Saturday, September 20, 2014

Labouring In The Vineyard For The Unborn and Nonbelievers


Life Chain Fall'2013 at Hwy. 7 and Islington Ave.
With the Fall'2014 Life Chain effort only a few weeks away, I thought it fitting to publish a post in which I hope to encourage my fellow Catholics to not only participate in this pro-life effort, but to become better informed on what the Catholic faith teaches about abortion, the killing of a developing human being in the womb.

If you are new to Life Chain, it is one hour of silent prayer raising public awareness on the evil of abortion. It involves a public witness whereby participants hold signs that typically read, "abortion kills children or babies" coupled with a group or individual recitation of the Rosary. Emphasis is on the "silent" part. Participants are not to chat with each other, nor engage in any debates with those who pass by. Again, it is a silent prayer witness. This year's Life Chain will be on October 5th from 2:00pm-3:00pm at two locations in Woodbridge: Highway 7 and Islington Avenue and Major MacKenzie and Islington Avenue. You might be asking yourself, why do you have to get involved in a public witness against abortion. The answer is rather simple. Participation in Life Chain is an opportunity for the laity to "labour in the vineyard" for the unborn and nonbelievers and forms part of an evangelization effort to identify and denounce the evil of abortion. By your presence at Life Chain, you not only witness to others on the evil of abortion, but you strengthen your own resolve to accept and live the truth about life and the dignity of the human person.

If you have never heard of the phrase "labouring in the vineyard," you might be wondering, what exactly does this mean? It is a reference from Saint Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici (Christ's Faithful People), a document that seeks to explain the vocation and mission of the lay faithful in the Church and in the world. In the first paragraph St. Pope John Paul II states:
The lay members of Christ's Faithful People (Christifideles Laici)...are those who form that part of the People of God which might be likened to the labourers in the vineyard mentioned in Matthew's Gospel: "For the Kingdom of heaven is like a householder who went out early in the morning to hire labourers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the labourers for a denarius a day, he sent them into his vineyard." (Matthew 20:1-2)
Our "vineyard" is the vast world we live in, one that is to be transformed according to God's plan whereby everyone, both of men and women are called to labour in anticipation of the final coming of the Kingdom of God. Saint Pope John Paul II also states in the same document that, "A new state of affairs today both in the Church and in social, economic, political and cultural life, calls with a particular urgency for the action of the lay faithful. If lack of commitment is always unacceptable, the present time renders it even more so. It is not permissible for anyone to remain idle." (3) Saint Pope John Paul II wrote this document and was referring to the Church and the world in 1988, a very significant year for Canadian society in particular. It was during that same year that Canada faced a constitutional challenge by the infamous Dr. Henry Morgantaler who successfully sought the removal of all legal barriers to abortion in an effort to establish and make available abortion on demand. Such a challenge was made possible by the 1969 Omnibus Bill which permitted "therapeutic abortions" for almost twenty years prior to Morgantaler's challenge. If you would like to know more about the chronological order of events of how abortion become available in Canada, please view Campaign Life Coalition's Chronology of Laws page.

Resulting from Morgantaler's constitutional challenge has been the rapid expansion of abortion facilities across the nation. You may have seen the facilities in your neighbourhood, euphemistically named as "women's health care clinics or services." Is there any more proof needed to spot light the moral disorder in Canada that has ushered in with it, a "culture of death?" How much more urgent and necessary is it now in Canada for the laity to "labour in the vineyard?" It is an urgency spot lighted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's recent article on Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau, which included many anti-life statements from Trudeau, of which the most notable was, "Women’s reproductive rights trump the freedom of Liberal members of parliament to vote their conscience on abortion." In short, Justin Trudeau's dictatorial approach is one that seeks to remove the freedom of members of parliament from the Liberal Party, to vote against abortion when such individuals, in good conscience, know and understand abortion to be morally evil. This continued political effort to justify and allow abortion in Canada is a very sad development in Canadian politics, one that began with Justin Trudeau's father, the former Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, who was the Prime Minister when the Omnibus Bill was read and passed in 1969 in the House of Commons.

