See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Day of prayer and penance.



For Catholics in the U.S.
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Evidently not everyone is aware that today is a day of prayer and penance in the United States. This day of prayer and penance is in reparation for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through the sinful acts of abortion. The Church asks us to pray for the reversal of laws permitting such acts and for the legal guarantee of the right to life.
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There are Catholic groups, foundations, and websites for the consolation and support of the so-called other victim of abortion, that is, those women who submit to the process. It is one of the wonderful things about the Catholic Church, providing a healing place for women who have had abortions. Repentance and forgiveness is always possible.
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The victims of abortion.
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I agree that a supportive arm is needed for someone who has committed the grave sin of abortion, murdering their own offspring. Many times these women are coerced into making such a dreadful choice because of emotional trauma and difficulties, economic circumstances, family pressure, or even a boyfriend/lover's influence. The act of abortion remains a choice however. In China, the government forces women to abort, in order to hold to their one child per family policy. Although in this country, few people if any would use that type of coercion to force a woman to abort her baby.
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Do unto others.
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Catholics have an amazing tolerance and understanding for those women, most always repentant, who had once made the choice to abort their child, or in the case of multiple abortions, killed their children. We are welcoming and affirming, and that is as it ought to be as Christians. Too bad we are not always like that with other repentant sinners who once "chose" a sinful lifestyle, although possibly with less freedom: Perhaps coerced into it due to emotional trauma or difficulties, family situations affecting psychological development, maturity and identity, or even cultural influences offering an enticing alternative lifestyle, guaranteeing acceptance, inclusion and affirmation.
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Damned if you do... damned if you don't.
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In some instances, after certain types of sinners have renounced former behaviors, and strive to live in accord with Church teaching, some claim they feel as if they remain under suspicion or labeled because of their former lifestyle. I've heard it said they sometimes feel as if they retain a sort of invisible scarlet letter in the eyes of fellow Catholics. Not infrequently they can find themselves shunned, avoided or dismissed by Catholic society, barred from Catholic employment opportunities, in addition to lost friendships from their former lifestyle; all this despite their conformity and fidelity to Catholic teaching. Many accept such treatment as a penance in their desire to sanctify their lives.
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Enduring the shame. (Hebrews 13:13)
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That said, I think the concept of penance and reparation is often lost on our culture and in our Church. I don't think people believe the consequences experienced as the result of one's sins can be a form of penance, or that exercising mercy and charity towards our neighbor is a form of reparation, especially when it involves sacrifice or suffering.
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This reminds me of another point; I think some of the effects of the sin of abortion on our society is a certain mean-spirited attitude, even cruelty, in our dealings with one another. Hating both the sin and the sinner. That can't be right.

7 comments:

  1. Another very thoughtful post. I will visit here more often (I only found you today!)
    AR :)

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  2. "barred from Catholic employment opportunities."

    Like the priesthood.

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  3. Thanks Autumn. Don't expect too much though. :)

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  4. Thom, I still have that cough.

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  5. So do I, Terry. It won't let go, no matter how much cough syrup I take.

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  6. Terry, excellent post. I believe you are right when you speak of abortion eliciting "...a certain mean-spirited attitude, even cruelty, in our dealings with one another." I agree too, that we seem to have lost a spirit of penance and reparation.

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