Friday, May 30, 2008

Alternative to Scholastic Book Fairs for our kids

from Catholic Mom
"Exciting News about Catholic Children's Book Fairs and Clubs
Posted: 29 May 2008 09:14 PM CDT
I had the most exciting news this week from Sally Feller of the wonderful Pauline Books and Media. Sally shared with me the great news that Pauline is creating a book fair that will provide an alternative to the Scholastic book fairs now being offered in many Catholic schools. I'll keep you posted as I get additional details. Sally shares the following information:
The book fairs will be accompanied by a magazine called JClub: A Catholic Place for Kids and a website with fun stories, games, activities, videos, music, and reviews for kids. The site and magazine will also have content for parents and educators so that they can learn about media literacy, crafts, a “Help! My Kids Are Asking Me!...section with catechetical questions that can be sent in for the Daughters of St. Paul to answer, a “Meet a Sister” page, Saint-a-Day bios and questions, and more.JClub Book Fairs came about from the request of principals, teachers and parents for a Catholic children’s book fair and web site that would provide good and wholesome activities, resources and books for Catholic students, teachers and parents. Another benefit of JClub is the media awareness component addressing Christian living in a media culture. The J is for Jesus placing a focus on Jesus and our Catholic faith—it is also a fish hook that reminds us that we are caught by Jesus and sent to be fishers of men and women for the gospel in his Church."

I have noticed that the content of books sold by Scholastic is questionable, and when they came out with the "His Dark Materials" series, in conjunction with the release of the anti-Catholic film, "The Golden Compass" I decided to boycott my daughters' preschool Scholastic Book Fair. How nice to know that we have alternatives. When visiting St. Joseph's Catholic School in Baltic, Ct. I was able to attend one of these book fairs, and wanted to buy at least a dozen books. I highly recommend these fairs, and hope they catch on like wildfire!
Thank you, Pauline Media!

Sacred Heart of Jesus

O Jesus, only Son of God, only Son of Mary,
I offer Thee the most loving Heart of Thy divine Mother
which is more precious and pleasing to Thee than all hearts.

O Mary, Mother of Jesus,
I offer Thee the most adorable Heart of Thy well-beloved Son,
who is the life and love and joy of Thy Heart.

Blessed be the Most Loving Heart
and Sweet Name of Our Lord Jesus Christ
and the most glorious
Virgin Mary, His Mother,
in eternity and forever.

St. John Eudes

HT Mary Vitamin

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Camping in Connecticut

Over Memorial Day Weekend, I attended a Bioethics Conference at the UN, and then went camping in Connecticut with my family. What seemed like a couple of widely disparate activities, in fact were brought together at the Friary I keep writing about; Our Lady of Guadalupe in Griswold.

At the Conference I was trying to represent, as best I could, the Catholic view of human life as sacred from conception to natural death, and defend the option of Catholic health care providers to abstain from participating in sinful practices like abortion, etc. I used to support my case, a letter from the Catholic Medical Association. The past President of the CMA, Dr. Paul Byrne, was just interviewed at the Friary and the interview is posted here on AIR MARIA.

What seems like a Friary away from the world, is indeed peaceful spiritual retreat, is still a hub of dynamic Catholic orthodoxy on the cutting edge of the New Evangelization. Only God could do this, Catholic Friars, conquering the world for for Christ with cameras and keyboards. They were just finishing up the Encampment, and the happy, disheveled campers were enrolled in the Miraculous Medal. We attended the Mass of Vatican II on Sunday, a wonderful Novus Ordo Mass in Latin, with a chapel full of young homeschooling families. It was a perfect Corpus Christi Sunday. The Friars were attending a Procession with another one of their Friaries in New Bedford, MA. which wound through the streets of the town, stopping three times for Benediction at different churches. We weren't able to attend, since we had visitors, and we wanted to show them the homes we were looking at and the schools where we'd like to send the girls in nearby Baltic.

