Monday, December 31, 2007

Quote book

"We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life - the unborn - without diminishing the value of all human life." ~President Ronald Reagan

Friday, December 28, 2007

Benazir Bhutto -- Pro-Life Advocate

LifeNews ran an article today about the recently assassinated leader of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto's pro-life convictions. At the United Nations Conference for Population and Development in Cairo in 1994, she said, "I dream ...of a world where we can commit our social resources to the development of human life and not to its destruction."

The complete article can be read here.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Jamie Lynn as a good example

I've been thinking this for awhile but haven't put my words on paper (or a computer screen). Jamie Lynn Spears obviously has not been a role model in the realm of chastity, but she has put forward a good example in another way: choosing life.

How much easier would it have been for Jamie Lynn to have an abortion and not have to tell the world about her pregnancy! Instead, she has made a courageous decision by owning up to the responsibilities that resulted from her choices. As I often tell our students, Spiderman says, "With great power comes great responsibility." When someone chooses to use the power of their sexuality outside of God's plan (well, even inside of God's plan), they need to simultaneously embrace the responsibilities that may come along with it.

Last summer I heard Janet Smith at a conference say, "There's no such thing as getting pregnant by accident." Sex and babies go together. God made it that way. They are not supposed to be separated.

So, Jamie Lynn, while not making good choices when it comes to sexuality, has shown young people that it takes courage to take responsibility for one's actions. By giving life to her baby, she will be making a brave choice that deserves to be recognized as such. It's too late to change past behavior, but we can still take away valuable insights from Jamie Lynn.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Making good dating choices

Chad Eastham, an abstinence advocate based in Cincinnati, OH, has a blog that I came across last week. I found the question, "How do I know if he is a good guy to date?" quite interesting. The complete answer is definitely worth your time (for girls and guys), but here is a brief segment:

"If you couldn’t date, would he still be your friend?

"This is a great indicator of what a guy wants. If he isn’t willing to be a friend, how in the world can you possibly have a good relationship? I can’t stress this one enough. Friendship is the strongest asset of any good relationship. I’ve always thought it actually means two people just enjoy each other. Now wouldn’t that be a good place to start?

"Dating is a made up word. What is dating? Isn’t dating about being with someone who you actually like and is a good friend?

"Again, this is the chance to evaluate what dating means. If almost all high school relationships don’t end up in marriage, you might want to consider that before you get into all of this. I have always found that the way you enter a relationship is usually the way it ends. If you start with a strong foundation of friendship, it’s more attractive, and usually ends up better as well."

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

"With the birth of Jesus, in the simplicity and poverty of Bethlehem, God gave back dignity to every human being's existence. He offered to all people the possibility to participate in his same divine life. May this immeasurable gift always find hearts ready to receive it!"
-- Pope John Paul II

Friday, December 21, 2007

The preciousness of life

Fr. Kyle Schnippel chose his 1o favorite blog posts, and I found this one very inspiring. It's his homily for the funeral of a young girl, Mollie Summers, who had severe disabilities. For those who wonder whether or not one life matters, this is a beautiful reflection, especially as we prepare to celebrate life at Christmas.

Parents, hold kids to high standards on sex

That's the headline of an op-ed I wrote for today's Cincinnati Enquirer.

A longer version was posted on the blog a couple of days ago.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sending advice to Jon

Nicole came across this website where a thirtysomething bachelor dishes out dating advice. One young man, Jon, wrote in to say that he is committed to not having sex before marriage and has lost relationships due to this commitment. So, Evan the dating advisor promptly tells Jon that he has a problem. He closes with this:

"Since I’m not a psychologist, I’m not gonna worry in this space about WHY you’d opt for abstinence. That’s between you and your clergyman. All I can say is that the number of people aboard the no-sex train is increasingly small. So as I see it, you have two choices:

Keep beating the drum that says sex is wrong outside of marriage and continue to wonder why most women keep running away, OR:

Get off your moral high horse and start sexually servicing these women the way they want to be serviced.

If not, someone else will. I guarantee that."

Of course I couldn't refrain from commenting, so I added this:

"I cannot tell you how disgusted I am by the thought of men being told to 'service women' by being sexually active with them while dating. If I date a man who is saving sexual activity for marriage, I know a few things about him:

1) He respects me and himself way more than the guy who will willingly engage in sex just because he “wants some” or because I’m afraid I’ll lose him without it.

2) If he can have self-control in abstaining from sex now, then it is more likely that he will continue that self-control (ie. being faithful inside of marriage instead of looking for satisfaction with other women).

3) He is interested in me as a person (personality, talents, intellect, etc.) and not just my body.

4) He wants to love me (ie. not put me at risk and seek what is best for me) rather than use me (treat me as an object to gratify him).

So, Jon, I think that any woman who is treated in this way will feel like a princess if she truly realizes what a sacrifice it can be for a man to want to wait. Saying yes is not always the loving thing to do. Even though it is hard to say no to sexual activity outside of marriage, it is a testament to the love and respect that you have for your future spouse.

Perhaps you have not met the right girl yet, but that does not mean you are doing something wrong. If you want a special girl, you have to act accordingly. If you compromise, you are just settling for less than you deserve.

And finally, know that there are other people out there who are waiting for their spouse (or have waited and are now married) and would not trade their love story with anyone who treated sexuality as no big deal or as a way to attract more people. Quality would be preferred over quantity."

I encourage you to add your own encouragement to Jon to remain true to his values.

Say what?

Reports are circulating in the news that a new study published in the January edition of the Journal of Adolescent Health shows that sex education delays sexual debut of teenagers and results in a higher likelihood of males (not females) using birth control.

So, what's the catch? Well, as the FoxNews article says, "The study did not explore whether classes should teach about contraception or focus entirely on abstinence. Students received sex education if they had either or both types of instruction, according to the study."

I have a hunch that comprehensive sex education proponents are going to use this study to "prove" the effectiveness of advocating contraception, yet nothing in the study proves the effectiveness of either method.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

What parents can learn from Jamie Lynn Spears

In a sixth grade class today, we were playing a game to review some of the topics covered through the In Control program, and one of the students was asked to name a negative influence in the modern media. Without skipping a beat, she replied, "Brittany Spears' sister." With the news plastered across our television sets and Internet news services, we cannot escape the latest celebrity non-marital pregnancy.

Since Jamie Lynn Spears is only 16 years old and has been considered a role model for children, many parents are wondering what good can come out of this situation. On Channel 12 this afternoon, we will be sharing some suggestions, but here are ten ways to take advantage of an opportunity to discuss sexuality with your children:

1) Parents have the most influence on their children's decisions regarding sexuality. The Kaiser Family Foundation reported that 91% of 15-17 year olds who had not had sex said they were influenced by what their parents had taught them regarding sex. In another study, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy reported that 88% of teens say it would be easier to postpone sexual activity and avoid teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversations with their parents.

2) Children deserve to be held to a high standard. Often, adults argue that kids are going to have sex anyway, so why not give them condoms now to avoid pregnancy later. In actuality, our children deserve the freedom that comes from saving sexual activity until marriage. Encouraging them to wait, but giving them a condom or birth control pills "just in case" sends a mixed message. We cannot imagine telling kids, "Don't drink and drive ... but if you do drive really slowly." Or saying, "Don't do drugs ... but if you do, don't share needles." In a similar way, advocating forms of birth control don't truly "protect" children, they only decrease their risk of pregnancy or STDs (for condoms). Don't kids deserve better than just a decreased risk?
3) Young adults don't want to be lectured. They want open, honest communication, which includes parental listening. Asking your children questions and engaging in conversation or discussion can be much more effective than a 30 minute monologue.
4) Provide guidelines for your children. Saying no can be very loving. Assist your children in learning how to make good decisions by monitoring their media input, setting dating boundaries and getting to know their friends. Though they may roll their eyes and groan now, they will thank you later.

