Friday, March 27, 2015

Medjugorje's Risen Christ Statue

Medjugorje's Risen Christ statue

With the approach of Easter next week, I thought it fitting today to post about Medjugorje's Risen Christ statue. If you are new to Medjugorje or have never heard of this statue, it is a thirty foot solid bronze statue located in the area adjacent to the back altar of Saint James Church. It draws many people to it and the line ups are long, sometimes taking over two hours for pilgrims to finally get the statue. If you are planning to go to Medjugorje, on route or already there as of this post, I recommend you include a visit to the Risen Christ statue as part of your pilgrimage itinerary. You can find it by walking down the interlocking stone path flanked by Medjugorje's Luminous Mysteries Mosaics.

In addition to the beautiful sculpture there is something else about this statue that draws pilgrims to it each day; the unexplained and miraculous seeping of water near Christ's right knee. Droplets of water ooze out through a pinhole from the statue every few seconds, everyday, all day long and throughout the night. Pilgrims patiently line up during all hours of the day and night, in the sunshine or the rain and during the colder months as well, all done in an effort to get their turn to see and experience this phenomenon.

You might be asking yourself, what exactly does this phenomenon represent? From a faith perspective, one can only conclude that it is a daily miracle. It is clearly impossible for water to constantly ooze out from a solid bronze statue. Science could easily substantiate this, but more importantly, the focus should be placed on why God has given this miracle to Medjugorje. 

Some see this as a much needed sign from Heaven, drawing further attention to the apparitions of Medjugorje. For others who are somewhat skeptical, this is tangible proof of something special happening in Medjugorje. Perhaps this is God's way of converting the "doubting Thomas" pilgrim who needs to see and touch for himself/herself something miraculous; that with such an experience will come the realization that there is something profound and unexplainable going on in Medjugorje. In my view the Risen Christ statue's daily miracle is God's way of making His presence known; and in part, validating the apparitions in the process.

Two of my fellow pilgrims at the Risen Christ statue, Medjugorje June'2014. 

Yet for others, the phenomenon at the Risen Christ statue could also be a consolation from God to pilgrims who have already been given the gift of faith and fully believe in the apparitions of Medjugorje. The experience of seeing and touching the water becomes a faith strengthening moment; an affirmation of their belief in the apparitions. What comes to mind in writing about this is a well known quote from the Spanish saint, Saint Teresa of Avila who stated, "Seek not the consolations of God, but the God of consolations." What does this mean for pilgrims at the Risen Christ statue? Simply put, absorb the moment, let the experience be a faith strengthening time, try not to become too overwhelmed by it and most importantly, pray to God and Our Lady to help you understand the significance and purpose for your pilgrimage and faith journey.

You might have noticed from the photo above, that some pilgrims bring a bag with them to the statue. They do this because they want their respective items to come into contact with the seeping water. As to what pilgrims actually bring, linen hand cloths are the most common items. In addition pilgrims bring Rosaries, prayer cards, photos of loved ones, necklaces and just about anything else that is to be worn or carried around on a daily basis. Many pilgrims bring items with the intention of giving them to loved ones and friends. It is not uncommon for pilgrims to bring several of the aforementioned items; remaining at the statue for at least fifteen minutes. Time at the Risen Christ statue is one of patience and understanding.

Linen hand cloths available in Medjugorje for the Risen Christ statue

To accommodate pilgrims at the Risen Christ statue, several Medjugorje shops sell linen hand cloths. The photo above is one of many that I purchased in Medjugorje. The dimension of the cloths are approximately five square inches; folded to a quarter of that size they easily fit into a prayer book, wallet or purse. You may want to consider purchasing several of your own, wipe the water from the statue and give them away as a present to family and friends. 

Visiting the Risen Christ statue once is not a guarantee that you will not desire to visit it again before your departure. This is something that I experienced and it was shared by many of my fellow pilgrims. One pilgrim's story in particular comes to mind. The pilgrim is the gentleman in the previous photo, Alan, wearing the crimson shirt and beige shorts. I only had the privilege of journeying with him for three days, but we made the most of it, especially on the last night. The third day was totally his. As a courtesy, I expressed that he did not have to feel obligated to negotiate the day with me, but perhaps he should spend it alone and then come nightfall, we could reconnect and spend the night in prayer. It was an offer well received and accepted.

Night descended and one of the last items for Alan's pilgrimage itinerary was to revisit the Risen Christ statue. Alan had purchased several hand cloths and other religious items he wanted to put into contact with the water. So we visited the Risen Christ statue and it became abundantly clear from the exceptionally long line up that waiting to get his turn would consume much of his last remaining precious hours in Medjugorje. We decided it was best to get something to eat and then recite the Rosary at the Original Blue Cross. Our plan was to return to the Risen Christ at 2:00am and that is exactly what we did. Much to our surprise, there was still quite a long line up, but no where near what it was previously. 

In the early hours of the morning, the Risen Christ statue is quite a tranquil and peaceful place: the intense heat of the day has dissipated, there is no chatter from pilgrims, and the back altar of St. James is silent. Just the quietness of the early morning hours and the refreshing cooler air. Alan was in line and it looked from the line's movement that it would be approximately forty minutes before Alan had his chance again. In consideration of other pilgrims, I decided it was best to sit on one of the perimeter benches that surround the statue and patiently wait it out.

Eventually, Alan got his turn and the opportunity to spend as much time as he wanted to at the statue. Although neither of us expressed this in any way, it was abundantly clear to both of us that going to the Risen Christ statue was a beautiful gift for Alan's last night in Medjugorje. He was at total peace and he remained that way for the rest of the night. We returned to the Original Blue Crosses for further prayer and eventually headed back to our pension. Before Alan's taxi arrived, I said my "goodbyes" and wished him a safe return home.

If you do plan to go Medjugorje, the Risen Christ statue is certainly one of the many locations you will want to visit; it will be time well spent.

Our Lady Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Father Slavko Barbarić's Book "Pray With The Heart" - An Introduction To An Ideal Prayer Manual For Medjugorje Pilgrims

If you are planning a pilgrimage to Medjugorje, on route or presently there as of this post, I would like to recommend Father Slavko Barbarić's book, Pray With The Heart. It is a book that was specifically written for pilgrims while in Medjugorje. Whether you are by yourself, with a few friends or part a group during your pilgrimage, Pray With The Heart is an ideal prayer manual. I have partly based my recommendation on my own pilgrimage experience while in Medjugorje. This book proved to be a much needed prayer companion that greatly enhanced my prayer time and helped me to encounter the Holy Trinity and Our lady anew. This book is available in Medjugorje at the Franciscan Book Store, which is next to the Information Center and Pošta (Post Office).

