Please pray for me and my brother priests!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mother Teresa and Housewives: The Road to Holiness Category

This great short article is meant for housewives- you know, those wonderful women who sacrifice 40 hours a week of work outside the home for 120 hours of work a week inside the home- but could be read and used by everyone.

Mother Teresa is a true example, and saint, for our times. Following in the footsteps of the great St. Therese of Lisieux, she teaches that we don't have to do great things to be a great saint, but simply little things, the day-to-day humdrum of life, with great love. I have mentioned before that I never had much love for Dorothy Day after I heard her quoted as saying "Don't call me a saint. I don't want to be dismissed so easily." I thought this was an exercise in vanity, or perhaps pride. But I was wrong. I understand that she was on to something. Often we look at saints as "Super-men", or "Super-women," and think that holiness is something for the select few, those who are given great grace and opportunity to do great things. Not so! The saint is the one who loves greatly in whatever walk of life they find themselves in. The housewife finds her sanctity in the day to day "things" of her life, as does the CEO, the politician, the garbage man, or the priest. We need to focus on the task at hand, and do it with great love for God, and not worry about the rest.

This is obvious in the life of St. Therese, as shown through her "Little Way," and through the life of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta. Love God in the simple moments, in the menial tasks as much as in the great adventures, and you will find your happiness there.

St. Therese and Blessed Mother Teresa, pray for us!

God love you!

What Blessed Mother Teresa
Can Teach a Suburban Housewife

Theresa A. Thomas
May 23, 2007

Seventy years ago today, on May 24, 1937, Blessed Mother Teresa made her final profession as a Loretto sister. Like most suburban housewives, I have never been to India. I never witnessed Mother Teresa as she ministered to the world's "poorest of the poor." Like many others, however, I devoured books and articles about this dynamic and simple nun who pulled the dying off Calcutta's streets, and gave dignity to those suffering. She literally helped change the world.

At first glance, an American mother's life seems so unlike the life Blessed Mother Teresa had. She lived amidst poverty. We live in a country full of wealth. She wore a simple sari. Most of us have a closet full of clothes. She chose a consecrated life of poverty, chastity and obedience as a sister. We have vocations as wives and mothers. Our lives seem worlds apart, yet Blessed Mother Teresa's spirituality can be instrumental in teaching us to know how to live our vocation and raise our children well. Here's how.

Mother Teresa teaches us to accept what we get from the hand of God. Biographers tell us that Mother Teresa, whose given name was Agnes, admired St. Therese the Little Flower and her "Little Way" very much, so much that she wanted to take the name 'Therese' upon professing as a sister. However, another postulant also wanted that name and spelling. Quietly, without a fuss, Agnes took the Spanish spelling of the name ('Teresa'), relinquishing the spelling she desired more. In this simple action and attitude, Mother Teresa teaches us to accept what life deals us with calm resolution that God Himself guides all happenings, large or small.

Mother Teresa teaches us there is holiness in doing small things with great love. With a smile on her face she quietly and tenderly cleaned the maggot-filled sores of a dying man, ignoring the stench and fighting the human urge to turn away. She did this again and again and again each day — small things with great love. When I tie my child's shoe patiently or wipe his nose gently, I am doing a small thing with great love. When I serve my husband who has had a difficult day his favorite meal with a smile (even though my own day has been filled with uncooperative children and minor emergencies), I am doing a small thing with great love. When I lead my sick child to the bathroom to throw up for the third time during the night and I clean him and the floor with calm resignation, I am doing a small thing with great love. Life is full of these opportunities. Mother teaches that is the path to holiness.

Mother Teresa teaches us not to fret about the tasks before us. When she was alive she did not wake up in the morning anxious and stressed about the day. She didn't say, "Oh my goodness! I have so much to do! There are so many poor and I can't handle this ...." She simply looked at the task before her, tackled it, and then moved on. We should follow this example in our daily living.

