Cluster of wheat image Grapes and vines image Cluster of wheat image
August 28th, 2008

IN MEMORIAM: REV. WM. C. SMITH

I first started blogging because I wanted to give tribute to a saintly doctor, Herbert Ratner, M.D. I now give tribute to a saintly priest, Reverend William C. Smith, who died one year ago today.

Father William C. Smith

Born January 11, 1921

Ordained: December 22, l945

Died: August 28, 2007

Father Bill came twice a week to our local abortion mill but also, in between his various surgeries (including a nephrectomy for cancer), he also went regularly to the mills in Bridgeport and Stamford. There he would stand (STAND!) for hours, in all weather, praying for an end to abortion. So dedicated was he that after his death homilist Fr. Towsley commented that they were unable to find a decent pair of shoes for him to wear in his casket!

Father Smith was Catholic and pro-life to the core. In memoriam, on the first anniversary of his death, I would like to honor him by posting online what he wrote about (1) his Catholic faith and (2) about his pro-life convictions.

TENETS AND TRUTHS OF CATHOLICISM AS OLD AS CHRISTIANITY
Reverend William C. Smith
January 12, 1991

When I was first asked to write an article for the religion page, I wondered what I would write about. I decided I’d write about six subjects that non-Catholics may misunderstand. They are (a) the Bible, (b) Biblical interpretation, (c) Sacred tradition, (d) Papal infallibility, (e) Purgatory, and (f) Mary.

Not all readers will agree with what the church holds but I thought it would be of interest if I briefly stated our position.

We hold that the Catholic Church preserved the 73 books of the Bible and in 397 A.D. the Council of Carthage arranged them into one book – the Bible. Until the invention of the printing press (1445), handwritten copies were made in monasteries by candlelight and on parchment. Often there was only one Bible in a town and it was chained so all could read it, as the telephone company chains phone books so all can read them.

The first Bible printed by Gutenberg in 1445 was the Catholic Bible. By 382 St. Jerome had translated the entire Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin (the “Latin Vulgate”). Translations into various languages followed. About 1226 Cardinal Langton of Canterbury developed the chapter divisions. Portions of the Bible have always been read at Mass and private reading and study have always been encouraged.

In America we encourage folks to read the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, etc., but we do not allow for private interpretation of these documents. Similarly, Catholics are encouraged to read the Bible, but we do not believe in private interpretation. We believe Christ left the task of interpretation to his Church when he commissioned Peter and the apostles to “go teach all nations what I have commanded you” and he promised to send the Holy Spirit to “bring to your minds what I have taught you.”

In a similar way the Supreme Court interprets our documents; private interpretation would lead to anarchy.

In Acts 1:3 we read that Christ appeared to his apostles for 40 days after His resurrection and “spoke of the kingdom of God.” Yet the Bible does not record what he said! John 20:30 reads: “Many other signs also Jesus worked which are not written in this book.” 2 Timothy 1:13 reads: “Hold to the form of sound teaching which you have heard from me.”

Christ himself never wrote, nor did some of his apostles. They were sent out to “teach-preach.” The New Testament was written between 51-100 A.D. The church (33 A.D.) was in full operation for about 18 years before one word of the New Testament was written! Sacred Tradition contains the oral teachings of Christ and is a second source of divine Revelation, according to Catholic teaching.

Regarding papal infallibility: It does not mean that the Holy Father is inspired (as were the Gospel writers) nor that he receives a revelation (divine revelation ceased with the death of John, the Evangelist), nor that he is impeccable (cannot sin). It simply means he is protected from theological error when declaring to the whole Catholic world a teaching in faith or morals already contained in divine revelation (Bible and Sacred Tradition). This protection, we believe, is based on Christ’s command to Peter: “feed my lambs, feed my sheep,” plus Christ’s promise to be with the church till the end of time; plus his words: “he who hears you hears Me,” plus his promise to send the Holy Spirit to guide the church “into the way of truth” and to be the “pillar of truth.”

