30 December 2008

Solemnity

For many Christians, it seems pretty obvious, in retrospect, who Jesus was when He walked among us. So much of the Old Testament points to Him, our priest, prophet and king. Generations waited for Him; young Jewish girls grew up wondering and preparing themselves for the possibility that they could be His mother.

Jesus came not to do away with the law, but to fulfill it. He is the new Adam -- faithful, obedient and humble in every aspect where His earthly forefather was not.

The same is true of Mary. So many people don't see her as anything more than a "very good person." As they say about Jesus, if he was just a good person, then how wretched are we and our salvation lost.

"I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

Again, the parallel could be said of Mary. She wasn't just a nice person. She, "full of grace," the Immaculate Conception, was conceived without sin and never committed a sin. Not one. Not ever. God preserved her from sin from the moment of her conception to become the New Ark of the Covenant. Much more than a nice person. What was in the Ark and what did Mary carry in her womb? She is the "woman clothed in the sun" who will crush the serpent's head. If she is just a "nice person" then again, how wretched are we left without our great intercessor and most fierce combatant. As Father Corapi always says, "My mother wears combat boots."

In our bible study, which is covering the book of Revelation, we are learning more about how the Old Testament not only points to Jesus, has many "types" and parallels of Jesus, but how it so frequently points to Mary as the New Eve and the Ark of the Covenant. I found the following article, written by Steve Ray in This Rock magazine. It covers what we recently learned in bible study and shows some of the ways Mary is the New Ark. Below is just part of a lengthy, but great article.

~~~~~
Compare David and the ark to Luke’s account of the Visitation:
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (Luke 1:39–45).
Mary arose and went to the hill country of Judea. I have been to both Ein Kerem (where Elizabeth lived) and Abu Ghosh (where the ark resided), and they are only a short walk apart. Mary and the ark were both on a journey to the same hill country of Judea.

When David saw the ark he rejoiced and said, "How can the ark of the Lord come to me?" Elizabeth uses almost the same words: "Why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" Luke is telling us something—drawing our minds back to the Old Testament, showing us a parallel.

When David approached the ark he shouted out and danced and leapt in front of the ark. He was wearing an ephod, the clothing of a priest. When Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, approached Elizabeth, John the Baptist leapt in his mother’s womb—and John was from the priestly line of Aaron. Both leapt and danced in the presence of the ark. The Ark of the Old Covenant remained in the house of Obed-edom for three months, and Mary remained in the house of Elizabeth for three months. The place that housed the ark for three months was blessed, and in the short paragraph in Luke, Elizabeth uses the word blessed three times. Her home was certainly blessed by the presence of the ark and the Lord within.

When the Old Testament ark arrived—as when Mary arrived—they were both greeted with shouts of joy. The word for the cry of Elizabeth’s greeting is a rare Greek word used in connection with Old Testament liturgical ceremonies that were centered around the ark and worship (cf. Word Biblical Commentary, 67). This word would flip on the light switch for any knowledgeable Jew.

The ark returns to its home and ends up in Jerusalem, where God’s presence and glory is revealed in the temple (2 Sam. 6:12; 1 Kgs. 8:9–11). Mary returns home and eventually ends up in Jerusalem, where she presents God incarnate in the temple (Luke 1:56; 2:21–22).
It seems clear that Luke has used typology to reveal something about the place of Mary in salvation history. In the Ark of the Old Covenant, God came to his people with a spiritual presence, but in Mary, the Ark of the New Covenant, God comes to dwell with his people not only spiritually but physically, in the womb of a specially prepared Jewish girl.

The Old Testament tells us that one item was placed inside the Ark of the Old Covenant while in the Sinai wilderness: God told Moses to put the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inside the ark (Deut. 10:3–5). Hebrews 9:4 informs us that two additional items were placed in the Ark: "a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded." Notice the amazing parallels: In the ark was the law of God inscribed in stone; in Mary’s womb was the Word of God in flesh. In the ark was the urn of manna, the bread from heaven that kept God’s people alive in the wilderness; in Mary’s womb is the Bread of Life come down from heaven that brings eternal life. In the ark was the rod of Aaron, the proof of true priesthood; in Mary’s womb is the true priest. In the third century, St. Gregory the Wonder Worker said that Mary is truly an ark—"gold within and gold without, and she has received in her womb all the treasures of the sanctuary."

While the apostle John was exiled on the island of Patmos, he wrote something that would have shocked any first-century Jew. The ark of the Old Covenant had been lost for centuries—no one had seen it for about 600 years. But in Revelation 11:19, John makes a surprising announcement: "Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple."

At this point chapter 11 ends and chapter 12 begins. But the Bible was not written with chapter divisions—they were added in the twelfth century. When John penned these words, there was no division between chapters 11 and 12; it was a continuing narrative.

What did John say immediately after seeing the Ark of the Covenant in heaven? "And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child" (Rev. 12:1–2). The woman is Mary, the Ark of the Covenant, revealed by God to John. She was seen bearing the child who would rule the world with a rod of iron (Rev. 12:5). Mary was seen as the ark and as a queen.

But does this passage really refer to Mary? Some say the woman represents Israel or the Church, and certainly she does. John’s use of rich symbolism is well known, but it is obvious from the Bible itself that the woman is Mary. The Bible begins with a real man (Adam), a real woman (Eve), and a real serpent (the devil)—and it also ends with a real man (Jesus, the Last Adam [1 Cor. 15:45]), a real woman (Mary, the New Eve [Rev. 11:19–12:2]), and a real serpent (the devil of old). All of this was foretold in Genesis 3:15.

John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote about this passage in Revelation:
What I would maintain is this, that the Holy Apostle would not have spoken of the Church under this particular image unless there had existed a Blessed Virgin Mary, who was exalted on high and the object of veneration to all the faithful. No one doubts that the "man-child" spoken of is an allusion to our Lord; why then is not "the Woman" an allusion to his mother?
Later in the same chapter we read that the devil went out to persecute the woman’s other offspring—Christians—which certainly seems to indicate that Mary is somehow the mother of the Church (Rev. 12:17).

Even if someone rejects Catholic teaching regarding Mary, he cannot deny that Catholics have scriptural foundations for it. And it is a teaching that has been taught by Christians from ancient times. Here are a few representative quotations from the early Church—some written well before the New Testament books were officially compiled into the final New Testament canon:

Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 296–373) was the main defender of the deity of Christ against the second-century heretics. He wrote: "O noble Virgin, truly you are greater than any other greatness. For who is your equal in greatness, O dwelling place of God the Word? To whom among all creatures shall I compare you, O Virgin? You are greater than them all O [Ark of the] Covenant, clothed with purity instead of gold! You are the ark in which is found the golden vessel containing the true manna, that is, the flesh in which divinity resides" (Homily of the Papyrus of Turin).

Gregory the Wonder Worker (c. 213–c. 270) wrote: "Let us chant the melody that has been taught us by the inspired harp of David, and say, ‘Arise, O Lord, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy sanctuary.’ For the Holy Virgin is in truth an ark, wrought with gold both within and without, that has received the whole treasury of the sanctuary" (Homily on the Annunciation to the Holy Virgin Mary).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church echoes the words from the earliest centuries: "Mary, in whom the Lord himself has just made his dwelling, is the daughter of Zion in person, the Ark of the Covenant, the place where the glory of the Lord dwells. She is ‘the dwelling of God . . . with men’" (CCC 2676).

The early Christians taught the same thing that the Catholic Church teaches today about Mary, including her being the Ark of the New Covenant.

* For entire article click here

29 December 2008

Places


Last night, as I sat up unable to sleep from my cold, my mind wandered to the trip my cousin is about to make to Egypt. She and her husband plan to visit Egypt in January. At first, I wished I could go, but then I thought of the places I would rather go since I've been to Egypt (although I would like to go back to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.) Then I mentally made some lists:

Places I have been that I never hope to see again
1. Waterloo, Iowa. I could skip the entire state, but since my dad's family were some of the early settlers, I have to cut the state some slack. Waterloo has to be one of the worst places I have ever been.
2. Venice, Italy. Crowded, smelly, dirty and full of tourists like myself and tourist shops. Oh, and like so much of Italy, filled with pit toilets, even in McDonald's. Redeeming quality - there are so many churches, you can't possibly visit them all and they are all incredible.
3. Alexandria, Egypt. We got off the beaten path and walked through more residential areas. As in many countries, there was no garbage collection which meant you had to watch where you were walking. From the buildings to the curb, and even spilling into the streets, were piles of garbage.
4. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Ok, this could be on my list of places I have been that I would like to revisit, because part of my visit was colored by the fact that we spent the night in the Red Light District. Our flight got in late and we took the train from the airport into the downtown. The train station pretty much dumps you off near the Red Light District. It was very late and the streets were full of people you wouldn't want to run into in a well-lit public place. In addition, the streets were ankle deep in garbage. This totally shocked me since I thought these folks were known for being fastidious. Our hotel (there were NO hotels rooms available near the airport and very few near the train station, so we couldn't be too choosy) was seedy and adorned with red blinking neon inside and out. Kitschy to visit, but not a place you'd want to stay in. The hole in the ceiling of our room made us wonder if we were going to have some unwanted visitors during the night. However, once the sun came up, hordes of city workers were already out cleaning up the city and it was like a completely different place. Would like to see a few of the museums there if I ever go back.

Places I would love to revisit
1. Istanbul, Turkey. Actually, I love the entire country of Turkey. So rich in history, architecture and natural beauty. This time I would try to make it to Mount Ararat and Cappadoccia. I tried to make a side trip to Cappadoccia when we were there, but didn't want to risk being stuck in a remote area without reliable transportation.
2. Rhodes, Greece. I don't think you could ever see all there is in Greece, and I loved the island of Rhodes. I only wish I had known more history before I had visited there. Incredible walled medieval city with cobblestone streets, crusader fortress (Palace of the Grand Master), and cool churches established by the Knights of St. John.
