Thursday, June 02, 2005

Please consider a donation to NAAR

I am trying to raise funds for the NAAR which is a foundation that sponsors autism research. Most of you know that Emma has Rett Syndrome. Although it is not autism, it is related to it. So, we are walking in a 3k this weekend to help raise money.

If you would like to make a flat donation to NAAR, please follow this link:

Thank you for your support!

God Bless


Tuesday, May 31, 2005

New Traddy Message Board

Seems really brand new. The head honcho has only 1100 posts...
For those interested:

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

We've moved!

In 5 seconds, you'll be redirected to our new blog...

If that doesn't work, click here.

Lunacy on the Web, part 7

I heard about this site on the radio on Saturday. My initial reaction is that it has to be a parody! Who could be this stupid? But apparently they are serious.

If not to provide for our defense, what is a legitimate use of tax money?!

{Paul, try not to have an embolism, k?}

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Another option...

Hey folks,

Paul (aka Catholic Cadet) and I have been playing with new blog software, WordPress. It gives us considerably more flexibility, like searching and categorizing posts, and uploading images. Check it out over at Paul's server . Let us know what you think...

I've moved over all the old posts and the last two weeks of comments.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Switching to Haloscan

Since I haven't heard any dissent, we're going to be switching our comment system over to Haloscan. I'm going to do the conversion tomorrow (Saturday, May 21) sometime shortly after noon. If you have comments you want to save and repost, do that now!

UPDATE: If you forget to save your comments before I convert the system, I have saved all comments in a text file and can send it to you if you wish.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

ET go home

Atheists who are interested in space look to aliens as their saviours. Read what they expect and hope for when/if first contact is ever made. Advanced science that allows for a scientific and materialistic utopia and a solution to all human ills. ET will belong to a race that has, through science, advanced beyond all problems and, being at peace with all, will more than willingly share their technology and solutions to everything with us.

Do none of them ever stop to think that, at the very least, ET will be like us, and more than likely ET will make the Mongols look like hippies?

There really is no such thing as an atheist, they all deify something and look for salvation, personal and corporate, from something. Some in money, most in science and ET.

Reason #99,999,999,999 not to live in a socialist society

Check this story out from England, which I found on Amy Welborn's blog.

So, let me get this straight: a mentally competent man is fighting to keep his right to tell doctors that they cannot withdraw food and water from him once he is no longer able to communicate--even though his condition, cerebellar ataxia, if I remember anything from medical school, will not affect his higher brain functions at all. This is one small step from involuntary euthanasia.

First stem cells, now this. I have become convinced that the problem is with us, that we who know better do not speak out. Now, how best to do that?

Society of Pope Pius I

“To be any more Trad, you’d have to be Jewish”

EDIT: Here's Google's cache of the page since it appears to be down.

While we're on the subject of science

I don't know if y'all have seen this quote before, but I think it strikes at the heart of the whole issue of faith and science, like no other:

(from Richard Lewontin, "Billions and Billions of Demons," review of The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Cradle in the Dark by Carl Sagan, New York Review of Books, January 9,1997, 32.)

We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

It took some courage to come out and acknowledge the metaphysical basis of materialism.

Reversion to savagery

The rejection of Catholicism, and especially the rejection of Christianity, causes a people to revert back to the most base savagery. In war, the deliberate targeting of civilians is accepted, even praised, as ending wars with fewer lives lost. Numbers are all that matter. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are accompanied by comments that the Japanese ought to be thankful that they didn't get what they deserved. What did they deserve? Why, the total destruction of their race. And yet we denounce Hitler and the Nazis for attempting to commit just such an act of genocide. Looking further back in history we find the genocidal attacks on the Native Americans perpetuated by the Protestant settlers. To be fair, Spanish and Portuguese Catholics were often no better, but their failings were exactly that: Failings. The Church strongly condemned atrocities and slavery (indeed, Queen Isabella I of Spain supported the colonization efforts for the conversion of the Native Americans and rejected all slavery). But with the Protestant settlements in what would become the United States, atrocities were the rule. These atrocities continued until there were no more Indians left, around the beginning of the 20th century.

During the Civil War, Gen. Sherman deliberately destroyed several Confederate cities and devestated the land, purposefully targeting civilians. This is hailed as military genius by our modern society. But how is it military genius to attack those who are simply trying to live their lives as best they can? While there is no moral problem with attacking factories producing war material or logistic lines like railroads, Gen. Sherman didn't restrict his army to what was just, but attacked everything. This wasn't even necessary for the war to be won, and it was not the March to the Sea that won the war, but rather the destruction of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Total war was then taken to its extreme following the rise of airpower. The entire purpose of air forces until the development of the blitzkreig (and resulting shift to tactical air power) was the murder of as many civilians of the enemy country as possible, using chemical and conventional weaponry. During the Second World War, when the Allied air forces would firebomb cities, they would do so in a manner that deliberately trapped firefighters in the center of the inferno, to prevent any attempt at putting out the flames. The firebombing of Tokyo targeted an area that was 85% residential. The leaders of these campaigns deliberately attempted to make war as cruel was possible, for the utopian dream of a "war to end all wars."

During the Cold War, our entire system of deterrence was based upon the threat to murder millions of Soviet citizens if they ever crossed into Western Germany.

All of that was while we still claimed to be Christian. Now, in a "Post-Christian" age, we slaughter thousands of babies a day, calling it freedom. We are about to engage in the cannibalism of infants, tearing them apart to try and heal ourselves, even though adult stem cell research has worked better in every test. And yet we still perpetuate the American myth that we are a nation set aside, a people without sin.

