Celebrating the Annunciation and 20 Years of Evangelium Vitae

Protecting life from conception through to natural death

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

These words of great trust in God, and self-giving, were those of Mary as the Angel Gabriel came to her, and announced the conception of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Today we, in the Catholic Church, celebrate that moment.  A moment where Mary put aside all her fear and her wondering and offered herself totally to the will of God and to the gift of life.

It is little wonder then, that St John Paul II chose this day 20 years ago, to promulgate his Encyclical Letter “Evangelium Vitae – On the Value and Inviolability of Human Life.”

This great encyclical has informed and encouraged many in the pro-life movement as we work daily to build a culture of life.  For us here at Family Life International NZ, it is at the very heart of everything we do!

In it we are reminded that each and every one of us are called to be a people of life and for life and that just like the Angel Gabriel we are being asked to profess with humility and courage the Gospel of Life, which, St John Paul II reminds us, is the person of Jesus (see #29).

When St John Paul II appealed to every person to “respect, protect, love and serve life, every human life!” (#5), he meant every human life from the moment of conception through to the very last stages of life.  He also reminded us that “we must not fear hostility or unpopularity, and we must refuse any compromise or ambiguity which might conform us to the world’s way of thinking.” (#82).

Outlining so many important ways we can promote a culture of life and a civilization of love, St John Paul II appeals to us to “discover anew the humility and the courage to pray and fast so that power from on high will break down the walls of lies and deceit.”

And so today, on the feast of the Annunciation, and on the anniversary of this great encyclical, we once again take up the challenge, in humility, to pray unceasingly,  to speak courageously, to serve with love, and to work tirelessly for the renewal of society, so that every human life from conception through to natural death is respected and given what is inherently theirs – a right to life.

Why I stand and pray for an end to abortion

Christ holding unborn child in his handsAs I arrived at AMAC (the Auckland Medical Aid Centre – an abortion facility) this afternoon to pray for an end to abortion, for all those involved and most especially for the mothers and babies, I was greeted by a beautiful sight.

A young mother was standing just outside the doors of AMAC, holding her little girl – she must have been about 7 months – and they were delighting in the small world flags flapping in the wind.  These flags are adorning all the buildings down Dominion Road for the Cricket World Cup.

How wonderful it was to see the joy on both of their faces!

But then my heart sunk.  Just above their heads was the theatre where pre-born children are ripped from their mother’s wombs.  I could see the theatre walls and the instrument trolleys.  The sheer number of mothers and babies who would never experience this moment of joy weighed heavily on my heart.

And I wondered why on a sunny Sunday afternoon it was so difficult to get more than one person to turn up and beg God’s mercy for this horrendous act against human life.  (Thankfully a little later, someone else arrived to pray with me).

What would the outcry be if the children being sacrificed in the name of choice and convenience were already born?  Would the Christian Church speak out with force?  Would we see the social justice committees rallying up parishioners to stand outside the facilities where the atrocious act was happening: to beg God’s mercy, to provide help and support for the families who felt they had no other choice, to offer alternatives?

Or would there be silence?

Abortion is the biggest injustice of our times.  Pre-born children are poisoned.  Others are violently sucked through a canulla (tube).  Their tiny bodies are pieced back together to ensure that nothing is left behind.  Some are too big, and so after some suction, they are torn apart with forceps and removed limb by limb as the abortionist blindly pokes around.  Still others will have their hearts injected with a poison so that they are born dead (chillingly this practice is called feticide).

Abortion is brutal.  It is inhumane.  It is catastrophic for families and for society.

I urge you to view these images of aborted children.  This is the reality.  The photos are violent.  The images will make you feel ill.  You will never be the same again.

My heart breaks for the children.  It breaks for the mothers who feel they have no other choice.  It breaks for those who are forced to abort their children against their will.

Mothers who walk into abortion facilities will never be the same again when they walk out.

Studies show that women have a greater incidence of mental health problems after abortion.  They have an increased risk for self-destructive behaviour and suicide.

