Picture 5 – Rape

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Most of them I meet at sidewalk and online come up with this argument regarding Abortion: So what if the woman was raped? Should she be forced to carry the ‘rape child’? She will have to live the trauma of rape every time seeing the child and She wasn’t ready for it. My question to them mostly starts like this:

  1. Did the child rape? Wasn’t the child victim as the mother ?
  2. How does punishing the child bring justice and healing to the woman?
  3. If the child is robbed of it’s dignity because of being conceived in rape how can then we expect others in society to treat the women who was raped with dignity?

You cannot restore the dignity of woman who was traumatized by rape without accepting the child conceived in the same situation, victimized just as her, most of the time scape goated  in the place of rapist to be violently torn from womb and negated of a chance to live. Mahatma Gandhi advocates bringing up the child conceived out of infidelity because hurting the child will never heal anyone nor appease her anger and never will unrape her. Her healing depends on her acceptance of the child. If not convinced meet Rebecca Keisling of Save the 1.

And this is how instagram community responds:

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Without God

When I began Sidewalk Counseling I was perplexed by the fact on how can one approach women entering the abortion facility. The order goes something like this if I can recall from my training with Mr.M : Woman, abortion, baby, God i.e Talk about her- her issue,fear, concerns and the situation forcing her into the abortion center, then talk about the effects of abortion- physical, mental, emotional and relational then move on to talk about the baby- giving the scientific data about the child in the womb. Like, the developmental milestones. finally, talk about God. I was amused about the fact that one can  talk about God to a random stranger. I am dumb, after all it’s America. But what’s the connection between God and abortion? Can one try to be pro life without God? Can there be an end to abortion without God? For the matter of fact, will there be an end to euthanasia or any kind of violence without God? Can someone make sense without God? The answer is ‘NO’. It’s as simple as it sounds. Sorry folks!

You can try to use science at sidewalk, you can use psychoanalysis at sidewalk, you can use highly complicated and time tested methodologies to do good effectively and stop abortion but at the end of the day nothing works as much as Prayer, sacrifice, Mass or Eucharist to end abortion. I am very arrogant in presenting this truth because abortion is not a product of failed social system or political agenda but it is the result of evil. It might be hard to digest this fact and I will not be surprised about that considering the status of our secular society. It’s funny to see people discussing empirical methods and strategies to do sidewalk counseling, well they are doing good but remember the old verse : The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But victory belongs to the LORD.- Proverbs:21:31 . Its very sensical specially when you see how God chose the most unlikely: the shepherd to fight a giant, the stammerer to lead people to promised land, the infertile to give children as many as stars, the widow, the  persecutor, the fishermen, the tax collector. Ordinary men for extraordinary tasks. Sometimes even broken men for mind blowing jobs. Yet people think they can end abortion without God, only with the help of science, logic and law. It’s nothing but foolishness.

People can try and do good but they cannot end abortion. A good no. of catholic organizations do not want to keep up neither their catholic identity nor bring God in their Sidewalk counseling approaches. The reason behind this might sound reasonable at first i.e; not to turn off people by speaking about God. However a grave mistake is committed here of trying to save the body and simply not care about the soul. That’s simply not a ‘save’ at all.

In training with Sister. Dorothy who has been in the ministry of Sidewalk Counseling for more than 20 years I was introduced to a different strategy. Monstrance and IncenseShe tries to talk about God as soon as she can. No avoiding God, No keeping God for last. This makes much sense because The Servant of God Fr. John Hardon once said: “There’s no stopping Abortion without The Eucharist.”  Many priests in the Pro-life mission like Fr. Frank Pavone, Fr. Imbarrato have explained the reason behind this. Eucharist is Christ giving his body and blood for mankind out of love for ‘other’ and abortion is the opposite: taking the life of the other for oneself. It uses the same phrase used in Holy Sacrifice of the Mass: ‘This is my Body’. Abortion is a sacrilege, a mockery at God. And how one can expect to combat this with techniques of Psychology and Biology? Will people stop committing abortion just by showing the videos of fetus inside the womb happily sucking the thumb? No.

