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Vol 4 No. 1- Dedicated to St. Joseph By & For Santa Clara Valley Catholics - Jan / Feb, 1997

Publisher - Marc Crotty

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WHAT'S IN THIS ISSUE:

 DOES PRESENTATION HIGH NEED THE AIDS QUILT?

BY THEIR WORDS, YE SHALL KNOW THEM

CONTRACEPTION: Refusing The Call Of God

WHY ARTIFICIAL CONTRACEPTION IS WRONG
THE TEACHING
NFP: IT'S MORAL AND IT WORKS

'GO FORTH AND MULTIPLY'

LETTERS

CREDENTIALS, PLEASE

FR. ROBERT ESSIG, 1912-1996

ADAM AND EVETTE

DIM VIEWS

SUBSCRIPTION INFORMATION

 PAST ISSUES OF THE VIEW

 OTHER CATHOLIC SITES

 LOCAL TRADITIONAL MASS SCHEDULES

DOES PRESENTATION HIGH NEED THE AIDS QUILT?

Four panels of the AIDS Memorial Quilt were exhibited at Presentation High School, a Catholic girls' school in San Jose, for one week beginning Dec. 2.

Other sections of the quilt were on display at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Saratoga, St. Thomas' Episcopal Church in Sunnyvale and at First Congregational Church in San Jose, in conjunction with World Aids Day on Dec 1.

Teachers and students at Presentation had been preparing for the exhibit as a school project. The panels, which memorialize the lives and deaths of AIDS victims, were hung in the gym, and a special assembly was held. Teachers presented AIDS and HIV information to students and distributed brochures on women and AIDS.

View from the Pew asked Sister Stephanie Still, Presentation's Public Relations representative, why the quilt was selected for a project at the school.

“Education,” she said, “as reported in the Valley Catholic.”

The View then asked if the girls were being told about the lives of the individuals depicted in the quilt panels. Were they told, for example, whether the individuals were actively gay or drug users?

“I don't know. I'm not teaching the course,” Garrett replied.

Are the girls being told that it is a violation of Catholic teaching to be an active homosexual, she was asked. Long silence. “I'm not sure that is the teaching of the Church. We teach from the 1987 bishops' letter “The Many Faces of AIDS.”

What other documents are used?

“I don't know,” she replied.

Have you read the applicable paragraphs in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we asked. And the paragraphs were cited.

No response.

Do you agree with Church teaching on this matter, the View asked.

“Are you asking my personal opinion?” Garrett said. “I've said three times in this interview what we present is in keeping with the teaching of the Church.”

The interview was short and not very sweet. The vice principal obviously has the politically correct idea that AIDS is something anyone can get; therefore Presentation students must be told how to avoid it. View from the Pew, on the other hand, has the idea that AIDS is something only people who are not following the sixth commandment can get (or the fifth, in the case of drug abuse); therefore, students need to learn and follow their Catechism.

Young women are being told they are the latest high-risk group for AIDS. The expectation is that young girls—even young Catholic girls—will go out into the world and conduct themselves like secular statistics, engaging in pre-marital sex and drug use. This is a pretty sorry expectation and only serves to express the failure of a modern Catholic education.

The facts are these: Women ARE the new high-risk group—in eastern Europe and Asia where prostitution and dirty needles have swelled their ranks. In the United States, more women are getting AIDS now than in previous years, but their number is still far behind homosexuals who are the highest-risk group. In the quest to convince everyone that AIDS is not a “gay disease,” however, it is politically correct to emphasize the non-gay figures. “We're all in this together” is the message.

The same message is coming through loud and clear with the annual AIDS walk. Teens from Catholic high schools are urged to participate as a social service. They walk in solidarity with gays and lesbians, even though the gays and lesbians are unabashedly open about their sexual involvements. The schools maintain they are fighting “homophobia.” But it's not homosexuality we're afraid of. It's the Word of God.

What is the Catholic teaching on homosexuality?

The Universal Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says:

1. “Tradition has always declared that `homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.' They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life . . .Under no circumstances can they be approved.” (CCC 2357).

2. (Homosexuals) “must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” (CCC 2358).

3. “Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.” (CCC 2359).

Projects like the AIDS quilt and AIDS walk teach children that AIDS is an innocent affliction like birth defects. It's all part of an orchestrated effort to make gay life seem like an “alternative lifestyle,” that AIDS is an unfair and annoying problem that must be solved so gays can go back to their bathhouses.

Presentation is not an isolated case. Sex education is a regular part of Catholic high school curricula in the San Jose Diocese, and parents are not in the classroom to police what teachers teach about chastity and homosexuality. Parents may even have the outdated notion that Catholic schools cleave to Catholic doctrine.

