PROTECTING LIFE IN A NEONATAL WING

Even though this was a public hospital, in the maternity unit, everyone fought fiercely for the life of every unborn child. Whether they were cognizant of the fact or not, these doctors and nurses embodied the teaching of the Church.
For you created my inmost being;

You knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

Your works are wonderful,

I know that full well. -Psalm 139:13-14-

Pregnant with my seventh child, I was bedridden in the high-risk, neo-natal wing of the maternity ward for a week. I was waiting for a housekeeper to come  run my home and help tend my six children. Although I faced six months of bed rest, that one week gave me perspective and kept me from sinking into self-pity. Two other women in my room were desperate to keep their babies in utero and finally become mothers. One of the two had suffered five miscarriages. She was stuck in a ward room for months, only going home after the birth of her baby.
Secretly we all feared that we would lose our babies. Suddenly our fears materialized as a high-risk woman’s baby died in her womb. That poor woman had to endure an induction and labour for hours, only to push out a dead baby. The pain in that wing of the hospital was tangible. Tears ran down women’s’ faces as they grieved with their neighbour. It did not matter that none of us had even glimpsed her face. Nurses as well as patients mourned for a sister who was loosing her newborn. I became so nauseated with the awful vibes that pressed in on me that I ended up retching over the side of my bed with ice packs on my head to relieve a migraine.
Thank God, after the delivery, they moved this mother to the maternity wing where she was given a free, private room. Nurses as well as patients sighed with relief when the nurses told us that the hospital understood the need to shelter grieving mothers from others who cuddled and nursed their new babies.
Even though this was a public hospital, in the maternity unit, everyone fought fiercely for the life of every unborn child. Whether they were cognizant of the fact or not, these doctors and nurses embodied the teaching of the Church.
Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.
Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:
You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.
God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes. CCC 2270-2271
My generous spirit petered out after a few weeks at home. My only outing was to a high-risk appointment every week. Church was even out of the question, so Michael brought home communion and the readings each Sunday. I remained in a prone position, eating while propped up on one elbow with my food cut into small pieces. The high-risk doctors let me use a regular toilet and have a quick shower every morning. In those days, we had one large, heavy T.V. in the living room, a black dial-up phone on the hall wall, no stereo system, no computer and the bedroom window was cloudy, so I could not look outside. In frustration I phoned my doctor one morning after my shower.
“But I don’t feel sick. I feel fine and my kids need me!” I wailed.
My usually laid back, jovial doctor explained my situation in graphic detail.
“You have a huge clot, 4-cm thick, 6-cm, wide from the top of your womb where the placenta tore down your entire right side. The last time this happened at the Civic was two years ago to a woman who had four kids at home. They both almost died. We had to call the Archbishop in to explain to her that it was more of a sin to her remaining children if she foolishly died along with her unborn child.
“Listen to me. Keep this image in your mind. Imagine that here is a gun pressed to your temple, cocked waiting only for the slightest movement to set it off. Lay in bed and do not move!”
Well that got my attention.
The hardest aspect to my forced “vacation” was letting go of control of how strange women cleaned my home, washed laundry and made meals. I endured terrible cooks and inept, lazy house cleaners but at least my kids could still lay down beside me as I read to them and helped with homework. It almost seemed orchestrated because God seemed to delight in my inactivity; He had ample time to teach me to let go, trust and to allow others to serve me.
The end result of my confinement was a beautiful baby girl with huge black eyes and black hair that stood straight up. She is now a gentle artist/philosopher whose dark eyes  still sparkle with life and joy, only one of the hundreds, why maybe thousands of young adults who owe their very existence to  ordinary nurses and doctors in maternity wings who fight for the lives of the unborn.
http://melaniejeanjuneau.wordpress.com/

Finding patterns in the Bible

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Transfiguration by Giovanni Gerolamo Savoldo (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons).

Last week for homeschool we did a narration of the Transfiguration. While reading the story aloud, I had an epiphany: it echoes the story of Moses receiving the 10 Commandments. I shared the parallel between the two stories with my boys. Now I’d like to share it–and the principle behind it–with you.

As a writer and avid reader, I am convinced of the inspiration of Sacred Scripture. (Besides, of course, being convinced as a Christian by the authority of the Church.) Dozens of writers over thousands of years produced the book we now call the Bible. They were from different cultures, used different literary genres, and had diverse purposes.

Amazingly, the same themes are developed throughout the Bible from beginning to end. Types and anti-types, prophecies and their fulfillment, fill its pages. You can follow one idea like a wave on the sea from Genesis to Revelation, or stand on the shore and admire the rhythm of the ocean that is the entire Bible.
I love to share these patterns with my children. I get excited about them, and that excites my boys!