3. Northern Germany. I would love to visit the areas where my father's family is from and do a Rhine Cruise. This time, I'd do the small towns and stay out of the large cities.
4. Rome, Italy. Like Greece, there is so much there you can't see it all.
5. Australia. This time I would make plans to see Ayers Rock. A visit to Melbourne would be nice too.

Places I would love to visit:
1. Machu Picchu - I have longed to visit here since I was a child.
2. Scandinavia and parts of Russia on a cruise - had this cruise booked shortly before we had kids and then the cruise line went out of business.
3. Catholic shrines in France - This was the trip I had planned before my brother got sent to Iraq (he lives in Geneva). Chartres, Lisieux, Ars, La Salette, etc., etc!
4. Maine and New England - maybe I can plan a trip here when my kids are a bit older and it becomes part of studying American History...just have to pitch it to my husband. He does have two lines (Cooke and Brewster) I've traced back to the Mayflower, so maybe he'd be interested.
5. Great cities in Canada - I've seen most in the western provinces since we used to live in Seattle, but I've never been to Quebec, Montreal, etc.
6. Israel (and Petra) - Sadly, this was on the itinerary when we were in the Mediterranean, but renewed unrest in the area caused us to detour to Cyprus. Hope to get here some day.

Favorite religious sites I've visited
Hagia Sophia, Istanbul - Impressive to read about, indescribable to visit.
Blue Mosque, Istanbul - Unlike anything I had ever seen before.
House of the Blessed Virgin Mary, near Ephesus - Few places provide such a physical connection to Our Lady. So small and humble, it was so fitting.
Old North Church, Boston - It doesn't necessarily wow you, but the history of it is what is interesting.
Aylesford Abbey, England - I'm a fan of St. Simon Stock, so had to visit here.
St. Mary Major, Rome - This was the church we regularly attended when we were in Italy. So many churches here to pick just one, especially since the Vatican is so incredible.
Irish abbeys and ruins - Some have been around for centuries, some have been in ruins for that long. All very interesting.

Please share some of your favorite (or unfavorite) places. I love to hear about interesting places to visit. Goodness knows, I'll be up thinking about them tonight instead of sleeping!

26 December 2008

One benefit of being married to an engineer

the words "structural failure" take on a whole new meaning...


This is roughly what my 3D birthday cake was supposed to look like


After a huge labor of love by my husband, frustration that was not quantifiable, words that probably were not speakable, this is how my cake turned out...



I'm glad my husband isn't a chef because the perfect snowman birthday cake would've been a ho-hum event. Instead, I received this wonderful, unique work of art that warmed my heart and brought a smile to my face.

And it tasted even better than it looked!

24 December 2008

God Bless Us, Every One!


I plan to do my part to decrease the surplus population at the malls today and stay in. I also can't go downstairs until hubby and the kids are finished making my birthday card. I do think they plan to take me out somewhere too (Red Lobster?). Before I had kids, it was always nice to have the day off from work on my birthday, but it's always been overshadowed by the Big Guy! No complaints though.

Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!

God Bless Us, Every One!!
Wishing you the love, peace and happiness that the true meaning of Christmas brings

21 December 2008

Feast Day of Adam and Eve

December 24

My favorite Old Testament saint has to be Moses. He was so flawed but still incredibly favored by God. So many saints were like this.

I guess it is fitting that I share my birthday with some other flawed individuals, Adam and Eve. It's hard to imagine doing any better than they did after I march myself to Confession, seeing how I fall down in the same ways time and time again.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
A bit on how the feast day (celebrated in the Eastern Rite but not the Roman Church) originated and a blessing for Christmas trees from Catholic Culture.

A popular custom is to bless the Christmas tree before lighting. This can be done on Christmas Eve. Helen McLoughlin describes the Christian origin of the Christmas tree, and provides a short blessing that can be used for the tree. Since Vatican II, the Roman Ritual has been updated, with a newer form of the Blessing of the Christmas Tree.

In recent years a growing number of families bless their Christmas trees before lighting them. We like to remind our children of the part a tree played in the sins of our first parents and of the sacred wood of the Tree on which Jesus Christ, whose birthday we are about to celebrate, wrought our redemption.

Father Francis Weiser, S.J., in The Christmas Book tells the story of the Christmas tree and children love to hear it. Father says, "The Christ tree is completely Christian in origin, and historians have never been able to connect it in any way with ancient Germanic or Asiatic mythology. The origin of the Christmas tree goes back to the medieval German mystery plays. One of the most popular 'mysteries' was the Paradise play, representing the creation of man, the sin of Adam and Eve and their expulsion from Paradise. It usually closed with the consoling promise of the coming Savior and with a reference to His incarnation. This made the Paradise play a favorite pageant for Advent, and its closing scenes used to lead directly into the story of Bethlehem.

These plays were performed either in the open, or the large squares in front of churches, or inside the house of God. The garden of Eden was indicated by a fir tree hung with apples; it represented both the 'Tree of Life' and the 'Tree of discernment of good and evil' which stood in the center of Paradise.

After the suppression of the mystery plays in churches, the Paradise tree, the only symbolic object of the play, found its way into the homes of the faithful, especially since many plays had interpreted it as a symbol of the coming Savior. Following this symbolism, in the fifteenth century the custom developed of decorating the Paradise tree, already bearing apples, with small white wafers representing the Holy Eucharist; thus, in legendary usage, the tree which had borne the fruit of sin for Adam and Eve, now bore the saving fruit of the Sacrament, symbolized by the wafers. These wafers were later replaced by little pieces of pastry cut in the shape of stars, angels, hearts, flowers, and bells.

In some homes the tree is blessed on Christmas eve and the crib on Christmas morning. The following form may be used for the Blessing of the Christmas Tree:

Father: This is that most worthy Tree in the midst of Paradise
All: on which Jesus by His death overcame death for all.
Father: Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
All: let the sea and what fills it resound; let the plains be joyful and all that is in them! All the trees of the forest shall exult before the Lord, for He comes; for He comes to rule the earth. He shall rule the world with justice and the people with His constancy. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
All: This is that most worthy Tree in the midst of Paradise on which Jesus by His death overcame death for all.
Mother: God said: Let the earth bring forth vegetation: seed-bearing plants and all kinds of fruit trees that bear fruit containing their seed. And so it was. The earth brought forth vegetation, every kind of seed-bearing plant and all kinds of trees that bear fruit containing their seed. The Lord God made to grow out of the ground all kinds of trees pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And God saw that it was good.
All: Thanks be to God.
Father: O Lord, hear my prayer.
All: And let my cry come to You.
Father: Let us pray. O Lord Jesus Christ, who by dying on the tree of the Cross didst overcome the death of sin caused by our first parents' eating of the forbidden tree of paradise, grant, we beseech Thee, the abundant graces of Thy Nativity, that we may so live as to be worthy living branches of Thyself, the good and ever green Olive Tree, and in thy strength bear the fruit of good works for eternal life. Who livest and reignest for ever and ever.
All: Amen.

How fitting that the Feast Day surrounding our saintly, but seriously flawed, parents occurs the day before the Savior's birth. Jesus is the reason for the season and Adam and Eve are the reason behind the "Happy Fall" that caused Him to condescend to becoming a man and dying for our sins.


Have a blessed Feast Day!!

19 December 2008

'Tis the season

To rack up "Time already served in Purgatory" points.



I took my saintly aunt shopping last night. It's been a few years since I've done this. Having little ones that were nursing was one reason I didn't take her. The real reason is my kindly, sweet, compassionate aunt transforms into evil personified every time we go shopping.

I thought I could handle it, I really did. But, since it's been a few years that I've dealt with taking her shopping at Christmas, I had silly thoughts of, "Just how bad can it be?" running through my head.

Well, it was bad. Very bad. My aunt, or shall I call her Mr. Hyde, started by complaining incessantly about my driving. Not just a gentle, "Slow down dear, it's slippery out." Oh no, nothing tame like that. Instead, I got the grovelly, deep, demonic, "I hope you don't drive like this with those babies in the car." Every stop sign we approached had her clutching the door handle and bouncing around like her seat was on fire. I was accused of driving too fast, even though I told her I never made it over 30 miles per hour. She rebuked me that it was still too fast for the conditions...you must drive according to the conditions.

It's only a few miles to the nearby Target, but it was a nightmarish, not-quick-enough, jaunt. A car spun out in front of me at the entrance to Target and I thought my aunt was going to have a coronary despite me being several car lengths back and managing to stop at least one car length away from hitting anything. She shrieked like a banshee for a full two minutes.

Once we were in the store, she hit her stride, barrelling down the busy, crowded aisles with her cart, daring anyone to get in her way. First order of business was to buy a Christmas present for my son, so we headed to the toy area. As we approached the first aisle of toys, she demanded to know what it was that my son wanted so we could find a clerk to tell us where to find the toy on the shelves. The store was very busy, chaotic even, probably filled with other well-meaning nieces taking their suddenly psychotic aunts shopping. At times like this, I don't like to ask "clerks" questions unless I've given my search the old college try. My aunt, on the other hand, doesn't want to spend a moment more than necessary looking for anything.

I did manage to find one of the items my son wanted without clerk intervention, but when I finally located it, I deemed it too expensive for my aunt to buy (even though she has more money than God Himself). Because of this, I got the cold silent treatment and the pursed lips, a clear sign she did not approve of the wild goose hunt. Time to think quick, down-grade toy expectations and just grab something for her to buy.

A suitable toy was found and it was off to the men's department for her to find some socks for my husband. My aunt had planned to buy my husband a sweater vest, yes, a sweater vest. I did manage to nip that disaster in the bud a week prior when she mentioned it to me, knowing hubby would not approve. She wanted to know what else to buy him, so I suggested socks since it was something I knew he needed. So, socks it was. Except as we got to the sock aisle and I quickly grabbed a pack of socks off the rack and tossed them in the cart, trying to spare her any more time and trouble, she balked at the socks I picked and then went on a rant about how awful they were. It took about 15 minutes just for her to settle on some socks, all the while grumbling about the crappy socks I had picked out...even though they are the socks my husband likes and wears.