Cardinal O’Connor said it perfectly: “The Culture of Death will be converted to Culture of Life…only by the spiritual life of those created in the image and likeness of God”. And for this reason The Sister’s of Life whose charism is to defend the sanctity of human life encourage their co-workers to deeper spiritual life with frequent communion, and close touch with sacraments. Especially Sacrament of Reconciliation and Holy Eucharist. Without Mass, Rosary and Sacraments one cannot combat the evil of Culture of Death even if one is a world renowned Psychotherapist. I can bet my life on this.

If you are involved in active Pro-Life ministry like Sidewalk Counseling or Praying in front of clinics or volunteering in any least way to promote culture of life, then you need a very deep spiritual life. The struggle is much greater and the enemy much more schematic than you can ever imagine. Especially with things like Satanism and ritualistic abortion it’s humanly impossible to fight abortion by oneself. We are in need of grace, extraordinary grace, to combat the culture of death.

We had a wonderful opportunity to be with Sisters of Life this weekend to revive our soul to continue the battle for the next one year. I wish Catholics all over world involved in pro-life ministry had the opportunity that I had. Fr.John Hardon used to say : Remember even by simply being present before the abortion clinic after the reception of Sacraments opens the door to graces which works in its own ways for the conversion of souls. Encourage fellow catholics about this to combat the Culture of Death. We have to speak to our fellow Catholics about being channels of grace for those who are in need of them especially those who follow culture of death. Mother Angelica said: “If Catholics were truly Catholic, the world would change overnight.” Being silent and minding one’s own business does not help. The least people can do is hurt our egos by mocking us, making fun or talk behind our back and the most they can do is harm the body. None can touch the soul which is labors for God alone. Ultimately it’s the soul which is going to face the judgement and go to heaven. Not the image, status, vainglory. As Christians we are called to go out of our way to do good like the Good Samaritan. As Pope St. John Paul II said Let’s not be satisfied with mediocrity.

“At the time he was betrayed and entered willingly into his Passion, he took bread and, giving thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: TAKE THIS, ALL OF YOU, AND EAT OF IT: FOR THIS IS MY BODY WHICH WILL BE GIVEN UP FOR YOU.”

Where is Christ truly?

I remember during my first year of post graduation I felt helpless in an argument with a classmate on the existence of God and Jesus as a person and could do nothing but lose myself in the inability to prove my faith. I felt so beaten up with each question that was thrown against me by my own best friend who almost made me weak and pathetic and made me feel like some mindless, sick, superstitious, primitive  who believes in something for no reason. But deep down in my heart I couldn’t just give in to the fact that life is meaningless and we all came from apes and we go nowhere. I searched for God. Even with all catechism and Mass and Sacraments I never felt this need met. Isn’t this a universal search? May be the need to meet God, to know Him personally are disguised or misled into a search for things and people? Are those unquenchable desire for possessions, honor, attention and everything are some kind of misplaced affection?  Because I look at my overflowing wardrobe and feel is this the result of some misplaced affection? The Catechism of the Catholic Church says The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for.” And this search is the essence of today’s liturgical celebration.

I should confess I stole the title from Aletia whose article also discusses on the same question: Where is Christ?  The essence of Epiphany is this question revolving around the entire event of man going in search of God who indeed came for man and the nature of this search. Well the search doesn’t seem all comfy and exciting. The very first thing that the wise men face in this search for God is the call to make an unexpected journey into a foreign space. God cannot be found amidst comfort. The opportunity to encounter Him often comes disguised in the toughest situations- like an invitation to spend New Year with in-laws or in front of abortion clinics or the job situations where you are stuck between office politics and loving the neighbor or in the subway. The chance to encounter Him comes with a challenge. Most often unrecognizable often to be missed. In the places you don’t expect and don’t want to. But it’s up to us to say yes or no. Say yes, face the pain and move on like the Magi or say no and take no risk at all. But the Epiphany proves the risk is worth it. St Augustine says “To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek Him the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement.”