5) Educate yourself. It is very important for parents to become aware of the media and culture that surround their children. As you learn more about what your children are involved in and what trends are blossoming, you will be better able to answer your children's questions and to counter negative influences they may be dealing with.

6) Let your children know you are always there for them. Make sure that your children know you love them and want them to be comfortable asking you questions. This does not mean watering down the truth in order to make them think you are kinder. In reality, kids will respect you more (and feel more respected) if you hold them to a high standard and speak the truth in love.

7) Use teachable moments. The media offer countless opportunities to discuss sexuality with your children. While incidents like Jamie Lynn Spears' pre-marital pregnancy are not ideal situations, they do offer an excuse to bring the topic of sexuality to the forefront. This is also an opportunity to remind your children that what they see or hear in the media does not always reflect reality. The lives of celebrities are often very different from those of the average teenager.

8) Let your children know that they are not alone. Of junior high students who had Pregnancy Center East's In Control program last year, 77% said they were committed to chastity, 20% were considering a commitment and 3% said they were not interested in chastity. National studies have shown that the majority of high school students are saving sex for marriage and have high opinions of those who are waiting.

9) Teach your children the goodness of sex. If sex was unimportant, then it wouldn't matter when we have it. Because sex is so special, it is meant to be protected within the boundary of marriage. If we were given an heirloom china tea cup from Grandma, would we toss it in the backpack and bring it everywhere or would we put in on a high shelf, wrap it in tissue paper and treat it as the special gift that it is?

10) Pray for your children. No one said it is easy to practice chastity in society, but your children are worth the benefits of this lifestyle and are completely capable of it. Praying for them to have the strength to say no and to realize their inherent dignity is of inestimable value.

What suggestions would you add?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

What if?

Thanks to Fr. Kyle Schnippel for posting this on his blog:

So gives Fr. Thomas Euteneuer as the number of potential priests and religious killed by abortion. He cites the statistics in an article on Tim Tebow and his rise to the Heisman Trophy, but also that because of a set of circumstances before he was born, his mother's doctors advised her to have an abortion. The only question that remains: 'What could've been???'

The sports world recently greeted the news that this year’s Heisman Trophy Winner, Tim Tebow from the University of Florida, was almost a casualty of abortion. Twenty-some years ago he was not the strapping 6’3”, 235 lb. beloved sports hero that he is today. At that time he was a one-inch-long unborn child whose existence, because of an amoebic infection, was defined as threat to his mother’s health. Pam Tebow, his mother, was told by a doctor that it would be in her best interests to abort this baby, and she refused. Her husband backed her up on that generous decision, and seven months later they gave birth to a perfectly healthy boy. Little did they know that twenty years later they would be standing on a national stage with a Heisman Trophy winner giving that magnificent witness to life. The world thanks you, Mr. and Mrs. Tebow! There cannot be a more touching Advent story than this.

Why celibacy shows the value of marriage

One of the perks of being a chastity educator are the random inspirations of relevant analogies pertaining to subjects covered in our In Control program. A few weeks ago, I was talking about priests and religious' vow of celibacy on Sacred Heart Radio's Son Rise Morning Show, when one such revelation hit me.

Living celibacy "for the kingdom of heaven," as Pope John Paul II refers to it, does not negate the value of marriage but rather emphasizes it. When we choose to sacrifice something for lent, we give up something meaningful like chocolate (well, chocolate is very meaningful to me). If we were to "give up" Brussel sprouts, though, it wouldn't mean much because there is no sacrifice (at least for me, since I abhor Brussel sprouts).

If celibacy is a sacrifice then it proves the value of sex and marriage. If they weren't special, then giving them up would be meaningless. Instead, men and women who take a vow of celibacy do so to offer up something good in order to point us to something better -- God and our relationship with Him in heaven. They are simultaneously showing us the value of sex and marriage by offering them up to God as a sacrifice out of love.

