Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pro-life Blog Awards

Thank you, DR at The Maritime Sentry for nominating me for this prestigious award from the American Life League.As ALL says, blogging, especially pro-life blogging can be a lonely and thankless job. I hear that.
Sometimes when comments are sparse, or overwhelimingly negative as they were on this post, I wonder if the only readers out there are coming by accident through Google. I certainly don't want to preach to choir, and unintentional readers may have their eyes opened in ways they never imagined, but still, it's so gratifying to be recognized by fellow writers, bloggers, and pro-lifers. Thank you.
There is no voting from the general public, a panel of pro-life bloggers and media specialists will decide the winners. I'm on pins and needles; this would be a great honor coming from ALL.

Hope for the future

Don't you just love these inspirational videos which show the wide range of activities which await our children with Trisomy 21?
As I was saying on the TV interview last week, there has never been a better time to raise a child with T21, the future is full of possibilities. Read the Down Syndrome Info Organtization's book "Whisper's of Hope" in PDF form, here.
IF only they weren't aborted at 90%!
Keep Infants with Down Syndrome.
HT Down syndrome Info.org

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Feast of the Holy Innocents

In honor of the Holy Innocents,the first martyrs for Christ, killed by Herod, we celebrate this memorial today. The minor key and lyrics of The Coventry Carol carry the mood of mourning for the innocents of today who are killed in their mother's womb.

Coventry Carol
Pause Music!
Lullay, Thou little tiny Child,
By, by, lully, lullay.
Lullay, Thou little tiny Child.
By, by, lully, lullay.

O sisters, too, how may we do,
For to preserve this day;
This poor Youngling for whom we sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

Herod the King, in his raging,
Charged he hath this day;
His men of might, in his own sight,
All children young, to slay.

Then woe is me,
poor Child, for Thee
,And ever mourn and say;
For Thy parting, nor say nor sing,
By, by, lully, lullay.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Carol Sing Along

Right now, on Christmas night, my girls and I are singing to the MIDIs on this page.
It's free music you can listen to and have a computer carol sing along.
A Blessed Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Tonight was my first TV appearance

Imagine the most grueling day possible; giving an ancient history test on the day before Christmas vacation to nineteen adolescents. Then imagine having to rush home towhisk a sick child to the pediatrician, while fighting a fever yourself. Rush to the drugstore, rush home all on snowy roads, and eat a quick supper. Then, make yourself presentable for your very first TV appearance. In English. (Last year at the March for Life, I was interviewed by Japanese TV. )
Got the picture? Now you have a vignette of my day. Actually the busyness was probably a blessing, keeping anxiety at bay. I called friends asking for prayers while nervously applying makeup, but once I got to the TV studio, only ten miles from home, and saw it full of my favorite Friars, who prayed the rosary while operating the cameras, I knew all would be well.
And it was.

I was on live TV on the Cable Access Show, "The Face of Pro-life". with host Corinne Dahm. She was very skilled at asking questions to keep a show moving, and dealt with callers as a consummate professional. Filming with Corinne was relatively easy, once I figured out which camera to face!
Talking first about the March for Life, on the live show, and then taping a show about my journey as the mother of a special needs daughter, was so easy that, when my time was up, I didn't want to leave. I spoke so enthusiastically that I almost made the show run overtime. Now Fra. Augustine will have to edit part of my comments out of the show. He had already taken some footage of Christina on the Friary playground, on the slide, playing tea party with him, and showing off for the camera. This footage was shown while we were talking, and I'm sure Christina stole the show from her mother. What a relief! I hated seeing myself on camera, it was a humbling experience.

I may have a face made for radio, and I feel more comfortable on it, but TV was easier than I thought. Thank you, Lord for providing the Friars, Corinne and Producer Darlene with the opportunity to use the expensive airtime and equipment to spread the Culture of Life.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

No time or money to send Christmas Cards?

We're strapped this Christmas, for both time and money, and so I'm only sending out a few cards in the mail. Instead, I'm sending out these beautiful religious e-cards which promote my favorite new Christmas CD "The Priests". They were featured on the EWTN "The World Over" Christmas special.

This family knows what Christmas is all about!

The Duggar Family welcomes their 18th child; Jordyn-Grace.
This family is part of a growing movement of" "Quiverfull" families who understand the blessing of children.
We don't look like one of them, but for many miscarriages, we would have a large family. I am extremely grateful for my three girls, many of my friends wished for as many children as I have, and never had their own children. I do, however, get misty eyed looking at big families knowing that the season of childbearing is over for our family. God has great plans for our future, but more babies don't seem to be part of it. It's a wonderful phase in a family's life that I remember fondly.
God bless you, Duggar family for being a pro-life beacon and great example of homeschooling Christians in a darkened world!
Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Fun in the Snow

