Pull up a chair in my domestic church and let's chat!

I have worn many labels (Not in any particular order): Catholic, Wife, Mom,Gramma, Doctor, Major, Soccer Mom, Military Wife, Professor, Fellow.

All of these filter my views of the world. I hope that like St. Monica, I can through prayer, words and example, lead my children and others to Faith.
"The important thing is that we do not let a single day go by in vain without putting it to good use for eternity"--Blessed Franz J├Ągerst├Ątter

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Wedding Report

I am still basking in the glow of a most perfect weekend. I will try to write in more detail about my son's wedding at a later date, but for now I will just post a few pictures. However, if you are planning a wedding in the College Station area the Astin Mansion is an ideal venue for a rehearsal dinner or a reception. St. Mary's at Texas A&M is a phenomenal parish. The church is beautiful and the support for Catholic students is unparalleled. Fr. Edward Horkan from the Diocese of Arlington (VA) journeyed down to Texas to preside at the wedding and was absolutely amazing. I heard at least a dozen people comment to either him or to me about his wonderful homily. There are too many people to praise and thank for me to try and list everyone right now. I am still offering prayers of thanksgiving to God for the many blessings He showered upon us this weekend.

My son and his bride at the rehearsal dinner

My four at the rehearsal dinner

Cutting the cake with my son's Corps of Cadets saber at the reception

The groom's cake is modeled after the Army Corps of Engineers castle

The bridal toast

A happy father/daughter dance

My 15-year-old snags the garter

Very happy but with very tired feet.

Stop the Abortion Mandate

If you have not registered for this webcast, do so now! Even if you cannot listen to the live event, you will be able to listen to a recording. Read more here.

Friday, December 04, 2009


We are now one week away from the rehearsal dinner and 8 days away from my oldest son's wedding. Blogging is likely to be light! I will try to post pictures soon.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

The Ineffable Truth of Christmas

By the power of the Holy Spirit he was born of the Virgin Mary and became man.

Every Sunday I dutifully say these words and bow. These words should not just prompt a habitual nod. I should tremble in awe. God became Man.

Advent is a time to remember the power of these words. The Church sets aside this liturgical season for us to be quiet and still. We need to let the reality of the Incarnation seep into our consciousness. How can I appreciate that God so loved the world that he sent his only Son if I am rushing from here to there leaving the echoes of anxiety laden howls in my wake?

Last year I spent Advent and Christmas with my right hand and arm in a cast after having surgery to repair a horrific fracture. When I reflect on this, I realize there are some significant lessons to bring forth to this year when I am able bodied. Christ's birth will be proclaimed whether I send out one hundred Christmas cards or no Christmas cards. The angels will sing His praises whether my voice is joined or not. I will be nourished by His Body and Blood whether or not I bake a single Christmas cookie or bake a single pie. Now, I do intend to send out Christmas cards, sing carols, and bake cookies. I hope to have my house full of Christmas cheer. But if the effort to do so begins to diminish my view of the Incarnation, it is time to step back and rethink.

After my broken arm Advent of last year, a specific area of Christmas preparations that will be different this year is decorating my house. I love my Christmas decorations. Every year they greet me like old friends. Twenty-five years of military moves mean that Christmas memories vary in climes and locations. Yet my Christmas music boxes, my Christmas dishes, my assortment of nativity sets, my bell collection, and candles, are the constant thread that says this is my house and it is Christmas. My old modus operandi is to drag everything out that first Sunday of Advent and fret about the clutter and disarray as I try to decorate, bake, wrap presents, and,oh yeah, pray for the next four weeks. No more. I love my decorations. I can't wait to see them. But just as the light on my Advent wreath will grow for the next four weeks, the Christmas ambiance of my home will grow slowly. Instead of a massive surge of Christmas preparation so that I can spend most of Advent sitting back in admiration of my home, I will decorate slowly, steadily, and deliberately. Advent will be four full weeks of preparation, both spiritually and physically. Each new Christmas decoration that appears in my home should represent another spiritual step I've made towards Christmas. Pray first, then trim the mantle. Pray first, then mix the cookie dough. Pray first, then wrap the presents. And once the "O Antiphons begin", I am done with decorating. If all the decorations don't make it out of the boxes this year, that is okay. Last year I found out that all the frills are not as essential as I thought they were.

Advent is a time of preparation. But it is a contemplative preparation for the reality of Christmas. Unlike the frenetic secular build-up to Christmas, Advent should help us detach from the material world and become poor in spirit. It is time to become child-like in our wonder. By Christmas Eve we should kneel at the creche, gaze at the Infant, and be able to utter little more than, "Wow!"

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Catholic Cyber Monday

If you are like I am, and prefer to do your Christmas shopping while tapping on a keyboard, sipping good coffee, and listening to beautiful music, I suggest you check out this article on products made by religious communities.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Happy New (Liturgical) Year!

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. You can read more about truly celebrating this important liturgical season here. This is a great time for making spiritual resolutions. Keep in mind the principle of pizza dough spirituality.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Manhattan Declaration

Join your voice to this effort! This statement initially signed by over 150 Catholics, Orthodox, and evangelical Christians has grown to a movement with over 90,000 signatures. This statement affirms the principles of the sanctity of life, marriage, and religious marriage.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

New mammogram recommendations are actually a victory of science over politics

Before you read this post, take the time to read the response I wrote to RAnn's comment on the last post. The reason for this is that I mentioned the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) there as well. This is an old entity that is doing what politicians have neither the spine nor the competence to do--defining what is medically necessary or prudent to do. If you read through the USPSTF recommendations, you will be surprised to see how little the recommendations entail. A lot of the preventive testing we do is based on giving the patient peace of mind. It is a luxury, not a necessity.

The USPSTF analysis of the benefits of various breast cancer screening modalities just hit the airwaves. It would be a mistake to lump this analysis in with the Obamacare rationing arguments. The lack of efficacy in breast self-exams and the questionable benefit of mammograms for women in their forties is not new information. This has been known for at least a decade. Ten years ago I got dirty looks at a coffee klatch when a woman was lamenting the death of one of our neighbors from breast cancer and exhorting us to make sure we were doing our breast exams. I probably should have kept my mouth shut, but the scientist in me had to mention that the evidence did not back up the efficacy of regular breast self-exams.

It is important to understand that the new mammogram recommendations pertain to women who have no increased risk factors like a family history or known genetic mutations. The USPSTF now says that women should not begin mammogram testing until age 50. Women in their forties face a higher risk from the testing than they do from breast cancer. Most screening tests are going to be negative. A significant number of the positive tests are false positives. A positive test requires follow-up testing. This follow up testing is much more invasive than the screening test and has risks. Biopsies are surgical procedures. Surgery is never risk free.

Understand as well that the previous recommendations were not based on science. They were the result of medical politics. Breast cancer before age fifty and breast cancer after age fifty are two different diseases. Actually, there is nothing magical about age fifty, but that is just a convenient age to distinguish between pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women. For screening to be effective the screening test must be specific enough to minimize the false positives and sensitive enough to minimize the false negatives. The screening must catch the disease early enough to do something about it. The more aggressive the disease, the more frequently the screening needs to be done in order to affect the outcome of the disease process. Breast cancer in the woman under age fifty or pre-menopausal tends to be much more aggressive than breast cancer in the post-menopausal woman. Therefore, based on the sound principles of preventive screening pre-menopausal women should be screened more frequently than post-menopausal women. But that is not what was recommended. Women in their forties were encouraged to be screened every two years while women over the age of fifty were screened yearly.

The truth is that screening asymptomatic women in their forties has never demonstrated a significant increase in their survival from breast cancer. The advances in survivability are the result in advances of therapy not detection. But radiologist make money from mammograms. They want everyone screened. Surgeons make money doing biopsies. They like the revenue generated by positive mammograms. The American Cancer Society needs the backing of these two medical specialties to get breast cancer prevention going. Therefore, the resultant standards were a matter of compromise. Screening was extended to women in their forties but only every two years because they really don't need it at all. Post-menopausal women who really do benefit from mammograms are screened yearly. Once these recommendations are uttered, no doctor dares to practice according to science because failing to follow these guidelines leads to gross malpractice liability.

What caused the USPSTF to finally stand up for science is they now have the evidence that the incidence of bad outcomes from screening and follow-up testing are worse than the bad outcomes from the disease (breast cancer) for which the screening is being done. Let me tell you a tale about the hazards of medical testing. When I was a medical student, a gentleman came into the emergency room complaining of crushing substernal chest pain radiating to his left arm and shortness of breath. This is the classic description of a heart attack. This man was admitted for a cardiac work-up. Amazingly, his EKG and cardiac enzymes were normal. However, with such a classic history we had to investigate further. A stress test was inconclusive. He had to undergo a cardiac catheterization. The catheterization procedure triggered an arrhythmia that caused him to go into cardiac arrest. This is a known risk of cardiac catheterization. He was revived with electric shocks. His cardiac arteries, however, were clear. The complication of his cardiac arrest, however, lead to some kidney damage. He required dialysis until his kidneys recovered. After two months in the hospital it was revealed that he had never really had chest pain in the first place. He had been caught in an embezzlement scheme and in order to delay judicial proceeding he came into the emergency room with symptoms that would guarantee his admission and delay his having to testify. His little ruse nearly killed him. Invasive medical testing is not something to be taken lightly.

So how should such a finding play out in the health care system? Taxpayer funded health care should not have to provide screening mammograms to asymptomatic women in their forties. If a woman in her forties wants to buy a screening mammogram, she should be able to choose to do so. She should be fully informed about the risks this entails and the lack of evidence that such a mammogram will improve her survival of breast cancer. Her priority in the queue of women waiting to get a screening mammogram should be below those women over age fifty for whom mammograms have been shown to provide a benefit.

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Death Panels" revisited

Just in case the prospect of Obamacare hasn't scared the bejeesus out of you already, read this article in the Wall Street Journal. Then take a look at this article to see why health care rationing is contrary to Catholic moral teaching.

A Catholic Guide to End-of-Life care

My son had surgery this past Friday. All went well. However, as part of the admission process I was handed a booklet on advanced medical directives. Imagine my surprise when I read that nutrition and hydration are considered "life-prolonging" therapies and therefore should be withheld so that you don't prolong the dying process. This is contrary to Catholic moral teaching. Read more about this here and find out what you can do to protect yourself from the immoral end-of-life care in many secular institutions.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Archdiocese of Washington forced to reconsider social service partnerships with D.C. city

Washington D.C. is close to passing a same-sex marriage law with such narrow exemptions for religious freedom that the Archdiocese of Washington feels it must end formal partnerships with the city in order to remain faithful to Catholic religious principles. Read more here.

Have Catholic bishops abandoned pro-lifers on health care reform?

Judie Brown at the American Life League has issued a statement strongly critical of the US Catholic bishops because they have dropped vigorous opposition to the House health care bill now that the Stupak amendment has passed. I think the bishops are steering a cautious but wise course. They speak stridently on matters of morals but defer on issues of prudential judgment. This preserves their voices as those of spiritual leaders rather than partisan shills. Read more here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Annual Veterans Day Post--Mother of a Soldier

I published the following on Veterans Day the last two years. It seems fitting to publish it again. The picture is my oldest son. He is currently stationed at Ft. Hood. After the recent tragedy there, I again ask that you keep him and all our military in your prayers. Consider adding this Rosary to your devotions.

Using the sorrowful mysteries:
Agony in the garden: for deployed soldiers and their safety
Scourging at the pillar: for wounded soldiers and for their healing
Crowning with thorns: for deceased soldiers and repose of their souls
Carrying of the cross: for families of deployed, wounded and deceased soldiers, and for strength and comfort.
Crucifixion: for our nation, for the victims of war and for peace in the world.
And now for an encore presentation of Mother of a Soldier:

Yesterday evening I received this picture from my son. He is a senior at Texas A&M and in the
Corps of Cadets. If all goes as planned he will be commissioned as an officer in the United States Army. Just last week he received his branch assignment, Combat Engineers. He is thrilled.

As I think about this, it is only fitting that I received this picture on Veteran’s Day. November 11 was initially the day we commemorated the end of World War I—the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. However, contrary to the hopes of the time, World War I was not the war to end all wars. In the decades that followed, thousands of men and women have stepped up to serve in the United States military. November 11 is now a day to honor all of them.

Back in July I wrote this post about the growing gap between those who serve in the military and those who do not. I sent this post to Rochelle Reed, editor of the San Luis Obispo Tribune, who wrote of her disappointment when her son chose to join the Army. She responded with a cordial note that asked in all sincerity how I could reconcile my life of faith with service in the military. I sent her this response:

Every time a human being is killed it represents tragic human failure. The United States military does not seek out opportunities to kill. Rather, the military is a defensive body. The members of the military swear an oath to uphold and defend the ideals and principles of the American Constitution even to the point of giving their own lives. No one detests the horrors of war and seeks peace more than soldiers.

It is interesting that you should ask how a soldier can reconcile military service with the Commandment not to kill. I just spent last evening with Fr. Michael Duesterhaus. He is a Catholic priest and a Marine Chaplain. He has already done two tours in Iraq and will leave for a third tour in June. His work has taken him to the outermost reaches of Iraq. He fully supports and affirms the military mission in Iraq. He sees great value in the work done by our military there. He sees no contradiction in military service and the service of God.

I believe the reason for this is that the mission of the military in Iraq is to defend the freedom and dignity of every Iraqi citizen as this nation establishes itself as a democracy. When enemies of this mission try to undermine it with deadly violence, a military response with deadly force may be required. As I said above, every time a human being is killed it represents a tragic human failure. However, it is not always the failure of our military. If a policeman kills a criminal who is threatening to murder his hostages, it is not necessarily the failure of the policeman. I feel the same way about the use of military force. It should never be used wantonly. Every effort must be made to settle disputes via peaceful means. The use of military force represents a diplomatic failure.

The military does not decide when diplomacy has succeeded or failed. That is the job of statesmen. Notice I said statesmen, not politicians. Politicians have partisan agendas to increase their own power. Statesmen have no agenda other than to seek the greater good for their nation. I do believe we have far too many politicians in both political parties and not enough statesmen. When the military is told the nation needs the force the military can bring to bear, the soldier responds bravely. There is no joy in killing. There is no place for vengeance. The military should never be used to settle a score.

Has every decision to use military force been correct? No. Has every military member behaved with the integrity and honor expected of a soldier? No. Just as there are teachers, clergy, journalists, and politicians who betray the ideals of their profession, there are soldiers who do not live up to legacy of honor of the United States military.

