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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Theology of the Church

The following questions were compiled and presented to our "parish teaching committee" of which Dave and I are members. The teaching committee is kind of a sounding board for a persepctive priest named Aaron who is studying Theology at the St. Paul Seminary. He is preparing a paper about the theology of the church and asked for input from the members of the committee. The following are our responses; we thought some of you might be interested in the responses.

What is church?
Dave: The People of God – Christians
Linda: The Church is the result of the successful, apostolic succession instituted by Jesus Christ; He instructed the disciples to “go out into the world” and make disciples of all nations by baptizing them…” Consequently, Church is the fellowship of believers; we are Jesus’ disciples. The Church is to serve mankind’ it is to teach and provide the keys by which we come to know our Lord and Master and culminating in joining Him in Heaven. And to end our journey with God “is the whole purpose of man’s history.” CCC 450

What would make it cease to be church?
Dave: No disciples left in the world.
Linda: Church will cease to be church when it no longer:
1. Promotes the truth about God, Heaven and all of Creation
2. Evangelizes or catechizes others about the Good News
3. Cares for or fails to be the voice for the needy, the poor, unfortunate
4. Teaches others to be amazed by man’s worth and dignity. “The name of this amazement is Gospel or Good News (par 10 of Redemptoris Hominis). In other words, goes along with society’s penchant for trivializing aspects of human life through abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, same sex marriage, divorce, contraception, etc.
5. “Directs man’s gaze, to point the awareness and experience of the whole of humanity towards the mystery of God to make all aware of the profoundity of the Redemption..” Par 11 &12.

What should be the relationship between the pope and bishops?
Dave: Bishops should be obedient to the Pope in faith and morals.
Linda: They should be in full unity with each other. Pope is the head; the spokesman for the universal Church and leader of the college of Bishops. The Bishop is the head, spokesman and leader of the local Church. (diocese)There should be no dissent between the two offices. The Pope and His Bishops must lead the universal and local churches so we are not left like “sheep without a shepherd”. They must be solid, strong, charismatic; they must be the strong, loving, faithful voice of Jesus Himself.

What should be the relationship between the universal church and the local church?
Dave: The local church is to submit to the authority of the universal church.
Linda: They are to be in full unity in matters of faith and morals with each other.

What should ministry look like in the church?
Dave: Serving others.
Linda: It should look like this:
1. Lead people to the truth without adding confusion or personal doubts. The message must be clear, consistent and ordered with the universal Church.
2. Lovingly help people to understand the truth even though the message may be counter-cultural. Help people formulate a Christian Worldview that is necessarily different than a secular worldview.
3. Be faith in action helping those in need.
4. Be bold as it proclaims Christ; must imitate the original enthusiasm of the apostles who stated: “We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” CCC 425.

What does it mean that we are a missionary church? How does that look globally? Locally?
Dave: Evangelize others about Jesus Christ regardless whether its’ a global or local effort.
Linda: The Church’s mission is to evangelize first and then to catechize (bring light, truth, understanding) where previously there was none or very little. The missionary effort must “extend the invitation of faith to non believers in order that they enter into the joy of having a communion with Jesus Christ.” CCC 425. This end result differs little whether the efforts are local or global. The means by which they achieve the end result must be culturally pertinent, specific and sensitive. Global missionary work means that we extend this invitation beyond our shores. Local missionary work means that we extend this invitation to those beyond our church doors including those who have left the church.

What is the purpose of the Sacraments in the Church? How do they relate to the “life” of the Church?
Dave: The purposes of the Sacraments are the means to receiving grace (blessings from God) on multiple occasions and continuously (Eucharist, Penance). They are primary to the life of the Church.
Linda: The sacraments were instituted by Christ and the Church is obliged to carry them out for our sake – to receive grace. The Sacraments commission us to become disciples who are faithful to Christ. They help us take the necessary steps between birth and death to reach Heaven. Consequently, they are the important first (baptism and confirmation), second, and final public steps (sacrament of the anointing of the sick) taken by believers that proclaims their belief in God.

What do you think is the vision of local Catholic Church? Namely what is the focus or emphasis with which you think activities, liturgies, and events are planned?
Dave: Vision: provide a School, faithful liturgy. This becomes its focus and emphasis.
Linda: I think the vision is to be a Sacramental Church and this becomes its focus: to provide the sacraments to a whole group of individuals. It is also the urgency to "go out and become active" Disciples of Christ after they receive the sacraments. The church initiates the people well but the follow-up and expectation of living a Christian life after initiation is compromised by competing interests among busy lives. For example: many churches don't have any youth or teen outreach that is solidly ‘gospel based” because youth are so busy -- and then their catechesis lags. . Also, adult catechesis after confirmation is non- existent as well with the exception of occasional Lenten or Advent speakers - again in part due to busy lives.
Many parents think that the local Catholic schools provide the necessary faith and catechesis for students but a recent survey pointed out that protestant schools do a better job of emphasizing faith whereas catholic schools emphasis is generally on academics not faith formation. We need to consider our young people as the mission fields. this proposal targets new parents, parents of teens and parents of college bound students.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Should we try to beat death?