We are discerning our move to Connecticut, so please pray for us, that we follow God's plan for our family.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend Campout

Over this weekend, my family will be camping as close to this wonderful campout as possible. We can't actually participate as it's a father-son outing (what a great idea!) however we will be joining them for Holy Mass on Sunday at the Friary. That way our somewhat disheveled appearance won't make us stand out in the crowd!
I will be taking lots of photos which I'll post here when I return. We are also discerning whether to move to Griswold this summer. So far, the answer seems to be "yes", our finances say we can afford a modest home, we found two great Catholic schools and more that one wonderful church for Sunday Mass, and my husband is willing to relocate his job.
I have applied for a part time job up there to help pay school tuition, an expense we aren't used to; so one or two more pieces have to fall into place, including securing a school which will accept Christina.

We will be praying a lot, attending adoration, and just plain family fun, with my parents who are joining us, and some friends on their way back from Boston. We are anticipating a wonderful weekend.

Have a blessed weekend, and Feast of Corpus Christi.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Book Review: "Behold Your Mother"

The book's author, Heidi Hess Saxton, a convert to Catholicism is a blogger at Mommy Monsters, and Behold Your Mother: A Bouquet of Love from Mary to Her Children . She is the editor of Canticle Magazine, the periodical of Living His Life Abundantly, Johnette Benkovic's long running EWTN TV program.

“His soft spot smelled of lambskin
as I lifted him from his tiny bed,
He nestled close, wisps of hair glued with sweat,
his eyes closed with concentration.
First feeding, my favorite moment.
So still, before the house awakens, it is just you
and I and no one else in the world,
My little Lord”
If you were fortunate enough to nurse a newborn, this passage evokes tender memories, yet you may be taken aback by the last line, ‘my little Lord’” But why is it surprising? Surely this typical moment between mother and infant was repeated many times in the life of the Holy Family. The problem is, as cradle Catholics, we sometimes lose touch with the more intimate moments of Our Lady’s life, awed as we are by her purity and holiness. This often leads to an unintentional emotional distance from Mary, and sterility in our prayer lives. She is placed on a pedestal when she wants to hold our hand.

Because of her sinless nature, we may assume that obedience was effortless for Mary, yet in “Behold Your Mother”, the trials of Our Lady’s life are described with an immediacy that shows her extraordinary grace of her Immaculate Conception in action. We see that Mary’s “yes” in the Annunciation wasn’t a solitary act, but a constant challenge in her life as Mother of the Lord, one that is possible to imitate in our own lives.

We remember that loneliness and doubt touch every life, including that of Our Lady. She had a life where joys were always tinged with sorrow. We remember that the Flight into Egypt was exhausting, and that Our Lady may have pleaded for God to give her rest. We feel the anxiety of St. Joseph and Mary when young Jesus is left behind from the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, and their bewilderment when they find Him so at home in the Temple, teaching the teachers. “Behold Your Mother” finally reminds us how much the Passion of Our Lord cost his Mother. That Man on the Cross was once her baby, He was beaten and bleeding, and there was nothing she could do but stay near Him and pray.

“Her obedience had thwarted Satan’s plan.
But the snake would strike again. . .
From the cradle to the tomb, her greatest Joy
was touched by sorrow. Her mother’s heart
knew full well the price of Love’s victory:
The apple of her eye.”
Have we ever pictured ourselves at the foot of the Cross with one of our children on it? “Behold Your Mother”, helps us to do so here,

“I can’t even wipe that precious forehead
I used to kiss each night.
Or bring a cup of water.
My Son, if I could take your place,
my broken heart for yours I’d do it. “
The last meditations take a few of the more well-known titles of Mary, such as Our Lady of Guadalupe, and bring us into the moments when she touched human lives powerfully, yet always maternally, reminding us that once Our Lord gave her to us as mother, she was walked by our side, ready to help hear our burdens, and bring them to her Son.
After reading this book I had a renewed sense of Our Lady’s tender presence in my life, as my mother and friend, my companion as I mother my children and care for my husband. Because I feel more comfortable sharing the little things which life brings me, I find myself thinking about her, and turning to her more often in prayer.

Blessed Mother Teresa had written me a letter in 1990 while I was discerning my vocation. In the letter, she repeated advice from her own mother, “put your hand in Mary’s hand and she will lead you to Jesus”. The final meditation is just that, an invitation to let our renewed friendship with Our Lady lead us to the embrace of her Son Jesus.

