Dear readers, please accept these photos of the cutest little baby Gator you’ve ever seen in your life, as a consolation for failing to publish any of the three or four posts I started this week (and to celebrate the start of college football!). I will try to do better next week!
This was me and my nephew Cruz just a few months ago watching the Gators lose to Connecticut in the Final Four.
He’s a little bigger now, but just as adorable.
Cute baby Gator throwback: guess who??
Go Gators! –,==,<
The persecution of Christians and other innocent civilians half a world away suddenly hit close to home for Americans this week with news that kidnapped journalist James Foley had been beheaded by members of the Islamic State.
In the wake of his death, a letter has emerged from Foley to his alma mater, Marquette University. In it, he wrote of his imprisonment in a military detention center in Tripoli in 2011 and of the solace he found in praying the rosary during his incarceration there.
If nothing else, prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom, an inner freedom first and later the miracle of being released during a war in which the regime had no real incentive to free us. It didn’t make sense, but faith did.
I pray that he was able to maintain that inner freedom throughout his captivity and execution.
I don’t really have a whole lot to say. I just wanted to recommend a book by my favorite modern spiritual author, Fr. Jacques Philippe, called Interior Freedom. It is by far his best.
He also released a new one this year specifically about prayer. That’s the only one of his books I have not read yet, but, like all the ones before it, I’m sure it is quite helpful and spiritually insightful.
Foley’s death and the deaths and displacement of thousands of others are a stark, painful reminder that our exterior freedom is never guaranteed. But there is one thing that no force can ever take away from us.
Interior freedom is not only necessary in captivity, but also in our ordinary daily lives when even small annoyances can threaten our peace and calm.
Not surprisingly, The Anchoress also has some words worth reflecting on. Specifically:
…this intentional evil that has once more reared its head, as it has in the past, is going to require more than rhetoric and airstrikes, or grenades or tanks. Intentional evil must be fought by intentional disciples. And all I’ve been saying for these months is: begin to practice prayer. Begin to form your intentional discipleship within your families and your communities.
Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer. Rom. 12:12
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Before praying at the abortion memorial in Korea this weekend, Pope Francis also visited the “House of Hope” Rehabilitation Center Saturday afternoon. He spent almost an hour at the center where he embraced and blessed many of the patients and greeted teachers and health workers.
According to CNA, Bishop Gabriel Chang Bong-huh, Bishop of Cheongju, addressed the Holy Father and said “these children have suffered from double abandonment: abandoned first by their parents for birth defects and later by society because nobody wanted to adopt them because of prejudices against children with disabilities.”
“Holy Father, your visit is a strong call for us to practice preferential love and concern for children with disabilities.”
Indeed. Humanity’s greatness is shown best in how we love and care for those in need.
How many children with disabilities, like those at the House of Hope, continue to be abandoned throughout the world or, worse yet, have their lives snuffed out before they’re even born?
We should be concerned with finding cures and making the world a place where people with disabilities feel welcome and valued, not pushing them away or snuffing them out of existence.
Visiting the sick and disabled is not unique to Francis’ pontificate, of course. During his visit to the United States in 2008, pope Benedict had a special audience for children with disabilities and told them
God has blessed you with life, and with differing talents and gifts. Through these you are able to serve him and society in various ways. While some people’s contributions seem great and others’ more modest, the witness value of our efforts is always a sign of hope for everyone.
Sometimes it is challenging to find a reason for what appears only as a difficulty to be overcome or even pain to be endured. Yet our faith helps us to break open the horizon beyond our own selves in order to see life as God does. God’s unconditional love, which bathes every human individual, points to a meaning and purpose for all human life. Through his Cross, Jesus in fact draws us into his saving love (cf. Jn 12:32) and in so doing shows us the way ahead – the way of hope which transfigures us all, so that we too, become bearers of that hope and charity for others.
Related: Your Handicapped Child is a Blessing
During his visit to Korea last week, Pope Francis prayed in silence in front of the symbolic cemetery displaying hundreds of small white crosses to represent aborted children.
GAH! Have I mentioned lately how much I love the Thais and the beautiful, moving commercials they produce?
Here’s another great one I came across recently.
To have and to hold, from this day forward; for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness, and in health, to love and to cherish, to death do us part.
As Frank Weathers notes, this is what living the marriage vow is all about.
It reminds me of an experience I had at a nursing home I used to visit a few years ago. Read: Love Endures All Things
Over at the Register, Rebecca Taylor comments on the recent surrogacy scandal from Thailand involving an Australian couple and a surrogate from Thailand who gave birth to twins, one of whom has Down syndrome.
The couple took home the healthy baby girl, leaving the future of her twin brother with DS in jeopardy.
The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano ran an op-ed commenting on Gammy’s story, stating, “In reality, there’s little to be indignant about: If you accept the logic of a child as a product, this is the obvious consequence.”