Nothing is sacred today, not even in Catholic schools. When the Pope outlines correct teaching about morality, the truth has less impact in Catholic schools and churches than the rantings and ravings of Willie Brown in San Francisco.

Pope Pius XII said the sin of the modern age is the loss of awareness of sin. This loss continues today with the added development that sin is elevated to respectability, even desirability.

The message kids get from AIDS projects like the Memorial Quilt is this:

There but for the grace of God go I. And that's incorrect. AIDS is what you get if you lose God's grace. AIDS is what you don't get if you avoid the near occasion of sin and refrain from actual sin.

Simple as the ABCs.

BY THEIR WORDS, YE SHALL KNOW THEM

Catholic conservatives are having a few chuckles over an article that appeared in a Catholic Women's Network journal in London. (Not our Catholic Women's Network, but they sound like clones).

Well-known British conservative journalist, Joanna Bogle, columnist for the “Catholic Times,” wrote a piece full of heresy and feminist jargon, and sent it to “Network,” the CWN journal. It was printed as an authentic experience piece.

The article purportedly shared a CWN “'Circle Weekend” in western Australia and said: “There were intimate moments when poetry was shared, women were held, and our bodies rocked together in dance. Not all words, but stories told through artwork, incredible creative energy directed into cardboard

boxes that remembered our lives and all we identified ourselves to be.”

The article continued: “We began with a foot massage and in a circle, we each in turn spoke, saying I matter. I affirm self. What I am, I have a right to be, and then some affirming/growth statement, such as The loving and caring in me reaches out to you, and you, and you. It was really moving. Over avocado and salads, we shared music. And there was talk about the Church and the way it/he oppresses us and how we can change it.”

Bogle said: “I put in everything, even a woman living in sin with a priest. I thought they would never fall for this. But they did -- hook, line and sinker. I don't know why they call themselves Catholics.”

Neither do we.

WHY ARTIFICIAL CONTRACEPTION IS WRONG

Father Benedict Groeschel likes to tell this story about his invitation to a New York City high school:

A group of conservative students had complained to the principal about liberal speakers on gay marriage and abortion rights. They wanted equal time for conservative speakers. So they invited Fr. Groeschel, a Franciscan priest, author and lecturer, to set the record straight.

Groeschel accepted, but he was worried. What could he say to 500 bright, high school kids who were mostly hostile to his message?

In the assembly hall, Groeschel was introduced, then rose to speak:

“I was invited here to talk to you about the sanctity of marriage and human life,” he began, “but I'm not going to talk to you about those things. You wouldn't understand.”

He paused to let this sink in.

“The rules of the Church are not like rules of the state. The rules of the Church are made to help us become saints. And you don't even know what a saint is.”

For a moment, there was total silence. Then one student shouted out: “So what's a saint?”

“That's when I knew I HAD `em!”

Fr. Groeschel's point is true for any discussion of Catholic morality, including one of its most cantankerous issues, the prohibition against artificial contraception.

Humanae Vitae, issued in 1968 by Pope Paul VI, reiterated that artificial birth control is a sin. Many people, including priests and nuns, expected the teaching to be changed. Indeed, the committee studying the issue recommended a change. In almost miraculous fashion, the pope went against prevailing attitudes, the committee's recommendations and his own desire to be a nice guy, to issue a teaching straight from the Holy Spirit.

The hue and cry were deafening. But the root of the disagreement is this: Are we born just to live it up and die? Or are we born to be baptized into Christ, follow His Way and join Him in eternity?

GUIDED-MISSILE THEORY

Catholics are supposed to believe that human beings are like guided missiles. The baby is born with his nose pointed straight to Heaven. Baptism activates the controls. As he grows to maturity, he can follow the directions of the manufacturer (God) through His manual (the Church), or he can ignore the manual altogether and try to wing it with trial and error (free will). If he ignores the manual, he will pay the price (sin): He won't make it to his goal. Even though he is still pointed toward the sky (that's his nature), he has messed things up, and his system just won't fly.

This missile allegory is what we mean by “natural law.” Every creature has its being determined by the Creator and does the things proper to it. A human being's nature is to know and love God and to be happy with Him forever. If he makes choices that go against his nature, he will probably be miserable on Earth, and he will certainly thwart his ultimate goal: eternal life. And this is so whether or not he agrees with God on what his human nature is. He can accept his nature and make choices to enhance it—or he can ignore his nature and degrade himself.

VIOLATION OF NATURE

Humanae Vitae and Casti Connubi both stress that artificial birth control violates man's nature. Because of this, the “natural law argument” has been linked to the contraception debate, so much so that even “natural law” has gotten a bad name. Actually the natural-law argument applies to any moral precept. The reason the Ten Commandments are often called The Laws of Love is because they are rules that keep man on course, running with his true nature. By this reasoning, we can see that to steal property is as much a violation of man's nature as contraception or coveting your neighbor's wife. Any one of these acts blocks the flow of God's grace, which is the fuel that keeps us on The Journey.

