Saturday, October 22, 2011

The End of Marriage & Parenting? (BC Courier Times, 11/25/11)

Among 10 obituaries in the October 19th Courier Times, 5 particularly struck me:

  • a 78 year old gentleman, who was "survived by his beloved wife of 55 years," as well as their 4 kids, 15 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren;

  • a beloved 91 year old lady, who was "survived by her husband of 65 years," as well as their 2 children and 6 grandchildren;

  • a 95 year old beloved gentleman, who was preceded in death by his wife of "52 years" and survived by their 2 children, 4 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren;

  • yet another beloved gentleman, who was preceded in death by his wife of "65 years" and survived by their 3 children, 6 grandchildren, and 6 great-grandchildren;

  • still another beloved gentleman of 84 years, who was survived by his wife of "60 years," their 2 children, and 8 grandchildren.

The Bible tells us that it is a great blessing to "live to see your children’s children" (Psalm 128: 6). These good people were blessed to see their children's children's children! I am awed by these testimonies to fidelity, to "till death do us part"ness, and to fruitfulness. Yet, I am left to wonder whether our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will be able to read of similar heroes of marriage and parenting in their times. Recently, several magazine articles seemed to sound a death knell for marriage and parenting, as we have long known them:

  • In the future, according to Pamela Haag, "More marriages will have a conversation about monogamy, rather than just assuming it is the default....I like to entertain the idea of a revival of the mistress and lover roles in society....It's challenging to have a non-monogamous, committed relationship; it's challenging to have a monogamous, committed relationship. Forever is a long time. It pays to be flexible" (The Role Non-Monogamy Will Play in the Future of Marriage, The Atlantic, October 2011).

  • Kate Bolick spoke of how "we keep putting marriage off....According to the Pew Research Center, a full 44 percent of Millennials and 43 percent of Gen Xers think that marriage is becoming obsolete. Even more momentously, we no longer need husbands to have children, nor do we have to have children if we don’t want to....News stories about polyamory, 'ethical nonmonogamy,' and the like pop up with increasing frequency" (All the Single Ladies, The Atlantic, November 2011).

  • While acknowledging that "in September, The New York Times reported on sperm banks’ creating 100-kid clusters around a single donor, raising questions about not only disease, but accidental incest" and noting a "first generation of donor-kids....airing unhappiness at feeling 'half-adopted' and aching at the thought that their fathers could be anyone," Tony Dokoupil seemed somewhat admiring of so-called sperm donation (You Got Your Sperm Where?, Newsweek, October 2, 2011).

These three articles were certainly correct, in that we have indeed seen monumental shifts in marriage and parenting:

  • It is no secret that Americans have become less likely to marry and more likely to divorce. In 1961, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported a marriage rate of 8.5 per 1000 people and a divorce rate of 2.3 per 1000 people. Currently, the CDC reports a marriage rate of 6.8 per 1000 people and a divorce rate of 3.4 per 1000 people.

  • As per the CDC, 391,282 cases of STDs were reported by state health departments in 1961. A half century later, the CDC "estimates that 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24." The CDC now estimates 48.5 more times NEW STD cases each year, than TOTAL STD cases a half century ago.

With the passing of the 78 year old gentleman "survived by his beloved wife of 55 years," the 91 year old lady "survived by her husband of 65 years," the 95 year old beloved gentleman preceded in death by his wife of "52 years," the gentleman preceded in death by his bride of "65 years," and the 84 year old gentleman survived by his wife of "60 years," we have indeed lost much. we have indeed lost much. We can join their 13 children, 39 grandchildren, and 15 great-grandchildren in recognizing their powerful testimonies to fidelity, to "till death do us part"ness, and to fruitfulness.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Man for All Seasons - Especially this One!

How about some films on the patron saints of attorneys, civil servants, politicians, & statesmen? Hey wait a second! We are talking about ONE person - the beheaded lord chancellor of England under Henry VIII!

As per the Catholic Encyclopedia, it was only after deeply serious contemplation that Thomas More " be a chaste husband rather than an impure priest....The question of religious vocation being disposed of, More threw himself into his work at the Bar and scored immediate success....In October, 1529, More succeeded Wolsey as Chancellor of England, a post never before held by a layman....As chancellor it was his duty to enforce the laws against was the vices of heretics that he hated, not their persons....

[In 1530] "came the royal proclamation ordering the clergy to acknowledge Henry as 'Supreme Head' of the Church....[More's] firm opposition to Henry's designs in regard to the divorce, the papal supremacy, and the laws against heretics, speedily lost him the royal favour, and in May, 1532, he resigned his post of Lord Chancellor after holding it less than three years....For the next eighteen months More lived in seclusion and gave much time to controversial writing. Anxious to avoid a public rupture with Henry he stayed away from Anne Boleyn's coronation....Neutrality, however, did not suit Henry....

