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Bishop of Lincoln Issues Pastoral Letter on Contraception 

by Luiz Sérgio Solimeo

 

In 1917 at Fatima, Portugal, Mary Most Holy came to ask a sinful world to pray, specially the Rosary, to do penance and to amend its ways. In the last apparition of October 13, her last words to humanity were: “Let them offend Our Lord no more for He is already much offended.”  In this plea, a mother’s heart begs reprieve for her son who is God, the creator of heaven and earth, the giver and upholder of the Law.  Fatima was a prophetic message that foresaw a world increasingly bent on breaking natural and divine law. It is thus inspiring and heartening to read of a bishop who, courageously and intelligently countering the present assault on marriage and children, picks up his pastoral pen and, defining true commitment, defends love and life from the moment of sacred conception.

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No one doubts that the family is going through a crisis today that shakes the very foundations of our society. But few have the lucidity and courage to denounce generalized contraception as a major cause undermining the institution of marriage.

 

A false concept of love

Most Reverend James D. ConleyMost Reverend James D. Conley, Bishop of Lincoln, has done just this. In his March 25, 2014 pastoral letter titled The Language of Love - A letter to the Catholic families and healthcare providers of the Diocese of Lincoln,1] he calls out this evil as the overlooked cause of the family crisis. 

With simple and intelligent arguments, he shows how the contraceptive mentality undermines marriage’s very foundation—the generous mutual love of the spouses willing to beget children, which are seen as blessings from God. By avoiding children, a couple selfishly closes in on itself and their mutual love often ends up withering, giving rise to temptations of divorce.

This is due above all to the false concept of love that prevails nowadays:

We live in a world short on love. Today, love is too often understood as romantic sentimentality rather than unbreakable commitment. But sentimentality is unsatisfying. Material things, and comfort, and pleasure bring only fleeting happiness. The truth is that we are all searching for real love, because we are all searching for meaning.

True love accepts self-sacrifice

True love is something different. It is a sacrificial self-offering that participates in the love of Jesus Christ and in His Passion and Death on the Cross:

Love—real love—is about sacrifice, and redemption, and hope….

Sacrifice is the language of love. Love is spoken in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who poured out his life for us on the cross. Love is spoken in the sacrifice of the Christian life, sharing in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. And love is spoken in the sacrifice of parents, and pastors, and friends.

An anti-childbearing culture

When this true concept of love and a proper understanding of the role of sacrifice are absent, children are considered to be a marriage’s burden and hindrance, instead of its blessing and crowning:

There is no true happiness in sin. Today, our culture rejects love when it rejects the gift of new life, through the use of contraception… Our culture often teaches us that children are more a burden than a gift—that families impede our freedom and diminish our finances. We live in a world where large families are the objects of spectacle and derision, instead of the ordinary consequence of a loving marriage entrusted to God’s providence. But children should not be feared as a threat or a burden, but rather seen as a sign of hope for the future.

Quoting his predecessor, Bishop Glennon P. Flavin (+1995), the Bishop of Lincoln shows that there is no happiness in sin and exhorts contracepting couples to abandon the practice:

To expect to find happiness in sin is to look for good in evil. … Dear married men and women: I exhort you to reject the use of contraception in your marriage. I challenge you to be open to God’s loving plan for your life.

God’s mercy in the Sacrament of Confession

The Bishop of Lincoln shows how Catholic doctors are morally bound not to prescribe contraceptives to their patients since contraception is not a medical treatment. And, he recommends:

If you have used or supported contraception, I pray that you will stop, and that you will avail yourself of God’s tender mercy by making a good heartfelt confession.

While recognizing the licitness of Natural Family Planning periodical abstention, Bishop Conley warns that this practice can sometimes lead to an anti-childbearing mindset and the loss of confidence in Divine Providence.

We thank Bishop Conley for his wise and timely magisterium on an issue that usually receives little emphasis from our shepherds, though crucial for the proper defense of the sacred institutions of marriage and the family, and the survival of society.

 


 1. Any emphases are ours.

 

 

 

Quote of the day

DAILY QUOTE for April 8, 2020

Every virtue in your soul is a precious ornament which makes...

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April 8

Every virtue in your soul
is a precious ornament
which makes you dear to God and to man.
But holy purity, the queen of virtues, the angelic virtue,
is a jewel so precious
that those who possess it become like the angels of God in Heaven,
even though clothed in mortal flesh.

St. John Bosco

 
My Mother, I will stand with you on OCTOBER 10, 2020

 

Saint of the day

SAINT OF THE DAY

St. Julie Billiart

She was miraculously healed of the paralysis of her legs on...