Catholics, of course, believe in Heaven and Hell. We also believe, however, in a place of cleansing called “Purgatory.” The Bible says (Revelation 21:) “Nothing unclean can enter Heaven.” Matthew 12:32 speaks of sins which cannot be forgiven “neither in this world, nor in the world to come.” This implies some sins can be forgiven after death. We believe venial sins (smaller sins) which are not repented in this world can be expiated (cleansed) in Purgatory. Macabees 12:46 reads: “It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins.”

Catholics neither adore nor worship Mary. To do so would be a brazen act of idolatry! We honor her as the mother of Christ. Christ honored her and thus fulfilled His own commandment – “Honor thy father and mother.” He performed his first miracle at her request at Cana. After Joseph’s death he supported her until He was 30 years of age in the home at Nazareth, when He left to begin His three years of public ministry.

If we love and adore Christ, we pay Him respect by honoring His mother. I can never understand people who feel they honor Christ by snubbing his mother, anymore than I honor you (the reader) by snubbing your mother. From the cross he said, “Behold thy mother.” I believe even a church needs a mother! The second Vatican Council has given Mary a new title: “mother of the church.” If Christ is the head of the body, the church, and she is his mother, then she is the mother of the church!–the mother of the head is mother of the members.!

CONCEPTION, ABORTION, AND THE SOUL

In Genesis 1:27 we hear God saying, “let us make man in our own image and likeness.” This image is the soul, not the body, since God is a divine spirit and the soul a human spirit. At conception, God creates a human soul and joins it to the material provided by mother and father. This great act of creation between God and parents is destroyed by abortion. The fetus, at conception, is a person because personhood is in the soul, not the body. Angels, e.g., are angelic persons, yet have no bodies. The body of the conceived fetus grows, not the soul, unless destroyed by abortion.

Conception is like marriage; body and soul are joined by God, and what God has joined, let no man put asunder, until death parts them. Weddings, like conception, are meant to be joyful. Abortions, like divorce, are always sad.

Every year in the U.S.A. we have many divorces. Every year we have millions of abortions. Doctors in abortion clinics put asunder what God has joined. The tiny, incipient, physical life of babies is snuffed out and the soul is sent prematurely into eternity, for the soul (spiritual and immaterial) cannot be killed. Abortionists, for money, push God aside, push his law aside, and say, in so many words, by their foul, murderous action: “I am God – I decide who lives and who dies – for I am Lord of life and death.”

Are we “one nation under God” or a divided nation under the pro-choice, pro-abortion crowd?

~~~

Whenever we parted from Father Smith, either at the abortuary site or at his nursing home, Father would bless us:  Benedicat vos omnipotens Deus, + Pater, + et Filius, + et Spiritus Sanctus.
R. Amen….

At our last visit, three days before he died, instead of his usual blessing Father gave us general absolution. I don’t know if that is according to the rubrics or not, but surely general absolution from a holy dying priest must be a good thing!

Well done, good and faithful servant. We who are left behind thank you. Pray for us.

~~~

And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18

December 18th, 2008

ABORTION “CLINIC” CLOSES (2)

I had no sooner published my first rejoicing over the closing of the only free-standing abortion mill in our city than I was besieged with further reflections of the “I shoulda said” variety.  Over the twenty years there have been many memories, some of which I’d like to share.

-1-

Father Bill Smith always told us that the desire to witness to the evil of abortion in public was a charism, a gift from God, not given to everyone. I think all of us would testify that when we first decided it was something we needed to do we had considerable difficulty getting out of the car the first time and actually doing it.  We can also testify that we no longer think twice about it; we just do it.

-2-

We do not refer to the abortuary as a clinic.  A clinic is a place for diagnosis and treatment leading to health.  When one of the patients always ends up dead, and the other is wounded ( physically, psychologically, or both) that is not healthy.

-3-

Early on, when the abortuary was on Mill Plain Road, there was no sidewalk, and in the winter we had to make a path through the snow.   Sometimes people would drive as close as they could, splashing us or forcing us from the path.  Other times people would see us and return with hot coffee or cookies.

-4-

Also, when Medical Options first moved to Main Street, Mr. T (husband of the nurse who ran the abortuary) came out to talk with us with his young son.  “ Show her,” he said, and his son Jeremy opened his coat to reveal a T-shirt which read: “I was chosen.”  That boy would be a grown man now, probably married, maybe even blessed with children.  I have often wondered has it occurred to him that perhaps there had been brothers or sisters who weren’t “chosen.”  I wonder how he feels about having parents whose business is killing babies.  Of course, they present themselves as rendering a service to womankind, and proud of it.  But – I wonder.

