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This coming week we celebrate two big events within our parish community. While I am hoping that no one guessed the Minnesota State Fishing Opener, I am also wise enough to know not to enter into this annual debate; instead, I will leave this discussion up to each family and be the eternal optimist and believe that everyone guessed Mother’s Day and Confirmation.

Do you realize that these two celebrations actually have something important in common? Quite simply, both celebrations involve an individual making a conscious choice — one to be a parent and the other to be a Catholic.

Mother’s Day involves the celebration of both our mothers; namely, our birth mother and the mother who raised us. For most of us these roles were handled by one person; and yet, this is not always the case. In fact, some people had numerous women who guided their formative years. Before a debate begins, we have to acknowledge that all women have the potential to bring a child into the world. This can be done with little or no thought or planning. Regardless of the details of our creation, on Mother’s Day each of us should celebrate our birth mother, whether she was/is a saint or a sinner, we would not be here on this earth if not for her choice to allow us to be born. In addition, we should honor the woman/women who made the commitment to help raise us. Clearly, conscious choices have been made by the mother(s) in our lives — whether they are birth mothers, step mothers, foster mothers, or simply women who have played a formative role in our development — on Mother’s Day we honor these women. Therefore, be sure to offer up a prayer of thanksgiving for the mother(s) in your life.

The Sacrament of Confirmation will be celebrated this Monday, May 12th at the Cathedral of St. Paul with some forty of our 9th grade students. This will be the first time in the lives of these young people that they will have the opportunity to confirm the decision their parents and godparents made to bring them into our Catholic/Christian faith. Each student will be completing their formal education; that is, the Church will no longer require that they participate in our formation programs. While we hope they will continue to involve themselves in our various education and service opportunities, now the decision is up to them. (Of course, when I grew up my parents had the rule that as long as I lived under their roof and expected financial support from them, then I was expected to go to Church. I still believe in and promote this principle for all families.) Therefore, please keep these young students in your prayers as they celebrate their Confirmation. May God bless them as they become fully initiated members of our Catholic Church. Also, remember that our role as the adults responsible for guiding their religious formation now changes, but does not end. If you have been blessed with having such a young person in your life, please continue to be a good role model for the faith and to invite them to be actively involved in our parish community.

Yes, God asks each of us to make conscious choices in how we will live out the gift of life we have received.

Whether it involves being a parent, a person of faith or simply a good role model, let us all continue to work hard to grow in and share our faith with the people God has placed in our lives. This is what the Easter season is all about, namely, the ongoing support of the Church and our family. This is how we build the kingdom here on earth.

Easter blessings, Fr. Brian

February 2, 2014

Great news! Mr. Paul C. Hufnagle has agreed to serve as a trustee for our parish.

Paul and his wife Phyllis have a long and honored history of service within our church and the broader community. In a future bulletin Paul will provide us with an introductory letter. Thank you Paul for your willingness to serve as a St. Edward’s trustee. Paul will replace Molly Mitch who finished her two-year term in December.

Below is the final installment of Russell Shaw’s update on the prolife movement (Click here to read Part I, Part II, Part III, or Part IV).

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Update: Human Life The Unborn, the elderly and the “throwaway culture” — Part V

As measured by polls, American public opinion on abortion presents a confused and ambiguous picture — nothing new, of course, since it’s been like that for many years. Perhaps the most positive part of it is that, as a Pew Research report put it last August, “regardless of their views about the legality of abortion, most Americans think that having an abortion is a moral issue.” Overall 49 percent hold abortion to be morally wrong and only 15 percent see it as morally acceptable, while 23 percent believe it simply isn’t a moral issue.

Among those who consider abortion wrong, the breakdown is this: white evangelical Protestants, 75 percent; Hispanic Catholics, 64 percent; black Protestants, 58 percent; white Catholics, 53 percent; white mainline Protestants, 38 percent; and religiously unaffiliated adults, 25 percent. By well baby feet smover two to one, people who attend religious services once a week or more often are more likely to see abortion as morally wrong (72 percent) than are people who seldom or never attend (32 percent). For white Catholics, the percentage is 74 percent among weekly or more frequent Mass attenders and 40 percent among those who attend Mass less often.

