Tuesday, October 30, 2007

My Feelings about Halloween

I do not look forward to Halloween, and have seen my own participation as a reluctance concession to the Americanized version of this holiday. I have always stressed creativity as the one positive virtue my children could get out of it. They always have to dress up as something “good, of virtue, and of good report”, as St. Paul advises on the direction of our thoughts.

With over 100 families in our neighborhood, the doorbell continues ringing from 3:00 through 9:00, and for the past two years I have not answered the door. Otherwise, I would not be able to breastfeed, put dinner on the table, help with homework, and do all the other things I need to do for my children every evening. Instead, I put out a big pot with a nice sign on it. Generally, children have been respectful. I do not put out all the candy at once, but periodically refill it from my supplies. I am relieved when my husband comes home and takes over the responsibility of handing out candy.

There is a terrific guest post by Judith Mathieu-Conley on the blog "Cause of Our Joy", on the topic of the Catholic Origins of Halloween. It made me see the holiday in a more positive light. It is definitely worth a read.

Thank you for the patience of my diligent readers who continue to click over to my site. I have been so caught up with traveling for cross country meets and other family activities that I barely have time to turn on the computer these days. The running season is soon over, and I hope to have more time to devote to sharing my stories and thoughts.

Monday, October 29, 2007

UNICEF: Trick or Treat?

"Tuesday June 20, 2006

Abortion-Pushing UNICEF Back for Hallowe’en – Whole Month of October new Collection Drive

By Hilary White

TORONTO, June 20, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – At the end of May, LifeSiteNews.com reported that the United Nations International Children’s’ Fund (UNICEF) announced that it would be ending its annual Hallowe’en collection drive. The UNICEF spokesman, Evelyne Guindon, said that the collection of coins by school children that had been a feature of Canadian life for five decades was costing more money than it was worth, but that “alternatives” were being considered.

Now UNICEF Canada is coming back with “Trick or Treat for UNICEF,” a program for schools to encourage children to become involved in the abortion-promoting group.

UNICEF Canada’s website says, “Our vision is to build an enhanced partnership with schools and provide more meaningful participation and educational opportunities for children.”

The plan is to extend the fundraising through the schools for the entire month of October. “Instead of students collecting change in the UNICEF box on Halloween night, schools will receive fundraising kits that can be used anytime during the month of October.”

Pro-life advocates have campaigned for years against the organization’s dedication to the abortion philosophy, calling on them to return to their original vision. In 2002, Joe Woodard writing in the Calgary Herald, revealed that the organization had been transformed into just another branch office for the anti-life and anti-family policies of the UN.

Woodard wrote, “This trend was codified in the 1998 declaration in Geneva of a partnership of the Children's Fund, World Health Organization and UN Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). That partnership -- the Co-ordinating Committee on Health -- aligned UNICEF with UNFPA's major partner agency, International Planned Parenthood, which ranks second only to the Chinese government in the volume of abortions it provides.”

In the years following the Second World War, the group was founded to bring much needed material aid to children, including the thousands of orphans left destitute after the war. But since the 1970’s UNICEF has shifted its focus to promote the UN's population control agenda, including abortion and contraceptives for children and young people, and sex education under the auspices of "family planning" and "reproductive rights."

In 1997, the Catholic School board of Toronto discontinued its support for UNICEF and Campaign Life Coalition convinced a number of Toronto's Catholic schools to introduce a similar box to collect funds for a local women's crisis pregnancy centre, Aid to Women.

In 1996, the Vatican announced that because of UNICEF’s abortion advocacy, it would cancel its token $2000 annual donation to the organization.

Some pro-life and pro-family international aid organizations assisting mothers and children in the developing world include:

MaterCare International

MaterCare International
8 Riverview Avenue
St. John's, Newfoundland
Canada A1C 2S5
Phone: 709-579-6472
Fax: 709- 579-6501
E-Mail: info@matercare.org

Canadian Food for Children
3218 - 224 Street, Langley, B.C. V2Z 2G8
Phone: 604-534-4544
Email: CFFC_BC@yahoo.ca

Aid to the Church in Need

Bischof-Kindermann-Str. 23
D-61462 Königstein im Taunus
Tel.: 06174 291-0
Fax: 06174 3423

Pro-life supporters looking for a home for their donations can also send assistance to LifeSiteNews.com directly through our website: http://www.lifesite.net/contribute/

To contact UNICEF Canada with your concerns:

Canada Square
2200 Yonge Street, Suite 1100
Toronto, ON M4S 2C6
Telephone +1 416 482 4444
Fax +1 416 482 8035
Email secretary@unicef.ca

Read previous LifeSiteNews.com coverage:

UNICEF to End Hallowe'en Box Collection in Canada

Read the pamphlet:
UNICEF; Guilty as Charged

Read LifeSiteNews.com special report:
UNICEF's Other Agendas


(c) Copyright: LifeSiteNews.com. Permission to republish is granted (with limitation*) but acknowledgement of source is *REQUIRED* (use LifeSiteNews.com).

NEWS TIPS to lsn@lifesitenews.com or call toll free 1-866-787-9947.

Donate to LifeSiteNews.com at http://www.lifesite.net/contribute/ "

Saturday, October 27, 2007

40 Days for Life Tele-Rally and Webcast

"To build on the amazing momentum that is growing across
America -- and to learn how people in every city in our
nation will be able to join in the "grand finale" of
this historic campaign -- you are invited to attend a
LIVE one-time-only event:

Sunday, October 28, 2007 at 9 PM Eastern
(8 PM Central, 7 PM Mountain, 6 PM Pacific)

During this important event, you will hear from...

