Category Archives: News

Why Planned Parenthood is NOT for Women’s Health

As a twenty-something American women who is highly in favor of the defunding of Planned Parenthood, the biggest opposition I hear is that by taking funds from Planned Parenthood, we are hindering women’s rights and limiting the healthcare options that women have available to them. Many people say that, if not for Planned Parenthood, they would have nowhere else to go for basic reproductive healthcare. The simple fact is that this is not true.

Since the Affordable Care Act has been signed into place, it is required by law for all Americans to have health insurance. Furthermore, all health insurance providers are required to provide basic reproductive services (including a yearly exam, mammogram, and pap smear) free of charge. These services are offered at any OBGYN office.

What about people who do not have insurance? Funnily enough, the same people who use this argument are traditionally staunch advocates of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which fines those who do not have healthcare. So to these people I ask, where do you truly stand? Is insurance required at the risk of paying a penalty? If so, then why the need for Planned Parenthood? And if the Affordable Care Act does not supply insurance as it should, leaving women without healthcare options, then how can you fail to see the glaring lack of practical application of the ACA?

Setting that aside, there are numerous organizations which provide healthcare to those who do not have insurance. In August of 2015, the Charlotte Lozier Institute produced a map listing over 13,000 non-abortive healthcare facilities in the United Stated compared to only 665 Planned Parenthood locations.  Clearly, there are many alternatives to seeking true healthcare without the need for Planned Parenthood.

So what does Planned Parenthood offer that cannot be obtained elsewhere? Not anything to help advance women’s healthcare, I can tell you that. Planned Parenthood provides contraception. And Planned Parenthood provides abortions. Oh and about those contraceptives? Let’s go back to that lovely Affordable Care Act once more. The ACA requires contraception to be provided free of charge. So why exactly is Planned Parenthood necessary? What is it that women are getting at Planned Parenthood that they cannot get elsewhere, aside from abortion?

Why should our federal tax money be supporting this organization which places such a strong emphasis on contraception and abortion when the actual healthcare needs of women can be met in so many other locations? If we’re going to spend the money on healthcare, why not put it towards facilities that do not offer abortions? Why not use it to help provide better healthcare to our veterans? Or to children battling cancer? There are so many better uses for this money.

To convince society that all women will have sex promiscuously and need the contraceptives and STD testing Planned Parenthood provides is insulting to women. We are more than mindless sex machines who cannot stop ourselves from giving into bodily pleasures. And our young women need to be taught that they are worth so much more than a one night stand. Instead of throwing our hands up and saying, “It is what it is. They’re going to have sex. Let’s make sure they do so safely”, why not fight back? Sexual promiscuity does not have to be the norm.  And America’s young women deserve to know that.

Life is to be protected at ALL stages.  To spread the lie that a child within the womb is not a baby is truly evil. To tell women that it is just a blob of tissue that can be easily disposed of and then turn around to “harvest” what, in truth, is very valuable tissue, the tissue of a living baby…well this is a bold faced lie that the devil himself couldn’t be more pleased with.

I don’t care if it makes me “old-fashioned”. I don’t care if you think I need to “get with the times.” Truth does not change with time. And the truth is that life, ALL life, is created by God. It is not ours to dispose of as we so choose.

As the United States election creeps closer and closer, please pray for God’s guidance in electing our next President. Please pray for those who fight for life.  Please pray for those who feel they have no other choice than abortion.  Pray for those in the abortion industry and those who support Planned Parenthood, that their eyes and hearts may be opened.  Pray for America.  Pray for life.

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Pilgrimage to Philadelphia

BannerThis weekend I was blessed to be in Philadelphia for the Pope’s visit at the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families. I do not think words can express how amazing the whole experience was, but I am still going to try – even if it gets a bit lengthy! Going into this trip, we fully expected to be back on a side street somewhere watching the proceedings on a screen. While we would have been perfectly content with this, our experience exceeded all expectations and was more than I had hoped for!

The group from our diocese left early Saturday morning on our bus. This truly was a pilgrimage and each bus trip had time spent in wonderful prayer and song. After arriving at  our campground, unloading, and eating a late lunch, we broke into smaller groups and headed into the city. It took about 45 minutes for our bus to get to the main parking lot at the Philadelphia Sports Complex. From there we took the subway into town. Saturday we knew we would not get close to the main stage for the Festival of Families so instead we headed towards City Hall where Pope Francis would be passing by in a Papal parade that evening.

