Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Advent, Storms of Life, US Elections
Volume 6 No. 383 November 11, 2016

V. General Weekly Features

Saint Mother Teresa And The Transformation of Politics

by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson

Mother Teresa knew poverty inside and out. Having devoted her life to those living on the streets in Calcutta, India - and around the world - she daily ministered to those most would consider the poorest people on earth.

The poor were her passion and her life's work. No one was more identified with the destitute than she was. So when she spoke to the Harvard graduates of 1982, they were well within their rights to expect her to speak of the poor - of a poverty most of them could not even imagine.

She did speak that day of poverty, but it was not the poverty of a faraway place.

Mother Teresa explained that the poorest of the poor weren't in the slums of India; they were our neighbors right here in America. Calling abortion "one of the greatest poverties," the humble saint added: "A nation, people, family that allows that, that accepts that, they are the poorest of the poor."

Those who knew her were not surprised.

The previous year, I had the privilege of spending an entire day with Mother Teresa in Washington, D.C. There, she had spoken movingly about her work in Calcutta and especially about helping the unborn. She related "a very bad case," when one of her sisters found eight babies that had survived abortion in a bucket outside a clinic. She said she was able to save six and find loving homes for them.

She then said, "God has given your country so much. Do not be afraid of the child now. Do not turn your back to the little unborn child. Stand by that innocent one. My prayer for you and for your whole country is that we may realize the greatness of God's love for us and, with that love, protect the unborn child, the greatest gift of God for each of us and for the world."

Such language conveyed a consistent theme of hers. In 1979, upon receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, Mother Teresa said, "To me, the nations who have legalized abortion, they are the poorest nations. They are afraid of the little one, they are afraid of the unborn child, and the child must die because they don't want to feed one more child, to educate one more child."

Concern for unborn life was part of - indeed central to - her concern for the poor and the marginalized.

In 1994, at the National Prayer Breakfast, attended by congressional leaders of both parties and by President and Mrs. Clinton, Mother Teresa made a direct plea to the American people: "I feel that 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?"

She added, "Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want."

By the time this issue of Columbia reaches homes, Mother Teresa will have been honored with the title we knew she deserved even while she was alive: the title of saint. Many consider her the patron of the poor, for such she always was. Many also point to the obvious similarities between her love for the abandoned and that of Pope Francis.

But it would be an incomplete analysis of either Mother Teresa or the pope who canonized her if we overlooked how fundamental the plight of the unborn is to their broader discussion of poverty, marginalization and human dignity.

Indeed, Pope Francis has said things that easily could have been said by the woman he has raised to the honor of the altars. For instance, in a 2014 address he said, "It is therefore necessary to express the strongest possible opposition to every direct attack on life, especially against the innocent and defenseless, and the unborn in the mother's womb is the example of innocence par excellence."

And while some argue that societal ills, such as poverty, cause abortion, Mother Teresa saw abortion as the greatest poverty and as the cause of other social problems, including violence.

I have called for withholding our votes from pro-abortion candidates of any party. In prioritizing the many issues in the United States this election season, I suggest we follow Mother Teresa and place abortion above every other consideration. It merits such priority - both as the unparalleled killing of 50 million innocents in this country, and as what Mother Teresa called the "greatest poverty" and the "greatest destroyer of peace."

Consistent with Catholic thought on the issue, during my annual report to last month's Supreme Convention I said that I felt called as a matter of conscience to repeat what I had stated to delegates eight years ago when the Supreme Convention met in Québec City.

Once again we meet during a presidential election campaign in the United States and once again we face the question: "How should Catholics exercise their responsibilities as citizens?"

Catholics often confront a dilemma in deciding how to vote: Can we support a candidate who may be attractive for many reasons but who supports abortion? Some partisan advocates have sought to excuse support for pro-abortion candidates through a complex balancing act.

They claim other issues are important enough to offset a candidate's support for abortion. But the right to abortion is not just another political issue; it is in reality a legal regime that has resulted in more than 40 million deaths.

Imagine for a moment the largest 25 cities in the United States and Canada suddenly empty of people. This is what the loss of 40 million human beings would look like.

In fact, 40 million is greater than the entire population of Canada. What political issue could possibly outweigh this human devastation?

The answer, of course, is that there is none.

Abortion is different. Abortion is the killing of the innocent on a massive scale. We need to end the political manipulation of Catholic voters by abortion advocates.

It is time to end the entanglement of Catholic people with abortion killing. It is time to stop creating excuses for voting for pro-abortion politicians.

We will never succeed in building a culture of life if we continue to vote for politicians who support a culture of death. Catholic voters have the power to transform our politics.

We could start by heeding the words that St. Mother Teresa spoke while receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979:

"And so today, let us here make a strong resolution: We are going to save every little child, every unborn child, give them a chance to be born. … Let us all pray that we have the courage to stand by the unborn child, and give the child an opportunity to love and to be loved, and I think with God's grace we will be able to bring peace in the world."

