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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Pray without ceasing

Lots of intentions to go around. Mercy for Saddam and his cohorts. Peace in the Middle East. Justice for the oppressed. Charity in all hearts as we start a new year. But at the core of it all should be this: that we may see the face of God. LumenGentleman Apologetics offers a great piece on prayer. Yes, even for busy people. Perhaps even more so, in fact.
[Link found via Julie D. at Happy Catholic.]

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The madness behind embryonic stem cell research advocacy

Maureen L. Condic, associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy at the University of Utah School of Medicine, tells us that it's boils down to something simple (emphasis mine):

The assertion that embryonic stem cells in the laboratory can be induced to form all the cells comprising the mature human body has been repeated so often that it seems incontrovertibly true. What is missing from this assertion remains the simple fact that there is essentially no scientific evidence supporting it. Experiments have shown that embryonic stem cells are able to participate in normal embryonic development, an observation that is also true of cancerous embryonal carcinoma cells. When injected into early mouse embryos, both embryonic stem cells and embryonal carcinoma cells randomly contribute to every tissue of the developing body.

Please read the full article from First Things. Comments in Amy Welborn's blog are often very insightful.
[Link found via Amy Welborn's blog, Open Book.]

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A very Merry Christmas to all

Tis Christmas Eve, and late at night,
my boys have gone to bed.
My wife has, too, and soon, must I,
to rest my sleepy head.

Dreams and scenes of Heav'nly glory,
I pray the Lord would send;
brilliant visions of Gracious love,
for dark and gloom to end.

In dazzling scenes of majesty,
his power, fire and might,
may I see the wondrous vision:
a babe born on this night.

Babe born in the city of bread,
in Virgin's arms held fast,
our Savior, Lord, our King and God,
has come to us at last.

In countenance of that sweet child,
the love for any race
and peace and joy, in my own sons,
are mirrored in each face.

And in that vision shall I sleep
in joy like radiant sun,
the promise that Christ may become,
my children, yes, each son.

Lessons in scruples

Mark Shea answers a reader's queries about scruples, and Mark's answers were well worth reading -- and utterly significant to me.

The Donut Man, a Catholic conversion story

Or, as musician Rob Evans prefers, his discovery of the Catholic Church. Just goes to show that you shouldn't believe those stories told by non-Catholics or lapsed Catholics about the Catholic Church. Here's the interview with the National Catholic Reporter.
[Link found via The Curt Jester.]

Rights for robots... but what about the unborn child?

I hope the folks in this government commission can broaden their minds a bit and be consistent.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Driving an unhealthy obsession with embryonic stem cells

This story from the BBC is sad:

Healthy new-born babies may have been killed in Ukraine to feed a flourishing international trade in stem cells, evidence obtained by the BBC suggests.

Disturbing video footage of post-mortem examinations on dismembered tiny bodies raises serious questions about what happened to them.

Ukraine has become the self-styled stem cell capital of the world.

There is a trade in stem cells from aborted foetuses, amid unproven claims they can help fight many diseases.

But now there are claims that stem cells are also being harvested from live babies.

[Story found via The Catholic Report, 2006-12-18. TCR comments here.]

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Christians in Mosul, Iraq are being persecuted severely

“We are living the period of Advent, the happiest of the whole year, as if we were in prison. The world is preparing to celebrate while we prepare to die. Who will listen to our cries, who can help us now that we feel like strangers in our own homeland?”

The Patriarch of Babylon for Chaldeans (Catholic), Emmanuel III Delly, asks for days of fasting and prayer interceding for Iraq and Iraqi Christians under persecution in Mosul. David Hartline reports that

Mosul is the heartland of Christianity in Iraq and specifically Catholicism. It was here that some of the apostles passed through centuries ago as they spread the faith. That same faith is now being attacked in Mosul and in Baghdad because of its history and message. However, it hardly gets a mention.

[Link found via The Catholic Report.]

Friday, December 15, 2006

Let's be consistent

This is logical. If there are rights for the disabled, then those rights should consistently cover the unborn who are disabled.