She wanted to stop in the women's department to find some slipper socks for a friend who is in a care facility suffering with Alzheimer's. After about a half hour of going through every pair of socks and slippers in the store, none were deemed suitable. Dread now set in since it was time to look for a gift for me.

I had no idea of what to tell her to buy me. I've hated this routine ever since I was a child and she secreted me out of the house so I could get my ears pierced. I wanted to get my ears pierced but my mom, a nurse, didn't think it was something a nine year-old should do. But, Auntie knew better and took me anyway while my mom was taking a nap. Honestly, I was more afraid of my aunt than dealing with my mom's anger.

My aunt asked what I wanted and I blurted out something kind of incoherent about a cake pan, since it was just the first thing that popped into my head. Nope, not acceptable. So, off we went to find a better present. We passed the electronics department and I suggested a memory card for my camera, which is something I really could use. It took a little convincing, but I finally managed to talk her into buying the memory card.

"But, what about your birthday present?" I still had to come up with some idea for a birthday present.

Back to Plan A and the cake pan. No. Rejected. Dismissed. She was trying to make me believe that if I didn't come up with a better idea, I was just going to have to do without a birthday present. I heard angels singing, thinking my suffering was over and the present search summarily abandoned.

Off to the grocery department for candied fruit needed for her fruit cake recipe. Except, this is Target, they didn't have any candied fruit. I knew they wouldn't, but my aunt had to find a clerk to ask. Instead, she found a butcher and had him search high and low for the candied fruit. He walked through aisle after aisle looking with us, called the grocery department to talk to someone more knowledgeable about whether the store stocked candied fruit, and was basically quite sweet and helpful. But, when the bad news arrived that Target, gasp!, didn't carry candied fruit, she dryly told him we would just go to Walmart and get some there.

Sheepishly, I caught his glance and thanked him for his help.

After a detour into the housewares aisle (she was now aware that her threat of not getting a present wasn't phasing me) and not finding the cake pan I wanted, we were headed to the check outs. For some unknown reason, when my aunt swiped her credit card through the reader, it kept asking her for a pin, even though she was using a credit card and not a debit card. The cashier was doing all she could to help, but after repeated tries, each time she swiped the card it asked for a pin. Then my aunt started giving some heat to the cashier about how she's been shopping at Target for YEARS and has never had a problem before. And, as you probably could've guessed, now there were five people in line behind us, all of them not too thrilled with the hold-up. Over and over the card was swiped through and a request for a pin appeared each time. I thought my aunt was going to grow horns before my eyes. I said a quick prayer in earnest, "God help me!!!," and suddenly the credit card was accepted.

Not so fast. Now my aunt wanted a gift receipt for the toy she bought my son. The poor cashier looked at her like, "Lady, have mercy on me." Meanwhile, I glanced at the folks in line behind my aunt, which was definitely a mistake.

As we were walking out to the car, I kept telling myself it was almost over. I kept repeating those words, hoping to keep a stiff upper lip and a cool temper, reminding myself that she's in her 80s and kindness shown to a mean ol' ex-saintly aunt will be handsomely repaid.

My aunt carped about how we wouldn't be able to find my car, a black Honda, because it looked just like every other car in the lot. Then she started back harping about how awful I drive and hoping again, repeatedly, that I don't drive like that with "those babies in the car."

"God help me," kept running through my head.

This time I left a good eight car lengths between me and anything that remotely looked like a car and she was still doing the hee-bee gee-bees in the seat. As we rounded the corner to her house, she said, and I quote, "I hope I get home before I crap my pants because of your driving...if I should live so long."

Ah, Christmas. Doesn't it just warm your heart and calm your soul.

18 December 2008

Tracking goodness to its source

Interesting article by Ben Shapiro. I had a good friend from France who was raised a Catholic who then became an atheist. She used to tell me her moral compass was guided by the notion of "do unto others." I've had other atheists tell me the same thing. This article kind of sheds some light on that idea and addresses the ad put out this Christmas by the secular humanists.

Why Atheism is Morally Bankrupt

If you walk around Washington, D.C. on a regular basis, you're likely to see some rather peculiar posters. But you wont see any more peculiar than the ads put out by the American Humanist Association. Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake, say the signs, in Christmas-colored red and green.

Sounds great, doesn't it? Just be good for goodness sake. You don't need some Big Man in the Sky telling you what to do. You can be a wonderful person simply by doing the right thing.

There's only one problem: without God, there can be no moral choice. Without God, there is no capacity for free will.

Thats because a Godless world is a soulless world. Virtually all faiths hold that God endows human beings with the unique ability to choose their actions -- the ability to transcend biology and environment in order to do good. Transcending biology and our environment requires a higher power -- a spark of the supernatural. As philosopher Rene Descartes put it, although I possess a body with which I am very intimately conjoined [my soul] is entirely and absolutely distinct from my body and can exist without it.

Gilbert Pyle, the atheistic philosopher, derogatorily labeled the idea of soul/body dualism, the ghost in the machine. Nonetheless, our entire legal and moral system is based on the ghost in the machine -- the presupposition that we can choose to do otherwise. We can only condemn or praise individuals if they are responsible for their actions. We dont jail squirrels for garden theft or dogs for assaulting cats -- they arent responsible for their actions. But we routinely lock up kleptomaniacs and violent felons.

It's not only our criminal justice system that presupposes a Creator. It's our entire notion of freedom and equality. We hold these truths to be self-evident, wrote Thomas Jefferson, supposed atheist, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Human equality must spring from a Creator, because the presence of a soul is all that makes man human and equal. Biology suggests inherent inequality -- who would call Arnold Schwarzenegger and Stephen Hawking equal in any way? Biology suggests the sort of Hegelian social Darwinism embraced by totalitarian dictators, not the principles of equality articulated by the Founding Fathers.

Without a soul, freedom too is impossible -- we are all slaves to our biology. According to atheists, human beings are intensely complex machines. Our actions are determined by our genetics and our environment. According to atheists, if we could somehow determine all the constituent material parts of the universe, we would be able to predict all human action, down to the exact moment at which Vice President-elect Joe Biden will pick his nose. Freedom is generically defined as the power to determine action without restraint (Random House). But if action without restraint is impossible, how can we fight for freedom?

If there is no God, there is no freedom to choose. If there is no freedom to choose, there is no good or evil. There is merely action and inaction. There is no way to be good for goodness sake -- that would require an act of voluntary will far beyond human capacity.

Atheists simply gloss over this point. The American Humanist Association states on its website, whybelieveinagod.org, we can have ethics and values based on our built-in drives toward a moral life. Without a soul, this is wishful thinking of the highest order. Since when does biology dictate a moral drive? If it did, wouldn't man always get more rather than less moral -- wouldn't history be a long upward climb? What about the murderers, rapists, child molesters and genocidal dictators? Are they all ignoring that built-in drive toward a moral life?

Atheism may work for individuals. There are moral atheists and there are immoral religious people. But as a system of thought, atheism cannot be the basis for any functional state. If we wish to protect freedom and equality, we must understand the value of recognizing God. We must recognize the flame of divinity -- free will -- He implanted within each of us.

17 December 2008

In ten words or less


I have been planning to enter a genealogy "contest" for several years now. It's a research and writing contest. My aunt has been on my case to write something for this contest since I first mentioned it. It would be a good idea to gather some information while my aunts and uncles are still around to tell the stories, but I haven't even thought about the contest for a few years.

Then genealogy always has a way of getting a grip on me. This time, my cousin is making a trip to Ireland to research some family lines. The branches we share in common are the lines I know little about. The family lived in Maryland for some time, but for some reason, no one wants to look there despite (probably) knowing the name of the church and the county my great-great-grandparents were married in. The marriage record could potentially provide the elusive names of my great-great-great-grandparents and then, if this generation contains the the immigrant ancestor, really give my cousin something to look for in Ireland.

But, in digging through my records, I came across the information on the contest. Aside from being busy raising kids and not having time to devote to writing a genealogical and biographical history, I don't know if I actually can write it. Not if I have to play by their rules.

I come from a big Catholic family. Nearly every branch has been Catholic at the time of immigration, probably back to when St. Patrick evangelized Ireland. The rules of the contest state that you have to include three to four generations in 4,000-10,000 words. Every person has to be documented (birth, marriage, death) along with their spouse, all children and their spouses. Any fact stated that isn't common knowledge has to be documented. To omit the slightest detail will be a huge black mark on your entry.

"Do not underestimate the importance of selecting the right family to submit to the contest. Since the length of the entry must be between 4,000 and 10,000 words it will be difficult to stay within these confines if a progenitor with many children is chosen. Most contestants find it difficult to stay under the upper limit if the progenitor or any of his children has very large families. Confining your efforts to a smaller number of individuals allows for greater creativity in presentation, analysis, and the conclusions drawn."

Yikes. That requirement is nearly, if not completely, impossible for me. The past few winning entries have an average of about a dozen people in their three generations. A dozen people! I have more than that in one generation if you consider spouses, three times that if you add the next generation. They might as well just say, "Catholics should not even bother to submit an entry."

The other thing about this contest is they want to see oodles of research to show you are able to draw on a huge variety of resources and distill it all down into a good, concise story. I used to work in Research & Development so this isn't a daunting task, but one of the past winners had over 200 footnotes in their entry, another had nearly a 100. That's a HUGE number of citations. I think if I had ever turned in a paper or report with that many notes, the recipient's head would've exploded. But, that's what they are looking for, so that's what I shall do, if I only could find the "right (non-Catholic) family" to document.

16 December 2008

Give 'em an inch