According to Pew, attitudes on legal abortion vary markedly from region to region. Percentages range from New England, where 75 percent think most or all abortions should be legal, to the South Central region of the country (Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas) where only 40 percent think that.

Summing up poll results over many years, New York Times reporter David Leonhardt wrote: “If you were going to craft a law based strictly on public opinion, it would permit abortion in the first trimester (first 12 weeks) of pregnancy and in cases involving rape, incest or threats to the mother’s life. The law…would substantially restrict abortion after the first trimester in many other cases.”

The message all this sends … is clear: Educate, educate, educate. People need to know both scientific facts and moral principles relative to abortion, euthanasia and other life issues. Especially, perhaps, they must grasp what Pope Francis meant when he denounced the “throwaway culture” that leads to “eliminating human beings.” “Our answer to this mentality,” he said, “is a decisive and unhesitant ‘yes’ to life.”

January 26, 2014

This week we celebrate Catholic Schools Week. A BIG THANK YOU to all who have contributed to the great formation work of our Catholic Schools.

Below is the next installment of Russell Shaw’s update on the prolife movement (click here to read Part I, Part II, or Part III).

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Update: Human Life

The Unborn, the elderly and the “throwaway culture” — Part IV

Already, a challenge involving a private employer who objects to abortion coverage on conscience grounds has reached the Supreme Court (up to the time of writing, the court hadn’t said whether it would consider the case). The court also has been asked to consider an appeal from the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals overturning an Arizona law restricting abortions after five months of pregnancy. Twelve other states also have such laws.

baby feet smObamacare aside, pro-lifers’ worst nightmare about the Supreme Court is that the president might get a chance to name another one or two justices to the court and shift the balance definitively to the pro-abortion side. That would be the probable result if one of the four clearly conservative members now on the court (Justice Anthony Kennedy is a swing vote) were to leave while Obama is in office.

The status of euthanasia resembles the situation of abortion in some ways, but is very different in others. Currently, euthanasia is legal in only three countries — the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg — while assisted suicide is allowed in Switzerland and, as noted, in four U.S. states. Whether legal or not, though, any observers believe so-called passive euthanasia via the withholding of food and water or life-saving treatment happens much more often than is commonly acknowledged, both in homes and institutional settings.

The setback dealt the death-with-dignity drive by Massachusetts’s voters in 2012 has apparently slowed it down for now, but supporters have by no means abandoned the fight. That is something they could hardly do inasmuch as support for the termination of life by assisted suicide or euthanasia is an important part of the ideology of secular humanism.

Not surprisingly, how most people view physician-assisted suicide depends heavily on how it’s presented to them. A Gallup survey in May 2013 — the same month Vermont became the fourth state to legalize assisted suicide — found 70 percent of Americans in favor of letting doctors hasten the death of terminally ill patients “by some painless means.” But when this was described as helping people “commit suicide,” approval dropped to 51 percent, with 45 percent opposed. (The same question was first asked in 1996. Approval peaked in 2001 at 68 percent and has been dropping since then.)

[Click here to read Part V, the final installment.]

January 19, 2014

This week we remember the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion. The Church has declared January 22nd to be a “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.”

Below is the next installment of Russell Shaw’s update on the prolife movement (click here to read Part I and Part II)

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Update: Human Life

The Unborn, the elderly and the “throwaway culture” — Part III

Largely as a result of recent regulations making it either too expensive or too logistically difficult for them to continue in operation, as of September at least 58 U.S. abortion clinics have been forced to close their doors since 2011.That was one of every 10 abortion clinics in the country.

The biggest single spur to such developments may have been the trial of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, which spotlighted details of his practice that horrified countless Americans. Gosnell was convicted of first-degree murder in the deaths of three babies dispatched by being jabbed in the neck with scissors after being born alive by abortion. He pleaded guilty to these and other abortion-related crimes and is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison.

