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Archive for March, 2011

Sorry for another repost of someone else’s article but I stumbled upon this gem that is absolutely worth a look.  (Plus, I know if I post the article on my website, I’ll always know where to find it!)

Rob Dapreau of Catholic Phoenix writes this essay on what “carrying our cross” means, and even more, how to carry it.  He writes,

…Christ willingly embraces both our cross and our crucifixion. He does so freely, out of love. Why he would do this is a mystery so great that it is incomprehensible when looked at from a paradigm of justice. We can only begin to understand it when we look at it through eyes of love.

When I taught high school, I would often ask my students what should be done about a society that was officially instituted to provide for the common welfare of its members, but in practice, systematically took advantage of one of them. The exploited person was always expected to eat cold food, take cold showers, and wear old clothes, so that the others—who rarely showed appreciation and regularly showed contempt—could have the best of everything.

They would decry the injustice and suggest everything from castration to crucifixion as a remedy. Then I’d drop the bomb on them: “That’s your family, and that exploited member is your mom.”

Crickets.

The thing is, most moms, like Jesus, aren’t motivated by justice; they’re motivated by love. This means they find happiness in making their loved ones happy. A good mom is more than willing to deprive herself for her children, but even a great daycare worker will strike if you try to make a mother’s level of commitment into the standard employees are expected to meet.

Love is the only thing that can make sense of sacrifice. The only right response to sacrificial love is love. We show our love and gratitude to Jesus by keeping his commandments, including the one with which I started this post.

Here are some things to consider as we try to follow the way of the cross.

The rest of his essay is just as good.  I especially like his reminder not to drag our cross, but to bear it cheerfully.  I find myself dragging mine from time to time, so this was a great visualization and nudge.  Read the rest here.

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It’s been awhile since I’ve seen any good news coming out of Hollywood, so I was pleasantly surprised to find this gem of an article linked over at New Advent.   The Irish actor Pierce Brosnan, known to many as James Bond (and to me as Remington Steele), openly shares his faith with an interviewer, attributing good in his life to God and telling how his prayer life sustains him.  He credits his Catholic upbringing.

In an interesting new interview with RTE.ie to promote his patronage of the new Irish dramatic art academy The Lir, which will debut this fall at Trinity College in Dublin, Brosnan credits the power of prayer with guiding him through life’s ups and downs. 

“(Prayer) helped me with the loss of my wife to cancer and with a child who had fallen on tough times. Now prayer helps me to be a father, to be an actor and to be a man,” Brosnan told the Irish website.

“It always helps to have a bit of prayer in your back pocket. At the end of the day, you have to have something and for me that is God, Jesus, my Catholic upbringing, my faith.”

Pierce’s first wife, Cassandra Harris, died of ovarian cancer 20 years ago. The son they had together, Sean, was in a serious car crash a few years back in California, but luckily he survived and is thriving again.

Brosnan and his mother left his hometown of Navan, Co. Meath in 1964, when he was 12 years old, for greener pastures in London.  His father left the family when he was only two, so times were tough.

“In a way (my life) all leads back to a little boy in Navan, my home town on the banks of the Boyne.

Sometimes, it has been painted in melodramatic tones but it was a fantastic way to be brought up. The Catholicism and the Christian brothers, those are deep-rooted images and the foundation for a person of some acting skill,” he says.

“God has been good to me. My faith has been good to me in the moments of deepest suffering, doubt and fear. It is a constant, the language of prayer … I might not have got my sums right from the Christian Brothers or might not have got the greatest learning of literature from them but I certainly got a strapping amount of faith.”

Brosnan also feels that faith will help the Irish people escape the gloom and doom of recession.

“But there is one thing that the people of Ireland know how to do and that is to survive. You have to keep your faith and stay optimistic,” he feels

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Aggie Catholics has posted a video that is awesome-epetus!  It’s has a trio of favorites of mine:  the fantastic musician Matt Maher at Franciscan University joined by Dr. Scott Hahn, making a guest appearance on guitar.  Of course, my readers already know that Dr. Hahn plays guitar.  Michael Barber told us.

Did I mention that it is awesome?

Click here to see the video.

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Many babies died to get this picture.

