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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Abortion does not improve the health of women

My latest work for HLI America was published by today:
When the United States House of Representatives debated the Protect Life Act, a bill meant to ensure that no taxpayer money would fund abortions, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi proclaimed that passage of the bill would leave American women “dying on the floor” of American hospitals. Similarly expressing a concern for “women’s health,” United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently called on the United Nations Commission on Population and Development to endorse unfettered access to abortion for teenagers and even younger adolescents. In Trinidad, Minister of Gender, Youth, and Child Development Verna St. Rose Greaves called for the legalization of abortion in Trinidad because of public health concerns.
Clearly there is a widespread perception that optimal reproductive health for women includes access to abortion. Yet, where is the data that supports this view? Is this just another manufactured claim by the abortion industry to justify the inclusion of abortion in health care?
 Continue reading here.

Finding Strength

The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear.

I have not been keeping up the blog too much of late. The last month or so has been crammed with deadlines, events, and a moderate speed bump or two. I kept thinking that once the semester ended and we moved my daughter home after her college graduation, things would settle down. But they haven't. I am facing a couple of work deadlines, out-of-town company coming on two separate weekends (including this weekend), my youngest's high school graduation, moving my daughter into an apartment for grad school, and helping another son navigate the road to gainful employment in a less than friendly job market. 

And now my dryer quit. Well, sort of quit. It seems to have a temperamental switch that agrees to turn on the dryer if you hold your tongue just right, speak kindly to it, and promise to clean the lint filter regularly. Of course, I am trying to provide clean sheets and towels for my company SO I REALLY NEED MY DRYER TO WORK!!!!!

Which is why it is important for me to go to daily Mass. I am certain the author of the Book of Zephaniah was not thinking of my electric dryer when he wrote the words above, but it was good for me to hear those words on this day, nonetheless. The Lord is with me. No deadline, no domestic chore, and no evil appliance can defeat me. Bring on the day!

UPDATE:  I had no sooner hit the publish button on this post when my dryer resumed normal functioning. No temperamental switch action. I have canceled the repairman. We shall see if the shenanigans resume.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Pentecost or Babel?

Why are you being so rigid? God just wants you to be good. He does not care about all those extra rules. He will not frown if you skip Mass and come to church with us.

Protestant family and friends make these comments and it is often difficult to explain why we choose to stand firmly with the Church instead of bending the rules a bit. Reflecting on Pentecost offers some answers. Pentecost is the beginning of the Church. The Apostles were gathered with Mary in prayer. They were afraid. But they were faithful. Their faith was rewarded with the Paraclete. Christ had promised to send the Holy Spirit and through the grace of the Spirit the apostles were able to conquer their fears and fulfill the Great Commission--to go forth, proclaim the Gospel, and baptize in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They did not go forth as individuals, but rather as servants of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church. And the head of this Church was Peter.

There is much scriptural evidence of the primacy of Peter. The most direct statement is Matthew 16:18-19:

And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Christ never meant for us to cultivate our faith alone as individuals. Rather, he gave us his Church. He gave us one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Pope Benedict addressed this in his Pentecost homily:

But let's look at today's Gospel in which Jesus affirms: “When he comes, the Spirit of truth, He will guide you to the whole truth”. Speaking about the Holy Spirit, Jesus is explaining to us what the Church is and how she must live in order to be herself, to be the place of unity and communion in Truth; he tells us that acting like Christians means not being closed inside our own spheres, but opening ourselves towards others; it means welcoming the whole Church within ourselves or, better still, allowing the Church to welcome us. So, when I speak, think and act like a Christian, I don't stay closed off within myself – but I do so in everything and starting from everything: thus the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of unity and truth, can continue to resonate in people's hearts and minds, encouraging them to meet and welcome one another. Precisely because it acts in this way, the Spirit introduces us to the whole truth, who is Jesus, and guides us to examine and understand it. We do not grow in understanding by closing ourselves off inside ourselves, but only by becoming capable of listening and sharing, in the “ourselves” of the Church, with an attitude of deep personal humility. Now it's clearer why Babel is Babel and Pentecost is Pentecost. Where people want to become God, they succeed only in pitting themselves against each other. Where they place themselves within the Lord's truth, on the other hand, they open themselves to the action of his Spirit which supports and unites them.

So whenever I act outside the norms of the Church, I am placing myself outside of the influence of the Holy Spirit. I am trying to go it alone and behave like the builders of the Tower of Babel. This is never advantageous. Therefore, in matters great and small I seek for myself and my family to act in one accord with the Church. How can I want to do otherwise?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What USA Today does not want you to read

I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do.
(Jn 17:4)

As a physician and a fellow for HLI America I offered a rebuttal to the opinion piece by Drs. Angell and Greene published in USA Today. They called for civil disobedience by doctors in protest of state laws requiring counseling and ultrasounds prior to abortions. Not surprisingly, USA Today refused to publish my response. 

The USA Today op-ed by Drs. Angell and Greene, Where are the doctors?, is unfortunately very short on facts. It is surprising that two physicians with such prestigious credentials would put forth a call to physicians for civil disobedience while eschewing the latest scientific findings on the subject.

Their first claim that there is a war on reproductive rights because thirty-five states require counseling before proceeding with an abortion is absurd. Such counseling requires that women be given accurate and full information about abortion and pregnancy so that they can give fully informed consent for this serious procedure. The claim promulgated by the abortion industry that the developing embryo is just a “blob of cells” is corrected with an ultrasound. If a woman sees that her unborn child has a beating heart and fully formed fingers and toes and still wants to proceed with the abortion, she is free to do so. But she is doing so with more complete knowledge of the choice at hand.

You can read the whole thing at the HLI America Truth and Charity Forum.

Monday, May 21, 2012


"I have told you this so that you might have peace in me.
In the world you will have trouble,
but take courage, I have conquered the world."

Those words from today's Gospel are both troubling and comforting. Jesus does not mince words or sugar-coat what is to come. He tells us life is tough. But that is okay. He has paved the way. While it is tough, it is doable. He is with us. His grace sees us through. He is both our strength and our protection.

So how do you communicate that to your children? With a few miles on my treads, I have seen how hard life can be. I have faced my share of challenges and know that there will certainly be more challenges in my future. Teens and young adults, on the other hand, are bullet proof and immortal. All loose ends are wrapped up and all obstacles surmounted by the time the television show, movie, or book ends. They seem stunned when life is messy and there is no satisfactory conclusion to the story. Somehow, "offer it up" doesn't sound very helpful and "just pray about it" seems too passive. They want to do something. They want to fix something. They want action.

Three of my four children are transitioning as college or high school ends. Each will have his own distinct set of trials and triumphs. Triumphs are easy to celebrate. But what about the trials? Are they ready? I guess there really is nothing more to say than what Jesus said: "In the world you will have trouble, but take courage. I have conquered the world." Trust Him. He's got your back.