Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sanctity of Life Sunday 2016

If I had thought about it more, I would have realized that today is National Sanctity of Life Sunday. After all the anniversary (I dislike using that normally happy word) of the erroneous Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton decisions is on January 22nd. As it is, I had forgotten. There was also not a mention in the bulletin or homily or even the petitions during Mass. But social media came to the rescue when someone liked a Facebook post of mine from two years ago.

So why is it that the unborn and their corresponding legislative milestones are so easy to bypass or forget? When even a prolife priest and a prolife family would have missed the significance of this day, one has to wonder.

Silent No More

When we join post-abortive women who vow to be Silent No More and share the hurt they have experienced through a decision made long ago, we should keep this topic close to our hearts - always. When we have dedicated much of our adult life to the prolife movement, how can it be so easy to forget? After all, we've marched and petitioned and written and prayed - for the babies and their families. But even when that is our intention, it is just too easy to forget - to push the outrage and sorrow into the background. Especially when good people tend to fall into the trap of doing nothing - saying nothing.

What About Jesus?

But is that what we should allow to happen? No. Yet as easy as it is to sometimes shove the unpleasant out of the forefront of our minds, we do the same to Jesus on a daily basis. Try as we might, we let mundane or worldly aspects of life take over our here and now. Our Lord and Savior doesn't occupy all 24 hours of each day either, and He deserves to accompany us even in our dreams.

What would He have us do? A good start is to heighten our awareness, immerse ourselves in information, spiritual endeavors, and love of others. The more we put practice to our sentiments, the more the issue of following Jesus, living His love, and abhorring abortion becomes an issue at the forefront of our minds.

Worthy Reading, Worthy Circles

In order to give those important people and topics their due, it is good to bring our focus on the important things in life. This begs the question, "what is our focus in reading, in speaking, and prayer?" Do we bring our minds, and therefore our hearts, toward worthy interests? Or do we seek to only entertain ourselves with worldly reading and entertainment?

In order to empty ourselves of worldly pursuits, it would be of benefit to take on a mission of adding spiritual reading to our day - even if it only involves reading and meditating on a daily chapter. One book that is currently inspiring me is Rediscover Jesus: An Open Invitation by Matthew Kelly.

I owe this type of reading to a priest we know and admire. During confession one Sunday, this particular priest asked me a question, "What type of spiritual reading do you do?" He didn't want the list of informational reading I shared - he wanted me to focus on spiritual reading. I had no suitable answer. Apparently I was in the habit of studying faith and other topics of interest, but had failed to read spiritually beneficial books.

That changed with his penance - he instructed me to read Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Fr. Michael Gaitley. Before this, I had been blind to the fact that my reading material wasn't so much an attempt to improve my relationship with Jesus as it was to discover and delve into facts. Slowly that is changing now. I am still a self-proclaimed nerd when it comes to fact-finding, but I have added more spiritual reading to the mix as well.

What Does That Have to Do with Sanctity of Life Sunday?

When we work on our faith life, instead of just being able to pour out numerous statistics and biological facts, our hearts soften. We become a "litte Christ" as our Pastor put it today during his homily. Others are able to more clearly see that we are not a people of judgment; we become a people of love and tenderness. We will always be called to make judgments about whether or not an act is virtuous or immoral, but we will focus less on winning the battle and more on an encounter with each person - where they are.

As Father told us today, we need to think of the lines of a famous song, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me." On this Sanctity of Life Sunday, let us all strive to promote peace - in the womb and in our hearts.

Where there is no love, put love, and you will find love. ~ Saint John of the Cross

Did you hear a prolife homily or prayers of the faithful today? Do you, on a regular basis? Share your thoughts and let us pray for one another as we strive toward being the saints Jesus calls us to be.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

You're Kidding, Right? 5 Outrageous, True News Stories

By Robbie Grubbs from Houston (What????) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

It really cannot be argued that we live in a perverse society. On an almost daily basis, I find myself saying, "You've got to be kidding", as more and more outrageous stories unfold.

We have the number one abortion provider of our land, Planned Parenthood, spending our tax dollars with abandon - even as they are shown on tape brokering aborted baby parts. The Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts have lost their way in the new sexual 'norms' of society. Our president pushes abortion here and abroad - even attaching aid to the poor to compliance with his morally repugnant policies.

It is no wonder that I find myself shying away from the news - even from the good sources - and from much of social media. There is an overload of horrifying information that makes being in the know almost unbearable.

Occasionally, though, my eyes come across things that are so outrageous that I feel compelled to read and share, in the interest of meeting life head-on. There is much about which to be prayerful, penitent, and dependent on the hope of Jesus.

The stories below fall under that heading. How can we be faithful witnesses for Him if we are not prepared to warn others of the atrocities being committed right under our noses? How can we be a part of the solution, when we do not reach out to inform and pray?

