Friday, May 30, 2008
BY MARJORIE DANNENFELSER
May 25-31, 2008 Issue Posted 5/20/08 at 1:57 PM
Contrast is surely the leaven of politics. And nothing highlights worldview differences better than candidates' and legislators' positions on sanctity of life issues.
There's almost no issue that candidates, political parties and legislators try to avoid more. They hope that it will go away, even though voters who care about life issues consistently provide a winning margin in tight races.
The fact is, the issue will continue to be hotly debated until the abortion-on-demand regime of Roe v. Wade begins to unravel and our nation's citizens are given the chance to enact each state-by-state consensus on what abortion laws should be.
I understand abortion rights advocates' panicked protest at that prospect. I used to share it.
Now is the time to look very closely at candidates. We are at a turning point in history when it comes to abortion and euthanasia. The voters who decide the next president and Senate will also decide the makeup of the Supreme Court and federal judiciary for generations.
An especially telling difference exists between Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and John McCain, R-Ariz.
How each perceives and talks about unplanned children is extremely illuminating. McCain is living the joy of his real-life response to a "surprise child." Obama, missing the mystery and blessing, sees only a burden.
You may remember from a few weeks ago, Obama's answer to a question at a town hall meeting regarding HIV and STDs: He said, "Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby"
He sees such a surprise baby as punishment for wrongdoing rather than the natural result of a bad decision to engage in sex.
In the Illinois Legislature in 2002, Obama voted against a bill to require life-sustaining measures for babies who survive late-term abortions and are born alive "accidentally." Then, in 2003, he killed this measure in the Illinois Senate Health committee he chaired.
His perspective on these "surprise" children: "What we are doing here is to create one more burden on a woman, and I can't support that," said Obama in 2003.
That's a living human being he would allow to die because he judges it to be an expendable annoyance. For him again, the unexpected born baby is a punishment and burden — an unnecessary affront to the woman's decision to abort.
I understand Obama's position because I once held it.
I considered myself "pro-choice" because I did not believe the surprise child had separate rights from my own. In that case, a surprise baby is an invading visitor, an unasked-for imposition.
But technology advanced and my opinion, along with that of so many others, changed. Sonography, fetology and compassionate friends all convinced me of the existence of two human beings with rights and needs.
Obama has resisted the pro-life trend in this nation that is documented in poll after poll. Perhaps thinking he will attract women voters, he clings to the proposition of baby as burden — that of the powerful over the weak. This will not help him.
That's not only because women themselves — especially younger ones — are moving away from the abortion position. It is also because the position of generosity and love is the stronger, more attractive position.
Who can resist Mother Teresa? She helped the world understand the stark contrast between the view of children as burdens or as gifts. She could see clearly the divisiveness inherent in the abortion position.
Quoted in The Wall Street Journal, she said, "America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father's role in an increasingly fatherless society.
"It has portrayed the greatest of gifts — a child — as a competitor, an intrusion and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters.
"And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners. Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being's entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign.
"Contrast the perspective of baby-as-expendable-burden and punishment with the rarely repeated story of John and Cindy McCain's "surprise" child.
Sen. McCain told me this story of their family, and, on another occasion, Cindy McCain related it. Both times I heard the story — each from the father's and mother's perspective — I found it beautiful and revealing.
Cindy McCain, traveling in Bangladesh, had promised a Catholic friend she would visit Mother Teresa's orphanage there. After her tour, two nuns whom Cindy laughingly describes as "sweet and tenacious" brought two children to her. They explained that both babies would die (one suffered from malnutrition issues, the other from severe cleft palate) unless brought to the United States. Cindy said Yes to their pleas on behalf of the children. She then engaged in a battle with local officials to allow her to take the babies out of the orphanage.
As a woman operating in Bangladesh's culture, she was at a disadvantage, and so had to take on a tough role — one the town elders had not yet experienced. Cindy won. She brought the babies back home, presenting one to her husband: "John, here's your new baby."
In a way that defies his tough, military persona, he describes the "extreme privilege" of receiving his new daughter — surprise or not. They found a home for the other baby with their own close friends.
The McCains' immediate and generous Yes to taking responsibility for two children in an incredibly inconvenient circumstance is revealing —and inspiring. It is much like the response of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who recently gave birth to her fifth child — a child born premature with Down syndrome.
Palin and her husband also embraced the surprise: "We knew through early testing he would face special challenges, and we feel privileged that God would entrust us with this gift and allow us unspeakable joy as he entered our lives."