Just found out my cousin is divorced. Past the point of no return. The last I had heard, she had moved out and bought a house of her own, but she wasn't "getting a divorce." Uh huh.

This family is one of my many case studies on opening the door just an inch to the devil and seeing the havoc that results throughout the generations.

Way back before my aunt and uncle got married, my grandparents and my aunt's parents all got together to talk about the prospects of marriage at such a young age, and being in love but ill-suited for one another. This is the only time I have ever heard about my grandparents voicing a dissenting opinion about one of their children getting married. My grandparents were both one of ten children and had seven surviving children of their own, so they weren't strangers to ups and downs or seeing things working out despite the odds...or failing even with best intentions.

Both sets of parents strongly cautioned their children against this rash marriage, but my aunt and uncle "were in love" and no amount of parental pragmatism was going to influence their head-strong choice to be married -- married now.

Needless to say, a dozen or so years later, after four children, the separation happened. Not long after, once both of my grandparents had passed away, came the divorce and subsequent remarriage by both my aunt and uncle to other previously married, previously Catholic, folks.

And also needless to say, three of their four children have had terrible track records when it comes to marriage and life choices.

But, the real point here is the first instance of divorce and how begins to cascade down through the generations. In every branch of my family, once a divorce happens, it is practically endemic, always tragic.

One doesn't even need to go back to the saints of antiquity or the Church Fathers to read about how marriage and divorce are to be viewed. It is only in the last century, maybe the last few decades, that marriage has been regarded dispassionately and as a contract. C.S. Lewis, for instance, writes seriously about marriage in his Mere Christianity, and with wit in The Screwtape Letters.

"The idea that "being in love" is the only reason for remaining married really leaves no room for marriage as a contract of promise at all. If love is the whole thing, then the promise can add nothing; and if it adds nothing, then it should not be made. The curious thing is that lovers themselves, while they remain really in love, know this better than those who talk about love. As Chesterton pointed out, those who are in love have a natural inclination to bind themselves by promises. Love songs all over the world are full of vows of eternal constancy. The Christian law is not forcing upon the passion of love something which is foreign to that passion's own nature: it is demanding that lovers should take seriously something which their passion itself impels them to do." (Mere Christianity, Chapter 6, Christian Marriage).

"...they (Protestants and Catholics) regard divorce as something like cutting up a living body, as a kind of surgical operation. Some of them think the operation so violent that it cannot be done at all; others admit it as a desperate remedy in extreme cases. They are all agreed that it is more like having both your legs cut off than it is like dissolving a business partnership or even deserting a regiment. What they all disagree with is the modern view that it is a simple readjustment of partners, to be made whenever people feel they are no longer in love with one another, or when either of them falls in love with someone else." (Mere Christianity, Chapter 6, Christian Marriage).

Because marriage is a reflection of the Trinity, the devil wants to destroy it. Once the couple begins to drift from the Church and are no longer receiving graces from the sacraments, it's like opening the door, knowing there are wolves outside.

And, everyone who has seen a horror movie knows you never open the door.

13 December 2008

Favorite rosary meme

Karen, the task-master, has given me another meme to do. This time I'm supposed to show a picture of my three favorite rosaries and say a thing or two about them if I'm so inclined.


This is, hands-down, my favorite rosary. It was given to my mother when she was a child and now it's mine. It's sterling silver and you can tell the time period it was made since it shows influences from Art Deco and Art Nouveau. It's is the rosary I use for serious praying.

I also have the rosary that was given to me as a child. My parents must've been expecting a boy because my rosary is made of blue crystals. It is kind of a funny rosary because on the back of the crucifix it says, "I am a Catholic. In case of an accident notify a priest."

I did have my mother's daily rosary, which was made of deep-red crystals, but lent it to my father to have a very sentimental reminder of my mother when he was praying and I never saw it again. After he passed away, I scoured the house for it and it never showed up.

The rosary my father used, a hand-made rosary made out of some sort of bean that he got at the Carmelite Monastery in Lake Elmo, I gave to my very wayward brother in hopes it would help him revert to the faith of his fathers.

There are rosaries scattered around the house, but I can't say I really have three, just two good ones :)

I tag Sanctus Belle because she must have a beautiful rosary, Vincenzo because he is so private but also has really cool stuff and Adoro since I'm curious what her rosaries look like.

Teaching moment

We moms are always looking for the so-called "teaching moments." Actually, I think these moments are occasions that catch us totally unprepared and we scramble to salvage some sanity from the situation.

And, then to cover our awkwardness, we call them teaching moments.

Today was one of those days. My kids were in the back seat of the car fighting over an empty paper grocery bag of all things. My son said he "needed" it more than his sister because he "wanted" it more than she did.

I told him he didn't know what his sister was thinking, nor could he know if she wanted the grocery bag more or less than he did.

My son replied that he knew what was in his sister's head.

Trying to seize on the opportunity to lay some theological groundwork, I told him only God knew what was in anyone's heart or head or soul.

This, of course, was to set up future conversations about:
*only God knows our thoughts, but the humbling part is He DOES know our thoughts
*you cannot judge a person, you don't know their thoughts or motivations, only God knows that and you ain't God
*sin and confession

So, I again tried to tell my son that only God knows what's in his sister's head.

My son said he knew what was in her head...visions of dancing sugar plum fairies.

Guess it will be awhile before any meaningful discussions happen. Or at least until he's got the Christmas tunes out of his head.

12 December 2008

Your opinion matters

At least some survey people will tell you that.

I had a smattering of Christmas music on today for the kids and have to say that Bob Seger's version of The Little Drummer Boy has to be the best not-heard-in-church Christmas song. Just listen to the video...



Since Blogger has a bunch of new functionalities that I haven't even tried, I thought I work on a poll of the favorite not-heard-in-church Christmas songs. Check out the sidebar and make your opinion known.

Vote early and often as they say in Chicago!

(Please tell me you don't hear these in church!)

09 December 2008

Five fold

My five-fold scapular* arrived over the weekend. I didn't put it on then, since it was to be a Christmas present, but in thinking about it, that's kind of a silly reason to not just put the thing around my neck.

I said the following prayer before putting it on.
[Kissed the scapular]
Please God, protect me (both temporally and spiritually).
Make me holy...
but don't knock me over the head.

I know I shouldn't put conditions on my prayer, but I have been knocked over the head, upside the head, any which way, too many times lately to place this powerful sacramental over my head without some trepidation!

Like the prior summer when I was reading, The Story of a Soul, and asked unreservedly for humility. I had asked for humility previously many times, but this time I threw caution to the wind and mentally said, "Sock it to me God, I can take it."

If you've read my blog for very long, you know I think God has an incredible sense of humor. With a big belly laugh, God sent me a huge helping of humility before I even got to another page of the book.

Ouch and not funny.

In all seriousness, however, this is an incredible sacramental with wonderful indulgences and protections, and it should be worn with some reflection (which is what I mean, in jest, by trepidation.)

The literature that came with scapular is pretty interesting, but the scapular I was most curious about is the black scapular, Our Lady of Sorrows, and there was no information on it. Will have to check with Sanctus Belle to reread the posts she did when she was enrolled/invested with this scapular. There was information on the blue scapular, The Immaculate Virgin Mary, and on the St. Benedict medal that was attached.

My current (brown, Our Lady of Mount Carmel) scapular already had a St. Benedict medal attached and a cross, but it's been a long time since I remember reading about the medal.

On the front we see St. Benedict holding his Rule; next to him, on a pedestal, is the cup that once held poison, shattered after he made the Sign of the Cross over it. The other pedestal is topped by the raven, who is about to carry away the poisoned bread. In very small print above these pedestals are the words: Crux s. patris Benedicti (The Cross of our Holy Father Benedict).

Underneath St. Benedict are the words: ex SM Casino MDCCCLXXX (from holy Monte Cassino, 1880).

On the back, in the arms of the Cross are the initials
C S S M L
N D S M D, which stand for the rhyme:

Crux sacra sit mihi lux!
Nunquam draco sit mihi dux!

English:
The Holy Cross be my light;
Let not the dragon be my guide.

In the corners of the Cross are C S P D, which stand for the same words found on the front over the pedestals: Crux s. patris Benedicti (The Cross of our Holy Father Benedict).

Above the Cross is the word "Pax" (Peace), the Benedictine motto.

Surrounding the entire back of the medal are the initials to the words of the exorcism:
V R S N S M V
S M Q L I V B, which stand for the rhyme:

Vade retro Satana!
Nunquam suade mihi vana!
Sunt mala quae libas.
Ipse venena bibas!

English:
Begone, Satan,
Do not suggest to me thy vanities!
Evil are the things thou profferest,
Drink thou thy own poison!

Surrounding the entire face of the medal are the words: Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur (May we at our death be fortified by his presence.)

The literature also says, "The medal of St. Benedict is the most highly indulgenced medal in the Catholic Church. When the exorcism blessings are applied by a Benedictine priest, the medal has power over evil: storms, poisons, pestilence, the devil's legions, etc. You must use the medal by calling down the intercession of St. Benedict (use by dipping in liquids, placing in/on important machinery, structures, etc."

On many feast days of our Lord, the Blessed Mother, the Apostles and many saints, it is possible to gain a plenary or partial indulgence by carrying or wearing the medal, invoking the intercession of St. Benedict and praying for the abolishment of heresy."

The information on the blue scapular I received says:
It was in the year 1605, in the city of Naples, that there lived a holy maiden by the name of Ursula Benincasa. Our Blessed Lady appeared to her clad in a robe of dazzling whiteness, over which she wore a mantle of heavenly blue. Our Lady bore Her Divine Infant in Her arms. "Hearken to the words of my Divine Son, whom thou hast chosen for they Spouse." The Infant Jesus now commanded Ursula to found a new order bearing the name of the Theatine Nuns in honor of the Immaculate Conception. The Divine Infant promised special graces to all those who would join this order. The pious maiden was rejoiced beyond measure at these happy tidings. In her great charity she wished that these gracious promises might be extended to all the faithful. She therefore pleaded fervently to the Mother of Mercy to extend them to all those who would wear a blue scapular, honor the Immaculate Conception, and fulfill the duties of their state in life. Her prayer was granted and she immediately beheld a great multitude of angels busily engaged in distributing this Blue Scapular among the faithful.