Amy Harmon gets a Pulitzer Prize for her DNA series

Her series on how DNA technology is affecting Americans, included this video about the ACOG reccommending universal pre-natal testing for Down syndrome, "Pre-natal Test Puts Down Syndrome in Hard Focus". See the video here.
In it, she mentions the grounswell of activism from parents like me and my blogger friends whose links are in the sidebar.
Well done, Amy, thanks for bringing this issue to the American Public.
HT Lovely and Amazing

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Go see Prince Caspian

Bring you children 10 and up, as there are a few disturbing scenes and one with witchcraft which which made Isabella(soon to be 11) cover her eyes. At least the witches were the bad guys. In Harry Potter, they're the heroes. Read my review here. The entire film is centered on major battles. As you would expect, CS Lewis is going to give a deeeper meaning to them.
Read my commentary on the battle theme in Narnia here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Reason for my hope:UPDATE

1 Peter 3:15
"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect."

I often look at the nationality of those who read my blogs, and am thrilled when they're from a far off country where the reader may not be Catholic. I pray for them to come to the Catholic faith, and hope I have given good reasons for my hope. When I discussed Our Lady's relationship to Muslims on the blog, I never dreamed that I was only preparing to do it in person, in a place where I least expected it.

Today I met some friends at a Catholic conference with some of my favorite speakers, Bud McFarland Sr., and Dan Lynch. I wanted to share their talks here, and educate my children, who were to accompany me. I knew it wouldn't be easy with Christina, but normally in church settings, she sees lots of smiles, and gets called an angel once or twice, even if she isn't acting like one.

Today, she WAS behaving fairly well, yet she was shunned, rejected and told to move so many times by so many insensitive people that I was about to flee the building in tears to protect her (and myself) from further hurt. Only the fierce protectiveness of my loyal friends allowed me to hold my ground enough to hear two talks and meet some beautiful friends like Mary who brought the pilgrim image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to my home, Sara who has worked in the Life Center for many years, and Anna whose daughter has Down syndrome and will be sharing her story in my book. These women kept me from tears, and, thanks to Anna's suggestion, I was able to offer up the pain caused by the uncharitable people for the salvation of souls.

My friend Dana came with me and my daughters outside to the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes, during lunch, and soon we noticed a lovely little boy toddling over to smile at us. We kept smiling back until I asked his parents, "What is his name?"

"Michael", his father answered. That and the veil worn by his lovely mother told me that this family was Muslim.
Instantly I realized that they were attracted to the Conference by the Blessed Mother, as reverence for Our Lady is what Catholics and Muslims have in common. What ensued can only be described as one of those experiences where the power of the Holy Spirit takes over and you feel like you're just watching from afar. I had no problem speaking and the man seemed so open to hearing about Catholicism, and especially about Our Lady.
Since the man's wife couldn't speak English, he spoke with me about our mutual Marian devotion, Marian shrines in his native Egypt, Our Lady's 1967 apparition in Zeitun(see You Tube video here), Mary's house in Ephesus, how Mary is prominent in the Qu'ran and the stories of the secrets and the miracles of Our Lady Fatima and Our Lady of Guadalupe, and how they relate to Muslims in a special way. I shared about how Mehment Ali Agca viewed Our Lady of Fatima and his role in the Third Secret of Fatima.

I was elated to learn that when a Muslim woman wants to conceive a child, she reads the passages about the Virgin Mother in the Qu'ran. This brought to mind the one other time I have interacted with Muslims at a conference on Islam at Suffolk Community College, where we found ourselves agreeing on moral issues. This man and I agreed that people of faith need to reclaim this country from the secularists.

I was able to share how to pray the rosary, and Dana ran into the auditorium looking for a pamphlet explaining how to pray it. A lady inside donated her personal prayer book, knowing that it would be given to a Muslim family, and I found a rosary I had in my purse, explained how to say it, and gave it to him.

The man was genuinely touched by the generousity shown him by everyone, and asked for some of my blessed salt. I gave that to him and quietly asked Gabbi to buy a book for him inside, without knowing which she would buy, as there were no books specifically for non-Catholics. While she was gone, he explained how his father, who was a devout Muslim, had a statue of Our Lady of Fatima AND St. Michael the Archangel. I was stunned to see that Gabbi on her own, had purchased a book on St. Michael the Archangel!!!

So was the man, he began to sense the power of God at work, and told me so. He shared how Fr. Ianuzzi had blessed his wife on her head and her stomach, and that he thought the priest must have been guided as she sought out this healing conference specifically for healing of chronic pain in that area.

