Thursday, August 28, 2008

More of the Real Deal

Yesterday I posted an excerpt of Speaker Pelosi's comments regarding the Catholic Church's stance on abortion. She specifically referenced St. Augustine in regard to abortion and when human life actually begins. The specific writings she was referencing did not really address the morality of abortion, but the time that the soul entered the human body, or ensoulment.

Here's part of a statement from Archbishop Wuerl of Washingtion D.C.:

“As the Catechism and early Church documents make clear, abortion is always an evil. That is an unchanging teaching. The question on when the soul enters the body was a philosophical question that grew out of a lack of scientific data at the time of St. Augustine. We have the data today which shows the embryo is human. There no longer is any discussion of whether the unborn is human and so the philosophical discussion of St. Augustine’s time is not relevant today.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Real Deal

Over the past week, there has been a lot of media hub-bub regarding politics, the sanctity of human life, and the Catholic Church. On Sunday, Representative Nancy Pelosi erroneously represented the Catholic Church and its position on abortion. An excerpt of her statement reads:

“as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition . . . St. Augustine said at three months. We don't know. The point is, is that it shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose.”

In the past 48 hours, the archbishops of Denver, New York, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. and other bishops have made formal statements regarding those of Nancy Pelosi. One of the most ardent was that of Edward Cardinal Egan. Directly from the Archdiocese of New York website:



Like many other citizens of this nation, I was shocked to learn that the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America would make the kind of statements that were made to Mr. Tom Brokaw of NBC-TV on Sunday, August 24, 2008. What the Speaker had to say about theologians and their positions regarding abortion was not only misinformed; it was also, and especially, utterly incredible in this day and age.

We are blessed in the 21st century with crystal-clear photographs and action films of the living realities within their pregnant mothers. No one with the slightest measure of integrity or honor could fail to know what these marvelous beings manifestly, clearly, and obviously are, as they smile and wave into the world outside the womb. In simplest terms, they are human beings with an inalienable right to live, a right that the Speaker of the House of Representatives is bound to defend at all costs for the most basic of ethical reasons. They are not parts of their mothers, and what they are depends not at all upon the opinions of theologians of any faith. Anyone who dares to defend that they may be legitimately killed because another human being “chooses” to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name.

Edward Cardinal Egan
Archbishop of New York

August 26, 2008

Cardinal Egan is an outspoken champion for the unborn and the integrity of the Catholic Church's teaching on this abortion. In April, Kevin and I had the opportunity to attend a mass celebrated by Cardinal Egan during Catholic Public Policy Day in Albany. His homily centered on this very issue and was just as strong and poignant as the statement above. In the end, who are Catholics and the American pubblic going to believe? A misinformed politician claiming skills in moral theology, or a faithful, learned man of the church who gives his life for defense of the truth?

Promises to Rely On

In follow-up to yesterday's post, here is a poem a good friend and fellow mom sent to me last night. God's promises are real and abundant...even in mom-dom angst.

God does not promise skies always blue,
Flower strewn pathways all our lives through...
God does not promise sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, Peace without pain.
But God does promise strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way...
Grace for the trials, help from above.
Unfailing sympathy. Undying love.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Babe-ness Abounds

On Saturday, my friend Cassie threw a wonderful shower for me at her home. For some reason, this event really brought the reality of The Babe's impending arrival to a head. Some of my friends and family shared stories of their most difficult birthing and infant-care moments. As I am now 33 weeks pregnant and nursing a cold that threatens to blow my sinus cavities, I was not in the best place to receive these tidbits and take them in stride. By Saturday night, I had worked myself into a small worry-mess. I woke up on Sunday morning with tears in my eyes, telling Kevin that I am, officially, scared to be a mom.

What if the birth is like a nightmare?
What if the baby is not healthy?
What if the baby is colicky?
What if the baby never sleeps?
What if I suffer with postpartum depression?

I realize that some of the above "what ifs" are more likely than others, but bottom line, fear had set in. Yesterday, I started to take an inventory of the baby trappings we've accumulated over the past few months. I went through all of the shower cards, looking for gift receipts, gift cards, gift lists, anything important. One particular card's handwritten message rang out some serious truth:

"Ahh...Motherhood...The path to holiness! May [God] take you there. May you grow in great virtue, true fortitude, faithfulness, patience, love. Remember, as you lose your life, you will gain it."

That was not a message promising all that is easy and adorable in children like so many baby cards. It hit on what is real and necessary in motherhood: God's power to grant ever-increasing holiness. And is that not what God has for us in our vocation? No matter what may come, he promises to provide all that we need to become holy: ready to enter heaven to rejoice with the blessed. And apparently, the sufferings and joys of motherhood are part of my journey toward paradise. Mom-dom, even in this pre-birth stage, ain't always rosy, but it is my path to holiness and TRUE JOY. I'll do my best to embrace it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Chic Baby Wear

I've been a little article happy lately so here's an update on the latest in our lives.

Last weekend my mom and sister were kind enough to throw a family baby shower. It was a small shower, and I loved the intimacy of it. We used fabric paint to decorate little white onesies. Here are some fun ones:

This child's blood runs blue...