The important point is that despite all our free will, we are enjoined NOT to decide right from wrong independently. THAT information is in the manual, remember. It comes from the Inventor himself. Therefore, to say the Church is wrong about contraception is to replay the original sin of Adam and Eve. God might say to us in this New Eden: “You can harness the powers of the Earth, you can conquer disease, you can send ships to Mars. There is only one thing you cannot do: claim the rights of the Creator. If you do this, you will surely die.”

Consider the word `procreation.' `Pro' is the Latin word meaning before in place or time. `Create' means to bring into existence. In the act of procreation, we literally participate, co-create with God. Our bodies, which He created, “go before” in intercourse, and God infuses a soul into a new body. By loving each other, a man and a woman communicate life itself in sex. Their married love gives meaning to the act, and the possibility of co-creating with God is its purpose. What could be more holy than this? It is as mysterious as the changing of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.

EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES

Well, suppose a couple can't afford to have more children because of ill health, finances, living conditions, age—the old extenuating circumstances argument.

Listen, if there was anyone who had “extenuating circumstances,” it was the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was under-age. She was betrothed to a man who could righteously reject her if she got pregnant. Her family could reject her, too, leaving her without moral or economic support. And she faced public stoning for carrying a child whose father was not her husband. She had every reason to tell the Angel Gabriel `No!' But she said `yes' to life, `yes' to eternal life.

OK, that was the Virgin Mary. “Real people” make love every night when they're young and newly married. How can they interrupt the flow of their natural desires to wait for Natural Family Planning? Isn't that unnatural? Isn't immediacy what marriage is all about? Love is never having to call for a date.

This argument simply makes us slaves of Lust, our new god. People who believe Lust rules can't even imagine how the Blessed Mother could spend a lifetime with Joseph and not have sex. That's why there's speculation that Jesus had brothers and sisters. No, the Church tells us that Mary and Joseph were celibate. Why? Because they were already in the presence of God. Their natures were fulfilled. Their bodies and their minds were one through their son, who is the Son of God.

Yet Mary and Joseph serve as the model of married life. In them we see St. Paul's admonition: “Your bodies are members of Christ . . ., temples of the Holy Spirit . . .; therefore, glorify God in your body.” For Mary and Joseph, glorifying God in their bodies was serving their son. For those of us who are married, it is using our bodies in the spirit of Christ because we are members of his mystical body.

THE WAY OF CHRIST

Sometimes this means sacrifice, will power, gritting the teeth, cold showers. The Way of Christ is not easy.

In the story of righteous Rich Man who asked Jesus what to do to earn the kingdom of God, Jesus told him: “Give away all you have and follow me.” The rich man walked away.

Using contraception is like walking away from Christ. We can go to Mass, try to be good, do our duty, be generous to others. But when faced with less money, less time, a derailed career, broken plans, artificial contraceptors walk away from creating life according to God's plan.

GOING AGAINST THE TIDE

Pope Paul VI gave a talk to the Teams of Our Lady, a lay association of married couples, in 1970, two years after he issued Humanae Vitae. He told them: “Do not let yourselves be led astray by the temptations, difficulties and trials that arise along the way. Do not be afraid when necessary, to go against the tide of thought and opinion of a world ruled by paganized standards of behavior. . . . And do not be discouraged in moments of weakness. . . the Church is a mother who desires to help you live to the fullest this ideal of Christian marriage.”

The value of Christian marriage has much utilitarian appeal: If we followed the value of chastity, we would have fewer deserted wives, fewer children in poverty, fewer children born without fathers, fewer children on drugs and in gangs, less disease, more conventional happiness. But the real value of Christian marriage has nothing to do with utility. It has everything to do with our calling to a life of Christ. G.E.M. Anscomb sums it up nicely in “Contraception and Chastity”:

“The critical question is: `Where does the compass-needle of your mind and will point?' This is tested above all by our reactions when it costs or threatens to cost something to be a Christian. One should be glad if it does, rather than complain! If we will not let it cost anything; if we succumb to the threat of `losing our life,' then our religion is indistinguishable from pure worldliness. . . . (This teaching) is indeed against the grain of the world, against the current of our time. But that, after all, is what the Church as teacher is for . . . The Church teaches also those truths that are hateful to the spirit of an age.”

THE TEACHING

What the Roman Catholic Church teaches about artificial contraception:

“Sin is an offense against God . . . Sin sets itself against God's love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become ''like gods,'' knowing and determining good and evil.” -- Catechism of the Catholic Church #1850.