Prayer is essential in our daily lives and even more so during a pilgrimage. Father Slavko noted that all pilgrims in Medjugorje are called to prayer in the morning and the evening, to individual and common prayer, but to prayer with the heart as well. To pray with the heart requires time. As Fr. Slavko stated, every prayer can be recited quickly without having met Jesus and Mary. This runs the risk of not only wasting time, but of never coming to like prayer; therefore, it is necessary to find time for prayer in order to pray with the heart.

Father Slavko's book is not about prayer, but is itself a prayer. It does not deal with how it should be prayed, but "is prayed as every Christian believer should pray - from heart to heart, from soul to soul, and from the painful cry of a miserable man to the merciful response of the God-man." (5) To pray with this book will greatly assist each pilgrim to enter into the spirit of prayer and enrich the pilgrimage experience. 

To give you an idea of how rich this "prayer manual" is, here are some of the prayers it includes: prayers to prepare for Mass and thanksgiving prayers after Mass; a thorough examination of conscience and prayers before confession; Stations of The Cross for the climb up Križevac (Cross Mountain); the Rosary while ascending up Brdo Ukazanja (Apparition Hill), and while at the Blue Crosses; prayers for fast days; prayers while in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and of the Holy Cross; healing prayers; prayers to the Holy Spirit; a consecration prayer to Our Lady; and morning and evening prayers that help pilgrims begin and end their days with peace, hope and in the love of the Father and Our Blessed Mother. A common thread running throughout all the prayers is Our Lady's messages, urging each pilgrim to devote himself/herself to God through the Virgin Mary. 

Father Slavko provided the perfect pilgrimage guidelines upon arrival in Medjugorje. In the chapter, The Places of Prayer in Medjugorje, he stated that whether you come alone or in a group, when you arrive in Medjugorje, go to St. James Church and pray, and pay homage to Jesus. Father Slavko stressed that this is the "first step you can take in Medjugorje, to pray in the church and to meet Jesus like the shepherds in Bethlehem did." (13) He encouraged each pilgrim to open their heart completely. He also stated that a good pilgrimage beginning should also include confession. In addition, he noted that it is essential to take part in Mass and gives thanks afterwards.

At the peak of Cross Mountain (Križevac)

From St. James Church, Fr. Slavko recommended that pilgrims head for Križevac. Regardless if you are alone or within a group setting, strive to pray immediately as you leave the church. The walk from the church to and up Križevac will be like the road from Bethlehem to Calvary. Upon arrival at Križevac, the Stations of the Cross awaits you. Take your time to unite yourself to Jesus, which this book's Stations of the Cross prayers will be in great aid of. At the top, regardless of the weather conditions, Fr. Slavko encouraged everyone to:
Take courage. Pray your fullest under the Cross. Cry your heart out because of your sins. Open your heart before the Cross and you will know what it means. In this booklet you will also find a prayer of adoration before the Cross. Pray. Never mind the time. Whoever perseveres under the Cross, can go further, receive new assignments and have new experiences. (14)
Father Slavko noted that the view from the top of Križevac opens wide in all directions, especially toward Brdo Ukazanja (Apparition Hill). He encouraged pilgrims to climb it as well and to open their hearts again. He recommended that pilgrims repeat the climbs to both locations, as with each new climb there is a new experience. 

Apparition Hill (Brdo Ukazanja)

For those of you who do not know Father Slavko Barbarić, he is a legend in the Medjugorje community, and one of Medjugorje's most beloved Franciscan friars. He began working with pilgrims in Medjugorje in 1982, conducting numerous spiritual exercises and provided many talks about Medjugorje all over the world. His written contributions include many articles for different publications as well as books on the spirituality of Medjugorje, translated in more than twenty languages and sold in the millions. Father Slavko died on November 24, 2000 on Križevac after having completed the Way of The Cross with parishioners. On Križevac, there is a commemorative boulder and plaque marking the spot of his passing. To view this location, please visit my other post, An Introduction To Father Slavko Barbarić's Book - In The School of Love

May Our Lady Queen of Peace, clear the way for your pilgrimage to and guide you in Medjugorje.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Queen Of Peace - The Medjugorje Documentary

If you have been thinking about a pilgrimage to Medjugorje and wondering what to expect, today's post is definitely for you. The Queen of Peace documentary is one of "the" resources that thoroughly explains the pilgrimage experience. Whether you have been called to go to Medjugorje by Our Lady or you just want to know more about these apparitions, I highly recommend this documentary. The Queen of Peace was filmed and edited by Christina Georgotas of Bambiina Productions and is available for purchase on line at In the words of Wayne Weibleone of Medjugorje's most well known pilgrims and author on the subject matter, the Queen of Peace is a "must see documentary." 

This documentary is for all who have been called by Our Lady to make the pilgrimage: those diagnosed with cancer or some other serious sickness; those discerning a vocation; those in need of emotional, physical and spiritual healing; those who are facing a crisis; searching souls; skeptics; agnostics; and those who need to "recharge their spiritual battery," and strengthen their faith.

The Queen of Peace documentary captures so much of what each pilgrim can look forward to each day in Medjugorje, most of which is a frequent reoccurrence and forms part of a daily retreat: praying at Apparition Hill (Brdo Ukazanja), climbing Cross Mountain (Križevac), the Blue Crosses, the Daily Prayer Program that includes morning Mass in English, confessions available every evening prior to and during the International Mass, Rosary recitation, adoration, Veneration of the Cross and healing prayers. In addition, you may be afforded an opportunity to attend a private audience with one of the visionaries, attend Vicka's talk to pilgrims at the Saint Pope John Paul II orphanage or be apart of a private apparition with one of the visionaries. No matter what your purpose will be in Medjugorje, once there, the common thread that runs through the respective journeys of all pilgrims is the lived experience of receiving the many graces that have been bestowed upon Medjugorje. It won't be long before the words of Saint Pope John Paul II are felt and understood, "Medjugorje is the spiritual center of the world."

Chapter One The Introduction: The Most Important Event Occurring In The World
The Introduction is partly a testimonial by Wayne Weible, one of Medjugorje's most widely known and respected pilgrims. It is fitting that Wayne Weible introduce the Queen of Peace, since he too was first introduced to Medjugorje by a film. It was a film that began his own conversion process to Catholicism and life long work for Our Lady. Wayne shares the initial conversion experience as the documentary takes the viewer on a historical and cultural tour of Medjugorje. Wayne ends his introduction with one of the most important things to remember and understand about Medjugorje, "Medjugorje is the culmination of all apparitions, Fatima, Lourdes, of all time; this is a continuation and fulfillment of Fatima. More than thirty years now she will be appearing here, having come almost everyday. This is the most important event occurring in the world."