...much to the chagrin of my aunt and cousin who painted this little number. But, as Kevin said, I can accept MSU, but an Ohio State onesie would have been a offense on our child's inherent human dignity.

Our sweet pea will be here soon. Eight weeks!

I'm feeling much more excited to meet this little one as my due date approaches. In the months prior to this, I don't think the fact that this child will actually come out into the world seemed very real. Since the baby is currently going through a serious growth spurt and becoming much stronger, I am continually reminded of his/her presence. There are times when my insides get a serious beating. Maybe we have an athlete on the way!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sugar and Spice to Snakes and Snails

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails, and puppy-dogs' tails,
That's what little boys are made of.
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice, and everything nice,
That's what little girls are made of.

Some of my old psychology professors would scoff at the "sage wisdom" of that old rhyme, but a recent article on CNN says otherwise:

Boys will be boys, girls will be girls from birth

On a related note, when I was an undergraduate, I worked at a coffee shop near campus for two years. During my time there, I got to know "the regulars": students, townies, and the homeless. One particular regular still sticks out to me. This person almost always wore dark clothing that could not typically be characterized as feminine or masculine and thick-soled black boots. This person's hair was shorn to about a half inch. While it was, at first glance, difficult to discern this regular's gender, their figure was definitely more feminine in nature. After a few months of seeing this person on a regular basis, I found out through a co worker that this person, though chromosomally female, had decided to abandon her gender and all of the outer trappings associated with femininity. She had and lived out the viewpoint that humans control gender and predetermined genetics had no hold on her identity.

I do not know what caused her to think and live this way, but over and over again, according to research and even my own personal experience, she and others who purport this viewpoint are missing the boat-in terms of cognition, emotion, relationships and spirituality. Having spent time with children, most recently nephews and nieces, I've noticed a distinct difference in behavior in accordance with the gender line in many cases. How is it that my nephew knows how to use his voice to "shift gears" without prior instruction while playing with cars and trukcs? Why is it that my niece was obsessed with Strawberry Ortcake (as she used to say) and pranced about wearing fairy wings with no encouragement from her parents? Granted, every child's genetic predisposition and environment lead to variance in behavior. But for the love of pete, let's let boys be boys and girls be girls!

Little Fighter

Check out this story about an Israeli baby who was declared dead, put into a freezer, then was found to be alive! Say a prayer for this amazing little one and her family.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Dignity of Little Women

Yesterday I got wind of this news story about a Chinese government official who, at the last minute, decided to oust a 7 year old girl who won the chance to sing at the Olympic Opening Ceremonies for another 7 year old who was deemed prettier and would lip sync to the former's voice. The article spins this story to be an affront by the Chinese government: yet another totalitarian, communist move to make the Western world think that all is perfect and beautiful in their land.

I think it runs deeper in that. The judgment rendered by the Chinese government that physical beauty is better received than the beautiful voice of this 7 year old girl who competed and won the chance to sing is a reflection of Western culture as well. We see this same behavior in American pop culture all the time-from music to television to movies. We can criticize this Chinese official for being totalitarian, but in the end, we cannot ignore our dominant, consumeristic, "beauty" obsessed culture that leads people the world over to believe that a little girl with a full face and crooked baby teeth is not good enough. The messages received by the singer (your not pretty enough) and the lip syncer (your physical beauty is the better asset) at such a tender age will undoubtedly follow them beyond the Olympics.

When will we put the truth and the dignity of women, especially the littlest women, first?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Saint Roxy

Here's my mother-in-law, Roxann, weeding the flower beds in my front yard. ( I snapped this paparazzi-esque picture through a window.)

Saintly deeds are always appreciated, especially when the odds of me being able to get up after crouching like that are becoming worse by the day.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Where Did the Energy Go?

I'll tell you where.
To my belly!

Yesterday was filled with grocery shopping, painting, laundry, and a late-night baptism class. Where did that leave me at 11pm? Putting sheets on the bed I need to sleep in, while whimpering and tearing up in utter exhaustion.

Growing a person takes a lot out of a woman, but I'm banking on the grace that God provides in the vocation of motherhood, and not on the fleeting feelings of frustration and exhaustion when, at three in the morning, it feels like the babe is dancing on my insides. Being pregnant is absolutely an alternate state of being.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Enemy Number One: Supermum

The 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's letter to women, Mulieres Dignitatem, is this month. I found this article via one of my favorite man-blogs, Quaffs and Quibbles:

The first writer is very hostile toward stay-at-home mothers, blaming them for working women's failures in their career ladder climbing efforts and even going as far to blame them for the demise of greater society.

The second, a career woman turned stay-at-home mother, defends her choice to sacrifice career, salary and prowess in the workplace to be with her children.