“'By its very nature, the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring, and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory.” -- Gaudium et Spes 48: 1; 50.
“Sexuality, by means of which man and woman give themselves to one another through the acts which are proper and exclusive to spouses, is not something simply biological, but concerns the innermost being of the human person as such.” -- Familiaris Consortio 11.
“Married couples should regard it as their proper mission to transmit human life and to educate their children; they should realize that they are thereby cooperating with the love of God the Creator and are, in a certain sense, its interpreters. They will fulfill this duty with a sense of human and Christian responsibility.” -- Gaudium et Spes 50: 2.
“By safeguarding both these essential aspects, the unitive and the procreative, the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its orientation toward man's exalted vocation to parenthood.” -- Humanae Vitae 12.
“Periodic continence, that, the methods of birth regulation based on self-observation and the use of infertile periods, is in conformity with the objective criteria of morality.”-- Humanae Vitae 16.
“The difference, both anthropological and moral, between (artificial) contraception and recourse to the rhythm of the cycle . . . involves in the final analysis two irreconcilable concepts of the human person and of human sexuality.” -- Familiaris Consortio 32.

NFP: IT'S MORAL AND IT WORKS

SO WHY DOESN'T ANYBODY CARE?

The use of artificial contraception is a sin. Yet most American Catholics use it or have used it. The use of Natural Family Planning (NFP) is not a sin. But studies show that less than 5 percent of Catholic married couples in the USA are using NFP.

What's going on here?

Anita Lucketti and Dolores Moreno are working hard in the vineyards of the Lord, trying to get the NFP numbers up for God. Staffing O'Connor Hospital's Center For Life, Lucketti and Moreno promote and teach Natural Family Planning.

They confirm that NFP really works: It's 99% effective for avoiding conception. Modern NFP has a sound scientific basis that relies on an understanding of female physiology. And unlike certain abortifacient contraceptives that pose significant health risks, NFP is completely safe.

As `Certified Natural Family Planning Practitioners' (CNFPP) they offer an introductory and a comprehensive NFP course. The introductory class is required by the Diocese of San Jose for engaged couples who plan to be married in the Catholic Church.

Lucketti and Moreno stress the health advantages of NFP in their classes. They know from a questionaire that the majority of their couples are sexually active and already contracepting. So their material is presented “as a health matter with a little bit of spirituality,” Lucketti said.

They would like to stress the spiritual teaching of the Church, but the couples just turn off when they get “preachy.” Lucketti believes that “a lack of reverence for God and a lack of sound catechisis” is the basis for this.

About sixty couples per month attend the required introductory class in either Spanish or English. Of this 60, 10 percent sign up for the comprehensive NFP program, either following the class or within the following year after becoming dissatisfied with the use of artificial contraception, according to Moreno.

The introductory class is $10. The eight-session, comprehensive program costs $220. Couples learn the “Billings Ovulation Method” of NFP, which is a precise method for determining the exact time of a women's ovulation. This method requires charting of the woman's body temperature and observation of cervical mucus around the time of ovulation. Couples who wish to postpone conception must abstain from intercourse during the time of fertility, which lasts about three to five days for most women.

The View interviewed two couples who took the introductory class: Manuel and Leslie Salazar and Doug and Karen Zeitz.

The Salazars said that NFP “'requires you to live with God in His will and supernatural life.” They believe most couples contracept because their spiritual lives are deficient. Leslie Salazar, a convert, was grateful she was able to find “a moral method of family planning.” “In RCIA, I was taught very little about Catholic dogma, and Humane Vitae was never mentioned.”

The Zeitzs' said only one other couple from their class was interested in practicing NFP. “The other couples had a flippant attitude; they were there just to get a piece of paper that would allow them to get married,” Doug Zeitz said.

'GO FORTH AND MULTIPLY'

When the Lord said `Go forth and multiply,' he couldn't have been thinking about the 20th or 21st century.

Could He?

The modern argument is that big families were fine in the old days. But that was then and this is now. Medical science has made it possible for most children to survive to adulthood—which is too many.

The Church acknowledges in the new Catechism of the Catholic Church that parents may want to limit family size for moral reasons like illness, financial problems, genetic disorders and others. Acting responsibly, a couple may choose to exercise Natural Family Planning, not to put up a barrier against life but to refrain from sex when both the unitive and the procreative purpose of the act cannot be maintained.

It is clear, however, that couples can also sin by using NFP. If the intention is to prevent birth for selfish reasons, the wife or husband's career, for example, then NFP would not be `open to life,' which is still the teaching of the Church. This is not so hard to understand if we acknowledge that babies are a blessing. Marriage mirrors Christ's relationship with His Church. The offspring is the `mystical body' of Christ. In human marriage, children are the miraculous and sacred result of love.

