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Archive for the ‘Therese Bermpohl’ Category

By: Therese Bermpohl

Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI).

So begins the imaginary conversation that I have been having in my mind with Governor Terry McAuliffe, an avowed Catholic, ever since he ordered the Virginia Board of Health to review state abortion clinic regulations yesterday.  I’m certain that if I could just get him alone for 30 minutes I could explain to him the truth about the human person, the value of every woman, and last but not least, what is wrong with his policies and his thinking with regard to abortion.  I would say something like:

mother-childThe truth is, governor, the abortion clinic regulations help women.  They attempt to prevent the events that occurred in Kermit Gosnell’s shop of horrors from potentially happening in clinics throughout Virginia.  In fact, women do die from botched abortions in legal government sanctioned facilities.

The truth is, governor, every abortion destroys an image of God…a life full of promise, willed, loved and necessary.

The truth is, governor, that although you have been entrusted by the people of Virginia with the highest position in the state, you would have no power at all had it not been given to you from Above.

The truth is, governor, you will be called to give an account of your life before the Great Judge.  I ask you sincerely to reflect on your policies toward women and the unborn before that moment in time when you no longer have the opportunity to change your ways.

In the meantime, I will pray that your eyes will be opened and that your heart will be stirred to protect and defend all life from conception to natural death…so that at the moment of your natural death, you will hear the long-awaited words of the Lord: Well done, good and faithful servant.

Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of Richmond and Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington issued the following statement in response to Gov. McAuliffe’s actions.

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By: Therese Bermpohl

Let the dismal news from last Thursday serve as a wake up call to Virginians. The family is under full attack and our children are the ones who will pay the price. An unelected Virginia judge dealt another blow to marriage in the United States by striking down the state’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. With this decision, the judge not only contradicts the good citizens of Virginia but the centuries of civilizations that have esteemed marriage between a man and a woman. More importantly, the judge says to the Author of Marriage: “You got it wrong!”

We need to arise from our slumber and ask ourselves, “What am I going to do to help defend marriage; to defend children and the dignity of all people, including those with same sex attraction?”

Prayer, fasting and penance can purify us and our culture! It can avert every kind of disaster! Let us be intentional! How many hours of prayer and sacrifice will you commit to in order to change the world?

Blessed TeresaI am reminded of a story about our beloved Blessed “Mother” Teresa of Calcutta:

On her way back from Oslo, Mother Teresa made a stop-over in Rome. Several reporters were gathered in the outer courtyard of the Missionaries of Charity’s humble house on the Coelium Hill. Mother Teresa did not try to avoid the reporters, but she received them like children, putting a miraculous medal into the hand of each one of them. The reporters were generous with their photos and questions; one question was a little naughty: «Mother, you are seventy! When you die, the world will be as it was before. What has changed after so much effort?» Mother Teresa could have reacted with a little holy indignation, instead she smiled brightly, as if they had kissed her affectionately. And she added: «Well, I never thought I would be able to change the world! I have only tried to be a drop of clean water in which God’s love could sparkle. Does that seem little?»

The reporters did not know what to answer, while an attentive and emotional silence had fallen around Mother Teresa. She started to speak again and asked the “cheeky” reporter: «Why don’t you try to be a drop of clean water, and then there will be two of us. Are you married?». «Yes, Mother».. «Tell your wife as well and then there will be three of us. Have you any children?». «Three children, Mother». «Tell your children too and then there will be six of us…».

– Read more of this story here.

Let us be a drop of clean water….Let us believe in the power of the Almighty God to use us to change the minds and hearts of every human being.

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By: Therese Bermpohl

Every so often a veil of lies is lifted, forcing us to look at the truth of a situation we may otherwise have chosen to avoid.  This was the case back in the late 1990’s when Americans were confronted with the gruesome truth about partial birth abortion, watching as Congress debated whether or not it was “needed” to preserve the “health of women.” During those debates, the country recoiled, learning exactly how barbaric partial birth abortion really is. Those debates had such an impact that even today, many who self-identify as “pro-choice” are quick to say that they are not in favor of partial birth abortion.