An essential component of our "labouring in the vineyard" for the unborn and nonbelievers is to be prepared to explain the Catholic Church teaching on abortion. One of the key sources to draw from is the Catechism of The Catholic Church. At Section Two The Ten Commandments, Chapter Two You Shall Love Your Neighbour As Yourself, Article 5 The Fifth Commandment, it specifically states: 
"You shall not kill...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)
If you have ever had any discussions or disputes with those in favour of abortion, I am sure you have noticed that they completely ignore God and his creative action. To remove this from any discussion on the beginnings of human life in the womb is to ignore the truth. It is a truth that those of us who know, understand and accept it, must always include and never make any compromises against. Under no circumstances is abortion acceptable. This is what the Catholic Church teaches:
Scripture specifies the prohibition contained in the fifth commandment: "Do not slay the innocent and the righteous." The deliberate murder of an innocent person is gravely contrary to the dignity of the human being, to the golden rule, and to the holiness of the Creator. the law forbidding it is universally valid: it obliges each and everyone, always and everywhere. (2261)
All types of justifications are presented by those in favour of killing a developing human being in the womb. You probably have heard some of the deceptive language: the need to have surgical abortions to ensure a safe procedure, "reproductive rights," "it's my body," abortion is necessary when the mother's life is in danger, a woman should not have to remain pregnant when a child was conceived in rape, "no religion should tell me what to do," the child is the "wrong" sex or an ultrasound revealed deformities. These and all other uses of language that try to rationalize the killing of a developing human being in the womb, are not only offensive to God, contrary to God's laws, but demonstrate a fundamental lack of respect for human life. 

At sections 2270-2275, the Catechism of The Catholic Church specifically deals with the abortion issue. This part of the catechism states with absolute clarity how human life must be respected from the moment of conception in the womb. (2270) The part of Church teaching that I find particularly interesting is in section 2271, which details how the moral evil of abortion has been a teaching of the Church since the first century and remains unchangeable:
Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law: You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish. God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.
The catechism also details the punishments assigned to those who procure a completed abortion, that is, the canonical penalty of excommunication. (2272) In addition, there is informative reading on how the inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is "...[A] constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation." (2273) The moral guidelines of when a prenatal diagnosis is permitted, that is, in so far as it is done as a matter of respecting life and the integrity of the human fetus and can not at any time be used to induce an abortion, rendering a diagnosis as a "death sentence. (2274) Last, any exploitation and use of human embryos as disposable biological material is completely forbidden as well as any attempts to influence chromosomic or genetic inheritance. (2275)

In addition to the Catechism of The Catholic Church, I would like to recommend another key source from the Catholic Church, the well known pro-life encyclical from Saint Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Viate (The Gospel of Life), issued on March 25th, 1995 on the Solemnity of The Annunciation of The Lord. If you are unfamiliar with the late pontiff's writings, Evangelium Vitae is considered to be one of the most important documents of Saint Pope John Paul II's pontificate. If you search my blog for the Evangelium Vitae label, prior to today, I have published three posts on this document. So important is Evangelium Vitae that the Vatican has established an Evangelium Vitae Day, celebrated each year on June 15th-16th.

Eighty pages printed, Evangelium Vitae is a thorough read and is sure to satisfy anyone's desire to know the truth about the value and inviolability of human life. Saint Pope John Paul II did not hesitate to identify and denounce all threats to human life including: abortion, euthanasia, death penalty and human embryo research. Each threat is given specific sections, in which Saint Pope John Paul II elaborated on each threat in detail. At a minimum, if you are pressed for time and can not read this entire document, I would like to recommend you at least read, Chapter III - You Shall Not Kill, God's holy law beginning at section 52 and extends to section 62. The specific details on the evil of abortion are located at sections 58-62. The treasure of truths contained in these respective sections alone will afford you the opportunity to further your understanding of the abortion issue and communicate them better to others.

