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!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Eye to eye with the chickens

Christina is fond of farm animals, and loved the soft sounds the chickens were making as she fed them corn.

Brilliante Weblog Award

Thanks to Jessica at Raising Joey I am the proud recipient of this award, along with some great moms of T21 children who love to blog about them.

Blog challenge

I apologize for only mentioning now that it's Down syndrome awareness month. I am participating in 31 for 21, or Get it DOWN, which is a committment to daily blogging for Down syndrome this month. It's an idea from Tricia of Unringing the Bell.
I'll start with a link to something I've already written about the passage of the Prenatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act for the National Catholic Register. It's entitled, "Down, Hero Dad, and Palin".

Should "Little Audrey" Santo be a Santo?

Santo is Spanish for saint, and after the death of Audrey Santo of Worcester, MA, there is a movement for her beatification. I have seen documentaries of miraculous events around her bed. including statues which moved and wept blood and oil. The one which really impressed me involved a Host which began bleeding on camera right after consecration. From the priest's reaction, this was a complete surprise.
Though experts say an unconscious woman can't be heroically virtuous, those who knew Audrey, in a coma since a drowning incident in todderhood, say she was a voluntary victim soul. This case is unique, and I will be following it. I would like to see a definitive answer on how "with it" a person must be to be a possesor of heroic virtue. Many mentally retarded people have such deep devotion to Our Lord, and charity towards others, could a broader definition open the door for their canonization as well?
Read the entire story here.
HT Spirit Daily

Monday, October 13, 2008

Young woman with Down syndrome voted Homecoming Queen

This is wonderful! It shows the power of inclusion, and the goodness of the people of Council Bluffs Iowa.
Read the entire story here.

In defense of Christopher Columbus

Mary Vitamin gives a non-PC version of the Christopher Columbus, the man who brought Catholicism to America.

History also tells us that Christopher Columbus was a Third Order Franciscan. This tells us more about the expression of the explorer’s faith. Marian devotion has always been a hallmark of members belonging to this order. Why would it be any different for Columbus who lived in pre-Protestant Europe ? The Continent had not yet heard of the 95 Thesis or experienced the usurpation of King Henry VIII. We might even expect greater zealousness in practicing devotion to the Holy Mother of God since no one had called the practice into doubt.

Paolo Emilio Taviani writes,
“Columbus was particularly devoted to the Virgin Mary and to
Saint Francis. He knew by heart all of the New Testament and
long passages from the Old.”
Five Hundred Magazine, Volume 1/No. 2; Oct/Nov
Each night as the ship which bore the same name as the Queen of Heaven moved closer to the New World , the crew brought the day to a close with the chanting of the Salve Regina. The haunting and powerful melody must have been a balm to spirits shaken by fear and hard labor. Could this practice be an example of Columbus ’s ardent Marian devotion? A devotion which gave support to his intrepid spirit?

Christina surprised me by bringing home this craft of the Santa Maria. This would never happen in Politically Correct Long Island! I know that Columbus did enslave Indians in the New World, but I don't buy the PC nonsense about how the natives would be better off in Latin America if the Spanish hadn't come and started missions. My husband is a mestizo, a man whose blood is a mixture of Indian (Pipil Indian from El Salvador) and Spanish. His faith comes from the 500 year heritage of Christopher Columbus. This proves that God has used imperfect man to accomplish His perfect plan. Good thing, or He would never trust me to help Him carry out the New Evangelization with my writing.
And another thing, this is the day we Italian Americans get to march in parades, and be proud of
our heritage as the Irish do on St. Patrick's Day.
So, Happy Columbus Day!

New "Safe" Test for Down syndrome

Isn't that wonderful?! Now the 10% of T21 babies who have mangaged to go undetected before birth can be aborted through a new search and destroy method. The manufacturer's publicist even had the nerve to leave a comment on this blog, for free advertising.
You know I deleted it.
I have only one question for them:
Safe for whom?
Watch out, soon they will be able to detect other medical problems in maternal blood, and more babies will be targeted. This could devastate the autistic community if a genetic marker is discovered. The Prenatally Diagnosed Condtions Awareness Act could not have come at a better time.
Read the entire story at US News and World Report.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Erin and Maryellen's Adventures

Has an excellent post for October which is Down syndrome awareness month.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sarah is emblazoned on the Heartland

This corn maze was designed by an artist who entered directions onto a GPS which the farmer took with him in the harvester. Someone really LOVES Sarah!
Can you blame them?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

New website to obtain firsthand medical resarch information

This website is from the National Insitute of Health. It offers firsthand access to the latest medical research, so parents can access new information for our children without waiting for the media.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Everyone should celebrate St. Francis' feast at a Friary

