Tuesday, July 31, 2007
"The First Step is to Watch Where You're Going
Should I see this movie? That question is the usual opening line to most folk’s thought processes towards cinema. The question has a couple of meanings depending on where one stands. . . The Christian when they pose the question can mean these things as well. They can also mean “Will this film sully my soul, sour my resolve and propel me on a theological downward spiral from which I will eternally plummet?”
teach me to serve You as You deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labour and not to ask for reward
save that of knowing I am doing Your Will.
Jean over at Catholic Fire has an excellent post on St. Ignatius Loyola.
Send with SASE to them at 20 Cheshire Pl, E- Npt 11731.
Last time he spoke on LI it was a sell-out over 300! He's a great Bible scholar; He'll talk on The Lamb's Supper (Revelaton and the Mass); the relationship betw Bible & liturgy; why Scripture matters. He'll sign books during the day.
Monday, July 30, 2007
After campaigning for President Bush solely on the issue of Supreme Court nominations, I was thrilled by the election results of 2004. I called Nelly Gray, director of the March for Life, to share my enthusiasm when she gave me the devastating news that Senator Specter had promised the liberals not to let pro-life judges through the Judiciary Committee.
I wasn't the only one disappointed. Phone calls, faxes. letters, and emails poured into Congress at a rate not seen since 911, according to Senator Lindsay GrahamSC. Pro-lifers felt betrayed by Specter's deceit, after his narrow victory in a primary against a pro-life PA. state legislator Twoomey, especially since Specter had the support of Sen Santorum, and President Bush. We wanted to oust Specter from the Judiciary Committee, and all we got in return was a promise NOT to doom pro-life candidates from Specter. So far, he has kept his promise, but appears to be ready to go back on it now that the Dems seem poised to take over this country.
...Answer: CASTRILLÓN HOYOS: That is the clear evidence as to how, regarding this motu proprio, pseudo-news[reports] were spread out by those who had not read the drafts or by those who, in an interested manner, wished to influence its elaboration. I have followed the entire iter which has led to the final text and, as I recall, no minimum limit of faithful ever appeared in any draft, not of thirty, not of twenty, not of a hundred.
HT Rorarte Caeli
Sunday, July 29, 2007
But actually, I'm nothing like that, in fact I am a little too positive. Why? Because I have a choice in what I review. No one pays me to review films, so if you see a film either here or on Cause of Our Joy, you know it's OK for Catholics. Not all films I review are OK for the kids, however. One of my favorite films, Bella, is rated PG-13 because it deals with abortion (not graphically). There is NO sex or profanity in it. As producer Leo Severino says, "I want to make films, that if the Virgin Mary were sitting next to me, I wouldn't have to cover her eyes".
I like that standard. I follow it here.
Here's a non-review of a movie I will never see. After his little Catholic-bashing performance on The Tonight Show, Robin Williams lost me forever. And I loved RV, even saw a positive view of homeschooling and redeeming family values in it. What a shame, Robin, you are famous enough, you don't need to lower yourself to Catholic bashing to get anywhere. This must be coming from your heart. Your films will never be reviewed here, I don't care if you send me a free ticket!
Here are the films I have reviewed on my blogs:
I am David
Mr Blue Sky
Return to Me
The Exorcism of Emily Rose
The Nativity Story
The Bridge to Terabithia
Friday, July 27, 2007
The discussion about new guidelines for mandatory prenatal testing of all pregnant women for Down syndrome has engendered a movement of parents of these children whose goal is raising awareness of what life with Down syndrome is like. This was the subject of a video produced by reporter Amy Harmon of the New York Times. In the video, she discusses this movement, which has resulted in projects like the book “Gifts: Mothers Reflect How Children with Down Syndrome Enrich Their Lives”, the Prenatally Diagnosed Condition Act, ( written with the help of the National Down Syndrome Society, and co-sponsored by Senators Kennedy and Brownback ) which mandates that parents of Down syndrome children be given up-to-date information on the life expectancy, the lifestyle of people with Down syndrome, the educational offerings to help them learn, and the chance to meet parents of Down syndrome children. She postulates on what our goals may be. Is it increased funds for medical research on Down syndrome? Is it sufficient numbers to keep the political pressure up to obtain educational programs? While these are partially true, they don’t touch upon the heart of the matter. The mother Ms. Harmon quotes says it best, “we see children with Down syndrome as we go about our daily lives, we wonder if someday we won’t”. Seeing faces like theirs.
I know one person who enjoys seeing faces like hers. Christina Maria, my five year old daughter with Down syndrome loves to see her own face. She spends hours in front of a mirror we have placed at her height in our home, playing with herself, admiring how she looks in her different outfits, singing songs, making funny faces, and laughing at them. She is one of the most self confident people I know, she loves her looks, and seeks others who bear some similarity to herself. She especially loves seeing others with Down syndrome.
I have often gone out with crowds of mothers and children. In our social group, there is a 4 year old little girl named Mary Faith (pictured here) who has Down syndrome, and Christina never fails to find her in the crowd. When they come face to face, they gaze at one another, then easily fall into a play routine whose rules are known only to them. They can play silently in unison for a long time, with none of the pushing which Christina often inflicts on younger children. Perhaps they don’t ‘get’ the rules of how she plays. The Down syndrome rule.
I test her attraction to other faces of Down syndrome. We sit through a slide show of moms and babies with Downs. She is transfixed, and asks me to play it again. Her favorite book for Daddy to read is “Hi, I’m Ben” which has photos of a little boy with Down syndrome. I show her movies way over her interest level which is still at Barney, movies with actors who have Down syndrome, and there again is the silent absorption.
