The Apostolate of the Laity

Waxing philosophical in communion with one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church.

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Location: Portland, Oregon, United States

I am just a sinner who holds fast to the notion that every human being on the planet is the result of a thought of God.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Where's the Crucifix?

I've had a continuous struggle with our RCIA director to get a crucifix in our class room. We had one at one time, but one day it mysteriously disappeared. It's always bothered me that we want to teach new folks coming into the faith without the presence of our most important symbol. So a couple of weeks ago I scrounged around the parish center and made an alarming discovery; there are no crucifixes in our parish center. We have one cross in one classroom that is an art-deco rendition of a risen Christ on the cross, but no crucifix.

The investigation continued. I went over to the school gym where we have our coffee and doughnuts. Again, no crucifix. If you walk into the front doors of our church you will not see a crucifix hanging over the alter, but rather a gnostic rendition of the risen Christ floating amidst a cobbled together cross. I say cobbled as our pastor literally dismantled a bookshelf and used the flat boards to make a cross. The risen Christ image used to be stand-alone.

There is one crucifix in our church, but it is hidden in an alocove off the sanctuary above where the chior sings, and one must sit in the annex portion of the church to be able to see it. We also do use a crucifix to to process into the church for mass on Sunday, but it is barely visible and has a broken arm that occasionally has be glued back into place.

Why are we afraid to look upon Christ on the cross? Perhaps we just don't understand the sacrifice. Last year I came across this beautiful story. I don't know who the author is, but I believe the story talks about the value of self-sacrifice for the benefit of all.

A Chinese Legend

Once upon a time, in the heart of the Western Kingdom, lay a beautiful garden. And there in the cool of the day was the Master of the garden wont to walk. Of all the denizens of the garden, the most beautiful and most beloved was a gracious and noble bamboo.

Year after year, Bamboo grew yet more noble and gracious, conscious of his Master’s love and watchful delight, but modest and gentle withal. And often, when Wind came to revel in the garden, Bamboo would cast aside his grave stateliness to dance and play right merrily, tossing and swaying and leaping and bowing in joyous abandon, leading the Great Dance of the Garden which most delighted his Master’s heart.

Now upon a day, the Master himself drew near to contemplate his Bamboo with eyes of curious expectancy. And Bamboo in a passion of adoration, bowed his great head to the ground in loving greeting. The master spoke:

“Bamboo, Bamboo, I would use thee.”

Bamboo flung his head to the sky in utter delight. The day of days had come; the day for which he had been made; the day to which he had been growing hour by hour; the day in which he would find his completion and his destiny. His voice came low:

“Master, I am ready. Use me as thou wilt.”

“Bamboo”- the Master’s voice was grave – “I would fain take thee and – cut thee down”

A trembling great horror shook Bamboo.

“Cut…me…down! Me…whom thou, Master, hast made the most beautiful in thy garden…to cut me down! Ah, not that, not that! Use me for thy joy, O Master, but cut me not down!”

Beloved Bamboo” – the Master’s voice grew graver still – “if I cut thee not down, I cannot use thee.”

The garden grew still. Wind held his breath. Bamboo slowly bent his proud and glorious head. There came a whisper:

“Master if thou canst not use me but thou cut me down…then do thy will and cut.

“Bamboo, beloved Bamboo, I would…cut thy leaves and branches from thee also.”

“Master, Master, spare me. Cut me down and lay my beauty in the dust, but wouldst thou take from me my leaves and branches also?”

“Bamboo, alas, if I them not cut away, I cannot use thee.”

The sun hid his face. A listening butterfly glided fearfully away. And Bamboo shivered in terrible expectancy, whispering low.

“Master, cut away.”

“Bamboo, Bamboo, I would yet…cleave thee in twain and cut out thine heart, for if I cut not so, I cannot use thee”

Then was Bamboo bowed to the ground.

“Master, Master…then cut and cleave.”

So did the Master of the Garden take Bamboo and cut him down and hack off his branches and strip off his leaves and cleave him in twin and cut out his heart. And lifting him gently, carried him to where was a spring of fresh, sparkling water in the midst of dry fields. Then putting one end of broken Bamboo into the spring and the other end into the water channel in his field, the Master laid down gently his beloved Bamboo.

And the spring sang welcome and the clear sparkling waters raced joyously down the channel of Bamboo’s torn body into the waiting fields. Then the rice was planted, and the days went by, and the shoots grew and the harvest came.

