Friday, October 28, 2016

The One Essential Thing: Generosity

According to The Seven Pillars of Catholic Spirituality, Mass is the third pillar – after Confession and Contemplation. Yet what exactly do we expect to get out of Mass? Are we preoccupied with the ‘cosmetics’ of the Mass – music, priest, parishioners, or other human trappings – or are we there for the nourishment of our souls?

In one segment of his inspirational presentation, Matthew Kelly encourages listeners to become aware of the ‘one thing’ in reference to the Mass. He suggests investing in a small journal to take to Mass each Sunday. In it, we are instructed to write ‘the one thing’ that speaks to us in our topic of inspiration during Mass. According to Kelly, after a year of listing our ‘one thing‘, we would own the “most powerful spiritual reference” – a guide to help us to more fully live out our Catholic faith.


The one thing still on my mind when I attended Mass this past Sunday was,”What would become my one thing? Would I really be able to hone in on one particular topic and expand my efforts in that direction?”

As I listened to the readings, sang the Responsorial Psalm, and moved on to the Gospel I became aware of a theme. Not only was our substitute priest a 20 year veteran of missionary work, but the focus of the scriptures was trending toward generosity – doing for the least of these.

It Isn’t Just About the Poor

However, our generosity can, and should, extend beyond the poor in Haiti and other Third World countries. Yes, the poor will always be with us, yet we are bound to give in charity to the limits of our generosity. There is more demanded of us. Are we generous with our time and talents? Does our generosity extend to family, friends, and community? How about our parish? What do we share of ourselves with these?

Creative Generosity

Surely, the one thing which comes to mind is giving alms – donating money or perhaps even a trip to Haiti, to minister to the poorest of the poor. But there is more to be done. Generosity can mean engaging people in talking about spirituality – the sharing of the Good News. In this sense, evangelization is generosity because we are sharing our time in the pursuit of sharing the Word of God with others.

Generosity can also take the form of watching our tongues. Do we really need to share this or that story about someone? Wouldn’t it be more generous to leave information private, if there is no good reason for sharing? Thoughtful silence can, therefore, exemplify generosity.

Looking into the eyes of strangers with a smile, listening to a child spin a winding tale that takes way too long, or a commiserating hug for someone in mental anguish – all of these give witness to generosity.

God Still Speaks Today

God hasn’t left the human race. He wasn’t content to speak only to Adam, Moses, or His Disciples. Kelly reminds us that, “It isn’t that God has stopped speaking, it’s that we’ve stopped listening”. What part do we play in our own formation? “He wants to speak to you in your life” and help you become the best version of yourself, explains Kelly. Every time we open up our hearts to the unitive message of God, we will find more inspiration for generosity. There are no limits to the methods we can employ to do the Will of God.

Finding Our One Thing

Now that the mission has been identified, we are ready to take the challenge. As Kelly suggests, write this line in your journal: “God, show me one way in this Mass I can become a better version of myself this week”. Bring your journal to church, arrive early, and be open to the voice of God. Listen. The music, prayers, quiet of your heart, and readings – all of these components will coagulate into a theme, the one thing. Write it down and let it become a prayer during Mass. The one thing will color your perceptions of what is happening there as Heaven meets earth.

What Now?

Fully armed with the inspiration with which we have been gifted we face the coming week, and the world, focused and invigorated, and energized. Kelly reminds us that, “Our lives change when our habits change”. As we begin the journey of living the one thing we will gain everything we need to make a difference. When we count ourselves as one of many who are working to transform their lives, we can awaken a sleeping giant. This sleeping giant of our combined efforts can change the world. With God at the helm, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.

He said to them: The things that are impossible with men, are possible with God. Luke 18:27

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Are Political Discussions Creating a Nation of Voyeurs?

Please, for the love of God, stop it already! Why is our already morally flawed society hell bent on continuing to drive our political narrative ever deeper toward unapologetic sleaze?

At this point, more people are 'aware' of the Trump lewd comment and comeon debacle than are 'aware' of breast cancer - to which the month of October is dedicated.

Is this About Smut or Governing?

The narrative is blatantly being dictated to us - even by fellow conservatives. Why are we all spending so much time defending or comparing Trump's sins instead of working on matters relative to the governing of our country? Russia is calling all of her citizens home, terrorists (as well as drug lords, gangs, and rapists) are flooding across our borders unchecked, and our relationships with our allies are at an all time low.

We have an economy that is in the tank, rampant unemployment, hatred between ethnic groups and law enforcement, leaders who create laws out of thin air, and a bloody war on our unborn. There are so many pressing, national issues to discuss and discern before we cast our votes next month. Yet, here we are.