Snow day

Since we homeschooled until this year, we never experienced the pure joy of a snow day. I got a call at 5:30AM before the snow started falling, since such a HUGE storm was expected, and since I was as excited as a little girl, I HAD to get up and enjoy not having to get up. I napped luxuriously at noon just because I could. Oh, forgotten joys of homeschooling!
I even made a run in the snow to the local grocery store in the snow, playing Christmas carols on the radio. I hated to bother God with a request for a White Christmas our first time in Connecticut, but He read my mind. Isn't He awesome?
People at the local IGA were cheerful. A remarked to a mother who had carrots, milk and Hershey's bars, that she had the essentials covered. "If I'm going to be snowed in with kids, I've GOT to have chocolate!" she said.
I was stocking up on dog food, dairy products and Christmas cookie supplies. It was such sheer pleasure finally spending time leisurely baking a Chicken Pot Pie with leftovers, and getting to light my Christmas candles, and play my new favorite CD, "The Priests", as the silent snow buried us in quiet. We had the fire crackling, and I finally felt that Christmas feeling in my new home.
I had felt it plenty at school. St Joseph's had a wonderful Christmas pageant, and the Acadmy did their more sophisticated, but beautiful tableaux earlier this week. Though the entire cast were young women (even Baby Jesus was played by an infant girl) the fact that the Wise Men were played by an Asian, an African American and a Mexican teenager was very moving. The Academy had representatives of all races in the nativity play. Yes, Christmas had definitely visted the schools, but we had so little time at home that I was looking forward to Francisco's coming up this weekend to feel like I was "home for Christmas". We will be spending Christmas Eve and Day with his parents and mine on Long Island. Such are the sacrifices of moving. BUT the girls have two weeks off, and we can spend plenty of time as a family up here enjoying the snowy woods.
This nativity was on sale at the store today, so I bought it for under $5 to remember our first "Country Christmas".

Vampires get a makeover

For those of you who have read my controversial review of "Twilight" series and film, know how I feel about the twisted idea of vampire love story. It bespeaks of a society which has turned morality on it's head.
I'm relieved to see that I am not the only one who finds it strange that formerly evil vampires are now "good guys". Phat Cat Apologetics has an impressive roundup of critical reviews from Catholics on the Twiligt Series.
Read the entire story here on the BBC website.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The O Antiphons

Today the O Antiphons begin with 'O Sapientia' or, in English, 'O Wisdom'.
O Uncreated Wisdom that proceedest from the mouth of the Most High, reaching from end to end mightily, and disposing all things sweetly! Come and teach us the way of prudence.
Sirach 24:2
Wisdom 8:1
Symbols: oil lamp, open book.

A good way to introduce your children to the O Antiphons is by singing O Come, O Come, Emmanuel and by building an O Antiphon House. Here is mine, as we come to the O Antiphon of the day, one of the children turns the block around, like an Advent calendar window or Jesse Tree.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Great Resource for Advent: Holy Heroes

A Catholic homeschooling mom from North Carolina has put together a helpful website for the busy mom who wants to celebrate Advent but finds that time is short (isn't that all of us?)
She reminds you to pray with daily email alerts, and has plenty of solid Catholic resources.
And an adorable introduction video.
Go to Holy Heroes and help prepare your family for Jesus' coming.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Girard Family sees their new 'castle'

Gabbi took these photos from the site of "Extreme Home Makeover" when her school greeted classmate Jackie Girard as she saw her new home. This day was also her brother Lucas' 12th birthday.
The castle theme refers to the fact that her father and brother Marc who died in a tragic swimming accident last summer were very active in the Knights of Lepanto at the Friary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in nearby Griswold.
Gabbi said that Jackie said, "LOOK at this house!" when she was turned around to see it. Lots of crying and hugging ensued, then the family were led inside to see their fully furnished home, which has a bedroom for each of the five family members.
Governor Rell declared Thursday December 11 "Girard Family Day". It was so gratifying to see this lovely family who has given so much to the community received back some much needed support. Thanks to the Friars of Our Lady of Guadalupe Friary who submitted the video explaining the family's plight to the show, they are living in a castle.
Those who know the family, however, know how bittersweet this moment is. IF Thom and Marc could be back on earth with them, the family would trade this incredible house in one minute.
The leftover stones from the house will go to build the Marian Bell Tower at the Friary in honor of the fallen Knights of Lepanto, Thom and Marc.
Ave Maria!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Prayer to the Immaculate Conception

At the website of Our Lady of America.
This is the only approved apparition which occured in the United States, yet there is still no widespread devotion to Our Lady under this title. Fr Andrew Apostoli told me that she promised that if her statue were installed in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception that a great era of grace would begin and the Shrine would become even greater than Lourdes.
We need a new Marian devotion now than ever to combat the sins of the age.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Celebrate Our Lady's Feast Day with this wonderful book

"Take it to The Queen; A Tale of Hope"
by Josephine Nobisso
illustrated by Katalin Szegedi
Gingerbread House Books

Imagine a kingdom, whose benevolent King gave His subjects fresh water to drink which poured from golden fountains, fields of hearty grain for baking fragrant bread, fine foals in their stables for transportation, and best of all, a beautiful and gentle Queen from among their own people, whose Son would come to visit them. You can only imagine how grateful the King's subjects would be, thanking Him each day for His kind providence, and enjoying loving fellowship with the Queen and her Son. Anyone familiar with human nature darkened by Original Sin knows that this scenario could only exist in a fairy tale. The vices of greed and pride would soon take over, spoiling the perfect gift of the King for all. Man would soon find himself in self-imposed misery, and blame the KING, DOUBTING HIS VERY EXISTENCE.

Like her popular book, "The Weight of a Mass", "Take it to the Queen" is a captivating allegory of the life of faith. But don't let Katalin Szegedi's whimsical illustrations fool you into thinking that this book solely for young children. "Take it to the Queen" is a story which has a wealth of meaning which challenges readers of all ages, and the more you read the book, the deeper you are able to mine its riches. Author Josephine Nobisso has included extensive notes under the book flaps to help the reader interpret the deeper meaning of the story and the meticulously crafted, illustrations. She does years of research around the globe for each story she writes. In "Take it to the Queen", she has incorporated elements of the popular devotion begun by Luisa Piccaretta; the Divine Will. Notes from Mrs. Nobisso at the end of the chapter explain this devotion and how it is incorporated into the story. After careful reading of this thought-provoking story, I found myself not only questioning my response to the generosity of the King, but whether I trusted my meager gifts to the loving hands of the Queen and her Son who would bring them to the King in the most beautiful form possible.

