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Showing posts from June, 2008

Illusions of Progress

This appeared in the Sunday London Times:

A woman has conceived Britain’s first baby guaranteed to be free from hereditary breast cancer.
Doctors screened out from the woman’s embryos an inherited gene that would have left the baby with a greater than 50% chance of developing the cancer.

A few months ago I attended the funeral of an amazing woman who died of breast cancer. She was in her thirties when the disease was diagnosed. She valiantly fought this disease for six years. However, she did not live her life centered upon her cancer. She raised four children. She volunteered at school. She sent notes of encouragement to teachers. She was a loving wife and a faithful friend. Her funeral Mass was so packed with people it looked like Easter Sunday.

Do these people in Great Britain really think it would be better if this woman had never been born?

Another Community Reading Idea

Last week I suggested that developing a shared reading experience within a parish could be a valuable effort at both community building and catechesis. My pick to start this out was Because God is Real by Peter Kreeft. Let me add to the community reading list by recommending Catholicism and Society: Marriage, Family, and Social Issues written by Rev. Edward Hayes, Rev. Msgr. Paul Hayes, and James J. Drumey.

A couple of weeks ago I attended Mass at St. Raymond of Penafort Catholic Church. The pastor’s note in the bulletin included a recommendation of this book for summer reading. The parish uses this book for the ninth grade religious education program thus prompting the pastor to include an admonition to all parents who allow their children to stop attending religious education classes once they are confirmed in eighth grade: Read this book and see what your children will not be learning!

The subject of marriage and family are near and dear to my heart so I took a look at the book. I n…

Government, Health Care, and the Principle of Subsidiary Function

The comments in my last post on health care were thought provoking and insightful. I especially pondered Jonathan’s questions about “subsidiarity”. He referenced the papal encyclical Quadragesimo Anno by Pope Pius XI. I was not familiar with this document so I perused it on the Vatican web site. I think Jonathan’s comments refer specifically to this component of the document:

79. As history abundantly proves, it is true that on account of changed conditions many things which were done by small associations in former times cannot be done now save by large associations. Still, that most weighty principle, which cannot be set aside or changed, remains fixed and unshaken in social philosophy: Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and sub…

Prayers for a Safe Journey are Continuing

Sometimes you just have to say a prayer of thanksgiving and believe that your guardian angel was on duty. My parents are making the drive back home to Texas after spending some time with me here in Virginia. This afternoon stopped at a Cracker Barrel in Tuscaloosa for a bite to eat. While they were eating my dad glanced out the window and noticed a policeman was checking all the cars. They had left their dog in the car so my dad went outside to make sure all was okay. He was greeted by dozens of law enforcement officers, guns drawn and ready for action. They instructed him to immediately get in his car. He tried to explain that his wife was still inside and was told not to worry. They would get her out. Don’t worry—right! He called my mother on her cell and told her about the police and instructed her to leave immediately. Of course she found a manager and asked to pay her bill first, but he told her to just go on ahead and not worry about it. He didn’t tell her why. She cracked the …

A Community Reading Experience

I just finished reading Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. It is a very interesting and inspiring book. It recounts the amazing mission of Greg Mortenson as he builds one school after another in the remote reaches of Pakistan. There are many thoughts to ponder after reading this book: Fear of failure should never stop us from trying to minister to the needs of others. We cannot impose humanitarian aid upon others. Rather, we must offer it within the context of their culture. The road to peace requires a universal respect for human dignity.

The reason I happened upon this book is that Rice University sent it to all the incoming freshmen so my daughter received a copy. The intent is to have all the freshmen read the book before arriving at Rice so that they will all have a common experience. This reading experience will cut across ethnic, gender, and geographic boundaries in the hopes of forming a stronger community.