24 week preemie (photo cred: Dallas Brown)

24 week preemie (photo cred: Dallas Brown)

Again, today, the thin façade of civility is peeled away from the abortion industry so that the American public has to take a good look at the “choice” it has made to tolerate legalized abortion.  The Hermit Gosnell trial has stunned, shocked and horrified all who have had the stomach to follow it.  What went on in the Gosnell facility is the same thing that goes on in every abortion facility, the slaughter of unborn children. No matter how we size it up, the end result of abortion is one dead human being and a vast number of wounded souls, not the least of which is the mother of the child.

I remember reading an article in a prominent newspaper in which the author was bewildered about why the child homicide rate had skyrocketed over the past 30 years.  It was 2003, just thirty years after the Supreme Court of the United States of America legalized the killing of unborn children in the U.S.  I remember thinking, “Can they seriously fail to make the connection between legalized abortion and the vast rise in the child murder rate?”

The Gosnell trial has given us an opportunity to see one of the greatest scourges in the course of history in full force.  The question becomes, will people of good will take heed of the destructive reality of abortion?  There has been much talk of peace lately, and I continue to harken back to the words of the late Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, who said,

“…the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a war against the child – a direct killing of the innocent child – murder by the mother herself. And if we accept that a mother can kill even her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill one another?”

Let us not lose this opportunity as a nation to do the right thing, to look at abortion for what it is – the taking of innocent human life – and change barbaric abortion laws to defend the rights of children in the womb. Maybe then, as Blessed Teresa predicted, the world will become a safer place for all.

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By: Therese Bermpohl

There is another March coming to Washington, D.C., and this one may be equally as important as the March for Life that occurs every January.  This is the march for traditional marriage:  one man, one woman.  As we know too well, so goes the family so goes the culture, and what can destabilize a society more than dismantling its foundational institution of marriage?

DSC_8617

Couples celebrate at the Marriage Jubilee Mass

On March 26, the Supreme Court will begin hearing two days of oral arguments challenging the constitutionality of California’s voter-passed Proposition 8, as well as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton.  The outcome of the high court’s decision will have a significant impact on the future of marriage in our country.

Much is at stake here, and it would well be worth the effort to carve out time to flood the streets of D.C. to show our support for traditional marriage. As Bishop Kevin Rhodes, Chair of the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Women, Family Life and Youth, said in a recent letter to the bishops, “The march will be a significant opportunity to promote and defend marriage and the good of our nation, to pray for our Supreme Court justices, and to stand in solidarity with people of good will.”

To learn more about the march visit http://www.marriagemarch.org/

Schedule Events for the March for Marriage:

Tuesday, March 26th

8:30 a.m.:  Gather at National Mall between 10th Street and 12th Street NW

& between Madison Drive NW and Jefferson Drive SW

9:30 a.m.:  March to Supreme Court and then return to the National Mall

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.:  Rally begins at the National Mall

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An elderly man had grown increasingly worried that his wife was losing her hearing.  One night, to test it out, he stood behind the sofa and said, “Darling, can you hear me?”

There was no response.

So he crept a bit closer and asked her again, “Darling, can you hear me?”

Still no response.  Very worried now, he moved up right next to her ear and said again in a loud voice, “Darling, can you hear me?!”

At which point she turned around and shouted “For the third time Henry, yes I can hear you!”

Like many jokes, this one hides a kernel of truth.  Like Henry, we often believe we have a clear picture of what’s going on in our lives, except for one flaw – we forget to factor ourselves into the equation.  Indeed, when talking about relationships and communication, many of us have been to enough talks on these subjects that we figure we could deliver an abridged version ourselves.  So why bother going to another one?  Yet like the plot twist in the joke, the answer to that question may seem obvious upon reflection – have we really applied what we’ve learned to our own lives?

I went to a conference six months ago, and one of the speakers recounted his conversion story from many years before.  For a year after his conversion, he felt the Holy Spirit in a tangible way every single day.  He felt righteous; he felt inspired; he felt holy.  In fact, he admitted to us, at that electrifying part of his faith life, he couldn’t imagine how he couldn’t be a saint right then and there, and he genuinely wondered what everyone else was doing wrong.  He went to see his spiritual advisor, and after telling him all the wonderful things he had been experiencing, the priest asked him “Well in that case, how have you been treating your wife?  Your children?  Your neighbor on the street?”  And without a drop of irony he resopnded “Father, what does that have to do with anything?”

