Okay - the premise of this article is as follows:
Parents should be allowed to have their newborn babies killed because they are “morally irrelevant” and ending their lives is no different to abortion, a group of medical ethicists linked to Oxford University has argued.
Pay close attention to the shifting of vocabulary. We're not calling it infanticide or murder. Instead, because those words carry severely negative connotations, they call it "after-birth abortion." Why? Well because the word "abortion" has the connotation of CHOICE! It's got the connotation of women's liberation and sexual freedom! Is there no hope for the world my son is now forced to grow up in?If we are capable of this, this, or this, we're simply opening the door to allow even worse things to become commonplace (and LEGAL).For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world...
Test your Lit. Calendar Strength!
A friend of mine asked what I'd be teaching for CCD tonight (because she's been enjoying the crafts we did over the last two periods). I told her I was sorry to burst her bubble, but there wouldn't be a craft tonight so much as a test. Ha ha.
She then asked me what the test was on. I told her the Liturgical Calendar. She responded that it'd be fun if she could take the test, too, just to see where she compared to my 6th graders. She took the test, and subsequently failed miserably. Chagrined, she warned me that the test was too hard for my class, and suggested that I rework it into one of my crossword puzzles to give them a fighting chance.
I explained the test was only difficult because she hadn't taken part in my class. If she had, she'd've known all the answers! She expressed some doubt, but wanted me to compare her grade to the average grade of my kids.
Welp, my class scored an average of 93%.
When I called my buddy to let her know, she almost didn't believe me! Ha ha. But I've got the tests to prove it. I am so proud of them!
Plus, now that I've explained the answers to her, no doubt she'd score at least a 93% next time around, too. Ha ha.
But for anyone else interested in testing their skills, I've included the test for your entertainment (or if you'd like to use it for your own classes, be my guest!).
Mother of Sorrows, Pray for Us
***Disclaimer - this entry has the capacity to offend / upset sensible Catholics due to outside content.***
I found the following link through Father Z's WDTPRS page. The link will take you to the Huffington Post for a supposedly "tongue-in-cheek" piece by Larry Doyle (of Simpsons / Beavis and Butt-Head fame).
However, when I followed Fr. Z's link to the article in question, I was floored by the absolute disgust he wrote of Catholicism. I saw nothing "humorous" in his prejudiced, anti-Catholic tirade.
This has nothing to do with me "taking this personally" or "reading too much into it." I'm all for poking fun at stuff, and I've heard (and dished) my fair share of Catholic jokes. This, however, has a tone that is completely inappropriate, hostile and indecent.
Just offer up a prayer for Doyle, the fools laughing at this garbage, and those Catholics who commented bad dogma in a weak attempt to defend the faith. Oh, God... help us. We are in such need of guidance and wisdom!How folks remain blind to anti-Catholic sentiment is beyond me. If this sort of banter had been leveled against any other group, the media would be all over decrying it (regardless of the false "satire" tag it gave itself to hide behind).Deplorable. Yet we were warned, and for our part, we must take up the Cross of our Chastisement and move forward. Pray for these people. They truly are in need of the Holy Spirit.
The picture to your left is of my wonderful grandparents - Eugene and Ida. I wanted to include a photo of my Grandmom, but the only ones I have of her (digitally) are those from her nursing home days. None of those photos do her justice, and I have serious doubts about her approving those had I chosen to post them.
Today I took John and Vincent to see Nanny, John's paternal grandmother. She lives with one of her sons, Michael, who has taken on the lion's share of her care-taking. Recently, it's begun taking a toll on him and he confided that she's been wearing him down with her loneliness. She calls him around the clock and complains when he doesn't come home right away.
I offered to visit her with John and Vince for the few hours Uncle Mike needed to tend to the Church. He's a sacristan for his parish, and he enjoys feeling useful. It also gives him time away from home.
So today we went during the 9-12 time frame she's most lonely for Uncle Mike. Vince was angelic and lavished an impressive amount of affection on her. Vince is normally very affectionate, but wow. He must've had his sixth sense working overtime or something, because all he wanted to do was sit with her, share his toys with her, kiss her, or call her name. She thoroughly enjoyed the attention!
However, even with us being there, she reached out to call Uncle Michael twice. She also vented to John about her loneliness. My heart broke for her because I understood the situation for what it was. John, on the other hand, just got frustrated, thinking it was a guilt trip or some manipulation for future visits.