We need a few asteroid impacts to cure us of 200 years of ingrown arrogance.

Stem Cell Research

This is sad

Pregnant girl not allowed to walk stage at graduation

I personally think this is bull.

I wondered when this was going to happen...

One of my favorite bloggers, "Pontificator", aka the once and future Fr. Al Kimel, has decided to swim the Tiber. His blog is full of wise and interesting posts that are well worth reading. Praise God that such a strong voice has been added to the Church!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Haloscan or Blogger for Comments

OK, folks. Time to vote: I recovered the old Blogger comments. We can do one of two things: switch over to Haloscan and lose them, since there's no way to export them, or stay with Blogger.

Pros to Haloscan:

- moderating of comments
- able to ban commenters (via their IP addresses)
- trackbacks so we can broaden our readership by links to and from other blogs that have similar posts


- we lose our comments from Blogger, although they are still in Blogger's system if at any point in the future they enable exporting of them.

Let me know via comment what you want me to do.

SETI is Lost in the Cosmos

Dr. Russell Moore blogs in Touchstone Magazine's Mere Comments about the problems that lie behind the desperate Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. As I read Dr. Moore's post, I couldn't help but think of Walker Percy's wonderful book Lost in the Cosmos.

Percy makes a strong (and very funny) case that the real issue behind modern angst is a deep discomfort with the self. I think C.S. Lewis termed it Sehnsucht, or a certain longing for something that just can't be described. The SETI folks clearly have this longing, this sense of loneliness, and instead of searching within themselves to see why they have this yearning, for which God and Christianity is the answer, they listen to the stars for an answer. In order to attempt to fill their God-shaped holes, they scan the universe for evidence that we are not alone and therefore not significant--because, to search within would mean to embrace a faith that they have deemed obsolete.

Dr. Moore suggests that SETI "looks to the sky for rescue." But as I think about it, I'm not sure if it's rescue they want, but rather, confirmation that humanity is as minuscule and unimportant as they, as followers of scientific materialism, insist it to be. If SETI does look for rescue, it is for a final rescue from their consciences, from their Christian heritage. It would be ironic if they do get an answer from another planet (which I doubt they will), if the aliens had faith in our transcendent, omnipotent God and proceeded to tell SETI just how foolish they have been.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Baby dies at 11 ounces...

What do you all think about this? Article says baby was taken by c-section because a sonogram raised concerns she would die in the womb.

Monday, May 16, 2005


Help if you can...donate to the Bishop.

The 100 Greatest Americans

Evidently, the Discovery Channel is starting a new series where Americans will vote for the "Greatest American" from a list of nominees submitted by ordinary folks around the country. Check out the list (copied from here, found on Southern Appeal)
Abraham Lincoln
Albert Einstein
Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Hamilton
Amelia Earhart
Andrew Carnegie
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Audie Murphy
Babe Ruth
Barack Obama
Barbara Bush
Benjamin Franklin
Bill Clinton
Bill Cosby (William Henry Cosby, Jr.)
Bill Gates
Billy Graham
Bob Hope
Brett Favre
Carl Sagan
Cesar Chavez
Charles Lindbergh
Christopher Reeve
Chuck Yeager
Clint Eastwood
Colin Powell
Condoleezza Rice
Donald Trump
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Eleanor Roosevelt (Anna Eleanor Roosevelt)
Ellen DeGeneres
Elvis Presley
Frank Sinatra
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Frederick Douglass
George H. W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Lucas
George Patton
George Washington
George Washington Carver
Harriet Ross Tubman
Harry Truman
Helen Keller
Henry Ford
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Howard Hughes
Hugh Hefner
Jackie Robinson (Jack Roosevelt Robinson)
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
Jesse Owens
Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Stewart
John Edwards
John Glenn
John F. Kennedy
John Wayne
Johnny Carson (John William Carson)
Jonas Edward Salk
Joseph Smith Jr.
Katharine Hepburn
Lance Armstrong
Laura Bush
Lucille Ball
Lyndon B. Johnson
Madonna (Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone)
Malcolm X (Malcolm Little)
Marilyn Monroe
Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
Martha Stewart
Martin Luther King Jr.
Maya Angelou
Mel Gibson
Michael Jackson
Michael Jordan
Michael Moore
Muhammad Ali (Cassius Marcellus Clay, Jr.)
Neil Alden Armstrong
Nikola Tesla
Oprah Winfrey
Pat Tillman
Dr. Phil McGraw
Ray Charles
Richard Nixon
Robert Kennedy
Ronald Reagan
Rosa Parks
Rudolph W. Giuliani
Rush Limbaugh
Sam Walton
Steve Jobs
Steven Spielberg
Susan B. Anthony
Theodore Roosevelt
Thomas Edison
Thomas Jefferson
Tiger Woods
Tom Cruise
Tom Hanks
Walt Disney
Wrights Brothers (Orville & Wilbur Wright)

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. If this is the current state of American culture, of which I think it's a pretty good representation, then it's time for us to pray, pray, pray.

Got some great news today

I received an email from my RCIA director today. He has asked me to become a catechist. I was really exicted about this opportunity. I love teaching and what better topic to teach about that the Church and Christ.

I will either be a catechist for RCIA or adult faith formation. I don't really have a preference. Alhtough RCIA can be really interesting at times. However, AFF can be very lively and debate/discussion oriented.

So I will have to wait to see what happens.

God Bless!

Friday, May 13, 2005

Liberalism vs. Conservatism vs. Christian

I ran across two essays that I thought y'all might like to read, from back in 1996 in First Things, both by U. of Texas Professor J. Budziszewski, also a recent convert to Catholicism. The first, "The Problem with Liberalism", skewers liberal thinking. I found it compelling and plan on using his arguments with relish to point out to liberal friends why they are quite wrong.