Imagine if man could devise a way to live "forever". What a dull world it would turn out to be! There would be no rush to bring forth new persons into the world for multiple reasons. New life after all would simply serve to over-populate the planet we live in - people are already complaining about that. It would be a genuine complaint if the old just kept getting younger! Without new life, a staleness would set it. Yet scientists world - wide try to invent body parts that rejuvenate the worn out ones. Attempts to "plasticize" man aren't that far fetched.

Imagine, if man could live for centuries, how boring it would be to repeat the same mistakes time and again without consequence. Today, the pervasive philosophy is you're only young once, so get wild. The mood then seems likely to become: you're forever young, so get wild and stay there.

If man could live for centuries, imagine the lack of need to connect to other people on deep, emotional levels. After all wouldn't looking at the same face for 250 years get old?

If man could live forever, imagine how few - if any - negative consequences would result after saying, doing, thinking that we can live forever.

If man could live forever, imagine how useless God would be. What need would there be for a relationship with God? None, because we would become our own gods - in charge of our own destiny. That - hasn't worked out over the millenia too well - but we are hard headed that's for sure.

I write this on the eve of the funeral of a friend of ours. So even though we can't live forever here on earth - nor should we aspire for that - it sure feels hard to say goodbye once again to someone who was so loved as wife, mother, grandmother and friend. Ii often does seem like the good die too young. So while it's tempting to wish, our friends and family and self would not die and leave us behind, imagine the other possibility. Living forever here on earth sure seems like a worse option indeed to me and without ever meeting God face to face!

So goodbye good friend until we meet again. May God have mercy on your soul; may God bring peace to your family; and may God bring us all into his heavenly blessing.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Birth Control Mandate in HHS Bill Deserves Everyone's Attention

I am inserting a copy of a commentary entitled: Birth-Control Mandate Puts Religion in a Bind
dated Monday, August 29, 2011-09-02
from the Very Rev. Peter A. Laird Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia.
Star Tribune
"Benefits outweigh birth control costs" (Aug. 1) drew attention to an Institute of Medicine recommendation adopted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
It requires health care plans to cover contraceptives and sterilizations under regulations for preventive care created in response to the health care reform legislation passed in 2010.
This is a troubling mandate. It raises serious questions not only about the nature of health care and employment, but also about religious freedom and public charity.
For the church, one consequence is that the state seems to have begun to define who our neighbor is and the extent of our mission.
The position of the Catholic Church on artificial birth control is well-known, though not always well-understood. Our teaching is founded in a conviction that every human act is meant to witness to the truth about God and man. Acknowledging that God, our creator, is love and has been revealed to the full in Christ means not only that there is right and wrong but also that we should testify to that truth so that all men and women might be free and come to have life to the full.

The church does not consider unnatural and artificial (my words inserted) birth control a right of health care, much less a good for human flourishing, because pregnancy is not a disease.
Moreover, to suggest that one may, without consequence, use contraception in pursuit of human flourishing is manifestly contradicted by studies such as the one reported by the Guttmacher Institute showing that 54 percent of women who have had abortions have been using birth control.

Birth control promises a life without consequences, but every action has consequences, and often it is women and children who suffer most when we pretend otherwise.
Under the guidelines issued by the Obama administration, only a very narrow exemption from the contraceptive mandate would be permitted for "religious employers."
It would apply only to an organization that has as its purpose the "inculcation of religious values," that primarily employs persons who share the religious tenets of the organization and that serves primarily persons who share those religious tenets.
Thus, organizations such as Catholic universities and hospitals, social-services agencies and Catholic Charities, because they serve people without regard to religious affiliation, would be forced to provide contraceptive and sterilization services.
In other words, we would have to stop being Catholic if we wanted to serve all men and women, as Jesus did. It would also require Catholic organizations to employ only Catholics, which may be at variance with both federal and state discrimination laws.
This extremely narrow exemption substantially differs from existing conscience-clause protections, which protect individual providers from being forced to perform any service that conflicts with their beliefs.
Absent sufficient regard for rights of conscience, the birth control mandate will force all men and women -- and all employers -- to carry health "benefits" that violate the sincerely held religious convictions of many.
If this is not rectified, the vast social-service network of the Catholic Church will be imperiled, and with it not only those who are employed and assist us in our works of mercy, but also those who are served: our neighbors."