Pope Benedict's words at the first Mass of his pontificate (which President Bush repeated during his visit at the White House) put the value of the "surprise" child in context: "Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."
No matter who you are, how smart or slow you are, how beautiful or plain you look, how much or little money you have, how healthy and physically fit you are — you are necessary.
Your right to life is equal to that of all others. Even when it's not obvious. Even when your existence requires another's sacrifice.
The McCains agree. The Obamas disagree. That is why the choice between the two agendas is easy.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.
The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates my capabilities. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am. Jerks!
There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.
Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow, but at the top of the stairs.
I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released, and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird must be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now ...
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Monday, May 26, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
Therese with Fr. N
Love the family shot! - slight sarcasm - You can see what a psycho the 3yo is from this shot. I mean, just look at his face! Like he has to let everyone know that he's the crazy nut case of the clan - I mean that in the most loving way :0) The almost 5yo didn't want to even be in the picture, so I had to scoop him up real quick. Drives Paul crazy --- that boy not wanting to have his picture taken formally or semi-formally.
He'll do this:
But not this:I just take it with a grain of salt. One thing I've learned is that you can't force someone to be happy - especially a 4yo boy who is adament not to get his picture taken [can you see his clenched fists?]. So I just have to cling to that saying that gets me through life: This too Shall Pass! He'll get over it. . . . . someday :0)
We had some friends and family over for a fun day back at our home. Therese had a blast!
It was truly a blessed day!
My favorite picture:
We headed back to our meeting place for a light reception and a little play!
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Saturday, May 10, 2008
I'd really like to get some fabric paint to make it more permanent. I just used a Sharpie. I plan on altering the girls' shirts too.
And, get this, I was reading the inside of the Coke shirts - they have some pretty wordy messages :o) - and they're made partly from plastic Coke bottles! Who knew?! It states something to the effect of "this shirt has approx. 3 20oz plastic Coke bottles in it". You'd never know by feeling them! Pretty cool, even if it's all Earth Day-ey!
Friday, May 9, 2008
When his mother discovered the plan she was frantic. His three sisters wept aloud, pleading with him to stay. “Mother needs you at home,” they insisted. But Gerard stood firm. He was going to Iliceto to become a Redemptorist! They ran to the missionaries, begging them not to accept their brother. Father Cafaro has no intention whatever of accepting the young man. However, he shrewdly foresaw it would be hard to dissuade this importunate youth. “Detain him at home somehow the day we leave,” was Father Cafaro’s advice to Gerard’s distracted family. They promised to do so.
Benedetta bolted Gerard’s door the morning the Redemptorists left Muro. But later when she tiptoed into the room, he was not there. His bed-clothes, knotted together, streamed from the open window, and on a small table lay a scrap of paper: “Mother, I am off to become a saint,” it read. It was signed “Gerardo.” He had gone after the missionaries....
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
They were very cute. There was a rock in there ready for them for when they grew their legs. They seemed happy.
I'd periodically check on them out on the back deck. The kids would check on them too. But not as often as they should have...apparently.
The water evaporated. I told them they needed to fill it up with more water. I felt awful for those little guys! Just thinking about their last moments. Not a good thought.
At least we're not the only tadpole killers. There are more of us out there!
Therese - the optimist & animal lover - said, "Well, at least one of them might have lived. The one that went down the sink." I told her that all pipes lead to the ocean!
One evening while deep in prayer, Gerard heard a voice . . . “Pazzarello . . . My little fool, what are you doing?” looking up at the altar, he answered. “Ah, but you are more a fool than I, a prisoner for me in your tabernacle.” *could you imagine!!! When the bells rang for Mass the next morning, Gerard was still in church.
He was there the afternoon of Low Sunday, April 13, 1749, for the start of the parish retreat. A newly founded congregation of missionaries were to preach in all three churches of Muro. Their founder had been a well-known lawyer at Naples, Alphonsus de Liguori. Wherever these missionaries went, they moved all hearts with their fervent words. It was the same in Muro.
One of the missionaries, Father Paul Cafaro, made a deep impression on Gerard Majella. “I must join these men as a lay brother,” he decided. Each day the resolution grew more insistent in his heart. He even gave away all his worldly goods – one extra shirt and a pair of linen breeches! Finally, he went to see Father Cafaro.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
This is the second sibling Dani has taught to ride a bike. She got Paul's ratchet set out of the basement, found the correct size and went to work removing the training wheels. She informed me that John Paul is just like her...he just got on and rode! No practice required :o)