Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Love of Souls*

*From the Tan book "Joy in Suffering According to St. Therese of the Child Jesus"....

"St. Therese was not content to love God herself - she also desired to win much love for Him, ' to make Him greatly loved' by all men. Her Jesus was consumed by an insatiable thirst for souls, and she, being one with Him, shared the same all-consuming thirst. ' I longed at all costs to snatch souls form the eternal flames of Hell'."

"St. Therese once wrote to one of her missionary brothers: " If in Heaven I could no longer work for God's glory, I should prefer exile to home... I trust fully that I shall not remain idle in Heaven; my desire is to continue my work for the Church and for souls. I have asked this of God and am convinced He will hear my prayer."


How many of us love God only so far as it is pleasing to us to do so? When we experience aridity of prayer, we are tempted to give up. Sometimes, our human weakness causes us to see Heaven strictly in terms of something we "earned". Not St. Therese! She could only find happiness in doing God's will and winning souls for Him, even it meant "postponing" her eternal rest. "I will spend my Heaven doing good upon earth." To one who had never refused God anything, even the seemingly minimal sacrifices, nothing would be denied her. And who is the beneficiary of this generosity? We, her devoted children. Let us in grateful appreciation return the favor by doing all we can to win souls for Jesus by our emulation of St. Therese. Remember her words: "The least act of pure love is worth more for God and the Church than all other good works put together."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Feast of the Archangels

Today we observe the Feast of the Holy Angels. For the past several years, I've been fortunate to be able to observe this feast at the Carmelite Monastery in Philadelphia. In fact, it was this very Mass which was instrumental in my return to the Catholic Church some years ago. I had never been to the Monastery before and went on a whim. I felt as though I had died and gone to Heaven when I entered that beautiful chapel on a crisp Fall night and heard the congregation singing the Gloria in Latin. (Obviously, I had gotten there a little late). How perfect that the Triduum to St. Therese should begin on this feast.

From the little Novena pamphlet given out at the Monastery comes this from St. Therese on our Guardian Angels. In a letter to her dear sister, Celine, St. Therese wrote:" Jesus has placed at your side an angel from Heaven to guard you always. He 'bears you in his hand, lest you dash your foot against a stone.' (Psalm 91:12).
You do not see him, yet he has preserved your soul. Have no fear of earth's storms. Your angel guardian covers you with his wings, and on your heart Jesus, the purity of virgins, takes His rest. You do not see your treasures. Jesus sleeps and the angel stays in his mysterious silence, but all the same, they are there."

It has been written that not until we are in heaven will we know all the good that St. Therese has helped accomplish by her intercession on our behalf. I believe we will also be astonished to learn just how much assistance the angels rendered us during our exile on earth.

Monday, September 28, 2009

St. Therese on the 5th Joyful Mystery

A little too worn-out to offer much this evening, so I'll let St. Therese do the talking.

The following is an excerpt taken from the poem, "Why I Love You, Oh Mary" written by St. Therese.

"The Gospel tells me that growing in wisdom,
Jesus remains subject to Joseph and Mary,
And my heart reveals to me with what tenderness
He always obeys His dear parents.
Now I understand the mystery of (the finding of the Child Jesus in) the temple
The hidden words of my lovable king,
Mother, your sweet Child wants you to the be the example
Of the soul searching for Him in the night of faith."

Upon reading this in "Praying the Rosary with St. Therese" I felt as if I discovered a treasure that was in my line of vision but overlooked for a lifetime I hope it does the same for you and gives you something to ponder as you pray the Rosary.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

More Mother Than Queen*

"We know very well that the Blessed Virgin Mary is Queen of Heaven and Earth, but she is more mother than queen; and we should not say, on account of her prerogatives, that she surpasses all saints in glory just as the sun at its rising makes the stars disappear from sight. My God! How strange that would be! A mother who makes her children's glory vanish! I myself think just the contrary. I believe she'll increase the splendor of the elect very much...