In that day was Bamboo, once so glorious in his stately beauty, yet more glorious in his brokenness and humility. For in his beauty he was life abundant, but in his brokenness he became a channel of abundant life to his Master’s world.

So you see my liberal-kumbaya-Catholic brethren. The crucifix is something we should gaze upon and draw strength for the sacrifice that was made on our behalf. To hide it, means to not appreciate this God-given image of salvation.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

A Little Slice of Heaven

Our parish held its ministry fair today. There are some sixty ministries within our parish, and while not all were represented in the school gym, a good representation of all the service organizations were present. I suppose it's typical with just about any parish in that the 80/20 rule applies. Twenty percent of the parishoners perform the ministries that make the parish function. The rest are, well, still finding their way. While the masses filed into the gym for free coffee and doughnuts, the one's who serve lined the periphery of the space displaying information about their various ministries and encouraged those who casually strolled by to perhaps consider a fuller participation in this body of Christ.

What is really magnificent about getting a critical mass of the twenty percenters is that I believe one gets a glimpse of Heaven. Here you have a room full of people who serve not for money, or pride, or self-advancement; but rather for the very fact that they believe, or perhaps even better, they know. This group of people has come to understand today's Gospel, Mk 9:30-37. We are here not to serve ourselves but to offer our gifts from God to each other.

I suspect Heaven is quite different from what typically get portrayed. People think of a place where all their dreams come true and they receive everything they ever wanted. It is perhaps a materialistic view of Paradise. Yet viewing the givers, the doers of our community; and seeing the joy in their eyes as they talked about their ministries; I belive Heaven is a continuous, joyous giving of self. It must be an eternal exchange between you and the entire body of Christ. Imagine an infinite magnification of the good feeling you have when you give someone a special gift. That is how I see our final destination. It's not a resting place at all. There's work to be done. It is active self donation at its most pure. A total surrender of self to the love God gives to creation. You in essence are a willing conduit for the transmission of that love.

As I looked around the gym at the apostolate of the laity, I knew nearly everyone. So many I had shared the Eucharistic meal with; discussed issues with; worked on causes with; prayed for; asked for their prayers; laughed and cried with. They are my spirtual family incarnate. It is my hope that on the day of my own death, when Christ calls me home, it will be these blessed few that greet me as I pass through the thin veil that separates Heaven and Earth.

There is a real joy in giving. My prayer is that the eighty percenters who don't particiapate in any ministries will one day experience the gift of sharing their own lives in service to Christ and be able to see for themselves just a small sliver of the beauty that awaits them at the end of this earthly journey.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Always Present

Today, I took a mental health day from work. It's been a stressful week. I had my interview (for my own job) as our company continues its restructure. The interview itself was pretty routine, and in point of fact, I was told I would probably get a small promotion at the end of the process. I should be more happy about this, but I know that several people I know and really like are about to find out that they will not succeed in this Dilbertesque right-sizing of our company.

I just needed a break. And I took it. From everything.

Oh, I went to mass this morning, but the rest of the day was decidedly without Christ in my thoughts. My mind was filled with the world and it's pleasures. And my reflections upon these things was not in thanksgiving for blessings received, but for my own pure selfish interests. Sinful thoughts and even a few sinful actions.

At the end of the day, in the quiet of the evening, I had another thought. He's still here. I can't hide from Him, nor do I want to. I'm reminded of St. Paul's words in 2Cor12:7 when he talks about a thorn in his flesh to keep him from being too elated. It was almost as if the Lord was showing me, today, that, yes, I can have my life all to myself, and, gee, look how fallen I really am, but still He is there for me.

Christ calls us to come to Him like a child; yet so often we run away from Him like a spoiled brat. I imagine Him sometimes looking at me with patient eyes saying in slight frustration, "Are you done yet?" The tone of His voice implies that I should know that my flights of fancy are futile. He knows that my return to Him is one of sheepish humility and wonderment of why I ever strayed.

He doesn't condemn me when I return. He doesn't berate. He doesn't lecture. He doesn't give me a "see I told you so." He just opens His arms and holds me as a father holds his child, and smiles. The wayward two-year-0ld has finally calmed down. He lifts me upon my feet, steadies me, and simply says, "Try, again." There is a peace to be found in that.