Mother Teresa teaches us it is good to rest. Biographers tell us Mother Teresa took naps. Does this surprise you? There was a point in time when I thought it was a sign of weakness if I laid down to rest during the day or went to bed early. I now see how silly that is. If our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, then taking care of those bodies is a serious responsibility. Besides, refreshed, we can accomplish more.

Mother Teresa teaches us that every person has worth and dignity. The annoying soccer coach, the impatient clerk at the store, the grumpy mailman who bypasses my house because he thinks my van is parked too close to the mailbox — these people were made in the image and likeness of God just as much as the friendly parish priest or sweet, elderly grandmother. Sometimes it would be easier to love a beggar dying in the street than the neighbor who growls at my children if a stray ball rolls in their yard. Mother's actions showed we are to respect everyone.

Mother Teresa started her day with prayer, and arranged her day in an orderly way. She had a schedule. When we do this, we prioritize our lives toward God and keep focused.
God's plans for me are different from what they were for Mother Teresa. Mostly likely I will never tend to wounds of people ravaged by disease or scarred emotionally by severe rejection. But as a mother I will daily tend little wounds many times — a scraped knee after a trip to the playground, my child's hurt feelings over rejection from a playmate, the fatigue of my spouse over the daily troubles of work and family living. By remembering Mother Teresa's example and living the spirituality she demonstrated, I can be an instrument of God, bringing peace and healing in my little part of the world.

For more information on Blessed Mother Teresa, visit her website.

Theresa A. Thomas, wife of David, is a homeschooling mother of nine children, a freelance writer and newspaper columnist for Today's Catholic. Look for her contribution in Amazing Grace: Stories for Fathers due from Ascension Press later this year. This article originally appeared in Today's Catholic.

St. Therese

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Religious Issue?

There are those who say abortion is a religious issue. "Keep your rosaries off our ovaries" has been a common chant from the opposition at many pro-life marches I have attended. However, I have always said, and I still do, that it doesn't take faith in God to see that the destruction of innocent life is an abomination. This article from Catholic News Service shows that some agree with me.

Questions and comments are welcome!

God love you!

Overwhelming majority of atheists oppose legalization of abortion in Brazil

Brasilia, May 15, 2007 / 01:06 pm (CNA).- A study by the firm Datafolha has revealed that 82 percent of Brazilians who claim to be atheists oppose the legalization of abortion in the country. Analysts say the survey shows that the defense of life is not a religious but a humanitarian issue.

80 percent of Brazilian atheists also oppose liberalizing abortion for such cases as anencephaly (a congenital absence of all or a major part of the brain). The study shows that people who say they practice no religion are more firmly against abortion that those who belong to some of the Afro-Brazilian religions.

Carried out between March 19 and 20, the survey also showed that 90 percent of the populace opposes the total legalization of abortion. 74 percent do not want abortion to be legal anymore than the current circumstances allow and favor no change in the law.

The study was based on a survey of six thousand Brazilians above the age of 16 throughout the country.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A Mother's Love

I found this truly wonderful article from the New York Times and thought to myself, "Wow, something from the Times worthy of a positive blog?" (For some reason, it was found in the "Fashion" section. Who knows?)

Anyhow, all joking aside, it is a inspiring story and definitely worth the read! I would be interested to hear your thoughts on some of the interactions Mrs. Fitzsimmons had in making her decision. There is no love like a mother's love. A belated Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's reading this!

(And a little pitch: if you haven't voted for my blog yet, the link is at the top right of my page, and every vote is appreciated!)

God love you,
Father V.

My First Lesson in Motherhood
May 13, 2007
Modern Love

I SAW the scar the first time I changed Natalie’s diaper, just an hour after the orphanage director handed her to me in a hotel banquet room in Nanchang, a provincial capital in southeastern China.

Despite the high heat and humidity, her caretakers had dressed her in two layers, and when I peeled back her sweaty clothes I found the worst diaper rash I’d ever seen, and a two-inch scar at the base of her spine cutting through the red bumps and peeling skin.