Chapter Two Mirjana and Ivanka: The First Days of the Apparitions and The Early Years in Yugoslavia
If you have ever wondered what it would be like to experience a private audience with a visionary, this documentary will not disappoint. This chapter begins with a private audience talk by the visionary Mirjana Soldo to pilgrims at her pension. Additionally, there is footage of Ivanka Elez, the first of the visionaries to see Our Lady on Apparition Hill (Brdo Ukazanja), speaking to pilgrims at a general audience talk at the back altar of St. James Church. The use of a spilt screen allows the viewer to obtain a visual of where the events occurred as Ivanka describes those initial moments of the first apparition. The documentary goes back and forth between Mirjana and Ivanka as they both describe that initial encounter with Our Lady, their interaction with each other and the other four visionaries on June 24, 1981.

In addition to Mirjana and Ivanka, the viewer is introduced to the other four visionaries: Marija Lunetti, Jakov Colo, Ivan Dragicevic and Vicka Mijatovic. The viewer gets an opportunity to see the visionaries when they were quite young and what Medjugorje looked like over thirty years ago. 

You might be wondering what Our Lady looks like during the apparitions. All six visionaries have given a description of Her physical appearance. Here is the description given by the visionaries: Our Lady has dark hair, blue eyes, a long grey dress with a white veil; she stands on a small cloud and around her head there is a crown of twelve stars. Our Lady has introduced herself as the Blessed Mother, The Queen of Peace.

One of the most important aspects underlying these apparitions is included in this documentary; that is, although we are living in a time of grace, Our Lady has stated that tribulations are to come. The viewer is also introduced to the ten secrets that Our Lady has given to the visionaries, one of which includes a permanent visible and indestructible sign on Apparition Hill (Brdo Ukazanja), the location of Our Lady's first apparition.

Chapter Three: Medical Testing Performed on the Visionaries
If you are somewhat intrigued by the initial photo display of the trailer, this chapter will surely satisfy that intrigue. That photo is of the visionary Ivanka, prepared with scientific apparatus, prior to an apparition for the purpose of running tests while the actual apparition occurred. These and other types of medical, psychological and scientific tests were frequent occurrences and have made the Medjugorje apparitions the most widely tested apparitions in the history of the Catholic Church. 

Leading this chapter on the discussion of the apparition tests is Daniel Klimek, a scholar and journalist who explains that the extensive testing has made Medjugorje important both on, " academic, intellectual level; and it distinguishes Medjugorje from former Marian apparitions." Klimek has written a detailed article on the testing performed on the visionaries which can be read at Mystic The details of Klimek's article will certainly help remove any skepticism that anyone may have had regarding these apparitions. At a very minimum, no one will be able to put forth a compelling argument that the apparitions are false or fraudulent.

Klimek explains how several international medical teams from France, Italy, Canada, England, United States, Germany and Austria went to Medjugorje, some of whom for the purpose to discredit the apparitions. All efforts have proven to be unsuccessful. Citing several tests that have used very advanced technologies, Klimek states that the tests verified the visionaries were not experiencing an epilepsy, sleep or dream state or hallucinations. Another test he cited was one that measured pain. The visionaries responded properly to minor pain at sensitive parts of the body, whereas when they were experiencing the apparitions, they did not respond at all. Polygraph tests have also been conducted against possible deception and fraud; none of the visionaries failed any of their tests.

Klimek concludes this segment with the statement that scientists have been baffled by the tests and have realized that the visionaries have been experiencing profound ecstatic states that scientists do not understand.

Chapter Four: Messages of the Queen of Peace
This chapter begins with the visionary Marija at a very young age, providing the viewer with an introduction to the apparitions. The chapter then captures two orientations in progress: one on a coach bus coming from the respective airport location driving into Medjugorje and the other, in Medjugorje outside of St. James Church. When travelling with pilgrimage companies to Medjugorje, orientations as shown in this chapter are a standard include for pilgrims.

At one of these orientations, the guide explains how the third apparition, which is marked by a wooden cross on Apparition Hill (Brdo Ukanzanja), Our Lady communicated Her first message to Marija on Friday, June 26, 1981,  "Peace, Peace, Peace! Be reconciled! Only Peace. Make your peace with God and among yourselves. For that, it is necessary to believe, to pray, to fast, and to go to confession." The chapter continues with selected messages from Our Lady over the years. I do not think that enough can be said with respect to the importance of Our Lady's messages and this chapter certainly stresses that. If you have yet to discover and read the messages, a web site dedicated to Medjugorje provides the complete list from 1981 to present day. Please visit's Our Lady's Messages.

Chapters Five To Twelve
This documentary is so rich in its content that to provide details on each would require several blog posts. To give you an idea of what awaits those who purchase this DVD, here is a list of what the other chapters include:

  • Chapter Five - Tim Haley's Testimony: A Conversion Story
  • Chapter Six - Alberto Moreno's Testimony: God's Love
  • Chapter Seven - Miraculous Physical Healings
  • Chapter Eight - Artie Boyle's Testimony: Metastatic Renal Cell Carcinoma
  • Chapter Nine - The Beauty of Our Lady
  • Chapter Ten - Mirjana's Monthly Apparition
  • Chapter Eleven - The Secrets
  • Chapter Twelve - Medjugorje Through the Years: Are you Listening?