While I am tempted to write very scathing remarks in response to Ms. Hirshman's opinions and assertions, I'll refrain and leave you with this: Extremism, in regard to women in the workplace or women in the home, is not healthy for anyone. Passing judgement on a woman for her choice to stay home with children or go to work only reveals ignorance and prejudice. We all have a responsibility to assess our lives and make decisions about what is possible and what is most important, and no self-proclaimed philosopher has the right to judge, no matter what she may say. I hope and pray that every woman and every man will take the time to form their consciences and consider what is most loving and wise in regard to their family.

In the name of liberation from male "domination", women must not appropriate to themselves male characteristics contrary to their own feminine "originality". There is a well-founded fear that if they take this path, women will not "reach fulfilment", but instead will deform and lose what constitutes their essential richness. It is indeed an enormous richness. In the biblical description, the words of the first man at the sight of the woman who had been created are words of admiration and enchantment, words which fill the whole history of man on earth.

--"Mulieres Dignitatem, On the Dignity and Vocation of Women," John Paull II

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Bridegroom and His Brides

I just got back from the mass celebrating the first profession of vows for 14 religious sisters who are continuing their journey with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. After the sisters made their vows, they received a blessed veil. After going back to the sacristy to put on their veils, they came out with the most radiant, beautiful smiles-like 14 brides who had just pledged their love and life to their bridegroom. And that is truly what happened! These women pledged their love and life in the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience to Jesus Christ for as longas they live. That is a radical response to a radical call.

Bishop Daniel Flores, an auxilary bishop for the Archdiocese of Detroit celebrated the mass. He said in his homily that the world has not given up the notion of a single-minded life, but it has given up hope that a single-minded life is actually possible. That really resonated with me. There is so much to choose from and filter in this world overflowing with activity, information and images on the internet, television, in the mall, and in the workplace. Even in my life at home, I feel tugged at by the dishes, unpacked boxes, laundry, painting, the dog, my husband, the phone, and our baby growing inside me that demands food, sleep, and the restroom at some inopportune times. But when I see these women who are willing to give it all, body and soul, to the call to be a religious sister, I am reminded that a single-minded life devoted to Christ IS possible and worth striving for.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Cleaning Out the Old Digital Camera

I'm finally getting to Craigslisting the old digital camera. Here are random pictures I found:

What's so strange about this picture? The fact that I'm actually ironing? Nope. The dog is laying underneath the ironing board, of which he is definitly afraid. When we bring it out, he normally retreats to another room. However, that evening there was an extended period of lightning and thunder. I guess we found out that he is more afraid of booming thunder than the ironing board, and felt the need to draw near to me, no matter what stood in his way. You've gotta do what you've gotta do.

Here's Pope Benedict XVI in his Popemobile at Yankee Stadium this past April. That was a great day with so many blessings!

A belly picture from the end of April. The baby has grown, along with my belly, by leaps and bounds since then. I think I've nearly forgotten what it feels like to be without the belly!

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Best-Laid Plans...

I have been officially unemployed for 49 days now. For the most part, I really love being a homemaker! I'm rather surprised by this as I spent much of the past three years with a real fear of what life would be like without a job-a life sans extra money and a solid 9 hours of structured activity. Looking back, I can see how much self-worth I attached to my school work and then my job. Career was all important and the primary measure of whether I was achieving the purpose for which I was created in the first place.

In the first two years of our marriage, Kevin and I spent a lot of time intensely discussing my desire to go to grad school and cultivate a "successful" career. All of the discussions ended with me coming to the realization that it is not time for grad school and an all out career blitz for many reasons-financial and simply not knowing what I am truly cut out to do in the workplace.

I love to have a plan and I love to be in control. I had my whole career path--from honors high school classes to accomplished physician--planned out by the age of 12. Alas, it was a mere semester into my undergraduate education that I realized I am not cut out to be a physician. My primary reason: I did not want to put myself in a position where I must be divided between career and family. There are many women who do this and do it very well, but I just knew the time commitment and stress of pursuing an MD was not in the cards. I have never regretted the decision. Since that realization, I have made logical plan after logical plan in order to launch a respectable, flexible career. I started to pursue a Masters in Social Work. When it became clear that was not the appropriate path, I began to pursue a special education degree. When Kevin proposed and we found out we would be moving to New York, I put the higher ed plans on hold again, only to find myself feeling disconnected and lost in regards to God's will for my work life.

The fog finally started to lift a bit when we found out about The Babe in January. I had officially become a mother and the journey would only become more intense and demanding as time went on. Though I liked my job in New York, I knew it was not enough to keep me from this child. To be a wife and mother, without a flashy career, is the path that I am trodding. It is a peaceful path. A path I am thankful for because I know that there are many women who would love to stay home with their children but cannot. The moments with young children are so fleeting and precious.

All of my failed plans have worked together to show me that God is in control. Though I may try to go my own way, his Spirit tugs at my heart when its at the brink, and I have had the grace, thus far, to turn back before too much time and money are lost pursuing things that will not bring ultimate satisfaction or happiness. Now, I pray for the grace and discipline to take this quiet time before the baby is born to learn how to listen more closely to the still small voice of Christ that illuminates each day, one moment at a time. In this, I am confident that there will be lasting peace and true purpose.