Tag Archives: human life international

Advent, Mother Teresa, Holy Family

FR. SHENAN BOQUET writes that Blessed Mother Teresa will inspire you this Advent . . .

boquet

Blessed Mother Teresa’s tendency to offer quotes of spiritual genius offers timeless inspiration. In all the good she did, it was her faithful disposition that led her to accomplish great things for God’s glory.

Her willingness to help those suffering physical poverty, regardless of race or creed, clearly demonstrates “love for neighbor,” as demanded by biblical and Church teaching. Yet her greatest gift was her concern for people’s spiritual poverty. How can we acquire such a disposition in light of our own obstacles and sufferings?

Perhaps the holy woman of Calcutta simply placed herself where material and spiritual poverty knew no bounds. Picture the dramatic scene in Bethlehem. Joseph, keen to protect and provide for his expectant wife finally reaches his destination. The couple desperately seeks lodging after a long, weary journey on a road rife with dangers.

When a shelter is finally discovered, it’s just a very simple dwelling — a drafty, dank, dark and pungent cave surrounded by curious creatures. To make matters worse, what comfort could a feeding trough — a mere shallow and empty depression used to nourish livestock with food or water — provide for a swaddled newborn babe?

Imagine the holy couple amid such great difficulty, completely dependent on God, trusting in him to provide for their material and spiritual needs. History’s greatest accomplishment is delivered in the nativity, God’s gift of salvation through the joyous birth of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.

Even in the face of suffering, discomfort, and uncertainty, the greatest of deeds can be accomplished — just as the greatest of gifts can be unwrapped. This scripture passage presents God’s disposition for unveiling his eternal gift of salvation through the incarnation: “Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9).

This is precisely why, in the humblest of settings, God’s works are accomplished completely through the desired dependence and disposition that the holy couple possessed. How to embrace such a disposition toward God is best explained by Mother Teresa: “Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in his love than in your own weakness.”

Life’s many obstacles are best overcome with complete dependence on God. Likened to the trough of the nativity scene, God cradles all of our material and spiritual needs in the most humbling and mysterious of ways when we empty ourselves. Following in the holy footsteps of St. Joseph and Our Blessed Mother, we too must embrace the cradle of a greater poverty of spirit, an impetus for an intimate and life-saving prayer life.

Such transformation allows God to fully maximize any talent, ability, wealth, reputation, influence and achievement to bring about great accomplishments for his kingdom. As Mother Teresa cautions, “Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at his disposition, and listening to his voice in the depth of our hearts.”

In this season of anticipation, joy, and wonder, consider for a moment the disposition we should have toward God, the giver of all gifts. Are we allowing ourselves to be emptied, addressing the temporal and spiritual poverty of our neighbor  — like Mother Teresa and the Holy Family — through our personal and professional lives?

I strive to live this very disposition in serving the Lord and his Church — my neighbor — as priest. The Lord continues to inspire me to exercise this disposition to accomplish great deeds in his vineyard in my current role as president of Human Life International. Such wondrous transformation brings about great accomplishments as seen in this admirable Catholic and educational apostolate. Throughout HLI’s 40-year mission, we have worked to encourage the faithful to embrace a disposition toward God and neighbor, following his will to cultivate, sustain and build a Culture of Life around the world in defense of life and family.

Perhaps this final pearl of wisdom from Mother Teresa will be an inspiration for your own disposition: “It is Christmas every time you let God love others through you.”

FATHER SHENAN J. BOQUET is the president of Human Life International and a priest of the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, La.

Benedict’s legacy: charity and truth

Fr Shenan Boquet writes of Pope Benedict’s lasting legacy of charity and truth . . .

Father Shenan J. Boquet

Father Shenan J. Boquet

As the world waited eight years ago for the white smoke to emerge from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, millions wondered not only who the next pope would be, but also how anyone could possibly follow the man who was already being referred to as “John Paul the Great.”

Of course, we now know the answer. The shy and brilliant theologian, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, was selected by his brother cardinals, and his papacy was one of persistent and clear teaching about the love of Jesus Christ. The man we now refer to as Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, followed his unfollowable predecessor, not by trying to be like him, but by placing his own substantial gifts at the disposal of the Holy Spirit.

Though we cannot possibly consider all of Benedict’s work here, we can safely say that his three encyclicals alone have given us a wealth of material for reflection, effectively bringing the eternal truths, of which the Catholic Church is steward, into dialogue with the challenges of today’s culture.

In the last of these encyclicals, Caritas in Veritate (Charity in Truth), Benedict addresses the charitable efforts of the Church. First a little background: It is well known that billions of dollars go from the world’s wealthier nations to impoverished nations. Often in the form of loans or material aid, donations go through governments, through large multinational organizations such as the United Nations, and through charitable foundations and organizations.

Over the last few decades, some worthy projects have become progressively corrupted with the false premise that poverty would be alleviated if the poor would stop having children. This insidious lie has become practically impervious to contrary evidence, such as the fact that wealthier nations are quite often more densely populated than the poorest nations — and that wealthy nations became wealthy while they had higher fertility rates, and thus larger families.