Poor people tend to have larger families. And people scoff at them for this. “Oh, they breed like rabbits. No wonder they're poor,” people say. No, the Catholic Church tells us the poor have it right: They are the rich ones, blessed by many children. In spite of their poverty, they open their hearts -- and their bodies—to share the gift of life.

God asks us all to follow Him. Blessed are the poor because they do. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man with two “planned” children to get into Heaven.

LETTERS

Dear Editor:

I attend Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Oakland, and am participating in a small faith-sharing group as part of this season's “Renew” program. We are using as a guide a booklet entitled “Empowered by the Holy Spirit,” published by the Paulist Press of Mahwah, New Jersey. Believe me, I have suffered these past five weeks (the program lasts six). The whole focus of the booklet is oriented towards what you so aptly described in your Nov/Dec 1996 issue as “the shift in Catholic thinking from the idea that personal conversion, prayer, bearing witness and solidarity are the foundations of Catholic action to the idea that politics is foundation of Catholic action.”

Our “Action Response” for this week was to “join an existing group that is involved in a specific effort to change unjust social systems.” Well, I don't think contacting you is what the anonymous authors of this booklet had in mind, but from my point of view, Catholic thinking is being dominated by a group which seeks to change Catholicism to a secular force whose only objective is to view mankind in material terms. They are trying to impose on us a Catholicism that is a social system. And as I think this is unjust to the vast majority of Catholics who see their faith being eroded, I am doing as the booklet instructs, and therefore would like to join in and aid in you work in order “to change [this] unjust social system.”

I am beginning by enclosing my check. I would love to hear more about the “View” and what I can do to help further it.

One in Christ,

William Pepperell
Hayward, CA

Dear Editor:

When I subscribed to the View it was with the knowledge that the day would come when true believers won't be able to find a parish where they find a spiritual home and comfort. I am 75 years old. Will I have to live with only the deposit of spiritual foundation I received 60 years ago? I am hoping your bulletin will give me the practical directives needed to live the faith in this time of dire need. God bless you.

J. Novotna (naturalized citizen)
Santa Clara

CREDENTIALS, PLEASE

View from the Pew gets calls and letters. And some people ask: “Who are you to be telling the Church what to do?”

That's a good question. The answer is: We're nobodies. We are not qualified and we know we are not qualified. But the qualified people, namely the priests and bishops, have forsaken us. So that's why we're here.

We nobodies kept our mouths shut in the `60s when the bishops started creating “the spirit of Vatican II.” We were silent during the clown masses, the introduction of altar girls, the “remodeling” of churches. We silently watched them tear down our altar rails, remove our statuary and crucifixes, and—the worst architectural indignity -- relocate our Eucharistic Lord from the altar.

We stood by silently as lay women became church officers and everybody became “extraordinary Eucharistic ministers.” We listened quietly as professional liturgists “re-invented” the liturgy, and we sang the new songs with guitars as they buried our traditional organ music. We didn't complain when priests started pushing communion in the hand, standing at the consecration, and communal confession. We didn't even protest when the nuns disappeared from Catholic schools, only to be replaced by sex education.

We've been silent a long time. But we listened. We listened to this new crop of priests and theologians who were making all the changes. They said:

“You are church.” They said: “This is the age of the laity.” They wanted to sit back in the presider's chair while lay people took over the church work.

So View from the Pew went to work, too. We went to work to get our Catholic Church back. We shouldn't have been silent so long.

We faithful were fooled by our trust. We trusted the cardinals, bishops, priests and theologians to give us the faith. We believed in the hierarchical church. We didn't talk back. But we should have.

We should have demanded good, celibate, traditional priests, faithful to the Pope and the Magisterium.
We should have demanded novenas, perpetual adoration, rosaries, and feast-day celebrations.
We should have demanded altar boys and male lectors and priests giving out communion.
We should have demanded kneelers and altar rails and crucifixes.
We should have demanded homilies that talked about morals and spirituality.
We should have demanded CCD classes that imparted the One, True Faith.
And we should have kicked out the gauzy dancers, one-act plays, fuzzy prayers, liturgy distortions, generic language, and all the other trendy, political fol-de-rol.

We could have protested by lack of support—not by leaving the church, as three-quarters of Catholics have done. Just withdrawing economic support. Imagine churches filled with worshippers, all demanding services and supplies, but not offering up a single dime. There is nothing church administrators listen to like the clink of gold and silver.

Withdrawing economic support is what the View endorses today. Go to Mass but don't pay for doo-dah. If what the parish offers up is a “community meal,” and not the Sacrifice of the Mass, don't pay. If what the CCD program dishes up is “experiential Catholic education without a catechism,” home school. Talk to your pastor if you feel uncomfortable with the touchy-feely services. Talk to him about using “extraordinary ministers” for communion when there are only 20 people in church and he's sitting down! Write him anonymous letters if you feel shy. BUT DON'T PAY!

