Friday, January 31, 2014

Quick Takes: God, Life, Church. The usual.

1) This. THIS. THIS. THIS!!!!

Thank you, dear Pope Francis, for this:

“It is an absurd dichotomy to love Christ without the Church; to listen to Christ but not the Church; to be with Christ at the margins of the Church. One cannot do this. It is an absurd dichotomy."

Yes. An absurd dichotomy.

One cannot do this.

Loving Christ, listening to Christ, without the Church? Impossible.

And it's nothing new. It's been true since the birth of Christianity.

Listen to St. Irenaeus:

"Where the Church is, there is the Spirit of God; where the Spirit of God is, there is the Church and all grace." (Against Heresies 3:24:1 [A.D. 189]) <--- Do you see that date??

And here's St. Cyprian of Carthage:

"He cannot have God for his Father who has not the Church for his mother." (The Unity of the Catholic Church 6, 1st ed. [A.D. 251]) <--- And did you see this date??

And it has ever been thus. Thank you, Holy Father, for the reminder that Christ and His Church are one!

2) Sooooo, I've got some really amazing Catholic singles on my private matchmaking blog, folks. If any of you orthodox Catholics are looking for a faithful Catholic spouse, shoot me an email at and tell me about yourself and why you deserve an invitation to my blog. I may even profile you there! Thanks for patience, too. I'm a bit behind on my emails.

3)  Sometimes it hits me over the head like a ton of bricks:

They literally kill human beings in there.

They do it as a paid service.

Lord, have mercy.

4) Speaking of beautiful, unrepeatable, infinitely valuable human beings, I have recently learned from my eldest daughter that my first grandbaby is "very squirmy"!! I was so excited to hear that my baby is feeling her baby move now!

I find it crazy that I am as excited and awed about my daughter's experience as I was when it happened to me! I love this baby so much, and we haven't even met yet!

Every unborn child deserves the kind of excitement, awe, and overwhelming love that my grandbaby already has. There really are no unwanted children, after all.

5) You all have been so amazing in supporting Obianuju (Uju) Ekeocha since I first posted her Open Letter to Melinda Gates and since she founded Culture of Life Africa. So, I knew you would want to join in the novena that starts today. Here's the email I got from wonderful Uju, who in her humility is doing such great works for God (I wish I could recount it all) -- she's an example of the feminine genius!

I wanted to let you know that for the 1 year anniversary of Culture of Life Africa, I will be posting starting today (January 31st) brief daily reflections and prayers as a novena to our patron saint - St Josephine Bakhita. 
Please join us (if you can) on this wonderful occasion that presents us with the opportunity to pray for the spread of the Gospel of Life. 
I will post them daily until the day of the Anniversary when Bishop Badejo of Oyo diocese will be offering Mass to raise our novena prayers and reflections. 
Here is the link to the novena:
        I look forward to walking this path of prayer with you. 
God bless you!!!

Thank you, Uju!

Friends, be sure to "like" Culture of Life Africa on facebook if you haven't already.

6) Isn't this cool?

7) Look at little Demetri! He is only two years old and seems to have some very manageable special needs. Apparently he is blind in one eye and may have a food allergy. He will thrive with the right medical care and the love of a family!

Click my photo for more info!

Please prayerfully consider Demetri for your own family, or consider sharing his profile with others.

God bless you all and have a marvelous weekend!

Thanks to Jen for hosting!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Young marriage: Another daughter engaged!

I feel like such a rebel! I have condoned -- no, encouraged! -- something that would have been unthinkable to me just a few years ago. The first public hints of my mental shift came through on a giddy facebook status a few weeks ago:
Through steady growth in my Faith and (please God) in wisdom, some of my philosophies of life have changed so much that I don't think even my 40-year-old self would recognize Leila today. Life is wild and wonderful. Hang on tight….