Women can be physically harmed during the abortion procedure.  Overseas, deaths have been reported.  In New Zealand it is impossible to know through documents if women have died because of the secrecy around the abortion procedure.  What we do know is that a significant number of mothers hemorrhage either during or after their abortion.  Hemorrhage can be a relatively minor complication – it can also be catastrophic.  We also know that in 2012 and 2013 a total of  18 women had their womb perforated during the procedure, potentially rendering them infertile and at risk for serious complications in later pregnancies.

There must be a better way.

We can (and must) work in the political arena; educate whomever we can about the reality of life before birth and the brutal act of abortion, utilizing all the amazing tools available to us; serve mothers and families who are abortion-vulnerable; promote adoption as a very important option; and educate ourselves on the issues at hand.

We must also pray.  We must beg God for mercy.  We can pray in our Churches.  We can pray in our homes.  But one of the most incredible places to pray is outside an abortion facility.  The place where abortion happens.  Calvary.  There we confront evil head on.  There we witness the deception that envelopes all those involved in abortion – the facility workers, the mothers and fathers and finally those who pass by.  There we have the opportunity to be Christ’s hand and feet, to witness to life, to allow him to use us as He wills, despite our fears and inadequacies.

Finally when we pray outside these facilities, especially on abortion days, we offer the pre-born children possibly the only love they will ever know on this earth.

So why do I stand and pray?

How can I not?  It is what love requires.

 

 

 

Graces are received when you pray outside an abortion facility

Praying HandsWho on earth would want to spend an hour or so standing outside across the road from an abortion facility praying for the mothers the fathers and the babies and also the people who perform this dreadful act?

Well I did today, and I must say it was a sheer act of the will.   I did not want to be there – I have many things to do and places to go, but the graces abound for those who somehow find an hour to pray at this place of Calvary.

I was standing with friends praying, and a lady came up to me and bent her head and said hello and started to say my name.  I looked up and she said “Thank you Colleen.  My son Harry is 14-years-old now and he is amazing and has grown up very well.  He has a younger brother and we are all very happy.”

She spent some time telling me about her life since our last encounter and wants to come and visit us at our John Paul II Centre for Life.   I was awestruck that she would recognise me after all these years.  I had been praying outside that same abortion facility well over fourteen years ago when I met Yuki.  Our Centre supported her throughout the pregnancy and beyond.   Today she could not thank me enough for saving her son’s life.

So I plead with you, if you are able, please join Mark and his team in Auckland, or Clare and her team in Wellington, between now and Palm Sunday which is the close of this 40 Days for Life vigil.  I promise you that your presence does make a difference.  Lives are saved.  People are given hope.  The light of Christ shines in the darkness.

Please know that each one of you is always in our prayers and on our hearts.

Sign up for the Auckland vigil.
Sign up for the Wellington vigil.

Praying for an end to abortion in NZ

40 Days for Life WellingtonAll around the world people are attending 40 Days for Life prayer vigils outside their local abortion facilities.  They know that their presence is vital to help save lives and to bring about the end of abortion through a deep trust in God.

Today is day 9 of the vigil, which lasts for 40 days in succession.  This is the second time New Zealand has officially participated in the world-wide prayer effort.  The vigils are taking place outside Wellington Hospital and the Auckland Medical Aid Centre (AMAC).

These of course, are not the first time vigils have been held outside abortion facilities here in New Zealand.  There is a long history, of over 40 years, of the faithful standing and praying outside of these facilities right throughout the country.

The variety of efforts by pro-life people is astounding.  There are those that are working on laws, and in the political sphere.  Still again, there are a great number who promote life through their work in the medical profession and scientific avenues.  Others still, work to educate, or use the media or the internet.  Then, there are those who serve abortion vulnerable women; and still others who help bring healing to those who suffer after their abortion.

These are all very necessary efforts.  Efforts which will bring about their own fruits.

Some of our churches make pro-life efforts an important priority – prayers are offered and practical help and support given.  Others choose to ignore, or even worse, participate in the promotion of abortion.