Chapter Thirteen: Wrap-Up The Continuation and Fulfillment of Fatima
The concluded six minutes contains some of the most important information regarding what Medjugorje is all about. Below are some of the details included in this final chapter:
  • Mirjana Soldo - The documentary films her at her pension where she explains that Our Lady is the mother of all of us. When Our Lady addresses the visionaries, it is not specific to any one individual. Rather Our Lady always addresses the visionaries as "Dear Children," which is to be understand as an address to the entire world.
  • Medjugorje Guide "Miki" - He explains the message of hope for the world. He states, "Let us pray for our families, let us pray for our children because there is hope; with prayers and fasting, you can achieve anything; even wars can be stopped." 
  • Vicka Mijatovic - A particularly interesting segment where Vicka talks about Our Lady's messages first, as a young woman in Croatian during a film interview, and then many years later in Italian during her usual general audience at the Saint Pope John Paul II orphanage. 
  • Artie Boyle - He explains Our Lady's "little stones," Her five main messages: Pray with the heart, the Rosary everyday; Eucharist; Holy Bible; Fasting; Monthly Confession
  • Wayne Weible - He appeals to young people, that they need to know that God is very real. Drawing from his own personal conversion experience, he explains that at some point in the lives of young people, there is going to be that moment, just as it came to Wayne, where they are going to realize God is real. Their hearts will be opened and only then will they be able to discern and understand what is going in Medjugorje. He reiterates how Medjugorje is the most important event occurring in the world; that Medjugorje is the culmination of all other Marian apparitions, the continuation and fulfillment of Fatima. Reinforcing this point the documentary shows a segment from Mirjana's interview in which she quotes Our Lady, "What I started in Fatima, I will finish in Medjugorje, my heart will triumph."
I can tell you from my own experience, that prior to going to Medjugorje, I had watched this documentary and it proved to be pivotal in helping me to understand Medjugorje and anticipate what to expect during my pilgrimage. This documentary is an encouragement for all those who have been called by Our Lady and perfectly captures why Medjugorje is hope for the world.

Our Lady Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Mystici Corporis Christi - Pope Pius XII's Encyclical On The Doctrine Of The Mystical Body Of Christ

Pope Pius XII in 1924. His papacy was from 1939-1958.

Pope Pius XII's encyclical, Mystici Corporis Christi was issued on the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, June 29, 1943. It is a document that explains the doctrine of the Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church. It is an invitation to all who are drawn to it by the Holy Spirit to study it; to receive the truths contained within it; and to act upon this knowledge and understanding with the performance of good works. Pope Pius XII deemed it fitting to develop and explain this doctrine with the hope that the entire flock of Christ would, "...draw certain lessons that will make a deeper study of this mystery bear yet richer fruits of perfection and holiness." (11)

If you are new to Church doctrine, you might be asking yourself, what exactly is a doctrine. Doctrine is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as, "a set of beliefs or principles held and taught by a religious, political, or other group." With specific reference to the Catholic Church, here is what the Catechism of The Catholic Church states about doctrine and the constitutive element of charity:
The whole concern of doctrine and its teaching must be directed to the love that never ends. Whether something is proposed for belief, for hope or for action, the love of our Lord must always be made accessible, so that anyone can see that all the works of perfect Christian virtue spring from love and have no other objective than to arrive at love. (25)
Thirty six pages printed, there is much one could include in writing about this encyclical, but for the sake of brevity, today's post focuses on some of the fundamental aspects of this doctrine: the origins of this doctrine; certain aspects of the Mystical Body; why the body in fact is mystical; errors that have arisen from an incorrect understanding of this doctrine; and the participation of each member to strengthen and build up the Mystical Body of Christ.

Pope Pius XII explanation on the origin of this doctrine begins at paragraph twelve, with the fall of Adam and the gift of Christ. God created Adam in such an exalted state that he was to hand on to his posterity the heavenly life of divine grace. After Adam's fall, the entire human race was "infected with a hereditary stain," in which it lost its participation in the divine nature. God's love for the world brought with it the gift of His only begotten Son. Christ's crucifixion not only appeased the justice of the Father, but had obtained for all mankind an ineffable flow of graces. It was possible for Christ to impart these graces to mankind directly; but He willed to do so only through a visible Church, that all might cooperate with Him in dispensing the graces of redemption. It is significant to note that the establishment of the Mystical Body was willed by Christ, so that the sacred work of redemption would endure and continue throughout the centuries, in part due to the direct participation of His Body.

Pope Pius XII also noted that the establishment of the Mystical Body by Christ, had been reinforced by the teaching of Sacred Scriptures and the Holy Fathers. He cited Saint Paul's letter to the the Colossians, "Christ is the Head of the Body of the Church," (14) as well as Pope Leo XIII's encyclical, Satis Cognitum, who asserted that the "Church is visible because she is a body." (14) 

Further on in the encyclical, Pope Pius XII identified who is included in the Body. The Body consists of the clergy and the laity: those who are of Holy Orders; cloistered in monasteries living a contemplative life; others who are active and living in the world in their apostolates; those in the state of matrimony, single laity and members of lay Catholic groups. He elaborated further on this when he stated:
...only those are to be included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by legitimate authority for grave faults committed. "For in one spirit" says the Apostle, "were we all baptized into one Body, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether bond or free." As therefore in the true Christian community there is only one Body, one Spirit, one Lord, and one Baptism, so there can be only one faith. And therefore, if a man refuse to hear the Church, let him be considered - so the Lord commands - as a heathen and a publican. It follows that those who are divided in faith or government cannot be living in the unity of such a Body, nor can they be living the life of its one Divine Spirit. (22)
Pope Pius XII clarified that the Mystical Body of Christ is made up of holy individuals, saints and sinners as well. He noted that not every sin, grave as it may be, will sever man from the Mystical Body of Christ. He stated that if members of the Body have lost charity and divine grace through sin, they may not be deprived of all life if they hold fast to faith and Christian hope; spurred by the promptings of the Holy Spirit to prayer and penance for their sins. Such is not the case with much more serious matters such as schism, heresy or apostasy. 

Christ has provided for His Mystical Body by endowing it with the Sacraments. In so doing, as Pope Pius XII noted, He provided it with an uninterrupted series of graces to sustain it from birth to death, including generous provisions for the social needs of the Church. In particular, Pope Pius XII spotlighted the great importance of the correct religious education of children, in which he stated that without the "Mystical Body would be in grave danger." (20)

Continuing with his explanation of the Body, Pope Pius XII stated that, "Because Christ the Head holds such an eminent position, one must not think that he does not require the help of the Body." (44) Important to note that what ever need our Divine Redeemer has of us, ultimately we must remember His words, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 5:15) We, the Body, must always be cognizant of the fact that all advancement "...of this Mystical Body towards its perfection derives from Christ the Head." (44) 