-5-

During the days of Operation Rescue I was excited when I learned that a rescue was planned at Medical Options.  (See my post here explaining why we considered ourselves rescuers, not protesters.)   Since Medical Options was located on Main Street, a very central location, with a Catholic church a few doors south and another Catholic church a few blocks north, I thought that when word got around that people were being arrested for protesting abortion on MAIN STREET Christians of all stripes would rally around in solidarity.   It was one of the biggest disillusionments of my life that no such thing happened.  Our own Father Smith was there, of course, blessing us as we were removed from the premises.  But crowds of  people in prayer support?  Priests?  Pastors?  Forget about it!  I wonder what it will take for the church to finally rise up?  Will it ever?

-6-

All in all, three rescues took place at Medical Options.  In one of them the renowned pro-lifer Joan Andrews, took part.  Joan had been imprisoned in Florida for 2-l/2 years in solitary confinement for the crime of entering a abortion “clinic” and disabling the suction machine.  They would not release her  because she refused to promise that she would not do it again.  In another rescue, we actually invaded the premises and sat on the waiting room floor, refusing to move.  When the police came (the police station was right across the street) and hauled us off, we spent the weekend in jail and went to court on Monday.  If I recall correctly, we were released, “time served.”  One of us, Audrey, sent a letter to the newspaper complaining that in jail they took our coats away and the cells were cold with only a metal bench to lie on and no blankets.  When we tried to block the cold air coming from a vent in the ceiling with toilet paper they threatened to take our toilet paper away.  On the other hand, we remember happily one officer who brought us candy bars!

-7-

Years ago Medical Options employed “clinic escorts” who wore orange vests and were supposed to see that patients were not interfered with when they arrived for an abortion.  One day I had arrived early and was walking up and down alone, wearing my sign, and there were four such escorts lined up across the driveway.  As I was praying that someone would soon come and join me, a priest that I did not know appeared out of nowhere.  After he greeted me, he went up to the “escorts” and asked, “Are you pro-life or pro-death?”  I don’t think the question had ever been put to them so clearly before and they were taken aback.    What a blessing he was!  Actually, the priest was still a brother at that point,  later ordained a priest, and now pastors a church in Arizona.  A Danbury native, he would still visit and pray with us whenever he was in town.

The last time! The Gang, Medical Options, December 2008

The last time! The Gang, Medical Options, December 2008

After all those years of praying together, we “picketeers” have become like a family.  We are birds of a feather, with spiritual bonds that can be closer than blood bonds.  We don’t know what we will be doing with ourselves every Tuesday and Saturday morning, now that the “clinic” is closed.   Activists that we are, we are praying about what we are called to do next, but we will surely continue to keep in touch with each other.  We located an advertisement by Medical Options saying they had moved, but of course when we call they won’t say where they have moved to.   Time will tell.

