Friday, January 29, 2010

Obama Airport Security Measures

From Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council:

Many are called...

So, in doing my dishes yet again today, I found myself in one of those "theological dissertations" that you can really only have when you're up to your elbows in dishsoap.

This time I was thinking about my siblings.  We're all grown now and out of our parents' homes.  We are doing well for ourselves, at least decently earning a living, etc.  My brother (has cerebral palsy, but that's another story for another blog post)  is single, lives on his own, and works for the town.  My sister is divorced, lives with some roommates in a farm house, and works for the local Catholic hospital.  I'm the youngest of the three of us, and am the only one who still practices the Catholic Faith.

I began to wonder how this happens in families, that only a select one or two out of a family of children uphold the Teachings of the Faith.  I mean, in my situation, we were all given the same opportunities to learn and love the Faith growing up.  My sister and I attended the same all-girls' Catholic High School, we were taught from the same Sisters, learned the Catechism at the same time.  My brother went to Mass with our family and learned the same lessons as we all did growing up.  We actually weren't "cradle Catholics" in that my sister, my brother, and I all entered the Faith in our teens.  So if anything we were even more "on fire" with our Faith than many of our Catholic peers.  By and large we were given the same chances to grow in, and to live, our Faith.  Then I wonder why I'm the only one who still strives to live the Teachings of the Church.

I know I'm not alone in this conundrum, as my husband's family has the same situation (although slightly different, as his family members still attend Sunday Mass, but they all contracept, love Dan Brown, and believe pretty much in relative morality.)  I started to try to justify our lifestyle choices in that many are called but few are chosen, and my husband and I were given singular graces to have the nuclear family and Faith that we do.  And there is truth to that, but I would ardently reject that notion that these same graces weren't offered to my siblings (or siblings-in-law). 

Faith in family life (meaning you, your spouse, and children) comes down to an act of the will.  It must be a conscientous choice of "yes Lord, I'm going to follow you and abide by the tenets you have established in your Immaculate Bride, the Church".  It cannot be that it just "happens", that some children "get the Faith" and some just "don't".  And I think its good to look on these things, and "ponder them in the heart", to learn that valuable lesson before my own children are grown with children of their own, deliberating the Faith and whether or not to follow it.

This moment, this fiat, this choice to "come and follow" our Lord has to come at a point.  And I think the graces necessary for that moment, for that choice, must come to us in the Sacrament of Confirmation.  I think Confirmation is the opportunity for God to send the call, and for us to respond.  Because, at least in North America under standard theological norms, young adults receive the sacrament of Confirmation as their "graduation" from CCD.  At least that is the way it is perceived and in most cases, presented.  And while no one feels love lost for not spending Tuesday and Wednesday nights in the Church basement with a bunch of their CCD classmates, coloring pictures of St. Therese and playing with Tickle Me Jesus, there is a sense of relief when those "Faith Formation" classes come to a close.  But is that really all Confirmation is?  Recently I had the random and wonderful opportunity to meet Raymond DeSouza, a Catholic apologist, and a worker at Human Life International.  He had the most clear and defining portrayal of what the Sacrament of Confirmation really is.  I quote him here, "At Baptism, we become citizens of God's Kingdom.  At Confirmation, we become soldiers of God's Kingdom."  I found that to be very profound, and could correlate it by looking closer at this kingdom.  Children in a nation act and respond to their government  differently than their parents do.  At Confirmation we're given a moment in which to take on our citizenship in an adult way, as our parents do.  No more hand-holding, no more forced "Faith Formation" classes, no more "you're going to be grounded if you don't get to Mass on Sunday" moments.  We must take up the Cross as adults and follow after our Lord, or sadden him when "many turn away".  At Confirmation its our chance too, to honestly and humbly say, I am still a child in my Faith, help me grow.  At this point we can honestly assess that we are not ready (and not base it on some arbitrary age requirement that given enough time will change anyway) and continue to live as children in his kingdom until we are prepared for a life in the Faith.  Or we can pray for the guidance and wisdom to answer His call depending entirely on His grace to help us along the way.  Or we can just go through the motions and get it done, and then become derelicts in the Faith.  Sadly, I know of many of my Confirmation classmates that have chosen the latter, and now don't even practice the Faith.

So when we look at siblings, friends, and other family members, its important to note that they are still being called.  Constantly called back to the Faith, to the Father.   We must witness to them in Charity and Truth, even when our lives fall on deaf ears.  But I don't believe that the gift of Faith is the same as the gift of music or the gift of writing in each child.  Christ would not give up any one of these "least of our brothers" (no meaning implied in that), even if has to offer this gift again and again and again.  I believe that when it comes to the Faith, that "all are called, all are chosen".

AIDS/HIV vaccines don't work. Really?!?

From Population Research Institute:

When one of the world's leading researchers announces that the search for an HIV/AIDS vaccine is unlikely to bear fruit, everyone should take notice.  Chastity remains, as it always has been, the only answer.
Steven W. Mosher   
Don't Expect an HIV/AIDS Vaccine, Researchers Say
by Joan Robinson
Our hearts go out to infant victims of HIV/AIDS, with their skeletal limbs and rib-ridged stomachs, and some would argue that these could be saved by the development of an HIV/AIDS vaccine.  
Not Dr. Bonnie Dunbar, the founder of the Africa Biomedical Center in Kenya, who works daily with victims of HIV and other infectious diseases.  Speaking at the 4th International Public Conference on Vaccination, the famed researcher argued that billions of dollars are being wasted on research for an HIV/AIDS vaccine, when there are far more pressing African health needs to address.
Over the years, Dr. Dunbar has received many awards for her efforts to develop a contraceptive vaccine. She recently abandoned this research because all of her trial vaccines turned out not to contracept, but to sterilize, destroying the ovaries of the animals into which it was injected.   
Because of her decades of experience in Africa, Dr. Dunbar knows what we in the West have forgotten, namely, that Africans suffer not only from HIV/AIDS, but also from many other STDs and infectious diseases. Not only that, but acquired drug resistance, malnutrition, dehydration, and terrible sanitary conditions are a problem throughout sub-Saharan Africa. All of these factors combine to render Africans particularly susceptible to HIV/AIDS.  
Indeed, so compromised are the immune systems of many African children and adults that Dr. Dunbar questions whether they are capable of the immunological response required for a vaccine to be effective.  She believes that increased attention to basic health care needs through improved diet and clean drinking water might do much more to reduce disease than a vaccine.
Moreover, not only is there no effective HIV/AIDS vaccine available at present, she believes that it may be impossible to develop one.  
Dr. Chuck Wira's celebrated research in reproductive immunology, combined with her own findings, have convinced her that any vaccine for HIV/AIDS will do nothing to prevent heterosexual transmission, which is the chief problem in Africa.
The reasons for this are highly technical, but let me summarize as best I can.  First of all, according to Dr. Dunbar, a woman's uterus has very susceptible HIV receptors. And immune responses on the part of the reproductive tract won't stop HIV.
Why is this?  For two-thirds of the month the reproductive tract is very active, in an immunological sense.  The cervix secretes antibodies that react against foreign bacteria (and sometimes against sperm).  The uterus has active cell immunity. The oviducts secrete endogenous microbicides to attack bacteria.
But then, right in the middle of a woman's cycle, the entire immune system of the reproductive tract shuts down for ten days. It shuts down in order to avoid attacking incoming sperm, which are totally foreign, and to protect any fertilized zygotes--tiny human beings--who may be conceived. The hormones of mid-cycle cause both the humoral and cellular immune systems to be depressed so as to facilitate fertilization and implantation.
As Dr. Dunbar explains, “That's the body saying, 'Oh, we've got to hold back. We need that embryo and we need that embryo to implant and we can't attack it.' So this again is the beauty of Mother Nature, helping perpetuate the species through effective reproductive biology.”
So what does all this mean for the development of an HIV/AIDS vaccine?  According to Dr. Dunbar, “The implications for heterosexual transmission of HIV/AIDS and some of these other diseases is that for ten days it doesn't matter what you have in your blood system [by way of antibodies] … your reproductive tract is going to be shutting down, totally independent. . . . And so a vaccine that induces either humoral or cellular immunity would not be likely to be effective for preventing STD infections or HIV during mid-cycle in the female.”
“No one to my knowledge has really looked at this in the vaccine development.” Dr. Dunbar concluded. “I think this is one of the reasons why they've not been successful in many cases.”
The billions of dollars being spent on HIV and STD vaccine development would be much better spent on basic food and water, Dr. Dunbar asserted. “I would like to say that poor nutrition and water sources are basically our nightmare in Africa. Our most effective vaccine is a glass of clean water.”
Though I agree with Dr. Dunbar in her plea for clean water and nutritive food, we parted company when she called for more "population control" in Africa.  
In the past, she has worked as a staff scientist on population issues with The Population Council, Rockefeller University, and as an advisor to USAID and WHO in the population-target developing nations of China, India, South America, and Africa.  She continues to believe that, “If population growth and other basic health issues are not addressed immediately on the global scale, emerging disease problems as well as environmental damage, global warming, will cause insurmountable problems.”
But on the question of an HIV/AIDS vaccine, I think that she is a thoroughly credible witness.  
If the African people are able to access the clean drinking water and grow the nutritious food that their countries are capable of producing, disease of all kinds, including HIV/AIDS, will decrease.
We could help.

