For you this week:
- Reflection for Saturday: Katie’s story of life and death decisions
- Inside the Ministry: Seeing through the propaganda
- This week’s WordBytes faith-builders: Modern-day parables
- This week’s recommended video: How I met the Holy Spirit
This week’s Trivia Challenge: Where in the Bible is the Holy Spirit mentioned for the first time? (Check your answer at the end of this newsletter.)
Saturday September 17, 2022
1 Corinthians 15:35-37, 42-49
It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible.
It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious.
It is sown weak; it is raised powerful.
(From Saturday’s first reading)
Reflection for Saturday:
Katie’s story of life and death decisions
Katie McMahon joined the Catholic Church in 2007 and has steadily grown in her faith since then, serving the Church in various ways. She is currently a stay-at-home mom. She shares her story so that she and her husband Mike can become available to others who are struggling with infertility.
My husband and I married 18 years ago. We wanted a family but infertility blocked our dream. So, we grew our family by adoption. After adopting our first child, we wanted to adopt again. The doors were closed.
We were desperate for another child. I kept hearing, “when are you having kids?” Everyone else seemed to be pregnant. My tears flowed when friends got pregnant unexpectedly. I kept a brave face at baby showers. My anger grew upon hearing that a young mother had put her baby in a dumpster to die.
“Why them Lord? Why not me?” I thought. I asked God for a child or else a decreased desire for children. Not hearing answers, we went to the nearby fertility clinic.
Reluctantly, we pursued IVF (in vitro fertilization), tempted by what the world had to offer. IVF is a process that involves retrieving eggs and manually combining them with sperm in a lab. Days after fertilization, the embryo (a human being) is placed inside a woman’s uterus. Pregnancy occurs when this embryo implants itself into the uterine wall.
IVF is a flawed, earthly answer to God’s perfect (but mysterious) spiritual delay. Frequently, more embryos are created than needed. The extra embryos are frozen for later use or discarded. Life is not co-created with God in a loving marital embrace; it is created at the hands of a physician in a cold, sterile laboratory.
At the time, I told myself the embryo looked like a drop of water, so it wasn’t life. I told myself that we were more united than any couple who could get pregnant easily. I told myself that putting embryos in the freezer would help us have a large family.
We now have one adopted daughter and two girls who were conceived by IVF. Over time our faith has steadily grown. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves, our family, the Church, God, and our beliefs. We realize how IVF damaged the integrity of our family. It led to great joy, but also grief, miscarriages, and deaths. Our desperation led us down paths that created continued joy and pain as well as life and death. The collateral damage from IVF was immeasurable. We lived out every concern the Church has about this treatment.
We do not advocate for IVF.
As I reflect on this Saturday’s readings, I see Jesus crucified for my sins. My hope comes from knowing that this is not the end. Jesus is raised from the dead. I see, so very clearly, that he conquered sin and death, not only for himself, but for me! Everything I am and everything I do is transformed, not because of me or anything I do, but because of who Jesus is!
My husband and I want to share our experiences of infertility and IVF. Think critically about this treatment from a pro-life perspective instead of as a means to an end.
If you would like to have a conversation with me about your own struggles, you can contact me through Good News Ministries or friend me on Facebook @ facebook.com/katie.n.mcmahon.
Inside the Ministry:
Seeing through the propaganda
One of the best courses I took in high school was “Critical Thinking”. It’s goal was to teach us how to look deeper and to never assume that we fully understand any situation. It taught us how to recognize propaganda and avoid being caught in the trap of the source’s ulterior motives.
What I learned has proven very helpful in today’s environment of fake news, scandals in the Church, and politicians doing evil while claiming it’s good. The interior struggle with infertility and IVF that Katie wrote about is an example of the influence of propaganda aimed at making us ignore the fact that every embryo is a real human being — a vulnerable child who needs love and protection. And it’s part of the much larger agenda of devaluing human life in any form or age while simultaneously pushing the agenda of a godless society. (For example, “God isn’t answering your prayers for pregnancy, so do it yourself. Use IVF.”)