It is a grace to have this understanding, and I am keenly aware of that. And I cannot help but repent of my sins and rejoice at the same time. Such a dichotomy of feelings. Remorse and joy. Those same arms stretched out to embrace my return were stretched out to die for the sins I commit. I will discuss this day with Him at the sacrament of forgiveness. He will give me His body to strengthen my weak soul.

The world is a fascinating place full of so many marvelous things; yet I know all of its treasures cannot come close to equaling the simple, pure love offered by our savior. He is truly always present. Always.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I Forgive

"I forgive, I forgive."

Those were the last words of Sister Leoneall Sgorbati, age 65, after she was shot seven times while crossing the road from the hospital where she worked in Somalia to the village where she lived with four other nuns. She likely didn’t know the men who shot her; however she probably knew why they took their anger out on her. Being a Catholic in predominantly Muslim Somalia is a risky endeavor. She was killed for being a follower of Christ and His Church.

Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.”

Christ prayed those words as he hung from the cross in perhaps the most beautiful example of his divine mercy. In the Gospel He tells us that he came not to condemn, but to save.

Condemnation is often the path of least resistance that gets taken anytime we are insulted, injured, or angered. We have been hurt and our first response is to lash out at the attacker. We perceive injustice to ourselves or someone else, and the lynch mob mentality begins to develop in our hearts. That is how it is for our Muslim brethren. They believe with only their own will and not the will of God.

Christ came to change that. He came to show us a different path we could take. It’s not easy to turn the other cheek. It’s not easy not to hate when one has every human reason to do so. An eye for an eye seems much easier than a heart to heart.

“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

Think about that for a minute. We’re actually asking God to forgive us the same way that we forgive others. So if we adopt a position of saying that someone who has offended us is beyond our forgiveness, how then can we turn to God as ask Him to forgive us? It’s challenging; maybe even a little disconcerting.

Christ humbled Himself to come to us and show us the way to a conversion of heart. It’s not something that happens overnight, and Christ understands. It takes time, and prayer, and practice. We will likely fail more times than we succeed, and Christ offers us His forgiveness, His mercy, even when we don’t always follow His lead.

Sister Sgrobati was a person whose heart had converted to Christ to the point that her concern as she lay dying was not for herself, but for the wounded, angry souls who allowed hate to motivate their actions. She asked Our Lord to forgive them. Forgive them.

As you make your way in the world and someone cuts you off in traffic; or says an unkind word; or simply neglects the obvious…try saying to yourself, or if you can to the person who offended you...

”I forgive, I forgive.”

Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Truth Hurts

What exactly did Mohammad bring to the world?

I've read quite a bit about Islam since 9/11, and near as I can tell, the religion is a schism from Judaism with a few elements of Christianity tossed in. There really weren't any new ideas brought forward except the defining of women as a second class and what Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Palaeologus so correctly identified "spread by the sword the faith he preached". The Pope spoke the truth, and the Muslims have reacted.

"We're a religion of peace!" they scream.

So, we'll just ignore that whole 9/11 thing, and that call to eliminate Israel from the planet is some sort of joshing around, right?

"How dare the Pope quote a 14th century figure to describe Islam!" They cry.

So, you believe going back to the Crusades, which happened over a 1,000 years ago and hasn't been a rallying cry for you until the last 40 years when you bought the revisionist history version of the whole affair is fair?

"The Pope is the same as Hitler"

Gee, Adolph Hitler wanted to conquer the world; killed millions of Jews along with thousands of Catholics. Benedict has written "God is Love," and last I heard still rents the Swiss Army. What am I missing here?

"The Pope must personally aplogize?"

To whom? He said he was sorry if his remarks offended anyone. There's no central Islamic hierarchy he can write a letter of apology to. Do you posit he should call each one of the billion or so Muslims and issue a mea culpa?

"We're about forgivness!"
He apologized, and you said it wasn't good enough. Instead you burned his image in effigy. I'm sorry my Muslim brethren, but the Pope mentioned in his speech, had you bothered to read it, that there is an element of reason to following God. I'm sorry you feel disrespected, but perhaps if you countered the Pope with a reasonable explanation of jihad instead of acting like a bunch of crazy, out of control, jihadists, you might gain some credibility in the world instead of simply being feared the way one fears a rabid dog.

My Muslim brethren, when you can sit down and logically explain to me why me, my family, and everyone that I love deserves to die simply because we exist and believe in a God of love versus a God of man-made will, then I will be happy to give your religion the time of day. Until then, God forgive me, I will treat you with the utmost suspicion. I will pray for your conversion while I pray for the success of our brave men and women in the armed forces.