March for Life Video, Powerful!!!

H/T to Leticia at Causa Nostrae Laetitiae for this video!  It's awesome!!!

High Flying Adored!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The only thing worse than the State of our Union was the State of the Union Address

Yes, I admit I watched it last night, President Obama's release of hot air.  My husband and I sat and watched the State of the Union address while following the live feed on Catholic Vote Action, and I have to thank them for their comedic relief.  Otherwise I found Obama once again dark and depressing.

In fairness to Obama, I think he came in with pre-conceived notions of how the speech would go:

 and I think he was knocked off his game when people didn't receive him in the usual fashion.  Now President Obama is not new to uncomfortability.  Afterall, he had to sit through some State of the Union addresses that left him wiggling in his seat too.

So I think he had to resort to the usual tactics.  And this is where his hypocrasy began to get the better of me...As he's talking out one side of his mouth about "doing away with the bitter disputes of bi-partisanship" he became intent on finding new scapegoats.  He enjoyed the usual roast,

But realizing his crowd wasn't going to let him get away with it for more than a year, he turned on some new tricks.  When talking about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he couldn't help himself in throwing some officials under the bus...But I guess under this CIC's watch, they're getting used to it.

And then, when they stop putting their hands in his pocket, Obama comes out with a sneak attack.  Although considering their recent rulings, I guess those looks of surprise on their faces were'nt really an appropriate response?

He talked briefly of the women who marched recently in Iraq to secure their rights.  I found the silence in failing to recognize the largest gathering of people in defense of life on the steps of his Supreme Court last Friday to be glaring.  But as is typical with this pro-death President let's fail to recognize the truth:

And instead, let's chase after science fiction.

My husband mentioned that he could have shortened his lengthy talk by just promising tax cuts across the board.  I wondered what would have happened if he had simply tried telling the truth...Would President Obama have bothered to show up at all then?
I'm well aware that many of my friends and family voted for this President.  Many of my fellow Catholics promised he was our "best bet" even though he was militantly pro-death.  Sadly it is estimated that 80% of our Bishops also voted for "that one".  I know their consciences are screaming at them at this point, as several voters have stepped out to express their regret.  Even then I am wary of them.  What are they regretful of?  That Obama isn't paying their mortgage?  That he isn't paying off their credit cards?  Giving them free health care yet?  Are they merely upset that he hasn't yet followed through on his campaign promises?  Or do they see the substantial effects of letting a Margaret Sanger wannabe loose on the Capitol?  Do they regret their vote as Silent no More regrets abortion?  Or do they recognize that through their actions, they have promoted abortion all over the world?  I'm not condemning, because you can't change the past.  And now, even if at best they understand the error of their ways and want to amend them, we're stuck for the next three years with a man who is attempting on every front to dismantle this nation.  There may not be a next election in which these prodigals can redeem themselves.  If I sound bitter its because many of these zealots dragged me along on this "social justice" experiment gone wrong.
And yet, last night, weary from the struggles of our economic downturn, fighting to keep my family afloat and my faith in this One Nation Under God alive, I came to listen to some form of reassurance from our "great leader".  And what did we end up with?  More of the empty lies and rhetoric, more of the name calling and villanizing, more of the promises that will not be fulfilled.  Even the spending freeze will have to wait.  Because we elected a man who does not understand the rebuplic he governs.  He does not understand the values of its citizens that he continues to try and thwart.  He does not understand this nation's vast resources, her mission inherent to her founding to be One Nation Under GOD.  That's the first time in a long time I've heard this pagan even mention God in an address.
I will continue to pray and sacrifice, and fight for the future of my nation - both for my children, and their unborn children too.  And if I could say just one thing to those who voted for him with the "best Christian intent", I guess it would best be surmised this way:


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

God and Government

In proportion as Americans let go of faith in the absolute power of God, they have accepted the belief in an all powerful State. This is true of peoples or nations, for their idea of God determines the form of their civil, political, religious and social institutions . . . Each religion has a form of government, and Christianity astonished the world by establishing self-government . . . Reading and studying American history revealed the fact that this nation is unique; it had a singular beginning; it has the sacred covenant of individual freedom or local self-government in all spheres entrusted to its care.

Verna Hall, The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States:
Christian Self-Government
, 1960, pp II-III.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Non Nobis Domine

In response to this post on Creative Minority Report, here is my post of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.

Non nobis, non nobis, Domine
Sed nomini tuo da gloriam.

Not to us, not to us, o Lord,
But to your name give glory.

An Address to the State of the Union

Most Americans know that the current "state of the Union" is poor, if not verging on dire. We watch as our fellow citizens lose their jobs, their homes, and become dependent on government assistance. Good people around us are suffering, and because we cannot make ends meet, billions of our brothers and sisters throughout the world suffer as a consequence.
Tomorrow President Obama will make his first State of the Union address. I don't expect much more than empty rhetoric to come from this speech, and I wouldn't encourage any of my fellow citizens to hold their breath. As Obama encourages us, and the businesses and corporations we work for, to scrimp and save, he's gone on a spending spree that has furthered a bleak recession in America. It's like watching a teenager with a credit card, recklessly throwing money away without any recourse or even any attempt at knowing where that money's been thrown. If President Obama were in charge of a corporation, he would be sharing a cell with Madoff by now. But somehow, because he's spending my tax money, its legal for him to be so "generous" to his friends and political allies.
I post this article by Edwin J. Fuelner, President of the Heritage Foundation, here to read. As with all their articles and writings, the Heritage Foundation has been a beacon of truth and right reason for the conservative movement. They have articulated well the course of action President Obama should take to help get the Union back on track. I implore the Heavens to have mercy on our great nation, and that this man's heart may be converted to all that is good and all that is true.

The State of Our Union
The President of the United States tomorrow will inform the Congress on the State of our Union, as he is constitutionally mandated to do. The past 12 months have seen our country head down a dangerous course, and The Heritage Foundation can only hope that the President will use this time of reflection, coming on the heels of a stunning electoral loss, to change direction.

You must recognize, Mr. President, that the State of the Union is not good. You need a new approach and fresh domestic and foreign policies. The caps on spending which reports last night said you were considering are but an exceedingly modest first step, and the devil is in the details. The caps will do virtually nothing to improve the nation’s fiscal health unless you tackle Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Shifting tactics and stoking populism will be both cynical and condescending to the voters, who will see through this strategy. Mr. President, it’s the policies you need to change, not the spin.