But the other side is far from giving up the fight. President Obama and his administration actively baby feet smsupport abortion. In a statement last January for the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the president hailed that ruling for its “historical commitment to protect the health and life of women.” In April, in an address to a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood, Obama accused the pro-life movement of “an assault on women’s rights.”

As matters now stand, it’s relatively easy to get pro-life legislation through the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. But such legislation is virtually certain to die in the Democratic-controlled Senate. If by chance a pro-life measure did manage to slip through, President Obama could be counted on to veto it.

Meanwhile, government support of abortion is expanding via the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has repeatedly opposed this aspect of the program, especially for coercing faith-based institutions and programs to cooperate in a system that requires insurance coverage for abortifacient drugs, contraceptives and sterilization. In a mid-September letter to the bishops, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the USCCB, said: “We are united in our resolve to continue to defend our right to live by our faith.”

It’s ironic that, although Obama in his anniversary statement saluting Roe v. Wade, declared the decision’s “guiding principle” to be “government should not intrude on our most private family matters,” the prolife movement’s central objection to Obamacare is the coercive nature of its abortion mandate. How far this reaches was underlined recently when the Little Sisters of the Poor joined other religious providers of employee health benefits in a class action lawsuit against the mandate. “We cannot violate our vows by participating in the government’s program to provide access to abortion-inducing drugs,” said Sister Loraine Marie, superior of one of the congregation’s three U.S. provinces.

[Click here to read Part IV of Russell Shaw’s update.]

January 12, 2014

Congratulations to all! Yes, the Offertory Giving Challenge was successful.

Thank you to everyone that participated. Thank you for your commitment to St. Edwards. Below is the next installment of Russell Shaw’s update on the prolife movement. [Click here to read Part I]

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Update: Human Life

The Unborn, the elderly and the “throwaway culture” — Part II

In the United States, as the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 7-2 decision in “Roe v. Wade” approaches, the fight to defend human life is raging more fiercely than ever. Forty-one years ago, the advocates of legalized abortion and their media supporters took it for granted that that was the end of it. The Supreme Court had struck down laws against abortion throughout the country, and the opposition would soon flicker out. Euthanasia, many supposed, would come next.

The people who thought that way could hardly have been more wrong. True, there are still more than one million abortions annually in America. The United States continues to have arguably the most permissive regime of legalized abortion in the entire world. It isn’t just the number of abortionsbaby feet sm
either. The U.S. is one of only nine countries that permit abortion after 14 weeks of pregnancy and one of only four that permit abortion after the child is viable for any reason. But pro-life progress in correcting the situation also is a fact. For one thing, the supposedly scientific grounds on which Justice Harry Blackmun based the majority opinion in “Roe v. Wade” now are scientifically outdated at best. As a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ document prepared for last October’s Respect Life program put it, “Even abortion rights activists now concede the basic biological fact that human life begins at conception.”

As for euthanasia, despite strenuous efforts by supporters — efforts that date back to the eugenics movement of the early 20th century — only four states have so far legalized the form of “euthanasia-lite” called physician-assisted suicide. The four states are Washington, Montana, Vermont and Oregon. Oregon was the first state to take this step back in 1994. In 2012, 44 persons hastened their deaths with doctors’ help there. Also in 2012, to the dismay of euthanasia advocates, Massachusetts’s voters rejected a “death with dignity” ballot initiative in the November elections. Shortly before the vote, opinion polling had found more than 60 percent support for the measure, but when the time came, 51 percent voted against it.

Other Signs of Progress

Other recent signs of progress include these. As of last September, according to Life-News.com, a pro-life Internet source, 2013 was well on its way to setting a record for the most pro-life legislation passed in a year. Up to then, 48 states had considered some 360 measures intended to restrict abortion in various ways, and 69 of these became law. “The successful passage of common-sense protective legislation demonstrates that elected officials have their pulse
on the will of the people — not on the abortion lobby,” LifeNews.com remarked.

[Click here to read Part III]