the 13th moon this year, Lord,
remind me of the other 12
and lead me, at least once a month,
to raise my eyes and heart to you
in praise of all your gifts,
in thanksgiving for your light...



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Pause for Prayer: 8/1/15

The first day of August - already?  

Too soon!

Summertime's slipping away 
   and August's debut 
      rudely intrudes on a season 
         I love so much...

Still, this is the day the Lord has made:
   August 1, 2015...

And this day's unique 
   in the whole of my life,
   in the lives of my friends,
   in humankind's history
   and, indeed, unique 
      in the mind of God...

This day has never dawned before
   - and it will never come again:
August 1, 2015
   a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

What would you have me make of this day, Lord?
What would you have me do - or not do?
What would you have me embrace - or set free? 
Where would you have me go - or not go?
How would you have me spend this day,
   August 1, 2015?

How might I make this a better day
   for all the people whose paths cross mine?
How might I mend in the day at hand
   the mistakes I made just a day ago?
What might I do today, Lord,
   to prepare for a peaceful tomorrow?

And, Lord -
   what will you do in my life, today: 
      August 1, 2015?

Open me up to all the ways  
   your Spirit will move within me this day:
      in my mind, in my conscience, 
      in my heart, in my soul,
      and in all of my words and my deeds.
Open me, Lord, to all the ways
   you'll move in my life today...

This is the day you've made, O Lord,
   August 1, 2015:
      help me rejoice and be glad in this day,
      help me spend this day in your peace
      - and come to its end in your grace...



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Not in some or many things, but in all things!

Today is the feast of St. Ignatius (1491-1556).  A key concept in Ignatian spirituality is the work of discernment, of finding God in all things.

Four centuries later this would be echoed in the work and writing of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955), a Jesuit paleontologist:

It's sometimes easier to find God
in a rain drop or in a beautiful sunset
than in one another. 

It may be easier to find God
in things and people we like
than in things and people we don't like. 

The task is to find God
in all of our brothers and sisters
and in all of creation. 

Where have I found God today?
In whom, in what,
have I had a hard time finding God today?

Will I gather with others this Sunday to find God
in his people? 
in his Word?
in the Bread and Cup of the Lord's Table?

Find God in all things...


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On the feast of St. Ignatius: a prayer in song...

Art by Maria Laughlin

Today is the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyala, the founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). "Take Lord, Receive" is John Foley's musical setting of one of St. Ignatius' most well known texts.


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Pause for Prayer: FRIDAY 7/31

Saw some of these signs on the highway today
and I wondered, Lord,
if you wouldn't mind placing some signs like these
on the sides of my life's path...

There will always be bumps
- some big, some small -
but if only you'd give me a warning, a hint,
a clue of what lies ahead...

A sign to caution me,
warn and advise me
that trouble's ahead,
a bump in the road,
all set to upset
the smooth ride I'm on...

Just a sign to slow
my pace and my hurry,
my waste-making haste,
my rushing and speeding
and failing to see
the bumps ahead on my path...

And sometimes it's you, Lord,
who put the bumps there,
speed bumps for slowing me down
and giving me:
   time to rest
     and renew my strength;
   time to be mindful
      of those around me;
   time to be faithful
      to you in prayer;
   time to rest
      and ponder with care
      the journey I'm on
      and why I'm rushing,
      and tripping and falling
      on bumps in the road
      - getting nowhere fast...

So, just slow me down, Lord:
big bumps or small,
I know there will always be some...

Just slow me down
to make the time
to be mindful of you,
my neighbor, myself
and the road I'm traveling
home to you...


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Word for the Weekend: August 2

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This first weekend in August brings us to the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time.

(Recall that in this stretch of the Sunday scriptures in Year B, the lectionary sets aside Mark for five weeks and offers us passages from the "Bread of Life Discourse" in John's gospel.)

"Bread from heaven" is the image that connects the story of manna in the desert (in today's first lesson from Exodus) with Jesus naming himself as the bread of life in the gospel pericope from John.

The second reading is from Ephesians and invites us to put away our old selves and our former ways of life and to put on a new person, created in God's grace. Wouldn't that be great to be able to "take off" our old selves and bad habits as if we were taking off a coat and putting on a new coat of goodness and truth? That's Ephesians' invitation this week.

Check here for the scripture texts and background material on them and here for tips to help children prepare to hear the Word this weekend.


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