What lies behind the drive to abort on the basis of the unborn's disability? The attitude that drives one to advocate such a decision will also advocate a decision to destroy the disabled who are already born. If one thinks that death is preferable for an unborn with a disability, then that extends to the living. As the message from Feminists for Life below asks, will you tell that to someone to his face? To extend this a bit further (consistency allows for that), what does this say about wanting to abort any unborn, even a healthy one? I'm not talking about cases where women are forced into abortion, or who are lied to about abortion as the only option, or as something trivial. When a carefully deliberated decision is made to abort, does that reason also extend to those already born?

Towards Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Unity

This is a very good development.

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- After centuries of allowing themselves to grow apart, Roman Catholics and Greek Orthodox must seek forgiveness and learn to work together for the good of the world, said Pope Benedict XVI and Orthodox Archbishop Christodoulos of Athens and all Greece.

The pope formally welcomed the primate of the Orthodox Church of Greece to the Vatican Dec. 14, solemnly signing with him a commitment to preaching the Gospel together and to working for full communion.

Here is an insightful interview with Monsignor Dimitrios Salachas of the Greek-Catholic Apostolic Exarchy of Athens by Zenit News Agency.
[Link found from The Catholic Report. Combox here.]

The real tragedy in disability..

.. is when people believe that death is preferable. But have they really thought about that? Here are a few thoughts from Feminists for Life:

From: info@feministsforlife.org
To: infolist@lists.feministsforlife.org Feminists for Life Information List

Disability� what if the fetus is or could be disabled?

It is natural to want to "save from suffering the unborn innocent" as was written in Susan B. Anthony's Revolution. (http://www.feministsforlife.org/history/foremoth.htm)

If actual or potential disability is a reason to devalue children before birth, what cruel message does this send to persons with disabilities who are already born?

Would you say to someone in a wheelchair that s/he should never have been born? That's the message people get when they talk about "gross fetal anomalies."

How many artists, musicians, writers with disabilities or no fault brain disease have enriched our world? Would artist Toulouse-Lautrec�s paintings have had a bigger impact if he were taller in stature? What would our world be like without the contributions of artist Van Gogh, musician Beethoven, or writer Sylvia Plath?

This is the information list for Feminists for Life.
Are you a member and is your membership current?
Go to http://www.feministsforlife.org/support/index.htm and join online or donate today!
Feminists for Life - PO Box 20685 - Alexandria, VA 22320

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Sex selection: no. Human-animal hybrids: yes.

They're half right, but they're still half wrong. All it means is that they are half guilty of a crime against human dignity, not to mention that, for each crime, a human life is created (hybrid) and destroyed for the sake of research. Now I have nothing about research at all, but what is the point of this dabbling in things best left alone when viable treatments can instead be found via cord blood and adult stem cell research, which has resulted in 72 successful treatments already? Why this obsession with embryonic stem cell research which has achieved zero treatments so far?

[Link found at Mark Shea's blog. You may wish to visit his combox for a healthy discussion.]

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Where are the defenders of women's rights?

How come they can defend a woman's right to abortion but not a girl's right to be born and grow into a woman? This is a report based on worldwide demographic data:

According to Eberstadt, natural birth rates are about 105 males for every 100 females born. Some regions of the world are experiencing upwards of 115 boys born for every 100 girls, some are as high at 150 boys born for every 100 girls. He warned delegates that this could just be the beginning and that the world is “moving to the realm of science fiction” as the ratio of baby boys to baby girls was already at levels “beyond nature.” Citing a recent study, Eberstadt said that even now there are 20 million “missing” baby girls in Asia alone, that sex-selected abortions have permanently skewed the demographic balance of China and are in the process of skewing the demographic balance of India. He also showed the way that the trend has crept into Eastern Europe and Latin America, and that almost every African state is showing signs of vulnerability to the phenomenon.

[Link found via the Catholic Report. David's combox here.]

Are the Greens so obsessed with pro-abortion legislation?

How can what purports to be a competent political party be so obsessed with abortion?

"They're the ones I'm a bit worried about. They're basically a single-issue anti-abortion party," he said.

"It's a real worry that they would simply take that as their (sole) negotiating item."

Mr Barber said he feared Premier Steve Bracks could shelve plans to decriminalise abortion to secure the support of the DLP members in the upper house.

"I think the whole legislation agenda could be distorted if they (legislate) through a single framework," he said.

Is pro-abortion legislation the only thing that the Greens are fighting for?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

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Statue of Pope John Paul the Great "violates.. law on the separation of church and state."