In 2008, you promised economic recovery and sound financing. You promised to keep our country safe. You also promised bipartisanship.

Instead, our nation is enduring high unemployment and slow growth, due to surging spending and government borrowing. Bailouts and a pork-ridden “stimulus” bill will not get our country back on track. High unemployment comes primarily from the lack of job creation, rather than job destruction. Our research shows that your Administration’s policies have created uncertainties that have hindered risk-taking by entrepreneurs.

And now, faced with difficulties, instead of changing course you are doubling down and promising increased regulation. The challenges you have faced in one year in office—tea parties, town halls, three tough electoral losses—should have made you rethink your policies. Americans have always preferred limited government over the expansionist kind, lower—not higher—taxes, rational policies, not punitive ones. Your advisors are misreading the public, and economic reality, if they think increased red tape and government control will cure any of our ills.

The Index of Economic Freedom, which The Heritage Foundation publishes annually alongside The Wall Street Journal, tells the story. This year, for the first time since we started publication of the Index, the United States has fallen from the top tier “free” category. Yes, about half of this fall came because of decisions taken by your predecessor, but your policies have dramatically accelerated this descent. And our Index, issued last week on the anniversary of your inauguration, does not even take account of the second half of your year in office.

Your signature health care reform initiative has been a colossal missed opportunity. It is now in free fall, while insurance and health costs continue to climb.

This was a year that should have been spent working on lowering the barriers to jobs creation. But expansionist policies have crowded out investment and are killing the great American job machine.
In foreign policy, your year in office has left the world a more troubled place. A President has to lead in the world as it is, not as he wishes it to be.

Just as creating jobs should get all your attention domestically, battling terrorism should be Job One in foreign policy. The massacre at Fort Hood and the attempted Christmas Day bombing should have been wake-up calls for Washington. Our country is not using all the tools in the tool kit to protect Americans from terrorism. Even worse, your Administration seems ambivalent over the fact that the legal authority for key investigative methods granted under the Patriot Act is about to expire.

Abroad, we simply don’t know when Iran will obtain a nuclear weapon. You seem to have thrown all your chips with an entity that does not exist—the International Community—waiting for it to impose sanctions on Iran and turn the spotlight on its horrific human rights record. This fits with your view that the Berlin Wall fell because “the world came together as one,” but just like that was bad history, your view of the present is also borderline mythical.

So right now the world has the impression that America is distracted, unable, or unwilling to lead or vigorously defend its interests. That was painfully apparent in your Administration’s decision to walk away from our missile defense commitments to Poland and the Czech Republic. The time for missile defense is now, not after a threat emerges.

Mr. President, several policy areas cry out for your attention.

Domestically, you need to show the American people the full long-term obligations of the government in your annual budget, just as the government forces private corporations to do. Bring transparency to Washington by showing the long-term debt picture on your budget.

Then you and the leaders of both parties should lay out the options for fixing the deficit crisis and conduct a national conversation on what action to take. Trust the people to help make decisions. And press Congress to put Medicare and Social Security on a 30-year budget, to give seniors certainty while forcing the tough decisions necessary to give our children a financial future.

Get the economy moving again. You need to give main street businesses and banks—our real job creators—some certainty by eliminating the threat of higher taxes, spiraling debt, and suffocating regulation. Make the tax cuts on the books permanent, to encourage more saving and investment.

Urge Congress to reform the bankruptcy laws so that supposedly “too big to fail” companies can be restructured in an orderly way rather than bailed out or regulated to a slow death. Denationalize General Motors. And please, end the TARP bailout slush fund.

On health care, you can get real reform back on track by doing what you should have done on day one: genuinely reach across the aisle as you promised your voters last November. If you proceed in this manner, you will be able to move forward with bipartisan tax reforms that provide adequate tax relief for those who have reasonable coverage today, while extending help to those taxpayers who currently do not have coverage.

Rather that trying to pass a huge health care bill that runs everything from Washington, it is time to downsize the legislation drastically and to give states much greater freedom and encouragement to put into place innovative approaches that will work best for them. The solution for Massachusetts or Vermont will be different than that for Colorado or Texas.

States need to be able to negotiate major changes in statutory programs, like Medicaid, as part of a plan to increase coverage. It should be states that set up insurance exchanges, reinsurance pools or other ways to make affordable insurance available to everyone. And if Americans in one state want to buy health insurance from another state, nothing should stop them.

In foreign policy, please stop giving captured terrorists the same constitutional rights as Americans. We should be turning over captured terrorists to Military Commissions for trial after our intelligence services have interrogated them.

America should be strong in deeds as well as in words. That is not possible without a strong national defense. We must make an irrevocable commitment to recapitalizing the U.S. military, an effort that would require another $50 billion a year to buy the new equipment and maintain the capabilities our men and women under arms need to defend us.

We need a new vision. We need to keep Americans safe. And we need to reverse the decline of American leadership and influence in the world. Our freedom and security are at stake unless we reverse the decline of American fortunes in the world.

Afghanistan is a war that must be won. Winning is more important than any deadline for withdrawal. Announce that the United States won’t quit until the job is done.

Mr. President, let’s recommit to expanding free trade and making America more competitive in the world. We need to make America the freest economy in the world, in order to have more economic growth, prosperity, and jobs. You should recalibrate the top tax rate on U.S. corporate profits so that it is no higher than the average of the top rates that prevail in our 30 largest trading partners.

We also need to recommit ourselves to our friends and allies. You have not done a good job supporting our friends. Instead, we engage our enemies and get a clinched fist in return. We should re-dedicate ourselves to the proposition that America is a beacon of freedom for free peoples of the world, and that being true to that proposition means supporting free peoples, not coddling or giving comfort to dictators.

Be a war President 24-7-365. Commit yourself to helping, rather than hurting, our economy 24-7-365. Every moment of every day you should be working to defend the nation; protect our liberties; and promote American prosperity. Your resolve must not waver. Your commitment should not falter.
If you devote all your attention to letting our private sector create jobs at home and achieving victory overseas, we will enthusiastically support your efforts, and the State of the Union in 2011 will be far better.

By Edwin J. Feulner, President of The Heritage Foundation

Monday, January 25, 2010

More on Suffering...

So another poster that I follow on my other blog wrote these two entries today. With all the talk on redemptive suffering, I secured her permission to re-post this here. I couldn't help but be moved by this woman's strong witness to the Faith, and to the value of redemptive suffering. Please keep this family in your prayers?

Post 1-
So we know that Ben's kidney and bladder failed last year for some (rejection?) unexplicable reason and that the best doctors in the world were not able to do anything. We also know that during the rejection event Ben's immune system was sensitized to all human antibodies, which makes retransplant extremely difficult. So the medical establishment has been in a quandry of what to fix first. They had a first and second plan which we rejected, because too much hinged on either modern technology or God's will, that of course depends on how you view things. And the end result might have been that Ben would end up with a permanent, unpleasant reconstructive surgery but no transplant. So we said, "No. Go back and try again." This is the final plan.

First, Mark (dad) is going through testing as the donor. Assuming that all of that works well, we proceed after Easter to Step 2. Step 2 involves, Ben going in for Plasmapheresis daily for a week. In this process, all of Ben's antibodies will be removed from his blood stream, in order to prepare him for a second transplant. If the plasmapheresis removes the antibodies that would start a transplant rejection, then we move to Step 3. If plasmapheresis can not remove the rejection antibodies, then there will be no transplant and Ben presumably remains a dialysis patient for the rest of his life at the age of almost 9.

Step 3 involves Ben going in to have a Bladder Augmentation to fix the failed Bladder. They will take part of his small intestine and turn it into a new Bladder. This will alter some things for him permanently and he doesn't like this idea. 3 weeks later we attempt to retransplant with Dad's kidney.

This time around, Ben would be very immunosuppressed and everything will be different. It is also not likely that the kidney would last more than 5-10 years. And once the second transplant fails it becomes even more difficult to do it again, if not impossible with current technology.

