Thursday, August 24, 2017

Who will defend the innocence of our children?

As states impose sexual education on every child in the land, are they truly doing what is best for these children, or have they allowed themselves to become the unwitting tools of an ideology? We who are parents - fathers and mothers - relatives, teachers, pastors, mentors, and other interested parties, are we to stand idly by and allow our children and future generations to be violated and have their innocence shattered? Many German people later regretted having been intimidated by the Nazis and having remained silent out of fear. What is silencing us?

A distinct society

This is Québec, Canada, one of ten provinces known for its "distinct society" since the 1760 British conquest and the 1763 Act of British Parliament which unusually opted to allow French society and culture to continue unchanged alongside the British, which would now be dominant. The British Parliament provided for British Common Law to govern new arrivals (especially British ones) and to allow French civil law to simultaneously continue to govern French-speaking inhabitants.

During the so-called "Quiet Revolution" of the 1960's the Québec provincial government nationalized or privatized many health and social services, which were originally created by the Roman Catholic Church during the first generations of the colony, or which were developed later.

During all the time that elapsed since the foundation of the colonies in Canada between 1534 and 1608 until the mid-1900's, the French population and its clergy - despite differences of opinion and conviction - acted with one will and common purpose when they needed to collaborate to live out together and to preserve their French language, their faith, their values, culture, and society. Primary among their values were marriage, family life, social order, cooperation, and the value of human life as the bases of a harmonious and healthy community and society. This harmonious collaboration in the service of shared values has now eroded and changed.

Sexual education should be dispensed by parents not by strangers in schools

This September of 2017 - next month - the Québec Ministry of Education is poised to impose on the entire school population, from grades one to eleven, the most aggressive sexual education program this land has ever witnessed. This government is in effect aligning itself with those interests which for years now have been intensively lobbying from the United Nations to persuade or compel nations to abandon traditional values regarding human sexuality and any links of meaning or significance with Christian or other religious and moral principles.

The ideology which is driving "Comprehensive Sexuality Education" is in fact conductin a war on children all over the world and clearly trying to eclipse the Judeo-Christian understanding of human life and human sexuality as only one dimension of this life, albeit an important one. The Québec government and its Ministry of Education are aligning themselves with the proponents of the "sexual revolution" initiated by Alfred Kinsey in the 1940's and 1050's with his fraudulent science, and so they are choosing to ignore everything that our society has come to understand about human development and the maturation of the human person, as well as the social and religious values held and defended by this society until recently.

Kinsey and all those who adopted his erroneous data have done great harm to women and children in particular, as well as to men. However, a good number of people have been laboring to expose the fraudulent science with which Kinsey ignited the "sexual revolution" by enthralling educated as well as relatively undeducated people as he demolished social taboos against speaking about sex at all.

I invite you, reader, to reflect on this further with me, that we may see why sexual eduction should be dispensed by parents and not by strangers in schools.

Sexual education touches children to the very depths of their identity and their purpose and meaning in life; so it should happen in the loving and trusting context of the love and care of parents for their children. Parents know their own children most personally and completely, and in their parental love they are the most qualified and competent to dispense their children's complete human formation.

It seems apparent and undisputable, then, that when the state takes over this crucial parental role of introducing children to such an intimate dimension of their human life and identity - which for those who believe in God as He has revealed himself to Jews and Christians is inseparable from our life of faith in a personal and communal relationship with God - then what the state is doing is declaring that its citizens who are parents are incompetent to educate and form their children adequately.

So then, how is the qualification "adequate" being interpreted here? Those interests - that are so bent on having "Comprehensive Sexuality Education" adopted worldwide - want every child on the planet to explore and play with their genitals and those of other children years in advance of their puberty. It is no longer enough for these homosexuals to be accepted by society; now they want all of society to be as they are, and to this end they are attempting to intimidate the whole world into adopting this very aggressive sex education program. In their eyes, only CSE will be adequate to their ends.

Let's be perfectly clear about it - this CSE sex ed program is indoctrination - which is dangerous for children unless their parents ground them in a wholesome understanding of their human sexuality and dignity in accord with their family values. The web and social media already expose most children from a young age to sexual imagery - inappropriate for the most part from many points of view - which is another reason why parents should initiate sex talk with their children from a young age. Some parents may find this easier to do than others, but even when they find it awkward or difficult, it is still well worth doing, and children will be better off for experiencing their parents' support.

For parents and for all those who authentically care for children, the best way to serve what is good for children and most effectively serve their well being,  the context and setting of parental love and trust is to be prioritized and favored as the most adequate to educate and form children to discover and understand most fully and deeply their human sexuality and dignity. Even parents who embrace the secular values that accept the omnipresence of sexual expression advocate for parents to educate their children to understand their sexuality.

Parents naturally would appreciate true collaboration and support from their children's schools, the ministry of education, and their church.  Christian parents can choose from a variety of approaches from a Christian Bible Study to a Catholic online Family Life Education Program. A Roman Catholic woman - wife and mother - in France has developed an incredibly sensitive, insightful, and creative way to speak to her children about their human dignity and sexuality in a way that reveals the full beauty of God's plan for our happiness and "waxes" children to protect them and help them withstand the onslaught of our hyper-sexualized world.

Children and youth are in flux as they grow and develop

Psychological anthropology had firmly established by the 1980's that the human person has not yet experienced the full cycle of its human development until the mid twenties, when a person's identity tends to arrive at sufficient clarity to enable more mature, balanced, and responsible decisions. This means that children and youth are likely to experience a very wide range of emotions and feelings, but that throughout this period they live in a state of relative flux and development.

Care must be taken not to encourage children or youth to "lock themselves in" on a particular state of being or of experience by applying any social or psychological labels to themselves. Whatever it is that they are going through, they are quite likely to change over time. All the more reason then must care be taken to protect children from indoctrination and manipulative exposure to exceptional or risky lifestyles even though these may be portrayed as normal and safe when they actually represent conditions that present greater risk against health and life.

The period between the age of nightmares (from age 3 to 6) and puberty has come to be understood as the latency stage, when pre-pubescent children are not interested in sex and should be respected and allowed to thrive in their innocence. Naturally curious, they may act out their curiosity and play doctor or nurse to "examine" one another. Moreover, if exposed to sexual situations or images they will show interest, but if left on their own and not forcibly exposed to sexual situations, young children are not spontaneously interested. During this stage they may make derogatory remarks or exchange jokes with their peers to mask their interest, especially if their environment is particularly obsessed with sex and won't allow them not to be interested, but we should not conclude that they are. This has been the considered view of those in the medical and psychological professions, parents, teachers, and pastors until the sexual revolution of the mid-1900's.

Political activist interference in medicine, psychiatry, and science by lobby group interests

It is important to realize that some well established medical knowledge, based upon long experience and scientific study, suddenly changed in the final decades of the 20th century, but not for scientific reasons. The latency period was dropped as were all the psychiatric diagnoses that long considered homosexuality and other peripheral sexual practices as deviant or even diseased. 

The APA - The American Psychiatric Association - dropped homosexuality from its DSM II, its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, in 1973. This came shortly after gay lobby activists disrupted the APA annual convention in San Francisco in 1970, quite intimidating the speakers and convention participants. It was not strict science and medical or psychiatric practice that brought these changes in due course. The fraudulent science and ideological claims of Alfred Kinsey in the 1940's and 1950's exerted undue influence as well. The situation was governed more by politics than science.

The latency period in children is real and it protects them

The latency period, though held as a theory, is based upon observation and makes sense. Much of our medical and psychiatric knowledge is constructed on theories that show themselves to be reliable even though it may not be possible to define them as scientific laws. Not all that happens in nature is as clear cut as gravity. Our developmental stages came to be well established and generally accepted until the gay lobby exerted undue political pressure on medical and psychiatric bodies.

The latency period is good for children and it can be shown that they are worse for it when their latency is disturbed. So much is already changing within children that in order to develop a healthy persona they need during these intense few years to "enjoy a break" from the greater complexity and intensity of emotion which will most certainly be generated by puberty and the great upheaval of sexual awareness. They don't need to be forced to give more attention to sexual things sooner than their human nature requires of them, particularly during this period from 6 to 12 when they are far more preoccupied with learning and with competitiveness in a host of domains and activities.

Unless forcibly exposed to sexual things, during the latency stage the normal child is generally not interested in the other gender or in anything sexual, putting behind them their initial curiosity as little children quite intent on playing "doctor" and "nurse". Older children actually find the other gender or any overtly romantic behaviours as "disgusting" and may take great pleasure in declaring this to the world. While there may be subconscious interest or fascination with sexuality in general and with those who are different in particular, children normally like to show their disgust for such things and to remain free to give their attention to the other concerns and activities which they and their peers prioritize, such as comradeship, games, competition, learning, discovery, and adventure.

We must be alert to sexual abuse and vigorously protect children and all minors

There is a legitimate concern that some children are forcibly exposed to sexual matters, or worse, are actually abused sexually through exposure or by being touched and manipulated by others who are more sexually aware or even predatory. Sexual abuse of minors is a very grave wrong and we must do all we can to prevent it and to care for those who have suffered in such ways. However, protecting the innocence of every single child in a society can never justify broad exposure of all children to controversial sexual lifestyles as a strategy to protect them in advance from abuse by alerting them to every possible danger in exhaustive detail.

What is a woman? What is a man?

