Saving one baby every week—and their families

Larry Smith

You have been part of an amazing life-saving mission—and we have much more work to do.

Lighthouse Women’s Center, located in Denver across the street from a massive Planned Parenthood abortion facility, will soon record the 100th baby born to women served at Lighthouse. Since March 2013, we have averaged one precious baby a week, born to moms who have bravely chosen life—sometimes against incredibly tough odds.

Now it’s our turn to be a light in their lives. On Saturday, Jan. 31, A Beacon of Hope Gala will be held at Wings Over the Rockies in Denver. We’re planning to have more than 1,000 people in attendance and to raise more than $1 million for Lighthouse and Women’s Services.

I hope you can join us that evening and encourage you to visit to buy tickets. The deadline is Jan. 24. But if you can’t make it that night, there’s another way to participate by donating the cost of a ticket (at that same website link) to support the wide range of services provided by Catholic Charities to moms in need.

At Lighthouse, those services include free pregnancy tests, free ultrasounds, counseling and connections to needed services. Through the Gabriel Project, moms can get free diapers and material needs to care for their newborns and young children. At Father Ed Judy House, we provide shelter for single women with children, many of whom are victims of domestic violence. Our Respect Life Resources office works through schools, parishes and other venues to educate about the dignity of all life from conception to natural death. Project Rachel provides comprehensive counseling to post-abortive women and men.

We all know that families, particularly those struggling to get by, are under tremendous pressures. What can be done? Lighthouse and Women’s Services, through Catholic Charities, is showing what’s possible.

When a woman comes to Lighthouse in a difficult situation—pregnant, possibly alone, anxious and dreading the future—the care we provide is intended to serve her, save her child and rebuild her family. If we turn our back on them, we discard the future families of America and we can’t afford to do that. And Catholic Charities can’t afford to choose between saving the unborn and our social ministries that provide food, shelter and sustenance to the needy. They are one and the same. A life is a life. And life begins at conception.

Visit Catholic Charities at or call 303-742-0828 to learn more, volunteer or make a donation.

COMING UP: Strong temptations? Defeat them like the Desert Fathers

Sign up for a digital subscription to Denver Catholic!

The fact that we don’t do what we want but instead do what we hate is a problem as old as our first parents. Yet, we can interpret temptation either as that which is always keeping us away from God or as the very vehicle to grow closer to him.

The Desert Fathers believed it to be a necessary vehicle: “Whoever has not experienced temptation cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven,” St. Anthony of the Desert used to say. They saw the fight against these evil enticements as a step to love God in a deeper way.

Here’s how these radical followers of Christ – who fled to the Egyptian desert during the 3rd to 5th centuries to live a form of daily martyrdom in a land where being a Christian was no longer a risk – survived the strongest enticements of the flesh and the devil, as they sought to live out the Gospel and grow in perfection.

The sayings, teachings, maxims and stories they left behind, compiled and known as the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, show that a combination of three things: self-awareness, prayer and practicality, are key to battling the strongest disordered passions.

Alertness and action

“The early monks understood that temptations often come in the form of thoughts. We become attracted and have fantasies, whether that be in petty things, bodily appetites or social interactions,” explained Father Columba Stewart, O.S.B., expert on early monasticism, scholar and director of the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn.

The first disposition they considered to be key, was self-awareness, “knowing what happens in our minds and hearts… how to recognize [bad thoughts] before we actually do a sinful action,” he said.

After this base, which requires continuous self-examination and attention to the inner impulses of the heart, the importance of prayer and practicality follow.

A hermit of the desert said to a young monk suffering from strong temptations, “This is the way to be strong: when temptations start to speak in your mind do not answer them but get up, pray, do penance, and say, ‘Son of God, have mercy upon me.’”

Prayer is not isolated from action. The hermit tells him to “get up,” “do penance” and “pray.”

Practicality can take on different forms, such as going in the opposite direction of the temptation or seeking help from another, Father Stewart pointed out.

“For example, when you’re angry with someone… thoughts of anger start emerging, and you replay in your imagination what made you angry. Then that turns into a mental video of how you’re going to get revenge. This is when self-awareness comes in and you realize that the thoughts you’re having are inappropriate,” Father Stewart said.

A first practical action would be to step away instead of going to find that person, he continued. “Then to use your mind and imagination to instead remember the times when your relationship [with that person] was better or think about the future and how great it will be when this passes.”

Light overcomes darkness

Also, this “get up” practicality consists in bringing to light one’s sins or temptations to someone else and not fighting alone.

“A common exhortation, attributed to many different monks, was that the Enemy, the devil, rejoices in nothing so much as unmanifested thoughts… A sin which is hidden begins to multiply,” Father Stewart wrote in an article.

He then explained that “If the devil was delighted by a monk’s self-imposed isolation, surely this was because the opposite of isolation, encounter with another, was the way to salvation.”

According to Father Stewart, this understanding led the Fathers to break from “the illusion of self-sufficiency, a pose which encourages self-absorption,” and find spiritual fathers.

“The desert tradition is universally insistent upon the young monk’s need for a discerning elder,” he explained. “The basic insight of the desert… was that one cannot grow towards perfection through isolated, solitary effort: grace is mediated through one’s neighbor, especially one’s abba [spiritual father].”

The way these early hermits fought temptations is one of many treasures that Father Stewart says they left behind. In fact, he encourages readers to look at the Sayings of the Desert Fathers as a source that is still “amazingly relevant.”

“[The Sayings of the Desert Fathers] have been very popular sources of wisdom and inspiration throughout history,” he said. “What sets [them] apart… is that they speak from and to experience rather than text or theory.”

“The tradition of Christian wisdom is great,” he concluded. “People only need to know where to find it.”