Recently, I took my girls to a movie screening in Manhattan’s HBO Theatre, to see “Mr. Blue Sky” where a girl with Down syndrome falls in love with her childhood friend. The crowd was full of Hollywood types, whom the producer hoped would take an interest in the film. I was horrified to realize we were sitting directly in back of one of them, with his head at kicking height for Christina’s restless feet. After a tense few minutes, where his wife’s head was kicked, the film began, and as Christina saw the actors with Down syndrome appear onscreen, her feet stopped, and she sat up, attentively watching the entire show. She clapped at the end. So did I.
We are fortunate to live in a community which is the center for Independent Group Home Living. Adults with Down syndrome are in the stores, the church, working in the restaurants and supermarkets. There is Camp Paquatuck in town, where busloads of children with Down syndrome and other disabilities come each summer. Very few people here do a double take when they see a face with Down syndrome. I only appreciate this when I bring Christina out of my town, and feel the stares. I don’t blame them, seeing faces with Down syndrome is a rare treat.
Inclusion into society is a beautiful thing, and we have much to learn about accepting physically and mentally challenged people. But, once in a while, when I am so different looking than everyone, I just enjoy seeing faces like mine.
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Some might say my standards are impossibly high . Most obstetricians make a living out of contraception prescriptions, as ironic as this may seem. After seeking the advice of mothers of large families, I found Dr. Scanlon, a man whom I can count on NOT to ask me, "so, which form of birth control are you using?" The fact that his office is over an hour away doesn't bother me. He, in our get acquainted interview, passed my highest standard, by asking me for my phone number to give out if one of his patients is expecting a child with Down syndrome. I was going to offer, as I have fruitlessly so many times in the past, to be available to talk to other parents, but Dr. Scanlon, who volunteers one day a week at Life Center, asked me first. Did I mention that he spends two week of his vacation time in Nigeria delivering babies? The man is on the road to sainthood, all right, no wonder Catholic women come from far and near to his practice. That is what we expect from an obstetrician. An honest and moral man with high professional standards. Here is a list of such physicians.
Other parents, it seems, have different expectations. They expect a perfect child. A couple in Florida has just received a $21 million settlement because their physician failed to deliver their perfect child. This amount of money was paid by the doctor's malpractice insurance. My first obstetrician told me in 1993 that his annual malpractice premium was $180,000.Fourteen years ago! Just how much money do you have to earn to make a living on top of that?
Daniel and Amara Estrada have two sons who are both physically handicapped
with the same genetic disorder, Smith-Lemli-Opitz, which does not allow them to
properly synthesize cholesterol. The children have difficulty walking and must
be fed through a feeding tube. They also have smaller heads and other physical
After the first son was born, the couple's doctor, Boris
Kousseff, from the University of South Florida (USF), told them that they would
be able to have other normal children and did not diagnose the problem as
hereditary. Consequently, when their second son Caleb was born with the same
disorder, the couple sued the doctor and USF.
"He says you have the same chance of anyone else in society of having a normal child. He doesn't tell the truth," said the family's attorney Christian Searcy, Tampa Bay My Fox reports.
The judge ruled that the couple will receive over $21 million dollars in
recompense for the negligence of the doctor.
The couple claimed that if they had had a proper diagnosis after the birth of their first child in 2002, they could have determined by a pregnancy test that the second son Caleb had the same disorder. According to the lawsuit, if the couple had known this, they would have aborted him, the Associated Press reports
Naturally, my heart goes out to the Estradas, and their sons. I know what it is to have a disabled child. I haven't decided not to have another, my age seems to have decided that, but if I could become pregnant again, whether the child would have Down syndrome, would certainly be on my mind. But would I blame the obstetrician for not giving me proper warning to terminate his life? Never. It's not his call. God sends the babies, and we receive them. Period. I know this is not very 21st century of me, but it is very Catholic. I wonder if the Estradas have a church, and what advice, if any. they received from their pastor. I also wonder how they plan to explain where they got Caleb's treatment fund. I pray that he never reads this article.
Once a friend of mine wanted to sue Planned Parenthood for a botched tubal ligation; after the procedure (which I begged her not to have) she had gotten pregnant. For a while, the enticing thought of recouping millions from that villainous organization clouded my thoughts, and I searched for a top-notch malpractice lawyer. Then reality began to dawn, and I realized that someday little Maria might find out why her parents have a nice trust fund for her. Because she wasn't supposed to have been conceived. And I couldn't do that to her.
So, now medical students are afraid to enter the field of obstetrics, because of settlements like this one. They are supposed to assure the parents that they will deliver them a healthy baby, or at least offer fair warning so that the child can be aborted. This is why my obstetrician didn't tell me personally that Christina had Down syndrome, and seemed terrified of me the day after the birth, when I did know. I thanked him that she was 9.9 on the Apgar scale, which was his job, and told him her diagnoses was God' doing, and if I had a complaint, I would take it up with Him. He was vastly relieved.
When technology offers false hope that all anomalies can be detected before birth, when babies are products promised on brochures, a creeping mentality of the baby as product leads to the Estrada case. And fewer young doctors willing to take the risk of bringing new life into the world.
July 25, 2008 will be the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical letter Humanae Vitae. Beginning on July 25 of 2007, Priests for Life will launch a special year-long preparation for that anniversary and will call attention to the wisdom and insight of this important document. Respect for human life is the basis of civilization, and respect for life demands respect for the sources of life. Many of my brother priests point to the failure of so many clergy to wholeheartedly embrace Humanae Vitae when it was issued, and say that this is the reason that so many were subsequently unwilling to address the abortion tragedy once it was legalized.
