Friday, September 28, 2012

Quick Takes: Outrageous Obama

In the spirit of the election season, and because the lapdog media does not critique a thing about the man (makes me craaaaaazy), I am picking just a few of the most outrageous things about Obama and his sycophantic loyal supporters.

1) One of the most outrageous things about Obama is his ability to look the camera (or the teleprompter) in the eye and tell us that he is a champion of religious liberty. Whether I'm watching his disingenuous videos or his awful UN speech, I don't know whether to spit out my drink, or laugh, or cry. Who is the man trying to convince? Because he's not fooling those who actually care about religious liberty. In fact, there has never been a president in memory who's been such an enemy of religious liberty. His attacks on conscience rights moved tens of thousands of concerned Americans in 150 cities to protest his nefarious HHS mandate, which threatens all Catholic institutions and Catholic-owned businesses.

Lila Rose speaking at the D.C. rally.

I attended the first Phoenix rally with my little ones and a thousand other friends. I can assure you, we are not like the professional protesters (such as Occupy Wall Street) who have tons of time on their hands. It takes an outrageous provocation to get us up and moving out the door with kids and snacks and strollers to navigate downtown and brave the heat. And Obama's HHS mandate, which 1) has the entire body of (generally passive) Catholic bishops speaking with one voice, and 2) motivated them to coordinate a Fortnight for Freedom to pray for religious liberty, and 3) has our Protestant brethren saying, "We are all Catholic now", is indeed outrageous provocation. 

Oh, wait. We can't forget the nearly 60 Catholic businesses, universities, charities and other entities that have taken the time and trouble to sue Obama in court for violation of religious liberty. They are not doing this for their health. Nobody does this on a whim.

Oh, gosh, and one more little thing: the Pope in Rome, our dear and thoughtful Benedict XVI, is so concerned about the loss of the religious freedom in America that he went out of his way to give a speech about it, emphasizing the "grave threat" to religious liberty that is facing believers in the good ole USA. 

So, um, Obama's claim to be a champion of religious liberty is a lie, a joke, a travesty and yes, an outrage.

Who can bear it?

2) Another outrageous thing about the Obama camp is the narcissism and arrogance of the whole sad act. 

Consider the tasteless Obama flag that was recently on sale in Obama's online shop:

It could have been yours for $35, but it was removed from the shop when folks began to notice a chilling resemblance to the bloodstained walls of our American consulate after the Benghazi "spontaneous attack" premeditated acts of terrorism on September 11 of this year.

May God rest the souls of the victims.
But although the tacky, megalomaniacal flag is now mercifully retired, the celebrity set who swoon over their man have introduced another outrageous affront to authentic patriotism: the "For All" Campaign. Millionaire Hollywood starlets ask us to pledge our votes to Obama by writing our "reasons for getting involved" on our hands (personally, I tell my kids not to write on themselves), then taking a picture with our hands over our hearts. Wow. Deep stuff. Here is an example of how to do it, from Jessica Alba:

But wait. Do you notice an irony? "Right to Choose" FOR ALL. Hmmm, well, except for the 3,500 human beings that are shredded in the womb every day in this nation -- none of whom got that right to "choose". Because they are dead. Well, that's embarrassing.

Anyway, maybe she and Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson and the others can Pledge their Allegiance to Obama and to abortion while saluting the special Obama flag, if they got one before it was removed from the Obama store.

Outrageous, yes. But none of it is surprising. It's human nature. The more secular one becomes, the more one bows to government as the highest authority. When the human heart that is made for God cannot or will not access Him, that void must be filled. In this case, we have Obama as Messiah, who seems to fit the bill nicely for so many.

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

3) The next outrage is the lapdog media. Millions of us have known for years that real journalism is dead here in America, but I am struggling with how overt the bias has become. They don't even try to hide it anymore. They fawn and coddle and serve the Master. They exist to get him reelected, and to keep him as comfortable and happy as possible while doing it. It has been painful to watch, because it's ultimately a betrayal of the American people. We deserve a press that will hold any candidate's feet to the fire, and hold our leaders accountable, no matter what their political party or ideology. 

I feel sometimes like we have a state-run media. I hate that the upcoming debates are moderated by these people, because the deck is stacked. 

I am not a huge fan of Sean Hannity (he has trashed the teachings of the Church too many times), but he got it right when he said this to "mainstream" journalists the other day:

I’m going to tell you something — all you liberals out there, all you people in the media. I’m telling you, Obama in private is just laughing his ass off at all of you because you are so dumb, so gullible, so easily manipulated. And all he has to do is tell you that there is a doughnut in the sky and you’ll report there’s a doughnut in the sky. And behind the scenes, he knows he is advancing his radical agenda and that you’re helping him do it. And he knows what fools you all are. And he knows that you have basically drunk the Kool-Aid and that you’re out there and you will say and do whatever he tells you to say and do.

If he blames an ATM machine kiosk, if he blames Bush, Fox News, conservative talk radio, the tea party, the Chamber of Commerce — you’re going to go out there and you’re going to regurgitate it just like good little journalists will. [I]f he tells you, ‘It’s the ATM machine that took all the jobs away,’ you’ll go out there and say, ‘You know, the president makes sense here.’ That’s a big problem for a country that wants to remain free, isn’t it?”
Yes, indeed, it's a huge problem for a country that wants to remain free. The whole travesty with the media today is outrageous.