Of course, there's always the other side to resolve. Some people actually believe the church is better off with its priestless parishes, its gender-free language, its folksy masses, its pederasty problems and gay-supporting seminaries. So how do we know you are right? The only way you ever know: Consult the Bible and Tradition. Ask yourself: What would Christ do? Would the Blessed Mother of God go along with this? The answer is almost always so completely apparent that only the hardened politico can't see it.

In the 1970's, there was an old priest, Fr. Ryan, who presided for awhile at St. Mary's parish in Gilroy. He had been bounced around in the Salinas, Gilroy, San Jose area in an embarrassing shuffle to hide his conservative views and prognostications. He predicted that confessionals would disappear and be used as supply cabinets. He predicted that people would lose their sense of sin in communal confession services. He predicted priests would turn over their role to lay people who would try to usurp their special charism. He dished up fire and brimstone every morning, and when the word got out, more and more people came to listen. Until he was hustled away.

Pray for the soul of Fr. Ryan. He was right.

And while you're at it, pray for View from the Pew, too.

Pray for us all, O Holy Mother of God, that we may be WORTHY of the promises of Christ. Amen.

FR. ROBERT ESSIG, 1912-1996

The Rev. Robert Essig, 84, pastor emeritus of Saint Frances Cabrini Church, died of cancer on Nov. 20. Bishop Pierre DuMaine and 100 priests participated at his funeral, and a thousand mourners attended.

Fr. Essig was born in 1912 in San Francisco and grew up in Oakland. He served as a chaplain for the elite Devil's Brigade and left the Army as a full colonel. He formed St. Frances Cabrini Church in 1955 and presided over the church and school for the next 30 years. It became the Cambrian area's largest church, with over 4,000 families.

Fr. Essig retired in 1987 but remained active from his apartment on the SFC campus. He visited shut-ins and the children in Kurpiewski's day care center. The day care center nominated him to be an Olympic torch bearer for the 1996 Olympic flame, but two weeks before he was to carry the torch, he learned of his esophageal cancer.

Known for his many hats and his wry sense of humor, he was a good and faithful priest.

Lord, may your light shine upon him and grant him peace.

ADAM AND EVETTE

In the beginning, Adam and Evette were happy. Adam was a computer engineer and earned good money. Evette was a paralegal, working on a law degree. They had a dog named Sam and a cat named Ernest. They lived a continent away from their in-laws. It seemed like paradise.

Adam and Evette were raised Catholic. They were married in the Church, but they had “drifted away.” On Sunday mornings, they would get up late, walk the dog to their trendy, neighborhood coffee shop and talk with other couples at outside tables. It seemed like paradise.

They had purchased a turn-of-the-century “fixer-upper” and were slowly putting the house together. They decided not to have children right away because they were too busy. And they wanted to see if their marriage “worked out.” Not that they were expecting trouble. But everyone said that “giving it a little time” is the right thing to do. Even paradise needs a breaking-in period.

One day, Evette woke to a vague feeling of nausea that pursued her all day and then on-and-off all week. Consulting her personal calendar, she realized she could be pregnant. So she purchased a pregnancy-detection kit. The test turned blue. A strange feeling of terror mixed with joy washed over her. Sweat broke out on her upper lip. This time, she really did vomit. There was a possible complication in paradise.

Evette decided not to tell Adam right away. She didn't know exactly how he'd feel, although they had discussed postponing a family. Everything could be ruined by a baby. Oh, wow! This couldn't be happening! At work, Evette's friend, Sabrina, noticed she was down. “Anything wrong, Evette?” she asked.

“Well, yes. I'm pregnant.”

“That shouldn't make you depressed. Do you want it?”

“I don't know. I don't think so. Not now. We have the house to fix. We need the money. I think it'll just cause a lot of friction.”

“Well, no problem, then. I know a great clinic. You can call them, set up an appointment within two weeks and the procedure will be over in two hours.”

“Really?”

“Absolutely.”

“I don't want to pry or anything, but have you been there for ... for this yourself?”

“You bet. I've been in this predicament three times, and each time I've gone to this clinic. They charge just $200 for the whole thing. There's some pain, but not much, and after it's over, just go home and sleep if off for a few hours.”

“Well, what about ...?”

“The guilt? Don't believe all that stuff. After all, this is YOUR reproductive problem. If men don't like it, screw them. They don't have to have the baby. Or have their jobs messed up. Or ruin their health and figures. THEY can talk about guilt -- and then walk out on their fat, dependent wives.”

Evette laughed. She was being silly. She got the Woman Health Clinic number from Sabrina and set up the appointment. They couldn't fit her in for three weeks. Evette sighed: Three weeks to feel rotten and think.

Meanwhile, she wondered what to do about Adam. “What do you think I should do?” she asked Sabrina.

