Sunday, August 12, 2012

Novus Ordo

Being so blessed as to be able to attend the Latin Mass every Sunday, there are times that we are forced to attend the Novus Ordo Mass. Now, lest anyone think otherwise, I am not one of those who believes the N.O. is not a legitimate Mass. But every time I attend one, there are so many things that make me profoundly sad. The lack of reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, the chatter during the Eucharist, the lack of opportunity for personal prayer - all of these truly break my heart. But there are a few things that I hope change very soon.

1. Please put the tabernacle back where it belongs - front and center of the altar.
Why is Jesus, our Lord and Savior, relegated to the corner of the altar? In some parishes, it is almost impossible to find. Why are we genuflecting to the altar if He is not present? I venture to guess that many Catholics don't even know what the tabernacle is or what it contains.
 In other words, notice the difference?

2. The sign of peace.

This part of the Mass is completely at the discretion of the priest, and I hope it will gradually fade away. Why you ask? Because contrary to popular belief, the Mass is not where we go to feel good about ourselves. We adore the Lord, we thank Him, we ask Him forgiveness and mercy, we worship Him, and we receive Him in the most Blessed Sacrament. The sign of peace is an unnecessary act designed to make us feel part of the Mass, but all it does is create great disruption and take away the focus from the fact that the Lord is on the altar, where we will go to receive Him with great reverence and awe. This should be a time of deep prayer and personal contemplation, not handshakes, backslaps and small talk. I always try to sit in the back row of a Novus Ordo mass because I refuse to turn my back on my Lord, present on the altar.

3. Bring back the altar rail!

I honestly can't say enough about the importance of bringing back the reverence for the Eucharist. How terrible it is to see people talking and laughing their way up the aisle, taking our Lord in their hands, and then rushing out the back of the Church. What a sacrilege! I have even seen people reach in to grab a host and then shove it in their mouth like last night's cupcake. Why do the bishops not put a stop to this? The altar rail forces one to receive kneeling, and on the tongue, and perhaps can bring some dignity back to the free-for-all one sees at so many masses.

4. Get the band off the altar.

Folk music, guitar music, praise and worship bands - I've seen and heard it all. This unfortunate custom also comes out of the "entertain me so I feel a part of it all" mentality that has pervaded many parishes. It doesn't matter how lovely the music is, it doesn't belong on the altar. Ever. It belongs in the choir loft.

I certainly don't expect N.O. parishes to start incorporating Gregorian chant, although I hope someday they do, but certainly a sense of the sacred should be maintained with all music chosen for the Mass.

5. Quiet prayer at the end of mass? I don't think so.

I've yet to attend a N.O. mass where it is at all possible to pray after the recessional hymn. It seems as though as soon as the priest leaves the Church, that is the cue to either stampede out or start talking loudly. Why is that? Why not wait until you leave the Church to start chatting and laughing? Or even better, eliminate the recessional altogether. That way those who would like to pray after mass can pray, and those that want to chat can head out of the Church.

I hope I don't sound picky or snobby, in this day and age of generations of poorly catechized Catholics, I believe a return to the sense of the sacredness of the Mass will bring many people back to their faith, and will lead others to want to learn more about it. And let's face it, Jesus deserves the best of us, especially at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Where I am encouraged to sterilize myself.

Here is where I make my big announcement- we're having a baby! Our due date is February 3rd and we couldn't be happier. Of course, we know to expect the usual reactions - Are you crazy? Another one? Aren't you done yet? Can you afford another one? Was this an oops? Are you crazy?

Needless to say, we've had all these reactions and born them patiently. We are fully aware we are out of the mainstream in our thinking. Our culture is one that believes one plans children, you decide how many to have, and then you're done. Two children is perfect, three is okay, four is unconventional to say the least, and any more than that is just plain weird.

But we just smile, secure in our faith and the teachings of the Church. We have not always been open to life, hence the gaps in our children's ages, but since our conversion to the Church, we understand and embrace the beauty of God's plan for marriage. We do not use NFP, as we have no reason to do so, and we embrace this new life with whole-hearted love.

