Monday, November 30, 2009

Take a moment to thank a solider

Here's a good deed you can do for Advent;
send a free, pre-made postcard to a soldier serving our country serving overseas by clicking here.
Keep it on your desktop and make it a daily habit.
Thank you, Xerox!
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A Blessed Season of Advent

How are you going to be keeping Advent?
Joseph Bottum says at First Things blog that "Advent is gobbled up by Christmas".
He goes on to say, "More than any other holiday, Christmas seems to need its setting in the church year, for without it we have a diminishment of language, a diminishment of culture, and a diminishment of imagination. The Jesse trees and the Advent calendars, St. Martin's Fast and St. Nicholas' Feast, Gaudete Sunday, the childless crèches, the candle wreaths, the vigil of Christmas Eve: They give a shape to the anticipation of the season. They discipline the ideas and emotions that otherwise would shake themselves to pieces, like a flywheel wobbling wilder and wilder till it finally snaps off its axle."

Even though I assembled my Advent Wreath and sang "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" at Mass, I realized that he was right.  Christmas has encroached upon Advent, and I have been complicit in it, as I sang "O Holy Night" along with the radio last night on the way home from my father's for Thanksgiving. I just find my favorite Christmas carols more tempting than cookies or presents. I miss them, and welcome each carol back as an old friend. That is why I like singing for Midnight Mass; you get to practice those wonderful carols in November. We'll be sining "Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming" in my church this year. I can't wait.
However, we should be also be singing lovely Advent hymns like this one. And holding back on the decorations, letting the girls put them up little by little AFTER the Advent housecleaning.

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thank you Lord

At Mass this morning, the priest reminded us that we were celebrating thanksgiving, which in Greek is eucharist. In fact the first Thanksgiving, if you are a Catholic took place at St Augustine at the Mision de Nombre de Dios, a tiny Spanish chapel still in existence. There, Spanish missionaries offered the very first Eucharist in America.
So, to my readers, I offer my wish for a heart full of gratitude for the blessings of living in the grace of God, in freedom, and in relative peace.
 Thank God for my family, my health, my husband's job which supports us, my writing by which I try to give my talent to Him as an offering. Thank God for my three wonderful girls, who just earned honors by their hard work in Catholic schools, and for their good Catholic friends. I thank God for Fr Tito, my holy pastor, and for the schedule which allows me to attend daily Mass, and for the Friary of Our Lady of Guadalupe where I can refresh my soul in front of the Blessed Sacrament 24 hours a day. I thank God for good pro-life friends who are working to promote a Culture of Life both online and in my community. I thank God for my father, who is learning to live without my mother, step by painful step. I thank God for my mother's happy death, and entrust her to the mercy of God.

I thank God that America seems to be waking up to the evils of the most pro-abortion politician on earth, Barack Obama, and for the Manhattan Declaration by which Christians are uniting to resist the Culture of Death. I thank God for courages prelates like Pope Benedict, and Bishop Tobin who are not afraid to call evil evil, and pay the consequences. I thank God for holy priests, for the Holy Rosary, Eucharistic Adoration,  and for the Latin Mass

I thank God that our freedom of speech and freedom of religion are still protected in America, and pledge my full efforts to preserve both.

I thank God that Christ is King of heaven and earth, and that the entire universe is in His Hands. I know that all this turmoil in the present day will pale in comparison to the glory that awaits us in Heaven. I thank God for the gift of His Mother, who holds back His Hand of judgement on us until more sinners can repent.


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Monday, November 23, 2009

Christina's story is on "Mary's Healing Touch" on Catholic Radio International

In this broadcast, you can listen to me tell the story of how, after receiving the news of my mother's terminal cancer diagnosis last spring, Mary heard the prayers of my little saint with Down syndrome.
 For the next four months she helped us, with her healing touch, to usher Mom into her waiting arms.
Listen here.
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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Want to smile? read Sarah Palin's story about Trig

Sarah Palin's delightful story of how Trig came into their family, is on the Times Online.
It speaks for itself.
She is a gift for our nation. Now what are we going to do with her?
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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Catholic evangelist Immaculee Iligagiza starts a blog

One of my favorite Catholic writers Immaculee Ilibagiza has just started a blog, called Immaculee. She invites us to join her in celebration of the feast day of Our Lady of Kiebeho, November 28.
In the months she was dying from cancer, my mother found great comfort in Immaculee's testimony, and sent for the rosary of the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.
My review of her latest book, Our Lady of Kiebeho is at Catholic Media Review.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

New treatment to help those with Down syndrome!

Great new research to help cognition in  those with Ds. This is what Dr Mobley described in his talk at Cold Spring Harbor Labs last spring.
Read the article from Reuters here.
Update 11-21
Yet, updated medical research is still being used to destroy our children rather than save their lives. Read this article at MercatorNet on how pre-natal diagnosis leads to eugenics.
"If Down syndrome, a series of conditions that are amenable to both life and happiness, is considered unacceptable, what then of other "problems"? In a society obsessed with so-called health, the outcome seems predictable. For those of us who are uncomfortable with or disagree with the laws on abortion, do we have to stop using a wonderful diagnostic tool for fear that it will, literally, fall into the wrong hands? Or is this a good moment for declaring a moratorium on ante-natal diagnostics and re-opening the abortion debate? "
I say re-open the abortion debate, we know so much more in 2009 about pre-natal development than we did in 1973, in fact Blackmun himself commented that a deciscion to grant Personhood to the unborn would nullify this decision.

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Happy 50th Anniversary, Fr Benedict Groeshel

Here's an optimistic,  lighthearted interview with a man whose been through many a battle and survived to hope that all mainstream faiths, even the Catholic Church, are moving towards orthodoxy and renewal.

Celeste Behe asks: " What do you believe has been the impetus behind this renewal?

Fr Benedict responds:
"You cannot say; you can only blame the Holy Spirit. I have to tell you that the more traditional people did not win the battle; it was a standoff, but things nonetheless started to change. You find in this country that the mainstream Protestant churches are dying off; nobody goes to them. It’s the evangelical Protestant churches that are doing well. Also, many young Jews who had no actual religious training are becoming orthodox Jews. And even among young Catholics who are not particularly observant, there is at least an interest in the faith. God himself, through the Holy Spirit, is calling to souls, and I’m absolutely delighted with the changes that are taking place. The pendulum has swung."

Deo Gratias, for Fr Benedict's long and illustrious career, and for the pendulum's swing!

Read more in the NC Register blog.
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The Canonization of St Jeanne Jugan and Charles Dickens

During our years on Long Island, my oldest daughter Gabbi and I paid a memorable visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor in their nursing home in New York. and learned of Blessed Jeanne Jugan, their foundress's cause. At the Eucharistic Congress last September, I heard the good news that she was soon to be lifted to the altar as St Jeanne Jugan.

George Weigel writes about an interesting meeting between Jeanne and Charles Dickens.
"Yet the novelist Charles Dickens could write, after meeting Jeanne Jugan, that "there is in this woman something so calm, and so holy, that in seeing her I know myself to be in the presence of a superior being. Her words went straight to my heart, so that my eyes, I know not how, filled with tears." I always knew Dickens had a heart from the poor, you can tell by his works, especially "A Christmas Carol".

Weigel also derives a valuable lesson from her holy example. "The Little Sisters of the Poor and their patients are living reminders that there are no disposable human beings; that everyone is a someone for whom the Son of God entered the world, suffered, and died; and that we read others out of the human family at our moral and political peril."
Weigel is right, the  nursing home operated by the Sisters in New York City is a haven of peace and love. I didn't want to leave. How often is that said about a nursing home?
Now, there is a lesson from the saint which can be applied to public policy lately. . . .anyone say "death panels"?
Read the entire article at the Ethics and Public Policy Center website.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Women on "The View" on aborting children with Down syndrome

Whoopi is right, 'doing away with the problem' is NOT an easier option. It is painful, leaving lasting scars on the mother's body and soul,  and her family. But I don't approve of her and Barbara Walters' attempts to shout down Elizabeth Hassleback who echoed Sarah Palin's assertion that all children offer their parents challenges and chances to grow in compassion. No one can forsee whose challenge will be harder, I know plenty of typical children who present their parents with major challeges, especially as teens. I'll take my Christina any day, compared to a troubled teen on drugs, pregnant, self destructive and angry.
Sarah's point was so well stated, that Whoopi and Walter's attempts to negate it make them look shallow and selfish. It's all about the mother's feelings about the child.  Nowhere in the conversation was the possiblity of adoption raised. Over 200 families are waiting to adopt a child with Down syndrome.
View the video here.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My story is on National Public Radio

Beacause I shared the story of my family's Catholic faith here, I was asked by Minnesota NPR reporter Molly Bloom to share my stories of commuting to New York City. I commuted to Manhattan from Long Island (2 1/2 hours one way) for a year when I was in graduate school at Fordham way back in the mid eighties, but this story remained in my memory.
"The first day I took the train, I had a conversation with a religious sister who told me to say the rosary on the train for those who were in my car. She said it was the best use of my time. She was right, and I do. "

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Manto de Guadalupe: Eduardo Verastegui's charity

I remember that Eduardo mentioned his organization Manto de Guadalupe in the press interview I attended on August 11, and I have just stumbled unto it's beautiful website (in Spanish). While I search for an English version,  click through, after you understand the basics; Manto de Guadalupe refers to Our Lady of Guadalupe's mantle, and is a pro-life human rights organization with worldwide outreach. Manto de Guadalupe is based in LA where Eduardo seeks to build a pro-life women's health center for the underserved poor Latina women of Los Angeles. His express purpose is to give poor women alternatives to abortion. You will find nothing that Eduardo does contradicts the moral or social teaching of the Catholic Church, and I give it my highest recommendation.
Que viva la virgen de Guadalupe!

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IDSC for Life interviews Reece's Rainbow

My friend Diane Grover at IDSC for Life was pleased to interview the good folks at Reece's Rainbow.
Read the interview here.
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Saturday, November 14, 2009

My review of The 13th Day

It comes out on DVD on December 1st from Ignatius Press.
 Don't miss a great Christmas gift opportunity for your family.
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Friday, November 13, 2009

Looking to give hope this Christmas? Give to Reece's Rainbow

Here's a great Christmas giving idea; sponsor the adoption of a foreign born child with Down syndrome at Reece's Rainbow with their Christmas Angel Tree project.

For only $35 sponsorship, you get this beautiful ornament and the knowlege that a little one who needs a loving home is that much closer to adoption by a family in the US. Seven children were recently adopted, thanks to generous donations defraying the cost.
Make a little one's future bright with a gift of hope this Christmas in honor of the Saviour.
Click here for more information on Reece's Rainbow.
Archbishop Chaput recommended Reeec'e Rainbow here. I requested that my folks give me this for Christmas last year.
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Last Supper Mocked

This is a painting of The Last Supper using models with Down syndrome. I love the treatment of the men; they are dignified and beautifuly posing, putting emphasis on the man portraying Christ. (click on photo to enlarge)
But the commentary below is far from dignified, it is titled "The Tard Supper".
Please go and leave a comment to enlighten this sick man
Here's the website of the artist.
See the original post here.
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Review of A Christmas Carol

My review of the well done family film A Christmas Carol is up at MercatorNet.
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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

November is the month of the Holy Souls

My column this month at Catholic Mom is about the happy death of my mother, Eleanor and the blessing she was to her family in her final days.

Please remember to pray for her and she will pray for you.

It's called Into the Mercy.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Pro-life Pumpkin

In honor of the 353 babies spared from abortion through 40 Days for Life I carved this pro-life pumpkin.

Well done, Church Militant!

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Fr Angelo, FI on The Solemnity of All Saints

Grant, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that Thy faithful people may ever rejoice in honoring all Thy Saints, and may be defended by their unceasing prayers (post-communion prayer, Solemnity of All Saints).
After Holy Communion has been received during the Mass for the Solemnityof All Saints, the priest asks Almighty God that the prayers of the saints be a defense to all the faithful. All the saints are our elder brothers and sisters who have been victorious over sin and death through Christ's death and resurrection. Their garments have been washed inthe Blood of the Lamb (cf. Ap 22:14). They have passed through the fire and have come out the other side unscathed (cf. Dn 3:26). Now they are present to us in the Holy Spirit as our defenders and protectors.

But we must want to be protected. He who loves danger will perish in it(Eccl. 3:27). And danger is everywhere. We have a real enemy who isbent upon our destruction and all of sacred history is a chronicle of this endless war. Our enemy is our constant foe and our better in theart of war. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places (Eph6:12). We are not strong enough to resist this enemy, unless we want tobe protected by one who is stronger. So the Lord walks with us in the midst of our peril: His truth shall compass thee with a shield: thou shalt not be afraid ofthe terror of the night. Of the arrow that flieth in the day, of the business that walketh about in the dark: of invasion, or of the noonday devil (Ps 91:5-6).

Thus the Solemnity of All Saints is a feast in which we rejoice in the victory of the saints and in their protection. It is also a yearly occasion when we see played out before us the great conflict of the ages between light and darkness. The cosmic battle raging in our hearts is characterized by a particular violence because the opposing forces of history have, in our time, crossed the last river and met for one final wreck on the field of Armageddon. This is no prophecy of the last days, only the recognition of the signs of our times. This is the age of Satan unchained. It is the hour of darkness. But a voice pierces that darkness and it says: Who is like God. Only the saints can teach us to place ourselves under the protection of humility.Thus in our own day, we celebrate the victory of the saints every year and even while thus celebrating we are engaged in the struggle between light and darkness.
Halloween means "Holy Evening." The name is not, as sometimes asserted derived from the druid feast of Samhain. The name belongs to the light and we should reclaim it from the darkness.It is a night that belongs to the saints. And yet it has been claimed by the Prince of this World and very often even those who profess to be the friends of God follow the spirit-piper into the abyss of the pagan festival of darkness.
Over a decade ago at our friary in Griswold, Connecticut we resolved to fight on the side of the Saints and reclaim October 31 for the light. We celebrated a triduum of Masses from October 29-31, culminating in the celebration of the vigil of All Saints on the very night when the darkness seemed to hold sway. We offered our Communions in reparation for the sins committed against Almighty God around the world during Halloween and we encouraged our children place themselves in the shoes, tunics, habits and armor of the saints: to do more than play make-believe, but to make their costumes into "sacramentals, " so to speak, so as to invoke the presence of the saints and imbibe their virtues.
Over the years, unfortunately, the ideas of reparation for sin and real spiritual combat have taken second place to the opportunity of providing clean and wholesome family fun as an alternative to the usual compromises with the spirit of this world. And in the process of thus providing we have been sucked in by the spirit of unreality. Myths canpoint upward, but they can also lead astray, become a distraction from the real work needed to be done and from the very real danger at hand. I have to offer my mea culpa for leading the way in this. I apologize.We live in very dangerous times, in which not only the godless serve thePrince of this World, albeit knowingly and willingly, but in which also the pious and religious use all kinds of holy pretexts for acting in self-serving and worldly ways. We sometimes sacrifice our interior lives on the altar of conformity and groupthink, substituting the external forms of religion for a deep and uncompromising conversion.
In some ways Halloween at the friary has become like so many other things, a way to separate ourselves from those who do otherwise and create our own little culture of isolation. And in the end our eveningis really not as different from the worldly ways of Halloween. That is not to say that the children should not have an opportunity for fun, but that we should all have a greater sense of our opportunity to find holiness and conversion; to find light and the generosity to sacrifice ourselves for the lost souls of the world, among whom we should place ourselves as members of the same family, because in fact we are. Who is to say how lost anyone is compared to anyone else, except Him whose searing judgment we should all fear?
And so Halloween remains a yearly enactment of the cosmic war between light and darkness, and even among the hosts of God, we are not sureal ways if we are completely on the side of light. The enemy inserts his influence wherever he finds an opening, and we are generally lackadaisical in regard to protecting ourselves from his influence. We need to want to be protected.
Sometimes the prophetic voice of conscience is not a welcome sound. Sometimes we ignore the voice that God sends us, or discount its seriousness and its power. Sometimes we don't want to listen because we really do not want to be challenged or are afraid to leave our comfort zone. When "sometimes"becomes too many times our spiritual hearing is stifled by another voice, a voice of complacency, pride, self-interest and deception. Itis then we loose our desire to be protected.We cannot afford to loose the protection that God offers us.
The Solemnity of All Saints is our opportunity to pray for protection as we do in the prayer from the Mass. We need to turn to the saints, our friends, and show them our gratitude by spitting into the darkness and turning our back on it forever. We need to be grateful to the voice of light and kiss the feet of God's messenger: How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings (Is 52:7). Weneed to want to be protected and make decisions that are in accord with that desire.
The Solemnity of All Saints originated in 609 when the Byzantine emperor Phocas gave the Roman temple, the Pantheon, to Pope Boniface IV, who,"after the pagan filth was removed," consecrated it to Holy Mary of the Martyrs. Pope Gregory III transferred the celebration of this event and extended its significance to All the Saints in the 8th century. It just so happened that the celebration corresponded more or less to the time of the druid harvest festival of Samhain, which was also a festival of the dead.
This history is a parable of life. The emperor paid his dues to God and the Church honored the Blessed Mother and the Martyrs. And God protected his people. But the enemy is always right around the corner, looking to wedge himself through any open crack and claim God'sterritory for himself.
On Halloween we need to do more to repent of our own sins and make good on the promises we have made to God to serve Him with all our hearts andto be instruments of forgiveness and mercy for souls lost in the darkness. We are to bear the torch of God's holiness to others, but we cannot do this unless we guard our hearts and beg the Blessed Mother, Queen of Martyrs, and all the saints to protect us.
Be mindful therefore from whence thou art fallen: and do penance and do the first works. Or else I come to thee and will move thy candlestick out of its place, except thou do penance (Ap 2:5).It would be a grace to go back to our old triduum and the simple spirit of reparation with which we began our celebration of Halloween. Try to spend some quiet time, if possible, before the Blessed Sacrament, on the night of the celebration. Make a visit to Jesus, andin his Holy Name ask for the grace to do penance and to make reparation for the sins of the night of darkness. As for the grace to want to be protected and give thanks for the godly voice that calls us back to our first love.
View Fr Angelo's original post on

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