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Friday, June 8, 2012

Batons & Bullets--Stand Up Phoenix!

Here is the full text of the 5 minute speech I delivered today at the Phoenix Stand Up for Freedom Rally downtown.

Batons and Bullets, Stand Up for Freedom Rally

I was 15 years old when I marched down Central avenue twirling a baton with the Michigan Lion’s All State Band on a day much like today.  A lot has happened in my life since then including: baptism, graduation, marriage, & motherhood. Wedged in between all of these good life experiences is a very painful one: I had an abortion in 1987; a fact that I sincerely regret and that has altered my life in more ways than I care to imagine. Today, I still march down city streets, but I carry a sign instead of a baton. Thru the Silent No More Awareness Campaign I try to remind others that abortion is not only man’s worst invention; it is a preventable evil in our society.

The contraceptive mandate, if successful, would force people to violate their most fundamental beliefs. Our first and most precious liberty: the freedom of religion, is our birthright; not given to us by government, but gifted to us by God. To be told that we must pay for contraception, sterilization and abortifacient drugs is beyond the pale and something that we must not tolerate.

Because we have not cowered under the opposition, we are labeled as woman-haters, religious freaks, perverts and closed-minded fools. Oh sure, they will tell you that this is about women’s rights, access to universal healthcare, & reducing the number of abortions but this crafty rhetoric is a lie. We do not have the right to take human life. PERIOD.  Abortion in all its forms is not a freedom, it is a license that denies unborn human beings all of their freedoms; and for this reason, it is intrinsically evil.

Contraception is Abortion’s crazy uncle and they fit together like a hand inside of a glove. 
Allow me to illustrate. 
The “glove” of contraception says:
1.     “Women are playthings.  Their bodies are objects to be used for sexual pleasure.”
2.     “A woman’s fertility is a diseased condition and therefore must be treated with a drug.”
3.     “It does not matter that contraceptives
a.     Are abortifacients
b.     Fail at an astonishing rate (recent studies indicate that over 50% of abortions are the result of failed contraceptives!!)
c.      are a class I carcinogen (W.H.O.)”

The ‘hand of abortion’ fits snugly inside the glove and says…
“Life, when inconvenient as deemed by a woman and her doctor is optional.  When it’s optional and unwanted, we’ll kill it.”

After a woman has an abortion, the first thing they’ll do is hand her a prescription for The Pill. And when The Pill fails she will be back through the door seeking abortion.  The cycle repeats ad infinitum.  Hand in glove.

Where does this journey take us if we don’t stand up today? Simply stated: If they can pirate our conscience and loot wallets today, then they will rob us of our other freedoms tomorrow. Imagine an America where we will not be able to gather in protest, speak freely, or worship openly. There will be fewer conversations, fewer conversions. There will be a silent, stunted church. If they can deny you your personal religious liberties today, they will hi-jack your other God-given freedoms from you tomorrow.

Let’s not wait for that to happen.  Let’s not keep our convictions in our pockets or away from the pulpits.  Remember, we are not only standing up for ourselves, but also for future generations of Americans. Post abortive men and women who grieve for their children cannot be denied the fact of their consciences that these children are real and exist in the community of saints.  After we have fought so hard to restore our consciences through various healing programs that our churches have made available, we will not be robbed of them again. 

I would be remiss if I did not mention how indebted we are to the men of the cloth who are standing up with us today.  I would not be speaking before you if it weren’t for the church and her shepherds. The Catholic Church has never waivered on the issue of contraceptives or abortion.  Never.  She has always spoken the truth that we need to hear…a gentle teacher; a caring guide. What does religious freedom mean to me?  It means everything.  I used to be pro-choice. For those of you who courageously speak out Sunday after Sunday about Life and Liberty, we are grateful to God for you and we encourage you to fight on.  We love you & your example and we will never abandon you.