Even those who are not Catholic should - in good conscience - protest this mandate for several reasons other than the theological ones outlined by Fr. Laird. First, it's time to shore up everyone's respect for the freedom to practise any religion clause subscribed to by Americans when they pledge allegiance to the flag and the constitution. This means respecting all religions even those of Catholics. failing to come to the defense of Catholics will ultimately mean failing to come to the defense of any Christian religion. Protest by calling your congressmen.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

1943 Guide to Hiring Women

The following exhortations are taken from a copy of Savvy &Sage September/October 2007 which is an excerpt from July 1943 Transportation Magazine. We have all come a long way baby!

"Eleven Tips on Getting More Efficiency Out of Women Employees"
1. Pick young married women. They have more of a sense of responsibility than their unmarried sisters, and are less likely to be flirtatious...
2. Try to hire older women who have worked outside the home at some time in their lives ... less likely to be cantankerous and fussy.
3. Husky girls are more even tempered and efficient than underweight sisters.
4. Retain a physician to give each woman special physical examinations. Reveals any female weaknesses which would make her mentally or physically unfit for the job.
5. Stress that a minute or two here or there makes serious inroads on schedules.
6. Give the females a day long schedule of duties so they won't bother management for instructions every few minutes. Women generally lack initiative in finding work for themselves.
7. Change employees schedules during day from one job to another - females are less inclined to be nervous and happier with changes.
8. Give a girl adequate rest periods - You have to make allowances for feminine psychology. A girl has more confidence and is more efficient if she can keep her hair tidy, apply fresh lipstick and wash her hands several times daily.
9. Be tactful when issuing instructions or making criticisms. Women are often sensitive. Never ridicule a woman - it breaks her spirit and cuts off efficiency.
10. Don't swear around women. She'll grow to dislike the business where she hears too much of this.
11. Get enough sizes of unifrms so girls can have properly fitting uniform. This is important in keeping women happy.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

More about Breastfeeding

All newborns lose weight after birth. Breastfeeding success is often measured by how quickly baby returns to birth weight. Yet some experts question using the birth weight as a litmus test for breastfeeding success. A recent study by Joy Noël Weiss, A Kirsten Woodend, Wendy Peterson, William Gibb and Dianne Groll (15 August 2011 International Breastfeeding Journal) entitled “An observational study of associations among maternal fluids during parturition, neonatal output and breastfed newborn weight loss” conclude that “ The phenomenon of newborn weight loss is complex. They found that maternal IV fluids received prior to birth (during labor) are related to newborn output and their weight loss. Consequently they warn that corrections in fluid balances in these newborns should be considered normal and therefore should not warrant outside interventions; i.e. introduction of formula, etc.
Furthermore they found that the reasons for delayed lactogenesis should be studied further; they found a correlation between late onset of lactogenesis 11 (more than 3 days after birth) was positively related to the total amounts of maternal fluids received from admission to birth. “ Most women (95% of the participants) noted first day of breast fullness however 41% of the women reported having late onset of lactogenesis . These women's babies were observed to have a significant positive correlation between late onset of lactogenesis ll (beyond day 3 reported by 41% of the sample) and percentage of newborn weight loss.

Letting nature take its course is still often the best advice. Over medicalization of birth, labor, and pain contributes to hyper concerns with regard to baby. The result is often early intervention using manufactured formulas which introduces other risks to baby and the breastfeeding success.
These researchers suggest that birth weight should not be the parameter from which clinicians measure success with breastfeeding – rather it should be other observable factors including wet diapers, etc. Finally, the reserachers concluded with this recommendation: do not use birth weight as a measure of breastfeeding success. Rather clinicians should use a 24 hour old weight as one of the parameters to determine whether or not intervention is necessary.
Did you know that the current administration is very pro- breastfeeding. So much so that Ed Keefe , a Washington Post Staff Writer wrote this on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 :
President Obama is asking federal personnel officials to draft "appropriate workplace accommodations" for federal employees who are nursing mothers. The president issued a memo this week to the Office of Personnel Management asking that the new workplace accommodations be published when ready. The changes are mandated by provisions in the ObamaCare passed this year that require new breastfeeding rights, primarily for hourly workers in the private and public sectors. But Obama asked the federal government to go a step further by establishing new guidelines for all federal employees, no matter their status, according to White House aides. The federal legislation assures that women will not be discriminated against or fired for breastfeeding or pumping breast milk during breaks or lunch. It also provides tax breaks to employers who establish special rooms for breastfeeding mothers or that rent lactation-related equipment.
The Iowa Independent by Andy Birkey found a detractor of this new policy in Rep Michelle Bachmann. She stated her objections recently. They are:
over promotion of breastfeeding, particularly among black women, to curb obesity; the policy creates a nanny state which makes breast pumps tax deductible along with other over-the-counter medical items such as pain relievers, bandages and contact lens supplies.
How is that related to breastfeeding? Guess they have to be able to see baby's face. Bachmann continued, “I’ve given birth to five babies and I breastfed every single one of these babies. To think that government has to go out and buy my breast pump for my babies. You wanna talk about the nanny state? I think we just got the new definition of a nanny.”