Followed by:
People think that the great freedom is in jettisoning the "constraint" of the moral law and God Himself. But they are wrong. There is no freedom there. The freedom is in jettisoning the more secular conventions of the culture, sometimes with abandon.

My mind was whirling, processing, but few people knew what was was happening behind the scenes.

Soon, I quoted the Holy Father:
“God always surprises us. Like the new wine in the Gospel, God always saves the best for us. But he asks us to let ourselves be surprised by his love, to accept his surprises. Let us trust God!” -- Pope Francis

I even brought my hidden excitement to this blog, posting these inspiring words from Pope Francis to those at World Youth Day:
Today, there are those who say that marriage is out of fashion; in a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many preach the importance of "enjoying" the moment. They say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, "forever", because we do not know what tomorrow will bring. 
I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility, that you are incapable of true love. I have confidence in you and I pray for you. Have the courage "to swim against the tide". Have the courage to be happy.

The pope's exhortation to the youth resonated deeply within me, because something was brewing in my own family and was changing my own heart and mind.

I had always been a theoretical proponent of young marriage for our Catholic youth if the couple was sufficiently mature and understood the meaning of the Sacrament -- but not actually for my own children! After a college degree, yes, then the Miller children could safely head to the altar. But before? I couldn't condone it. I was just not that brave. Ultimately, I cared too much about what people thought.

But that was before the shocking realization that my 19-year-old daughter not only would soon get engaged, but should soon get engaged!

And now I don't care what people think.

Early marriage is not for everyone, to be sure. But this particular young adult couple, firmly ensconced in their Catholic Faith, desired to be married. Dean and I assessed the situation and ultimately agreed that they should be. Bam! Just like that, the conventions we grew up with were cast off like shackles. Our daughter would marry at the age of 20, before her degree was complete.

And so, with Mama still basking in the wonderful strangeness of it all, my husband and I give our blessing to what happened last weekend in Charleston, South Carolina, when our younger daughter agreed to marry the stellar 22-year-old man who proposed to her on bended knee in front of the Blessed Sacrament, Jesus Christ Himself, Who is the Source and Summit of both of their lives.

With the young man's parents' support and blessing as well, the Millers have begun planning another wedding that (depending on the Navy!) should take place in about a year.

I'm still in awe, and I couldn't be more thrilled by this turn of events -- and my own turn of heart.

God is full of surprises!

May the Lord bless the happy couple now and for many, many decades to come!

Jenna Rousseau Photography

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Bloody Anniversary

A dark day in our nation's history is upon us, as we commemorate the 41st year of Roe vs. Wade, the surreal Supreme Court decision that ignored the whole of modern biological science and reached back to the ancients in order to clumsily, fraudulently declare that we, uh, don't really know when human life begins.

Riiiiight. We just can't figure that one out.

This from the "enlightened" ones.

Just like that, with the stroke of a pen, the shelter of a mother's womb became the most dangerous place to reside in America. The members of our human family who are the most defenseless, the most voiceless, the most innocent, the most in need of our protection, became disposable and thus subsequently disposed of to the tune of some 55 million. Yawn! It's a number, and we are numb.

The victims behind the statistics are easily ignored when we aren't actually tripping over their dead bodies in the street, and when Gosnell-type horrors are quickly glossed over and forgotten.

But individual stories still have the power to change everything, and I read one recently that gets to the heart of it all.

As so many have before her, Grazie Pozo Christie, M.D., moved from her perch in the pro-"choice" camp to the middle of the March for Life, tramping through the snow and holding the very signs she used to mock:

[On January 22], the yearly March for Life will take place at our nation's capital. Hundreds of thousands of tremendously dedicated people will march, probably in horribly frigid weather, and some from very far away. The media will politely avert their gaze, as will most of the cosmopolitan denizens of the city. They will feel vaguely sorry for the yokels and wingnuts who trudge through the snow with their silly homemade signs, their hearts full of the vain hope that they can somehow turn back time by praying hard enough. There will also be those who are angry at the sight of the marchers, and see in them a desire for the return of back alley butchers and the shaming of girls who got in a spot of trouble. 
I used to be one of those who felt sorry for the idiots who spent their money putting up signs along the Florida Turnpike saying things like: "Abortion stops a beating heart," accompanied by an unpleasant depiction of an embryo. And then one day I was pushed off my horse and I became one of them. I think it happens like that for many people: years of puzzled distaste and then bingo! You're out there too with your silly sign on the side of the road, cringing at rude finger gestures. There is a moment when passion becomes ignited, and you find yourself able to withstand indifference, hopelessness and hostility, even welcoming them.

Read the rest of the article, here, to see what (or who) pushed her off that horse, and how abortion is, at base, a failure to love.

Let us pray and work to end abortion in our nation. Forty-one years of this bloody anniversary is enough.


"Something nonhuman doesn't become human by getting older and bigger; whatever is human is human from the beginning." -- Randy Alcorn


Please remember to pray for all the mothers who have lost their children to abortion, and please pray for the marchers that actually made it to D.C. this year. My nephew's college group had to cancel its trip due to the storm, and I know his wasn't the only one.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Quick Takes: Pornography help

1) For quite a while now, I have been wanting to address the scourge of pornography, and how it destroys marriages, families, souls. Porn kills authentic love and has even caught good Catholic men in a fierce and seemingly hopeless addiction.

My friend, blogger/author Devin Rose, broke free from years of addiction to pornography, and I admire his courage in coming forward to help others who are struggling under the weight of this sin.

Devin says, in Overcoming Sexual Addiction:

Pornography is the worst kind of perversion because Satan takes God’s most beautiful creations and twists them. Satan cannot create anything -- he can only distort those good things which God has already made. 
Most men know that pornography and lust are evil. Even if they have convinced themselves that these evils are okay to do, deep in their hearts they know it is shameful and wrong. Nonetheless, the addiction to pornography can be incredibly strong and hard to break. I don’t pretend to have the magical recipe for breaking the addiction, but I have some ideas about it from my own struggle against pornography addiction.

Read the rest, here.

Devin speaks honestly to wives in another piece, The Compulsion of Lustful Vice:

I want to explain to women especially how powerful this compulsion to lust is in men, especially in those of us who were addicted to pornography for years, even from the early teens. I knew it was wrong; I wanted to stop doing it, but I couldn’t. Even once I became a Christian, the desire to look lustfully at women and be impure with myself was stronger than my nascent virtue. 
But that virtue, that starts as a little sapling, has God’s grace to give it resilience and spring in its stem. Every time lust smashed it down, it righted itself again and kept growing. Leaves were ripped off; it grew more to replace them. This was through God’s grace of repentance, confession, and forgiveness, through the Eucharist, and through those human helps that Christ offers to us: friendship, prudence about being alone with computer access, and so on. 
It can be devastating for a woman to discover that her husband looked lustfully at other women via pornography and was impure with himself. It feels like an awful betrayal, and while it is a betrayal, I would caution against excessive over-reaction to it. The power of the compulsion caused by the evil habits is incredibly strong; it is thus not that your husband is personally attacking you, but this vice which compels him to lust. The common enemy is not your husband, but the vice. And you, along with God, are his greatest ally in overcoming this sin.

All of it, here.

2) Catholic apologist and blogger Matt Fradd, who was first exposed to pornography at the tender age of eight, gives a simple but brilliant tip for...

Several years ago, while living in Ireland, I walked into a chapel, got on my knees before a statue of the Blessed Mother and spiritually adopted every woman I had ever seen and objectified in pornography….

How cool (and powerful) is that? Read more, here.

Watch Matt being interviewed on the subject of porn addiction by Catholic Answers host Patrick Coffin (my new best friend, but that is a story for another day):

Part I (including the science behind porn addiction):

Part II:

Part III:

Part IV:

For resources in breaking the addiction, Matt recommends the website Integrity Restored, which is chock full of information and help.