That broke my heart twice.
I told John the story of my own Grandmom and something horrible I did that I still regret to this day.
After my Grandfather passed away (he suffered from Alzheimer's), my Grandmother began to rely even more heavily on my mother for everything. Normally a sharp, attentive and independent woman, my Grandmother suddenly couldn't function without my Mom's guidance. Mom would get phone calls from Grandmom the second she came in from work. Mom would get phone calls that woke her up in the mornings. Mom would get phone calls moments after walking through the door after having spent the morning with her.
At this point, my mother was sick, herself, so couple her illness with my Grandmother's incessant loneliness and then add that 5 of her kids constantly needed attention and boom - she was ragged. I remember her being so tired all the time and I felt awful for her.
Well, one Sunday, after Mom had walked in from seeing Grandmom, I picked up the phone as it rang. I was upstairs in my Mom's room, so I had heard my Mom walk through the door.
(Ugh - I'm cringing as I write this as I recall my horrible, horrible reaction).
Grandmom was on the other line.
Now you have to understand something about me and my Grandmother - regardless of what anyone says, I was totally her favorite. She was mine, too, and we had an unspoken agreement to have each other's backs regardless of what was going on. She always gave it to me straight, and I appreciated her honesty, love and affection. I loved her like no other, and in my book, she could do no wrong...
... until the day I picked up that phone.
My Mom heard the phone ring and I could almost hear her entire body dread the inevitable "Mom, Grandmom wants to talk to you" that was coming. So instead of shouting that over the bannister, I told her I would take care of it. I asked Grandmom if I could help her with anything.
She said no, she just needed to talk to my Mom.
In what will forever be my most regretted utterance ever, I said, "Grandmom, what do you need Mom for? She was over there all morning, and she'll be back again tomorrow. She's really tired right now. I think you call too much."
(Seriously... now I'm crying because I realize what an awful, awful mistake I made.)
Grandmom was somewhat taken aback by my reaction and we somehow parted ways. I'm sure I said "I love you" in an attempt to ease the mean words I'd just said, but I know they hurt.
I was annoyed with Grandmom. Why did she need to bother my Mom so much? I understood she was lonely, but to be calling so much, so often, and for nothing? It was making me so annoyed for my Mom's sake.
A few months later, of course, we found out Grandmom also had Alzheimer's. I can't even express the depths of guilt I felt upon realizing that my anger and annoyance had been directed against my innocent Grandmother who honestly had no idea what was causing her emotional instability. Instead of patiently trying to offer her my understanding, I abruptly accused her (in my mind) of the same manipulation and guilt trips that John now accused Nanny of.
I saw all the signs today that I neglected to see as a teenager. I pointed out that Nanny was obviously confused on dates and the time of year, and I pointed out her apparent short-term memory fog regarding how often she'd attempted to call Uncle Mike while we were there.
John got quiet for a while after I told him how I'd handled my own Grandmom and what the signs his Nan was showing. I didn't want him to write her off as "too strong" or "too independent" for "this nonsense" like I'd done with my own Grandmother years ago. Instead, I was really hoping to help him understand that which I couldn't as a child - the people we love and look up to our whole lives sometimes can't remain the triumphant, unbreakable heroes we make them out to be. They, too, are human. They, too, succumb to age and illness. They, too, will one day be in need of our love and care - the same love and care we craved from them as they nurtured us into who we are.
With that in mind, I made a mental note to get over there once a week. I failed Grandmom in that regard - but maybe I can begin rectifying that mistake through Nanny.
Coolest Statue / Triptych EVER
So I stumbled across an incredible set of Marian art as I was looking for a picture to accompany a beautiful prayer I found. I had originally wanted to share the prayer only, but now I want to share the art with you, too!
These incredible works of art seem to be hybrids of statue and triptych. This style of art was apparently popular (at least for Our Lady) in the 15th and 16th centuries.
These pieces are called "Vierge Ouvrante," which roughly translates to "The Opening Virgin." They are also known as "Madonna Shrines."
Images inside these triptych statues include scenes from the Passion, Mysteries of the Rosary, lives of the Saints, and Old Testament stories.
Seriously - aren't these the coolest things ever? I want to commission a new set for myself. Ha ha.