Pope FrancisWe found a spot about five rows back from the gate to the street where he would pass by and waited. The crowd was large but not overwhelming and everyone was so friendly and joyful! You could hear in the distance the immense cheers as Pope Francis’s motorcade got closer to our spot and we all got our cameras ready. He went by pretty quickly and was looking on the other side of the street when he passed but it was still amazing to be so close to the Holy Father! Being a bit shorter, I could see him mostly through my camera which I held up high and succeeded in getting a (slightly blurry) photo as he rode by. Our small group of eight was amazed at how close we had been!   We walked a few blocks to a large jumbotron to watch the Festival from there. We saw him (on the jumbotron screen) speak at the Festival and stayed to watch a few performances before heading back to our bus.

SongThe next morning we woke up, ate, and made lunches for the day. Again we boarded the bus but this time when we arrived at the parking lot we were instantly aware that today the crowds would be much larger. With this in mind, and being fully convinced we would have to find a jumbotron far from the action, we took our time to keep our group together as we journeyed on. The subway station was packed and the lines long but the atmosphere was so filled with joy and excitement that we didn’t even care! We met people from near and far, Quebec, Pennsylvania, Dominican Republic, Chicago, and even some fellow pilgrims from Ohio!

When we got into the city, we headed towards the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. We found a security checkpoint but had to walk along the line to try and find the end of it! As we walked, we came to a block with angry protesters on each side. With their megaphones, yelling, and hateful signs, perhaps they thought they would discourage us. But walking by them only made the experience even richer as we joined together, the whole line of us, in singing the Our Father over and over until we passed their section. It was such a beautiful thing to see people so filled with love and joy in the Lord joining in song and prayer together without even stopping to pay any mind to those who were against us. ‘If God is for us, who is against us?’ Romans 8:31

CrowdThe line was so long and there was no end in sight when we passed one of the many military members helping in the security efforts. As we passed, we heard him say that the checkpoint one block over was just being opened to the general public (it had previously been for ticketed guests only.) Our group cut over a block and got in the (much shorter) security line. We could not believe this blessing! We made it through security and were amazed at how close we were. Since we were so close to the ticketed area that each of us received a mass booklet as well! We had not been anticipating this at all!

Our first spotWe found a spot on the corner right in front of a large jumbotron that was directly behind the ticketed area. We literally were as close as non-ticketed guests were able to get! We set up our blankets and chairs. There was a sewer vent right near our spot and one of the volunteers informed us that since we were “in limbo land” we would not have access to any restrooms. The restrooms were either closer up in the ticketed area, or we would have to go out to the non-ticketed area behind us which would require going through security again. Despite this, we decided to stay at our spot.   We ate our lunches and then decided we would say a rosary together. We had just begun the first three Hail Marys of our group rosary when that same volunteer came up to our group. She told us to quickly gather our things, there was additional room in the ticketed section and they were going to let us in!

Our final spot for MassWe scooped up our blanket and quickly went forward. We ended up setting up a spot right behind the handicapped viewing area. We were close enough that you could see the art museum ahead of us and could make out the crucifix on the altar for mass! We were so thankful and thrilled! We finished eating and finished our rosary. We had plenty of time still until mass so we began to sing. One of the members in our group had put together a booklet of popular hymns that we had been singing earlier on the bus. We took out our booklets and started singing. People around us began to join in. It was beautiful.

From our spot, not only could we see the altar, but we were also right by a huge jumbotron where we Pope Francis in his procession before Masscould see the mass up close. We saw on the screen that Pope Francis was beginning his procession prior to mass. We watched in anticipation for him to pass by our spot as he slowly went through the crowds, stopping to kiss several babies along the way. When he was nearing our spot, I held my camera up above me but did not stop to look through it. I clicked away figuring I will get whatever photo I get. I wanted to watch the Holy Father pass by with my own eyes. He went much slower this time and was facing our direction so that we got a clear view of his joyful self, greeting all of us with love.

