KITCHEN TABLE CHATS

Pull up a chair in my domestic church and let's chat!

I have worn many labels (Not in any particular order): Catholic, Wife, Mom,Gramma, Doctor, Major, Soccer Mom, Military Wife, Professor, Fellow.

All of these filter my views of the world. I hope that like St. Monica, I can through prayer, words and example, lead my children and others to Faith.
"The important thing is that we do not let a single day go by in vain without putting it to good use for eternity"--Blessed Franz J├Ągerst├Ątter

Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Good Husband

Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows that I am not a big fan of President Obama. I disagree with him on economics, on health care, on abortion, on embryonic stem cell research, and probably a good deal more. However, I am not going to join the crowd fussing because he took his wife to New York City for a date night. Quite frankly, I am thrilled to see the President and his wife act like a loving married couple. Marriage is tough. It takes time and effort to keep the relationship strong. Do we expect them to put their marriage on hold for four or even eight years and pick it up again later? I think it is great that the President takes the time to watch his daughters play soccer and then treats his wife to a special evening out. Our culture needs to see successful men who are also committed family men. A trip to New York City is not that outlandish when you live in Washington D.C. You can’t expect the President to hop on Amtrak. The security issues would be horrific. So they take a private plane. I don’t know if it is customary for the president to reimburse the government for private travel or not. He should do what others have done before him. President Bush spent time at his ranch in Texas and I am sure he flew there on Air Force One. There are plenty of reasons to criticize President Obama and his administration. The fact that he has some one-on-one time with his wife is not one of them.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Someone needs to explain this to me

The case of voter intimidation was won. Then the Obama justice department dismisses the charges. Is this a reward for these guys because they were supporting Obama?

Charges brought against three members of the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense under the Bush administration have been dropped by the Obama Justice Department, FOX News has learned.

The charges stemmed from an incident at a Philadelphia polling place on Election Day 2008 when three members of the party were accused of trying to threaten voters and block poll and campaign workers by the threat of force -- one even brandishing what prosecutors call a deadly weapon.

The three black panthers, Minister King Samir Shabazz, Malik Zulu Shabazz and Jerry Jackson were charged in a civil complaint in the final days of the Bush administration with violating the voter rights act by using coercion, threats and intimidation. Shabazz allegedly held a nightstick or baton that prosecutors said he pointed at people and menacingly tapped it. Prosecutors also say he "supports racially motivated violence against non-blacks and Jews."

The Obama administration won the case last month, but moved to dismiss the charges on May 15.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Robert George vs Douglas Kmiec

I attended the dialogue between Robert George and Douglas Kmiec hosted by Catholic University of America. It was exciting to see the exchange in person. You can read my full report here.

Two or three Catholic families would be over the limit!

I guess two or three Catholic families saying grace before meals might trigger a county investigation in San Diego:

Broyles said, "The county asked, 'Do you have a regular meeting in your home?' She said, 'Yes.' 'Do you say amen?' 'Yes.' 'Do you pray?' 'Yes.' 'Do you say praise the Lord?' 'Yes.'"The county employee notified the couple that the small bible study, with an average of 15 people attending, was in violation of county regulations, according to Broyles.Broyles said a few days later the couple received a written warning that listed "unlawful use of land" and told them to "stop religious assembly or apply for a major use permit" -- a process that could cost tens of thousands of dollars.

Obedience

Do You Pray the Rosary?

Virginia DMV wants your driver's license photo to look like a mug shot

Do you like your driver’s license photo? If not, Virginia is giving you an excuse. It has now banned smiling for driver’s license photos. Even though your past experience with DMV employees may lead you to believe they are just a bunch of dour heartless souls, the smile ban has nothing to do with continuing an atmosphere of despair. Unsmiling photos work best for facial recognition software:

The driver's license photo, it seems, is destined to look like a mug shot.

DMV officials say the smile ban is for a good cause. The agency would like to develop a facial recognition system that could compare customers' photographs over time to prevent fraud and identity theft. "The technology works best when the images are similar," said DMV spokeswoman Pam Goheen. "To prepare for the possibility of future security enhancements, we're asking customers to maintain a neutral expression."

At a Manassas DMV branch yesterday, that translated to a simple directive: "Don't smile."


My current Virginia license does not expire until 2017. Maybe by then the facial recognition software will have improved enough to allow a little happiness. Maybe the DMV employees will be able to smile as well.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is Sonia Sotomayor Catholic?

Everyone is labeling Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the sixth Catholic Justice of the Supreme Court? Is that an accurate description? I am not so sure.

I got an invite!!!

I am so excited. I just found out I got an invite to this event. Look for a post on this tomorrow evening.

What does the Catholic Church really teach?

Pick a topic. Any topic. If you want to know what the Catholic Church teaches about it you just look it up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. If you are Catholic, it would be more than a good idea to be very familiar with the contents of the Catechism. But truthfully, reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church cover to cover is not an easy task. Therefore, head over here and find some options to take you through the teachings of the Church in a faithful and engaging way.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

32 years ago....


On this day in 1977 the first Star Wars movie was released. I was a high school senior. I had no idea that decades later my children would be quoting lines from the movie.

Thoughts on Judge Sonia Sotomayor

I am not too worked up over the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor for the US Supreme Court. President Obama won the election and we knew he would nominate a pro-abortion activist judge. I really do not like all the references to her Hispanic heritage or her possible Catholicism. She is nominated to serve as a jurist, not as a token for diversity.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Remember Their Sacrifice

Before you fire up the grill or head to the pool this weekend, please stop and say a prayer. Remember why you have this three-day weekend. Thousands of men and women have given their lives in service of our country. Memorial Day is our time to honor their sacrifice.