Pope Pius XII stated very clearly, "Christ has need of His members." (44) As to the specifics why Christ needs His members, he elaborated on this point when he stated that Jesus is represented by the Supreme Pontiff, who in turn must call upon others to share in the solicitude of souls, lest he become overwhelmed by the demands of his pastoral office. Pope Pius XII also stressed that our Saviour does not rule the Church directly in a visible manner, but instead He wills to be helped by the members of his Body, carrying out the work of redemption. The reason for this; Christ willed to be helped by his Body for the "greater glory of His spotless Spouse." (44) Pope Pius XII continued with this explanation when he stated that when Christ died on the Cross, He left the Church with the immense treasury of Redemption. Come time to distribute the graces, not only does Christ share this work of sanctification with His Church, but He wills that in some way it would be due to her action. Pope Pius XII referred to this as a deep mystery: 
...that the salvation of many depends on the prayers and voluntary penances which the members of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ offer for this intention and on the cooperation of pastors of souls and of the faithful, especially of fathers and mothers of families, a cooperation which they must offer to our Divine Savior as though they were His associates. (44)
As to why the Body of Christ should be called Mystical, Pope Pius XII began his explanation at paragraph sixty. So there may be no misunderstanding of what mystical means, the Oxford English Dictionary defines it as "having a spiritual significance that goes beyond human understanding." Father John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary,  definition of the Church's mystical component is as follows, "The Church is called Mystical because she is a mystery, which God revealed to be true but whose inner essence must be accepted on faith and without full comprehension by the mind." Here is the introduction to the mystical aspect of the Body from Pope Pius XII:
And now, Venerable Brethren, We come to that part of Our explanation in which We desire to make clear why the Body of Christ, which is the Church, should be called mystical. This name, which is used by many early writers, has the sanction of numerous Pontifical documents. There are several reasons why it should be used; for by it we may distinguish the Body of the Church, which is a Society whose Head and Ruler is Christ, from His physical Body, which, born of the Virgin Mother of God, now sits at the right hand of the Father and is hidden under the Eucharistic veils; and, that which is of greater importance in view of modern errors, this name enables us to distinguish it from any other body, whether in the physical or the moral order. (60)
To further clarify the Mystical aspect of the Body, Pope Pius XII compared the Mystical Body to that of a natural body. He stated that in a natural body, "...the principle of unity unites the parts in such a manner that each lacks in its own individual subsistence; on the contrary, in the Mystical Body the mutual union, though intrinsic, links the members by a bond which leaves to each the complete enjoyment of his own personality." (61) He explained further that the different members of the physical body are destined to the good of the whole alone; while the Mystical Body with its many moral associations are directed to the advancement of all and each individual member. He then pointed out the fact that Jesus established the Body and enriched it with the Holy Spirit; for it exists "...for the good of the faithful and for the glory of God and of Jesus Christ whom He sent." (61)

A further comparison was made between a mystical and moral body. Pope Pius XII noted the difference between the two is not slight, but rather considerable and very important. Here is what he stated:
In the moral body the principle of union is nothing else than the common end, and the common cooperation of all under the authority of society for the attainment of that end; whereas in the Mystical Body of which We are speaking, this collaboration is supplemented by another internal principle, which exists effectively in the whole and in each of its parts, and whose excellence is such that of itself it is vastly superior to whatever bonds of union may be found in a physical or moral body. (62)
Pope Pius XII continued to explain that the Church, as a perfect society, is not merely made up of moral and juridical elements and principles; it is far superior to all other human societies. It is superior to all human societies because it surpasses them as grace surpasses nature, as things immortal are above all that can perish. The Church is not found within a natural order, rather the juridical principles upon which the Church rests and is established derive from the divine constitution given to it by Christ. Our Redeemer continues to penetrate and fill every part of the Church's being; He is active within until the end of time as the source of every grace, gift and miraculous power.

With respect to the many errors that have arisen from an incorrect understanding of some aspects of this doctrine, Pope Pius XII included many paragraphs (85-90). Of particular note is the error of "quietism." The error of quietism is one that assumes that the whole spiritual life of Christians and their progress is exclusively the result of the actions of the Holy Spirit; while neglecting the collaboration that is due of each member of the Body. No one should deny the inspirations and role of the Holy Spirit in the Church with each member, but at the same, each member should as Pope Pius XII stated, "...advance eagerly in grace and virtue, that they should strive earnestly to reach the heights of Christian perfection and at the same time to the best of their power should stimulate others to attain the same goal..." (87) He explained that the Holy Spirit will not effect all this unless members of the Body contribute daily with their share of zealous activity. 

Another error that Pope Pius XII warned about is the assertion by some who have given little importance to the frequent confession of venial sins. He explained that although venial sins are forgiven and expiated at daily Mass, the sacrament of reconciliation provides for more rapid progress in virtue. Here is what he stated on the encouragement of frequent confession:
...We will that the pious practice of frequent confession, which was introduced into the Church by the inspiration of the Holy spirit, should be earnestly advocated. By it genuine self-knowledge is increased, Christian humility grows, bad habits are corrected, spiritual neglect and tepidity are resisted, the conscience is purified, the will strengthened, a salutary self-control is attained, and grace is increased in virtue of the Sacrament itself. Let those, therefore, among the younger clergy who make light of or lessen esteem for frequent confession realize that what they are doing is alien to the Spirit of Christ and disastrous for the Mystical Body of our Savior... (88)
Participation of each member to strengthen and build up the The Mystical Body of Christ, is specifically mentioned and encouraged at paragraph ninety eight. Pope Pius XII began this paragraph with the love that Christ has for His Body; a love that is to be reciprocated by its members. Of particular note, Pope Pius XII mentioned the Italian Catholic lay group, Catholic Action, which spotlighted the importance of the laity's role in the Body. Pope Pius XII pointed out that as Jesus laboured unceasingly to establish and strengthen the Church, that all of its members should endeavour to do likewise. This encyclical was issued during the middle of World War II, which Pope Pius XII referred to as the "present circumstances," the significance of which he spotlighted by stressing how important it was for everyone to realize the urgent necessity of their energetic zeal in working for the Body

Further aspects of each member's participation in the strengthening and building up of the Body, is included at paragraph one hundred and six. Pope Pius XII stated that we should pray for the Lord to send labourers into His harvest and that our daily prayer should be united in praying to the Lord for all members of the Mystical Body of Christ. He elaborated as to how we can effectively work for the Body; drawing God's graces upon it in the process:
For although our Savior's cruel passion and death merited for His Church an infinite treasure of graces, God's inscrutable providence has decreed that these graces should not be granted to us all at once; but their greater or lesser abundance will depend in no small part on our own good works, which draw down on the souls of men a rain of heavenly gifts freely bestowed by God. These heavenly gifts will surely flow more abundantly if we not only pray fervently to God, especially by participating every day if possible in the Eucharistic Sacrifice; if we not only try to relieve the distress of the needy and of the sick by works of Christian charity, but if we also set our hearts on the good things of eternity rather than on the passing things of this world; if we restrain this mortal body by voluntary mortification, denying it what is forbidden, and by forcing it to do what is hard and distasteful; and finally, if we humbly accept as from God's hands the burdens and sorrows of this present life. Thus, according to the Apostle, "we shall fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ in our flesh for His Body, which is the Church." (106)
In publishing this post today, it is my hope that an increasing number of Catholics will read and study this encyclical and; thus, come to a better understanding of the Body, that is the Church. May it encourage many to strive with a firm resolution to sincerely work to strengthen and build up the Mystical Body of Christ. In so doing, may each one of us be cognizant of each member's role and dignity, to which we have been called by our Head, Jesus Christ our Saviour and Redeemer. 