But there is something incredibly necessary about standing outside of abortion facilities in prayer.  When we do, we bring light where there is only darkness.  We bring hope.  And most importantly, we bring Christ.

We bring this to every mother who walks through the doors of the facility.  To every father.  To every worker.  To every person who passes by.

And our love may be the only love that preborn child may ever know on this earth.

Lives can be saved at the very last moment.

It is humbling.

What’s been happening at the Wellington vigil?

ClareMcClean (Vigil Coordinator)
After initial nerves about starting up again on Ash Wednesday, there was an excitement about being back on the street with friends made from last year’s 40 Days.

Just in the first week it has been amazing to see how new people are being drawn to the prayer vigil:  over one third of the participants are new!

It is also enriching and encouraging to have such a diverse range of Christians:  Pentecostal; Catholic; Salvation Army; Anglican and Reformed Church – all united, both in our thirst for justice for the unborn child, and our hope in God.

Already we have had a few encounters with the public, who are keen to share their views on abortion.  We have had the opportunity to explain the truth about the dignity of the human person by illustrating that the unborn child is not a “nothing” and that human life is not mere animal matter.

There have been many favourable remarks, including from one woman who was keen to see us move to a more visible spot.  On Friday, another woman stopped to tell us not only about two abortions she regrets from her youth, but also the healing and forgiveness she has discovered in Jesus Christ.  She encouraged us to keep working at making the truth known because in the counselling prior to the abortions she was deceived with the lie that “it is only a bit of mucus and nothing to worry about.”

After Abby Johnson’s visit in December, we want the abortion workers to know we care about them, and now have a sign reading “Abortion Worker?  Go to attwn.org“.

It has been a good start to our vigil and we look forward to even more people joining us to pray for an end to abortion!

What’s been happening in Auckland?

Mark Mitchelson (Vigil Coordinator)
Our Auckland vigil has gotten off to a quiet start with many people just turning up to pray.  At times there have been one or two people in prayer, others six or seven, and on Sunday afternoon, we had twelve people – including four children!

While the Auckland vigil has so far predominantly been attended by Catholics, and in particular, the Legion of Mary, there have been a few other attendees.

We have had an overwhelming number of complimentary comments from varied quarters and the verbal attacks have so far, seemed to be much less than last year’s vigil.

On the whole, the weather has been incredible, although for a few days, we had much needed rain, making it tricky for vigil go-ers.

We are encouraging people to sign up on-line prior to attending the vigil as this helps us to plan, but if this is not possible, please do turn up and help save lives!

 

 

Synod on the Family: Consultation of the New Zealand Bishops

FamilyThe New Zealand Catholic Bishops have released their consultation questionnaire in preparation for this year’s Synod on the Family which is to be held in Rome, October 5th to 19th.

Bishop Charles Drennan of Palmerston North will be participating in the Synod this October.

Responses to the questionnaire need to be submitted before Monday 9th March.

The focus of this second phase is supposed to be “on practical pastoral approaches which strengthen the beauty of married life and accompany those whose relationships are not unfolding within the bond of marriage.”

However, this paragraph is found in the Bishop’s statement:

We are acutely aware of the many people who in their hearts consider themselves Catholic but are not regularly at Church. Please encourage these family members and friends to participate. Also of particular interest to us are those who see themselves as beyond the Church: perhaps some divorced and remarried, or gay women and men. We urge you to share your experiences through the questionnaire. No-one walks beyond the reach of the Good Shepherd.

And it was concerning to read the following (emphasis mine):

The proposed questions which follow and the reference numbers to the paragraphs in the Relatio Synodi are intended to assist the bishops’ conferences in their reflection and to avoid, in their responses, a formulation of pastoral care based simply on an application of doctrine, which would not respect the conclusions of the Extraordinary Synodal Assembly and would lead their reflection far from the path already indicated. 