"The Blessed Virgin Mary wasn't as fortunate as we are, since she didn't have a Blessed Virgin to love. And this is one more sweetness for us and one less sweetness for her!" - St. Therese of Lisieux, Last Conversations

"Oh Mary, if I were the Queen of Heaven, and you were Therese, I should like to be Therese in order to see you as Queen of Heaven" - last words written by St. Therese
Sept. 8 1897

*Rev. Louis Kolenkiewicz, "Praying the Rosary with St. Therese"

Friday, September 25, 2009

St. Therese and the Eucharist

Just a short reflection/observation today. So many of us take the Eucharist for granted. Personally speaking, I have often struggled with distracting thoughts just as I should be focused on the consecration. I hate to admit it, but there are times when I feel I take the Mass for granted. It's a constant battle and a work in progress. What would it be like if I couldn't get to Mass every day, or even on Sunday? What if I became too infirmed to leave the house? At those times, I think of St. Therese in the throes of tuberculosis, making every effort to attend morning Mass with her community. Though she had to overcome shortness of breath just to make it to the chapel, she said, "I do not count it too much to win one Holy Communion".

St. Therese once said, "Every day, Jesus transforms a white particle into Himself. And with a love that's greater still, He wants to transform you into Himself." Will we respond to this love as St. Therese did, making a heroic effort to get to Mass, or will we roll over in bed and say, "I'll go next week"? If we knew that a good friend was waiting for us, would we go back to sleep and leave them waiting all by themselves, or would we make every effor to meet them at the appointed time? And why would we do any less for Jesus?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Glass is Half-Full

So many times, when things don't go as planned, or even when sudden tragedy strikes, you will hear people say "It was the will of God". St. Therese surrendered her will to God even before she entered the Carmel. She recognized that everything that happens to us in life has much value. The more we embrace suffering, the closer we become to Christ. To seek union with Him is to welcome everything He sends our way, including heartbreak and illness. The greater the pain we endure here, the sweeter our reward in eternity.

St. Therese saw the bright side of everything. When her beloved father was struck by a series of strokes, she expressed her gratitude to Jesus for giving her family a share in His sufferings. When the first symptoms of tuberculosis made themselves known, she did not despair but was filled with joy in knowing that she would have to endure much physical agony, as her Lord did. According to Bishop Noser, at the height of her illness, when nothing gave her any physical comfort, she explained that she could smile because the pain was so acute. She was filled with joy; not the kind that is felt, but the kind that brings an inner peace of knowing how close one is to Jesus.

The late Fulton Sheen once remarked as he passed a hospital, "There is so much wasted suffering in there". St. Therese did not literally shed her blood for Christ, but she did shed every ounce of comfort and pleasure for Him. She did not let pass even a single opportunity to please God through her own suffering and deprivation, which enabled her to say "God will refuse me nothing." We would only do well to follow her example.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Little Way to Heaven

St. Therese once noted that for those with faith "the size of a mustard seed, Our Lord moves mountains." And every so often He puts someone in our midst that even the most skeptical person would have to give serious consideration. St. Pio was such a person. Given the Stigmata, he was known for his ability to read souls, for the long hours he spent in the confessional and for his ability to bilocate. Once, a priest asked me rhetorically if I thought I was as holy as St. Pio, then he asked me if, before having my dinner, I prayed 15 decades of the Rosary. Padre Pio spent hours preparing to celebrate Holy Mass, and hours afterward in thanksgiving. I don't think it would be wrong to call him a mystic. Today we observe his feast day.

Like Padre Pio, St. Therese enjoys a very close following by millions of Catholics worldwide. As another priest once noted, "once she gets you in her little web, you can't help but be drawn closer to Christ". St. Therese was not made incorruptible. In all her writings, she never mentions any mystic experiences such as Padre Pio or Teresa of Avila had. It wasn't until after her death that her fellow sisters discovered anything remarkable about her. Yet once her memoirs reached the other Carmels in France and around the world, the torrent of roses began. Her confessor confirmed for her that in her entire life, she had never committed a serious sin. She gave a heroic effort to turning every day trials into extraordinary sacrifices.

According to Bishop Noser, Therese suffered from a sensitive stomach, yet she never recoiled at what she was served at table. She would eat leftovers warmed over many times with a smile on her face that gave no indication of what turmoil went on inside her. She exercised saintly self-control by giving up even the smallest comforts and she never gave an external indication of feeling hot, cold or tired.