4) Our economy is in the toilet, unemployment is still sky high (the numbers don't even include the Americans who have given up looking for work), gas prices have tripled in four years, our debt long ago passed the "scary" mark (the mind cannot fathom the number 16 trillion!) -- and yet I watched an Obama surrogate say on TV last night that he would give the president an "A" on handling the economy! He said it three times! That is freaking outrageous!! And the people eat it up! They will vote for Obama because he is "likable"! I would guess that half the voters base their votes on what they "feel", not on what they know.

If you asked the average American about specific issues and policies, and what Obama stands for, he or she could not tell you. Most of the American electorate is ignorant and apathetic. I've spoken with many of them, some of them at great length. And I've heard more than enough "man on the street" interviews over the past two election cycles, which make me quiver in my boots. The ignorance of even educated Americans is simply staggering, and though many cannot even articulate what the current candidates stand for, they truly believe there is no real difference between the two. This is truly frightening, and totally outrageous.

5) Sometimes a simple graphic can help with clarity. If these were competing job resumes for CEO of your company, whom would you hire? 

It's outrageous that Romney is not 20 points ahead. 

6) But let's get back to the greatest outrage. The man in office now is not morally fit to be the president of the free world. This is a man who voted four times against requiring standard medical care for actual human babies born alive (whoops!) after botched abortions. His votes would have allowed the abortionist -- i.e., the hit man paid to kill the child -- to decide whether or not a child born alive should receive medical care. That is outrageous!

People, this is infanticide. Yes, he is the most committed pro-abort we have ever had in the presidency (and he resides firmly in the pocket of Planned Parenthood and the entire abortion lobby), but even the radical NARAL gals did not oppose the Born Alive Infant Protection Act(s) that Obama voted against time and again. That is how extreme Obama's position on abortion/infanticide is, and for this reason alone, the man whose voice you hear in the audio below is not morally fit to hold the highest office in the land. 

7) From child victims in America to child victims overseas, let's talk about the orphans, as we always do in Take #7.

Sweet Giselle is fragile. I pray she makes it through the cold winter. She is suffering from severe malnutrition, and I have written an entire post about her, here. Please take the time to read it if you can.

Are you my mama? Click my photo for more details! 

Giselle is in a nation that has a (relatively!) cheap and quick adoption process. Imagine her with long hair, ribbons, color in her cheeks, and a big smile! She can get there. Please share.

Next, there is sweet Archie! This cutie pie "loves to cuddle and be cuddled" and is facing transfer very soon. :(

Click my photo for more info, and let's find me a family!

He is just a doll, and I wrote a post on him as well, here, where you will find the most charming videos, including this one:

Oh, please, let's find Giselle and Archie homes soon! Thank you for sharing their faces and stories with as many people as you can!

And for those of you who love to donate when there is a matching grant, to stretch every dollar, please check out Heidi's opportunity, which I wrote about, here!

Finally, pray for Meg and her husband, who at this very moment are winging their way to Eastern Europe to meet their new son. They and other adoptive families are the true heroes, sacrificing so much to give these precious children of God a chance in life and a home with love.

Thanks to Jen for hosting.


Monday, September 24, 2012

So funny! I have hope for our future, now. Thanks, kids!

This video, in protest of Michelle Obama's heavy-handed, freedom-killing food mandates for school children, has my heart soaring! Maybe the youth of this nation are not lost yet! I sure hope the kids' parents don't suddenly find themselves audited by the feds….

Meanwhile, ENJOY!!!! 

"A parody on the national school lunch policy mandated by The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010."

To learn more about the Kansas teachers and kids who put this video together, go here. Way to go citizenry! Fight the Federal Food Police and Nutrition Nannies! Freeeeeeeeedooooommm!!!

Oh, and thanks to an inspiring homily yesterday at mass, and a few pep talks from great readers, I am definitely back to talking about politics. At this moment in our nation's history, what could be more important?


Friday, September 21, 2012

Quick Takes: "Grateful for the discomfort"

1) "Truth comes with graces attached." One of my favorite sayings.

I was honored to be present a week ago when Senator Rick Santorum delivered an inspiring, profound speech to hundreds of us at the Arizona Right to Life gala. I learned a lot about the man, his family, and his political and spiritual journeys (which often overlapped). There were few dry eyes when he talked about the son he and Karen lost, Gabriel, and the daughter they were expected to lose, Bella, who has Trisomy 18. Most children with Trisomy 18 are aborted, but the Santorums chose to love their little girl for as long as she lives, which has been a miraculous, joyful four years so far.

In Santorum's concluding remarks, we witnessed the power that comes from living one's faith with integrity. He read part of an article written by Time Magazine reporter Joe Klein last March, back when Santorum was vying for the Republican Party's presidential nomination, and when he was labeled, hammered, and dismissed by the press as the "extremist" on social issues. Klein and Santorum "do not share the same values" as the senator said with a wry smile (Klein is a secular liberal), and so we can begin to appreciate how extraordinary -- how grace-filled -- was this moment in journalism.

I have included an abridged version of Klein's article here, and I think you'll see what I mean.

March 5, 2012
Time Magazine

Bob Schieffer of CBS news is the gold standard for sane and solid in American TV journalism, and on the morning of Feb. 19, he was clearly nonplussed by extreme comments Rick Santorum had made about prenatal testing ("ends up in more abortions"), public schools ("anachronistic") and the President's position on the environment (a "phony theology"). "So, Senator," Schieffer began, "I've got to ask you. What in the world were you talking about, sir?" At such a moment, the overwhelming majority of American politicians would go on the defensive, hem, haw and respond with "What I really meant to say was ..." Not Santorum. He didn't seem at all flustered. He vigorously restated the positions he had taken--in some cases, eloquently. He was especially vigorous on the subject of prenatal testing, citing studies that show that 90% of Down-syndrome babies are aborted. Schieffer asked whether Santorum wanted to turn back the clock on science and ban such testing. No, Santorum replied, but the federal government should not be promoting procedures like amniocentesis, which "are used for the purposes of identifying children who are disabled and in most cases end up [being eliminated by] abortions."

Santorum has become an inconvenient candidate even for those who agree with him….

Most Republicans aren't going to want to battle Obama on contraception and prenatal testing….

And yet … there is something admirable about Santorum's near Tourettic insistence on bringing up issues no one else wants to talk about. His position on education--that parents need to spend a lot more time supervising their children's schooling--draws stifled groans from the overworked parents in his audiences, but he's right: parents know best how their children learn. His emphasis on the importance of intact families is undoubtedly correct as well; every major study since the 1960s has shown the disaster that results from out-of-wedlock births. Even Santorum's use of prenatal testing raises uncomfortable issues for many people. It was a sonogram that helped determine that the Santorums' son Gabriel needed microsurgery in the womb to clear his bladder. Rick and Karen decided to fight for Gabriel's life, which nearly cost Karen her own, and they passionately embraced the child during his two hours on earth. They have spent the past three years caring for their daughter Isabella, whose genetic defect, trisomy 18, is an early-death sentence. "Almost 100% of trisomy 18 children are encouraged to be aborted," Santorum told Schieffer.

I am haunted by the smiling photos I've seen of Isabella with her father and mother, brothers and sisters. No doubt she struggles through many of her days--she nearly died a few weeks ago--but she has also been granted three years of unconditional love and the ability to smile and bring joy. Her tenuous survival has given her family a deeper sense of how precious even the frailest of lives are.

All right, I can hear you saying, the Santorum family's course may be admirable, but shouldn't we have the right to make our own choices? Yes, I suppose. But I also worry that we've become too averse to personal inconvenience as a society--that we're less rigorous parents than we should be, that we've farmed out our responsibilities, especially for the disabled, to the state--and I'm grateful to Santorum for forcing on me the discomfort of having to think about the moral implications of his daughter's smile.

(Emphases mine.)

The takeaway for Santorum's rapt audience that night, and for all of us who believe in the sanctity of human life?

Live and speak your faith, dear friends, and do not be embarrassed or afraid. You will often never know the lives you've touched. In this case, Senator Santorum had the uncommon consolation of seeing in print how his own loving witness pricked a dulled conscience and softened a hardened heart. I will never forget Joe Klein's words, which illustrate that truth is indeed inconvenient, but that it always comes with graces attached.


And in the spirit of loving the least among us (instead of destroying them), I am dedicating the rest of the Takes to those children who were not as lucky as Bella Santorum, and who, because they are seen as defective, have no loving families to cherish them. Please consider adoption, and if you cannot adopt now, please share this link with others.

2) Gianna has just turned four years old. She has a heart condition, but is doing well after surgery. She is developing normally.

Click my cute picture for more information.
It pains me greatly that she has likely already been transferred from her baby house. You may not want to know what that could mean, but if you want more insight, read this. Praying that she is in a better place than that, but you get the gist. She can still be saved, and the sooner the better.


3) Anne, who should be someone's princess. She is four years old with epilepsy and a moderate mental delay. And she is beautiful and worthy. Please don't let her be transferred.


4) Marshall, oh Marshall! They don't get much cuter than two-year-old Marshall! Who wouldn't want this little guy making mischief in their house? I have one just his age, and I can vouch for the joy he will bring! His only diagnosis is congenital hydrocephalus, and he's going to do just fine in America! I can't for the life of me understand why he still waits?


5) Mack is four years old and described as happy and active. He likes his ride-on toys and loves to play with others. The orphanage is no place for this sweet child! He belongs with a family of his own.


6) Kolya, oh how he makes my heart ache. He is 12 years old already, and has been waiting too long. He was born the same month and year as my own son. From the description on his profile: "Kolya – very delicate and sensitive child who catches every touch, every word or a smile. He may long to sit next to a nice [person] and just hold hands, enjoying the warmth." 

Stay strong, Kolya!

7) Arina P. looks so sad, so lost. She is six years old and has a calm nature. Her adoption grant is up to $7300, which would be a great help towards getting her home where she belongs. Imagine Arina with long flowing hair and a smile! Surely her mama is out there?


Today there is a bonus Take…

8) Christiana (known as "Carissa" on RR) has a loving family coming for her (praise God!), but they have a long way to go before they can take her from the Bad Place.

Recently, her soon-to-be mommy, Lisa, lost her own mother, which I wrote about here:

Anyone who has lost a mother will understand. Please pray for the Matthews family.

Finally, if you have never shared these orphan stories before, maybe today can be the day! If you have facebook, it's super simple. Just click the little "recommend" button at the bottom of this page, then put your cursor over the "post to facebook" button that pops up, then close your eyes and click it as fast as you can! Ahhhh!!! There, it's over! That was easy! And you might have saved a child's life. :)

Have a great weekend, and thanks to Jen for hosting!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Can you tell?

I know some of you can, and you've told me. You can tell that I don't feel much like blogging. I've been through this before, and I'm sure I'll go through it again.

After the Democratic National Convention, I'd just had it. I was so horrified by what I saw, with the celebration of abortion, the redefining of marriage, and the attempted elimination of God, the class wars, race wars, gender wars. The speakers who sought to inspire (?!) by telling stories of how government social programs nurtured them, carried them, made them who they are today.

We were supposed to feel that the federal government, an impersonal set of bureaucracies which has the power to fine and jail and punish and ruin and even execute, is our "family". (When the human heart that is made for God does not admit to God the Father, the void must be filled, and there is the authoritative, ever-expanding state ready to fill it.)

And after hearing Ms. Fluke, and Ms. Kennedy... Lord forgive me, I had many un-Christian thoughts. It was so hard to watch my beloved nation turn into… this. Whining, angry, petty, divisive, intolerant, entitled, envious, selfish, punitive. Some people attacking everything the Church stands for, and then other people using the Church -- Christ's Church -- to defend the greatest of evils!

Culturally, we are on a great decline, the rapidity of which takes my breath away. In twenty or thirty more years, there will be few left who understand or care why this nation was founded and why she is (or was) different. The great experiment will be over, and we'll be just another bankrupt welfare state among many others -- dogmatically secular, utilitarian, amoral, bored, and dying out.

Anyway, obviously, watching the Convention left me disgusted and disheartened. I love politics, and I am a political animal down to my toes, but politics has a way of corrupting every good thing and can easily corrode the soul (this goes for both sides of the spectrum, I might add). I felt a pull away from it all, like I needed a good cleansing. I didn't want to debate anyone anymore, I didn't want to think and worry about where we are headed.

I wanted to be with my family, go on dates with my husband, hug my children, read spiritual books, and sit in the sun.

I wanted to pray.

I wanted to detach from the things of this world, in order to attach to God. That's His plan anyway, you know. Politics doesn't much concern itself with truth, goodness and beauty, and governments can't save us.

Only Jesus Christ can save us. Only He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Only He is the Alpha and the Omega. And only He is the King of all nations.

As pessimistic as I feel on a temporal level about the future of the America I love, I am buoyed by the fact that on the only level that counts, it is all for good.

All things work for good for those who love God. (Romans 8:28)

A decade ago, when I was immersed in an incredibly fruitful spiritual program (why did I abandon it??), we memorized the following foundational truth:

Nothing happens accidentally; everything is gifted providentially.

Everything is gifted providentially! My goodness, think about that.

Every suffering, every joy, every encounter, every labor, every tragedy, every persecution, every triumph. Everything is a gift from God, intended for our sanctification. We can "grab the grace" and use it to become holy, or we can reject the opportunity; it's our choice. But God wills that we should take what is presented and offer it back in love and sacrifice, in imitation of Christ.

America may not be America one day, and that is bitterly sad to those of us who love her so dearly, but it's not the ultimate tragedy.

In the end, the only tragedy is not to be a saint. The only tragedy is not to make it to Heaven. Nothing else matters -- truly nothing.

I thought I'd do a lot of political posts leading up to the election, but I am not so sure anymore. I'll throw in a few, but mostly I'd like to concentrate on and post about some of the higher things, the things that last infinitely longer than any nation or political system.

Thanks for hanging in there with me!

Queen of Angels, by Bouguereau

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Revisiting dissenting Catholics and the excuse of "conscience"

[Forgive my absences! I'm battling some back pain that makes it difficult to sit at the computer. In the meantime, in light of this season of open dissent by Catholics in politics and elsewhere, I thought it good that we revisit this Little Teaching from December 27, 2010, with a few edits. This is the Church's answer -- your answer -- to any dissenting Catholic who uses "primacy of conscience" as their excuse to contravene Church teaching.]

This is what I will call a "reference post" -- bookmark it and refer to it anytime a Cafeteria Catholic tells you that as long as one follows his conscience, he is in good standing with the Church.

Ummmmm, not exactly.

We've had a fascinating discussion in the comments section of a previous post. At one point, atheist commenter Tony linked to an anti-Catholic article* riddled with errors, which put forth this (commonly accepted) falsehood:
In any case, Catholic theology tells individuals to follow their personal conscience in moral matters, even when their conscience is in conflict with hierarchical views. 
Again, not exactly.

Let's briefly discuss what the Catholic Church actually teaches about conscience, beginning with this statement about moral conscience from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which quotes the Vatican II document, Gaudium et Spes (16):

"Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment. . . . For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. . . . His conscience is man's most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths."  [emphasis mine]

So, our conscience is where we hear the law of God which has been written on our hearts. Our conscience moves us to do good and avoid evil, and judges whether an act is moral or not. 

Another Vatican II document says:
In all his activity a man is bound to follow his conscience in order that he may come to God, the end and purpose of life. It follows that he is not to be forced to act in manner contrary to his conscience. Nor, on the other hand, is he to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience, especially in matters religious.     Dignitatis Humanae (3)
Okay, so we must follow our conscience in all things. We must not be forced to act against our conscience, nor must we be stopped from acting according to the dictates of our conscience.

That sounds about right to me!

But wait.... Then don't those dissenting Catholics who reject the moral teachings of the Church have a point? They claim that their conscience is the final authority, after all.

Well actually, the dissenting Catholics always leave something out. They like to talk about always following one's conscience, but they never talk about one's obligation to correctly form one's conscience in the first place. That's a pretty big omission!

In fact, when dissenters say that Catholicism teaches that Catholics may follow their consciences with impunity "even when their conscience is in conflict with hierarchical views", they are actually ignoring Church teaching, which states explicitly that personal conscience "should not be set in opposition to the moral law or the Magisterium of the Church." (Catechism, 2039)

Pretty clear, no?

Now, what if someone (perhaps a dissenting Catholic) wants to be ignorant of the moral law? Well, willful ignorance is itself a sin:
This is the case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin." In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits. (Catechism, 1791)
In other words, if one has a poorly formed conscience precisely because he refuses to seek truth, or if he has deadened his own conscience by repeated sins, or if he willfully rejects what he knows to be legitimate Church authority -- then he is culpable.

We are responsible for seeking truth. Then, once we have found truth, we are responsible for conforming our lives to it. To the extent that we decide not to seek truth in the first place, we are accountable for that unfortunate decision.

I have personally known Catholics who have declined to learn more about Catholic morality precisely because they don't want to be held accountable for their actions. But of course, God doesn't play games like that. He knows every human heart and its intentions. And a soul who is willfully clinging to "ignorance" is not truly ignorant at all.

If, on the other hand, a soul is invincibly ignorant of the moral law (i.e., their ignorance or their poorly formed conscience exists through no fault of their own), then they are not culpable for those sins, even though their actions are still objectively sinful.  

One can only be responsible for what he knows or what he should know. He cannot be responsible for what he is incapable of knowing. That's justice. Wouldn't you agree?

From the Catechism (1793): 
[If] the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.

That last sentence is why we Catholics must learn and then teach our Faith. 

So, to sum it up, there are really two parts to the discussion of conscience: 

1) We are first obligated to form our consciences properly. 
2) We are then obligated to follow our consciences.

Pretty simple, huh?

The end!

*The source of the article is the well-known and misleadingly-named "Catholics For a Free Choice." This is not a Catholic group, and it has been roundly denounced by the U.S. Bishops. It's sort of like if there were a group called "Vegans For Meat-Eating" -- are they really vegans? Commenters should always consider the source and please use only authentically Catholic sources when attempting to represent Catholic teaching.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Just Curious: Favorite prayer or devotion

Let's take a cleansing breath from national politics, world news, and spiritual and physical evil everywhere….

What is your favorite prayer or most cherished devotion?

The prayer that stirs me to the depths of my soul, so sublime that I could meditate on it, blissfully drown in it, for an eternity, is...

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O Good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds, hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.
From the evil one, protect me.
At the hour of my death, call me.
And bid me come to Thee, 
That with Thy saints I may praise Thee,
 Forever and ever. Amen.

ANIMA Christi, sanctifica me.
Corpus Christi, salva me.
Sanguis Christi, inebria me.
Aqua lateris Christi, lava me.
Passio Christi, conforta me.
O bone Iesu, exaudi me.
Intra tua vulnera absconde me.
Ne permittas me separari a te.
Ab hoste maligno defende me.
In hora mortis meae voca me.
Et iube me venire ad te,
Ut cum Sanctis tuis laudem te
in saecula saeculorum.



Almost forgot! Listen to a snippet of Donna Cori Gibson's Anima Christi, here. My favorite of all time. Chills.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Quick Takes: The Democratic National Convention Edition

I'm getting political today, and yes, I have very strong opinions when it comes to politics. So, if you really dislike me, you may hate me by the end, yikes. You've been warned! ;)

I am replacing the Quick Takes logo today with the logo of the Democratic Abortion Convention Democratic National Convention, to set the tone for today's theme:

Which brings us to our first Take...

1) Why are the Democratic logos so creepy, communist-style, Dear Leader, hero worship, father figure with happy children-citizens, faux egalitarian in their design? Seriously, it looks like it could work in North Korea.

2) One conclusion drawn from the Sandra Fluke speech: She absolutely identifies primarily as a victim of unthinkable oppression. Sheesh lady, cry me a river with your private Georgetown law degree. You are a well-fed, comfortable, spoiled, First World woman of leisure just like the rest of us. Did you not get the memo? No one is silencing your big mouth anymore than they are silencing mine. Gimme a break.

Can someone tell me again why I have to lose my religious freedom for a pack of her easily accessed $9 neutering chemicals? And can someone explain how whimpering and sniveling for free contraception is the very measure of the "empowered" feminist today? Why are modern feminists too weak and dependent to navigate Walgreens?

