Abortion and the Democratic Party Platform

After the 2016 DNC, I have a question:  Why is the Democratic Party making it more difficult for me to vote for Democrats?

Since I don’t usually get into politics here, let me start by stating that I am a pro-life independent.  And, yes, by pro-life I mean all of life.  I’m not a hypocrite.  So, I’m against the death penalty, human embryonic destruction, needless destruction of wildlife habitats, euthanasia, preemptive missile strikes, elective abortions, etc.. I subscribe to neither of the major US political party’s platforms, because neither party’s platform holds all of my beliefs.  Therefore, I choose between both Democrats and Republicans when I vote, being open to members of “third parties”, as well.  And I do vote, taking this civic responsibility very seriously, just as I was raised to do by my family here in New Hampshire.

The Platform of the Democratic Party used to contain the goal of making abortions “more rare.”  But, that kind of thinking is long gone among the party majority and leaders.  The language of the 2016 platform, regarding abortion, states that the Party upholds a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions.  Among Democrats, indeed, the rhetoric has been building for years toward equating abortions – even elective abortions – to healthcare.

To be clear, I not only believe that human beings begin at conception, I also know it.  There is no other point, scientifically speaking, at which we can state that a human being becomes a human being.[1]  Is the termination of a pregnancy, then, as a “healthcare decision”, merely the removal of some kind of growth?  No.  Not unless every human being is a mere “cluster of cells” or “clump of tissue” – and the Democratic Party isn’t saying that.  (So far.)  Continue reading

Obedience Is Nothing without Love

One question that I asked as a nonbeliever and that I still quietly wonder about as a believer is this: when Jesus rose from the dead, why did he only show himself to the people that were already his disciples? If the resurrection is proof of Jesus as the Christ and Savior of the World, then it seems only natural to wish that Jesus would give that proof to more people, so that the whole world might be Christian. It seems like, instead, he rather preached to the choir.

Yet, I feel a bit guilty carry this doubting question around with me.

I shouldn’t.

Turns out that I’m not the first one to ask the question – no big surprise there. The surprise for me, however, came when I learned who it was that asked the question first – and to whom it was asked. (Some of you may already know the “who” and “whom” of which I speak, but, please remember, with mercy and forgiveness, that I am not an accomplished reader of the Bible.) One of Jesus’s own disciples asked it to Jesus himself. And on hearing and understanding the answer given to the one asked, I was washed in a well-contented sense of rightness and joy.

It happened when I was watching a movie. Of course, it was not just any old mindlessly entertaining movie, but rather one of those new “Christian Faith” movies – The Gospel of John. Although I have probably heard or read all of the words spoken by the narrator before, the words of the Gospel struck my ear and my mind in a new way – and, thankfully, penetrated into my heart. The scene of the Last Supper came on the screen and the words of the Discourse came through the speakers. Jesus was saying that he would reveal and show himself to those whom he loved.[1] And then one of his very own apostles asked Jesus, face-to-face, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

Good question.

Jesus didn’t rebuke the apostle in the slightest, but willingly gave answer and, of course, said it all:

“He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.”

Give yourself a moment to take that in. When first hearing them in the narrator’s voice, the words caught in my mind and then needed to be processed further, like a fish that is caught up in a net and then needs to be pulled onto the boat.

You see, Jesus only showed himself to the people who loved him because showing himself – even himself all resurrected and glorified – to people who didn’t love him would have made no difference. They may have been like spectators of David Blaine magic, flabbergasted and admiring, but merely exclaiming “Cool trick, man!” Rather, he showed himself to those who loved him because he promised that he would. They were grieving and mourning his death – and he came back to them. Although Simon Peter denied even knowing Jesus three times before the Crucifixion, after the Resurrection Jesus gave him a second chance to be true to what was in his heart. “Peter, do you love me?” And every time that Peter affirmed his love for him, Jesus gave reminding command to follow his teachings.[2]

The profound beauty and joy here is that Jesus is telling us the same thing now: Jesus reveals himself to people who love him, because the people who don’t love him will not obey his teaching – even if he showed himself to them, they wouldn’t care. What Jesus knows, and what we should all know, is that in order to be able to follow Jesus Christ and obey his teachings, a person must love him.

Without love for Christ, there is no Christianity.

As believing Christians, we want Christianity to be better respected and more embraced by the world. We naturally want more people to attend church, near and far. We would like to see pews full of people reciting the Creed aloud with us and identifying themselves as Christians. We would like them to obey the teachings of Christ and live good, Christian lives. But… in order to do any of this, people must first love Christ.

Christ himself said that, unless they love him, people will not obey him. It is only people who truly love Christ that are freely willing to obey him – because to do so is a natural expression and substance of that love. We can’t put the cart before the horse. We can’t expect people to reach for the high ethics and ideals of Catholic Christianity without love for Christ himself. I can’t expect myself to do this.

So… in my heart I am asking, “But, Lord, where are you that I may love you?”

I am hungry and need to be fed… I am homeless and need to be sheltered… I am ill and suffering and need to be cared for… I am homebound, and I am stuck in a nursing home, and I need to be visited… I am in prison and I need to be loved… I am a stranger and I need to be welcomed…[3]

I do not have to look far to find Christ here with me, in the flesh and blood of my fellow human beings. My family member is angry or sad – do I love? My friend is burdened – do I love? My neighbor is in great need – do I love? If I love the least of the people around me, then I love Christ. And if I love Christ, then I love the least of the people around me. It’s a profound circle that only has its beginning and end in God – for we can only love because God first loved us.[4] When we are open to divine love and give ourselves to that love, then Christ more fully reveals himself to us, and our love deepens and grows evermore.