Because of both the bladder failure and the immune system being overly sensitized, it is very unlikely that we could persue a cadaveric organ. That is a relief to me, because I had end of life moral qualms with the idea of cadaveric organ donation and I had firmly refused to place Ben on the "list". Mark is just terribly confused on what the Church does and does not teach over the issue, so he has yet to come to a firm conclusion on the issue. But I am pretty certain that a cadaveric organ is out of our reach, just purely based on the circumstances.

The reality is that a second transplant is a long shot. We have reached the end of modern day technology. I accept whatever God's Will may be regarding my son, and I think that he does within his own mental capacities. I firmly, believe that Redemptive Suffering has value, purpose and meaning. I know that for some of our family and friends, this past year has caused a Crisis of Faith. All I can say, is that it has not for me. When we choose to persue medical treatment and to keep Ben alive 8 1/2 years ago, I was well aware that it would only be good for so long. We have never buried our heads in the sand about what a Chronic Health Condition really means. So I am hoping that no one else is burying their head in the sand and believing that Ben will get this transplant and everything will go back to the way it was before. That is very unlikely. I want to say it again, so that everyone hears the same thing-it is almost impossible, even if Ben gets a second transplant that things will go back to the way they were. We can presume that life might generally be better with a transplant than on dialysis but sometimes that is not the case. Sometimes so many complications occur that life with a transplant is worse. It is very possible that with the higher levels of immunosuppression,and all the extra side effects, that things could be worse. So Mark and I have to make prudent decisions based in reality not emotional hopefulness.

Faith is an Act of the Will, even when things are unpleasant. We don't like things as they stand. We are praying for a miracle (and for those who understand what this means, we are asking for Intercession through Venerable Antionetta Meo, a little girl who died from Bone Cancer and suffered tremendously but never doubted the value of Redemptive Suffering). But we accept the course of events as part of God's Plan. Because we are rasing our Children with Faith as the Center of their lives, they are able to accept God's Plan. Eventually, they will question things and have doubts; but I will not allow anyone to prematurely put doubts into their heads.

I am sending a copy of this Note to everyone we know via Multiply, email, or snail mail, in order that no one can feel singled out. But I just want things to be very clear. People can question our faith, our homeschooling, our refusal to Contracept now or Ever for religious reasons, our isolation from mainstream America, the fact that most of the time the girls and I are dress only in long skirts or dresses, etc. But I do not want anyone to question why God is doing this to Ben in front of the kids. Tears will not help Ben cope with life, they will only give him license to feel sorry for himself. Self -absorption will not help him get to Heaven or to be happy here on Earth. Ben does not at the moment feel sorry for himself, because we don't allow him to feel sorry for himself. I am off of my soapbox now, but I would like everyone to be very clear about what I will not Let happen. No tears in front of the kids or Ben, no sappiness, no "Why is God doing this?" And no blanket unrealistic statments, about how everything can only get better, etc. I am completely aware that Ben will question spiritual things as he grows up, but I prefer that he go through that spiritual process on his own time and not be dragged through someone elses Spiritual Crisis, now.

I know that people find it tacky, or inpersonal that I send out en masse emails about Ben or reply to their phone calls, or emails, gifts, by blogs or emails; but my time is limited and I can only do it this way or not at all. Please don't anyone be offended, I wanted everyone to hear the same thing at the same time.

Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for reading through this and respecting our wishes. For all of those who have cooked for us, cleaned for us, schooled the kids for us, prayed for us, sent us gifts and thngs, and cards and Masses. Thank you. I know that Graces have been raining down on us from Heaven this past year.

And this is Post 2 -
I think it is easier for me to accept the logical finality of our Belief, only because Ben's situation allows for only three responses as a parent..

-Total acceptance of God's Will and acceptance of the fact that I will probably outlive him.

-Total denial of reality and standard escape mechanisms.

-Total depression and a heavy reliance on pysche drugs because you see reality but refuse to accept it.

Essentially, every transplant parent that I have met clearly falls into one of these 3 categories. Most of them will tell you what drugs they are on in the first or second conversation. For various reasons, God made things so clear to me within the first 6 weeks post transplant that I was forced to accept reality. About 8 months post transplant, I fell into a deep, deep depression. It took me about 2 years to come out of that depression. I moved here in a state of relative neurosis. I woke up somewhere between Tegan and Keara and accepted life as I knew it would be. Unfortunately, I was alone in walking that walk because my husband and 4 grandparents buried their heads in the ground in a deep state of denial. The response was a very emotional, and very normal reaction by them of near panic everytime something didn't go right. I attempted to start conversations with all of them pondering the future for Ben and they all reacted pretty strongly. I was being negative, I needed to be more of an optimist, medicine was advancing all the time, stop worrying. I wasn't worrying, I was just pointing out the obvious that "transplantation is not a cure, it is only a treatment and treatments don't work forever." I gave up trying to break through their denial when I had a really unpleasant argument about Ben's future. I pointed out that it would not be prudent, responsible or selfless for him to get married and have children. All things considered, even if a second transplant goes perfectly, it is unrealistic that he will live to 50. The side effects from the meds will probably cause damage by the time he is 30ish. Would it really be responsible for someone who knows that they have tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills from day one, to get married and have kids? The temptation to contracept would be insanely strong. The constant fear of money, bills and the future would be huge. Could all that be overcome? Sure, but we can't go around and pretend that Ben can just get married and have kids like everybody else and we need to start preparing him for that kind of sacrifice now, assuming he lives to adulthood. The reaction that I received was so unpleasant as to be nearly violent. So I have waited patiently for many people to wake up. Some have but most have not and now it is too late for us to wait patiently. Ben is old enough to start thinking and pondering and to be very cognizant in a way of the logical conclusions of peoples' words. He may struggle with math and memorizing Latin or catechism but he can find the logical conclusion to adults thoughtless words. He has asked, did they really mean that because that really means....? I can't allow anyone to thoughtlessly make comments about faith, or the Church, or his life anywhere near him now. He would immediately discern what they are saying, probably more than the sayer would....

He has already figured out that, " I just can't believe a good God would allow a child to suffer like that" means an outright denial of God in Ben's name....and he has already wondered why people cry over him but they don't cry over the kids dying in Haiti. With the innocence of childhood, he can see our selfish, illogic and I am very afraid that the misplaced compassion of relatives and family friends will seed venom of self-absorption and disbelief and for Ben who may very well not survive childhood-can't go through the disbelief of the teenage years because he might not have time to repent of it as an adult. When you have no less than 3 different priests tell you they don't think your son is long for this world and that they have been praying about need to wake up and face reality.

In the past 3 weeks, I have had too many irritating comments from people-again no one who reads this-about how sad this all is, about doubting God, about how the Bible isn't all true, about how we need to be more compassionate and sensitive to Ben's needs....All of the comments, by the various people were sincerely meant but not one of the individuals thought or took their comment to its' complete, logical conclusion....

How sad all this-implies that Ben somehow means more than somebody else who is sick or suffering and therefore deserves to be healed.... or that God doesn't really know what he is doing or that God must not have any direct control in this world

Doubting God-is just prideful aethism....refusing to submit your will to God's will....then why do you go to Church at all or ask him for a miracle?

The Bible isn't all true is just a cop out for someone who doesn't want to suffer the cross that they were given, so they latch on to some piddly thing and use it as a cop out. I ask then why go to church if the Bible isn't all true?

We are being sensitive enough-Really who do you think you are to make that kind of statement....It wasn't made directly, the individual didn't know that I heard about it. Did God give you the graces to raise our son from outside our home?

Mark doesn't see what I am upset about but then Mark isn't hearing the questions that Ben is asking during the day after he fails his CLAA catechism tests. Mark isn't hearing Ben wrestle through the implications of This Likeness is Chiefly in teh Soul, or We should take more care of our soul than of our Body because in losing our Soul, we lose God and everlasting happiness.