“Well, personally, I think you should just cool it. I mean, what he doesn't know won't hurt him. He won't have to feel guilty about not wanting it and all that. So he won't be able to take it out on you. It's up to you. You know him.”

But finally, she did tell him. She was feeling miserable, bloated and nauseous. Adam wanted to invite friends over, and she was in no mood.

“Let's not, Adam. I don't feel well.”

“You haven't been feeling well for weeks, Evette. What's wrong? Maybe you should go to a doctor.”

“I don't have to, Adam. I know what's wrong. I'm pregnant.”

Adam stared at her. “What?”

“I'm pregnant.”

“How could you be pregnant? Aren't you still on the Pill?”

“Yes, I'm on the Pill, but I've forgotten it a couple of times -- which shouldn't make any difference -- but I guess it did. Anyway, I gave myself one of those tests, and I'm sure.”

“Oh, my God!” Adam sat down and held his head in his hands.

“Don't worry about it; I've already made the appointment for the abortion.”

“You have? I mean is that OK? Are you sure you want to do that?”

“I talked to Sabrina about it. She's been to this clinic before. She says it's over in a day with no hassle.”

“Well, maybe we ought to think about it . . . or something.”

“What's to think about? We don't need a baby right now. I'd have to postpone my bar exam and stay home for three months without pay. After that, I'd be tired and overworked. We wouldn't have any time together. The house wouldn't get finished. It...It would just ruin everything.”

“Yeh. But my mother sure would love it!” Adam said. They looked at each other and laughed.

“Mine, too,” Evette chuckled. “But we have to be sensible. They're not the ones who have to sacrifice for it. The world doesn't need people. And we don't need the problems. Right?”

“Right.”

So two weeks went by, the abortion was performed, and Evette recovered.

But, for some reason, it wasn't paradise. Adam and Evette threw themselves into their work with a vengeance that seemed like anger. The dog and cat both ran away. But Adam and Evette were too tired to care. Evette passed the bar exam and was named to a junior position in her firm with a substantial raise in pay. Adam was given a promotion, too, one that required travel and took him away from home frequently. The house that needed fixing didn't get fixed, so they put it on the market and moved into a rental condo. Most of their meals, they ate out -- with other people.

Finally, Evette asked for a divorce.

“This just isn't working out for us anymore, Adam. We've grown apart. You have your world; I have mine. I don't want to worry about scouring the toilet bowl anymore.” Adam shrugged. “You mean you're going to get a maid in your new life?” he asked sardonically.

“You know what I mean. I just want to worry about myself.”

“What about my mother?”

“What about her?”

“She doesn't believe in divorce.”

“She's Catholic, Adam. You can't expect her to understand anything.”

So Adam moved out of the condo and moved into an overpriced hotel. Evette stayed on -- and let the dust balls pile up. Sometimes it seemed like hell -- work, work, work and nothing to come home to.

Adam started drinking on his red-eye flights. Occasionally he made connections with a stewardess. But it seemed loveless, meaningless. If this wasn't hell, it definitely was purgatory.

The days turned into weeks, into months. And then came a day that mattered: Evette was fired from her job. A senior partner explained that she wasn't living up to her promise. How would she pay her rent? Or the grocery bill? She would have to call her parents. Adam was still technically her husband, but she'd rather die than ask him for anything. She called home.

“Evette, go see a priest,” her mother said.

“Mother, is that all you can say?” Evette fumed. “What's a priest going to do? Get me a job?”

“He'll tell you what's important, Evette. He'll help you stop worrying. He'll help you pray. Do it, Evette.”

“Well, bye, Mom, talk to you later. Oh, send me some money, will you? Ask Dad. Bye.”

Evette had absolutely no intention of seeing a priest. She went out for a walk and fumed at her mother's advice. But when she stopped walking, she was standing in front of her parish church. She shrugged: “Well, this is for you, Mom.”

Inside, the smell of candle wax, the stations of the cross, the two people praying in the pews made her catch her breath with nostalgia. She noticed the light was on outside the reconciliation room. She moved into a pew and took down the kneeler. A person emerged from Confession. Before she had a chance to think, she marched in. The priest was sitting there smiling at her. He motioned her to sit down. Evette was silent.

“Would you like to kneel behind the curtain?” he asked.

“No, that's OK. I'm here because my mother told me to come.”

“Good for your mother. Why don't you begin?”

Evette sighed. “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. My last confession was six years ago.”

“Go on.”

“I'm divorcing my husband.”

“Hmmm. Why is that?”

“We don't have time to be married.”

“You don't have time for love?”

Evette was taken aback. “I guess so. We don't have time for love.”

“Do you have time for loving God?”

“I don't believe in God.”

“No wonder you have no time for love. The world is lonely and cold without the love of God. Don't you think?”