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So where do we begin this search for Christ in this modern world? Again another challenge,another disguise. You can never find him if you are going to go around looking for Him with a picture in your head. The Magi were expecting to see a royal child because they were in search of a King. They almost lost Him however they found the star once they left King Herod. An unexpected twist and further journey into the unknown. Yet they kept going. They did lose track and had to get back in. They had moments of great confusion because nobody in Jerusalem understood who they were searching for. The wise men were really wise men which had them risk being misunderstood too. They stood out from crowd. Going to go in search of a personal encounter with God? then be ready to feel lonely, threatened, confused, tired, even giving-up, and risk losing everything.

The truth is, you might find Him in the most unlikely places but most of all in the most unlikely persons. It could be the drunkard in the road, the man who begs in subway, or your friend who is pro-choice or the child who’s inside mothers womb begging to live or even the Mother herself. It could be even those with whom you try to keep yourself far away. Those hurt, wounded, bandaged relationships that are so fragile to handle, those whom we consider major annoyance, those who might get into our nerves, those we like to forget or even want to intimidate, those who try to put us down. It could be any one of them or even all of them.

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St.Francis of Assisi disliked lepers however one day when he overcame his fears and hugged one of them and walked away, it turned out to be Jesus. St.Martin had found a beggar in street and when he shared his cloak that night Jesus came in his dreams wearing the same cloak and thanked him for it. Even on the road to Emmaus the disciples did not recognize Jesus because they were holding a different picture of resurrection in their mind. Break the mental images and we can recognize Him wherever He manifests.

Ultimately the truth is “Everyone you meet is Jesus in disguise.”(Bl.Mother Teresa ) and the Epiphany is about undertaking the journey into unknown of recognizing Him. The event has a happy ending. The next time you think you don’t like someone or want to avoid something think twice. It could be an Epiphany.

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My name is Maria Gracia Letizia

Hi! My name is Maria Gracia Letizia. You can call me Maria. I was fourteen weeks old when mom saw me first in the photo machine. Mom was little worried about me because Daniella the gynecologist showed my picture to her and said something was not alright. I love Daniella, she’s a very good doctor and intelligent too. Except for the fact that her photo machine couldn’t show how much I love mamma and dadda. So all Daniella was able to show mom was that I wasn’t quite normal. May be Daniella’s machine was missing something. Since I was inside mom I was able to sense her sadness. Something makes mom sad, it makes me sad too.

Daniella wanted to have additional pictures taken (3D ultrasound) to give mom further details about what they think is an anomaly. All these days before coming to this photo machine mom seemed very happy and excited for me. I came in her tummy within a month mom and dad were married. Maybe if I had come little later they would’ve been happier? Well, I was told being there inside mommy meant bringing God into our home. But I never meant to scare them.

The next day mom went to Daniella by herself to take special pictures since Dad was at the hospital. Now they were sure of what they saw. They said I had Anencephaly. A portion of my brain, skull and scalp was missing and I would die soon after birth. Doctors told mom to take the therapy and the therapy was to get rid of me. They call it therapeutic Abortion. Mom was quite terrified. Because she could see that I was doing all I can, to grow and love and yet the doctors have no cure for me except Abortion. So much hoopla for science, You cannot cure something, destroy it!

chiMomma does smile when I kick and wriggle. She would call dad and show how I move around in her tummy and they both would smile and kiss. But now that the doctors saw that I don’t have part of my brain something had changed. Well I don’t see any change. I love them more and every day my excitement to meet them is ever increasing and Daniella’s machine proves useless. Nobody was able to trick my mom into getting rid of me. She was firm in her love.

Mom broke the news to dad about me. she was worried that dad would want to get rid of me soon. Sometimes I don’t understand mom. I’m here as an answer to their prayer because God told me there are two beautiful people down there whom you should meet and in seeing you they shall see me. I was here to show them the way to heaven. Because, one day my mom was going to be A Saint.  love2

The whole world was against me. The doctors, the relatives, friends and even some people at the Church. They considered me a misfortune. They accused that I was a punishment from God for something mommy did. Nobody thought I was important or that I had such a marvelous task of bringing heaven down to earth. Nobody thought I was made with greatness as enormous as bringing someone into eternity with me, a grace which is quite unusual and a task which is so burdensome for many. Mom and Dad had to fight the conventional views of pregnancy and in fighting for me they were fighting for God. That I don’t have to have brains to be loved, that I don’t need to be healthy without any defects to be loved and that there are no conditions for love. God was using Mom and Dad to show the world of His unconditional love.