Ben's health is important but I need to worry about his soul and I can practically hear Satan laughing at the careless and thoughtless words of some people and their profound effect on Ben and the girls. That was what my letter was about. A warning.

What I find really sad, is to walk through that hospital and see all that suffering and know that it is lost. If half of those children were to offer up their suffering, this country would be Catholic, abortion free and the world would be at peace. But I doubt that any children offer it....They are all zombifyed on TV, Video games and mindless crafts. Do those things have usage sometimes for some of the more traumatic procedures-Absolutely! But not the way they are used constantly. I am going to stick you so here watch this TV show or movie....Lost. All of the suffering is lost. That is sad. All those priests dying in Haiti is sad, because there is no one to do the sacraments and preach the word of God now.

Ben is happy. Ben is stable. Ben has 2 parents and 4 grandparents and aunts and cousins and friends who love him.. He lives in a comfortable home with good food and clean water and lots of toys and books. He can still run and play. He can still climb trees and skateboard. For the most part, he doesn't suffer too much pain. He is being taught the truth. Thanks be to God.

Wow, so that helps me yet again, to put all my belly aching in perspective! Please Lord, come down upon us, and grant us your salvation, your peace, your love, and your blessings. Amen.

Ruminations on Homeschooling....

In my travels this weekend I began to think about my family, my children, and my parenting choices. My husband and I have decided to homeschool our children, ages 5,4,3 and 11 mos. We prayed and discerned, argued for and against it with each other, studied and researched, and talked to everyone we could think of, in making this decision. I realized that the both the most positive and negative examples to me about homeschooling were some of the mothers I had met along my way who had been homeschooling their children right along.
When my husband and I first got engaged, like so many Catholic couples, we began to discern children (e.g. when to have them, how many to have, and how we would raise them 'according to the Faith'). I knew from the beginning that I didn't want to send my children to public school. The school system had been one of the worst governmental flops in our nation's history, and I was not about to subject my children to it. I wanted to send my children to parochial schools, to learn the Faith, to receive a quality Catholic education, and to have an overall successful educational experience. My husband agreed with me and we seemed decided. We found out in our first year of marriage that I was pregnant with our first child, and the issue of education came up once again. At that time we were newly married and young, and there was no money in our budget for a very expensive Catholic education (ah, those great plans!) Even with financial aid, we couldn't afford the costs of Parochial school. We both still knew that public school was right out for obvious moral and academic reasons. I began to discern homeschooling and found it to be a daunting commitment. I was trepidatious about being the sole provider of my son's educational future and was worried about the commitment to my time (having a part time job to help support our family).
A few of my girlfriends and I were at lunch one day when the subject of homeschooling came up. My closest friend began to tell us her joys of homeschooling, which she had recently begun to do with her daughter. I could tell that she was having success at homeschooling, and also through her portrayals I knew that she was diligent, organized, committed, and prepared for her daughter's education. I also felt my heart sink when I realized that I didn't have any of those traits and that I couldn't homeschool nearly as well (or well at all) as she was doing. I began to tell the group about my husband's and my discernment about homeschooling, and how we wanted to send our children to Catholic school but couldn't find a way to afford it. At this point my friend who was homeschooling looked across the table at me and said "Well, if you want to send your child's soul to Hell, then go ahead and do anything but homeschool them." Those words cut like a knife, and sent me reeling. What mother could ever send their child to Hell? Why would my friend so carelessly say something like that? And the more that I went with her to her Catholic homeschooling group, the more I realized that she wasn't alone in her premise. The majority of the mothers I met through this group shared this idea: "If you weren't homeschooling your child, you were going to destroy their soul." They tended to look down on parents who sent their kids to the local Catholic School, and the parents of public school children were the object of terrible gossip and slander. I soon left the group, and continued to wander my way through the pregnancy and infancy of my son. I didn't want to homeschool after this experience for fear that I'd turn out to be like these mothers that I had met.
My husband and I joined our local Catholic Parish and made friends with some of the other families there who had children our own family's ages. We were delighted that these families shared our love of the Faith, and were also discerning the best way to raise their children in the Faith. I was drawn to one of the mothers in particular. She had already decided to homeschool her sons (the oldest of whom was the exact same age as my oldest and wasn't even crawling yet.) She was so simple, so humble, and so incredibly smart (a Ph.D who had resigned from her head scientist position at Pfiezer upon learning she was pregnant to "stay home" and raise her children). She made me realize that homeschooling was a viable option when it came to choosing how to educate your children. She showed me through her love of children and her family that she was not out to win awards or even promote her children's academcis so much as she was simply doing what she felt the Lord was calling her to do. I learned so much from her and befriended her in the hopes that I could support her and her family in their decisions to homeschool. My boys became friends with her boys and our husbands got along as well. Through her example I realized that I could homeschool too, and that it didn't have to be in a "cookie cutter" style, but to find the way to genuinely love and minister to my family through schooling them at home. This girlfriend and I joined the Catholic Homeschooling group that I had fled from in my first experience, and I was able to reconcile with my girlfriend (who was able to accept me now that I was homeschooling:) and we became good friends again.
Through these two examples of homeschooling I would say that there is such a wide array of homeschooling styles and options. Homeschooling should be a unique experience to each family, just as each family is unique unto itself. And I would find that if the family is homeschooling predominately for Catholic reasons then be extremely careful when viewing "the rest of the world". We should lead out in our example in a spirit of gentleness and humility. After all, many are called and few are chosen. But we shouldn't pride ourselves in that, but take it in extreme humility and thankfulness. I've seen parents who have sent their kids to public school from kindergarten through 12th grade, whose children are now entering the priesthood and religious life. And I've seen homeschooling families whose children don't even speak to their parents anymore. I homeschool because, together with my husband, we've discerned that it is the best choice for our family and for our children. I'm not out to win any awards or to prove any points, but to serve what is in the best interests for my children. I try not to be condescending in my choices to those who may not otherwise have thought of it, and I pray for those who persecute me for my choices. But mostly I just sit back and let my family witness for itself. My children are happy, well-loved, and are loving and compassionate in return. I hope that speaks volumes more than I ever could on this subject:)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

(***Music, think Prince***)"We're gonna party like its 1966!!" MA goes 'Back to the Future'!!!

Woo hoo! Not that I think Scott Brown is some freaky looking white haired guy in a lab coat looking to climb clock towers or anything....But a major congrats to the Republicans and Conservatives of MA who fought so hard, and won, in this election!!!

So we can still make fun of their driving....And we can still make fun of their accents...But I think its up for grabs that we can no longer make fun of their politicians! (I've heard a few great Ted Kennedy ones, God have mercy on his soul!:)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More on Haiti from a local charity here in CT

So pray for the refugees flooding into the impoverished city of Jeremie, Haiti. A Norwich, CT based Haitian Ministry is located here, and it is one of the poorest parts on the island. You can read about it here, in this front page story on The Norwich Bulletin. Its a dire situation, with people who had been living in the city of Port au Prince, returning back to their families in Jeremie. People who had already been living in slums and people who are in no way able to support such an influx of refugees. I read somewhere that this was the greatest natural devastation to hit a country least able to handle it. They need our prayers and sacrifices folks. Give them what you can?
(PS - There's a link on my blog page to donate to a local charity here in CT. All proceeds will benefit our Diocesan Haitian Ministry, please consider giving what you can.)

Another Reason why we have to go to the March this year!!!

So Mike and I are stepping up the prayers and sacrifices for the March for life this year in Washington D.C.  We realize the importance of being there, but when I got this story from Zenit in my inbox this morning, I realized this was yet another very important reason to be there!
 If I can beg prayers of you for our family's pilgrimage, and that we'll be able to be there to witness to life.  Thanks in advance!
Our Lady of Life, pray for us!
D.C. Pro-Life March Now a World Event
Filipinos, Africans Tell Obama: "Stop Paying to Kill Our Children"
WASHINGTON, D.C., JAN. 18, 2010 ( International pro-life leaders are arriving to the United States to join in this Friday's march to protest the legalization of abortion.