After the procession it was time for mass. The mass was more beautiful than I could ever describe. It is said that during mass we are the closest to heaven. All I can say is that you could truly feel that. Celebrating mass with a million people, not to mention the millions who watched from their homes, and with Pope Francis! It was beyond words. The readings were in Spanish, English, and Vietnamese, with some of the prayers in English and the Eucharistic liturgy all in Latin. The Holy Father gave his homily in his native Spanish. The jumbotron had translated captions along the bottom so we could follow along.

When it was time for communion, the priests who were distributing the Eucharist were signified in the crowd by yellow and white umbrellas held high above them. To see over a thousand yellow and white umbrellas as they made their way through the crowd for people from all over the world to receive our Lord in the Holy Eucharist was so moving. As we began to sing the communion hymns and made our way to the nearest umbrella I felt tears in my eyes. How awesome to celebrate this most Blessed Sacrament with so many others in one place together! Before mass ended, we received our blessing from Pope Francis.

The crowds leaving Philadelphia after Mass were certainly large but it was so well organized and everyone was so joyful that we didn’t mind. People were singing and laughing and celebrating together all the way back to the bus. You could truly feel the Holy Spirit among us all this weekend.

It is hard to describe our pilgrimage to Philadelphia. The photos don’t do it justice and while I pray my words express what we felt, I know they cannot. It was not about just seeing the Pope. It was not about getting as close as possible (although I am incredibly thankful that we were blessed to be as close as we were!) This was about worshiping together with so many people, led in prayer by our dear Pope Francis. It was an experience filled with prayer, love, and the joy of the Lord. It was inspiring and truly life-changing.

Glory to God for watching over us all this weekend! Thanks and praise for the wonderful blessings we received on this trip. And thank you to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, for inspiring us all each day by your words and your actions. For helping to draw the Church closer to Christ. And for coming here to America with your message of love and mercy. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I feel so blessed to have been a part of it.

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Pope Francis in the US – What’s the Big Deal?

Pope_FrancisPope Francis arrived in the United States on Tuesday and it seems it is all people can talk about!  The media is covering all papal events almost non-stop, thousands upon thousands of people are flocking to see him, and Pope Francis themed memorabilia has popped up all over the place.  It seems clear that the United States definitely has Pope Fever!

But what’s the big deal anyway?  Why do so many people, Catholic or not, even care about the Pope?  Who is the Pope to begin with?

“He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.  And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”  Matthew 16:15-18

Jesus, while He was still on earth, chose Peter as the rock to build His Church upon. Peter became the leader of Christ’s Church.  Not above Christ, but to lead the Church to Christ.  Jesus knew He would not be on earth forever. He knew that there would be many trials to face the Church here on earth.  And He knew that throughout the good times and bad, the Church would need someone to look to as a leader here on earth.  Someone to dedicate their lives to following the Lord and to leading His Church ever closer to Him.   That is what it means to be Pope.

The Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity of both the bishops and of the faithful.LUMEN GENTIUM, 23

The Pope is chosen by the guidance of the Holy Spirit to lead us into deeper communion with one another and with the Lord.  We can look back at the history of our Church and see the line of those who have followed in Peter’s footsteps to lead the Church.  From St. Peter to St. Linus to St. Anacletus (Cletus) and so on, all the way to our current Pope Francis, these men have dedicated their lives to the Church. (Click here for a full list of popes).

While all of that should certainly be enough to excite anyone about meeting one of the popes, Pope Francis in particular draws large crowds due to his down to earth attitude and his constant example of practicing that which he preaches.  To listen to him speak, to watch him in his interactions with others, you know that he truly lives out his Catholic faith. Quite simply, he lives striving to be more and more like Christ.  And in his words and actions, he inspires us all to do the same.

So is it really that big of a deal that Pope Francis is here in the United States?  Yes!  The successor to Peter, chosen by the Holy Spirit to lead our Catholic Church, daily living his life as an outward example of that which we are all striving to achieve, has come to the United States!  To our own home!  This is most certainly a big deal!  Our nation is in need of prayer.  In need of an increase in faith and a return to the Lord. I believe that the immense excitement surrounding the Pope’s visit serves as proof of just how badly this country needs to return to its founding Christian principles.

I pray that the Lord guide Pope Francis and protect him as he addresses our Congress today, the United Nations tomorrow, and the millions who are coming to see him in DC, New York, and Philadelphia (where I will be!).  I pray that all who hear him speak, whether in person or through the radio and television, are touched by his words and inspired to live out the Gospel in their lives, growing closer to Christ each day.  And I thank the Lord for the blessing of having His Holiness Pope Francis here in our country.  It truly is a big deal.