Of course, in our society we are the crazy ones. We are told that contraception frees women from the enslavement of motherhood, allows her a baby-free sex life, and grants her equality with men. But at what price? From what I can see, contraception has enslaved women. Never before have we been so objectified and demeaned. Instead of equality, we have been used and discarded. Our feminine uniqueness, our life-giving power, has been sneered at and diminished As though it were worthless.

So here I am, 43 years old, naked under a paper johnny, excited for my first appointment with my OB. She comes in, we talk a bit about my health history. She mentions that she would recommend a C-section, which I am fine with, and then she goes on to say that she can do a tubal ligation while she is in there, if this is the last baby I want to have. I was shocked and horrified. No, I mumbled, I wouldn't be interested in that. She then proceeds to mention my age and the fact that pregnancy is more dangerous with age, and since I won't use artificial contraception I should really figure something out.

What do you say to something like that? Do you quote from Theology of the Body? Refer her to Humanae Vitae? No, you mumble something resembling agreement and inwardly try not to be filled with sadness and disappointment that this joyful moment has been ruined for you.

A good friend mentioned that the doctor was just trying to help, as it is a lot better to have oneself sterilized during a C-section than separately. She is right, of course. It would make sense to have it done then, and in our fertility-fixing crazed medical community, I wouldn't expect the doctor to think differently. But it made me profoundly sad and I couldn't put my finger on why. But when I posted about my experience on a Catholic women's online group, the outpouring of emotion from other women made it obvious. The pressure on these women to abort, to contracept and to render themselves infertile through tubal ligations is OVERWHELMING, is CONSISTENT, and is the NORM. It is not isolated! And under the new healthcare mandates it will only get worse.<\P>

I feel most sorry for women who don't have the conviction of faith to withstand the pressure. I can't imagine being deprived of my natural fertility. Nature will take care of that in time. Until then, I will embrace the gift God has given me.

Needless to say, I switched doctors. I went to an amazing it turns out there is a Catholic doctor practicing in the same building! I have an appointment next week. I am so happy I can see a doctor who will celebrate his new life and this old lady! I just wish there were more like him.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

October Baby

October Baby has been on every pro-lifers radar over the past few months, and as much as I wanted to see it, I didn't have high expectations. I didn't know much of the story line, I just knew it was a Christian pro-life film. When NARAL started fuming publicly about it, I knew I had to go see it. After all, any movie that makes pro-abort organizations angry must be good.

 I arrived at the theater with two friends in tow. I settled in, hoping it wasn't a long movie because my husband was home alone with four kids, and I was afraid of what awaited me when I returned.  I didn't expect was to be drawn into the movie immediately. It was sweet and cute and funny -but by the end of the movie I was exhausted -emotionally pushed to the edge, filled with a sorrow I had not expected.

Several scenes were very difficult to watch. When the nurse gives a description of the abortion, I felt myself starting to panic. I began to sob, picturing all of the babies dismembered at the abortion clinic where I worked. More than a few times women had to come back for "incomplete" abortions. Many women came in for second-trimester abortions, where they were never told their babies would be pulled out of their womb, their arms and legs severed from their torsos. I had a flashback to the moment I saw the arms and legs of a baby in a jar after a second-trimester abortion. I wanted to run out of the theater, but the presence of my friends calmed me. I felt an overwhelming pain in my soul - the pain of all the babies killed in the abortion clinic, the pain of my own child I aborted when I was young. I saw their little bodies poured into little baggies and thrown in the trash. Seeing this beautiful young woman on the screen, I saw in each innocent child killed a Hannah or a Nicholas.

 At Nicholas' gravesite, I was plunged into sadness again. No aborted child has a gravesite. It is as if they never existed. There is nobody to cherish their memory, to know who they should have been, nobody to love them as they should have been loved. They exist only in their mother's grief, sliding down a wall in stifled agony. When Hannah leaves the note for her mother, I joined in her mother's sobbing. Our hearts were joined with every mother who has aborted her child. What would I do for a note from my child, saying she forgives me? I think about her every day, I kiss her goodnight every night, but I will never hear her voice.

