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October 4, 1996     The Message
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October 4, 1996

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4 1996 The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana 5 -- Bishop's Forum -- If you were surprised ... The votes of the United States Congress, in a predictable failure to override the President's Veto of a Ban on Partial Birth Abortions, could lead one to be cynical. For me cynicism is being skeptical with deep anger. Setting that aside, we in our country can do better than the" outcome of a con- gressional vote. In fact we must. Despite the awful outcome, we, you and I, must applaud the solidarity of the Congressmen and Senators of our state. Each one of them voted to override the presi- dential veto of the ban on Partial Birth Abortions. Would that every legislator in the land would have done the same. I find it abhorrent to learn that notable legisla- tors professing the Catholic faith were comfortable in voting from a political platform -- "What do I lose if I vote to override the president's veto on this issue?" I was most encouraged to hear one senator state that he was compelled to override the presi- dential veto because of his conscience. I am sure there are others, but Patrick Leahy's voice spoke the words and his actions reflected his words. But, if you were only disappointed, you have missed the point. The eternal principle that has authority over life is God alone. God has endowed us with free will to act as we choose. But God has also established commandments _ the platform -- by which life is to be governed God has clearly spelled out in the Sacred Scriptures, and the hearts of humankind of all races and persuasions the law that brings order to human existence. Life belongs to God. If each of us faithfully keeps God's laws, there is no need for civil laws to guarantee the order God has ordained. We do not need Congressional action to protect the lives of the unborn, children, the non-productive members of society, and the frail and dying elderly. By BISHOP GERALD A. GETTELFINGER These are the poor of which Jesus spoke. These will always be with us. God will indeed care for them, but we must do our part -- that is, not to get in God's way. Our free will places the burden of responsibility for personal acts much closer to home than you and I would like. Just as certainly as God will care for the poor with love and mercy, God will hold you and me account- able for our choices. As a bishop, I have an obliga- tion to confront those in political life, or anyone else who is willing to compromise sacred principles for political or personal gain. There are no exceptions to God's law which protects all life. In confronting others, I must confront myself. I acknowledge that, like everyone else, I must live the Scriptural man- date to "choose life." There is another consideration. Jesus' willingness to forgive sinners may scan- dalize some. It can be difficult to understand that God will forgive anyone, no matter the sin. God will be merciful to those who in a moment of personal crisis alone seek an abortion or assistance in sui- cide. Babies do not choose life. They have no choice as to their parents or the circumstances of their conception. They come into being, live or die by rea- son of choices of other human beings. Unfortunately many, even before they are born, are denied the fullness of human life. Compelled by reason of personal embarrass- ment, or brutal attack or because of sinful acts of passion some are driven to the remove "the prob- lem" of an unwanted pregnancy. Others may seek to escape a terminal illness with its accompanying pain. God's mercy will abound for those who seek it. On the other hand, those who prey on the weakness of others may find a harsher judgment from God who, although infinitely merciful, is a God of justice. Especially I refer to those who seek finan- cial gain at the expense of others' lives. Beware of those willing to collaborate in the destruction of the unborn, the non-productive and the frail and dying elderly. The same conscience that calls us to act justly also calls us to be compassionate to those who in their weakness have taken the life of another. God will deal with those who act out of greed or malice. What is the solution? Each of us, before God, must be responsible for every action of our life. To lay blame on congre s - sional members for our own weakness is an act of "barking up the wrong tree." We must not lay on others burdens that we are not willing to accept ourselves. Let us affirm those who in a most public fash- ion uphold life from its very beginning to its natural end. Let us, with our base in sacred principles, challenge those who would act otherwise. Let respect for life in all its moments be our guiding principle, for God is the source of all life. Let us be forgiving of those who, for whatever reason, act against that which we understand to be truth. Let us walk with them in their suffering when regret of their own decisions ensues -- for indeed it will. Teach your children! Teach them right from wrong. Teach them by example the meaning of moral grit. It comes only through the daily disci- pline of living according to God's law day in and day out, in season and out of season, when it's easy and when it's hard. You and I must exercise that disci- pline with them. If children do not learn right from wrong at home, there is little hope they will ever learn it. Yet those of us who support parents and children must collaborate and exercise the same disciplines by our own conduct. We really don't need more laws to protect life. God's law is sufficient if each of us abides by it faithfully. Where have all the dumplings gone? ili,i : i: ))ii Commentary ]By Justin Clements Director, Office of Stewardship Development e s- n " --- "Y Umber one: On a reuent r evening a woman one of the many parish m our diocese with one to buy dumplings. lately, by the time .she all the dumplings ned So she returned to the SOcial the next evening (it a two-day affair) one hour than the previous evening her dumplings. Alas, once She arrived too late; the a hot selling item again sold out: The irate, and expressed displeasure with the social and its leader- within earshot out. ,  ;, Story number two: On a Sunday afternoon a cou- Came to still another of ,our the famous and well-publicized noon meal. As they joined the meal line, they were quite vocal about the inconvenience of wait- ing to be served. In their own words: "If we had known that we would have to wait to get our food, we never would have come!" They finally got their food but they were not happy campers; they, too, left in a huff after eat- ing their dinners. Hardly a day goes by that we don't read or hear about people suffering someplace on the plan- et from great tragedies: human- on-human violence: murders, terrorism, senseless beatings; or natural disasters: earthquakes, floods, tornados; or tragic acci- dents: plane crashes, automobile wrecks; or ravaging physical dis- eases: cancer, starvation, AIDS, etc. Compared to such sad, crushing calamities, doesn't being angry about dumplings or a short wait for a meal seem absolutely ridiculous? A motivational speaker once said: "There are two rules we need to follow for our own men- tal health and peace of mind. Rule Number l: 'Don't sweat the small stuff.'And Rule Number 2: 'It's all small stuffi" How often do we find ourselves upset or furious or worried about the small stuffl At those times it might be helpful to step away from our own little world for a few moments and consider those people we know who are dealing w|th truly serious problem: loved one with terminal cancer, the parents of a child who recent- divorce, a grandparent who just learned he is the victim of corpo- rate "downsizing  by his employ- er of more than 30 years. Even on our darkest days, we most likely know someone who is suf- feting even more than we are! But what if you can't think of someone worse off than you? What if you think your life has reached its lowest point? It's pre- cisely at those times when your efforts to live as a good steward will really pay off. The strength of your faith, the depth of your love, the breadth of your gen- erosity will bear fruit and sus- tain you. Just as someone "in love" suddenly begins listening to the words of every love song played on the radio, so, too, will a suffering person who has been faithful and sincere in living a stewardship way of life begin to make sense of familiar quotes from Sacred Scripture: Mt. 6:21: "Where your treasure is, there will be your heart also;" Luke 6:38, and Mark 4:24: "Give, and there will be gifts for you.., the amount you measure out is the amount you will be given back, and more besides;" 2 Corinthi- ans 9:6-9: "... the more you sow, the more you reap.., there is no limit to the blessings which God can send you -- he will make sure you will always have all you need.., and still have something to spare for all sorts of good works." Even on their worst days, good stewards have the , streneth of faith necess r to count their many blessings and thank God for them. ly committed .s.uicid, a friend When we are told that God ' vJla ,J2, ryi/g: ,to, .cpp with., cannot be outdone in generosity, we often tend to think in dollars. and cents: "Ifl give more money to the church, I'll have a better chance to get a raise or win the lottery." Some of the "electronic evangelists  on Sunday morning seem to imply this kind of return from contributions to their min- istries. But much of what God returns to good stewards comes in the form of comfort and sup- port by the Christian communi- ty as it embraces us when we need it most. When we're fright- ened, hurt and confused, God consoles and strengthens us most often through the compas- sion and help ofour fellow Chris- tian stewards. Good stewards know that God is the source of all  and they trust in God's mercy and gen- erosity. Perhaps all we need when something or someone upsets us is to recite the beauti- ful Serenity Prayer: "GOd, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." Good stewards know the difference between dumplings lost and blessings receivedl Msgr. Schlachter to, celebrate with pope By CINDY WOODEN Catholic News Service VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Vatican has had to rely on local bishops to do the inviting to a four-day celebration of the 50th anniversary of Pope'8ohn Paul II's priestly ordination. (From the Diocese of EvansviI, Msgr. Clarence Schlachter plans to join in the celebration. Msgr. Schlachter, director of the dioce- san Mission office, was ordained a priest on June 11, 1946.) The plan is that every dioce- san or religious-order priest ordained in 1946 would be invit- ed porticipate in=a Nov. 7-10 jubilee program of talks and sharing, Masses and prayer ser- vices, celebrations and sightsee- ing. But the Vatican does not have a mailing list for all the jubilar. ians, nor is it sure of how many men were ordained to the priest- hood the same year as the then- 26-year-old Karol Wojtyla, the current pope. The uncertainty has not slowed down the planning spear- headed by Archbishop Crescen- zio Sepe, secretary of the Con- gregation for Clergy. He said that Pope John Paul would make a gift to each of the participating priests -- a sim- ple, but elegant stole with a cross, the papal crest and the date. As of Sept. 13 he. sd, about - I,000 priests and bishops ordained in 1946 had tton to the Vatican's tour coordinating