Now, however, we have a new generation of priests who are not caught in the dilemma of having to justify their past silence. They are ready, and are in fact engaged in, the mission of preaching and teaching the truth about human life and sexuality. Please feel free to make use of the resources you’ll find at my www.priestsforlife.org/contraception , and let’s spread the word!
Fr. Frank Pavone
Pope Paul VI made some dire predictions if Humanae Vitae were not heeded. He said that women would be made into sex objects, and that governments would begin to forcibly limit family size. The predictions looked far-fetched in 1967, and were laughed off by Catholic intellectuals. Fewer people are laughing today. Here's the text:
Let them first consider how easily this
course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a
general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to
be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and
especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation—need incentives to keep the moral law, and it is an evil thing to make it easy for them to break that law. Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.
Skyrocketing STD rates, a 30% abortion rate, of out of wedlock births, child molestation, pornography, and abuse against women, combined with the general lowering of the status of women to mere accumulation of body parts, are contraception's sorry legacy.
Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this powerpassing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for theprecepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. Humanae Vitae
Amazing how an old, celebate man could predict such things. One would almost think that he had a supernatural advisor.
The Chinese One Child Policy funded by the UN Population Fund, is well known. Congress will be funding forced contraception programs worldwide again, thanks to a recent vote to recind the Mexico City Policy. Indian baby girls, unborn and born are being exterminated. Environmentalists are speaking in terms of governmental limits on family size, due to the impact of children on global warming, despite evidence of a severely declining birthrate which threatens to eliminate Europe.
Amazing how an old, celebate man could predict such things. One would almost think that he had a supernatural advisor.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
By Caroline Hendrie
A draft report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education concludes that far too little is known about the prevalence of sexual misconduct by teachers or other school employees, but estimates that millions of children are being affected by it during their school-age years. Written in response to a requirement in the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the report by a university-based expert on schoolhouse sexual misconduct concludes that the issue "is woefully understudied" and that solid national data on its prevalence are sorely needed. Yet despite the limitations of the existing research base, the scope of the problem appears to far exceed the priest abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, said Charol Shakeshaft, the Hofstra University scholar who prepared the report.
" The best data available suggest that nearly 10 percent of American students are targets of unwanted sexual attention by public school employees—ranging from sexual comments to rape—at some point during their school-age years, Ms. Shakeshaft said. "So we think the Catholic Church has a problem?" she said. To support her contention that many more youngsters have been sexually mistreated by school employees than by priests, Ms. Shakeshaft pointed to research conducted for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and released late last month. That study found that from 1950 to 2002, 10,667 people made allegations that priests or deacons had sexually abused them as minors. ("Report Tallies Alleged Sexual Abuse by Priests," this issue.) Extrapolating from data collected in a national survey for the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation in 2000, Ms. Shakeshaft estimated that roughly 290,000 students experienced some sort of physical sexual abuse by a public school employee from 1991 to 2000—a single decade, compared with the roughly five-decade period examined in the study of Catholic priests. Those figures suggest that "the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests,"contended Ms. Shakeshaft, who is a professor of educational administration at Hofstra, in Hempstead, N.Y.
Kathleen Lyons, a spokeswoman for the National Education Association, called it "a misuse of the data to imply that public schools and the Catholic Church have experienced the same level of abuse cases." "I take great umbrage at that suggestion," she said in an interview. "That just seems like someone is reaching conclusions based on half the data that's needed." Ms. Shakeshaft acknowledged that the accuracy of such comparisons might be thrown off by any number of factors, including undercounting of youngsters abused by priests. But that uncertainty only underscores the need for better research on the prevalence of sexual misconduct in the schools, she argued. "Educator sexual misconduct is woefully understudied," Ms. Shakeshaft says in the draft of her report, titled "Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature." "We have scant data on incidence and even less on descriptions of predators and targets," she writes. "There are many questions that call for answers."
Law Required Study
The Education Department contracted with Ms. Shakeshaft to examine what is known about the prevalence of sexual misconduct against students by school employees. The agency was responding to a provision in the No Child Left Behind Act. The little-noticed provision required a "study regarding the prevalence of sexual abuse in schools, including recommendations and legislative remedies for addressing the problem of sexual abuse in schools." The provision went on to set a completion date of "not later than 18 months" after the enactment of the law, which was signed by President Bush in January 2002. Ms. Shakeshaft said her initial understanding from the department was that she was to conduct a review of the existing research to set the stage for a broad national study. She said the department had interpreted the statute's reference to "sexual abuse in schools" as meaning misconduct by school employees against students, and not by students against their peers. She said that after she turned in a draft of the report last May, she received feedback from the department that led her to believe that the literature review was no longer intended to lay the groundwork for a future study. In a letter stating that the Education Department "has not made plans to conduct further work on a national study on sexual abuse in schools," Ms. Shakeshaft was asked to change the original subtitle of her report, which was "A Synthesis of Existing Literature in Connection With the Design of a National Analysis." Ms. Shakeshaft then retooled and expanded the report to include more information about what is known about the issue, and submitted another draft to the department last week. Carlin Mertz, an Education Department spokesman, said last week that officials did not want to make substantive comments about the report until it had been reviewed by the agency and made final. But he indicated that the department did not intend a full-blown study of the issue at the present time. "That's all we're going to do right now," said Mr. Mertz. "Right now, this is it."
If no additional study is commissioned, Ms. Shakeshaft will be disappointed, she said. "A review of what we know about educator sexual misconduct tells us that in order to prevent incidents, we really need to know more about it," she said. Leadership at the federal level is needed, she argued, because of the decentralization of the U.S. education system. "There's no one school district for the whole country," she said. "The only place we can go really to do a national study is the federal government." Gregory Lawler, a lawyer for the Colorado Education Association who co-wrote a book published last year titled Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Teachers and Accusations of Abuse, said last week that he agreed that better data were needed at a national level. "NEA, or somebody, ought to be keeping records of both sex- and child-abuse allegations and where they go," Mr. Lawler said. "There should be a database somewhere, because I think it would help put things in context." Data Flawed In her report, Ms. Shakeshaft identifies nearly 900 citations in research-based sources—described as "all sources that were screened for an empirical or systematic analytic foundation"—"that discussed educator sexual misconduct in some format." But of those, she found just 14 empirical studies on the subject from the United States, Canada, or the United Kingdom. Two of those were conducted by Education Week and were chronicled in separate series of articles published in 1998 and 2003. ("A Trust Betrayed: Sexual Abuse by Teachers" November 1998, and "A Trust Betrayed: Update on Sexual Misconduct in Schools," April 2003.) "None of these studies—either singly or as a group—answer all of the reasonable questions that parents, students, educators, and the public ask about educator sexual misconduct," Ms. Shakeshaft says in the draft report. "And they certainly do not provide information at a level of reliability and validity appropriate to the gravity of these offenses." Of the data available, Ms. Shakeshaft views a 2001 study by the AAUW as offering the best window into how many schoolchildren are targets of sexual misconduct by educators. Based on a 2000 survey of 2,064 public school students in grades 8-11, "Hostile Hallways II: Bullying, Teasing, and Sexual Harassment in School" was a follow-up to a similar study the Washington-based AAUW conducted in 1993. While the AAUW studies did not focus on misconduct by school employees, both of the surveys featured questions about sexual harassment that Ms. Shakeshaft was able to reanalyze for information on the prevalence of such behavior. The reanalysis found that 9.6 percent of all students in grades 8-11 reported sexual harassment by teachers, coaches, or other school employees. That included misconduct involving physical contact as well as such behavior as sexual remarks, jokes, or gestures, with 8.7 percent of respondents reporting "noncontact" harassment and 6.7 percent reporting harassment involving physical contact. Further Study: While Ms. Shakeshaft considers the AAUW data the best available for estimating the prevalence of the problem, the information has many limitations, she notes in her report. Among them are that the survey asked students to "report on their entire school career, making it difficult to determine prevalence by year or grade" and increasing the likelihood that students might have forgotten about incidents in earlier years. "Analysis was broad-brushed and cursory," Ms. Shakeshaft adds in the draft report, and "questions on educator sexual misconduct are limited." Moreover, inappropriate behavior by educators was likely underreported, she suggests, because the survey "only asked about incidents that were unwanted, excluding reports of misconduct that were either welcome or that did not fall into either a welcome or unwelcome category." Still, she says in the report that the data can be used to "get a sense of the extent of the number of students who have been targets of educator sexual misconduct." "Based on the assumption that the AAUW surveys accurately represent the experiences of all K-12 students, more than 4.5 million students are sexually harassed or abused by an employee of a school sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade," the report says. "This is about the same number of people who live in all of Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming." To help fill the holes in the knowledge base on schoolhouse sexual misconduct, Ms. Shakeshaft recommends further research on topics including prevalence and patterns of abuse, effects on targets and other students, consequences for offenders, and responses by schools, districts, professional organizations, and the public. She also calls for study of effective investigative practices, the legal landscape, and state laws and policies. The frequency of false accusations is another area she cites as being worthy of examination. But as strongly as she feels that more research is needed, Ms. Shakeshaft said the education community shouldn't sit on its hands. "Some individual districts might have changed some policies or had an in-service workshop, but really there hasn't been any systematic response to this issue," she said. "It isn't as if we need to stop and wait for a study. I do believe we know enough to take some actions." Stop Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct & Exploitation (SESAME) is an organization devoted to protecting children and offering support to victims of abuse. Resources include research, legislation, and survivor stories. "Sexual Misconduct by School Employees," a December 1999 digest from the ERIC Clearinghouse on Educational Policy and Management, discusses the problem of sexual abuse of students by teachers. The Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights lists resources for dealing with sexual harassment in schools. Read "Sexual Harassment of Adolescents Perpetrated by Teachers and by Peers: An Exploration of the Dynamics of Power, Culture, and Gender in Secondary Schools," March 2003, originally published in Sex Roles: A Journal of Research. The article takes an academic look at the culture of abuse against students.
—Emile Wamsteker for Education Week http://edweek.com/ew/ewstory.cfm?slug=26Abuse.h23
Christians, however, are bucking that trend as seen in this article.
What we need to remember is that the Catholic Church is and always has been the vessel of salvation for the world. That means that most of the people you meet are going to be ordinary — like you and me. They are going to have the ordinary tastes, prejudices, mediocrities, failures, and virtues of their time and place. There are, to be sure, great heroes and extraordinary people in the Catholic communion. But to expect that as the norm and then be outraged and disappointed when it is not is, I think, great folly and, in the end, great pride. Remember the hellish "wisdom" of C.S. Lewis' Uncle Screwtape, who would keep far from our minds the thought, "If I, being what I am, can consider myself in some sense a Christian, then why can't these people next to me in the pew"?