The next day, when the Chinese government would complete the adoption, also was Natalie’s first birthday. We had a party for her that night, attended by families we’d met and representatives of the adoption agency, and Natalie licked cake frosting from my finger. But we worried about a rattle in her chest, and there was the scar, so afterward my husband, Matt, asked our adoption agency to send the doctor.

We had other concerns, too. Natalie was thin and pale and couldn’t sit up or hold a bottle. She had only two teeth, barely any hair and wouldn’t smile. But I had anticipated such things. My sister and two brothers were adopted from Nicaragua, the boys as infants, and when they came home they were smelly, scabies-covered diarrhea machines who could barely hold their heads up. Yet those problems soon disappeared.

I believed Natalie would be fine, too. There was clearly a light on behind those big dark eyes. She rested her head against my chest in the baby carrier and would stare up at my face, her lips parting as she leaned back, as if she knew she was now safe.

She would be our first child. We had set our hearts on adopting a baby girl from China years before, when I was reporting a newspaper story about a local mayor’s return home with her new Chinese daughter. Adopting would come later, we thought. After I became pregnant.
But I didn’t become pregnant. And after two years of trying, I was tired of feeling hopeless, of trudging down this path not knowing how it would end. I did know, however, how adopting would end: with a baby.

So we’d go to China first and then try to have a biological child. We embarked on a process, lasting months, of preparing our application and opening our life to scrutiny until one day we had a picture of our daughter on our refrigerator. Fourteen months after deciding to adopt, we were in China.

And now we were in a hotel room with a Chinese doctor, an older man who spoke broken English. After listening to Natalie’s chest, he said she had bronchitis. Then he turned her over and looked at her scar.

Frowning, he asked for a cotton swab and soap. He coated an end in soap and probed her sphincter, which he then said was “loose.” He suspected she’d had a tumor removed and wondered aloud if she had spina bifida before finally saying that she would need to be seen at the hospital.

TWO taxis took us all there, and as we waited to hear news, I tried to think positive thoughts: of the room we had painted for Natalie in light yellow and the crib with Winnie the Pooh sheets. But my mind shifted when I saw one of the women from the agency in a heated exchange in Chinese with the doctors, then with someone on her cellphone. We pleaded with her for information.

“It’s not good,” she said.

A CT scan confirmed that there had been a tumor that someone, somewhere, had removed. It had been a sloppy job; nerves were damaged, and as Natalie grew her condition would worsen, eventually leaving her paralyzed from the waist down. Control over her bladder and bowels would go, too; this had already begun, as indicated by her loose sphincter. Yes, she had a form of spina bifida, as well as a cyst on her spine.

I looked at my husband in shock, waiting for him to tell me that I had misunderstood everything. But he only shook his head.

I held on to him and cried into his chest, angry that creating a family seemed so impossible for us, and that life had already been so difficult for Natalie.

Back at the hotel, we hounded the women from the agency: Why wasn’t this in her medical report? How could a scar that size not be noticed? It was two inches long, for God’s sake.
They shook their heads. Shrugged. Apologized.

And then they offered a way to make it better.

“In cases like these, we can make a rematch with another baby,” the one in charge said. The rest of the process would be expedited, and we would go home on schedule. We would simply leave with a different girl.

Months before, we had been presented with forms asking which disabilities would be acceptable in a prospective adoptee — what, in other words, did we think we could handle: H.I.V., hepatitis, blindness? We checked off a few mild problems that we knew could be swiftly corrected with proper medical care. As Matt had written on our application: “This will be our first child, and we feel we would need more experience to handle anything more serious.”

Now we faced surgeries, wheelchairs, colostomy bags. I envisioned our home in San Diego with ramps leading to the doors. I saw our lives as being utterly devoted to her care. How would we ever manage?

Yet how could we leave her? Had I given birth to a child with these conditions, I wouldn’t have left her in the hospital. Though a friend would later say, “Well, that’s different,” it wasn’t to me.