Some little sacrifices we can make in emulation of her include refraining from crossing our legs or feet while sitting (especially during Adoration). We can dress in one less layer in winter, or one more in summer. We can eat something we don't particularly like, or resist the urge to make food more palatable by adding salt or other seasoning. And, like St. Therese, we would of course not call attention to these little sacrifices but offer them with love. And, like Father Corapi says, if we're REALLY smart, we can offer them through the Blessed Mother.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Joy in Suffering

Today I will begin my monthly novena to St. Therese, but a little later than normal so it can conclude just before her feast on October 1st. Every day, I will try to post a message from the Tan Book, "Joy in Suffering: A Novena to St. Therese". If you read this blog, please pray for Laura, for Linda and for Dan and their intentions.

I wish I could post the photo here, but ineptitude prevents me. If you have any doubt that St. Therese found joy in suffering, you have only to look at the sweet expression on her face in death. It is remarkable. What is even more remarkable is that she suffered a triple martyrdom, according to Bishop Noser, not sequentially but simaltaneously - a martyrdom of body, heart, and soul. In fact, I once listened to a lecture on Therese where the priest who gave the talk offered that the cause of her death wasn't the tuberculosis that ravaged her young body but instead, her soul being ripped from her body because it so longed to be with God.

St. Therese saw much value in the mundane every day things that we do without a thought. If you read her words and take them to heart, you will soon find yourself considering how you can offer every small act to God, as she did. "Pick up a pin from a motive of love, and you may save a soul" she advised. No act is too small. "Nothing gives Jesus pleasure like these small acts" she said "such as a smile, or a kind word when I would rather be silent." You won't believe how these little acts add up. Force yourself to say something nice to someone you find disagreeable, especially if you know they won't return the compliment. Perform some small act of kindness for someone who least expects it, such as allowing someone to get in line ahead of you at the grocery store. If tasks are being assigned at work, and there is one that no one ever volunteers for, you take it and offer the sacrifice to God. In time, when you realize the pleasure you have given Jesus, performing small acts will not be enough. Imagine the impact it will have on those around you. In some small way, you, too can win souls for Jesus.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Feast of St. Matthew

Today we celebrate the feast of St. Matthew, evangelist and martyr and yes, one-time tax collector. If you want to get an idea of what kind of status Matthew enjoyed in society prior to being called by Jesus, think of a Philadelphia Parking Authority ticket-writer. The lesson to be learned is that all of us are called and perhaps none so much as the ungodly. No matter what we've done and what anyone else thinks of us, we are worth much more than the weight of our sins.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Who is the Greatest?

Mothers and school-teachers have a knack for getting kids to do the opposite of what they are inclined. When a certain nun grew tired of her students climbing over one another to be first in the candy or pretzel line, she invented a clever way to put an end to the me-first mentality. Whatever child was last in line, would be permitted to purchase their pretzel first. That was end of everyone fighting to be at the head of the line.

In today's Gospel, Jesus asks the apostles what they were discussing and they tell him they were arguing over which one of them was the greatest. Placing a child in their midst, Our Lord makes it clear that what qualifies as first in the secular world means nothing in Heaven, and the way to earning a place among the Elect is by assuming humility and realizing that we are nothing without God.

It won't matter whether we drove a Lexus or a lemon. Nor will it matter how many celebrity names we can drop, how expensive the bottle of wine we drank or exclusive the hotel we vacationed in. The only thing that will matter is how faithful we lived the Gospel and how centered we were on fulfilling God's will. The more we go about our lives with humility, fully aware of our nothingness, the easier it will be to resemble Christ and earn a share in his Divinity.

