Tuesday, December 18, 2012

From the North Pole

I have been a busy elf for the past several weeks getting everything all ready for a very special Christmas celebration! Indeed, Santa has given this little elf a lot to do!

Last night, my sister shared with me one of the neatest ways to fulfill my duties as elf: "5 Hands gift giving"
helping HAND (donations)
HAND-in-hand(time together)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Voting day

"I call as my witness Christ the Lord who will be my judge, that my vote is given to the one who before God I think should be elected." 

This is recited by each member of the College of Cardinals as they cast their ballot for Pope. This might be a good practice for us to adopt personally when casting our votes.

All authority comes from God, and in a democracy, the authority given to those who lead us is given by God by means of the intelligent choice of the people.

This year more than ever, our vote must be taken seriously. If Barak Obama gets a second term, our religious liberties will be trampled more than we could have ever imagined. Our only hope for overturning the HHS mandate is the election of Mitt Romney today.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Storm damage

This photo is first of 102 on NY1 today chronicling the damage done by Hurricane Sandy in Queens, NYC. I find it telling that the Blessed Mother is the only one standing in the midst of rubble. In the same way, she is the refuge we each can take from the the trials of daily life.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Mourning with moms and dads

Infant section at Sacred Heart in Salisbury, NC
Yesterday was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, but every day should be. It's easy to see how parents would experience much sadness over the death of their infant or unborn child.

Because their website doesn't allow you to cut and paste text or images, I can't re-post their entire list of good ideas to help parents, but I think the most important is informing parents of their right to name the child and give him or her a proper burial.

Also, a name and a proper burial helps others to see the dignity of a child whose life was brief in this world, but whose life is just as important in the eyes of his or her parents and God-- who created that life together.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Renowned legal scholar speaks about religious liberty

BELMONT — "Religion is a basic aspect of the well-being of a human being, and therefore it is the kind of thing that is protected by a right to religious liberty," said Dr. Robert P. George in the annual Cuthbert Allen Lecture at Belmont Abbey College. "In its fullest and most robust sense, religion is a human person's being in right relation to the Divine, the more than merely human source of meaning and value."

In his Oct. 4 lecture to a packed house at the Abbey Basilica of Mary Help of Christians, George reflected on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council on Oct. 11, 1962, and focused on the Church's understanding of religious liberty as a universal right, not a privilege that is exclusive to Catholics.

Continue reading on the Catholic News Herald...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Opening concert sets 'uplifting' tone for Congress

CHARLOTTE — The eighth annual Eucharistic Congress opened with a concert of sacred music inspired by this year's theme, "Behold the Lamb of God."

The concert was conducted by Dr. Scott Turkington, principal organist and choirmaster of St. John the Baptist Cathedral in Charleston, S.C. Instrumental interludes were played by a brass quartet that included members of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, and organ accompaniment was provided by Dr. Larry Stratemeyer of St. Patrick Cathedral in Charlotte.

"Each year we work to present a sacred music concert that brings the listener music that spans the history of the Church," explained Tiffany Gallozzi, director of music at St. Barnabas Church in Arden and organizer of the 45-member choir. "I am always amazed at the great lengths composers, instrumentalists and singers will go through to offer beautiful and dignified music to God."

Continue reading the story on the Catholic News Herald... 

40 Days for Life campaign underway in Charlotte, Greensboro and Winston- Salem

CHARLOTTE — For the spring 2012 40 Days for Life campaign, Charlotte organizers decided to double their efforts by holding vigils at two area abortion facilities. The result: an astonishing 53 babies saved in Charlotte alone, more than one per day during the 40-day campaign. All the result of dedicated prayer and vigil.

The 11th coordinated national campaign since 2004 got underway Sept. 26, and three cities within the Diocese of Charlotte are participating: Charlotte, Winston-Salem and Greensboro. 40 Days for Life focuses on prayer and fasting, constant vigil and community outreach for the end to abortion.

"Fasting is crucial to the success of this vigil," explained Leslie Marsh, member of Our Lady of Grace Church in Greensboro and coordinator of that city's vigil. "Giving up some of our own creature comforts enables God – the Holy Spirit – to fill us. It is a form of prayer.

"We are really pushing a media fast: turning off your Facebook, TV, radio and spend some quiet time with Christ in contemplation and remaining in silent prayer with Him."

Continue reading the story on the Catholic News Herald...

Friday, September 14, 2012

Start praying today

The election is in 54 days.

To many, that might sound like an arbitrary number. However it is an important number when it comes to praying for a special intention. Fifty-four days represents six sets of nine days of prayer.
notice apostles, Mary and other women,
just like scripture says

The Acts of the Apostles chapters 1 and 2 recounts the story of Peter as he led the Apostles in prayer and preparation for their ministry after the ascension of Jesus. The time between the ascension of Jesus and the Pentecost was a period of nine days. Since that time, the Church has taken nine days of prayer to be an especially powerful period to plead with our dear Lord for a particular intention.

But, pay special attention to Acts 1:14
All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Mary-- the mother of Christ-- is mentioned specifically as present during this period of prayer. During His earthly life, no other person was as close to Jesus as His own mother, just as any mother shares a special closeness to her beloved children. Just like a Queen has a special sway over the decisions of a King, Mary has a special sway over the decisions of her son, Christ the King.

(Don't forget that thanks to polygamy, in ancient times, it was often the mother of the King who was the Queen, not always one of the wives. Hence, we consider Mary to be the Queen of Heaven.)

So, when we pray for a special intention-- like the Apostles did in obeying Christ's command to pray and wait for the Holy Spirit-- it is a good idea to ask Mary to accompany us through the prayer vigil. She has a powerful sway over the Heart of Jesus.

Our country needs so much prayer. Yes, we deserve every evil that comes our way-- especially for the horrific crime of abortion, the longest lasting, most violent war in American history. Over 55 million causalities since legalization in 1973. Unlike other armed conflicts, the War on the Unborn isn't a fair fight. While innocent civilians die in any war, that's never the target. In the War on the Unborn, it's a defenseless, voiceless, innocent little child who is the target of the war tactics of the pro-abortion ideology. 

