Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Sign of the Cross – The world’s oldest gang sign

The sign of the cross, a blessing many Catholics don’t think to much about. Something we often do in a rather rote way after dipping in the holy water font before Mass. But the sign of the cross carries all the power of Calvary. It has the power to dispel demons who must bend their knee in submission to Jesus. It has the power to sanctify God’s people, and through the sign of the cross we join in the Communion of Saints. When we bless ourselves with the sign of the cross we identify with all of the men and women through out the ages who have followed Jesus in Spirit and Truth. We reinforce the mark of Grace upon our soul we received in Baptism and Confirmation, and remind ourselves to whom we belong.

Lord bless your people in the Name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Fourth Glorious Mystery – Jesus Comes for His Mom

When I pray the Rosary I get images of the events. To keep myself focused I imagine all of the people around, what they were like, where they are now, what was life really like at that moment in time. The mystery of the assumption is a bit different. We don’t know a whole lot about the assumption. No one was around to witness the event that we know of. It was just between Mary and God. There wasn’t even an Archangel on the scene as far as we know and so my mind is filled with this image.

Our Lady’s earthly body has died. I believe the Eastern Church refers to this as Mary’s Dormition. So how does she get to heaven, how do any of us get to heaven? Do our guardian angels guide us, Our Lady couldn’t very well guide herself.

I imagine Jesus himself coming for his mother. I picture him standing next to her as if to wake her from sleep. I imagine him gently stroking her cheek and softly kissing her forehead. I picture her opening her eyes and smiling at her son, whom she loves so dearly, her son whom she has followed loyally all of her life. I imagine Jesus picking her up and carrying her to heaven in very much the same sort of way she holds him in the Pieta. I imagine all of heaven rejoicing that the Queen is on her way home and waiting with joy for her arrival. And then I imagine her praying with her court, waiting and watching like a mother who’s teenage kids are out for the evening. Waiting for all her children to come home, and I can’t wait to get home so I can meet her in person one day.

Mother Mary protect us under your mantel all the days of our lives. Commission your army to protect us in this life and to carry us home to heaven our true country. Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Contraception Other Reasons Why Not

The Barbershop: Dennis Byrne, proprietor: Why isn't this study about the pill and breast cancer heeded?

Dennis Byrne's article about the link between breast cancer and the pill. Hat tip to Judie Brown of American Life League.

Unisex fish the result of birth control hormones in our water ways. The greenies have been mum about this one.

Lord, open our ears that we may hear and understand your teaching on artificial contraception, and our hearts that we may follow you in faith. Amen.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Infertility – A daily lesson in the Sovereignty of God

Is there an upside to infertility? For me I believe there is. How can that be? It is so terribly painful, almost to painful to contemplate, so where’s the upside? I have searched the scriptures seeking answers. I’m not the first of God’s people to have this problem, and I believe most of these women did have children in the end. Hanna did, Sarah did, Rebekah did, Rachel did, Elizabeth did, but not me.

Psalm 113:9 speaks of the Lord settling the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children, but Isaiah and Galatians speak of a barren woman singing for joy “because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband," says the LORD. Well what about a barren woman with a husband? Humm.

So where's the upside?

I am aware on a moment by moment daily basis that I’m not the one calling the shots.

I know my life is not my own. I have given it to God and it’s his to use as he sees fit. I know from reading Job that Satan had to ask permission to harass Job. He was not given free run, he could only go as far as God permitted him to go and was not allowed to touch a hair of Job’s head. What’s that got to do with me?

It means that if God who knows what’s best for me has decreed or allowed that I don’t have children then that’s good enough for me.

It offers me an opportunity every day to trust God even through the pain. To trust even though I don’t understand. An opportunity to be reminded every day that God is God and I am not.

It helps me to live Psalm 46:10, to be still and know that He is God.

Hon, we’re not in Michigan any more.

When Hubby and I first bought a production facility out west we thought we knew what we were in for. He’s LA born and raised, I lived there for a decade in my roaring 20s. His family had moved back up to the greater Seattle area after cashing out on the LA real estate market in the late 80’s so we had visited many times and were familiar with the area. We had even visited the little town our facility is in once before. We thought we were prepared. We were wrong.

I began to suspect that I had landed on another planet the first time I saw a real hippy. I mean the genuine article. VW micro bus, complete with beaded fringe, macramé and tie die as far as the eye can see, the ubiquitous Dead sticker, I think there may have been a couple of small mammals in the fellas beard. It looked like there was anyway. Oh, my.

Folks would ask me how I liked the place, so I began to make some mental comparisons between the two towns I live in:

MI: Relay for Life – A community wide effort to raise money for cancer research.
WA: GLBTQ Pride Parade – I’m not even going to describe it.

MI: Share the Warmth – Churches throughout the town working to provide homeless shelter.
WA: The Recycle Police – You get the picture.

MI: Care Pregnancy Center – A community wide effort to end abortion, and support pregnant women.
WA: The Food Co-Op – A subsidiary of the recycle police: A community wide effort to guilt people into overpaying for recycled stuff.

MI: Farmers who spend their whole lives working the earth to feed people.
WA: People who spend their whole lives working to save the earth from people, usually by way of a plan designed to eliminate the people.

