Saturday, May 26, 2012

On Miracles

Well, I'm still singing, bronchitis and all ... I finally went to the doctor and I have a small arsenal of medicines that are currently making my tummy go haywire, but taking care of my bronchi. La la la ...

I also had to renew my prescriptions for my migraine meds, and since this was my first visit to the doctor here, we went over some of the history. She was disappointed to know that I still suffer about 10 days per month and asked about whether I've tried any preventatives. Yup, been there, done that. Things would work for about a month, but then it was back to being ill. Until I received the Sacrament of Healing. Her eyebrows shot up in surprise. But the truth is, two years ago, I was sick most every day (20-25 days/mo). So I am curious. Why is it so hard to see the evidence of God in our lives? Why is a 50% reduction in headaches impossible without drugs? Now I do wonder why I did not receive complete healing, but that does not diminish God's power.

I also find it fascinating that only when I was ready to surrender to Him, did this miracle take place. And even if no outward miracle takes place, what happens in the heart is so much more important. He gives us the grace we need.

So, I am thankful -- for modern medicine, but above all, for the Divine Physician, who knows all. Some day I will come to appreciate all the black threads amongst the gold in the tapestry of my life. It's not easy to give thanks in all circumstances, but I try very, very hard.

I wanted to share the complete Litany of the Holy Ghost with you all because I love it so. Such a simple prayer, but packed with great Truths and Gifts. May all the gifts of the Holy Ghost rain down upon you and your families during this season of Pentecost.

Lord, have mercy on us.
Christ, have mercy on us.
Lord, have mercy on us.

Father all powerful, have mercy on us.
Jesus, Eternal Son of the Father, Redeemer of the world, save us.
Spirit of the Father and the Son, boundless life of both, sanctify us.
Holy Trinity, hear us.

Holy Ghost, Who proceedest from the Father and the Son, enter our hearts.
Holy Ghost, Who art equal to the Father and the Son, enter our hearts.

Promise of God the Father, have mercy on us.
Ray of heavenly light, have mercy on us.
Author of all good, have mercy on us.
Source of heavenly water, have mercy on us.
Consuming fire, have mercy on us.
Ardent charity, have mercy on us.
Spiritual unction, have mercy on us.
Spirit of love and truth, have mercy on us.
Spirit of wisdom and understanding, have mercy on us.
Spirit of counsel and fortitude, have mercy on us.
Spirit of knowledge and piety, have mercy on us.
Spirit of the fear of the Lord, have mercy on us.
Spirit of grace and prayer, have mercy on us.
Spirit of peace and meekness, have mercy on us.
Spirit of modesty and innocence, have mercy on us.
Holy Ghost, the Comforter, have mercy on us.
Holy Ghost, the Sanctifier, have mercy on us.
Holy Ghost, Who governest the Church, have mercy on us.
Gift of God, the Most High, have mercy on us.
Spirit Who fillest the universe, have mercy on us.
Spirit of the adoption of the children of God, have mercy on us.

Holy Ghost, inspire us with horror of sin.
Holy Ghost, come and renew the face of the earth.
Holy Ghost, shed Thy light in our souls.
Holy Ghost, engrave Thy law in our hearts.
Holy Ghost, inflame us with the flame of Thy love.
Holy Ghost, open to us the treasures of Thy graces.
Holy Ghost, teach us to pray well.
Holy Ghost, enlighten us with Thy heavenly inspirations.
Holy Ghost, lead us in the way of salvation.
Holy Ghost, grant us the only necessary knowledge.
Holy Ghost, inspire in us the practice of good.
Holy Ghost, grant us the merits of all virtues.
Holy Ghost, make us persevere in justice.
Holy Ghost, be Thou our everlasting reward.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Send us Thy Holy Ghost.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, pour down into our souls the gifts of the Holy Ghost.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, grant us the Spirit of wisdom and piety.

Come, Holy Ghost! Fill the hearts of Thy faithful.
And enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.

Let Us Pray:
Grant, 0 merciful Father, that Thy Divine Spirit may enlighten, inflame and purify us, that He may penetrate us with His heavenly dew and make us fruitful in good works, through Our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who with Thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, liveth and reigneth forever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

More Transitions

I came across this old saying, “If I kneel before God I can stand before any man.”

The wisdom in this is great. So often, I am afraid of standing up to people because I hate confrontations. But is that any way to live? I don't mean one should pick fights for the sake of fighting, but one should fight for the good fight -- defending truth and goodness, the dignity of human life and family.

The children are again going through a big transition -- leaving their new-found friends at our current school. We are moving them to a smaller, more traditional Catholic school. I feel very sad at having to make this move since the children have done very well at the school, and I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the teachers, students, and parents I've met.

