Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A Magnificent Prayer

I've been praying the Magnificat daily and every day I am falling in love with this bold and beautiful prayer. This is what Mary sings when she meets her cousin Elizabeth (who is carrying John the Baptist, and who leaps in his mother's womb when he feels the presence of Jesus).

My son said that it is a little bit scary that we have such a good life because at the end of time we will be the ones who will be scattered and put down. We are proud and mighty, not humble and poor of spirit. The Beatitudes turn everything upside down, but Mary understands the order of things when she concieves Jesus in her womb.

Here is this song of joy put to music by Bach, and below are the words of Mary. Enjoy.

My soul doth magnify the Lord.

And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;

for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

Because he that is mighty,

hath done great things to me;

and holy is his name.

And his mercy is from generation unto generations,

to them that fear him.

He hath shewed might in his arm:

he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart.

He hath put down the mighty from their seat,

and hath exalted the humble.

He hath filled the hungry with good things;

and the rich he hath sent empty away.

He hath received Israel his servant,

being mindful of his mercy:

As he spoke to our fathers,

to Abraham and to his seed for ever.


Monday, February 27, 2012

HHS Mandate and the Hippocratic Oath

Unless you've been living under a rock, most of you probably know that we are in an unprecedented time in our country, where the government is restricting religious freedom. The HHS mandate says that employers must provide free so-called reproductive health products like contraceptives, sterilization and abortions or else pay penalties.

Most people might not realize this, but this is a violation of conscience. Catholic schools and hospitals are not making laws to stop people from using contraceptives, but they shouldn't have to pay for things that they find morally objectionable.

Once upon a time, I was pro-choice too. I have consumed the birth control pills so that I could have premarital sex without fear of pregnancy. My husband and I have changed, but some damage is irreversible. An article by Msgr. Pope shows why contraception is so very wrong. And I can personally attest to the social ills caused by it.


Yesterday Father Tomlinson was visiting our parish and he gave a wonderful homily on why abortion, sterilization and contraception are wrong. We need to hear this truth from the pulpit more often, because so many of us Catholics can be lukewarm about our faith and how we live it. Father gladly let me borrow his notes so that I could share a few quotes:

From Ronald Reagan on Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation:

We will never recognize the true value of our own lives until we affirm the value in the life of others, a value of which Malcolm Muggeridge says: "... however low it flickers or fiercely burns, it is still a Divine flame which no man dare presume to put out, be his motives ever so humane and enlightened."

Abraham Lincoln recognized that we could not survive as a free land when some men could decide that others were not fit to be free and should therefore be slaves. Likewise, we cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion or infanticide. My administration is dedicated to the preservation of America as a free land, and there is no cause more important for preserving freedom than affirming the transcendent right to life of all human beings, the right without which no other rights have meaning.

I had always wondered how doctors could take the Hippocratic Oath and still perform "medicine" that harms the body (like sterilization) or that actually kills (abortion). I didn't realize that they changed it. Here are a couple of excerpts.

Original: I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.

Revised: I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.

Wow! I didn't know that the classic Hippocratic oath had been revised and updated. As Father Tomlinson said, it is playing God when man decides who should live and who should die.

Please pray for our country, which was founded upon Judeo-Christian morals, that we may elect leaders who will guide it to a righteous path.

Reflections to Share

I hope to share a few things on my Lenten/consecration journey and one of the blessings of a blog or website is that even if I lose my notebook, I will have these notes online.

The daily readings began with the beatitudes ... and I struggle most with the first one, blessed are the poor in spirit ... for my ego is large and I do enjoy when I am rewarded in this world for my work. I want so much to do everything for the glory of God, yet I want to have some of it for myself. Sigh. This first period is for developing detachment from this world and it is difficult.

This is what I prayed for, from Imitation Book 3, Chap. 40
True vainglory is an evil plague, because it draws away from true glory, and robs us of heavenly grace. For, while a man takes complacency in himself, he displeases Thee; while he looks for human applause, he is deprived of true virtues. But true, glory and holy exultation is to glory in Thee, and not in one's self; to rejoice in Thy Name, but not in one's own strength. To find pleasure in no creature, save only for Thy sake. Let Thy Name be praised, not mine; let Thy work be magnified, not mine; let Thy Holy Name be blessed, but let nothing be attributed to me of the praise of men.

But is it a true prayer when I am still so attached to the praises the world might offer me, for cooking or writing or having lovely children?

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Lenten Retreat

As is typical for me, I'm taking a Lenten retreat from cyberspace. This year I am particularly excited because I am compelled to follow St. Louis de Monfort's 33-day preparation for total consecration to Jesus through Mary.

Why Mary? She always points the way to her Son. She never fails. If you are interested in reading more, go here.