 I know I am forgiven in Christ. He has healed me and given me new life in Him. My sorrow is no longer overwrought with guilt. I no longer hate myself or anyone else. But this does not mean I will not suffer. Our tears are His tears. He will allow us to go to the depths of our pain, only to lift us up to His light and glory. I am so grateful to the filmmakers and everyone that worked so hard to bring this film to nationwide theaters. If you haven't seen the movie, please go see it. It shows us the human face of abortion, and the hope we can have that we can end it. God bless you.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Stand UP for Religious Freedom

Today was the day! All across the country thousands of people stood up for religious freedom, proclaiming WE WILL NOT COMPLY!! The HHS mandate is unconstitutional! To usurp our First Amendment rights is an unprecedented attack on the US Constitution. I was proud to bring some of my kiddos.

Standing with me is Ellen Kolb, an amazing prolife warrior from New Hampshire. She is also involved with Cornerstone Action in New Hampshire, working on legislation.
My daughter's sign "Mr. President, What happened to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution?"

And the other side.
Ellen gives a FANTASTIC speech to the crowd. My favorite line - my religion is not a crime!
It was very interesting to note that the crowd included men AND women, many of us with kids in tow. The mainstream media would have you believe that it is "old,white men who are against this mandate, but that is an outright lie. Although there were some old men, this being New Hampshire and all, the majority were pretty young! (And personally, I think old, white men have just as much a right to their free expression of belief as much as anyone else.)
The real war on women is being waged right now - and it is against any woman who doesn't agree with the radical agenda of Obama, Planned Parenthood, and Sebelius. I am so glad I was able to get out and participate in this rally today. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Why pray for abortion clinic workers?

I was recently honored to be asked to write a short article fo rthe  St. Joseph Catholic Family Center in Manchester, NH. In particular, she asked me why prolifers should care about people working in abortion clinics. I only had about 250 words to work with, but this is the article. I would love to hear your thoughts.

When I worked at Planned Parenthood and marched in prochoice rallies, I never imagined I would one day be a prolife activist. I believed abortion was not only a right, but a good thing. I didn't know or believe that it was the taking of a life. Why was that? Was it because I buried the pain of my own abortion at age nineteen? Was it because abortion had become inextricably linked in the feminist cause?
              While we can't know for sure why any given individual chooses to work at an abortion clinic, we do know that each one is caught up in an unending web of lies. When everyone around you tells you abortion is a moral choice, even your own family, it is hard to think otherwise.
              It is hard to understand these choices, and sometimes we feel anger, even hatred, toward those participating in abortions. But we must remember them in our prayers, even the doctor performing the abortions. Not because we feel compassion toward them, but because Jesus commands it of us. Remember Mark 2:17: And hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners." We don't get to decide who is worthy of our prayers. We pray for the salvation of all souls – all souls, even those that make us feel anger and disgust. For the sake of God’s kingdom, we must pray for them. Somebody was praying for me, and my conversion came. Let us pray for the conversion of all abortion workers and doctors. Jesus expects no less.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The sweet face of Jesus

Two weeks ago we started fostering a little baby girl, eight weeks old. She came to us when the mother and father voluntarily placed her through DCF for 90 days. I don't want to say anything that might compromise the privacy of the family, but the parents are young, and drugs coupled with domestic violence is involved.

So here we are, two dogs, three kids and a newborn, my husband works two jobs, trying to get through the days of exhaustion and craziness. It's exhausting. And exhilarating. And scary.

I certainly never planned on being a foster mom. I'm doing it because I was asked to do it. I get a little uncomfortable with some of the comments I get "You are so good to do this." "What an angel you are." Actually, I'm neither. I just happen to be a stay at home mom who can take care of a baby.

What really makes me think, though, is the common theme that it will be really hard to give her back to her parents. It's true, it will be really hard. But she doesn't belong to me, any more than my own children do. They are loaned to me by God, and my job is to give them back to Him. As Catholics, we believe our job as parents is to get our children's souls into heaven.

This little baby, I am sure, will break my heart. I love her as my own biological child, and II feel a unique responsibility to care for her - her mother has entrusted her to my care, but above this, I believe God has asked us to take care of this child. I don't know if she will stay with us, or go home tomorrow, but I know that I cannot close off my heart to her because she is only here temporarily.  