Vivat Jesus!

© 2016 Knights of Columbus, All Rights Reserved.

The Best Lesson from the Worst of Donald Trump

By Craig Ballantyne

First things first, let's be clear. What Donald Trump said is repugnant and inexcusable. And yet the Trump apologists are out. His polling numbers have not fallen off a cliff, as one might expect. Instead, his followers have stuck loyally by side, as reported by The New York Times.

But the point of today's message is not to discuss politics. Set aside your opinions on Trump for a moment and look at the big lesson to be learned from his latest fiasco.

The lesson is that everyone gets a second chance. You can do something wrong and you can come back strong.

We live in the land of second chances. Robert Downey Jr., Michael Vick, Britney Spears, Marion Berry - even Anthony Weiner - were all given a second chances (although Weiner managed to throw that away, too).

Truth is stranger than fiction in the land of second chances, isn't it?

While you and I will never do or say something as revolting as Trump, the fact is that you and I will make some embarrassing mistakes over the course of our lives.

We might say something on social media that came out wrong. What seemed funny in the moment before you hit "post" doesn't seem so funny now, and your friends have a permanent digital record of how stupid you can be.

We might mess up at work. Recently a friend of mine sent out an email containing a virus. Worse, his apology email sent the next day to hundreds of authors and online business coaches included all of their private email addresses for others to see. He had forgotten to use the "blind carbon copy" form. Yet all will be forgiven - and forgotten - soon enough. No one is going to stop doing business with him. It was a mistake. He's human.

Even in a worst-case scenario, through a momentary lack of judgment, when otherwise good people get behind the wheel after two or three drinks and end up with an impaired driving charge, those people are forgiven and then given a second chance.

If there is one thing I know after having observed this crazy world for 41 years, it's that you can survive almost anything and come back better and stronger than ever before.

Don't let your mistakes or the fear of failure stop you. Don't quit because you flubbed up.

When a mistake happens, apologize, learn your lesson, vow to never to do it again, and move on.

When you fall from grace the world will give you a second chance.

Messy divorces can eventually lead to finding the love of your life.

Alcoholics can get sober and reclaim their lives.

Scrooges can become givers.

The proud can be humbled.

Sinners can be saved.

Even Hillary Clinton is taking advantage of a second chance. Almost 10 years ago she was trounced by a young upstart named Barack Obama.

In 2009, she told CNN she'd never run for president again.

Yet here we are. She's getting, and taking, a second chance.

Trump is getting his second, third, and one-hundredth chance.

What about you?

So you made a mistake at home, at work, or in your community.

It's okay.

You're human.

You didn't do what Trump did.

You didn't get embarrassed in front of 330 million Americans like Hillary did.

You don't have attack dogs out in the press snooping through your garbage and looking for skeletons in your closet.

It's time to move on.

Stop moping. Stop whining.

Here's what to do instead.

First, face the music. Apologize for what you did.

Second, pay the price. Accept the consequences and do your best to make things right.

Third, move on. Learn your lessons, get better, and grab that second chance that America is happy to give you.

Be more humble from your mistake. Become better from your mistake. Be more vulnerable, more open, and more authentic because of your mistake. Become a better leader because of what you learned.

Realize that people don't want to hurt you. Most people want to see you learn, improve, change, and become a better person. Your fans, your friends, and your family will rally around you.

The next time you make a simple mistake, take it in stride, and vow to get better. In almost every case, it's not going to be the end of the world.

In minor matters, you'd be best to laugh it off and stop taking yourself so seriously.

For example, earlier this year I was a Coldplay concert. A minute into the third song of the show, lead singer Chris Martin suddenly stopped and started laughing.

"Ah, I messed that up" he said, using much more colorful language.

There he was, a rock star with more than 20 years of performing live shows, and he had forgotten the words to his own song in front of 20,000 people.

He laughed it off. The crowd loved it. The band started again. No one cared.

And no one will really care when you mess up either.

If the celebrities I mentioned earlier and millions of other "fall-from-grace-and-climb-back-higher" stories have taught us anything, it's that we can fail catastrophically and the world will still give us a second chance.

You've given more than your fair share of second chances to others, now it's time to take your own.

I might even be looking for a second chance after this article because some readers won't be happy with my message today. That's okay. I knew what I was getting into when I wrote this essay on Sunday morning.

I apologize if I offended you. I accept that you might disagree with me. I understand if some folks didn't see the point I was making. But it's not going to stop me from trying to earn a second chance with you through another great essay on Monday.

So when you do something wrong, get back on track as soon as possible with something right. Your mistakes are minor damage that can be dealt with.

I give you permission to move on from the past and take advantage of the second chance that awaits you. It's yours for the taking and to become better because of it.