Prayers for Victoria

This is shaping up as a disastrous summer for Victoria. Please pray for people who are in danger during the bushfire season, and for the heroes out there trying to contain the fires at risk to their own lives.

And pray also that no one else starts fires as someone apparently has, disrupting fire service operations during these difficult times.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

A voice in the wilderness

Today our parish priest, Fr. John, talked about speaking the truth, as the prophets Baruch and St. John the Baptist did. Rather than the cynics and doom-sayers, prophecy and speaking the truth is not about condemning -- at least, not exclusively. For example, the crucial other half, after condemning wrongdoing, is to proclaim the salvation that is accessible after repentance. He also talked about the wonderful lesson of of St. Francis of Assisi to Brother Juniper, who so wanted to gain the same eloquence that St. Francis had in preaching. But to his surprise, the blessed saint's lessons were not given in Church, or in a library or classroom, but in the streets of the towns where St. Francis went about greeting people, helping them in their physical labors. I didn't hear Fr. John make the connection, as my attention was on my son from time to time, but I can certainly see a connection. When St. Francis preaches in his fashion, he is not there telling people that they are condemned, or that they are accursed for their sins. He is there telling them that God loves them, that he loved them, that help was at hand. In other words, he does not state the obvious -- that we can all use some help or kind words -- but goes on to the stunning conclusion: that the help and loving kindness of God was right there.

Exciting development?

Former Church in Massachusetts has been sold and will become (after renovations) a Mosque. Why am I not as overjoyed as the priest of the nearby parish is? After all, the fact is that one parish was merged with another -- either a shortage of parishioners or parish priests. Not stellar news to me.

Dangerous and heretical liaisons

So Rev. Sun Myung Moon is a sponsor of excommunicated Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo and his "Married Priests Now!" movement. Are the supporters of the movement, silent or otherwise, absolutely sure that they're following Jesus Christ?

Misinformation on stem cell research

My wife called me over to watch the TV documentary (ABC) which at that time showed Dr. Paul Brock, advocating for embryonic stem cell research. He is quick to point out that he used to be a Marist, a Catholic order, but rather than bolster his arguments, I find that to be simply sad. He has obviously lost his faith, so the Marist and Catholic credential is no longer his. What I still find incredible is that people like Dr. Brock would speak of stem cell research as if there were only embryonic stem cells to speak of. In this particular article I found, he is reported to have claimed that adult stem cells have yielded nothing while embryonic stem cell research offers the best hope. That's exactly the opposite. Adult stem cell research has yielded 72 successful human treatments, including for neural degenerative diseases, while embryonic stem cell research has yielded none. Not a single one. Add to that the problems that people haven't yet addressed with embryonic stem cell research: that in trials with animals, embryonic stem cells were incredibly difficult to harvest and mostly useless because they caused cancer that kills the subject.

So what I still find incredible and frustrating is the obsession with embryonic stem cells when the empirical evidence points to this as a futile avenue.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Prayers and prayer resources for soldiers

I remember a whinge on MX, a Melbourne daily newspaper distributed free to train passengers coming from the CBD. The complaint was about what was claimed to be too much attention drawn by the recent death of one pilot, an officer, who died in a helicopter accident. The complainant felt that the officer was no more than just another Australian worker, and the publicity for this officer's death was therefore unfair to every other Australian worker who dies during a workplace accident. Obviously, this unhappy person does not understand anything about what is involved in becoming a soldier. This is a profession where personal physical danger is a daily and deliberate reality, accepted as a necessary part of their profession to serve the country. It brought home the sense that PC has really gone crazy. We must make intercessory prayers for our soldiers, especially those on the battlefield. It is with this thought that I am passing this on, as found at Mark Shea's blog (CAEI):

  "Yes, Father," the young Catholic medic wrote, "it was a hell of a battle."

"We were pinned down on the bridge in a wide-open killing field. There were over thirty of them and just five of us. While bullets rained down on us from three directions, I prayed.

"Thank you for giving me the Wartime Prayer Book. I always carry it with me. Twice now, I've used it to pray for the dying: first for an Iraqi woman with her face blown off, and then again yesterday.

"I did my best to stabilize the sergeant. Then, just before we loaded him onto the litter, I prayed the Prayer for a Dying Comrade and then the Commemoration of the Dead.