Read this story with the entire family, and enjoy the powerful story without looking at the clues. Have the children suggest any allusions to the Gospel or the life of faith on their own. Then, ask the children to uncover the symbols in the story, and watch their excitement as they recognize elements from each. I read this story to students from 5th through 8th grade, and was amazed at how enthusiastic were the reactions from each class, though each enjoyed the book on a slightly different level. The children loved the story, and so did their teacher, though I had to fight the tears at the moving depictions of God's merciful love.

The sign of a masterpiece of children's literature is that it speaks to all ages and that the book is saved to pass on to the grandchildren. "Take it to the Queen" is on its way to becoming a well-loved Catholic classic like "The Weight of a Mass". This book is highly recommended for all children of the Queen!

Get this book for your Catholic teen for Christmas

Catholic Reluctantly is the first of a series on the students of fledgling Catholic school John Paul 2 High, and I enthusiastically recommend it from the standpoint of a Catholic mother, book critic, and middle school Literature teacher. This is one to let the teens get hooked on!
Read my review at Catholic Media Review.

Reporting on the Kennedy-Brownback bill

Dr Brian Skotko, whom I quoted in my article for the Register was the inspiration for the Kennedy Brownback Bill, by conducting a survey about how women were told their child had Down syndrome.
About half of the women said doctors talked about or emphasized negative aspects: that almost 50 percent of children with Down syndrome will need heart surgery; that they will need to see a specialist for their condition; and that they will need speech or physical therapy.
But that's far from the whole story, Skotko said.

Today, surgery, treatment and therapy are readily available and often successful. And a recent study showed life expectancy for people with Down syndrome doubled between 1983 and 1997, going from 25 to about 50 years old.
Also, children diagnosed with Down syndrome are routinely mainstreamed in public schools, Skotko said. And they are scoring higher on standardized tests. Many of them even work and live on their own.

"So, just like you and I have a whole range of talent, so do people with Down syndrome," he said.

This bill which we advocates of Down syndrome have worked so hard to pass, is starting to make itself known out there, for the hope it brings. Not to mention the lives it will save.
Now we have to make sure it receives proper funding in the Spring.
Read the entire story here.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Update on the Girard Exteme Home Makeover

From the look of these demolition photos they're going for a Medieval Knight Theme. This no doubt, was inspired by the Knights of Lepanto in which Thom and Marc were deeply involved.
Here is the blog for updates on the Girard Family.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Girard family wins an "Extreme Home Makeover"

After a tragic year, in which the Girard family lost their home, their father, Thom, and their oldest son, Marc, they are winnning a new home from "Extreme Home Makeover". The Friars from the Friary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Griswold sent a video in which the family tragedy is explained, and as a result, they are going to recieve a new home at the end of next week, when the family returns from a week in Disney World.
If you knew the family as well as I do, you would realize how much this great gift is deserved. Thom and Marc were deeply involved helping youth in the Knights of Lepanto, an outreach of the Friary.
Read the entire story here.
HT The Day

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Narnia Personality Quiz

Movie Review:

Is up at Catholic Media Review. Phatcat Apologetics has a round-up of Catholic posts on the controversial series. Moms, don't just go with the flow; there are real dangers inherent in these books. More about it later.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Super gift idea: $2 Catholic books

Sofia Institute Press a wonderful Catholic publisher has this great deal here. One book is by one of my favorites, Fr Dwight Longnecker, entitled "Adventures in Orthodoxy". They guarantee delivery by Christmas if you order by Dec 12.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Da Mihi Animas: Peter Kreeft: How to Win the Culture War

Da Mihi Animas: Peter Kreeft: How to Win the Culture War

Reasons to give thanks at my house

My parents and my brother's family made the four hour trip over the river and through the woods to my new home in Connecticut for Thanksgiving, and we had a wonderful time by the fireplace and exploring my new neighborhood.
We discovered this adorable family of burros down the road from my house, which fascinated Christina so much, when we had to leave, she told them she was going home. We'll have to revisit them, they'll make our telling of the Christmas Story come alive.

We ate delicious strawberry, coconut custard and apple pies fresh from local bakers and visited Josie's General Store in Canterbury. After dinner, we played the piano and the kids had fun without TV, just being silly and playing with the three Labs. It was an old fashioned Thanksgiving family meal.

My brother took it upon himself to organize a clean up crew for my hopelessly unpacked garage, and now we can actually get the van in the garage! No more scraping ice off in the driveway or waiting for visibility to be able to leave for school! Not to mention how scary it was to go and get things we needed from the van at night!
God bless everyone who pitched in and for my husband and Dad who fixed my collapsed kitchen cabinet shelves. Little by little we are feeling comfortable in our new home. Now, if we could only get rid of ALL the mice. . .
good thing we have our faithful cat Fritzi on patrol.
During this beautiful weekend, we enjoyed the restful sights and sounds of the farms, stream and woods around my new neighborhood, including this winter sunset. We met some of my new neighbors, our parish priest, and even a Bobcat who loped accross the road with awesome cat like agility and speed. Nature is ever present in the last green valley on the East Coast.
So, between family time, moving into my home a bit more, watching the kids play, enought time to attend daily Mass, family and nature, it was a perfect weekend.
And I am thankful to God for it all.

An advent meditation from Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online has a special mini-site for Advent here. Here's a sample.