If sex wasn't important, then celibacy wouldn't be either and vice versa.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Pure Life

Chastity educators Jason and Crystalina Evert host a TV and radio program called, "The Pure Life." I was recently informed about a particular episode that deals with some touch issues, including whether or not abortion in the case of rape is permissible. You can listen to it here. Episode 11 talks about "tough issues."

Saturday, December 15, 2007

If you haven't seen "Bella" ...

Time is running out to see the Toronto Film Festival winning "Bella." Only two theaters in the Cincinnati area are still showing it: Mariemont and Greendale Cinema. I cannot recommend the film enough (I saw it twice) and highly encourage you to catch "Bella" this weekend.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Welcome McNick students!

We enjoyed our time with the freshmen at McNicholas High School this week. Welcome to the blog!

Some of the posts we mentioned in class that you might find of particular interest are:

- The Roe IQ test
- 99 Balloons video

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Victory in Ohio!

From Ohio Right to Life comes exciting news about an ultrasound bill passed on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe:

December 13, 2007-- Wednesday, December 12, H.B. 314, the Ultrasound Viewing Option Bill, was passed by the Ohio House of Representatives on a 72-18 vote. H.B. 314, which is sponsored by Rep. Shannon Jones (R, Springboro, former Dayton Right to Life Board Member), would require that, if an ultrasound examination is performed prior to or during an abortion, the abortionist must give the woman an opportunity to view the active ultrasound image of the unborn child and the opportunity to receive a physical picture of the ultrasound image. The bill had been passed by the House Health Committee earlier on December 12.

"We are delighted that the Ohio House has recognized the merit of this common sense pro-life and pro-woman bill", said Denise Mackura, Director and General Counsel of Ohio Right to Life. "Persons who claim to support a 'woman's right to choose' should support the woman's right to see an ultrasound if she chooses. Just as x-rays are commonly shown to patients deciding on surgery, letting a woman see an ultrasound can help her make a more informed choice, and an uninformed choice is no choice at all," Mackura said.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Happy feast day!

Eat some Mexican food in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patroness of the unborn and of the Americas. Also make some time to read the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe and why she is a model for the new evangelization.

A few fascinating facts about OLG from the Missionary Image of Our Lady of Guadalupe:

1. The image to this date, cannot be explained by science.

2. The image shows no sign of deterioration after 450 years! The tilma or cloak of Saint Juan Diego on which the image of Our Lady has been imprinted, is a coarse fabric made from the threads of the maguey cactus. This fiber disintegrates within 20-60 years!

3. There is no under sketch, no sizing and no protective over-varnish on the image.

4. Microscopic examination revealed that there were no brush strokes.

5. The image seems to increase in size and change colors due to an unknown property of the surface and substance of which it is made.

6. According to Kodak of Mexico, the image is smooth and feels like a modern day photograph. (Produced 300 years before the invention of photography.)

7. The image has consistently defied exact reproduction, whether by brush or camera.

8. Several images can be seen reflected in the eyes of the Virgin. It is believed to be the images of Juan Diego, Bishop Juan de Zummaraga, Juan Gonzales, the interpreter and others.

9. The distortion and place of the images are identical to what is produced in the normal eye which is impossible to obtain on a flat surface.

10. The stars on Our Lady's Mantle coincide with the constellations in the sky on December 12, 1531. All who have scientifically examined the image of Our Lady over the centuries confess that its properties are absolutely unique and so inexplicable in human terms that the image can only be supernatural!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Support Sacred Heart Radio

On the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Sacred Heart Radio will be hosting a special pledge drive to assist with next year's programming. You can tune into 740 AM in Cincinnati, OH or listen online. The Son Rise Morning Show will run from 6-9 am. I will be on from 6:30-7:00 am, so coffee will be an essential part of the day!