Read the rest at Contemplative Homeschool.

Are you making a daily morning offering?

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Praying Girl by Heyerdahl (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons).

St. Francis de Sales is the master of the spiritual life for lay people. His book, Introduction to the Devout Life teaches us how we can grow closer to God while living out our lives as spouses or single people in the world.

One of the practices St. Francis urges his readers to make a habit of is the morning offering. In fact he says, “Never omit this practice.” A morning offering sets the tone for your day. It helps you acknowledge that the day is God’s, not your own. It can give you the strength you need to face trials, peace amid busy schedules, and added grace for unforeseen temptations.

I confess I was never taught to make my own morning offering as a child. We sometimes had family prayer in the morning. At Catholic elementary school we started the day with prayer. But no one told me I should make a private morning offering until I was much older. I found it hard to take up the practice, and even harder to maintain it over the long-term.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

COME OUT OF THE CAVE

The worst possible fate for me would be to die and discover that I had lived an existence similar to the allegory described in Plato’s Cave. Plato describes man’s condition similar to living in a cave, chained, only seeing shadows on a wall cast from a candle. Yet the human race believes that this is all there is to life. When one person manages to break free and stumbles out into daylight, he realizes that what he thought was real were actually shadows of real objects. After this messenger makes his way back into the cave to explain this revelation of the real world, no one believes him. No one else has any reference point; they simply cannot grasp this alternate reality.
When I speak with someone who is curious about the faith, I realize my revelations about the spiritual life in the Mystical Body of Christ are completely foreign. I might as well be a fantasy character explaining life in an alternate reality. Psychologically speaking, people need to hear a completely new concept at least three times before it even begins to register in their minds. Sharing about spiritual reality is like helping God make new neurological connections and this transformation takes time. Seekers who has existed on the surface, experiencing only physical reality is wearing God-filtered glasses; the life in Christ that I share with someone is completely alien. They have no reference point… read  more

Walking With Mary : A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross

This week I had the pleasure of kicking off Image Catholic Books Virtual Book Tour for their latest release Walking With Mary : A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross written by Dr. Edward Sri. The book was fantastic and if you are looking for an easy to read, deep exploration of Mary’s faith journey I highly recommend you get this book. You can find my review here. Also click here for your chance to enter my weekly giveaway, a copy of this great book.
Pete Socks
The Catholic Book Blogger

Drawn From Shadows Into Truth: A Memoir Review

My most recent review is from The Catholic Company called Drawn From Shadows Into Truth: A Memoir. This is a true conversion story of how a married ordained minister followed the quest for truth which led him out of the Episcopalian Church and into the Catholic Church. Fr. Ryland, in a detailed format, outlines his journey from childhood, other denominations and into the Catholic Church.

In my opinion, his book reads like an intellectual autobiography which felt like text book reading at times. I appreciated his use of footnotes to back up his points but I also felt the context jumped around which left me confused at times.   I would turn back a page or two to see if I missed something.  It’s not filled with emotion even though he experienced the same confusion, fear and resistance that others have gone through in their journey to the Catholic Church.

Fr. Ray Ryland has been given a dispensation from the rules of celibacy and is a married Catholic Priest.  I was glad to see in his last chapter, that he addressed the issue of him being allowed to be married as a priest. Fr. Ryland does not promote married priesthood and in fact he discusses the apostolic tradition of priestly celibacy and how he agrees with the Catholic Church.  He candidly admits, he is not as free as a celibate priest to serve God, His Church and his parishioners.  I applaud the encouragement and support his wife gave him as he walked this path with them.  It can not have been easy to make this decision even though knowing God is calling him to do so.  It takes courage and faith.

Overall, I liked the book but it took me a long time to read it.  I enjoy conversion stories but I was not captivated by this one.  I think it’s because I found it to be more of a challenging read than a lighter more emotional story.  I guess those are the ones I would choose to read first.  The reason I picked this one was because it is a conversion story and it was endorsed by other famous converts.  Would I recommend this book?  Yes, but with a warning that it’s not a light happy conversion story.

This book was written as part of the Catholic Company Reviewer Program.  I was given a complimentary copy of Drawn From Shadows Into Truth: A Memoir for my honest review.  The Catholic Company is a great resource for all your First Communion Gift ideas as well as many other great books, rosaries, and statues.

Peace & Blessings,
Noreen

Falling asleep during prayer

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Sleeping Biy by Lrylov (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons).

If you are a parent trying to grow in holiness, you have no doubt fallen asleep in prayer. Among nursing babies, sick toddlers, wet beds, and waiting up for teenagers, parents spend years being sleep deprived. Then we go to pray and find ourselves nodding off, or even dreaming. How should we handle this?