"After the mission, our whole platoon said the Prayer on Coming Through Battle Unharmed, and then again the Commemoration of the Dead.

"My Prayer Book is a little bloody now, and some of its pages tattered, but I don't think I'll part with it."

* * *

This young medic's words echo those of the old soldier who called me five years ago: "Dr. Barger," he said, "I'm sending you my only copy of The Armor of God, the prayer book Bishop Sheen wrote for us G.I.'s in the darkest days of World War II."

"I prayed with it on lonely troopships crossing the Pacific and in bloody battles on islands whose names I've forgotten. My copy is in worse shape than I am, but the prayers are still strong.

"Maybe it's time to draft The Armor of God back into military service."

* * *

I agreed, and in 2003 I brought The Armor of God back into print with a new name: Fulton Sheen's Wartime Prayer Book.

For four years now (and for just a few pennies more than it costs us to print them), I've sold copies of it to a non-profit organization called Catholics in the Military, which sends free copies to chaplains, and to soldiers, sailors, and airmen across the globe.

We provided the free copy to the young medic who said, "My Prayer Book is a little bloody now, but I don't think I'll part with it."

Indeed, through Catholics in the Military, we've provided free copies to 75,000 other men and women in our armed forces.

Today, with casualties rising sharply in Iraq, chaplains there are clamoring for thousands of copies more.

* * *

But now I may have to stop printing The Wartime Prayer Book.

Although we here at Sophia Institute Press have spent the last two decades publishing faithful Catholic books, including hundreds of classics of our Faith, slow sales and weak responses to my recent fundraising letters have left us with an empty checkbook and more debt than we can manage. Our overdue bills are hovering around $40,000.

War doesn't care about our financial problems, and the devil delights when young men go into battle without the armor of God.

Which is why I'm writing to you now: If I don't pay these overdue bills soon, I'm going to have to cease printing the Wartime Prayer Book and turn all our efforts to more profitable projects.

* * *

You know, the chaplain who forwarded this letter from Iraq didn't include the young medic's name or indicate whether he's still in combat or even still alive. So please join me in praying for him in particular.

But he's just one of tens of thousands of Catholic soldiers overseas who are fighting not merely for their country but also for their souls, while praying for their buddies and even for their enemies.

Souls hang in the balance here -- and the Wartime Prayer Book is tipping that balance toward God.

Can you make a small contribution today to help us keep it in print?

Before you decide, click here and take a few moments to browse through the prayers in the Wartime Prayer Book.

You'll quickly discover that that old soldier was right:these prayers are as strong as the day Bishop Sheen drafted them. If your sons and daughters were heading off into combat, this is the prayer book you'd give them.

To ensure that the Wartime Prayer Book doesn't go out of print, I'm sending this emergency e-mail appeal to 250,000 Catholics, asking each of you to donate $1 at our website or to print the form there and send your dollar by snail mail.

If every one of you donates just one dollar, we'll stay in business and we'll continue to equip soldiers with this strong armor of God -- for free!

That's a lot of value for just one dollar!

We ordinarily sell Fulton Sheen's Wartime Prayer Book for $10, but for every $5 we receive in contributions, we'll ship a free copy to Catholics in the Military which will send it to a soldier overseas.

If you contribute $20 or more, we'll send you a free copy, too.

Whether or not you can donate, please do two things for our men and women in the Armed Forces:

1) Please pray for them.
2) Please forward this e-mail to others who might help.

Thank you, and please pray for us, too.

Sincerely yours,

John L. Barger, Publisher
Sophia Institute Press

Also, have a look at the other publications from Sophia (link above). This is a good source of worthier reads than what you would normally find at a secular bookstore.

Mysticism and the Blessed Mother

I think one of the reasons for Mariaphobia among Evangelical Protestants is the fear that Marian devotees get sucked into mysticism. It conveys a sense of something mysterious, akin to magic, enchantments, wishes and wishes granted. But it came to me that some people have it backwards after all.

But let me point out first that this fear of mysticism, if coming from a distaste for the supernatural, and preference for enlightened discourse, should not belong to a Christian. Being Christian is supernatural, and being enlightened supernaturally. My main point, however, is that the burden of mysticism is not on our Lady. What matters to us is that it is on us Christians. Because everything that we must become, in a mystical, supernatural way, was fulfilled first, physically and directly, but also mystically, with our Blessed Mother.