Our best understanding of human life is that we require some 25 years to emerge from basic human development with sufficient balance and depth to make responsible decisions for ourselves and for others. Our discussions about human sexuality likewise are more likely to serve the common good on the basis of altruism, that is, selfless love of others, as the primary principle that organizes human existence. This does not for all that exclude the legitimate love of self.

The woman who is aware of her own impulse to seek pleasure and avoid pain but who restrains her impulses when motivated by consideration for and love of others is, in this view, more feminine than should she favor herself over others. She is not forever depriving herself but deliberately choosing to withdraw her attention from self satisfaction for the time it takes for her to care for others, and the more she is willing to endure discomfort - even pain - out of love for others, the more womanly she is. Moreover, there is a higher or deeper or more perfect sense of joy or pleasure or satisfaction available to her for doing so, for serving others in this way. Putting up with labor pains for the sake of giving birth to her child(ren) is the classic example of female altruism.

A man is most manly when he puts up with discomfort and delays or puts aside his own pleasure to attend to and serve the needs and pleasure of others. The more patient, selfless, and courageous he is, the more manly he is deemed to be and appreciated and loved. A classic example of male altruism or selfless love is for a father to put the good of his wife and his children ahead of his own benefit or comfort, even to the point of laying down his life for them.

Similarly, this husband will withdraw his attention from his own pleasure as he approaches his wife in intimacy in order to attend to her; in order for the groom of the bride - the bridegroom - to "groom" his bride or care for her in the ways in which she most needs to be cared for. In the act of sexual intercourse, the male is notoriously "faster" than the female, and this tends to result in dissatisfaction or even pain for the woman when the man is preoccupied with his own pleasure and attending to himself rather than to his wife.

Chaste lovers versus sexual addicts

This is the whole point of chastity in the Judeo-Christian world view and anthropology: a chaste man approaches his wife not seeking his own pleasure but motivated and focusing his attention and energy on expressing love to his wife by attending to her appreciation and pleasure. In response, a chaste woman gladly receives pleasure from her husband and dwells not on her own pleasure only but rather with the beloved who is pleasuring her and responds to him with love, gratitude, and tenderness.

Chastity is primarily and constantly loving the other, not the pleasure I am getting in their company. Chaste love chooses to love the giver of the gift rather than merely on the gift or the pleasure it gives. Chaste marital embrace brings husband and wife face to face, revealing themselves to one another as they do their best to do all day long every day of their lives. How deeply they may contemplate and look into each other's soul through the windows of their eyes as they tenderly hold one another in loving embrace....

This is one reason why the many forms of sexual pleasuring rampant today that tend to join face to genitals rather than face to face may cause feelings of discomfort or embarrassment or shame in one or the other. We can be suspicious that what motivates one to want such things has more to do with desires that evoke addictive impulses than with authentic love of the other. A second reason to doubt the life-giving character of such practices comes from what motivated the Creator to assign pleasure to that specific function that is capable of giving life, of conceiving new life. We can legitimately doubt the validity of any other use we may want to make of sexual pleasure. The chaste conservation of genital sexuality for marriage and family is primarily a manifestation of respect for the procreative act, for the incalculable value of human life, and for the intention of the Creator.

Chastity outside of the relationship of husband and wife opens itself to a love that is wider and deeper than mere sexual passion and pleasure. Outside of marriage, people who love chastely put aside all that seeks sexual gratification in order to attend fully to the people they love and serve, as well as to attend with their full attention to the many complex facets of human life alone and together. Chastity opens one fully to experience and appreciate the simple pleasure of being alive and participating fully in one's life in every wholesome and moral way other than sexual genital expression.

Chastity reveals to human beings that genital sexual expression is not a basic human need akin to our need for food, drink, shelter, heat, clothing, work, society, play, truth, goodness, and beauty. All of these are necessary for human life; whereas genital sexual expression is not. People have clearly demonstrated in every culture and time that human beings can life a fully meaningful and happy life without sex, but there are many today who want to suppress this knowledge and history.

The ephemeral in love is a doorway to the infinite, to the divine

Sexual pleasure is notoriously brief and ephemeral, which is one reason why there is so much hype about it in human society these days. It is an attempt to strech out that sexual pleasure by capitalizing on the pleasure of anticipation. There is no doubting that anticipation is truly a precious aspect of our human existence. Even more precious is the contemplation of which we the human species are all uniquely capable. Married couples - husbands and wives - have witnessed that there is no greater pleasure than laying side by side after having given and received from one another in sexual union.

The undisputably ephemeral character of sexual pleasure is the greatest clue it contains that it was designed not to be experienced in isolation but in conjunction with a close friendship that grows into ever greater and greater depths. True love of the other wants to remain with the other forever to go on pouring oneself out in loving service of the other. Sexual union taken as a rogue act denies this truth and actually inflicts harm on the other as well as on oneself.

The inseparable bonds between sexual union, marriage, new life, and family are strong evidence for their design by a benevolent, loving Creator. Taken by itself, or for its own sake, sexual pleasure in "deflating" emotional energy leads to depression, disappointment, and intensifies loneliness; rather than intensifying communion and selfless love, for which it was designed. Employed as a natural means for developing couple unity and communion in marriage, sexual union unceasingly builds on the past and looks to the future while it attends so generously to the other in the present.

Moreover, for those who believe in God, God's love is enough to more than satisfy the human heart. In fact, only the love of God can truly and lastingly satisfy and fulfill the human heart, even that of spouses, and the love of God relieves spouses of the impossible burden of "making their spouse happy", which is humanly impossible. No human can "make another happy", but God can, because only God can perfectly bestow his life, his own self, upon us. In his Gospel John the Apostle and Evangelist reports Jesus declaring that we can only have life fully by welcoming his gift of himself into us, into our lives.

Sexual union in view of contemplation and the integration of human  life

From the moment they met and fell in love they have grown in their personal capacity to attend to the other and effectively express to the other their love and appreciation, their mutual help and service, and to discover ever more creative ways to spend time together, alone and including their children in time, as well as their families of origin, other relatives, friends, associates, those with whom they share their faith, neighbours, and even strangers. All week long they share their common life and the elements of their lives that are particular and unique to each of them. They journey together even as they are engaged in separate labors, duties, and activities.

Day by day they grow in admiration for one another's qualities and giving of themselves to others, and in compassion and understanding for one another's weaknesses and shortcomings. They offer each other mutual help, encouragement, support, forgiveness, rescue when needed, care, sollicitude, and love. All their intensity of living as individuals and of sharing their lives together and building up this new entity that is their "couple" relationship is what builds their family and creates their home, and it is into this "nest" that they welcome their children when these arrive; whether it is through their own mutual giving in conception and birth or by adoption.

It is all this living and giving and loving that is the true "foreplay" of love between husbands and their wives, which is going on all the time, and the more conscious they are of this truth; then the more beautiful and satisfying - even thrilling - are the moments they experience and efforts they deploy in anticipation of coming together in love and affectionate embrace. By the time they come to their moments of sexual union, their minds, hearts, and souls - for having lived their love for one another so truthfully and completely all week long - are vibrating more deeply and intensively than their bodies. Once their moment of sexual union is over - as it so quickly tends to be - they relax in the utter satisfaction of mutual love and contemplation as they lay side by side, glowing with the love they have for the other and the love they feel and receive from the other in the blessed relationship and union which they are uniquely privileged to enjoy together.

It is in this contemplative dimension of their marriage relationship that Christian husbands and wives discover the loving presence of God as the very source and fountain of the love pouring into them, through them, and out from them to one another and to their children. In contemplating one another in love, wives and husbands discover God revealing Himself in his perfect divine love to them in the person of their spouse. It is precisely for this revelation and life infilling of love that God the Creator designed human beings in his own image, male and female in complementary difference; so that in their willingness to forget about oneself they might in ever greater depths discover themselves and receive more abundant life in the very act of loving the other by giving themselves away.

Forgiveness pushes the boundaries and expands the limits of human love

For people who embrace the Creator's design for our life and loving, they discover how to live in two dimensions simultaneously: the human and the divine. In the human dimension they learn how to live through both pleasure and pain / discomfort without allowing these experiences to overly impress or disturb them; while in the divine dimension they discover ever more deeply how to love the other by pouring themselves out and spending themselves completely in a self-giving that ironically renews the self through the very act of pouring the self out, of spending the self to the very last drop for the sake of the other and the other's highest good. This is what could be called an integrated human sexuality because the sexual dimension is fully integrated into the full meaning and purpose of human existence with all the complexity and depth of what it means to be human.

You may have heard or read the expression or proverb: "to err is human, to forgive, divine." "All people commit sins and make mistakes. God forgives them, and people are acting in a godlike, divine way, when they forgive." This saying is from "An Essay on Criticism" by Alexander Pope. Christian spouses or spouses inspired by Christ who practice mutual forgiveness consistently plumb ever more profound depths of authentic love as they become ever more intimately familiar with one another's faults and are hurt by one another's sins and yet faithfully forgive the other with a pure heart sincerely desiring the other's good, conversion, and perfection. This dimension of forgiveness exponentially increases the mutual love of spouses and enhances their sexual embracing and expressions of love.

This is so because there can be no more perfect or authentic expression of love than forgiveness; since to forgive is to give with no assurance of ever receiving an equal return. Every time they are hurt and forgive, every time they have offended and been forgiven, every time they embrace and show love to the other, every time they pour themselves out in selfless effort and the giving over of their self, every time they love with divine love; every time, they add layers of beauty, truth, and goodness to their spousal love and mutual relationship. Every time they lay side by side after their embraces in the nuptial bed, they continue to weave the tapestry that is their married and family life and make room in its warmth for their children and all those they welcome into their "home".