He told me that he looked forward to attending Mass, and I gently explained that his family couldn't receive Holy Communion, however I told him that there is great healing in the Mass. We discussed the beauty of Mother Teresa's life and I told him of her letter to me where she told me, "put your hand in Mary's hand and she will lead you to Jesus". Isabella has been reading a biography of Mother Teresa and he recognized her portrait on the book, and had great respect for her.

Meanwhile, Christina played gently with little Mahmoud, gazed angelically at the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes with her hands folded like the statue of Bernadette, and played quietly with a little girl whose mother was watching us, and no doubt praying for us. If she had been disruptive my conversation with that man would not have happened. She was peaceful because, when she was restless earlier in the Conference, the friend that first told me about it, and had been looking forward to it, offered to watch Christina so I could listen to the talk . I declined, knowing how Christina can be, and she instantly began praying the rosary with me for her to calm down.

So, without her prayers, sacrifices, cooperation, charity, and generousity of many good Catholics, who allowed me to give the reason for my hope, a special moment of grace would never have happened. I'll never know how many more people were helping with their prayers, shutins far away, cloistered nuns praying for souls, and busy moms like me who offer up daily little sacrifices, so that when a soul is ready, the truth of the Faith can be shared.

Let us pray for our Muslim friends to put their hands in that of Our Lady, who will lead them home. THIS is the hope for peace in this world.
My friend Dana wrote the following about what happened to this beautiful family after I left.
After the healing Mass, the family went up to obtain the blessings from Fr. Iannuzzi. Fr. would pray his prayer over most of the people there within 30- 60 seconds and then move onto the next person. When He got to the father of the muslim family, I saw him from the back of the church to sway back and forth. I thought he was going to "fall in the spirit", but he didn't, he just swayed as others around him held their hands out in case he should go down. Fr Iannuzzi kept his hands over him , and then I saw the Muslim man shake and begin to cry. Fr. Iannuzzi remained praying over him as he cried uncontrollably. 5 minutes must have gone by, It was unbelievable and beautiful. Thank You Jesus, for a most outstanding beautiful day.
Thank you, Jesus, for using us to help souls enter into relationship with You.

Mrs Schindler found a note from her daughter Terri Schiavo

"The note, in the loose form of a poem or greeting card, appears to validate the argument that Terri's valued the moral teachings of her pro-life, Catholic parents.
"Today I shall begin a life of my own just as you did some years ago;

With me shall go the values you taught the caring you've shown,
the love that has grown; and the meaning in a home.
And if when I have a child as you did
it will be given the same love and understanding
that was given to me."
Schindler told, "It comforts us to know that Terri embraced the values my parents taught us as children - the importance of faith, family and unconditional love."

Read the rest of the story here.
HT Life News. com
This is a tender reminder that Terri had not strayed from her parents' pro-life morals, and would have wanted to live, despite the monstrous selfishness of her husband who wanted her dead.

I had a similar experience, when going through some papers on the eve of my Grandma's funeral. All the members of my family had someone in their bedroom that night but me; my parents, my cousins, my aunt and uncle, and my brothers; I was the only one spending the night alone with my thoughts. But of course, I wasn't alone.
But God allowed me to come accross a letter written by Grandma, from exactly the same date, several years before which read, "I love you, I miss you, I am thinking of you, and I am praying for you." And I knew, that, despite the age of the letter, it was true. Grandma was doing all these things for me, at that moment, whether from Purgatory or Heaven.

What a consolation that letter was for me. I understand, Mrs. Schindler.
Never forget the tragedy of Terri Schiavo.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Feast of Our Lady of Fatima

I'm rushing out to the Shrine to celebrate, so here's a link to read up on these important messages from Our Lady for our troubled times.
Don't forget to pray the rosary today!