Like this well-intentioned speaker, we can all fall victim to ‘holiness by osmosis’ – I understand the ideas, I’ve surrounded myself with like-minded folks, and I certainly feel great about where I’m at.  Yet if a quick examination of our relationships – and in particular, how well we relate to others – lends a less than perfect picture, it may be a good time to re-approach communication with open ears, with a mind toward adopting what we learn.

With that in mind, the Office for Family Life and the Alpha Omega clinic is once again offering its annual relationship series, this time as a three part workshop focused on communication skills.   Led by licensed social worker Carolyn Hansen, the workshop is open to all adults 21 and over, including married couples, engaged couples, dating and singles.  The workshop will be held at St. Agnes parish hall in Arlington from 6 – 9 pm on consecutive Wednesdays—November 2nd, 9th, and 16th.  A wine and cheese reception will precede each presentation, and a $10 donation is suggested per person per night (or $25 for the series).

Register now!

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By Therese Bermpohl, Director, Office for Family Life

Call it a blowout Catholic Picnic. Call it a festival. Call it a chance to eat good food, listen to great music and enjoy the entertainment of talented local performers.

But no matter what you call it, don’t miss out on this opportunity to celebrate with Catholics from all over the Diocese of Arlington at the third-annual Catholic Family Festival on Saturday Sept. 24, 2011, from 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. at Bull Run Regional Park in Centreville, Va.

What does the Washington Post have to say about this year’s Catholic Family Festival’s headlining band? “Scythian’s enthusiasm is contagious, and shows seem to end with everyone dancing, jumping around or hoisting glasses.”

This festival promises enjoyment for the entire family. The kids will relish the free games including laser tag, a giant inflatable slide, a moon bounce and face-painting, as parents sample foods from around the globe while listening to the infectious sounds of popular local band, Scythian, of whom the Washington Post writes: “Scythian’s enthusiasm is contagious, and shows seem to end with everyone dancing, jumping around or hoisting glasses.”

Sports enthusiasts can enjoy an organized soccer tournament or play pick-up soccer, Frisbee and football, while shoppers peruse the many vendors and exhibitors who will be selling jewelry, art, and other crafts and collectibles.

Finally, don’t miss out on the opportunity to worship at a Holy Mass celebrated by our own Bishop Paul S. Loverde. The exhilarating Gospel choir from St. Joseph Parish, Alexandria, will sing during the Mass.

With free parking and entry (a donation of $5 per car is suggested) at the beautiful Bull Run Park, this promises to be a day of fun and free activities for the entire family to enjoy. Don’t miss out on the fun!

Things to remember:

Bring cash for food and vendors (there are no ATMs and only some vendors will accept  other forms of payment)

  • Bring a chair or blanket and lots of sunscreen!
  • No pets and no alcohol allowed

For more information on the festival visit our website, www.catholicfamilyfestival.org, or call (703) 841-2550

To learn more about volunteer opportunities, contact Anne at cff@arlingtondiocese.org

To learn more about vendor opportunities, contact Tom at cff@arlingtondiocese.org

To download a printable flyer, click here.

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By: Thérèse Bermpohl
Director, Office for Family Life

Along with Bishop Loverde and two colleagues, I attended a conference this past April that highlighted the horrors of pornography.  It was sponsored in part by the Religious Alliance Against Pornography (RAAP) and was entitled “Convergence: Uniting Leaders to Combat Sexual Exploitation in the Mobile Age.”

Unfortunately, we will be hearing more about this issue in the years to come because it’s not only destroying the lives of men and women, it is reaching into the heart of the family and snatching the innocence away from our children.

It is important for parents and teachers to exercise extreme caution in regards to children’s Internet usage.

Children can be attacked at home via the internet, at school, at a friend’s house, on the playground, or even on the school bus.  My sister is an elementary school principal and she is appalled by the amount of inappropriate images that make it to her office on an almost-weekly basis. On multiple occasions, I’ve heard her tell her grown daughter, mother of three, “Please don’t let my grandchildren ever ride a bus to school.  You wouldn’t believe the conversations and actions that take place on the school bus.”