* SAM BROWNBACK, U.S. Senator (Kansas)

* FR. FRANK PAVONE, Priests for Life

* CARMEN PATE, "Point of View" radio talk show

* JIM SEDLAK, STOPP, American Life League

* STACY MASSEY, Abortion Recovery Intl. Network

* SHAWN CARNEY, Coalition for Life

ADDITIONALLY, you will hear from leaders of several of
the local 40 Days for Life campaigns who will share how
God has been working miracles in their communities.

At the end of the live call, we will share a BIG
ANNOUNCEMENT of how people in every city across America
can join together in solidarity with this effort to
bring 40 Days for Life to a powerful finish throughout
all 50 states!

Get all the details and register to join this important
pro-life event

It's going to be EXCITING!!

Yours For Life,

David Bereit
National Campaign Director
40 Days for Life

P.S.- Be sure to register right now for the "BIG EVENT"
tele-rally and web simulcast! There are limited spaces
available, and it's 100% FREE so go register at:

http://www.40DaysForLifeBigEvent.com <-----------------

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Explaining Abortion to Children

One day late last October, my then-nine-year-old daughter came home from school and told me about an informal poll that had been taken in her fifth grade class.

If they were able to vote in the next Presidential election, whom would they vote for? She said most of the children raised their hand for Hillary Clinton. I do not know who else was offered as a “candidate”, but I was shocked at the support for such a person in a Catholic school.

“Oh, she’s horrible, horrible – evil, even!” I exclaimed.


I could have gone into a thousand reasons – the shocking things she has gotten away with throughout her years in public service. The one that stood out the most in my mind, at that moment, was her stance on abortion.

I quickly weighed in my mind whether or not I wanted to bring this subject up at this juncture. Would I shatter her innocence by letting her know such evil existed? How likely was she to hear the term “abortion” elsewhere in the next year?

I decided to sit her down and explain what abortion was. She had just been through my pregnancy, so she understood what I meant when I said a woman decided to “terminate” her pregnancy.

“But why would someone want to do that?”

I explained that sometimes a woman might feel like she had no options – no husband, no support from family or friends, nowhere to turn. My explanations of procreation had been so entwined in marriage that she didn’t understand how a woman could become pregnant without being married!

She was sad but calm. “Well, at least there is one good thing, the baby gets to go to heaven,” she said.

This past summer, we came across a mention of abortion in the most innocent of movies, “The Singing Nun”, starring Debbie Reynolds. A young woman fainted at a church dance and said, “Don’t worry, I’m just pregnant. I’m not having the baby though. I’m going to have an abortion.” The freshman nun, shocked, yelled at her for even thinking of such a thing, calling it “murder”. “How dare you say such a thing to me!” returned the young woman. The young nun was rebuked by an elder nun, saying she had to find a gentler way to express herself if she didn't want to "lose" the people. It was lost on my six-year-old son. My eight-year-old daughter turned to me and asked, “What is abortion?”

So I quickly and gently explained it to her. As my mom always said, she’d rather I heard about these things from her than from the world. Middle school seems to be the time to explain such matters to our children so they have it in the context of our values.

“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Virgin and Child before a Firescreen
Oil on wood, 1430
National Gallery, London

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

St. Philomena and "Bella"

I am so excited about going to see Bella with my daughters this weekend! I would like to share this letter that I received regarding this all-important opening weekend.

"Dear Universal Archconfraternity of St. Philomena Family Members,

I wanted to share some exciting news about a film, Bella, recently produced by fellow St. Philomena devotee Leo Severino. The film took the top prize at Toronto's International Film Festival winning the "People's Choice Award," a distinction that puts the movie in the company of Oscar-winning works. The directors of Bella also were recognized with the Smithsonian Latino Center's Legacy Award honoring positive role models of Hispanic heritage who have made a significant contribution to American culture and society.

You may recall receiving an e-mail recently about Leo and his bride Jacque who stayed at St. Philomena's Sanctuary in Mugnano on their honeymoon in August.

Please join me and show our support for Leo and Jacque and his production crew by taking your family and friends in your community in the United States, or telling your family and friends who live in the United States, to see the film this weekend. The film opens in many U.S. theaters on October 26, 2007.

Your support of the film, which is centered on the value of pro-life, will enable it to reach millions of people in theaters across the U.S. and around the world.

Click here to learn more about the film and specific theater locations.

Leo was recently interviewed on EWTN where he commented that they consecrated the movie to St. Philomena and Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Please join us in congratulating Leo and his family and for the continuous intercession of our beloved Saint to promote heroic purity to our youth of the twenty-first century and to encourage all people to commit their fidelity to Christ,

Marie Burns,
Director General of the Universal Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena

Universal Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena
83027 Mugnano del Cardinale
Avellino, Italy
tel:011 39 081 825 7204
fax:011 39 081 511 2733

We beseech Thee, O Lord, to grant us the pardon of our sins by the intercession of Saint Philomena, virgin and martyr, who was always pleasing in Thy sight by her eminent chastity and by the profession of every virtue.
Illustrious virgin and martyr, Saint Philomena, behold me prostrate before the throne whereupon it has pleased the Most Holy Trinity to place thee. Full of confidence in thy protection, I entreat thee to intercede for me with God, from the heights of Heaven deign to cast a glance upon thy humble client! Spouse of Christ, sustain me in suffering, fortify me in temptation, protect me in the dangers surrounding me, obtain for me the graces necessary to me, and in particular success for the film "Bella".
Above all, assist me at the hour of my death. Saint Philomena, powerful with God, pray for us.
O God, Most Holy Trinity, we thank Thee for the graces Thou didst bestow upon the Blessed Virgin Mary, and upon Thy handmaid Philomena, through whose intercession we implore Thy Mercy.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Not According to Plan

Yesterday was one of those days composed of things not going quite right, yet ending up well.

