Thursday, March 26, 2009

More on Pope's recent comments

One of my Facebook friends posted a link to this very informative news story. It relates to the cartoon in my local paper that I found offensive and was the cause of my writing a letter to the paper (see post below).

Here's the article that further supports the Pope's position:
Harvard Researcher agrees with Pope on condoms in Africa

Happy reading!!

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Letter to the Editor

Tonight I submitted a "Letter to the Editor" to my local paper, the Lexington Herald-Leader. I wrote this because I found the Sunday cartoon insulting to me and all Catholics. Any person of faith should be offended that this is acceptable commentary in our culture.

The cartoon in question is currently on the top of this page: Joel Pett's Cartoon. I don't know if this page changes (I'm guessing it does) but the cartoon shows a woman entering a clinic carrying a box of toe-tags while the Pope tries to stop her. A cemetary is in the background and you can see very sick people in the clinic. Obviously it's a commentary on the Pope's remarks about condom use during his recent trip to Africa. If I can find this cartoon somewhere else at a more permanent URL, I post it in the comments section.

Here is the text of my letter to the paper:

Joel Pett has offended all practicing Catholics with his insulting cartoon of March 23. The cartoon depicts Pope Benedict XVI confronting a woman entering a clinic. It implies that our Holy Father would rather that people die than be allowed to use condoms. This is a horrible depiction of the Catholic Church, an institution that has continuously upheld the culture of life.

For centuries Catholicism has condemned all forms of birth control, whether that is condoms, artificial contraception, or sterilization. This is not a new teaching; it’s as old as the Church, a 2000 year old institution. Yes, HIV/AIDs is a problem in Africa and in many other parts of the world. But throwing condoms at the problem is not going to solve the problem. Education is needed to put a stop to the crime of rape and we need to emphasize that sex is for the institution of marriage only.

As a practicing Catholic, I find Pett’s cartoon insulting to me and all other Catholics. Why does Pett feel free to insult Catholics? Would he have been as insulting to Judaism or Islam? I am betting not. Why is it okay to insult Catholicism and the Pope but not any other major world religion? Oh yes, I forgot, it’s politically incorrect to insult Judaism or Islam, but Catholics and Christians are okay. It’s time that some respect was shown to ALL peoples of faith and an apology is owed for this recent insult.

I only read the Sunday paper, so if you happen to see this in the paper during the week, please let me know. I'm curious to see if they actually print it. I wish I could have said more, but there was a 250 word limit.

However I know that with Pett as the Herald-Leader cartoonist, there will be many more opportunities.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Contraceptives and Breast Health

One of the risks of using oral contraceptives is increased risk of breast cancer. It's been studied and proven several times over the years and yet it isn't widely known about. Very sad! Today I was reading through some posts on a message board I like and someone pointed us to a blog posting on this very subject. It was so good I thought I would share it here. Please go check it out:

Breast Cancer: The Pill's Deadly Legacy

I hope that many people will read this with an open mind and will prayfully consider what the effects of the pill are on our bodies and on our environment.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

More commentary on Stem Cells

There is a lot of buzz throughout the blogosphere about the executive order signed yesterday in regard to opening up research on embryonic stem cells. Barb at SFO Mom wrote a short post today, No one is expendable, in which he lists several links to other bloggers' posts on this issue. So go check it out for more information and perspectives.

One of my favorites on her list is the posting from The Curt Jester. He has a nice commentary on the text of the President's speech from yesterday.

Something else I should point out that I didn't mention in my post from yesterday is that embryonic stem cell research has been going on for some time. But that research had to be privately funded. What the President did yesterday was open up this research to public dollars. That means our tax money. This is not the time to be using our tax dollars to fund abortions overseas, to fund embryonic-destructive stem cell research, and to do any number of other ridiculous things that are in the recent stimulus bill.

So even if you don't have any qualms or moral objections about killing embryos in the name of research, you should be concerned that we are going to be using our tax money for it now when adult stem cells have proven again and again to be much more stable and successful than embryonic-destructive research.

For more specifics on the pros and cons, check this unbiased site out: Stem Cell Research Facts.

Monday, March 09, 2009

A Sad Day for Life

Today was a very sad day. Today life became more of a commodity and less something to cherish. Today is the start of millions and millions of more lives lost. Today we as a country took a step backwards in the respect for the dignity of human life.

Many will argue just the opposite. Those that think today was a victory for science will say that we will be saving lives after today's events. Unfortunately, this will not be the case. If a life can be saved, and that is a BIG if, millions of lives will be lost just to save that one.