In the movie, For Greater Glory, I remember back to the scene of the women who were instrumental in helping fight the oppressive government by smuggling the ammunition to the Cristeros. The bullets were a reminder of the violent nature of that struggle and the fact that people were willing to die for what they believed.  In a similar way, I believe that the shared testimonies of the healed post-abortive community are the real bullets in our struggle today. We are witnesses of the horrors of abortion on personal level.  Our stories reveal what abortion and contraception really does to women & they shoot holes through the lies of the culture of death. Ask anyone of us if our lives were made any better by our abortion decision.  Ask us how helpful it was for us to have flashbacks and nightmares of a procedure that was supposed to free us from an unwanted pregnancy.  Ask us about botched abortions that left many of us sterile, childless, and physically impaired.  Ask us how the coveted convenience of an empty womb has left us imprisoned in our own guilt. Ask the priests who minister to us how they explain the countless confessions over something that ought to have the import of an appendectomy.  Why do we confess abortion if it supposed to be likened to cyst removal? Why do our consciences rebel?  It is because our children are human beings and not diseased gall bladders. Our unborn children have captivated our attention. And I believe they are here with us in a special way, too.

We have all taken a bold step today to stand up for religious freedom.  Let’s not let it end here, though.  There are people that need to hear this message and you know who they are. There is an election coming in November that will demand more unity from us than ever before. Let’s awaken to the important voices that speak the truth: the church, our conscience, the unborn; and let us pray for this great nation, that her leaders respect the sacred trust that we place in their hands.

May God bless America. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Viva Cristo Rey

Here's an impressive amount of data about the history and background of The Cristero War of 1926-1929.  This movie is one you will not want to miss A. Because it's a good movie  B. Because it fills in some gaps of history that were not taught in schools and C. Because it's very timely in light of the current cultural climate that, ironically, parallels the religious freedom struggles we are now facing.  Most inspiring is the list of remarkable priests and laymen who laid down their lives for what they believed.  It's a long list.

This is a perspective movie. A big issue movie. It will beg you to consider what the meaning of absolute freedom is and what price you would pay to obtain it. Puddles of people gathered in little chat circles after the movie to discuss their immediate thoughts. It was energizing. If people start thinking about the big issues of life, death and freedom in a movie, who knows? We just might encounter them acting about it in public.  It's a great idea.

I think of how good I have it here.  How easy my life really is, compared to the struggles of faith that some have encountered.  (I complain about my golf game, how slow the internet is, that I can't find a parking spot or anything substantive to watch over 300 television stations.... really?)  I am so pitiably weak. I only hope that I can be as strong as they were if ever I am asked to pay the ultimate price. I hope that I have my priorities truly straight and conformed to the life of the One whom I say I would die for.  Would I?  I pray that I will be able to stand up and say, "Long live Christ the King".


Historian Gives Evaluation of Film, Explains What Happened in 1920s Mexico

By Kathleen Naab
MEXICO CITY, MAY 30, 2012 ( If one asks a young Mexican about the basics of the Cristero War -- what it was and when it happened -- it's entirely possible to get a blank stare in response. Though one of the most important chapters in 20th-century Mexico, the war has been largely covered up.
The film "For Greater Glory," which opens Friday in the United States and has found great success in Mexico since it opened in April, aims to correct that injustice and bring the war and its heroes to light.

"For Greater Glory" (titled Cristiada in Spanish) is essentially historically accurate, says historian Ruben Quezada, who has written “For Greater Glory: The True Story of Cristiada" as a companion book to the film. The companion volume is being published by Ignatius Press and will be released June 15 in English and Spanish.
ZENIT asked Quezada for an overview of the history of the Cristero War, and about some of the heroes of the conflict -- heroes both for society and for the Church.
ZENIT: Neither a film nor a ZENIT interview is sufficient to explain all the historical intricacies of such a complex epoch. Still, could you give us a brief overview of the Cristero War?

Quezada: The Cristero War is a chapter in Mexico’s history in the 1920s, when thousands of Catholics answered this crucial question [of religious freedom] at the cost of their very lives. President Plutarco Calles launched a direct attack on the Catholic Church using articles from Mexico’s Constitution, which created this uprising and counter-revolution against the Mexican government during that time. The original rebellion was set off by the persecution of Roman Catholics and a ban on their public religious practices.

There are two important dates to point out here.

The persecution began on Aug. 1, 1926, when the government re-enacted the penal code and forced the closure of all Catholic churches throughout the entire country with its new anticlerical laws. However, the first coordinated uprising for religious freedom did not occur until Jan. 1, 1927.