Given the grave scandal that occurred during the last Synod on the Family, every Catholic, especially those who are faithfully trying to live their vocation, is encouraged to speak the truth in love.

Family Life International NZ is one of the supporting organisations of Voice of the Family, an initiative which has been formed specifically to offer expertise and resources on family issues before, during and after the Synods on the Family.

The submission made by Voice of the Family to the Pontifical Council of the Family’s consultation is a useful document to read prior to answering the questions in the survey.

Familiaris Consortio – On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World – is another very important document to peruse.  This document was prepared by Saint Pope John Paul II at the end of the 1980 Synod on the Family.

The Lineamenta “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World” contains the text of the Relatio Synodi (the final document of the last Synod) and the discussion questions.

The questions in the New Zealand Catholic Bishops survey are presented below for your reflection.  A Word document can also be downloaded at the Catholic Bishops website.  Answers to the questions can be submitted on this online form.

As well as filling out the survey, let each of us ensure that we pray daily for Pope Francis, as well as every Cardinal, Bishop and Priest – especially those who will participate in the Synod on the Family.

Consultation Questions in preparation for the Ordinary Synod on the Family October 5th to 19th, 2015

Does the description of the various familial situations in the Relatio Synodi correspond to what exists in the Church and society today? What missing aspects should be included?

The proposed questions which follow and the reference numbers to the paragraphs in the Relatio Synodi are intended to assist the bishops’ conferences in their reflection and to avoid, in their responses, a formulation of pastoral care based simply on an application of doctrine, which would not respect the conclusions of the Extraordinary Synodal Assembly and would lead their reflection far from the path already indicated.

1. What initiatives are taking place and what are those planned in relation to the challenges these cultural changes pose to the family (cf. ns. 6 – 7): which initiatives are geared to reawaken an awareness of God’s presence in family life; to teaching and establishing sound interpersonal relationships; to fostering social and economic policies useful to the family; to alleviating difficulties associated with attention given to children, the elderly and family members who are ill; and to addressing more specific cultural factors present in the local Church?

2. What analytical tools are currently being used in these times of anthropological and cultural changes; what are the more significant positive or negative results? (cf. n. 5)

3. Beyond proclaiming God’s Word and pointing out extreme situations, how does the Church choose to be present “as Church” and to draw near families in extreme situations? (cf. n. 8). How does the Church seek to prevent these situations? What can be done to support and strengthen families of believers and those faithful to the bonds of marriage?

4. How does the Church respond, in her pastoral activity, to the diffusion of cultural relativism in secularized society and to the consequent rejection, on the part of many, of the model of family formed by a man and woman united in the marriage and open to life?

5. How do Christian families bear witness, for succeeding generations, to the development and growth of a life of sentiment? (cf. ns. 9 – 10). In this regard, how might the formation of ordained ministers be improved? What qualified persons are urgently needed in this pastoral activity?

6. To what extent and by what means is the ordinary pastoral care of families addressed to those on the periphery? (cf. n. 11). What are the operational guidelines available to foster and appreciate the “desire to form a family” planted by the Creator in the heart of every person, especially among young people, including those in family situations which do not correspond to the Christian vision? How do they respond to the Church’s efforts in her mission to them? How prevalent is natural marriage among the non-baptized, also in relation to the desire to form a family among the young?

7. A fixed gaze on Christ opens up new possibilities. “Indeed, every time we return to the source of the Christian experience, new paths and undreamed of possibilities open up” (n. 12). How is the teaching from Sacred Scripture utilized in pastoral activity on behalf of families. To what extent does “fixing our gaze on Christ” nourish a pastoral care of the family which is courageous and faithful?

8. What marriage and family values can be seen to be realized in the life of young people and married couples? What form do they take? Are there values which can be highlighted? (cf. n. 13) What sinful aspects are to be avoided and overcome?

9. What human pedagogy needs to be taken into account — in keeping with divine pedagogy — so as better to understand what is required in the Church’s pastoral activity in light of the maturation of a couple’s life together which would lead to marriage in the future? (cf. n. 13)

10. What is being done to demonstrate the greatness and beauty of the gift of indissolubility so as to prompt a desire to live it and strengthen it more and more? (cf. n. 14)

11. How can people be helped to understand that a relationship with God can assist couples in overcoming the inherent weaknesses in marital relations? (cf. n. 14) How do people bear witness to the fact that divine blessings accompany every true marriage? How do people manifest that the grace of the Sacrament sustains married couples throughout their life together?

12. How can people be made to understand that Christian marriage corresponds to the original plan of God and, thus, one of fulfillment and not confinement? (cf. n. 13)

13. How can the Church be conceived as a “domestic Church” (Lumen Gentium, 11), agent and object of the work of evangelization in service to the Kingdom of God?

14. How can an awareness of this missionary task of the family be fostered?

15. The Lord looks with love at the Christian family and through him the family grows as a true community of life and love. How can a familial spirituality be developed and how can families become places of new life in Christ? (cf. n. 21)

16. What initiatives in catechesis can be developed and fostered to make known and offer assistance to persons in living the Church’s teaching on the family, above all in surmounting any possible discrepancy between what is lived and what is professed and in leading to a process of conversion?

17. What initiatives can lead people to understand the value of an indissoluble and fruitful marriage as the path to complete personal fulfilment? (cf. n. 21)

18. What can be done to show that the family has many unique aspects for experiencing the joys of human existence?

19. The Second Vatican Council, returning to an ancient ecclesial tradition, expressed an appreciation for natural marriage. To what extent does diocesan pastoral activity acknowledge the value of this popular wisdom as fundamental in culture and society? (cf. n. 22)

20. How can people be helped to understand that no one is beyond the mercy of God? How can this truth be expressed in the Church’s pastoral activity towards families, especially those which are wounded and fragile? (cf. n. 28)

21. In the case of those who have not yet arrived at a full understanding of the gift of Christ’s love, how can the faithful express a friendly attitude and offer trustworthy guidance without failing to proclaim the demands of the Gospel? (cf. n. 24)

22. What can be done so that persons in the various forms of union between a man and a woman — in which human values can be present — might experience a sense of respect, trust and encouragement to grow in the Church’s good will and be helped to arrive at the fulness of Christian marriage? (cf. n. 25)

23. How is the family emphasized in the formation of priests and other pastoral workers? How are families themselves involved?

24. Are people aware that the rapid evolution in society requires a constant attention to language in pastoral communication. How can an effective testimony be given to the priority of grace in a way that family life is conceived and lived as welcoming the Holy Spirit?

25. In proclaiming the Gospel of the Family, how can the conditions be created so that each family might actually be as God wills and that society might acknowledge the family’s dignity and mission? What “pastoral conversion” and what further steps towards an in-depth examination are being done to achieve this?

26. Are people aware of the importance of the collaboration of social and civil institutions on behalf of the family? How is this actually done? What criteria are used to inspire it? In this regard, what role can be played by family associations? How can this collaboration be sustained even in a bold repudiation of the cultural, economic and political processes which threaten the family?

27. How can relations between family, society and civil life be fostered for the benefit of the family? How can the support of the State and the international community be fostered on behalf of the family?

28. How is marriage preparation proposed in order to highlight the vocation and mission of the family according to faith in Jesus Christ? Is it proposed as an authentic ecclesial experience? How can it be renewed and improved?

29. How does the catechesis of Christian initiation present an openness to the vocation and mission of the family? What practices are seen as most urgent? How is the relation among Baptism, Eucharist and marriage proposed? What emphasis is given to the character of the catechumenate and mystagogy which is often a part of marriage preparation? How can the community be involved in this preparation?

30. Does marriage preparation and accompanying couples in the initial years of married life adequately value the important contribution of the witness and sustenance which can be given by families, associations and family movements? What positive experiences can be reported in this regard?

31. The pastoral accompaniment of couples in the initial years of family life — as observed in synodal discussion — needs further development. What are the most significant initiatives already being undertaken? What elements need further development in parishes, dioceses or associations and movements?