However, in the next month's issue, he wrote "The Problem with Conservatism". I was a little bit less comfortable with this one, having committed several of the errors he debunks, on a regular basis.

When you take both essays together, I think he makes one broad, excellent point: that to be Christian is to be neither liberal nor conservative. It may mean going into "tactical alliance" with either liberals or conservatives on certain issues in order to further them, but it mustn't mean identifying oneself with one side or the other. This is why I was so tormented by the last presidential election: I found both sides to be repugnant, but because of the Democrats' position on abortion, I could not follow them, and because in our two-party system, to not vote for one party essentially means a vote for the other, I felt I had no other choice but to give my support to the more conservative party. I have fallen into the trap of trying to defend Republican plans, but I have become convinced that there are some Republican programs, particularly those designed to further capitalism and spread that ideology around the globe, that I cannot support.

So what do we do, as Christians and as Catholics? How do we interact with our neighbors who identify themselves as liberals or as conservatives? More pointedly, how do we correct our fellow Christians who feel that to be Christian is to be liberal or to be conservative?

Why do men hate church?

Amy Welborn et. al. speculate.

But England's Cardinal Heenan understood why all the way back in 1967:
Cardinal Heenan addressed the Synod the day after the experimental Mass had been presented and said he did not know the names of those who had proposed the new Mass but it was clear to him that few of them had ever been parish priests.
    "At home," he said, "it is not only women and children but also fathers of families and young men who come regularly to Mass. If we were to offer them the kind of ceremony we saw yesterday we would soon be left with a congregation of women and children."
He also said we needed more than ever to stress the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament and that the faithful were growing restless and disturbed by too frequent changes in the Mass. Remember, this was in 1967! He concluded his speech by stating that the Latin tongue must be preserved. "If the Church is to remain truly the Catholic Church it is essential to keep a universal tongue." How tragically prophetic those words were.
Ref: The Development of the Mass Since 1960 (scroll down).

I think, too, that men tend to prefer things to stay the same, while women are more welcoming of change.

I know from my own experience that there is no shortage of men, young and old, assisting at the traditional Mass.

Pope Benedict Begins Process for Sainthood!!!,2933,156418,00.html

Man executed after 18 years on death row

. . . and is described as "deranged."

Without getting into a critical discussion about the Church's teaching on the death penalty (I'll leave that for the comments box), it seems to me that to accept one's punishment manfully is a sign of sanity, not of insanity.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Why having a child with a severe disability has been the greatest blessing of my life

I know that sounds like a really weird topic. But, it is true.

If you look at that title through the eyes of the world, you would see it to be irrational and idiotic. Why on earth would anyone see a child with a disability as a blessing. Children with severe disabilities cost must more to raise than a "normal" child does. Children with severe disabilities can not live "normal" lives. Children with severe disabilities are a burden on the school systems. And my absolutely favorite -- we need to fix children with severe disabilities.

Now, when I look at the title of this article, I see nothing but truth. My daughter has a severe disability known as Rett Syndrome. This is an extremely rare genetic disorder which causes the brain to develop abnormally. This causes severe developmental delays in motor skills and speech. To give you an idea of what I mean:

My daughter is 25 months old. However, at her most recent assessment, she had the fine motor function of a 2-month old; the speech function of a 9-month old; and the gross motor function of an 11-month old. She can not speak, stand, walk, crawl or sit up on her own. She is and always will be completely reliant upon her mother and me for her every need.

Now, after reading all of that, you may be asking yourself how is all of this a blessing. Let me explain.

Children with severe disabilities cost must more to raise than a "normal" child does. This is true. Children with Rett Syndrome require exorbanant amounts of money to raise. There are countless therapies -- physical, occupational, speech, vision, developmental. There are countless doctor/medical visits -- pediatrician, gastroenterologist, neurologist, orthopedist, dietician, etc. There are medications -- reflux medication, vitamin supplements, seizure medication (eventually). All of these things cost money. But, it's only money. And, the federal government, through the Medicaid program, helps the families of children with disabilities with medical coverage. Well, that is great but it costs the taxpayers more money. My response to this has always been: that is what God wants us to do. He wants us to help one another and our tax money enables the government to do just that. So this point is moot. Money is not a factor in raising a child. Only someone without children would see it that way.

Children with severe disabilities can not live "normal" lives. I guess this depends on how you define normal. If you mean going to school, doing the things that most children do...then I guess you are right. But if you mean being a child of God, feeling the emotions that God gave all of us, wanting to love and be loved, and being loved without question by a God who sees us all as His own children, then how is a disabled child not the same. Sure, my daughter will never play on the playground with other children. My daughter will never go to a junior high dance. My daughter will never have a first date. My daughter will never go to her senior prom. My daughter will never get married. My daughter will never have children. So what. Why does it matter? Why do the norms of society matter so much more that the individual value of a person? Why is the value of a person always measured by how much money they earn or what material possessions they have? Do these things have any real bearing on the a person's life. Absolutely not. So, again, this point is moot.

