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Archive for the ‘Sr. Clare Hunter’ Category

By: Sr. Clare Hunter

Come on, world! You can’t have it both ways! You cannot think it is okay to abort and euthanize (that would be you, Belgium and The Netherlands) children with Down syndrome, handicapped, disabled and dying children, and then be shocked and outraged when parents abandon or refuse to pay for or raise them. The United Kingdom’s Daily Mail reports another “shocking” story of a surrogate mother raising a handicapped child because the “intended parents” (that is the official term, which I suppose is better than “the customers”), refused to take the disabled baby home. Of course, there are four, or five, eight or ten sides to the story, depending on parties involved with the sperm, eggs, uteruses, partners, spouses, surrogates, clinics, doctors, family members, and nations. Each version, in addition to being revolting, is inconsistent and confusing. The fact remains that we have two known cases of “intended parents” not taking a child that was born to a surrogate.  We also have four innocent children who will be forced to grow up separated from their beloved brother or sister.

26/365 - Hah!All of this is done, remember, in the name of “love” — whether an infertile party who want to love a child, a loving woman who wants to help an infertile couple have a child to love, or an impoverished mother who loves her biological children so much that she is willing to support them by carrying a child for others. In fact, the desire to abandon, or preferably to have aborted the disabled babies, was also to be done as an act of love. The “intended mother” of the baby in the U.K. reportedly said: “She’d be a…dribbling cabbage! Who would want to adopt her? No one would want to adopt a disabled child.” And most of us cringed watching Mr. Farnell, the father who left his disabled son in Thailand, explain: “They sent us the reports, but they didn’t do the checks early enough. If it would have been safe for that embryo to be terminated, we probably would have terminated it, because he has a handicap and this is a sad thing. And it would be difficult – not impossible, but difficult.”

We should in no way be shocked by these statements and responses. Once we have determined that a child is not a gift, but the right of adults who want or do not want them, we cannot expect to speak about them in any other way but as property or vegetation. Yes, the ability and desire to have a child is a privilege of being human. The inability to do so is very painful and a true suffering. We must support and pray for our loved ones who are not able to bear children. What we cannot do is ask them to buy into the lies and evils of modern medicine that have reduced human life to a commodity for profit and experimentation.

Clearly, we have ample proof that this Pandora’s Box of in vitro fertilization, surrogate mothers, and the buying and selling of sperm, eggs and embryos has made The Age of a “Brave New World” the nightmare reality that was promised once we rejected the purpose and gift of human sexuality and fertility. And, as always, it will be the innocent who will suffer the most. It will be the children. Those who will never be born, disposed of because they were not chosen, or frozen indefinitely. The poor babies who will be eliminated because they were a girl, not a boy, or have a defect, or are part of triplets, which is just not what that parent really wants right now. Not to mention the siblings who will never know the twin that they clung to for months before they were aborted, taken, or abandoned.

How blessed the little Thai boy Gammy is, and little “Amy” in the U.K. whose surrogate mothers are willing to love and raise them. How can we begin to help the countless children who will not be discovered and saved?

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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

It is a strange and scary thing when civil authorities write to a bishop and tell him how to live his faith and mission. Do not let the issue of homosexuality or the politically charged same-sex marriage agenda blind you to what is really going on here. The letter written to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone by California government leaders and various gay activists and religious groups, as well as a letter from U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, telling him not to attend the second annual March for Marriage in Washington, D.C., on June 19, 2014, was about a group telling a man how he should act as a Catholic Archbishop.

So how should we feel about government officials deciding what acceptable Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone Nancy Pelosi-x400Catholic behavior should be? In fact, some of the signers of the letter portray themselves as faithful, devout Catholics, yet they do not agree with Catholic Church teachings. Predictably, they use Pope Francis, wrenching his words “Who am I to judge?” to mean “Anything goes!”  Ironically, this does not seem to apply to Archbishop Cordileone attending the March for Marriage. Who are they to judge his attendance? The very Pope they attempt to use as a rhetorical weapon, only four years ago fought against politicians in Argentina just like them!