I've seen otherwise faithful friends post obscene photos, comparing Michelle O's feined outrage at Trump while calling Beyonce a 'role model' for young girls - including her daughters. These memes have graphic photos to which I would prefer never be exposed. Not to mention that I cannot even allow my grandchildren to look over my shoulder, while perusing Facebook.

Please, for the love of God, stop it!

While I am well aware of the repugnant behavior of some men, I have had more than enough of the details. There is no defense and no excuse. No comparision will ever resonate with those who are not like-minded. Levels of guilt need no more comparision and, if you have not picked up on the free flowing hypocracy by now, I doubt that endless, salacious repetition will do the trick.

We get it. Some men are pigs. Many men are pigs. Some outgrow the propensity. Some do not. Do we even know who does or does not? Is this this best tack to take when chosing a president? Taking part in the disgusting pornographic exchanges going on at this point will fail to change anything - anyone.

Leadership Limtus Test?

The last time I checked, the oath of office doesn't include promising to be chaste and pure. If that were the litmus test, I doubt that many of our leaders (teachers, judges, or even parents) would pass muster. This is a political issue that has moral connotations, yes. But there is no excusable reason to create a tellall tabloid expose' of potential presidents. The discernment for a president is also certainly not a vetting for seminary. That all candidates are personally flawed is a given. To one extent or another, is that not true of us all?

How a president will lead, in relation to our government and the will of the people he represents, is the pressing issue. More appropriate questions come to mind. What are their plans, who are their advisors, their cabinet members? How will they address the constituion, religious freedom, the right to life, or national defense?

Narrow Vision or Larger Picture?

It might also be beneficial to recall that there are three branches of government. The president has to work with the legislative and judicial branches, so his word alone is not Gospel or rule of law. The party platform he represents, has a certain degree of effect on our government as well, as does his choice of Vice-President. All of these pieces of the political puzzle comprise one, more complete and larger, picture. The various trees make up the government forest, so to speak. Each of these aspects needs careful consideration. A clearer view of the overall picture will give us an opportunity to derive a more complete answer.

So I ask you, are we electing a leader who will protect our country from enemies and hopefully institute more protection for the unborn and the constitution - or are we choosing a dorm mother (father) or nanny for our children? The job description should put focus on the relevant questions.

How many presidents have we had? How many of them were unsavory characters? What was the reaction of the people? How did these issues affect their ability to serve? Do we even know of the skeletons in each of their closets? Have we ever been so hell bent on finding and exposing them? Is that really the premier issue when electing a leader?

Our Country Needs Our Focus

What I see here is an unbelievable, consistent diatribe pertaining to unsavory characteristics. The degree of titilation is palitable. Look at how we are talking and what our eyes are seeing and what our ears are hearing and what our minds are thinking. This has to have the devil giggling at our foolishness. Instead of focusing on issues - real political, nation and constitition saving issues - we are distracted to the point of a comatose, spit flecked nutty over the one thing that is least relevant to the election. Yes, character matters, but it is only one facet of a secualr leader. A strong love of country, the constitution, and capable leadership ability - these are the traits that make a president.

Let us not give in to the willful distraction dished up and served to us. Pray, focus, discern, learn, and vote for the best possible outcome for our country.

God Bless America!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Breast Cancer and Pregnancy: Another Abortion Exception Debunked

Contrary to popular reporting, Breast Cancer does not necessarlily mean a death sentence for baby or mother. The truth of the matter is that both can safely live. If you are not aware of this aspect of oncological medicine, it might surprise you to know that this scientific fact is not news at all. Mothers with a cancer diagnosis have been successfully and safely treated for decades – and at no danger to their unborn children.

As we focus on October as Breast Cancer Awareness month, a perpetuated lie becomes deadly for either mother or child. Cancer organizations, as well as ill-informed physicians, too frequently convince women that an abortion is necessary – to save the life of the mother, should she be diagnosed during pregnancy. According to their recommendation, she otherwise risks her own life in an unnecessary bid to save her baby – leaving a child without a mother.

Why Women Are Left Uninformed?

Why is this scenario so common? Why do mothers feel driven to decide between their own lives and the lives of their unborn children? One reason is obvious. Abortion is a lucrative business. If women can be pushed into subscribing to unsubstantiated fear, there is money to be made – millions of dollars, annually for abortion giant Planned Parenthood.