May Our Lady Queen of Peace intercede for us.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Ontario College Of Physicians And Surgeons External Consultation - Inappropriate Forum Moderation

Screen shot of the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons own forum post

Today's post is an update to my previous post, Professional Obligations and Human Rights - An Anti-Life Policy From Ontario's College of Physicians and Surgeons. If you have not been following the freedom of conscience issue surrounding this policy, I respectfully encourage you to read my previous post. Here is some basic information you need to be aware of. The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons or CPSO has drafted a new policy entitled, Professional Obligations and Human Rights as part of their policy review cycle. It is to replace and build upon the previous 2008 policy, Physicians and The Ontario Human Rights Code. According to the CPSO's web site, this new draft policy has been approved by Council and "...sets out physicians’ existing legal obligations under the Ontario Human Rights Code (the “Code”), and the College’s expectation that physicians will respect the fundamental rights of those who seek their medical services. The draft policy also sets out the College’s expectations for physicians who limit the health services they provide due to their personal values and beliefs." Part of the CPSO's policy review process includes an external consultation in which the public are invited to provide input in the form of an email, on line survey or forum at the CPSO's web site.

My initial post on the CPSO's policy development was my effort to identify and denounce what was morally wrong with this draft policy, as well as to spotlight the new inclusion of gender ideology language that was never apart of the 2008 policy. Since that initial post, there have been other troubling developments in the form of inappropriate forum moderation and public comments made from the CPSO's past president, Dr. Marc Gabel and its current president, Dr. Carol Leet.

Anyone who is concerned about the sacredness of human life needs to read the draft policy and participate in the CPSO's external consultation. In would be an effective way to put faith into action. To quote scripture, "What good is a faith that does nothing in practice. It is thoroughly lifeless." (James 2:17) We all need to defend life, support the freedom of conscience and stand in solidarity with Catholic physicians and surgeons and others of good will.

If you are wondering if I have participated in the CPSO's external consultation, think no further. My forum comment was submitted on January 10, 2015 at 2:55am. It is listed as forum post 80 with the respondent categorization as "Member of The Public." It was a scaled down version of my initial blog post, but it included the main points that identified what was morally wrong and unacceptable. After a few days, I checked it and discovered that it had not been published; its status was "pending." It took approximately ten days before my comment was posted. Clearly there was something about my post that concerned the CPSO and only after they published a moderated version, did that concern become abundantly clear. The CPSO omitted a segment on gender ideology; which was inappropriate considering that it was a new inclusion from the 2008 policy. Below is the gender ideology text in bold that was omitted from my comment: 
...If there is any intention to encourage conscientious Catholic medical students and others of good will to pursue careers as physicians and surgeons in Ontario, then freedom of conscience and moral and religious beliefs must be guaranteed and protected. The college must also illustrate that it recognizes and acknowledges the truth and dignity of the human person. Such an illustration can begin with the removal of the gender ideology wording of "gender expression and gender identity," that are current inclusions at line 39 under the subheading, Human Rights, Discrimination and Access to Care. Such wording does not reflect the truth and reality of the human person. An individual's sex is not determined by desires, perceptions or feelings. A person is either male or female and for anyone to deny this reality and consider themselves contrary to what is biological true, is to give way to delusion and deception. Gender ideology has no place in the policy...
As to why the above noted text was omitted, one can only speculate that it is a function of political correctness, which sadly these days, caters to the homosexual agenda. The college does state at its Posting Guidelines that:
The College reserves the right to refuse to post feedback, in whole or in part, that, in its sole discretion: it deems to be unrelated to the policy or issue under consultation; contains complaints and/or compliments about identifiable physicians; contains personal identifiers and/or other information that may identify a third party; is abusive, obscene, harassing/threatening or otherwise inappropriate; may include defamatory or libelous comments; or does not comply with the College’s Privacy Policy or its Social Media Terms of Use.
Although the college's Posting Guidelines do seem to be fairly reasonable, it does grant the college a "carte blanche" to remove any aspect of a comment that they deem inappropriate for what ever reason. Does the omitted part of my forum post qualify as such? In my view, it does not. The omitted comment deals directly with actual text inclusions of the draft policy, that is in fact part of the deceptive language emanating from gender ideology. I consider the omitted part of my comment an inappropriate moderation of the forum.

In addition to other respondents whose comments have also been "moderated," in a similar like manner, as discovered through my social networking, there is another reason why I consider the forum to have been inappropriately moderated; the college's effort to defend itself against a misquote of its past president, Dr. Marc Gabel. The misquote came from the National Post's Margaret Somerville who in her article, Margaret Somerville: A modest proposal for respecting physicians’ freedom of conscience wrote that Dr. Gabel was reported to have stated, "...physicians unwilling to provide or facilitate abortion for reasons of conscience should not be family physicians..." In response to this misquote, the college posted a reply on its own forum on January 29, 2015 at 4:40pm. The college took the liberty of posting this same reply several times throughout the forum, categorized at times as "Anonymous" and other times as "Organization." The above image published with this post captures that first instance. The CPSO's inappropriate forum moderation was first noted by Sean Murphy of The Protection of Conscience Project, whose article was published by LifeSiteNews. Below is a list of all the instances of this same reply at the CPSO's forum:

  • January, 29, 2015 at 4:40pm Forum Post 225 - As previous mentioned, the college inappropriately posted a comment in its forum, identifying itself as "Organization." 
  • January 30, 2015 at 4:45pm Reply To Forum Post 226 - The college posted the same comment, this time not identifying itself, but listed the respondent as "Anonymous." (screen shot)
  • January 30, 2015 at 4:46pm Reply To Forum Post 169 - The college posted the same comment and again, did not identify itself, but listed the respondent as "Anonymous." (screen shot)
  • February 2, 2015 at 11:31am Changed Respondent Identity - At their reply to forum post 169, the college changed the respondent's identity from "Anonymous" to "Organization." (screen shot)
  • February 2, 2015 at 11:59am Reply To Forum Post 228 - The college posted their comment again, this time as a reply to forum post 228 and identified itself as "Organization." (screen shot)

The Posting Guidelines at the CPSO specifically states that, "The College does not review any content of any feedback for accuracy. The College does not review any references or links in any feedback either for accuracy or with respect to the content of the document referred to or the site linked, and the College is not responsible for any content of any document referred to or site linked." According to these guidelines, it was inappropriate for the CPSO to have published a reply to the misquote at every instance when the National Post's article by Margaret Somerville was referenced in respondents' comments.