Soon, it will be Thanksgiving, which means the sense of greed and entitlement will come to its yearly climax. This is perhaps demonstrated best in the Black Friday sales that begin in the wee hours of the morning and encourage a herd mentality of people seeking to be first to get bargains to be given as Christmas gifts. If you see anything that resembles Christ in stampeding someone to death in the haste to be first, let me know. And be assured that there will be no similar line waiting to get into Mass on Christmas morning. Not a very good way to observe the birth of the Savior. IF we imitate the behavior of Our Lord, who donned an apron and washed his disciples' feet, we can be assured that we are on the right path. And if we put Him first in our lives with the realization that the only greatness we have is that which He gives us, we can't help but win a place with the Elect.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Children of Mary

Through Our Lord's selfless generosity, we have His holy mother to guide us and aid us in time of troubles. One of my favorite images from Father John Corapi is that of the Blessed Mother plucking him out of the gutter when he was at his lowest and pointing him in the direction of the priesthood. She would do the same for any of us. What mother would stand by and watch her child destroy himself without intervening? For a long time, I had difficulty praying to the Blessed Mother because in ignorance I thought my own sinfulness would defile her in some way. It was very wrong to believe this because just the opposite is true. She takes our sins and our faults and shapes them in her hands to make an offering to her Divine Son on our behalf. As Father Corapi likes to say, if you're really smart, when you offer something up to God, you'll offer it through His mother.

Last year, when I was blessed to hear Father Benedict Groeschel speak in person, he told a little joke about a priest who, upon reaching heaven, saw a multitude of sinners whose presence there suprised him. He asked St. Peter "how did THEY get here"? and St. Peter pointed in the direction of Mary and said "His Mother". So long as what we ask for is compatible with God's will, we will not be denied when we petition Mary through prayer and sacrifice. No matter how dark or vile the places we inhabit, Mary hears us and intervenes for us.

A most beautiful image comes from St. Therese of Lisieux when she was in her final illness. "I have often prayed to the Blessed Mother to ask her to take my head in her hands that I might bear it". She was not denied and we won't be either.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Who Are You?

Still finding it difficult to come up with a coherent thought or reflection, so I'll share something from the little booklet that describes the Holy Spirit Chapel at the Carmel in Philadelphia.

One day, St. Teresa of Avila saw a small child standing on the landing of a staircase. "Who are you?" he asked. "I am Teresa of Jesus. Who are you?" The child replied "I am Jesus of Teresa".

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Little Levity

I'm a little under the weather tonight and can't offer any food for thought, and besides, despite my need for some quiet so I can write, people still keep talking to me. So, I will share some amusing stories about St. Teresa of Avila, which I gleaned from one of my favorite books, Progress of a Soul.

Probably one of the most frequently told stories has to do with our saint traveling to a remote site to start another foundation. The weather was miserable, and the wagon in which she was riding began to get mired in mud. At one point, mud and water started seeping through the floor of the wagon, prompting her to ask "Your Majesty, why do you keep doing things like this to me?" to which the interior reply came "This is how I treat my friends". Without missing a beat, Teresa replied "Well Your Majesty, it's no wonder you have so few of them".

Another time, Teresa was traveling with her brother to a town where she was to meet some very wealthy benefactors whom she hoped would help her found another monastery. They were at an inn, seated at table when a large lizard crawled down Teresa's arm, inside her habit and directly against her skin and, as she put it, "thank God, no where else". Her brother, wishing to assist her, flung the lizard which then smacked one of the benefactors directly across the face. Needless to say, she was mortified.

Anyway, a little humor tonight from one of our Doctors of the Church.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Because, by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world

Of all the scenes in "The Passion of the Christ", the one that left the biggest impression on me is when Jim Cavaziel as Jesus embraces the cross and kisses it. He is laughed at and scorned by his persecutors who do not understand that it was for this purpose that He came into the world. 2009 years later and humanity still doesn't get it. But even while suffering unimaginable torment, Our Lord was always thinking of us.

When the cross was too heavy for Him to carry alone, he allowed the Cyrenian to help him. He fell three times along the way to let us know that our efforts to carry our cross would not be without setbacks. A dear friend of mine confided that she keeps the 9th Station of the Cross in her bedroom as a constant reminder that life will be full of falls. Our Lord extends His hand to help us up. Do we accept His help, or do we slap it away? The choice is ours.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Let all mortal flesh keep silence (and cover it up, too, while you're at it)

A disturbing trend at many Novus Ordo parishes is the volume of conversation that goes on before Mass. Despite weekly reminders to keep a respectful silence in church out of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, Sunday Mass sometimes resembles a social hour more than the Holy Sacrifice of the Eucharist. What's worse, the offenders don't even wait for the final blessing to begin chatting. Those assisting at Mass who wish to communicate with Jesus after receiving His Body must put up with incessant and inane chatter from people who clearly do not have their priorities straight. I don't know how the priest maintains his composure sometimes.