So what's the problem? The administration is taking the school in a more secular and materialistic direction. I realize that most of the parents are on board with spending more, more, more money on the latest gadgets to "enhance" the educational experience, but they don't realize that content and context matter far more than any tool. We live in an affluent area, and it's not uncommon for children to carry cell phones and be wired nearly 24/7 to electronic devices. Our children, on the other hand, do not watch television, nor play video games. We only allow limited computer use for some school work, we watch movies together, and we have a good selection of books at home, and ready access to the library. We work hard to make sure they are consuming good things to feed their minds and souls. If we do not protect their innocence, who will? So I am completely against taking away our parental authority and handing iPads to the children. Actually, I think it's a detriment. Children learn far better by using their whole bodies to learn. What next? Hook them up to the computer all day long? Anyway. That was the lesser problem.

The greater problem is secularism. I want to send my children to a Catholic school so that they will learn to see the world through a Catholic worldview, whether it is the study of cells or great works of art. I want them to always apply the Gospel to their lives. The current school has adopted the IB program for their middle school. What is it? A secular program. Their mission on their website: These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.

That sounds nice enough. But upon digging deeper, their role is to promote tolerance. I don't know when tolerance became a virtue, but it is not. One should never tolerate evil. If I see the practice of burning widows on a funeral pyre, I cannot turn the other way and say that it is their culture. Live and let live. In the same way, I cannot tolerate abortion. We have become so blind to evil, so desensitized, that we can say it is okay to kill a baby in the womb. I'm sure the baby does not think that is okay.

I wrote a fairly lengthy letter to the school administration, but have received no response. It is sad when a Catholic school will not acknowledge the concerns of a Catholic parent, especially regarding faith formation. We are neophytes. We do not want our children to get mixed messages. Jesus is the Truth, the Way and the Life. Everything else that goes against the teachings of the church is not just another opinion. It is false. I know, these are fighting words. But the good Lord is giving me the courage to speak. And if God is on my side, I have nothing to fear from man.
The good news is that God always provides. Our children will go to a small parish school, with none of the bells and whistles of these newer and progressive schools, but I have great peace knowing they will be richer. This smaller school has greater parental involvement, and they stick to the basics. And most importantly, they have a good and holy priest who will help the children to grow in their faith, and maintain their strong Catholic identity. I couldn't ask for anything more.

Friday, May 18, 2012

On Perseverance

To begin is easy; to persevere is sanctity. Let your perseverance not be a blind consequence of the first impulse, the work of inertia: let it be a reflective perseverance. -- St. Josemaria Escriva: The Way
Just what I need to read and practice today. I will add it to my new Quotes page.
I've been pulled in myriad different directions for the past couple of weeks, and my brain has been screaming, Noooooo, but some things have to be taken care of NOW. One by one, I'm getting things off my plate, but it's still so full. I will be quite relieved when I can get back to my regular, relaxing schedule and my novel. Rebecca is a little bit indignant at being left high and dry in the middle of the Palouse ... in a car, stuck with her annoying sister, and pontificating father.
I've also been battling a dry cough. Explain how it is possible with all this humidity. I guess it's the AC. I have a humidifier in my bedroom at night to help, but it's not going away. Sigh. The cough is making it hard to practice for Pentecost High Mass. Luckily, we'll have lots of singers (professional ones) so I will not be missed. I think for some, this will be the first time they will be performing a Mozart Mass in the context of an actual Mass. I have to think it will be a fuller experience.
Thanks be to God for everything.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Not So Happy Mother's Day

I am speechless ... but let me see if I can try to string together some words about what I think is appalling news.

First, that our president is in favor of gay marriage. And says so publicly. And touts the golden rule as his reason. Spare me. Spare us all. Since I am at a loss for words, please read a very thoughtful response to what's happening by Msgr. Pope.

To make matters worse, here is Melinda Gates on a new mission -- to bring contraception to the world --  in the name of social justice. Thud! And she says she's a practicing Catholic. Really? She even says she's a "pick and choose" Catholic, which actually means she's a heretic. Yes, I learned the true meaning of the word from the above mentioned blog by Msgr. Pope.

It is very sad that both these people use Christianity to promote the exact opposite of what Christ tells us. Whatever happened to "if you love Me, keep my commandment"?

It is not a happy Mother's Day at all ... when the meaning of marriage is being distorted, and the state of motherhood is being touted as one of great burden, one that should be avoided.


Consider the idea of marriage, a covenant between one man and one woman. It is present in almost all cultures for a reason. Because it is natural law, stamped onto our very hearts. I love that when a man and a woman get married in a Catholic church, it is called the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. First, marriage is a sacrament. It is sacred and set apart. And what is this matrimony business? Why, it is the state of becoming a mother. Imagine! So beautiful.

On the bright side, I just realized that tomorrow is the anniversary of the first apparition of our Blessed Mother to the children at Fatima. It will be a happy Mother's Day after all ... especially since my mind continually goes to Ave Maria.

Another beauteous thing in our lives right now -- practicing a Mozart Mass for Pentecost.