Islam a religion of peace? All evidence to the contrary.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Last Words to Jonny

Each of us is the result
of a thought of God,

and God is love.
Peace be with you.
Your friend, David

Today at work we got an e-mail informing us that a former coworker, Jonny was not doing well. He has terminal cancer and has entered the dehydration stage of the dying process. I wrote about him when I used to post on another blog site. You can read that post clicking here.

Just as I struggled what to say to him back in February at his retirement party as we all knew he was terminal, I prayed for quite awhile before I decided on something to say to him in the giant card that was being passed around the office that one of our managers is taking to him tomorrow morning. The above is what I wrote. I have Pope Benedict XVI to thank for the words, and the Holy Spirit for the inspiration.

I don't know if John found God over these last few months. Some probably thought my message was not very politically correct for our spiritually sterile corporate culture. But a man is dying. Somehow just saying, "thinking of you" or "wish you were here" or "get well soon" just didn't seem to cut it. I in no way wish to demean the people who wrote those things. It's so terribly hard to know what to say to a dying person.

I know if I lay dying, my friends would encourage me with my faith. Some would pray the rosary with me; some would tell me to look up their departed grandmother; others would ask me to pray for them when I got to Heaven. I don't wish to die any sooner than I have to, but at the same time I don't fear it. My faith has given me that peace to know that I am an eternal soul, claimed by Christ. While I cannot be sure of my eternal salvation, I know that I am pointed in the right direction. I have hope that at my dying moment when Christ calls to me, I'll be able to say "here I am, Lord."

I have yet to find the gift that God has given me that he didn't intend for me to share with at least one other person. Even my wife I share with Him. So the one gift I had to give to Jonny, is a little piece of my faith that I hope will bring him a greater peace. I trust he won't be offended because he knows of my love for God.

I prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet with Jonny in mind this afternoon during the 3:00 hour. Tomorrow at mass, I'll receive communion for him. And I have great faith that my spritual works for mercy on his behalf will help him in his journey, and I have great hope that one day, as I lay dying, a soul in Heaven I once knew as Jonny will return the favor of asking our Lord to extend His Divine Mercy to me.

Please say a prayer for my friend Jonny. Don't worry about the last name. Jesus will know who you're talking about.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Meaningful Events

One of the challenges living in a culture that thrives on materialism is sorting out the announcements of upcoming events into those that are meaningful and those that are simply so much marketing fodder. The new fall television schedule is coming out and the airwaves are flooded with promotions for the the premiere episodes of various series. Over the years, the television networks have made hay by leaving a cliffhanger at the end of the previous season to get viewers to keep coming back. Do any of these premiers really matter?

I have to confess I've become of fan of ER over the last few years, and I do look forward to its new season. The show is totally unrealistic and more often than not I disagree with the politics and morals it portrays, but at the same time the writing and acting are usually fairly decent and the characters are engaging. By contrast, I also got hooked on Gray's Anatomy last year which is a completely morally bankrupt show. I've decided not to continue with it this year. But again, the question remains, do either of these events really matter?

Then there is the ever popular Harry Potter book launches. People turn the release of new Rawlings book into something that is supposed to be important. They camp out. Some find bootleg copies in advance. I've never read any of the Harry Potter series. While some believe they are a bad influece on kids, I kind of doubt it. I believe the sensational hoopla surrounding the release of the book or movie far more of a distraction from God than anything Rawlings probably writes. This is where I would hope parents would sit their kids down and remind them that it's just a book or movie, and in the grand scheme of things doesn't really matter.

Today we remember 9/11. Some calendars show it as Patriot's Day and other's don't; so I'm not actually sure if it's an official holiday. If the mail doesn't run I guess I'll know why. It is an event that does matter. Five years since that day, and I can still recall where I was and what I was doing when I learned we were under attack. I was driving to work to my job in Vancouver, and the late Peter Jennings was on the radio. Odd, I thought upon first hearing his distinctive voice, but as he began to describe the situation, I began to realize that our world was changing. I watched the second plane hit the tower with some coworkers huddled around a small TV at work. And I have a vivid picture of two F-15 fighters screaming out of Portland International Airport, loaded for bear.


