Wednesday, April 30, 2008

May 1st National Day of Prayer AND Ascension Thursday

Tomorrow, the nation that claims that its citizens are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights" will officially recognize the Source of their life and liberty with the 57th National Day of Prayer (NDP).
"America trusts in the abiding power of prayer and asks for the wisdom to discern God's will in times of joy and of trial," stated President George W. Bush in his official proclamation of the day. "As we observe this National Day of Prayer, we recognize our dependence on the Almighty, we thank Him for the many blessings He has bestowed upon us, and we put our country's future in His hands."
The National Day of Prayer was established in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman and is normally observed on the first Thursday of May.
Bush encouraged citizens to use the day to thank God for the freedoms and blessings they have received and to ask "for God's continued guidance, comfort, and protection." The annual NDP is meant to "reaffirm the role of prayer in our society," added Bush.
"In order to realize the potential outlined in the Declaration of Independence, we must continue seeking Divine counsel, asking for His intervention and direction," stated Shirley Dobson, Chairman of the NDP Task Force

HT Life Site News
As Catholics who have just had our own spirtual revival with the incredible blessing of the visit of the Holy Father, we need to pray for a new Pentecost, starting tomorrow.
Say the Pentecost Novena for our nation to turn to God. It is the very first novena prayed by the Church, led by Our Lady herself.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Jim Caviezel lives his faith

TAKE A CHANCE ON FAITH from my email
It began with a challenge.Jim Caviezel, the actor known for playing Jesus in “The Passion of the Christ,” had been outspoken about his Catholic Christian beliefs.
Wondering if he was as committed to his values as his words indicated, a friend said to him, “(Not) unless you adopt a child – and not any child but a disabled child. – will I believe in you.” Caviezel’s response - “Okay, so when I do, will you become pro-life?”
The friend indicated he would.
That conversation led Caviezel and his wife Kerri on a journey to China where they met a five-year-old boy named Bo living in an orphanage. During an interview on the radio program “Christopher Closeup,” Caviezel recalled that Bo was abandoned on a train as a baby and grew up in the orphanage.
At the facility, children were told “that they had no mommy, that they were born out of the dirt.” Bo had a more significant challenge besides his living circumstances. He had a brain tumor that threatened his life. Caviezel and his wife adopted Bo and supported him through his brain surgery when they didn’t know if he would live or die. Bo remains a beloved member of the Caviezel’s family today.
So what happened with the friend who said that if Jim adopted a sick child, he would become pro-life?
Caviezel says, “He didn’t make good on his word. But it didn’t matter to me because the joy that we had from (Bo) – he’s like our own.”
In fact, Jim and Kerri went on to adopt another orphan – this one a five-year-old girl also with a brain tumor. The couple originally planned to adopt a healthy newborn girl, but when they met the sick child they realized that the healthy baby would find a good home; the sick one wouldn’t.

She was then welcomed into their family as well. Jim confirms that he and Kerri have no regrets about adopting two kids whose health was in question – “We took the harder road...That is what faith is to me; it’s action. It’s the Samaritan. It’s not the one who says he is; it’s the one who does – and does without bringing attention to himself. I’m saying this because I want to encourage other people. Yes, you do feel fear, you do feel scared but you have no idea the blessings that you have coming to you if you just take a chance on faith.”

(To download the free podcast of Jim Caviezel's interview on "Christopher Closeup" during which he also discusses the challenge of being a Christian in the modern world and his latest project - The Word of Promise New Testament Audio Bible - visit

Pray at the tomb of Saint Pio

Almighty God,
you gave the Capuchin priest,
Saint Pio of Pietrelcina,
the immense privilege of sharing in a unique way the Passion of Thy Son.
Grant me, through his intercession the graces that I ardently desire . . . .,
And above all, at the hour of my death, grant me the grace
of being reconciled to the Will of Jesus,
and united with Him in the glory of His Resurrection.
Glory to the Father . . .
Your prayer requests can be placed at the tomb of St. Padre Pio by clicking on this link

Every evening, at 10:30, the Frati Cappuccini will be gathered to the grave of the blessed Padre Pio to recite the Rosary according to the intentions of all those people that ask to be remembered in the prayer. At that time, this, your application, will be deposed on the grave.

If you find possible, anywhere you find to yourself, spiritually unite to us with the Holy Rosary.