Matrimony qualifies parents to educate and initiate their children to the beauty of living to love

All of this endeavour transforms marriage from a human contract into a divine covenant, from sexual union into matrimony, which is from the latin mater for mother and monium for state or condition. Matrimony is this enterprise of love initiated by the man / groom / husband and reciprocated by the woman / bride / wife, which creates the optimum conditions for the woman to transform into mother and fully activating her awesome powers for giving and nurturing life, not only for her children but also for her husband and for all those that are privileged to be welcomed into the family circle.

When married couples, husband and wife, embrace this awesome design in their mutual love, they experience the very love of God in each other and in their pouring out selflessly of themselves for the other. It is this very presence of the divine life-giving Spirit within their love and their couple that gives ever more life to husband and wife and the children they welcome into their family. They have every reason to be peaceful and to experience with great joy their great freedom and dignity in God, and have no true reason to be ashamed of their sexuality. They can enjoy and exercise their authority fully as parents to form their children in this wondrous understanding of the meaning and significance of human sexuality and its role in giving both life and love.

The complementarity of marriage and celibacy in the kingdom of God

It can truly be said then that woman needs man in order to fully develop her potential as woman; just as man needs woman in order to fully develop his potential as man. The man needs to love his wife - this other who will always be different from him - accepting in this way without limit to endure pain and deprivation and forgetfulness of his own impulses, needs, and wants, even to the point of laying down his life; in order to become truly manly. The woman needs to be cherished and loved to this extent by her husband in order to fully appreciate her own riches and generosity and so bloom and discover within her depths her almost limitless capacity to give of her riches, pouring out her very life in order to give and nurture life to others without destroying herself.

In the Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions, what is true of marriage and matrimony is equally true of celibate vocations whereby men and women separately pour themselves out in love and service to their fellow human beings in a great variety of life settings: for medical and social services; for education and human formation; for art, music, and literature; for the cultivation of the Earth and its resources; for the solitary and communal contemplation of the mystery of God; and for providing the opportunity and means for their fellow human beings to come to know, love, serve, and worship the Almighty. This too expands the horizons of all that can be integrated into our human experience.

Integrated human sexuality versus sexology

It would be foolish not to acknowledge that for other human beings, the acceptance or quest for pleasure and the avoidance of pain and discomfort is the primary organizing principle of human life. It is logical then for such people to view sexual pleasure as everywhere and always desirable, in or out of marriage. It their view, given that sexual pleasure is ever available and seems to cost nothing, it makes perfect sense to prioritize it.

From among the adherents of this view of human life and sex we hear that some see themselves as champions of the rights of children and youth to suffer no restrictions in the enjoyment of sex, not even from their parents. What they are doing is substituting themselves as the primary care givers of children, by the same token declaring those parents incompetent and holding them in contempt as likely antagonists working against children's sexual emancipation.

As this trend grows, tolerating no religious or moral principles that would limit in any way their quest for unrestricted sexual pleasure; the appearance of a new layer of society more intensively interested in sex has coincided with the development of "sexology" as a new profession with a claim to seek to help people with sexual dysfunctions or difficulties. Those who embrace this new trend may tend to reject the notion of a period of latency in children to favor the view that human beings are interested in sex in differing degrees from birth throughout their lives. These folks would be among the most energetic proponents of a school based Sex Education program to "trump" the parents.

Comprehensive Sexuality Education - a euphemism for sex without moral restraints

What we are currently witnessing throughout the world could be characterized as a hostile takeover by an aggressive sexual ideology - euphemistically called "Comprehensive Sexuality Education" - which is currently pushing on the world stage to displace what has been the normal constellation of human values since time immemorial. Credible witnesses report weekly the relentless attacks at the United Nations that aggressively seek to impose on all member nations their sexual ideology, which seeks to promote particular lobby interests rather than the actual good and rights of children.

The manifest intention of these lobbyists is to displace those values contained in the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" and adopted by the United Nations in 1948 and replace them with the complex ideology which underpins what is being called "The Global Sexual Revolution." It is no coincidence that Dr Alfred Kinsey published his first book to disintegrate western society's social and moral values with his first book also in 1948, ostensibly launching the "sexual revolution".

During the French Revolution the Marquis de Sade may have been the first to portray as pleasurable and desirable with the written word forms of sexuality that society found to be perverse. Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) and the Eugenics Movement has been less known but most people living today have at least heard of the Nazi's "pure race" National Socialist ideology which they carried out in Germany by exterminating all those deemed "impure". Here is a quote from Sanger indicating her thought about "engineering" the kind of society we want tomorrow through abortion.

“How are we to breed a race of human thoroughbreds unless we follow the same plan? We must make this country into a garden of children instead of a disorderly back lot overrun with human weeds.” (1924)
Eugenics was "in the air" at the beginning of the 20th century and popularly held in intelligentsia circles, at least some of them, primarily out of a concern for "overpopulation". Margaret is recognized as the foundress of "Planned Parenthood" which movement is far less about parenthood and planning for children and far more about planning for a reduction of babies, particularly among segments of society considered to be less worthy of passing on their genes. This movement is also promoting sex without consequences or risks, which is an illusion and a lie generating deadly effects throughout society. It generates a culture that holds in contempt the very idea of sexual abstinence.

De Sade and Sanger are among the pillars upon which today's sexual activists have their footing. In most societies it is the husband and wife couple that are the heart of the family, and any other models of sexual expression have been marginalized by the majority of their populations. This consigning to the margins may have been simply through benign neglect or withdrawal of attention or through active and even severe persecution and repression. One clear feature of the 20th century has been the various movements of emancipation and liberation, most notably of black slaves in the Americas.

Emancipation has been co-opted as an ideology by homosexuals in what was initially deployed as the social engineering agenda of the "gay lobby" in the middle of the 20th century. Documents internal to this movement have since come to light delineating a clear and deliberate strategy to approach the general population by winning sympathy to their espoused cause of liberation from persecution. Once sympathy was won, the next step was to progressively erode the general population's aversion to homosexuality until this different perspective was accepted as an alternative to the traditional model of marriage and family.

We need to distinguish the political movement from the lives of real people and families

What appeared to be the destination or final goal of the gay lobby was the advent of "gay marriage" or the social acceptance of marriage between two people of the same sex. In fact and practice, "same sex marriage" has stretched the traditional definition of marriage to the point that the word no longer means what it used to mean. Furthermore, the understanding of parenting has also been stretched to make the exceptional situation of single parenting a basis for extending this exceptional reality and practice as a normative alternative for parenting by two mothers or fathers.

We need to carefully make the distinction here between political movements and lobbying and the real lives of people and families. I would dare venture that most if not all of us know someone, maybe even someone whom we love dearly, who have entered into a "same sex civil marriage" and / or are raising children with two mothers or two fathers. As Pope Francis said so well, "Who am I to judge?" We can only have admiration and respect for anyone who brings children into the world or adopts them and the commits decades of their lives to raising them to live a meaningful life.

What we are discussing here is the political movements that are trying to replace traditional values with peripheral ones, that is, trying to indoctrinate children into thinking that a homesexual lifestyle is equal in value to the marriage of one man and one woman for the raising of children, and going so far as to encourage all children to experiment with homosexual sexual expression from a young age in order to engineer a society in which the homosexual agenda may become the dominant one. In the long experience of humanity, it can be fairly and justly said that children have a right to a mother and a father, to have both parents. The gay lobby will have none of that.

In the last few years it has become shockingly apparent that the impression that same sex marriage and parenting would be the final destination of the gay lobby was just that, a false impression, and nothing more. "Gay rights" has since progressively developed towards a full blown ideology which step by step was publicized as "lesbian and gay" rights, then "lesbian, gay, and bisexual" rights, then "lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transexual" rights, then "LGBTQ" rights (adding Q for queer, or for some, questioning, and swapping transexual for transgendered), and most recently with the full deployment of "gender theory" initially in Europe, "LGBTQIA" rights, where T is for transgendered, I is for Intersex, and A is for Asexual.

It is finally clear now for all to see and understand that this entire social movement values, promotes, and champions nothing less than unlimited and unrestricted sex devoid of any traditional morality. This is not to say that those who bear in their spirits these convictions and aspirations are incapable of selfless love and dedication. On the contrary. Every human being is capable of altruism and at some point feels drawn to give selflessly, even courageously and generously. What we are considering here is the degree to which any individual or group wants human life and society to be sexualized. Once again, we are discussing here political manipulation of society and not the value of real lives.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is no longer quite as universal as it was

Before all these social revolutions, church, government, and most if not all public institutions served the public purpose of defending and promoting the values of the general population and the common good, which since the time of the colony consisted primarily but not exclusively of Judeo-Christian faith and values. While it is true that these values and the lives upon which they are based have gone through varying degrees of erosion; the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights has continued to most accurately represent this society's foundational values, particularly with regard to marriage and family life, and public institutions reflected this fact.