The readings in the Liturgy of the Hours throughout this Advent season will orient us to prepare for the coming(s) of the Lord. They will challenge us to examine our lives and clear out any obstacles to the working of His grace within us and then through us in the lives of others. This time of preparation for the Nativity, the First coming and time of anticipation of the Parousia, the Second Coming, is to be lived by us as men and women signed with the Cross who are wide awake, at the ready, always looking for His coming.
The excerpts from the treasury of writings in the Christian Tradition will emphasize this theme of watchfulness. We begin on the First Sunday of Advent with an excerpt from an ancient homily from St. Cyril of Jerusalem entitled “The Twofold Coming of Christ: “We do not preach only one coming of Christ, but a second as well, much more glorious than the first. The first coming was marked by patience; the second will bring the crown of a divine kingdom.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

St Andrew Prayer begins today

HAIL and blessed be the hour and moment in which the son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem , in piercing cold.
In that hour vouchsafe, O my God!
to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ,
and of His blessed Mother.
(It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St Andrew (November 30th) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)Imprimatur +Michael Augustine, Archbishop of New York, New York, February 6, 1897

Friday, November 28, 2008

UK survey reveals lower abortion rate.

After the widespread introduction of screening for Down's syndrome in 1989, the number of babies born with the condition in the UK each year fell from 717 to 594 at the start of this decade.
Since 2000, the birth rate has increased, reaching 749 in 2006, the latest year for which figures are available.
Figures from the National Down's Syndrome Cytogenetic Register show that the proportion of new born children with Down's syndrome rose by around 15 per cent between 2000 and 2006.

A survey was conducted to determine what was responsible for this trend:
The findings will be featured in the documentary "Born with Down's Syndrome" to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 8pm today.
They show that while religious or pro-life beliefs counted in around a third of cases, many parents felt that life and society had improved for people affected by Down's. Others said their decision was influenced by the fact that they knew people with Down's or other disabilities

Which, once again, is my reason for taking time out of a busy weekend with visiting family; to spread the news that life with Down syndrome is more than worth living, it's a special gift.

Read the entire story at the UK Telegraph.
HT MercatorNet

Sunday, November 23, 2008

When Will Christina be able to receive First Holy Communion?

I was contacted by a journalist writing an article for a Catholic magazine about special needs children and the sacraments. She is looking for input from Catholics with special needs children, or those who work with our children in religious instruction. If you have something to say on this subject contact me at marysjoys@yahoo.com or leave a comment below.

It's certainly not the first time I had considered the subject, in fact, at six, Christina is nearing the age when her older sisters received the sacrament. However, this subject is a cause for anxiety for me, and so, whenever this subject would surface I buried the thought for later.

I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to deal with this subject at last. Tonight I broached it with Fr Tito, my wonderful new pastor. In his gentle manner, he said that even non-verbal children can be tested for their ability to distinguish the Holy Eucharist from ordinary bread, and was searching for an example of how Mother Teresa performed this test. If you know what he is referring to, please let me know.

Meanwhile, here is an article on the subject.

The catechist manual used in the Kennedy program quotes from Catechesi Tradendae by Pope John Paul II: "...the Church has always looked on catechesis as a sacred duty and an inalienable right...from the theological point of view every baptized person, precisely by reason of being baptized, has the right to receive from the Church instruction and education enabling him or her to enter on a truly Christian life...In the case of many people with disabilities...we must...make those liturgical adaptations which promote their active participation and provide help and services that reflect our loving concern."

What a relief speaking to my pastor and reading this article has been! I know Christina has on two occasions (see this and this post)recognized Jesus in the Sacrament, but is she ready to distinguish between the Host and ordinary bread? Not yet, perhaps but someday. I look forward to that day with all my heart. Just yesterday while receiving Holy Communion at the altar rail, with Christina beside me, I sensed that she was hurt for being excluded. The Holy Eucharist is the center of my life, and I long to share it with my precious daughter. She has already taught me so much about the Christian life, to be able to approach the altar together will be a joy like no other. Of course, we will post about the preparation process, little by little as we did about potty training. My objective is to encourage other mothers as we raise our special children.
Read the entire piece here from St Anthony Messenger.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

National Down Syndrome Society Times Square Video

We planned to see this montage of people with Down syndrome live at Times Square last September, but we had just moved, and it proved impossible. So we just enjoyed seeing Christina's picture (in the first minute) of this inspiring video essay about the joy of life found by those who happen to have Down syndrome.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Down syndrome education center

This is good news! Down syndrome advocacy has never been stronger, and it's bearing fruit.

In the United States a new nonprofit organization established to create new opportunities for young people with Down syndrome; Down Syndrome Education USA has plans for the first Down Syndrome Education and Research Center based in the US. The new center, associated with and works closely with Down Syndrome Education International (DownsEd) will be a joint venture with the Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County and will accommodate expansion of the Foundation’s highly successful Learning Program. The center will be based in Orange County, California and is expected to open in early 2009.
The new center will offer education programs and resources to children with Down syndrome, their families and education professionals across the US. The center will also conduct and sponsor scientific research focused on practical ways to support cognitive development, language, literacy and math teaching for young people who have Down syndrome.

Read the entire story here at the Health Examiner.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Do you wear a veil?

Adoro te Devote has a thoughtful post on wearing veils in church.
I have a veil in my purse, and wear it to Latin Masses, but when I try to wear it on regular Novus Ordo Masses, my girls get embarrassed, so I refrain, even though I'd prefer to wear it. I love the sense of modesty and respect which the veil carries with it.

Quite the opposite from Adoro, however, I must admit one of the less than noble reasons I want to veil my hair is that it's not as pretty as it used to be, and the veil covers it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Raising Joey and Cause of Our Joy bloggers meet

Blogger Mommy of Raising Joey finally got to meet Christina and I last Saturday night.
We have been emailing for over 2 years, and she has plans for me to get involved in the Connecticut Down Syndrome Congress, where she is making major strides reaching out to physicians and Genetic Counselors to educate them about the truth of life with Down syndrome. I plan to help her in any way I can to reach out.