Still, the belief that children are an obstacle to progress is now as much a shared assumption of international development efforts as is the need for improved education and infrastructure. Human Life International’s pro-life missionaries know that this destructive attitude is particularly difficult to overcome. Indeed, billions that could be spent on worthy projects go instead to legalize abortion in nations that do not want it and to promote contraception as a means of improving “reproductive health.”

Catholic charitable organizations, Benedict writes in Caritas in Veritate, have a particular responsibility to have a radically different approach to poverty. The good work done by these groups must be done in a spirit of true evangelization, unabashedly bringing the love of Jesus Christ — caritas — to the poor. We provide material assistance in an efficient manner with high professional standards, but we must see in our brother and sister who live in poverty not a problem to be solved, but the greatest resource for their own turn toward prosperity.

Catholics cannot pursue this essential work in the same way as secular organizations, but rather with the knowledge that every person is destined for heaven — and as such has needs beyond mere material assistance. When we recognize this truth, we see in the poor our shared dignity as we are made in the image of our Creator. This is what Benedict means when he calls for “the development of every person and of the whole person.”

Clearly, this is not the prevailing ethos of the international development community. For this reason, Catholic organizations must be very careful about how they pursue their missions. Faith formation of staff must be a high priority.

As Benedict says in Caritas in Veritate, “Openness to life is at the center of true development” (# 28). It’s sad that such common sense would be considered revolutionary, but in the field of international development, it most surely is. Benedict has called for a renewal of the Church’s charitable work, which is as much a part of her mission, he says, as is the liturgy and the sacraments. To ensure that he was not misunderstood, Benedict promulgated new articles within Canon Law this past December, expressly empowering bishops to ensure the faithfulness of the Church’s charitable organizations to the entirety of her social and moral doctrine.

The great work done by Catholic charitable organizations must continue. It can be a tremendous vehicle for sharing both the Gospel and the truths of the Church’s social and moral doctrine. For his eloquent and persistent articulation of these truths in Caritas in Veritate — and in dozens of other statements and documents — we can be very grateful for Benedict’s pontificate. And we pray that Pope Francis will continue to pursue this urgent effort in charity and in truth.

FR. SHENAN BOQUET is the president of Human Life International.

Motherless

Gail’s spellbinding novel explores modern life sciences technology gone wrong . . .

Motherless
Human Life International, 2010. 350 pages, $19.99 paperback

The sequel to Fatherless and second in his trilogy, Gail has written another heart-pounding page-turner for Catholics straining to hear their Church’s voice in what Pope John Paul II called the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church.

Gail’s spellbinding narrative explores the expanding slippery slope of life sciences technology and its growing threat to the family and Church. Readers will certainly look forward to the final chapter: Childless, which is anticipated to be released in 2012.

Order: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Emmaus Road

Legatus conference rejuvenates pro-life advocates

Legatus members find that the pro-life movement is coming together like never before. . . 

Kathleen Eaton has been working full-time in the pro-life movement for nearly 30 years. But even with her depth of knowledge and experience, Eaton says she left the annual Legatus Pro-Life Conference full of enthusiasm.

“I came back from the conference on fire for my ministry and the issue of life,” said Eaton, who runs a number of crisis pregnancy clinics and shelters in Southern California.

Legates like Eaton from across the country received in-depth education on the pro-life movement’s challenges during the three-day conference held in Washington, D.C. Attendees not only heard from pro-life experts, but they also attended a special Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Fr. Frank Pavone

Fr. Frank Pavone

The May 6-8 conference began with Mass and a reception at the Hilton Washington. Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute gave the opening address on the “legal and political conspiracy to impose abortion on the world.”

Many attendees said that one of the highlights was a panel discussion with prolife leaders like Janet Morana (Priests for Life), Fr. Thomas Euteneuer (Human Life International) and Eric Scheidler (Pro-Life Action League). They discussed bringing the pro-life message to the grassroots.

“I realized that our battle won’t be fought in Washington,” Eaton said, a member of Legatus’ Orange Coast Chapter. “It has to be grassroots, fought in our communities and our churches.”

Austin Ruse

Austin Ruse

But Campaign Life Coalition president Jim Hughes, a member of Legatus’ Toronto Chapter, said pro-life legislation has to accompany grassroots change.

“The law is the great educator,” he said. “In a new poll, over 90% of women said they wouldn’t have an abortion again if it were illegal.”

Delegates also attended the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on May 8. The keynote speakers were U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Archbishop Raymond Burke, head of the Vatican’s highest court.

The archbishop discussed the Notre Dame scandal in his address.

“The profound granting of an honorary doctorate at Notre Dame University to our President who is as aggressively advancing an anti-life and anti-family agenda is a source of the gravest scandal,” he said, referring to Notre Dame’s May 17 commencement. “Catholic institutions cannot offer any platform to, let alone honor, those who teach and act publicly against the moral law.”

The entire Legatus event was geared toward enhancing members’ understanding of the complex issues facing Catholic leaders in our day, said Laura Sacha, Legatus’ conference director.

“Members have their own chapter experience, which is essential,” she explained. “But our conferences allow them to learn from and network with like-minded leaders from across the country. Everyone who attends our summits and conferences grows from the experience and goes away more excited about being Catholic.”

Patrick Novecosky is the editor of Legatus Magazine.