Sunday morning I had a terrible time with the baby in church. No sooner had we seated ourselves than she ripped off my glasses, scratching the side of my nose in the process. She thought that was great fun, and I had to get my son to hold my glasses. She then proceeded to attempt to remove my earrings.

After I had carefully pried her strong little fingers off my earring, she decided she wanted to have every one of the pew’s hymnals in her possession. This entire scene had been intolerable for me from the beginning. But I knew it was going to be considered an annoyance to others as her “eh? EH?” insistence on the hymnals grew in crescendo.

I motioned to my husband my intention and removed the baby and myself from the church. I have not had to do this since she was a newborn. (Although I have come close many times.) We went outside and sat under a huge old oak tree. She happily and peacefully played with a pile of acorns for the remainder of the mass.

After church, a friend came over to help me secure the baby seat properly to my bicycle. Just as I was putting on her helmet, another friend called. We had been playing “telephone tag” for several days now. My husband handed me the telephone and I explained I was about to go for a bicycle ride.

She loved the bicycle ride but was irritated by the helmet. My six-year-old son ran himself into a curb, close enough to home that my husband was able to run out of the house and bring him home. My eight-year-old daughter was having a problem with her bicycle. Halfway around the mile-long circle that our street runs in, I had two crying girls in tow. My ten-year-old was very helpful in calming them down so we did not disturb the peace in our neighborhood.

I called back my friend. “That was quick,” she said.

“Well, it didn’t go as well as I had planned…”

Have you ever heard of “beef chuck deckle”? I never have, yet I bought a cut of it and made it for dinner. I could not find the word “deckle” in my cookbook, and Webster’s definition had nothing to do with meat. I decided “chuck” meant I should sear and then slow-roast, and it came out delicious.

“Just as you know not how the breath of life fashions the human frame in the mother’s womb,
So you know not the work of God which he is accomplishing in the universe.
In the morning sow your seed,
And at evening let not your hand be idle:
For you know not which of the two will be successful,
Or whether both alike will turn out well.”
Ecclesiastes 11:5-6

Photo Taliah Lempert

Saturday, October 20, 2007

College for Kids

My fourth-grader was at St. Joseph’s College for a language arts class this morning. It just so happened that the school was hosting “Make a Difference Day”, a free event for kids. All of the clubs had tables with games, crafts, and junk food for the kids. It was the first such fair I have been to in a really long time in which everything was truly FREE.

We had not planned on staying past the end of my daughter’s class, but there was so much to do that I decided to suspend my usual strict naptime for the baby. There was a magic show and a wonderful Double Dutch demonstration, both of which had my girls talking for hours. Mostly they came away with a very positive image of college.

Previously, I think my children had this mysterious, awe-stricken view of “college”. Where was this place, why were we saving money for it, and who went there? The lovely undergraduates who volunteered today showed them that nice, friendly, good, and normal young people frequent the place, a suburban commuter campus with a clean, no-fuss atmosphere.

It also made me more at peace with the whole idea of college, which is only six years away for my eldest. Being there really took me back to my freshman year at St. John’s University, also a Catholic commuter college with a similar environment. My friend commented, “The kids look so young, I thought they were high schoolers!” It really was not that long ago I was one of them, and I am reminded of the fresh idealistic spirit characteristic of the age. Together I think we can all look forward to this time, not with anxiety, but with an optimistic and excited outlook.

“Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall bring it to pass.”
Psalms 37:5

Action is urgently needed to remedy a wrong on another Catholic College Campus. Please read the letter below:

“Do I need to tell you why abortion is wrong? Probably not…
But you see, moral relativism just hit a new low at Holy Cross, a Catholic college that rented its conference center to a pro-abortion group called Alliance on Teen Pregnancy. Unless canceled, the convention will be on October 24.
Sign your protest – urgently
According to press reports…
· Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America will conduct workshops during the event at Holy Cross
· Speakers will promote contraceptive methods for teenagers that are contrary to the moral teaching of the Catholic Church.
Read more.
Good news: Bishop Robert J. McManus of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, issued a firm statement on October 10 urging college president Father Michael C. McFarland to cancel the event.
I am asking you to join the protest today. Then make a polite but firm phone call to…
Fr. Michael C. McFarland, S. J.
Phone: 508-793-2525
And please forward this email to all of your friends. There is strength in numbers. And Catholic education is a cause much too noble for us to remain silent.
Thank you very, very much and may God bless you!
Your friend,
John E. Ritchie
TFP Student Action Director”

Thursday, October 18, 2007

All Right, But Done the Wrong Way

“Who do you think your teacher is, me or your mother?” the math teacher yelled at my sixth grader today.

I somehow doubt she would have tread those waters had she known my daughter had been homeschooled through fourth grade.

The skill being taught was the addition and subtraction of negative and positive integers. The multi-step method taught yesterday was not abundantly clear to my daughter, and I could see she did not know what she was doing. I asked her why she was circling all the signs and what she thought she was supposed to do with them. She did not know.