I pictured myself boarding the plane with some faceless replacement child and then explaining to friends and family that she wasn’t Natalie, that we had left Natalie in China because she was too damaged, that the deal had been a healthy baby and she wasn’t.

How would I face myself? How would I ever forget? I would always wonder what happened to Natalie.

I knew this was my test, my life’s worth distilled into a moment. I was shaking my head “No” before they finished explaining. We didn’t want another baby, I told them. We wanted our baby, the one sleeping right over there. “She’s our daughter,” I said. “We love her.”

Matt, who had been sitting on the bed, lifted his glasses, and, wiping the tears from his eyes, nodded in agreement.

Yet we had a long, fraught night ahead, wondering how we would possibly cope. I called my mother in tears and told her the news.

There was a long pause. “Oh, honey.”

I sobbed.

She waited until I’d caught my breath. “It would be O.K. if you came home without her.”

“Why are you saying that?”

“I just wanted to absolve you. What do you want to do?”

“I want to take my baby and get out of here,” I said.

“Good,” my mother said. “Then that’s what you should do.”

In the morning, bleary-eyed and aching, we decided we would be happy with our decision. And we did feel happy. We told ourselves that excellent medical care might mitigate some of her worst afflictions. It was the best we could hope for.

But within two days of returning to San Diego — before we had even been able to take her to the pediatrician — things took yet another alarming turn.

While eating dinner in her highchair, Natalie had a seizure — her head fell forward then snapped back, her eyes rolled and her legs and arms shot out ramrod straight. I pulled her from the highchair, handed her to Matt and called 911.

When the paramedics arrived, Natalie was alert and stable, but then she suffered a second seizure in the emergency room. We told the doctors what we had learned in China, and they ordered a CT scan of her brain.

Hours later, one of the emergency room doctors pulled up a chair and said gravely, “You must know something is wrong with her brain, right?”

We stared at her. Something was wrong with her brain, too, in addition to everything else?

“Well,” she told us, “Natalie’s brain is atrophic.”

I fished into my purse for a pen as she compared Natalie’s condition to Down syndrome, saying that a loving home can make all the difference. It was clear, she added, that we had that kind of home.

She left us, and I cradled Natalie, who was knocked out from seizure medicine. Her mouth was open, and I leaned down, breathing in her sweet breath that smelled like soy formula.

Would we ever be able to speak to each other? Would she tell me her secrets? Laugh with me?
Whatever the case, I would love her and she would know it. And that would have to be enough. I thanked God we hadn’t left her.

She was admitted to the hospital, where we spent a fitful night at her bedside. In the morning, the chief of neurosurgery came in. When we asked him for news, he said, “It’s easier if I show you.”

In the radiology department screening room, pointing at the CT scan, he told us the emergency room doctor had erred; Natalie’s brain wasn’t atrophic. She was weak and had fallen behind developmentally, but she had hand-eye coordination and had watched him intently as he examined her. He’d need an M.R.I. for a better diagnosis. We asked him to take images of Natalie’s spine, too.

He returned with more remarkable news. The M.R.I. ruled out the brain syndromes he was worried about. And nothing was wrong with Natalie’s spine. She did not have spina bifida. She would not become paralyzed. He couldn’t believe anyone could make such a diagnosis from the poor quality of the Chinese CT film. He conceded there probably had been a tumor, and that would need to be monitored, but she might be fine. The next year would tell.

There would be other scares, more seizures and much physical therapy to teach her to sit, crawl and walk. She took her first steps one day on the beach at 21 months, her belly full of fish tacos.

NOW she is nearly 3, with thick brown hair, gleaming teeth and twinkling eyes. She takes swimming lessons, goes to day care and insists on wearing flowered sandals to dance. I say to her, “Ohhhh, Natalie,” and she answers, “Ohhhh, Mama.” And I blink back happy tears.
Sometimes when I’m rocking her to sleep, I lean down and breathe in her breath, which now smells of bubble-gum toothpaste and the dinner I cooked for her while she sat in her highchair singing to the dog. And I am amazed that this little girl is mine.