So, going back to our 54 days of prayer that we are starting today: for Catholics, it is especially important and powerful to pray the Rosary. If you're not Catholic, add a "Memorare" prayer to your other prayers for our Country.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

I read the Bible

A few mornings ago, I had an hour just to sit and relax. I picked up my Bible and flipped to the beginning of Malachi. Malachi tells the prophesy wherein the Lord condemns sin and urges His beloved Israel to return to Him. Of course, they have a 1,000 excuses not to.
For I, the LORD, do not change,
and you, sons of Jacob, do not cease to be.
Since the days of your ancestors you have turned aside
from my statutes and have not kept them.
Return to me, that I may return to you,
says the LORD of hosts.
Malachi 3:6-7 
Amazingly, I read the entire short book in one sitting. It made me think of lots of things. Completing that book brought me up to First Maccabees. I tucked my bookmarks in.

But, I want to rewind my story just a wee bit.

About five years ago, I picked up my Bible, and beginning with Genesis, I was determined to read it in its entirety. Throughout his life, my dad has read the Bible many times. I thought this is something I should do too.

Somewhere about half way through the Old Testament, I went to live in a monastery with the Poor Clare Nuns, and they had me start in Matthew to read the entire New Testament. This time, I read the Navarre Study Bible which contains enriching Biblical commentary and historical details.

For those months, I hardly read the Old Testament, but rather I completed Matthew through Revelation-- the entire New Testament.

For Christmas while I was in the monastery, I received a new Ignatius Bible, the Revised Standard- Catholic Edition (RSV-CE). I took my bookmarks out of the old Bible, New American (NAB) translation, and stuck it in the new Bible. But, busy with the Navarre Bible, I didn't get much reading done until I moved back into the "real world."

Upon completing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I also began in the Monastery, I picked up my new, red Bible and began to read again.

And today, I realized I've read the whole Bible!  In the NAB translation, Maccabees comes just after Esther, but in the Ignatius Bible, it's after Malachi! My bookmarks betrayed me and almost made me miss this milestone of my life!

It's nice to finish a good read!

If your Bible doesn't contain Maccabees or other "Apocryphal" books, you can buy a new Bible by stopping at the Poor Clare nuns' gift shop in Charlotte. Open until 6pm Monday through Saturday.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A fourth trimester fetus

peaceful prayer
On a lonely Friday night during my freshman year of college, my across-the-hall neighbor and I decided that we would brave the impending snow storm and corresponding freezing weather to join other students in prayer at an abortion clinic in Pittsburgh the next morning. Katie and I had never prayed at an abortion clinic before.

Five A.M. came early. We staggered to the chapel for Mass and then sheepishly got into the car with some upperclassmen for the 45 minute drive. We arrived on the streets of Pittsburgh about 6:30 am, rosaries in hand. We thought we were ready to witness the scene, but the gruesome scene of a crime isn't something you can prepare for.

misguided compassion
The first woman walked up, visibly upset about her "choice," boyfriend in hand.

The memory is over 10 years old; most of the details have slipped away. All I remember is breaking down in tears and praying, "O, God..."

Katie and I were numb-- in heart as well as body-- by the end of the several-hour vigil. Many women walked in that morning. Many compassionate pro-lifers attempted to reach out to them with parenting and adoption resources. I don't remember if any woman accepted it.

a fourth trimester fetus?
What I do remember were the yellow-smocked clinic escorts who prevented the women from receiving the information. One was about our age. He had a cynical look on his face. The other escorts were mostly women -- college-aged through middle-aged-- with the occasional middle-aged male. This young escort really stuck out.

As Katie and I became regulars to this macabre scene, we noticed him every week. He had dedication I wish that more people had for doing good.

One morning, a pro-lifer arrived to pray with us with small children in tow. One child was reclining in a stroller. As Mom and children passed the young clinic escort, he retorted:
Hey! It's a fourth trimester fetus! Can we kill that one too?
I gasped in disbelief. I couldn't help but recall his hateful words when I read 11-year-old Zoe Griffin's experience during a DNC protest-- a display of 3,300 carnations to represent the children killed daily in America by abortion.

In Zoe's words:
"The pro-abortionists turned to us and started pointing at different people, saying, "You're a person! You're a person! Fetuses are not!" Then the [pro-abortion] woman saw me crying and said," You are making this girl cry with your bull____". I couldn't stand any more of those lies. They pushed it too far. In the highest-pitched voice I have ever spoken in, I screamed, "THEY ARE NOT THE ONES MAKING ME CRY! YOU ARE! WITH YOUR DARK HEARTS, YOUR DARK MINDS TURNED AGAINST GOD!"

Who made Zoe cry?
(Photo by Anthony Perlas, seroptics.com for CatholicNewsHerald.com)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Deserve to die?

Did this tree deserve to die?
Remember in The Two Towers when Treebeard the Ent was so upset over Saruman's senseless hostility toward the ancient trees? Killing them fiercely to make room for his evil empire?

"Only lately did I guess that Saruman was to blame, and that long ago he had been spying out all the ways, and discovering my secrets. He and his foul folk are making havoc now. Down on the borders they are felling trees-- good trees. Some of the trees they just cut down and leave to rot-- orc-mischief that; but most are hewn up and carried off to feed the fires of Orthanc. There is always smoke rising from Isengard these days. 
"Many of those trees were my friends,  creatures I had known from nut and acorn; many had voices of their own that are lost for ever now. And there are wastes of stump and bramble where once there were singing groves. I have been idle. I have to let things slip. It must stop!
"I will stop it," he boomed. "And you shall come with me. You may be able to help me. You will be helping your own friends that way, to; for if Saruman is not checked Rohan and Gondor will have an enemy behind as well as in front. Our roads go together-- to Isengard!"

Of course, Tolkien's hidden message is about the evils we allow to happen around us.

In Nazi Germany, people didn't stand up against the dragging away of Jews, gypsies, Catholics and the sick. Slowly and easily, they were able to torment and kill across different socio-economic and religious groups, all because no one had the guts to stand up for their neighbor. Such is the reality of terrorism.