As you say your prayer, please make special note of Capt. Mark P. Graziano. He was killed yesterday during a training mission at Edwards AFB. I did not know him personally, but I know about his mission. He was in Test Pilot School. Seventeen years ago my husband was an Air Force captain in test pilot school. For these elite aviators it is a dream come true to sit on the cutting edge of flying technology and see what these machines can do. They are willing to take risks in order to push the envelope of our technological capabilities. The training to become a test pilot is intense and arduous.

My husband is past the point of actually flying test missions. They leave that for the younger guys and gals. I know he still looks longingly at those amazing flying machines. I said a lot of prayers and kept a lot of candles lit back in the day.

Do enjoy your three-day weekend. Just know that it came at a price.

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the souls of the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Amen.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jesuit from Georgetown Criticizes Notre Dame

Dr. William Blazek, a Jesuit scholastic, criticizes Notre Dame for awarding President Obama an honorary law degree. St. Ignatius of Loyola is smiling.

What today is...and what it is not

Today is not the Feast of the Ascension...but it is the Memorial of St. Christopher Magallanes. Find out more here

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

How rationing decisions are made...and how they should be made

Read all of this article. It makes some very good points. However, it offers no real alternatives. Instead of just ranting, we need options. Look at this excerpt:

Virtual colonoscopies are endorsed by the American Cancer Society and covered by a growing number of private insurers including Cigna and UnitedHealthcare. The problem for Medicare is that if cancerous lesions are found using a scan, then patients must follow up with a traditional colonoscopy anyway. Costs would be lower if everyone simply took the invasive route, where doctors can remove polyps on the spot. As Medicare noted in its ruling, "If there is a relatively high referral rate [for traditional colonoscopy], the utility of an intermediate test such as CT colonography is limited." In other words, duplication would be too pricey.

This is precisely the sort of complexity that the Democrats would prefer to ignore as they try to restructure health care. Led by budget chief Peter Orszag, the White House believes that comparative effectiveness research, which examines clinical evidence to determine what "works best," will let them cut wasteful or ineffective treatments and thus contain health spending.

The problem is that what "works best" isn't the same for everyone. While not painless or risk free, virtual colonoscopy might be better for some patients -- especially among seniors who are infirm or because the presence of other diseases puts them at risk for complications. Ideally doctors would decide with their patients. But Medicare instead made the hard-and-fast choice that it was cheaper to cut it off for all beneficiaries. If some patients are worse off, well, too bad.

The research I have seen indicates for screening purposes, the CT colonography is as effective as colonoscopy in detecting colon cancer in the asymptomatic patient. They are also about equal in cost. The availability of CT colonography will increase the number of people who are screened because many people are reluctant to undergo a screening colonoscopy. This should mean that more people are diagnosed early when the survival rate is optimized. CT colonography is much more pleasant for the patient than colonoscopy, but has the disadvantage of requiring a follow-up colonoscopy if an abnormality is found. The vast majority of screening tests are negative.

The real question then is who is at risk for needing that second procedure. It makes more sense to select out patients with significant risk factors for colon cancer and limit them to having colonoscopies. Here is where we need quality, independent effectiveness research. What are the risk factors in an asymptomatic patient that significantly increase the likelihood of a positive screening test?

This is also a case where consumer driven health savings account plans would be helpful. Let the patient decide. Does he want the CT scan and risk having to pay for a second procedure, or does he want the definitive procedure right off the bat? Is the comfort of the CT scan worth the possible extra cost of an additional procedure?

Medicare is not a charity program. These patients have paid money into the system and should get a return on their investment. Medicaid, on the other hand is a plan for the indigent. It is reasonable to require all Medicaid patients to undergo colonoscopy unless there is a medical justification for using CT colonoscopy. Their medical need (colon cancer screening) is being met. Their medical want (comfortable colon cancer screening) is not. This is the un-air conditioned Yugo approach.

As the above WSJ article implies, if the government is the primary provider of health care, none of us will have anything but the un-air conditioned Yugo.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"I am a Catholic, therefore..."

Graduates of Thomas More College in New Hampshire were treated to a commencement address by Francis Cardinal Arinze. You can read the full text here. Make note of these words:


The Holy Father continues and says that educators owe it in all "intellectual charity" to lead their students to the truth so that they exercise freedom in relation to truth. We can add that this is very necessary in the intellectual world of today where many people deny the objectivity of moral truth and where moral relativism is regarded as the accepted thing. A person who holds that certain actions, like direct abortion, are always objectively wrong, is regarded as "judgmental", or as imposing his views on others. The exercise of freedom in pursuit of the truth is very much a part of integral education. If a Catholic College or University does not help in this way, should we not say that it has failed in one of its important roles?


If a Catholic College or University answers to its vocation in the ways outlined above, then it will be educating, forming and releasing into society model citizens who will be a credit to their families, their College, the Church and the State. It will prepare for us members of Congress or the Senate who will not say "I am a Catholic, but..."; but rather those who will say "I am a Catholic, and therefore..." They will be coherent both as Catholics and as citizens. Their religion will not be just a matter of an hour or two on Sunday, but will also provide a vital synthesis for their activities on Monday through Saturday, and from January to December.
That explains Catholic identity!

What do we talk about now?

I’ve pretty much wrapped up my commentary on President Obama’s Notre Dame commencement address here. So now what do we talk about?

The crux of the Notre Dame issue is Catholic identity. What does it mean to be a Catholic institution? What does it mean to be a Catholic community? What does it mean to be a Catholic family? What does it mean to be a Catholic individual?

Catholic identity is so much more than a designation of my pew location on Sunday morning. My Catholic identity puts this earthly life in perspective. My worldly years are just a snippet of my eternal existence. Because of the Eucharist, Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary is not just an historical event. It is truly present to me at every Mass. The Communion of Saints connects me to the universal Church across the continuum of time. The Catholic Church was founded by Christ on the rock of Peter. It is protected by the Holy Spirit from error in matters of faith and morals. The certainty of Divine Authority provides peace in the uncertainty of a fallen world.