The programming on Sacred Heart Radio is such a blessing for our area in creating a positive, Catholic culture, and the ministry is well worth supporting.

Monday, December 10, 2007

The freedom of waiting

Modestly Yours has been hosting an interesting discussion on the "Pitfalls of Modern Dating." An anonymous poster added the following comment, which I found particularly poignant. I would disagree with her willingness to separate the pro-creative (or openness to new life) aspect from sex, but I don't think this diminishes her point:

"I have a wonderful marriage and a compassionate and caring husband. I slept with him after a month of dating and truly wish that we had waited until marriage. After knowing one another six years and being married for almost three, I am still learning how to treat sex as a means of pleasure and bonding (and eventually procreation).

"The thing is, I long in my heart-of-hearts for our sexual relationship to be about bonding and pleasure. I do believe he has reached that state, but I still have the mind set of being "that woman" who is always putting on the best show so that he will never want to stray. After four years of playing that part when I was his girlfriend, it was hard to change when I became his wife.

"Once I started sleeping with him in college, I subconsciously starting fearing he would leave or look elsewhere. I now struggle with letting go and being myself, not some pin-up. Sex is so much more than what our culture teaches us it is. I have a feeling that deep down other women feel this way to, but they can't search their soul to find out and they fear the idea that their sexual relationships are not as fulfilling as they seem. I didn't see it myself. I am learning, though, and those few times when I do let go and enjoy being with my husband on the most intimate level, our time together is more memorable than any other.

"The thing is, if you wait to have sex until marriage, in the freedom of a lifetime committment already made, there is less pressure to be anyone else but yourself : ) Just my two-cents..."

Friday, December 7, 2007

Quote book

Thanks to Dawn Eden for posting this amazing quote today:

"Christ's way of acting, the Gospel of his words and deeds, is a consistent protest against whatever offends the dignity of women. Consequently, the women who are close to Christ discover themselves in the truth which he 'teaches' and 'does,' even when this truth concerns their 'sinfulness.' They feel 'liberated' by this truth, restored to themselves: they feel loved with 'eternal love,' with a love which finds direct expression in Christ himself."

— Pope John Paul II, "Mulieris Dignitatem" ("On the Dignity and Vocation of Women")

Thursday, December 6, 2007

This just in ...

After the fruitful fall 40 Days for Life campaign ended a month again, organizers began praying and meeting to discuss future plans. Last night they announced their goal of having two nationwide campaigns in 2008. The dates will be February 6-March 16 and September 24-November 2 (coinciding, nicely, with the presidential election). More details can be found at the 40 Days for Life website.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Quote book

“Free to love! Dear young people, who does not want to love and be loved? But to experience sincere love, you must open the door of your heart to Jesus and take the way He marked out with His own life: the way of self-giving. This is the secret to the success of any real call to love, particularly of that call born in a surprising way in an adolescent’s heart which leads to marriage, the priesthood or the consecrated life.” —Witness to Christ Among Your Peers by Pope John Paul II, 1997.

How much do you know about Roe?

As the 35th anniversary of the legalization of abortion through Roe v. Wade draws near (January 22), take a few minutes to test your knowledge about the Supreme Court's decision with the Roe IQ Test. I admit, I got a couple questions wrong. Let me know if you beat my score!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Our Lady of Guadalupe

December 12 is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas and of the unborn. You can begin a novena to her today (December 4). Here is a novena that conveniently includes themes appropriate to this Advent season as well. Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!

Abstinence today

Abstinence was recently the subject bright and early on The Today Show. Watch the segment here. It's impressive to see young adults speaking out for their decision to say no to premarital sex and yes to chastity on national television.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Quote book

"... it is not true that young people think only of consumerism and pleasure. It is not true that they are materialistic and self-centered. Just the opposite is true: young people want great things. They want an end to injustice. They want inequalities to be overcome and all peoples to have their share in the earth's goods. They want freedom for the oppressed. They want great things, good things." -- Pope Benedict XVI