Children with severe disabilities are a burden on the school systems. This could not be farther from the truth. If you want to look at it from a purely monetary point of view, school districts should be begging for children with disabilities. Disabled children bring the districts extra money through federal and state special education funds. Well, it is not fair for a disabled student to take up the time of a teacher who is trying to reach 25 other students. I used to believe this. I used to be a very strong proponent of segregating disabled students from the general population. Then I realized how wrong I am. The teachers are there to teach. Period. It is their job to find a way to teach every child in their classroom. If they do not want to do this, get out of the profession. If it is too difficult for them to do, step aside and let someone who will put in the extra effort take their places. If they just don't have the patience to deal with a disabled student, they should have never become teachers. Teachers are put in a classroom for one purpose -- to teach. Not just to teach to those who are easily taught. That is just like loving your family. It's easy. The challenge is to find a way for those children who have difficulty learning to learn. I seem to remember Jesus saying something about loving your enemy. It can be directly applied here. Again, this point it moot.

And my absolutely favorite -- we need to fix children with severe disabilities. This one makes me laugh hysterically when I hear it. How anyone could thing that a child needs to fixed is beyond me. When you look at my daughter, you see the most pure and innocent child you have ever seen. This is a child who is completely unblemished by sin. This is a child, who for the rest of her life, will look upon the world with the same child like curiosity and awe that she does right now as a 2-year old. This is a child who when she comes into the room, lights up the whole house. So, I ask, why does this child need to be "fixed"? So, she can lead a productive life. Productive in whose eyes? Again we are looking through societies eyes. Eyes that are so blinded by materialism and relativism that they don't see the forest for the trees. In fact they don't even see the trees, they see paper. Why on earth would I want to "fix" her. If a cure came out tomorrow for Rett Syndrome, would I use it? Of course I would. What parent would not heal their child if given the chance? However, we need to understand that these children do not need to be "fixed". It is us, and our warped sense of value, that needs to be fixed. Until we learn that the value of a person is in their soul, we are the ones that truly need to be fixed. Finally, this point is moot.

But, you still have not explained why having a child with a severe disability is such a blessing. Well, one reason really. It changes your life. It changes your life in such a way that even people with children do not understand. To make a commitment to a child with a severe disability is greater than any other earthly commitment you can make. Our daughter will live with us for the rest of her life. The prospect of that is very frightening. Not because I am scared to give her the care that she deserves, but scared to think what will happen to her should she outlive us. I pray that any other children we have will care for her in that case. That commitment has really forced me to reevaluate my life and what I hold to be important. I have learned more from living with and watching her then she could ever learn from me. She is always happy. Always. She doesn't have a cell phone. She doesn't have a car. She doesn't have a computer. She doesn't play sports. She doesn't go to the movies. She just loves and feels love. Imagine being able to do that. Just to love and feel loved. I can only imagine that is what heaven is like. When I am at work or away from her, I just want to be near hear and see her.

As a Catholic, we do not proclaim that we know we are going to heaven. That is up to God. We can be morally certain that we are going to heaven. And that I am. But I know, and I am sure that the Church would agree with me on this, that our daughter is bound for heaven. She does not have and never will have the capacity for sin. She is baptized. What can keep her from heaven? She is living saint. So, that makes me even more intent on making it to heaven. I want to be with her forever. I want to be a better person. I want to be just like her. I want to love and feel loved just as she does. I want to approach life the same infantile curiosity and awe that she does. That is why she is such a blessing to me. She makes me want to live my faith. She makes me want to be a better person. She makes me want to live the life of a Catholic.

What's so great about NFP anyways?

I’m the first to admit that NFP and I have a classic love-hate relationship. Through fluctuations in my cycles due to years of pregnancy and breastfeeding, and just plain aging and heredity, monitoring my fertility has been challenging at times. Now, because of hormonal problems which will probably cause miscarriage, I am forced to use NFP to avoid conception. But what is really the cause of my hatred? Frankly, I hate it because it calls me to self-control, which is probably the least well exercised of all virtues in my life. NFP all too plainly points out my faults, expecting me to answer “no” when I’d dearly love to say “yes”. The siren call of the world today, instead of endorsing virtue, rather says, “You can have it all…say ‘yes’, no consequences”. ‘Consequences’ of course are strictly defined as children, and nothing else. But are the only consequences of sex and birth control, children? As a student midwife, and as a Christian wife and mother, I have done much research on this and come to some surprising conclusions.

Before I begin, though, I’d like to debunk the myth that NFP is “Catholic birth control”. Nothing could be further from the truth. NFP, properly defined, is simply gathering data. There are a few different methods, but the end result is identifying a woman’s own pattern of fertility and infertility. This is what the Church has permitted, that a woman can licitly and legitimately gather medical information about herself. The Church also permits a husband and wife to abstain. Logically, the Church either permits occasional abstinence, or is forced to define when and how often a husband and wife should be intimate. The latter is obviously an invasion of privacy, assault against prudence, and would imply that many lives of canonized saints were full of grave sin. So instead the Church has made guidelines which the faithful Catholic will keep in mind when deciding what to do with the information that has been gathered. The Church is clear that we are never to engage in the “contraceptive mindset” that would use NFP as nothing more than birth control. Such a mindset places the primary purpose of the marital embrace as unitive, while devaluing the bearing of children as a “consequence” which is nice if you’d planned it, but otherwise to be avoided. On the contrary, the Church emphasizes both the unitive and procreative purposes of the marital embrace.

All Christians should likewise emphasize the two-fold purpose of the marriage embrace, because the contraceptive mindset eliminates the purpose of male-female marriage. If marriage is primarily unitive, than the marriage act is appropriate for any two individuals who wish to be united. If the marriage act is equally procreative, it becomes necessary that marriage be between a man and a woman only. By observing our culture over the last two generations, it is quite clear that the Catholic Church has been wise. Not only has the contraceptive mindset lead to the population implosion of western civilization (see news articles on depopulation), but we are now in the midst of the new cultural revolution, which demands equality of status between traditional marriage and homosexual unions. As all Christian denominations have fallen for the lie that birth control is permissible, they have lost the key argument against homosexuality, that is, that they cannot procreate. Until the 1930s, no Christian anywhere would have ever considered birth control as morally licit.

That being said, there are times in a marriage where the further begetting of children would cause serious harm. We must be cautious when examining ourselves to determine if we have just reasons for avoiding the bearing of children and guard against a contraceptive mindset. It is helpful to have recourse to spiritual direction when making this decision. But, such scenarios might include economic hardship, health conditions, or psychological conditions. During such a time, it may become morally licit to postpone the further bearing of children, and for that end, the information gathered while practicing NFP can be surprisingly effective, even when compared with all the contraceptive alternatives available. NFP may also be licit to healthily space births, as research shows that births within a year and a half can have detrimental health effects on both mother and child.

All artificial birth control can be classified into two main categories: hormonal and barrier, with the exception of the IUD which I will discuss separately. When evaluating the varying alternatives, I will focus on function, user-effectiveness and side effects.

Hormonal birth control is available in a variety of forms these days. There is the ubiquitous combination pill, the progesterone only mini-pill, the patch, Depo-Provera, Norplant, etc. Despite the variations, they are all similar in function and side-effects. Hormones have a three-fold function. The first is to prevent ovulation. The second and third are to guard against failure of the first--the vaginal mucosa is thickened to delay the movement of sperm, the function of the fallopian tubes is slowed, and the uterine lining is altered. Statistics show that most women experience up to 1-2 breakthrough ovulations per year while on the pill. When this happens, the other functions of the pill come into play. If a baby is conceived, the hormones of the pill create an environment which make it difficult for the baby to implant and thus an early abortion occurs. The progesterone only pill is even less effective than the combination pill at preventing ovulation. Up to 60% of cycles will result in breakthrough ovulation while on the mini-pill. The user-effectiveness of hormonal birth control is 97%. While hormonal methods are the most effective, they also carry the greatest health risks. Side-effects range from headaches and weight gain, to blood clots, stroke, breast and cervical cancers, and a 2 fold increased risk of heart attack. Studies have also shown that use of artificial hormones can lead to depression and bipolar disorder as the woman’s natural hormone levels may be irreversibly altered. Families with a history of mental illness, especially clinical depression and bipolar disorder, should be exceptionally wary about using hormonal methods of birth control. Use of hormonal birth control may also lead to either short term or long term infertility. Other risks if one conceives while using hormonal birth control are abortion, ectopic pregnancy (due to the impaired action of the fallopian tubes), impaired function of the corpus luteum which sustains the early pregnancy, abnormally implanted placenta, and exposure of the developing baby to artificial levels of hormones.

On the other hand, barrier methods have fewer side effects but are far less effective birth control. The primary function of barriers is to prevent sperm from reaching the egg. Condoms, diaphragms, and cervical caps are the most popular forms of barrier birth control methods. These methods are usually used in conjunction with spermicidal creams, foams, or jellies. These methods have a wide range of user-effectiveness, but for the most part condoms with spermicide are the most effective at a user-effectiveness rating of 89%. Other barrier methods become increasingly less effective the more children one bears. Side-effects may include allergies, both to the latex and to the spermicide. By using spermicide, one also risks the conception of a child by a sperm injured by the spermicide. While not exactly a “side-effect”, barrier methods can also impede the natural flow of the marital embrace and can cause discomfort during use.

The IUD is a whole ‘nother animal. There are basically two types of IUD, hormonal and traditional. Both work primarily as an abortifacient by irritating the uterine lining to prevent a conceived baby from implanting. The hormonal IUD has an added progesterone element to prevent ovulation, however it is as effective as the mini-pill discussed above, that is it may fail to prevent ovulation up to 60% of the time. IUDs are 98-99% effective. Side-effects of the IUD include risks of uterine perforation, increased risk of vaginal and/or uterine infection, the IUD becoming imbedded in the uterus, sterility, ectopic pregnancy, longer and heavier periods, and in the case of the hormonal IUD, all the additional side effects of hormonal birth control. In addition, the IUD must be checked regularly to be sure it is still in place, and may sometimes be lost without the user knowing. If a woman becomes pregnant while using the IUD, removal of the IUD may cause abortion, while leaving it in place may cause premature birth and placental insufficiency. The IUD may also cause abnormal implantation of the placenta. The IUDs which include a copper component can carry an additional risk to women who have Wilson’s disease or are allergic to copper.

NFP can be used to avoid conception, by abstaining from the marital embrace during the woman’s fertile time. The fertile period can be observed by collecting data such as the basal body temperature, observation of vaginal mucus, and position of the cervix. The method has a user-effectiveness rating of 85-95% (some studies even showed 99% effectiveness). Method failures usually occur when the rules are not followed. There are no side effects. The method can also identify other health issues such as infertility or luteal phase defects. Additionally, NFP can be used to achieve pregnancy, which no birth control can ever do, by identifying the period in which conception is most likely to occur. NFP user effectiveness can be similar to condom user effectiveness because the couple must decide before every act whether to prevent pregnancy or not. The difference between the two, however, is that if a couple abstains during the fertile time, they will not conceive, while if a couple decides to go ahead and use a condom during the fertile time and the condom fails (3-5% probability of condom failure), they will probably conceive. When comparing NFP to other non-barrier methods, one must evaluate not only whether the sizeable health risks are worth added user-effectiveness, but also consider the fact that NFP can be as effective as hormonal birth control if used carefully and consistently. Non-barrier methods risk abortion of the conceived child, while NFP will never cause an abortion.

In addition to the above information, Christians have additional concerns when evaluating birth control. As Christians, our purpose on earth is to prepare ourselves for our inheritance and through our behavior to draw others to Christ. Marriage has been used in Scripture as an illustration of Christ’s relationship with us, the Church. Just as Christ gave all of himself for us, so are we as spouses to give all of ourselves to each other. Christ withheld nothing from us, we should withhold nothing from each other. As parents, we are given countless opportunities to grow in grace and holiness daily. We learn how to sacrifice our self for others, not only within the marital embrace, but in our every day family life. We also are enjoined by Scripture to take good care of the temple of our bodies, as we house the Holy Spirit. In considering these facts, how does artificial birth control meet these demands? How does it cause one to increase in holiness, self-sacrifice, love for others, and care of our bodies? Does NFP foster this growth? As Christians, are we not commanded to follow Him, even if it is the more difficult road?

Problems at Work Part 2

Well, you all remember the argument I got into early last week. Well, I guess the two girls who are now mad at me ...even after my apology for getting upset...have been talking crap about me to my boss...because since last week he won't speak to me...he ignores me...and then we had a meeting on Friday. He always announces the sales that we have each month. We sold right at 600,000 dollars worth this month...and my sales were a little over half of that. He mentiones the two girls who are mad at me...and passes right over me. He also always hangs up our sales in our cubicles...and mine have been sitting on my desk since last Thursday. He hung up their's...but not mine. I mean, no big deal, I'm bigger then that....but I dont know if I should go and ask him what the problem is...or just ignore him like he is doing be honest...I don't care what people think about me...but I truly hate having this type of pressure at work. Anyway, I don't mean to complain...I just feel a little frustrated...and kind of sad because I try to get along with everyone.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Novus Ordo Rednecks -- The post-funeral activity (part 3)

At the end of Saturday's funeral, my fiancee and I were standing outside the church, next to the hearse. I spotted my cousin, who told us, "We'll see you guys at the house."

Hrmm. Ok. Guess the burial is going to be immediate family only.

"Hey, Joe..." (Joe is a friend of the family) "...where's the burial?"
Joe: (ahem) "Umm. Ain't no burial. They're gonna cremate him."

Ok, so I know it's allowed in the post-conciliar world. I let it slide. Back "at the house", I spotted J.'s stepdaughter.

"So do I understand they're going to bury the ashes at the home in Mississippi?"
Cousin: "Well, that's just what they (J.'s family) told Father Jim."
"So what's the real plan?"
"Well, part of his ashes are to be buried in Mississippi. Part of them are to be scattered from the back of a Harley Davidson. Part of them are to be scattered into Lake (I forget the name). The rest are to be used as fertilizer for any trees they plant in his honor."

Interestingly enough, I suddenly don't recall anything else that happened "back at the house" after I heard that statement.

Novus Ordo Folly - The Funeral Mass (part 2)

While the posting immediately following this one is pretty verbose and took a lot out of me, this one will be shorter and sweeter(?).

"Father Jim" married "B." and "J." (no side jokes please). I went to their wedding -- against my better judgment and my family's wishes. B. has been a protestant her whole life. J. has been "Catholic". At their wedding, I watched this "priest" feed the Eucharist to my protestant aunt and all of her protestant family.


Not surprising in the post-conciliar world, I suppose.

There were, as you might imagine, several things at this Mass that were not surprising to me.
About the only thing that was surprising was why we were even having a funeral mass. I mean, if the priest is going to just come right out and declare that "Brother J. is in heaven with Jesus at this very moment," then I really have no idea why we're having a mass for him. I also don't understand why we should be praying for him. If anything, we should have turned the Mass into a service to pray for the intercession of Saint J.

I could perhaps thrill all of you readers with the tales of what happened at this "mass". I might start with the mundane happenings of the Preparation of the Gifts, whereby the priest prayed "Blessed are you Lord of all Creation. Because you're Good, you gave us wheat, which we have turned into bread. It will become for us the bread of life" and "Blessed are you Lord of all Creation. Because you're Good, you gave us the fruit of the vine which we have pressed to offer you. It will become for us our spiritual drink."

Yes, I could go on with that stuff were it not for the fact that so much wrong happened that I can't remember it all. Actually, that's maybe a blessing.

I mentioned (in part 1 of this series) that after protestant B. married "catholic" J., the couple stopped going to Mass --- really, who could blame them, considering that they weren't doing anything Catholic with Fr. Jim to begin with? --- and started attending Idlewild Presbyterian Church up until the day of J.'s death. This priest knows that B. and her whole family is protestant. But of course, Fr. Jim explained that this was a "special circumstance" and that he could permit them to receive the "Eucharist" at this "Mass". And so, of course, that's precisely what he did.

Pray for this priest, Father Jim, because he shall have much to answer for.

Novus Ordo Faux Pas Rosary and Visitation (part 1)

I haven't been to a lot of Catholic funerals in the 15 years since I converted to the Catholic Church. That's due mostly to the fact that everybody else in my family is a Protestant. But this past Friday and Saturday was a whole new Novus Ordo experience for me and one that I shall soon not forget.

Some minor background on this situation might be beneficial, so, to keep it short, my father's twin brother married "B." about 25 years ago. He died in 1999 from a heart attack. About 18 months after his death, "B." married a Catholic man, "J.", who was a contractor by trade, had actually constructed a whole new section of my aunt and uncle's house years ago when they were still married, and about whom my uncle made the remark, "I think that man has his eye on you." It would seem that my uncle was correct, in light of the alacrity with which my aunt took in marrying "J." so soon after my uncle's death.