Last night I concluded another year of teaching seventh-grade CCD. As my students head into summer and anticipate their Confirmation this coming fall, I hope I have imparted to them at least an inkling of how to answer the above questions. Once again I come away with a sense of almost resignation. I did my best. Now I pray. Now I trust the Holy Spirit to do the rest.

UPDATE: After I posted this I read the words of Francis Cardinal Arinze. He understands Catholic identity!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Reaction to President Obama's Notre Dame address

I have no more hope that President Obama will offer any consideration of pro-life principles now than I did before he spoke. My more detailed response is here.

Fr. Miscamble's address at the ND Response rally


You can read more on the ND Response demonstration here.

Here is the text of Fr. Miscamble's address at the ND Response gathering held during the commencement. Read it all and read it carefully:

True friends of Notre Dame -- I thank you for your presence.

I want to thank especially our treasured students in ND Response for inviting me to be with you. It is a great privilege and honor. As I look out on the good and decent people gathered here, I know one thing: There is no place I would rather be.

I have been a teacher at Notre Dame for more than two decades. But today I come before you primarily as a Holy Cross priest - a member of the Religious Order that founded Notre Dame more than a century and half ago.

On November 26, 1842, an extraordinary French priest named Edward Sorin and a small band of Holy Cross brothers arrived at this site - a place where French missionaries had once ministered to the Potawatomi Indians. Fr. Sorin christened the place Notre Dame du Lac. He and his Holy Cross confreres began the work of building a college with a small log chapel as their point of departure. They aimed to serve Christ here. And they sought to evangelize in His name under the patronage of the Blessed Mother.

When the young priest wrote home to his superior - Fr. Basil Moreau, the founder of the Holy Cross Order - he put it this way: Here in northern Indiana, he said, he hoped to establish "one of the most powerful means for good in this country." Since then, the university has prospered.

But building this university was not an easy task. The tiny school faced horrendous tribulations during its initial years. Damaging fires, a terrible cholera outbreak, and a series of financial crises failed to halt the onward march of the school. Whatever the odds against them, Father Sorin and his collaborators never gave up or quit.

Those of you familiar with Notre Dame's history would know that this tenacity had perhaps its finest moment on April 23, 1879. That was the day that the so-called "big fire" swept over the campus. In just three hours much of the work of the previous three decades lay in ashes. A few days later, Father Sorin trudged through the still-smoldering ruins of the venture to which he had devoted his life. Then he called the whole community into the campus church - which had miraculously survived the fierce blaze.

With absolute faith and confidence, Father Sorin looked forward and told his anxious band of followers this: "If it were ALL gone I should not give up." The effect was "electric." As one observer put it, after that "there was never a shadow of a doubt as to the future of Notre Dame."

Under God's providential care, our university did recover and grow. Father Sorin ... his determined band ... and the generations of Holy Cross religious and their lay collaborators who followed them built something special. Their blood and sweat and tears are in the bricks and mortar -- and they are reflected in the lives that they touched.

They were "educators in the faith" who understood in the words of Fr. Moreau "that the mind could not be cultivated at the expense of the heart." These folk built Notre Dame into a distinctive place that nurtured its students' religious and moral development, as well as their intellectual lives. Notre Dame challenged them to serve God and neighbor.

And, as it did so, it proudly proclaimed its Catholic identity and its loyal membership in a Church that was and is unafraid to speak of moral truths and foundational principles and beliefs. In the process, Notre Dame came to hold a special place in the hearts of Catholics all across America.

Now friends, jump ahead to today. The formal leadership of the University still proclaims its fidelity to this vision.

--University leaders assert that Notre Dame is and will be different, so that it can make a difference;

--University leaders assure the parents of incoming freshmen that Notre Dame won't be like those 'other' schools that merely associate themselves with a Catholic or Jesuit 'tradition'. NO! - to the contrary - here at Notre Dame, their children will find an institution unashamedly Catholic and willing to embrace all the tenets of our faith. Notre Dame will instruct its students in the Church's moral truths and in its foundational beliefs and principles.

Of late, that rhetoric seems to ring rather hollow. The words have not been matched by deeds. Instead of fostering the moral development of its students Notre Dame's leaders have planted the damaging seeds of moral confusion.

By honoring President Obama, the Notre Dame Administration has let the students and their parents down. And it has betrayed the loyal and faith-filled alumni who rely on Notre Dame to stand firm on matters of fundamental Catholic teaching - and so to affirm the sanctity of life.

The honor extended to Barack Obama says very loudly that support for practically unlimited access to abortion - and approval for the destruction of embryonic life to harvest stem cells - are not major problems for those charged with leading Notre Dame.

They seem easily trumped by other issues, and by the opportunity to welcome the president to our campus. Bishop John D'Arcy, the great bishop of this diocese who so loves Notre Dame, said it well - Notre Dame chose "prestige over truth." How embarrassing for an institution dedicated to the pursuit of truth to settle for temporary attention over eternal honor.

Friends, just ask yourselves whether anyone - regardless of their other accomplishments - would be honored here at ND if they held racist or anti-Semitic sentiments. They would not - and rightly so! Yet Notre Dame honors at this Commencement a politician who readily proclaims his support for the Freedom of Choice Act, and who is clearly the most radically pro-abortion president in this great nation's history.

As you know well, Notre Dame undertook this sad action in the face of the 2004 instruction of the U.S. Catholic Bishops that "Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles." In so doing, the administration has distanced the University from the Church that is its lifeblood - the ultimate source of its identity.