We are temples of the Holy Spirit? The Blessed Virgin was physically so, which bore physical fruit in the Incarnation of the Word in her flesh. We are in the body of Christ? Our Lady was there before us, physically one with the physical body of Christ. We are to be sanctified so as to become Christ and to become Christ-like? Our Lady was there ahead of us also, bearing Christ physically so that the world might be saved. We are to receive the fullness of grace? She was there first, as the archangel addressed her by title, rather than name: kecharitomene -- full of grace. We are to have the fullness of faith? Again, our Lady was way ahead. As St. Elizabeth exclaimed, "Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." As the Lord affirmed himself: "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" We are to be intimate with our Lord and Savior? Which man or woman has been as intimate with the Lord as the woman who was his mother, raising him up from infant to man?

So it isn't that mysticism surrounds Marian devotion. In fact, it surrounds us as well, and that is even more relevant to us. Every Christian should know the Lord's mother intimately. She is God's masterpiece among his creatures, whom we can look to for inspiration on what we must become as Christians.

So we shouldn't worry about mysticism and the Blessed Mother. What should worry us is whether or not we have enough mysticism in us. The right sort, like the Blessed Mother's.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Immaculate Conception

Today is the happy 7th birthday of my son, on the solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Sadly, this dogma happens to be one of those things that keep Evangelical Protestants away from the Catholic faith. But it's not as incredible as they think. In fact, nothing can be simpler, because one simply has to think of Mary as the very first Christian. She was the first to be in the body of Christ, and physically more than anyone else. Her Immaculate Conception is no more (and no less) than God's gift of salvation, except that God bestows it upon her at the moment of conception. If one believes in infant baptism already (as any Christian should), as in the continuation of infant dedication and circumcision, then salvation at conception is not hard to understand. After all, it is all grace, is it not? And without any deliberate acts of sin, how can one reject grace?

No, I think what drives Evangelicals to reject the dogma, sometimes with such intensity, is a fear that it makes of Mary a deity. Nothing can be further from the truth, since what makes the conception immaculate is the grace of God. They also cannot see that celebrating Mary's blessedness is celebrating God's graciousness, at the same time proclaiming the holiness of the Incarnation of the Word. After all, anything precious must have a beautiful vessel. Being the vessel of the Word made flesh, Mary cannot be anything less than made holy -- not only declared to be holy, but truly made holy. I suppose that this, in itself, is a challenge to Protestant theology, at least for those who hold that justification is truly in declaration only, not in truth. But I've always though that, in this, their hope falls short of what our blessed hope really is. For what God declares, he does. If he declares us justified, and calls us sons and daughters at baptism, then we are not only declared holy, nor are we only perceived holy by the eternal judge: we truly are washed clean, truly made holy. God's words do not proceed from him in vain. To believe otherwise, I think, does not give the mercy of God enough credit.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Mark Shea: "Concupiscence and the Battle of the Spirit"

Mark writes a thought-provoking piece at Catholic Exchange. He begins thus:

  One of the big differences between Catholic teaching and a great deal of the sort of dilute Protestantism that floats around in our culture is the Church's teaching on temptation and failure after we become Christians. Not a few Protestants have been troubled over the years by the fact that their faith in Christ did not seem to have "fixed" them. That worry can and has taken the form of the question, "If I really believe, why do I keep sinning?" Various approaches are taken to deal with this troubling reality. If the sin is committed by one's self, then the tendency is to wonder if I "really meant it" when I committed my life to Christ. Alloyed with this is an often uneasy doctrine of "once saved, always saved" which attempts to paper over the anxiety by proposing that it is impossible to lose your salvation once you have made a sincere confession of faith. However, the question, "Was I really sincere?" goes on haunting the tender consciences of many Evangelicals whenever they are confronted by the ongoing fact of their weakened will, darkened intellects and disordered appetites.

Yes, he is starting from an Evangelical Protestant angle, but this is relevant to all of us. For concupiscence does not disappear in the twinkling of that altar walk or the sprinkling of baptismal water. There's a reason why the New Testament writers, and the Lord himself, spoke about "patience", "trials", "perseverence" and "tests" that have much bearing on our salvation. This piece is a must read.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Therapeutic cloning for embryonic stem cell research passes Australian Parliament

A dark day for Australia.