In any case, cancer claimed J.'s life last week (my aunt is now a three-time widower, by the way). Knowing what I just described in the previous paragraph, you may safely assume that there is a tremendous amount of animosity between my family and my aunt's family. I suppose, technically, she's not really my aunt. But I decided I might offer some sign of peace by going to J.'s visitation and funeral. (My fiancee decided to attend as well).

That's enough digression and let's get to the meat of the matter here.

Friday night, the visitation was at the church (same church B. and J. were married in. ...uhh... no pun intended on the abbreviated names). Same priest, too --- Father "Jim". I have no idea what his last name is. Anyway, this was an odd thing for me. I've never seen a visitation in a Church... plenty at the funeral home... never at a Church. But let's move on. My fiancee and I are traditional Catholics. More specifically, we're SSPX Catholics, but no matter. We walk in, my fiancee dons her mantilla and of course the noisy mass of people crowded about in the nave of the Church was almost deafening. I look up -- sure enough, the tabernacle's candle is burning brightly. We shrug and move to a side pew. Hmmm... no kneelers. (No surprise there). So we kneel on the floor and do some prayers while everyone else continues to enjoy social hour in the nave of St. Patrick's Church in Memphis, TN. I finish reading the De Profundis and sit back. A rosary has been scheduled for 8pm, but since everyone's still visiting and chatting like a bunch of protestants at the Starbuck's stand in a megachurch, nothing gets kicked off until 8:30.

The Rosary Starts:

My fiancee and I are accustomed to praying the Rosary on our knees. While we dislike the notion that this "Catholic" church has no kneelers, we relish in the idea of offering up our discomfort for the souls in purgatory (not to exclude, perhaps, "J.").

Faux Pas #1: "Which mysteries did he say we were gonna do?!???"

Oh, that's right. The GLORIOUS Mysteries, because in the post-conciliar world, when every Catholic who dies bypasses Purgatory and finds himself shooting billiards with Christ in heaven, the Glorious Mysteries are to be said. The Sorrowful Mysteries -- being appropriate for a rosary in this circumstance -- are long gone in the post-conciliar world.

Faux Pas #2: "Hey... something's not right...."

Oh, you heard him right. Well, actually, you did not hear something right. You did not hear the 'Our Father' after the announcement of the First Glorious Mystery.

Faux Pas #3: "Hey... what kind of prayer is this...?"

Ok, while I don't like this version:
"Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with YOU. Blessed are YOU among women, and blessed
is the fruit of YOUR womb, Jesus..."
...I was willing to let it slide. Now that you know my displeasure at that 'change', I'll let you imagine my displeasure at the Glory Be:
"Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever, Amen." This is apparently an accepted prayer, and some won't see it as a faux pas, but being the rad trad that I am, it just ain't right.

Faux Pas #4: "Did we skip another prayer....?"

If you're thinking ahead and wondering if I'm referring to the Fatima prayer, then you'd be right. I know it's an "optional" prayer for the rosary, even though it seems that the Blessed Virgin thought it important enough to be added, and what would be more appropriate than the Fatima Prayer for the current situation? Oh, well, I suppose it doesn't matter since, according to the priest, "Father Jim", J. is already in heaven. Maybe that has something to do with it.

Faux Pas #5: "..could this guy possibly screw this up further?"

If you're still thinking ahead to the Hail, Holy Queen, then you'd be right again. Give yourself an indulgence as a reward for just knowing where I was headed.
We start off well enough... "Hail Holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope...".
I would like to tell you the rest of what we said, but unfortunately, the priest deviated so far from the prayer that I simply cannot recreate it in writing.

Faux Pas #6: ".. what in hell are they doing up there?...."

And now, this is the granddaddy of them all. Any member of a civilized society will be able to relate to what I am about to describe. This goes far beyond the boundary of decency and is so gauche that I hesitate to write it. But... what fun would that be for me to omit that which, in some macabre fashion, appears to encapsulate how I, a Traditionalist, feel when plunked into the Novus Ordo world??

Immediately after the rosary, J.'s sons gather around the open part of the casket. The other 20 or so people who stayed for the rosary are now milling about, resuming their obnoxious coffeetalk. Fiancee and I are still sitting in our kneeler-less pew. I can no longer see J. in the casket due to the wall created by his sons and there appears to be some struggling movement going on. "What are they doing?" I ask. "Can't see," replies my fiancee. "Oh, I think they're trying to put a rosary in his hands." No response. Silence. No response. More silence. "Uhh, no. Looks like they're trying to remove his jewelry."

"Do WHAT?!??"

Oh that's quite the case. Nevermind simply telling the funeral director (who was, of course, right there at the church) to get the jewelry before closing the casket for good. Let's allow the tallest son to reach into the closed portion of the casket to physically bring the corpse's hands out and start tugging on the ring. They're tugging, they're pulling. Someone asks if any ladies might have any vaseline. (!!!!!!) And then for a brief moment, one of the sons moves to the side and for an instant, I get a glimpse inside the casket. Actually, what I see is one of the other sons holding up the arm, set, of course, with rigormortis, trying to figure out how to get this ring off the hand-which-is-as-colorless-as-you'd-expect-a-corpse's-hand-to-be.

At that point, we were LONG overdue to make our exit. And so we did. Our complexion slightly greener than when we first entered the church.

Friday, May 06, 2005

What's a new convert to do?