3) On to a different kind of porn, more acceptable in polite company, but which still entails the objectification and commodification of fellow human beings:

If we believe that human beings should not be for sale and should not be trafficked or manufactured like products, and if we believe that women deserve better than to be treated as mere baby machines, then we must oppose third-party reproduction.

Read Alana Newman's report from the recent conference of the American Association for Adoption and Reproductive Technologies Attorneys (AAARTA), where the attendees "consisted of people who make a living by facilitating third-party reproduction." And try not to get sick to your stomach.

4) While we're at it, another disturbing trend in the seemingly never-ending corruption of science and medicine is the intense pressure placed on women to abort their "defective" children. Not only does this attitude dehumanize and devalue the disabled, but it also results in the abortions of many perfectly healthy babies who are misdiagnosed via prenatal testing.

I personally know of three local friends who resisted the pressure to abort their children after a prenatal diagnosis -- children who turned out to be perfectly healthy. One of those friends, Jessica, wrote her story on the occasion of her daughter's sixth birthday. It is beautiful and inspiring, and it is infuriating:

With juries awarding tens of millions now for "wrongful birth" lawsuits, no wonder doctors are vigorously recommending termination for the imperfect. And only the strongest women can resist the kind of scare and shame tactics that are pushed on them when they are already frightened and vulnerable after a bad diagnosis.

5) On to something totally new! A fascinating article on The Genius of Ritual:

It is not hard to live through a day, if you can live through a moment. What creates despair is the imagination, which pretends there is a future, and insists on predicting millions of moments, thousands of days, and so drains you that you cannot live the moment at hand. 
That is what Father Paul told me in those first two years, on some of the bad nights when I believed I could not bear what I had to: the most painful loss was my children, then the loss of Gloria, whom I still loved despite or maybe because of our long periods of sadness that rendered us helpless, so neither of us could break out of it to give a hand to the other. 
Twelve years later I believe ritual would have healed us more quickly than the repetitious talks we had, perhaps even kept us healed. Marriages have lost that, and I wish I had known then what I know now, and we had performed certain acts together every day, no matter how we felt, and perhaps then we could have subordinated feeling to action, for surely that is the essence of love.

I'd never thought about many of the things in the article, and I delight in stumbling upon new ideas and spiritual insights!

6) I just love this:

"A man who is eating or lying with his wife or preparing to go to sleep in humility, thankfulness and temperance, is, by Christian standards, in an infinitely higher state than one who is listening to Bach or reading Plato in a state of pride." -- C.S. Lewis

7) And finally, let's help 12-year-old Jeff, who has Down Syndrome and is doing very well, but who has been waiting for a family far too long.

He was found abandoned at the age of 2, and was put in foster care. He is an active boy and would thrive in a family of his own!

More information here, and thank you for your prayers for this sweet little guy.

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

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Attention Arizonans! Join me!

First, I am so sorry for the dearth of blog posts lately. Things are crazy busy here, and I am in a creative slump on top of it. Frustrating!

But in the meantime, I want to call all my fellow Arizonans to the event of the season! One of my dearest local friends, Bridget, has put together an amazing evening for folks in the Valley, even as she has been battling severe illness during her sixth pregnancy. (I have such strong women friends! Whooooot for feminine genius lived out!)

It's Laugh4Hope -- a night of clean, family-friendly stand-up comedy that will bring our community together in laughter and hope. The proceeds from all this fun will benefit the HOPE Mobile and Life Choices Women's Clinics, organizations which brilliantly, lovingly aid women and families in crisis. I know and vouch for both of these charities personally, and our wonderful Bishop Thomas Olmsted has endorsed the event.

So, clear your calendars for Friday, February 7, 2014, 8:00 pm, at the Grand Canyon University Arena, and don't hesitate to bring your family and friends. I bought a row of ten tickets for my own entourage. :)

Check out the comedians who will be entertaining us that evening:

Buy your tickets today, here!