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St. Julie Billiart

Born on July 12, 1751 in Cuvilly, France, Marie Rose Julie Billiard was the daughter of fairly well-to-do peasant farmers who also owned a small shop. From early childhood Julie had a keen interest in spiritual things and by seven years of age she had memorized the catechism and attained an understanding of it beyond her years.

During her youth, her father’s shop was robbed and her father attacked. This so traumatized his daughter that she became ill and gradually a physical paralysis took hold of her. Deprived of the use of her legs, she eventually had great difficulty in even speaking. Julie's paralysis lasted for twenty-two years, and throughout this whole trial she continued to teach her beloved catechism to children and to trust unwaveringly in the everlasting goodness of “le bon Dieu”. Her infirmities drove her to an even deeper life of prayer and union with God.

During the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution when the pastor of Cuvilly was superseded by a constitutional priest sworn to the new atheistic government, Julie influenced her friends and neighbors to boycott the intruder. Though an invalid herself, she worked to hide and assist fugitive priests who remained loyal to the Catholic Church, and for this charitable work she was herself persecuted and obliged to escape from place to place – on one occasion, hiding all night under a haystack.

While taking refuge with the aristocratic family of Gézaincourt, Julie met Françoise Blin de Bourdon, a noblewoman who had barely escaped the guillotine by the fall of Robespierre before her execution. The two became close friends and collaborators.

After the Terror, they both dedicated themselves to the spiritual care of poor children, and the Christian education of girls in a generation sorely neglected by the ravages of the Revolution.

In 1804, after a novena to Him, Julie Billiart was miraculously healed of the paralysis of her legs on the feast of Sacred Heart of Jesus. Now physically free to pursue a full range of activity, her educational work increased rapidly.

At odds with the bishop of Amiens through the meddling influence of a misguided young priest, Julie and Françoise were obliged to move to Namur, in present-day Belgium, where with the full support of the local bishop, they proceeded with their work, eventually founding the Institute of Notre Dame de Namur, today in sixteen countries around the world.

Julie Billiart died on April 8, 1816 while praying the Magnificat. She was canonized in 1969.

Weekly Story

WEEKLY STORY

He hung on a cross that day, writhing in pain and discomfort...

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And He Stole Heaven

He hung on a cross that day, writhing in pain and discomfort, the infamous highwayman.
 
On his left hung another man, covered in the matted blood of his wounds. Yet, with the exception of a few intermittent words, there was no sound from him.

As time passed, the thief became more and more engrossed in the silent crucified beside him, and less and less in his own plight.St Dismas Picture

Indeed life is ironic, mused Dismas, this man who had lived in the open, and was acclaimed as a healer and even as a king, now hung beside him who had spent his life lurking and hiding.

And now they were lifted up, both on a high parallel. He could see the roof tops of the city, he could see the highways he had stalked, and he could see the way they had walked. Now he looked down on those gathered around this place of execution, the Roman soldiers, the Pharisees, the curious, the friends of the man beside him…and a young man supporting a lady directly beneath them...

And then he knew her; that upturned face, that maidenly majesty now wracked by sorrow, her tear-filled eyes fastened on the man on his left–Yes, he knew that face.

As the wheels of time rolled back in his mind,  his heart gave a jolt as he remembered that blessed day in the desert, decades ago, when a young family making its way to Egypt, sought refuge for the night in his family’s hovel. The man was strong and kind, the woman was the fairest his child’s eyes had seen, and she carried a golden haired babe, as if nothing in the universe was more precious.

He remembered the lady’s gaze on him, her beautiful eyes full of concern for the leprous sores on his young body. Then she and his mother talked. And next, he was being bathed in the same water the lady had just washed her infant son.

And then the sores were gone.  His mother wept for joy, and kissed the lady’s hands, and the baby’s feet. And even his robber-father was moved, and offered the strong man and his family the best in the house.

Now, in one revealing flash, he knew the identity of the wounded man on his left.  He looked again at the lady, and her eyes, those same sweet eyes of old, were on him once more.  
He felt his heart quiver, as the power of gratitude filled his being and softened his criminal soul.  And then came tears, rivers of tears.  When he could speak, he turned to the left,

“Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

And the Lord turned his face to him, His divine eyes on him, and he heard the most beautiful voice he had ever heard, a voice at once full of pain and full of strength, full of sweetness and full of majesty, a judge’s voice, and a father’s voice,

“Amen, amen I say to you, today you shall be with me in paradise.”

 

By Andrea F. Phillips
Based on: A Legend of St. Dismas and Other Poems,
Copyright by P. J. Kenedy and Sons. 1927, p. 18.

 

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He hung on a cross that day, writhing in pain and discomfort, the infamous highwayman.

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