Indulgences
"And be it remembered," said St. Alphonsus Ligouri, "besides any particular indulgences, there are granted to the scapular of the Immaculate Conception, all indulgences granted to any religious order, pious place or person."

433 Plenary Indulgences
"And particularly (while wearing the Blue Scapular or the five-fold scapular) by reciting the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be, six times in honor of the Most Holy Trinity and of the Immaculate Mary, are gained each time...433 Plenary Indulgences, besides the temporal, which are innumerable." These can be applied to the souls in Purgatory.
(From the Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Ligouri)

And that's just the promises of ONE of the scapulars. Great Christmas gift.

*The Five-Fold Scapular is made of 5 of the following Scapulars: first, the "The Red Scapular of the Passion," then the "The Scapular of the Most Blessed Trinity," the "The Brown Scapular of our Lady of Mount Carmel," the "The Black Scapular of the Seven Dolors of Mary," and the The Blue Scapular of the Immaculate Conception." Any priest can invest you with this scapular.

05 December 2008

As Christ loves the Church

Despite the cold and dark, I made it to confession last night just before Father Ubel was ready to pack it in for dinner. Since I usually try to make it to confession on the eves of First Fridays, and considering it is Advent, I was shocked when I pulled into the empty parking lot and totally surprised to find I was the only one in the chapel last night.

When I first knelt down and Father slid the panel open, because of my tinnitus and poor hearing, I could not hear a word he said. A frequent problem for me in the confessional. Since no one else was there, instead of talking in a whisper, I said my confession in a normal conversational voice. Fortunately, Father Ubel piped up a bit too.

Think I made it all the way to Rosedale and then to the Cathedral to hear a talk on St. Paul without racking up any more venial sins.

Got to the Cathedral and had plenty of time to sit quietly amidst its massive beauty before the lecture on St. Paul was to start. This fell right in line with Father Ubel's instructions in the confessional to "be silent" during Advent. With kids, things are rarely quiet and hardly ever silent.

Dr. Pia de Solenni spoke on St. Paul and his much misunderstood views of women. I think one of her main points was to see St. Paul's writings in context and not look back with revisionist or modern notions. At that time in history, Christianity, as far as women were concerned, was quite a departure from the norm. Now women were to been seen as equals, having as much a share as adopted children of God as the men. Christianity saw that both men and women were created in God's image with equal dignity, not that they are identical; equal but different.

Since I didn't take notes, I cannot provide the scripture passages she cited, but there were probably at least a half dozen where she shows that St. Paul had no problem with women having a role in the Church or in civic and domestic life. She mentioned Lydia several times as an example of St. Paul's attitude being, in the very least, accepting of her role as a business woman and head of a household, if not encouraging and supportive.

But, where her lecture got really interesting to me was when she talked about marriage and its ultimate goal, the roles of men and women, and discussed what "submissive" really means.

Dr. de Solenni mentioned St. Paul, and St. Thomas Aquinas expounding on Paul's ideas, to show how marriage is a divine contract or relationship that mirrors Christ's relationship to His Church. Pope John Paul II wrote that Christ cannot be separated from His Church, they are so much a part of each other -- the same with marriage. As Christ loves the Church, so too is a husband to love his wife. If you consider it for a moment, you see how steep that requirement truly is. Christ condescended to become a man and walk among us, then give His life for His bride. That is the role of a husband, to imitate Christ by giving completely of himself for his wife.

Dr. de Solenni then said the word "submissive" is greatly understood by modern people. Submissive does not mean to give up your will. It does not mean to be silent or to patently accept bad behavior or poor choices. On the contrary, as St. Thomas Aquinas would say, it means to allow your husband to fulfill his mission of being Christ within the family. The husband, like Christ, is the head, and the wife, like the Church, is the body. So divinely united that they are inseparable, seeking only to serve the other, to do what's best for the other, and to give themselves completely in love to the other. To me, it wasn't about a power struggle, but the exact opposite.

I'm hoping to hear Dr. Peter Kreeft speak on Saturday at the Cathedral on "St. Paul has some Good News and Some Bad News."

Talk 1: Saint Paul formed the essential shape of all subsequent Christian theology by concentrating on the two themes of Sin & Salvation, or Bad News and Good News, especially in Romans, the world's first systematic Christian theology, but he always did it in a dramatic, historical way (thus "news" rather than simply “truths”). The first presentation is a reflection on the significance of this fact in distinguishing Christianity from all other religions.

Talk 2: In light of theme #1, the incredible, passionate, unparalleled optimism of Saint Paul (e.g. Romans 8) is made possible only by the context of the “pessimism” (really, realism) that his critics routinely fault him for. A reflection on the “bad” foundations of the “too good to be true” goodness of the “good news” in Saint Paul.

See you there.

04 December 2008

Under my tree

I think I'm getting close to being done with Christmas shopping. In prior years, I was always buying presents throughout the year and had things done before Thanksgiving, but now that stores have changed their return policies, I typically hold off until after Thanksgiving.

For my 83 year-old aunt who insists on no presents. She is a wonderful gift giver, but very poor receiver. She told me this year if I bought her anything she would stomp on it. I told her I would get her a Whoopie Cushion.

Instead, I got her a Baltimore Catechism. She was lamenting about learning from it in school, but not having it around anymore. I gave her one of the current catechisms a few years ago, but she really wanted a Baltimore. It's amazing how much her generation can quote from memory from the Baltimore. I know each week in bible study there are some elderly ladies who are always reciting something from memory that they learned using the Baltimore Catechism. Don't think she'll be stomping on the catechism.

My son and daughter want every toy they see. Complete insanity! Along with a smattering of toys, my son is getting something that we will be learning about shortly in school, the Romans. He's had a set of Schleich knights for a few years and we'll learn about them next year when we get to Medieval history, but this year is ancient history so we will be covering the Greeks and Romans in the next few months. There are chariots and soldiers that go with this set too, along with a Roman camp and sailing ship.

We are also getting him a guitar and my daughter an electronic drum set. I was in band when I was in school and also learned to play the piano and organ. Hubby didn't learn any musical instruments and really wants the kids to be exposed to music since he wasn't.

My daughter loves to play the drums and the set we got her is a quieter, more mom-friendly, option. She and my son can share the guitar and drums. Hopefully, they won't become like the Partridge family. She's also getting a baby doll that is wearing a bath towel that looks like a duck, just like one she has herself. When my daughter first started bible study, she was a little timid and I let her wear her ducky bath towel to bible study (other kids had blankies, she had a bath towel). After a few weeks, we were able to leave the duck towel at home. I also got her a set of John Deere farm animals and equipment since she had such a fun time at Father K's family farm.

Hubby came with me to a homeschool store earlier this year and while I was rummaging through Kindergarten stuff, he was looking at Latin and Logic books. He told me he wanted a logic book for Christmas. I had one from my days at St. Thomas, but couldn't find it any where. Then I had to figure out a decent logic book to buy him. I don't know if this one is great, but it's what he's getting. Hopefully, he won't visit my blog any time soon and see this! He doesn't normally visit blogs, even mine, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

We are getting my MIL some of the books in the Wicked series. She asked for them, it's not a commentary on how we feel about her. Just a little ironic is all. I don't know what else to get her though. Still thinking about it.


For me, hubby is getting me a five-fold scapular. I know because I ordered it for myself the other day!

03 December 2008

Six things meme

Karen had to go and tag me and pull me out of my Thanksgiving- and homeschool-induced stupor. I know I've been a bad blogger lately by not posting much or visiting the blogs of blogger friends, but I had to clean the house well because everyone was going to be here and somehow they always find an excuse to look in closets and cupboards and drawers, so everything has to be clean.

And, my homeschool friends may think it a tad anal, but I had scheduled the time off over Thanksgiving to plan the second half of the year's curriculum. I know some of the mom's are blessed with the ability to wing it day-in and day-out, but I need a plan -- I need to chart a course, or if I can't see where I'm going, I'll never get there. Phonics and math are at whatever pace my son can handle, although I do have the math broken out to have an idea of where we need to be to finish Level A (RightStart Math) this year. History needs planning to find the books I want to use, piece-meal them out over the unit we are studying and planning of the various hands-on activities.

But, Karen didn't ask about why I've been in seclusion, she tagged me for this meme, so let's get on with it.

Six things that make me happy

1. Family - I was blessed to have had the childhood I did. A great big, happy Irish clan that honestly got along and sincerely loved (and even liked!) one another. Hubby's family is a challenge, but I think God is using both of sides to make the other better. Having Thanksgiving at my home this year, I think, really tempered their brash ways for an hour or so. Everyone got along, no politics, no football. There is hope! And, there was a rumor that my MIL had voted for McCain. For a few days, I almost thought I could hug her! Unfortunately, it was just a rumor.

2. Faith - Where would I be with out my faith. Comforting, edifying, educating, correcting, humbling, inspiring...

3. Friends - Thank goodness for good friends, especially good Catholic friends.

4. Time for quasi-intellectual pursuits - Yes, I love Jeopardy, Suduko, crossword puzzles, researching genealogy, and even now learning the things I didn't learn in Kindergarten! Don't tell my homeschool friends, but I saw that Saxon Math had several placement tests on their website for high school math...I did all four of them one morning. Nod your heads; I'm a geek.

5. Being at the cabin - Makes me happy because the kids can be kids, mom can turn the reigns over to dad and veg. No TV, no phone, no computer.

6. My kids - OK, when they're sleeping...kidding! When I combed my daughter's hair this morning and said, "There's my pretty princess," she turned around and said to me, "You're a pretty princess too." It's good their manic ways are balanced out with their gosh darn cuteness. But if my son does get me a Power Ranger for Christmas, I won't think that is so cute...unless it's the Red Power Ranger.

BTW: Six is my favorite number...Karen dislikes it. But, then she likes odd numbers over evens, so six didn't even have a chance.