Oh, and if you want to understand the import of what we are doing on February 7, compare it to the "comedy night" that the other side is putting on (on Sunday of all days) here. Ummm, the differences could not be more clear, no?

See you at Laugh4Hope!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Malcolm: A final update

Almost two years ago, we all began to rally for a little special needs Russian orphan named "Malcolm", whose real name is Marat. We raised money for his adoption and supported the couple who came forward to make him their son, my dear friends Charles and Elisabeth Smith. I was to be his godmother. Just weeks before the Smiths were to make their second trip to Russia to be declared his parents, the door was slammed shut forever. 

Finally, Elisabeth is telling the heartbreaking story of how they lost the little boy who, in their hearts, will always be their son.


We entered into the process of international adoption expecting heartbreak. We approached each milestone steeling ourselves for disappointment. Could we raise the money? Could we pass a home study? Would he like us? Would his disabilities be more than we could handle? Because of this expectation I reinforced my spine with steel and staunchly protected my heart.

We had first considered adopting Marat [aka "Malcolm"] back in March of 2012. He is a beautiful little boy with chocolate brown eyes and a spirit that shows through in every picture. We eagerly watched and re-watched a short video showing his early attempts at walking, begging every Russian speaker we knew to help decipher the garbled voices and tell us what was being said. Our community, both those we knew and those we had yet to meet, reached out and embraced him, helping us raise money for the adoption process, sending him gifts, and helping us through the perplexing and frustrating process of international adoption.

In March 2012, he was not yet 5 years old and in a baby house near Moscow. We were told that when he turned 5 in April he would be moved to a home for older children. There were fears that between his cerebral palsy and his Muslim heritage he would not be treated well in a new facility. The caretakers at his baby house kept him from being transferred for a long time but they could not prevent the inevitable. By the time we got to Russia that October, he had been in the new place for several months. It was not ideal. The man in charge viewed us with great suspicion. On the first day he fought hard to keep us from meeting Marat and we were only able to spend a short time with him – in the Director's office, at a conference table surrounded by adults. His world had been ripped from him just months before and now there were these strangers who couldn’t speak Russian trying to get him to relax enough to use the crayons they had brought. The translator told him we were his mama and papa, come to get him and take him home. I can only imagine what he was thinking.

Those first visits were not conducive to relationship building. They took place in a classroom with tables and chairs far bigger than he. I am sure he thought we were crazy when we got down on the floor to play with him – I know the staff watching us thought we were. He was hyper, excited to play with the forbidden classroom toys and pumped by the candies the translator kept giving him. Like all survivors in difficult circumstances he knew an opportunity when he saw it, and he played our visits for all they were worth. I wasn’t sure he was even capable of seeing us as anything more than a temporary means to an end, until Thursday. That was when he first made real eye contact, when he reached out to me, snuggled in my arms, buried his face in my neck and held on for dear life. That was when I let my guard down and allowed myself to believe.

When we left on Friday he helped me pack up the bag of toys we had brought and informed everyone he was leaving with his new mama and papa. It hurt to have to tell him that he couldn’t leave with us, he had to wait for what would seem like a long time. I promised him we would be back after Christmas. I hugged him, blessed him, asked Mary to protect him, and we left. The assistant director walked us out and told us we were kind people and he would help prepare Marat for our return in January. It was snowing, and I cried, hoping that the snowflakes would hide my tears. I didn’t want the staff or even our translator and driver to know I was crying.

Leaving him behind was so very hard.