“Yes.” Evette started to sniffle. “Yes, it is.”

The priest handed her the Kleenex box. Evette took a tissue and blew her nose.

“What else?” the priest asked.

“What else?”

“What other sins have you to confess?”

“I don't know. That's all I'm thinking about right now.”

“Is it?”

Evette couldn't bear to look at him. “What are you, a mind reader?”

“No, not a mind reader. Let's talk about what you have to confess.”

Evette sighed. “I guess you mean the abortion.”

“Let's talk about the abortion. Are you truly sorry?”

“No...well, sort of, yes. Everything went wrong after I had it.”

“So you feel sorry because everything went wrong?”

“Yes.”

“Why did everything go wrong?”

“I don't know. We thought we were doing the right thing. But afterward, everything fell apart. It seemed like we didn't love each other any more.” Evette cried into her hands. “We, we just started to avoid each other. I think we started hating each other.”

“Well, that's interesting, isn't it? You got the abortion to do what you call `the right thing.' But after you did it, it seemed to be the wrong thing. Of course, as a Catholic, you had to know abortion is completely wrong, that there are no reasons that make it right. And you have been hiding from those reasons. And hiding from God. Hiding from God is a full-time job. It leaves time for little else. And, worse, you know it is futile. Isn't that so?”

“Yes, Father.” Evette was nodding through her tears.

“So. You tell me now. Why was the abortion wrong?”

“Oh, I don't know....” Evette sobbed. “It was selfish. It was evil. It was . . .”

“What?”

“It was . . . murder!” Evette stared at the priest. “I never thought I would ever have to confess to murder!”

“Why didn't you come here before the abortion?” the priest asked.

“I didn't want your advice, Father. I didn't want any stupid, backward, religious advice. It was MY body, wasn't it?” Evette was almost screaming.

“If you had cut off your toe, would you be here?” the priest asked. “THAT would have been a part of your body.”

Evette stared at her fingernails and sobbed. “I don't know. I don't know. Everybody else thinks...it's OK. I just, well, I would probably still think it's OK if I was talking to them.”

“Ah. But you are not talking to them. You are talking to God. God isn't asking you to agree. God is TELLING you to agree. And he is showing you that you MUST agree or your life will continue to disintegrate. You cannot live by your own rules if they transgress the laws of God. To do so is a living death. This is what you have been feeling. . . a sickness unto death. Am I right?”

“Yes, I guess so.”

“So. You admit you have committed murder? Are you sorry for this sin?”

Evette raised her eyes, first to the priest, then to heaven and folded her hands. “Oh, yes, Father, I am sorry, so sorry, so sorry.”

“And you promise to avoid this sin again?”

“Yes.”

“For your penance, I want you to say the Rosary every day for two weeks. Each day, concentrate on the Glorious mysteries, the ones that remind you how much God loves you, how he pulls you to him in Faith and Hope through the power of the Holy Spirit and the prayers of the Blessed Mother. And then I want you to think about doing volunteer work for infants or children. Will you do that?”

“Yes, Father. Thank you, Father.”

“Do you remember the Act of Contrition?”

“Yes.”

“Say a good Act of Contrition.”

“O, my God, I am heartily sorry that I have offended Thee. I detest all my sins because of Thy just punishments but most of all because they have offended Thee, My God, who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.”

The priest put his hands on her trembling head and said the Act of Absolution.

“Go now, in peace. God blesses you; God has forgiven you.”

Evette stumbled out. She walked to the front of the church and sank into one of the pews, completely spent. There was a card in the hymnal pocket with the Rosary prayers printed on it. She said her first Rosary there, concentrating on every word and savoring her tears.

When she had completed five decades and the Hail, Holy Queen, she felt reluctant to go, and knelt in front of the Blessed Mother. "Thank you, Mother, my earthly mother, too." Walking back through the church, Evette felt like she was on the threshold of a new frontier. And while she was basking in this adventure, she noticed a young man, head in hands, waiting for the reconciliation room. He looked familiar to her. It couldn't be! But it was! Adam!

She stopped, but Adam didn't raise his head. And she passed by so as not to disturb him.

Tomorrow....

DIM VIEWS

The New Ways Ministry will offer a national symposium this spring in Pittsburgh, Pa., where prominent homosexual advocates, including Catholic prelates, will gather to celebrate the gay life. The symposium will feature three bishops and nearly two dozen leading gay propagandists, many of them clergy and religious and ex-priests and ex-nuns. The conference has been endorsed by 76 other Catholic organizations.

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REFERENCES

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Most Reverend Pierre DuMaine, D.D., Ph.D.
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| Catholic Tradition, Action & Counter-Revolution Web Page | The Neumann Press |

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LINK TO OTHER CATHOLIC RELATED DOCUMENTS

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