It’s tempting to think that our decision was validated by the fact that everything turned out O.K. But for me that’s not the point. Our decision was right because she was our daughter and we loved her. We would not have chosen the burdens we anticipated, and in fact we declared upfront our inability to handle such burdens. But we are stronger than we thought.

Elizabeth Fitzsimons, who lives in San Diego, is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune.

The last years of Pius XII (Eugenio Pacelli 1951-58)

The path has been cleared for Pope Pius' beatification. Pray through his intercession for a miracle!

This is an extraordinary video that I highly recomend! The archival footage alone is wonderful. Enjoy!

God love you,
Father V.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Liviu Librescu and the Abandonment of Self-Interest

I have been meaning to post this fine blog for a couple of weeks, now. It was written by a truly great MySpace Blogger, "A wanna-be-Socrates," otherwise known as Paul. Paul has a great mind (except for those lapses when he finds himself in disagreement with me) and a great wit. (A note: Paul's language can be a bit extreme on occasion. His passion for topics can get the better of his verbal acumen. Viewer discretion is advised.)

This blog, though, is on a serious topic: the Virginia Tech shootings. Actually, not so much the shootings themselves. These have been plundered and exploited by many and then dropped when the channels began to be changed. This blog is on a hero of the tragedy, and man whose name should be touted and revered to young people as an example of goodness, and yet is not known by many. I wanted to do my part to share his story, and to share it will all of you. Thank you Paul for pointing it out to me, and your readers, and allowing me to share it with mine. I offer if for your reflection and your edification. Thanks Paul for your hard work, and thanks for letting me borrow it for my blog.

Questions and comments are welcome, as per usual.

God love you!

Liviu Librescu
and the
Abandonment of Self-Interest

Cable News Channels, when they do saturation coverage of a mass killing, must mention the names of the heroes who sacrificed their lives to save others at least four times for each hour devoted to the atrocity. And with each mention it must be said how admirable they are, how saintly they are, and how everyone should remember their names and what they did. If their names happen to be difficult to pronounce, then the news anchors should pronounce them even more frequently and with the slow deliberation of Fred Rogers. After every mention of their names and the magnificent things they did for the sake of love of their fellow human beings, the anchors must express the hope they will have the same courage those people had should they ever find themselves confronted with inexorable evil.

I say all this because although I learned about Professor Librescu and his tremendous heroism from MSNBC, I have not heard his name mentioned once during the two hours I have been listening to the talking heads of that channel. No, they've devoted all that time to vain attempts at plumbing the depths of that deranged clod's mind. His mind was evil. Evil is the absence of rationality and that means it is by definition incomprehensible. All this coverage of this monster and his megalomaniacal manifesto will do is tell wanna-be copycat clods that if they do what this clod did, they will dominate the News Cycle as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold did eight years ago.
Yes, Matt Lauer and others will do pieces on Liviu Librescu, and that is, of course, to their credit. But it is not nearly enough. This pieces will be at most three minutes in length, and that's nothing compared to the endless mastubatory psychobabble that is now being vomited. And Liviu Librescu's abandonment of his own self-interest is a veritable conundrum in a society premised upon individual self-interest. This deserves more than a hagiographical cameo. This merits lengthy discussion at the very least.

Professor Librescu apparently did not think twice about blocking that door to protect his students. He did not care about his life because he was too worried about the lives of others. I want to plumb the depths of that mind. I want to know how a man can hear bullets and not do what I would do. I would run for the windows without the slightest care for my fellow victims. I would be looking out for myself. And I am supposed to be a Christian. I am supposed to imitate Christ. I am supposed to be ready to give my life for anyone because Christ gave His for everyone. Liviu Librescu was Jewish, and yet he imitated Christ much better than I can ever hope to do, and from all reports he did so without any hesitation.