A common reading experience by itself is probab…

Recovery has begun

My heartfelt thanks to all who offered prayers for my daughter. I truly felt supported by your prayers. Her surgeon has proclaimed her ACL reconstruction a success. There were no surprises during the surgery. He said it was a textbook ACL injury and a textbook repair. Now comes the months of rehabilitation. I guess she can feel that she is in good company as she forges ahead. The next few months will be a painful struggle. There will be a lot of "offering it up". But at least the first steps have been taken on the road to recovery. Thank you again for your prayers.

A Sacrament of Service

I know I said I would be posting more on health care and I most certainly will do so. There are some great questions and perspectives to discuss in the comments of my last post. However, this weekend brought another topic to mind: vocations. Sunday’s Gospel reminds us the harvest is abundant and the laborers are few. On Saturday our diocese added three new priests to its cadre of laborers. Yet Holy Orders is only one of two sacraments of service. The sacrament of Holy Matrimony is the other sacrament of service.

This past Saturday we were honored and blessed to celebrate the 50th wedding anniversary of my parents. Our parish pastor celebrated their marriage at the morning Mass. The readings were those that are often used in the wedding Mass. Father’s homily spoke of the tremendous grace of the sacrament of marriage. Having all of their children as well as many of their grandchildren present was a testament to my parents’ legacy of love. More importantly, the public celebration of this …

I Humbly Request Your Prayers

Scheduling my daughter's surgery to reconstruct her ACL has resembled flying on space available status. Originally we were told to expect surgery during the first week of July. However, the surgeon's travel schedule necessitated it be moved to June 20. We went in for the pre-op visit yesterday and found out that the operating room schedule was too full on June 20 so they have moved the surgery up to tomorrow. Please say a prayer for her and for all those taking care of her. I will keep you in my prayers as well. Thank you.

Framing the Health Care Debate

I posted about my Twilight Zone experience of navigating access to military health care for my daughter’s knee injury. My point in the post was not to lambast the military health care system. Rather, my intention was to point out that a government run system is not the panacea for our ailing health care system. That our system is ailing cannot be denied. Health care providers are not happy. Patients are not happy. And nobody’s pocketbook is happy.

In 2002 I spent a year in an academic setting studying the American health care industry. It was a very informative year. I had been practicing medicine for over fifteen years at that point and I had witnessed first hand the evolution from standard fee-for-service medicine to the managed care rationing of services. This year of study gave me a much broader picture of the American health care system.

Let me begin by saying there is no universal definition of health care. Everyone is shouting for universal health care but I haven’t heard anyone …


I was going to post this picture a couple of days ago. I picked my first blue hydrangea of the season. The timing is just about right. The peonies have finished and now the hydrangeas are stepping in to fill my vases. This little vase also holds an Our Lady of Guadalupe rose and some stems of penstemon, also known as beard tongue.

So why the delay in posting? Around 3:00 PM on Wednesday we had a horrific storm sweep through the area. I have never seen such a powerful storm develop so quickly. It seemed like only a matter of seconds that we went from partly cloudy skies to dark menacing clouds, driving rain, and 70 mph wind gusts. Of course we lost power and we weren’t alone in our powerlessness. Close to 300,000 households were affected. I was busy lighting candles and not just for illumination. As the storm swept through my older son was driving home, my youngest son was at his piano lesson, and my husband was at work. I was sending up a lot of prayers since we were so scattered. My …

Dizzying Loops of Government Health Care

As the political candidates make more and more promises this election season, please add a very large grain of salt to any promise for government sponsored health care. The following is an account of how I spent my morning:

At 6:00 am I called the central appointment scheduling at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda to schedule a follow-up/pre-op appointment for my daughter. I did this because when I tried to make the appointment last week, the call center clerk told me my daughter’s doctor’s appointment template would not be available until today. The clerk who took my call today informed me that she could not make this appointment because it had to be made with the clinic directly. Of course, I had specifically asked the doctor, the orthopedic clinic technicians, and the front desk personnel how I should make my follow-up appointments and they had all told me to call the central appointment scheduling. Nonetheless, this call center clerk told me I must call the clinic and s…