The idea behind these is wonderful. God - the Eternal - is within each of us. However, He was, is and always shall be fully present within Our Lady because of her perfect Fiat. Our Lady, through the Annunciation and Incarnation, became Mother of the Eternal. Within her womb she carried the Fount of Life which cannot be constrained by place or time. Through her, we can know God. Through her, we can find the path to Christ.
Really - I am in love with these!!! I think they're absolutely brilliant!
And before I forget - here's the prayer!
Hail, Mary, beloved Daughter of the eternal Father!
Hail, Mary, admirable Mother of the Son!
Hail, Mary, faithful Spouse of the Holy Ghost!
Hail, Mary, my loving and dear Mother, my powerful sovereign!
Hail, my joy, my glory, my heart and my soul!
Thou art all mine by mercy, and I am all thine. But I am not yet sufficiently thine. I now give myself wholly to thee without keeping anything back for myself or others. If thou seest in me anything which does not belong to thee, I beseech thee to take it and to make thyself the absolute mother of all that is mine. Destroy in me all that may be displeasing to God; root it up and bring it to nought; place and cultivate in me everything that is pleasing to thee. Amen.
--by Saint Louis Marie DeMontfort
The power of prayer, trust and Divine Providence!
A wonderful friend of mine, Jean, lent me a rare prayer book for the year. This book is rare because only a few thousand were printed and you cannot find them anywhere. They're not allowed to be printed again until they get a certain "re-approval" from the Church (this process will take a while because the volumes are so large). As a result, these books are highly prized by the faithful, but they cannot be copied or published in any way until we get that final re-approval.
Anyway, I was given a year's time to properly meditate on these prayers. However, she was coming to collect the book yesterday, so I knew I needed to have the last few completed. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to finish them in time, so I decided to make a copy for myself.
... sigh ...
Yes, I decided to make a copy for myself, fully knowing that it was disobedient to do so. I'm certainly not proud of that, but it's true.
Anyway, as I was running off copies, my conscience was yelling at me the whole time. I realized that if Jesus wanted me to pray these prayers, He'd figure out an honest way for me to come across the book again - even with it being as rare as it is. He never wants us to sin - even with the right intentions. Sin is sin is sin - regardless of motive. Thus, I said, "Okay, Jesus, I trust You. If You want these prayers completed, You'll find me a way."
I promptly closed the book and shredded the pages I had copied.
For lunch, I went to Adoration and attempted to finish out the rest before I saw my friend that night. I got through all but the final prayer. I had run out of time, so I again said, "Jesus, if You want a completed set, You'll find a way."
She arrived and we had ourselves a great time. I had her book ready to return, because she intended to take it with her on a trip. Right before we had dinner, a friend of hers (who I've never met and never talk to) called and told her she had an extra copy of this book that she wanted to give to me. This woman and I only know of each other through Jean, so while we hear of one another, we've never interacted. Yet she was apparently thinking of me and putting together a prayer package that included THAT BOOK.
I did a double take.
Coincidence is a fallacy. All is Divine Providence. EVERYTHING is provided by the loving Hand of God.
My friend said, "Well look, Gina can keep my copy, and when I see you, I'll just pick up that one."
As usual, my trust in Jesus was rewarded. I immediately relayed to my friend what had happened earlier in the day with what must have been the dopiest grin ever.
God is good. He truly, truly is.
Great Blog if you click the pic!