A number of my fellow Holy Cross priests and I believe that such a "distancing puts at risk the true soul of Notre Dame." Regrettably, this distancing also puts Notre Dame in the service of those who seek to damage the teaching authority of our Bishops. What a sad circumstance for an institution that should stand at the very heart of the Church.

Now, we can be sure that today the president will offer a fine address - crafted by a talented speechwriting team to appeal to a "Catholic audience." No doubt too, President Obama will deliver it eloquently. There will surely be a tribute to Notre Dame's former president, Father Hesburgh, for his important work on civil rights. The president will claim that he is influenced by Catholic social teaching and will appeal for folk to work together in the areas where common ground can be found. Most of the crowd will cheer ... the photos will be taken ... and soon the event will be over. The President will board Air Force One and fly away.

But what matters for us here is less what President Obama says, but rather what the day will mean for Notre Dame and its place in American Catholic life.

The truth is this: This painful episode has damaged the ethos and spirit of Notre Dame. But there is another truth that we must also remember: IT IS NOT THE END OF THE STORY!

Some among the administration of Notre Dame will want the issue to "go away" quickly. It may even be likely that there are some among them who genuinely understand the evil of abortion, and who are inwardly troubled by these recent events whatever their outward bravado. They will have a chance to show through future deeds and in very practical ways Notre Dame's commitment to the prolife cause. Let us hope and pray that they take up that opportunity.

But we cannot rely on them. As we have seen, on their own, their commitment will never be more than tepid.

Instead, let us link ourselves with those Holy Cross religious over the generations who never gave up - whatever the set-backs ... whatever the trials ... whatever the personal cost. In some ways, the task before us today is tougher than theirs. In those early days, the problems were clear - but so too was the mission.

Now we are engaged in a more intellectual and spiritual struggle. Will we be true to the founding vision? Can we resist the subtle and not so subtle temptations to surrender our distinct religious identity -- and conform to the reigning and rather barren secular paradigm of what a university should be?

The Obama visit suggests that the University's leadership has succumbed to this temptation. Yet when we look back on these days, I have a sense that what will stand out is how a group of dedicated prolife students, wonderful alumni, and ordinary Catholics who cherish this place refused to acquiesce in the Administration's willingness to wink at its most fundamental values in exchange for the public relations coup that attends a presidential visit.

The people who refuse to give up - and I speak especially of you students --- have taken on the role of teachers here. While the administration and many of the faculty sold out easily for the photo-ops etc, you and some of your alumni sisters and brothers showed the benefits of your Notre Dame education. You held firm to the foundational principles of respect for life and for the dignity of every person. You are the ones who have understood what really matters. You refuse to just go along. You have made your voice heard and led the way to a better future.

You represent the very best of Notre Dame. You - along with your good professors and faithful alums - are the ones who can help Notre Dame recover from this painful and self-inflicted wound. You will not find it easy, and you will have moments where you will be discouraged. But you must remember there is so much that is good at Notre Dame that you can never relent in your efforts to call this place to be its best and true self -- proud of its Catholic identity and its loyal membership in the Church.

When I think of our courageous ND Response students my mind goes quickly to a marvelous passage in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Two Towers. Lord of the Rings aficionados will know the passage well. It is delivered as Frodo and Sam eat what may be their last meal together before going down into the Nameless Land.

Sam says: "And we shouldn't be here at all, if we had known more about it before we started. But I suppose it's often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of sport, as you might say. But that's not the way of it with tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind.

Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I suspect that they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn't."

Friends:

--Let us move forward together and let us never turn back.

--Let us take our instruction from the Lord, in the words that the great champion of life, John Paul II, used at the outset of his papacy: BE NOT AFRAID.

--Let us labor in this vineyard, so that Notre Dame might regain its true soul ... be faithful in its mission as a Catholic University ... and truly become the "powerful means for good" that Father Sorin dreamed about.

Thank you for having me. May Our Lady -Our Lady of the Lake-- keep you close. And may she ever watch over the university that bears her name.



Straight Talk from Father

One of the things about writing a blog is that the ideas often mull about in my head before they find their way to print. While all this musing is going on, I am bouncing the ideas off my family. Or after I’ve written a post, the ideas are still swirling in my head so my family continues to hear about them. Which is why after Mass, one of my sons said,” I think I’ve heard that sermon before.”

Actually, he had not heard that exact sermon, but he had heard the theme. A while back I wrote a post Sentire Cum Ecclesia. It took a while to sort out how we can struggle with teachings of the Church but not dissent from the Church so my family heard about this a lot.

Today, Father took up this theme. If we claim to love Christ, we must follow his commandments. These commandments are set forth in Scripture and in Tradition. Christ’s teachings are preserved for us in the Church. When was the last time you heard a priest speak from the pulpit and say, “Even if you do not understand the teachings of the Church you are expected to follow them. And you are expected to seek the truth and learn about the teachings so that you can understand them better.” That is what my parish heard today. And he even used the Church’s teaching on contraception as an example. He stated it is a grave sin to be using artificial contraception. It needs to be confessed. And if you knowingly withhold confessing this sin, the rest of your confession is invalid.

The wonderful thing is that this straight talk was not hellfire and brimstone. It was clothed in love. We are called to love. Love requires action. Humble obedience is an act of love.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Is Notre Dame still a Catholic university?

Is the institution of the University of Notre Dame still a Catholic University?

My answer is here.

This is my son

If you read nothing else today, you must read this.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My Travels


visited 42 states (84%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

Well this was fun! (I am not sure how I missed Iowa. I just don't remember ever going through there.)

The Monday Project

From the Monday Project web site:

Begins Monday, May 18

Don't let Obama win this battle. Let's turn the Notre Dame scandal into the largest pro-life fundraiser this country has ever seen.