Finally, on March 30, 2010, "President Barack Obama signed into law Obama Care aka: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Did you know that the Act mandates employerswith more than 50 workers to provide a room, not a bathroom, in which the female employee can express breast milk for her child as needed. The female is not obligated to work for or otherwise compensate for the time spent on this task. This can be done until the child is one year old.
While small companies with less than 50 workers are ‘exempt’ so to speak, if they make more than $500,000 per year, they too have to abide by the law. The law also requires that any company that provides medical or nursing care services, schools and government agencies abide by the Act. It requires the provision of a private and clean lactation room for mothers of babies younger than one."

While advocacy for breastfeeding is warranted, I guess the notion that everybody must help pay for every woman's choice to breastfeed is in vogue. This notion is consistent with the administration's belief that all must help pay for women's contraception, abortion services and other " health" issues as well. Hmmmm - thoughts?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Parents of adult children

Previously, I started a discussion about being a parent of married children - I had hoped for some discussion and comments to begin but failed to generate that so let me try again. Ha.

You know the saying: the apple doesn't fall from the tree - but is that necessarily true when another adage also seems to generally apply as well and that being: "opposite's attract". So where do our kids land when they fall from the tree while being attracted to someone with very opposite upbringing? Which side has the stronger pull and influence? Furthermore, how much "interference" do parents run when seeing their adult children attracted to the someone we don't think is best for their spiritual, physical, emotional, psychological and economic well being?

Recently I was involved in a discussion with several other parents about the cases that involve being estranged from their married children due to conflicts of philosophy over religion, politics and child raising. It is sad to know that many parents are estranged from their own adult children after a marriage occurs and especially when children are involved. I recall my conversation with a lawyer from Michigan who happened to sit beside me on our trip to Hawaii last March. This man - after reading over my shoulder while I edited my Surviving College Book - began to offer information about their situation with his eldest son. The son had married a shrew - according to the lawyer - who had been Sorority President, Physician, and terrible daughter in law who had no feelings for him or his wife. In fact, he blatantly stated that she hated him and his wife and would have nothing to do with them. He offered many examples... It was clear there was a communication breakdown of the worst degree. He and I talked about that situation for quite a while, analyzed some solutions together and came up rather empty handed. I felt bad for him and his wife....

So other parents watching these situations are made to feel afraid to say much of anything influential for fear of having this scenario happen to their family. So they "watch what they say" while ultimately forsaking any influence over the situations.

It's interesting that strangers will call "experts" for advice while avoiding advice from the very persons that lovingly raised them through the teen and college years...

It seems to me that watching what we say is never the answer because in effect we throw away the opportunity to pass on wisdom and life's experiences. And the result may be the same in the long run anyway -- inability to have meaningful relationships so why not take the risk and teach when possible??? Would love your comments.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Marriage Preparation

Last Sunday I listened to another interesting homily and would like to share that with you all - especially those preparing for marriage or helping prepare others for marriage.

Fr. Mike Schmitz, U of M Duluth told us that when he discusses marriage the primary message he gives to all young people is that marriage (successful and faithful) requires that we transfer our primary allegiance to this new spouse to be and keep it there for the entire lifetime.

This lack of transference helps explain why so many young marriages fail! They fail to transfer their primary allegiance and as a result "fall out of love" as fast as they fall in love. Father Mike went on to say that our spouses need to know that we have their backs so to speak. And also that we both submit to each other out of deference to Christ. This allows us to meet the primary obligation in marriage which is to get each other to heaven.

Over the course of the years we have observed many marriages fail - among friends, co-workers, relatives, etc. And I would have to agree with Father Schmitz that the primary culprit was they failed to transfer their allegiance to their spouse or to keep it there. How many mothers subtlely transfer their allegiance to their young children and lose focus on their marital relationship? Or young fathers? How many working spouses subtlely transer their primary allegiance to their co-workers? I am sure many of you have also read articles that discuss the concept of having an office spouse while maintaining marital spouses. Or maybe our primary allegiance has even transferred to the job itself, to friends, family members, or achievement of goals and success or some other entity.