It would be kinda funny if it weren’t for the fact that every time I go out there I have the most intense nightmares. It has happened to regularly that I’ve come to believe it is a spiritual attack. It’s like the demons say, ha, ha, ha missy, you’re in our house now. I take my holy water, my Padre Pio oil and bless the condo, myself, Hubby, and anyone else that will let me bless them, but I still have a rough time out there. The parish in the town is really quite orthodox. I thank God for that. The Mass times are convenient so I go to Mass more when I’m out West than when I’m in Michigan. They have Adoration at a convenient time so I still go every week, but still it’s like living in the Devil’s playground.

I think about how sensitive I am to the environment in one little American town and I feel for all of the people through out the world who are living under institutional oppression rather than cultural oppression. It must be so much worse.

Lord, teach us to pray, and help us to be ever mindful of our Christian Brothers and Sisters through out the world. We ask for your protection, for St. Michael’s defense and Our Lady’s prayers for ourselves and all your people. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Fifth Joyful Mystery – Was it always so joyful?

Sometimes I get the goofiest images in my imagination. Not sure where they come from, but this is what I get with the fifth joyful mystery, finding Jesus in the temple.

You and the fam are caravanning back home after a big trip into town. You’ve partied, you’ve worshiped the Lord, you’ve probably done a bit of bickering, after all you are a family. Grandma’s tired and getting a bit cranky, the kids are restless, little Jesus is hanging with his cousins, the camel’s flatulence is especially bad today, you turn to Joe and say, honey, we really need to get a younger camel.

As night falls, everyone gathers for evening prayers and a meal, you look for your boy, you hunt down his cousins and ask everyone, but your stomach begins to sink because the kid is no where to be found. Oh krud. Joe, honey, I can’t find Jesus, he’s not with John, he’s not with James, he’s not here. You begin to get a touch panicky, thinking oh God, I’ve lost you, where are you? St. Anthony’s not born yet, so you can’t ask his intercession. What do you do? Nothing to do but turn and head back into town.

The whole way back you are really a bit twisted up with worry, but the hubby, he’s fit to be tied. “Oh for the love of Pete where is that kid, oh wait, we don’t know Pete yet. Never mind. That boy will be lucky to make it to his teens, when I get my hands on him I’m gonna kill him myself.” His jaw is set, his complexion is turning red, he’s got a unibrow from his scrunched up face. You’ve seen it before, you’re a married woman, you know full well when to pipe down and keep a low profile. And so onward you both trudge towards town in search of the kid who didn’t get on the bus.

You get to town and lo and behold you find the little sun of a gun. He gives you his tweener take on the situation, you being the parents take command of the situation and so he heads back home with you as planned. Joe’s still a bit miffed, so it’s a quiet trip back to Nazareth.

And so my little pin head turns as I pray the rosary, sometimes giggling out loud. It is the joyful mysteries after all. I know, I’m not normal.

Jesus I love you. I thank you for you. I thank you for my silly personality. I know you know I mean no offense, please don’t let anyone else take offense either. Amen.

Sts. Anne & Mary

My Patron Saints Anne & Mary

I've always loved my name. Even as a kid. As an adult I can't think of a greater honor than to be named after Jesus' Mother and Grandmother. What a blessing.

Thank you Jesus for giving us these two beautiful women, and thank you for calling me by name. Amen.

My Encounter With IVF - One and Done

Hubby and I have not had an easy time of it in the reproduction realm. Kinda a big irony since the wedding date got a bit accelerated due to a surprise double blue line. That was a long, long time ago. We lost that pregnancy, and the two that followed some time after. Along the way we were referred to fertility specialists who run all sorts of tests none of which told us or the doctors anything whatsoever about the reasons I rarely got pregnant and didn’t carry to term when I did.

My sister had success with IFV, both of her children were conceived that way so as time passed I began to consider that option. I hadn’t returned to the Church yet, although I had a rather powerful post 9/11 conversion to Christ and was part of an evangelical church at the time.

I was never really quite comfortable with IVF although I could not put my finger on why. It began to come into focus as we sat in the doctor’s office and she pressured us to sign a form to allow for selective reduction. I wouldn’t do it, but we told her we would think about it. I could not believe that a doctor who knew I had lost every one of my pregnancies would ask me to abort my children. I was stunned, and she would not do the IVF with out us signing the form. Hubbies solution, sign the form and in the event that we had more than the permitted three embryos simply go back to my original GYN. What are they going to do hold you down and force you to abort, he asked.

So we proceeded. That was several years ago, nothing happened, well nothing that resulted in a baby anyhoo. It was one of the nastiest experiences of my life. Daily shots and blood draws. An hour and a half drive up to the hospital every day. It cost a bunch, not just in monetary terms either.

When the procedure failed, the doctor spent time discussing other options with us. They involved the use of donor eggs. Those doctors are determined to get you pregnant, that’s for sure. They talked about using my sister’s eggs, as well as unrelated donors. You can look through photos and bios of available donors on line. That’s just weird. I kept hearing a silly song in my head to the tune of Steve Martin’s song about a thermos. “I’m picking out a gene pool for you.” I looked for a while, but it just did not feel right.

Although I had not returned to the Church, I was a practicing Evangelical, and one thing Evangelicals do is read the bible. I had read the story of Sarah and Hagar. It wasn’t pretty then and it’s not pretty now. We decided not to proceed with the donor option.

Since returning to the Church I’ve come to understand the Church’s teaching on IVF. To my knowledge the Catholic Church is the only institution that speaks out against IVF.

This article explains the Church's position on IVF better than I can.

Forgive us Father for we know not what we do.