 

***

And each one said to his neighbour: Come let us make brick, and bake them with fire. And they had brick instead of stones, and slime instead of mortar:  And they said: Come, let us make a city and a tower, the top whereof may reach to heaven; and let us make our name famous before we be scattered abroad into all lands.   Genesis 11: 3-4

 ***

“Life once conceived, must be protected with the utmost care; abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.”  Gaudium et Spes, Second Vatican Council

 

IVF.  In vitro fertilization, also called artificial insemination.  The joining of an egg and sperm in a laboratory, creation of life in a test tube.  For some, it is a miracle.  They wonder at the majesty and brilliance of the medical profession, the advances man has made and exclaim what good man can do.  They forget, ignore, or willfully deny that man can do no good without God for God is the source of all good.  Our civilization is baking the bricks of our own technological Tower of Babel, and when we reach the top, when the medical community solves the riddle of life, we won’t need God anymore.  We’ll be like gods ourselves.

What a comforting thought. 

“After all,” we tell ourselves, “isn’t it God’s fault that there is poverty, want, ignorance, war, injustice, death and decay?  Isn’t it God who ignores our prayers and denies us what we desire, fails us in our wants, frustrates our right to have what we want when we want it?”  Well then, let’s not rely upon God.  His plan wasn’t very good and we can make a much better one.  Let us then make our own path.  Take the painful situation of infertility, of an absence of our own flesh and blood children.  Who is God to deny us our right to bear children?  I am entitled to have children, when and how I like, and it is not God placeto deny me, nor yours to judge me.  Like Lot’s daughters, we conspire, “Let us go into our doctors’ houses and lie with them so that we may have children.”

From UK‘s Daily Mail comes this priceless story of a 58 year old single woman who through IVF now has twins.  That’s her in the picture above, holding one of the children.  This story exemplifies all that is wrong with the western society’s brave new world of medical and technological advances.  Without moral grounding, you get this sort of thing.  To sum up the story, 58 year old Carole Hobson, a lawyer, decided that now that she was in her 50s, she wanted a child.  She admits never wanting one before.  Her boyfriend of eleven years felt differently.  So she ditched him and started her quest to get her some kids.  This involved an egg from India, sperm from Scandinavia, 5 rounds of IVF treatments, one abortion, £20,000, a team of National Health Service medical staff (paid for by British taxpayers), the birth of twins and the hiring of a fulltime nanny.   So single senior citizen gets her brand new kiddies with national healthcare, goes back to work and drops off the longed-for children with the college student who is going to raise them.  Sounds like a very happy ending, right?

Actually, interestingly, tellingly….no.

In one of those twists that reminds us who is God and who is not, mother Carole Hobson is overwhelmed and full of regret.  As the newsreporter writes–

Carole, sleep-deprived, pole-axed by the reality of caring for baby twins and anxious for their still fragile health, appears to illustrate perfectly the proverb: ‘Be careful what you wish for . . . you might just get it.’

But it’s early days yet and, to be fair to Carole, she looks far less frazzled than I’d expected, given the demands of twins. She seems to be  incredibly well and has a calm, loving commitment to her babies — but it’s hard to detect any sign of euphoria.

….

She was admitted to Medway Maritime Hospital as an emergency on December 17, suffering from pre-eclampsia and a winter respiratory virus. The decision to deliver the twins was made on Christmas Eve after Carole’s liver and kidneys started to fail.

‘Half an hour before the Caesarean, I was shown around the neo-natal unit where the twins would be taken after their birth and that’s when I sobbed my heart out, thinking: “What on earth have I done?” ’ says Carole.

‘I was crying for my babies and what they might have to go through to survive. That’s when the enormity of the situation hit me and I doubted whether I’d done the right thing.’

No, she didn’t do the right thing.  She did a very selfish thing and has brought those children into a life in which there is no father or mother, their legal mother may die before they even come of age and her plan is for nannies to raise them.  Those poor kids.  And I note that it is a funny time for her to wonder what her babies have to do to survive, given all that they had done to survive up to this point.  She had been pregnant with triplets but chose one to murder in the womb.  That’s called “a selective abortion” and is so frequent in IVF pregnancies that not having one or more abortions is rare.  So both of these twins had already survived one of her choices.   And these babies were born on her 5th round of IVF, meaning that literally 20-30 babies had already died prior to their arrival.  So dozens of dead babies preceded these tiny twins in life. 