So though I have been appalled by some of the sins that have been revealed in the ranks of the Church in the past few years, I've never been shocked. What did I expect? They're just sinners like I am, and I know what I'm capable of. In the same way, dreadful liturgical music, suburban "Church of Aren't We Fabulous" smugness, Our Lady of Pizza Hut architecture, and "True Meaning of the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes is Caring and Sharing" homilies, and the other stuff that sometimes ails the Church has never turned me away. For averageness is just a reminder that the Church, thank God, has room for mediocre folk like myself.
"Well then," it may be asked, "if the average Catholic is so average, why bother joining the Church?" To quote Walker Percy, "What else is there?" After all, it is not the Church that is mediocre, but only we, her members. The Church is, curiously, something that exists before she has any members, because She is founded not by us, but by Christ. The Church is the spotless Bride of Christ, made so by the Holy Spirit in the washing with water and the Word. We, Her members, are generally nebbishes and schleps. But She is glorious and beautiful, terrible as an army with banners. And in Her all the fullness of the Faith subsists.
(This piece was first published in the National Catholic Register.)
Mark Shea is Senior Content Editor for Catholic Exchange and a weekly columnist for the National Catholic Register. You may visit his website at http://www.mark-shea.com/ check out his blog, Catholic and Enjoying It!, or purchase his books and tapes here.
Monday, July 23, 2007
Julia’s life soon began to bring out the excellences of others. She brought our little college community even closer together, a joy to the students and a prize to anyone who held her. Early Intervention trained us to stimulate areas of her brain by waking up facial muscles, working to get her to sit up or to crawl – a task she never mastered, scooting instead with her two hands and bottom.
I would go from teaching the Declaration of Independence and the Federalist Papers, to a large room uptown with five other mothers propping up their floppy babies. Nothing else has ever quite brought home the meaning of “all men are created equal endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights and among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
We were all working for that fullest expression of life and happiness for our babies. I thought about the “prudent” mothers who had aborted their own children with Down syndrome. I grieved for those who, exercising their reproductive rights – a new appropriation of the older notion of liberty, which was rooted in duty – would never know the profound satisfaction of raising such a child.
HT Catholic Poster Girl
Sunday, July 22, 2007
My experience with the occult came as a result of the media fascination with the occult in the 1970's between The Exorcist, The Omen, The Amityville Horror, and, believe it or not, Bewitched. Sometimes, it's not so much what is in a particular film or book that is evil, but what that book leads innocent children to. In the case of the Harry Potter series, all you have to do is read the titles of other books which are included in the display in the bookstore where they are sold. All of them have to do with the occult. Harry Potter books serve as a jumping off point for children to explore the occult. Adolescent experts like Steve Wood call this a 'portal'. He told Johnette Benkovic that when police want to investigate a crime, they request library records of teens, and often such books are involved in the teen's downfall.
HT Colleen Hammond
Friday, July 20, 2007
Ave Maria has not been without controversy. The Florida American Civil Liberties Union has threatened to sue if the town bans birth control, as Monaghan suggested in a speech
What, a town without birth control in the drugstores, or pornography on cable, what is this guy a Nazi or something? Sounds like the world I was born into in 1962, a world of Gidget and Patty Duke innocence, which within 5 years had literally turned upside down, with HAIR and LSD.
That hasn't appeased the ACLU of Florida, which threatened a lawsuit. Monaghan's "comments on the record give us legitimate concerns about the community he's creating," says Executive Director Howard Simon. Although many religious groups, from the Amish to Hasidic Jews, have their own communities, "constitutional issues arise when the religious group wants to act as if it also has governmental authority."
In other words, we'll tolerate crazy Amish and Hasidim who want to live decently, but no clean Catholics!
The USA already is home to more than 200 Catholic colleges and universities. But Monaghan and his administrators say Ave Maria's campus will reflect a faithfulness to Catholic teachings that they do not see elsewhere. The campus will have single-sex dorms, for instance. And every residence hall will have a chapel.
"We make no apologies for seeking to uphold Catholic moral teachings," particularly when it comes to relations between men and women, Ave Maria University President Nicholas Healy says. "We would not approve of or facilitate something that is very common, I'm told, on college campuses today, hooking up and sleeping around, and … binge drinking."
He's right. It's a terrible scandal for the Church, not only aberrant theology and morality taught at so-called Catholic universities, but the lax moral climate in the dorms, where many students are corrupted. I remember Mother Angelica on her TV show, counseling a college student in one of the above corrupt universities, "dearie, you're paying those people all that money and you're losing your soul. That's not very bright of you!"
As a parting shot, USA Today mentions that Tom Monaghan is a college drop-out. No big letters after his name. Implication; how dare this undereducated dolt think he can start a university? The liberals, both in an out of the Church are waiting for this grand experiment to fail. I hope they are disappointed.
Two years ago, I drove from my brother's home on the east coast of Florida, through the tomato fields of Immokalee where they were constructing the Ave Maria campus, and into the housing development clubhouse they were renting to house the growing school. There, I found a bastion of Catholic culture with intelligent, polite students. I always measure the character of a college student by how they react to children. I work on two college campuses where I wouldn't dream of bringing my girls, because of the indecent dress, rudeness, foul language, and filthy, profane conversations they'd encounter. Not so at Ave Maria. Girls largely wore skirts, and were delighted to see children, many missing their numerous siblings at home. Guys were neat, and chivalrous opening doors, and offering directions. Many were just the type I hope my girls bring home to meet us someday.
