The Genocide They Don’t Want You to Know About

Earlier tonight I attended a presentation on the genocide in Darfur.  The events that happened and are continuing to happen in Sudan are horrifying.  Whenever the subject of genocide comes up we immediately think of the holocaust, Rwanda, Darfur and Bosnia.  We would never allow anything like that to happen in the United States, right?

I was talking to someone about the presentation and he challenged me to consider whether genocide happens in our country.  I thought for a few seconds and then it hit me: abortion.  I have thought about this parallel before but he succeeded in reminding me of the atrocities that are happening right on our door steps.  This secret genocide may not be as visible or violent as others, but it is real.  Here is a chart comparing elements of other genocides to abortion:  http://www.blackgenocide.org/abortion.html

Abortion doesn’t quite fit into the legal definition of genocide, but it is, quite simply, the mass murder of a group of people with something in common: they are unwanted.  Here is the internationally accepted definition of genocide: http://www.preventgenocide.org/genocide/officialtext.htm

I also decided to look up some statistics about abortion to see how they compare to the death counts for the holocaust.  It is estimated that up to 17 million people died in that genocide.  Worldwide, 42 million abortions are performed per year. In the United States, 1.37 million abortions are performed each year.

The use of choice to justify abortion has never made sense to me.  Forced abortion is considered a form of genocide, yet if a woman chooses to abort her own baby that’s perfectly fine.  If someone kills a pregnant woman, that person is charged with two counts of murder, yet if a mother chooses to kill her own baby, that is perfectly legal.

Well there’s your think-about-it for the day.

St Teresa of Avila

Today is the Feast Day of St Teresa of Avila and considering the quote in my tagline (Christ has no body now…) is from her I thought it would be appropriate to write a little post about her.

Picture a stereotypical Saint; pious, chaste and obedient.  Now picture the opposite; that was Teresa of Avila.  All in all, she was a pretty cool lady.  A detailed description of her life can be found here: http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=208

According to this website, she was rebellious, vain and materialistic as a teenager.  Her father sent her to a convent to  try to straighten her out and it worked eventually.  She did become a Carmelite Nun but she definitely did not turn into a Saint overnight.  She thought being in a convent would make it easier to avoid sin and temptation.  However, religious life during her time (the mid 1500’s) was in turmoil and many convents were corrupt.  Young women entered for the wrong reasons and were often more concerned with garnering donations than serving God.

Teresa had difficulty praying sincerely even as she got older and realized the error of her ways.  Eventually she was able to break down the barrier between her and God and she began to have mystical experiences while praying.  She finally began putting God first in her life.

Around the age of 43 Teresa’s gradual conversion of heart suddenly picked up speed.  Fed up with the Carmelite order, she decided it was in bad need of reform.  To achieve this, she resolved to open a new convent where the nuns would live as they should: a simple life of poverty and prayer.  She also believed that prayer should lead to action for the good of the world.

During her life Teresa was persecuted harshly because she made people uncomfortable by pointing out their sinful lifestyles.  According to catholic.org, “she was called “a restless disobedient gadabout who has gone about teaching as though she were a professor” by the papal nuncio.”  However she must have done something right because many young women joined her convents and after her death she was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church.  Her desire to reform one convent sparked a widespread reform of religious life and her writings have had great influence  on many well known theologians.  It took St Teresa a while to figure her stuff out, but once she did, boy did she get it right.

St of Teresa of Avila spent much of her life thinking and writing about prayer.  Here’s some of what she has to say:

“For mental prayer in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us. The important thing is not to think much but to love much and so do that which best stirs you to love. Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything.”

“More tears are shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones.”

“Prayer is an act of love, words are not needed. Even if sickness distracts from thoughts, all that is needed is the will to love.”

“Prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God.”

I didn’t know much about Teresa of Avila before writing this post and I hope you enjoyed learning about her as much as I did.  The information here is just the tip of the iceburg and I hope the small taste will entice you to learn more about this incredible Saint.  I’m certainly going to add St Teresa of Avila to the list of holy people I model my life after.

Isaiah 55:8-9 “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways”

Once in a while, as I’m going about planning my perfect life, God stops me in my tracks and sets me straight again.  I have all of these grand plans involving saving the world and “changing the system”.  I said in my last post that I want to have a “cool” life.  My idea of that and God’s idea are probably radically different.  I’m okay with that though because God’s plan for my life will be AMAZING, not just cool.  In order to follow his path I have to leave the one I’m on and give up all of those big plans I have for my life.  And this is incredibly scary.  What if instead of being a roaming missionary and saving all of the children of Africa he asks me to stay in little old Scranton?  What if instead of ministering to the desperately poor he needs me to tend to the spiritual needs of the lost and lonely teenagers of this country?

Ironically, the one thing I am fairly certain God is calling me to doesn’t scare me at all but is something I long for.  It is also something I am scared to talk about because I’m afraid of what others will think.  Recently I have realized that if I am ashamed of what God wants me to do, there is a serious problem.  He should be the only one I am trying to please.  As Galatians 1:10 says: “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

So it’s time to tell a story.  This story starts a few years ago when I was in high school.  My relationship with God was just beginning to blossom and I had just recently begun to trust him when he asked me to surrender my life to him.  I was at a Steubenville Youth Conference with my friends and brother.  Before the last Mass of the weekend an announcement was made that there would be a blessing of all those who were discerning Religious Life or Priesthood.  Sometime during Mass an image popped into my head:  me walking up to the altar when they asked who was considering Religious Life.  I knew without question what God was asking me to do and I was shocked.  The possibility had never even crossed my mind and God took me completely by surprise.  Throughout the rest of Mass I argued with God and sat in complete disbelief.  As Mass drew to a close and the time was coming near, I began to sob and asked God to not ask this of me.  Then they asked any girls interested in religious life to come forward and against my every instinct, I began the long trek towards the altar. Tears streamed down my face but I knew I was doing the right thing.  We were asked to promise to discern God’s call for a year.

Later my brother said in surprise: “I never knew you wanted to be a sister!”  and I replied in distress, “neither did I!”

I only seriously thought about the possibility of becoming a sister for about a month after the conference, and then in the midst of school and boys, it fell by the wayside.  Then I went to college and everything changed.  Suddenly I had a solid Catholic community to foster and support my faith.  For the first time in my life I was around Sisters and I learned what it actually meant to be one of them.  After fighting with God for the first couple of years, I finally admitted that God was still tugging on my heart.  After much discussion, discernment and prayer, something incredible has happened: my will is in line with God’s.  Not only have I embraced the call to religious life, I want to be a Sister.

As graduation nears, I’ve realized that I’m trying to figure out how I can mesh God’s plan with my own by being a sister while still doing all the things I want to.  This is not true surrender and is only causing me stress.  I am continually being surprised by God and reminded that his thoughts are high above my own.

Matthew 16:24-26  “Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”