Friday, December 28, 2012

The Father's Letter

The Father's Letter Very moving video.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Controversy of Same-Sex Marriages

The battle over whether or not same-sex marriages should be legal continues to rage in the west. The most recent victory for the 'yes' side is in the state of Washington where same-sex marriage was recently made legal. In arguing their case against same-sex marriage many Christians use the Bible. Using the Bible for such arguments can be risky because those who are in favour of same-sex marriages often do not accept the Bible as an authority. They would answer that a book in which some of the writings are 4,000 years old has no relevance to modern life and law. Those who think logically also point out that since we don't claim all the laws in Leviticus must be followed in modern times, we should not pick out only the verses that talk about homosexuality.
Natural Law
I suggest that instead of using the Bible to support arguments against same-sex marriage, we simply use a biology and an anatomy textbook. This would help people discover what 'natural law' teaches. Can we deny that in the animal world (where many non-religious people are quick to place human beings) sex is only meant for propagation of the species. Also, like animals, humans are either male or female. Male and female organs are designed to produce offspring. Two males together cannot produce offspring; neither can two females produce offspring.
Marriage
For humans, marriage is meant to create a safe place for men, women and the children they will have. Human children need more direct care for a longer period of time than most animal species and a family is the ideal place for that care. We also know that a human child benefits from being raised by both a father and a mother. Unfortunately, many marriages between a man and a woman also fall short of this when the marriage breaks apart. Children are then brought up by one parent and this is not an ideal situation.
How does marriage protect the man and the woman? While women go through a pregnancy and bear the children they can be protected by the husband. Think of how lonely it is for women who have done this on their own. The exclusive relationship between the man and the woman protects both from having to find love, acceptance and sexual satisfaction outside the marriage. Although there will be disagreements in marriages, there can also be comfort in knowing that the other person is there and is committed to them. Of course, no one is saying that those with homosexual tendencies should not love others as friends. Wasn't it Aristotle who said that love between friends is the best kind of love?. There can still be acceptance between friends who are not married, whether they be homosexual or heterosexual. But sex between those of the same-sex cannot be deemed 'natural'. Think about it: is 'sex' between same-sex 'couples' the sex that is described in biology textbooks? Is it the 'sex' that our bodies were designed for? If you would like to read more on this topic here is an excellent link to Humanum. http://www.humanumreview.com/

Friday, October 26, 2012

Kateri Tekakwitha: A Saint and the Media

On Sunday, October 21, 2012 seven people were recognized by the Catholic Church as Saints. One of the seven was a Mohawk woman who lived in North America in the 17th century, Kateri Tekakwitha. The media in Canada (and no doubt also in the US) dutifully reported the news and there were many comments posted on news sites of the media. As usual in reporting about the Catholic Church there were some errors in the reports and even more misunderstandings in the comments by readers. But, on the whole, the reporting was not that bad. I listened to CBC’s The National and the report was quite positive. Still those misunderstandings by listeners and readers need to be cleared up.
Who is Kateri Tekakwitha?
Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656 in what is now New York State. Of course, at that time the territory was the Mohawk nation as the United States of America did not exist as a country. Kateri’s mother was a Christian Algonquin who had been captured by the Iroquois. Her husband saved her from the fate of a captive by marrying her.
When Kateri was only four years old (some sources say six), her parents died of smallpox and she, too, contracted the disease. As a result her face was badly scarred and she was left partially blind.
In 1667 two Jesuit missionaries from Quebec came and stayed with Kateri’s uncle. It was from them that she first learned about Christianity and believed. She lived a life of virtue in a place where carnage and debauchery was common. Furthermore, she resisted all efforts to marriages arranged by her relatives.
When she was eighteen she was baptized by Father Jacques de Lamberville and afterwards faced great opposition to her faith in her village. Kateri was her baptismal name, a form of 'Caterina' and previously she had been known only as Tekakwitha. Finally a Christian friend helped her to escape to Kahnawake on the St. Lawrence River in New France (now Quebec). There her life, which she dedicated to God, and her deeds impressed both the French and her own people.
Kateri worked at the Mission of St. Francis Xavier until her death at the young age of 24.
It is said that she scourged herself and sat on hot coals to endure the suffering that Christ had endured and that this caused her early death. Critics on the websites comment on an 'evil institution' that would require such acts. The Catholic Church does not require these acts but she did learn about this from those around her at the Mission. It was common during this age to increase one's suffering in order to partake in Christ's suffering. One can read about these scourgings in books written at the time. In the movie, Black Robe, which tells of the Jesuits in early Quebec, one of the priests scourges himself after being tempted. In today's world it is difficult to understand this practice. Whether or not it hastened her death cannot be known for certain; life in those times was difficult in any case.
People who were present said that the scars from smallpox disappeared from her face almost immediately after her death and her skin was once again beautiful. People began to call her ‘The Lily of the Mohawks’. Devotion to her by Native Americans began shortly after her death and her grave was visited by many pilgrims. In 1884 a monument was erected to her memory by Rev. Clarence Walworth.
On January 3, 1943 Kateri was declared ‘venerable’ by Pope Pius XII, the first step towards sainthood. On June 22, 1980 she was ‘beatified’ by Pope John Paul II, the second step towards sainthood and in October, 2012 she was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI raising her to ‘sainthood’. This means that the Catholic Church recognizes her as a saint - the Church does not make her a saint.
What then is a saint?
St. Paul addresses all those who are Christians as saints, for example, “to the saints in Colossae, our faithful brothers and sisters in Christ.” (Colossians 1:2) and so all Christians are in this respect ‘saints’.
Early in the Christian Church it was seen that some Christians lived lives of extraordinary virtue. These people were then venerated or honoured in their local church and eventually the Catholic Church began a process called ‘canonization’ by which these people could be recognized in a special way by all.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that all Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life; all are called to holiness. (CCC 2013) i.e. we are all called to be saints. Saints are examples of holiness and show us the kind of life we can lead. Instead of looking to movie stars and sports heroes, who often fail us, we can look to the saints for examples of how we should live.
Saints are also ‘companions in prayer’. Just as we ask our friends to pray for us we can ask the saints to intercede for us. One of the requirements for being recognized as a saint is a healing or miracle, scientifically unexplainable, attributed to the intercession of the candidate for sainthood.
One miracle is required for beatification and a second is required for canonization. In the case of Kateri Tekakwitha there were reported healings after her death. One case was that of a Protestant child, Joseph Kellog, captured by Native Americans in the 18th century. After he contracted smallpox the Jesuits were asked to treat him. The Jesuits used relics from Kateri’s grave and he was reportedly healed. Another priest reported that he had been healed of deafness after prayer to Kateri and a Native woman was healed of pneumonia.
In 2006 a half-native child in Washington State, Jake Finkbonner, had necrotizing fasciitis commonly known as ‘flesh-eating disease’. It was not responding to treatment and his family had already called a priest for the sacrament of the sick (formerly known as ‘the last rites’) expecting that he would not live much longer. They also made arrangements to donate his organs after his death. Mortality rates for necrotizing fasciitis are reported to be very high.
A Catholic nun, also a Mohawk, Sister Kateri Mitchell, brought a relic (see Matt 9:20-22 and Acts 19:11-12) of Kateri Tekakwitha (a fragment of her bone), placed it on Jake’s body and prayed with his parents to Kateri to ask for healing. The next day the infection stopped its progression. There is no clear scientific explanation for the abrupt change in Jake’s condition and Jake and his family believe that his healing was due to Blessed Kateri’s intercession. Miracles to be used in the 'cause of saints' are investigated by a panel of experts in their field - they are not necessarily Catholics. Jake is now 12 and except for scars from surgery he is fully recovered and is an enthusiastic basketball player. Jake and his family and other members of the Lummi tribe attended the canonization ceremony in Rome.
A saint would be the last person to claim that a healing or other miracle was ‘performed’ by them. The miracle is always done by the power of God and not the saint. The saint only intercedes for us and leads us to Jesus, the real Healer. Neither do Catholics ‘worship’ saints; worshipping anyone or anything other than God is a sin. We have pictures of our family members in order to remember them but we do not worship the pictures. In the same way, a statue of a saint is only a representation of the saint; it is not an ‘idol’.
Link to Residential School Abuse?
The media and commentators on some media sites suggest that the Catholic Church has conveniently proclaimed Kateri Tekakwitha a saint in order to ‘pacify’ Native people because of the abuse at Residential Schools. However, Kateri was recognized as someone with extraordinary virtue shortly after her death; schools and churches have been named for her for many years. Her sainthood cause (investigation of her life in order to see if should be declared a saint) was opened in 1932, long before residential schools were called into question and she was declared venerable in 1943. The abuse in Residential Schools was not publicly known until the late 1980’s. In 1990, Phil Fontaine, who was then the leader of the Association of Manitoba Chiefs, called for those involved in Residential Schools to acknowledge the abuse. A year later the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples was convened by the Canadian government. The timing seems to indicate that the canonization had nothing to do with ‘abuse’ and would have gone ahead even if there had been no scandals regarding Residential Schools.
Native People and Hope
An estimated 2,000 Native people from North America attended the canonization ceremony in Rome. Several of them were interviewed by the journalists. No one that I heard interviewed mentioned the Residential Schools in connection with the canonization. They expressed joy that a fellow Native American was raised to such an honour and said that this gave them hope. They mentioned how their people had asked for Kateri’s prayers for many years. The fact that there are many devout Catholics amongst the Native people of Canada suggests that not all students of residential schools had bad experiences at the schools. This, of course, does not wipe out the wrong that was done: abusing innocent children and tearing them away from their families. However, it should caution us not to paint all who worked in the schools with the same brush.
Another Native woman of the Carrier Nation, Rose Prince, who lived in British Columbia, may also be on the road to sainthood. When her grave had to be moved for construction, her body was found incorrupt. Relics from the gravesite have been reported in several miracles. Rose attended a Residential School in LeJac, BC and when her schooling was completed she asked to stay on and work there as she did not want to return to her home. Her cause to sainthood is being investigated.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bullying

