Saturday, July 21, 2012

Understanding the motivation and feelings of a Pro-Life Organizer

This very touching posting was submitted to this blog on the day before Christmas, 2011 by a friend and medical sonographer Mike Stack (he has done ultrasound exams for thousands of pregnant women).  At that time I replied to Mike that the topic of abortion was too politically charged for this particular blog, which is trying to present the real life stories of Christians to web surfers who are curious about us Christians, and want to see what makes us tick without feeling hit over the head with salesmanship or rhetoric, even if the writer was not intending to hit anyone over the head.  Mike explained that he was not trying to push his ideas on anyone, but he did want the freedom to be able to explain his true thoughts and feelings in an unfiltered way.  

It’s been half a year and I’ve softened on the idea of including this posting here, and have decided to print it as is.  If you’re a staunch pro-abortionist, you can just not read it.  I think the value of it for curious web-surfers is to see the emotions and motivations that underlie a pro-lifer’s strong position.  You want to know what makes us tick?  Here’s what makes Mike tick (when it comes to the pro-life topic).  One thing that can make this entry more understandable is to know that Mike and virtually all pro-lifers start from the following position: 
1.  That a fetus is a living human, not just a but of flesh within a woman.
2.  That God is read, and that He also sees a fetus as a living human.

If you can imagine yourself standing in that same position, and stay in that position for the 4 minutes it takes to read this, then you’ll feel what Mike feels.

"A voice is heard in Ramah, 
weeping and great mourning, 
Rachel weeping for her children 
and refusing to be comforted, 
because they are no more."

A little piece of my heart

A little piece of my heart is wounded each time we are unable to help a woman turn from her plan to abort the tiny human life within her womb. As an Ultrasound Technician for the past 35 years, I have had the honor of witnessing the work of the Lord, in the womb. “I knit you together in your Mother’s womb…” Psalm 139:13. I have seen and documented the development of tiny humans as they progress through different stages of their lives. “You were made in My image” Genesis 1:27 “You are fearfully and wonderfully made” Psalms 139:14. “Even the very hairs on your head are numbered” Matthew 10:29-31. I have watched the children jump and stretch, stick their tongues out, yawn, suck their thumb, show me if they’re a boy or girl, listen their heart beat, measure their bones and waist size. I have been privileged to watch their growth through the various stages of human development and share that view with their parents and our Creator. I can’t help but be attached to them, because I know them; I have seen and heard them. I have watched them play.

Many Post Abortion women have commented that a piece of their heart died with their aborted child, just like any parent that looses a child. It doesn’t matter what stage of development. What matters is that those that have lost a child have a deep grief. Grief that is made worse when it is a secret, when there is no support for your grieving, no memorial, no family gathering. It’s as if the child never existed. The survivors of the abortion try to go on with their lives as if this child did not exist. For many women and men this causes a festering wound that must be kept secret, the pain denied, until they are desperate enough to seek healing.

I found myself in a similar, secret (hidden) grieving place and didn’t know where to turn for help.

I am certainly moved by both the joy and the sorrow of the outcome following the Ultrasound at the Crisis Pregnancy where I volunteer. The Joy part is great. When we save a little one I’m reminded of the parable of the good Shepard, how our Father values each and every one of us (especially the lost ones). When we lose one of these little ones it is hard to express the depth of my grief. These children touch my heart as I view them on the Ultrasound screen. A little piece of my heart dies each time we are unable to help the mother see her way to giving birth.

 I found the place to turn to when I attended a Post-abortion recovery weekend retreat (Rachael’s Vineyard). To my surprise the grief I had been carrying came forth in uncontrolled, sobbing tears. I was grieving the loss of so many children I had come to know. I knew the torment that they went through and I knew of the pain that their parents were dealing with. With the other participants I went through the grieving and recovery process. Representing the children who I grieve, I picked names for them and memorialized their brief life on earth. I received a certificate of Life for Tanisha, Jawan, Bridget, Lawanda, Keesha, Brendan, Anton, Thomas, Joseph and Andrew. I entrust these children to the creator of life, recognizing the dignity and gift of each and every one of them.

I join the voices of those that are Silent No More.