We visited the Blessed Sacrament which is in Perpetual Adoration, passed by a coffee house, where intellectual discussion was taking place, not rude adolescent posturing, and found a Catholic conference given for the benefit of the local community. Students were processing around campus, led by nuns in full habit, saying the rosary. Afterwards, students were given a Strauss-style waltz lesson in preparation for the 19th century ball to be held the next day. My girls and I were entranced at the sight of the twirling partners, and the gorgeous music. I thought to ask if they had graduate programs for moms. Now, this is the type of college I could trust my precious daughters to!
For an article on Ave Maria summer conferences, click here.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Those of us who advocate for the rights of the unborn, as well as for the rights of people with Down syndrome have been preparing for this. I see us organizing a welcome kit to parents expecting a child with Down syndrome, containing the book Gifts, the DVD Mr Blue Sky, my upcoming book, and lists of national and local Down syndrome advocacy groups, as well as pre-natal support groups like Be Not Afraid.net and Pre-natal Partners for Life. This support will also include contact information of parents like me, who can honestly tell what raising a child with Down Syndrome is like, for example read my piece, "A Special Mother is Born" published in May/June Faith and Family magazine on the birth of my daughter Christina.
According to a Washington Post article, "This might be explained by a greater emphasis on soul mate relationships in marriage and an increasing recognition of the stress involved in raising children, said Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, co-director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University. There is also a more widespread belief that having children is a choice, she said. "Marriage and kids were kind of hyphenated before," she said, "and now the hyphens have been removed."
This is the direct result of forty years of ignoring Humanae Vitae, which begins with the following acknowlegement, " The transmission of human life is a most serious role in which married people collaborate freely and responsibly with God the Creator. It has always been a source of great joy to them, even though it sometimes entails many difficulties and hardships. " Hardships are thought to undermine marriage, and many couples try to avoid any type of sacrifice, for the good of the marriage, their own comfort,freedom of lifestyle, and financial success. It's all about personal satisfaction, and marriage, though it remains the ideal of many, in practice, is becoming less important.
"In the United States today, marriage exerts less influence over how adults organize their lives and how children are born and raised than at any time in the nation's history. Only about half of all adults (ages 18 and older) in the U.S. are married; only about seven-in-ten children live with two parents; and nearly four-in-ten births are to unwed mothers, according to U.S. Census figures. As recently as the early 1970s, more than six-in-ten adults in this country were married; some 85% of children were living with two parents; and just one-birth-in-ten was to an unwed mother."
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
by Wendy Cloyd, assistant editor
Decline began with the introduction of abstinence education.
Teen-sex and pregnancy rates are down, according to a National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) report released today. Experts say parents should take a closer look at the data to determine what the statistics show and how to keep kids healthy.
The NCHS study tracked trends among high school students from 1991 to 2005. In 1991, 54 percent of teens reported having had sexual intercourse. In 2005, that number dropped to 47 percent. The rate of teen pregnancy also showed a dramatic decline.
Dr. Joyce Abma, social scientist for NCHS, which is a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said the data come from "pencil and paper questionnaires" called the Youth Risk Behavior Survey given to students at public and private schools.
"It's a cross-section of the high school student population in the United States in each of those years," Abma said. "The report contains data from each of the biennial surveys between those two time points, but those time points are interesting because the decline is significant between them."
Linda Klepacki, analyst for sexual health at Focus on the Family Action, said 1991 is a significant marker for a reason.
"That's when we separated out abstinence education from contraceptive-based education," she said. "We have seen a continual decline since 1991, so we can infer that we've had an effect with abstinence education in our public schools."
Abma said Klepacki is on to something. While the study did not attempt to investigate cause, she said, efforts to educate teens about the risks associated with sexual intercourse have "increased and intensified" over the last decade.
"Given how many of those efforts are going on," Abma said, "it is probably making an impact on both abstinence and responsible sexual behavior."
Harry Wilson, associate commissioner at the Family and Youth Services Bureau for the Department of Health and Human Services, said the study reflects that kids are making better decisions than they were 10 years ago.
"They’re making those good decisions, and, hopefully, it’s because the programs are working," he said. "The messages that they get are that it’s better to wait."
Klepacki said the trend is significant, but cautioned against being overly optimistic.
"Even though sexual-intercourse rates have been declining, that does not mean that other sexual-activity rates are also declining," she said. "We have seen a move to other sexual activities to protect their 'technical virginity.' " That's why it is important for kids to learn that the best way to stay healthy both physically and emotionally is abstinence until marriage.
"Parents need to continue to teach their children God's interpretation of sexual activity," Klepacki said, "and that's sexual purity in their heart, mind and body."
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Click on this link to contact your Congressman.
Lisbon, Portugal (LifeNews.com) --
Portugal became the latest nation to legalize abortions when its new abortion law went into effect on Sunday. However a survey shows that 80 percent of the physicians in the overwhelmingly Catholic nation refuse to do them. According to the Fides news service, Manuel Cruz, the head of the pro-life group Life Foundation, said, "Abortion is the worst distortion of medicine because a doctor vows to cure not to kill. This explains the widespread movement of objection of conscience among Portugal's doctors." Meanwhile, Msgr. Carlos Alberto Moreira di Azevedo, a spokesman for the Catholic bishops conference, told Fides that "Catholic nurses and doctors have been encouraged to have recourse to their right to objection of conscience and many have done so." He added: "This comes as a surprise to the government, -- many hospitals will not be able to perform abortions because so many doctors are having recourse to their right to objection of conscience." The new abortion law allows tem though the 10th week of pregnancy although it faces two legal challenges at the Constitutional Court by Portugal's Pro-Life Movement and the legislative assembly of the autonomous region of Madeira. The regional government refuses to allow the law to go into effect there until the courts rule whether it's constitutional. Portugals parliament approved the new abortion law after voters failed to approve it on the ballot. Ore than half of the nation failed to vote and only a small percentage of the overall population actually voted to legalize abortion. Under the new law, abortions will be paid for under the nation's health insurance system and women wanting abortions must get the okay from two doctors and go through a three day waiting period beforehand.