"America’s March for Life is now the world's March for Life," according to Joseph Meaney, director of International Coordination for Human Life International.

Each year since the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States, marchers have taken to the streets in the nation's capital in protest.

Meaney said that now the world is joining in: "It has become the world’s pro-life protest because of the aggressive promotion of abortion and population control that is now official policy of the United States, thanks to the administration of President Barack Obama."

"This is not only the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which has led to the destruction of almost 50 million American children," Ligaya Acosta, Human Life International regional coordinator for Asia and Oceania, explained. "This is now the anniversary of President Obama’s allowing Americans' taxpayer funds to be used to promote abortion and other assaults on life in my own country of the Philippines, in Africa, in China … all over the world where 40 million babies are killed every year.

"It is wrong and we are here to tell him and Congress to stop paying to kill our children!"

Obama reversed the Mexico City Policy on Jan. 23, 2009. That policy kept federal funds from supporting organizations that promote abortion outside the United States.

"We are tired of the arrogant American government trying to tell us how many children we should have," said Emil Hagamu, Human Life International regional coordinator for English-speaking Africa. "President Obama is of Kenyan descent. How can he do this to his own people?"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Update on Haiti from Zenit, International Catholic News Agency

All Eyes on Haiti
Interview With Cardinal Cordes of Cor Unum
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 16, 2010 ( As disaster strikes Haiti, the eyes of the world are being directed toward the poorest country of the Western world, whose long suffering has long been forgotten, says Cardinal Josef Cordes.

The president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum spoke with ZENIT about the aftermath of the 7.0-magnitude quake that hit the country Tuesday, and destroyed its capital of Port-au-Prince.

In this interview the cardinal discusses the damage done to the country, as well as what will be needed to help Haiti in the days, months and years ahead.

ZENIT: What do you know about the damage of the earthquake?

Cardinal Cordes: Initial communication was difficult, but we are beginning to receive reports from Catholic agencies working directly on the scene, such as Catholic Relief Services (the international relief and development agency of the U.S. bishops), national Caritas representatives being sent to Haiti by their bishops, Cross International Catholic Outreach, St. Vincent de Paul Confederation.

Certain facts are known through the media (loss of life, homes, etc). More specifically for us, it was the apostolic nuncio in Santo Domingo who had the first contact via e-mail with Archbishop Bernardito Auza, apostolic nuncio in Haiti. Archbishop Auza is informing us about the losses to the Church, both in terms of life and structural damage. The archbishop of Port-au-Prince, Joseph Serge-Miot, whom he described as "good" and "always smiling," was killed as he was thrown from his balcony by the force of the earthquake. Other priests, religious and at least nine seminarians have been buried under the rubble. The cathedral, chancery, and all of the parish churches have been destroyed. Archbishop Auza is visiting Catholic and other establishments, many of them ruined, to express the closeness of the Church and Holy Father.

ZENIT: What is the immediate need?

Cardinal Cordes: Every natural catastrophe is unique, but our long experience of previous disasters (e.g. Tsunami, Katrina) shows two distinct phases:

-- Short-term: manpower is needed to save lives, provide the basic necessities (water, food, shelter, prevention of disease), restore order;

-- Long-term: reconstruction, offering spiritual and psychological help, especially when media attention fades away.

Benedict XVI has called on all people of good will to be generous and concrete in their response in order to meet the immediate needs of our suffering brothers and sisters in Haiti (General Audience, Jan. 13, 2010). It is important that we are giving tangible help through the charitable agencies of the Catholic Church. Much is being organized and encouraged in this regard throughout the world.

For example, the episcopal conference of Italy has set Jan. 24 as a day of prayer and charity for the people of Haiti. The national embassies to the Holy See are organizing the sacrifice of the Holy Mass to be offered for our suffering brothers and sisters. We must remember to intercede through prayer and not only money for the suffering of Haiti.

ZENIT: What is being done concretely by the Holy See/Pontifical Council Cor Unum?

Cardinal Cordes: In his appeal for assistance, Benedict XVI asked specifically that the Catholic Church mobilize herself at once through her charitable institutions. Several Catholic organizations have already begun working, offering especially personnel with expertise at this stage (e.g. the national Caritas of Germany, Ireland, Switzerland, France, Austria, the Order of Malta). Cross International Catholic Outreach is at work through its office in Port-au-Prince. We are receiving daily updates from them all.

Whenever a situation like this arises, it is the custom for one agency to coordinate relief efforts. To this end, in the hours following the earthquake, our Pontifical Council was in direct contact with Catholic Relief Services. We asked that it coordinate the response at this stage in view of the 300 plus staff it has in Haiti, its long history of over 50 years in the country, as well as its expertise in dealing with similar disasters worldwide and its resources. The President of CRS has assured us: "We stand committed and ready to inform and coordinate the response of the Church in whatever way possible so that her response may be an effective sign of God's love."

We know from the apostolic nuncio in Haiti that meetings are taking place with CRS and Caritas Haiti at the Nunciature in Port-au-Prince in order that the urgent local needs are addressed. It is essential that the local Church be heard. To this end, we are pleased that those Haitian bishops, who have been able to travel, have been present at these meetings.

ZENIT: How much does people's faith help them through a catastrophe such as this?

Cardinal Cordes: The faith of the people who have suffered in this disaster will play a critical role in not only bringing relief to their physical injuries and losses, but also in addressing the spiritual dimension and meaning to be found in such a catastrophe. In visiting disaster areas before and talking with survivors, many express their gratitude to God for sparing their lives and for the generous outpouring of assistance made available to them by family, friends, neighbors, and Churches worldwide. Because of the large Catholic population (80% of Haitians are Catholics), faith and the concrete presence/witness of the Church will have a very important role in the present tragedy.

Our Pontifical Council Cor Unum had already planned that the next meeting of the Populorum Progressio Foundation would take place in Santo Domingo this coming July. The foundation, established by Pope John Paul II, is to help the indigenous peoples of the Latin American and Caribbean countries. In the past, we have given much help to Haiti and we shall continue to do so. Of course, our spiritual closeness is of primary importance. We shall be certain to celebrate the Holy Eucharist on that occasion with bishops coming from different countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Without faith, this tragedy would turn into a complete disaster. That is why it will be essential for our brothers and sisters to pray together; experience Christians worldwide sharing their burdens as members of God's family; know the compassion of our Holy Father. All these become sources of hope and energy. In His first encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est," Pope Benedict invites us to recall "St. Augustine who gives us faith's answer to our sufferings: 'Si comprehendis, non est Deus' -- 'if you understand him, he is not God.'" The Holy Father adds: "Even in their bewilderment and failure to understand the world around them, Christians continue to believe in the 'goodness and loving kindness of God' (Titus 3:4)" (No. 38). 

ZENIT: Will good come from this tragedy?

Cardinal Cordes: This is a disaster that has caused immense loss of life and suffering. Many years will be needed for the nation to be rebuilt physically and the people to recover in their spirits. For this reason, the Church must remain present even as others move away.

But already we see good rising from the ruins. The eyes of the world are being open to the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, whose long suffering was all but forgotten. This tragedy shows that we depend on each other and must care for our suffering brothers and sisters, just as we did during the Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. So we must ensure that the necessary assistance now being shown to Haiti continues in the long-term, for example through setting up better local Caritas structures and links with government development ministries of wealthier countries and help agencies.

We are witnessing and hearing of many selfless and heroic acts made to save lives and to rescue those in danger.  There are still thousands of others, who, coming from all over the world and without any accolades, are dedicating themselves to helping whoever is in need. People are being moved to give of themselves spiritually and materially to help the poor and suffering. In the coming days and weeks, I am convinced that we shall encounter in the midst of this catastrophe many examples of goodness.