Having me wasn’t an easy task. Momma had 6 liters of fluid in her belly. People say other mommas with normal babies had only 1 liter. This made breathing difficult for her so the doctors wanted to get me out soon to avoid any hurt. I was 35 weeks then. Mom wouldn’t agree even now. She was firm in meeting me as God wanted her to meet me. In His time, as He planned. She refused injunctions or cutting open the tmmy. And there I was born beating all the odds on June 10 in a natural way. The doctors failed to check if I was alive or dead and assuming my parents wouldn’t want to see me they rushed me to a separate room. But Daniella wouldn’t allow. She placed me in dad’s arms.

I wouldn’t grow up to go to school or make them proud, I won’t be able to take care of them when they get old, I won’t be able to play around make them laugh or smile, I won’t be even long enough for them to celebrate. Yet, they loved me. This is the perfect school of Love that The Father had planned for them. Cristina (mom’s friend) said when I was born mom and dad were prepared to face the worst, not for such a beauty.

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I was with them for half hour and Fr.Vito baptized me. There was a shower of kisses from everyone: nanna, aunt, uncle, simone, christina, fr.vito. Nobody wants to let go of me. I was important. I remember It was time for me to go to Heaven. Dad placed a Tau cross around my neck and took me to the mortuary. They didn’t want to let me go but here I was to open the gates of heaven for them. That in the painful journey of accepting me and loving me they took part in the agony of Jesus who did what The Father told Him for the sake of love.

The world showed them Abortion, which they say was an easy way out, that everyone had to be perfect in order to be accepted, that you need to have brains and all organs, beautiful, strong, smart, capable in order to be loved and that it’s waste of time caring for babies like me. And so fearing the loss of one’s own life they choose to end the life of another. Someone said the opposite of Love is not hate but possession. How true! And, mom and dad proved the world wrong. They gave me the freedom to live as long as I was able to. They accepted me as a gift from God and in doing so not only did they give me the gift of life but, they gave themselves as a gift. And this was the first step for my parents in their journey to heaven. And here I have a saintly mother Blessed Chiara Corbella Petrillo.

They were proud of me. They let me live for 252,800 minutes/5880 hours/245 days/35 weeks  to breathe, think, dream, share, and listen. To experience their love for me, of their struggle to save my life of their prayers to let me live. They fought for my dignity. They reminded everyone they encountered that I even though little, even though so poor in every terms meant so much and most importantly I am a person. In this world where millions of abortion take place: throwing off babies in dustbins, burning their body to create energy, using them as byproducts for cosmetics, medicine and research, avoiding children as inconvenience and calling us names like ‘clump of cells’ my parents proved I mattered most, and in welcoming me they stood witness to what love is.

“We were content to hold you in our arms, for even half an hour we were fine. We were not able to stop looking at your nose, the same as mine, and those little hand and those little feet. We did not have much time to tell you too many things; that we love you, we know that you know it, but perhaps you do not know that you were born for eternity and that am not your father, nor she is your mother. Think of that! The one who desired you is also our Father. I know it is a little complicated, but soon you will understand: Life is marvelous, for this also we sought you. It does not matter how much time we spend together; to us matters what you shall be. Here each thing does not matter really; we can make do with less of everything. What is necessary is to know the Father; it is to prepare ourselves for this encounter. And you were born ready, I do not know how to tell you how proud we are of you. We accompanied you as far as we were able. Now you shall know the father, Maria Gracia Letizia, Joy of our life.”  

– Papa Enrico and Mamma Chiara. (parents letter to Maria Gracia Letizia)


 

If I had aborted her, I do not think that I would have remembered the day of abortion as the day of celebration, the day in which I had liberated of something. It would’ve been a moment that I would have tried to forget, a moment of great suffering. But the day of Maria’s birth I shall always recall as one of the most beautiful days of my life and I shall tell all my children that they have a special sister who is praying for them in Heaven.

– Bl.Chiara Corbella Petrillo

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