"A shining example of Catholic lay involvement is the Internet and specifically the Catholic blogosphere. While Catholicism has been playing catch-up in radio and television, that is not the case with the Internet and the blogosphere. Catholic laity are in the forefront of evangelizing and defending the Faith. While there are thousands of Catholic websites that zealously defend the Church, there are but a handful of heterodox or liberal Catholic websites questioning the Church's teachings. Pope John Paul II's call for a springtime evangelization of the Church has been answered. Indeed the tide is turning!"
Catholic bloggers, take a bow.
Opinion Journal. com
This is an allusion to the Natural Law, a Catholic belief that the laws of God are written into the souls of men, for example, the belief in the dignity of man.
Monday, July 16, 2007
This recommendation codifies a practice that has become all too common: direct or indirect pressure applied to parents by the medical establishment to end the lives of unborn children with disabilities, because these children are supposedly too much of a burden for their parents to bear.
About 80 percent of Down syndrome children are aborted today. But if these children are born, the Americans With Disabilities Act protects them and assures them of a certain level of accommodation by society. It's one of the most highly touted pieces of legislation of the past 30 years. If you've got a disability, we want to help you.
The irony is that some people are working to make sure that babies with disabilities are never born. That's such a shame.
Many Down syndrome children are the centerpieces of their families. They have amazing gifts and are full of affection. But apparently society thinks nothing about their death in the womb. I raised this question with my colleagues. I've also raised it during hearings on Supreme Court justices. But there's still no support in favor of the life of a disabled child."
Jean at Catholic Fire quoted the above, and wants us to add some pro-life comments on the left leaning Wichita Eagle article.
The introduction of the new Mass has been attended by a raft of liturgical innovations by freelancing priests that are transparently heretical. And the years since Vatican II and the introduction of the new Mass have been marked by a crisis of faith in Europe and the United States.
Churches have closed. Faithful have fallen away, or converted to other faiths. Congregations have dwindled. Convents have emptied out. Vocations are a fraction of what they once were. Belief in the truths of Catholicism is not what it was in the years before Vatican II – the halcyon days of the great pope and future Saint. Pius XII.
One cannot know the effect of Pope Benedict’s decision. But the ferocity with which it was fought suggests some bishops are aware of the power of the old Latin Mass and the appeal of its mystery and solemnity to the young.
Pope Benedict, raised Catholic in Nazi Germany, once a reformer, but shaken by the events of 1968 and the social, cultural and moral revolution that followed, seems to have concluded that the Catholic Church’s apertura a sinistra, its opening to the left, has run its course theologically, liturgically and morally, and failed. Restored tradition can do no harm and may offer hope for the revival of a faith that is in its deepest crisis since the Reformation."
Pat Buchanan's blog
As usual, Pat puts history into perspective for us, and helps us to see the earthshaking significance of the return of the Latin Mass. I have some friends who insist that the upheaval of the 60's was due to the overstepping of the intentions of Vatican II, especially the 'throwing out the baby with the bathwater' step of effectively abolishing the Latin Mass. Time will tell, how true is their belief in "lex orendi, lex credendi" (the law of prayer is the law of belief). Will the return of Tradition restore what the Church has lost since it's heyday in the early sixties? As someone born during Vatican II, whose earliest vague memories are of a mystical, holy Mass, which awed one into silence, of frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament, where you dared not enter the church without some kind of head covering, who remembers the scent of incense and wax candles, and the beauty of traditional churches, I pray that I live to see a revival of faith. For the sake of my three daughters. I pray that they don't have to sit through a Mass wondering if the changes the celebrant made (omitting a reading, the creed, changing the wording of the Eucharistic Prayer) rendered the Mass invalid. I pray that every Church is physically beautiful again, that the music is ancient and prayerful, and that the congregation learns to pray thanksgiving after Mass, instead of discussing soccer games. I pray for full churches, for a return to belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist, and an understanding of the Mass as the unbloody recreation of Calvary, as a sacrifice, not a picnic. That the vocations surge to traditional orders continues, and that there are once again Catholic schools who don't stray from Church teaching. That Catholic Universities delve into the mysteries of our Faith to explain, rather than to destroy them. That the Catholic Church once again becomes the new Jerusalem it is prophesied to be in Revelation, a light to the nations, and reflects the glory of the Lord.
1. Show good faith by declaring that the Traditional Mass was never done away with, and has always been valid, by granting permission for any priest to say it. Done 7/7/2007
2. Clarify and reaffirm the Church's teaching of "no salvation outside the Catholic Church". Done 7/10/2007
3. Lift the excommunication of Archbishop LeFevre, which the Holy Father as Head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith imposed in 1988, at the behest of Pope John Paul II. Coming soon?
According to Bishop Fellay, there has been 'a great leap forward' in negotiations about the 1 million member congregation's return to full communion with Rome, refering to steps one and two.
"Bishop Fellay indicated some optimism about the prospects for another conciliatory move by the Vatican: the lifting of a decree of excommunications levied against the bishops of the SSPX, who were ordained by the late Archbishop Lefebvre without the required approval from Rome. The SSPX has listed the removal of the excommunciation decree, along with universal approval of the Latin Mass, as a condition for reconciliation with the Holy See. Bishop Fellay said that officials in Rome have told him that the effort to lift the excommunications would now be "less difficult than the motu proprio."