If you are interested in following more of the Pope’s journey here in the United States, I encourage you to visit the USCCB website for streaming video, news articles, prayers suggestions and more. 

A Prayer for September 11 – Pope Benedict

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O God of love, compassion, and healing, look on us, people of many different faiths and  traditions, who gather today at this site, the scene of incredible violence and pain.

We ask you in your goodness to give eternal light and peace to all who died here— the heroic first-responders: our fire fighters, police  officers, emergency service workers, and Port  Authority personnel, along with all the innocent  men and women who were victims of this  tragedy simply because their work or service  brought them here on September 11, 2001.

We ask you, in your compassion to bring healing to those who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness. Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy. Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.

We are mindful as well of those who suffered death, injury, and loss on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Our hearts are one with theirs as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering. God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world: peace in the hearts of all men and women and peace among the nations of the earth. Turn to your way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred.

God of understanding, overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy, we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events. Grant that those whose lives were spared may live so that the lives lost here may not have been lost in vain. Comfort and console us, strengthen us in hope, and give us the wisdom and courage to work tirelessly for a world where true peace and love reign among nations and in the hearts of all.

Pope Benedict XIV–Prayer at Ground Zero
New York, 20 April 2008

“Laudato Si”

butterflyPope Francis’ Encyclical  “Laudato Si, (Praise Be): On Care for Our Common Home” has generated a lot of publicity.  As is common with many media reports involving our dear Pope Francis, I am certain many things will be twisted and portions will be taken out to suit specific agendas.  I decided to give it a read myself and highly recommend it to everyone!  It is a wonderful document filled with praise for our Creator and an urgent pleading for the greater care of all His creation.  I encourage you to read it for yourself to truly appreciate all the Pope has to say instead of just the bits and pieces the media might pull out.  You can read the full encyclical here.  Here are some of my favorite quotes from the document (it was so hard to choose just a few!):

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made” (Ps 33:6). This tells us that the world came about as the result of a decision, not from chaos or chance, and this exalts it all the more. The creating word expresses a free choice. The universe did not emerge as the result of arbitrary omnipotence, a show of force or a desire for self-assertion. Creation is of the order of love. God’s love is the fundamental moving force in all created things: “For you love all things that exist, and detest none of the things that you have made; for you would not have made anything if you had hated it” (Wis 11:24). Every creature is thus the object of the Father’s tenderness, who gives it its place in the world. Even the fleeting life of the least of beings is the object of his love, and in its few seconds of existence, God enfolds it with his affection.

The acceptance of our bodies as God’s gift is vital for welcoming and accepting the entire world as a gift from the Father and our common home, whereas thinking that we enjoy absolute power over our own bodies turns, often subtly, into thinking that we enjoy absolute power over creation. Learning to accept our body, to care for it and to respect its fullest meaning, is an essential element of any genuine human ecology. Also, valuing one’s own body in its femininity or masculinity is necessary if I am going to be able to recognize myself in an encounter with someone who is different. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment.

In the family we first learn how to show love and respect for life; we are taught the proper use of things, order and cleanliness, respect for the local ecosystem and care for all creatures. In the family we receive an integral education, which enables us to grow harmoniously in personal maturity. In the family we learn to ask without demanding, to say “thank you” as an expression of genuine gratitude for what we have been given, to control our aggressivity and greed, and to ask forgiveness when we have caused harm. These simple gestures of heartfelt courtesy help to create a culture of shared life and respect for our surroundings.

Inner peace is closely related to care for ecology and for the common good because, lived out authentically, it is reflected in a balanced lifestyle together with a capacity for wonder which takes us to a deeper understanding of life. Nature is filled with words of love, but how can we listen to them amid constant noise, interminable and nerve-wracking distractions, or the cult of appearances?

It is in the Eucharist that all that has been created finds its greatest exaltation. Grace, which tends to manifest itself tangibly, found unsurpassable expression when God himself became man and gave himself as food for his creatures. The Lord, in the culmination of the mystery of the Incarnation, chose to reach our intimate depths through a fragment of matter. He comes not from above, but from within, he comes that we might find him in this world of ours. In the Eucharist, fullness is already achieved; it is the living centre of the universe, the overflowing core of love and of inexhaustible life. Joined to the incarnate Son, present in the Eucharist, the whole cosmos gives thanks to God.