In my view, what the CPSO should have done is publish a statement addressing their concerns at their Professional Obligations and Human Rights external consultation page. That statement could have also included the letter by Dr. Carol Leet that was sent to the editor of the National Post. This would have afforded them an opportunity to express their concerns in full about the National Post's article without compromising the integrity of the forum. Another option for the CPSO would have been to create a separate web page under the "external consultations" section of their site and detail the above noted information.

To be fair to both Dr. Gabel and Dr. Carol Leet, the article from the National Post is in need of correction and should be edited and republished as soon as possible. A retraction from Margaret Somerville is in order. This is basic responsible journalism. Regardless of the issues of this draft policy and different points of view and beliefs, Sean Murphy did paraphrase Dr. Marc Gabel in his article, Ethical Cleansing in Ontario. This is what was used by Margaret Somerville as an official quote, which we have learned, is not an accurate one. 

If we take a look at what Dr. Gabel actually did say, there is good reason to be concerned; in essence, his comments amount to what has been misquoted by Margaret Somerville. The source that properly quoted Dr. Gabel comes from an article written by Michael Swan from The Catholic Register entitled, Catholic doctors who reject abortion told to get out of family medicine. Below is what Michael reported:
Catholic doctors who won’t perform abortions or provide abortion referrals should leave family medicine, says an official of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. “It may well be that you would have to think about whether you can practice family medicine as it is defined in Canada and in most of the Western countries,” said Dr. Marc Gabel, chair of the college’s policy working group reviewing “Professional Obligations and Human Rights.”
In addition to the The Catholic Register, comments made by Dr. Gabel have also caught the attention of LifeSiteNews, which published an article on December 19, 2014, by Steve Weatherbe entitled, Doctors who oppose abortion should leave family medicine: Ontario College of PhysiciansIt included further disturbing comments from Dr. Gabel, whose language was intimidating and served as a warning for doctors who do not intend to comply with the policy: 
Dr. Marc Gabel, a Toronto psychotherapist and past president of the college, told LifeSiteNews on Thursday that if his committee’s proposed revision of the college’s “Professional Obligations and Human Rights” is adopted, then if doctors refuse to refer patients to abortionists, or to doctors willing to prescribe contraceptives, they could face disciplinary action.
“If there were a complaint, every complaint is investigated by the complaint committee,” Dr. Gabel said. The complaint committee could deliver a mild private rebuke or turn over the matter to the disciplinary committee, which Gabel chaired for several years.
The draft policy potentially becomes a foundation with which to implement disciplinary penalties and persecute doctors on a professional level. This is further supported by the comments made by Dr. Carol Leet, the CPSO's current president, which was noted in the same LifeSiteNews article:
According to Dr. Carol Leet, the new president of the college, a doctor found guilty of professional misconduct by the disciplinary committee could face anything from remedial instruction to loss of his or her medical licence...Dr. Leet believes that "the religious beliefs of some doctors cannot outweigh the patients’ right to choose” whatever medical service they believe is appropriate. Patients have a right to receive “an effective referral” from any doctor.
Compounding the concerns of this draft policy is the recent Supreme Court of Canada Carter vs. Canada euthanasia decision, making "doctor assisted suicide" legal which is nothing but an exercise in "judicial activism." Is it not fair to assume from the language of the draft policy, that euthanasia if not already, will be considered as an inclusion in the college's "elements of care" or part of "health care services." Such ambiguous language is used by the CPSO with no reference to what exactly they include; they can be found at lines 49, 52, 138, and 156. 

There is much to be concerned about with the Professional Obligations and Human Rights draft policy. At stake are: two fundamental aspects of human rights, the right to life and the right to refuse to take part in committing an injustice; freedom of conscience for physicians and surgeons; the opportunity for Catholic medical students and those of good will to pursue a career as a physician or surgeon; and the opportunity for patients to have a Catholic doctor available who will practice medicine in accord with the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.

The draft policy demands a proper response by all Catholics and people of good will. Help restore Canada to a "culture of life." Please consider participating in this external consultation which closes on February 20, 2015.

Most importantly of all, pray and fast for a total revamping of this draft policy.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla - A Life Of Love And Sacrifice

Saint Gianna Beretta Molla 1922-1962
Today's post is a tribute to the life of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, an Italian mother and doctor, who led a faithful and virtuous life; one that was deemed heroic and culminated in the ultimate sacrifice of her life to save her unborn child in 1962. Saint Gianna's moral courage and certitude is the perfect example to draw from, for those women who are faced with a life threatening pregnancy and is an ideal intercessor to pray to for the miraculous cure of any illness. For those involved in the pro-life effort, Saint Gianna represents one of "the" saints to choose from to rally behind in any endeavour to end abortion and convert those who are anti-life. As for Catholic doctors, she is the quintessential medical professional to emulate. Her professional life demonstrated that faith is not be separated from a career in medicine nor should it be compartmentalized in any way. Rather, as a devout Catholic, Saint Gianna put God first in everything and allowed her Christian faith to permeate every aspect of life. 

What is to be understood about Saint Gianna's ultimate sacrifice is that although it was a heroic decision, it was not the decisive factor and focus that determined her approval for canonization. What it did do is spotlight a faith filled holy life, drawing the attention of many, some of whom already knew of and experienced her holiness. More importantly the discovery process for her canonization focused on how she lived her life. This discovery showed that throughout her years, Gianna lived a holy and virtuous life. Together with the approved miracles for her beatification and canonization, it was thus recommended that she be declared a saint.

Gianna was a modern day saint that lived like you and I, but with the goal of reaching eternal salvation. During her life she experienced many sufferings: both of her parents died at a young age within six months of each other; her favourite sister passed away; she lived through the second world war; and she experienced ill health. As a result of living through all this in the light of faith, she was formed into a holy woman. The decision to sacrifice her life to save her baby was an extension of her holiness, a decision that was made without hesitation.

To better understand Saint Gianna's life is to understand how she became a saint. Gianna Beretta Molla was born in 1922 in Magenta, a town in Lombardy close to Milan. She was the tenth of thirteen children, five of whom died in infancy or childhood. From a very young age, Gianna wanted to help those who were suffering. During the war, she organized groups of friends to go help those families whose homes were destroyed by allied bombing. From a very young age she always wanted to help people, a characteristic that animated her entire life. It eventually instilled in her a desire to become a physician whereby she could help people, both in body and soul. For Gianna, she considered working in the field of medicine a "mission."  She once thought of joining her brother in Brazil as a medical missionary, but her acceptance that God had another plan for her as a wife and mother, was indicative of her close relationship with God.

During the years of her secondary and university education, she studied diligently. At the age of twenty eight, having earned degrees in medicine and surgery at the University of Pavia, Dr. Beretta opened a clinic in Mesero, near her hometown. She returned to the University of Milan for a specialist's certification in pediatrics in 1952. From that point on, her practice focussed on the care of mothers and their children, the elderly and the poor.

Gianna, her husband Pietro and their three children
Being a skier and mountaineer did not hinder her apostolate and zeal for souls. Saint Gianna put faith into action through generous apostolic works as a member of Catholic Action that involved helping the elderly. She was also a member of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, through which she helped the poor and needy. It was through her involvement in Catholic Action that she met her husband, Pietro Molla, another Catholic Action member, during a Mass for a newly ordained priest. They married on September 25, 1955 at the basilica of Saint Martin in Magenta. Having embraced the vocation of marriage, she wholly dedicated herself to forming a truly Christian family. Three children were born, Pierluigi, Mariolina, and Laura between 1956 to 1959, each time experiencing a difficult pregnancy. 

Doctor Molla's medical practice and charitable activities blossomed together with her family life. In 1961, two months into her fourth pregnancy, a fibrous ovarian tumour was discovered that threatened her life and that of the unborn child. She had three medical options: option one was to remove the uterus and affected ovary which would spare her life, but kill the unborn child; two, remove the tumour alone and terminate the pregnancy which would likely afford her the opportunity to bear more children later; three, remove the tumour while trying to save the pregnancy, a procedure that posed immediate risks to the mother and promised a dangerous delivery. Doctor Beretta told the surgeon to choose the third option. Throughout her remaining seven months of pregnancy, she told both her husband and physicians that if forced to make a decision during the baby's delivery of whether to save the baby or herself, St. Gianna insisted, "Do not hesitate. I insist on it. Save the baby." 

Gianna Beretta Molla entered St. Gerard's Hospital in Monza on Good Friday, April 20,1962 where Gianna Emanuela was born the following day. Not long after the birth of her fourth child, she began to suffer excruciating pain from septic peritonitis. One week later on April 28, 1962 at the age of thirty nine, she passed away. Her last words were, "Jesus, I love you! Jesus, I love you!" It wasn't long before her grave became a place of prayer and pilgrimage. Her cause for beatification was recognized by Pope Paul VI in 1973. The beatification occurred on April 24, 1994 with Gianna Emanuela, herself a doctor, present.

The canonization of Gianna Beretta Molla was approved by Saint Pope John Paul II. The date of her canonization was May 16, 2004 on the sixth Sunday of Easter and was accompanied by the canonization of five other individuals. In attendance was: Gianna's frail ninety one year old husband Pietro Molla, Gianna's children, a grandchild, her surviving siblings, former patients and Elizabeth Acomparini Arcolino, the young Brazilian mother whose fourth pregnancy was miraculously saved through what the Congregation for the Causes of Saints concluded was the intercession of Gianna Beretta Molla. Saint Gianna's feast day is April 28, the day that annually commemorates her death.

There is a fitting symmetry in the fact Saint Gianna was the last of 482 saints canonized by Saint Pope John Paul II, one of the twenty first century's greatest defenders and protectors of life. His efforts to identify and denounce the evil of abortion, euthanasia, the death penalty and all threats to the value and inviolability of human life are well documented. His encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) is considered to be one of the most important Church documents on the subject matter. So relevant and pertinent is this document that the Vatican under Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI established Evangelium Vitae Day, an annual day celebrating life. Gianna's canonization was as George Weigel put it in his book, The End And The Beginning, "...a fitting capstone of John Paul II's quarter century long effort to lift up moral heroism in the defense of life through the examples drawn from the contemporary world." (356) 

During Saint Pope John Paul II's homily for Gianna's canonization and the other five individuals, he made the opening remark, "...True peace is the fruit of Christ's victory over the power of evil, sin and death. Those who follow him faithfully become witnesses and builders of his peace." (1) Saint Gianna's life was one of love and sacrifice, a true Christian witness that was captured in Saint John Paul II's remarks at the end of his homily when he stated:
Gianna Beretta Molla was a simple, but more than ever, significant messenger of divine love. In a letter to her future husband a few days before their marriage, she wrote: "Love is the most beautiful sentiment the Lord has put into the soul of men and women". 
Following the example of Christ, who "having loved his own... loved them to the end" (Jn 13: 1), this holy mother of a family remained heroically faithful to the commitment she made on the day of her marriage. The extreme sacrifice she sealed with her life testifies that only those who have the courage to give of themselves totally to God and to others are able to fulfil themselves. 
Through the example of Gianna Beretta Molla, may our age rediscover the pure, chaste and fruitful beauty of conjugal love, lived as a response to the divine call! (7)
Saint Gianna Beretta Molla's life is the perfect antidote for those who have been confronted by the anti-life argument that claims it is acceptable for an abortion to take place when it would save the life of the mother. For anyone to accept such a position would be the equivalent of "playing God." As Pope John Paul II noted in Evangelium Vitae, Chapter III - You Shall Not Kill, God's Holy Law, "...Only God is the master of life!" (55) We must always remember that life is sacred and begins from conception and ends at natural death. In the Catechism of The Catholic Church, under the 5th Commandment "Thou Shall Not Kill," it clearly states why life is sacred:
Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being. (2258)
To try to rationalize an abortion under any circumstances is to ignore this truth. To do so diminishes the dignity of the human person and ignores the fundamental right of every human being, that is, the right to life. Saint Gianna's sacrifice of her own life was not only a reflection of her respect for the sacredness of human life, but was part of the fulfillment of her vocation as a mother, her total gift of self to her family and to God. It was part of the fulfillment that all married couples are called to by God as a special sharing in His love and power as Creator and Father by, what Saint Pope John Paul II noted in Familiaris Consortio, "... their free and responsible cooperation in transmitting the gift of human life... (28)

I hope that today's post will help those who are endeavouring to save the unborn from abortions and convert those who are anti-life. May this great saint of our time, Saint Gianna Beretta Molla, intercede for you in all your efforts.