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abortion

The Common Good

Dear Parishioners,

The term, “Common Good,” is something that may be lost on many people and is too often being replaced with individual rights with no regard to anyone else.  This rugged individualism has been condemned by the Church.  We can ill afford to be silent about this issue which is at the base of many if not all social issues confronting our society today.  

In general, when the justification is used that a certain behavior doesn’t hurt anyone else, commonly such an argument reveals a myopic vision of the world and a lack of understanding of the consequences of our individual and even private actions.  We must more deeply grasp the effects we have on our relationships with others near to us as well as the larger community in which we live in order to understand the common good.  We are not an island.  To think and behave as if we are opens up the potential to great harm for all.  Here’s some examples which illustrate this point. 

Here’s a simple yet less controversial issue: When someone dies and they want their ashes scattered over a mountain or forest, everyone else is robbed of the ability to go to a burial place where they can mourn.  The deceased person’s wish negates the good of others who need to mourn.  It is also an undignified way to repose the former temple of a person who was made in God’s image.  This is not a viewpoint with the Common Good in mind, just the individual.

In the abortion debate, the individual right of the mother trumps the good of the child in the womb or even the right of the father who may disagree with the decision.  In this holocaustic viewpoint, countless millions have been killed in the name of an individual.  The fact that entire generations have been wiped out by a so-called right is clear evidence that it is against the dignity of the human person and the Common Good.

So-called, doctor assisted suicide arguments claim the individual’s right to end their own life on their terms so as to avoid suffering, autonomy, control, and the like, negating the use of effective palliative care and equating one’s value or dignity in terms of abilities or capacity.  It is a grievous act akin to murder (See The Gospel of Life., #66).  The legalization in Oregon of euthanasia, its true title, may justify its use in some people’s minds, but it is against the dignity of the human person and the Common Good.

The current movement to redefine marriage is based on the assumption that marriage is the simple desire and right of individuals to do what they want, regardless of the good of children and Divine law.  Marriage is not a right which just anyone can validly undertake even between heterosexual couples. I have processed all too many annulments which were granted on the grounds that they did not, and may never have, the capacity to live out the commitment that marriage demands. In these cases, the couple erroneously attempted to enter into the Sacrament which they could not do.  Marriage is a privileged state which God designed and which we have no authority to define or reinvent.  Anyone desiring to be married should send to prayer if they are capable and sufficiently prepared to undertake such an awesome Sacrament. Redefining marriage diminishes its sanctity and is against the Common Good.

A more current issue which is being placed before the voters this November 4th is the effort to legalize recreational use of marijuana.  Proponents of this movement commonly argue the right to do what they will with their own body.  However, this viewpoint does not consider the consequences to children and the safety of others. Archbishop Sample’s current column in the Catholic Sentinel fills this in well. The argument that it does not harm the user taking the drug is fallacious since the very act of getting “high” diminishes one’s abilities, distorts one’s senses, suppresses the immune system, decreases motivation, darkens the conscience, and ultimately damages the soul. The fact that marijuana may be easy to acquire or that it is being used by one’s family or friends, or even if it does become legal, does not change the fact that it is harmful to one’s body and soul as well as to our culture. It is against the common good.

With regard to the current ballot measure for offering drivers cards for those without a social security number, particularly immigrants who are our modern day neighbors, there needs to be  away to help them.  By offering a way for them to acquire a drivers card increases the number of people who are trained in driving and thus makes our roads safer.  Voting “yes” for this bill will create safer drivers.  Voting for this bill is for the Common Good.

So, we need to ponder more deeply than our own desires and wants.  We need to be on guard against our own desire for individualism.  As Catholic Christians, we need to consider the consequences of things in regard to the Common Good.  Such a frame of reference broadens our minds and allows us to make more ethical and moral choices.  It also gets us out of partisan thinking and voting.  It brings to the fore our faith before all other ideologies. Remember that we are Catholic Christians before all else. We need to pray to have the view of God who desires the good for all.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Conscience Protection Still At Risk

Dear Parishioners,


Last week, a change was made by the Obama administration that would not require religious-based organizations to directly pay for sterilization and contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs, and instead push that responsibility to their insurance carriers. Please do not be confused by this obfuscation. This shift does not change the moral and legal issues for which the Church objects.


Many dioceses self-insure themselves, thereby still requiring them to offer these so-called services. Secondly, if a religious organization isn’t self-insured, but contracts out through insurance companies, like the Archdiocese of Portland, we will still be in violation of our conscience for contracting with a carrier who is being required to offer immoral procedures that the Church cannot have direct or indirect involvement. Furthermore, there is no protection for exceptions for religious and secular for-profit employers, secular non-profit employers, for religious insurers, and for individuals.