How often are the disabled seen as trees to be cut down and discarded to make room for something else. In a talk he gave on Tuesday night here in Charlotte, Bobby Schindler explained: "People ask, 'Who would want to live that way?' That's the wrong question. The right question is, 'How can we best serve and care for the disabled?'"

Did this woman deserve to die?
Bobby is the brother of Terri Schiavo. He said a great deal of thought-provoking things about the evils of silent euthanasia that happens to the disabled and others who do not have the resources or voice to speak for themselves.

(If you are not familiar with the story of Terri Schiavo and her death by starvation, read it on the Life & Hope Network > Terri's Story)

For example, Bobby explained how under Obamacare, there is a great danger of healthcare rationing that a patient will not be able to circumvent, even by paying privately for services. In Spring 2011, Burke J. Balch, J.D of the National Right to Life Committee wrote about it for the organization's newspaper.

To implement these recommendations, the federal Department of Health and Human Services is empowered to impose so-called “quality” and “efficiency” measures on health care providers. Doctors who violate a “quality” standard by prescribing more lifesaving medical treatment than it permits will be disqualified from contracting with any of the health insurance plans that individual Americans, under the Obama Health Care Law, will be mandated to purchase. Few doctors would be able to remain in practice if subjected to that penalty.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Helping others reach the goal

This morning on my way home from church, I caught from the corner of my eye a wee box turtle attempting to cross 601! He was about 18" into the traffic- just where a tire would squish him.
In my alarm, I did a u-turn (as fast as you can at 55mph) and hurried back to the rescue. As I flicked on my hazards and pulled onto the shoulder, a pick-up truck zoomed passed my little friend. I watched anxiously to see if it was his end. Phew! The truck missed him.

I jumped out of the car with little concern for the oncoming cars- they were at least a half mile away- and plucked up the little turtle. He immediately retreated into his shell. I walked directly across the road without changing his orientation and deposited him a good few feet into the meadow-like shoulder. He was a bit frightened, I think, because he didn't emerge from his shell, but remained in hiding.

Helping others get to the goal was also the topic of Deacon Jason Christian's homily at church too. Deacon pointed out that we should rush to the spiritual and practical aid of fellow human souls to help them get to our earthly goal: heaven. Much like how readily I went to the aid of the turtle in danger of loosing his life on the dangerous highway.

Of course helping a friend- or a stranger for that matter- to make better choices isn't quite as easy as diverting the path of a turtle. It takes a lot of love, compassion and prayer. I've even heard holy people say that God doesn't always allow us to see the changes we've brought about in people's lives lest we become prideful.

However, Deacon Jason pointed out that two "modern dogmas" inhibit us from being our "brother's keeper." Tolerance and diversity.

"Why would we tolerate that we would watch another human soul go headlong into hell?" Deacon said. "But a Christian must have an interventionist policy because tolerance is trying to convince us that there is no sin. True diversity is dimished, and false diversity is praised, and underlying that is the attitude that there really is no truth."

To many, truth is considered relative, however when the good of all human persons is taken into account in every situation, we can see that there is always an absolute truth.

For example, we can say it would be better for a woman to have the chance to finish school rather than divert her life to motherhood before she is ready. But, that is really only a good argument for abstinence. If she is already pregnant, they we also have to consider the life of the child, who though hidden and easy to forget, also deserves to fulfill the goals and dreams and destiny of his life. A woman has no more right to an abortion than I have the right to shoot dead the valedictorian of my class so I can take her spot as smartest in the school.

(And to convince her she won't feel guilty or regret it afterwards is silly and ignorant. People normally feel awful after they hurt another; why should it be any different for a mother who has been been convinced to abort her little one?)

Moral of the story? Even when it's unpopular or really, really risky, let's help encourage one another to desire and strive for heaven through lives of virtue and love.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Autumn is starting!

Well, this post has nothing to do with my usually topics of choice-- those mostly controversial things I'm passionate about! Rather, I'd like to bring your attention to some practical points of beauty I've seen around me recently. 

This summer, I had many grand adventures and travels, and one thing I have paid more attention to than in years past is the amount of butterflies! In fact, I have seen on several occasions-- including on the Blue Ridge Parkway-- bushes full of colorful and whimsical butterflies!  I didn't take this picture-- the bushes I saw were too deep in the thicket to get close enough for a photo. But, this is generally what it looked like.

Now, autumn is starting. Around here (Charlotte, NC area), it is mostly the crepe myrtles that are shedding soft yellow leaves... meanwhile having their blossoms in full bloom! I did take this stellar photo...  with my droid!

Also of note, I spotted two buds on the rose bush outside my office.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review!

I recently started my third read of a book that has already changed my life. I thought if one read could change my perspective, re-reading a second and third time would work wonders too!

Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence: The Secret to Peace and Happiness is a compilation of short spiritual quips on accepting and having joy in the present moment. Half of the book is written by a saint, and the other half is written by a priest. They were contemporaries of one another, living in 18th century France.

From the publisher's website:

A good book.
To remain indifferent to good fortune or to adversity by accepting it all from the hand of God without questioning, not to ask for things to be done as we would like them but as God wishes, to make the intention of all our prayers that God's will should be perfectly accomplished in ourselves and in all creatures is to find the secret of happiness and content.

Today at Mass, Abbot Placid mentioned that there is great peace in "accepting our crosses." He said: You may not like it, you may not want it, but if you accept it, it will be the best thing for your soul.

There are many things in life we absolutely cannot control like death, disease, natural disaster, etc. Yet, these things are so hard to accept and live through.

My greatest joy from reading Trustful Surrender has been: in the end, these situations are revealed as opportunities to form our personalities and lives into being more peaceful and happy people, just like the sub-title says.

I recommend reading the book just one or two pages at a time. There is so much to take in and think on, and this will help the message to sink in better, especially when it's a hard lesson to learn.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Democrats coming to Charlotte

Just in time for the Democratic Convention 2012, the Democratic party ousted the possibility of any pro-life candidates for the 2012 race by proclaiming officially that their party is pro-abortion. Also on the agenda is pro-gay  marriage. Contraception, in the party, is seen as a universal right not to be interfered with by religious objection.