In the public square the primary motor driving change appears to have been what has rapidly evolved from the "gay lobby" into the "LGBTQIA" ideology. At the outset the gay lobby simply called for the general society to recognize as equal citizens those with a different sexual orientation and to help stop persecution and unjust treatment towards such persons. A major shift is now occurring as you read this from Europe to the Americas to Oceania and soon to Asia and Africa: those pushing this complex of ideologies is now demanding that their ideology and interpretation of human anthropology replace all that has gone before. For a growing number of individuals and practitioners of various social, medical, and psychological services, "wall to wall" sex is already the "new normal". Ultimately now, there are those who want children to be so indoctrinated that any other view of what is a human being, what is human life, and what is human sexuality will be stamped out.

The new sex education program will be encouraging children from grade one if not from kindergarten to "explore their sexuality" in every way imaginable, and presenting this as the new normal. Anything else will be increasingly seen as deviant, and perhaps soon, criminal. If you don't believe these words, then check it out for yourself.

December 8th, 1995, the Roman Catholic Church published "The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality" which expresses clearly and intelligibly the place and role of our sexuality in our human life and both private and social beings. Sections V to VIII are specifically addressed to parents as the first educators of their children and declares that states should never displace or attempt to substitute for the parents, and that formation of children in their affective lives and in their human sexuality should take place within the context of their loving and trusting relationship with their parents and with reference to the constellation of our moral values and faith if at all possible.

More life and more love, not less

The good news brought to the Earth and humanity by the Son of God who became incarnate of the Virgin Mary, was born in Bethlehem, and came to be known as Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary and of Joseph the carpenter - this good news that He brought by his very life and example and then more explicitly in his preaching, miracles, passion, death, and resurrection - this good news is for all of humanity to experience more life and more love, not less.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believe in him may not perish but may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not believe are condemned already, because they have not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. For all who do evil hate the light and do not come to the light, so that their deeds may not be exposed. But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God." John 3:16-21
Jesus revealed even more clearly than the Word of God in the Jewish Scriptures that God loves every human being and wants to pour into each person his own divine life. All He asks is that we come to know his ways and then to abide in them. The "manufacturer" has the right to issue instructions or a "user's manual", which is what God has done. It is up to each of us to take greater interest in what He has to say to us about Himself - about God - as well as about us, about our human life. After all, our life here is only a beginning, and when we die, we bring with us all that we have become as a person, both the good and the bad. We hope to lay aside all the bad and retain only the good by the end.

Monday, April 24, 2017

“Please, talk to me about love, Mommy, Daddy.”

“Please, talk to me about love, Mommy, Daddy.”

Notes from a conference in French “S’il-vous-plaît, parlez-moi d’amour”given at the Diocese’s offices March 29th, 2017 by Inès Pélissié du Rausas, a mother who has written books on how parents can form their children well at the various stages of their development in ways appropriate to each age to understand and live well their human sexuality. 

Inès advocates precocious but progressive education of children with tenderness by their parents in contrast to the intrusion of culture and society which, truthfully, is erroneous, violent, and damaging, all too often ruining or at the very least hurting our children’s innocence and ability to appreciate all the beauty, truth, and goodness of the gift of life entrusted to them by God and their own great dignity and that of others.
As lionesses are so ferocious in defending their young; so too should we be as parents to defend and form our children regarding their vocation, their calling to eternal life, which is at stake, and the spiritual strength God offers us with Marriage and family life. Let us think not only of our own children, but also of the children of others and of the poor. We need to rediscover or to acquire for the first time our spinal column, our backbone, and stand up for our children, for our family, for our Marriage, for others, for the poor, for the Church, for humanity, and for God.
With the Holy Spirit we have at hand an infinite variety of new solutions to age old problems created when people – motivated by so many hidden goals driving them – tamper with our children and seek to “play around” with their innocent, vulnerable, trusting and hearts. No one must play around with our children’s hearts!

PRESSURES AND LOBBIES

There are 3 lobbies and “outside interests” putting considerable pressure everywhere and all the time on our children, and particularly on what the marketing strategists call “pre-adolescents”. In reality, there is no such thing as a pre-adolescent unless it is in the interest of someone to target children in the “latency stage” in view of influencing them in advance of becoming adolescents. The latency stage is what children live from the age of 6 until puberty, when in principle all sexual things don’t interest them or are even repugnant to them. In other words, there are interests out there addressing our children in the latency stage as though they were already adolescents, or potential adolescents, or children wanting to become adolescents. These interests threaten to interrupt the safety of the latency stage as they prematurely stimulate the imagination of children and, in so doing, to damage their innocence.

Tactic # 1.                   Under the pretext of taking the defense of freedoms / liberties and equality, such as, for example, the fight against AIDS, all manner of misinformation and outright lies are propagated, always with the overhanging threat of severe reprisals upon anyone who might dare to oppose this tactic in real life and time.

Tactic # 2.                   Consider all the frantic activity around pornography – such as with the considerable pressure on parents to provide their young children with an I-Pad, or I-Phone, or Laptop, or their equivalent – to sever the safety ties of young children to their parents and make them free to “roam” and be led astray by any number of “wolves” in sheep’s clothing presented to them in any number of creative and cleverly disguised ways.
        All pornographic voices and images and words speak of prostitution – none of them speak of love, not of true love, nor of divine love – but always of pleasure, greed, power, and domination. Solicitation to draw children into various forms of prostitution of their bodies as pleasure objects and to treat others not as persons but as pleasure objects often takes violent forms but is always aggressive with dangerous consequences.                                  
                    The person of the child is hurt, damaged, within their very self, but they also become dangerous for others by being conditioned to believe that they are incapable of mastering or restraining their own impulses.

SOLUTION                   We must do all we can to protect our children against these attacks and form them to learn to avoid such animal and predatory behaviors as are portrayed and promoted by pornography in all its forms. What is hopeful is that with children we can always repair any damage, and they can always learn and grow. With a child we can always love and begin afresh.

Tactic # 3.                   We have all become painfully aware of and familiar with the latest new ideology which aggressively seeks to impose on young and vulnerable children and adolescents and even young adults a burden to select their own gender, as if our gender were an “à la carte” activity for human beings. Gender ideology negates human sex and gender by replacing male and female with homosexual and heterosexual, M - F with H - H.
                        This new ideology seeks to replace the individuality and complementarity of our human nature as designed by God with pleonasm – that is, with what is the same as, with redundancy – favoring what is the same as me, rejecting what is different from me. It is the destruction of the richness of complementarity for the sake of the identical.

SOLUTION                   We must avoid using any other terms than those given to us by God – male and female – and simply say that I am woman, or I am man, girl or boy. The term “heterosexual” was coined by a German who wanted to promote homosexual activity in the 18th/19th century. He used from the Greek “heteros” which means different and “sexue” or in Latin “sexus” which means separate or different. In other words, the term is redundant, saying the same thing twice. It’s a clever trick to annihilate the final purpose of our human sexuality – which is life and union for life and stability in Marriage and family life – and replace it with individuals seeking after their own pleasure.                          
                             In the Creator’s plan for our happiness, the finality of our human sexuality is union and fecundity, life and family. These other “interests” want to promote “sex ed” – that is, education to sexual practices that it is claimed “everyone wants” and how to practice them providing safety and protection from sexually transmitted infections and diseases. However, there is never any question or concern in “sex ed” to protect the person in all that we are and can be.
                             Such “sex ed” ignores and tramples the meaning and beauty of the human body as well as the body’s union to relationship, marriage, children, and family, and the truth that we all want to be loved. All the “dirty” content damages the child’s heart by presenting a perversion of human sexuality. The solution is to reach the child’s heart by treating with the truth, love, beauty, and life, which is good news, and “different from what you have seen”, what is presented out there in the world, in culture, and in the various media of mass and social communication.

SUMMARY         The pre-adolescent or rather the child in the latency and innocent stage is “beaten up or mugged” by publicity which treats him like and adolescent when he isn’t one yet.

First we have to present love as beautiful before we can treat what is dirty, false, violent, etc. We only have to look at video clips that turn various scenarios into pornography. Porn is to be avoided by everyone in all of its forms, because this garbage expresses itself in the heart and hardens it. The world of “hot” folks is actually glacial… cold… without real love which builds the other up without exploiting him or her.

7 to 8 years old is the age of reason which introduces a new form of stability for the child who leaves infancy behind.

6 or 7 to 12 is the latency period during which a form of modesty awakens and manifests itself in different ways. From now on the child wants to bathe alone, now having a greater awareness of himself, of his body. 

As a result the boy displays a kind of repugnance for everything sexual and even for marks of affection for members of the opposite sex.

The young girl for her part may begin to keep an intimate diary which must be protected from her brothers.

In any case parents must gently open their child to others during this period during which both girls and boys are inclined to close in on themselves.

In the west for the past 100 years puberty has been advancing and showing itself younger; without doubt due to pollution and the increased presence of estrogen in the environment due to the pill and other sources which end up in the waters and the soils and, as a result, in the food chain.

THE CHILD IN THE LATENCY STAGE

Paradox # 1.                       The child is really connected but very alone. He has a great need to be loved. Parents should ask themselves, “Does my child know that I love him?” Even in the culture we see evidence of this unavoidable truth as, for example, in the “Harry Potter” series of novels we see from beginning to end the conviction that “evil can do nothing against the sacrificial love of a mother.”
                Our children need to be absolutely loved by their parents, no matter the conditions. In addition there is the even greater good that they are wanted and loved by God. Let’s do what we must so that they can bathe in the love of God.

Paradox # 2.                       During this latency stage the child puts forward “me by myself” but for all that we continue to deliberately accompany, congratulate, and surround him with our love, perhaps a little more discretely, but just as truly and personally, despite the new “distance”.