Do not let the argument of cost misdirect you either. More important than cost is that of morality, conscience, ethics, and a reinterpretation of the Constitution. This mandate and its supposed “compromise,” does not remove any of these objections. All people of faith should be challenging the attempt to impose a belief system of a secular power over the rights of religious freedom by groups who have moral objections to such requirements. Broader than the violation of an individual’s conscience is the seeming violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. If this mandate by the Federal Dept. of Health and Human Services is allowed to stand, then a serious crack will have occurred in the foundation of the Constitution, thereby opening the dam for other mandates that will be required of citizens whose religious beliefs and consciences will be violated.


Don’t get sidetracked. The current administration is trying to redefine who is entitled to a religious exception unprecedented in the history of our country. Prior to this issue, the Obama administration has been trying to speak of “freedom of worship” rather than “religious liberty.” This slight-of-hand wording speaks only of our freedom to gather in our Churches, but does not secure our freedom to practice it in our world. Indeed, this mandate by the HHS is a direct result of this thinking.


The current administration has little concept of how the Catholic Church works. It is an essential part of our faith to be feeding the poor, clothing the naked, and lifting up the needy. Yet, it seems that even the Catholics involved in legislating and supporting this mandate and it’s recent change are ignorant of our fundamental belief to live out these Gospel values. It has even effected our ability to form the consciences of our service men and women when the Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Military Archdiocese was not allowed to have his own letter, challenging this ruling, read at military pulpits without changing the wording for fear of civil disobedience. Again, where is the right to religious liberty for even such a high ranking Church member? An unjust law must not go unchallenged.


Now, you may be saying that the Church should stay out of politics. That’s great in one sense: You will have more pleasant conversations with your friends. However, it is our responsibility to proclaim the Gospel, which means that we are to not only have a personal relationship with Jesus, but also transform the world in light of the Good News. Remember that faith without works is dead (James 2:20, 26). The Good News is not always convenient or easy to proclaim. But we must do it. The early Church was persecuted and many times martyred for their commitment to the Faith. Remember also, Jesus stood against the corruption of the powers of his time. We too must do nothing less for the salvation and love of all people of conscience.


Finally, as your pastor, I ask that you to write your elected officials and share your concerns. A phone call or actual written letter mailed is the most effective. Here is a quick link to that information: usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml. Also, spend this coming Lent in special prayer and fasting so that wisdom and justice may prevail.


Sincerely,


Fr. William Holtzinger

Pastor

Proclaim The Good News Of Life

This weekend, specifically this Sunday, we observe the 38th anniversary of a tragic Supreme Court decision in our country to legalize abortion. Since then, nothing has done more to polarize our country and be the cause of death for the most poor and vulnerable. Nothing has done more to dehumanize men and women and uproot the sacred trust that every child should have in their parent. More children have died in our country through abortion than the sum of all of our wars. This is an atrocity that must end.

Let us be clear, all human life is sacred. Even in the milieu in which we live, the alleged right to have an abortion is outweighed by the right for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for the unborn child. No argument of defect or quality of life for the child is effective. No argument regarding the potential tragic context of conception (ie.rape) outweighs this inalienable right for the newly created child. Our Scriptures and Sacred Tradition are clear and unambiguous. We express and promote a preferential option for the poor and strive to seek out the most vulnerable. Nobody is more poor or vulnerable than a newly conceived baby in the womb.

Until the day that this law is changed and even after that hopeful day, we as Catholics must do what we can to support women and men, who find themselves in situations wherein an abortion is something they seriously consider, to choose life for their child. We need to support all agencies and churches who seek out to help those whose lives have been damaged by abortion in one way or another. We need to teach and support our teens as well as engaged couples about the grace and joy of natural family planning as well as the heroic decisions surrounding adoption. It is not enough to simply say no to abortion. We need to be people who lift up and change our culture to create support structures that will imbue the value of every human life from natural conception to natural death.

Our world is graced with so many amazing people who have changed our world due to the choice of adoption rather than abortion. One popular example is that of the Denver Broncos quarterback, Tim Tebow. Within our own community are amazing people who are with us because of the choice for life. I can even testify that I have met people who are the result of miracles, for they survived either being aborted or the attempt to be aborted. Each one of these persons have gone to do great things for the Church and humanity as a whole. In their presence, I am speechless yet grateful to God for their presence in our midst. Who knows who has not been allowed to change our world because they never got the chance? But, even then, the argument of human accomplishment as the value of embryonic or adult human life is not as strong as the value that every human life is given no matter what their situation or condition because they are a creation of God.

