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Shining A Light in the Darkness

The pro-life movement will have one less person on the front lines when Kathleen Gilbert, LifeSiteNews Bureau Chief, enters the Discalced Carmelite Monastery in Buffalo, New York, on October 14th. Kathleen joined LifeSiteNews just before President Obama was elected to office and she hopes “God willing, I’m going out with him too.”

Kathleen is devoted to giving the unborn a voice in the world. She says, “There are many businesses in our world that exploit others. The business of killing has the advantage that the victims always keep quiet. That’s why the holocaust happened, why the unborn in America suffer another 9/11 every single day, and why Planned Parenthood’s business is booming: the dead don’t speak.” She tried to shine a light where others wanted it dark. And she hopes to keep the mission to protect life going, albeit, she will be doing it in a different way.

The monastery she is entering has an amazing history. In 1914, as as Mother Elias and a companion faced a firing squad in Mexico, Mother prayed: “Little Therese, if you are a saint, as some people say you are, then deliver us, and I promise to found a Monastery in your honor.” The shots rang out, the nuns sank to the ground and when they regained consciousness, their clothes were bloodied but they were unhurt. In 1925, on the day of the canonization of St. Therese, the Little Flower, the Carmelite chapel in Buffalo, NY, was dedicated, the first in the world to have the Little Flower as its titular Saint.

As the nuns state, “Our Rule and Constitutions represent the authentic charism of our Holy Mother Saint Teresa of Avila, who desired that her daughters apply themselves zealously to prayer and manual labor for the benefit of the Church and especially for priests. We humbly and gratefully wear the full Habit of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, observe strict Papal enclosure in order to safeguard the sacredness of the cloister, and cherish many traditional monastic customs such as the use of Latin and Gregorian Chant.”

May God bless Kathleen and all the Carmelites of Buffalo.

 

 

From Ocean to Ocean

Right now, Catholic and Orthodox pilgrims are traveling across Russia with a replica of the icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa on a pilgrimage called “From Ocean to Ocean International Campaign in Defense of Life.” If all goes as planned, the icon will travel across 8 time zones (11,000 miles and 24 countries) ending in Fatima, Portugal, and hopefully from there to America in the Spring of 2013 (boy, do we need her intervention!). The purpose of the pilgrimage in Russia is to invoke the intercession of Our Lady, Ark of the New Covenant, asking her to end the scourge of abortion which has been legal in Russia since 1920 and to restore a culture of life. They have the dubious honor of being the first country in the world to legalize abortion.

Fr. Peter West, of Human Life International, has a very interesting article on Zenit, documenting how Our Lady has helped the Church throughout the ages. Just as the Jews carried the Ark of the Covenant into battle, so we too should carry the Mother of God into battle to fight against the culture of death.The Ark contained the tablets of the law while Mary’s womb contained the Son of God, in Whom the prophets and the law found their fulfillment.

As the icon made its way up a river, one observer noted: “It is hard to describe the reactions of people in boats and ships passing by.  They waved to us  and in various ways showed their admiration and support.”

Go to the From Ocean to Ocean International Campaign in Defense of Life website to follow the progress in countries such as the Ukraine, Latvia, Croatia, Italy, Germany, Spain, Ireland, etc. Let us pray that the Mother of God will touch all hearts who see her image.

 

Sisters of Life

Today, the Church asks all people to pray for the legal protection of unborn children. Tens of millions of children have died since the Supreme Court ruling of 1973. But out of this darkness, a beautiful seed of hope has arisen — the Sisters of Life. Founded in 1991 by John Cardinal O’Connor for the protection and enhancement of the sacredness of every human life, they profess the three traditional vows but also a special, fourth vow— to protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.

The Sisters of Life, an IRL Affiliate, carry out their mission with the hope of revealing to those they serve the inherent goodness and beauty of their own lives, so that each person may see and experience the truth that they are an unrepeatable creation of the Master.

The Sister of Life are opening their eighth convent in Rockland County, NY, which will be their motherhouse. We pray this day for them and the 700 women a year they serve through outreach programs and advocacy.

“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40).

Open to Life, Open to Vocations

Check out Terry Mattingly’s post from last Thursday entitled “Fewer children? Then fewer nuns . . .” This post is a commentary on an earlier Religion News Service article on that topic, based on the CARA Report on the newly professed religious issued a couple months ago. He asserts that the shrinking of American families has contributed to parents’ unwillingness to have their children enter religious life.

Mattlingly points out that while there is a “season of demographic decline” among women’s religious communities, there are some religious communities are booming. He makes the connection that there must be a doctrinal component in all this and says that’s the Vatican’s take on it, too.

From my own experience as the father of a young religious sister, I can surely affirm it’s a doctrinal matter—both for those entering religious life as well as for the parents, whose faith and lifestyle have a huge influence on their children.

As I noted in my comment at the end of the post, what really struck me was the closing comment about promoting vocations in a “culture nervous about large families.” Large families have alway been considered a sign of hope and divine blessing. Ours is largely a “culture of death” lacking in supernatural hope. And so we’re nervous.

More simply put, if the family is without a living faith and doesn’t esteem religious life (or priesthood or even having more kids), then it’s not fertile soil for vocations. That’s why we need a “new evangelization.”

Marching Orders

Go to the Sisters of Life website.

Sisters of Life at the annual March for Life, Washington, D.C.

Next week marks the 38th anniversary of the notorious Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that created a constitutional “right” to abortion. Christians throughout the land are busily preparing for various pro-life events to mark the occasion. Of course the “granddaddy” of these events is the annual March for Life in Washington, DC.

Proclaiming the “Gospel of Life” in word and action is an integral part of being Catholic. Not surprisingly, then, consecrated men and women have been at the forefront of the pro-life movement. This includes everything from persevering prayer in the cloister to eduational ministries to prayerful witness at abortion clinics to helping women in challenging pregnancies. And so much more.

A shining example of this pro-life focus is the Sisters of Life. They were just founded in 1991 by John Cardinal O’Connor of New York as a contemplative/active community of women religious. As their name suggests, pro-life activity is an essential part of their charism. They even take a special fourth vow to “protect and enhance the sacredness of human life.”

For the Sisters of Life’s schedule for this coming week, click here.

In addition, the Catholic Key Blog of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph posted today a timely pro-life article by Bishop Robert W. Finn, who also currently serves as IRL president. It’s entitled “March for Life: Culmination of Many Efforts to Support and Protect Human Life.” Read it here.