It is no secret that the stance of the Catholic Church — which categorically rejects the “logic” of regarding any child as a mere “product” — is wildly unpopular. In a society that thinks any way to make a baby is the right way to make a baby, the Church is often seen as a backward institution that rejects and shames infertile couples. We are labeled as “haters.”
In reality, nothing could be farther from the truth.
What is the Church really saying when she rejects artificial reproductive technologies (ART) like IVF and surrogacy? The Church teaches that to create human life outside of the act of intercourse between husband and wife is unethical. Why? There are many reasons, but the most compelling is because we all deserve the absolute best start in life.
She goes into much more detail, but the crux of Taylor’s article is something you’ve seen me bring up here time and time again: Taking the creation of life out of its natural, God-given context and moving it into the science lab seriously alters how many view the wonder and mystery of new life and how that new life should be treated.
For example, Taylor uses a quote from a story I mentioned here a few years ago, about a woman who was chose to kill one of the healthy unborn twins she conceived via IVF. She rationalized it this way:
If I had conceived these twins naturally, I wouldn’t have reduced this pregnancy, because you feel like if there’s a natural order, then you don’t want to disturb it. But we created this child in such an artificial manner — in a test tube, choosing an egg donor, having the embryo placed in me — and somehow, making a decision about how many to carry seemed to be just another choice. The pregnancy was all so consumerish to begin with, and this became yet another thing we could control.
Consciously or unconsciously, to desire a child as the end result of a technological procedure instead of the fruit of marital love is to treat the child not as a person to love, but a product to obtain.
This actually goes quite well with the story I posted a few hours ago.
According to the NY Post there is a growing trend of people launching GoFundMe campaigns for help purchasing their future children.
GoFundMe reports that the total value of donations made to people seeking IVF funding in its “Babies, Kids and Family” category worldwide stands at $1.1 million since its 2010 launch. And those numbers are growing: The amount donated between January and July 2014 is already a third higher than that collected for the entirety of 2013.
The Post highlighted two such campaigns specifically. And I couldn’t help noticing something particularly troubling on the page for for one of those campaigns.
Sometimes people will attach prizes to certain dollar amounts as incentives for people to donate. Understandable. But this??
$100 gets you two free hours with the babies (who don’t even exist yet)! Something’s terribly wrong with this picture.
If that’s not treating children like objects/products — before they even exist — I don’t know what is.
I think the CBC’s Jennifer Lahl, quoted in the Post, has it right. There’s something quite tacky and tasteless about asking friends, family and strangers to help you exploit women and buy children.
Mary Evelyn at What Do You Do Dear? recalls what it was like when a little girl walked up to her son, who has spina bifida and is in a wheelchair, at church one day:
And then, without taking her eyes from his face, she said “I feel sorry for him.”
I felt it more than I heard it. Deep in my stomach, in that place right below my breastbone. The place where I keep all my fears and my sadness. I felt it like a kick in the ribs.
Children ask all sorts of question about my son.
Why is he in that? Why can’t he walk? What’s wrong with him? Will he need that thing forever?
But questions are easy. For children, questions have answers.
“I feel sorry for him” is not a question. It is a statement of fact. A revelation. A public disclosure of something I know to be true. Although I fight against it and try to believe otherwise, I know there are many many people who feel the same. Many people who see my son, smiling and spinning and exploring his world, and they feel sorry. They feel sadness. But adults know how to filter. We know what not to say. We know to bottle up. This little girl was a leak in the system.
A system that tells her my son’s wheelchair is “very sad.”
A system that tells her he is a “poor thing.”
A system that uses words like confined to, suffers from, and bound.
A system that prefers to see people like my son as victims, as recipients of charity, as less-fortunates waiting to be healed, rather than seeing them as neighbors, colleagues, teachers, and friends.
A system that tells her my son smiles “in spite of” rather than simply because he too is a child and has access to all the same earthly wonders that she does.
Wonders like fireflies, and candlelight, and going fast, and little girls in gauzy white dresses.
In the past nearly 15 years I’ve found that often the hardest part about living with a disability is not coming to terms with what I can’t do, but dealing with the perception that I am more helpless/miserable than I really am.
Despite the many wonderful advances we’ve made in protecting the rights of people with disabilities and including them in society, it seems we’ve yet to remedy the view of the general public that life with a disability is less enjoyable or fulfilling.
But there is hope. Read the rest of Mary’s post for a beautiful example of a stranger who gets it right!
• Couples are flocking to Thailand, the last place in Asia where sex-selective IVF is available.
• The Medical Board of Australia has suspended the medical registration of Dr Philip Nitschke, aka: Australia’s “Dr. Death”, following allegations that he counseled a man who was not terminally ill to take his own life. The board found that he posed “a serious risk” to the health and safety of the public.
Rebecca Taylor reviews the latest teen dystopian future trilogy to hit the big screen:
I…want to thank Veronica Roth for tackling tough issues in biotechnology in a way young people love. I hope this trilogy gives them pause in a world that thinks science can solve any problem. I hope they see that being human is not a problem that needs to be fixed.