Donate now. Donate $1. Donate $5. Donate $10.

1) Donate to the Women's Help Center, a frontline, Catholic crisis pregnacy center. Or, donate to your local crisis pregnancy center (on the receipt page, click on "Contact Women's Help Center" to designate organization and location).

2) For every donation, we will send a pink or blue postcard to Fr. Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, in honor of LIFE.

3) Send an email to 1, 5 or 10 friends with a link to this page.

We can win this battle. Let's do it for LIFE.


Go to their web site to donate! Note that you can have your donation sent to your local pregnancy center. See step 1 above.

President Obama's vision of post-reform health care

David Leonhardt conducts a wide-ranging interview with President Obama including this segment concerning what health care in America will look like in the “post-reform” era:

THE PRESIDENT: Now, I actually think that the tougher issue around medical care — it’s a related one — is what you do around things like end-of-life care —

Yes, where it’s $20,000 for an extra week of life.

THE PRESIDENT: Exactly. And I just recently went through this. I mean, I’ve told this story, maybe not publicly, but when my grandmother got very ill during the campaign, she got cancer; it was determined to be terminal. And about two or three weeks after her diagnosis she fell, broke her hip. It was determined that she might have had a mild stroke, which is what had precipitated the fall.

So now she’s in the hospital, and the doctor says, Look, you’ve got about — maybe you have three months, maybe you have six months, maybe you have nine months to live. Because of the weakness of your heart, if you have an operation on your hip there are certain risks that — you know, your heart can’t take it. On the other hand, if you just sit there with your hip like this, you’re just going to waste away and your quality of life will be terrible.

And she elected to get the hip replacement and was fine for about two weeks after the hip replacement, and then suddenly just — you know, things fell apart.

I don’t know how much that hip replacement cost. I would have paid out of pocket for that hip replacement just because she’s my grandmother. Whether, sort of in the aggregate, society making those decisions to give my grandmother, or everybody else’s aging grandparents or parents, a hip replacement when they’re terminally ill is a sustainable model, is a very difficult question. If somebody told me that my grandmother couldn’t have a hip replacement and she had to lie there in misery in the waning days of her life — that would be pretty upsetting.

And it’s going to be hard for people who don’t have the option of paying for it.

THE PRESIDENT: So that’s where I think you just get into some very difficult moral issues. But that’s also a huge driver of cost, right?

I mean, the chronically ill and those toward the end of their lives are accounting for potentially 80 percent of the total health care bill out here.

So how do you — how do we deal with it?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that there is going to have to be a conversation that is guided by doctors, scientists, ethicists. And then there is going to have to be a very difficult democratic conversation that takes place. It is very difficult to imagine the country making those decisions just through the normal political channels. And that’s part of why you have to have some independent group that can give you guidance. It’s not determinative, but I think has to be able to give you some guidance. And that’s part of what I suspect you’ll see emerging out of the various health care conversations that are taking place on the Hill right now.


Notice the arguments: It costs $20,000 for an additional week of life. These old people take up 80% of our health care costs.

So exactly what is his solution? Euthanasia? Age-based rationing of health care? Expect to hear rationalizations like we shouldn’t spend $20,000 on an old person. We can better use that money to vaccinate children. This emotional appeal is a false dichotomy. This is not an either/or situation. There are numerous elective medical procedures in the intervening medical spectrum that can be sacrificed so that neither children nor the elderly have to be killed.

We need a frank discussion and education on what is proportionate and what is disproportionate care. As Catholics, we do not advocate that every bit of technology must be used until the last dying breath. What we do say is that there is a moral obligation to use ordinary and proportionate care. When, from the perspective of the patient or the patient’s surrogate, the treatment is providing too little benefit for the level of burden the treatment imposes, the treatment can be deemed disproportionate. When a treatment is disproportionate, it can be refused or even discontinued if it has already been started. Note that it is the treatment that is being judged, not the life of the patient. In no way is the patient being judged unworthy of treatment. Rather the treatment is being judged unworthy of the patient.

Notice that the tone of President Obama’s remarks suggest that it is the elderly and the chronically ill are unworthy of our health care dollars. If he can make such a determination about the elderly and the chronically ill, whom else will he deem unworthy of care? The mentally disabled? Those with genetic anomalies? Those with the wrong political ideology?

We must not be so smug or arrogant to believe our culture is above the atrocities of past generations. We have willingly sacrificed the lives of 50 million children because we determined they had not right to live. We are willing to clone human life and then kill it for the sake of “progress”. In all humility, we should tremble at the level of evil our culture sanctions. As Archbishop Burke said in his address at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, there would be reason to despair if it was up to us alone. But it is not up to us alone. God is merciful. If we are faithful to Him, he will uphold us.

Even though I walk though the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil;
For you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
(Psalm 23)

Blessed Feast of St. Matthias!

Today is the feast of St. Matthias. Read more here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Merciful Meals

The Corporal Works of Mercy include feeding the hungry. Sometimes the hungry are those who are too poor to buy food, and then there are times when the hungry are too preoccupied with life’s challenges to prepare food. The Food section of today’s Washington Post offered a couple of suggestions for food to keep in the freezer for those times you need to take a meal to a friend. I have been on the receiving end of these meals. There is something so comforting about receiving a home cooked meal during times of stress. I also have my own favorite meals to give.

It is a good idea to take a meal that can be put in the freezer if it is not convenient to eat it on the night it is delivered. Don’t forget to provide cooking instructions. If you wrap the dish in plastic wrap before covering with foil, don’t forget to include removal of the plastic wrap in your cooking instructions.