Assuming that those who engage in this mindless chatter came to church with good intentions, that is to worship the Lord on the sabbath, we can say "well, at least they show up for Mass", especially considering how many don't. But just showing up isn't what it's all about. I may not participate in these gab-fests, but I'm not always entirely present either. While the exterior chatter is certainly disrespectful and annoying, I'm convinced the distracting thoughts I struggle to put out of my mind are equally insulting to Our Lord. He knows our human frailties and weaknesses and loves us in spite of them but that doesn't excuse us from our obligation to do better.

First, there should be no chatter whatsoever before, during or after Mass unless dictated by charity. Second, we should give careful thought to what we wear to Mass. Today I saw an attractive young woman who may as well have donned a swim-suit . To wear clothing that may lead others to sin is wrong, but to wear it to church is far worse. If women insist on wearing such clothing outside of church, the least they can do is wear a jacket or shawl so that they do not become a distraction to those around them. Third, Mass is not the time to wear a cleverly-worded t-shirt to convey a message or make a political point. If you want to take your life into your hands by wearing a Cowboys jersey on the streets of Philadelphia, by all means, go ahead. But it's not the attire to wear to Mass. Too many times the Communion line begins to resemble a walking advertisement for sports teams, sandwich shops and favorite brews. It's not about us, it's supposed to be about Him and our clothing should reflect that.

Then there is the bolting out the door before the priest even genuflects before leaving the altar. How many of these people would bolt out the door if their favorite singer or movie star was about to come down the aisle? Priests marry us, baptize our children, bury our dead and bring us Christ in the Eucharist. Shouldn't they garner at least as much respect from us as a celebrity? Put yourself in that priest's position for a minute and consider how you'd feel to put your heart in a sermon and see people reading the parish bulletin, checking their phones for text messages or talking to someone during the homily. What you do to your priest, you do to Christ.

God only asks an hour from us each week. We should want to spend more time with Him but for practical reasons many cannot. Therefore, let us make the most of the little time we do devote to Him . Let our actions, our dress and our attentiveness show how much we love Him, He who humbled Himself to take on our humanity and continues to humble Himself in the guise of bread and wine so that we may not feel too poor to approach Him in the sacraments.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Mary's Weapon

As Saturday is the day traditionally dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mother, a few thoughts occurred to me while meditating on the Gospel that was read at Mass this morning, which was Luke's account of The Annunciation. A few months ago, a poster on another blog commented that the Blessed Mother "was no shrinking violet." You may have heard Father John Corapi comment that "your mama wears combat boots". So many images portray her as being somewhat frail, but to do what she did, she had to be anything but.
First, there was her unconditional fiat to become the mother of the Redeemer. The culture of the time was such that an unmarried woman could be stoned to death for the disgrace of adultery. Mary's faith in God was perfect, so much so that she could accept without understanding how, remaining a virgin, she could bear His Son But were others likely to believe this? There was the wedding feast of Cana. To our knowledge, she had not seen her Divine Son perform any miracles and yet she prevailed upon Him to help friends in time of need, advising the servants to "do whatever He tells you". Most amazingly, she witnessed one of the most violent and heinous crimes ever in history committed against her Son, and she never left His side. How many of us can stand the sight of blood when it's oozing from one of our children, and yet this woman stood witness to the Passion of her Son from start to finish. When everyone but a handful of disciples had abandoned Him, she stayed. She didn't curse His executors or rail at them with her fists. She certainly didn't tell Him to get even. What an example she set for all of us who are often quick to want revenge. To the end, she fulfilled God's will perfectly.
The chief exorcist for the Vatican, Father Gabriel Amorith, once said the devil told him that every Hail Mary is like a hammer blow to his head. Our Heavenly Mother, who is perfect grace, has given us a weapon to use in the evil we combat every day. Is it too much to ask to set aside 20 minutes a day to pray the Rosary? At Fatima the Virgin beckoned the children to pray the Rosary and make many sacrifices for the redemption of the world. Every day, her Son continues to be mocked, blasphemed, ignored and neglected and yet she does not hold this against us. Rather, she wants to take us under her mantle of spiritual protection and spare us the pains of Hell. She invites us to participate in devotions to her so that she can keep us close to the Holy Child she carried and gave up for the salvation of the world.
Dust off your Rosary, and make an effort to pray it every day. It will help you infinitely more than anything the world has to offer.
Pray for us o Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11th