Paradox # 3.                       External autonomy versus interior liberty – The child now becomes more competent in getting around and doing things, but going about taking care of his own needs by himself requires maturity, more than he is likely to have at this age. His incomplete maturity requires a degree of support that varies from one child to another. Parents need to observe and realize that during this latency stage the child cannot yet be really mature or entirely autonomous.                                                                                                                           Here lies the great challenge for the parent who is too busy and tired: to recharge his strength and energy for the good of the child in his suffering, pain, and shadows. The challenge is all the greater for the parent still living with his own sufferings, pain, and shadows; which he must manage privately in order to continue providing the emotional education of the child. This emotional education of the child becomes all the more difficult in view of the child’s own interior states. At this level, what the parent is going through can make him more compassionate to the states through which his child is passing, and this same compassion can allow the parent to sufficiently forget himself to attend to his child’s needs.
                          In the matter of emotional education in his human nature and sexuality, the child has the right to see, to hear, and to know his parents’ love story, and thus, his origins. It doesn’t matter if one of the parents and spouses is no longer around. The remaining parent must put aside all recrimination he may feel against his ex- spouse; because the child has both the right and the need to know about his origins in the love that his parents had for one another, and hence, for him their child.

EMOTIONAL AND SEXUAL EDUCATION OF CHILDREN BEFORE ADOLESCENCE

The emotional and sexual education of our children needs to happen before they enter into adolescence, and it can begin as soon as they ask questions that remotely or closely touch all that has to do with their origin or sexuality. This education of the child by their parent must always be done with great tenderness and affection; for this is the most faithful expression of the truth about love which gives life not only at the beginning but which continues to give life all during life. Given the human and cultural situation in which we currently live, parents need reference points in order to effectively embark on the emotional and sexual education of their children.

Reference point # 1.                      Human love is lived in the world of human persons. Human beings are not things, not animals, not machines, not toys, but persons. We, human beings, we are a living network of body, soul, spirit, mind, and heart. So we’re not talking about a model of animal instinct as in wild or domesticated beasts. We are not human beasts, but rather human persons. This is why we absolutely reject all forms of pornography, of prostitution, or of perverted sexuality which, in every case, showcases instinctual, impulsive, and therefore, animal behaviors and activities.  

Reference point # 2.                      Your body – is you – it is not a thing which belongs to you, but you are your body at the same time that you are also your soul, your spirit, your mind, and your heart, which all together form the person that you are. So what your body lives, you live it too. That is why all behaviors which deform the human person and human sexuality by whatever pornographic expression – such as submission to concupiscence or instinctive behaviors such as fellatio and others – are a disruption of your dignity.                                          Serial or repeated sexual relations harden the heart which becomes incapable of truly loving or being loved; which brings deep suffering of isolation and interior cold. Having recourse to pornography causes the person with a hard heart no longer to believe in real love or even in life. Such a person may either be swallowed up in the impulse to suicide or may seek an escape in the artificial option of “no sex” or refusing to identify with any gender: “I am neither male nor female, neither man nor woman”.

Reference point # 3.                      Faced wit hall this pollution of ideas, of propaganda, and of interior states, what do we say to our children? “I am made to love… I have a heart.” The parent can and must soak the heart of their child in love and the child will himself or herself recognize “garbage” assertions. In the same way that one must wax well with many repetitions a piece of furniture made from high quality wood to protect it from stains; so must parents must “wax well” their children’s hearts, spirits, minds, and souls. The “layers” of wax are so many intimate moments of complicity with their child as they entertain all sorts of assertions about love – about their parents’ love but also about God’s love – of which he, the child, is the product and of which he continues to be the object, and of which he is also now becoming the subject, capable of loving in his turn in a disinterested fashion with a sacrificial love.

VOCABULARY EVOCATIVE AND FORMATIVE TO THE VOCATION TO LOVE

The mommy’s tummy, the mommy’s uterus is a safe cradle for the baby right next to the mommy’s heart where the baby hears his mommy’s heart, and together they make the music of two hearts beating together.

How will the baby come out of mommy’s tummy? The baby will come out by a little path reserved for life and for love, reserved for the baby to live, and also reserved for love and therefore for the daddy.

The vagina of the mommy is made only for life and for love.

The anus is for something else, to let the body get rid of garbage.
The channel for pee is also for getting rid of garbage, even if it seems to be the same channel for two different things, it is only part of it which is shared, but by only one thing at a time.


THE TIDAL WAVE OF INNOCENT CHILDREN'S QUESTIONS

How did the baby get into mommy’s tummy?

Path of love # 1.           The baby entered into mommy’s tummy be the same special path that the baby will take to come out on his birthday. It is the little path reserved for life and for love, for the heart.

Path of love # 2.           Daddy and Mommy love each other and tell each other, but it isn’t enough – just like when you are glad to see me and give me a hug – so Daddy and Mommy give each other a special hug.

Path of love # 3.           When the heart of the daddy and the mommy are full of love; then the daddy’s heart is also full of love and he is able to give all his love to the mommy. The Daddy’s rod gently lifts up and is able to enter into the mommy’s path which is reserved for life and for love.

Path of love # 4.           Then there is a crowning of their love… there is great joy in their united hearts and bodies, and it is from this love that the child begins to exist in the mommy’s tummy.

ADOLESCENTS

The education of our children belongs to our right and our duty to think and to speak. Various ideologies try to intimidate us and reduce us to silence, but it is more essentially our right and our duty to speak more precisely to our children who, for their part, have both the right and the need to know the whole truth about their life and their origin, their human nature, and their human sexuality. Adolescents now observe the dichotomy among the various voices demanding their attention and allegiance; so we must approach them with a much more precise language.

Approach # 1.                  Confronted by all the voices speaking of human sexuality, with adolescents we need to talk all the more precisely, because they have a greater need to understand more concretely.

Approach # 2.                  We must also speak to them of the interior battle and of self mastery; that as human persons we have a great capacity for self-control, but we must exercise it, and that our self mastery grows with time and practice, and that the love of God is the source of our interior strength. It is God who loves us first and who draws us to love Him, to love others, and to love ourselves.

Approach # 3.                  It is good and necessary for us to elicit in the child – and eventually the adolescent – admiration for the perfection of love. Loving is like having a good voice. To sing well one must see and know the partition well. The lyrics and notes of the partition are: respect for the other, fidelity to the other, tenderness towards the other, and paying attention to the expectations of the other.

Approach # 4.                  Homophilia – at the beginning of adolescence youth find reassurance in their peers and can feel all kinds of emotions towards their peers, but there is nothing sexual about it. However today the culture (which for decades has been manipulated by those with strategic agendas to change society’s attitudes) so the culture tries to sexualize the other. Unfortunately, this sexualization of the other renders more difficult any ordinary true and disinterested friendship without any sexual overtones.

Approach # 5.                  One must certainly not listen to voices that advocate “trying everything” in terms of sexual activity, because we have a “body memory” which even after a single act colors everything that follows. That is why outside of the loving relationship of one man and one woman in a committed, permanent, exclusive, and faithful union, such as in marriage, all sexual activity conditions the human heart on a path of egoism and the quest for personal pleasure; which hardens the human heart and makes true love all the more difficult.

Approach # 6.                  A youth can become aware of a “dragger” or homosexual predator trying to impose on him or her. This youth must understand – this is absolutely essential – that “feeling” something is not “consenting”. The youth, like any human person, remains ever free to ask himself, “What do I want?” and “Is this good or not?” the “No!” of which I am capable in my conscience protects me in order to one day be able to say a beautiful “Yes!” to the person that I will choose to love and who will love me in return.

Approach # 7.                  The young adolescent woman like the young adult woman can find herself temporarily in the condition of “homo femini” or fear of male sexuality because of its violent portrayal in pornography. She must learn from her parents that it isn’t really like that in a loving relationship between human persons.

Parents, have many gratuitous moments sitting down face to face with your child. See the relationship of befriending when the fox meets the little prince. We must approach gently, and that takes time. For boys, it’s better by the father; but if not, the mother must do it. For example, the mother can say to him, “Your father and I want to tell you…”

THE SPIRITUAL LIFE OF CHILDREN

Original sin consists in man and woman turning away from their relationship with God the Creator to prefer making up their own life, their own reality, their own universe, their own definition of human life and of good and evil. There is nothing more painful in our human condition than this isolation from God, who is not only our origin in love but also our destiny.

That is why it is essential for parents to introduce their child to God. However, we cannot give what we do not already possess. Still, with God, it is never too late. So, the simple realization by parents that there is somewhere within them some sort of desire to give their children what is best can already open within them the gateway to all that is “beyond”. These are the opportunities in real time, in the present moment, to give their children the “sacraments” or knowledge of God, or prayer, or spirituality, or faith.

The heart of the Judeo-Christian Tradition is clearly that the God who is good and loving, the Creator of the Universe, wants to have a relationship of friendship and love with every human person. God, who is infinitely rich, wants to give us everything, but all the obstacles that exist are within us… the “gates” within us are not always open, or else they are not always open wide.

BAPTISM – At Baptism God the Holy Trinity engenders within the human person a “family relationship” of adoption introducing the person – even a newborn baby – into the heart of the relationship of communion already existing from all eternity and which “defines” the divine being we call God and whose nature Jesus has revealed as a “communion of divine persons in a single divine being”. The life that exists in God in perfect love and perfect harmony begins to “flow” or “vibrate” in us, and we begin to “live in God”. As for everything else regarding our human life on Earth, this new life “in God” must be cultivated, first by our parents and godparents, but gradually by the free and motivated participation of the child himself or herself.