Please click the above link to complete the online form. The "send" button is at the lower left of the form

Monday, April 28, 2008

Our Lady of Guadalupe Friary Traditional Mass video

This video explains why I want to live within five minutes of this wonderful Friary. God is calling my heart, I just have to trust Him to work out the details, like Christina's school. The older girls spent Friday at their prospective schools in Baltic, and Isabella is fully convinced this is for her. Gabbi is not so sure. . .
Please keep my family in your prayers, as we make these important decisions.

Why did the birthday party invitation make me cry?

If you have a child with Down syndrome, you probably understand.
Christina has always been accepted lovingly in the homeschool community, but this is the first birthday invitation she has received for HERSELF. I wondered if it would ever happen, and I'm so grateful for that kind mother.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin Gives Birth to Down Baby Despite Abortion Pressure

by Steven Editor
Juneau, AK
( -- As many as 80 percent of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome become victims of abortion, but Alaska Gov, Sarah Palin didn't let her child become a statistic. Palin, who has deeply-felt pro-life views, gave birth to her fifth child this week and the baby was diagnosed with the condition.On Tuesday, Palin confirmed her baby, named Trig Paxson, has Down syndrome."Trig is beautiful and already adored by us," Palin said in a statement obtained."We knew through early testing he would face special challenges, and we feel privileged that God would entrust us with this gift and allow us unspeakable joy as he entered our lives," she said.'We have faith that every baby is created for good purpose and has potential to make this world a better place. We are truly blessed."
Billy Valentine, a pro-life student leader who worked on the presidential campaign of Sam Brownback, was equally excited."Thanks be to God that Gov. Palin is pro-life and the baby wasn't one of the 80% of Down syndrome lives that are aborted each year," he said."Say a prayer for Gov. Palin and her family and thank God that the baby is blessed with a pro-life family," Valentine added.
The Palins have four other children including Track, 18, Bristol, 17, Willow, 13 and Piper, 7.

Just as I was thinking she might make a good presidential candidate. . .

First Female Alaskan Governor and Potential Republican VP Candidate
The politicos are all abuzz over whom John McCain will choose as his running mate for the 2008 presidential elections. Rush Limbaugh is pushing for Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin, right down to designing a logo for a McCain-Palin ticket. Nothing is close to being decided as yet, but here's a closer look at Sarah Palin and her chances for being on the 2008 Republican ballot.

The Best Moment at Dunwoodie

Happened inside the chapel. Special needs moms, you'll LOVE this video!
A little girl with Down syndrome shows her love for the Holy Father by holding his hands (3:30)and later after presenting him with a painting, giving him a hug and helping her friend to do the same(6:00). I could just imagine my Christina doing this!
This moment is when Pope Benedict won this special mother's heart. He is my papa!
HT Destination Priesthood

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sorry I'm not posting on my experiences with the Holy Father

Forgive me.
I've been writing furiously for the past three days to meet newspaper deadlines.
Here is my hand holding the mike as one of the Sisters of Life gives us her words of advice to young Catholics.
I will be sharing links to my articles as they appear, and yes, there will be lots of posting here.

I am thankful that this week we are off from Christina's therapies, and she can freely enjoy the spring sunshine, and allow her mother more time to write!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Pope Benedict at the Prayer Rally at Dunwoodie

I wish I could write a post tonight, er, this morning, but, no matter how full my heart is, I must sleep.

I will start writing about this amazing day tomorrow.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Gabriela and I will see the Holy Father at St. Joseph's Seminary in Dunwoodie, today!

We will be taking in everything in order to share it here, and elsewhere. We have PLENTY of batteries for the camera, and lots of tapes for the tape recorder.

All we need is sleep, it's going to be a 16 hour day to see the Holy Father for an hour.


Thanks to my dear readers

I posted an urgent call for help this morning as Gabriela couldn't find an ID card to attend the Youth Rally at Dunwoodie tomorrow.All your suggestions and prayers bore fruit, and she will be going with an ID card from the youth group in New Rochelle, and another from Seton Home School.
God bless you, I will be praying for your intentions at the rally, interviewing teens for the Register, and taking LOTS of photos to share with you.

Behold Your Mother

Heidi Hess Saxton's new book gives you fresh new personal meditations on the life of Our Lady.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Esther from A Catholic Mom in Hawaii

She invites you to go to her blog and pick it up for yours.
I can't wait till I see him at Dunwoodie on Saturday!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bells for Benedict

It was suggested on EWTN last night that at 4PM Eastern Time, when Pope Benedict's plane, Shepherd One, lands at Andrews Airforce Base today, that we should all ring whatever bell we can get our hands on. After all, President Bush will go to greet him at the tarmac, something he has never done in the 8 years of his presidency. We should do no less than greet him with joy.