One other question:

As we are supposed to evangelize, how are we to teach others to love Christ?  

Everybody who truly loves goodness and truth is already in love with who Christ is – whether they know it or not. The best way that we can teach others about Christ himself – and, perhaps, the only true way that we can really teach them – is by sharing our love for him with them. We love Christ Jesus in all that he is and in all that he has done for us. If others see the deep sense of joy and peace that comes from our love for Christ, love that is manifested in our love for neighbor, then they will come to know him through our love and, in knowing him, they will love him, too. And when they love him, they will want to follow him. They will obey his teachings – not out of superstition or blind adherence to rules, but out of love – and he will reveal himself to them more and more.

© 2015 Christina Chase

[1] John 14:15-24

[2] John 21:15-17

[3] Matthew 25

[4] 1 John 4:19

What Would You Do? A Holy Hour Moment

After I don’t know how long a lapse, perhaps as long a lapse as I have been consecrated to the Sacred Heart, I finally did, well, something of a holy hour. All I did was watch Catholic TV.  It was nothing intellectually stimulating or even inspiring.  It was more like something that wasn’t bad for me, which I had to get through.  And, yet, I was given, through God’s grace, a little (rather flooring) moment of insight.

A program about music was being aired, one that was filmed at a beautiful ArchAbbey. This caused me to think about all of the beautiful churches that are closing their doors in my area.  It’s been bothering me.  My own parish church is one that seems to always be threatened with the ax, because our income is low and the cost of maintaining the 120-year-old building — a beautiful building — is high. It’s strange to me how it seems as though the churches that are the least attractive to look at are the ones that are thriving, their doors safely open.  Of course, it’s not the beauty of a church that brings true worshipers within.  Art devotees may worship beautiful things, but God is not a work of art, nor a beautiful building.  God is God, who alone is worthy of worship.  And I do believe that God is grieved the most, not by the churches that are closing, but by the hearts that are closing.

Where is God truly to be worshiped?

Does the architecture of the church have to follow just such a pattern with just so many stained-glass windows done in just such a style? Are beautiful grounds with a beautiful landscape at the background necessary?  What kind of music is appropriate so that God may be worshiped?  Does it really matter?  No.  No matter how grand a cathedral or a church or a choir — God is always worshiped in the heart.

Which begs the question:

Are the doors of my heart open for worship?

A little later in the hour, I was wondering what God wants me to do. If, in true worship, I give myself to God, then what does that mean?  What will that look like, what will I be doing?  I remember Jesus’s conversation with Peter:

Jesus: “Peter, do you love me?”

Peter: “Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus: “Then, feed my sheep.”

So, how do I feed his sheep? If I am a writer, and I believe that I am a writer, then, perhaps, my act of writing is an act of evangelization.  It is a way of spreading the Gospel, the good news, a way of bearing Christ to people so that they may have an encounter with him.  It is, of course, not I who will produce such a moment, such an encounter, but God — God’s grace working through me.  Will that feed his sheep?  Is this what I’m supposed to do… because it seems to me that it isn’t direct and intimate enough.  It isn’t strong and vital enough… it just isn’t enough.

Along this line of thinking came this thought:

What would I do if I could do anything?

If I had the power to be some great and vital person, an extraordinary and active person of influence throughout the whole world, what would I do? Would I herd people into beautiful church buildings?  Would I guilt them or coerce them, trick, threaten, or cajole them into Divine worship and prayer in front of marble alters and gilded artistry?  No.

I would want to speak a word of kindness to people. I would want to soothe their souls, slake their feverish brows, heal their wounds, ease their burdens, and share in their woes.  I would want to love them.  And I would hope that, by loving them, they would love as well and know all of the truth, goodness, peace, joy — the fullness of life that is loving.

Sound familiar?

Yes, that’s right. I would want to love, so that they would love one another as I love them — and that, of course, is Christ.


God’s Way

God did not condescend to become one of us in order to push us together in places of worship so that we could recite and respond by rote, surrounded by pretty things. I do believe that God wants us to come together in our love of God and, with all of our skills and talents for beauty and inspiration, praise His Holy Name — so that we may then be further inspired to love God and one another and to go forth throughout the whole world to love.  The beginning and the point, the source and the summit of life, is love. Real love.

Sometimes, I wish that God had just come down in a more visibly or intellectually obvious way, with undeniable signs pointing toward the Church and toward doing what is right. Don’t you?  Everyone would just follow along then, a no-brainer.  But… that isn’t love.  And God is love.

God creates each and every one of us in His own divine image and likeness — by loving, through loving, for loving.  The holy heights, depths, and breadths of real love are most readily and joyfully received and lived through a committed life of faith and the practice of self surrender, self-sacrifice, self gift.  Knowing this, we see how Christ Jesus truly is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  Not everyone will “get it right” — but everyone is able to be loved and to love.  What God, in real love, wants for humankind is not so different from what we want for the world when we also love humbly, selflessly, and generously: to love and to be loved.

“Love one another as I have loved you.”

So, now I’m thinking that, maybe my acts of evangelization, my writing, won’t inspire people to come to the fullness of faith and life in the worship of God through the teachings and community of Christ in the Catholic Church — I don’t know. But, if what I do and say, if who I am, inspires someone to love, to really love… then God’s grace has worked through me and, in that tiny little moment, in that tiny little whisper, I am most closely emulating Christ.  I can’t always bring people to Christ — but I can always bring Christ to people.

And maybe that’s exactly what God wants from me.

© 2014 Christina Chase