Above all, it is with trustworthy hope in the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus that Christians face the present. In his encyclical "Spe Salvi," Pope Benedict speaks of the sufferings of this moment being borne through hope in the future. It is not that Christians know the details of what awaits them, but they know in general terms that their life will not end in emptiness: "Only when the future is certain as a positive reality does it become possible to live the present as well" (Spe Salvi No. 2).

So I find nothing in this world as compelling as an open Confessional door with the light on.

What a gift the Sacrament of Reconciliation is, and praise God for His grace to allow me to visit this Sacrament yesterday.  This was yet another leg in my self-made Novena and spiritual preparation for the March for Life this year, to "hit Confession".  Before I left I spotted a small black prayer book, "Manual of Prayers", printed in 1930 by the John Murphy Company (U.S.A.), and I grabbed it on my way out the door.  It had an entire section of prayers for the Sacrament of Reconciliation that were beautiful.  Here is the first one that I used in my preparations...

To Implore the Divine Assistance in Order to Make a Good Confession

O Almighty and most merciful God, who hast made me out of nothing, and redeemed me by the Precious Blood of Thine Only Son; who hast with so much patience borne with me to this day, notwithstanding all my sins and ingratitude; ever calling after me to return to Thee from the ways of vanity and iniquity, in which I have been quite wearied out in the pursuit of empty toys and mere shadows; seeking in vain to satisfy my thirst in unclean waters, and my hunger with husks of swine: behold, O most gracious Lord, I now sincerely desire to leave all these my evil ways, to forsake the region of death where I have so long lost myself, and to return to Thee, the Fountain of Life.  I desire, like the prodigal son, to enter seriously into myself, and with the like resolution to arise without delay, and to go home to my Father - though I am most unworthy to be called His child - in hopes of meeting with the like reception from His most tender mercy.  But O my God, though I can go astray from Thee of myself, yet I cannot make one step towards returning to Thee, unless Thy divine grace move and assist me.  This grace, therefore, I most humbly implore, prostrate in spirit before the throne of Thy mercy; I beg it for the sake of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who died upon the Cross for my sins; I know that Thou desirest not the death of a sinner, but that he may be converted and live; I know Thy mercies are above all Thy works; and I most confidently hope that as in Thy mercy Thou hast spared me so long, and hast now given me this desire of returning to Thee, so Thou wilt finish the work which Thou hast begun, and bring me to a perfect reconciliation with Thee.
I desire now to comply with Thy holy institution of the Sacrament of Penance; I desire to confess my sins with all sincerity to Thee and to Thy minister; and therefore I desire to know myself, and to call myself to an account by a diligent examination of my conscience.  But, O my God, how miserably shall I deceive myself if Thou assist me not in this great work by Thy heavenly light.  O then remove every veil that hides any of my sins from me, that I may see them all in their true colors, and may sincerely detest them.  O let me no longer be imposed upon by the Enemy of souls, or by my own self-love, so as to mistake vice for virtue, to hide myself from myself, or in any way to make excuses for sins.  But, O my good God, what will it avail me to know my sins, if Thou dost not also give me a hearty sorrow and repentance for them?  Without this my sins will be all upon me still, and I shall be still Thine enemy and a child of hell.  Thou dost require that contrite heart, without which there can be no reconciliation with Thee; and this heart none but Thyself can give.  O then, dear Lord, grant it unto me at this time.  Give me a lively faith, and a steadfast hope, in the Passion of my Redeemer; teach me to fear Thee and to love Thee.  Give me, for Thy mercy's sake, a hearty sorrow for having offended so good a God.  Teach me to detest my evil ways; to abhor all my past ingratitude; to myself now with a perfect hatred for my many treasons against Thee.  O give me a full and firm resolution to lead henceforward a new life; and unite me unto Thee with an eternal band of love which nothing in life or death may ever break.
Grant me also the grace to make an entire and sincere confession of all my sins, and to accept the confusion of it as a penance justly due to my transgressions.  Let not the Enemy prevail upon me to pass over anything through fear or shame; rather let me die than consent to so great an evil.  Let no self-love deceive me, as I fear it has done too often.  O grant that this confession may be good; and for the sake of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, who died for me and for all sinners, assist me in every part of my preparation for it; that I may perform it with the same care and diligence as I should be glad to do at the hour of my death; that so, being perfectly reconciled to Thee, I may never offend Thee more.

Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

"...And I shall show you a still more excellent way." (On Hardship and Suffering)