“Look here,” I said, erasing her little circles.

“But the teacher said - ”

“Never mind that. You don’t remember what she said, and I don’t know what she said, so I’ll make it simple for you.”

I circled the two negatives and put a positive sign over them. “Two negatives make a positive, just like in grammar. Now add.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it.”

The light bulb had gone on, and within five minutes the worksheet was done.

She got them all right, but that was not good enough. She had not followed directions.

I could definitely see from where the teacher was coming. However, if she had not explained the process in an understandable way, what was wrong with coming at it from a different direction? And once the work gets set home, isn’t that my territory?

I obviously was a bit miffed at my daughter’s being chastised for listening to her mother. But for me to say anything would be to make it worse. So I’ll let it be – and hope this doesn’t repeat itself too many more times in the next three years.

I seem to remember having a similar problem with my high school teacher, coming to a solution through a thought-process in reverse from what she had taught. But she knew there was “more than one way to skin a cat” (no offense meant to cat lovers here – it was a saying used often in my childhood), and as long as I could show my work there would be no points taken off.

My eldest daughter’s mind works so much like mine – we often complete each other’s sentences. Teaching her math was always a breeze. If I explained the numbers the way they sorted themselves out in my mind, she would catch on quite quickly. Teachers’ editions never worked for me – just give me the problem and let’s solve it.

Not so with Salvation. Jesus was quite clear that there was only One Way to the Father. He may speak in mysteries but they have a mathematical, logical undercurrent.

“Thomas said to him, ‘Master, we do not know where you are going;
how can we know the way?’
Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you know me, then you will also know my Father.
From now on you do know him and have seen him.’”
John 14:5-7

Painting above:
"The Professor is Out"
by Luigi Bechi

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Communications and a Visit to Highbury

A Visit to Highbury: Another View of Emma”, is an entertaining and well-written novel by Joan Austen-Leigh, the great-grand-daughter of Jane Austen’s nephew, James Edward Austen-Leigh. It takes the form of an exchange of letters between two sisters.

Mrs. Mary Goddard, the mistress of the girls’ school in Highbury, shares the local gossip about the beloved characters created by Jane Austen in “Emma”: Emma Woodhouse, Harriet Smith, Jane Fairfax, Robert Martin, Mr. Elton, Frank Churchill, and Mr. Knightly, among others. Mrs. Charlotte Pinkney, from her dark and gloomy house in London, speculates on the causes of their behavior and complains about her loneliness in her new marriage.

Although separated by a mere twelve miles, without a private carriage and the means to travel it is like an ocean between them. The last time they saw each other was seventeen years ago, when Charlotte went to help Mary grieve the loss of her children to scarlet fever. Writing almost every day in copious detail, they maintain their closeness and help to lend support and advice where needed. The title comes from the hopes Charlotte has of obtaining permission from her new husband to visit Mary.

Reading the letters made me think of the change communications has brought to us. Although my sister lives several hundred miles away in Tennessee, we are able to talk via telephone and e-mail. A car ride is only one full day away, and a plane ride about four hours.

The written letter has become quite rare and old-fashioned, something I now share only with older relatives who do not access e-mail. How much deeper the letters in this book go than the typical telephone conversation or e-mail! There may be a frequency and ease of contact, yet the depth is something that is often lost in the technology.

On the other hand, with much thoughtfulness we can use our modern gadgets to enhance our long-distance relationships. My grandmother, mother, sister, and I exchange e-mails several times per week. Several years ago my husband bought me a digital camera. I liberally send the photos to share my excitement in a memory made that day.

And my digital camcorder, another Christmas gift a few years later, I use to take home movies of every-day activities that my relatives must miss out on. Last Christmas I made copies of the movies and sent them as Christmas gifts to those who would most appreciate them. This year I will do the same, so they can share in Baby’s First Birthday, Baby’s First Steps, baseball games, and track meets.

Technological communications can distance us or make us closer. It is all in how we make use of it!

Additional Post-Notes:

I will try to get my hands on the sequel, “Later Days at Highbury”, and review it here.

My review should appear on ReviewScout.com in five to seven days.

Read my post on Austen’s Times.

Read my post on Northanger Abbey.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Backpack Misadventure

I went through a great deal of worry and aggravation today over a relatively minor thing.

My ten-year old ran a cross-country race after school at a New York State Park. I had my six- and eight- year-olds bring their backpacks so they could get their homework done while waiting.

After the race, I wanted to hurry out of there to beat the rush hour traffic. I was feeling pretty good about getting on the road by 4:30, and was making good time.

At around 4:50, something made me ask about their homework and “You did bring your backpacks, correct?”

The answer was no.

Horrified, I made a hasty exit from the Long Island Expressway and reversed directions. Watching the traffic build up in the direction we had just come from, I said, “That’s what we’re going to have to sit in on the way back. And we were making such good time!”

I was very angry.

Forty-five minutes later, I was in the park. From the parking lot I could see the table where we had been sitting. It was totally bare. We got out of the car and searched the ground, the garbage cans, and the dumpster. I imagined having to explain this to the school and order new books.

I prayed that someone from the cross-country team had taken the bags and that there would be a message on our telephone machine to that effect.

At 5:30, we were back at the exit where we had originally made our turn-around. “We could be eating dinner right now,” I complained.