These tranferences can occur subtlely without having an acute awareness of the change- and so the downslide makes us forget to be there in order to cover our spouse's back.

I liked his reference for the marital yoke to the yoke used for ox - it usually contains two head holds. This so readily represents the marital yoke that does require that we wear ourselves out for the other over the course of our lifetime - but this wearing out should be a joyful process not a dull, monotonous, resentful path forward. Consider the amount of good work that can come about due to this marital yoking - this work can be awesome and glorious when we follow the path set before us by having and maintaining the heavenly vision of marriage, faith, and eternal life in Christ. Or imagine how burdensome this yoke becomes when we yearn to get out from under its weight by transferring our allegiance to someone else or something else.

The Book for All Seasons has allowed me to capture many great homilies; in too many instances in the past I would hear a great homily and loose the essence of it before we even got home from church. Look for the 2012 edition in late fall but it's still not even too late to order this liturgical seasons' copy. Also my new book - Surviving College - discusses marriage preparation for college age students. You might want to order one for your college student, friend or family member. Visit to order online.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Musings of a parent of adult kids

Parents of Married Sons and Daughters
I have been mulling this matter over for years and decided to blog about being a parent of married kids. Perhaps it will serve as a help for some of you who are about to become parents of married sons or daughters.
When our sons and daughters reside at home, we know them and they know us – or at least that’s how it should be. When they go off to college, this relationship can get strained for a number of reasons – one being that the attached parent can’t let go. These types of parents are known as helicopter parents and they continue to hover and protect long after having lost “control” over what their son or daughter is doing. Sometimes the offspring rebel against this hovering; other times the “kids” put up with it, and still other parents learn to detach appropriately over time.
I have found it difficult to detach for a few reasons. The primary one being that I practiced attachment parenting when the kids needed it most – so that seems commendable right? But caution because I believe it makes it more difficult eventually to detach properly from our adult kids. Attachment parenting creates a very close emotional bond between mother and child allowing them to eventually become secure and independent. That process invites our teens to naturally stretch that bond as they explore the bigger world that is inviting and enticing. On the other hand, the attachment parents tend to stay in the attachment mode for years after their kids reach young adulthood because we are programmed to protect, insulate, and nurture out own – even when it becomes imperative to learn to detach.
After all the kids are no longer just our kids… they eventually become someone’s husband or wife and their own kids’ parents. And then the sons and daughters marry and that new unit develops its own personality, likes, dislikes, and vision. So what do older parents do with their family vision that may or may not be in sync with their newlyweds’ visions? Throw them out, discard them? Is that why so many older parents seem to chuck the family thing and move far away to Florida or Arizona? Is it easier to be far away than to stay close to kids who don’t want a close, emotional bond with their parents? How do we parent these new parents? How do we detach without appearing cold and reserved? How do they detach without dishonoring the fourth commandment?
And what can be done when our older kids marry and chose to “favor” the other set of family over our own? After talking to many families over the years, I have to conclude that nearly every family has to deal with this additional problem.
I would recommend the following to young people and older parents.
1. First and foremost, recognize that we must share our kids with the world and others - and we need to teach our kids to balance these relationships out fairly as well. Secondly we must teach our kids to continue to be considerate of us – and others – even long after they no longer “need us” in a fair and just manner that honors the fourth commandment .
2. Sit down and have a pow-wow about each others’ expectations- yours and theirs - long before the wedding.
3. After grandkids are born, find out your kids’ expectations of you as grandparent.
4. Finally, recognize that even after having these discussions, the “best laid plans of mice and men” can still get muddled so always try and communicate openly and plainly.
5. We can’t – and shouldn’t want to - buy our adult kids’ affection, connections, and interests.
6. Let go even when detachment is difficult. Recognize that it is just one more step we will all need to take in order to be able to leave our earthly life behind willingly in order to embrace a permanent attachment that will be authentic, heavenly and grace-filled. One that will never more be marred by miscommunication, hurts, favoritism, rejection, or other human mistakes.
7. Offer up any hurt that comes from detaching from our kids.

I will write more about this subject in the months and weeks ahead.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Inviting You to Help us Help Today's Parents of Teens

Nearly every adult has at least some worries/concerns about today’s teens– especially in the area of sexuality, and drug or alcohol abuse. The evidence suggests that many adult influencers have simply not been effective in helping teens counter today’s social temptations - and for a number of reasons. Consequently, teens have unprecedented incidence of unplanned pregnancies, suicide, sexually transmitted infections, and abortions. We believe we can help parents and families within parishes who share these same concerns.