The Diocese of Charlotte is responding and reaching out with simple, hard-to-miss messages across the street from the convention location.
These very visible banners are meant to provoke dialogue and encourage evangelization, diocesan officials said, during a time when the national spotlight will shine on Charlotte like never before – and where attention will especially be drawn near St. Peter Church, the oldest Catholic church in the diocese and located in the heart of the convention area.

Thank you Bishop Jugis!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Chicken v. Coffee

It doesn't seem like it makes a difference, but the recent campaigns for Chick-fil-A and Starbucks show what we can do by putting our money where our mouth is. The current war is between Chick-Fil-A v. Starbucks. Even Belmont Abbey College -- first in the country to speak out against the HHS mandate-- recently dumped Starbucks from their lineup of student offerings.

So, here's my story of putting my money where my mouth is:

I am not the adventurous type when it comes to makeup. My friend Jamie took me for a makeover three years ago. Although the nice ladies at Origins wouldn't believe me that I owned exactly no makeup, they gave me a complete makeover and told me exactly what to wear. I bought it all.

But last Fall, I ran into Origins to pick up some foundation, and a breast-cancer awareness ad caught my eye. It was three nude women embracing. It was a waist-up shot from the back, so technically "nothing" was showing, but it still made me uncomfortable. I told the clerk that it doesn't seem necessary to exploit women to advertise for breast-cancer awareness. The lack of modesty and good taste offended me. She said thanks and put the ad behind the counter. I wrote to the corporate office for Estée Lauder (owner of Origins) to request a more prudent choice of advertisement in the future. I wrote:
To advertise for breast cancer is seen as a universally good cause, however to use explicit nudity between three women is hardly prudent. In a fight for the health of women, must we exploit them? I also pity the three women and the producers and photographers who had to work on such a display. It is not necessary to provide a shock in order to support women suffering from cancer.
Their response:
The intent of the 2011 BCA Campaign, with its bold and inspiring visual, is to raise awareness while emphasizing the collective power of people joining TOGETHER around the world with one voice to spread the all- important message of breast health and that early detection saves lives.
"Bold and inspiring?" If they wanted to be bold and inspiring and express "together"-ness about Breast Cancer, why not show the women's fronts, not their backs? That would be bold. The ad they used, however, was just imprudent.

I'm running out of foundation, and now I need a new makeup company. It has to be organic. I don't want strange chemicals on my face all day long. I have never looked better than when I began wearing Origins. So, it has to be good. I googled "organic makeup," and to my surprise, I realized that Amway's Artistry makeup is organic and their CEO recently gave a big donation to National Organization for Marriage!

Little changes like this scare me because it's so much easier just to buy the same makeup I've always used. But, I believe that this change is necessary. I want to put my money where my mouth is.  Now, I'm going to be an Amway customer! Thanks to Amway for sticking up for traditional marriage.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Athletes giving glory to God

Tonight, I watched Allyson Felix and Aries Merrit-- two new Olympic Gold Medalists-- give glory to God after great races. Further, they attributed to God their ability to perform well and gain the skill needed to do their best.

That was such a breath of fresh air. Not only do both Allyson and Aries have beautiful smiles, they are both full of joy and determination. I especially appreciated Aries's thoughts on improving his game right after winning the 110 meter hurdles. Whenever I can find that video on YouTube, I'll post it!

Congrats to all our Olympic athletes!

Ruined sex?

Condoms seem to solve the problem of wanting organic sex while preventing pregnancy and disease, but a new website, www.1Flesh.org blew the whistle on that.

Quoting a 2009 article on a federal study on why men won't use condoms which brought a bit of criticism from guys who say it's not mystery why guys don't like it.
"Also, it's an interruption when a couple is in the 'heat of the moment' where you have to change focus to something decidedly unromantic," he said. "[It's] pretty much the same as if the woman, at the same juncture, needs to jump up, run to the bathroom and insert a diaphragm. It breaks the mood.

"Men wear them because they are slightly more desirable than a combination of embarrassing diseases, 20 years of child support payments and death," Shaw said. "And if you took the death part out of the equation, a frightening number of us would probably still roll the dice on it if the lady was willing."
But the shocking part for me is that men's semen actually helps a woman be happier and is also protects against preeclampsia in pregnancy and uterine cancer.

I never thought that semen was good for anything besides making a baby! So I suppose when it says in Scripture, "And the two shall become one flesh," the Lord who created us had some concrete remedies in mind also for the husband and his wife.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My thoughts on Melinda Gates' new agenda

The Catholic Church is a lone ranger speaking out against contraception. Yet, many Catholics do not understand or accept why the Church insists on what she does regarding birth control.

When he implemented Humanae Vitae in 1968, Pope Paul VI did so with thorough reasons, taking into consideration the health and welfare of women, government's role, and the environment. Therefore, statements like this made in May by Melinda Gates -- who isn't shy about saying that she's Catholic-- bring me great sadness.

This week, she is hosting a summit in the UK, and I heard her interview with Jeremy Hobson on NPR Monday morning. Melinda and I have similar concerns about women's needs and health, however a much different opinion of how to resolve these problems.

While the fine points of theology and liturgy require much more thought and research, knowledge of the Catholic Church's teachings on birth control are common knowledge. Often, however, Catholics stop at knowing what the Church teaches and do not realize there is a why.

Why is the fish glowing?
The one aspect of birth control I want to focus on today is harm to the environment. There is a tremendous amount of harm done to the environment with each birth control pill that is swallowed. Scientists in England revealed a study on in April, in which they commented:
This is a very exciting development in the international effort to understand the impact of estrogenic chemicals on the environment and human health.
Furthermore, in 2004, the World Health Organization declared that hormonal birth control is a carcinogenic.

What Melinda Gates could have said is that if an organization like the WHO who is so dedicated to population control is wary of hormonal contraceptives, then perhaps society needs to continue to question its use, not redistribute it to poor and often ignorant women who do not know or understand the health and environmental implications of it.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Highlights from the priests' ordination: Diocese of Charlotte

While I don't have a sound card in my computer (yeah, my computer is from the stone age, but I'm so grateful to have it!) I am still so excited to see the excellent work of The Momentum Studio in capturing so vividly such a grace-filled day!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

I'm not offended JUST by sex-selection abortion

I'm offended by abortion. Period.