No one in the Twin Towers or the Pentagon or those on United 93 knew that death would come to them that day. One thing that I've been reflecting on today is we know how many lives were lost, but how many souls were saved? It's not pleasant to think that for any of those who died that day that things only got worse after death. We want to believe that an army of angels swooped them all up to Heaven. And while it would be terribly sinful to go down the list of the people who died and try to speculate which individuals gained salvation, it is enough to believe that the possibility exists that some did not.

Who knows what the outcome was for the stockbroker who was carrying on an affair with a collegue while his wife took care of the kids in suburban New Jersey? Where was his heart when the tower fell on him? Who knows the outcome of the Vice President of Finance that long ago gave up on God and chose herself to make it in the world? Where was her heart when the plane blasted into her office and ended her life? Then there was the pedophile who lost his life, but ended the abuse he delivered to his child. What became of his soul?

I want to believe that none of the above people existed. It is easier to imagine that all were perfectly worthy of salvation. I hope they were, and I and millions of people around the world prayed for their souls, and perhaps Christ's infinite divine mercy saved them all. That is my hope and my prayer.

Every day, we make a choice as to how we will conduct our lives. Sometimes we fail. Lord knows I do. But I hope that should a meaningful even like September 11 ever happen to me, my suffering will be short, and my life with Christ eternal. And because I know not when the Son of Man is coming, every choice I make should be one that helps me prepare of His arrival.

That is far more meaningful than anything on TV.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Showering with Prayer

I have a confession to make. One that I dare say may make the faint of heart a little dizzy. Okay, here it goes...

I pray the rosary in the shower.

Okay before you puritanical types get on my back, let me make my case. You see I live a very busy life. I work in sales and marketing for one thing. I tried praying on the commuter train into work, but it's so dang distracting to be in the middle of a good prayer only to be interrupted by the recorded voice telling folks that "in the priority seating area you are required to move for seniors and riders with disabilities." The fact that such a message is even necessary is a whole other issue, but it is hard to focus on the task of praying with that message along with the mundane, "the doors are closing."

More often than not, I have something going on a given night of the week. Finding time to pray is just difficult. I get home; try to connect with my wife; try to figure out dinner; the dog needs to be run. My dog is half Golden Retriever and half German Shepherd. She has to run everyday or she gets downright unpleasant.

Now I do get awakened just about every morning at 3am to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet. I don't know why? Christ hasn't been that specific with me. I just know that I wake up nearly every morning at that time. Rather than fight it I go with it and say my prayers. But soon I fall back to sleep. I also try to attend daily mass on my lunch hour, but that's not always possible.

I was searching for a time when I could consistently just be alone in prayer without any distractions. One day I just spontaneously started praying the rosary while I was taking my shower. Think about it. What do you really think about when you're taking a shower? I doubt it's "lather, rinse, repeat." No, you think about your day ahead; what you saw on TV; how that spider in the corner of the room never seems to move; all sorts of things. I just figured why not use this free time that requires very little mental acuity for something more holy.

So I've sort of fallen into a routine in the morning. Turn on the water and begin the Apostles Creed. Pull the handle on the shower and I start the introductory Our Father, Hail Mary's, and Glory Be's. Now I don't pray the whole rosary in the shower as I would soon run out of hot water. I get in a couple of decades while I lather up; wash my hair; and rinse off; the third decade while I shave; the fourth while I Sonicare my teeth; the fifth while I put on my clothes. The final prayers are said with no distractions. Finish the whole thing off with the St. Michael prayer, and I emerge from the bathroom ready to face my day.

Laugh if you must, but I must say I find it very refreshing to cleanse my body while I'm working on the soul. As a bonus, this time of prayer also helps to remove one of the near occasions of sin that we men sometimes face in the shower, but I won't go into details, though I understand this temptation isn't limited to men alone. Also, no praying gets done on the throne. I'm not completely devoid of good taste, and let's face it, some days a different kind of religious experience in itself happens there.

1Thes 5:17 implores us to pray constantly. What better way to help this command along then to take those more routine parts of our day and fill them with prayer. Why not let the waters of the shower remind us of the waters of our baptism and rejoice in our love of the Lord with fruitful prayer? True, it's probably not the height of piety, but it is one more way to come to Christ as a child.

That can't be all that bad.

Monday, September 04, 2006


Last Saturday the Gospel was from Mathew and it was the parable of the talents. You know the story. The master gives each of his servants a number of talents based on their ability and then leaves on a journey. When he comes home, two of the servants have doubled his money, but the one who was given the least, doesn't do anything with it and his serverely rebuked for this inaction.