We finally pulled into the driveway at 6:00. Sure enough, there was a message from the coach’s wife that a family had taken the bags home for us. I called them, and the father graciously offered to bring our bags to us! I thanked him and said no, but we would be greatly obliged if his daughter could bring the bags with her to school in the morning. “No problem,” he said.

I wrote notes to the teachers explaining why the children were coming to school empty-handed and that the bags would be arriving momentarily. Meanwhile, my older daughter became excited about delivering the bags to her siblings’ classrooms and meeting their teachers.

When my husband arrived home, I wearily explained what had transpired. “Well, everything turned out all right then!” he responded.

“But it might not have.”

“But it did.”

We go over this same territory now and then, he explaining why I should not be worried and upset over “what could have been”.

“I always expect the worst could happen,” he says, “The thing is to be aware and prepared to react when they do.”

I know he is right, and this thinking is quite consistent with Jesus’ teaching. We are to be sober and wakeful; yet not to be worried and anxious, but trusting in Him. This is a lesson that has been a lifetime in the learning for me.

Unfailing Prayer to Saint Anthony

Blessed be God in His Angels and in His Saints.

O Holy St. Anthony, gentlest of Saints, your love for God
and Charity for His creatures made you worthy, when on
earth, to possess miraculous powers. Miracles waited on
your word, which you were ever ready to speak for those in
trouble or anxiety. Encouraged by this thought, I implore
of you to obtain for me (request). The answer to my prayer
may require a miracle. Even so, you are the saint of

O gentle and loving St. Anthony, whose heart was ever full
of human sympathy, whisper my petition into the ears of the
Sweet Infant Jesus, who loved to be folded in your arms, and
the gratitude of my heart will ever be yours.

Amen. (Say 13 Paters, Aves, and Glorias)

When something is lost, the simple prayer goes:

St. Anthony, St. Anthony
Please come down
Something is lost
And can't be found

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Pro-Life Channel

I was channel-surfing last night and caught an awful idea of George Carlin’s for an unmentionable [anti-life] reality channel. It gave me a rather good idea that could save thousands of lives per day.

Imagine “The Pro-Life Channel: All Life, All the Time”.

Victor sits back in his easy chair after a long day. He has just come home from his girlfriend’s house, where they had come to a unified decision about her unplanned pregnancy. They both needed to finish graduate school, and it seemed like the rational thing to put off having children until they had gotten their degrees, stable professional positions, and a nice house.

He flicks through the channels and stopped at an amazing picture on PLC. He sits mesmerized by Lennart Nilsson’s photography featured in the documentary “The Miracle of Life”.

A commercial comes on for Pampers. They were all too happy to support such an effort. The more babies were born, the more bottoms needed to be covered.

He picks up the phone and calls his girlfriend.

“Turn on your television set.”


“Just stop whatever you’re doing and turn on channel 726.”

“Okay, whatever.”

“You found it yet?”

“Oh my God….”

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”


“I guess we’re having a baby, honey.”

“[sniff] Yeah.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

“Congratulations, Mommy.”

I hope my idea makes it around because I would love to see it come to fruition!

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Visitation

The theme of the 2007 Respect Life Program is The Infant in My Womb Leaped for Joy.

[The angel Gabriel had just told Mary the extraordinary news of her immaculate conception.]

“’And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.’
Mary said, ‘Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.’
Then the angel departed from her.

During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah,
Where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
Cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.’

And Mary said:
‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
My spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
Behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
And holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age
To those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
Dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
But lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
The rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant,
Remembering his mercy,
According to his promised to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his descendants forever.’

Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.”

Luke 1:36-56

“Annunciation and Visitation”
Unknown master, Flemish, c. 1525
Oil on oak panel, 99 x 33 cm (each)
Groeninge Museum, Bruges

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Like a Little Child

Over the past week, my 14 ½- month-old has experimented with standing up in the middle of the room and taking one small step. At first that step was barely discernible, and I could barely take my eyes off her for fear of missing something important. Today she took two steps, sat down, stood up, then took six steps towards me. The gleam in her eyes showed she knew she was doing something amazing. Gladly I had all her siblings home to witness it. Later we tried to get her to do it for her father, but she refused to cooperate.

As proud she is to stand and take some steps, she is very happy crawling and does not hesitate to return to it. If she is standing and sees something she wants, she pauses, seeming to calculate the easiest way, then drops and crawls. Or, she might see that if she throws her body a bit in one direction, she can make it to the couch and thus avoid having to change her height status. If she has something she desires to carry along with her, she will do a sort of step-crawl, sitting on her rear and using one foot to get ahead.

The children have a ball when they all get down on their hands and knees and crawl around the downstairs in a circle – a central wall divides the three main rooms of the main level – gleefully she follows them around, squealing laughter as they carry on the “crawling races”.

That she does not discern her “lowliness” as a crawler from her altered stature as a walker represents the unselfconscious humility that God desires of us. Yes, He desires that we grow and mature in His Ways, but we are to retain a certain childlike quality while doing so. It is not as simple to do as it sounds.

“Just then the disciples came up to Jesus with the question,
‘Who is of greatest importance in the kingdom of God?’
He called a little child over and stood him in their midst and said:
‘I assure you, unless you change and become like little children,
you will not enter the kingdom of God.
Whoever makes himself lowly,
Becoming like this child,
Is of greatest importance in that heavenly reign.
Whoever welcomes one such child for my sake welcomes me.
On the other hand,
It would be better for anyone who leads astray one of these little ones who believe in me,
To be drowned by a millstone around his neck,
In the depths of the sea.”
Matthew 18:1-6

I have received a prayer request for someone who is putting her unborn baby in the position of utmost importance:

Dear Elizabeth,

Late last night, a friend called me with an urgent
prayer request.