Pro-life group Live Action has been behind the exposure of the prevelance of sex-selection abortions in the US, and the willingness of Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation clinics to keep the reason for the abortion hush-hush. They're calling the phenomenon "gendercide in America."

The issue has hit the news and within the past few weeks, the US House of Representatives voted on The Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA), H.R. 3541, which was defeated in a 246-168 vote. But, the debate is still hot, and popular opinion seems to be: gender selection abortion is more inhumane than other abortion.

Christianity Today's blogger Marian Liautaud said,
From Planned Parenthood to the 86 percent of Americans who said sex-selective abortions should be outlawed, virtually everyone agrees that aborting a child on the basis of its gender is unethical—even inhumane.
Congressman Chris Smith wrote in the Washington Post,
Sex-selection abortion is cruel, it’s discriminatory and it’s legal. It is violence against women.
Foster Freiss's blogger T. J. Haley asks,
Is Gender Based Abortion the Most Sickening Thing You’ve Ever Heard?
and he says,
We simply cannot allow this barbaric way of thinking to spread in our country. This needs to be illegal and it needed to be illegal yesterday.
LifeSite news points out that providers
break state law and perform an illegal sex-selective abortion.
With all this commotion, I'd like to disagree.

To be more precise, this issue is just one more way that people are justifying killing little people so they don't have to deal with their problems. What's their problem? Choose one of these typical reasons why a child dies:
baby is sick
baby might be sick
the pill didn't work
the condom didn't work
there are too many children already
we're moving soon
baby's mom and dad don't get along
baby's grandparents are mad at baby's mom
everyone has walked away from mom
mom just doesn't feel like having baby
baby conceived at wrong time
baby might be poor
baby might be stupid
baby's dad is also baby's uncle
baby's dad is also baby's grandfather
baby's dad is some stranger who took advantage of baby's mom
too many babies in womb
baby might cause mom health problems
no reason at all, just want to be un-pregnant
I can't understand why:
baby is a girl
baby is a boy
are more offensive than the first list. It just doesn't make sense. ANY abortion is a grave offense against the baby, a deep betrayal of the baby. It's saying to the baby:
I don't care what your future problems are; I don't care to help you solve them. I'd rather kill ya.
It's saying to mom:
I don't love you enough to help you raise your child and love your child; I'd rather leave you to deal with it, but if you don't have the abortion, I'm gone.
Really, ANY abortion produces the same result: dead baby. Why is any reason to choose abortion any more or less legal than any other reason for abortion?

If abortion is going to be legal-- despite the obvious scientific fact that life begins at the union of sperm and egg as a zygote-- then isn't any reason to do the dirty deed enough to get 'er done?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

55 years of ministry to 'God's holy people' as priest, bishop

Bishop Curlin at ordination 1957
On Friday, May 25, Bishop Emeritus William G. Curlin celebrated 55 years as a priest by administering the sacrament of confirmation to 75 children at St. Thérèse Church in Mooresville.

And more recently!
"I continue to help Bishop (Peter) Jugis with confirmations throughout the diocese," Bishop Curlin says. "I am encouraged and deeply moved when people invite me to special occasions and celebrations."

As a retired priest, Bishop Curlin sees his current ministry as one of providing this spiritual support to God's people.

Continue reading on the Catholic News Herald... 

One year later: Father Joshua Voitus reflects on the ministry of the priesthood

Photo provided by the Catholic News Herald
CHARLOTTE — Last June, just one man was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Charlotte. Father Joshua Voitus, now the parochial vicar at St. Vincent de Paul in Charlotte, shares some thoughts, joys and highlights with the Catholic News Herald one year following his own ordination to the sacred priesthood.

Continue reading on the Catholic News Herald...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pope: World Meeting of Families to be held in Philadelphia

Two dear friends Ania and Brian Wojo on the news in Philadelphia about the announcement of the 2015 World Meeting of Families which will be held in Philadelphia.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

It's not hate speech, but love-talk

This afternoon was the first Mass of newly-ordained priest Father Jason Barone. The Solemn High Mass was at St. Ann in Charlotte. The homily was given by Father Frederick Miller, STD, a priest-teacher at Mt. St. Mary's Seminary in Maryland.

photo by the Catholic News Herald
Father Miller explained the gospel, explained the priesthood, and explained the duty of the spiritual work of mercy of explaining the faith. He spoke of the necessity of forming young Catholics to understand the teachings of the Church, specifically in regard to moral issues of abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, cohabitation, contraception, etc. He said that today, you can no longer assume that someone knows right from wrong or why.

Such instruction and admonition is considered "hate speech" often in our PC culture, but Father Miller assured us:
Preaching these truths is the opposite of hate speech, but love-talk.
Indeed, when someone is in error, the goodness of God's grace in his or her conscience often tells him or her, "Stop! Watch out!" However, we have a way of ignoring good sense our gut reaction and rather turn toward sin as if it is a great new adventure. How difficult it is to see a friend take this path, especially when you've been down the path before... and wished someone had told you, "Wake up!  Don't you see you're hurting yourself and your relationships?!"

This action, as Father explained, is not hate speech, but the most loving plea to a friend: that we want his or her soul in heaven.

Let's pray for the virtue of fortitude for our priests in their priestly ministry and for ourselves as we bring Christ to the world as lay men and women.

Two other highlights from the homily are:

  • Virginity is a great gift, and it is the greatest gift a wife can give her husband and a husband can give his wife.
  • Mary the Mother of Christ is the most beautiful "church." (aka, dwelling of God)  No other Church, no matter how beautiful, is more beautiful than she is. There is more grace in Mary than evil in the world.
Read about or view the Ordination Mass at the Catholic News Herald

Friday, June 1, 2012

Viva Cristo Rey!

Tonight, I went to see "For Greater Glory" and wondered, "Will it come to this in the United States?"

After all, what was Calles so afraid of when it came to the Catholic Church?

And, what is Obama so afraid of when it comes to the Catholic Church? The Church believes in personal freedom and liberty, and those things are threatening to an oppressive regime like Calles's or Obama's.

After 17 years of Catholic school-- kindergarten through college--I am embarrassed and ashamed that I only learned of this war against Catholics in our neighbor Mexico three years ago.

But we found out just in time, for this war produced saints that we can look to for strength and courage during our own persecution which is coming.

This morning, as I read Psalm 95,
Forty years I endured that generation
struck me very hard. The day after we swear the president who will serve our Country in the next term, our Country will mark the 40th anniversary of the slaughter of the innocents by abortion.

Six months prior to the swearing in of Obama for his first term was the 40th anniversary of the document "Humanae Vitae" which prophetically outlined the horrific outcome of widespread contraception use:
conjugal infidelity
general lowering of morality
loss of respect for women
government coercion
Yes, believe it or not, Pope Paul VI calls contraception a "dangerous weapon" that would "thus be placed in the hands of those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies." Isn't that exactly what has happened with the HHS mandate?

Watch the trailer of "For Greater Glory" below, and access show times at a recent theater on Google.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Abortion in Tennessee

In anticipation of a vote on outlawing abortion in Tennessee, The Tennessean released a series of articles in the past two weeks to bring discussion of the issue to the forefront.

The focus of the exposé is the entire abortion debate in the state, and quite honestly, I think it is a pretty objective piece. They even use the word pro-life in the article, a big no-no for the AP.

I found it quite ironic was the contrast between the post-abortion testimonies:

First testimony:
You’ll always remember the anniversary of the abortion. You’ll remember the anniversary of what their birthday would have been. I still cry. I still have emotions, but it’s okay. It still hurts, but it don’t hurt like it did then.

Second testimony:
I love my child. I’m glad I had my child, and I don’t have any regrets. But we would have chosen abortion if we had to, and I wouldn’t have had any regrets about that either.

Third testimony:
My husband was like, “Let’s keep it.” But then we looked at child care, diapers, we looked at how long I would have to be off work, we put all that into play and we couldn’t do it. Our financial situation … it was just not going to work. Ultimately he said it was my decision. Whatever I chose to do he would follow me 100 percent. And my decision was to terminate the pregnancy.

Fourth testimony:
I went to an abortion clinic in Knoxville, just to talk to them to ask questions to make sure I was pregnant. They did an ultrasound. I think I was three weeks when I went. As soon as I saw her heartbeat I knew then that wasn’t an option. I knew I couldn’t do it.

In the upcoming vote-- which will happen in 2014--Tennessee residents will decide whether to outlaw abortion in their state through a constitutional amendment which will read:
“Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother.”
Because many nearby states have restricted abortion in recent years, Tennessee has seen an increase in out-of-state abortions, though the actual number of abortions has decreased in the past two decades:18,253 performed in 2008, down from 21,114 in 1990.

In clever click-able boxes, The Tennessean displays stats on abortion. For example:

  • The trend of aborting college-aged women continues: In Tennessee, 34% of women were between 20-24 years old. That's 4,287 abortions on women who typically would be enjoying college, the first years of marriage or her first "real" job, but rather are enduring the heartache-- sometimes delayed-- of destroying the life of her child.
  • Eight out of 10 abortions are to an unmarried mother.
  • There are just 9 abortion clinics in Tennessee, which is more than in any other bordering state. This is down from 16 clinics just over a decade ago
In fact, it is the lack of regulations and restrictions on abortion-- especially informed consent for the parents of pregnant, minor girls-- that entices people to travel to Tennessee much like women would fly to New York and California in the 60s for an abortion.

But, far away from home in the hands of an unknown doctor, women are at greater risk for medical complications and post-traumatic stress.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Memorial to the Unborn

Yesterday as I sat through a very moving and touching Memorial Day service in honor of our valiant servicemen and women, I couldn't help but think of the need for a Memorial Day for the Unborn.

The soldier who spoke yesterday in Mocksville gave the number of causalities and length of many of America's wars, including the current Global War on Terror in which over 4,700 American servicemen have been killed. This is the longest running war that America has been engaged in.

Unless you count the true war on women.

The war on the unborn.

Just as Memorial Day-- the last Monday of May-- is a way for grieving Moms, Dads, Wives, Husbands, Children, Siblings, Cousins to remember their fallen heroes, a Memorial Day for the Unborn would be a chance for women to mourn together and remember the children they will never know.

In less than a year, we will reach the 40th anniversary of legal abortion in America. This has yielded 53 million abortions which leaves behind hundreds of millions of Mothers, Fathers, Siblings, and other family members who are grieving and mourning. They don't know if they lost a brother or a sister, a son or a daughter. They cannot speculate what they would have been when they grew up. They cannot recall the memory of their face or the sound of their laugh. They mourn the children the never had the chance to hold and love.

Let's plan a Memorial Day for our country to grieve, mourn and repent for giving such suffering to our unborn and their families through the War on the Unborn that we have been enduring for the past four decades.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A nice dinner party

Just a nice shot of the dinner party I'm currently throwing!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Go green: ditch the Pill

Dr. Rebecca Oas wrote an excelent piece for Zenit this week where she highlighted some of the environmental factors at stake with the use of the birth control pill.
It makes intuitive sense that humans both individually and as societies benefit by living in accordance with the wishes of their Creator
This frog looks worried. He should be!
Her article is called "Contraceptives and the Environment: What the Pill Is Doing to Our Water Supply."
When a new synthetic substance is created, or a naturally occurring substance is generated at greatly increased levels, the effects can be far longer-lasting and wider-reaching than its manufacturers predict or intend. Some well-known examples of this include asbestos, a popular insulation and flame retardant in the late 19th century, which was later discovered to be carcinogenic
For example, she references a spring, 2012 article that addresses the harms done to frogs and other animals due to toxins in the water supply.
Due to the accumulation of synthetic steroids in water, much of the research conducted on its impact has been done using water-dwelling vertebrates such as fish and frogs. An ever-increasing collection of studies report harmful effects of these hormones on aquatic vertebrates, particularly with regard to their reproduction, as would be predicted given the nature of the contaminants.
Putting aside the side effects of the pill on the environment, imagine what the side effects are for women whose bodies are continuously processing excess hormones.  Women deserve better than to be treated as if our unique, perfectly functioning bodies are diseased for the fact that we can bear children.

And, further, I have always been an advocate for alternative treatment for conditions that doctors insist require birth control pill treatment such as acne and irregular periods. My favorite alternative treatment is chiropractic care from a Palmer trained chiropractor. Their website also has a chiropractor locator.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Rare look at some rare books

Although I have three articles in this issue of the Catholic News Herald, I am only going to feature one here. For links to the other articles, click here.

BELMONT — On April 23, the Abbot Vincent Taylor Library at Belmont Abbey College participated in the American Library Association's "Preservation Week" by hosting an information exhibition and book preservation demonstration by preservation specialist Alexandrea "Ali" Pizza. It was the first look in years that many people had of the Benedictine college's extensive rare books collection.

Continue reading on the Catholic News Herald.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Maybe breaking my foot isn't ALL bad!

Because I just got my groceries delivered by the new Pineville, NC-based store Lettuce Carry - The Grocery Store At Your Door!

O my! What a blessing!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Victory for Marriage in NC!

I am delighted that fellow North Carolinians have approved the Constitutional Ammendment in our state defining Marriage the way God defines it: the sacred union of One Man and One Woman.

My favorite part was seeing this headline from the AP:
The Associated Press: NC voters approve amendment on gay marriage

We approved and ammendment on gay marriage! In otherwards: we have spoken frankly as a state that we will not allow marriage to be perverted, children to be harmed, and society to be corrupted.

Thank God for this tremendous victory!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Children's rights and the gay marriage debate NC

My little bio over on the right says that I comment on "children's rights." What does that mean?

Well, when two people want something, there either has to be a compromise or one person must defer to the other.

When it comes to the rights and dignity of children, adults must defer their desires and whims to what is best for children. For example, if parents want to go out to dinner, they cannot leave the children alone. The must hire a sitter, arrange for their supper, give instructions and respond to an emergency.

Regarding gay marriage, when two adults feel they want to be "consenting adults" to a gay partnership where they raise children, they are depriving those children of their right to a mother and father who are married to one another.

Watch Bishop Peter J. Jugis's video below.  And on Tuesday, May 8, vote FOR marriage in NC.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Show your ID!

What's more important than voting FOR marriage in NC on May 8? Nothing!

But the second important thing is to show your ID! Watch this message from gubernatorial primary candidate Pat McCrory.

You need to to make returns at Target
You need it to buy a Guinness
You need it to go to the doctor's office
You need it if you get pulled over for going 85 in a 60... or just have a blown taillight
You need it to fly on a plane
You need it if you ever get carded for paying with your own credit card

Why is it seen as an undue burden to show it at the polls?

SHOW YOUR ID!  Make a statement about the need for a law in our state requiring valid ID in order to vote.

Why the screen in a confessional

For many years, I have felt more comfortable confessing behind the screen than in person. When I explained confession to my goddaughter the day before her first Holy Communion-- when I took her to confession-- I said that, "It helps us to realize that we are confessing to Jesus when we are not distracted by looking at the priest." She liked that.

This morning, the daily maxim by St. Philip Neri admonished confessors to encourage the use of the screen especially to women and girls for a different reason:
Confessors should use the confessional with its screen for hearing confessions of girls and young women because it is easier for them to divulge all their sins and not to conceal any of them out of shame if they do not have to look the confessor in the face

Saturday, April 28, 2012

High Flying Love

I had the most lovely visit and interview with Murrell and Kitty Cook who have been married for 63 years! What a happy and joyful couple. If I ready a story where a couple claimed to have never fought in their entire marriage-- let along a marriage that has lasted for six decades so far-- I'd think you were kidding! But spending a few hours with the Cooks I can tell you: This is a couple really did it!

The Cooks with pictures of prize-winning '53 Thunderbird
CHARLOTTE — On a clear evening in 1948, Murrell Cook took his girlfriend Kitty up in a twin-engine plane – just the two of them – to watch the sun set over Charlotte. She thought nothing more of it than another chance to practice her flying with the World War II vet who was helping her earn her pilot's license.

 But when they were flying high above the city, Murrell used that opportunity to pop the question.

 "I figured if I had her up there, there wasn't much she could do about it!" Murrell laughs.

Continue reading article on the Catholic News Herald....

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

40 Days for Life

On Sunday, we concluded the latest campaign of 40 Days for Life here in Charlotte with 53 babies saved. In my talk given at the closing ceremony, I said, "Let this experience of abundant fruit from our prayers and sacrifices be something that we thank the good God for, but not something that we cling to."

Often in pro-life work, we don't see the results of our efforts. We stand and pray at "Calvary" where all seemed hopeless, and for most bystanders and passers by, we look a little foolish. However, this campaign saw an abundance of fruit.

We will continue to pray as possible at the two abortion clinics in Charlotte. Please see calendars at the Charlotte Coalition for Life website and come join in prayer for the end of abortion as you are able.


A quick PS: The last issue of the Catholic News Herald featured four articles written by me! This is just a quick update: I am having difficulty accessing their website. I will post the articles to this blog when I can.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Listening to Women

I encourage all women to visit Helen Alvare's website and sign the letter stating that:

  1. The opposition to the HHS is not a war on women
  2. No one - including the HHS - can claim to speak for all women, especially to insist that all women want contraceptives.

Hundreds turn out for religious freedom rally in Charlotte, Marion and Winston- Salem

Your author speaking with Most. Rev. Peter J. Jugis!
CHARLOTTE — Hundreds of people gathered outside federal courthouses in Charlotte, Marion and Winston-Salem March 23 peaceably to protest a new federal mandate that will force nearly all employers to provide free contraception in their health insurance plans, despite religious objections.