This is great news for me, who has many friends who, when frustrated by the bishop's location of the Indult Mass, and refusal to grant an Traditional Mass for the funeral of a diocesan priest, joined the Society a few years ago. We conduct a homeschool Co-op of classes in their chapel, which is only 20 minutes from my home, when no parish on Long Island would give us space, but I explained to the affable pastor, that I could not join the chapel for Sunday Mass until they 'signed with Rome'.
A very dear friend of mine, Mary, died a painful death from breast cancer, while offering up her suffering for this reconciliation. She would smile when she had a painful procedure scheduled, and say, "Letcia, they're going to make progress this week, I got a lot of suffering ahead of me!" Please pray that the Society who treasures the beautiful Tridentine Mass, rejoins fully with Rome, and share this with us. Then, I can attend Mass every Sunday, near home, in a chapel which needs no conversion.
Catholic World News
What will rule, reason or political correctness?
Sunday, July 15, 2007
President Bush has promised to veto any Congressional spending bull that overturns his limits on taxpayer funding of abortion or embryonic stem cell research
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Lighthouse Catholic Media has experienced tremendous success by distributing over 1,000,000 apologetic CDs to over 1,000 Catholic parishes across the United States and parts of the world. Imagine the impact this is having on our culture! But we must do more; we are called to do more: "Go to the ends of the world", our Lords tells us in Matthew 28.
We are looking for more paid part-time helpers who are friends of the New Evangelization. If you are looking for meaningful work, a way to make some extra money while spreading the Truth of Jesus Christ, please email me today, we need your help! It doesn't matter what your experience is, we provide easy and effective training.
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Tell us what excites you about sharing your Faith
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Friday, July 13, 2007
Bishop Ricard should take a look at my sitemeter, which is climbing like a tsunami. Last night, I sent Michael Brown from Spirit Daily a link from my post about the Latin Mass database on Lumen Gentleman, and my readership has quintupled, and it's only noon!
Thursday, July 12, 2007
We don't appreciate the treasure we have in our Catholic faith, and we are distracted by the pursuit of happiness, which we erroneously assume is in materialism. A bigger home, a better car, etc. How do we call Long Islanders home to their Catholic faith?
The answer, I believe is in the broadcast empire of a Poor Clare cloistered nun, Mother Mary Angelica. Thus, we are naming the radio station we hope, by the grace of God, and the permission of the FCC to open, Mater Angelica, after the little nun who could. We will feature 24 hours of EWTN programming at 91.7 FM. The signal, though small, would cover a large part of the East End, home to the summer playground of the rich and famous, the Hamptons, reaching a potential audience of 50,000 souls for Christ and His Church. We are members of the Catholic Radio Association and represent a trend of a growing number of Catholic radio stations across the nation,
Here's the rub. The applicant, must be a not-for-profitincorporated organization who wants to provide Catholic programming, with 75% of it's board members living within 25 miles of the area covered by the station signal on the East End.
On reflection while looking over my last message about bringing Catholic radio to the Hamptons, I realize I used some language that is not exactly accurate and that may lead someone to a false impression. I should not have described the suggested applicant as some group who would "hold" the FCC permit for Mater Angelica. Whatever group applies for this permit will have all the rights arising from it and will control all programming decisions at any station that results. Mater Angelica is being organized in the hope -- and to plan for all possible contingencies -- such that if a Catholic applicant wins the permit and desires our assistance in building or operating a station, we will be available to offer it. The fact remains that Mater Angelica is looking for a strong applicant under FCC rules who would be likely to secure the FCC permit with an intention to provide Catholic programming in our area." PLEASE, those of you who are interested in applying, please email me email@example.com or leave your contact information below, and offer to help. The window of opportunity will soon close, and may not be open for ten more years.
Please help us to save souls, and make this the Lord's Island!
"These two subjects, the Mass and the Church, are the most fundamental matters of our Catholic identity, and because of that, they are also the doctrinal sticking points that have been the cause of more schism in the Church than any others. From the Great East-West Schism of the 11th Century to Henry VIII's usurping of authority in England in the 16th Century to the schism of Archbishop Lefebvre in 1988, doctrinal clarity on the Mass and the Church literally holds Christianity together, and without that clarity, the very mission of Christ is damaged. The average Catholic may not appreciate how vitally important these truths are to our religious identity, but thank heaven Benedict does."
"Those who downplay, deny or denigrate one or both of these teachings are really hurting the cause of Christian unity rather than helping it. Despite the somewhat hostile reactions of other non-Catholic Christian leaders complaining that the Pope has set back the cause of ecumenism, the Pope has done a service to those whose religious traditions have rejected the truths about the Mass or the Church."
"Similarly, a predictable cast of aging, so-called "progressive""Catholic" theologians have been wringing their hands about both of these documents all week claiming that we are going backwards. But I say, let them rage: Peter has spoken and his judgment is infallible! He is calling all Christians to unity by challenging them to accept the truth of Christ which is experienced in its fullness only in the Roman Catholic Church."
read Fr Tom's full text here
If you register, your email will not be given out, but others can send you messages via the database, which you may respond to. I found 8 contacts here on Long Island alone.
Why don't you register, and see how many of us are interested near you? Armed with this knowlege, we could ask our Bishop for a personal parish(Latin Mass only) He said the response has been overwhelming, proving that interest in the Latin Mass is just beginnning to experience a revival. Here's the link.