I do hope you are proud of your son. It reflects very well on the job you have done as a parent that he will so generously serve a cause much greater than himself. I am sorry others have not communicated this to you. I hope that both you and your son are able to see that members of the military are not blood-thirsty war mongers. Rather they are honorable men and women seeking to do what is right for our country so that our democratic principles are preserved for future generations.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Mattie Stepanek the Messenger

I was not sure how I would feel reading the story of someone who idolized Jimmy Carter and Oprah. I can now tell you that the story of Mattie Stepanek as told by his mother Jeni Stepanek is a must-read for teens and adults alike. My full review of the book Messenger is here.

The story of Mattie Stepanek has very little to do with politics or ideology. It has everything to do with understanding that every life is valuable. Every life has a purpose ordained by God. The challenge is to find and live that purpose.

Put this book on your reading list. It can be life-changing.

(I did receive a free review copy of this book)

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Prayers Please

Please say a prayer for all those suffering from the deaths and injuries suffered at Ft. Hood. My son is stationed there. He texted me to say he is fine, just still locked down. It is a tragedy. May all affected feel the mercy and healing of God's grace.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Why I will skip the Nov 22 CCHD second collection

I know that many worthy causes are supported by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. It is the unworthy causes that are also supported that create an issue for me. I've given up on this sort of aggregate giving. I am giving directly to charities and cutting out the middle man.

While this video suggests putting an acorn in the CCHD collection plate, I like the idea of this coupon instead.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

USCCB is calling for urgent action from all Catholics on health care reform

The USCCB is asking every Catholic to get involved in fighting current health care legislation. Full information is available here. Take action now!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Holy Halloween

If you are in the D.C. area and want to put the holy back into Halloween, check out the Dominican House of Studies All Saints Vigil.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Action needed to now to save pro-life amendment in health care bill

"Ardent, practicing Catholic" Nancy Pelosi is fighting tooth and nail to prevent the presentation of an amendment to prohibit federal funding of abortion in the House health care bill. Read more here then follow the Susan B. Anthony List link to urge your Congressman to support such an amendment.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Legal middle ground for same-sex marriage

If I were going to vote on the issue of same-sex marriage, I would oppose it. Marriage is a sacramental relationship between one man and one woman. Period. Those who try to portray other relationships as equivalent to marriage undermine the sacred institution of marriage and weaken the institution of the family. A weak family leads to an even weaker culture.

However, since some communities including our nation's capital, Washington D.C., seem hell-bent on calling these other relationships "marriage", I appreciate the work of an interdenominational group of attorneys to work for the protection of religious liberty. University of Notre Dame law professor Rick Garnett among others have sent a letter to the D.C. City Council outlining the deficiencies in religious liberty protection that are present in the current same-sex marriage legislation currently before the Council.

This issue illustrates the challenge of living as a faithful Catholic in a secular world. Not all Catholic principles need to be codified in law. The Church prohibits the use of artificial contraception. I do not think the sale of artificial contraception needs to be banned. There is no impediment to Catholics following their faith just because artificial contraception is available.

On the other hand, abortion involves the killing of a voiceless, innocent human beings. Opposition to the legalization of abortion is a necessary response to Catholic teaching. There is no room for wavering.

Same-sex marriage falls between these two extremes. There are those who view marriage as nothing more than a contract, no different than the one drawn up between homeowners and construction contractors. With this in mind, I can coexist with such thinkers as long as my right to view marriage as a religious sacrament between one man and one woman, a covenant made in the presence of God, is protected. I don't like this arrangement. It is fraught with contradictions. While I can ignore what two consenting gay adults choose to do as none of my business, I cannot stand by and let innocent, vulnerable children be indoctrinated that this is a normal or morally acceptable behavior.

Therefore, I think the approach taken by Professor Garnett and his legal colleagues is an acceptably Catholic response to an immoral secular circumstance.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Why we need a Vatican investigation into women's religious orders

Say a prayer for this misguided sister. Perhaps a request for St. Dominic's intercession would be appropriate. It seems Sr. Donna Quinn, OP, of Chicago has been volunteering for at least six years as an abortion clinic escort.

In addition to her support of abortion, Sr. Donna Quinn has publicly attacked the Catholic Church. According to Lifesite News:
In a 2002 address to the Women's Studies in Religion Program at Harvard Divinity School, Sr. Quinn described how she came to view the teachings of her Church as "immoral": "I used to say: 'This is my Church, and I will work to change it, because I love it,'" she said. "Then later I said, 'This church is immoral, and if I am to identify with it I'd better work to change it.' More recently, I am saying, 'All organized religions are immoral in their gender discriminations.'"

Quinn called gender discrimination "the root cause of evil in the Church, and thus in the world," and said she remained in the Dominican community simply for "the sisterhood."

Planned Parenthood pushing for harassment of crisis pregnancy centers

Pro-abortion organizations claim to be pro-choice. However, it seems that is true as long as the choice is to have an abortion. Planned Parenthood strongly opposes programs to help pregnant women carry their pregnancies to term. Read about their latest harassment effort here.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The paperwork is healthy--the patient, not so much

An update to my previous post: At this point, I have figured out that the referral for my son to follow up on his intermittent testicular torsion was for the urologist to see him but not to treat him. The reason for this is that the doctor who saw him in the emergency room did not write down testicular torsion on either the record or the referral. He wrote down "Mom wants a referral, please evaluate." In order to get the necessary surgery, I have to take my son in to the primary care doctor. At that point they will put in the necessary referral. They will then look at this referral with no regard for the previous referral or evaluation by the civilian urologist. Since this is a new referral, they will first decide if there is room in the military facility for him to be seen. (This was done with the last referral and it was determined that there was not room for him to be seen.) If they determine that they cannot see him in the military facility, they will put his referral into the civilian referral process. That will then take 4-6 weeks for it to be approved. At that point we can schedule a visit with the civilian urologist and start the process for surgery all over again. It is as if the evaluation by the previous urologist doesn't even exist because the paperwork was insufficient. Once all the paperwork is in order, perhaps we can actually take care of the patient.

Government Health Care in action--or inaction as the case may be

Okay, now see how government health care works. My son is sitting on a medical time bomb. He has had two episodes of intermittent testicular torsion. He has to always be within six hours of a facility that can perform emergency surgery. The doctor who saw my son in the DeWitt Army hospital emergency room did not initiate a referral to a urologist until I requested it. He was going to discharge my son with no specific follow-up instructions. Because I am a doctor and demanded the referral he complied. It took one month to get the referral approved and an appointment scheduled. He saw the urologist who agreed that my son needed to have the minor procedure of orchiopexy done in a timely fashion to prevent emergent surgery in the future. However, when he went to schedule the surgery he found out that the doctor in the emergency room had checked the wrong box on the referral request. A request for a second opinion was submitted instead of a referral for evaluation and treatment. Because of this, I have to schedule an appointment with my son’s primary care manager. This primary care manager has to submit a referral for evaluation and treatment. Once that referral is approved—another one month process—the urologist can schedule the necessary surgery. Everyone in this governmental process is concerned about making sure the paperwork is correct and no one has any concern about the well being of the patient—my son.

Here is an article I wrote on testicular torsion:

Self-examination of the testicles as a screening procedure for cancer is one of the many topics covered in today’s high school health classes. As valuable as this prevention technique is, it might be even more important for the schools to educate high school boys about testicular torsion, a true medical emergency.

