Shae O'Brien is an English teacher, writer, wife, and mother to three beautiful girls. She takes life with a grain of salt and two spoonfuls of sugar! Please be sure to follow her on www.facebook.com/catholicmamablog.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Every Life is a Gift: Why I Don't March

Today is the international March for Life Day. It is very well known among Catholics as the Day in which we stand up for those who cannot--the lives of millions of babies lost to abortion. January 22nd is the date that the infamous Roe vs. Wade decision was made, which made abortion legal in the United States. Even the Pope has spoken up on behalf of this day to show support for this demonstration of the appreciation of life.

So, I am sure at this point that my title is cause for some confusion. If I am indeed a Catholic (as my blog title suggests) and I support life (which my past posts regarding Natural Family Planning and three children suggest) then why wouldn't I march?

On this day, millions around the world think about and pray for the little lives lost through abortion. Millions of people talk about what the world missed out on by the taking of these lives, how we will never know the potential those lives held for our future, who they would have become and the worth they had. Everyone talks about the babies...What people don't talk about is the slightly smaller, yet no less important, group that is also thinking about these babies. The group made up of the incredible, strong, beautiful women who faced what they believed was an impossible decision. The group of women who had no one to confide in for fear of judgment and scorn, who believed choosing life for one child may mean an inability to care for the other three, who had no support or education or financial stability to encourage a different decision, who didn't have a choice when the child was made, who believed their child would face the same abuse they did, who chose life when they knew a pregnancy would have killed them. These women are out there today, watching the news and reading the social media articles. They are getting the message loud and clear: EVERY LIFE IS A GIFT.

But when is the last time someone told them that they are a gift, too?

I know...too many women who have gone through an abortion. Friends, loved ones, family members. They aren't murderers. They aren't evil. They are people who continue to act out of love every day toward the people in their lives, their children, their friends, even strangers. They are beautiful beings, and I am incredibly grateful for their existence. Yes, their existence resulted in another life being taken from this world. I also happen to know that their existence has resulted in lives remaining in this world, in lives being enhanced and appreciated and loved. They have made my life better, my world a better place, and it breaks my heart that movements like #marchforlife too often trivialize these women's lives or motives or souls....somehow these women become the enemy.

And why? Why do we find it so important to place the blame, mold the villain, and sharpen the stakes against these women? Is it not bad enough that they had to face such circumstances, such a choice, such judgment, that now they must also hear time and time again the condemnation of the very God that made them?

I cannot march. Every time I think about the marches, the protests, and the demonstrations, I think of the women I know and love and wonder if anyone has told them lately that they matter, that they have worth, that they are more than one moment and one choice. I cannot march. Instead, I pray. I pray for the lives taken through the act of abortion. I pray for the women who thought they had no choice. I pray for the women who continue to feel shame and have no support to help them overcome it. I pray for the women I know and love, that they know they are a gift. Because they are. They are an incredible gift. And perhaps the more we share that message, the more we can work toward changing an attitude that outcasts the broken. Because as broken as they may be to us, they are a priceless gift to God.

**If you or someone you know has experienced an abortion, Rachel's Hope is an organization created to provide support and healing to those in need. Please feel free to visit http://www.rachelshope.org/ **

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Je Suis Catholique. Je Suis Charlie.

I took five years of French in school. I am embarrassed to say I didn't learn much, but grateful today to know this: Je suis désolé. 

My heart broke with sadness yesterday morning over news of the horrible tragedy that took place in Paris. No one deserves such an ending to life, and surely not those who spent their lives as advocates for freedom in this world. Not everyone may agree with their opinions or choices, but as an American I assumed we would all agree that mass murdering those who simply stood up for their freedom to speak is wrong in every way. 

Sadly, it turns out this was not the case. A friend of mine posted an article on his social media page that deeply disheartened me, both as an American and as a Catholic. I am deeply offended and ashamed to say that it was published on www.catholicleague.org. The Catholic League states that the organization is "motivated by the letter and the spirit of the First Amendment" and "the Catholic League works to safeguard both the religious freedom rights and the free speech rights of Catholics". I think it is an important and courageous fight to advocate for freedom of speech, especially if and when believing in that freedom means standing up for those you disagree with. However, according to this article, The Catholic League seems to only support freedom of speech they agree with. 

The author of this article, Bill Donohue, discussed the topics addressed in Charlie Hebdo and mentioned its "disgusting record of going way beyond the mere lampooning of public figures". He then went on to discuss the death of Stephane Charbonnier, saying, "It is too bad that he didn’t understand the role he played in his tragic death." What role was this, you may ask? "Had he not been so narcissistic, he may still be alive," Donohue wrote. 

(Photo from https://twitter.com/anggun_cipta/status/553049013168386048)

Let me be clear: acts of violence and terrorism are never deserved by its victims. Rape is not caused by provocative clothing. Domestic violence is not caused by an inadequate spouse. And mass murder in the name of God is not caused by the victim's attitude, opinions, or behavior. We, as Catholics, should not be looking to blame those tragically taken from us yesterday. We should be angry that any person would kill in the name of God and use religion as a weapon instead of an instrument of peace. We should be angry at those who would do harm for any reason, especially under the farce of a faithful spirit. Those terrorists yesterday did not commit actions from a spirit of faith but a mind of insanity, and I ask that all Catholics stand up against this violence instead of making excuses for it. 

Today is a day of mourning for the tragedy against Charlie Hebdo. I will be praying and mourning with Paris. Je suis Catholique. Je suis Charlie.