Sadly, one of the truths about Down syndrome is that little Joey, who was born on Christina's fourth birthday, had to undergo bowel surgery on Monday. He is recovering now, and could use your prayers.

I have a feeling that this team is going to change Connecticut for the better.

Monday, November 17, 2008

An Invitation to join us for the March for Life 2009

Last year I casually mentioned to an email correspondant that I wanted to get mothers of children with Down syndrome together to march together in the March for Life. I felt that since our children are the most threatened by abortion, with a rate of 90%, that we ought to represent ourselves as a group. Eileen, who is more of a mover and shaker, loved the idea and then we let it simmer awhile. . .

Then, some things happened.

The New York Times noticed that parents of chidren with Down syndrome were organizing in response to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynocologists recommendation that all pregant women, regardless of age be tested for Trisomy 21. They were right.

A new non-invasive test arrived on the scene promising to eliminate our children with greater accuracy.

Trig Palin hit the scene, and everyone was talking about Down syndrome. My Google Down sydnrome alerts quadrupled overnight, and we had lots of interest in the Buddy Walks this fall.

The Prenatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act was passed and signed Oct 8, 2008 which will give expectant parents proper medical information and referral to support groups and adoption agencies. I credit Trig Palin in part for helping to pass this bill in this article in the National Catholic Register.

SO, since this seems to be the year that we parents of children with Down syndrome are in the spotlight, and as you know, we LOST our advocate, Sarah Palin, in the tragic results of the election. We must take to the streets of Washington, and tell our new president that we will be watching him.
Help us organize and garner media attention, which will be hard on the heels of the Inauguration. Email me at marysjoys@yahoo.com to volunteer to organize your friends and meet us in DC.
We'll be posting the details of when and where we meet, and any symbols, signs, etc, we will be carrying. We are pro-life mothers (and fathers) of children with Down syndrome, and we are here to tell the world our children have the right to life.
Let's invite Trig Palin and his family to join us.
Many interested moms are asking where we should stay on the night of the 21st. I suggest the Phoenix Park Hotel since the Hyatt Capitol Hill is already booked. Don't forget to ask for your March for Life discount. Gabbi and I met Congressman Chris Smith and his lovely wife Marie at the Philipino Family Fund Cocktail Hour there last year. We also ran into David Bereit of 40 Days for Life. They have a lovely Irish pub where prolifers gather to form their battle plans on Jan 21st. It's there I met Fra Augustine of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

On the Depression we may be facing

Elizabeth at The Divine Gift of Motherhood has a post on what happens when we put our trust in money.
We’re headed for a recession, the experts all said in the summer. Now they predict it will get worse, much worse, before things get better. Many have put their trust in Obama, thinking he will take care of their mortgages, car payments, medical care, and college tuition costs. For these poor people (and I mean this in the spiritual sense), they are bound to be sorely disappointed.

Some spiritual nutrition from my local Friary

Feeling spiritually drained after the election?
Need a mini-retreat to remember God is still in charge of the world, no matter who forgets Him?
Just watch these videos from the Friary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Griswold, CT.
You will be spiritually re-charged and ready for the struggles ahead.

MaryCast #27: Catholic Dogma, Doctrine, and Discipline
MaryCast #26: The Glories of Mary
Face of Pro-Life: 40 Days for Life - Sean Carney
Roving Reporter #51: Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate
MaryCast #24: Church Fathers Prayed to Mary
No Apologies #63 - The Last Supper
No Apologies #62 - Obj. to John 6 Part 2
Nov 12 - Homily: Consecration in Gratitude
Nov 10 - Homily: Supernatural Faith
Nov 8 - Homily: Blessed John Duns Scotus
Bell tower in honor of our Blessed Mother
Nov 7 - Homily: True Lovers of the Cross of Christ
Nov 02 - Homily: All Souls Day
Oct 27 - Homily: St. Maximilian Kolbe and Charity
P. Pablo: Vota Pro-Vida #16: Hablen con sus hijos
Nov 06 - Homily: The Lost Sheep

Adopting children with Down syndrome: pros and cons

Here's a wonderful article in the Washington Post about the family of Mommy Life's Barbara Curtis. She and her husband Tripp have adopted three children with Down syndrome. They surrendered their family plans to God and He has blessed them abundantly.
Here's Barbara's reaction when their biological child with T21 was born,
"In 1992, Jonny was born. In the delivery room, the mother recalled, the doctor put a hand on her shoulder, and she understood something was different about her son. "He has Down syndrome, right?" she asked.
"It's okay," she remembers saying and believing. She said she was filled with expectation and excitement about the changes he would bring to their family.
Tripp's voice still cracks when he recalls a line of poetry the couple chose for Jonny's birth announcement before knowing about the disability:

"God's gifts put man's best dreams to shame."

Now, read this article decrying the 'interference' of the Prenatally Diagnosed Condtions Awareness Act in the doctor patient relationship and the claim that because of medical problems, our children with Down sydnrome are "unadoptable". This one sent a chill down my spine, and I hate to think that this may be closer to how the medical establishment thinks.

We advocates have LOTS of work to do!
HT Medical News today

Friday, November 7, 2008

Nick V; has a wonderful life, but no limbs

A Mother's hearfelt plea for President elect Obama

A true show of Christian charity from Elizabeth who writes at The Divine Gift of Motherhood.