Mike Stack MEV

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Unusual coincidence inspires young lady to produce a play by the former Pope

Danielle and Co-Star Daniel Hennessey
A few months ago, Danielle Center, 25, an administrative assistant in the Detroit Archdiocesan Office of Digital Media, was considering doing a production of the play “The Jeweler’s Shop”, a play written in 1960 by Karol Wojtyla, the Polish priest who would later become Pope John Paul II.  She was still undecided when she went to a Lenten retreat in Chicago, which includes the opportunity to go to Confession.

“When I left for the retreat I wondered if I should pray about the play while on retreat and decided against praying. I felt that I would rather just go into the retreat with an open mind and heart to whatever messages God wanted to send my way,” she said.  

“So, there I was, waiting for my turn to confess, examination of conscience in hand. For some reason, the fellow next to me began chatting about his life in Toronto, and we discovered we both enjoyed theatre. I posed the question, ‘If you were to perform any play with your friends, what play would it be?’

“In the next breath, he turned and said, ‘Without a doubt, “The Jeweler’s Shop.”’ And then I laughed and told him I was taking this conversation as a sign and that I would look into performing that very show this summer,” Center recounted, not without a little embarrassment about laughing while in line for confession.

The wedding dance as seen by the audience.
Note blogger Bill Schaef (me) in upper RH corner in red shirt.
“I still find it humorous: a man from Toronto sits next to a girl from Detroit in Chicago in line for confession! The odds are so slim it can only have been divinely inspired, right?” she mused.

After the retreat, she followed through and began producing the play.  It was performed at St. Dennis Church in Royal Oak, Michigan on July 13 and 14, 2012.

This story posted with permission from Danielle Center.

The Murderer who became a Nun

This story submitted by Dan Fedder, Oakland County, Michigan.  Not his real last name. I know him from a Men's Fellowship.

I have been part of a volunteer prison ministry for years at a prison in Washtenaw County, Michigan.  While there, I met a woman that everyone knew only as “Granny”.  She had been in prison for 42 years, and was serving a life sentence without parole for a murder she committed when she was a very young woman.  Only in the past year did I discover what her real name was, but for her sake, I won’t share it here.

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, in her waning days in office (end of 2010) introduced a program which commuted the sentence of certain non-violent offenders serving life sentences.  Their sentence would be set to equal their time served.  Only a small percentage of those who applied for commutation under their program were granted release  Granny was one of them.

In the Michigan Department of Corrections, freed prisoners don’t usually just walk out the front door to a waiting car to go home.  There is usually a stop at a “halfway house,” a supervised facility that verifies the inmate’s readiness for release, and assists them in adjusting to life outside the regimented world of prison. 

Granny was sent to a halfway house in Saginaw that is run by a group of Dominican nuns. When she reported there to start her probationary period, the nun in charge said, “You have to do something to earn your keep here, so you’ll cook for us.  We heard you were a cook for most of the time you were in prison.”
When her probationary period was up, Granny decided she liked it in this place and decided to stay.  She took her solemn vows to become a nun.  Today she is still a nun, serving God and his people.
Dan Fedder

God’s Words inspire an ex married couple to turn their hate into friendship

This a story about how God’s words can completely change a relationship between two people.  It was submitted by Deacon Dan Fedder (not his real last name) of Oakland County, Michigan.