5 Outrageous But True News Stories

1. You’re Kidding, Right? 11-Year-Olds Can Be Implanted with Birth Control Devices at School without Parental Consent - That's right. In the state (yes, this is a United States of America story) the same little girls who can't be given an aspirin without parental approval, can have an IUD implanted at school. There's more.
2.  Catholic Care Home Sued for Refusing Euthanasia - This one is from Belgium but still qualifies. Who in the world would think that a 'care' home should do anything but care for their patients? Apparently our culture of death does. It's not like we haven't already crossed that bridge here in the United States.
3. Black Lawmakers Call White Congressman Racist Because He Condemned Aborting Black Babies - As if it's not bad enough that minority children are being killed by abortion at a higher rate than white children. Now, black supporters of abortion are pulling the race card on those who want to stop the eugenics.
4. Mom Accidentally DROPS Baby At Home, Rushes Him To Hospital. Now He’s In Foster Care - This is certainly not an isolated incident. We all know that similar things are going on all over the world as well. Parents are similarly penalized for wanting to home educate, medically treat their children (or not), or for wanting to abstain from age-inappropriate sex education. 
5. Obamacare Might Force Doctors to Perform Sex-Reassignment Surgeries - By now we're all familiar with the Obamacare Individual Mandate. It requires everyone to get government-approved health insurance or face punitive IRS penalties. We also know about the Health and Human Services (HHS) contraception mandate - it requires even religious institutions like the Little Sisters of the Poor, to help provide insurance coverage for abortifacient drugs or face millions of dollars of fines. Now the HHS is considering a “Gender Identity Mandate”, which would require doctors and insurers to provide or cover “gender transition” treatments. If they refuse, they will face discrimination charges, potential loss of federal funds, and loss of Medicaid reimbursements.
Reading these stories is not uplifting. Inconceivable as they are, they are a part of our society. As human beings we may sometimes find ourselves wanting to shy away from harsh reality and focus only on the good in life. Yet, as faithful Catholics, we need to make ourselves aware of the evil in the world so that we can combat it - as a part of the Church Militant.

That is not to say that we should focus on evil or get some perverse 'train wreck' pleasure from it. We should simply acknowledge that evil, does indeed, exist and is something with which humanity battles daily.

Let us put on the armor of God, be aware of the world and warn others, and pray with a faith that cannot be cowed to evil.

Saint Michael the Archangel...

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Saint Peregrine Novena Revisited

saint peregrine, cancer

Two years ago I wrote Cancer, the St. Peregrine Novena, and a Miracle. There I shared some personal experiences and reflections about our cancer affected family. It was a very popular read that year but, as would be expected, didn't see much traffic afterwards. That changed this year.

During the past couple of weeks the post has resurfaced as a favorite of my readers and on Pinterest. The same period of time saw an increase in attention to the Novena to Saint Peregrine, posted on the Designs by Birgit Facebook fan page. I've received several prayer requests during that period of time.

The noticeable increase of interest in the 'cancer saint' tells me that there is a lot of cancer-related suffering going on within my little circle of the cyber world. Thank God that the Holy Spirit has a way of putting us together with just the right people at the right time. My prayers do indeed go out for all of those who ask. I encourage you to share your petitions in the combox.

As the Saint Peregrine Novena begins again today, let us all remember those suffering due to cancer - as well as other chronic illnesses. They may be the patient, a spouse, a child, a friend, or someone else affected but they all need the warm, loving touch of the Divine Healer - and our prayers.

Dear Father God in Heaven, please envelope the poor souls who are suffering due to cancer, in your loving embrace. Guide them to hearing the whisper of the Holy Spirit as He consoles their fears and pain. Saint Peregrine, pray for us. Amen.

The Saint Peregrine Novena prayers can be found at Pray More Novenas. Today's prayers follow below. You may also enjoy a recent column by PattiMaguire Armstrong over at Catholic Stand entitled Why Pray Novenas?

Saint Peregrine Novena

Day 1 – Pray for us, that we will not let sickness bring us to despair

Dear holy servant of God, St. Peregrine, we pray today for healing.

Intercede for us! God healed you of cancer and others were healed by your prayers. Please pray for the physical healing of…

(Mention your intentions)

These intentions bring us to our knees seeking your intercession for healing.

We are humbled by our physical limitations and ailments. We are so weak and so powerless. We are completely dependent upon God. And so, we ask that you pray for us…

Pray for us, that we will not let sickness bring us to despair

We know, St. Peregrine, that you are a powerful intercessor because your life was completely given to God. We know that in as much as you pray for our healing, you are praying even more for our salvation.

A life of holiness like yours is more important that a life free of suffering and disease. Pray for our healing, but pray even more that we might come as close to Our Lord as you are.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning is now, and ever shall be, world without end.


Author's Note: My daughter and I continue to be cancer free - 6 and 10 years. Praise God!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hearty Faux Stroganoff

Many of our simple culinary pleasures are taken for granted - until they are taken away. That was the case for our son-in-law, Andrew. During the course of several months, his allergic reactions to an unknown food allergen alarmingly increased. Anaphylactic reactions that required emergency measures and ambulance rides to the hospital finally netted an answer - he suffers from the alpha gal food allergy.

Often a tick borne illness, this allergy can become life threatening if trigger foods such as dairy products or read meat are consumed. That suffering from this condition is life altering is an understatement. No cheese, milk, sour cream, yogurt, whey, beef, pork, venison, or in some cases even gelatin in one's diet presents severe culinary limitations.

As a result one of the things we've tried to do, to ease the disappointment of vastly limited eating opportunities, is to develop alternative recipes. We call these adaptations, ALF recipes - Andrew Legal Food.

During our annual Christmas Eve celebration, Andrew shared with me that he really missed eating the beef stroganoff that has become an annual favorite. The recipe linked below is the resulting attempt to give him a similar dish that won't result in a medical emergency. His positive comments last night proved it to be a success!

You might also enjoy this recipe if you are lactose intolerant or as a meatless dish if you omit the turkey. Bon appetit!

Hearty Faux Stroganoff (crockpot recipe) has been submitted to and is publicly available. Please give it a click and some kind words.