Let’s be honest: We all try to separate our actions from our person.  We are all pretty convinced that just because we “haven’t killed anybody,” our lies, infidelities, selfishness, and inactive faith life aren’t so bad. We are “good people,” even spiritual. But following the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Ten Commandments seem, quite frankly, just too hard, rather optional really. Sometimes being Catholic can be downright embarrassing, especially when you do not agree with the truths of God’s law, or you don’t even know what they are. Without sound catechesis and an active prayer and sacramental life, attempting to live as a Catholic in the public square can be difficult. Pretty quickly, truth becomes relative. At times even hostile. We want our faith, without the truth it teaches. It is the American “right” that comes with the privatization of religion. Catholics have bought into the rhetoric: I’m Catholic, but my faith isn’t part of my public life. Wasn’t that the great demand made of President John Kennedy? And certainly many, if not most, of our Catholic politicians now live by this construct.

In the letter written to Archbishop Cordileone, the authors quoted Pope Francis, saying: “If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” What they failed to include were the strong words of then Cardinal Bergoglio, who adamantly fought against same-sex marriage in Argentina in 2010, stating:

“In the coming weeks, the Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family…At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts….let us not be naive: this is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is not just a bill (a mere instrument) but a ‘move’ of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”[1]

Archbishop Cordileone is, in fact, doing exactly what Pope Francis would ask him to do; what, in fact, he himself did: act like a Catholic Archbishop. In his response to the letter urging that he not attend the March for Marriage, the Archbishop of San Francisco teaches us what that means:

“I appreciate your affirmation of my Church’s teaching—not unique to our religion, but a truth accessible to anyone of good will—on the intrinsic human dignity of all people, irrespective of their stage and condition in life.  That principle requires us to respect and protect each and every member of the human family, from the precious child in the womb to the frail elderly person nearing death.  It also requires me, as a bishop, to proclaim the truth—the whole truth—about the human person and God’s will for our flourishing. I must do that in season and out of season, even when truths that it is my duty to uphold and teach are unpopular, including especially the truth about marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife. That is what will be doing on June 19th.”[2]

On Thursday, many Catholics, and those of other faiths, will be joining him in voicing the importance of marriage and family, and the right for a child to have a mother and a father. Incidentally, the Italian name Cordileone means “heart of the lion.”  So how should we feel about government officials attempting to decide what acceptable Catholic behavior should be? Fortunately, the good archbishop answers the question for us. The Archbishop courageously imitates the “Lion of Judah,” Jesus Christ Himself, in presenting timeless essential truth, based in true love and charity.

Please see Bishop Paul Loverde’s statement in support of Archbishop Cordileone here.


[1] National Catholic Register. (2010, July 8). Retrieved from http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/cardinal_bergoglio_hits_out_at_same-sex_marriage#ixzz34v0Jfjn6 

[2] Archdiocese of San Francisco. (2014, June 16). Retrieved from http://www.sfarchdiocese.org/about-us/archbishop-cordileone/homilies-writings-and-statements/?search=march%20for%20marriage&C=940&I=4035

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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

The Washington Post’s Louise Melling wrote last week about how satisfying it is that a movie portrays abortion sympathetically and even comically. However, for me, other testimonials come to mind…

  • Joyce tells me that she keeps having dreams of her 30-year-old daughter. She is a beautiful young woman who smiles at her. It has helped ease some of the pain in dealing with the abortion, and she is wondering if this is a sign that her daughter, and God, have forgiven her.
  • A hospice nurse shared with me an experience of being at the deathbed of 85-year-old Lydia. The nurse realized that Lydia was not in physical pain, but emotional turmoil.  Lydia burst into tears and begged forgiveness for an abortion she had 65 years ago and never spoke about. After the priest came, Lydia’s body relaxed and she looked “radiant,” dying peacefully the next day.
  • I read a comment from Lea, who said:  As someone who worked at an abortion clinic for seven years, I find it now quite disturbing. Although I do not sit and scold girls for having it, I must say there is a lot about it we won’t tell you. I cleaned up a lot. The bodies of aborted babies got thrown in dumpsters pretty much. What really got to me was whenever I performed one, I could feel the baby twitch. Like a startled type of twitch. For years I didn’t think much until my daughter got pregnant at 14 and I performed one on her. When that baby twitched and got thrown away, I cried in secret for weeks. Those babies had nerves. My grandchild had nerves. They felt their heads being crushed. Now, respect my opinion as I will respect yours, but to me, that is murder. And no longer do I find it a choice someone can make because it’s their body. I no longer believe it is just their body. It’s someone else in their body. And I can’t bring myself to support it. My daughter committed suicide five months later.[1]