As he described the situation, I realized how the young
mother's love profoundly demonstrates the spirit of 40
Days for Life.

While flying to Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota this
afternoon, I felt compelled to share this, so you could
fervently pray for this family now, and during the rest
of 40 Days for Life...

Urgent prayers are requested for the health and
development of Baby John, unborn son of Stacey and Joe
Persichetti, as well as for health and strength of his
parents, and the wisdom of his doctors.

Stacey, the mother, was diagnosed with serious brain
cancer last fall and, during the course of chemo and
radiation treatment, discovered that she is pregnant.

Due to her treatment, the baby has been exposed to the
chemicals from day one.

She has been informed by her baby-related doctors that
the chemo is very strong and particularly attacks DNA
growth in cells and therefore the baby. The doctors
feel that there will be neurological damage to the
child, although the ultrasounds have thus far showed
relatively normal growth.

Additionally, her cancer-related doctors have told her
that they do not want her to stop treatment because her
cancer is so aggressive. They said that if she carries
the baby to 40 weeks gestation, she probably won't live
to deliver the child.

Rather than resort to the world's suggested "solution"
of an abortion, Stacey is taking a 10 week break from
her treatment to allow the baby to reach 28 weeks
gestation, when the doctors can deliver via C-section.

The bottom line: Stacey is risking her own life to give
her baby a chance to live, even though her child may
have complications resulting from the cancer treatment.

Scripture tells us, "There is no greater love than to
lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 15:13)

Stacey's selfless faith during this difficult time is
showing us -- and the whole world -- this greatest form
of love.

Let's dedicate our 40 Days for Life prayers and efforts
today in honor of Stacey, her husband Joe, and Baby
John, and let's show the world that same kind of love
as we selflessly work to protect all innocent children
in the womb and their mothers and fathers.

For Stacey, Joe, and Baby John,

David Bereit, National Campaign Director, 40 Days for

P.S.- The Persichetti family would be deeply touched to
know that you are praying for their family. Please take
a moment to leave a reply with your prayers for them at
the bottom of today's blog posting.

Watercolor painting above:
Christ Teaching His Disciples and Holding a Child.
Thomas Stothard, c 1780. Tate Gallery.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Strawberries and Cream

The baby was in her high chair having strawberries and a bowlful of plain vanilla yogurt. The bus stopped in front of our house and she turned excitedly, knowing her siblings were due to come in the door.

“Ooh! Strawberries and cream!” exclaimed my ten-year-old daughter. “Can we have some?”

So they all sat down with a bowlful of strawberries and “cream”.

Feeding herself, alternating between fingers and spoon, the baby managed to eat quite a bit, but needed a bath afterward.

The kids love to participate in her bath time, rinsing her hair, sudsing her up, brushing her hair, and encouraging her to splash and play. The bathroom can get a bit crowded this way, so I have to ask them to take turns.

While I was dressing her, the other kids played downstairs on-and-off with doing homework. Three times they came to me, tattling. This one poked that one, and that one pinched this one. “Go back downstairs and I’ll talk to you about this in a minute,” I answered.

How was I going to deal with this, this time?

An answer quickly came to me.

I went to my eight-year-old’s room and grabbed her Precious Moments Bible.

“All of you sit down on the couch, right now,” I commanded.

They did so, and I opened up the Bible to I Corinthians 13.

“Who knows what I Corinthians 13 is about?”

“Love,” answered both my 8- and 10- year old daughters. My 6-year-old son was silent.

“Good,” I responded, and read aloud the entire chapter, stressing the verses that especially pertained to the behavior that was expected among them.

Here and there, they requested that I define a word, such as "provoked".

“And who are we supposed to love?” I asked.

“Everyone,” came the correct answer.

“And where are we supposed to start?”

No answer.

“Our family. This is where it all starts. You have to learn to love your own family before you can love all of the human family. Now hug and kiss each other.”

Genuine hugs and kisses went around.

If I had scolded them, there would have been a stiff hug and a muttered, begrudging “Sorry”.

I am looking in my concordance, preparing another passage for tomorrow.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Apple Picking for President

This Columbus Day was the perfect day for apple picking. So I packed up my kids, an apple crate, and our good old red Radio Flyer wagon, and headed east.

The baby sat in back of the wagon, and the apple crate fit perfectly in the front half. I asked the lady at the weighing station where the best apples are. “What kind are you looking for?” she asked.

“What do you have?”

She answered red and golden delicious – and I said we wanted both. She told me to go down several rows and head deep into the field.

We did that, walking through row after row of empty trees, red and golden apples piled on the ground. Some people were picking through the ones that had dropped. We kept on walking.

Finally, we struck gold – or rather, red. There was not a single golden delicious apple to be seen ready for picking. But there was a nice section of lovely trees simply weighed down with perfect red apples. Within fifteen minutes we had our crate filled – about fifty pounds’ worth. The baby had her first real apple and just loved it. We had to stop her when she got to the core.

We found a shortcut to head back home; next time I will know how to avoid the fruit-picking traffic.

I was absolutely exhausted tonight and took an hour to watch Dr. Dobson speak on Fox News’ Hannity and Colmes.

Apparently the Republican party is having trouble finding a good conservative, pro-life candidate. I find it appalling that they would settle for less than we deserve. But even worse is that we would accept that. Many would choose the “better of the worse” candidates, afraid that to vote for a third-party candidate is to lose the election for one’s party.