Please allow me to introduce myself, our company and its works. I am Linda Kracht and founder of Fortifying Families of Faith; our mission is to help strengthen families, marriages, and parents. We believe that parents are the key to forming their teens in areas of faith, virtues (specifically chastity, self-control, temperance, and perseverance, morals and lifestyles, but these keys include consistency, staying involved, perceived as trustworthy, and staying committed. We can help fortify parents for this task.

Fortifying Families of Faith has produced a unique sexuality/health curriculum which invites parents to become active and committed partners in the formation of their teens in these areas. (Daughters Forever, Sons Forever (Hijas Para Siempre, Hijos Para Siempre) curriculum has been granted the Nihil Obstat & Imprimatur by Archbishop John C. Neinstadt). This past year, we held seminars for over 150 parents of teens in several parishes in the Archdiocese – in both English and Spanish. The positive feedback was reward enough for us - I and Viviana Sotro - but it made us realize that we need to put on more seminars in different locations and more frequently.

One glaring problem remains an obstacle to the success of this program; this is perhaps where you can help. Many attending parents – especially the Hispanic families – need financial assistance to pay the tuition for these events. Fortifying Families of Faith is accepting donations so this obstacle goes away.

I would like to tell you about how one parent was affected by attending the conference presented in Spanish to Hispanic families. Soon after attending the conference, this mother’s teen daughter was scheduled for a physical exam at their medical clinic. The mother was informed that the doctor intended to give the daughter the HPV vaccination. The mother objected to the vaccination after reading about it in Hijas Para Siempre, Hijos Para Siempre . Learning of the mother’s objections, the doctor gave reasons why the daughter should receive the vaccine. The mother listened politely but restated her opposition after staying unconvinced by the clinical sales pitch. Upon showing our book to the doctor, the mother was admonished for believing anything published in “religiously-based books”. The mother stood her ground forcing the physician to admit to several points offered in our book. We consider the mother’s stance a win - without the book/seminar, the mother would not have had the opportunity to know about the counterpoints against the Gardasil vaccination program. Given facts from both viewpoints, the mother was able to come to her own conclusion with regard to allowing – or not - the administration of this vaccine to her teen. We want all parents to have the chance to be fortified - especially in areas they feel lacking - so they can effectively parent given today's social influences on their teens.

Fortifying Families of Faith hopes to raise $12,000 for 2011-2012 school year so that we can offer free tuition or tuition assistance to over 100 families. Please help us help parents; can you help us with this effort by sending us a donation of $100 or $1000?. Thank you most sincerely for any assistance you can provide.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

breast milk - may provide clues about potential cancer risk

Recently a group of researchers announced that breast milk may itself provide clues about a woman's risk for getting breast cancer. Certain cancer-indicator proteins were found in lactating mothers' breast milk - and their presence predicted the womens' breast cancer risk - albeit the study was a small group but it had encouraging results. Previously, any detectable cancer cells have only been found using invasive procedures (biopsies, etc) . Scientists wonder if the study will be helpful in advancing the early detections of breast cancer in a very non-invasive way - analyzing samples of the lactating mother's breast milk.

This study makes me wonder whether these findings may even help assess/prevent the detection of a new offsprings' long-terms cancer risks - those long after the baby is done breastfeeding. Also, will the presence or absence of the protein help prevent or advance the new baby's risk for breast cancer?

Breast milk has been found to be immensely rich in many vital nutrients and ingredients; these advance health, wellbeing, and growth in breastfeeding babies. Sadly most of these "hidden" advantages are devoid in manufactured formula products. Researchers are just beginning to see - for example- that ingesting breast milk as a baby that is naturally high in cholesterols helps reduce potential cholesterol-related diseases later in life! Similarly, I wonder if ingesting cancer-related proteins increase or decrease a breastfed baby's future cancer risks? Or does it only indicate a lactating mother's risks? . An open question but ripe for further study.

Don't you find it ironic how science has advanced our lives in so many ways while also curtailing our fuller appreciation for the natural interconnectedness between body, mind, and soul? How has it come to be that any of us fail to appreciate breast milk for its life saving capacity? Isn't it odd that we have to study breast milk first in order to prove its worth - but even then we fail to insist that it's a baby's right to breastfeed? When will we appreciate the fact that if God made it that way it really can't be improved upon? This can be said about other body/mind/soul connections as well.

On a different note: last Sunday's Gospel talked about the greatest proof offered by God with regard to His authentic love for each of us. That proof was provided to us by His ready acceptance of being subjugated to an earthly body that had to suffer and die a very unhumane death - and simply for our good not His! It must have been a very great insult to have to take on the form of a lower being (human) while having to suffer and die a bandit's death! Yet it wasn't regarded by Him an insult simply because it proved His great love for us.

Similarly, taking on the form of pregnancy is a great insult as well. With pregnancy we take on a form that is difficult to cope with- pregnant moms don't particularly like their body shape, their lack of sleep, weight gain, and waddling gait when pregnant.

Yet it isn't a great insult at all! In fact, pregnant mothers have the opportunity to show the world that they are imitating Christ's Great Insult which provides the tangible and only real proof of unconditional love! We are willing to accept this insult for the greater good of someone else. It also provides proof of our love and belief in God's order of creation. Looked at solely through the lens of physical health and well being of a woman, pregnancy is indeed an insult to her being. Yet, this same insult provides her the unique opportunity to be transformed in a way not possible another way. She sustains the pregnancy out of unconditional love for God, husband, self, and the newly formed human life growing within her. Like Christ's transformation; pregnancy has the potential to transform us into a more loving, more humane person.

Abortion is proof positive that the pregnancy can be viewed as simply an insult that does not have to be born - it is also proof positive that humans continue to deny the connectedness between body, mind and soul or appreciation of authentic love! It is proof positive that Christ's freely given love is often rejected - that is the great insult.

Hope your Easter is Blessed and Grace-filled.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Growing Up

Today was a milestone for our youngest child - but a milestone Kyra failed to fully appreciate like most of us when we were growing up. Bear with me while I describe the entire story. Any mother with daughters knows that one day sooner than we hope our daughter will mature into a young woman. This means she will begin to have hair and breast development. The final sign of having reached sexual maturity is the Menarche - it is so significant it has been assigned a medical term! Menarche is the first period. This first show comes with the need to present concrete explanations for why blood in her underwear is a healthy sign. Up to now, everything about blood was connected to pain, trauma, injury, hurts, owies, and problems. Menarche also entails having to explain in more detail how babies are made - or at least we should be trying to have these discussions. That's the beauty of having daughters. Unfortunately, our sons don't have this definitive day of demarcation in which we know they have reached sexual maturity! Few of our boys will blurt out the fact that they had a "wet dream". So for boys this process has to be dealt with in a different manner; unfortunately, too many boys grow up without having any talk at all! But that is for another blog. We have been describing to Kyra what it will mean to have reached sexual maturity in far less explicit terms - but she knows that her body is changing! She said one day that she didn't want to wear a bra anymore and that she didn't want to grow breasts - she liked them just the way they were. We can all relate to her musings in some way can't we! I had also forewarned her of the menarche but that went over her head - futureistic is way too complex of a thought expecially when it seemed like a big negative rather than a positive! The obscurity of growing up and having periods was just something for another era! So her famous line was blurted out: "Don't worry about it Mom!" This is her line when she seems to detect some anxiety on my part. And of course I worry more about her growing up than our other daughters in part due to her special needs. Some day it may sink in that I really don't have to worry about her! And I have to remind myself that ovulatory cycles - even for her - are necessary for bone development, heart health, uterine health, and the whole body wellness. After all, she is still a female and that's the way we are designed - to have periodic fertility cycles. Absence of periodic cycles - or no menarche ever- is not a good thing for female bodies. Today, Kyra came home from school and said: "Mom, I have some bad news!" Oh- oh went my heart! Thinking it was about school, I was totally unprepared for her next statement. She bluntly said: "Mom I have blood in my underwear!" So I asked to see it and sure enough - Menarche. So I hugged her and congratulated her on becoming a young woman! I also said that now we can get her ears pierced - that has been the family tradition! I think its a good one! It offers a positive reward for what can seem like a big negative! She liked the latter suggestion but didn't like the sounds of being a young woman or of having monthy episodes like this! She also didn't like to hear that it might last 3 - 5 days! To protest the big day she cried out: "But I don't want to grow up! I don't like this blood." She also doesn't like the scratchy, bulky feeling of the feminine napkins and the dripping of the blood. I know that because she kept complaining about it through supper, before bed, upon waking this morning, and other times. This is much to the disgust of older brother Patrick who had some not to nice of comments to her and me about the whole affair! Her complaints make me appreciate menopause all over again! And like her, there are many days when I don't really want to grow up! Out of context, my mother just passed away! But it's nice to know that now she has finally grown up fully! May she rest in peace.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

novena request

On December 8, 2010, the Church declared the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help a Marian Shrine. Located in Champion, WI, the shrine rests on the site of the first and only approved apparition in the US by the Church. The incredible history of Sister Adele and the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help can be found at

We would like to ask you to pray with us a Novena beginning February 9, 2011; the Novena will ask Our Lady’s intercession for the creation of the Culture of Life Institute within the St. Paul-Mpls metro area. The novena will conclude on October 9, 2011, the anniversary of the apparition. We will gather at the Shrine on Sunday October 9, 2011, the conclusion of the Novena and you are most welcome to join us. After the completion of the Novena, we hope to be called to create this Institute.

