All y’all remember Einstein’s famous quip about the definition of insanity? “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. “
The number of teenage pregnancies leapt last year, despite all Labour’s efforts to increase sex education and contraception among children and the young.
The increase appears to have struck a death blow to the Government’s long-standing pledge to halve rates of pregnancy among girls under 18.
It means Britain will entrench its position, already deeply embarrassing to ministers, as the country with by far the highest teenage pregnancy levels in Europe.
Officials in Whitehall admitted yesterday that last year, far from falling, the figures were ‘slightly higher’.
In fact, the indicators show that 2007 is likely to have seen the first major jump in teenage conceptions in a decade.
The obvious solution? More of the same.
The sudden rise may have inspired a series of new efforts by ministers to intensify sex education and persuade more girls to use contraception.
This week the Health Department announced trials of a scheme to allow women to get the contraceptive Pill at chemists without a prescription. The idea – aimed mainly at teenagers – is likely to develop into a nationwide system to make the Pill available over the counter.
I am officially dubbing this particular brand of insanity Abstinence Shunning Syndrome (ASS). Those suffering from ASS cannot see the obvious. Teach more about sex. Give out more contraception. Get More sex.
In order to reduce teen sex and unwed pregnancy, we must first treat those ASS sufferers. The preferred treatment for this malady is to smack the ASS (sufferer) as many times as needed to get them to stop being an ASS (sufferer). Now, even if smacking the ASS (sufferer) does not stop them from being an ASS (sufferer) or even if they become more of an ASS (sufferer), be sure to continue smacking the ASS (sufferer). I am quite sure that it will eventually work.
Today marks the ninth day before Christmas. The Christmas novena has always been part of Catholic culture and is a way for the family, the domestic church, to prepare for the coming of the savior in our hearts, and ward off the distractions of this materialistic culture.
Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment
At which the Son of God was born
Of a most pure Virgin
At a stable at midnight in Bethlehem
In the piercing cold
At that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee,
To hear my prayers and grant my desires
(mention request here).
Through Jesus Christ and His most Blessed Mother.
God’s Love Revealed In His Becoming Man.
Because our first parent Adam had rebelled against God, he was driven out of paradise and brought on himself and all his descendants the punishment of eternal death. But the son of God, seeing man thus lost and wishing to save him from death, offered to take upon Himself our human nature and to suffer death Himself, condemned as a criminal on a cross. “But, My Son,” we may imagine the eternal Father saying to Him, “think of what a life of humiliations and sufferings Thou wilt have to lead on earth. Thou wilt have to be born in a cold stable and laid in a manger, the feeding trough of beasts.
While still an infant, Thou wilt have to flee into Egypt, to escape the hands of Herod. After Thy return from Egypt, Thou wilt have to live and work in a shop as a lowly servant, poor and despised. And finally, worn out with sufferings, Thou wilt have to give up Thy life on a cross, put to shame and abandoned by everyone.” “Father,” replies the Son, “all this matters not. I will gladly bear it all, if only I can save man.”
What should we say if a prince, out of compassion for a dead worm, were to choose to become a worm himself and give his own life blood in order to restore the worm to life? But the eternal Word has done infinitely more than this for us. Though He is the sovereign Lord of the world, He chose to become like us, who are immeasurably more beneath Him than a worm is beneath a prince, and He was willing to die for us, in order to win back for us the life of divine grace that we had lost by sin.
When He saw that all the other gifts which He had bestowed on us were not sufficient to induce us to pray His love with love, He became man Himself and gave Himself all to us. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us;” “He loved us anddelivered Himself up for us.”
O Great Son of God, Thou hast become man in order to make Thyself loved by men. But where is the love that men give Thee in return?
Thou hast given Thy life blood to save our souls. Why then are we so unappreciative that, instead of repaying Thee with love, we spurn Thee with ingratitude? And I, Lord, I myself more than others have thus ill treated Thee.
But Thy Passion is my hope. For the sake of that love which led Thee to take upon Thyself human nature and to die for me on the cross, forgive me all the offenses I have committed against Thee.
I love Thee, O Word Incarnate; I love Thee, O infinite goodness. Out of love for Thee, that I could die of grief for these offenses. Give me, O Jesus, Thy love. Let me no longer live in ungrateful forgetfulness of the love Thou bearest me. I wish to love Thee always. Grant that I may always preserve in this holy desire.
O Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, pray for me that thy Son may give me the grace to love Him always, unto death.
Continue Novena here.
This Tuesday, December 16, begins our 40-days of prayer and sacrifice as we intercede for our loved ones who have lost the gift of faith. Recall that we are offering these days leading up to the celebration of the Conversion of St. Paul on January 25.
Some have been asking me to offer suggestions for sacrifices during these 40-days. I believe there are some good thoughts on this here.
However, do you want to make a truly authentic expression of your desire to sacrifice in a way most pleasing to God? Then I challenge you to make the resolution (Will It) to mark these 40-days as the “Spiritual Boot Camp” for your training in holiness. What do I mean by this?
The Psalmist wrote: “You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Psalm 51:16-17).
What is the purpose of a boot camp anyway? The first and foremost reason is to teach recruits to obey … it is a conditioning that leads to a disposition. A virtue is more than one act, it is more than repeated action, it is a disposition to do the good with ease, promptitude, and joy.
The reconstruction, as the Psalmist writes, and every boot camp master sergeant knows, requires a breaking down of old bad habits and replacing these with good and righteous habits. “A broken and contrite heart” translates to a hardened heart that becomes so crushed that it has no more desire to fight against this transformation – this spirit finally submits; finally obeys.
Coming to this disposition is not easy. It begins with a firm resolution to grow in holiness and virtue. Saint Thomas Aquinas, one of the most brilliant men who ever lived, was once asked the secret to being a saint. He immediately replied with a two-word answer that has now become a marketing proverb: “Will it.” And it is this heroic virtue – this growing in holiness – along with God’s grace, that empowers us to do what we know is right, to just do it.
Like any boot camp, it must consist of strict discipline. Absolutely everything, from the moment you wake up to the time you lay back down at night, must be minutely regulated. This is a testament to the level of your resolve.
At first, as recruits will attest, it will seem arduous as you build to that point where much of your newly formed practices of virtue and habits of holiness become that disposition to do these with ease, promptitude, and joy. Fight through this groping period – make the sacrifice – offer it up for your loved ones who have lost the gift of faith.
Here is a previous post that will aid you in designing your own personal spiritual boot camp for your training in holiness, especially the section entitled, “A Simple Way of Life.”
I would also suggest one of the following books to keep close to you throughout these 40-days. “The Virtue Driven Life” by Fr. Benedict Groeschel or “Boys to Men: The Transforming Power of Virtue” by Tim Gray and Curtis Martin.
The Ultimate Challenge is this: Now is the time to enter a whole new level of seriousness in our desire to grow in holiness. Recall how John Paul the Great encouraged us to understand that, “Prayer joined to sacrifice constitutes the most powerful force in human history.”
If we TRULY want to implore God to pour out his gift of faith on our loved ones, we must be willing to sacrifice God’s Way, not ours. As we intercede for our loved ones, offer your broken and contrite spirit – your submission to His desire for you to grow in holiness. THIS is truly the sacrifice God will recognize as your authentic desire to find His favor; to seek a conversion of heart for our loved ones whose hearts have become so very hardened.
The first Christmas may not be how you pictured it!