I have a recipe for stuffed pasta shells that makes enough for two meals. I often serve half of it to my family and freeze the other half to be a meal for a friend or a future meal on a busy family evening. It came from the Cooking Light magazine several years ago:

Four Cheese Stuffed Shells with Smoky Marinara Sauce:

1 lb jumbo pasta shells, cooked and drained
1 (12 oz) carton low fat cottage cheese
1 (15 oz) carton ricotta cheese
1 cup (4 oz) shredded Asiago cheese
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
¼ tsp pepper
¼ tsp salt
1 (10 oz) pkg frozen spinach—thawed and drained
*6 cup Smoky Marinara Sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


Preheat oven 375-degrees
Coat 2 (13x9) baking dishes; set aside
Combine cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, Asiago cheese, Parmesan cheese, chives, parsley, salt, pepper, and spinach. Mix well.
Spoon 1 Tbsp cheese mixture into each shell. Pour 3 cups smoky marinara over shells in each dish. Sprinkle each with ½ cup mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 375-degrees x 30minutes.

To freeze: Cover with plastic wrap then wrap with foil. To prepare frozen casserole, remove foil and plastic wrap. Replace foil. Bake 375-degrees for 1 ½ hours or until thoroughly heated.

*Smoky Marinara Sauce
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 minced garlic cloves
¼ cup chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 28-oz can crushed fire roasted tomatoes (I have had trouble finding crushed fire roasted tomatoes. I have used Hunts fire roasted diced tomatoes and this works fine)


Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic, basil, parsley, and oregano. Saute 1 minute. Stir in vinegar and remaining ingredients. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Do you have a favorite recipes you take as a merciful meal?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Parents must teach virtue

From Lifesite News:

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 12, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In President Obama's Fiscal Year 2010 Proposed Budget, the president recommends that Congress eliminate funding for abstinence education and instead pour funds into condoms and contraceptive-based sex education.

The proposed budget calls for an additional $150 million for contraceptive-only education, which includes competitive grants, research, evaluation and authorization for $50 million in new mandatory condom grants to states, tribes and territories, according to an Abstinence Clearinghouse press release.

The budget eliminates the $133 million set aside for CBAE (Community Based Abstinence Education) and Title V Abstinence Education Program, the two main federal abstinence-education initiatives.

Pregnancy centers and other charitable organizations throughout the country would be among those affected by the elimination of CBAE funds.


Actually, I am not a fan of state intervention in sex education of any kind. Both the condom distribution and the abstinence education are band-aid solutions. If the state must be involved, I would prefer to have them telling young people not to have sex instead of telling them to go fornicate with abandon and here are condoms to decrease the odds of pregnancy and disease.

What our young people really need is an education in the virtue of chastity. Chastity is different from abstinence. Abstinence is a negative. It is a great big “DON’T”. Chastity is a host of positives: Respect your body; Respect the bodies of others; Respect the dignity of every human being; Reducing another to a sexual object demeans their dignity; Sexuality is a gift from God to be used for His purposes. Chastity is a road map to true sexual joy.

No school based program or community center program is going to teach chastity. This has to be taught at home. It is not one long talk about the birds and the bees. Instead, parents should be taking advantage of thousands of teachable moments throughout their children’s lives. I’ve heard many a “tsk, tsk” about the sexualization of little girls’ clothes. I agree that I’ve seen way too many pre-teens dressed like little they are little hookers. But these girls are not buying these clothes all by themselves. A parent is paying for the micro-shorts and midriff-baring tops. Rather than give in to the pleas to dress like a BRATZ doll, parents should be teaching why this is inappropriate. When my daughter and I travelled with school or sports groups there were occasions when a divorced mom would bring along her boyfriend and they would share a hotel room. I never called attention to the situation, but if my daughter noticed, I did not hesitate to let her know that the virtue of chastity does not only apply to teens. Even parents should be abiding by its principles. Parents are the primary educators of their children. The silence of parents about the virtue of chastity is taken as consent for the cultural message of lust.

You love your child. The state sees your child as a statistic to be managed. Who should give your child guidance through the hormonal milieu of adolescence? You as the parent can lead your child down the path of virtue. The state can only supply band-aids for the trip down the path of vice.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fr. Leo Patalinghug: Grace Before Meals

This morning I had the privilege of interviewing Fr. Leo Patalinghug of Grace Before Meals fame. You can read my report at my examiner.com site.

The way this ministry has evolved you can see the hand of God. Divine Providence has been paving the way.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Heroic Mothers

The Washington Times features an in depth article on some truly heroic mothers. These women resisted the pressures of the culture and the medical community and refused to abort their children with prenatal diagnoses of severe deformities and disabilities:

Nearly 15 years later, she still weeps at the memory of how on the afternoon of Nov. 17, 1994, her gray-eyed daughter Angela lived barely 10 minutes, the victim of Trisomy 18, a fatal genetic defect. Pictures of the dark-haired little girl, robed in a white christening gown, are still scattered about her suburban Maryland home.

She was the first woman her doctor knew who had decided to keep her pregnancy. All his other patients in similar situations had aborted.

"I was so happy I did what I did," she says of her decision to bring Angela to term. "You get to see your child's birth and death all collapsed in one time frame. What most people want for their kids is for them to go to heaven. You get to complete that journey with them. As a parent, that is unbelievable. Life is about relationship to God. You know that when you literally pass them from your hands to His."

Do read the whole article. It is truly inspiring. It also offers multiple resources to help parents who receive a dire prenatal diagnosis. I am sorry to say that most medical professionals will recommend and pressure a woman to abort a disabled child. They offer very little support for the woman who chooses to continue her pregnancy in spite of her child’s poor prognosis. These women forged ahead in spite of the naysayers and welcomed the gift of life, even if it was only for a few moments.

As you read this, offer a prayer for all parents who find themselves in this situation. May they find the grace and strength to accept God’s gift of life.

Mother's Day Blessings!


Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. This experience makes you become God's own smile upon the newborn child, the one who guides your child's first steps, who helps it to grow, and who is the anchor as the child makes its way along the journey of life.--Pope John Paul II, Letter to Women, June 29, 1995

Saturday, May 09, 2009

I don't think so

Can you imagine doing this to the woman who gave you life? I believe Honor Your Mother entails something better than this.

How Does My Mary Garden Grow?

A few days ago I suggested you honor both Mom and Blessed Mother with a Mary Garden. Since we finally have a sunny day I thought I would share what is blooming in my garden. My abundant supply of daffodils is all gone but I have several things taking their place. Most appropriate for a Mary garden is my John Paul II clematis.
I have had this clematis for four years. This is the first year I have gotten several large blooms at once. Clematis is a great plant for testing your virtue of patience.











Last fall I planted these irises. They are called batik irises since they should call to mind batik fabric.

















The azaleas are in full bloom





My peonies are about to burst forth with various shades of pink











I need help identifying this perennial. I planted it two years ago and it gives me these lovely clusters of very light blue star shaped flowers. I just can't remember the name of this plant.



This is false indigo. These delicate blue blossoms would be a lovely addition to a perennial Mary garden.



What is growing in your garden?

Friday, May 08, 2009

Newest video from Catholicvote.org

Here is the newest video from Catholicvote.org It debuted at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. It is amazing.

National Catholic Prayer Breakfast 2009

I fed my mind, body, and soul by attending this year's National Catholic Prayer Breakfast this morning. Read all about it here.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Archbiship Chaput: Thoughts on the mission of St. Paul

Archbishop Chaput delivered this address to the American Bible Society on Wednesday, May 6, 2009. I have seen excerpts of it around the blogosphere but do take the time to read the whole thing. It is amazing. Here are some of my favorite snippets:

A few months ago, in Ireland, someone asked for my thoughts about today’s "post-Christian" culture. I said then as I say again now, that "post-Christian" society may seem very similar to the pagan world that St. Paul first confronted. But in fact, it’s much worse. Why? Because the pagan world had an excuse. We don’t. There’s really no such a thing as a "post-Christian” era. The redemptive mission of Jesus Christ is unique, unrepeatable and forever. Christ is the center and meaning of history. There is nothing after Jesus Christ except a void.

The modern turning away from Jesus is not a return to the pagan past. It’s an apostasy, and when Scripture tells us that Christ will spit the lukewarm out of his mouth (Rev 3:16), we need to reflect very soberly on what that implies for people who once knew him, but then repudiate him. The early pagans had an alibi in their ignorance. Today's paganism involves a specific choice against Jesus Christ.

This is why I found some words of President Obama so interesting on his recent trip to Turkey. You’ll remember that the President’s supporters stressed his religious credentials pretty hard in courting the Christian vote last year. But in seeking common ground with Turkey, a NATO ally whose own secularist revolution was often brutal and intolerant, the President said: "We do not consider ourselves a Christian nation."

and

President Obama’s remark in Turkey was much more tentative than his predecessors. And this is useful because it highlights two serious problems for anyone interested in evangelizing American culture. First, the public witness of many American Christians is softening. Second, some groups are working very vigorously to secularize – or more accurately, de-Christianize -- our public life and our popular culture.

The information from recent studies on U.S. religious trends is sobering. The percentage of self-identified Christians has fallen in the past two decades. The number of people who see the United States as a Christian nation has dropped to 62 percent, down from 69 percent last year and 71 percent in 2005. The number of Americans who think faith will help answer the country's current problems has dipped to a historic low of 48 percent, down from 64 percent in 1994.

For Catholics who actually practice their faith, this news probably doesn’t come as a surprise. For the past 40 years and longer, too many American Catholics – and I mean not just average laypeople, but Catholic clergy, scholars and religious as well – have worked frantically to fit into American culture. We succeeded. Now we can see the results. Too many of us are happy with our complacency, vanity, compromises, comfort and bad formation. And something similar is obviously happening with many of our fellow Christians.

By the way, this habit of vanity and compromise is really what the argument is about in Notre Dame’s decision to honor President Obama at its commencement. The issue is not whether the President is a good or a bad man. He’s obviously a sincere and able man, and we always have the duty to respect our public officials -- even when we disagree strongly with them. But the President’s views and actions on sanctity of life issues – and remember that the right to life is the foundation of every other right – run directly against Catholic belief. And a Catholic institution should not honor that kind of behavior.

Finally, this is one of the best practical approaches that can be implemented at the level of the domestic church:


From a Pauline point of view, whether America is really 80 percent or 50 percent or 10 percent Christian is unimportant. The only thing that matters is what you and I do right now with the gift of faith we’ve been given. God will do the work; he’s got a pretty good track record when we don’t get in the way. Our job is to become the best cooperators and instruments of his will that we can be.

One of the best things we can do for our own faith is to simply turn off the noise around us one night a week. Computers, televisions, cell phones, DVD players, radios, iPods – turn them all off. Not every night. Just one night. This is a very fruitful habit we can borrow from Mormon families: one night a week spent reading, talking with each other, listening to each other and praying over Scripture. We can at least do that much. And if we do, we’ll discover that eventually we’re sober again and not drunk on technology and our own overheated appetites.


Fr. Corapi speaks out on Notre Dame

Now he wants us to pay for abortions in Washington D.C.

President Obama is encouraging the use of congressionally appropriated funds to pay for abortions in Washington D.C.

Father is far more interesting than I

Teaching 7th grade CCD can be a challenge. The students are in that “tween” stage where they are trying to decide if they are going to accept or rebel against authority. One minute they are hanging on your every word and the next minute you are getting the adolescent eye roll. However, when Father comes in they are riveted. It doesn’t matter if it is our more senior pastor (Please note, Father, I did not call you old) or our young energetic new priest. They may be challenging him to say something relevant, but they are listening.