Please let us know if you plan on praying this Novena with us. (Please use the attached Novena)

The Institute was conceived after realizing that our youngest daughter, Kyra Therese and all other Special Needs Children, are still unable to receive a quality, Catholic education in most dioceses.

This Culture of Life Institute would like to change that by providing a center that offers managed, individualized instruction for any child – regardless of abilities. It would also provide quality senior care and housing for the elderly. They, in turn, would be asked to stay actively involved and committed to the business of the Institute according to their talents and abilities. The Institute would offer protection and support for expectant single women. Finally, this Catholic Community Center would address the social, physical, spiritual needs of the greater Catholic community. The Institute will be a Center for the New Evangelization as called for by Pope Benedict XVl. We will “Not Be Afraid” to help those most vulnerable and lacking or to provide much needed spiritual, physical, and social supports. Our mission will be to answer the question posed by Our Lady to Sister Adele, “what are you doing here in idleness while your companions are working in the vineyard of my Son?’"

We have chosen Our Lady of Good Help, because Sister Adele understood the frustrations of living with a handicap/disability. An accident caused Sister Adele to be blinded in one eye. Despite this handicap, she started a school/convent for the poor children of her community without having initial support. Eventually her efforts created the Sisters of the Chapel of Our Lady of Good Help, a tertiary secular community whose members adopted simple religious garb, took no permanent vows, retained property and independence, and were free to leave. Their primary goal: provide the parochial education for the poor and needy. These members stood in testament to the church’s teaching that religious education of youth is a primary function and duty of the family and an orderly Christian society.

The US Catholic Bishops exhorted (a decree from the First Plenary Council of Baltimore, November 21, 1851) schools that “no parish is complete until it has schools adequate to the needs of its children.” Furthermore, the US Bishops instructed in 2007 that “the moral strength of a society is measured by how we treat our most vulnerable citizens.” How well are we faithfully working to complete this instruction? Please pray with us.

O QUEEN OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, Most Holy Virgin, we venerate thee. Thou art the beloved Daughter of the Most High God, the chosen Mother of the Incarnate Word, the Immaculate Spouse of the Holy Spirit, the Sacred Vessel of the Most Holy Trinity.O Mother of the Divine Redeemer, who under the title of Our Lady of Good Remedy comes to the aid of all who call upon thee, extend thy maternal protection to us. We depend on thee, Dear Mother, as helpless and needy children depend on a tender and caring mother.

Hail, Mary....

O LADY OF GOOD REMEDY, source of unfailing help, grant that we may draw from thy treasury of graces in our time of need.Touch the hearts of sinners, that they may seek reconciliation and forgiveness. Bring comfort to the afflicted and the lonely; help the poor and the hopeless; aid the sick and the suffering. May they be healed in body and strengthened in spirit to endure their sufferings with patient resignation and Christian fortitude.

Hail, Mary....

DEAR LADY OF GOOD REMEDY, source of unfailing help, thy compassionate heart knows a remedy for every affliction and misery we encounter in life. Help me with thy prayers and intercession to find a remedy for my problems and needs, especially for... (Indicate your special intentions here).On my part, O loving Mother, I pledge myself to a more intensely Christian lifestyle, to a more careful observance of the laws of God, to be more conscientious in fulfilling the obligations of my state in life, and to strive to be a source of healing in this broken world of ours.Dear Lady of Good Remedy, be ever present to me, and through thy intercession, may I enjoy health of body and peace of mind, and grow stronger in the faith and in the love of thy Son, Jesus.

Hail, Mary.....

V. Pray for us, O Holy Mother of Good Remedy,R. That we may deepen our dedication to thy Son, and make the world alive with His Spirit.

In 1198, St. John of Matha founded the Trinitarians to buy Christian slaves from slave markets in order to set them free; this needed large sums of money. The Trinitarians placed their needs under the patronage of Mary. Over the centuries, the Trinitarians were able to free thousands of people and return them home safely. In gratitude for Mary’s miraculous assistance, St. John of Matha honored her with the title of "Our Lady of Good Remedy." The Church celebrates her feast day on October 8. Our Lady of Good Remedy is often depicted as the Virgin Mary handing a bag of money to St. John of Matha.