So I was watching a documentary the other night about a woman and her no-kill cat sanctuary
. Being a bit of a "crazy cat lady" myself, I thoroughly understood much of what was revealed during the hour-long special. I've been an avid animal lover my entire life. I must've drove my mother up the wall with the amount of animals I'd try to sneak into the house. I succeeded with a few she still doesn't know about to this day! Ha ha.(Mom, if you end up reading this, sorry... blame Grandpop. His blood pumps through me, too, and inevitably ends up using my heartstrings as a makeshift accordian. I'm powerless, really!)Anyway, it wasn't until I moved out and started a life with John that I kicked into "foster-mom" gear. In the last few years, John and I have fostered and found homes for more than 50 cats / kittens. Now obviously 50 isn't nearly as fantastic a number as 700, but those 50 that we saved enabled 50 others to find room at the shelters. Our work also opened the hearts of others to the plight of unwanted animals, and now several of our friends have either fostered or adopted their own furbabies. Be the change you want to see, right?In my travels as foster-animal advocate, I've come to see a lot of heartbreaking things. My own foster-turned-adopted cat, Zoey
(read her story as featured on Animal Planet) taught me an incredible amount about the overburdened shelter system, the carelessness and cruelty of humans, and the power of faith. Knowing this, one thing from the documentary really struck me. A tiny, malnourished kitten was brought in, barely clinging to life. A team of volunteers rallied around him, bottle feeding, warming, and caressing this impossibly small, hungry and dehydrated kitten. Sadly, they were too late in their efforts and the kitten succumbed to its tryst with neglect. This situation is all too common all over the world. However, Lynea Lattanzio (the "crazy cat lady") said something I've found myself saying when faced with the crippling emotions that come from being "too late."She said "At least this animal died surrounded by love. At least, for a few moments, he understood what it was to be cared for, to be held, to know dignity."I was crushed, then, because I've known that feeling. I've felt my heart break over the loss (and even potential loss) of these little lives. People would always look at me cock-eyed, asking me how I got attached so quickly to these animals. Much like the kitten documented above, the volunteers had only known him a total of 15-30 minutes before his life slipped away, yet all felt that sharp pang of loss. Lynea said something else that echoed my own voice to friends: It never gets easier. It's always painful when you lose one. In all the years I've done this, it's never not hurt.Amen, Lynea. And as I was thinking more on it, a little light went off over my head. Why DO we feel such an incredible sense of loss? Why does that pain linger? Why do we catch ourselves mourning - years later - those little lives that were lost on our watch?I realized it was because we felt, briefly, Divinity. As I explained in a previous post, all animals have souls. Not only do they have souls, they have pure, unblemished souls that can do nothing but infinitely please their Creator. As we hold those little furry angels, we delight in that purity. We recognize the hidden gem of God's breath that animates their beating hearts. As that life force returns to its Creator, it inevitably leaves us behind, and we sense that we lost something of infinite value. We lost something pure and innocent - a reflection of the One our souls unconsciously seek. I really do think that is why we immediately sense that connection and subsequent loss. All life comes from God - and as such, all life returns to Him.
May those folks over at the Cat House be immensely blessed for everything they do. May all fosters, volunteers, and rescue staff be blessed. They do incredible, heart-breaking work... and they DO make a difference. Even if the world is incapable or unwilling to see it.
I wasn't able to attend Mass early in the morning like I'd hoped. Instead, I had to wait until evening to go, and I had Vince with me as a result. I didn't mind - he was actually being phenomenal. Thank goodness, too, because there wasn't any room for us in our normal spot on account of the PACERS who dropped by to collect their yearly ashes.
The Mass itself was nice. I noticed, however, that we went from being an over-packed house before the Distribution of Ashes to being about 2/3 full as folks simply exited the Church upon reception of the ashes.
I couldn't believe it!
Folks were willing to wait come for ashes, but completely neglected to stick around for JESUS in the Eucharist?
I have to admit being ashamed for them. I just felt awful that Jesus was witnessing this sort of callousness in His people. Ugh. Makes me feel like a jerk for not shaking them all and shouting "You'll wait for ashes, but not GOD? What is WRONG with you?!"
May God forgive us our foolishness...
Vincent was surprised by the ashes. He's used to Father Piotr blessing him, but when he saw Father bless me, too, he whipped his little head around in amazement. His eyes then did a double take when he saw the cross smudged onto my forehead. He quickly realized that he, too, must've had a cross on his head because he immediately tried to feel around for one. Ha ha.
For the rest of the Mass, Vincent kept looking up at my cross as if trying to figure out what it was for. He only tried to touch it once or twice, but after correcting him, he was content to steal glances and smile at it. He again stooped down as I knelt to receive the Eucharist. His newest thing is to dip his little hands into the Holy Water font on the way out the door. Since I always bless him with a little cross on his forehead when we come in, he tries to dip his fingers into the font to then thumb my face.
Instead, I'm trying to teach him to "flick" the water from his hands onto the floor while saying "for the souls in Purgatory." Obviously he doesn't have those words down just yet, but it's never too early to teach them to use sacramentals for others! :)
Do you struggle with diocese envy? Do you wish your diocese (or Archdiocese!) would step up and do something as brazen as purchase prime-time airspace to get this message of healing to the faithful? To those fallen away? To those looking for a way back in?