CONFIRMATION – Whether it is the day after its birth or at 11 / 12 years old, at its confirmation or chrismation the child receives a new “effusion” or “outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God” as the apostles and 100 or so other disciples received as they gathered around the Mother of Jesus in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is ever at work to infuse his gifts: piety for greater respect for the works of God, especially man and woman, girl / boy; and all the other spiritual gifts for the person and the charisms for the good of others and the Church. Parents can and must help their child to see himself or herself as loved by God and that they receive themselves from God in love. Their gender – female or male / man or woman – was given to them at their conception and will ever manifest itself and develop.

HOLY COMMUNION – as the mother gives of her blood / milk in nursing her baby at the maternal breast, so does Jesus – risen from the dead and Son of God – give of himself as spiritual food to communicants, giving us in holy communion a veritable “transfusion” of the divine life He possesses with his Father and the Holy Spirit. Our sharing in the divine life of love which is in God and in which we are initiated through Baptism is not yet “permanent” on this Earth, but it will only be permanent in Heaven when we will have accomplished our life and mission.

ANOINTING OF THE SICK – As He did in Palestine, Jesus continues to heal the sick and wounded while forgiving sins and driving out evil spirits who at various times torment the baptised.

PENANCE – RECONCILIATION – Jesus allows us to meet Him face to face as He did when He walked the Earth through the representatives He gives himself and whom He sends us in the persons of his priests (HOLY ORDERS).

MARRIAGE – To those who believe in Him and who put their trust in Him Jesus vouches that their love will reflect his faithful and sacrificial love for his Church, his Beloved, the body of all his assembled faithful disciples.

P.S.: Genesis portrays God’s creation of humans as man and woman in original innocence. Sin divided us into man or woman. Patriarchy is domination by man. Feminism reduces us to neither man nor woman. Gender ideology seeks to neutralize our innate human gender as woman or man by replacing our identity with the illusion of a “choice”. For its part, the “gay” culture and homosexual “lobby” prey on young children before puberty and young adolescents who are likely to be experiencing temporary “Homophilia” as they develop, in a deliberate strategy to impose their ideology on them precisely when they are most vulnerable. Their objective is to have the young “fall” and identify themselves as “gay” or “lesbian” and, in effect, deny and abandon their great dignity as girl or boy, woman or man, in accord with the gender with which they were endowed at their conception. The good news is that Jesus Christ our Lord restores lost innocence and our capacity for the reciprocal gift of self for which our gender as man or woman empowers us, and which is God’s gift to us to enable us to live our human life and love in the image and likeness of God the Holy Trinity.

These notes were taken from a conference given March 29th, 2017 at the offices of the Archdiocese of Montreal by Inès Pélissié du Rausas with added thoughts by me. He book containing a much more complete and detailed explanation of her instructions to parents is entitled:

“S’il te plait, parle-moi de l’amour ! »

It is available from Amazon in France at this link: https://www.amazon.fr/Sil-te-pla%C3%AEt-parle-moi-lamour/dp/2351170059 

or at Amazon.ca at: https://www.amazon.ca/Sil-plait-maman-parle-moi-lamour/dp/2351170644/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1492705376&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=S%27il+te+pla%C3%AEt%2C+parle-moi+de+l%27amour+%21%2C+In%C3%A8s+P%C3%A9lissi%C3%A9+du+Rausas

Saturday, April 08, 2017

The suicide of a loved one provokes an upheaval in the survivors

WHAT HAPPENS TO US WHEN WE DIE?

Human beings are mortal, that is, in our current condition we cannot avoid dying. Once we grow out of infancy - sooner or later - we come to realize that we will one day die, that our life as we know it on planet Earth will come to an end. How we understand our mortality and what we do with this knowledge determines to a great degree the quality of our life here, the range of possibilities for the time we have, our openness to meaningful relationships with others, and also what we can expect after the passage through our death.

Death precipitates or "forces" to happen what we call the "last things", that is, "What will happen to us after we die?" The Jewish and Christian traditions believe that God has revealed to humanity what to expect immediately after we die. Death is the first of the "four last things" which are: death, judgement, heaven, or hell.

DOES GOD EXIST? - Death is one of those human realities that is inescapable. Long before we may ever come close to our own death or even its possibility, we are confronted by the death of all other living things and, in time, the death of someone we know and may even love intrudes rudely into our life and awareness. As it does, it causes an upheaval within us of questions, doubts, and fears amid a whole range of human emotions, many of which are intense and unpleasant. The natural human impulse is to live in denial and avoid even the mere thought of death, but death is one of those things that just won't go away and, sooner or later, we need to face up to it.

One of the first effects which death provokes within us is the question about God. GOES GOD EXIST? Either God exists or he doesn't exist, which leaves every human being in one of three states:

  1. I believe in God or
  2. I think God may exist but I'm not sure or
  3. I don't believe in God

1. I believe in God

We are all so different, but if God exists, then it makes sense that everyone should be able to come into a real and lively connection with God, based on the evidence from the Jewish and Christian sacred or inspired Scriptures contained in "The Bible". If one single thing is unmistakably clear from the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, it is that God exists and that He wants a real, personal relationship with every single human being who is willing to be open to what it is that God offers.

To believe in God is, in other words, to at least - or to begin with - to "give God the benefit of the doubt" or to go on with our life "as though God exists" and to believe that "God is trustworthy or deserves my trust or has given sufficient proof that He is good and means me no harm but only good.

This fundamental or basic act of belief and trust opens the human mind, heart, and spirit to the divine being that is God. God has revealed to Jews and Christians that He respects our freedom; so He needs our consent in order to enter into our life in a real and substantial way. Once a person is willing to believe in and trust God, their trust allows God to respond to their faith and He is now free, in full respect for their freedom of conscience, to take initiatives that the believer begins to experience in a more personal way.

How each person actually experiences God varies from person to person, given our unique human profile at every level, but there are consistencies because of the stability that is in God. The Bible records God's revelation to the Jewish People as He told them of his "ways". We know this to be true in our human relationships, that each person has his or her own "ways" of thinking, feeling, acting, behaving, and otherwise expressing themselves. Well, so does God have "his ways" and we can know what his ways are by reading the Bible, by sharing with other people, and through our own personal experience of God.

When all of these sources "line up" in a consistent way, then we know we are on the right track. When they don't line up and there are inconsistencies and contradictions, then we know we need to do more research, we need to consult those wise and holy people who know God better than we do.

2. I think God may exist but I'm not sure

It is clear from the above that if God exists, then He is a being that wants a personal relationship with human beings. For this reason, as long as a person remains trapped in the labyrinth of the mind and tries to go about understanding God or his existence as a problem to be solved intellectually; then it is very unlikely that much progress will be made. There would remain too many unanswered questions such as those that follow.

One thing is certain and it is this, that as long as a person remains exclusively in the mind, it is not likely that they will experience God personally. Why not? Because God is bigger than our mind and we cannot succeed in trying to make God fit into our mind. God is a divine being, an infinite being who has no limits, which means that He is eternal. God had no beginning and will have no end, and we cannot understand that. If we try to understand it by our intellect alone, we are likely to come to the logical conclusion that it cannot possible be true because it makes no sense to our intellect.

On the other hand, there is something in the human being that has a glimpse of the infinite, of the eternal. Believers understand that our human spirit or soul continues after death, that it contains the essence of the person we are becoming throughout our life, and this essence of who we are does not end in the death of the body but goes on. Our soul is in fact immortal, it will have no end. Our soul is not infinite or eternal like God, because unlike God, our soul had a beginning. It was created at the very same moment that we were conceived in our mother's womb. So our soul is "forever young" and it has within it a "homing beacon" aimed towards God or a "nostalgia for eternity".

Still, as long as we explore these mysteries and realities exclusively through the intellect, there remains between us a chasm that we are unable to cross by our own efforts. God wants a relationship and this means we need to allow God room to take initiatives and to respond to our prayers and to provoke or challenge us; as any friend would do and actually does in real life.

As long as a person remains predominantly unsure or uncertain, then, it is probably because that person is keeping God at a "safe distance". It's sort of like a young man who loves women from a distance but feels very uncomfortable when one of them gets "too close" because he is not ready yet to enter into friendship with "a real woman". In reverse it's the same for a young woman who loves men from a distance but feels very uncomfortable when one of them gets "too close" because she is not ready yet to enter into friendship with "a real man".

3. I don't believe in God

Some people appear not to believe in God but in actual fact they probably would believe in God if they could discover God as He truly is. In other words, many people seem to reject representations of God that are in fact an insult to the true God as He is in himself. As my friend Bishop Tom Dowd loves to say, "I don't believe in their god either!" In other words, the distorted image of God that people reject, well, we also reject those distorted images of God. In so many ways God has been given a "bad rap" and all too often those who are guilty are believers, both laity and clergy.

Other people who don't believe in God or who deny the existence of God come to this conviction because of their great love for humanity, for the environment, and for the universe. These are often very sensitive human beings and also very bright. They love life, other people, and the world, and it torments them to see the terrible state of human society, of the environment, and of life in general. Because we find ourselves in such a mess, these good folks find it offensive to think that God exists precisely because of the mess. This brings us to a few hard questions to which atheists or agnostics can find no answer.