I have been giving a great deal of thought to the issue of what to do as a Pro-Life advocate in a country which will now be led by a President and Congress that is largely pro-choice. President-Elect Barack Obama comes to this position with a great deal of emotional baggage. Perhaps he perceived himself as a burden on his mother and grandmother; else why would he see a child as "punishment" for a mother with an unintended pregnancy?
My thought is that it is possible to change his heart, if he hears enough personal stories to persuade him otherwise. If every mother wrote to him her own personal story of motherhood, and why she is against abortion, I do think it could have an effect upon him. I think people should start writing to him now, as he collects his thoughts on his first actions to take when he is sworn into office.
You can reach Senator Barack Obama at:
713 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
A hand-written, heartfelt letter is always the best, but any contact is better than none at all.

Advent will be here before you know it; plan ahead

I have a subscribers only article at the National Catholic Register with 25 ways to keep your Advent centered on Christ.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Our Lady of America pray for our nation tomorrow

Tonight at the election Mass at the Friary, the Friars continued to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament for the entire night. Offer your prayers for people of faith to come out in strength and vote for LIFE.

Remember this image where it seems that you see an unborn child of light in Our Lady of Guadaulpe's womb? This inexplicable event coincided with the legalization of abortion in Mexico City. How displeased Our Lord must be with America, after we killed 48 million of our children!

They're starting to listen in the medical profession!

from the National Down Syndrome Congress
This past weekend in Los Angeles, an amazing panel of presenters which included self advocates Karen Gaffney, Lee Jones, and Meredith Martin, along with NDSC board vice president Carlene Mattson, wowed the audience in a plenary session titled, We're More Alike Than Different: Having Down Syndrome in 2008. They were simply terrific! It was an honor to be associated with this panel, and to watch the attendees learn from our speakers. It is our hope that we met our plenary's learning objectives for the genetic counselors, and that they will:
1. Examine their previous understanding of what it means to have DS and compare it to the reality of the lives of the presenters
2. Envision new possibilities for the future of individuals with DS
3. Incorporate personal stories of the presenters into counseling patients with a pre- or postnatal diagnosis

For many attendees, this was their first opportunity to hear directly from an individual with Down syndrome. There's no doubt we have changed the way they think! You can also continue to help two genetic counseling students who have taken a special interest in Down syndrome and how the news is shared. If you haven't done so already, please take a few minutes and complete these online surveys - and pass them along to others in your area.
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=4PH0aW70hR_2bgfvqxUJfwHw_3d_3d http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=DTyB_2f5wJzjzuvNnEIzDfkQ_3d_3d">Click

Don't give up the fight, don't give in to the Siren's Song

Is the topic of my latest column at Catholic Exchange.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sarah Palin has a long track record helping special education

Well before she knew that Trig had Trisomy 21, Governor Sarah Palin was increasing funds for special education in Alaska. According to Mr.Stephen Lesko, executive director of an Anchorage, Alaska agency, Hope Community Resources." Hope serves special needs families via foster care, respite care, mental-health care and a host of others services. Lesko’s organization received a 127 percent increase in fiscal year 2009 capital funding to help refurbish existing homes and facilities for disabled clients.
Asked about Governor Palin, Lesko said, "She has made significant progress in the area of disabilities in a very short period of time, the most I have seen in such a short period in my 30 years at Hope Community Resources."

SO this begs the question; why are Down syndrome advocacy groups reluctant to openly support her?
Read the entire story here.
HT Life News

New Research on how children with Down syndrome learn


All Hallows Eve Mass at the Friary

Dozens of innocent children dressed as saints filled the church to overflowing, so that the doors were opening to the warm evening. As Father delivered this powerful homily on the election and the Sanctus was chanted, I watched the traquil faces of the parents, whose restless children failed to disturb their meditations. They relished the opportunity to pray and I had the impression that they wished that the beautiful Mass would never end.
But it did end, and after Thanksgiving, the crowd turned jubilantly out to share dinner, games and a mock battle between the 'forces of darkness' and the soldiers of Christ.
The children were taught by this mock battle how to attack the darkness reresented by the Friars who occupied the medieval tower (with water balloons) and not to shrink away in fear. The powerful evening ended with fireworks bursting into the night, and two shooting stars were seen over the tower.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Catholic Origins of Halloween

Here's one of my most popular posts from last year; it's from articulate homeschooling mother Judith Mathieu-Conley. Her husband is in the hospital, so please send him your prayers.

Where did Hallowe'en come from?

Before I reverted to the Catholic faith, I used to cringe thinking about Hallowe'en. But when I think of the gargoyles on the Cathedrals in Europe, and images throughout art of purgatory, hell and the suffering and martyrdom of the saints, I know the Catholic faith is not one made of cringing and squeamish people. We are strong warriors for Christ, and church on Sunday is not a nicety, but a sacrifice, a battle meeting in the service of our King.
We, as Christians, put on the whole armor of God. The veil is headgear, the rosary a lethal weapon -- for salvation, and not for death. It is a mother, Our Lady, who crushes the head of the serpent called Lucifer, and it is a woman, whom he approached first to destroy.We are powerful in Christ.After reverting, I learned to see Halloween differently. We Catholics have the Church triumphant and the church militant and the church suffering -- we have the saints, and the souls in Purgatory -- but the Protestants and the pagans can only see Halloween through a prism which only features death, and evil, and not the victory and resurrection; whereas, we Catholics, we have the Communion of Saints, and death has lost its sting, and the victory of Our Lord -- the Kingdom of Heaven -- is truly with us. So, as I grew to understand my faith, I realized that of course worldlings and Protestants would see Halloween as all "Friday 13th", and witches, goblins, and the denizens of evil and hell, mischief and merry-making. Or, as a "kids" fun celebration with policemen, firemen, ballerinas, and other outfits, or as an "adults" chance to be naughty or witty or mocking with various costumes -- some political, some bawdy, all varieties -- and that often reference popular cultureicons, to celebrate or bash.But we Catholics, from wise Mother Church, have the full dimension of All Hallows Eve.
We have the Communion of Saints, we have the Souls in Purgatory, we have Christ with us through the valley of the shadow of death. We see the parade of all these images in the context of the fuller reality of the last four things -- death, judgment, heaven, hell. It is THIS that we ought to point out to our children. Especially the last four things. Because that is what these days around Hallows Eve is all about, as the vigil of All Saints, and then followed by All Souls. The evil that we witness is but the result of what parades on Halloween -- the envy of Satan, the fall of man, the fallen angels, the groaning of all creations, death and pain, the fury of the evil ones against God and Christ's cross and triumphs. But even according to the Bible, the"mummies" were present just after Christ's crucifixion, coming out of the tombs raised from the dead, walking around still wrapped in burial cloths. Even the witches are only witches in reference to their rebellion against God's authority.
We do not celebrate the evil, but we need not FEAR it.