A year or so ago, I had checked out a book from the library about this, and just thumbing through it, I thought, no way ... too much praying. I'm not an ascetic. I'm a mom and writer and teacher. So I put the book away. I do often find myself praying while washing dishes or walking or any number of things, even when I'm annoyed. I'm not particularly pious -- my prayers range from thanksgiving and praise to fighting, demanding, wheedling, whining (and some of these things qualities I can't stand in my own children, yet I pester our Heavenly Father likewise) -- but I have a great longing. I cannot really put into words what it is I am longing for (because I have everything, really), but I think it has to do with holiness and wanting to always be with God.

So now I'm ready and happy to do this. I'm including my family by proxy. They may or may not join me for my daily prayers, but I am consecrating them as well. Many times, when I receive the Precious Body of our Lord, I think not only of my soul being healed, but also those who cannot partake. Our Lord is merciful and I am looking forward to getting to know Him better.

I hope you will pray for me during this time, that I may make a worthy consecration on the Feast of Mary's Annunciation, Mar. 25th. Oddly enough, for some time I've been thinking about changing the name of my blog to Fiat! for it was her Fiat that enfleshed the Word, and it is what I long to do always -- the will of God -- in all that I do as a wife, mother, writer, teacher.

God bless you this Lenten season.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Gift for St. Valentine's Day

My friend, Kathleen Muldoon, sent this lovely biography of Blessed Little Margaret for St. Valentine's Day.

Kathleen brings Margaret's short life (1287-1320) alive in these pages. When Margaret was born, her mother called her a monster. The child was disfigured, blind, lame, and a dwarf.

Her father denied her existence. She was to be kept hidden, and so imprisoned at the tender age of six. Margaret learned about our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ from the priest at the castle and I was astounded to read about her devotion to Christ. How could such a young child unite her suffering to Christ's on the Cross?

Several years later, Margaret was abandoned at the nearby village of Castello. Here she found a community of beggars who accepted her and cared for her. She, in turn, cheerfully cared for the sick, imprisoned and dying.

Kathleen writes, "The story of Blessed Margaret is great encouragement to people with disabilities and their families. We are all part of God's plan ... As Blessed Margaret proved to the world, every life matters."

In this day and age, where prenatal testing literally means a death sentence for 90% of babies with Down Syndrome or other genetic aberrations, this is a great reminder that all children are a gift from God. Throughout history, unwanted babies have been thrown away, abandoned, left to die, but we live in times where so many are unwanted and killed before they even have a chance to live ... as though death were some sort of a cure. Please pray for the end of abortion.

You can learn more about Kathleen here. She has written a great many books (you'll see how much she loves sharing the lives of the Saints), among them a very instructive book on writing for children: Sowing Seeds

Have a very happy and blessed St. Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 6, 2012

On Priests, Family and Responsibilities

My mother's older brother, Rev. D. S. Pathak, died last week. I imagine there is a lot of rejoicing in heaven right now, even though his immediate family is missing him very much. Of his generation, only two out of seven siblings are still alive.

Below you can see a picture of my mother's family. My uncle is the young deacon on the left. My mother is next to him, pregnant with my brother. My grandmother is next, holding my mother's first-born son (who died when he was five). The remaining are other brothers and sisters, except for the man seated at the very right. That is my father. 

I wouldn't have these old pictures if it weren't for my uncle. He embraced the new technology and after retiring from the day-to-day responsibilities of a parish priest, took upon himself to make family trees. He scanned some of these old pictures and emailed them. I treasure them.

This is a close-knit family. Alas, I never knew my cousins very well because we lived too far away even when we were in India. Money was tight (my mother was alone raising us while my father pursued his studies in the US) and travelling to visit family was a rarity. Later, we emigrated to the US, and money was still scarce when my parents got divorced. My mother did get to go back a couple of years before she died and she had such a good time visiting her brothers and sisters. She brought back many happy memories.

I look at these young faces and see how beautifully their lives have unfolded. They have faced many trials, each and every one of them, but they never lost their faith in God. They trusted Him and His great providence. I hope to walk in their footsteps and meet them in heaven. It is one of my greatest joys that my uncle got to know that I returned to our Christian faith before his death.

Sadly, I do not know all our family history. They were Brahmin priests for generations until one of them converted to Christianity. My mother told me there was always a priest in the family. I do not know if it's true (she also told me that Elvis Presley was Indian and that babies came from belly-buttons). But here is her father -- he became a bishop in the Episcopal church.

What a great responsibility it is to be a bishop or a priest. I am overwhelmed at times at the responsibility I have as a mother. I will have to answer to God how I raised my children. But priests and bishops will have to answer whether they shepherded their flock to Christ. All those souls!

So let us pray for our priests and bishops, and for our dearly departed, that they may rest in peace with our Savior. And let us pray for more vocations to consecrated religious life.