32. What criteria in a proper pastoral discernment of individual situations are being considered in light the Church’s teaching in which the primary elements of marriage are unity, indissolubility and openness to life?

33. Is the Christian community able to be pastorally involved in these situations? How can it assist in discerning the positive and negative elements in the life of persons united in a civil marriage so as to guide and sustain them on a path of growth and conversion towards the Sacrament of Matrimony? How can those living together be assisted to decide to marry?

34. In a particular way, what response is to be given to problems arising from the continuity of traditional forms of marriage in stages or those between families?

35. Is the Christian community in a position to undertake the care of all wounded families so that they can experience the Father’s mercy? How does the Christian community engage in removing the social and economic factors which often determine this situation? What steps have been taken and what can be done to increase this activity and the sense of mission which sustains it?

36. How can the identification of shared pastoral guidelines be fostered at the level of the particular Church? In this regard, how can a dialogue be developed among the various particular Churches cum Petro and sub Petro?

37. How can the procedure to determine cases of nullity be made more accessible, streamlined and possibly without expense?

38. With regard to the divorced and remarried, pastoral practice concerning the sacraments needs to be further studied, including assessment of the Orthodox practice and taking into account “the distinction between an objective sinful situation and extenuating circumstances” (n. 52). What are the prospects in such a case? What is possible? What suggestions can be offered to resolve forms of undue or unnecessary impediments?

39. Does current legislation provide a valid response to the challenges resulting from mixed marriages or interreligious marriages? Should other elements be taken into account?

40. How can the Christian community give pastoral attention to families with persons with homosexual tendencies? What are the responses that, in light of cultural sensitivities, are considered to be most appropriate? While avoiding any unjust discrimination, how can such persons receive pastoral care in these situations in light of the Gospel? How can God’s will be proposed to them in their situation?

41. What are the most significant steps that have been taken to announce and effectively promote the beauty and dignity of becoming a mother or father, in light, for example, of Humanae Vitae of Blessed Pope Paul VI? How can dialogue be promoted with the sciences and biomedical technologies in a way that respects the human ecology of reproduction?

42. A generous maternity / paternity needs structures and tools. Does the Christian community exercise an effective solidarity and support? How? Is it courageous in proposing valid solutions even at a socio-political level? How can adoption and foster-parenting be encouraged as a powerful sign of fruitful generosity? How can the care and respect of children be promoted?

43. The Christian lives maternity / paternity as a response to a vocation. Is this vocation sufficiently emphasized in catechesis? What formation is offered so that it might effectively guide the consciences of married couples? Are people aware of the grave consequences of demographic change?

44. How does the Church combat the scourge of abortion and foster an effective culture of life?

45. Fulfilling their educational mission is not always easy for parents. Do they find solidarity and support from the Christian community? What suggestions might be offered in formation? What steps can be taken to acknowledge the role of parents in raising children, even at the socio-political level?

46. How can parents and the Christian family be made aware that the duty of transmitting the faith is an intrinsic aspect of being a Christian?

 

 

11 things you can do to build a culture of life

Two brothersWe all have an obligation to be at the service of life, St John Paul II tells us in his encyclical letter Evangelium Vitae.  Sometimes it can be hard to know where to begin, the task can seem so huge and insurmountable.

But just by choosing to do one new thing at a time, we can start making change for the better – to really build a culture of life, where each person, no matter how small or how old, is given the dignity they deserve.

Every single person can make a difference – no matter how big or seemingly small their contribution is.

So here’s 11 things you can begin doing today to help build a culture of life.

1.  Visit the elderly and the sick

Take time out of your busy days and weeks to visit the elderly and the sick.  Older people particularly enjoy having a short visit from children!

2.  Donate items to your local pregnancy centre

Pregnancy centres are always in need of good quality newborn to six-month-old clothing, nappies, baby wipes, strollers and other baby care items.  Gifts for mothers are also lovely and appreciated by the recipients.