Christ has power over the fallen angels, over death, over pain. For fear, we need only the strong antidote of the Catholic reality, which is the fullness of the truth, which is love, which is Christ's sacrifice. We need to take this day to reinforce to ourselves and our children to FEAR only God. We are not to fear evil (especially on this day where fear is the product advertised or induced rampantly)for He that is in us is stronger than he that is in the world.
Fear Not! as the angels say.
Fear Not! as Our Lord says.

Anyway, when you think about it, every day is a Halloween, but it is paraded and made more evident on October 31st. Every Day there is the reality of the bloodied unborn babe, the real-life ghouls stealing souls and breaking lives, the walking dead, the worshippers of idols and thosein the thrall of Satan. And Every Day there is death, or the close possibility of death. But Every Day is the parade of saints, the church militant, the Church Triumphant who are our cloud of witnesses surrounding us, the daily rejoicing of angels over the conversion of even one sinner, the blood of the martyrs, the blood of Christ covering our sins, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass being offered daily all over the world. And every day there is life eternal awaiting us: heaven after the final purification of purgatory, or hell. The Bible says "Teach us to number our days aright."

Here is a good website which I just found, Women for Faith and Family, with more information about Halloween: with ideas for how to deal with Halloween and ideas for what to do. Here's an excerpt:"The word Hallowe'en itself is a contraction of "Hallowed evening". Hallowed is an old English word for "holy" — as in "Hallowed be Thy Name", in the Lord's Prayer.Why is this evening "hallowed"? Because is is the eve of the Feast of All Saints — which used to be called All Hallows. Like Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, and the Easter Vigil, the Church's celebration of her greatest feasts begins the evening before. (This follows the ancient Jewish practice of beginning the celebration of the Sabbath at sundown on Friday evening.)

We need to begin to re-Christianize or re-Catholicize Hallowe'en by repairing the broken link to its Christian meaning and significance. We need to reattach it to All Saints Day — and to All Souls Day, for it is only in relation to this that we can understand the original and truesignificance of the "hallowed eve". "
HT Helen Hull Hitchcock on Women for Faith and Family.
In the United Hearts of Jesus and Mary,

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Under Her Starry Mantle

Aussie Annie has some inspiring words for us from Down Under regarding John McCain's recent visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. He was also given a Miraculous Medal by Eduardo Verastegui. See photos on her post.

Sarah Palin connects to parents like us

from Focus on the Family
The pro-life beliefs of vice-presidential hopeful Gov. Sarah Palin are resonating with families that have special-needs children.
David Madeira of Lehman Township, Pa., brought his 4-year-old son, Nicholas, to hear Palin speak in Scranton on Tuesday. Nicholas, the fifth child of six, has Down syndrome.
So does Trig, Palin's infant son.
Palin told the Scranton crowd special-needs children “can inspire a special love — a love this world needs more of.”
Madeira told The Times Leader: "As a father of a special-needs child, I’m delighted she’s bringing attention to that.”
Andi and Ed Potter of Greentown, Pa., also support Palin’s pro-life stance because they have a child who is physically challenged.
Palin told NBC's Today show she has an automatic bond with these families.
"We can just look at each other in the eyes and say, ‘I know and you know, and we’re all in this together,' " she said.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Hospital of St Raphael to strart program for adults with Down syndrome

It can get discouraging for those of us raising children with Down syndrome how few hospitals have programs specializing in Down syndrome.
Here is a program which is just beginning in New Haven Connecticut at Hospital of St Raphael.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Trip to Indian Leap Falls in Yantic, CT

Franciso saw the falls on Google Earth, and we went on a quest to find the park. It is hidden away next to Norwich, but worth the search to find the tiny sign that points out the park.

Legend has it that there was a battle in the 1600's between Mohegan and Naragansett tribes, and when some of their braves were cornered by the Mohegan's on a high cliff, over a cavernous river, they leapt trying to reach safety, and fell to their deaths. Thus the name; Indian Leap. Such a sad story for a beautiful place. Next English settlers built grist mills, then cotton mills using the powerful falls for power.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Coach treasures his son with Down syndrome

Texas A&M coach Gene Stallings, who just lost his son with T21, says he wouldn't have changed his son for anything. He says,
"Johnny outlived his doctors’ prediction that he wouldn’t live past the age of two because of heart problems, and when he died at 46 on Aug. 2, the accolades poured in.
“We’ve got more than 1,300 letters,” Stallings said. “Not notes, but letters telling us what a difference Johnny made in their lives, and thanking us for sharing Johnny.”
In remembering his son, Stallings said that, as a father, he has come full circle.
“The two saddest days of my life were when he was born and when he died,” Stallings said. “When he was born, I was devastated, and when he died, I was even more devastated.”
He is testament to the fact that the only reason the abortion rate for babies with Down syndrome is 90% is ignorance. Thus the reason for this blog, dispelling the darkness and allowing the beauty of our children to shine before the world.
Read the entire story here.