What drives a person to such lengths?  Well, selfishness mostly.  It sounds to me as if Carole is greatly in need of love, a relationship with God and forgiveness, as her life decisions seem to be on a path of increasing destructiveness.

She described to me the extraordinary lengths she went to in order to achieve her goal, batting away any criticism of her quest for late, single motherhood with clear-headed logic and well-rehearsed argument.

She explained how it wasn’t until her late 40s and early 50s that — having lacked all maternal instinct in her 20s or 30s, while she forged her career — she came to bitterly regret her childlessness.

Her then partner of 11 years, a geologist, was not keen on the idea, so Carole decided to go ahead alone, effectively sacrificing their relationship on the altar of motherhood.

In pursuit of doctors who would help her, Carole travelled from Kent to the Ukraine, back to London, to Cyprus and finally to a fertility clinic in India — which treats women up to the age of 63 — where her fifth attempt at IVF proved successful.

‘I felt incomplete without a child,’ she said, explaining that she went to India because of shortage of egg donors elsewhere.

‘I want to seize every opportunity that medical science can offer me, as a woman. Some people might accuse me of being selfish or going against nature, but isn’t it going against nature to perform transplants or heart surgery? I’m no more selfish than any other woman who wants a family.’

Sin is like this.  We get embroiled in a few sins and before you know it, we have lost our relationship with God.  We may search to replace Him even.  I think that’s what happened here, with the helpful assistance of the Tower-building medical community.  Why didn’t someone say no?  Cause medical professionals are builders not moralists or ethicists.

So let’s review Catholic moral teaching:

Heterologous artificial fertilization violates the rights of the child; it deprives him of his filial relationship with his parental origins and can hinder the maturing of his personal identity. Furthermore, it offends the common vocation of the spouses who are called to fatherhood and motherhood: it objectively deprives conjugal fruitfulness of its unity and integrity; it brings about and manifests a rupture between genetic parenthood, gestational parenthood and responsibility for upbringing. Such damage to the personal relationships within the family has repercussions on civil society: what threatens the unity and stability of the family is a source of dissension, disorder and injustice in the whole of social life. These reasons lead to a negative moral judgment concerning heterologous artificial fertilization: consequently fertilization of a married woman with the sperm of a donor different from her husband and fertilization with the husband’s sperm of an ovum not coming from his wife are morally illicit. Furthermore, the artificial fertilization of a woman who is unmarried or a widow, whoever the donor may be, cannot be morally justified. (italics in original)

Why does the Church teach this?  Is it because she is out of touch?  Is it because she is run by a bunch of old guys who have no idea what desire feels like?  Is it because God hates us and wants us to be disappointed, frustrated and miserable?  No.  No. No.  It is because of love.  God will show us the path to life.

The Church’s Magisterium does not intervene on the basis of a particular competence in the area of the experimental sciences; but having taken account of the data of research and technology, it intends to put forward, by virtue of its evangelical mission and apostolic duty, the moral teaching corresponding to the dignity of the person and to his or her integral vocation. It intends to do so by expounding the criteria of moral judgment as regards the applications of scientific research and technology, especially in relation to human life and its beginnings. These criteria are the respect, defence and promotion of man, his “primary and fundamental right” to life, his dignity as a person who is endowed with a spiritual soul and with moral responsibility and who is called to beatific communion with God. The Church’s intervention in this field is inspired also by the Love which she owes to man, helping him to recognize and respect his rights and duties. This love draws from the fount of Christ’s love: as she contemplates the mystery of the Incarnate Word, the Church also comes to understand the “mystery of man”;  by proclaiming the Gospel of salvation, she reveals to man his dignity and invites him to discover fully the truth of his own being. Thus the Church once more puts forward the divine law in order to accomplish the work of truth and liberation. For it is out of goodness – in order to indicate the path of life – that God gives human beings his commandments and the grace to observe them: and it is likewise out of goodness – in order to help them persevere along the same path – that God always offers to everyone his forgiveness. Christ has compassion on our weaknesses: he is our Creator and Redeemer. May his spirit open men’s hearts to the gift of God’s peace and to an understanding of his precepts.  (footnotes removed) (emphasis mine)Introduction to INSTRUCTION ON RESPECT FOR HUMAN LIFE IN ITS ORIGIN AND ON THE DIGNITY OF PROCREATION REPLIES TO CERTAIN QUESTIONS OF THE DAY

Christ our Creator and Redeemer has compassion for us and God forgives.  I am praying that this mother who is realizing the repercussions of her monumental decision, will find in her disappointment, fear and difficulty that God loves her and her children and wants her to choose Him from now on.  This is a moment that could change this woman’s life.  We all have these moments and we know as believers that God takes the fruits of our selfish decisions and works His plan through it.

