Gun Control: Pro-Life or Anti-Suffering?

I know the shooting at Roseburg happened weeks ago, and is “old news” in the media world, but those wounds never go away. As such, it has taken me weeks to work through these thoughts and type them out. So, here goes:

I was disheartened by the news of the shooting in Roseburg. So much more tragedy, senseless shootings, and death.

I was also surprised about how many people voiced up about needing more gun control laws, people who are also for abortion and for assisted suicide. I was confused on how one could be upset about the loss of life in a mass shooting at a college (which I am, too), but actively support the loss of life in the womb, in sickness, and in the elderly.

I realized it comes from a false sense of compassion. We as a society hate suffering. I think for some it is the ultimate goal in life: to not suffer. A child in the womb who is going to have a disability or disease? Doctors advise mothers to end the life before it really begins. Or, who was unintentionally conceived and has the potential to be “unloved?” It’s a mother’s choice, apparently. A terminally ill patient? Assisted suicide, because suffering is the worst thing that can befall a person. An elderly person who can hardly get around? We find them to be a burden on society, not considering what they’ve given in their lifetime or the wisdom they’ve amassed.

But then there is a shooting on a college campus. Teenagers, barely adults. In the prime of their life, having done nothing to deserve death, studying to get an education to be tax-payers and maybe parents someday. That’s when people get vocal about morality. Somehow, these lives are more valuable? I guess to some, shootings are the real tragedy because ending the lives of the suffering doesn’t matter?

Whoopi Goldberg on “The View” doesn’t get it. “Should abortion be equated with gun violence?” she asks. Well, the bottom line is yes, because a life is intentionally being ended.

To me, and to the Church, they are all the same. They are all tragedies, because life has been taken. It is not our place to play God and to decide who lives or dies based on how much they are suffering or how much we think they will suffer. Perhaps some of these mass murderers have thought they are ending other people’s suffering? As confusing as it is, deciding the value of life based on suffering is a slippery slope.

This is not a political blog. To be honest, I’m not sure what the answer is to the violence besieging our country. I do suspect that it is a combination of laws, mental health, and moral reform. I don’t think one reform independent of the others will be enough. The fact that the Roseburg shooter asked victim’s religion is also disturbing, considering that the current cultural climate is so hostile to faith.

As Pope Francis has so deftly demonstrated, respect for life does not fit neatly into left or right, liberal or conservative. Undocumented workers’ lives are worth respect. Unborn life is worth respect. Muslim refugees’ lives are worth respect. The handicapped, the elderly, the patient with cancer or a brain tumor – their lives are worth respect. Criminals in prison – even on death row- their lives are worth respect. The Church has always faithfully taught that every life is precious.

So what are our families to do? How can our families promote respect for all life? First of all, this quote:

mother teresa quote

Also, I think we must teach our kids to respect all life by our witness. By donating food to soup kitchens, praying for the imprisoned, visiting a nursing home. To do anything and everything to cultivate the conviction that life is worth respect, at any stage and for everyone.

As Christians, we also need to struggle to understand the value of suffering, so we can be convicted of its purpose. To the goal of life is not to avoid suffering, it’s to accept suffering as our path to heaven. It’s not an easy topic, and may take a lifetime to grasp. But here is could good place to start: Peter Kreeft on God’s Answer to Suffering:

Labor Pains

This past Sunday’s second reading really resonated with me, since I can recall with clarity the labor pains I went through 3 weeks ago.

St. Paul writes in Romans: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us. . . We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now. . .
we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.”

On June 26th I woke up with contractions. Since my other two kids needed pitocin to induce contractions, I was not sure how to handle these on my own. The weren’t close together, but they were strong and so I headed to the hospital. When I was 6cm dilated later that day, my water broke during a strong contraction and I was ready for an epidural. You guys, even with a good working epidural, pushing was really hard.

My husband swears I only pushed for maybe 20 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. There was lots of groaning and “I can’t do this anymore” talk. But my body isn’t made to be pregnant forever, and I’m told after Luke’s head came out, next popped out his hand and he did a little wave like he was saying, “hello world. I’m here.”

There was groaning as I waited for my son to be born because I knew that there was something better coming than just my labor pains. I had to get through the suffering to be able to hold my new baby boy.

Just like we aren’t pregnant forever, so we aren’t on this earth forever. The redemption of our bodies, our birth into new life, is what we were made more. What felt like an eternity of pushing was really only 20 minutes. Our suffering on this earth can not last forever. We were made for more, and the suffering will be transformed into glory before we know it.

What sticks out to me during that time of pushing was all the encouragement from my husband, the nurse, and the doctor. “You are doing great!” “You’re almost there!” “You can do it!” That helped me make it through. We can call on the intercession of family, friends, and especially the saints to help get us through our current sufferings. The saints have all been there before us and they are cheering us on to the finish line, the end of labor pains, the crown of glory in eternal life.

"Hello, world!"

“Hello, world!”

Nursing…and The Cross

My daughter Lily is 10 months old and it has been a hard 10 months. (see: letter to women) When she was 3 weeks old, she had a small procedure done to cut the skin between her top lip and gum. The thick band of skin was making it impossible for her to suck properly, and in those agonizing weeks before the procedure she had already tore away my skin, caused lots of bleeding and incredible pain.

It would take me about 4 more months to fully heal from the bad nursing and a horrible cash of thrush.  In those 4 months the pain was so great that I couldn’t even hold my baby to my chest. I could barely lie down or shower. The burning pain of the thrush felt like it was never going to go away. All my spare time was consumed with reading people’s thrush remedies online, trying them out, and disinfecting everything we touched. My kitchen counter looked like a pharmacy with all our treatments and pain medications.

There were many days when I would call my husband crying telling him I wanted to give up and die.  The pain and the postpartum depression were overwhelming me and I didn’t think we would even make it through end of the day.  Surviving those first few months of her life was the hardest thing I have ever endured.

As I was nursing my daughter to sleep a few weeks ago, I was looking at her sleeping so peacefully in my arms.  In a moment of grace, I blurted out, “I would do it all over again.”  It surprised me. I had gone through the darkest part of my life after she was born, but I was claiming to do it again just so I could hold her; so she could experience life and have a chance to know and to love God.

ImageIt’s one of the most profound experiences of love I have ever had because now I could now more closely relate to Christ’s love on the cross and understand with new meaning the words, “This is my body, given up for you.”  I had shed blood; I had endured what felt like death, and this little bundle in my arms had been worth it.  I can’t say I still feel that way all the time, but it doesn’t take long to recall that moment of grace with clarity and renew my love for my daughter.

Dear mothers, as you know, love hurts and love requires suffering: suffering that is united to Christ on the Cross.  And yet, this deep love is also what we were made for and what we long for.  Whether you are sacrificing sleep to nurse through the night, or have mastitis, or encounter the biting of a teething baby, we nursing mothers are all sharing in the greatest love of all: the sacrifice of the Cross.


God our Father…..and teething

Lily got her first two teeth last week! That means last week (and this week!) have been really rough and I might be losing my mind. Poor girl, it’s hard to see her in so much pain and not be able to do much about it… or be able to do something about her screaming except wear earmuffs. And so I share this article with you by Bill Donaghy of The Mission Moment on teething and suffering and pain called “Mommy’s Here! Daddy’s Here!”