Mother Teresa said that Jesus came to her in the distressing disguise of the most poor, the most unwanted, the most diseased. She did what she did, as do all of the Missionaries of Charity, out of love for Jesus. She always said she was not a social worker - she was a bride of Christ, doing God's will and seeing Jesus in every person.

Jesus has come to me as a helpless, vulnerable baby. He is telling me I am worthy of His love. I am worthy to care for Him. What if I said no? I am too busy, too tired, too frightened...What would I say to Him when I meet Him face to face? I have to give my all, and when my all doesn't seem up to the task, I ask Him for strength and He gives it to me.

How is Jesus coming to you today? How will you answer His call?                                                                                                                                            sus

Monday, January 2, 2012

"They don't care about babies."

One of the common themes of Planned Parenthood's rhetoric is that pro-lifers don't really care about babies. They claim that the "radical right/Christians" are crazy, violent fanatics bent on taking away a woman's rights, but once the baby is here, we scatter and are nowhere to be found.

When I worked for Planned Parenthood, I really believed this. Not being personally acquainted with anyone on the "other side," I truly thought all pro-lifers were women-haters obsessed with controlling women's autonomy.

As a women's studies major in college, I was taught that feminism was synonymous with progressive-ism. Feminists could not be racist, because we were fighting against oppression. Feminism equaled anti-poverty, anti-racism, anti-oppression in all forms, because once the genders were "equal" society would be perfect.

 Planned Parenthood has been extremely effective in marketing itself as a "pro-women's" organization. It has allied itself with radical feminists, such as Gloria Steinem, and in doing so has effectively crushed any dissent. Any criticism of PP is perceived and labeled as an attack on womanhood itself. (Or, womynhood, as some feminists prefer to spell it). This rhetoric has become so accepted by the popular culture and media that nobody even questions it.

Yet, one of the first things that troubled me while I was working at PP was the overt racism and classism that permeated its mentality and business practices. In fact, one of the prime arguments of PP supporters is "how are the antiabortion extremists going to pay for all these babies on welfare? How are they going to support all of these poor women?" Basically they are saying that if you are poor you should have an abortion so we don't have to pay for all your d*&n kids! Right?

The logic is that an unwanted baby = misery, drugs, violence and poverty, therefore abortion is the answer. Does that make sense to you? I started to realize how awful it was that the largest "feminist" organization was the worst perpetrator of violence against women. Because abortion is a violent act. It intentionally murders a child. A child inside a woman's womb. PP doesn't care why you want the abortion - they just want you to have it. The majority of women I dealt with were having abortions because a baby didn't fit into their life plans. We never counseled them as to how they could have their baby and still have a great life, we simply took their medical history and sent them to the abortion room.

Here is what I have learned.  They lied to me. They lied to me, manipulated me, and used me to murder babies. And the so-called radical fanatics? They are the only ones doing anything for babies. They financially support women who need it, they pay for cars, apartments, doctor appointments. They help people get housing, medical care, parenting classes, birthing classes, clothes for baby, diapers, daycare. they do whatever it takes to help women have their babies.

. I don't want to give any details that might compromise the privacy of the mother, but through a mutual friend I met a young lady last summer who was thinking of having an abortion. She was in her second-trimester. After emailing and sending her some information, she decided to have the baby. Now, she is not in the best relationship and the baby tested positive for drugs when he was born, but mom is trying to do all the right things because she loves her baby and wants to be a great mom. My husband and I are foster parents to the baby and have taken her into our home so that her mom can get her life together. Now, Planned Parenthood says she should have had an abortion. As I gaze down on this precious child, I can only think that she disagrees. And her mom, who had she walked into PP would have had an abortion, is so happy she chose the gift of life for her child.

Planned Parenthood claims pro-lifers and crisis pregnancy centers trick women and don't really help them. I have living proof that this is not true.If this mother had an abortion, she would have to live with that for the rest of her life. Already using drugs and in a bad relationship, she might have sunk lower and lower into despair. But now, having a child, she is trying to do the right thing and get her life together. Her child has given her hope!