Sandra, I wish you could meet some of the women I know and get some inspiration! Talk about strong women! They are educated and well-read, they are fabulous wives to their beloved husbands, they manage households and finances, they raise broods of children, educate those children, adopt special needs orphans, have careers, volunteer at church and for the poor, are active in politics and have a roaring good time over a meal and margarita with friends while looking darn cute in those shoes -- and they do not whiiiiiiiine over what they don't geeeeeeet from the government, and they don't scream "I'm a victim!" "I'm oppressed!" "I've been silenced!" in the freest, greatest, most prosperous nation on earth.

If either of my daughters acted like Sandra Fluke, I would have failed as a mother. You think I'm exaggerating? Check it out -- the obvious hero of Democrats and the very poster child for women's oppression. Fair warning: It's painful to watch.

Special note: Within the first 47 seconds, she has told two demonstrable lies, which she herself knows are lies. First, the hearing was on religious liberty, not contraception, and she has no expertise thereof that would qualify her to testify before Congress. Second, there were two women on that panel, not zero. Unless the women were ghosts. Or holograms. Or maybe Ms. Fluke is blind. Or maybe she's just lying. I'll let you decide how she got that so wrong. After the first lies, they just kept coming. Dear God, they never stopped.

Anyway, could I say it any clearer? Ms. Fluke does not speak for me, my daughters, my sister, my mother, my aunts, or my friends. Classical feminists, I am so sorry for what they've done to your feminism. Weep for us.

3) I thought Sandra Fluke was the low point of the Convention, but I was proven wrong on Thursday night. Let me preface by saying that I have heard an endless string of scandalous statements from Catholic Democrats in my day, from Pelosi to Biden to Sebelius and so many more. But Caroline Kennedy took the cake. The venue, the premeditation, the thoughtful design that went into it…. I still can't believe it.

Caroline Kennedy invoked her Catholicism to advocate for unfettered abortion in America. Let me restate: She used the very fact of her Catholicism to champion the cause of abortion on demand. Oh, yes she did. So that those hearing her would think it's okay to be a Catholic and advocate for abortion!
"As a Catholic woman [oh, yes, she placed her religion exactly at this paragraph of the speech, deliberately], I take reproductive health seriously, and today, it is under attack. This year alone, more than a dozen states have passed more than 40 restrictions on women’s access to reproductive health care. That’s not the kind of future I want for my daughters or your daughters. Now isn’t the time to roll back the rights we were winning when my father was president. Now is the time to move this country forward."
It was one of the four of five times in my life that I actually expected lightning to come down. Not kidding, that's what I thought. And though I usually watch the proceedings on MSNBC for so many reasons, the TV happened to be turned to FOXNews. While I was still bellowing (you really should be at my house during political season), I noticed that the shock of what she said was not lost on others. I suddenly heard Bill O'Reilly speak of how utterly stunned he was. He could not believe it either. Could not believe it. I still can't:

Yes, that was the worst of it for me, more insidious than Sandra Fluke, and more show-stopping than the painfully embarrassing attempts to restore "God" and "Jerusalem" to the Democratic Platform after someone had decided to take them out.

4) So, as crazy as I always am during political season, it's even worse in the era of facebook. Some of you were following my facebook play-by-play of the Convention, and when the Caroline Kennedy scandal happened, there was quite a flurry of exchanges! Lots of fly off the handle pissed off hysterical ranting thoughtful musings on Kennedy's words were posted on the open threads. Ultimately, Kara, a firebrand Catholic warrior pensive and soft-spoken convert, penned a simple status update to express her concern:

Catholic my ass.

Some of us adopted that as our status as well, and then demanded begged inquired of JoAnna if she would make us a meme to go along with Kara's nuanced sentiment. Within moments, we had this:

Feel free to use and share. :)

Hey, if we can't have a little fun while our nation goes to hell in a handbasket, then what kind of Catholics are we?

5) Now it's time for video comic relief!

Let's go meet some of the Democratic delegates for some "man on the street" style interviews. Keep in mind, these are not folks on the fringe, they are the movers and shakers of the Democratic Party in their home states and local communities.

First, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Hope and Change 2 -- The Party of Inclusion (there's a commercial first, sorry):

 Next, we have a roving reporting asking the Democratic delegates their position on "choice":

In this fun piece, Democratic delegates give their opinions on what to do about corporate profits:


And finally, delegates react to the DNC video that creepily described all United States citizens as "belonging to the government":

Guys, if you are as horrified about the thought of a second Obama term as I am, please, I beg you to vote this year, as well as volunteer on phone banks, donate money to Romney-Ryan, put signs in your yard and on your car. This is a crucial election.

6) We will close out the DNC part of this Quick Takes the same way the DNC itself was closed out -- with a benediction from Cardinal Dolan of New York. The Cardinal prayed for unborn children's right to life, for the integrity of marriage, and for the protection of religious liberty, all of which are threatened by the Democrats. Do you think they heard?

Something to chew on, from the great Professor Robert P. George: 

"Since no minimally decent political party would let a bigot or misogynist take the podium at its convention—much less bless the proceedings—accepting the cardinal's offer to appear amounts to an implicit but unmistakable concession that there's no bigotry in opposing the redefinition of civil marriage, nor any misogyny in fighting for the unborn."


7) In all this mess of politics, I can't forget the orphans. Today I want to introduce you to two precious girls who need families desperately, as they are both in danger of being transferred to adult mental institutions very soon.

First, here is Piper:

I am a happy, friendly girl who needs a mama to love!

Basically, Piper's issue is that she's small. Although she is nearly four years old, she’s roughly the size of a two year old. She is easily the smallest child in her group. There is more to her story and several more photos here on my Orphan Report about her.

And next is sweet Janie:

Beautiful as a porcelain doll!

Janie suffers from CP and FAS, but with proper care and treatment in the States, she could thrive and reach her potential! Please go to my Orphan Report about Janie for more information.

I beg you to pray for these children to find families, and also share their faces and info with everyone you know.

Have a great weekend! And thanks to Jen for hosting Quick Takes!


Monday, September 3, 2012

"Do you intend to speak for every African woman?"

It is the question I put to Obianuju Ekeocha after her last post ran on the Bubble, a powerful open letter to Melinda Gates that I had reprinted from Catholic Online. I was surprised and honored to receive an email from Ms. Ekeocha soon after the first post ran, which read in part:

"I just want to thank you personally for carrying on this amazing conversation (about my article) on your blog. I still cannot believe how my simple words from the heart became as the pebble thrown into a river to cause so many ripples in the blogosphere.

"In the last week I have seen some really bitter responses (understandably so considering how integral contraceptives have become in the western world). But I have also seen so many many positive and encouraging responses ... I really wish I could answer the questions that I see people asking, I really wish I could get many of my cousins and sisters and friends and aunties from home (Nigeria) to speak for themselves. I mean my article only lifts a tiny edge of the curtain to our culture of life and our perception of love and life. There is so much more that I wish I could communicate. I was thinking of making a photo album next time I go home of just women and their babies. Amidst the dust and dirt -- but happy.

"For now I just sort of feel powerless because of the inadequacy of my little article. We don't have any good pro-life advocacy in place in most African countries and so we really are not prepared at all for this move by Melinda to plant the seeds of the culture of death … Once again thank you so much for rising in defence of the dignity of the African woman."

We have been conversing ever since, and she was pleased to respond to the question, "Do you intend to speak for every African woman?" the possibility of which troubled my pro-contraception, pro-"choice" readers (though the same readers had no problem with Melinda Gates' $4.6 billion speaking for those same African women). While the following answer will likely not satisfy her critics, I hope the voice of this strong, dignified woman will be heard and respected, especially as she speaks of her own beloved culture and the threats to it that come, uninvited, from a world away.

Ms. Obianuju Ekeocha

"Do I intend to speak for every African woman?"

Excellent question!!

My answer: Yes and No.

Yes. I speak for every woman living in the (sub-Saharan) African context, not as if I can read their minds, but as if I can read their living situations.

This is a bold statement to make but I would dare to make it because I understand the African society, the African cultural ethics and universal values, given that I was born and raised within that culture. Africa of course is comprised of many, many tribes and tongues and creeds (Catholic, Pentecostal, Evangelical, Islam and African Traditional religion). However across state lines, borders and languages, we share the universal values of the Culture of Life. This is why abortion advocates have found it very difficult (if not impossible) to sell legal abortion to any of these countries. There is a unanimous rejection of the Culture of Death, which is very much framed by the right to kill the defenceless unborn child in the womb.

As for the acceptance and use of artificial contraception, we have artificial contraceptives in Africa. In the last 2 decades, the UN has been on a mission to reduce the birth rate in Africa so they have flooded our hospitals with it, campaigning in urban and rural communities alike. But yet - surprise, surprise - most people still refuse to accept it because they perceive it as 'anti-life'. And besides, most African women know how to avoid or delay pregnancy without resorting to chemicals. They might be poor, but they are not slow nor stupid.

Anyway, there are a combination of reasons why the African women have a high birth rate.

The first is because there is a high desired fertility rate (i.e., how many babies a woman desires to have). This is because, the older women in our communities are revered or respected or even rated in accordance to how many adult children she has raised. So my mum who raised 6 adult children commands even much more respect than her friends who have much more wealth than she does but fewer children. And one of her friends who has 9 adult children is even more respected than my mum; even my mum reveres this lady for being able to raise 9 children (one of whom is a dear friend of mine by the way). For Melinda Gates' birth-reduction programme to take root in our society, she has to completely uproot this sort of value-system where wealth is never placed above children. Put differently, our system is such that our children are our treasure, and dollars, euros, rands are only our legal tender.

A second reason is that due to our poor medical facilities, poor societal infrastructure, poor nutrition, etc., our death rate is quite high (for both men and women). The life expectancy of every person living in sub-Saharan Africa is almost half of that in Europe, and if the culture does not encourage or celebrate births, well we'd be extinct before too long!

Another reason is that because we do not have free education as in Europe/US, it is rather difficult for the poor (which is more than 65% of the population) to send their daughters to secondary school (primary school in some cases), so they get married at a very early age. Anyone can see that if you start to have children at age 14, of course by the time you get to 35 you would have more than if you had been sent to school and thus married at say 20 years old.

Now I know people would suggest that these under-aged brides be protected and saved by giving them contraceptives to delay conception, but to live in the African society and be seen as infertile is never good for the woman especially where Christianity is not widely accepted and many men take second wives. So among the poor, a wife, in order to ensure her 'place' as the sole wife of her husband will want to have more than 3 or 4 children.