I get it. I actually understand why people want to make us laugh about abortion. The articles, blogs, and reviews about the upcoming romantic comedy, “Obvious Child,” are correct. If one in three (the number is actually more like one in four[2], but I see the logic in making it seem like “everybody’s doing it”) women have an abortion,[3] then there are a countless number of mothers in our country who are living with the reality of ending the life of their child. That also means there are equally that many fathers whose sons and daughters were killed. Should we mention the grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters? Regardless of the religious, political, and socio-economic backgrounds, there is nowhere we can go, no family, no relationship left unscathed by abortion.  That is too much. It is too painful, overwhelming, and inconsolable.  In the unbearable guilt, grief, and fear, it makes perfect sense to do what I — what we — do best. Desensitize.

sad-man-and-womanIn our fallen nature, what should shock us, make us uncomfortable, and repulse us usually becomes entertainment.  From Circus Maximus to public hangings, the crowds cheering at the guillotine of the French Revolution to reality television, we are experts at normalizing the profane.  A phenomenon studied and theorized for centuries; people continue to need psychological and physical outlets to deal with horrible, inhumane behavior and deep woundedness.

Secretly, we seek that macabre pleasure of knowing that someone is more “messed up” than we are. But the answer cannot continue to be desensitizing through entertainment.  In fact, what we need is more sensitivity. The mother and father who chose abortion do not need levity to deal with their tragedy. Whether there is guilt or regret — now or later — they will have to face the reality of their decision to end the life of their child, just as all of us have to face the wounds we incur in our lifetime. I believe that by desensitizing ourselves to painful situations and the consequences of grave immoral choices, we become incapable of knowing true selfless love and honesty. As relationships of love are based on sensitivity, what becomes of a culture desensitized?


[1] Gurl.com, 90% Of Women Who Had Abortions Felt Relieved (2013).

[2] Guttmacher Institute, Fact Sheet: Induced Abortion in the United States (2014).

[3] The Daily Signal, In ‘Obvious Child,’ Abortion as Comedy at a Theater Near You (2014).

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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

Yesterday’s post for Encourage & Teach by Bishop Loverde, “Stand for Marriage, Stand for Faith,” originally printed in the Arlington Catholic Herald, is a timely reminder of the importance of “standing” for marriage, and not losing hope in the battle to protect the truths of marriage as one man and one woman. On one hand, it still hurts my brain that such a blog must be written and that we have to define and discuss what marriage is; yet such things shouldn’t surprise me when glib articles are being written about throwing the best “divorce party” and where to get the best “divorce cake.” It makes sense that a culture that celebrates divorce would be confused about the meaning and purpose of marriage. I agree that it seems rather ridiculous to claim that marriage is defined as permanent, monogamous and life-bearing, if that is not witnessed. Once we take away that definition, anything can take its place. And it has.

Divorce CakeAlthough sometimes necessary to protect one spouse or the other financially or even physically, divorce is always a bad thing. It is a painful and very sensitive experience for men and women, especially for their children. It has touched each of our lives, and our families and friends. Divorce is a death, and time is needed to heal and process through the shattering of lives and emotional heartbreak. This is painful and entails the acceptance of suffering. It entails heroic acts of forgiveness, mercy and the dependence on others for support, most especially from the grace of God. All of this can seem rather repulsive in a culture that rejects the idea of dependence – on God or others, and certainly does all it can to avoid suffering.

We all know experientially, and science has proven, that laughter is the best medicine and humor heals. But are we doing greater harm to those suffering from a divorce by encouraging or turning to sardonic humor to deal with the emotions from a painful situation? As the media and social networks report and highlight this trend, will we continue to become numb to the suffering of those we love who experience divorce? Will divorce parties and cakes become part of a life event? It seems to me, this will only add to the confusion of marriage as it loses the sacredness and reverence for which it was created. Might I suggest, rather than a party and cake, offering instead prayers, Masses and sacrifices for the couple and their children, whose lives have been changed forever, and who will need true love and support for the rest of their lives.

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By: Sister Clare Hunter

Why is a nun writing about pornography? Because I just spent the past three of four days learning about how it is destroying our culture and promoting sex trafficking and sexual abuse of children. I repeat — causing the sexual abuse of children. Children. Being used. By adults. For sex[1]. I am furious!  It was poor timing. I had not realized, when saying “yes” to the Friday through Saturday conference “Coalition to End Sexual Exploitation,” Coalition-End-Sexual-Exploitationthat Monday was the morning study day at the Chancery on sex trafficking in Northern Virginia, as well as the effects of pornography on our culture. I’m angry, disgusted, overwhelmed, and would actually like to physically harm those using, selling, and promoting pornography of all kinds, especially the large number of those using child pornography. Hey, novelty sells. That’s what the statistics and experts say. Vomit.