IF GOD EXISTS, WHY DOES HE ALLOW EVIL?

God has revealed much about himself, about his creation of the universe, about life, and about us in his "revealed word" in Sacred Scripture as we find it in The Bible. It is abundantly clear beginning with the creation narrative in Genesis right through to the end of the prophetic statement of hope in God's final triumph over evil in the Book of Revelation that God created us human beings with a very precious gift - our faculty of will - which includes intelligence, sensitivity and feeling, judgement, a capacity for decision and commitment, and conscience.

God created human beings to be free because He intends for us to enjoy friendship with God. Even though God is a divine being, mysteriously composed of three divine persons in one single divine being - as revealed by Jesus and as reported in the four Gospels - what is amazing is that this great and infinitely superior being has created us capable of friendship with Him. We can best come to understand the intentions and attitudes of God by looking at good human parents. Although they are superior to their children in age, experience, and wisdom, still they desire to one say enjoy with their children a relationship of friendship as equal to equal, though different. Parents desire that one day their children will get over their immature resentments and generously decide to show their parents respect and kindness, offering them the benefit of the doubt with regards to their parents' faults.

Parental love and devoted service is a fairly good reflection of the infinitely greater and more perfect love that God has for us human beings, his creations, as we discover that He is inviting us to come into a loving relationship with the Holy Trinity as beloved children of the Father, beloved brothers and disciples of Jesus Son of God, and beloved living dwellings of the Holy Spirit.

WHAT IS EVIL? 

Evil could then be defined as anything that would hinder the wonderful plan of God for the perfection of his creation and the unfolding of his desire that human beings experience life in all its abundance in a loving relationship with our Creator. Evil also includes anything that brings human beings to do harm to themselves or to others or to God's creation, or to hinder others from entering more fully into God's wonderful plan for our happiness and fruitfulness.

God has revealed that evil was first introduced by a rebellious angel, "Satan" or the "Devil" into his Creation and caused disorder - first among angels - and then among the first human beings. The names attributed to "the rebel" mean "the accuser" or "the opponent", that is, the one who accuses God, opposes God, and accuses human beings, the enemy of humanity and of God.

WHY DID and DOES GOD ALLOW EVIL?

It was only out of love and extravagant generosity that God created anything at all, but especially that He created living beings with the faculty of free will; so that both angels and human beings, we would be capable not only of receiving love but also of giving true, selfless, self-giving love.

The simple existence of freedom introduces the possibility of disobedience, rebellion, or refusal to go along with God's plan, preferring instead to follow other plans and opinions, thereby rejecting God in order to pursue one's own "original paths". Only God loves perfectly and infinitely; so only God's plans can bring about perfect outcomes of love and abundant life for all involved. In rejecting the plan and will of God, the devil and other rebellious angels introduced chaos and instability into the order of God's Creation, and when human being succumbed to the same temptation, that chaos and instability was also introduced into our existence on Earth.

The result is that we are inclined now to reject God and prefer our own will, and in so doing, we do harm to ourselves and to others, and we have lost our capacity to enjoy God's friendship and love. All that we touch tends to turn out badly, and whereas death would have been a much anticipated and blessed transition from mortality to immortality, from Earth to Heaven; now death is something that we fear and loath. Ending our own life is the logical outcome of refusing God's will, of being unable or unwilling to trust in God or in his love for us.

Still, God has allowed evil and continues to allow it because, like a good parent, God our Creator and Father wants all his children to have the pleasure and satisfaction of working with our Father to bring about his perfect solution to all the evil in the world, beginning each of us with our own life.

IF GOD EXISTS AND HE ALLOWS EVIL, WHAT IS GOD DOING ABOUT EVIL? 

The entire Bible is a chronicle of what God has been doing and continues to do about evil. The highlight is when God sent his divine Son into the world to become human like us through the cooperation of Myriam of Nazareth - Mary - who accepted to conceive Him through the power and overshadowing of the Holy Spirit and gave Him birth in Bethlehem, calling Him Jesus with the love and support of her husband Joseph.

Jesus showed us how it is now possible, with the help and power of the Holy Spirit, for human beings to live once again in friendship with God, as beloved children of God, in lively communities of faith which Jesus called his "Church" or "Assembly" of all those who believe in Him and have been initiated into his mysteries or, in other words, have been introduced into a sharing with Jesus in the life, love, and vitality of the Holy Trinity.

God tells us that we can know that we love God and have welcomed the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit into our lives when we see that we live and conduct ourselves just as Jesus did. We cannot do this on our won, but can only do it in a trusting relationship with God the Father through Jesus and by the power of love and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Jesus' Church is the "home on Earth" in the midst of which we have access to the divine life that is in God and which Jesus wants to pour into us.

IF GOD EXISTS, HE ALLOWS EVIL, AND HE IS DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT, THEN WHAT DO I DO? 

Simply put then, all that God asks and expects from human beings is that we accept to participate as fully as we can in our own life, in the lives of others as good neighbors and citizens, and in the whole world around us, and that we awaken to the presence of God, to the ongoing contribution of God, and to the love of God which is driving all that exists and all that God does. To put this in terms that our children would use and understand, it is like God is saying to humanity, "Here I am, will you come out and play?" We can accept to come out and play with Him or we can refuse.

Recap of the 4 "last things" - Death - Judgement - Heaven - Hell - with the temporary provision by God's mercy of Purgatory for souls in need of final purgation before entering into Heaven.

LAST THING # 1 - DEATH - here we mean the death of our mortal body, the surrender of our life breath, the beginning of our body's return to the "dust" of which we are made and to which we will return, all that is left once all the breath and water leave or are taken away. When we speak of death we also mean that at the end of life in our body on Earth, the essence of who we will have become until the moment of death, or our "soul", will go through a separation from this life and enter into another "realm", or level of existence, which we refer to as "eternity" or "eternal life".

QUESTION - Unless we understand what leaving our body behind means, where we are going next, or what we will need in order to be able to face what comes next; then how can we know whether or not we are ready to "move on" from this world into the next?

God has revealed to humanity through his divine revelation in the Sacred Scriptures of the Jews and Christians - The Bible - that human beings are immortal spirits embodied in a mortal flesh. When the body dies it releases the immortal soul or spirit into God's presence. The soul is of a nature designed to "contain" within it in a living way all that makes up a human person in all their uniqueness. All that we think, feel, say, do, behave, take, and give - all our decisions, words, actions, behaviors, and deeds - continually build up the person we are becoming. When we die and the body releases our soul, our spirit is "fixed" in its final state.

It is somewhat like a piece of clay put into the kiln which is fired up. Once the clay is baked into a piece of pottery, it can no longer be changed. It can be glazed and put into the kiln again and comes out in its final form. This second burning could be an analogy for the process of Purgatory. The point though is that once we leave the body behind we lose our ability to modify, to change, to convert, to purify ourselves. We will have become helpless to improve ourselves and will be entirely dependent on the mercy of God and the prayers of the saints in Heaven, of the souls in Purgatory, and of the faithful on Earth.

For this reason alone, then, it is highly unwise to take upon ourselves the awesome decision about the moment of our death and give death to ourselves, but rather much wiser to leave the moment of our death in God's most capable hands.

Only God understands what eternal life will be and what condition we will need to be in for to be ready to endure the full intensity of eternal life in God's company. From God's point of view, then, it makes perfect sense to allow us on Earth to undergo any number of trials so that these trials may give us opportunity to struggle and be purified in our willingness to accept to endure the struggle with full trust and confidence in God and his mercy.

God knows what He is doing. Either I accept that or I don't, but woe to me if I don't, because then I am unwilling to trust in God, and if I can't trust in God, than in whom can I trust?

SO WHAT HAPPENS TO US WHEN WE DIE? 

LAST THING # 2 - JUDGEMENT - God won't need to judge us; we will judge ourselves. 

First of all, we need to understand the teaching of our Roman Catholic Tradition on what happens at the moment of death. Unlike the "Hollywood" scenarios picturing us coming before God as a harsh judge sitting on a judge's bench with gavel in hand; we may be shocked to discover that what will take place as judgement will not so much be God passing judgement on us, but rather us judging for ourselves what is the truth about our life and, as a result, what we deserve.

WHEN WE DIE THERE ARE THREE "DOORS" - 3 SCENARIOS

LAST THING # 3 - HEAVEN - is simply being with God, entering into the intimate family life of the Holy Trinity. Saints are souls who begin living in Heaven while still on Earth, already living in the radiant light of God's merciful love and trying to draw other souls in with them. 

Scenario #1 - HEAVEN - This soul will see how God has prepared it for Heaven and will want to welcome his gift and accept his invitation to enter into "the Father's House". "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master!" Matthew 25:21 JOY!

LAST THING # 4 - HELL - is simply being apart from God, refusing to have anything to do with the family life of the Holy Trinity, preferring instead the miserable and hateful company of demons and the damned. Doomed souls doom themselves by refusing all grace or aid or mercy or opportunity to change and repent sent by God. Already living in Hell while still on Earth, they try to relieve their misery by dragging other souls into the darkness with them. 