The Father is the ultimate source of everything, the loving and self-communicating foundation of all that exists. The Son, his reflection, through whom all things were created, united himself to this earth when he was formed in the womb of Mary. The Spirit, infinite bond of love, is intimately present at the very heart of the universe, inspiring and bringing new pathways.

Eternal life will be a shared experience of awe, in which each creature, resplendently transfigured, will take its rightful place and have something to give those poor men and women who will have been liberated once and for all. In the meantime, we come together to take charge of this home which has been entrusted to us, knowing that all the good which exists here will be taken up into the heavenly feast.

An Eye for an Eye?

desert-613003_640Violence and War. These are not new concepts. Ever since the fall of man, these have followed us. What began with Cain and Abel has followed humanity through centuries upon centuries of death and destruction.   By looking back at history we can see the negative effects of war. The violence, the death, the families and nations torn apart. And yet, the pattern continues still today.

Why?

As human beings, why do we continue along this path? Is it blind oblivion to the pain that such violence causes? Is it ignorance of past grievances? Is it a complete lack of any sort of moral conscience? Perhaps these things may contribute to violent behavior. But I believe at the heart of this is a dark desire for revenge.

A radical branch of religious extremists feels wronged and threatened by the way of life in other civilizations. Not content to let this be, they seek a twisted form of revenge carried out in brutal acts against humanity.

And leaders of nations, appalled by such acts of brutality, vow revenge on the terrorists who carried them out to begin with. In the wake of the recent barbaric killing of a Jordanian pilot by ISIS, a distraught Jordanian politician shouted in an interview “Let’s use the same methods as them! Let’s kill their children! Let’s kill their women!”

And so the cycle continues. Following the killing of the pilot, two al-Qaida prisoners on death row in Jordan were executed for their crimes. But will this help? More than likely the terrorist groups will only seek revenge yet again for the executions of these prisoners. And so it continues on and on.

Many in the world seem content to live by “an eye for an eye.” And how does this help anyone? By murdering someone who has murdered others, by vowing death on the families of those who brought death to others, are we getting any closer to peace? Or are we only falling deeper and deeper into the cycle of violence and war.

There is only one way to break this cycle.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.” (Matthew 5:38-42)

Instead of living “an eye for an eye” we need to learn to turn the other cheek. Not that we are to turn the other way and ignore the violent acts in our world. Not that we should allow murderers or terrorists to simply go about their lives free of any consequences. No. What our Lord is telling us in these words is that rather than seeking revenge, we need to seek love. Love of the innocent, love of the needy, love of our neighbor, and even love of our enemies.

 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:43-44)

flower-62291_640Love has the power to break the cycle of war. If our end goal is love and peace then we have no room for revenge. We must learn to work to defeat violence and war by working towards love. In our imperfect world, sometimes wars happen. The Catechism of the Catholic Church acknowledges these circumstances:

“Those who renounce violence and bloodshed and, in order to safeguard human rights, make use of those means of defense available to the weakest, bear witness to evangelical charity, provided they do so without harming the rights and obligations of other men and societies. They bear legitimate witness to the gravity of the physical and moral risks of recourse to violence, with all its destruction and death. (CCC 2306)

“All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war. However, “as long as the danger of war persists and there is no international authority with the necessary competence and power, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed.” (CCC 2308)

We live in a world of sin. People do terrible things to one another in acts of anger and revenge. By halting acts of aggression through a desire to spread love and peace rather than the desire to bring revenge on others, we can end this cycle. It is a monumental task; one that us mere humans could never accomplish on our own. But we live in the knowledge and hope of Christ. We know that violence, death, war, destruction and sin do not win.   Christ has conquered sin and death! Through Him, we can know peace.