Medical Options Advertisement

Medical Options Advertisement

~~~

There are six things which the Lord hates, seven which are an abomination to him:  haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness that breathes out lies, and a man that sows discord among brothers.

–Proverbs 6:16-19

July 13th, 2011

A THING CALLED MARRIAGE

Long, long ago, way back before I was born, way back in the olden days, there was a thing called marriage. From the beginning it was apparent that men and women were attracted to each other and they had discovered a thing called sex. They had also figured out that the thing called sex caused babies. They believed there was a Person called God who was in charge of the world, who had told them how they were to live.

Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder. – Matt. 19:4-6.

In the olden days, marriage was a holy convenant, a promise before God and man, “for better, for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health, until death shall us part.”   Such a thing was not to be taken lightly; it was no casual hook-up. The promises were the glue, society would watch over the union, and God would provide the grace to make it work. Rings were exchanged which were a sign to others that they were in a convenant relationship. No wonder people cried at weddings! A marriage was a beautiful, awesome, holy thing. A vow was made before God.   Friends  were asked to be witnesses. Two young people with stars in their eyes and love in their hearts were serious about making this union work! And they were committed to caring for any offspring that might result.

Ronald Sider, President of Evangelicals for Social Action, writes:

The core idea of marriage–as a relationship between a man and a woman that obligates them to work together to nurture their biological children–has been important to every known civilization. Why? Because it corresponds with three fundamental realities of human existence: It takes both a man and a woman to make a child; any society that wants to survive must have children; children deserve both their mother and father.

In the old days when marriage came before sex and the baby carriage, society was more stable.  Vows were taken seriously.  Even if the actuality of living out the marriage left something to be desired (which is usually the case!) there was more belief that with God’s help they could make it work.  The world was not full of single moms desperately trying to feed their kids, and single men out on the prowl. The men had a woman to go home to and the woman had a man to provide home and food while she cared for the babies. Babies had a present and available mother. It was a plan. One might even say it was God’s plan.  It provided parents for the kids. The kids knew who made them and knew who would care for them as long as necessary.

From Janet Smith

Think of the difference between these two phrases: “I want to have sex with you.” and “I want to have a baby with you.” It’s awesome – the difference. Our society says, “I want to have lunch with you, I want to go to movies with you, I want to play tennis with you, and I want to have sex with you.” No big deal. But if someone comes up to you and says, “I want to have a baby with you,” you should be knocked off your feet. Because, if they have any idea what they’re saying, they’re saying: “I want to be with you from now till forever. First of all, we’d be bringing forth a new immortal soul and we have an immortal link through this immortal soul that wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t engaged in this act. It also means, I like you eyes and your smile and the way you walk and I want to bring another one of you into this world. And I like the way you think and I want my children to think like you. And I’m willing to be there for midnight feedings and breakfast and PTA’s and weddings and the long haul. I want to have a baby with you.” That’s an incredible thing to say to someone. “I want to have sex with you.” We say that with the greatest of casualness. “I want to have babies with you.” If you know what you’re saying, it’s an incredible statement. You are expressing the desire for an incredible bond with a person when all of your acts of sexual intercourse leave open the ordination to procreation. Whether it’s literal or symbolic, at least it’s there and preserved in some sense.

Janet Smith obviously takes the fertility as a gift and I cannot recommend highly enough the article from which this quote was taken.

 

Steven  Greydanus, in his article Redefining Marriage, writes:

And yet whatever cultural vagaries or ambiguities have existed, whatever wiggle room has been permitted, tolerated or carved out, there remains a clearly recognizable institution, found everywhere that human beings are found, in which a man and a woman are socially recognized to have formed an enduring union, a union that is the socially sanctioned context for sexual relations between a man and a woman, from which it is generally expected that children may arise.

Activists have labored mightily to avoid this conclusion. Historical and anthropological records have been scoured with vigilance for any possible departure from the pattern. Numerous proposed precedents for same-sex have been compiled: accounts of this or that Roman emperor “marrying” a male slave; reports of curious customs in this or that African culture. Nearly all these supposed precedents collapse on second glance, and none of them provide a true precedent for gender-blind marriage, or pose a serious challenge to the universality of marriage as the enduring union of a man and a woman.

Catholics believe that Christ changed marriage, that for baptized Christians marriage is a sacrament, the sacrament of matrimony. Marriage itself, however, is a natural institution that still exists for all men of any religion or of none.


A thoughtful essay on sterile marriages