3.  Encourage and support families

Look for opportunities to encourage and support families.  Congratulate mothers when they announce they are pregnant.  Cook meals or offer practical help for families with new babies, the ill, the elderly and the disabled.

4.  Attend events and invite a friend

Pro-life events happen throughout the year.  awesome speakers, training programmes, conferences and seminars, pro-life vigils and Masses, Marches for Life…  All of these are opportunities to get out there learn more, meet like-minded people and give a strong message that human life matters from the very beginning, to the very end of life.

5.  Share pro-life, pro-family content on social media

Follow pro-life organisations on social media and share their content – news, images, videos.  You can follow Family Life International NZ on Facebook here.

6.  Volunteer

Pregnancy Resource Centres and pro-life organisations are always looking for people to give of their time and skills.  All sorts of jobs need doing such as answering phones, graphic design, tending to the garden, cleaning, social media, website design, video making, event organisation…  However you are able to help, your practical support is always welcome.

7.  Donate to your local pro-life organisation

Unfortunately it costs money to run pro-life organisations and your generosity means that people can work day in and day out for the cause of life.  Different organisations focus on specific aspects of pro-life work.  Each has an important role to play in building a culture of life.

8.  Participate in 40 Days for Life

Praying outside abortion facilities is a powerful witness and acknowledgement of the spiritual battle that exists in the great injustice of abortion.  The fruits are evident – almost 10,000 lives have been saved since 2007 in this worldwide effort to end abortion.  Your presence is also a final act of love for the unborn children who will be killed in that facility.  It may be the only love given to them in their short lives here on earth.

Find out more about the New Zealand vigils here or visit the 40 Days for Life website for more general information and to sign up!  The next vigil is February 18th to March 29th, 2015!

9.  Write letters to the editor

When subjects come up in the news, write letters, or leave comments, that affirm life and the natural family.

10.  Promote St John Paul II’s Prayer for Life.

At the end of the Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), John Paul II gave the world a prayer for life.  This is a beautiful prayer that can be prayed daily for the protection of all human life from conception to natural death.

11.  PRAY.

Pray every day for an end to abortion.  Pray for the conversion of every person involved in the culture of death.  Pray for those tempted to have abortions or support family and friends in having an abortion.  Pray for the grace to always be able to speak the truth in love.  Ultimately the battle against the culture of death is a spiritual battle.  It can only be won by placing our trust completely in God, submitting ourselves in obedience to His will.

Restoring the culture in 2015

All chilren have a right to life

 

 

While the summer sun keeps shining and the children are playing and enjoying their break from school, the seemingly endless days of summer with limited commitments and a generally slow start to each day, is coming to a close for most.

And it needs to!

This year – 2015 – is an important year for all those who work to restore the culture.

Throughout the world each individual country has its own specific attacks against life, faith and family to defend.  The common thread is that self-centredness and relativism is now embedded into cultural mores; one’s neighbour is disregarded and the focus is on so-called  personal “rights”.  What results is a denigration of the dignity of the human person.  We have chaos.

As 2015 unfolds the reality of the task ahead hits with an almighty thump!  The urgency with which we must act is critical.  Lives are at stake.  Eternal souls are in danger.

What is on the horizon as 2015 unfolds?

More preborn children will be aborted because their mothers feel they have no other choice.
14,073 abortions were recorded in the year ended December 2013.  The majority were killed before 12 weeks.  Many are unaware that New Zealand’s law allows abortion for the physical and mental health of the mother until birth.

73 preborn children, 20 weeks+ were aborted in 2013.

It is generally considered that a 24 week baby is ‘viable’ – that means he or she has a good chance of surviving.  In 2013 Statistics NZ record that 13 precious children 24 weeks+ were not afforded that chance to live.

So-called Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives (LARCs) are becoming more popular
Organisations like Family Planning are pushing LARCs as a great way to prevent pregnancy – especially to youth.  LARCs are devices such as IUDs and ‘contraceptive’ implants like Jadelle or Implanon; as well as the Depo Provera shot.