I tag Cathy, Vincenzo, Ray, Chris, Mum of 6 Shell, and Christine from Maryland (who doesn't have a blog but can play along if she's up to it and place answers in the combox). Although I'd wager 4 of the 6 won't play along, the party poopers!

02 December 2008

Surgery update

*UPDATE*
Please keep a fellow homeschool mom in your prayers. She is just a few months pregnant and is having some complications.

Thank you all for your prayers for my aunt. It was determined she had a slight stroke that caused the funk she was in that brought about such a dramatic change in her personality. She is now back to normal and has been discharged from the hospital following her triple bypass and valve replacement. She's at home and doing well. Thanks be to God.

Please keep the intentions of my homeschool group in your prayers. There are several moms who are expecting, two are due within the next month or so.

The cousin of two to the members who was in a serious car accident, remains in the hospital and is scheduled to have shunt inserted to drain the fluid from her brain. It is a grim situation.

And, for a family who has been devastated by the unthinkable actions of their own members.

Thank you for your prayers.

28 November 2008

A day late - original Thanksgiving proclamation

Received this from a history loop that I'm on and had never read it before. Seems our forefathers were steeped in God and gravy.

General Thanksgiving
By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America
A PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLIC THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

Source: The Massachusetts Sentinel, Wednesday, October 14, 1789

*Link

27 November 2008

Thanksgiving


HAVE A BLESSED THANKSGIVING!!!!

And, if you could, please say a prayer for my Aunt Marie. She had triple bypass and a valve replacement and is still in the hospital. There have been numerous complications and just when she was to be discharged, she became tired and was put back in bed. Then, totally contrary to her personality, she became angry and was saying crazy things. Many more tests were done and there is no sign of stroke or anything that could be causing this dramatic change in her personality. Thank you for your prayers.

26 November 2008

Marketing


It must be something they are teaching seminarians these days. A new graduation requirement -- a course on how to keep parishioners coming back to confession.

I try to make it to confession at least once a month. I think that's good for me right now since many times I have to plan in advance to have someone watch the kids. However, in the back of my head, I still hear my father's voice prodding me to go every two weeks. I've never been able to make it to confession with that regularity.

What is a little off-putting is to tell the priest my confession and have him tell me it was "a good confession."

I never used to hear this from the priests at my parish. Like many folks, I tend to, sadly, confess the same habitual sins each month with little variation. I do try to do a good examination of my conscience, but by and large, my sins don't change much.

I've been told "that was a good confession" quite often in the past few years from very fine priests that are not long out of the seminary. This is the same ol' confession I have been confessing year-in and year-out, the same confession that never made the priest skip a beat or pause to give me encouragement. Friends have told me they have been told the same thing. While I understand that the priest wants to put me at ease or indicate that they believe I have done a good examination of my conscience, the business of confession is exactly that -- confession of the sins we have committed -- how we have offended God. Nothing "good" about that.

For me, the last place I want to be patronized is in the confessional. I don't need to have the priest give me a verbal "atta girl" when I'm doing what I should be. Nothing tops the feeling of absolution (or the imperfect, but serious, fear of hell) to bring me back to confession. I need spiritual direction while I'm contrite and in the confessional, not a cheerleader.

I must be old school in that I want confession to feel like purgation. I don't want it to be foo-foo, frilly or touchy-feely, I want it to be a serious reflection of my sins with a heart-felt resolution to amend my life.

If the priest is holy and if he tells his flock the Truth they need to hear, then I would think that the rest, like frequent confession, would follow naturally, no marketing required.

24 November 2008

A PSA for St. A's TLM


Wow, I think I'm almost there with text message lingo. Too bad I'm a Luddite and don't know how to text message on my cheapy phone.

Despite Ray always scooping me about everything (and he doesn't even attend St. Agnes!), I am going to do a quick post about St. Agnes having its first TLM next Sunday. Well, its first TLM since the changes of Vatican II came along.

Next Sunday, November 30 at 10am, is when the TLM will replace the Latin NO.

As beautiful as this Mass is, as much as I'm drawn to it, I am still a product of Vatican II and am comfortable with (prefer even) the NO...at least while my kids are so young.

I don't think the NO is an abomination. It's not the work of the devil (another blogger and I had this conversation and she said if she wasn't able to attend the TLM she would not go to Mass). The abuses of the Mass are the problem and I think we've all seen some of those. However, I'm still planning to attend the very reverential 8:30am NO next weekend.

Hopefully, I'll get around to attending the TLM some weekend soon. Check out Ray's blog for more on the TLM at St. Agnes. (Although I bet Ray didn't know that a painting of several generations of women praying in a Austrian church, the interior of which looks a great deal like St. Agnes, was donated to St. Agnes and is hanging near the altar on the West wall before the stations of the cross.)

22 November 2008

My doppelgänger

OK, this is probably of no interest to anyone but me, but it struck me as quite curious. Ray sent me this link to analyze my blog using the Myers-Briggs. When I was working as an engineer, I must've taken the Myers-Briggs more times than I can remember.

Nearly each time my result was ENTJ.

Oddly, my blog is INFP. Must be my more sensitive side coming through. Maybe I now have concrete proof that becoming a mom has changed me and turned my brain to mush. I think it probably has something to do with listening to Barney the Purple Dinosaur sing, "I love you, you love me" one too many times.

Here's the link in case you want to analyze your own or someone else's blog.


INFP - The Idealists
The meaning-seeking and unconventional type. They are especially attuned to making sure their beliefs and actions are congruent. They often develop a passion for the arts or unusual forms of self-expression.

They enjoy work that is aligned to their deeply felt values and tend to strongly dislike the more practical and mundane forms of tasks. They can enjoy working alone for long periods of time and are happiest when they can immerse themselves in personally meaningful projects.

20 November 2008

A house full of pilgrims


This year Thanksgiving is at my house. Hubby's family, sans his sister and her husband who never do anything with the family, will all be here. It's only about a dozen people, so not too bad as far as cooking and logistics go...but the conversation will certainly be interesting. Interesting in a contentious sort of way.

At least the neighbor makes wine and keeps us well stocked.

As my aunts undergo surgery this week

Please keep my aunts in your prayers. One aunt had triple by-pass and a valve replacement yesterday and another is having cataract surgery tomorrow. They are both in their 80s.

Thank you for remembering them and their families.

A reflection from Pope John Paul II:

The Church prays for the health of all the sick, of all the suffering, of all the incurables, humanly condemned to irreversible infirmity. She prays for the sick, and she prays with the sick. She is extremely grateful for every cure, even if it is partial and gradual. And at the same time, with her whole attitide she makes it understood -- like Christ -- that cure is something exceptional, that from the point of view of the divine "economy" of salvation it is an extraordinary and almost supplementary fact.

11 February 1979

19 November 2008

My saints for the year


Angela has offered to draw patron saints again this year. Originally, I had St. Matthew, which was perfect because we were studying his gospel in bible study. I had St. Luke this year. Now, she's set me up with....

[drum roll please!]

Swissmiss - St. Catherine of Siena
Hubby - St. Michael
Son - St. Francis Xavier
Daughter - St. Clare
and she drew one for my brother who is serving in Iraq - St. Matthew

It will be interesting to have a Dominican patron for the year since I have Carmelite leanings. Now I WILL have to read some of her work.

Check out Angela's blog to get a patron saint for yourself.

A bit about St. Catherine from Wiki, click on the link to read more:

Saint Catherine of Siena, O.P. (March 25, 1347 – April 29, 1380) was a Tertiary of the Dominican Order, and a Scholastic philosopher and theologian. She also worked to bring the Papacy back to Rome from its displacement in France, and to establish peace among the Italian city-states.

Saint Catherine was born Catherine Benin in Siena, Italy, to Giacomo di Benincasa, a clothdyer, and Lapa Piagenti, possibly daughter of a local poet. Born in 1347, she was the 24th out of 25 children, h, she took the habit of the Dominican Tertiaries after vigorous protests from the Tertiaries themselves.

In about 1366, St Catherine experienced what she described in her letters as a "Mystical Marriage" with Jesus. Her biographer Raymond of Capua also records that she was told by Christ to leave her withdrawn life and enter the public life of the world. Catherine dedicated much of her life to helping the ill and the poor, where she took care of them in hospitals or homes. Her early pious activities in Siena attracted a group of followers, both women and men, while they also brought her to the attention of the Dominican Order, which called her to Florence in 1374 to interrogate her for possible heresy. After this visit, in which she was deemed sufficiently orthodox, she began travelling with her followers throughout northern and central Italy advocating reform of the clergy and the launch of a new crusade and advising people that repentance and renewal could be done through "the total love for God."

17 November 2008

Pick a lane


You've probably all seen this picture before, but I was sent it today in an e-mail by my husband's radically pro-choice aunt. What a shocker. I think she sent it to most of the people in her address book too.

While I'm always hopefully optimistic that hubby's family will find their way out of the lapsed Lutheran woods, I sadly don't think this is an indicator of her softening her position.

It's much like my cousin who is a religious, who addressed herself as Sr. Mary Frances when she wrote to my father, but to me, she's just Mary Frances. I don't understand her "nunship" or "sistership" since it is in name only...she has no vows, or daily prayers, or mother house or any standard nun or sisterly things to bind her to anything.

Hubby's aunt is all touchy feely and goo-gooey about babies to a point. That point is when it suits her. There is no basis for her position on abortion other than the hollow issue of fairness and opportunity. "Not everyone has had the opportunities that [I] have had."

I don't really know what that means. Neither does she. For her to think about it at all is to see the dead-end in that line of thinking. My "opportunities," or lack of them, dictate my morality? My "opportunities," or lack of, further dictate my right to choose certain courses of action? If I'm lacking in certain socio-economic opportunities I can choose abortion, but if I'm happily married and living in a house with the prerequisite amount of material goods, I can't? How is that even being honestly pro-choice? How relativistic, arbitrary and subjective?

I'm having to restrain myself today and not fire off a retort asking her about the incredible, miraculous and marvelous picture she sent, "Is it a baby or is it a choice?"

