Since losing my job in June, I’ve had the good fortune to interview for several new employment opportunities.
In preparation for these interviews, I often spend a great deal of time on various websites trying to pick up tips for how to make a winning first impression.
I was talking to my sweetheart Mr. Right, whom I met on CatholicMatch after losing my husband, about these preparations the other day. He suggested that perhaps I was trying a little too hard by memorizing scripts from Internet sites and he felt that maybe I should just be myself.
Mr. Right’s feedback reminded me that I oftentimes put on a plastic persona when I attend social gatherings or meet new people.
I am not one to make waves and try to avoid offering my opinion in public if I think it will make anyone uncomfortable. However, after speaking to Mr. Right, I found myself wondering why I’ve been afraid to express my thoughts and opinions with others.
I recently turned to God in prayer asking Him to help me become the person He meant me to be and to do His will here on earth when I’m with my friends and family as well as out in new social circles.
God has answered my prayers by giving me the inspiration to write this column that you are reading today. The topic of this article is fear and how finding faith of conviction in our Catholic belief system allowed me to overcome this feeling.
Wisconsin recently held a gubernatorial recall election for Scott Walker (a pro-life governor), which triggered a conversation between my son Mike and me on who we would be voting for both in that election and in the November presidential race.
Mike and I went over many topics, but in the end my son pointed out to me that he was surprised I did not once mention abortion as the most important issue in my choice of a candidate.
There it was, from one of my own children, the pointed statement that just as I was afraid to be myself in an interview, I have also been afraid to address the fact that I am pro-life with my own family members.
As Catholics we believe that life begins at conception and ends at natural death. Surely you all know that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is a well-known promise in the Declaration of Independence. Notice that the word life comes first in that phrase. That should be an indicator to you that our founding fathers also held the belief that it was the most important part of our law. Even here on CatholicMatch.com, we are required to reveal if we believe in sanctity of life as part of the seven faith doctrine questions on our profiles.
Sanctity of life holds a special meaning for me since I lost both my husband and my eldest son to death. My late husband, Steven, and I had both agreed that there would never be anything more devastating in our lives than the shock we received at hearing our child was being declared brain dead and that life support would need to be disconnected. Our son had struggled with health issues all his life yet never cried or pouted, always choosing to see the sunny side of life and lighting up a room whenever he walked in. We gave our boy unconditional love, whether he was having a good day or a bad day, and would have never considered him anything less than perfect.
In consideration of the precious gift of life I shared with my late husband and son, I have been busy working to educate myself on political issues for the last several years and have also worked to educate myself in Catholic doctrine in an effort to see how faith and politics can go hand in hand. To that end, Mr. Right is like a walking encyclopedia in the theology of our faith. He has helped to support and guide my understanding of our belief system and recently brought me back to study the events that took place at Fatima.
Many of you probably remember that back in 1917, three small children received visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima where she prophesied three secrets. Mr. Right reminded me that one of the secrets revealed at Fatima was a vision of hell in which the children saw demons and people immersed in a sea of fire and that a great many of the people in hell were there due to sins of the flesh.
Another of the secrets of Fatima concerned the fact that an attempt would be made to assassinate a future pope. Now, that particular secret had only been shared with a bishop in 1943 and later the pope of that era. It had never been made public until the year 2000, 16 years after Pope John Paul II was seriously wounded by a gunman in a failed assassination attempt.
As many of you know, one of the most important works of Pope John Paul II was Theology of the Body, which is a study of love and marriage. I own this book, and believe me when I say it is not only weighty in pages but heavy in theology — so much so that I found myself purchasing a book by Christopher West called “Theology of the Body For Beginners,” which was written to assist a novice such as myself in understanding the gist of Pope John Paul II’s writings.
In his book Mr. West writes:
“Ask yourself: Why do we kill approximately 4,000 unborn babies every day in the United States alone? Because we are misusing and abusing God’s great gift of sex. Make no mistake: in the final analysis, the abortion debate is not about when life begins. It is about the meaning of sex. What most men and women who fight for abortion want is not so much the ‘right’ to kill their offspring, but the ‘right’ to have unrestricted sex without consequences.”
He goes on to state:
“It is no exaggeration to say that the task of the 20th century was to rid itself of the Christian sexual ethic. If we are to build a ‘culture of life,’ the task of the twenty-first century must be to reclaim it. But the often repressive approach of previous generations of Christians – usually silence or, at most, the incomplete ‘don’t do it’ mantra – is largely responsible for the cultural jettisoning of the Church’s teaching on sex. We need a new language to break the silence and reverse the negativity. We need a fresh theology that explains how the Christian sexual ethic – far from being the prudish list of prohibitions it is often assumed to be – corresponds perfectly with the deepest yearnings of our hearts for love and union.”
Studying Mr. West’s statements brought me back to the era of the ’60s when I was growing up. It was a time of drugs, hippies and free love. A favorite saying of the times was “let it all hang out” — and hang out it did. Free love was rampant and birth control readily available. For the first time in our history, social mores were thrown to the wind and young adults began to leave the Catholic faith in droves.
In 1973 Roe vs. Wade brought abortion to the court room and our laws changed to make abortion on demand legal and readily available until the later stages of pregnancy. I find it ironic that a woman by the name of Norma McCorvey, who was the “Roe” component of the court’s decision actually did not have an abortion after all, and in 1995, she had a change of heart and became pro-life, trying and failing to have Roe vs. Wade overturned.
Connecting the dots
Going back to Fatima, we need to remember that Our Lady told the children that sins of the flesh would be a main reason that many, many people would spend eternity in hell. Also remember that Pope John Paul II was a most ardent supporter of life and in fact was able to show us the splendor of love that can only come through the deep and abiding love given in the marriage covenant.
Is it any coincidence then that the children of Fatima were also given a vision of a pope who would be assassinated? And that Pope John Paul II, the man who would explain the splendor of true love to the world, was the recipient of a gunman’s bullet in 1984?
While recuperating in the hospital from his injuries, Pope John Paul II stated that Our Lady’s hand deflected the path of the bullet. That same bullet which lodged in the jeep the pope was riding in was later set in the crown of the statute of Our Lady of Fatima.
I can’t help but think how fitting it was for a man of such great faith as Pope John Paul II to write Theology of the Body, which offers us rescue from eternal suffering in hell. He enlightened our minds to understand the life-giving power of our bodies when given in marriage between spouses, and he gave us an example of the power of forgiveness and mercy by visiting his would-be assassin in jail.
Pope John Paul II was not shy about explaining sex as normal and natural rather than evil. He knew that Christ went before him and he understood that he was entrusted with the power to articulate Christ’s message to the common man through his written works.
Thanks to the power of my prayers and an answer from God Our Father, I am no longer afraid to state that I am a proud pro-life supporter and this November I will check off the name of a pro-life presidential candidate when I go to the polls because, after all, life comes well before liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The writers of the Declaration of Independence told me so.
For a moving pictorial of Pope John Paul II’s life and his final message, sit back this Labor Day and enjoy this video: