I was brought up in the Catholic faith. My mom enrolled me in Catholic school from the first through the twelfth grade. I was baptized at All Saints Church by Father John Perusina and my Aunt Polly was my godmother. I partook of the sacrament of Holy Communion in the second grade at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church. Shortly before that grand day I made my first confession. In the fourth grade at the same church I was confirmed as a Catholic. I think that my Aunt Valeria was my sponsor. My husband Mike (also a Catholic) and I were married in a ceremony conducted by the same priest who had baptized me. There are two more sacraments in my religion and one of them is Holy Orders which is used to ordain priests and the other is the Anointing of the Sick which used to be known as the last rites.
I’ve remained a believer for all of my life but admittedly slacked here and there with regard to attendance at mass on Sundays, particularly during my hectic working days. Sometimes I needed a day to sleep in and relax around the house just to be able to face my students with energy and enthusiasm on Monday morning. I’m a cradle Catholic who became a bit lazy at time but always returned to the fold even when I differed with some of the teachings. For example I think it’s well past time to allow women and married persons to become priests. I’ve also been rather liberal in my thoughts regarding birth control and I think that gay and lesbian folk should be able to marry and enjoy their lives.
I learned the ten commandments when I was little more than seven years old. During my twelve years of Catholic education my teachers went more and more into depth with explanations of the scriptures and foundational tenets of the Church. My high school theology classes were rather adult in content and in the questions that we asked the priests who taught us. I learned that there was a bit more flexibility with regard to how I should live my faith than the black and white reasoning that guided me as a child. I fudged now and again with “little white lies” but did my best to avoid those that mark one as dishonest and hurtful. I suppose that I self guided my behavior by referring to all that I had learned in those twelve years of my youth.
I once stole fifty cents and felt the sting of guilt for that transgression for years mostly because I had taken from a dear friend. I changed my ways after that and never again took anything that was not mine. I’ve been faithful in my friendships and my vows to my husband. My imperfections come mostly from anger, jealousy, self righteousness. I do my best to be the kind of person I want others to be and admit that I fall short of my high minded ideas more often than like. I’ve crossed a few lines and felt the sting of culpability after that fact but there are some things that I can never do.
Murder is the ultimate sin and for me it takes more forms than the obvious one of killing another person. I have witnessed the destruction of an innocent individual’s reputation and I believe such is a kind of murder in its own right. It is a foul thing to do and I abhor such an act. There is also a form of emotional murder that abuses with words that kill someone’s spirit, leaving them to feel as though their souls are dead. I have seen parents and spouses who taunt a person that they should love until the victim is emptied of all joy.
Our country is presently engaged in a debate over abortion that I view as being cloaked in dangerous semantics. The pro choice side speaks of rights, women’s health, protection of individuals. The pro life advocates see the taking of the life of an unborn child as murder of a human being. I’ve thought long and hard about this issue and I have come to the conclusion that abortion is not a form of birth control but is indeed murder just as my church teaches.
One often used argument in favor of abortion implies that pro life supporters are willing to endanger a woman’s life over that of her unborn child. I learned long ago from the priest who taught me that the stance of the church is to save the mother in such situations which are generally somewhat rare. Nobody has ever said that a woman must sacrifice her own life and I know this because I have heard many such discussions in my high school theology classes as well as with the priest who baptized me.
We are presently concerned about a virus which poses the possibility of killing a significant portion of the world’s population unless we keep it at bay. Everyone is working hard to do everything possible to contain the spread of the disease. Worldwide society values life including that of our animal kingdom and our earth itself. Somehow many have convinced themselves that an unborn life is not worthy of our concern. They proclaim that a being unable to take care of itself without human intervention is not really a person. Such logic flies in the face of all that I believe and it pains me to think of the millions of babies that have needlessly died. To me the evil that has perpetrated this crime is as bad as the one that found no harm in slavery or the genocide of millions of people based solely on physical traits or beliefs. How can we twist the truth to the point of making villains of those who would protect the unborn and heroes of those who see fetuses as little more than cells?
There was a time when I had a laissez faire attitude about abortion. I felt that it was wrong for me but I was unwilling to publicly take a stance. I viewed the issue as one that should be decided quietly by each individual. To my horror I have watched as our laws have become more and more lax regarding how and when abortions may occur. I have heard people argue that it should never really too late to end a pregnancy right up to the moment of birth. I have seen that by my silence I have been complicit in the growth of the acceptance of abortion as a good and humane way of allowing women to enjoy control over their own destinies. When I said nothing I allowed the popular attitudes to lean in favor of an act that I believe to be harmful to all of society. The genie is so far out of the bottle that I worry that we may never be able to put it back. I helped in the crossing of a very dangerous line because I was unwilling to stand up for something that I believed to be wrong.
I still do not wish to judge others but I think that I need to let those who make our laws know how many of us there are who firmly believe that abortion is an abomination. It is my duty to work to find viable alternatives for women who find themselves bearing an unwanted child. They need those of us who abhor abortion to support them in compassionate and practical ways. It should be my duty to help end this barbaric practice with kindness, love, and workable solutions. I can longer hide behind silence. Acting as though it doesn’t matter one way or another is the line that I no longer want to cross.