~~~~~~~~
Below is what was (ironically) contained in the e-mail from my husband's aunt, slightly abridged and emphasis is mine.

Please read before viewing picture - it's worth it!

A picture began circulating in November. It should be 'The Picture of the Year,' or perhaps, 'Picture of the Decade.' It won't be. In fact, unless you obtained a copy of the US paper which published it, you probably would never have seen it.

The picture is that of a 21-week-old unborn baby.

The baby was diagnosed with spina bifida and would not survive if removed from his mother's womb. The baby's mother is an obstetrics nurse and knew of the surgeon's remarkable surgical procedure, performing these special operations while the baby is still in the womb.

During the procedure, the doctor removes the uterus via C-section and makes a small incision to operate on the baby. As the doctor completed the surgery, the little guy reached his tiny, but fully developed hand through the incision and firmly grasped the surgeon's finger. The doctor was reported as saying that when his finger was grasped, it was the most emotional moment of his life, and that for an instant during the procedure he was just frozen, totally immobile.

The photograph captures this amazing event with perfect clarity. The editors titled the picture, 'Hand of Hope.' The text explaining the picture begins, 'The tiny hand of a 21-week-old fetus emerges from the mother's uterus to grasp the finger of the surgeon as if thanking the doctor for the gift of life.'

The baby's mother said they 'wept for days' when they saw the picture. She said, 'The photo reminds us pregnancy isn't about disability or an illness, it's about a little person.' The baby was born in perfect health, the operation 100 percent successful.

Now see the actual picture, and it is awesome...incredible....and hey, pass it on. The world needs to see this one!

14 November 2008

Hypocratic toast

The other night over dinner with some friends, the conversation some how came around to my experiences finding a good Catholic doctor and they wanted me to blog about it. Considering the difficulties I had with my two pregnancies, the "finding of the doctor" part seemed pretty tame in comparison.

Here's what I wrote on my genealogy website years ago before my son was born, with some editing and slight revision:

"In December my mother-in-law finally retired from work and was moving out of our house after staying with us during the week for the better part of three years. We had a retirement party for her in early December and I began to feel tired...just thinking it was due to the hectic schedule I had been keeping. Christmas came and I still wasn’t feeling well. Driving back from the Christmas party at my parents-in-law's was awful as my stomach hurt and I was generally uncomfortable. A few days later I caught hubby’s cold. Both of us were sick and spent the next few days in bed recuperating.