Testicular torsion occurs when the spermatic cord twists itself inside the scrotal sac and cuts off the blood supply to the testicle. Once the blood supply is cut off, you only have six hours to restore blood supply before the testicle is irreparably damaged and has to be removed. Torsion occurs spontaneously. Only 4 to 8 percent of cases are associated with trauma. The peak age for this condition is 14 with most cases occurring between ages 12 and 18. Every year, one out of every 4000 males under the age of 25 will suffer testicular torsion.

This happened to one of my sons when he was fifteen years old. He was playing a computer game when he suddenly cried out in pain. He said it felt like he had been kicked in the groin. Having practiced emergency medicine for several years, the sudden onset of scrotal pain was a red flag for me. I immediately told him to get his shoes on, because we were heading for the emergency room. He was surprised by my swift response, since I am known for my reluctance to seek care in an emergency room unless something is broken or bleeding. Once I explained the possible problem and the time constraint for preventing dire consequences, I could not drive fast enough for him.

Upon arrival at the emergency room, it is important to effectively communicate to the front desk personnel that this is a true medical emergency. When I took my son to the DeWitt Army hospital emergency room, the intake clerk handed us a pager like they give you at restaurants and directed us to the waiting room for triage. She looked skeptical when I told her that scrotal pain was a real emergency. However, she communicated the problem to the medical staff and they leapt into action. The primary diagnostic procedure is an ultrasound examination to assess blood flow. A urologist should be called in immediately. If torsion exists, the ultrasound will show compromised blood flow and the urologist must perform immediate surgery to untwist the spermatic cord. As I said, there is only a six-hour window from the time the cord twists until the time it is corrected in which the testicle can be saved. The surgery also includes a procedure to both testicles called orchiopexy. This involves placing small stitches in each testicle to tack them down and prevent them from twisting in the future. This is done to both testicles, because if torsion occurs in one testicle, there is a significant chance that the other testicle is predisposed to it as well.

After my son’s episode, I realized the need for better education of teenage boys and their parents about this medical emergency. I was surprised to hear my son say that he had experienced a similar pain two months prior to his emergency room visit but it had resolved spontaneously after a couple of hours. He had no idea that such pain could be a sign of something serious and needed immediate attention. More than likely, he had experienced an episode of torsion that untwisted by itself. This is called intermittent testicular torsion. Such pain should not be ignored. Even though the pain resolves, the underlying anatomical problem that predisposes to torsion remains. It is advisable to electively undergo the minor surgical procedure of orchiopexy to prevent subsequent emergency surgery for a persistent torsion.

I spoke to several mothers of my son’s friends. None of them had ever heard of testicular torsion or knew that scrotal pain was a medical emergency. Because there is so little time to surgically correct the twisted spermatic cord and save the testicle, it is critical that boys and their parents are made aware of this condition and the need to act quickly.

Click here for more information:

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bishop Nickless and Catholic identity

Bishop Nickless of Sioux City, Iowa, offers incredible guidance to his flock in his most recent pastoral letter. Read more here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

It's About Parents

Patrick Welsh teaches English at T.C.Williams High School in Alexandria, Virginia. You may recognize T.C.Williams as the high school spotlighted in Remember the Titans. Welsh has an opinion piece in today's Washington Post that just keeps floating around in my head. It is entitled Making the Grade Isn't About Race. It's About Parents. Here is a snippet.:

"Why don't you guys study like the kids from Africa?"

In a moment of exasperation last spring, I asked that question to a virtually all-black class of 12th-graders who had done horribly on a test I had just given. A kid who seldom came to class -- and was constantly distracting other students when he did -- shot back: "It's because they have fathers who kick their butts and make them study."
Another student angrily challenged me: "You ask the class, just ask how many of us have our fathers living with us." When I did, not one hand went up.

I was stunned. These were good kids; I had grown attached to them over the school year. It hit me that these students, at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, understood what I knew too well: The lack of a father in their lives had undermined their education. The young man who spoke up knew that with a father in his house he probably wouldn't be ending 12 years of school in the bottom 10 percent of his class with a D average. His classmate, normally a sweet young woman with a great sense of humor, must have long harbored resentment at her father's absence to speak out as she did. Both had hit upon an essential difference between the kids who make it in school and those who don't: parents.

Welsh's opinion piece is good, though maybe a bit simplistic. He is drawing a fair amount of criticism in the comments but also some support. One comment has kept me thinking all afternoon. The writer acknowledges that parents make a difference. But how is the school supposed to respond to this? Does the school just pretend all the kids have supportive parents and those who don't are just out of luck? Should the school assume all parents are inept and weave complex programs to compensate? My experience with public schools is that they tend towards the latter. However, public education policy is not what has been spinning in my head. I could write a very similar article about religious education. What is the difference between the kids who embrace their Catholic faith and grow in their understanding throughout their high school years and those who tolerate CCD until they are confirmed and then have no use for the Church through high school and beyond? It's about parents.

I gave a workshop yesterday morning on Building Your Domestic Church. It was a three-hour version of the six session program I gave last spring. The bottom line is that parents are the primary catechists for their children. If the Catholic Church is not relevant in the every day lives of parents it will not be relevant to their children. Parents need to believe and convey that being Catholic matters. Unfortunately, the vast majority of parents are poorly catechized and do not bring their faith to bear on their lives outside of Sunday Mass. Probably over half of the students do not attend Sunday Mass on a regular basis. Given this reality, what is a religious education program to do?

I have taught religious education around the United States for over twenty years. Most programs tend to follow the model of the public school system. They assume the parents are inept and try to develop a program that teaches the children while excluding the parents. The poor response by parents to any outreach programs discourages most religious education programs from even trying. I understand that. I only had a handful of attendees at my workshop. But the truth is the parents matter too much to exclude them. I stand before my students every week and tell them how important it is to go to Mass. Every week their parents are too busy or too tired to take them to Mass. The students don't see any immediate consequences of missing Mass. Are they going to believe me or their parents?

We've been trying gentle persuasion to get parents to learn more about their faith. I have asked parents to attend some of the CCD classes so both parents and children could cover material together. I received good feedback from the parents on these sessions, but most have not been inspired to attend any of the other adult education offering. Now our DRE is pushing a little harder. Parents of students who are preparing for confirmation are required to attend three hours of adult education. The adult education in our parish is expanding exponentially. There are Bible studies. There are studies of papal documents. There is a study of the Catechism using Peter Kreeft's Catholic Christianity. I did a presentation on end of life care. There is a program to discuss financial planning using Catholic principles. Parents are free to pick which three hours of adult education they want to attend.

I presented my workshop at the same time the eighth grade students were participating in a confirmation retreat. Most of the attendees were there because they could meet their adult education requirement in one fell swoop. However, several people came up to me after the talk to tell me how glad they were that they had heard my talk. They had a new appreciation for continuing religious education. I know there is some grumbling from parents as well. How dare the religious education office impose education requirements on them so that their children can be confirmed? For these parents, I just pray. Parenting is a vocation. Jobs, rounds of golf, and the latest reality show are occupations. It is the vocation, not the occupation, that answers God's call and leads us to Heaven.

Friday, October 16, 2009

AUL ad exposes Abortion Coverage in Health Care Reform

Diocese of Arlington

Most of my children have progressed from the high school youth group stage to the young adult ministry stage. Fortunately, the Diocese of Arlington offers a wonderful range of opportunities for young adults to gather for faith and fellowship. Even if you are not in the area and cannot attend these events, check out the links for Theology on Tap. Many of the presentations are archived as podcasts and provide a great resource for adult religious education.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Live our faith in joy, hope and truth

Fr. Troy Gately, of St. John Vianney Catholic Church in Houston offered a gem of a letter in this past Sunday's parish bulletin. Read the whole thing, but take special note of this last paragraph:

In a world that promotes values and choices diametrically opposed to Christian virtue and Catholic faith, there is an increasing need for strong and clear commitment among those who believe. Reckless consumerism, unbridled materialism, greed, narcissism and moral relativism will in the end be shown for what they are but not before leading to the destruction of countless lives. As Catholics there is always the tendency to be critics and naysayers. This tendency must be avoided. Rather, we are at our best when we serve the world with our message of hope. We serve best when we offer a positive, loving and life giving alternative – Jesus Christ! This is the message of Pope Benedict. All one has to do is merely look at the titles of his three encyclicals: Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) 2005, Spe Salve (Saved by Hope) 2007 and Caritas in Veritatate (Charity in Truth) 2009. Too often the Christian message of love, hope and truth is obscured and heard only as a message of “don’ts,” a series of prohibitions or condemnations. Pope Benedict urges us to live our faith in a positive manner for the world needs us to be the best Christians we can be. Our world is hungry and longing for what God has given us in Jesus. When we live our faith in joy, hope and truth then not only is the Church invigorated, but also the world. Where do we begin? With ourselves! When do we begin? Right now!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

University of Notre Dame once again compromises Catholic identity

The Notre Dame Observer reports that the University of Notre Dame Student Activities Office funded trips for five students to participate in the gay rights demonstration in Washington D.C. This demonstration was primarily aimed at supporting gay marriage. How an ostensibly Catholic university could support this protest against clear Catholic teaching is beyond comprehension.

Fr. Jenkins claims there is an unquestionable commitment to Catholic teachings at Notre Dame and he is going to prove it by personally marching in the upcoming March for Life. He can make the entire March for Life on his knees and prove nothing. If the University of Notre Dame continues to flaunt the Magisterial teachings of the Church, it is not a Catholic university. It may be a university with a large number of Catholic students and lots of Catholic influenced art and architecture. However, that does not make it a Catholic university.

Another example of health care by committee

In light of this story, take a look at what the British National Health Service (Which President Obama looks to as a model for US health care) is doing to the elderly:

Ball, 42, from Robertsbridge, East Sussex, said: “My mother was going to be left to starve and dehydrate to death. It really is a subterfuge for legalised euthanasia of the elderly on the NHS. ”

Fenton was admitted to hospital suffering from pneumonia. Although Ball acknowledged that her mother was very ill she was astonished when a junior doctor told her she was going to be placed on the plan to “make her more comfortable” in her last days.

Ball insisted that her mother was not dying but her objections were ignored. A nurse even approached her to say: “What do you want done with your mother’s body?”

On January 19, Fenton’s 80th birthday, Ball says her mother was feeling better and chatting to her family, but it took another four days to persuade doctors to give her artificial feeding.

Fenton is now being looked after in a nursing home five minutes from where her daughter lives.

Peter Hargreaves, a consultant in palliative medicine, is concerned that other patients who could recover are left to die. He said: “As they are spreading out across the country, the training is getting probably more and more diluted.”

Rules are Rules

The media outlets have been covering the story of 6-year-old Zachary Christie all weekend. It seems that Zachary was suspended from school for 45 days because his Cub Scout eating utensil included a knife. This is not a Swiss Army knife or pen knife. This is an eating utensil knife. It is meant to spread peanut butter, not cut a steak. However, rules are rules. Little Zachary is being sentenced to 45 days in the Christina Delaware School District reform school. The New York Times has the story:

Zachary’s offense? Taking a camping utensil that can serve as a knife, fork and spoon to school. He was so excited about recently joining the Cub Scouts that he wanted to use it at lunch. School officials concluded that he had violated their zero-tolerance policy on weapons, and Zachary was suspended and now faces 45 days in the district’s reform school…

…Still, some school administrators argue that it is difficult to distinguish innocent pranks and mistakes from more serious threats, and that the policies must be strict to protect students.
“There is no parent who wants to get a phone call where they hear that their child no longer has two good seeing eyes because there was a scuffle and someone pulled out a knife,” said George Evans, the president of the Christina district’s school board.

Excuse me. Are they going to also ban forks, pencils, pens, and scissors. Those can just as easily be used to poke out an eye in the event of a "scuffle".

What happens when these "rules are rules" bureaucrats get hold of health care? Consider this story from the London Times and pointed out by the Wall Street Journal:

Matthew Millington, 31, a corporal in the Queen’s Royal Lancers, had the operation to save him from an incurable respiratory condition.
But the organs were from a donor who was believed to have smoked 30 to 50 roll-up cigarettes a day. A tumour was found after the transplant, and its growth was accelerated by the drugs that Mr Millington took to prevent his body rejecting the organs.
Because he was a cancer patient, he was not allowed to receive a further pair of lungs, under hospital rules.

That's right. The likes of Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel will be on the Health Advisory Benefits Committee. Forget about a modicum of common sense or compassion. Rules are rules.

Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon: A Catholic for our times

Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon was recently honored for her principled stand against the awarding of an honorary law degree to President Obama at the University of Notre Dame commencement. Read about her recent award and reflect on her amazing words of wisdom.

Friday, October 09, 2009

USCCB opposes all current health care legislation

The USCCB released a letter to all members of Congress letting them know that all current versions of health care legislation are unacceptable. Read more here. Pray for our bishops.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Remedy for a dog's grumbly tumbly

Athena, our 2-year-old labradinger

I once saw an add for health insurance for pets. It featured a picture of a dog and the words, "In spite of my keen sense of smell, I do not always make the best digestive decisions." While I did not purchase health insurance for my dog, I can concur that my dog does commit amazing dietary indiscretions. Let's just say that there is very little she finds inedible. Cardboard and paper seem to be a primary food group. True to her Labrador heritage, her digestive track is amazingly resilient. However, she does occasionally suffer from her poor snack choices.

I have no idea what caused her distress a couple of nights ago. Perhaps it was the acorns that are in abundance around our neighborhood. Perhaps she took in one too many empty cereal boxes. In any case, she was miserable. She wasn't vomiting or having diarrhea. All she wanted to do was go outside and eat grass. Her tummy was loudly rolling and gurgling. Every time she came inside she whined pitifully. It was a beautiful evening with a clear sky, full moon, and bright stars, but by midnight, I was more than ready to go to bed. Unfortunately, her tummy was not cooperating. In desperation, I dragged her into the computer room. While she howled I Googled, "remedy for dog's upset stomach". I got numerous hits, and they all mentioned the same therapy: yogurt. I promptly opened a carton of strawberry yogurt and offered it to her. She lapped it up and looked for more. I gave her one more carton. She polished that off quickly as well. Before I could throw away the cartons and get the computer turned off, she had trundled off to bed and was snoozing comfortably. She slept through the night and was fine the next day.

So just in case you have a dog with a similarly non-discriminating palate, I thought I would share this successful therapy.


Pilgrimages do not have to be big trips to Fatima or Lourdes. They can be outings in your own neighborhood. Read more here.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

A Catholic guide to End of Life care

I will be presenting a talk on end-of-life care at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in Annandale at 6pm this evening. I would love to see you there, but if you cannot attend, please say a prayer that all goes well.

I am also available to present this topic or other Catholic bioethical topics to your parish group if you are within a day's drive of Washington DC.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI receives US Ambassador Miguel DIaz

Pope Benedict XVI offered strong words supporting the sanctity of human life and conscience protection for health care workers when he received US Ambassador Miguel Diaz. Read more here.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Letter from members of the House urge pro-life amendment vote

Abortion is not a Republican or a Democratic issue. It is a human issue. 183 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to Speaker Pelosi urging a vote on an amendment to explicitly forbid federal funding of abortion in health care. Pray for the success of this bipartisan coalition. Read more here.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

40 Days for Life is Underway!

40 Days for Life is a three-prong program. Everyone can participate in one way or another. Begin with fasting and prayer to end abortion. If you are able, join one of the prayer vigils outside an abortion clinic. Finally, support community outreach to educate others about the evil of abortion and support community programs that provide alternatives to abortion. Read more here.

As expected, Democrats defeat pro-life amendments

In spite of the assurances from President Obama that the health care reform package would not fund abortion, the Democrats have defeated the Hatch Amendment that would keep abortion funding out of federal health care. Pray. Pray. Pray.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

President Obama's credibility put to the test in today's Senate votes

The Senate votes on amendments to the Baucus Bill that would codify what President Obama claimed in his address to Congress: no federal dollars will fund abortion. So far all such efforts have failed. The President has offered no support for these efforts. In fact, his staff has explicitly refused to support them. Right now his words look pretty empty.

Since today is the Feast of the Archangels, a St. Michael's prayer in support of the amendments that would defeat evil would be appropriate.

Saint Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host -
by the Divine Power of God -
cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Convergining Roads

I am now back from another trip to Texas. This one combined business with pleasure. I visited with my parents in Houston and saw my daughter at Rice. Then my mother and I made a trip to College Station to work on plans for the rehearsal dinner for my oldest son's wedding. It seems like only yesterday that I was announcing the engagement and suddenly the December wedding is nearly upon us. For those of you who like this sort of thing, here is where we are having the dinner. This is a very old home in Bryan Texas. I was told this was the "city" home of the Astin family. Those with Texas A&M roots will recognize the name Astin. It is the same family for which Astin Hall is named. The house's history is somewhat unusual. After it was no longer a family home, it became a frat house. These frat boys must have been very different than those depicted in Animal House because they left all the original decorative moldings, hard wood floors, and light fixtures intact. The fraternity sold it to its current owners who use it as a venue for business and social events. I can say that it has been a pleasure to work with the folks at Astin Mansion to pick the menu and the decorations. This is really exciting.

The business end of my trip was a bioethics conference in San Antonio. This is really an amazing educational program that involves a total of four seminars from now through April. It is called Converging Roads and brings together a study of bioethics, health care, and Catholic teaching. There are three remaining seminars so if you would like to spend some time in San Antonio exploring this fabulous city and learning about Catholic health care ethics, take a look at the Converging Roads program.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Catholic Medical Association is talking to you

The Catholic Medical Association has issued an open letter calling all Catholics to work for health care reform that is grounded in authentically Catholic moral principles. Read more here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Baucus health care proposal pressures physicians to minimize care to the elderly

The National Right to LIfe Committee has released a statement opposing the Baucus health care reform proposal. It is not surprising to see that the first reason for this opposition is the inclusion of federal funding for abortion in the legislation. However, the Medicare provisions are equally worrisome. This bill will financially penalize physicians who are in the top 10% of medical resource use for Medicare patients. There is no evaluation as to whether the care rendered by these physicians is appropriate. There is no evaluation of the physicians who fall in the bottom 10% of medical resource use to see if they are providing inadequate care. Even if all physicians cut their utilization of Medicare in half, 10% of all physicians utilizing Medicare resources will be penalized. Therefore, every physician will be under pressure to do as little for the elderly as possible.

Archbishop Wuerl speaks on health care

I've just published an article on Archbishop Wuerl's additon to the health care debate. It is important to note that Archbishop Wuerl, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, as well as a host of other bishops who have spoken out on the issue are articulating core principles that must guide health care reform. They are not offering specific programs. The details of the implementation of health care reform is a matter of prudential judgment.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

President Obama lies?

While I do not like shouting matches and I think Representative Joe Wilson should have exercised more self-control during the President's speech, Joe Wilson's exclamation of "He lies!" was not necessarily inaccurate. Take a look at this article in today's Wall Street Journal:

To highlight abusive practices, Mr. Obama referred to an Illinois man who "lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because his insurer found he hadn't reported gallstones that he didn't even know about." The president continued: "They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it."

Although the president has used this example previously, his conclusion is contradicted by the transcript of a June 16 hearing on industry practices before the Subcommittee of Oversight and Investigation of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The deceased's sister testified that the insurer reinstated her brother's coverage following intervention by the Illinois Attorney General's Office. She testified that her brother received a prescribed stem-cell transplant within the desired three- to four-week "window of opportunity" from "one of the most renowned doctors in the whole world on the specific routine," that the procedure "was extremely successful," and that "it extended his life nearly three and a half years."

The president's second example was a Texas woman "about to get a double mastectomy when her insurance company canceled her policy because she forgot to declare a case of acne." He said that "By the time she had her insurance reinstated, her breast cancer more than doubled in size."

The woman's testimony at the June 16 hearing confirms that her surgery was delayed several months. It also suggests that the dermatologist's chart may have described her skin condition as precancerous, that the insurer also took issue with an apparent failure to disclose an earlier problem with an irregular heartbeat, and that she knowingly underreported her weight on the application.

These two cases are presumably among the most egregious identified by Congressional staffers' analysis of 116,000 pages of documents from three large health insurers, which identified a total of about 20,000 rescissions from millions of policies issued by the insurers over a five-year period. Company representatives testified that less than one half of one percent of policies were rescinded (less than 0.1% for one of the companies).

Similarly, take a look at this article from Our Sunday Visitor that corrects President Obama's claims on abortion coverage:

Cardinal Justin Rigali and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops say the existing health reform legislation mandates abortion and would allow government funding of abortion -- even though the president of the United States has labeled such statements "fabrications."

Nonpartisan says the president is wrong.

"Despite what Obama said, the House bill would allow abortions to be covered by a federal plan and by federally subsidized private plans," stated an Aug. 21 news analysis.

Meanwhile, Michigan Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak, with the backing of the U.S. bishops, is trying to force a full public House vote on an amendment to block government funding of abortion when the health care reform legislation is sent to the House floor after the August recess.

Despite the Catholic Church's long-standing support for health care reform, Philadelphia's Cardinal Rigali, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, is urging lawmakers not to approve health reform that would mandate funding or coverage of elective abortions.

As currently written, the health care reform legislation marks a "radical change" in U.S. abortion policy, the cardinal wrote in an Aug. 11 letter to the House of Representatives. With the addition of an amendment introduced by New York Democrat Rep. Lois Capps, the House legislation specifically makes abortion a mandated benefit in the public health insurance plan and requires participants to pay a premium surcharge for mandatory abortion coverage.

All versions of the health care legislation introduced so far create government funding of abortion by allowing proposed federally subsidized health care vouchers to be used for public or private health insurance plans that include abortion, he said.

You know, this abortion funding issue could easily be cleared up by including something like the Hyde-amendment in the final bill. If as the President claims, the bill does not fund abortion, the addition of such an amendment would change nothing and would give the pro-life community the assurance it needs to be more supportive of reform. However, attempts in both the House and the Senate to include such an amendment have been defeated. If this legislation does not provide for federal funding of abortion, why should there be opposition to such an amendment?

When my children tell me only part of the story in order to mislead me, I don't cut them any slack. They lied and they are punished accordingly. I would say that the President is similarly guilty of telling only part of the story.

Health Care writing consolidated

I've been doing a lot of writing about health care reform over at my site. I have now put up a health care tag so you can see all the articles from one link. Hope that helps

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11: Historical date or personal memory?

September 11. For most children in elementary school, this date has very little meaning. It is another historical marker, but has no more personal relevance than any other event that older people muse upon: Pearl Harbor, D-Day, President Kennedy's assassination, the Challenger explosion.

I, on the other hand, find the relevance of this day intensely personal. In 1992, I watched as my husband deployed for what was then known as Desert Shield. It would become Desert Storm. He was an F-16 pilot. I knew there would be no hanging back in safe zones for him. I was left at home with three children, ages 4,3, and 1, and with my own duffle bag packed and ready to deploy. I was an Air Force doctor. That turbulent time rocked both my husband and I to our core. By the grace of God, we emerged as stronger Catholics and better parents. Our marriage grew stronger. Everything we loved had been threatened, forcing us to appreciate what is truly important. Still, I would not wish such an experience on anyone.

So eight years ago, when I watched television images of the flame and the smoke pouring forth from the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, I felt my world once again reeling out of control. I reached for my rosary, hit my knees, and prayed with an ardor that I had not felt in quite a while. My three older children were in school. Part of me wanted to rush out, gather them in, and huddle in the safety of our home. I resisted that urge. Our country may have been attacked, but we were not going to be victims.

And so began a new era of military life. Deployments are now the rule, not the exception. Eight years later, I am still a military wife. However, I am also a military mother. My oldest is now an Army officer. There is one complex set of emotions that accompany sending your husband to war. Contemplating sending your son to war involves a completely different set, equally complex, but very different.

We owe it to the innocent victims and to the heroes who died on September 11, 2001 to do everything possible to make sure such horror does not occur again. For the last eight years and for the foreseeable future, military action is a necessary part of the strategy to accomplish this. Today, let us raise up in prayer those who died on September 11 as well as their families. Let us also offer prayers for all military members and their families. Our men and women in uniform are risking their lives to make sure that terrorist atrocities remain a remote history lesson and not a personal experience.

Related Posts:

Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer at Ground Zero

A Pilot's Prayer

Spouse of a Soldier

Mother of a Soldier

Those Who Serve and Those Who Don't

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Exciting Eucharistic Congress in DC this weekend

If you can make it to DC this weekend, check out this Eucharistic Congress sponsored by the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious.

"Personally Opposed" Bishops?

Are American bishops really doing their own "personally opposed but can't impose" act when it comes to pro-abortion politicians? Read the words of Fr. Roger J. Landry (H/T Jay Anderson) and you may very well answer that question with an emphatic "yes". Read his entire article, but this excerpt concisely sums up the indictment:

When we examine the education-alone approach of pastors with respect to pro-choice politicians, we see that it has basically become a personally opposed, publicly pro-choice position as well. There’s obviously a clear personal repugnance on the part of pastors to the pro-choice Catholic politicians’ separation between faith and moral action, schizophrenia between private and public personality, and lip service to the Church’s teachings. Many pastors have sought to exercise their teaching office, stating forthrightly what abortion is and what the responsibilities of all legislators are with respect to it. All of their teaching, however, has been trumped by the weightier educational value of the de facto “law” that has left everything to the conscience, however ill-informed, of the pro-choice Catholic politicians. These men and women have learned over time that, regardless of what canon law says, they are at liberty to ignore the Church’s teachings on life. Even though the U.S. bishops have taught with one voice that pro-choice Catholic legislators should not present themselves to receive Holy Communion, if they pay no heed to that teaching and present themselves anyway, they have observed that in practice they will almost never be denied. With Senator Kennedy’s funeral, they have now grasped that even a 100% pro-abortion voting record will not only not prevent them from having a Catholic funeral, but will not even stop them from receiving possibly one of the most publicly panegyrical Catholic funerals in U.S. history. The upshot — these smart men and women have concluded — is that the Church’s practice is essentially “pro-choice” with respect to “pro-choice” Catholic politicians. The politicians’ own determination in conscience, erroneous or not, is given greater weight than, combined, the truth proclaimed by the Church, the duty to protect the politicians’ souls from a potentially mortal wound, and the responsibility to do all that is possible according to one’s office to try to stop the killing. The education-alone approach has failed for the same reason that the personally opposed, publicly pro-choice position has led to massive abortion on demand: the nature of sin is that the easier it is to commit, and the fewer the consequences for doing it, the more sin we’ll have.

The issue of Senator Edward Kennedy's elaborate Catholic funeral Mass that turned into the circus of adoration has been covered all over the blogosphere. There is no problem with Senator Kennedy receiving a Catholic funeral. There is no problem with Cardinal O'Malley presiding at this funeral. There is a huge problem with the public praise and adulation of Senator Kennedy. There is a problem with the abuse of the Eucharist by turning the Holy Mass into a public political platform. The intercessory prayers for the passage of health care reform and for gay rights were beyond the pale. Cardinal Sean O'Malley has shot back with a strong defense of his actions. Think about this in light of the second reading from this past Sunday (James 2:1-5)

1 My brethren, show no partiality as you hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory.
2 For if a man with gold rings and in fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in,
3 and you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "Have a seat here, please," while you say to the poor man, "Stand there," or, "Sit at my feet,"
4 have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts?
5 Listen, my beloved brethren. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him?

Senator Edward Kennedy and most of the Kennedy clan (Eunice Kennedy Shriver being the most notable exception) made a mockery of the Catholic Church for decades. They have publicly flouted her teachings on marriage, sexuality, and life issues including abortion, contraception, and embryonic stem cell destructive research. In spite of this they were courted and lauded by the Church hierarchy in Boston. Their public dissent from Church teachings never received public repudiation. This lack of pastoral discipline produced two results. It told the average Catholic in the pew that Church teachings are negotiable if you have enough wealth, power, and prestige. It also very clearly sends the message that all the priests' and bishops' words about the sanctity of human life are empty. They lose all credibility as teachers on all issues, not just life issues. It is only bishops like Finn, Burke, Chaput, and Naumann, who do not bow to the altar of earthly prestige who will be able to lead us to the Truth.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Fr. Leo in a Throwdown with Bobby Flay

My favorite cooking priest is at it again. Fr. Leo Patalinghug has been challenged to a steak fajita throwdown by the Food Network's Iron Chef Bobby Flay. Read more here.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

More Indoctrination Instead of Education

I am certain that if my children were just now approaching school age I would seriously consider home schooling. As it is, I am grateful I still just have one in high school. On Tuesday, September 8, President Obama will present an address to all students. President Obama is a political figure. He espouses ideas that are contrary to my family's values. I would strongly resent my young, impressionable child being part of a captive audience and subjected to political propaganda. Why do I think that might be part the agenda for this event? The Department of Education study guide for teachers that accompanies this activity includes the following questions:

Why is it important that we listen to the President and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?

That is a very good question. The truth of the matter is these officials were elected by the people. If there is any listening going on, these officials should be listening to us. I am very uncomfortable with our elected officials being presented as trusted sages to young children.

The study guide suggests that after the speech children discuss the following questions:

What do you think the President wants us to do?
Does the speech make you want to do anything?
Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?

How about the question "Should we do what President Obama is asking of us?"

Hillary Clinton made famous the phrase, "It takes a village to raise a child." I agree. Raising a child is made infinitely easier if there is a supportive community. However, Hillary Clinton's idea was to make the government the village. As a parent, I will choose my own village, thank you very much.

Archbishop Wuerl speaks out in support of marriage

Archbishop Wuerl of Washington DC has joined the campaign to protect marriage in Washington D.C. Read more here.

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Slippery Slope of Sexual Immorality Continues

Following the lead of the Episcopalians, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America recently voted to allow their clergy to be in "committed, lifelong, same-gender relationships." This did not sit well with Reverend Debra Haffner, an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister. She objects to the requirement for the relationships to be committed and life-long:

All of this is excellent news for same-sex couples, of course, but the emphasis on "committed, lifelong relationships" leaves out the single minister, the divorced minister, the widowed minister -- whether gay, straight, or bisexual -- who must still adhere to a standard of celibacy unless their partner status changes.
I've long believed that the major sexuality problem denominations face is that they are unable to acknowledge that celibacy until marriage doesn't apply to most single adults. There are more than 75 million American adults who are single -- more than at any time in history. We are marrying later, divorcing at high levels, and living longer, so more of us will be widowed. And as a whole, we're having sexual relationships when we aren't in marriages.

As Director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing, Reverend Haffner thinks celibacy and chastity are overrated:

The Religious Institute has long called for a new sexual ethic to replace the traditional "celibacy until marriage, chastity after." This new ethic is free of double standards based on sexual orientation, sex, gender or marital status. It calls for sexual relationships to be consensual, non-exploitative, honest, pleasurable and protected, whether inside or outside of a covenanted relationship. It insists that intimate relationships be grounded in communication and shared values.

Take a look at this Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing. Then take a look at the list of endorsers for this document. They include:

  • Sister Eileen Brady, Roman Catholic, Manchester, NH
  • Natanael Mateus-Ruiz, Campus Minister, Roman Catholic, Stratford, Ontario
  • Rev. Edward J. Shields, Roman Catholic, Seattle, WA
  • Rev. Gary Southerton, Roman Catholic, Seattle, WA
  • Father Edward J. Dietrich, Roman Catholic, Palm Springs, CA

There are also several endorsers who claim to be Roman Catholic although they do not list themselves as holding leadership positions in the Church.

It seems to me that the bishops have a responsibility to discipline those members of the Catholic Church, especially those who hold a title of leadership or responsibility, who endorse such a radical sexual morality. At the very least, the bishops must speak out when priests and religious preach in error in the Church's name. Yet I have Googled these names and found nothing to indicate any formal objection from the episcopate. Is it because they do not know of this scandal? What should a faithful Catholic do?

How to become a Catholic

In addition to school and CCD classes, most parishes are also beginning RCIA classes. Here is a quick summary about how to become a Catholic.

Speaking of CCD, I can guarantee you that your parish religious education office is in need of teachers and other volunteers. If you are reading Catholic blogs, you are already light years ahead of most Catholics in the pews. Remember God does not call the equipped. He equips the call. Pray about it, then respond to His call.

Friday, August 28, 2009


It's Friday. I don't want to write a rant today so let's just watch this and laugh to keep from crying:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

National Endowment for the Arts Assembling a Propaganda Machine?

I love the arts but I really think they should be funded more by private philanthropy than by the government. Patrick Courrielche participated in an interesting NEA conference call that appeared to be pushing for NEA grants to artists that would create work to further the Obama Administration agenda:

The NEA is the nation’s largest annual funder of the arts. That is right, the largest funder of the arts in the nation - a fact that I’m sure was not lost on those that were on the call, including myself. One of the NEA’s major functions is providing grants to artists and arts organizations. The NEA has also historically shown the ability to attract “matching funds” for the art projects and foundations that they select. So we have the nation’s largest arts funder, which is a federal agency staffed by the administration, with those that they potentially fund together on a conference call discussing taking action on issues under vigorous national debate. Does there appear to be any potential for conflict here?

Discussed throughout the conference call was a hope that this group would be one that would carry on past the United We Serve campaign to support the President’s initiatives and those issues for which the group was passionate. The making of a machine appeared to be in its infancy, initiated by the NEA, to corral artists to address specific issues. This function was not the original intention for creating the National Endowment for the Arts.

A machine that the NEA helped to create could potentially be wielded by the state to push policy. Through providing guidelines to the art community on what topics to discuss and providing them a step-by-step instruction to apply their art form to these issues, the “nation’s largest annual funder of the arts” is attempting to direct imagery, songs, films, and literature that could create the illusion of a national consensus. This is what Noam Chomsky calls “manufacturing consent.”

Read the entire article. Then ask yourself how this initiative differs from government propaganda.

(H/T Jay Anderson)

Feast of St. Monica Blessings!

Happy Feast of St. Monica to you. I received the Sacraments in a rather unconventional way so I was confirmed at age three. There was no preparation. My mother just took me to the church, I knelt at the communion rail, and the bishop eventually came by and gave my face a little slap. About all I remember is that my hat fell off when the bishop slapped my face.

Because of this, I never did pick out a Confirmation name. But if I were to choose one now, it would be Monica. I refer to St. Monica as the patron of nagging mothers since she followed St. Augustine to Rome and then to Milan and kept after him for seventeen years until he became a Christian. She is a constant reminder that the ultimate mission of every mother is to first and foremost pray for our children and then to do everything within our power to help them get to Heaven.

Fortunately, none of my children has caused me the heartache that Augustine caused Monica. Whenever I am feeling my maternal efforts are inadequate, I think of the perseverance of St. Monica. With the grace of God, all things are possible.

Read more about St. Monica here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Follow the money

The Perfect Reflection on Ted Kennedy

Senator Edward Kennedy died last night. I feel a great deal of conflict when I reflect on what Senator Kennedy represented to America and to Catholics. I think The Anchoress offers the perfect reflection:
I expect, though, that beyond health care, and beyond the inevitable hagiography and histrionics in the press (and the competition between the Clintons and the Obamas as to who can best-use this moment) Ted Kennedy’s death will do what every Kennedy death does: shine a spotlight on Catholicism, its rituals and rites and rubrics. There will be lots of people -both Catholic and non-Catholic- who will declare themselves “shocked and scandalized” that Kennedy would be given a Mass of Christian Burial. Some will declare that he should have been “thrown out of the church” a long time ago; others will insist that his Funeral Mass brings shame to us.

Some will focus on his personal sins -the assumed repentance or lack of same (of which they will likely have no real knowledge, just hunches) and some will presume to know the state of his soul, but those will be the inveterates, working from long-habit. Most Christians will, I think, understand that “the favors of the Lord are not exhausted, his mercies not over and done” and will simply pray in hopes that Kennedy had made a contrite and humble confession of his failings and sins.

Others, of course, will suggest that Kennedy’s pro-abortion positions, in and of themselves, should damn him forever in the eyes of God.

Thankfully, God knows more, and sees more, than the rest of us, because eventually we’ll all need to count on his mercy, as we face his justice. For all that we know of Kennedy, there is much we do not know. A family member who works with the very poor once told me that when he was in a real fix and unable to find help for, for instance, a sick child in need of surgery, a phone call to Kennedy’s office would set the “Irish Mafia” of professional people -doctors, lawyers, pilots and such- into brisk motion. I think an examination of the life of every “great” person (and I mean “great” in terms of power and influence) will expose deep flaws and surprising episodes of generosity.

Perhaps the most appropriate thing any of us can do right now is pray.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.