Our children are so vulnerable; they don’t go looking for pornography, it comes to them.  On average, the first “hit” comes by about age 8. Tragically, pornography is forming our children with a completely distorted view of human sexuality. The daunting task for parents to restore a proper understanding of sexuality becomes monumental.

But, of course, children are not the only ones at risk, and while the secular world clings to its mantra that, “a little pornography never hurt anyone,” the truth is that pornography hurts all involved – children and adults alike! The more widespread the use of pornography becomes, the more the supply must increase to fill the twisted desires of its users. The enormity of the problem is staggering.  It’s hard to know where to begin to combat this type of evil that enslaves both the user and the used.

I spent the two weeks after the conference pondering the demand for pornography, prostituted children and sex trafficking, deeply affected by the inhumanity of it all.  It wasn’t until the Easter Vigil during the Exsultet, that the fog began to lift and I was reminded that even the ugliest of sin can be washed away through the saving power of Jesus Christ:

“This is the night
when Christians everywhere,
washed clean of sin
and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace…
and grow together in holiness.
The power of this holy night
dispels all evil, washes guilt away,
restores lost innocence…”

We have lost our innocence through sin and perversion of all kinds, but the Good News is we have been restored in Jesus Christ. We no longer have to suffer, but can rather avail ourselves of His grace that frees us from the chains of all addictions. We have been given the Sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist to open the doors to healing. Also, there are practical supports such as psychologists, counselors, support groups and on-line services that can help rid the suffering of every kind of disfiguring addiction.

As for our children: Until we change the hearts of the adults, our children will always be at risk, but we can minimize those risks by researching the issue and staying informed.  Parents, get the facts. Learn about every single electronic gadget (from cell phones to the Xbox) you hand to your children and their capability to access pornographic material. Research internet filters that will bar this material from being available in your home.

Pornography has become a widespread disease in our culture, but you can start to eliminate it by finding practical tips to protect yourself and your family.

Check out these sites for more information:

For child protection visit: http://www.covenanteyes.com/

http://www.pornnomore.com/

http://www.waronillegalpornography.com/

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By: Therese Bermpohl

Did you see the final episode of American Idol last night?  I admit, I saw parts of it.  I watched with curiosity as the two Christian teens battled it out to gain the title of “American Idol.”  Their parents waited in anticipation and copious tears were shed as the name “Scotty” was shouted out to the millions of viewers – the newest “American Idol.”

The final show was a bizarre mixture of wholesome and decadent American values.  On the one hand, there were the two young teens who professed to love God and value what is right, as they said things like, “I have to be good, because my principal is here tonight,” and “Thank you, Lord.”

On the other hand, there was Lady Gaga, with a performance that could’ve made even Mae West blush.  Lady Gaga, Catholic girl turned rock icon, sang her latest song in a skimpy two-piece costume while provocatively dancing (if you could call it that) with a man lying on a makeshift stage, all while a cross dangled from the upper part of her ensemble. She received a standing ovation from the riveted audience.

This is apparently fortune and fame?  One is forced to wonder what was going through the minds of the two American Idol finalists and their parents as Gaga performed for the millions of viewers.  By supporting these sorts of performances, what are we saying to the world that we value and esteem?

Earlier that day, on a different kind of stage, in stark contrast to American Idol, I watched a video on Christian persecution throughout Africa, Asia and the Middle East.  I heard testimony after testimony from those who, despite horrible tortures, refused to renounce Christ and from those who watched as beloved family members were murdered for their adherence to the Faith.

As I ponder the frivolity of the standards of the American entertainment industry that make an idol out of fame, I am grateful to God for the witness of so many faithful Christians.  They are a reminder of what is most important in life:  faithfulness, obedience, love and respect for the dignity of the human person.

Let us take a cue from our brave Christian brothers and sisters who have the courage to face torture and death for the love of Jesus Christ.  Let us remember them in prayer and through sacrifice, these modern-day martyrs who shed their blood for the good of the world.  Through their example, may we be inspired to stand up for Christ and speak the truth in a world that values money and fame above all else.

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By: The Office For Family Life

Parishioners throughout the diocese volunteer as “Gabriel Angels” with the Gabriel Project Arlington (GPA) to help families who need pregnancy assistance. We wish to share with you some of the latest feedback and stories about this life-giving ministry.