It was not until mid June 1929 when the truce was officially signed, bringing an end to the Cristero War.

ZENIT: Is For Greater Glory a historically accurate film?

Quezada: Apart from some “artistic license” the film is essentially accurate.
ZENIT: The movie alludes to some discrepancy between the Vatican's position regarding the religious persecution, and that of the Cristero fighters. Could you explain this?

Quezada: When the oppression was about to begin, the Vatican granted permission -- requested by the Mexican bishops -- to cease any Catholic religious services in order to avoid confrontations. Additionally, the Holy See wrote letters to the government requesting they abolish the Calles Law. The government ignored each request. As the war intensified, Rome continued to have direct communications with President Calles to ask for leniency. Not only were Vatican officials [in Mexico] dismissed, but diplomatic relations were broken off by the government. Lastly, Pope Pius XI wrote an encyclical letter to the clergy and the faithful of Mexico to give them courage and hope during this persecution. There was really not much else the Holy See could do. On Nov. 18, 1926, the Pope sent the encyclical letter Iniquis Afflictisque (On the Persecution of the Church in Mexico) to offer prayers and encouragement during this difficult time.

ZENIT: Some of the characters of the film are real-life blesseds or saints. Who are they and what is their story?

Quezada: Anacleto González Flores (played by actor Eduardo Verástegui of Bella) was born on July 13, 1888, in Tepatitlán, Jalisco, Mexico.
He was greatly involved in social and religious activities and was an enthusiastic member of the Catholic Association of Young Mexicans (ACJM). He taught classes in catechism, was dedicated to works of charity and wrote articles and books with a Christian spirit. In 1922 he married María Concepción Guerrero and they had two children.

By 1926, the situation in Mexico had worsened and Anacleto, who up until this time had advocated passive, non-violent resistance, joined the cause of the National League for the Defense of Religious Freedom upon learning of the murder of four members of the ACJM.In January 1927 guerrilla warfare spread throughout Jalisco; and from his many hiding places, Anacleto wrote and sent bulletins and studied major strategies. The young man was captured on the morning of April 1, 1927, in the home of the Vargas González family, along with the three Vargas brothers.
He was taken to Fort Colorado where his torture included being hung by his thumbs until his fingers were dislocated and having the bottom of his feet slashed. He refused, however, to supply his captors with any information. Anacleto González Flores was condemned to death and was shot together with the Vargas González brothers and Luis Padilla Gómez on that same day, April 1, 1927.

It is important to note here that Anacleto González Flores along with Miguel Gómez Loza both received the “Pro Ecclesia Et Pontifice” award for their incredible works of service to the Catholic Church.

Miguel Gómez Loza (played by actor Raúl Mendez) was born on Aug. 11, 1888, in Tepatitlán, Jalisco, Mexico. From a young age he had a strong love for God and a great devotion to the Blessed Mother.When he was 26, Miguel entered the University of Morelos where he earned a law degree, and eventually opened an office in Arandas (state of Jalisco) as an attorney.In 1915 he became a member of the ACJM, and in 1919 he established a national congress of Catholic workers to unify industry workers, commercial employees and agricultural laborers. He also worked tirelessly to defend the rights of the needy, which caused him to be arrested 59 times for organizing protests against the government.In 1922, Miguel married María Guadalupe Sánchez Barragán and they had three children. He joined the "National League for the Defense of Religious Freedom" in 1927, but believed in non-violence in order to resist the persecution.

After the death of Anacleto, he was appointed by Catholics as governor of Jalisco and strove by all the means at his disposal to defend liberty and justice.By March of 1928, Miguel was living on a ranch near Atotonilco, Jalisco. On March 21, federal forces who had been hunting for him discovered his whereabouts; he was executed by firing squad the same day.