Welcome, Holy Father!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pope Benedict had a cousin with Down syndrome

As a boy of fourteen, Joseph Ratzinger had a cousin who had been born with Down's Syndrome, only a bit younger than himself. In 1941, German state "therapists" came to the boy's house and probably informed the parents of the government regulation that prohibited mentally handicapped children from remaining in their parents' home. In spite of the family's pleas, the representatives of the Nazi state took the child away. The Ratzinger family never saw him again. Later the family learned that he had "died," most likely murdered, for being "undesirable," a blemish in the race and a drain on the productivity of the nation. This was Joseph Ratzinger's first experience of a murderous philosophy that asserts that some people are disposable.
Read more here.
HT Catholic Exchange

Feast of Blessed Margaret of Costello

Esther at A Catholic Mom in Hawaii has a moving post about Blessed Margaret of Costello, a disabled woman rejected by her rich family, whose love overcame the pain. I consider her a patroness of special needs families, and recommend the film on her life shown on EWTN.

Dr Brian Skotko

On Friday we had a moment to meet Dr. Brian Skotko at the Best Practices in the Education of Children with Down Syndrome Conference at LIU at CWPost in Brookville, LI. I have written on the outstanding advocacy work done for our children by Dr. Skotko, and Friday my older daughters and I attended his talk "Brothers and Sisters;Questions and Answers" in which he shares the fascinating perspective of the siblings of children with Down syndrome, from his many workshops. Since I had to work Saturday, and miss the sibling workshop he gave at the Conference, my girls and I were pleased to hear his summary of the questions and answers.
The questions ranged from the simple and straightforward, "Does it take her longer to learn things?" to the heartbreaking, "Why doesn't my brother have any friends?".
Dr. Skotko is an engaging speaker who involved the audience and spoke humorously about his personal experiences overprotecting his little sister Kristen with Down syndrome.
He discussed the technique of reflecting the question back to your child to clarify the question within a question, as in, "What do you mean when you said 'will she be different?' and the affirmation, "that's an excellent question" to put their fears of offending mom to rest. Fears and negative feelings should be aired to help siblings deal with the situations their encounter and the emotions they evoke. The parent can empathize with the sibling as in "I feel embarrassed when she throws tantrums in public too", to validate the child's emotions.
Dr. Skotko has an upcoming talk at the NDSC Conference in Boston, and I hope to see him again there. He's a wonderful advocate for children with Down syndrome, and it was an honor to have met him.
My girls were enthusiastic about the presentation, however, they admitted it contained few surprises. Down syndrome's effect on Christina is a frequent topic at the Velasquez home, and they gave me a good mark for fielding their questions. I mark it up to homeschooling. First of all, they get to observe Christina and her therapies closely, second we are all so close and discussion goes on all day.
The most striking part of the talk, however, is it's beginning. Dr. Skotko quoted the latest research on how siblings are affected by Down syndrome, and the data is encouraging. There is more positive interaction (kindness,less conflict) in families with a child with DS, the siblings are less prone to behavioral problems, and through more care giving, they have increased levels of empathy.
Now it's mom's turn not to be surprised. I have already seen these effects in Gabbi and Bella. The call to special motherhood is also a family vocation, a call to extra love, which Our Lord so gladly gives to families with special siblings. Anyone who thinks it's 'unfair' to give birth to a child with Down syndrome needs to know this: it will ultimately bring out the best in your other children. It won't be easy, but worthwhile things are seldom easy.
Christina is a blessing to our entire family, and has made us more the people Jesus calls us to be.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Karen Gaffney a young woman with Down syndrome, swims Lake Tahoe

I will be interviewing her tonight at a Down syndrome conference at CWPost.
Here is the film of her swimming Lake Tahoe. Here is her website.
HT Blueberry Shoes

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Big family column at the Washington Post

Matthew Arbold of Catholic Blog Award Winning Creative Minority Report has a post bragging about the luxury of having five children, which references a column on this subject at the Washington Post.
Wow, I've done something posh! I had a third child. Who knew, that me, the thrift-shopper with the 8 year old mini-van is acting like a Hamptonite nouveau riche!
He's right, it really seems like a luxury to have more than two children on this expensive island.