So exactly what happened today? Today President Obama signed an executive order opening up research on embryonic stem cells. Apparently research on the more successful adult stems cells is not good enough. Research on embryonic stem cells destroys a life already created. It's basic biology: a unique sperm fertilizes a unique egg to create a new, unique set of DNA in an embryo. This embryo is a life and to harvest cells from it destroys it. What do we call it when we destroy a life?? Oh that's right: we call it murder.

I have found many other bloggers commenting on today's events who are much more articulate than I am. For some better perspectives on this I recommend reading these other posts:

Posted last night: You'll be Paying for more Human Destruction on Monday. This posting also lists all the pros and cons of both adult stem cell research and embryonic stem cell research. A very interesting list!!
And today from one of my favorite blogs for analysis of current events from a moral perspective: Did anyone doubt he'd do it?

I also tried to find a decent article on today's new executive order from the mainstream media. Didn't have much luck. I know Fox News was talking about it on TV tonight when I was making dinner, but I couldn't find anything specific on their website. I tried CNN and they had to bring in a whole bunch of other environmental stuff. Only about 25% of the online article even discussed embryonic stem cell research.

So I finally went to Life Site News. Their article, Obama Unleashes Taxpayer Funds for Embryonic-Destructive Research, has excerpts from the President's speech as well as perspectives from opponents, which is hard to find in the mainstream media.

In closing, I am disappointed but not surprised that this has happened. So far our new administration has reversed the Mexico City Policy that will start sending our tax dollars to other countries so they can perform abortions. And now we are going to allow scientists to destroy human life in the name of "research." According to Obama, "our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values." And yet he calls himself a man of faith. I thought as people of faith we were to live our lives as faithful followers of Christ. So what happened to ethical science?

Science can be done morally and ethically without destroying human life. And we have that ability!! Adult stem cell research has time and again proven much more successful. And we won't be destroying human life in the process, we'll be respecting the dignity of it. That is living a faithful, Christian life.

The Naming Ceremony Experience

While I have a few minutes left of my lunch break, I thought I would just mention how the Naming Ceremony was on Sunday that my husband and I attended.

The purpose of the ceremony was to recognize the children that all those in attendance had lost due to Miscarriage, Stillbirth, or Abortion. There were probably about 20 people there. When we walked in we got cards on which to write our names and our child's name. At the time I didn't know what they were for, but I took two, one for each of our children, grabbed a program, and we found a seat.

So the first part of this service was similar to the Liturgy of the Word during Mass. One difference was that in place of the First (Old Testament) Reading they read the poem Whispers from Heaven. I was introduced to two versions of this poem shortly after Zachary's death and it makes me cry every time. Following this there was a Psalm and a Second (New Testament) Reading.

One of the deacons gave the homily and he did mention his own experiences of losing a child. Other than that, his homily was a bit all over the place.

Following the homily, they invited anyone who had lost a child to come up and with either the deacons or the priest, we would say a prayer for our children and light a candle. The prayers we said were very nice, entrusting our children into Christ's arms and praying that we will one day see them again in the Kingdom of Heaven. I couldn't get through the part that we had to recite, I kept crying. So I'm so glad Chris was with me. He ended up saying most of the prayer himself. I just knew that I would burst into tears if I tried to talk.

We recived two candles, one each for Casey and Zachary. Also, the cards I had filled out were given to the deacons so they could put my babies' names in the prayers and then the cards were left in a basket. I presume that maybe the cards would be used for praying for us and our children later.

Following the service a few people stood up to tell a bit about there own experiences. Plus everyone was invited to the parish center following the service to talk more and meet others who have had similar experiences. We were not able to stay, Chris was cooking soup and needed to get back.

Overall, it was really a wonderful experience and a very healing time. We had already named our children and have gotten used to refering to them by their names. But for those who might not have done that I'm sure it offered a greater level of healing and comfort to know that they have a child in heaven and can refer to that child by name.

I heard something recently and I honestly can't remember where. But it has stuck with me for a while and I wanted to mention it here. Someone once mentioned that they found immense comfort after the loss of a child when someone (a priest maybe) mentioned that she should stop praying FOR her child and instead pray TO her child. Our children are now saints in heaven. They can pray for us. We only need to ask.

And I like that I can specifically ask Casey and Zachary, my two special saints in heaven.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Naming Ceremony this weekend

The First Annual Naming Ceremony in the Lexington Diocese is happening this weekend. This is a special service for all those who have lost children due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion. I've never been to one and I don't know what this one will entail exactly, but I've heard that they can be very healing for those of us who have lost our children for these reasons.