"In March, 1534, the Act of Succession was passed which required all who should be called upon to take an oath acknowledging the issue of Henry and Anne as legitimate heirs to the throne, and to this was added a clause repudiating 'any foreign authority, prince or potentate'. On 14 April, More was summoned to Lambeth to take the oath and, on his refusal, was committed to the custody of the Abbot of Westminster. Four days later he was removed to the Tower....In June, Rich, the solicitor-general, held a conversation with More and, in reporting it, declared that More had denied Parliament's power to confer ecclesiastical supremacy on Henry....On 1 July, More was indicted for high treason....More denied the chief charges of the indictment, which was enormously long, and denounced [Richard] Rich, the solicitor-general and chief witness against him as a perjuror....The story of his last days on of the tenderest beauty and should be read in full; certainly no martyr ever surpassed him in fortitude"

The great play, A Man for All Seasons, went on to become a classic film, winning the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1966 (Yup, the very same academy that has given that very same award to such other illustrious "classics" as Midnight Cowboy (1969), American Beauty (1999), and No Country for Old Men (2007)). As per Alison Weir, "More had a talent for friendship and was essentially charming and courteous, yet he could be scathing when aroused, and he was overfound of using scatalogical terms when reviling heretics and others of whom he disapproved." Some great lines from A Man for All Seasons include:

  • (In response to objection over his use of the word, "heretic":) "It's not a likeable word. It's not a likeable thing!"

  • "The nobility of England, my lord, would have snored through the Sermon on the Mount."

  • (To his betrayer, Richard Rich:) "Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world...But for Wales!"

But most powerfully,

  • (Pointing to himself:) "this is not the stuff of which martyrs are made." WRONG!

  • "I Die His Majesty's Good Servant, but God's First"

As noted by one blogger, it is rather amazing that "When called on to choose his favorite film, the potty-mouthed director of rude little movies like CLERKS and DOGMA chooses the story of Saint Thomas More." Click here for an amazing 2001 New York Times interview with Kevin Smith.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

"The Healing Presence of Christ in the Practice of Medicine" (an audio link)

Dr. John Bruchalski is founder and head of the Tepeyac Family Center in Northern Virginia. I first heard of Dr. Bruchalski, after he founded Divine Mercy Care Pharmacy - one of the nation's only pharmacies refusing to do ANY business in contraceptives. As reported by CBS News on February 2, 2009,

  • "Whether Catholics will be drawn to the pharmacy is uncertain. According to a Gallup poll published last year for an extensive study of U.S. Catholicism called American Catholics Today, 75 percent of U.S. Catholics said you can still be a good Catholic even if you don't obey church teachings on birth control."
Shame on all of us that our brothers and sisters are so abysmally informed about the Truth which would set them free! I believe that this situation is directly related to the apparently poor response of Catholics to heed Cardinal DiNardo's call to object to HHS mandates, which would effectively snuff out conscience protections and assault religious liberty. My personal opinion is that ads for pharmacies which stock abortifacient & contraceptives - which appear in so many parish bulletins - perpetuate the egregious error that this all of this is simply no big deal! In his 10/25/07 address to the International Congress of Catholic Pharmacists, the Holy Father instead reminded us that

  • pharmacists are called to be "intermediaries between doctor and patient; they have an educational role with patients to teach them the proper dosage of their medication and especially to acquaint them with the ethical implications of the use of certain drugs. In this context, it is not possible to anaesthetize consciences, for example, concerning the effects of particles whose purpose is to prevent an embryo's implantation or to shorten a person's life. The pharmacist must invite each person to advance humanity, so that every being may be protected from the moment of conception until natural death, and that medicines may fulfil properly their therapeutic role....

  • "In the moral domain, your Federation is invited to address the issue of conscientious objection, which is a right your profession must recognize, permitting you not to collaborate either directly or indirectly by supplying products for the purpose of decisions that are clearly immoral such as, for example, abortion or euthanasia....

  • "It is also your duty to help young people who enter the different pharmaceutical professions to reflect on the increasingly delicate ethical implications of their activities and decisions. To this end, it is important that all Catholic health-care professionals and people of good will join forces to deepen their formation, not only at a technical level but also with regard to bioethical issues, as well as to propose this formation to the profession as a whole."
In a speech given at Christendom College, Dr. Bruchalski provides a disturbing and provocative overview of the state of Catholic health care (The Healing Presence of Christ in the Practice of Medicine, July 2008). How is it possible that absolutely prohibited procedures have ever been performed on Catholic hospital grounds? When there are so many Catholic physicians, how is it possible that there are only "69 obstetricians & NFP only doctors out of 80,000 in the United States"? Insightfully, Dr. Bruchalski discusses the "crisis of the laity in medicine,"referring to confusions between the ministry of the ordained and the apostolate of the laity.

Dr. Bruchalski does not stop at diagnosing the problems. He provides an awe-inspiring prescriptive call to return to the Truth!

The Beatitudes from "Jesus of Nazareth"


Use of Emergency So-Called Contraceptives in Catholic Hospitals for Those Reporting Rape

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Book & Film Reviews, pt 2

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12/12/08 Interview with Rev. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D. of the National Catholic Bioethics Center

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