So much could be included when writing about Evangelium Vitae, and for the sake of brevity of this blog post, I am not going to elaborate on all that this document contains. To illustrate how relevant and pertinent this encyclical is though, I would like to quote from section 58 which accurately depicts society's refusal of God's law. It is a refusal that has continued since this encyclical's release in 1995, manifesting itself in many ways:
Among all the crimes which can be committed against life, procured abortion has characteristics making it particularly serious and deplorable. The Second Vatican Council defines abortion, together with infanticide, as an "unspeakable crime". But today, in many people's consciences, the perception of its gravity has become progressively obscured. The acceptance of abortion in the popular mind, in behaviour and even in law itself, is a telling sign of an extremely dangerous crisis of the moral sense, which is becoming more and more incapable of distinguishing between good and evil, even when the fundamental right to life is at stake. Given such a grave situation, we need now more than ever to have the courage to look the truth in the eye and to call things by their proper name, without yielding to convenient compromises or to the temptation of self-deception. In this regard the reproach of the Prophet is extremely straightforward: "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness" (Is 5:20). Especially in the case of abortion there is a widespread use of ambiguous terminology, such as "interruption of pregnancy", which tends to hide abortion's true nature and to attenuate its seriousness in public opinion. Perhaps this linguistic phenomenon is itself a symptom of an uneasiness of conscience. But no word has the power to change the reality of things: procured abortion is the deliberate and direct killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the initial phase of his or her existence, extending from conception to birth. (58)
As I share this gift of Evangelium Vitae with everyone, it is my hope that each visitor of this blog will be blessed to recognize, understand and accept the truth on the evil of abortion and share this truth with others. In particular, I reach out to the younger generations who may not have heard of or known Saint Pope John Paul II and all the works God accomplished through him which are a complete treasure to draw from. If you have yet to discover the amazing life of Saint Pope John Paul II, the Vatican has a dedicated section on him, The Holy See - Pope John Paul II

Lastly, if you are going to endeavour to labour in the vineyard for the unborn and nonbelievers, begin your effort with prayer. Prayer is the most important aspect of all your efforts. The Holy Mass and the Rosary are the two most powerful forms of prayers. Depending on what your schedule permits, I respectfully encourage you to make an effort to go to Mass more than once a week and offer it up for the unborn children, their mothers and fathers, those who procure abortions and all other nonbelievers. Praying the Rosary daily for the same intentions, imploring Our Lady of Guadalupe's, Protectress of the Unborn intercession, is also an effective part of your prayer efforts in this spiritual battle. If you are new to the Rosary or do not pray it frequently, I would like to recommend two of my previous posts on the Rosary: The Rosary - An Introduction and The Rosary - A Marathon of Grace.




Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.







Saturday, September 13, 2014

Medjugorje The Last Apparition: How It Will Change The World

Wayne Weible's book, Medjugorje The Last Apparition: How it Will Change the World
Wayne Weible's book Medjugorje The
Last Apparition: How it Will Change
The World
If the title of this blog post intrigues you, it should because Medjugorje has a special significance of all the Marian apparitions. Our Lady in Medjugorje has stated that "What I started in Fatima, I will finish in Medjugorje. My heart will triumph." In my view, this is probably one of the most significant messages from Our Lady in Medjugorje. It is a message that not only invites Marian devotees and all Catholics to embrace the apparitions in Medjugorje, but to discover their unique purpose.

Trying to understand what Our Lady meant by the completion her work in Medjugorje is not something you arrive at so quickly. If you are somewhat new to these apparitions this adds to an even bigger challenge of familiarizing yourself with all that has gone on since they began on June 24th, 1981.

There is a lot to learn and understand from the many messages of which the most important and first message of all, is that Our Lady is Our Mother and she is present in Medjugorje and she is calling us. Whether you are at the humble beginnings of discovering Medjugorje, have already done some reading on these apparitions or have known about them for years, I would like to recommend Wayne Weible's book, Medjugorje The Last Apparition: How It Will Change The World.

Trusted and credible resources are essential in your discovery or rediscovery of the apparitions in Medjugorje. Wayne Weible is certainly one such resource, who over the past thirty years has visited Medjugorje over 110 times and written extensively about it.

Wayne Weible set out to work for Our Lady in the early to mid 80's. After receiving the call, he sold his four newspapers and directed his gifts to spreading the news on the apparitions in Medjugorje. Three decades later Wayne continues his service to Our Mother and the result has been an impressive publication of books, articles and newsletters that have been sold in the millions, of which his first book Medjugorje: The Message remains on the international best seller list.

Add to this his speaking engagements and appearances at conferences all over the globe and you can easily grasp that Wayne has responded to Our Lady's call in a very positive and generous way. In my view, Wayne Weible should be considered one of "the" resources to access in your quest to understand Medjugorje. I urge you to learn more about Wayne Weible's life by visiting his web site, www.weiblecolumns.org. At this site you will have access to many of his works and be exposed to a grace filled life that has been dedicated to working for Our Lady in Medjugorje. 

In May of this year in Toronto at the Marian Day of Prayer conference I had the pleasure of meeting Wayne Weible. To have spent time with him on a one-to-one level was a gift.

Listening to Wayne at the conference I not only learned a great deal about Medjugorje, but my Marian devotion was strengthened because of the experience. It was at this conference that I purchased his book that I write about today. I knew at that time, that Wayne Weible was one of the "veterans" of Medjugorje, who began his work in the early days of the apparitions, so it was with great anticipation that I awaited the reading. I was not to be disappointed.

As one who recently finished reading this book, I add to the list of accolades from Michael Brown of Spirit Daily, Immaculee Ilibagiza the Rwandan genocide survivor, Michael Ripple author of A Lost Shepherd and Christine Watkins author of Full of Grace: Miraculous Stories of healing and Conversion through Mary's Intercession, by stating that Wayne's book, Medjugorje The Last Apparition: How It Will Change The World, should be seriously considered for anyone seeking clarity and understanding as to what these Marian apparitions in Medjugorje are all about, the many developments over the past thirty three years and their unique significance for the world. 

Wayne's historical account of Our Lady's presence in Medjugorje deals with many essential aspects leading the reader from: the early days of the apparitions, to the Communist persecutions, to the lives and struggles two Franciscan friars, Frs. Jozo Zovko and Slavko Barbaric, to some of the internal conflicts within the Church, to the six visionaries and their assigned prayer missions, to the personal pilgrimages and statements of top Vatican officials such as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Head of the Congregation For The Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Austria, and Saint Pope John Paul II, to his insights of the ten secrets and to the concluding chapter of his book, where he explains why Medjugorje is the "last apparition and how it will change the world."

Weible also spot lights how there has been such an incredible international response from the world, in which over 50 million people have made the pilgrimage to Medjugorje. The acceptance of Our Lady's invitation by so many of her "children" has resulted in the harvesting of many spiritual fruits in this grace-filled land, which Weible notes has been: the conversion of millions to the Catholic faith; vocations to the priesthood and religious life; the establishment of charities and communities such as Cenacolo and Mother's Village; and more than 80,000 youth that arrive each year for the Medjugorje International Youth Festival

Wayne often states, "Medjugorje is the most important event in the world today." I sincerely hope you purchase this book and find out why. If you do, I am sure you will experience a feeling of gratitude to Our Lady for having chosen and guided Wayne to make the apparitions in Medjugorje better known and understood.

Thank you Wayne Weible for your book and dedication to Our Lady.



Hvaljen Isus i Marija (Praised be Jesus and Mary)



Saturday, September 6, 2014

Medjugorje's Prayer Program - A Daily Retreat

At the group recitation of the Rosary before evening Mass

If you are planning to go to Medjugorje or are already on route I hope today's post will encourage you to take part in Medjugorje's Prayer Program. Visiting Apparition Hill, Cross Mountain, The Blue Crosseschatting with fellow pilgrims, enjoying a coffee or tea with friends, going for long walks is sure to be on your "to do" list during your stay in Medjugorje. What you may have yet to include in your daily itinerary is Medjugorje's Prayer Program, a very well organized prayer schedule for all pilgrims that begins in the morning and extends well into the evening. The Franciscan friars in Medjugorje have done an excellent job establishing and implementing the Prayer Program, ensuring that pilgrims will truly have a spiritually beneficial experience. Whether you have been a devout Catholic all your life, recently converted or new to prayer, the Prayer Program will help introduce and strengthen your prayer life and your relationship with Jesus and Mary. 