I had always assumed that heart break happened all at once, like one of those videos where the DIYer accidentally hammers a nail into the glass when replacing a window and the whole thing shatters into a million pieces. But it turns out that it can happen painfully slowly, each crack resonating loudly and painfully throughout your soul. In early December, President Obama signed the Magnitsky act, an ineffective piece of legislation critical of a human rights situation in Russia. Within days the Duma had responded, ultimately crafting the Dima Yakovlev bill that banned Americans from adopting. The bill moved through the legislative process with deafening speed and was signed into law on December 28th. No Americans could adopt Russian orphans.

Then there were days of questioning. How would they deal with those of us who had met our children? Would they grandfather us in? There was talk of 39 in-process families who would be allowed to adopt. Did that include us? My days were spent scanning Russian media with Google Translate and talking with other families through social media. Our hopes were raised and dashed, often hourly. For a while looked like we would be able to complete the adoption, we received a court date, bought visas and booked flights. Hours before our departure were we told that the court had met early and we were denied.

All this time the families were beginning to band together and working the political angle hoping for resolution. Many of us met in Washington DC in March hoping to get President Obama to appeal on our behalf. That meeting imploded under the weight of too many expectations and a manipulative “leader” who was out for his own gain. The families were fractured and often secretive with one another – each group fearing the tactics of another might jeopardize any potential resolution. Some families wanted to work back channels, some sued it in the European courts, others wanted President Obama to make an open and public appeal; each choice seemed irrevocable and fraught with risk. Parents who started out with only love and a desire to share it were now bound by the fear of what fate would befall their children.

We continued to talk to families, listen to media, and pray. I had been blessed to meet those who had contacts in the Russian orphan community and I was able the glean information that way. While attending a women’s conference here in town a week or so after the DC trip, I received word that things were not going well with Marat and he was deteriorating quickly. I was helpless; standing alone outside in the wind, again hoping no one would see my tears. Another crack in my heart resounded.

In May I heard that a Russian family was interested in Marat. There were those that advocated we do whatever we could (however little that was) to prevent them from taking our boy home. That was never an option for us. From the very beginning of this journey the most important thing was that he found a home, a family. My friends let me know what was happening in the process: when the family met Marat, their struggles with the orphanage staff, etc. The hardest thing was learning that he was still waiting for us and resistant to the new family because of it. We sent word to the family that we were very supportive of their relationship with Marat and a letter to Marat telling him we loved him and always would, but that his new parents also loved him and would be there forever. I don’t know if they received our words of encouragement but I hope they know Marat’s happiness and safety is more important to us than anything.

By the end of June we received a photo by email of Marat leaving the institution.

I hope someday he is able to know that our love for him is genuine and deep and that we did not walk away voluntarily or without a fight.

We love you, Marat.

I also hope all of those who have supported us know how important that support was and how grateful we are. There were early encouragers, financial supporters (large and small) and a surprising group of reporters and former politicians we met through the internet who tried to assist through back channels and who helped us understand Russia and the political process there and, ultimately, to come to terms with the inevitability of the situation.

Now we pray and we ask for your prayers. When a child has been institutionalized for his whole life it can be very difficult to adjust to family life. Such children don’t know how to trust, and things they did for survival in that environment don’t work in a loving family. I haven’t heard much about how he is doing, but I am sure the road will have some bumps in it. He and his new family need all of our prayers if they are to help him be as healthy and happy as possible. I also humbly ask prayers for our family. In many ways Charles and I have isolated ourselves in the last year, not wanting to burden others with our pain. Our hearts are harder than they once were and we hold ourselves too stiffly. We need our community more as we heal from this loss than we did in the process of adoption.


We love you, Charles and Eli!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Quick Takes: The first post of 2014!

1) Happy New Year, everyone! Wheeeeeee!

I love that (almost) the whole world celebrates together each year, this time ringing in 2014 A.D. That number, 2,014, is simply counting time forward (give or take a few years) from the center of history, which is the arrival Our Lord Jesus Christ on this planet. That's what A.D. stands for after all: Anno Domini -- "In the Year of Our Lord". And of course, B.C. stands for "Before Christ".