My husband and I plan to attend and we'll be remembering both of our children, Casey (miscarraige) and Zachary (stillborn). If you or someone you know has lost a child and would like to attend, I highly encourage it. I'm a firm believer in the healing effect naming a lost child can have on a mother and/or father.

Where: St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton Catholic Church, 1730 Summerhill Dr., Lexington
Date: Sunday March 8, 2009
Time: 2:00pm

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Random Thoughts on Lent

Lent started last Wednesday. Lent is a time of sacrifice and a time of reflection as we prepare for the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of our Lord. It's a solemn time in the church, and yet I really like this time. There is something very cleansing about it.

We start the season with Ash Wednesday. We go to Mass and we receive ashes on our foreheads. These ashes remind us that we started as dust and we will be dust again. It is a reminder of our mortality. Many Christian faiths do this, not just Catholics. In my opinion, this sign of our mortality is a powerful reminder of how much we need our faith. I was impressed with the numbers of people at Mass that day. I hope all those people who came to Mass just because it was Ash Wednesday and don't plan on coming back again until Easter were touched by something and will consider coming back for Sunday Mass.

Have you ever wondered where the ashes come from? The fireplace in the rectory? A bonfire from a Mardi Gras party the day before? Actually, they come from the palms that were used on Palm Sunday the year before. A few weeks before Ash Wednesday our church (and I'm assuming many, many others) start collecting the palms from everyone and they burn them to be used for ashes. It's very cool, and environmentally friendly!!

During Lent there are some slight changes in the Mass. Some may not even notice them and there may be some I don't know about. But there are two obvious ones. The first is that we don't sing the Gloria during this season. We wait until Easter Sunday, the day Christ rose from the dead. That is a glorious day, so we don't sing the Gloria during the solemn season of Lent and then we pull out all the stops on Easter. Our choir always does a great job on the Gloria on Easter, with brass and percussion to make it even more glorious! The second thing missing during this season is a recessional song. Now, I don't know if this is true in other churches, but it is in ours. Our priests leave the church at the end of mass in silence. I think it's a very powerful reminder of the solemnity of Lent. Unfortunately too many people are picking up their coats, talking to their neighbor, or trying to get out, and it ends up being too noisy! It annoys me, but I try to set an example to those around me by waiting until the recessional is out the door before I move.

Do you know someone who is giving something up for Lent? Ever wondered why they do this? This goes back to this season being a time of sacrifice. Our thoughts are that Jesus gave up his life for our sins, the ultimate sacrifice, so during this time of preparation we also make a sacrifice, and usually that comes in the form of "giving something up." People give up TV or video games; some people give up desserts or chocolate or some other special food; some people try to give up something like worrying or being judgemental. The idea is that you are making a sacrifice for these six weeks and that by missing this "thing" in your life you will be reminded of the sacrifice Jesus made for us, His Life!

Another way to go through Lent is by adding something to your day. I know people who try to go to daily Mass during Lent. Some people add in a daily devotion of some kind: a rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet, or some other form or daily prayer. This is a great way to help your spiritual life during this time.

Then there is the days of fast and abstinence! The blessings of Lent are never ending. We fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and then we abstain from meat all the Fridays of Lent. So our churches host Fish Fries every Friday!! (On a side note: I've noticed for years that all the fast food restaurants start advertising their fish sandwiches at this time of year!) This helps our cleansing throughout this season as well.

A lot happens in the Church during Lent as well. At my Church we will have a Lenten Mission, coming up in a couple weeks. These are done over three nights and some years we have an out-of-town guest speaker, other times it is someone local. This year we have a priest from St. Meinrad Archabby coming to talk about St. Paul. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is also very important during Lent. Actually, it's important all the time, and I for one should probably go more often, but I do make a point of going during this time. We'll be having a Reconciliation Service at some point prior to Easter as well. I've never been to one of those, so I may go this year in addition to going to confession.

The Saturday before Palm Sunday my church will have a Chrism Mass. My church is the Cathedral for the diocese, which is why we host this mass. During this mass representatives from all the diocesan churches will be there as the Bishop blesses all the oils that will be used for the year. These are the oils used during Baptisms, Confirmations, the Sacrament of the Sick, and probably some other things as well. I have been to this mass in the years when I was involved in the music ministry, but haven't been in a while. The next day will be Palm Sunday which starts Holy Week!

I think I'll stop there for now. I'll go into Holy Week more later. Holy Week is another wonderful time with lots going on. So come back to learn more!!