When I converted last year, I knew I wasn't attending the most orthodox parish, but neither was it exceptionally liberal. We had a tender-hearted priest, and a liberal female pastoral minister, the usual handholding during the Our Father, crystal chalices, several EMHCs, female alter servers...but overall the parish was average. At the beginning of that year, we were blessed to have our newly retired Bishop take up residence at our linked parish, and consequently offer Mass at our parish every other week.

Quite suddenly at the beginning of this year, we were told that our priest was being moved, and four weeks later he was gone. We had no priest in line for our parish, and lived without one for a few months. And then suddenly we have a new priest. A lot of upheaval for our parish, and for new converts, my family, my good friend and neighbor, and now her brother's family (6 kids, one more on the way). Conversion from protestantism can be hard enough in the best circumstances.

It seems that our "average" parish is plummeting south. In the couple weeks since our new priest has been here, he's endorsed condoms for Africa from the pulpit, wreaked havoc with the Eucharistic prayer and the Agnus Dei, and challenged Bishop Banks (our retired Bishop in residence) for correcting him. So much for hopes for an orthodox priest.

I've discovered a little gem. A tiny little parish about a block away from my inlaws house. Their priest has been there for 21 years, and he is a blessing. Homilies on the Sacraments, a true love for the Church, bells at the consecration, communion under one kind, only 2 EMHCs (men), mostly male altar servers, no handholding, opens every Mass with the Confiteor. I suppose we'll be moving to that parish, which is such a shame for our parish, but a blessing for my family. But what else can one do, if the priest already knows he's out of line and flaunts it?

My friend and her brother haven't yet decided what to do. He's about ready to declare war. I don't know what good that would do. All I can suggest is to write our current Bishop and see what happens, and/or leave. If these priests had no one to homilize to, they'd have no one to poison. Sad, sad, sad.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Email I rec'd today

Subject: Catholic Answers Forums - Our Busiest Month Ever!
Catholic Answers Forums was just listed on the site as one of the largest discussion boards on the web! Thanks to all who helped put Catholic discussions in the spotlight.
And congrats to those who work behind the scenes making the forums such a pleasant experience for our members.
As April ends we now have over 22,000 members discussing 600,000 articles on 38,000 topics.
Among the most popular topics this past week are:
Momentous events have occurred in the life of the Church and Catholics during the past few weeks.
Stop in and catch up on the importance of:
Pope Benedict XVI
Pope John Paul II
The Conclave in Rome
Terri Schiavo

We have also added two forums for you:
Ecclessia Mundi (News of the Church in the World)
Culture of Life (Pro-life news)

And our existing forums have been jumping. Here's
the latest:
ASK AN APOLOGIST - expert answers to your ??'s
How can I find truly Catholic colleges for my kids?
Who is the patron saint of Catholic Answers?
Is marrying a cousin allowed by the Church?
Why is baptism outside the Church OK but not marriage?
Where do we send our tithe?

APOLOGETICS - defending the Faith
Question from a Seeking Jew
Mary, co-redeemer and co-mediator
The Inspired Scriptures are All-Sufficient?
WOMEN ONLY: Your "opinions" on Women Ordination
What is "Relativism"?

NON-CATHOLIC RELIGIONS - compare & contrast
Poll: How are we saved?
Pope John Paul II and Pope Shenouda III
Mormonism...Christian or Cult?
The Pope?
In what order did each church appear?

SCRIPTURE - What does the Holy Bible really say?
Catholic vs. Protestant John 3:16?
Then James says, 'I rule, then...' Acts 15:7-21
Alcohol drinking
Jesus ate only 3 times, never bathed, and never...
Matt 16:18 and 2nd grade grammar!
They just can't be right, they're Catholics...

LITURGY & SACRAMENTS - the Do's & Don'ts
Photographs from 2005 LA Religious Ed Conference
Poll: Liturgical Changes and Benedict XVI Mass?
Poll: Have you Ever Walked-Out of Mass?
What was the traditional Latin Mass like?
Pictures of the Tridentine Latin Mass/Churches
"Our Father" Handholding/Refusal of Sign of Peace

MORAL THEOLOGY - sin; temptation; moral dilemmas
Appropriate Punishment: Please read before voting
Why Are Christians Obsessed With Homosexuality?
Children of same-sex couples in Catholic schools?
Should men have their ears pierced?
Have you ever corrected any one during Mass?
Is lust the only reason people contracept?


Oh yeah, they don't have a clue how to run a message board...

Yes, we DO want to turn back the clock!

Our friend David Hopkins puts it more eloquently than I could.

The widow's mites

"And Jesus sitting over against the treasury, beheld how the people cast money into the treasury. And many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow: and she cast in two mites, which make a farthing. And calling his disciples together, he saith to them: Amen I say to you, this poor widow hath cast in more than all they who have cast into the treasury. For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want cast in all she had, even her whole living." (Mark xii.41-44)

The other day my wife and kids were walking downtown when they encountered a homeless lady. My wife felt sorry for her because she was begging for money but no one had put anything in her cup. So she gave her all the change that she had. When she started to walk away, the homeless lady called her back and gave each of the children a penny from what little my wife had given her.

Working downtown as I do, and having gone to college in the inner city, I've had a lot of encounters with the homeless that have left me feeling swindled. Too, our American culture (there's that phrase again) tends to look down upon people who don't appear to be doing anything with themselves (including, as the ladies here will no doubt attest, stay-at-home mothers -- but now I'm getting off-topic). What is the dividing line between being generous with the poor (in this case, the homeless) and enabling them? Is there any? Should we give without regard to such concerns? If I give money to a beggar, I may be helping him or I may be enabling him; but either way I am giving him an opportunity to grow in grace.