Christina's new words

One of my greatest areas of concern for Christina is how slowly she is learning to speak. Last Saturday at the pool, we met two little boys her age with Down syndrome'; who could carry on quite a conversation, and another who didn't utter a word. As my daughters pointed out, she is exactly in between them.
Bella was playing hide-and-seek with Christina yesterday, and she counted to ten perfectly, then said, "ready or not, here I come!"
With Christina it's all or nothing. She waits to speak until she can assemble the entire sentence, then enjoys the look of surprise on our faces!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Meme from Catholic Fire

I have been tagged for this meme by Jean of Catholic Fire.
Here are the rules:
1. When tagged place the name and URL on your blog.
2. Post rules on your blog.
3. Write 7 non-important things/habit/quirks about yourself.
4. Name 7 of your favourite blogs.
5. Send an email/comment on their blog letting them know they have been tagged.

Seven quirks about myself
1. I watch the EWTN Mass at midnight to fall asleep (yes, I'm a night owl)
2. I have flat feet
3. I have TMJ from writing a blog. I throw out my jaw in concetration and it gives me headaches, so sometimes, I have to wear a warm towel around my head as I blog.
4. I play the violin
5. I had to be pushed to learn the internet; I sure got over that phobia, didn't I?
6. I am addicted to Maeve Binchy novels, and only pick one up when I have three free days
7. That's how I read 1037 pages of Gone with the Wind when I was 13, my mother had to bring food to my room

Seven of my favorite blogs
1. Catholic Fire
2. A Catholic Mom in Hawaii
3. The Divine Gift of Motherhood
4. A Long Island Catholic
5. Et Tu?
6. What Does the Prayer Really Say?
7. The Curt Jester

just another day of Catholic pondering: Not Just for the Mommy Readers

just another day of Catholic pondering: Not Just for the Mommy Readers

Beauty in the Liturgy

This morning I dragged myself out of bed at 7AM after going to bed only six hours earlier, to bring Gabriela to sing in the schola at Missa del Angelis. Beauty in the liturgy has gone from a distant fond memory of my childhood, to an every other week reality. And I am going to see Pope Benedict in less that 2 weeks, to tell him how much I love him for making it happen. I still have to decide if the sign I'll be holding at Dunwoodie; "Thank you, Holy Father for Summorum Pontificum" will be in English, Latin or German.
Here is a wonderful article on this topic which tells us why we have to be so grateful for the rebirth of beautiful liturgies.
The spiritual beauty of the sacred liturgy transforms the lives of Catholics. Indeed, as then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger said in an August 2002 message to Communion and Liberation, "The encounter with the beautiful can become the wound of the arrow that strikes the heart and in this way opens our eyes." This spiritual beauty forms the Christlike heart in moral beauty. And when the spiritual beauty of the sacred liturgy has transformed a soul, man can then create things of beauty, such as art, architecture, poetry, and music.
This man-made beauty, formed by the beauty of Christ in the sacred liturgy, imitates the creative genius of God who gave this world an inherent natural beauty. When the beautiful and radiant face of Christ our Savior becomes the center of sacred worship, all creation longs to cry out with the psalmist: "Every work that He does is full of splendor and beauty" (see Ps. 111:3).
I was outside during part of the Mass, thanks to Christina's restlessness, and was fascinated to witness the magnetic impact that this Mass had on the congregation of St. Matthew's Church. Although the Mass is held in small chapel in the church complex, and not the main church, it is full to capacity, standing room only, with over 150 attendees. Not only that, but one by one, others entered the chapel after Mass had begun, drawn by the scent of incense, the heavenly chant, and the quiet reverence of those of us in the vestibule, who were straining to hear through a crack in the door. Beauty calls our souls out of the humdrum daily-ness of our existence towards heaven, raising our hearts to God effortlessly.
Thank you, Holy Father, for Summorum Pontificum!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Test your European geography

The Virtual Pilot game has you fly a Luftansa plane to various cities in Europe, with increasing difficulty.
don't let your kids play this during the baby's naptime, it has been known to induce shouting!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Reflections on the Death of Pope John Paul II

Here are my reflections on the death of Pope John Paul II, published in the National Catholic Reporter.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Solemnity of the Annunciation

The Annunciation Carol

The Angel Gabriel from heaven came,
His wings as drifted snow, his eyes, like flame,
"All hail," said he, "ye Holy Virgin Mary,
Most highly favored lady",