A week before the day that changed our lives forever, I was at a horse show in Chester County with my oldest. It was the end of the day when the classes were over and everyone was packing up to go home. The trainer, who still had to load some horses and take them back to the barn, pulled a large cooler from her truck and handed all the adults a Corona to toast the day's successes. It had been a picture-perfect day and watching the sun go down, I leaned back against the rail and in that bucolic setting, quietly reflected that life was good. "We" had won first-place in a large class and picked up some other ribbons as well. Shows were always fun but never so much as when we were winning. The gorgeous weather was icing on the cake.

The following Tuesday, we were treated to yet another glorious day, 12 hours of which I would be spending as a circulating nurse in a busy OR. As the circulator, I had the freedom to leave the room, which I did to interview our next patient. The television was always tuned to CNN in the morning so that the patients who were awaiting induction had something else to think about. I came through the automatic doors just as the second plane struck the WTC. One of the patients immediately demanded that someone get him a phone. His son worked in the building and should have been at work by then. With horror, we realized that these were passenger jets that had crashed and soon it was reported that both jets had departed from Logan Airport. As it turned out, my surgeon's mother was flying out of Logan that morning for Los Angeles. As soon as he finished his case, I told him what was happening and he too started making calls. Luckily my mother and my husband were both home and able to retrieve the kids from school. Shortly, it was decided that all elective surgeries would be cancelled for the rest of the day so as to preserve blood. As the day wore on, it became apparent that there would be no one in need of that blood, and we were sent home early. I walked home numb and like most of America, remained glued to the television.

Out of the diabolical evil that was perpetrated on 3,000 innocent people that day arose much goodness. Democrats embraced Republicans. People forgot their political differences and rallied around the president. And suddenly, it was not only OK to mention God but your patriotism could be called into question if you didn't. It was somewhat amusing to see the local rock station post a "God Bless America" billboard on the Schuylkyll but a welcome sight as well. My, how things have changed.

I was reflecting on some of these things yesterday after hearing the Gospel, where Jesus reminds us that we are called to love those who do not love us. The hardest thing in the world sometimes is to keep one's self from responding in kind to someone who does us wrong. Does it mean not defending ourselves when we're under attack? I don't think so, but I do think we are called to remain who we are even when those around us would destroy us if given the chance. And I'm not only thinking of terrorist attacks. I'm thinking of the kind of attack that always seems to follow a particulary holy time in our lives that can be undone by a cruel person with a few harsh words. It's a struggle sometimes not to throw the graces I've earned right out the window just for the sake of making a point. At times like that, I've learned that I can focus on Christ and stay afloat or, like St. Peter, take my eyes off Him and sink.

I'm not proud of everything this country did in response to September 11th. I believe that when we engage in torture, we lower ourselves to the level of the terrorists, who hold no regard for human life. When we speak ill of people who don't look like us or speak the same language, we are abdicating our call as Christians to love everyone, not just those we agree with or look like or talk like. Following Christ is a life-long journey. We don't always walk the path perfectly, but we are called to try, even in the darkest hours. Remember His words that if we love only those who love us, of what value is it?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Pre-Existing Conditions

It was reassuring to hear the president say last night that no plan he puts forward will include federal funding of abortion or will remove the conscience clause. While this is being treated with much skepticism by those who foam at the mouth every time this president speaks, it was welcome news to my ears. There was also some skepticism on blogs today about whether or not the anecdotes he provided were entirely true. Well, this much is true pretty much everywhere in the United States: insurance companies still reserve the right to refuse coverage to people because of pre-existing conditions. As the parent of a child born with congenital heart and orthopedic problems, this is of particular interest to me.