This Sunday (Jan 22, 2012), we have the opportunity, as we do every year, to let our feet do our talking. Join our fellow Christians and people of good will who want to end abortion in our country. Join us at 1PM for the annual March for Life, which begins in front of the Court House here in Grants Pass. Pray for an end to abortion. Pray that our country will turn back to God and recognize the preciousness of life in every person. And until that day comes, let us continue in hope loving each other and proclaiming the Good News of Life.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the third Sunday in Advent as well as a feast of Mary that dates back before all other major apparitions of her (ex. Lourdes and Fatima). She is the mother and patroness of all the Americas: South and North America. She is the patroness of the unborn. She is our advocate and protector. She is our mother and helper on our life’s
journey.

In 1531, a newly converted Christian, a man we call today Juan Diego, was on his way to Mass when he was visited by an apparition of a girl who was no more than 14. She was dressed in the indigenous clothing of the Aztecs and identified herself as “the perpetual and perfect Virgin Mary, holy mother of the True God through whom e
verything lives, the Creator and
Master of Heaven and Earth.”
Among many things she told Juan, she asked Juan to go and tell his bishop to build a temple on sight of her appearance. As proof, he was asked to climb a hill whereby he would collect a bunch of roses (which were out of season) and show them to his bishop, Juan de Zumarraga. Juan did as she asked and upon unwrapping his tilma or cloak, he revealed an image of Mary as she appeared to Juan. The religious authorities were astounded and were convinced. Today, Juan Diego’s tilma still miraculously exists and is placed behind the altar in the Basilica of Guadalupe. The image has withstood the test of time beyond expectation and explanation.
This event galvanized the two warring peoples, the Spaniards and Aztecs, and brought them together under one Catholic faith with an intense devotion to Our Blessed Lady. Today, Our Lady of Guadalupe is the sign of the nation of Mexico, but she has also become a sign of unity for us all. Today, she brings both our Anglo and Hispanic cultures together under one faith at Mass, echoing the call in John 17, where Jesus prays that we all be one.

Do we dare listen to such a challenge? Do we dare come together under the patronage of Our Lady of Guadalupe? And the answer is yes! It is God’s desire and it should be ours too. That means that we are to make efforts to come together and try to talk with each other. It means sharing liturgies and languages. I means sharing spaces and hearts. It means celebrating the Eucharist together. I am so proud of our parish that has embraced both cultures and languages. We will continue to have English and Spanish Masses, but there have been times when we have come together and celebrate as one. Let that be your prayer today. Pray for patience and conversion of heart. Pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe that she will always keep us in her vision and pray to our Savior for us.

Thanks be to God for all He has done. Praise be to God for the miracle of the image of Our Lady. She is our symbol of unity. May she never forget us. May she keep us in her prayers. Finally, I invite you to come again to Church this Sunday (Dec. 12) at 5:30 PM for a bilingual Mass in her honor. Celebrate Mary and all she has done for the Church.
Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Respect Life October

Dear Parishioners,


The month of October is Respect Life month. As such we are called to draw our attention and prayer to the issues that attack the dignity of life and pray for an increase in the respect for life at all stages. These include abortion, assisted suicide, capital punishment, human cloning, contraception, embryo/fetal stem cell research, euthanasia, sex trafficking, war, poverty, immigration, suicide, and end-of-life issues.


Today, we are a beacon of light striving for the transformation of our culture of death to become a culture of life. I am very proud of our Church. For all of our struggles with personalities, our teachings uphold the high standard of care with a special preference for the poor. We have ordered some prayer cards with the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on them. She is not only the patron of the Americas, but also the patroness of the unborn. Why is she the patroness of the unborn? Well, if one looks carefully at the image, it becomes clear that she is pregnant. In horrible circumstances, she still chose to bear the weight of potential shame and ridicule for the sake of the life of her child, Jesus. No other image carries this significance. Because of her fiat, we have salvation.


I urge you to educate yourself on these issues. They are many for sure. But don’t let their number scare you. Take one at a time and reflect on how you may be called to ministry in any of these areas. In order to learn more, go to the U.S. Bishop’s website’s Pro-Life Activities page where you can view, download, and print various materials covering many of the issues: http://www.usccb.org/profile/programs/rlp/2010/ All of the materials are also available in Spanish.


May God protect our weak and vulnerable and help us to be- come agents for changing the landscape of our culture that is so bent on death. May we all be willing to stand for the dignity of life and put into practice the teachings of our amazing Church.

Blessings,


Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor