The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Friday, March 23, 2018

Tragedy and Joy

Down Syndrome is a genetic condition typified by the presence of an extra (third) chromosome 21 in the body's cells. Its cause is still unknown. It is usually not an inherited condition and occurs among all races, nationalities, and socio-economic groups. Although the chances of having a Down Syndrome baby increase with the age of the mother, younger mothers still give birth to the majority of Down Syndrome babies.

I suspect most of you reading these words know someone with Down Syndrome. I have known many in my life, and each has been a blessing to me and many others.

Sadly, though, because these children require additional care -- a euphemism for sacrifice -- the enlightened of our increasingly self-centered society believe Down Syndrome children are too inconvenient to live. They want all parents to enjoy the "good life" to the fullest. How can they do this if they must care for a child with special needs? And, of course, we cannot ignore the additional costs that must be borne by society. Wouldn't it be better and cheaper if these children were never born?

For example, Iceland, that small island nation in the North Atlantic with a population of only about 350,000 people, is very proud of the fact that it has eliminated Down Syndrome. That's right. According to the Icelandic government, no Down Syndrome babies are now born in Iceland.

How did they accomplish this? Simple. They killed them all before they were born by aborting them. And for this Iceland celebrates.

But there's more to the story. The people of Iceland celebrate these abortions with prayer cards. Yes indeed, according to an Icelandic pro-abortion, prenatal counselor, she gives parents "a prayer card with the footprints of an aborted baby. Parents can keep these footprints and prayer cards as a memento of their aborted child." This is so repugnant it is beyond comment and speaks for the depravity, the decadence of our modern Western Civilization. How far we have fallen since the days of Christendom. (For more, see this report: Iceland Kills 100% of Babies with Down Syndrome.)

Iceland is not alone. Most of Western Europe is following the same path. In Germany the growing abortion rate for Down Syndrome babies is causing some to make parallels with the Nazi policies of the past. (Read about it here.)

Sadly, we see similar policies in the United States where far too many Down Syndrome children meet their deaths through abortion. Pro-life political solutions are increasingly difficult to implement because the courts at all levels are so infected with a pro-death bias. Just last December the Ohio state legislature, in a rare act of political courage, passed a law, which Governor John Kasich signed, prohibiting the abortion of Down Syndrome babies.
Pro-Abortion Protestors in the Ohio Senate Chamber
The ACLU -- an organization dedicated to supporting the civil liberties of everyone except the unborn and Christians -- sued, claiming the law was unconstitutional. (Read more here.) The ACLU and its fellow travelers simply couldn't stand the idea that one of these little ones might actually be born. And, then, like a true member of the pro-death hive, U. S. District Court Judge Timothy S. Black agreed with the ACLU and blocked the law, calling it an invasion of privacy. Imagine that! To save the life of the most innocent among us has become an invasion of privacy.

Fortunately -- although I suspect too few will notice -- the Holy See has spoken explicitly about the attempts to eliminate Down Syndrome children through abortion, referring to it as a "great hate crime." (Read more here.)
Pope Francis and a Down Syndrome girl

That so many in our so-called civilized world wish that these children of God cease to exist is more than troubling. It is nothing less than a return to barbarism. Actually, barbarism is probably too kind a word since most barbarians would probably choose to cherish and not dispose of these beautiful souls.

Let me write briefly about one young man. I met Michael several years ago when he became one of our parish altar servers. But Diane and I really came to know Michael well when he and his mom, Judie, joined our Thursday team at the Wildwood Soup Kitchen. Michael's dad, Glenn, also joined this ministry when we needed someone to sweep and mop the floors at the end of the day, and Glenn volunteered. It became a true family affair. Dear Glenn returned to the Father just a few months ago, and we miss him dearly. But Michael's strong faith, the same childlike faith Jesus asks of all of us, gives him the assurance that his dad is now with his God interceding for his family. 
My good friend, Michael

I cannot imagine life without Michael. He is our source of joy at the Soup Kitchen. When he arrives with his mom for our second shift, he always seeks me out with a "Hi, Deacon!" followed by a welcome hug -- the very best medicine to relieve my occasional grumpiness.

Everyone at the Soup Kitchen, volunteers and guests, love Michael. How could we do otherwise? His ever-present smile, his cheerfulness, and his willingness to do anything asked of him has turned Thursday mornings into a special time for all of us.

I have come to realize that Michael's greatest gift is his ability to teach the rest of us. One morning, shortly after he and Judie joined our Thursday team, I asked Michael if he were having a good day. Of course he replied with an enthusiastic, "Yes!" And then Judie laughed and added, "For Michael, every day is a good day. He never has a bad one." Indeed, Michael views the world as a blessing and teaches us to strive to do the same.

I have always believed that the cultural war we are waging for life will not be won through political action. We may win the occasional skirmish in legislatures and courts, but because it is a spiritual war, ultimately it will be won only through the action of the Holy Spirit, "the Lord and giver of life." We must, therefore, pray constantly that God will enter and change the hearts of those who have embraced the culture of death.

Perhaps people like Frank Stephens, a man with Down Syndrome, can help the Spirit change those hearts. Take just a few minutes to watch the following video of his testimony before Congress:

And then there's Charlotte "Charlie" Fien, a 21-year-old British woman with Down Syndrome and autism, who recently delivered an impassioned plea to a United Nations group. A U.N. "expert" had just argued for the prenatal eradication of disabled children. The following video is Charlotte's moving response:

Thank you Frank; thank you, Charlotte; and thank you, Michael for showing us the way to the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Pray for life!

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