About The Author:

Craig Ballantyne is the founder of EarlyToRise University and the author of The Perfect Day Formula. His straightforward, sometimes "politically-incorrect" advice has helped millions of people transform their lives both physically and financially. Craig's secret weapons for success include his personal commandments, his 5 pillars, and his Perfect Life vision.

2016 © Early to Rise Publishing – All Rights Reserved

Family Special: How to Care for a Mother Who's Lost a Child

by Linda Znachko

As a mother of four, I've not endured the death of a child. I haven't known the gnawing emptiness of losing a daughter or a son.

Yet for the last seven years I've had the holy privilege of walking alongside families mourning the loss of loved ones. Many of these, some of whom have now become precious friends, are mothers who have lost children. In friendship with these grieving moms, walking with them through some of their darkest days, I've noticed a bit of what helps and what hurts.

Though every mother's grief is unique, here are a few things I've learned.

1. Be present.

Some of us are afraid to be engage with the mother who's lost a child because we're driven by one big overwhelming silencing and wall-building fear: I don't know what to say. Guess what? You're in good company. No one knows what to say.

But the good news is that the mom who's grieving doesn't expect you to have the right combination of magical words that will make it all better. There are no words, in any language, that can do that. What moms most need is your presence. Bring her a Diet Coke. Text her to let her know you're thinking about her. Stop by her house and sit on her couch. Listen to her. Sit with her in silence. Ask about her heart. Clean her bathrooms. Bring her a Panera Bread gift card. Write her a letter about what you loved most about her child. Help her organize her child's belongings.

Moms don't need you to say the right words. Moms need to know that you remember and that you care.

2. Talk about the child who died.

Understandably, you fear that mentioning the child a mom has lost will cause her to become sad. You want to spare her that upset. But most likely, the discomfort is more on your end than on hers. She's already sad, and mentioning her child doesn't compound her grief. In fact, it is more painful for many mothers when friends and neighbors and coworkers don't mention the loss of the child they love.

Want to know a secret? Most moms who have lost a child will assure you that saying something awkward is better than saying nothing at all.

And, like all moms, a mother who is grieving may want to talk about her child. She wants to celebrate and remember and grieve what was precious and funny and difficult and unique about the child she loves. She may even fear forgetting the unique little quirks that made her child unique.

Don't be afraid to talk about her son or daughter.

3. Listen.

The mother who has lost a child may not have many people who are willing or able to listen to her. Her spouse or parent or child or sibling is experiencing their own grief and may be unable to be present to her in the ways she most needs.

Make yourself available to listen. Let her know you care and want to hear whatever she wants to share: the good, the bad, the ugly. Resist the natural impulse to weigh in with your opinions unless she asks.

Just listen.

4. Allow tears.

If adults in your family weren't comfortable with their emotions, you may not be comfortable with your own. Don't let that discomfort drive you to squelch your own sadness or to avoid the sadness of the mom who's grieving.

It's alright for her to cry.

It's alright for you to cry.

Making room for her sadness, and your own, is a healing gift you can give to moms who've lost a child.

5. Pray with the mother.

The same fear that keeps us from engaging with moms who are grieving--"I don't know what to say!"--keeps us from praying with moms who are grieving. We fear that we won't know what to pray or that we'll say something stupid. And we might.

But prayer is a gift we can give to moms who are hurting. You don't have to have the right words to say. Pray in silence. Pray from a book of prayers. Pray Scripture.

Prayer reminds grieving mamas that their hurts matter to you and matter to God.

6. Remember and return to the mother's loss.

As weeks and months and years go by, it can be tempting to believe that if we don't mention her painful loss, we are doing a mother a service by not making her revisit it.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Moms don't forget. In fact, the writer of Isaiah uses this very absurd hyperbole to demonstrate God's own holy remembering: "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?" (Isaiah 49:15a)

The intuitive answer is, "No, of course not! Impossible!"

The prophet continues, "Though she may forget, I will not forget you!" (Isaiah 49:15b)

God does not forget us--in our hurt and loss and grief--and the mom you love does not forget her child. She doesn't forget after the funeral. She doesn't forget after she's returned to work. She doesn't forget when she gives birth to another child. She never forgets.

Mark the child's birthday and anniversary of his or her death on your calendar so you can continue to connect with the mother who has not forgotten.

I know how scary it can feel to walk alongside mothers who have lost a child. But as you do, know you are not alone. As you walk with mothers in their grief, you minister--with your face and voice and body--the words from God's own lips, "I will not forget you!" (Isaiah 49:15).

About The Author:

Linda Znachko is the author of 'He Knows Your Name' and founder of the ministry by the same name. 'He Knows Your Name' gives children a name in life and dignity and honor in death. She also partners with mothers who do not want their children's legacies to be the circumstances of their death. Her aim is to assist the grieving to find healing and purpose in knowing every life is sacred to God. A sought-after speaker, Znachko works to bring attention to the problem of abandoned, unwanted and marginalized children.


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