The Modesty Survey

The guys at Rebelution have done a professional job polling young men on what types of dress they find stumbling blocks in their efforts to remain pure for their future wives. The questions were submitted by young women. See it here.
The comments are particularly moving, the guys don't blame girls for their lustful thoughts, they just ask them for help avoiding them, in a brotherly way. It was surprisingly moving.
Make sure your daughters read this.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The story of the video "50 Reasons"

A group of 50 high school friends in Madrid organized themselves to "give back to the Church who has given so much to us", by saying why they pray the rosary in this month of Mary.This video, seen more than 150,000 times on YouTube, has become the most viewed video in Spain. Increible!So much for the death of the Church in Spain.
Read the entire article here in Spanish. If anyone finds it in English, kindly let me know.
HT Air Maria

50 Reasons to Pray the Rosary

Urge your Rep to join the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus

DATE: May 12, 2008
Your Advocacy Works
On Friday, May 2, 2008, NDSC and NDSS sent an Action Alert urging members to call their Congressional Representative and ask them to join the Congressional Down Syndrome caucus (See Action Alert at the bottom of this News Line). On May 12, 2008, we received an e-mail from Kristin Garesche, legislative staff assistant to Congressman Cathy McMorris-Rogers (R.WA) with an impressive group of Representatives who have joined the caucus. The e-mail reads as follows:
“I just wanted to thank you again for your support for the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus and help getting Members interested in it. I wanted to update you on our membership. Our co-chairs are Rep. Pete Sessions (TX), Rep. Patrick Kennedy (RI), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC) and Rep. McMorris Rodgers (WA).
Our members are Rep. Todd Akin (MO), Rep. Joe Barton (TX), Rep. Steve Buyer (IN), Rep. Dave Camp (MI), Rep. Christopher Carney (PA), Rep. Howard Coble (NC), Rep. Ander Crenshaw (FL), Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart (FL), Rep. Charlie Dent (PA), Rep. David Drier (CA), Rep. Mary Fallin (OK), Rep. Tom Feeney (FL), Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ), Rep. Doc Hastings (WA), Rep. Jeb Henserling (TX), Rep. Sam Johnson (TX), Rep. Ric Keller (FL), Rep. Steve King (IW), Rep. Mark Kirk (IL), Rep. Doug Lamborn (CO), Rep. Nick Lampson (TX), Rep. Frank LoBiondo (NJ), Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (MI), Rep. John McHugh (NY), Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (GA), Rep. Tim Murphy (PA), Rep. Todd Platts (PA), Rep. George Radonovich (CA), Rep. Tom Reynolds (NY), Rep. Dave Reichert (WA), Rep. Peter Roskam (IL), Rep. Mike Rogers (MI), Rep. Mike Simpson (ID), Rep. Lamar Smith (TX), Rep. John Sullivan (OK), Rep. Pat Tiberi (OH), Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD), Rep. Greg Walden (OR), Rep. James Walsh (NY) and Rep. Bill Young (FL).
In addition, my boss sent out a video release regarding the Caucus to her constituents last week and she wanted to share it with all of you.”
If your Representative is not on this list, please call and ask him or her to join the caucus. He or she may contact either Emily Davis, in Congressman Pete Session’s office (202.225.2231) or Kristin Garesche (202.225.2006), in Congresswoman Cathy McMorris-Rogers office.
To find out the name of your Representative, to and key in your zip code. The main switchboard of the Capitol (202) 224-3121 will connect you to your Representatives office.

Ask your member of the House of Representatives to join the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus House of Representative members:
Pete Sessions (R.TX), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R.WA), Patrick Kennedy (D.RI) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.DC) have sent a Dear Colleague letter asking other House members to join the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus (CDSC).

According to the letter,
“the caucus will serve as a valuable resource for increasing awareness of those efforts and identifying ways that Congress and relevant departments and agencies of the Federal government can help to meet the needs of individuals with Down syndrome and their value to society. The CDSC will promote public policies to enhance the quality of life of individuals with Down syndrome by:
(1) raising expectations and improving outcomes in education;
(2) eliminating barriers to economic opportunity in employment and in programs that promote savings and investment; and
(3) promoting and funding research that accelerates the development of effective treatments and therapies. In 2008, some additional priorities of the caucus will be to:

Ø Promote the translation of Down syndrome research into effective new treatments through interdisciplinary cooperation among the various NIH institutes, the FDA, the CDC and privately funded scientists and clinicians.
Ø To promote inclusiveness for people with Down syndrome.
Ø To help provide family support services and a community of care model.
Ø To protect the rights of those with Down syndrome and make sure those rights are being enforced.”