Do you know what is going on? Honestly, I really didn’t want to know. I wanted to stay in my bubble. I knew it was bad, but when I realized that we were no longer in the tame, “normal” world of the Playboy mansion. An 11-year-old boy (the average age when a child sees porn ranges from 10-12; look it up) will immediately enter a “hardcore” porn site when surfing the internet on his computer, or most likely on his cell phone.

If 87 percent of men and 31 percent of women are using pornography[2], (50 Shades of Grey, not included) then it is in YOUR home, YOUR workplace, YOUR school, YOUR family.  News reports constantly remind us that women and children are being used for sex and labor around the world. But it is happening here, in our own country, our neighborhoods, and families. We know this, and we don’t even need this week’s news “McLean student behind underage porn site,” to remind us. I know you know it is bad.

Here are some resources I think might be helpful. At least a start!

  • Let us begin with prayer!

Jesus, Lover of chastity, Mary, Mother most pure, and Saint Joseph, chaste guardian of the Virgin, to you I come at this hour, begging you to plead with God for me. I earnestly wish to be pure in thought, word and deed in imitation of your own holy purity. Obtain for me, then, a deep sense of modesty which will be reflected in my external conduct. Protect my eyes, the windows of my soul, from anything that might dim the luster of a heart that must mirror only Christlike purity. And when the “Bread of Angels becomes the Bread of me” in my heart at Holy Communion, seal it forever against the suggestions of sinful pleasures.

Heart of Jesus, Fount of all purity, have mercy on us.

  • Effects of pornography on the brain (10 times more addictive than heroin!), Donald Hilton, M.D.
  • Prevent teen sex trafficking in Northern Virginia – Just Ask
  • Protect your family and yourself! Covenant Eyes accountability and filtering
  • Read Bishop Paul Loverde’s letter “Bought with a Price
  • Learn more and get help at the Catholic Diocese of Arlington

[1] Wolak, Mitchell and Finkelhor. Online Victimization of Youth: Five Years Later. Alexandria, VA. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. 2006.

[2] Carroll, Jason S., et al. “Generation XXX: Pornography Acceptance and Use Among Emerging Adults. Journal of Adolescent Research 23.1 (2008) 6-30. (Study examined population of emerging adults, aged 18-26)

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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

It occurred to me while watching the canonizations of Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI knew both of these men. I wondered how many others present and watching had met, or worked with, both of them. Certainly countless were alive during both papacies. Of course, so many more knew John Paul II, and the personal stories of encounters and his influence in people’s lives have been inspiring.

St. John Paul II and St. John XXIIIAs the days leading to the canonizations approached and the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis aired, it is amazing to think that I had met, and touched, a saint. On November 9, 2002, with a group of my Community, I was able to attend a private Mass and meeting with Pope John Paul II. To touch his soft hands and look into his eyes, to feel his touch on my cheek…such a memory! John Paul II had always been an influence in my faith, my vocation and my love for the Catholic Church. A rather odd notion to think that for 25 years a man I had only met once for a few moments could have had such a strong impact on my life. It is quite a moment in one’s life when saints cease to be untouchable medieval heroes and Biblical reflections. There are countless modern day saints who have powerful stories and inspire me to live a faithful life. But with John Paul II, it almost feels like a relative has been canonized.

During talks, I’ve started to ask the question, “Who here wants to be a saint?” Little kids always raise their hands and shout “ME!” I suppose that’s the case with any question. Adults seldom do, and I’ve even had a brave soul respond that “It’s too hard to be one.” True enough. In fact, we have been explicitly told that it is impossible. “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God…For human beings it is impossible, but not for God” (Mk 10:24, 26). Jesus has just finished instructing his young friend on the qualifications for sainthood: keep the Commandments, sell and give away everything, and follow Him. Not a good sign that the men who have already been following Him declare it to be too difficult. Even worse when Jesus agrees. Oh how I wish Jesus had turned and said “My friends, it will be easy! I will be with you! See how easy and fun it has been these days?” If only.

We know only too well what following Jesus will mean. Not breaking the Commandments and giving everything to and for God is a constant battle. But it is the crosses, the crucifixions, which mean suffering and dying that scare us the most and cause despair. And yet, countless men and women have done just that. They fell deeply in love with Jesus Christ and let nothing stop them from following Him all the way. That is probably why from such an early age I loved Pope John Paul II, and trusted him. There was something about his example, his witness that convinced me there was something to this “Catholic faith thing.” Certainly I had others in my life who witnessed to the same truth, but there was something special about him.