It's clear to me that God doesn't give everyone the same amount of faith. Why? I have no clue, but it seems to me that those who have been given more, have an easier time increasing the amount they have. I see it as the efficacious nature of saving grace. Then too, as a sign of Christ's mercy, those who have been given just the single talent of faith have less expected from them. The parable shows that the master didn't expect the servant to double his money. Simply puting the money in the bank to earn interest would have been acceptable.

In His private revelations to St. Faustina, Christ revealed a deep loathing for luke warm souls. They are not beyond His mercy, but they do seem to disappoint Him a great deal. This seems to be in synch with the response of the master to the slothful servant in the parable of the talents. What I see from my friends who say they are Christian, but haven't set foot in a church in years, are these tepid souls. They have an inkling of faith, but are afraid to act upon it. Far better to hide it than to invest in it.

Unlike monetary investments, an investment in faith is a no lose proposition. The more you are able to surrender yourself to Christ, the bigger return on investment He bestows. Oh, you may not see it in material ways, but it does profit the interior of our hearts.

Take a moment to take stock of the talents of faith God has given you, and then call your broker, The Holy Spirit, and make an investment in Christ. Hopefully that will be the best stock tip you will receive, today.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Plan B

Finally some free time to write. I envy my fellow bloggers who can somehow manage to post every day, even several times a day. That is a luxury I currently don't possess.

Living in Portland, Oregon if I want to read a daily newspaper, I'm subjected to The Oregonian or as my father calls it "that liberal-commie-pinko-rag." In all fairness, their editorial board has mellowed a bit over the last year as their circulation has dropped. I believe they're trying to boost readership outside of the core area where John Kerry gained nearly 80% of the vote in the last presidential election, and having a "W" bumper sticker was a sure way to get treated rudely in traffic. Once one gets outside of Portland, the politcs are a bit more moderate.

I was pleased this morning to see that my letter to the editor was actually printed. You can read it by clicking here. I was responding their editorial expressing their outrage over Plan B, the latest abortifacient to be approved by the FDA, having to be located behind the phamacists counter. They went so far as to actually say this move would bring back those often referenced back-ally abortions.

As a human being, I believe contraception is evil. When one thinks about one's own existence, often the consideration stops at one's parents. We know that Mom and Dad had to have sex to have us. What often gets missed is how many hundreds, perhaps thousands of sexual unions, un-contracepted, that had to take place in order for us to exist. If just one of our ancestors had decided to contracept, we cease to be. Notice, I haven't even brought God or the Catholic Church into the equation. Not yet.

Who gave us the right to decide who will come into existence tomorrow or a thousand years from today? The future is literally at stake each time we purposefully engage in a sexual union and proactively prevent the logical, designed outcome of that union. To take such a cavilier attitude towards the reproduction of humanity by granting oneself the right to choose the composition of future generations, is nothing short of an arrogant exercise in playing God. This is why Catholics who practice the faith, don't contracept, and consider its use to be diabolic.

Damn my Baby Boom generation for embedding the lie into our culture that sex is a simple pleasurable, physical experience focussed on the "me." Damn it for convincing the culture that sex was limited to the here and now. Our generation has indeed profaned the second greatest gift God has given to humanity; the first being His very self. And shame on our Bishops in the United States and Europe who have been silent for too long on this issue. The fact that some 75 to 80 percent of Catholics in the United States use contraception is a sinful failure in catechesis and direction. The flock deserves better shepherding.

These words sting. They sting me for I, too, am guilty as charged. I regret not having learned at an early age, what the true meaning of my sexuality really is. It hasn't been until the last few years as I 've studied John Paul II's, Theology of the Body, that I've gained clarity on this issue. And this insight, this new way of viewing the world and my place in it, makes my 20/20 hindsight a bit hard to stomach.

PlanB. It's touted as a noble alternative by the medical community and Planned Parenthood. But what never seems to get much light in the arena of public opinion is that the reason one resorts to Plan B, is because Plan A was a failure. Rather than perpetuate a bad plan and have a backup in reserve; why not spend all of our efforts perfecting Plan A? And that perfection would be nothing short of a fuller, deeper, and more Christ-like view of this awsome gift of sexuality. That is what we must teach our children. With that kind of Plan A in place, Plan B in simply not needed.