Is real marriage “just one of a range of legally-recognised options” as one writer put it?  Well, yes, because it is one of  many things people do.  But, no, it is not on a par with other sexual hook-ups.  It is not only God’s plan but demonstrably a better plan for society and for children.   Time will tell, won’t it?

 

October 29th, 2010

THREE BOOKS

Ennui has set in. I attribute it to the medication for my vertigo which makes me sleepy. But I’ve read three really, really good books in the past couple of weeks and can’t in good conscience not post a little something about them. The writing in each is extraordinary.

So, first:

THE THINGS THEY CARRIED, by Tim O’Brien.

This is a book about the Viet Nam War and it is fiction, but so real you can taste and feel it.   O’Brien at the age of 22 was drafted into the infantry and served a year in Viet Nam. He came home, went to Harvard, and launched a writing career. As he says, “a long time ago I walked through Quang Ngai Province as a foot solder. Almost everything else is invented.” Then he explains why story-truth is sometimes better than happening-truth.

Here is the happening-truth. I was once a soldier. There were many bodies, real bodies with real faces, but I was young then and I was afraid to look. And now, twenty years later, I am left with faceless responsibility and faceless grief.

Here is the story-truth. He was a slim, dead, almost dainty young man of about twenty. He lay in the center of a red clay trail near the village of My Khe. His jaw was in his throat. His one eye was shut, the other was a star-shaped hole. I killed him.


HURRY DOWN SUNSHINE by Michael Greenberg.

The first line reads:   “On July 5, 1996, my daughter was struck mad. She was fifteen and her crack-up marked a turning point in both our lives.” You cannot help but wonder what happens next when someone near and dear to you is struck mad. The story is told as it is happening, the onset,the symptoms, the diagnosis, the hospitalization, the treatment, the return home. At one point Greenberg takes a full dose of his daughter’s medication and we see clearly how potent a drug must be to treat a psychosis.

FATHER JOE: The Man Who Saved My Soul, by Tony Hendra

Tony Hendra, English comedian, satirist, writer for the National Lampoon, as a teenage boy wanted to become a Benedictine monk. This is the story of a lad aspiring to the simple, holy life, who became an blasphemous agnostic to whom nothing was sacred. He is a word-smith and has a delicious way with words. I remember the writer each morning at Mass when I look at the sanctuary light which according to Hendra, says, “Jesus is……IN!”   I was also impressed by the impact it had on the teenage Tony when he realized that Jesus had actually lived and walked  on earth if not “in the here and now, in the there and then.”


These books are not Catholic or even Christian. The language, especially in the war stories,  is vulgar (of course) but these authors are top-notch storytellers  and each book  is worth the time it will take you to read it.   You want insight?   You get insight!

I would have linked the books to their pages on Amazon but perhaps the affiliation of my website with Amazon has expired for lack of use.  They are there and cheap.  Treat yourself.


December 16th, 2008

ANOTHER ABORTION MILL CLOSED!

The Gang - 1988

It took twenty years. But the abortion mill, Medical Options, seen above at its previous location being picketed by the original Danbury Gang in 1988, has finally closed its doors as of October, 2008, on the feast day of OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE! Who says prayers don’t work? So it takes a while sometimes.

We often wondered over the years why God took so long – were we not praying right? – did we chat too much between prayers? – was God waiting for greater numbers?  When Medical Options moved from the above location on Mill Plain Road to its 135 Main Street office right across from the Police Station “the gang” went along.  There it was, doing business on MAIN STREET, between two CATHOLIC CHURCHES!! Where were the crowds that should have protested this killing of babies for cash?

Over the years prayerful people came and went, some for a decade of the rosary, some for a decade of years.  We are sure that Father Bill Smith, featured in a previous post, must have had something to do with the final closing.  He was older than anyone and more faithful than anyone, and he had to travel all the way from Norwalk to be with us.    Thank you, Father Bill, for your inspiration and giving our motley crew an aura of respectability.

At its October, 2008, convention the Connecticut Right to Life Corporation honored the Danbury Gang with the Frank Haggerty Award, a pewter platter, nicely inscribed.  Over the years seven regular “picketeers,” including our beloved Father Bill, had died without seeing their prayers answered.

Our Pewter Plate

Our Pewter Plate

We do not know if Medical Options is closed for good or will pop up someplace else.   They did not tell us they were going, or why, or where.  We did not see them leave.  But we were told by a friend in a neighboring store that they left ON THE FEAST DAY OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE!  How cool is that?  Many years we  would gather and pray on her feast day with a huge OLG banner.  On other days we had a smaller picture of OLG.  We said so many Hail Marys that our Protestant friends protested!  They feel there is something wrong about the ratio of one Our Father to ten Hail Marys.  It doesn’t seem to help much to explain that while we are saying the ten Hail Marys were are supposed to be reflecting on various events in the life of Christ.

HAIL MARY!   Daughter of the Father, mother of the Son, spouse of the Holy Spirit! Of course God will listen when Mary intercedes!

~~~

Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen

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