I wish all you wonderful mothers a very happy, and a very blessed Mother's Day.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

On Contraception, Infertility and a Faith Journey

The Infertility Companion for Catholics by Angelique Ruhi-Lopez and Carmen Santamaria clearly explains the Church's teachings on using various reproductive technologies that are used to make babies for couples who cannot conceive naturally. The problem with many of these methods, like IVF, is that they destroy the unitive aspect of marriage. It is the opposite of contraception, which destroys the procreative aspect of marital union. Just because we can do something, doesn't necessarily mean we should do it. That was my first thought when I first learned about this technology about 30 years ago. Even though I was not religious at the time, natural law is stamped onto our very hearts. It seemed very, very wrong to make a baby in a Petri dish, as though babies are commodities. Today there are thousands of frozen embryos, nicknamed "snowflakes" or "frosties" that are awaiting their fate. Over half will perish since cryopreservation is still an infant science. Pretty dismal since we're talking about humans.

This book explains the techniques that are available to couples who are experiencing infertility that may help them to conceive a child (ex. hormonal supplements to bring hormone levels into balance or surgery to correct anatomical problems), all the while preserving the dignity of all involved, and reminding us that God is the Author of all life.

The authors also provide an extensive bibliography of Church documents online that explain doctrine thoroughly, so that if a new technology comes up to help child-less couples, they can return to basic principles and decide whether it violates the sanctity and dignity of all human life.

I especially appreciated the chapter on discernment, because it can be applied to not just any reproductive technology or the decision to adopt, but also for any number of life-changing situations where it is crucial we make the right decision, be it changing jobs or houses. I also enjoyed the chapters on how one can bear this difficult cross without turning into a bear oneself. It reminds us that we ought to pray with humility and steadfastness. God knows our hearts, but more importantly, He knows what is best for us and has a plan. So it is very important to love and trust God, and His timing, and also His answers -- yes, no, not now. He always answers our prayers.

I borrowed this book because my husband and I have now joined the ranks of couples who are carrying the cross of infertility. I know that I am beyond the age that most women conceive (the CDC only counts women from age 15-45 in their assessments) and that our problem is self-inflicted (my husband had a vasectomy ten years ago), but I share this sense of loss with these women. For the first time, I mourn the children we could've had but didn't because of our own selfishness, pride, and slavery to sin.

But thank God for showing us the way back to Him. He is a God of great mercy and love, and as we grew in our faith, we felt compelled for my husband to have a reversal surgery so that our marriage will be again open to new life. I am no spring chicken, but we know that nothing is impossible for God. Children are a gift from the Lord.

Oddly enough it was my dreams of writing as well as being a tired mother (I was no spring chicken when I had my two) that made us so casual about doing this sort of permanent sterilization. Contraception and sterilization is part of the culture. We decide when to have children. We decide how many. In fact, when I was pregnant with my second child, and we knew she had to be born via Cesarean section because she was huge (they estimated 9 lbs, but she was a tenner) my doctor asked me whether I wanted my tubes tied since she was going to have to open me up anyways. I remember crying. I managed to tell her “no.” We might want more babies. She said fine. But I couldn’t stop weeping. I’m sure hormones had something to do with it, but in retrospect, what I couldn’t put into words then, but realize now, is that my heart knew I would be destroying something amazing and wonderful. However, a year later, I was writing again, and a few months after, when my periods began, I was terrified. The thought of giving up something I had just recently discovered (writing) felt like a tremendous sacrifice, after I’d already given up working as a scientist. Never mind, that mothering and writing are not mutually exclusive. And so the dreadful deed was done. My husband, a willing accomplice, got a vasectomy for his 40th birthday. No doctor counseled us that this is a very, very bad idea. Instead, we reveled – all the sex one could want without the babies …

Now, I am having modest success as a writer. I think I finally know how to write a novel, and life is good with our two children. I thank God for them every day. So why can’t we be satisfied with what we have? Why rock the boat? Why invite trouble? I cannot explain this compulsion, but it has to do with abandoning ourselves to God. We feel a greater peace and joy than ever before in knowing we are not saying “No” to God anymore. If He decides to bless us with a child, we are open to that blessing, and to His plans for our life. And if we never have another child, I know it is because He has other plans for me. He knows me better than I know myself and so I keep going back to "Thy will be done."

I look to these old couples from Scripture – Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel, Elkanah and Hannah, Zechariah and Elizabeth, Jochaim and Anne (parents of Mary) – and they fill me with faith, hope and love.

I humbly ask for your prayers and I’m grateful you are with me on this journey. It helps to talk and write about these things. It’s part and parcel of figuring out how in the world good people end up doing terrible things. I'm beginning to see that it is from fear. The antidote: God. God = Love. And perfect love casts out fear.

I’ve rambled long enough. But I wanted to share a beautiful quote on stages of our relationship with God from St. Jose Maria Escriva: to be resigned to the will of God; to conform to the will of God, to want the will of God; to love the will of God.

I think it encapsulates our ongoing faith journey perfectly.

God bless you all.