As things stand now, when our youngest reaches the age when my employer will no longer insure her on my plan, she will need to go out and get her own insurance. And because she wasn't born perfect, she can be told "sorry, we don't cover people who had problems prior to seeking coverage with us" even if she applies for insurance with my carrier. This flies in the face of defending life at all stages. People are faced with seeking the care they need and incurring personal bankruptcy, or going without and facing certain death. As a priest once told me when admonishing me for neglecting my own health, thou shall not kill refers to slow deaths too.

I can understand that people may not trust President Obama to handle this issue in a manner consistent with the unconditional support of life. He does, after all, have an abysmal record on abortion. But it isn't enough to slam the door on his plan. The members of congress committed to defending life need to come forward with a plan of their own that will end discrimination against people who weren't born perfect. Insurance companies rake in money hand over fist. They can more than afford to do the right thing. And our elected officials should see to it that if they won't do it voluntarily, they'll be subjected by law to insure everyone willing to pay their outrageous premiums.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Trials and Tribulations

Today is day 7 of the Headache from Hell. The doctor said it's a migraine, probably due to hormonal shifts and to the stress that is my life. I wouldn't be Catholic or Italian if I didn't suffer from guilt, so naturally I'm having my share about having to leave my assistant in charge by herself for two weeks. And of course in my absence, the usual havoc is taking place. Surgeons misbehaving. Staff calling out sick (hard to fault them for that when their fearless leader is home with an icepack on her head. ) Administration running around like chickens without heads because they're expecting a visit from the Department of Health. Anyway, I've always found headaches to be the most difficult ailment to plow through. Kidney stones, labor pains, even the herniated disc pale in comparison to the misery a headache brings on. If this is God's idea of a physical trial for me, I'm already hollering uncle. With a headache, it's often difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Every burden feels that much heavier, every hill seems insurmountable. I pray by saying words and giving them almost no meaning because it's nearly impossible to concentrate. Best I can do is offer up the misery.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Step Backward?

As much as I really dislike criticizing priests, Father Richard McBrien's op-ed on Eucharistic Adoration begs my attention. His disturbing piece appears in National Catholic Reporter. He feels it is a step backward for the faithful to sit in the Real Presence and pay prayerful homage. A step backward from what, exactly? He says it's a step backward doctrinally, spiritually and sacramentally. I don't know if Father McBrien realizes this but we backwards folk who like to spend time in the company of Our Lord in the Eucharist tend to be more sacramentally active that those who think they're doing God a favor by showing up for Mass only on Sunday, if at all. We tend to make more frequent use of the sacrament of confession (perhaps he'll want to do away with that next) and we tend to be daily Communicants who are not satisfied with receiving the Eucharist just once a week. A favorite book that I discovered at St. Rita's is "Come to Me in the Blessed Sacrament" and I came to love the book even more upon discovering Mother Teresa never went anywhere without it. A recurring theme in the book is that part of the agony Christ suffered in the Garden was the knowledge that He be would neglected in the Eucharist. Take a look around you at the locked churches that see use once a day, if that. Christ promised to be with us until the end of time, and indeed He is. Is this Father McBrien's idea of repaying the favor?

Let us pray for Father McBrien and those who mistakenly think as he does. And in our own worship, let us become what we behold.

Monday, September 7, 2009


So taking my brisk after-dinner walk this evening, I noticed these very stark black and white signs posted all over Passyunk Avenue bearing very provocative headlines such as "Christianity is a strait jacket" "How can a loving God make His people suffer?" and "How can there only be one true religion?" I had to get a closer look to see what atheist was behind this when I saw that these are actually the titles of a series of talks called "Doubt" that are being sponsored by First Tabernacle at Broad and South. I actually have no idea what denomination First Tabernacle is except the folks who attend refer to themselves as Hebrew Israelites and they appear to be mainly of African -American descent. They are led by someone who is called rabbi and they hold servies Friday evening and Saturday morning. Anyway, maybe I'll find someone who plans to go to these talks who can tell me more about them.