In addition, the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus will be holding a briefing for Congressional staff on May 8 to discuss where we are in terms of Down syndrome research. A representative from the National Institutes of Health will be attending as well as Dr. Bill Mobley, the Director of the Neuroscience Institute from Stanford Medical School.

If you have questions about this Call to Action, please contact or Ricki Sabia at We would also appreciate you letting us know if you contact your Representative.

Catching up with the Papal visit

If you're like me, you missed a good part of the TV coverage of the recent US visit of Pope Benedict. Not to worry, here is a link to the EWTN coverage to help you catch up.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My Mother's Day

I was awakened twice by Isabella bringing me breakfast in bed. The first time was before nine, and since we had already attended Mass last night, I closed my eyes again and slept another hour. When I awoke to eat, the entire family joined me in bed to watch "Funny Face" a classic Audrey Hepburn girl film. After a relaxing bath, I cooked for fifteen, as my in-laws and parents came to eat with us.

After dinner, we took these photos, and my father-in-law showed me how to gather seeds from my lilac bushes. He wanted to take a bag home to plant back on his farm in El Salvador. I was amazed at this connection to nature, I never knew where the lilac seeds were found!

After dessert, we all watched "Bella". Jose's family in the film always reminded me of my in-laws, and they appreciated the pro-life theme and Spanish language. Then we took these photos. My nephew thought the wooden silhouette dog was real, like our black lab Cookie, so he went to pull her tail, surprise!

Here are photos of my family with my husband's family(mother father, brother, sister and children, in front of our home, Gabbi with her Grandfather Antonio, and both my in-laws and my parents.

It was a perfect day. I hope your Mother's Day was as lovely.

Friday, May 9, 2008

McMorris Rodgers Launches Down Syndrome Caucus

THIS is the greatest Mother's Day gift I have gotten since Christina was born 6 years ago, and we baptized her on Mother's Day.
Isn't Cole adorable?! I love how he talks to the camera and then mauls his mother!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Join me in celebrating the Down Syndrome Congressional Caucus

Contact: Destry Henderson 202-225-2006
McMorris Rodgers Announces New Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus
(Washington, D.C.) Today, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers and other members of the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus held their first briefing. Today’s briefing marks the first official event of the bipartisan caucus since its launch last week.
McMorris Rodgers co-chairs the caucus. She and her husband Brian have a one-year-old son, Cole, who has Down syndrome.

“The news of Cole’s Down syndrome was at first difficult to get our arms around and we were eager to learn all we could,” McMorris Rodgers said. “I’m often asked how being a mother has changed my life and changed my priorities, and I can assure you that it’s all been for the better. I have a new passion and a new energy for everything that I do. We have every intention of doing everything possible to ensure Cole has every opportunity to reach his full potential. I believe the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus will be a vehicle to help bring this information to the forefront so all families of children and adults with Down syndrome can lead happy lives.”
There are more than 350,000 people with Down syndrome in the U.S., but past and current funding at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is disproportionately low when it comes to finding treatments and increasing understanding of secondary disorders that often afflict people with Down syndrome, like Alzheimer’s disease and atherosclerosis.
Today, the Congressional Down Syndrome Caucus held its first briefing on what research is being done at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH updated us on its 10-year research plan which calls for increased research on the medical, cognitive, and behavioral conditions that occur in people with Down syndrome.
Destry Henderson
Press Secretary
Office of Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Office: 202-225-2006
Cell: 202-279-0418

My friend Mary Ellen wrote a great article on modesty

In this week's Long Island Catholic. I couldn't have said it better myself, Mary Ellen!

I have spoken about modesty here and author of "Dressing with Dignity" Coleen Hammond wrote a post for me here, so I appreciate Mary Ellen's broaching the subject in a more public forum. Especially Long Island an oversized beach community where we are about to embark on 'skin season'. I have shared about an incident where I was praying in a church basement after communion, when I opened my downcast eyes, I found myself looking straight down a young woman's bare backside. Her low-cut jeans and missing undergarments made it possible for me to see MUCH more than I should have, and I was mortified! I nearly spoke to her mother, by her side, but decided it would be taken as an attack, and just prayed for her.
Mary Ellen, you voice the concerns going through many a mother's heart in these troubled times, including my own, only you have the courage to call society on it's exploitation of our youth.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Sandals and Fiddlebacks video

Christina read her first word!

