Jakubczyk on Life
Friday, October 25, 2013
I saw the movie short Crescendo last night. I had seen it many times previous and think it is a beautiful powerful artistic film. But last night’s viewing at the theater offered another opportunity to reflect on the pressures that people have affecting their lives and how their own particular sense of God plays a role in how they respond to such pressures.
I look at myself as an example. When the going gets tough, really tough, I fall on my knees, sometimes literally and beg for help. I have learned over these last fifty plus yeas that I cannot do it alone. I may come across as – well whatever – but the truth is, that I need Him and His presence when the daily pressures of life and work bear down on me.
And to be blunt, sometimes He leaves me hanging – just to help me understand how dependent we all are on Him and His grace. There are those moments when I can plainly see my own ineptness and confusion. There are times when the frustration is overwhelming. But deep down I know He is there and that He will never abandon me.
So I ache when I think of those women and sometimes men who facing the unexpected pregnancy feel so alone and confused. The lack of support or perhaps just the concrete needs that have to be met on a daily basis can be oppressive. And in a fractured society that we currently observe, who is there to help them?
The truth is that we – you and I – should be there these young mothers for they are “our neighbor.”
To truly live the Gospel, we are to be His hands and feet, His arms of loving embrace, His words of soothing support.
The good news is that the pro-life movement at the grass roots is doing just that every day. The pregnancy resource centers offer real hands on hope and help to those women in need. Maternity homes such as Maggie’s place provide real concrete places for young mother to stay. Of course the demand is great and the current resources are always tapped. These places need our financial assistance.
Then again so do the pregnancy centers. That is why films like Crescendo offer us an opportunity to help these centers and at the same time provide a means to spread the message that every life has meaning and purpose. Perhaps you have the connections to get this film on your campus or at your church. If you are in college, you can partner with Students for Life in their efforts to bring the film to university campuses throughout the country. If you have a pregnancy center that you would like to support, perhaps you can sponsor a theater showing to raise awareness. There are so many ways that you can help.
If we can offer alternatives, women will choose life. We need to get the message out. There is a better way.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Pelosi's bizarre position on abortion
After Nancy Pelosi's latest bizarre reaction to a question from a reporter concerning the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act sponsored by Arizona congressman Trent Franks, I received a number of inquiries asking my reaction. The following reflects an email sent to a friend explaining my thoughts on the matter.
Our final purpose in life is the continued presence before our loving God and the work of our life is to live in such a way as to proclaim the Gospel drawing all people toward Christ. We are to be reflections of His love. However we also have a duty and responsibility not to allow blatant error and sin lead others astray. Our Lord has very stern words for those who lead His children astray. Our responsibility is to shepherd the lost back to the fold and that applies whether we are clergy or laity.That being said for some time Nancy Pelosi has been given a “pass” when it comes to her strident and almost bizarre handling of the abortion issue. Not content to play the Mario Cuomo card that lead so many politicians down the road to perdition, she presumes to lecture clergy, laity, theologians and the public on the teachings of the Church.Her heresy of “choice” which elevates a misinformed conscience above the Magisterium is the most egregious of her misdeeds. How many “Catholics” who otherwise would be open to fraternal correction and restoration are seduced by her propaganda. It is worse that the press will give her credence while ignoring those courageous bishops who have made clear the Church’s teaching on the dignity of the human person and the requirement that the law and governmental agencies protect the right to life of all persons.With the continued erosion of the collective conscience, it is apparent to me that publicly known scandalizing Catholics must be made to account. Pelosi, Durbin, Andrew Cuomo and others who wrap themselves up in cultural Catholicism in order to pander for votes while publicly dissenting from the most fundamental of God’s law – the proscription against murder – must be told that they are not in communion with the Church. For while it may be one thing to sin in “private,” it is quite another to announce to the world that one intends to do evil and ignore the teachings of the church one claims to embrace.Her soul is in peril. And we have a duty to rescue it from death – just as we seek to rescue the innocent from death.If she is our sister in Christ, we do not want her going the way of Judas, but the way of Mary of Magdela, who as a result of her sorrow for her sins, was given the privilege of being the one who told the apostles of the Risen Christ.It is my prayer that she would repent and become a witness for Life, a witness for hope, and a witness of the means of repentance.But someone must address the realities of life to her, lest she die in her sin.
The continued assault upon the Church will not let up as long as Catholics allow this type of response from a "Catholic' politician to continue. Recalling the words of Ezechiel, each of us must be mindful of our duty to our brother or sister who remains in persistent sin.
Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved. ( Ezechiel 33:7-9)For it is not only the unborn child, his or her mother, or the father to whom we owe a duty. It is to our brother or sister who refuses to respect the dignity of the human person. We have a responsibility to tell them the truth,the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Once we have done our duty, then we can allow for their conscience, perhaps moved by the truth to inspire them to repentance.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Habemus Papam - We have a pope - FrancisFew of us really understand the life of St. Francis, the young man who renounced everything for the kingdom - in a sense redeeming the life of the rich young man in the Gospel story who just could not bear to leave all to follow Christ. We think of Francis as someone who had this affinity to animals, who was kind and gentle, who had a preference for the poor. And all of this is true. But Francis had a side in him that was steel, a deeply held belief in the power and mercy of God that made him fearless and bold. For this Francis was the same man who went to the Middle East to converse with and hopefully convert the sultan in an effort to end the bloody violence between Christian and Moor. While unsuccessful, he nevertheless revealed a tenacity that would serve the order he was in the process of forming. Such a strength was needed as he set about to be God's instrument to reform and rebuild God's Church.
Such were my thoughts upon the election of the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Here one finds a truly humble recipient of God's grace in action. Here one finds a man of courage and conviction,who lives his vocation in the very simplicity of the Gospel - by example - all the while exhorting us to come, follow Jesus.
He reminds me of the Bishop of Digne, the character in Victor Hugo's classic, Les Miserables. The bishop was a humble man, yet one of tremendous courage. He arrived in town and eschewed the huge bishop's palace and instead chose the humble building next door. He gave the palace to the hospital so it could serve the poor, the sick and the elderly. The chapter goes into great detail on the bishop's pastoral approach, his sense of prayer, his generosity to the poor, and his loyalty to the truth of the Gospel. Thus the reader fully appreciates the charity of the bishop toward Jean Valjean in the momentous scene when he claims Valjean's soul for God.
Perhaps this Successor of St. Peter can do the same for this forsaken and lost world. Perhaps the broken and forgotten, the sick and the outcast will see the gentle and healing touch of Christ in our new Peter. Perhaps the emptiness and the broken promises of the world's temptations will be rejected for the living and merciful embrace of the one true Church. We can only hope.
In Francis one will find a champion for the poor, the forgotten, the oppressed, the unborn, the elderly and the marginalized. Francis will defend the right to life and the dignity of marriage as found in nature and revealed by God. He will support the rights of conscience and the rights of parents to raise and educate their children consistent with their duty as parents. There will be no equivocation with teaching the truth. for only the truth can set us free.
Only in Christ will my soul be at rest. In Him is my hope and salvation. If all those who are so worried about everything will think - first, I must be reconciled to God and to His perfect will, then God can act through us in a mighty way. And just as Valjean was transformed by the grace of God through the gentle but honest counsel of the bishop, so each of us, together, can be instruments of God's grace and mercy to a broken and hurting world.
Let us pray for our pope. May God watch over Francis and give him all the grace needed to be a sign of Christ's redemptive love. Amen.
Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Michael Schwartz - Warrior HeroOver the weekend a good man died. Michael Schwartz passed into his eternal rest on Sunday February 3, 2013. For those of us who have known this "happy warrior" as our friend Bob Morrison called him, it is a bittersweet time. Mike was suffering form ALS, commonly known as Lou Gehrrig's disease, It is a painful disease and Mike suffered silently these last years as his body slowly shut down. Yet Mike was always the fighter and never did he complain to us. He was always thinking up new ideas and strategies to advance the culture of life. So in his passing, he has completed the race; he has kept the faith; he has won the prize. I believe that he is with the Lord of life whom he loved so much and for whom he truly lived his life. His boss, Senator Tom Coburn offered a moving tribute on the Senate floor last fall that can be viewed at this link.
I do not quite remember the first time I met Mike. It seems that I have known him my entire adult life. I do remember one of those early times. He was working over at Free Congress and we decided to go to mass at St. Joseph's Church over on the U.S. Senate side of Capitol Hill. He was so very good at integrating the Catholic understanding and approach to life with his work and in his conversations. I learned so much from him. As the years went by I made it a point to introduce new members of the pro-life community to Mike. I instructed aides who worked for other congressmen to contact Mike and learn as much as they could from him. Mike was always generous with his time and his advice. He always had time to explain to some new young lawyer the intricacies of the process of government. Later as he worked in Senator Coburn's office as his chief of staff, it was a regular event whenever in DC for me to bring some young pro-life aide or law student or intern to meet this warrior hero and become acquainted. Mike never tired of meeting the next generation of pro-life leaders and always had a word of wisdom especially appropriate for these young persons.
Because Mike was an avid reader, he was always full of ideas. He refused to be conventional in his thinking on how to end the scourge of abortion. He had no patience for the equivocators and the compromisers in the movement. Yet as a strategist, he was disciplined enough not to waste efforts on losing battles. He knew it would be a long fight and he looked for innovative ways to defeat the enemies of life
As a man, a father and a husband, he was a fierce defender of the family. One could not repeat his distaste for those who would throw traditional values regarding marriage and family life under the bus for political gain. As much as he always was a gentleman, Mike was no wimp and his visible frustration for those who undercut the movement over the years was seen and heard in his strong statements at many a private meeting.
Yet as tenacious a warrior for the pro-life cause, Mike was as caring and loving of those who were victims of the attack on life as any man I know. He supported the pregnancy centers calling them the proof of our real concern for the mother and her child. He supported efforts to raise awareness of the need to help women who were post abortive, so that they would find God's tender mercy through the outreach of pro-life centers. He encouraged priests, bishops, rabbis and ministers to extend the hand of compassion for those touched by the tragic shadow of abortion.
We often spoke of the need for pro-life leaders to work together and support one another, to put aside petty disagreements and selfish interests. Perhaps that was an impossible wish in Washington, DC, where the selfish interests of many rule the day, where political power is more important than integrity. But Mike never stopped hoping that things could be better. Every day he made the effort to do something that would advance the cause of life.
As we grew older we both took a special pride in our children and later grandchildren. There is now a tradition in my family that when a child becomes a senior, I will take that child to DC in January for the March for Life. Mike was especially impressed with my daughter Jamie, who I brought to DC not only for the March but also an NRLC Proudly Pro-Life dinner. Mike peppered her with questions and the two of them had a lively discussion. As the years went by after Jamie got married, I would show him pictures of her children and he would show me pictures of his grandchildren. He was happy when I told him my other daughter got married and later when she was pregnant. He truly enjoyed hearing about the good things that were happening in one's life. We shared some very happy moments.
As the pro-life movement continues to grow and mature, L pray we take a lesson from the life of Michael Schwartz. Just as we have seen some other heroes such as Nellie Gray and Mildred Jefferson pass on after leaving their mark, let us remember that one characteristic embodied them all - a genuine love for their fellow brothers and sisters. They truly cared about mankind. Mankind was their business to paraphrase Dickens. . and Michael Schwartz throughout his life cared about those defenseless little ones in a way that we should all emulate. Let us then re-commit ourselves to the cause for which he gave the last full measure of his devotion. Let us make him proud. Let us win this battle. Let us restore protection for all persons. Let us end the killing and build a culture of life.