Read the full Daily Mail article here.

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Editorial Opinion column in UK’s The Daily Mail:

These judges want to destroy our core moral values. We simply can’t let them succeed

It’s good reading.

(updated March 7, 2011)

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The increasingly reliable Daily Mail‘s headline tells the tale:

Babies who are born at 23 weeks should be left to die, says NHS chief

The British daily has found the official with Britain’s National Health Service, Dr Daphne Austin being quoted in a BBC documentary saying:

‘We are doing more harm than good by resuscitating 23-weekers. I can’t think of very many interventions that have such poor outcomes.

‘For me the big issue is that we’re spending an awful lot of money on treatments that have very marginal benefit.

‘I would prefer to free up that money to spend on providing support to people who have much more lifelong chronic conditions.’

This official, we are told, advises what treatments and care should be funded in the West Midlands region.  In other words, lives depend on her authorization.  And she would “prefer to free up that money” than treating the babies.

She claimed keeping them alive is only ‘prolonging their agony’, and it would be better to invest the money in care for cancer sufferers or the disabled.

And what might be the ‘prolonged agony’ that would warrant killing these children? Why, “blindness, deafness and cerebral palsy”, of course!  What a horrible drain on society are the blind, deaf and disabled.  Do you think that Annie Sullivan thought much the same of her student, Helen Keller?  That Helen was a drain on the financial resources of her family and her country?  I doubt it.  

Why is this little throwaway article important to us Christians? Because we know intuitively that what this official is suggesting with respect to 23-week preemies is just the latest salvo in the war to drag Western society into a full-blown embrace of euthanasia for the disable, sick and marginalized. 

The Daily Mail helpfully introduces us to the horrible effects of allowing 23-weekers to remain alive. Meet Molly Griffith.

Apparently, The Daily Mail is not fooled by this doctor’s neo-rational argument.  Again surprising and delighting this Catholic blogger, the paper introduces us to Molly Griffith, who would ostensibly be the kind of child that Dr. Austin is looking to kill off.  When she was born prematurely at 23 weeks, she could fit into the palm of a hand.  She is missing a kidney, has epilepsy, and one side is weaker than the other.  But the NHS did not have the sort of cost-cutting twelve years ago, and she endured, growing into a happy, energetic and normal child.  And if the picture of Molly tells us anything, it is that “lifelong chronic conditions” do not deprive human beings of love, joy, intellect, meaning, and above all, life.  Euthanasia does.

 
Notably, the Church of England, bastion of moral relativism that it is, (again) declines to take a stand for life, morality and Christ.  Blessedly, The Daily Mail apparently will.
 
God bless The Daily Mail.

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having said all that, here is a gem of a quotation I just read (belatedly, it seems).  From an article on former MTV reality star and now mother of 6, Rachel Campos-Duffy, it forms the oppositional yet complementary Lenten prayer activity for busy mothers.

Running a household with six children can get chaotic and even overwhelming at times, so Campos-Duffy once lamented to a priest during Confession that her prayer life was dismal. The priest then told her that her “very life as a mother is a prayer,” which completely changed her perspective: “He said that everything I did at home—whether it was changing a diaper or wiping a nose—whatever it was that I was doing was a prayer to God.”

Campos-Duffy concluded, “For a busy mom, I think it’s understanding that prayer can be very short and immediate. Even (when) . . . we’re running out the door, we just stop for a second. There’s a holy water font right by the door and we bless ourselves and say ‘Jesus, I trust in you.’ And then, out the door. That can make all the difference. And I’ve got to sometimes stop in the middle of the day, in the middle of being upset at a child and regroup myself and think about what little treasures they are and how I would probably give my left arm when I’m 60 to have this moment back. It is about finding those moments throughout the day.”

God bless our mothers.

h/t New Advent

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