As my you know, a big part of the reason we moved to CT can be found 15 minutes from my new home, down winding country roads. The Friary of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Griswold, CT. Once I experienced the ethereal beauty of their Traditional Mass, I knew that I was home. I remember a sense of peace attending the daily Mass at the Benedictine Friary at St Anselm College in New Hampshire nearly three decades earlier but it still doesn't compare with what we are blessed to receive at this Friary.
Not only is it set into the woods in a lovely peaceful garden, surrounded by woodland, but the architecture is reminiscent of the Middle Ages, with stone chapels and soaring altars leading eyes and hearts to Heaven. The Friars are constructing a Medieval Bell Tower which will house a hundred year old bell. The devotion of the Friars as they pray, chant and say the Holy Mass is inspiring, and the homilies are outstanding. I never fail to gain some spiritual insight. This is something you can benefit from as well, since many homilies are broadcast on
My family spent nearly the entire day in prayer at this wonderful place. We began with the First Saturday rosary, confession and Holy Mass which is Novus Ordo with the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei sung in Latin like on EWTN. All the Latin chant the girls have learned was put into use. This was followed by a potluck lunch where we met new friends among the large families there. The Friars provide outreach to homeschooling families and Catholic school families alike. I was able to connect with the webmaster, Fra Roderick who writes much of the Friary's online magic.
We rushed home to wish my husband a Happy Feastday with dinner, and give him his belated birthday gift; attending the Friar's Missa Cantata celebration for the Feast of St. Francis. Francisco loved this beautiful celebration of his patron's feast day, and was able to kiss the seraphic father's relic after Mass. Driving home we felt so fortunate to have such spiritual richness so close to our new home.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

Don't miss next weekend's upcoming Knights' of Lepanto Encampment for men and boys.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fourish Network is for special needs parents

Join here.
I learned about it from Joey's Mom and signed up.

Getting out from under my stuff

The worst thing about moving is the stuff we collect as homeschoolers which threaten to take over the house. I have all the stuff I need to function on a daily basis, however, there are dozens of boxes of stuff to sort and worse yet to put away in a nice big new colonial house which has NO built in shelves. Our old house, a medium size forty-five year old custom cape had LOTS of them.
So the boxes are in piles in the basement, which is unfinished, and a bit creepy as we have had to send down the cats for mouse duty (successfully, but guess who it their funeral director?!) Some boxes are in piles on the floor of the dining room which I commandeered, amid many protests, for my office. Like Chevy Chase in the film "Funny Farm" I came up here with the idea of having a quiet place to write my books and articles. Then I got that call from Bella's school. . .
SO the garage is still full of yet more stuff, waiting to be carried to the basement.
I am so tempted to back up another moving truck and cart this stuff to the dump. . .
but many of these books cost a lot of money and are good Catholic books you'll never find in a public or sadly, Catholic library. So I slog through stuff, week after week, finding some rare treasures I thought I had lost forever. But mostly just stuff.
Regina Doman has an excellent piece on Things she is letting go of, which you can see here.

Here is my plan for letting go:

1. I went through my entire clothing in storage (before I had a job, it took an entire day) and donated seven bags to a local Catholic church 's yard sale. I did bring back a kiddie plate and silverware for Christina, but contrary to my habit, I did NOT bring back as much as I gave away.
This is major growth, I am a pack rat!

2. I gave away my baby items to a holy mother of 10 who while only 2 years younger than I, is having her tenth baby. It hurts to admit that I will not be able to have a son, or any more than the three children I have on earth (three are already with Jesus). Again, good for me, this sort of letting go is really a sign of maturity. Or so I try and tell myself, as a tear drops down my cheek.

3. I am packing boxes to donate to my daughter's Catholic school library. The librarian told me she has no budget for new books, and there is a dearth of some of the wonderful Catholic titles we homeschoolers have come to love, so if I donate some books, my girls can still borrow them when needed.

4. I am ruthlessly going through files and burning old papers. With the neat resources online, we don't need to keep ever pamphlet we have. I am fed up with not being able to find birth certificates because we kept too many maps and nature walk guides.

5. They have this place in the village junkyard for unwanted, yet useful items. Each week as I drop off the trash, I can donate something.

6. I'll take any suggestions. . .I'm out of them!
I won't throw out stuff which can be re-used. I realize this makes me sound trendy and green, but this is just the code of conduct of a woman whose Grandmother endured the Great Depression. Someone out there needs my things, and it's my job to find them!

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Road Not Taken

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost