Monday, March 31, 2008

Please sign this petition to the ACOG

The National Down Syndrome Society wants to send this petition with 5,000 signatures to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists asking that they educate their members in the true nature of life with Down syndrome. The reality we know as parents is too often a far cry from the negative future a woman hears from her OB when her unborn child is diagnosed with Down syndrome, as Dr. Skotko's research shows here.

Friday, March 28, 2008

How did you receive the news that your child had Down syndrome?

This is the most frequently asked question on the Cafe Mom Down syndrome groups. Here's a fascinating study by Dr. Brian Skotko of Children's Hospital in Boston with responses from hundreds of women about this life altering event.
I have answered the question of how I found out about Christina having Down syndrome in "A Special Mother is Born"

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Joseph On the Road Again

Little Joseph has gone through successful heart surgery, and, thanks to many prayers, is "on the road again"!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mr Blue Sky available on DVD

In honor of World Down Syndrome Day, the Mr. Blue Sky movie is now available on DVD!
The story of Mr. Blue Sky (film) is a heart-warming love story, which is as much about hope for children born with Down syndrome as it is an inspiration for all children born with any intellectual or developmental challenges.
The main message of the film is: Social inclusion and acceptance for all individuals born
with any intellectual or developmental challenges.
By purchasing the DVD you will be partnering with us in both raising Down syndrome Awareness and also making a contribution as a portion of the proceeds of Mr. Blue Sky DVD will go back to the Down syndrome community in honor of our so LOVED children and their families.
To purchase DVD just go to the website and follow the link for BUY DVD. Mr. Blue Sky challenges society's barriers by presenting a fresh look at our preconceptions for defining people's lives.
''Mr. Blue Sky is a story that asks us to see all people as individuals capable of similar wants, needs, and accomplishments."
See my review of "Mr Blue Sky" here.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Scenes of Easter in the Velasquez home

Easter around our home was colorful, if cold. But as usual, our faith and the love of family provided all the warmth we needed.
He is risen
He is risen indeed.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Reliability of Christ's Resurrection - Lee Strobel

He is risen, he is risen indeed, Alleluia!
Share this with your family skeptic today.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

It always surprises me

. . .which posts of mine will appear in unexpected places.
Imagine this game of ring-around-the-rosy ending up in the Chicago Sun-Times? I never would have guessed.

I'm glad they liked the post. It compares the innocent joy of children to that joy we feel after receiving the Holy Eucharist.

Friday, March 21, 2008

World Down syndrome day

Because our children have 3 copies of chromosome 21 we celebrate March 21 as World Down Syndrome Day. I think it is fitting that on the day Jesus won salvation for the world, we celebrate some of His precious little ones. Watch this beautiful meditation on the meaning of Easter.
"Let the little children come unto me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these".

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Domestic Church as Monastery:Fr. Ron Rolheiser

Carlo Carretto, one of the leading spiritual writers of the past half century, lived for more than a dozen years as a hermit in the Sahara Desert, alone with the Blessed Sacrament for company, milking a goat for his food, and translating the Bible into the local Bedouin language. He prayed for long hours by himself.Returning to Italy one day to visit his mother, he came to a startling realization. His mother, who for more than 30 years of her life had been so busy raising a family that she scarcely ever had a private minute for herself, was more contemplative than he was.

Carretto, though was careful to draw the right lesson from this. What this taught was not that there was anything wrong with what he had been doing living as a hermit. The lesson was rather that there was something wonderfully right about what his mother was doing all these years as she lived the interrupted life amid the noise and incessant demands of small children. He had been in a monastery, but so had she.

What is a monastery? A monastery is not so much a place set apart for monks and nuns as it is a place set apart (period). It is also a place to learn the value of powerlessness and a place to learn that time is not ours, but God's.Our home and our duties can, just like a monastery, teach us those things. For example, the mother who stays home with small children experiences a very real withdrawal from the world. Her existence is definitely monastic. Her tasks and preoccupations remove her from the centers of power and social importance. And she feels it.

Moreover, the demands of young children also provide her with what St. Bernard, one of the great architects of monasticism, called the "monastic bell". All monasteries have a bell. Bernard, in writing his rules for monasticism told his monks that whenever the monastic bell rang they were to drop whatever they were doing and go immediately to the particular activity (prayer, meals, work, study, sleep) to which the bell was summoning them. He was adamant that they respond immediately, stating that if they were writing a letter they were to stop in mid-sentence when the bell rang. The idea in his mind was that when the bell called, it called you to the next task and you were to respond immediately, not because you want to, but because it's time, it's God's time. For him, the monastic bell was intended as a discipline to stretch the heart by always taking you beyond your own agenda to God's agenda.

Hence, a mother rearing children, perhaps in a more privileged way even than a professional contemplative is forced, almost against her will, to constantly stretch her heart. For years, while rearing children, her time is never her own, her own needs have to be kept in second place and every time she turns around a hand is reaching out and demanding something. She hears the monastic bell many times during the day and she has to drop things in mid-sentence and respond, not because she wants to, but because it's time for that activity and time isn't her time, but God's time.

The rest of us experience the monastic bell each morning when our alarm clock rings and we get out of bed and ready ourselves for the day, not because we want to, but because it's time. Response to duty can be monastic prayer, a needy hand can be a monastic bell, and working without status and power can constitute a withdrawal into a monastery where God can meet us. The domestic can be the monastic.

By Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI, Seattle, WA
The Catholic Northwest Progress,
Jan. 18, 2001

The first slide of spring

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ite ad Joseph Go to Joseph

For a world that's longing for authentic fatherhood, St. Joseph has the answers. Go to St. Joseph.
Dan Lynch has an article here on the approved apparitions of Our Lady of America to Sr. Mildred Neuzil which occured between 1957 and her death at age 83 in the year 20000,
"On the eve of his Feast, March 18, 1958, St. Joseph came to Sister and said:
All Fatherhood is blest in me whom the Eternal Father chose as His representative on earth, the Virgin-Father of His own Divine Son. Through me the Heavenly Father has blessed all fatherhood, and through me He continues and will continue to do so till the end of time.
My spiritual fatherhood extends to all God's children, and together with my Virgin Spouse I watch over them with great love and solicitude.
Fathers must come to me, small one, to learn obedience to authority: to the Church always, as the mouthpiece of God, to the laws of the country in which they live, insofar as these do not go against God and their neighbor.
Mine was perfect obedience to the Divine Will, as it was shown and made known to me by the Jewish law and religion. To be careless in this is most displeasing to God and will be severely punished in the next world.
Let fathers also imitate my great purity of life and the deep respect I held for my Immaculate Spouse. Let them be an example to their children and fellowmen, never willfully doing anything that would cause scandal among God's people.
Fatherhood is from God, and it must take once again its rightful place among men."
HT Catholic Exchange

Thursday, March 13, 2008

How priveleged are you?

My Privileges
A very interesting meme I found over at Chez Ouiz.
From What Privileges Do You Have?
based on an exercise about class and privilege developeby Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka at Illinois State University. If you participate in this blog game, they ask that you PLEASE acknowledge their copyright.

Bold the true statements.

1. Father went to college

2. Father finished college

3. Mother went to college

4. Mother finished college

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor.

6. Were the same or higher class than your high school teachers.

7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home.

8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home

9. Were read children’s books by a parent

10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18

11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18

12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively.

13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18

14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs

15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs

16. Went to a private high school

17. Went to summer camp (I worked at a summer camp as an art teacher: does that count?)

18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18 (violin teacher)

19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels

20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18

21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them

22. There was original art in your house when you were a child (My, mom and dad’s work is original!)

23. You and your family lived in a single-family house

24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home

25. You had your own room as a child

26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18

27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course

28. Had your own TV in your room in high school

29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college

30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16

31. Went on a cruise with your family

32. Went on more than one cruise with your family

33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up

34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family

Wow, I never realized what a priveleged life I have led!
I'll have to add an extra thanksgiving to my prayers tonight.

Community after the Latin Mass

I've always noticed a sense of joy and deep peace in my heart after attending Holy Mass. That's why gatherings for community after Mass are so wonderful. The peace of receiving Our Lord makes one as free in his heart as a little child. Francisco and Christina enjoy playing "Ring around the Rosey" with some of the homeschool children after the Latin Mass last Sunday.

Voting at Catholic Blog Awards

Voting is now open and will continue until March 17 at the Catholic Blog Awards. I have four blogs nominated in different categories, and would appreciate your vote if one of them is your favorite.
1. Cause of Our Joy is nominated for Best Individual Blog, Best Overall Blog, Best Written Blog, and Most Spiritual Blog.
2. Causa Nostrae Laetitiae is nominated for Best Political Social Commentary, and Best Written Blog.
These are group blogs I contribute to:
3. Mount Carmel Catholic Bloggers is nominated for Best Group Blog
4. Catholic Media Review is nominated for Best Insider News, Most Informative/Insightful, and Best Group Blog.
This is a total of ten nominations, thank you for doing me the honor!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My, my what company I keep

My review of the wonderful book A Grace Given was listed on the publisher's website here.
I am honored to have my comments listed between those of George Weigel and Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association, no matter how much more articulate their comments are!

My Gibson Girl

Today I passed Gabbi as she sat doing her work, and her beautiful hair was artfully put up in her favorite 'sloppy bun'. I said, "you remind me of a Gibson Girl". She had no idea what I meant, so here's an explanation of this cultural icon of the turn of the last century.

Monday, March 10, 2008

St. Patrick's Day is early this year

It hasn't happened since 1940 but St. Patrick's Day will be moved back to March 14, and St. Joseph's on March 15 so that they don't fall in Holy Week. Easter at the earliest possible date, March 23.
I was going to post on my favorite St.Patrick's Day books, but it seems that Family in Feast and Feria has already done a beautiful post on them. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

High Mass with Bishop Murphy in Uniondale, NY

Today Fr. James Pereda MDiv. received Papal Honors and was elevated to Monsignor. He has been the celebrant of the Indult Mass for years, serves on the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal and as chaplain to the Nursing Home run by the Little Sisters of the Poor in Queens. So, it was fitting that he celebrate the Solemn High Mass, the Missa XVII Adventus et Quadragesimae, with ten altar boys, the blended voices from St. Anthony's High School Gregorian Schola, and over three hundred attendees, the most prominent being Bishop Murphy himself.

Patrick of Creative Minority Report was there and has posted on it here.The Hymns which the Schola (which included my daughter Gabbi) were:
Attende Domine
Adoramus Te Christe
Jesu Salvator Mundi
Veni Jesu
Veni Creator Spiritus
doro Te Devote
Ave Verum Co
Ave Maria Caelorum
Lift High the Cross
(Click on the above links to listen to each hymn)
Even though I was chasing Christina through the vestibule, it was Heaven on earth, and I was so proud of the role which homeschoolers had played in all this. The altar boys were homeschooled, so was part of the schola, and most of the young children present. We have been preserving Tradition in our Domestic Churches, quietly, waiting for a day like this to show our bishop our love for the Traditonal Mass and it's Heavenly hymnody. This image of people hiding tradition away in their homes for a time of restoring the Church reminded me of the beautiful children's book, "The Miracle of St. Nicholas" where a Russian village, when the Communists shut down their church of St. Nicholas, hid the treasures of the Church, icon, vestments, altar cloth, candlesticks and the priest himself under floorboards in their simple homes until they were free one Christmas Eve to celebrate their beautiful Mass again, led by a little child too young to remember Mass in a church. Like that Russian village, we too have been waiting 40 years to hear the sweet strains of the High Mass in our village church.

This was Bishop Murhpy's first pastoral visit to the Latin Mass Community, but he assured us it wouldn't be his last. He will confer the Sacrament of Confirmation in the Extradordinary Form on June 15, 2008 in St. Agnes Cathedral.

Please pray for Bernadette Kelly and her family

Please pray for a homeschooling mother from NJ who is scheduled to deliver her daughter tomorrow by c-section. The baby, who has already been named Bernadette Kelly, is not expected to live long. She has anancephaly and the diagnosis has been known for some time. The mom's name is Barbara. Barbara has four other daughters. She is scheduled to have the c-section at 1pm.
Please pray for this family tomorrow and for the near future as they travel their own road to Calvary.
Thank you

Saturday, March 8, 2008

The Benefits of Frequent Confession

If you haven't been to confession yet this Lent, read Thinking outside the Box at Catholic Exchange about the benefits of frequent confession.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Candlemas Rose

Dawn over at By Sun and Candlelight has a post about this flower, she called it the Lenten Rose. I had one which was lavender, and the gardener who sold it to me called it the Candlemas Rose. I wonder if they are the same flower.

Here's a link which explains the many flowers which are named for Our Lady. I planted my first Mary garden the year of my Confirmation, and have a large garden which I try to add new flowers in honor of Our Lady.

The Candlemas Rose blooms before any other flower in spring, even the crocus. Mine blooms in early March here on Long Island. I suppose that whoever named this flower saw it bloom on February 2nd, or Candlemas.

I just received some flowers!

This is my first blog bouquet, and I'm just as thrilled as if they were real!
Thank you, Jean at Catholic Fire. She us so tuned into the Holy Spirit, she must have heard from my guardian angel that I was mourning the loss of a friend.
God bless you, Jean!

Nearer my God to Thee

A dear friend and fellow blogger, Dennis, who blogged at In God's Image on Long Island
died yesterday.
I am saddened by this loss to the Catholic community, but know, more than anyone I knew, how Dennis was constantly aware of our eternal destiny. We last spoke as we stood together in the freezing rain in front of Planned Parenthood on the last day of 40 Days for life in October. He was so pleased to serve the unborn, it was his first clinic vigil. He was one of the founders of Defenders of the Faith, a Long Island group which was formed to counter Voice of the Faithful. He defended Holy Mother Church in all he did, and will be sorely missed.
I am consoled that he attended the Latin High Mass my daughter sang at last Sunday. I could see the peace and joy it brought him as he prayed. It was the last time I'll see him this side of eternity. Goodbye my friend. See you in Heaven.
Here is a prayer written by a mutual friend of ours.

“O God of grace and glory, we remember before you this day our brother Dennis.
We thank you for giving him to us, his family and friends,
to know and to love as a companion on our earthly pilgrimage.
In your boundless compassion, console us who mourn.
Give us faith to see in death the gate of eternal life,
so that in quiet confidence we may continue our course on earth,
until, by your call, we are reunited with those who have gone before;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Most merciful God, whose wisdom is beyond our understanding,
deal graciously with Nancy and the family in their grief.
Surround them with your love, that they may not be overwhelmed by their loss,
but have confidence in your goodness, and strength to meet the days to come;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Eternal rest grant to him, O Lord and may perpetual light shine upon him.
May his soul and the souls of the faithful departed, by the mercy of God,
rest in peace.

Signs of Spring

I sent Isabella outside with the camera to find three signs of spring. It's become a yearly tradition, since she's our family nature enthusiast.
She saw,
budding Chinese maple trees
green grass growing,
and daffodils preparing to bloom.
How is spring appearing in your area?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Have you seen "The Passion of the Christ" yet this Lent?

If not, I'm here to encourage you to see it again, and make your Lenten conversion more profound.
I reviewed the " The Passion of the Christ" at Catholic Media Review.

I missed this prayer intention of the Holy Father

Mea Culpa! I spent the past two and a half weeks in and out of bed with the flu and missed this prayer intention mentioned on the website of the Apostleship of Prayer
From the Vatican
Mentally Handicapped.
“That the mentally handicapped may not be marginalized, but respected and lovingly helped.”
“This month the Holy Father affirms the worth of people who are mentally handicapped. The developmentally disabled, as they are usually termed in the U.S., tend to be marginalized by society–that is, they are pushed aside, put away, and ignored. Their crime is that they happen to exhibit weakness of intellect. Sometimes the mental handicap is accompanied by delays in speech, social skills, and physical abilities. Some of the developmentally disabled lead independent lives in their communities. But many need help to live up to their potential. Some need constant care.
In 1964 French layman Jean Vanier noticed the plight of thousands institutionalized with developmental disabilities. Vanier invited two men to come live with him in his home. He named the home L‘Arche, French for The Ark. Now there are 130 L‘Arche households throughout the world. Just what is the value of the mentally handicapped? Jean Vanier puts it this way: "The mentally handicapped.. .have time to look and think and marvel and love...They are a sign, by their very being, that peace and joy...are not gained by work alone, and do not depend on wealth. Therefore, they utter a terrible warning; a warning that if men do not use their knowledge and ability to make the world more just, more brotherly, and to bridge the ever-widening gap between rich and poor, then this world will end in agony, strife, and fire." May we join the Holy Father in praying that the mentally handicapped not be ignored or rejected, but that we might learn to respect the dignity of every human being.”
For Reflection:
Do you know a person who is mentally handicapped?
What might you do to affirm his or her dignity?
Scripture:Matthew 31:34-36 ~ “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.”’
For further reflection - Links:
L'Arche International Website
Leticia Velasquez's Blog - Fr. Kubicki interviewed Leticia Velasquez on Relevant Radio last year.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Down syndrome attitudes in Canada

Some of our norther neighbors share their experiences raising children with Down syndrome and the pressure from their physicians to abort.From the Ottawa Citizen and Remembering. ca
HT Life Site

Monday, March 3, 2008

Pope Benedict's Lenten Message

Prayer nourishes hope because nothing expresses the reality of God in our life better than praying with faith. Even in the loneliness of the most severe trial, nothing and no one can prevent me from addressing the Father “in the secret” of my heart, where he alone “sees”, as Jesus says in the Gospel (cf. Mt 6: 4, 6, 18).
Two moments of Jesus’ earthly existence come to mind. One is at the beginning and the other almost at the end of his public ministry: the 40 days in the desert, on which the Season of Lent is based, and the agony in Gethsemane - are both essentially moments of prayer. Prayer alone with the Father face to face in the desert; prayer filled with “mortal anguish” in the Garden of Olives. Yet in both these circumstances it is by praying that Christ unmasks the wiles of the tempter and defeats him. Thus, prayer proves to be the first and principal “weapon” with which to win the victory “in our struggle against the spirit of evil” (cf. Collect).
Christ’s prayer reaches its culmination on the Cross. It is expressed in those last words which the Evangelists have recorded. Where he seems to utter a cry of despair: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mt 27: 46; Mk 15: 34; cf. Ps 22[21]: 1), Christ was actually making his own the invocation of someone beset by enemies with no escape, who has no one other than God to turn to and, over and above any human possibilities, experiences his grace and salvation. With these words of the Psalm, first of a man who is suffering, then of the People of God in their suffering, caused by God’s apparent absence, Jesus made his own this cry of humanity that suffers from God’s apparent absence, and carried this cry to the Father’s heart. So, by praying in this ultimate solitude together with the whole of humanity, he opens the Heart of God to us. There is no contradiction between these words in Psalm 22[21] and the words full of filial trust: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Lk 23: 46; cf. Ps 31[30]: 5). These words, also taken from Psalm 31[30], are the dramatic imploration of a person who, abandoned by all, is sure he can entrust himself to God. The prayer of supplication full of hope is consequently the leitmotif of Lent and enables us to experience God as the only anchor of salvation. Indeed when it is collective, the prayer of the People of God is a voice of one heart and soul, it is a “heart to heart” dialogue, like Queen Esther’s moving plea when her people were about to be exterminated: “O my Lord, you only are our King; help me, who am alone and have no helper but you” (Est 14: 3)... for a great danger overshadows me (cf. v. 7). In the face of a “great danger” greater hope is needed: only the hope that can count on God.

Please join us in prayer for a miraculous cure for Katie

Katie is is bright, funny, loving… and in Schneider’s Children’s Hospital with a rare (and devastating) form of cancer called Burkitt’s. It started out as Lymphoma but has spread to her bone marrow and so is classified as Leukemia. She has gone through chemo-therapy, radiation, a bone marrow transplant and still the cancer keeps coming back.The doctors have nowhere else to go, nothing left to try.
But we do – We can ask God for a miracle. Her family asks that as many people as possible say a rosary for Katie (or even a prayer) this Sunday (February 24th) between 7 and 8 pm in the belief that so many voices raised in prayer at the same time for the same cause can bring about a miracle. . Her family is hoping that many will respond with a rosary or prayer for Katie, through the special intercession of the Infant of Prague.

A rosary prayed tomorrow night, Sun. (2/24), between the hours of 7 and 8 will be one prayed in unity and faith with many others requesting a miracle for Katie from Our Lady and dear Lord.
May God's Holy Will be done.
We got a call from Jeannie McBride saying "Katie has gone to Jesus" on Saturday(March 1st). We know that Katie did a great job here on earth, and now she is at peace in heaven. Although her life was short-she did wonders by bringing so many of us to Church on that Sunday to pray together as a family.
My prayer is that our faith life has grown, and will grow stronger because of having Katie touch our lives.
Please continue to pray for the McBride family as they go through this difficult time.