The reason doctors fail to inform their patients is a bit more cryptic. Perhaps it has to do with keeping patients in their hometown medical facilities. Personal experience has taught us that doctors often prefer local treatment to referral to out-of-town specialists. An obvious conclusion could then be discerned as a desire to keep ‘business’ at home.

The Truth of Cancer Treatment during Pregnancy

Cancer treatment facilities such as MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX have an astounding success rate of healthy births to cancer stricken mothers. Somehow the news just isn’t getting out into the population at large. Although there are numerous medical journals, success stories, and peer contacts, too many doctors still seem to be in the dark. Whether or not this is a matter of willful ignorance or lack of training, remains an unknown.

Breast Cancer While Pregnant Gets Personal

At twenty weeks pregnant, our daughter was diagnosed with BRCA1 breast cancer – a particularly destructive form present in our family genetics. With dire past maternal outcomes – death within weeks or up to five years –aggressive treatment was in order to save her life. There was no time to lose. Aborting her unborn daughter was an unconceivable option.

Unfortunately, our daughter was given limited options. In consultation with local doctors, it was implied that she had two choices. The first was to terminate (read kill her child through abortion) and then aggressively treat her BRCA1 cancer. The second implication was that she could wait out her pregnancy, at great physical harm to her own health. As a molecular biologist with a gift for research, however, neither answer was satisfactory. Since she was able to access and read medical journals, our daughter did her own research. As a result, she found her answer in Houston, TX.

Making an Educated Decision

Armed with the knowledge of a third, much more palatable choice, a trip to Houston resulted in a chemotherapy regimen, to begin immediately. Two weeks before birth, further treatment was postponed to ready her body for childbirth. Her 8+ lb. healthy daughter was born on Thanksgiving Day and scored a perfect 10 on her Apgar test. The miracle of life, confirmed she had made the correct, pro-life decision.

Sharing the Pro-Life News

Part of our gratitude for finding such a positive outcome to a frightening scenario finds us proclaiming the good news to everyone we meet. Mothers, nurses, and even doctors are often amazed that they have never heard about this decades old treatment option.  The goal of sharing this life-affirming option is a catalyst for an annual sharing of the facts. Please consider passing the word along – a life may be hanging in the balance, even as you read these words.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Drawing a Relgious Line On Politics

I am finished. After praying over it with a heavy heart last night, I have decided that I am too attentive to politics. While I will remain informed, I will tear myself away from the constant soap opera/demonic distractions and focus on the Eternal.

My decision has been made according to the priorities given to all Catholic Christians - abortion is the guiding factor because it is an intrinsic evil upon which all other rights hinge. Without life, there can be no other rights.

I listened to an excellent presentation by Matthew Kelly last night before bed. He spoke of the 7 Pillars of Catholic Spirituality. This is the type of thing to which I will be listening - rather than Rush or Levin. My soul is hurting, my mind is tired, and my spirit wants to escape to the comfort of God.

It remains to be seen how successful I will be - there is so much at stake and no clear answer - but I am going to try and pray for the strength to succeed.

My Rosary this morning brought me more clarity. It will be tempted to be drawn back in, God help me resist. I will most likely vote for Trump (really Pence) this November, because reluctantly, I know this is the right thing for me to do. So I do not need convincing or more information. My well-formed conscience has made a choice and now I need to discipline myself by stepping out of the fray.

I love you, my friends and pray you will also resist the temptation to make every day about too many worldly things.

Put on the New Self

1Therefore, if you be risen with Christ, seek the things that are above; where Christ is sitting at the right hand of God: 2Mind the things that are above, not the things that are upon the earth. 3For you are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4When Christ shall appear, who is your life, then you also shall appear with him in glory.
5Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, lust, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is the service of idols. 6For which things the wrath of God cometh upon the children of unbelief, 7In which you also walked some time, when you lived in them. 8But now put you also all away: anger, indignation, malice, blasphemy, filthy speech out of your mouth. 9Lie not one to another: stripping yourselves of the old man with his deeds, 10And putting on the new, him who is renewed unto knowledge, according to the image of him that created him. 11Where there is neither Gentile nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian nor Scythian, bond nor free. But Christ is all, and in all.
12Put ye on therefore, as the elect of God, holy, and beloved, the bowels of mercy, benignity, humility, modesty, patience: 13Bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if any have a complaint against another: even as the Lord hath forgiven you, so do you also. 14But above all these things have charity, which is the bond of perfection: 15And let the peace of Christ rejoice in your hearts, wherein also you are called in one body: and be ye thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you abundantly, in all wisdom: teaching and admonishing one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles, singing in grace in your hearts to God. 17All whatsoever you do in word or in work, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
Collossians 3