It’s incredibly easy to fall into the propaganda traps. Despite that Critical Thinking course, I fell prey to the “stop at two” propaganda of the 1970s and 80s. I accepted as truth the ridiculous lie that I was saving humanity from disastrous overpopulation by having only two children. Many others in Western cultures believed it too. This particular bit of propaganda gradually evolved into, “Don’t have any kids, just have fun and freedom from the headaches of parenthood.”
This newsletter is not the place to list the many bad consequences of low birth rates in countries where large families are devalued. The good news is, there’s an increasing number of married couples who embrace having large families.
What I learned from the course on Critical Thinking became a whole lot more effective after I accepted the Holy Spirit into my life. I had believed in and loved Jesus since early childhood, but that didn’t save me from believing that abortion only killed a soul-less blob of tissue, nor did it protect me from other lies of my culture. What was lacking in my thought processes was the Holy Spirit. Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to teach us all things and guide us on the path of holiness (see John 14:26). I didn’t meet the Holy Spirit until early adulthood.
You can hear my testimony of how I met the Holy Spirit in the recommended video below.
In this Saturday’s Gospel passage, Jesus told his disciples: “Knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God is granted to you, but to the others, I teach through parables so that they may look but not see, and hear but not understand.” He wasn’t trying to prevent the others from knowing the truth. He was pointing out that only true disciples were ready to learn from him — and after his Ascension, from the Holy Spirit.
Graciela (GNM’s Assistant Director) adds:
Today, many new things and situations challenge our concepts or our ideas. Every day we find realities that confuse us, and sometimes we want to do as the crowd did and move away without understanding. We prefer to avoid making an effort to understand. Then, if someone questions us or asks us about the meaning of a Church law or teaching or what to think about a scandal, we respond according to our own opinion. But this is not what God has in mind for us. This is not our calling.
As Christians, we are called to seek answers, to investigate all of the issues that challenge our understanding. God has enabled us to understand everything he came to teach us. And, if some subject is beyond our understanding and we cannot grasp the meaning, Jesus is always available to us through his Holy Spirit, to explain it to us and “to guide us to the full truth” (John 16:13).
We just need to desire to understand, to desire to follow Jesus and to do only his will.
A good daily prayer is: “Come Holy Spirit, fill me. Come Holy Spirit, renew me. Come Holy Spirit, you have my permission to change me.”
This week’s recommended faith-builder:
Modern Day Parables
Jesus used parables to convey important messages through story-telling. A parable is a simple story illustrating a moral or religious lesson by using an entertaining comparison or similitude.
Here are five that I wrote: Visit wordbytes.org/parables.
WordBytes is a library of Catholic faith-building articles by Good News Ministries. Come on in and explore! Visit WordBytes.org today.
This week’s recommended video:
How I met the Holy Spirit
Here is my personal story about how I met the Holy Spirit. As a child I knew Jesus Christ as my Savior and my Best Friend, but I knew nothing about the Holy Spirit. I found out the hard way that there is a very important reason why Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit, why he ascended to Heaven so that the Holy Spirit could come.
Listen to this podcast @ gnm.org/footsteps75.
Or watch the video @ gnm-media.org/how-i-met-the-holy-spirit. Or if you prefer to read it, download the transcript at this link.
Answer to this week’s Trivia Challenge:
Where in the Bible is the Holy Spirit mentioned for the first time? In Genesis chapter 1 verse 2. “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was empty, without form. Darkness covered the surface of the deep abyss. A mighty wind swept over the waters….” The literal translation of “mighty wind” is “spirit or breath [ruah] of God.”
God bless you!
Every morning, I lift up in prayer everyone who helps Good News Ministries in any way (donors, volunteers, prayer supporters, etc.) and all the prayer requests posted on our site. What can I cover in prayer for you? Post your prayer request.
How else can the team and I serve you today? Visit our homepage.
Let’s connect in GNM’s own SmartCatholics community, called Good News Faith Builders. I’m available to interact with you there.
Thank you for reading this newsletter.
Your servant in Christ,
Terry Modica, Executive Director
Good News Ministries
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