Continue reading on the Catholic News Herald website...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Feminist speaks at Belmont Abbey, explains original group message

"Voices of our feminist foremothers"

BELMONT — "There are women who died from illegal abortion, but no one has bothered to ask what drove her to abort."

Questioning abortion, Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life of America, explained the pro-life stance of "original feminists" from the late 19th and early 20th centuries during a public talk she gave at Belmont Abbey College on March 14. She hailed these women as true feminist pioneers and described the true feminist ideal they inspired.

Continue reading on the Catholic News Herald site...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Divine... Liturgy... of the Hours

I was recently asked the difference between the Missal and the Liturgy of the Hours books.  When my response got to be a page long, I decided I had to share it with more than just one friend!  I hope this is a good primer for anyone curious about Catholic liturgical life.

Liturgy of the Hours: The Divine Office
In Psalm 119, King David said that seven times a day, I praise the Lord. With that tradition ever fresh in Her mind, the Church has since the time of Christ gathered for prayer several times a day. This has been normalized and organized into the Liturgy of the Hours. Deacons, priests and nuns are bound to say 3-7 of these prayers per day depending on their schedule and the discipline of their order; they take 10-20 minutes each. The Poor Clares, for example, say all seven hours daily. They combine them so the first two are prayed together (Matins and Lauds) and the middle three are prayed together (Terce, Sext, and Non). The last two are prayed separate Vespers and Compline.

The time of the day for saying the hours is flexible, always according to one's own time zone, schedule and judgement, but religious communities do (and really should) have a set schedule.

Matins - The Office of Readings. Psalm 95, a hymn, 3 psalms, a Biblical reading, then a non-Biblical spiritual reading, closing prayer
Lauds - Morning Prayer. Hymn, two psalms, a canticle, a reading, a responsory, The Canticle of Zachary in the Gospel of Luke "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel...", petitions, Our Father, closing prayer. 
Terce Sext and Non - Mid-day Prayer. Said mid day at once or in three short spurts. Hymn, Three sets of three psalms each, readings, responsory, closing prayer. Quick and easy.
Vespers - Evening Prayer. Hymn, two psalms, a canticle, a reading, a responsory, The Canticle of Mary in the Gospel of Luke aka the Magnificat "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord...", petitions, Our Father, closing prayer.
Compline- Night Prayer. Hymn, one or two pslams, reading, Canticle of Simeon "Now You let your servant go in peace..." responsory, closing prayer, hymn to Mary. Also quick and easy... so you can head straight to bed!

Each hour begins with "O God come to my assistance; O Lord make haste to help me" except the first hour of the day when you say "O, Lord open my lips; and my mouth will proclaim your praise." Each hour ends with "May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to ever lasting life" except the last hour, "May the Lord grant us a restful sleep and a peaceful death."

The Church encourages all to participate in the Liturgy of the Hours-- also called the Divine Office -- in order to unite our hearts with God at many points throughout the day as well as to unite ourselves with the entire Church throughout the world. The Liturgy of the Hours is the four-volume book that has all of the psalms and readings in it.

The Divine Liturgy: Holy Mass
Holy Mass is likewise a daily prayer of the Church, but it is unique in that only the Priest (or bishop, pope) may say it. As laity (even if a nun or deacon), we only "assist" at the Mass by hearing and praying along with the priest. It is never possible to have the Mass without a priest.

 The Missal includes all of the prayers of the Mass. In the Latin Mass, it is a bit easier to understand because just one book is always used by the priest. In the English Mass, the missal is split into the Sacramentary and the Lectionary. The Sacramentary has all of the prayers of the Mass besides the readings, and the Lectionary contains just the readings.
This is St. Philip Neri saying the Holy Mass.

Holy Mass is a re-presentation of the very sacrifice that happened upon the Altar of the Cross by Jesus Christ, and given to us as an "everlasting memorial" in most Blessed Sacrament. In the Old Covenant, the Jewish temple rituals were performed just once a day, so a priest may serve a few times in his lifetime. In the Church today, the Mass can take place anywhere at any time because the priest is "in persona Christi" therefore any priest can say his own Mass anywhere and daily. Personally, I find it easiest to recognize the dignity and sublimity of the Holy Mass when I refer to it as the "Holy" Mass, and refer to the priest as "saying" the Mass rather than celebrating. It is a sorrowful yet mysterious gift that Christ has given us: that He would die in order to pour many graces on our souls.

When we assist at Holy Mass, the graces of that sacrifice can fall on our souls. We receive the Most Blessed Sacrament in Holy Communion because that's the way that God set up sacrifices. The sacrifice is complete when the people sacrificing partake of the matter given to God (recall the sacrifice of the lambs at the Jewish passover). So, when we come to Mass and we have so many intentions on our hearts, we are able to place those (spiritually) on the host that the priest offers up to become the Body of Christ.

The Mass has two different types of prayers in it: the changeable parts called the Propers and the unchangeable parts called the Ordinary. Once a priest has said the Mass for the day, he has fulfilled the demands of that prayer. It is not more reverent to say more than one Mass (or for the laity: to attend more than one Mass) in one day, and it is only due to a shortage of priests that they are permitted to say more than one Mass per day (called bination).

Often, the Propers of the Mass are on-theme with what is prayed in the Divine Office that day. We can follow along in the Mass by using the Missal in the pew or getting a Missal that has all of the Masses for any day or Saint's feast. One reason I like to attend the Latin Mass is that I have the Missal; most of the time, you can't hear the priest anyhow, and you must read along! The laity were expected to have their Missals and follow along silently as the priest said Mass. I enjoy doing this in the English Mass even though usually, I can both hear and understand the words the priest says. For me, it sinks in better when I can read along.

Pillars of our Faith
A good priest I know said that attending Mass and saying the Divine Office are essential and I should do them as often as possible too. The Church only requires that a Catholic attend Mass once a week, however we are richly blessed in our country to be able to attend Mass so much more often and to have the freedom and ability to pray more often.

These two pillars of our Faith, but, a stool can't have just two legs: it will fall over. So, the third leg is the Holy Rosary, perhaps the most difficult prayer to pray for it involves intense mental discipline to meditate on the Mysteries.