I just heard Matt Lauer's piece on Professor Librescu. It was under two minutes that came with some vapid psychobiological assertion that heroic tendencies are in our minds and DNA. If we are all wired to be heroes, then why are so many of us at bottom selfish bastards? If it is in our natures to live for the benefit of others, then that is what we should do. That is our teleology, but obviously a great many of us live for our own gain. Professor Librescu has given us an important lesson on how a true human acts in the presence of incomprehensible evil. If Chris Matthews, Tucker Carlson, Joe Scarborough et al. really want us to help us make sense of this bloody massacre, then they would discuss in depth and at length the actions of Professor Librescu, instead of having us wallow in that monster's psychic excrement.

Leon Redbone - three songs

I am a huge fan of Leon Redbone, and came across this three song clip. Mr. Redbone still tours, and I see him whenever he is in reasonable driving distance. Enjoy the great music!

God love you!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Pope Benedict: Catholic Politicians and Excommunication

This very, very interesting article, from a very, very interesting papal statement, came out on the news-service this morning. I am sure it will drum up a lot of discussion in the blog-o-sphere and news programs. Or, perhaps, it will be ignored and not mentioned in the hope it will just go away. However, the pope says, "this excommunication," which seems to say that, ipso facto, excommunication has taken place. It truly isn't complicated.

Again, the question isn't personal sin, but public scandal. Excommunication is not a draconian penalty, but an action that one brings upon themselves, and the Church in love points out in the hope of reconciliation.
Questions and comments are again, welcomed and appreciated! If you haven't subscribed yet, please do. I am nearing the 500 subscriber milestone, and every last person helps. Spread the word!

God love you!

Pope warns Catholic politicians who back abortion
Wed May 9, 2007 8:46AM EDT
By Philip Pullella

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (Reuters) - Pope Benedict on Wednesday warned Catholic politicians they risked excommunication from the Church and should not receive communion if they support abortion.

It was the first time that the Pope, speaking to reporters aboard the plane taking him on a trip to Brazil, dealt in depth with a controversial topic that has come up in many countries, including the United States, Mexico, and Italy.

The Pope was asked whether he supported Mexican Church leaders threatening to excommunicate leftist parliamentarians who last month voted to legalize abortion in Mexico City.

"Yes, this excommunication was not an arbitrary one but is allowed by Canon (church) law which says that the killing of an innocent child is incompatible with receiving communion, which is receiving the body of Christ," he said.

"They (Mexican Church leaders) did nothing new, surprising or arbitrary. They simply announced publicly what is contained in the law of the Church... which expresses our appreciation for life and that human individuality, human personality is present from the first moment (of life)".

Under Church law, someone who knowingly does or backs something which the Church considers a grave sin, such as abortion, inflicts what is known as "automatic excommunication" on themselves.

The Pope said parliamentarians who vote in favor of abortion have "doubts about the value of life and the beauty of life and even a doubt about the future".

"Selfishness and fear are at the root of (pro-abortion) legislation," he said. "We in the Church have a great struggle to defend is a gift not a threat."


The Pope's comments appear to raise the stakes in the debate over whether Catholic politicians can support abortion or gay marriage and still consider themselves proper Catholics.
In recent months, the Vatican has been accused of interference in Italy for telling Catholic lawmakers to oppose a draft law that would grant some rights to unwed and gay couples.
During the 2004 presidential election, the U.S. Catholic community was split over whether to support Democratic candidate John Kerry, himself a Catholic who backed abortion rights.

Some Catholics say they personally would not have an abortion but feel obliged to support a woman's right to choose.

But the Church, which teaches that life begins at the moment of conception and that abortion is murder, says Catholics cannot have it both ways.

"The Church says life is beautiful, it is not something to doubt but it is a gift even when it is lived in difficult circumstances. It is always a gift," the Pope said.

Only Cuba, Guyana and U.S. commonwealth Puerto Rico allow abortion on demand in Latin America. Many other countries in the region permit it in special cases, such as if the fetus has defects or if the mother's life is at risk.

Brazil, the world's most populous Catholic country, is mulling bringing the debate to a referendum.

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