Baby Connor

It is uncommon that we have contact with Gabriel fathers, but when a mom speaks a language other than English or Spanish, her husband may take charge of communication with the Gabriel Project. One father, who has attentively overseen the care of his wife during her first pregnancy, called to announce the birth of their daughter. “It’s like you really are angels. It’s because of [Gabriel Project] that this process went so smoothly. Thank you for being so helpful and attentive to our needs, I just can’t thank you enough. Our baby is so new and perfect; every day is like a new day, now that I am a father.”

Baby Gianna

When the daughter of one of our GPA Tepeyac moms was born prematurely, she called Gabriel Project for prayers. “I am very worried for my baby, but I keep giving everything to God, to Mary our Mother.” The one-pound baby and her mother were visited in the hospital by Holy Spirit Parish volunteers, who offered prayers and encouragement for both the mom and the baby. Two weeks after her birth, the baby was reported to have made significant gains and is now able to breathe on her own.

Barbara, a volunteer, from Good Shepherd Parish shared about a special day with the mother she was assisting: “I wanted to make sure she was able to share in the most important part of Easter, the celebration of Mass.” The mom and her two daughters really loved Mass and Barbara also introduced them to a priest afterwards.

A mom, who when she first came to us was abortion-minded, shared about her “Angel” and free Lamaze classes: “I don’t know how to describe Lisa, but she was such a wonderful companion, we spent the whole day together, and she helped me with other activities as well. Truly, she was an angel. Thank you — I look forward to seeing her again this weekend.”

The babies pictured are twins who were born with support from St. Theresa Parish, Ashburn. Welcome to the world Connor and Gianna!

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By: Therese Bermpohl, Director of the Office for Family Life

The Obama Administration announced yesterday that it will no longer defend in court the Defense of Marriage Act that was enacted by Congress and signed into law in 1996.

This law in particular has implications for the good of society as a whole.  Marriage between one man and one woman, ordained by God, is the primary building block for a healthy society and must be maintained for the culture to flourish.

I cannot help but think that a significant contributor to current attitudes toward marriage began with the acceptance of contraception by many in the Western world.  At the 1930 Lambeth Conference, the Anglican Church was the first to break with years of Christian tradition that upheld the dangers of separating the sexual act from its life-giving potential, thereby sanctioning the use of artificial contraceptives.

Other Christian traditions soon followed suit, and although the Catholic Church has always maintained that contraception is a moral evil, many individual Catholics have chosen to break with the Church on this crucial teaching, with devastating consequences for the Church and society.

Since much of our culture no longer considers openness to life to be a constitutive part of the marital act, and since many no longer consider God as the author of marriage, anything goes.  We have seen the societal effects of this in the ravages of divorce, sexual exploitation, abortion and broken lives.  If the family – the cornerstone of every society – is to flourish, we must pray that God will guide our culture back to a proper respect for marriage and human sexuality.

Further, the President has a sworn Constitutional duty to see to it that the laws of the land are faithfully executed. When a President begins to pick and choose which laws should or should not be enforced or upheld, the entire country should not only be concerned, but alarmed.

Here is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ response to the President’s decision:

USCCB DECRIES REFUSAL TO SUPPORT DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE ACT

WASHINGTON – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issues the following from its Office of General Counsel:

“Marriage has been understood for millennia and across cultures as the union of one man and one woman.  Today, the President has instructed the Department of Justice to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law reiterating that definition of marriage, passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Democratic President just fifteen years ago.  The principal basis for today’s decision is that the President considers the law a form of impermissible sexual orientation discrimination.

“This decision represents an abdication of the responsibility of the Executive Branch to carry out its constitutional obligation to ensure that the laws of the United States are faithfully executed.  It is also a grave affront to the millions of Americans who both reject unjust discrimination and affirm the unique and inestimable value of marriage as between one man and one woman.  Support for actual marriage is not bigotry, but instead an eminently reasonable, common judgment affirming the foundational institution of civil society.  Any suggestion by the government that such a judgment represents “discrimination” is a serious threat to the religious liberty of marriage supporters nationwide.”

February 23, 2011

Anthony R. Picarello, Jr.

General Counsel

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

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