Here are excerpts from the January 2015 issue of The Long Island Catholic Magazine. You can subscribe to the magazine here.
Putting human faces on the injustice of abortion
by Rick Hinshaw
One of the difficulties in sensitizing people to the injustice of abortion is our inability to relate to the child in the womb.
Even though we all started our lives the very same way, we can’t remember our time in the womb, and so we have no empathy with the unborn baby, and no sense of sadness over the destruction of human lives we convince ourselves never actually existed.
Last October, however, two remarkably courageous women visited us here on Long Island, each putting a human face — their own — on the injustice of abortion.
I first met Gianna Jessen 20 years ago, when she was 17 — the same age, she told that evening’s gathering at the National Right to Life Committee’s “Proudly Pro-Life” dinner, as her mother had been when she tried to have Gianna aborted.
But “in my case, it was a shocking surprise,” Gianna recounted last October at a gathering at St. Joseph Church in Garden City hosted by the parish Respect Life ministry. “I didn’t die.
“They tried to burn me, suffocate me,” she said of the attempted saline abortion. “But God gave me a very different sort of fire: an eternal fire.” Through therapy and the support of her loving adoptive family, she overcame the hardships of cerebral palsy caused by the saline poison, to become a talented singer, and a powerful public speaker and advocate for life, for family, and for Christ.
Today we know Gianna is not alone — that amid the more than 50 million lives destroyed by legal abortion in America over the last 45 years, other babies too have struggled successfully to survive these pre-natal attacks on their lives. We see many states endeavoring to pass Born Alive Infant Protection laws to protect these abortion survivors; even as we see pro-abortion politicians — including, as Gianna pointed out, then-Illinois state Senator Barack Obama — opposing such laws, evidently unwilling to allow such children to live and show the world the human faces of those they have targeted for destruction.
Rebecca Kiessling was targeted for abortion, she told a gathering at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Hicksville last October, because she was “conceived out of a brutal rape.” Her life was spared, she said, only because abortion was still illegal then (she was born July 7, 1969) and her mother, after seeking out several illegal abortionists, determined that they would be unsafe. Placed for adoption, today Rebecca is a family attorney, public speaker, and director of “Save the 1”, a non-profit dedicated to defending what she says are the one percent of babies conceived in “hard cases” (i.e., rape and incest) for which even ostensibly pro-life politicians advocate “exceptions” allowing them to be aborted.
The pro-life laws of that time saved her life, Rebecca observed. Yet today these ostensibly pro-life politicians are telling her that her life was worthless, that the law should have allowed her to be killed.
“My life matters,” she says in response — as do the lives of the thousands of others similarly conceived. Twenty-five thousand women, she said, become pregnant through rape every year, and fully one-third of them give birth to their child.
Even her birth mother, with whom she has connected in adulthood, has had a powerful change of heart, Rebecca recounted, telling her, tearfully, “I’m so glad I had you.”
Of course, the terrible trauma of rape can only be made more horrific by the realization that a pregnancy has resulted. But the “solution” of abortion — so easy for the politician to invoke — often becomes a deeper, more lasting trauma for the innocent woman. And it is always an injustice for the innocent child.
“The rapist is not my creator,” Rebecca declares forcefully; and “In America, we do not punish innocent people for someone else’s crime.”
Rebecca works to give true voice to the rights and dignity of women.
“To be pro-woman is to be pro-life,” she says. “I’m a woman. Now tell me what good are all my rights as a woman, if I don’t have the right to life?”
Gianna Jessen and Rebecca Kiessling — two living, human survivors of our abortion culture. All who advocate for legal abortion ought to first look into the beautiful faces of these two women, or the thousands of others like them, and tell them that — in the name of “women’s rights” — they should not have had the right to live.
– Rick Hinshaw is the editor of The Long Island Catholic magazine. Read his blog at www.licatholic.org.
4 steps to ‘getting something’ out of Mass
by Sister Ann Shields
“I don’t ‘get much’ out of Mass.”
“I really wonder why I go.”
“I go because I have to.”
Do any of those sentiments reflect your own mind-set on Sunday morning or on holy days of obligation? It is not God’s intention for those He loves to remain in that way of thinking. I am going to propose several steps to take in order to create the right “soil” so that God can touch your heart and mind and lead you into true worship.
We believe that the holy sacrifice of the Mass is the re-enactment of Christ’s death on Calvary – the unbloody sacrifice. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us this: “The Eucharist is the source and the summit of the Christian life … It is the culmination both of God’s action sanctifying the world in Christ and of the worship we offer to Christ and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit.” (CCC #1324-1325)
If this is so, and it is, then we need to prepare for Mass.
Slowly reflect, by using a missalette, on each reading for the upcoming Sunday –read slowly, ask yourself how this applies to you. Ask God for grace to change or to repent for some wrongdoing or to grow in the area the Gospel addresses. The word of God is living, active, sharper than any two-edged sword. It conveys the grace that will help you to convert in a particular area or give you strength to fight a stronghold of sin in your life. Try to find the time to read the readings out loud. Ask God to show you what He is asking of you. What He asks always leads to greater life, freedom and peace. He always walks with us through the battle of sin to victory. God’s word is a powerful weapon against the devil and personal sin.
Take time on Friday or Saturday of a given week and examine your conscience; ask for greater freedom from the bonds of sin. Take advantage of God’s invitation and forgiveness for the sins of the past week. Often, the sacrament of reconciliation is available on Saturday afternoons or Sunday mornings. If you have offended God in a serious way that week, or been away from the sacraments for a while, take advantage of the sacrament of reconciliation. Remember, God never condemns. He seeks to be merciful and to extend forgiveness, but we need to humble ourselves and ask for it.
Before Mass begins, kneel before the Blessed Sacrament and ask God to open your heart to receive all He wants to give you during this liturgy.
Read the opening prayer. It’s the first prayer the priest prays after the penitential rite. That prayer indicates the intentions of all Catholics all over the world during the celebration of that Sunday Mass. Open your heart to receive those graces. Most of the time we don’t even hear the prayer because we are arriving late, we are distracted or we are talking to someone. If you have any of those habits, begin right now to change them. Otherwise, you are not praying with the mind of the whole Church and the grace (God sharing himself with us) can go right over your head, so to speak. We need to put our will behind what we pray. Just saying words is acting like a Pharisee, and you know what Jesus said to them!
Take these steps and I guarantee that Mass will open your heart and mind to the goodness and mercy of God. You will meet a Shepherd who wants to bring you safely home to Him – follow Him!
– Sister Ann Shields is a renowned author and a member of the Servants of God’s Love. Questions can be addressed to Sister Ann Shields, Renewal Ministries, 230 Collingwood, Suite 240, Ann Arbor, MI 48103. You can order her new book, More of the Holy Spirit, for $12 at www.renewalministries.net.