The Prayer Program begins with Mass at 7:30am in Croatian, which is followed by several other Masses in various languages throughout the morning. English Mass is usually celebrated at either 10:00am or 12:00pm in St. James or the parish hall. In the afternoon, silent adoration is available in the Adoration Chapel, located between the parish Information Center and the outdoor seating at St. James back alter. As evening arrives so too does the opportunity to go to confession, which is available daily in Medjugorje beginning at 6:00pm and extends for many hours. One priest shared with me that on one particular day, he finished hearing his last confession at 11:00pm. As confessions are being heard at both sides of St. James Church, a group recitation of the Rosary simultaneously begins at 6:00pm with the Joyful and Sorrowful Mysteries at the back altar of the church. After the completion of the Sorrowful Mysteries, the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary is sung, followed by Mass beginning at 7:00pm. Eucharistic Adoration is added to the evening prayers on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 10:00pm-11:00pm and on Thursdays from 8:00pm-9:00pm. Veneration of the Cross takes place every Friday after evening Mass from 8:00pm-9:00pm. On Fridays at 6:00am, the Stations of The Cross are recited at Cross Mountain and group recitation of the Rosary on Apparition Hill on Sundays at 6:00am. The above noted times are during the summer months. During winter, most of these times are typically adjusted to one hour earlier. A pamphlet providing general information of the Prayer Program can be obtained at the parish Information Center. The outdoor monitors at this same location provide the specific details on each day's prayer program.



Capturing the evening part of the Prayer Program's Veneration of the Cross


Upon my arrival in Medjugorje, I greatly anticipated visiting the main apparition sites and spending many hours in prayer during the day, hoping to encounter Our Lady's presence in a profound way. I was not disappointed. What I did not anticipate was that same profound experience of Our Lady's presence during the evening part of the Prayer Program. Being somewhat new to Medjugorje, I wasn't really sure what the evening part of the Prayer Program entailed and what exactly to expect from it all. This did not in any way diminished my expectation of the anticipated peace and joy that I hoped would be experienced and felt in a very conscious way. I was pleased to discover that each night was an amazing experience. Being in Medjugorje and participating in the Prayer Program, especially the dedicated 4-5 hours of nightly prayers, was the equivalent of attending a daily retreat. Accepting Our Lady's invitation to go to Medjugorje and being in the company of so many others who have done likewise, really added to the joyful experience that can only truly be understood if you experience it yourself. This is what awaits those who are on route or scheduled to go to Medjugorje.

In addition to the Rosary prayers, the evening part of the Prayer Program also affords pilgrims an opportunity for a special personal encounter with Our Lady. What I am referring to is the brief stoppage of the group recitation of the Rosary at 6:40pm each night. This is done to acknowledge Our Lady's daily appearance to three of the six visionaries: Ivan, Marija and Vicka. All in attendance at the back alter of St. James, both the clergy and the laity, kneel down for approximately three minutes in private prayer to Our Lady. 



Evening part of the Prayer Program - Veneration of The Cross

The healing prayers and meditations were an especially beneficial inclusion in the evening part of the Prayer Program. These prayers and meditations are recited so beautifully that you can not help but feel the healing process begin and a gain sense of gratitude to Jesus and Mary. The many blessings you receive, that feeling of being strengthened with many graces, the overwhelming peaceful experience of it all, is something that can barely be described with words. Medjugorje is a land of great graces and this is what you receive and experience throughout the day and in a concentrated way, at the evening part of the Prayer Program. It is the perfect way to end the day, a peaceful and joyful encounter with Jesus and Mary on a nightly basis. May your daily participation in Medjugorje's Prayer Program be a faith strengthening and grace filled experience.




Hvaljen Isus i Marija (Praised be Jesus and Mary)