The decreasing respect for human life is getting scarier and scarier. People don't see the big picture: this is called "sliding down that slippery slope". It used to be appalling to consider destructive experimentation on human beings. The cloning crowd has just found a way to get around this: they will create human beings that people cannot relate to, because they do not look like human beings yet. But pretending doesn't change facts. They are human beings. They have 43 chromosomes. They are alive. And passing this bill is a catastrophe, because the slip down that slope will not stop there.

Didn't know that about St. Nicholas

Very good read from Dr. Warren Throckmorton on Saint Nicholas: a patron saint of chastity, a champion of women.

Update: Great website about the man: "Discovering the Truth about Santa Claus", from the St. Nicholas Center. Got this link from David Hartline at the Catholic Report, who got it from Amy Welborn.

Blegging for the Carmelite Sisters in L.A.

One of Rick's readers at Amateur Catholic asks for support for this good cause:

  This is not the usual blegging email. I'm writing you so that maybe you might include this in the "main" Amateur Catholic blog.

This is a fundraiser for the Carmelite Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Los Angeles (http://carmelitegeneralate.homestead.com/). As anyone can see by their website, the Carmelite Sisters are a good, solid, holy, orthodox bunch and they need our help. To help fund their Religious Education efforts they are selling handcrafted Christmas cards, $2/each and $17.50/10 cards.

The whole thing (with pictures) is at http://jmgarciaiii.blogspot.com/2006/12/like-blegging-but-not-really.html and I'm not making a penny off of this!

If everyone who reads this could buy just one pack of cards, it'd fund the next semester of Religious Education for kids who otherwise couldn't afford the books and fees and so forth.

Thanks in advance!


Imagine that: TIME omits data from its report

Sloppy reporting from TIME? For peer-reviewed scientific conference proceedings and journals, such an omission would mean a rejection of your paper.

style="font-style: italic;">Seven peer-reviewed research studies published in respected medical journals including Human Reproduction (March 2004), British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (April 2005), Obstetrics Gynecology (Dec. 1999), International Journal of Epidemiology (2000), American Journal of Obstetrics Gynecology (1981), New England Journal Of Medicine (1986) and UK's Lancet (1983) have found that prior induced abortion "increases the risk of preterm births, particularly extremely preterm deliveries."
How could TIME have missed them? How indeed?

I don't suppose that this glaring conclusion had anything to do with it:

style="font-style: italic;">Researchers found that "women who reported having previous abortions [more than one] had a 70% higher risk of delivering an infant before 28 weeks gestation, compared with women who had never had an abortion." Those with at least one prior abortion almost doubled the risk of giving birth "very prematurely" [defined as born before 33 weeks gestation].

Nicaragua steps up for the unborn

Abortion has been officially outlawed in Nicaragua! I wish the Philippines would do the same, instead of deliberating the merits of a proposal to aggressively reduce births through contraception, and pro-abortion laws will be quick to follow once the contraceptive culture is entrenched. We already have the unborn's rights in our constitution, and the fertility rate is already down to about 3 children per family (about 2 in Metro Manila, the capital region).

God's blessings on the Nicaraguan government, and the citizens who bravely put their faith and future in God and in their children, rather than anti-life propaganda. May the Filipino lawmakers and citizenry have the same courage and inspiration.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"Why Isn't Homosexuality Considered A Disorder On The Basis Of Its Medical Consequences?"

Read this sobering article written by Kathleen Melonakos, M.A., R.N.Delaware Family Foundation. She writes based on her research and her own experiences as a nurse. File this under "when lobbying prevails over science" or "when true compassion is exchanged for appearances thereof." Why the latter? Because when you let your sons to go ahead with what they think makes them happy, even if it kills them and makes them miserable in the end, you're not being compassionate; you're just letting yourself off the hook. This is especially horrible when you consider that there are many with same sex attraction who have been helped or managed to get into better lives -- yes, often through a stronger spiritual life. Just check out John Heard and David Morrison.