For the past few months, if not longer, I've been contemplating the meaning of "suffering" specifically "spiritual suffering".  Like most people, I've avoided this topic as long as I could, preferring to stay in my trial free, comfortable Catholic life, and not have to face it.  However, as with all the journeys of life, we must eventually embark upon those "rough waters", and my "time has now come".
Now, it's nothing dramatic mind you.  God, in His great wisdom, knew that my Faith was too weak to learn this lesson all at once with some great moment, or catharsis.  He's taken me on a more level incline, a slower walk up a gentler plain.  It's been long, and I'm spiritually out of shape, so I've been carried by Him more on this journey than I've cared to walk it alone.
Let me first give a little background.  My husband and I had our first baby girl last February.  She was born into a family with three brothers to welcome her.  She was brought home to a 900 sq ft, 2 bedroom home in which we've been living in ever since.  My husband and I quickly realized that we needed more space, and mostly a third bedroom in order to comfortably house us.  After preparing our house, we put it on the market last July.  We had a few people walk through, some who expressed interest, and we began to pray.  But as the weeks extended into months, I began to wonder when the time would come for us to be rid of this house.  A friend suggested to me that I pray the St. Joseph Novena (30-day), and after 3 tries, I finally made it through.  We received an offer on our house, and "knew" it was an answer to our prayers (Mike at this point had done a Novena to St. Joseph as well).  The offer fell through.  I began to pray again, and began my 30-day Novena to St. Joseph once again.  More people began to come and look through our home.  My brother in law approached us about going in on a property with a home on it.  Again, I had the assurance that God was in this, and that we would be able to sell our home and secure this home that would meet all our needs (6 bedrooms, more space, and more land attached to it).  We were able to find a way to finance the house, and be able to move even in the event we had been unable to sell this house first.  We worked with our broker, with my brother in law, and kept praying and hoping that this would come together.  It didn't.  Last week, the owners of the home and parcel rejected our offer and decided to pursue other venues to sell it.  This was the second time when I was sure that God had lined things up to say "yes" that it came back "no".  This is pretty much where we're at in our journey to find a home, here in our house, waiting.  And I find myself at a crossroads.  I'm not upset with God, and I'll get into that in a minute.  But I began to wonder what to do when God's answer comes back "no".  What then?  Do I continue to pray and persist in asking Him to change His mind?  Or do I pray for the grace to accept His will?  My husband is convinced He will answer our prayers, and that He knows we need a bigger house.  But the "what ifs" and "whens" abound in my mind.  And I'm at a loss as to what to do spiritually from here.
Other things have since come on the horizon in the meantime.  My daughter will be a year old next month.  My maternal instincts have kicked in once again, and I am feeling that "itch" to be pregnant again.  This month, when I missed my period, my heart skipped a beat upon the recognition that I might be pregnant.  After five days of still no period, I knew I was pregnant, and my husband and I had begun to rejoice and make plans secretly.  We were going to wait to take a test and confirm that we were pregnant until after the March for Life, and announce it once we got home.  I was devastated when I got my period - a feeling that I know other women who have been there understand.  I had been so happy, an inner happiness that radiated with the potential life that I perceived inside of me.  Every time I thought of that little babe, I thanked God.  I didn't know what we were going to do with a fifth child, but I didn't worry about it.  I was happy to have a life, and to be a steward to it.  The realization that my perceptions had been wrong left me in the dark.  Again, another moment in my spiritual life where I was left wondering what to do spiritually from here.
And all this is happening on the eve of the March for Life.  Every year, our family attends the March for Life.  My husband and I are both adamantly pro-life, and find this to be a charism of our vocation.  We've been attending the March ever since my son was 8 months old (he's now 5), and we've been bringing all of our children with us.  Last year was the first year I missed, due to my pregnancy, but I went to a local March in our state capitol with one of my girlfriends instead.  I decided that it was important for me to prepare for the March this year spiritually.  I've been attending daily Mass since Wednesday in a self-made Novena, and have been bringing my children with me.  I'm planning on making it to Confession and at least one Holy Hour before we leave to further prepare myself for the pilgrimage that we're about to make.  The storm clouds are once again gathering...My husband and I have had some financial difficulties come up, and it may not be possible for us to attend the March this year.  It is another prayer that I've lifted up with a very real possibility that it might not come to fruition.  I've begun another Novena to St. Joseph (9-Day this time) to help us find the way and the means to get there, despite the odds.  And I'm going to continue my "spiritual exercises" in the hope that we can still attend this year's March in Washington.  That is where I received grace this morning, at the 8:00 Mass at our Parish.  I've been contemplating something, all the above somethings, and would like to expound upon it here.
My "suffering" as outlined above, is nothing compared to the great tragedies around me, and I don't even know if I would consider it a "suffering" so much as  "struggling".  If it was to be considered suffering, I would say that it was caused by expectations that I had that were not met.  Prayers and petitions that I had that were not answered.  At least this was my first reaction to it, and its been my prayer focus for a while now.  I feel, in my very small and limited way, akin to what the disciples might have felt as they waited in the Cenacle.  What now?  Where do we go from here?
Initially, I thought there were only two possible answers or responses to those questions.  When God does not answer prayer, one can be tempted to despair.  But despair is not an option, in fact, despair - a self made vacuum in which God cannot exist - is a sinful act of the will, and one that I pray I will never be tempted into. 
And of course, there's the response of feeling deprived.  But that also does not quite fit the bill, for in feeling deprived, there's a subtle sense of being victimized (whether by self or circumstance), as well as a sense that God is unaffected by our suffering.  And that's not necessarily the Christian response either.  If my response of feeling that God was somehow "depriving" me of the graces for which I petitioned Him, then "suck it up" would be an appropriate response to me.  Indeed, I would give me that advice too!:)  But as immediately effective as "suck it up" is to those of us who are shallow in our Faith roots, its not always the best answer in the long run.  It leaves the soul actively working to "fix" the immediate problem of dealing with the situation, of rationalizing away the pain, either through humbling oneself or disregarding that there was ever a need for the pain in the first place.  But just as physical pain is present to the body to make us aware of an otherwise unknown physical condition, I believe that suffering can be a grace allowed by God to help us recognize an otherwise unknown spiritual condition.  And upon recognizing this readily apparent concept, I happened upon a lot more this morning, that I'll try to flesh out.
I began to wonder if suffering, when caused by sin, could be redemptive.  I used the analogy to Anonymous Catholic Housewife, that if God and I were walking along, and God warned me not to run into the street, and I disregarded Him and ran into the street anyway, that it would be that act of will (to run into the street) that would cause me to get hurt (e.g. when I got hit by the oncoming car).  But as I was in the hospital, laying there in traction, and in pain, I would nonetheless be suffering.  And even though that suffering came as a direct result of my sin, could I still offer up that suffering to the Lord for redemption?
I wondered if God was  not answering my prayers from the above mentioned life circumstances because of my sin.  And while I don't have a direct answer to that, because I'm not really sure that that's not the case, I think suffering, whether caused by sin or not, can be transformative.  Indeed, I think the only outcome to suffering, is for some form of transformation to occur.  For instance, when we diet, we are allowing ourselves to suffer through not eating an abundance of food in order to transform ourselves into healthier beings.  When God allows suffering in our lives, the only grace filled response we can have to that is to unite our will to His in order to allow that same applied suffering to transform our lives.  If the suffering comes as a result of sin, then it will help to keep us from sinning again.  But if the suffering comes from life's circumstances, we are called to do more through our Christian lives, than to just "suck it up" and deal with the life's circumstances.  That's too one-dimensional, and there's still that "more excellent way".  Of course, we can deal with the life circumstance, I'm not in anyway trying to advocate irresponsibility.  I'm just saying let's look beyond that into the lesson therein contained.  While we'll never in this life, understand God's will, we can nonetheless ponder this great mystery and "reflect on it in our hearts."  Therefore, I found through much prayer and contemplation (as well as help from the spiritual greatness that is Anon. Cath. H.W. and Mike, thanks guys!), that my response to God's "no" should not be one of finality.  For God's "no" is never "no" unto itself.  God's "no" to us is actually a veiled "yes".  And soemtimes, with His grace, He allows to see a little more of that "yes", that can only come to us through our own transformation.
What if at the end of our lives when we are called to our Judgement its not like we thought it would be?  What if its not a  Judge so much as we're standing on trial...What if Christ is standing there waiting to say "Well done, my good and faithful servant" while holding up a test?  And on that test is every life circumstance for which we've been through.  And its multiple choice in accord with our free will.  Maybe redemption comes not so much on account of our need for it by our actions, but in our need from it on account of the circumstances, our actions and/or reactions, and further need of transformation.  If God allows suffering in that we need to be transformed, and we don't respond to it by transforming, then maybe that's where Purgatory comes from?
So my immediate response to these "lessons learned today" will be applied directly to my prayer life.  When praying for a need, a want, or a desired outcome, I will also conclude and try to focus my entire prayer around God's will.  Then will I truly unite with Him in the endeavor, and seek not to do my own will but His, for after all isn't that how Christ taught us to pray?  And when I truly believe that God came that we "may have life and have it to the full", I don't think I'll be "suffering" nearly as much as I've let on;)

So those are my pondering to date.

Friday, January 15, 2010

So as I'm struggling to get to Daily Mass I found this quote:

(Short sub-plot for you: I've been awake since about 2:30 this morning.  No particular reason, just one of those nights where I wake up and then for the life of me I can't get back to sleep!  The kids and I already missed the Daily 8:00 a.m. Mass at our Parish.  So now I'm struggling to finish schoolwork and get the kids bathed and dressed in time to make our Cathedral Noon Mass.  I am in the midst of a "Novena", preparing for the National March for Life a week from today.  I had the notion that attending Mass everyday prior to this would help me spiritually prepare for the March.  Well today, for a multitude of reasons, I am struggling to get there, as well as pondering how prudent this Novena promise I made to myself really was.  I was just about to justify reasons for not attending today's Mass, when I came upon this quote in my Novena book.)

Holy Communion is the shortest, and surest way to Heaven.  There are others, innocence for instance, but that is for little children; penance, but we are afraid of it; a generous endurance of the trials of life, but when they approach us we weep and pray to be delivered.  Once for all, beloved children, the surest, easiest, shortest way is by the Holy Eucharist.
(from Pius X)

(Epilogue: I'm going to continue my preparations for Mass.  And after reading this again, I'm going to try not to complain so much this time about my struggles, but just load them up and bring them with me to offer to our Lord.)

Did you ever have the feeling... just didn't know what you were doing???

Welcome to my world!  I don't really know what I'm doing, but I know that I enjoy doing it!  You will find that to be true not only of my life, but now I'm publically displaying it on my blog!  Hahahah!

So what's up with my Blog title?  Well, I thought I'd try to be quick-witted (no small feat mind you, I've been working out the title to this blog for months now!), and try to create a blog mainly to ponder the meaning of life and all that contains, within the context of the Roman Catholic Faith.  Woo hoo!  So as I live, I apologize, and I wanted to show the world that there are some of us Francis like conspirators left out there...Care to join me?

So buckle up, and enjoy the ride as this blog is created, torn down, rebuilt, and examined from all different angles.  Hey, Rome wasn't built in a day!  Please be patient with me.  This is the case with us a work in progress:)
God Bless,