The Sacred Heart Statue in our new yard

The magnificent setting of the towering woods and rustic hillside are such a beautiful setting for our Sacred Heart statue. If you look closer, you can see the stalks of 'wheat' to the left of the statue.
It gives me comfort every time I see it.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Presenting the International Down Syndrome Coaltion for Life

This group is precisely what was needed in the Down syndrome community, a truly prolife group. I am happy to pass on a link to their site. They are looking for volunteers to coordinate areas of the country, and I signed up.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Fr Corapi wants us to pray for the election

Father John Corapi, SOLT is urging all to participate in a novena to Our Lady of Victory beginning October 27.

The novena intention is for a pro-life outcome in our national elections, November 4. I support this novena and encourage all of us to participate in it. Nothing is impossible with God. May we work diligently and untiringly on behalf of the dignity and value of every human being from the moment of conception to natural death."

Download the Novena Here.

from Johnette Benkovic's blog

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blogger's Choice Awards

Thanks to Jean at Catholic Fire who nominated me for the My site was nominated for Best Religion Blog!'>Blogger's Choice Awards. If you want to vote for me, click on the sidebar buttons for each category in which you wish to vote.
Blogging doesn't pay much but you meet such wonderful people. Check out her fantastic saint stories and election coverage.

All Hallows Eve at the Friary

Here's the schedule of events at the All Saints Day Celebration at the Friary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Griswold, CT
(All Hallow's Eve, Friday October 31st)

6:00 Holy Mass
7:00 - 9:00 Duda's game booth
7:30 Costume judging
9:00 Outdoor activities with the friars

Please keep in mind that Mass typically goes past 7:00 and we'll adapt to that so we shouldn't feel compelled to rush out of Mass without Thanksgiving.

Food - finger foods, chips, cheese & crackers, veggies & dip, hors d'oeuvres, desserts. Please use disposable containers and utensils as we're trying to minimize clean-up. If anyone's willing to sign up for the clean-up crew, please let me know.
Also, please bring candy & a dozen small powdered donuts for the game booth.

This year the costume judging will be a little different. The actual judging will be for children 8 & older although that is flexible, the younger children (7 & under) will be gathered around the stage. Each child will say his/her saint name and we'll all sing the litany. Again, if any child from the older group (8 & up) does not want to participate in the judging, then he/she can stay with the younger group.

Public Clinical Trials of new Down syndrome drug

There will be 200 locations to try this new drug, already approved by the FDA for use in treating Alzhiemer's Patients. Studies have shown that there is a link between Alzheimer's and Down syndrome, since an overwhelming majority of adults over 50 with DS also develop the disease. "That's the tantalizing question that has Belleville's Dr. John Boeren walking the line between optimism and overexuberance.
Boeren knows that several small trials suggest that drugs like Aricept and Exelon -- drugs already approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease -- appear to increase skill levels in children with Down syndrome in just a few months.
_Now, Boeren is taking part in a nationwide study that he hopes will confirm the preliminary findings. The study is open to all families of children with Down syndrome who are 6 to 17 years old and who can see, hear, communicate and walk. For information, call 234-2566, ext. 36, or go to www.downsyndromestudy.comon the Internet.
"I'm excited," Boeren said. "There's no promise -- and we certainly don't want to oversell this -- but here's a possibility that maybe for the first time we may be able to help these children a little bit."

Read about the trials here.

Friary in Maine, NY: Mount St Francis

I just came accross the link to the New York State home of the Friars of the Immaculate: Mount St Francis in Maine, NY. It looks so serene and of course visitors are welcome to come and pray.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Rosary Rally

On Friday both St Joseph and the Academy of the Holy Family participated in a Rosary Rally downtown Baltic. We walked the streets praying the Joyful Mysteries, and Fr Ignatius, FI told us that when we pray the rosary, we are holding Mary's hand, and she will lead us to Jesus.

The procession led us to St Mary's Church, where Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament awaited us.

To Jesus through Mary.

Ave Maria!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Franciscan Friars in New Bedford celebrate an anniversay

Not two hours away from my beloved Friary in Griswold, CT, is the Chapel of Our Lady in New Bedford, MA, which belongs to Friars of the same order.
"The Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate will celebrate the sixth anniversary of Perpetual Adoration at Our Lady's Chapel with a seven-hour Eucharistic Adoration Prayer Vigil beginning at 6 p.m. Sunday. The prayers will be offered for priests and religious."
Read entire story at South Coast Today.
HT Spirit Daily

Thursday, October 16, 2008

My column on Civil Rights for Down syndrome babies

is up at Catholic Exchange. Read it and remember that our children's rights are often forgotten. Till Trig Palin came on the scene, that is!

Christina is in Kindergarten

I was happy to sign Christina up for full day Kindergarten in an inclusive setting here in Connecticut. She is receiving all the therapies she had on Long Island, but somehow the classroom setting with typical children must be what is making the difference. She has, in only two weeks, come out with new words like "lunch" and is making an effort to communicate in sentences more than before. Since we at home too often anticipated her needs, perhaps she didn't have to make much of an effort to communicate as she does now.
She stayed dry all day today, and seems very enthusiastic when she boards the big bus in the morning. I can't wait to see what this year has in store for her. Last night, Bella helped her complete her homework, counting fish on a handout, and completing a bead pattern. I was impressed with her enthusiasm for completing these tasks.

It was hard trusting her to strangers, but people seem genuinely interested in her education and safety, and so far, all is going swimmingly!