Am I being lazy? Before reading Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux, I would get mad at myself and feel like a failure when I fell asleep. Of course, if I were to tell the whole truth, I was often at fault. I used to pray mental prayer last thing before going to bed. Even though I’m a night person, this is not a good time to pray. My thoughts are already on sleep. My mind and body are tired, and it feels like I’m giving prayer the lowest priority on my daily agenda. Sometimes I prayed that late due to forgetfulness. (Whoops, I haven’t prayed yet–better do it now!) Other times I was putting it off. But at least I was making some effort.

I find morning is the ideal time to pray, even for a night owl like me. It’s harder to forget and makes prayer my top priority. My mind isn’t racing with the business of the day.  And if I’m too tired, I can adjust the time I go to bed at night until I get it just right.

That’s how I reasoned in my single days.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Our Biggest Delusion

I was never designed to live alone like an island unto myself. 
Yet, in my pride, I cling tenaciously to my throne and crown.
 Only when I was completely depleted and shattered,
 only then did I resign and give God  back His job.
There is a world of difference between a man who is aware of himself, sitting on a hill and looking at a beautiful sunrise and a man so enthralled with that very same sunrise that he forgets himself and becomes  absorbed in the scene. In the first instance the man is egocentric; he is at the centre 0f his world, not God.
When I see beauty everywhere, I experience joy and a sense of connection because my eyes are not on myself. The truth is that I am simply part of the whole. Everything does not depend on me. I am free to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature and the Spirit of God which permeates all when I am in the right place in the scheme of things.
I am living in a fantasy when I see myself as the center of the universe, viewing everything as it circles around me. As believers we sing and recite prayers that proclaim that God is the centre of all but our psychological make-up screams the exact opposite. I view people, events, history and yes even God through my eyes, judging what is right, trusting my thoughts and my feelings as the final judge of what is real. When Jesus says that we must die to ourselves, He is not speaking about some pious self-sacrifice that makes us look holy, no He has something much more radical in mind. The kind of inner transformation Jesus desires literally rips the rug up from under our feet and shatters our world view.

◄  Galatians 2:20  ►
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Why is modern man so anxious, nervous, out of sorts? Part of the reason is probably that many people barely see a blade of grass during their normal work day. Surrounded by concrete and glass, our innate self craves connection with the rest of the natural world, other people , the communion of saints, (both living and dead) and at an even deeper level, God Himself. Instead we live in isolated, man-made prisons which shut out other humans never mind other living creatures and God.  Each person is at the centre of their little artificial universe. That means that each of us has assumed the role of king or queen of our tiny kingdoms with everything depending on us.
I was never designed to live alone like an island unto myself. Yet, in my pride, I cling tenaciously to my throne and crown. Only when I was completely depleted and shattered, only then did I resign and give God  back His job. Only the did I surrender an ego centric point of view and embraced reality which is that God is at the centre of the universe and I am simply part of the Mystical  Body of Christ.
Silly?
Definitely absurd but I only saw this fact after I surrendered and let go of control. I cannot  find what is really important in life in self-created delusions butI can discover truth as I learn to live in harmony with a bigger universe than the one I create.

In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!’
Abraham Kuyper

St. John of the Cross (San Juan de la Crux), who lived in the 16th century  explains the inner process of becoming one with Christ.

I lose myself and remain,
With my face on the Beloved inclined;
All has come to rest,
I abandon all my cares
There, among the lilies, to die.

Father Larry Richards

On August 2-4 I spent the weekend attending the 2013 Corpus Christie Men’s Retreat at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmittsburg, MD. On Saturday evening after dinner Father Larry graciously took some time to answer a few questions with yours truly. This week at The Catholic Book Blogger, I posted that interview which can be found here. While visiting, hop on over to enter this weeks giveaway where you could win a copy of Father Larry’s book Be A Man. You can enter the giveaway here. Lastly you can read my review of the book that changed life. This was perhaps my toughest review yet because of how personal it is. The review for Be A Man is posted here.

Harvesting Pope Francis's Call for Peace In Syria

Italian artist Dario Gambarin took six hours to plow the likeness of Pope Francis in his parents field in Castargnaro, Italy.

The artist chose Pope Francis as a subject as Mr. Gambarin was inspired by the Pontiff’s call for a worldwide day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria on September 7th

Field Artist Dario Gambarin 

Gambarin relies on his innate sense of proportion and his tractor driving capabilities to create his field art.   The image can only really be appreciated when flying near Verona. 

This type of art is deleted after a few days so the field can be cultivated for the new sowing of seed. 

May this act of artisinal agriculture remind us that “Love Liberates” as the world prays for peace in Syria. 

h/t: The Telegraph

[originally posted on DC-LausDeo.US]