José Sanchez del Rio (played by actor Mauricio Kuri) was a young Cristero soldier who joined the uprising to defend religious liberty. He was horrified to see the attacks on the priests and the desecration of churches in his small hometown of Sahuayo, Michoacan.When the Cristero War broke out in 1926, his brothers joined the rebel forces, but his mother would not allow him to take part [because of his young age]. The rebel general, Prudencio Mendoza, also refused his enlistment.The general finally relented and allowed José to become the flag bearer of the troop. He was known to be one of the youngest members of the Cristero movement.After his arrest we know of the gruesome events that transpired after the government's failure to break José's resolve on the evening of Feb. 10, 1928: “Consequently they cut the bottom of his feet and obliged him to walk around the town toward the cemetery. They also at times cut him with a machete until he was bleeding from several wounds. He cried and moaned with pain, but he did not give in. At times they stopped him and said, ‘If you shout ‘Death to Christ the King’ we will spare your life.’ José would only shout, "I will never give in. Viva Cristo Rey!" When they reached the place of execution, they stabbed him numerous times with bayonets. He only shouted louder, "Viva Cristo Rey!" The commander was so furious that he pulled out his pistol and shot Blessed José Sanchez del Rio in the head.

We do have a list of priests and laymen who have been beatified and canonized from this persecution in Mexico.

St. Agustín Caloca
St. Atilano Cruz Alvarado
St. Cristobal Magallanes
St. David Galván Bermudes
St. David Roldán Lara
St. David Uribe Velasco
St. Jenaro Sánchez Delgadillo
St. Jesús Méndez Montoya
St. José Isabel Flores Varela
St. José Maria Robles Hurtado (Priest)*
St. Jóven Salvador Lara Puente
St. Julio Álvarez Mendoza
St. Justino Orona Madrigal
St. Luis Batiz Sáinz (Priest)*
St. Manuel Morales
St. Margarito Flores García
St. Mateo Correa Magallanes (Priest)*
St. Miguel De La Mora (Priest)*
St. Pedro de Jesús Maldonado Lucero (Priest)*
St. Pedro Esqueda Ramírez
St. Rodrigo Aguilar Alemán (Priest)*
St. Román Adame Rosales
St. Sabas Reyes Salazar
St. Tranquilino Ubiarco
St. Toribio Romo González
Blessed Anacleto González Flores
Blessed Andrés Solá Molist (Priest)*
Blessed Ángel Darío Acosta Zurita (Priest)
Blessed Ezequiel Huerta Gutiérrez
Blessed Jorge Vargas González
Blessed José Sánchez del Río
Blessed José Trinidad Rangel Montaño (Priest) *
Blessed Leonardo Pérez Larios *
Blessed Luis Magaña Servín
Blessed Luis Padilla Gómez
Blessed Miguel Gómez Loza
Blessed Mateo Elías del Socorro Nieves (Priest)
Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro Juárez (Priest)
Blessed Ramón Vargas González
Blessed Salvador Huerta Gutiérrez

* Indicates member of Knights of Columbus

Our site will have documentation on the lives of each one along with the new book “For Greater Glory: The True Story of the Cristiada.” It’s the official companion book to the film published in English and Spanish by Ignatius Press. As an expert on the Cristero War, I was honored to write it. The book also includes a foreword by Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles and an introduction by Eduardo Verástegui, and there is an essay by Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson. 

ZENIT: The Cristero War is a page mostly lost to history, even for young Mexicans, who don't learn about it in school. How is this possible?

Quezada: As recently as the 1980s it was difficult to find a single book that mentioned anything substantive about the Cristiada. If it was mentioned, it usually was no more than a single sentence in President Calles’ biography. School systems did not include the Cristiada as part of its history so that future generations would soon lose any knowledge of it.

But even today, it is important to note a crucial difference between the official state narrative and the Catholic understanding of events. The Mexican government portrays the Cristiada as a rebellion because the Cristeros “rebelled” against the enforcement of the Calles Law. But rebellion is hardly a fitting way to describe an attempt to restore customs in place for centuries before the Mexican Revolution. Catholics see the Cristiada as a response, albeit a violent one, to unjust persecution because Catholics were persecuted by unjust laws that inhibited their religious freedom. 

There is more freedom of the press today, and a large volume of untold stories about the Cristiada -- testimonies and images that were illegal to print or publish for many years -- are finally emerging. There are literally thousands of testimonies coming to light that reveal an inspiring history that has been hidden for decades under a dark shadow of fear and denial.