As New Year’s approached, the cold was going away, but my stomach hurt and I felt awful. I figured I would give it a few days to see if things got better. On New Year’s Eve I couldn’t stand it anymore and went to Urgent Care. (Since we had recently moved back to Minnesota from Washington State, and because I typically don't get sick, and was also busy with taking care of my father who had cancer, I hadn't gotten around to finding a family doctor. After 14 years of marriage with no children, the thought of pregnancy and needing an OB-GYN was not even on my radar.) The pain in my stomach was localized on my left side just below my ribs. To lay on my left side made me completely nauseated. I thought it was an ulcer.

Hubby went in with me to the doctor. The doctor went through all the standard questions but the only symptom I was describing was the pain on my left side. He asked if I could be pregnant. Of course I could be pregnant, even though it was highly unlikely based on prior experience. The doctor set down the clip board and pen, stopped asking any more questions and had me do a pregnancy test.

The urine test confirmed it, I was pregnant.

It was late on New Year's Eve and I was thrilled, but felt so sick that I wasn’t bouncing off the walls with joy. The doctor had me lay on the exam table and felt my stomach. He asked me how far along in the pregnancy I thought I was. About five weeks I thought. Feeling my uterus, he said he thought I was more like 20 weeks. Since the timescale didn’t make sense, he wanted to do a more thorough (internal) exam. This just made things worse since he wasn’t able to find my cervix! The doctor then used a Doppler to see if he could hear a heart beat from the baby but had no luck. He sent me to the lab for blood tests. All those tests did was confirm I was pregnant. At this point everyone was concerned and wondering what was wrong. The doctor said he thought I had a molar pregnancy, which would’ve explained the enlarged uterus, and scheduled me for an ultrasound later that week. We went home, still incredibly sick, but now not knowing what was going on.

At home, things got worse. I couldn’t eat anything, couldn’t sleep, and was incredibly sick. After a few days of this we decided to head to the Emergency Room at Regions Hospital. I went through the whole story with the doctor who decided to do her own exam and then got a portable ultrasound to see what was going on. Urine test again confirmed a pregnancy, but we didn’t know what that meant at this stage. There were so many things unanswered about what was going on that the head of the ER was summoned. In the meantime, they had given me an IV because I was severely dehydrated and also gave me something for the nausea. For a few minutes I started to feel better.

The head doctor tried to make something out of the ultrasound, but had no luck. At this point they decided to call the ultrasound technician in to do a thorough ultrasound on a “real” machine in the OB-GYN area. They wheeled me down the dark corridors of the hospital...it was now about 2am. The unlucky “on-call” technician was waiting for me. The ultrasound showed the egg sack, but you couldn’t see the tell-tale “grain of rice” that indicated a baby. The head of the ER showed up and watched the last half of the ultrasound. Instead of a molar pregnancy, it showed I had a really large fibroid tumor. At least this was better news than a molar pregnancy.

I was wheeled back to the ER and an OB-GYN specialist was called. She came in to talk to me about the pregnancy. She told me that I had a non-viable pregnancy. It was just an empty egg sack. I was in shock over the whole situation. I asked her if she was sure that it was non-viable. Absolutely, was her response. After more discussion I inquired again, was she certain it was non-viable? Absolutely. Discussion then centered around what to do. I could either have a D&C or “go home and let nature take its course.” There was no way I wanted a D&C, but wasn’t looking forward to waiting around for a miscarriage either. The entire situation was sad and disappointing. I was so sick I just wanted to be someone else, somewhere else, anywhere but dealing with this. Again I asked about the viability and what I should expect from a miscarriage. Again I was told it was non-viable and a miscarriage was imminent.

I told the doctor I would let “nature take its course” and went home.

Later that day I was still very, very sick but now was having horrible chills that I couldn’t get under control. I was shaking badly from being both hot and cold and felt so awful I wanted to die. I called hubby at work and he brought me back to the ER. Here they gave me another IV with two liters of saline because I was completely dehydrated and hadn’t eaten or drank much in a week or more (I lost thirty pounds). They gave me some more drugs for the nausea and I actually fell asleep on the exam table...I was totally exhausted.

I was sent home with anti-nausea medication and was optimistic I would feel better, but was haunted by the anticipated miscarriage. At this point I asked hubby to call my aunt and let her know what was going on and to call the Carmelite Brothers because I wanted their prayers. I still couldn’t eat and only slept a few minutes at a time.

When Monday arrived I called around to find an OB-GYN who would be able to see me that day. We had to find out for certain what was going on. Hubby finally found a doctor that could see me. This doctor said it was too early to have made the non-viable determination because I was barely six weeks along. He scheduled me for another ultrasound on Friday to take another look. He also determined that the baby was conceived around Thanksgiving, something we hadn’t even thought about. We went home and waited for the next ultrasound.

I was still very sick, not sleeping and not eating. My aunt kept bringing over food because I was losing quite a bit of weight, but I just couldn’t eat. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t eat or drink because even the sight of food made me more nauseated. The anti-nausea medication only worked for a short period of time and I could only take so much of it. After two days, I gave up taking it altogether since it wasn’t really impacting how I felt. Plus, I am typically reluctant to take medications and thought, what if I really am pregnant...didn’t want to take something that could harm the baby.

On Friday, we finally had a nurse at the doctor's office do the ultrasound and it was incredible. Here was a baby, you could see its heart beating(!) and the nurse said everything looked fine, except the large fibroid!! Hubby and I somehow knew in our hearts that this would be the answer. I was so relieved and felt so blessed. We went home happy and optimistic about the pregnancy. It was still early, so we were concerned, but it certainly seemed like things were heading in the right direction. My mind was now occupied with the knowledge that I was pregnant, really pregnant.

We had another visit with the doctor the next week and he did an ultrasound himself. Here was the baby and its heart beat was strong, right in the range it should be. The large fibroid (size of a football) concerned him, but he said it wouldn’t cause complications for the baby. What I thought was an ulcer was really the baby. The doctor remarked he hadn't ever seen a baby so high up in the uterus and so far to one side. At least we knew what was going on. I was still so sick that he ordered batteries of tests. All of them showed I was fine, just really sick. I was on disability leave from work and still losing weight. More doctors visits, more ultrasounds and more tests all showing the baby was fine, I was fine just really, really sick. Unfortunately, the doctor said the large fibroid would necessitate a C-section. I was fine with that since he was so insistent about it.

Despite being the first doctor to determine it was a viable pregnancy, I wasn’t comfortable with him. I ran his name on the internet and found he was an abortion provider -- big time abortion provider. Now I was very uncomfortable with him and had to find another doctor. I guess it made sense that he had talked to us on several occasions about abortion (telling me, matter-of-factly, that I could have an abortion at any time, and if I changed my mind about carrying the baby, it was my option) and undergoing tests that I refused because I thought they were too risky and increased the risk of miscarriage. He didn't seem to like that I didn't merely rubber-stamp his choices, openly disagreeing with him. I no longer trusted him with my care and certainly not my baby’s.

I spent quite a bit of time calling around and got the name of another doctor, a Catholic doctor, who remained the doctor we had for delivery. He was more balanced in his description of tests and procedures, explaining both pros and cons instead of only presenting the position he wanted us to agree with. He was less concerned about the fibroid and had a “wait and see” attitude about things as they could change as the pregnancy progressed."

[end of website entry]

The first time I was there for an appointment, he walked in the room and said, "I understand you're with child." A child, not a choice. Despite the kind of corny greeting, I knew I had my doctor.

The abortion-provider doctor was quite beloved and his office was completely shocked that I was leaving his care. When I asked for my records to be sent to the other doctor, they were not very kind or pleasant.

In retrospect, if I had stayed with the first doctor, I doubt I would've had my second child. I doubt I would still have my uterus. The first doctor had no respect or understanding of my position and my desire to do what was necessary to carry the baby to term AND retain my uterus. The second doctor understood my fear of having a hysterectomy and was more than willing to do what was necessary (reconstruction and time in the OR) to do the utmost to preserve my uterus and increase my chances of having more children.

This doctor didn't get offended when I opted out of tests and didn't pressure me to have them in the first place. I don't think he even got offended that I was actively involved in my care and all decisions (actually, I think he was amused). For example, when we discussed the potential scenarios for the C-section, I asked if I could bank blood because there was a chance I could experience significant blood loss. Even though he had never considered it, he enabled me to do this and it turned out to be a good idea, really speeding up my post-operative recovery (seems a transfusion of my own blood brought my hemoglobin and other vitals back to where they needed to be quite quickly) and decreasing the time I spent in post-op before I was able to be reunited with my husband and newborn son. (Although only one blood bank was willing to bank the blood of a woman who was eight months pregnant!).

Finding a good family doctor was equally as challenging. It took some time, but I finally found Dr. Mary through the "One More Soul" website. Honestly, it shouldn't be so hard to find a pro-life doctor.

Unfortunately, things are only going to get worse with FOCA on the horizon. The only "choices" allowed are the unilateral ones of the patient. No longer will the health care provider be able to practice as they had, following their own conscience. If doctors can't even act on their own conscience, then what kind of people will be taking up this profession?