Hypothetically, say the Republicans fail to find a good candidate, and a large part of the Rebublican constituency votes for a third-candidate on principle, and Hillary Clinton wins. Is Hillary Clinton the worst thing that could possibly happen to America?

Dobson had a wonderful point. Should Hillary Clinton be elected (God forbid), there will be a mobilization of the conservative movement. Should the likes of Rudy Giuliani be elected, the pro-life movement will be dead.

Didn’t something similar happen during the Bill Clinton Presidency? Rush Limbaugh reached the height of popularity and conservative talk radio made the mainstream media take pause.

Let us not pick up the rotten apples for lack of nothing better. Let us keep walking and searching for the choice fruits America deserves.

Painting Above by Vitali Komarov
Flowered Meadow in the Garden, Oil on Canvas, 2007

Sunday, October 7, 2007

My First Pro-Life Picket

"Praise to God for His salvation and Judgment. Praise
the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, and His praise
in the assembly of saints." -- Psalm 149:1

Stand Up For Life was held for the first time in Eastern Long Island, in Manorville, while our Nassau County counterparts rallied at the more established route in Huntington. Over 100 men, women, and children (about a dozen) were present. Most held signs with a picture of a mother and baby that read “LOVE THEM BOTH”; some held the same sign in Spanish; and others held signs that said “Abortion Kills Children”.

My daughters and I were the first to set up on a grassy corner. Thinking nervously of my car accident last year, I made sure we were up on a knoll, about six feet higher than the street level. I was joined by a lovely woman, who told me she was number eleven of twelve children. “I was the same age as your daughters when my mom first started taking us to these things. It really stuck to me.”

A car slowed down as a woman in the passenger seat rolled down her window to say loudly, “I’m on my way to get an abortion, right now!” I’m sure she was trying to rile us up, but what bothered me was that she had a young girl in her back seat. My daughters were standing several feet back and did not hear her. I burst into tears. “This is my first time doing something like this,” I explained after the lady had driven away. I hoped we were not in for more of the same – thankfully, we were not.

The other lady’s nieces and nephews soon showed up, and they moved to the other side of the street. Three other families from my children’s school joined us. My daughters were heartened and held their signs up high.

My dear friend and esteemed fellow blogger Leticia Velasquez joined us with her teenage daughter. They had just come from the Latin Mass, she said. She boldly stepped up to the street and held up her sign. She counted the friendly beeps. “I think it’s about ten to one in favor,” she guessed. Some bikers passed by with a thumbs up. A few held out a different finger but, perhaps in deference to the children present, held their tongues. Whenever a woman passed by with a sad or angry look, she said a Hail Mary for them. She spoke of the looks on young women’s faces as they came out of the abortion clinics.

I pray for the angels who are able to stand vigil at such places. I think it must take nerves of steel. Having been gracefully protected from any great evil or suffering in my life, first under the wings of my parents and then those of my husband, it is very difficult for me to see it in others.

A police officer stopped by briefly. “I have no problem what you’re doing here,” he said, “Just make sure to keep out of the street and not traffic.” He continued on his way.

Before long, it was 3:30, the established time to leave. The woman who had first stood next to me came to make sure I was doing okay, after my original emotional outburst. Leticia didn’t seem to want to leave her post, but we dragged her away.

"Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all
the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name. Proclaim
the good news of His salvation from day to day." --
Psalm 96:1-2.

Above: Adoration Of The Magi (central panel of the altarpiece of the Patron Saints of Cologne) Oil on canvas, 1435-1440

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Stand Up For Life!

At fourteen months, my youngest daughter is just now starting to bring herself to a stand in the middle of the room. As we have all been holding our breaths for this moment, she takes in the attention gleefully. Eyes shining, smile wide, she looks around the room as we clap for her. She claps for herself and says, “Yay!” as my son counts the number of seconds she is able to stand.

As much as we are happy to see her developmental progress, neither are we in a rush to see her leave babyhood behind.

Today, after my eldest daughter’s cross-country meet, it was so hot out that we went down to the beach area. “Only up to your knees,” I warned the children, knowing what was bound to happen anyway. As I held the baby in up to her knees, my eight-year-old “accidentally” fell in. It was all over after that. My children and all the cross-country teammates were soon ALL in, clothes and all. We got a great picture to send to our coach.

Tomorrow we will take part in the Eastern Long Island “Stand Up For Life” prayerful vigil, as well as the “Baby Bottle Campaign”. My daughters will be giving out baby bottles after church, to collect for needy moms-to-be. Later we will be standing, along with schoolmates and other pro-lifers from across Long Island, with placards in hand. Lots of apple-pickers will be stuck in traffic taking in our message to respect the life of the innocent unborn. This will be my first real pro-life event I’ve taken part in. I will be sure to report back all my observations!

From 40 Days for Life:
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
(USCCB) recognizes Sunday, October 7, as "Respect Life
Sunday" and has many resources for that day, as well as
the rest of Respect Life month. Get more info here.

Sunday, October 7, is the 20th nationwide Life
Chain, a peaceful and prayerful witness of Americans
standing for one hour praying for our nation. These
wonderful events will be held in hundreds of cities
across America and many 40 Days for Life locations are
participating in Life Chain as part of their efforts.
The founder and president of Life Chain, Royce Dunn,
has been one of the most vocal supporters of 40 Days
for Life and he is an amazing man of faith! Learn more.