In recent decades, secular academics have tried to wipe out such Christ-ly references, substituting "BCE" (Before the Common Era) and "CE" (Common Era) for B.C and A.D. But that makes me chuckle, because, uh, what exactly is it that delineates the "Common Era" from "Before the Common Era"? Ah, that's right! It's the arrival of Jesus Christ!

No matter how you spin it, Christ and His Cross stand at the focal point of human history. As it should be.

2) January 1 was not only New Year's Day, but was also the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God -- a holy day of obligation. During my reversion journey, I was surprised to discover that the title "Mother of God" is controversial to most Protestants. I sort of understood their confusion about her perpetual virginity and her immaculate conception, but not this. After all, it's right there in Scripture, as Elizabeth greets a pregnant Mary:

"And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" 
-- Luke 1:43

Jesus is God. Mary is His Mother. Mary is the Mother of God. Not the Mother of the Trinity, by the way (no one is claiming that), but the Mother of God Incarnate. This teaching is ancient, and to claim that Mary is not the Mother of God is a Christological heresy that was put down by the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD.

For more, check out Catholic Answers' Mary Mother of God.

3) Ick. Ick. Yuck. Ick. That's all I could think when I was reading through this piece that made the rounds on facebook recently:

It's icky to read through, but then in its aftermath there is sadness. It is sad to know that a good portion of American and western youth feel as the author does.

Contrast those sentiments to the words of Pope Francis at World Youth Day last summer:

Today, there are those who say that marriage is out of fashion; in a culture of relativism and the ephemeral, many preach the importance of "enjoying" the moment. They say that it is not worth making a life-long commitment, making a definitive decision, "forever", because we do not know what tomorrow will bring.
I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility, that you are incapable of true love. I have confidence in you and I pray for you. Have the courage "to swim against the tide". Have the courage to be happy.

Be a rebel for marriage, dear youth!

4) Some of you followed the heartbreaking yet beautiful journey of a young wife and mother, Angela Faddis, as she fought her battle with advanced colon cancer (diagnosed on Easter Day 2011, died last year). The grace surrounding this woman and her family was palpable, and it spread throughout the world.

I saw a wonderful update from her dear husband Chris the other day, and it's worth your time:

And, read this from a mother at Sandy Hook who, before the tragedy there (her children survived, her friend Jenny's child did not), found inspiration from Angela's journey, though she had never met her:

This is our Catholic Faith, friends. It's the crucible, and it's ultimately unspeakable joy.

5)  I do not like tattoos, but I'd consider tattooing this quote by St. Maximilian Kolbe to the inside of my eyeballs if it could be forever in my sight:

“To combat evil… is to fight with love for all men, including those who are less good. It is to put goodness in relief, so as to make it more attractive, rather than to propagate evil by describing it. When the occasion presents itself to call the attention of society, or of authority, to some evil, it must be done with love for the person to blame, and with delicacy. Do not exaggerate; do not go into detail about the evil any more than is necessary to remedy it.”

This from a man who stared the greatest of evil square in the eye, who was tortured and murdered in a Nazi concentration camp after volunteering to be starved (and ultimately injected with poison) in place of a condemned man who had children and begged to be spared. St. Maximilian Kolbe comforted his fellow prisoners in their long agonies, and loved and forgave his murderers to the end.

He, along with the other myriad saints of our Church, has earned the moral authority to tell me what to do to combat evil. I am trying to listen.

6) Parents, this is long but do not let the length deter you. Every situation is unique, and we should all modify according to our own situation and children, but there is wisdom here to mine:

7) I believe it was last winter that I profiled sweet Giselle, wondering if this malnourished little girl would last through that brutal Eastern European winter. This winter I wonder the same thing.

Will she ever find a family? Please pray for her, and consider sharing her plight with others. Or, perhaps she belongs in your own family?

Please click my photo for more information!


A Blessed New Year to all of you, and thanks to Jen for hosting Quick Takes!