Among the educated this is different because most educated men will not willingly choose polygamy. And that is why I appeal for donations in African to be channelled to education of girls (and boys) rather than contraceptives. People would never wish their daughters married off at 12 or 13 years old if they were offered the opportunity of education. No girl would want to marry so young if she could get an education, and I do not know very many African girls who will then refuse a higher education (university, nursing school, teacher training college).

Once a woman living in the African context gets her higher education she is exponentially empowered. She could get a sustainable job with her skills, and when she marries she is so much more enabled not just with her husband but very importantly among his family (as our family structure is usually in the context of an extended family of the husband). It might be useful to point out at this juncture that the more educated African women almost always choose to have fewer children (but mostly by natural methods rather than artificial  contraceptives). So rather than fill our young defenceless under-aged brides with Depo-Provera which is more like a general anaesthesia that will make them not feel the brutality of their reality, we can better empower them by giving them the lifeline of education by which they can climb out of poverty one girl at a time. Surely education is more expensive than the artificial contraceptive, but it can change the fate and face of Africa as far as poverty is concerned.

Obviously this only addresses one part of the issue - the cultural acceptance (or rejection) of artificial contraceptives. There is also the matter of the governance and politics of Africa. Major, major issue. Anyone who follows closely the news from the African continent would immediately be struck by the ease with which dictators, military coups commanders, and criminal war lords pop-up across our continent. This is so hard to relate to for most Americans or Europeans, but we must bear in mind that most Africans have and are still living under dictatorial governments that span decades. In our African reality whoever is in power wields a god-like power which cannot be easily challenged. And in my experience, most of these men, who manage to climb into positions of power, want wealth for themselves; they want to spend only a portion of the national wealth on the people and then 'keep the change' for themselves. One factor that gets in their way is the increased populations in the different countries. They have more people to feed and fund thanks to our relatively high birth-rates, so from this point the natural female fertility becomes a stumbling block to them.

I would take the liberty to bring China into this conversation (only as an example) so please pardon me. The Chinese leaders have always had both unspeakable power and unfathomable wealth, so the moment they perceived the women's fertility as problematic, they used what they had to achieve what they wanted. They launched a rather expensive but effective war against fertility: state-sponsored abortions, forced sterilisations, mandatory contraception - all done without much consideration for human rights. Now in Africa among our governments, the desire to cap national population is there, the power (to trample human rights) is there, but the money is not, so women remain safe from this sort of violence.

But this could very easily change by the time Melinda pours into our territories the incredible amounts of artificial contraceptives that she is campaigning for (her target is to get enough for 120 million women! Most of whom are in Africa). I can just see this in the hands of the African dictators who will be quick to 'weaponise' every single one of these contraceptives (pill, pin, patch or injectables). I know many people who think that it is a 'nice' thing to do to get this 'choice' of birth control to the women, and I understand that they mean well, but are we willing to allow this extra edge of power to fall into the wrong hands? So on this point I speak for ALL African women who are as safe as the Authorities are disabled by limited supplies of artificial contraceptives.

For the societal acceptable sexual norms, I'm afraid I don't speak for all African women. However, by universal cultural standards, I do not know of one single African community that will accept or applaud 'free' sexual expressions, sex-outside-of-marriage, cohabitation, casual sex, domestic partnerships, friends with benefits etc. (all of which I have seen is widely accepted in the European culture that I live in today). Not to say that people are not engaging in such life styles in Africa, but they are never validated or endorsed by the society. A mother can never proudly tell anyone that her daughter is living with her boyfriend.

But in more recent years, thoughts and tendencies of the younger African women on different things are informed and formed by a broad array of factors: social class, wealth, education, degree of devotion to faith - these will all determine her level of exposure to western cultural values (this one is very important - so an African woman who has access to internet and cable TV spends more time watching American TV series [such as Mad Men!] which is more often than not highly sexualised; over time her perception and definition of love, sex and family life is inevitably shaped and formed). So there is an emerging group of African girls (though not a majority at all) gradually being "westernised" because they perceive the entirety - the whole package - of the western life as the 'glamourous life', the 'modern life', the 'better life'.

In order to embrace and accept this life, they inadvertently let go of some or most of our African universal cultural standards. With this persistent pursuit of the 'better life', many young Africans are now standing on the precipice beyond which lies the mirage of happiness/fulfillment promised by the new western norms of sexual expression. They have the choice either to jump off that precipice leaving our own norms behind, or to stand back in the realisation and appreciation of the beauty and solidity of our own African Culture of Life, which is so compatible with faith and morals.

I personally have chosen not to jump, I know many many, many other African women who have also chosen not to jump. And I pray that as my beloved African sisters come up one after the other to that precarious precipice they too would turn back and hold tight unto the beautiful Culture of Life which holds the firm promise of light, life and true love.


For the past six years Ms. Ekeocha has been living and working as a biomedical scientist in Canterbury, England. Most of her family and many friends still live in Nigeria. From Catholic Online: Ekeocha "was inspired to write an open letter to Melinda Gates after learning of Gates' move to inject $4.6 billion worth of contraceptive drugs and devices into her homeland." She is hoping Gates will hear her "as the voice of the African woman." 

Ms. Ekeocha and others are hoping to find assistance from American pro-life advocacy groups/attorneys who can advise re: organizing and strengthening the continent's pro-life efforts to best fight against the coming contraceptive/Culture of Death onslaught.