These so-called contraceptives, while aiming to prevent conception in the first place, can also work to prevent a newly conceived human being from implanting in the womb.  This action is abortifacient (causes early abortions).

It is impossible to calculate how many little ones are aborted this way each year.

Sex education is a constant threat to our youth
The promotion of sex education is designed to desensitize our youth into believing that sexual relations outside of marriage is normal and to be desired.  Increasingly, the aim of sex education is to affirm homosexuality and to engineer the notion that gender is fluid.

Following the horrifying Roastbusters incident, a great deal of attention has been turned towards the issue of consent.  While it is incredibly important for both boys and girls to understand just what rape actually is (in a society where anything to do with sex has been confused), it should be noted that this emphasis on consent still reinforces the notion that sexual activity outside of marriage, when mutually desired, is acceptable.

Sex education is responsible for much of the moral decay we see in society today as it has chipped away at morality – generation after generation.

The ever present threat of euthanasia and assisted suicide
While there is no Bill sitting in the ballot box right now waiting for selection on this issue, pro-euthanasia/assisted suicide propaganda is being regularly fed to the New Zealand public.  The aim is to sway people into believing that every person should have the right to end their own lives.  Then, when the time is perceived to be right, the euthanasia advocates will pounce, bringing in legislation (most likely the End of Life Choice Bill), that will lead us down a slippery slope of legalised killing on demand.  The old, the young, the mentally and physically disabled will all be at risk.

The latest piece of euthanasia propaganda was published by Stuff yesterday.

Synod on the Family
The second Synod on the Family is to take place October 4th to 25th in Rome.  It directly follows the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia (September 22nd to 27th).

Given the drama of the first Synod on the Family and the significant discussions surrounding homosexuality and communion for the civilly divorced and remarried, this second Synod is most important.

The theme of the next Synod is The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.

Ongoing threats to a culture of life and a civilization of love
Of course the above points are just a few of the serious attacks on life, faith and family in the coming year.  We could easily add to the list:

  • IVF and the insane loss of life in the process, as well as the dilemma of what to do with the thousands of surplus frozen embryos;
  • the ongoing attack against marriage and family through the legal status of same-sex unions (what is commonly referred to as ‘marriage’);
  • the search and destroy mission of many medical professionals who wish to eradicate people with Down syndrome, Spina bifida and other disabilities before they are born, and to further shorten the lives of those preborn babies who may be born still or live for only a short time after birth;
  • the targeted sterilization programme in South Auckland, which is a low socioeconomic area with a high population of Maori and Pacific Islanders; and
  • the push to remove abortion from the Crimes Act.

The attacks are great and numerous.  They cannot be underestimated.  Yes, it may even seem overwhelming.  And it is if only a few have the courage to speak up and do something!

This list (which is incomplete) should serve to encourage each and everyone of us to act with URGENCY.  Lives are at stake.  Eternal souls are at risk of being lost forever.

The team at Family Life International know we have a big year ahead.

Through our Family Life Crisis Pregnancy Centres in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin we have the opportunity to talk with mothers all over the country (and the world) about their unexpected pregnancy concerns.  We offer practical help, friendship and support.  Already this year we have fielded a significant number of emails, Facebook messages, texts and phone calls.  Service to those who are in their greatest hour of need is key.

We aim to educate by giving the facts, to as many people as we possibly can – both the young and the old – through educational presentations, print publications and our online presence – website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube.

And we pray.

“You can do more than pray once you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed” rightly said the philosopher John Bunyan.

Prayer is what sustains us and gives us the courage to keep going.  Our faith and trust in God, and obedience to His commands, is the foundation from which all our works to restore the culture to one that embraces life, flows.

We are all called to be at the service of life, St John Paul II reminds us.  It is every person’s duty everywhere, at all times.  Each of us has very specific talents and life experiences that are very necessary in this great battle.

How will you work to restore the culture in 2015?

 

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