I do - but no worries... Confession isn't just for Floridian Catholics! :) We've got ourselves regular Confessions up in Jersey, too. Actually, we've got confessions anywhere there is a priest! So take advantage, folks! Jesus is waiting to embrace that soul of yours with His Divinity!
Again... I love me some Confession!
I run / help admin three separate sites. This blog is the first, my parish website is the second, and a Catholic chat / information page is the third. Technically, I moderate the sometimes torrential threads that spawn on my Facebook, too, so let's round it to four.
On each of these sites, I have an open-comment policy. Folks can leave any comment without gaining approval first. However, I reserve the right to delete entries that are flammatory, hostile, or deliberately misleading. So far on this site (*knock on all wood available*), I haven't had to delete more than two comments. This is probably due to the fact that this blog isn't as well-traveled as the other two, and the material I tend to cover is personal enough that folks don't get offended by that which I state. Also, being a Catholic blog, I tend to only get traffic from other Catholics. Ha ha.
However, the Catholic chat site is another ball game. It's much more traveled and draws folks from all religious backgrounds (plenty of atheists, too, just to get their kicks from tormenting those of us who enjoy talking about Jesus). As a result, moderation is extremely strict.
Similarly that's true for the parish website. We get plenty of parishioners who drop by, especially now that I created a "Prayer Blog" section for folks to digitally submit their personal intentions for the month. Thus far, the Prayer Blog itself has been a success. We've gotten plenty of great feedback, and even grew our tiny prayer chain, fostering community.
Last night, however, I came home to an "intention" that made me cringe. Being solely responsible for content on the website (including comments in need of moderation), I must've turned 7 shades of purple in my embarrassment. I hadn't seen the comment until the evening, but the poster had submitted it about 4 hours prior. God only knows how many people came across it before I deleted the entry! Heaven forbid dogmatic confusion spring up as a result of my carelessness regarding comment approvals.
Anyway, that's what spawned this entry. Personally, I find the approval process stifling. If folks want to discuss something with one another, the approval process makes it difficult because the element of time is variable. Granted, a prayer blog isn't exactly the proper vehicle for conversation, but still.
I realize now - begrudgingly - that I have to have approvals up for at least the parish website. God forbid content there doesn't reflect our Catholic heritage! Thus, I talked it over with my pastor (and a good friend). We all came to the conclusion that approvals are necessary in order to ensure the integrity of our Catholic identity.
This reminded me of a none-too-happy dialogue I was forced to have with a friend of mine regarding moderation on Facebook.
I take moderation VERY seriously. Sometimes my Facebook threads weave upwards of 40-50 comments. Content for these threads is typically polarizing and folks get their panties in a bunch with impressive ease. Tempers flare and the occasion to send off a mean-spirited assault is frequent. As a result, I take great care to provide a respectful, intellectually honest place for folks to exchange ideas. I'm not a perfect moderator, but I really do pride myself in squashing the ad hominem attacks people dish out, and I'm always on top of holding folks accountable for misleading / incorrect information posted to these threads.
That being said, I expect the same to be true of others who establish threads on their pages. Unfortunately, I learned the hard way that not all people are capable and/or willing to moderate the threads they haphazardly start.
Folks are all about generating commentary because it gives them a sense of popularity. I get that. But let's be real... commentary shouldn't just be about your flippin' popularity. If you're linking intelligent articles and asking for honest opinions, you should be prepared to moderate any thread that spawns from it.
Then again, that could very well just be me - I admit holding myself to a higher standard for these sorts of things, but it's because of my dedication to intellectual honesty and the free-flow of ideas between two groups of polarized people. Honest, respectful communication is the only bridge that divide has, so I believe it must be fostered at all costs.
Truth be told, I confronted the offending party for this gross oversight, and she has yet to see anything even remotely wrong with her outlandish behavior. This SHOULD be unsurprising considering her personality, but still... it drives me up a wall that there is no accountability on sites like Facebook. Folks will create a front in which they present themselves as intelligent adults looking to discuss political / social / religious / local issues, but in reality, they're just looking to find a platform to shout their opinions. These folks don't ACTUALLY want to discuss. They don't actually want to learn / teach / share. They want to be thought of as funny. They want to be thought of as intelligent. They want to be seen as champions of activism. In reality, all they want is the gilded facade. Very few people are willing to engage in anything more than their polished (and empty) shell.
Very disheartening. Very, very disheartening.