As Catholics, we believe in the communion of saints. Our own call to sanctity is only possible with God, who allows the saints to intercede for us. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “The witnesses who have preceded us into the kingdom, especially those whom the Church recognizes as saints, share in the living tradition of prayer by the example of their lives, the transmission of their writings, and their prayer today. They contemplate God, praise him and constantly care for those whom they have left on earth. When they entered into the joy of their Master, they were ‘put in charge of many things.’ Their intercession is their most exalted service to God’s plan. We can and should ask them to intercede for us and for the whole world.” (2683)

I love that line: “put in charge of many things.” It certainly alters our notion of “resting” in peace. Lest we think heaven is boring with eternity spent on a cloud with a harp, we hear that we will still be within the mission of Jesus Christ, following Him, and doing the Father’s Will. May both St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII be put in charge of many things, and most particularly, interceding for our world, that we grow in our desire to be saints and join them in eternal life.

St. John XXIII, pray for us! St. John Paul II, pray for us!

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By: Sr. Clare Hunter

Have you ever wondered why the Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week don’t get a special name? I have. We have quite the entrance on Passion (Palm) Sunday by publicly processing, singing and carrying palms. We read the very long Gospel and wince as we shout out “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” After the celebration of an intense liturgy, it feels like we are just getting started, and then we have to stop for three days, only to rev up again for the big line up of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and finally Easter Sunday.

Holy_Week

For many years, my Community, the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist, have put a special spiritual focus on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week. By looking at the readings and the Gospels and meditating on the life of Christ as He anticipates His passion, we take each day and focus on a particular mystery to help us prepare for the Triduum.

Monday is a day of extravagance. “Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil” (Jn 12:3). Mary Magdalene gives all to Jesus, not merely the expensive oil, but her very self. She uses her hands and hair to anoint Him, affecting each person present. This extravagant gesture of her love for Jesus is merely an imitation of His extravagant offering of Himself.  We too are called to imitate Christ in offering our lives to the Father. We are challenged on the Monday of Holy Week to look at our own acts of generosity and pouring out of self. Are we giving our best to serve God and others? Are we grateful and receptive to the extravagant love of God and others?

“So Jesus said to him, ‘What you are going to do, do quickly’” (Jn 13:27). On Tuesday, we ponder the reality of what must be completed in order for the chain of events to transpire for our redemption. Jesus Christ knows what must be done in order to declare: “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him” (Jn 13:31). This day may offer us an opportunity to put into order those obstacles which might be hindering our openness to the graces of Holy Week, or to tasks that need to be completed to free us to pray and be present to the liturgies of the Triduum. This might be the day we stop procrastinating and decide to go to confession, forgive others or make a discernment that we have been avoiding.

Mary-Washes-Jesus-s-Feet-jesus-11078625-635-450Wednesday’s reading from Isaiah speaks of the Man who has been anointed to be a voice for God, will be abused, yet with the Father’s help, will complete the mission of redemption. Jesus tells the disciples: “My appointed time draws near,” as He orders the Passover meal. As Jesus instructs his disciples, and confronts Judas, there is a sense that Christ has embraced His mission. He knows that He alone can redeem man in accordance with the Father’s Will. Wednesday of Holy Week is a perfect day to spend time reflecting on our own God-given mission. We share solidarity with Jesus in the joys, fears and determination that accompany embracing our personal cross. This is a day of “aloneness” before the Father. We are preparing to say: “Not my will, but Thine be done.”

I am so grateful that my Community has looked to these “unnamed” days as a way to enter into a deeper understanding and celebration of Holy Week. The sequence of the week is a natural progression in preparing our minds and hearts for the sacred Triduum. On Passion Sunday, we publically show that we believe that Jesus is the Christ, the King and Son of God, who exemplifies the Father’s extravagant love. How fitting to have the next day to ponder this mystery. We instinctually would want to respond to that love and know the compulsion to complete the tasks and events which will set in motion an adequate response. Quickly, we become aware that we alone, with the help of the Father, must complete this act of love. It is with this in mind that we enter into the Triduum, reflecting on the cost of our redemption and the profundity of Christ’s body and blood freely given to us in the Eucharist. Blessings on this sacred week.

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