Painting above by Stefan Lochner (born 1442 - died 1451)
“Madonna Of The Rose Bush”, 1450, Oil on canvas

Friday, October 5, 2007

Apple Crisp

My good friend called me yesterday to confirm coffee at her house this morning. The two of us have been so busy that it was all we could do to find one hour in which to meet – from exactly 10:15 to 11:15. From there I was going to pick up my children from their half-day at school, then go on to pumpkin picking.

“Have you been fasting?” she asked me on the telephone.

I have to admit I thought this was a test, because she had been the first one to send me the information about the 40 Days for Life call for fasting and prayer.

“I have to admit,” I nervously replied, “I was going to do a modified fast [because I am nursing], but I failed.”

“That’s okay,” she said lightheartedly, “The reason I asked was because I went apple picking and was thinking of making something. I didn’t want to put it in front of you if you were fasting.”

It turns out she had also not been successful in avoiding snacks between meals on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays, as had been called for in the Diocese of Rockville Center. Like me, she had decided to make non-food-related sacrifices. How thoughtful it was of her to desire not to act as a “stumbling block” for me.

I informed her that, even if I had been fasting, the Catholic Fasting Rules allow us to accept food from our hostesses if it would be rude not to do so.

Those who are excused from fast or abstinence:
Besides those outside the age limits, those of unsound mind, the sick, the frail, pregnant or nursing women according to need for meat or nourishment, manual laborers according to need, guests at a meal who cannot excuse themselves without giving great offense or causing enmity and other situations of moral or physical impossibility to observe the penitential discipline.

You can read about the 40 Days for Life as well as the complete Catholic Fasting Rules here.

We had a wonderful homemade apple crisp. I can’t remember the last time I had baked apple goods that actually came from freshly picked apples. What a treat!

For the recipe that goes with the photo above go here.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Just for Fun (?)

I received this meme from my dear friend Leticia over at Cause of Our Joy, Causa Nostrae Laetitiae, The Dr.Jerome Lejeune Society , and The True Meaning of Christmas.
Here's a fun quiz made up especially for bloggers. The rules are easy. Just post the quiz on your blog and answer the questions, then pass it on to five other bloggers, and link to them in your post. Be sure to link back to the one who sent it to you.

1. Do you attend the Traditional Latin Mass or the Novus Ordo?
Novus Ordo, because that is what is held in our parish. They also have a Spanish Mass, which perhaps is linguistically closer to Latin, but I don’t think that counts.
2. If you attend the TLM, how far do you drive to get there?
The nearest TLM is about 45 minutes away. We all get up at 10:00 on Sundays, so they would have to have a very late mass in order for us to get there on time.
3. If you had to apply a Catholic label to yourself, what would it be? How about Devout Roman Catholic?
We were made for the glorification of God. Therefore I believe in living one’s life as a prayer. Every single one of our thoughts and actions are to be guided by our Maker. If we know the Word, and live by it, there should be no question about what to do or say in a given situation. I look to Christ implicitly in every second of my day. I believe Christ founded one Holy Catholic Apostolic Church; its doctrine is carefully founded upon His Word; therefore I do consider myself a Devout Roman Catholic.
4. Are you a comment junkie? I love getting comments and try to leave comments whenever I read something that truly touches me.
5. Do you go back to read the comments on the blogs you’ve commented on?
Occasionally, if it was a comment that stood out in my memory as something that might draw another comment.
6. Have you ever left an anonymous comment on another blog? My very first comment was listed as “anonymous” but I listed my name. A minute later I became a blogger.
7. Which blogroll would you most like to be on?
I am too new to this to answer this one intelligently.
8. Which blog is the first one you check? causa nostrae laetitiae
9. Have you met any other bloggers in person? I know Leticia Velasquez at Causa Nostrae Laetitiae and my sister, Joanna Gerold, at Part of Something. I hope to meet some more of my fellow Catholic Long Island Blogger Moms at a Stand Up for Life Walk this Sunday.
10. What are you reading? Currently on my night table are “Feminism: The Essential Historical Writings”, “The Gentle Art of Communicating with Kids”, Jane Austen’s “Sanditon and Other Stories”, and “A Visit to Highbury: Another View of Emma”, by Joan Austen-Leigh; and, of course, my Bible and Concordance.
Bonus Question! Has your site been banned by Spirit of Vatican II? No, but I am actively trying to get myself banned. Apparently, it is a "good" thing to be banned. I thought that banning went out with Capernicus and Galileo. I am afraid I do not have a very good sense of humour.
If it has, who do you think Father Tim really is? I do not know.

Picture Above:
Blind Man's Buff
by Auguste Joseph Trupheme, 1836-1898

Monday, October 1, 2007

October is Respect Life Month!

I believe it is no coincidence that Long Island’s Newsday chose this week to run a five-part series on the Katie Trebing Story, reported by Beth Whitehouse. The Trebings used preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) and in vitro fertilization to create the “perfect sibling” for the purpose of a bone marrow transplant to hopefully cure their daughter Katie’s Diamond Blackfan anemia. In the process, a total of 37 embryos were created. Only three were considered “good candidates” for implantation; the result was one successful pregnancy. The story is available at www.newsday.com/thematch. Whitehouse will be available for a live chat at the web site this Tues. and Wed. at 12:30 p.m. Stacy and Steve Trebing will be in the chat room on Thurs. at 12:30 p.m. Perhaps some of you can log in to make your voices heard.