I was grateful to have our younger priest stop by for class on Monday evening. The class was working on individual saint reports as a requirement for Confirmation. Father popped in and ended up talking to the students about how they are called to evangelize. This is the perfect segue to talking about the lives of the saints. The saints did not just learn about their faith. They lived their faith. They evangelized others by the way they lived their lives. As St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel always. Use words if necessary.”

Our young people really are fascinated by priests and religious. The total self-giving of these vocations seems so countercultural. Although, the same level of self-giving should be present in the vocation of marriage, it is not as publicly visible as in the religious vocations. In the next month or so, many of our diocese will be ordaining new priests. I encourage you to take your children to these Ordination Masses. These new priests serve as a powerful witness that God calls each of us to a holy task. It is also a generous act to attend the Mass and prayerfully support these new priests.

Our current shortage of priests is not because God has not called enough young men to the priesthood. It is because not enough young men have answered the call. Make sure that you are not the stumbling block that keeps your son from answering the call to be a priest or your daughter from answering the call to consecrated religious life. Pray for vocations. And don’t pray in some generic way for vocations “out there”. Pray for your own children’s vocations. Pray that they will answer God’s call, whatever it may be.

Why President Obama Could Speak at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

Tomorrow morning I will be attending the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C. President Obama will not be speaking. However, I do think it would be appropriate for him to speak. I've laid out my reasoning here.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

The Holy Spirit in Aggieland and beyond

Amy Welborn has a good post on campus evangelization at the University of Kansas. It is modeled after the program started at Texas A&M.

Center director Father Steve Beseau had heard of a program at Texas A&M University where students wore T-shirts that invited others to "Ask a Catholic a Question."

"I brought the idea to [the staff for discussion]," he said. "I thought it was a very non-threatening way of evangelization, and I liked that."

The center staff liked it, too, but decided to tweak the question in order to provide more opportunity for personal witness. They then had bright red T-shirts printed up, with the center's logo on the front and "Ask me why I'm Catholic" on the back.

Read the whole article to see how this program is both evangelizing and building the Catholic community.

One of the comments for this post caught my eye:

I saw this on the A @ M Catholic Center website

"There are nearly 100 “Aggie Vocations” to the priesthood and religious life; and in the last nine years alone, 75 Aggies have entered seminaries, convents and monasteries around the world. In addition, this year 14 former students, a record number, have entered formation for the priesthood and religious life."

This is all at just one school. It would seem to me the United States Bishops would be taking a high interest in what is going on there. There is nothing I suspect in the water that makes Catholic college students want to be come Priest, and religious.

In addition to the great production of priests and consecrated religious, the Aggies were part of the very first 40 Days of Life program that has now spread nationwide.

I still consider myself an Aggie Mom. My oldest graduated from A&M last May but my future daughter-in-law is still a student there. It is an amazing school with a tremendous support network for Catholic students. So I think this commenter is right. The United States Bishops should be taking a look at the Catholic Community at Texas A&M. When the Aggie spirit is combined with the Holy Spirit, miracles happen.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Honor Mom with a Mary Garden

I have a post up on Examiner.com about Mary gardens. The month of May is the perfect time to plant yours.

Resist the Marginalization of Parents

If you like the post I did in 2007 entitled "I am not the enemy" you will really enjoy this column by Rebecca Hagelin from today's Washington Times:

Mothers are increasingly expected to be benchwarmers in the lives of our children so we don't get in the way of the "professionals." Many public educators believe they know what is best for your son or daughter. But they can't possibly understand the unique history, gifts and needs of each child shuffled through a system built for the masses. When moms do step in, they are often accused of "interfering," being "overprotective" or "close-minded."

Girls are most vulnerable when moms are shut out - some are given contraceptives, referred for abortions, and on life's biggest questions, are taught the worldview of the "professional" in charge.

Read the whole thing. Then make a renewed commitment to be the parent of your child. It may take a "village" to raise a child, but you, as the parent, have the right to choose the "village" and determine how much assistance from the "village" you need.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Change and the Good Shepherd

I’ve been reading a great number of comment threads about the Notre Dame kerfuffle. So many folks are making use of polls and statistics to make their point. A great deal is being made of the Pew Center data indicating those who attend Mass regularly are more likely to disapprove of the Notre Dame invitation to President Obama. Is anyone really surprised?

Lumen Gentium, the constitution of the Church, describes the Eucharist as the “fount and apex of the whole Christian life”. Is it any surprise that those who participate regularly in the Sacrifice of the Mass have a different understanding of the faith than those who do not?

One comment took this observation a bit further by wondering how the opinions of those who not only attended Mass regularly but also received the Sacrament of Confession regularly would compare with those who do not. Regular sacramental confession fosters humility. Acknowledging one’s sins and throwing oneself upon the Mercy of God prepares one to accept God’s plan and subordinate one’s own will. It does take humility to sentire cum ecclesia—think with the Church. The Church has no need of the prestige, wealth, and power of this world. Prestige, wealth, and power will have no bearing on eternal life. It is not surprising that those who have their vision focused on Heaven place little value on the worldly honors of having the President of the United States as a commencement speaker.

Going to Mass regularly will change you. Going to Confession regularly will change you. The change instigated by political rhetoric cannot compare with the change that occurs when you open your heart to the Truth of the Gospel. Those who reject the Church and try to make their way alone are truly lost. Today, Good Shepherd Sunday, is the perfect time to pray that these lost sheep will allow themselves to be found by the Good Shepherd.

Swine Flu Changes?

Did you notice any changes at Mass because of Swine Flu concerns? I would love to hear about them at my Examiner.com post.