Scenario #2 - HELL - This soul will see finally all the truth about God's love and goodness, but it will resent all of it because of the way it has chosen to live life on Earth for itself in selfish ways. Like those who hated and condemned Jesus because He was embarrassingly good, this soul will also hate God and refuse to enter into his presence, apart from the fact that it will find the intense burning heat of God's love impossible and excruciating to bear. Ironically, this soul will prefer to go to Hell with all the other miserable souls and all the demons; rather than have to endure any longer the presence of God. On the other hand, to continue for ever in its misery will certainly be torment, and equally painful will be to live for ever with the same impure desires which on Earth could never be fully or permanently satisfied. ETERNAL FRUSTRATION AND MISERY WITH ONLY ITSELF TO BLAME BUT INCLINED TO PASS THE BUCK OF BLAME TO GOD AND TO OTHERS....

LAST THING # 3A - PURGATORY - is a temporary measure whereby God prepares souls for Heaven who aren't quite ready to endure the intensity of his radiant presence and love. Souls who on Earth trust in God's love and accept to endure all trials and sufferings that come are already experiencing this process of God's purifying mercy and love. The more we accept to endure everything that comes to us in this life, the less we will need to be purified after we die. One way or another, we need to submit ourselves with trust to the loving scrutiny of God before we can enter into the eternal company of the Holy Trinity and all the angels and saints.

Scenario #3 - PURGATORY - This soul will see that it is partially ready to go in to be with God for ever, and it will want to go in, but it will recognize that it is still "unclean" or impure in its thoughts, desires, feelings, or track record of behavior, or unrepented sins. Too embarrassed to be able to endure God's perfect love, it will be glad instead to go to the "waiting room" of Purgatory to be cleansed of all that cannot be allowed to enter into God's loving presence. However, not being able to go in yet into the wondrous beauty and love of Heaven will be quite painful, and this will be part of the fire needed to burn away impurities and prepare the soul for Heaven. PAINFUL WAITING....

SO WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS THEN TO US WHEN WE DIE? 

IT WILL BE DIFFERENT WHETHER WE BELIEVE IN GOD, 
ARE UNCERTAIN, OR DON'T BELIEVE IN GOD

1. When a person dies who has believed in God and has entered into a personal relationship with God by opening up their whole life to God with trust, looking to know and do God's will as Jesus did.

When true believers die, their death comes after many experiences - in proportion to their age at their death - and trials, and to the degree that they have truly come to know, trust, and love God; then to that same degree when they die and come face to face with God, they will find themselves at home. In the face of Jesus they will recognize the One who has loved and supported them their whole life long, the same One who forgave them their sins and faults so many times.

To the extent that there were still facets of God that they did not know about or that they only saw in distorted ways; then to that extent their encounter with God after death will also surprise them, but this new knowledge of God will purify their mind, heart, and spirit - this fuller revelation will relieve them of any burdens or shadows they may still carry on account of having partially misunderstood God and his ways.

2. When a person dies who has believed in God, but has not  entered into a personal relationship with God but has been loath to open up their whole life to God with trust; while still on Earth, they will have remained in their doubts, hesitating by the side of the pool but never diving in, and as a result will not have looked to know and do God's will as Jesus did.

Unlike the believer who knows God and will find Him so familiar and welcome at the moment of death, the uncertain believer's faith did not actually make much difference in their life, in their whole outlook on life, in the way they valued their life while on Earth, or in the way they treated others or the environment during their lifetime. As a result, when they die and their soul comes face to face with God, they may be surprised and even embarrassed to find themselves looking into the kind and loving face of Jesus Risen from the dead.

When they finally see in all its clarity and wonder the full truth of God's infinite love for humanity, and the full extent of Jesus' courage in demonstrating the Father's love for us to the point of shedding his very last drop of blood on the Cross; then the doubting believer will probably experience varying degrees of embarrassment and regret. This person is unlikely to suddenly be ready to endure the full blast of God's intense and perfect love. Such a person won't want to enter into Heaven, at least, not yet, because the intense furnace of God's love would be felt as far too intense that it would hurt.

I believe that most human beings have at least once felt the intense love of someone for them and also found it uncomfortable for any number of reasons. One simple reason might be that this total intense love of someone makes me feel a burden of obligation to love them back the same way, and I may not be ready or may not want to love that much. This is one of the reasons why Jesus was put to death, that He caused, simply be being present, the religious leaders to feel excruciatingly uncomfortable.

The Roman Catholic teaching from the earliest times that God in his mercy would not force such souls into Heaven; nor would He condemn them to Hell, but would provide them with time to allow themselves to be purified by God's burning love, allow God to burn away all impurity of mind, heart, or spirit, for as long as it takes. This process, more than a place, is called Purgatory. When Our Lady of Fatima gave explanations and teachings to the three little shepherd children to whom she appeared in Portugal in 1917; she told them that some of the people whom they knew that had recently died would be in Purgatory until the end of time, when would come the Final Judgement.

3. When a person dies who has not believed in God, they also will not have entered into any kind of personal relationship with God, nor opened up their whole life to God with trust, nor looked to know and do God's will as Jesus did. 

For such a person, coming face to face with God is far more likely to be a very shocking experience indeed. Such a person will suddenly find the whole fortress of their atheistic reasoning crumbling in the brilliant glare and intense heat of God's selfless and boundless love. To the extent that they came to hate God, then their attitudes will cause them great and intense suffering upon discovering that God in no way deserves such treatment, but that they are unwilling to repent or let go of their hatred. They may find they have passed judgement on God and found Him guilty and are unwilling to change their judgement; so they will certainly not want to spend eternity in God's company. Their only choice then will be to enter into the miserable company of those consigned to Hell.

While we can expect that our loving God would never want anyone - angels or human beings - to spend eternity in Hell away from his loving presence in Heaven; nevertheless, it is only just that God create the possibility of Hell, for angels and human beings to be separated from God for all eternity. If there were no hell, then any demons or damned souls who would otherwise be admitted to Heaven would, in their misery, turn Heaven into Hell anyway. God's only option then is to allow Hell to exist, if for no other reason than to separate Satan and his demons from the blessed in Paradise to protect them from the devils' hatred and interference.

AS SAINT PAUL WROTE, ONLY GOD IS COMPETENT TO JUDGE

DON'T BE SO QUICK TO CONSIGN PEOPLE TO HELL

However, the person who while on Earth denied God or refused to believe in God may acknowledge at long last that the image and understanding they had of God while on Earth was either partially or entirely false. As Bishop Tom Dowd quips, "I don't believe in their (that false) god either." Then they may be able to warm up to the true God quite quickly, and may even surrender everything to God, submitting themselves to his righteous judgement and merciful love.

They may or may not be in need of purgation and, it is conceivable, they may possibly be forgiven and purified by God's merciful love in a single instant of all their sins and of all punishment due to all the many consequences of their sins. Only God can know and do this. So let's not be so quick to consign people to Hell based only on our superficial observations of their external behaviors, words, and actions while they lived on Earth. Only God knows the mind, heart, soul, and conscience.

DON'T BE SO QUICK TO "CANONIZE" PEOPLE AND ASSUME THEY ARE IN HEAVEN

For similar reasons then it would be foolish for us to assume that someone who has died is now in Heaven with God, and with all the angels and saints. There is nothing wrong with hoping and even believing that a remarkably good person who has died "in the odor of sanctity" may very well be in Heaven. This is particularly true if their death is accompanied by a fragrance as of flowers when there are none or by a more mysterious perfume with no tangible cause for it. Some saints have died amid such fragrances, and this gave rise to the expression "dying in the odor of sanctity".

Still, no matter how favorably we may feel about a person who has died, we do best to cultivate the hope that God will admit them to Heaven while we continue to pray for "the repose of their soul", that is, that our prayers may encourage them to fully accept the mercy of God and submit themselves completely to his merciful judgement and, if need be, the process of purgation under the action of his divine mercy. This is why we pray for our deceased loved ones and for the souls in purgatory. This is a pious practice whereby faithful disciples unite themselves by acts of will and devotion to the saving action of God on Earth and in the heavens beyond the gates of death.

LET'S NOT GAMBLE WITH OUR ETERNAL DESTINY - THESE ARE THE HIGHEST STAKES

Notwithstanding these considerations, it would be very unwise for human beings to presume in a cavalier way on God's mercy and fail to take responsibility for their own thoughts, feelings, words, actions, attitudes, and behaviors in this life and put it all off to the final moment. Only a fool would make such a risky gamble when one considers the value of unending eternal life. Yes, God is merciful and kind, understanding and patient, but He is no fool. We cannot trick God or bargain with Him, and it is very foolish to try. We may be able to fool other human beings, but we cannot fool God.

HOLY WEEK AND THE PASCHAL MYSTERY

While on Earth, Jesus of Nazareth revealed that God our Father is a kind and wise God who knows best how to guide us in life and prepare us during our life for the eternal life which He has prepared for those who love Him. In his wisdom, God knows that most human beings need time to change, time to grow and understand, time to come to know Him and to put our trust in Him and, more time to come to love Him in return for his love to us. While it is difficult to love God back directly, the most direct way to love back the God whom we cannot see is for us to love the neighbor whom we can see. Holy Week, beginning today - Palm and Passion Sunday - is God's annual gift to humanity to walk with Jesus along the Way of the Cross, from Gethsemane to Golgotha and the empty tomb. 

As we walk along with Jesus carrying his Cross, He helps us to see Him in our suffering neighbor in an infinite array of painful and suffering circumstances, which are so many opportunities for us to show our love and gratitude to God through loving care of our neighbor, of strangers, and even of enemies. Jesus showed the highest and most perfect love when He asked the Father to forgive his enemies, his torturers and executioners, and those who condemned Him to death. He even supplied them with an excuse: "... for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34