Update: I've had to rethink what I wrote above. I oversimplify when I say that people let themselves off the hook by letting any man they love go down that path. I reconsidered this and I think it is far more common that people believe what the modern culture tells them, that embracing the gay lifestyle is as benign as any lifestyle choice, e.g., being married to the complementary sex, or living in single blessedness. What really should happen is for facts that burst this delusional bubble to be circulated and discussed more widely. My apologies if I had offended anyone in that short tirade. This will teach me to think hard before pronouncing judgments. Mea culpa. I will stop, I think, at facts. Let the article cited above, and the testimonies of people like John and David, stand on the merits of the facts and their experiences.

Celibacy, briefly clarified

A few words of clarification from the new prefect of the Congregation for Clergy:

  • "This question is not … on the order of the day for ecclesial authorities"
  • "In the Church it has always been clear that priests' obligation to celibacy is not a dogma but a disciplinary norm."
  • "it is also clear that the norm prescribing celibacy for priests in the Latin Church is very ancient and is founded upon consolidated tradition and upon strong motivations, both theological-spiritual and practical-pastoral, as reiterated also by Popes."
  • "during the recent Synod on priests, the most widespread opinion among the fathers was that a relaxation of the rule of celibacy would not be a solution even to the problem of the lack of vocations, which is, rather, to be linked to other causes, in the first place the modern culture of secularization. This is clear also from the experience of other Christian confessions that have married priests and pastors."

What the mainstream media don't seem to report is that seminaries are filling up in places where there is orthodoxy, not a departure from it. The shortage is due to the latter, in fact, that having been the norm (dissent from the Magisterium of the Church) in too many places. But the shortage is temporary, for the seminaries are filling up, which means that we will have more priests right after these new batches of seminarians are ordained.

Note also that there are places where there is no shortage of priests at all, e.g., Poland, where priests find themselves assigned overseas where there are shortages. Still it doesn't hurt, and in fact it is entirely for our benefit, that we ask the master of the vineyard to send more workers, for the harvest is ready. Where sin abounds, grace abounds even more.

And I must mention again my fond dream of the Orthodox Church filling up the slack in places where there is a shortage of Catholic priests and/or parishes. If one day, God willing, the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches came back into full communion.. wow.. Veni Sancte Spiritus!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Humanae Vitae predictions (prophecies?) -- and the checklist full of checks

Louise points out the elephant in the room: Pope Paul VI (of happy memory) made several predictions about what will happen if contraception became entrenched in society. As far as checklists go, this one was fairly easy to verify.

On a separate thread of thought, I'd always marveled at the Enemy's widely successful deception. Sadly, the victims are women, and the cause of true feminism, where women gained their rightful place in society: free, cherished and loved. The Enemy, through the 60s and 70s it seems, noted that man's often cruel and truly unjust exploitation of women was now being challenged. There were women's rights movements all over western societies. The Enemy used this to its advantage by twisting the whole struggle. The result is a continued (and, in many ways, worse) exploitation of women -- but this time, through the willing complicity of women themselves. Women were discriminated against by men, but by making women fight for the right to become men, i.e., behave like men, women are now being discriminated against by other women. This is certainly how I perceive the ultra-feminist disdain for motherhood. There was the struggle to make men take more responsibility with having children, but contraception is entirely about men avoiding the responsibility. The burden of being contraceptive, including the devices or drugs necessary, falls on the shoulders of women. That also includes the health risks, e.g., the cancer risks of chemical contraceptives and abortion, as well as the psychological risks of the latter. The strangest twist of all is that women used to struggle against the objectification of the female sexuality for the lust of men -- now women are trained to think that men must behave that way (they do not!) and that women are okay with that.

Have you read Humanae Vitae? If not, you should. In scientific circles, when empirical evidence backs up theory, people have to pay attention. The predictions of the encyclical have empirical merit. Sit up and pay attention.

Prayers for the Philippines

My poor country, the Philippines, is in need of prayers. So many lives lost, or ruined by loss of loved ones.

Update: The death toll gets worse at almost 400, and could reach 1,000. Prayers, please!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

"Bella" is a message that needs more messengers

The message seems to be "life over death", and it's a worthy message to pass on. The film "Bella" captured an award in the Toronto Film Festival, but it needs help getting distributed in the United States.

I wonder if Mel Gibson could help bankroll the distribution..

A proposal for unity?

His Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, speaks of a proposal he has put forward, which he hopes will be accepted by Rome for a further step towards unity:


Bartholomew I: In this respect, I can say that I spoke with His Holiness of something -- something that we could do. I presented him with a proposal which I cannot now elaborate on, as we await an official response, but I can say that His Holiness was very interested and that he received it favorably.

We hope it can be undertaken as it is directed to that ecumenical progress that, as we have affirmed and written in the common declaration, both of us are determined to pursue.

Q: Why are you so determined?

Bartholomew I: Unity is a precious responsibility, but at the same time a difficult one which must be assumed if it is not shared between brothers. The history of the last millennium is a painful "memory" of this reality.

Veni Sancte Spiritus! May the Holy Spirit bring that unity to fruition in my lifetime, or my children's.

Church's Mission Is to Offer Christ

Once more from Zenit News Agency (as below), we cannot deny the strength of the Holy Father's words, given during the homily in the Catholic Cathedral of the Holy Spirit.

To Heal the Wounds of Separation

His Holiness, Papa Benedict XVI, continuing on with the mission given to him, as successor of St. Peter, to feed the sheep of Christ. Here, he reaffirms with the Armenian Apostolic Church that communion in the body of Christ which the same Christ commands.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Pro-Woman Answers to Pro-Choice Questions

I am subscribed to the tutorial delivered by e-mail from Feminists for Life, and so should you. Here's today's very straightforward answers:


What you are about to read is part of a groundbreaking e-tutorial focused on the hard questions related to abortion.

Feminists for Life is a nonsectarian, nonpartisan, grassroots organization working to systematically eliminate the root causes that drive women to abortion—primarily lack of practical resources and support—through holistic, woman-centered solutions.

FFL’s president, Serrin Foster, speaks at colleges and other institutions across the U.S. These are some of the questions she answers again and again.

For those who are just joining the e-tutorial, you may read the questions and answers from previous weeks.

This week, Serrin answer the question:

Isn't feminism about a woman having rights equal to those of a man?

Feminism is much more than that.

As a teen, I remember the electrifying call for equality during the '70's women's movement, and how it challenged and changed the nation. The idea was so compelling it still circles the world.

By definition, equality is a principle extended to all. When one group of people gets their rights at the expense of another, there is nothing equal about it.

The foundation of feminism is built on the basic tenets of nonviolence, nondiscrimination, and justice for all. Abortion is discrimination based on age, size, location, and sometimes gender, disability, or parentage. And it is often the result of a more insidious form of discrimination: the lack of resources and support that pregnant women need and deserve.

As I entered college, the women's movement continued to gain momentum. Cries for equality in the workplace were muffled by the even louder call for "abortion rights" and "pro-choice." You were either pro-woman or pro-baby. As a pro-life feminist, I felt very much alone.

When I found Feminists for Life I knew that I was "home." Then I learned that during the past two centuries, visionary women like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Alice Paul had worked for justice and women’s rights—without choosing between women and children.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton is perhaps the best example of the in-your-face, you-will-accept-women-on-our-terms-and-we-are-not-accepting-less suffrage leaders. Stanton, the first champion of women’s suffrage and a mother of seven, said, "When you consider that women have been treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." [ Click here for more early American feminist wisdom.]

The early American feminists did not work to replace a patriarchy with a matriarchy. Women have a right to be women in the workplace and in school. Women shouldn't have to pass as men.

When women think they have to lay their bodies down or swallow a bitter pill for an abortion in order to compete in the workplace or make their way in the world—that is not feminism. In addition, abortion has hurt women by diverting feminist attention from other issues, particularly those that help mothers, such as affordable child care, comprehensive health care, and a living wage.

Finally, once a woman is pregnant, she is forever changed, no matter what the outcome—marital, partnered or single parenthood, adoption, abortion, miscarriage or stillbirth.

At Feminists for Life, we refuse to choose between women and children. We refuse to choose between our education and career plans and our families.

As pro-life feminists, our values are woman-centered and inclusive of both parents and children. And like the early American feminists, we are not accepting less.

We say "no" to the status quo. Let's aim for the best by advocating resources and support for women, and protecting both mothers and children from violence. Women deserve better.

Because women deserve better,

Serrin M. Foster
Feminists for Life