My mother and father had a horribly messy divorce in 1985. Like so many others of their generation, the marriage was one of convenience, based far more on an exchange of services (e.g. housekeeping for a paycheck)  Never in my memory did they have what you could define as a happy or loving relationship.  There were many confrontations over the years, some of them violent.
Christmas day, 1984 was a fight for the record books.  My wife Pat and I arrived at my parents’ house mid-afternoon.  Usually Dad didn’t drink until the afternoon, which is one of reasons he got away with his drinking for so many years.  Uncharacteristically on this day, he was fully “in the bag” by 3pm.  He and my brother got into an argument over something that was truly silly:  whether my 18 yr old, college freshman brother, would eat his vegetables.  That was enough to set my mother off, and the fight that ensued was ugly and violent to the point that we felt that we had to get my mother out of the house for her own safety.   We did.  She left,and  did not go back until she had a court order in hand to throw him out of house and let her back in. 
Flash forward to Thanksgiving Day, 1999.  My mother had been estranged from the church since the divorce.  She believed that divorced people were excommunicated and not welcome.  So she hadn’t been to church in a very long time.  On Thanksgiving morning I was getting ready to go to Mass at Holy Spirit Parish in Pittsburgh, where I had attended since childhood.  My mother surprised me and asked if could go along.  You could have knocked me over with a feather.
About 15 minutes before Mass time, Dad walked in with his wife, Esther.
The G-rated version of what I thought to myself was “Whoa boy, nothing good is going to come from that.”
Father Dan Valentine
We knelt and prayed.  Mass started.  The priest, Father Dan Valentine, was the celebrant that day.  He is a retired military chaplain with a Doctorate of Divinity in Sacred Scripture, and a truly inspired and inspirational speaker .  He talked about how his family did Thanksgiving when he was growing up.  They’d sit down to a huge Thanksgiving dinner, and afterwards there would “Always be a big fight.”  At that point I stopped in my tracks, thinking, “How do you know this?  You didn’t grow up in my family.”  Then Father Dan talked about God’s will that we make the effort to heal wounds, forgive each other, and let bygones be bygones.  It was very well said, very inspiring.  The Holy Spirit was definitely moving there. We all felt it.
When Mass ended, my Dad came up to me. Esther came up to Mom separately and exchanged basic pleasantries.  After a while, my mother said to Esther,” I’m having a second Thanksgiving dinner on Saturday night.  Why don’t you and Frank come?”  She agreed.  Again, I couldn’t believe my eyes or ears.   From the time of the divorce until that day , my parents had been unable to tolerate even being in same room together. 
So we sat down to our second Thanksgiving dinner.  It was the most pleasant Thanksgiving dinner I could remember up to that point, and I was 31 years old then.  The end of evening came.  We all were putting on coats to go our separate ways, when I happened to notice that my Dad and Mother were still sitting in the dining room alone.  My sister leaned over and said to me, “Oh boy, here it comes!”  We both were thinking, “We’re going to witness the next big fight.” 
It wasn’t that at all.  My Dad by that time had several years of Alcoholics Anonymous sobriety behind him.  He apologized to my mother for all he did.  Realize that prior to this, my Dad didn’t apologize to anyone, let alone my mother.  She accepted.  The family healed that day. 
That became the first of many happy Thanksgiving & Christmas experiences, and up to the point when my mother left into dementia, they had a civilized relationship.  I’d go so far as to say they had become friends. 
There was a point when my mother went into assisted living, and she apologized to him for all she had done to him, which I thought would never happen.  Because being a stubborn old Irish woman, apologies were not part of her normal routine.
I tell this story in the hope that it will change some minds about forgiveness.  If there is someone in your life you haven’t spoken to in a long time because you have hurt them or they have hurt you, reach out an olive branch.  You don’t know if you don’t try.
I am a Deacon, and I tell this story of God being able to inspire forgiveness every Thanksgiving as part of my homily.  I have never told that story as a deacon when someone didn’t come up to me afterwards and say “I know what I have to do now.”

Deacon Dan Fedder

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Unusual reaction to buying a new car – from a Christian perspective

Bill Griffin and New 2012 Ford Focus

We / I got a new car this past Saturday.  It’s the one I’ll be using, but it belongs to my wife and I.  It’s only the third new car either of us has had, so it should be an experience that comes across as really special.  But I’m noticing that despite the cool new features… Ford Sync voice activation where I can tell it to “Call Mary” or “Get Directions”, the cool body styling, the smooth transmission and acceleration, the leather seats, the on-dash multi-purpose displays, the great gas mileage,…  I’m finding myself only moderately excited for it.   I have not had the urge to show it off to my friends or bring it up in the first few minutes of conversation at work so that I can brag about it.  Sure, I’m informing the people who’d known I was shopping, so that they are in the loop.  But not much more. 

I’m understanding this “underwhelmed” reaction from a Christian point of view… it’s a point of view that is filtering into just about every area of my life now. 

I’m seeing the value of an activity or object from the viewpoint of God looking down on us.  I simply don’t see the introduction of a new car into our family as aiding in our spiritual development or bringing others to love God more.  Nor do I think it hurts.   Just neutral.

Bill Griffin and Old 1998 Mercury Sable
If anything, I think that by giving up my 15-year-old beaten-up Mercury Sable has meant I have lost one tool to help me exercise daily humility – a Christian merit.  

By contrast to my non-reaction to getting a new car, I’m finding that I’m having a remarkably positive reaction to meeting with some other men in my age bracket at work and in my neighborhood to discuss how we can understand God more clearly, and live as He would like us to.  Has become very real for me.  Seeing good growth.

Bill Griffin
Royal Oak, Michigan