I can't believe it!
Isabella casually mentioned to me that Christina read the word CAT on the Starfall website, with the sound off (meaning she had to read it by herself).
In the normal linguistic development of children, listening comprehension is followed by speaking, then reading then writing. But nothing about children with Down syndrome is typical, as we are learning in the toilet training process.
Christina is skipping large parts of speaking and going right to reading!

I obvioulsy have a lot to learn about how children with Down syndrome learn, and I know who my primary tutor will be. Thank you Lord, for my husband Francisco who introduced her to this wonderful free learning tool, spending the time to teach her how to use the mouse, and for buying her a customized tiny mouse to fit her tiny hand.

Praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever!

NDSS Times Square Video

It's time to submit your photos of children with Down syndrome for inclusion in the Times Square video montage on the day of the NDSS Buddy Walk in Central Park. Just click here to submit a photo. I did.

It's just another way to tell the world how blessed we are to have someone with enhanced chromosomes in our lives!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The day you never forget

I have been teaching First Holy Communion classes for a decade. My class is given in both English and Spanish, for though most of my students read English, I want them to pray with their immigrant parents. Sometimes the students themselves are immigrants, like Maria from Argentina, who had just lost her mother, and moved to the USA to live with her brother the day before her First Communion. She had mature grasp of the Faith, and the purest of hearts; she was truly ready to receive Our Lord. When she arrived late to the First Communion Mass, I held my breath, thinking she wouldn't make it. But she arrived, radiant though nervous. A triumph after tragedy.
This class was large, and I was so impressed by their enthusiasm at being able to receive Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I had them write letters to Him, which I bound in a booklet and had brought up in the offertory procession. Here are some excerpts, with the names changed.

"Dear Jesus,
I do good stuff because You are inside me and I am happy about that. I hope You love me, because I love You a lot.
by Carlos"

"Dear Jesus,
I'm happy I'm going to receive my first communion on Saturday, and I want You to be the center of my life.
Love, Gilda"

"I love you Jesus,
I did my confession, I am really happy because I did my confession, and I have to do my first communion.
Love, Marina"

"Dear Jesus, I'm happy to do first communion and I want to talk to you.
Love, Patricia"

"Dear Jesus,
Thank goodness I'm in God Class to learn about God, I love my first communion, I love my dress a lot, white is a pretty color! I love you very much, Jesus!

"Dear Jesus,
I am happy to do my first communion and letting you help my mom getting better so she won't be so sick any more.

"Dear Jesus,
Thank you for this opportunity to receive my First Holy Communion. I am willing to open up my arms and soul to you. I want to get closer to you.
I love you!

What took me by surprise was how absolutely radiant the children were after their first confession last week. They each looked like they were carrying a happy secret, they were absolutely brimming with joy. They were so surprised at how good it felt to confess, and so elated from the grace of the sacrament that I was afraid that First Communion the following Saturday might be a letdown.

But how can you outdo the generousity of Our Lord?
There was a moment during the First Communion Mass when I had the feeling that Heaven was open and spilling some of it's glory down upon the altar.
Now, of course, I had explained to the children, that all the angels and saints are with us at Holy Mass, that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, but this time during the Sanctus, I could nearly see it with my eyes, and feel it in my heart. This overflowing of Heavenly rejoicing at the sight of those 17 pure souls about to receive Our Lord for the first time, which for a brief moment was revealed to me, was worth the two years of preparation.

It's a moment which I want to relive over and over again until I see it in it's fullness.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Happy Memory of my Bilingual First Holy Communion Class

Since Christina was sick for her birthday, the children of my First Communion Class helped her open her Elmo pinata.
I will miss their enthusiasm for life and for the faith; they made their First Holy Communion last night.
I'll be sharing some lovely photos soon and some of their reflections upon receiving Our Lord for the first time ever.
My home will seem very empty this Monday evening. It will be one of the first Mondays they won't be there for the past two years.
What a privelege it has been to lead these innocent children to the altar!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

My family on Public Radio

Here is what I shared about what being a Catholic means to me.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Christina composed her first prayer!

Usually Mom leads her to pray for our familly, and to tell Jesus and Mary that she loves them.
Today she said,
"Father, Son and Ghost. For mommy, gampa (grandpa), and gogs (dogs). Amen."

posted by big sister Gabbi