Let us pray that leaders around the world will come together in an effort to bring about true peace and not to seek revenge. That they may work together to protect and preserve life in the name of love. And that the Holy Spirit might enter into the hearts of us all to lead us away from the darkness of anger and revenge and towards the light of the peace and love of Jesus Christ.sunrise-71287_640

To Be a Superhero

superhero-296963__180My neighborhood holds trick-or treat on a weekend afternoon and so we had children coming around this past weekend dressed as all sorts of characters in search of free candy.  There were a few truly unique costumes, a few of the teenager-in-a-hoody-and-mask variety, and several little princesses.  But the majority of the costumes were superheroes.  Girls and boys alike showed up as Captain America, Superman, Spiderman, Batman, and Ironman.  It’s not surprising given our culture’s fascination with superheroes.  Superheros dominate the movie box offices, they fill the toy shelves in stores, they are on T-shirts, backpacks, lunchboxes, socks, shoes, pencils, notebooks…you name it.

My husband is a big fan of the superhero movie genre.  In all honesty I had hardly a clue about any of them until I met him.  Now I see just about every superhero movie that comes out.  At first it was just to be polite and accompany my husband.  But now I truly enjoy many of them.  Some are a bit too dark for my taste, but the overall idea of these movies appeals to me more and more.

What is it that draws the masses to see these movies?  What is it about these stories, these characters, that crosses the lines of race, religion, politics, and economics to appeal to virtually everyone?

When it comes down to it, we all need a hero.  The world is full of chaos, uncertainty, fear.  We love to see the nerdy boy from high school discover his superpowers and embark on a journey to save the world.  We love to see the most dire of situations be instantly turned around by the rag-tag group of misfits who have come together to use their powers for the greater good. They come together to fight injustice and to fight for  freedom.  They fight to protect the most innocent and vulnerable.  They fight for life.

While these superheroes are amazing to watch in the movies, at some point we have to come back down to reality. The movie is finished and real life beckons.  Of course, there are heroes in real life too.

Firefighters who rescue people from burning buildings are heroes.  Soldiers who risk their lives to protect nations and freedom are heroes.  Doctors and nurses who travel to Africa to care for those suffering from Ebola are heroes.

But now, despite our fascination with the life-saving superheroes, it seems a hero here in the real world is defined as something all together different.  Now it seems the title “hero” is bestowed not upon those who vow to protect and preserve life, but rather the opposite.

In June of 2013 Wendy Davis performed a filibuster for 11 hours to prevent a vote on a measure that would halt abortions after 20 weeks, require abortion clinics to meet the same surgical standards as hospitals, and require doctors performing abortions to have admitting rights at a hospital.  She was hailed as a champion for women’s rights.  A “hero”.

In May of this year, 25 year old Emily Letts decided to have an abortion and  to film it.  She wanted to show that it’s not scary, that there should be no guilt, that it’s ok to have an abortion.  She was called a “hero”.

Now Brittany Maynard, a 29 year old battling terminal brain cancer has chosen to end her own life this weekend. This beautiful woman has decided that to spare both herself and her family from the inevitable suffering that would ultimately lead to death anyway, she is going to die on her own terms.  She has made popular in the media the so called right to die with dignity.  And for her decision, she has been called a “hero.”

Every time I read one of these stories, my heart aches.  Aches for those who fight for abortion in the name of women’s health and protecting our rights.  Aches for those who truly believe that there is nothing wrong with an abortion.  Aches for those who, when faced with immeasurable sufferings, feel the only option is to die.

My heart aches for what we have reduced life to.  Something that we have control over.  Or at least we think we do.  We have reduced life to something we can create in test tubes, monitor for signs of “imperfection” and dispose of when we find things that are too tough to deal with.  To something that comes secondary to our own desires and goals.  We have reduced life to something that, when it gets too tough to bear, can be stopped.

Life is more than that.  There is beauty in life, even in the darkest of moments. Beauty because each life is precious and created by our loving Father. To look for the beauty, to find it even when others cannot see it, that is what makes a hero.  To look past the pain and suffering and see a glimmer of joy.  I believe that there are heroes all around us.  Heroes who battle cancer to the very end. Who suffer, yes, but who also find the beauty within the pain.  Heroes who, scared and unprepared though they may be, decide to give birth to a beautiful little baby.  To give them life.  Heroes who, like the superheroes we so admire, fight for life.

Life is hard.  It is messy, it is pain-filled, it is confusing.  But it is also beautiful.  There are times we do not know what is going to happen next.  There are times when we do and we dread what the future has to hold.  In the midst of life’s trials, whatever they may be, I think we all have the chance to be a hero.  Maybe even a superhero.  baby-203048_640