 
  A young girl in BC committed suicide the other day. Some time ago she had posted a video on YouTube or on Facebook telling her friends that she had been bullied and was now feeling desperate. She explains how she had been pressured into posting a nude photo of herself to a ‘friend’ and that person made the photo public. Then others online, perhaps even fellow-classmates in school, called her unflattering names causing her much distress. Even after her death people have posted nasty comments about her on a page of remembrance!
There have been many young people worldwide who have killed themselves over bullying. Some of the bullying was because the teens were gay but many were not. It is said that bullying is most often over ‘body image’ but bullies will always find a reason to bully someone.
Parents and educators would like to find the answer to ‘Why young people are bullied’ and how to stop it. There have been campaigns and posters, ‘wear pink’ crusades and clubs formed to stop bullying. What are the causes and solutions to this problem?
Were there always bullies?
There have probably always been bullies around. Even since sin entered the world, there are those who try to take advantage of others. There will always be people who don’t care what pain they cause others. But bullying seems to be on the increase and cyber-bullying is 'attractive' because it can be anonymous.
It may be thought that those who cave in to bullies have low-esteem but in reality it is the bullies themselves that have a problem of low esteem. They have to make others feel badly about themselves so that they can feel good.
We have to prevent bullying but we also have to equip young people to handle bullying. Of course, we always want others to like us. Young people, particularly, want to be popular but if we didn’t let bullies bother us, would the bullying stop?
Why are there bullies?
I have thought back to my school days and tried to think if I, or someone else that I knew, was ever bullied in school. I can’t remember ever being bullied. As a child I had asthma and could not run without being affected. This made me a very bad baseball player but I can’t remember anyone ever picking on me for that. There was one kid in our class who dressed differently, kept to himself and never said much to anyone. I don’t know if he was ever ‘bullied’ - I never saw anyone actually bully him. Sadly, though, we did ignore him.
I grew up in a small farming community in Alberta. Maybe the reason there wasn’t bullying was that everyone was pretty much in the same boat. There were no children of other races in the school. We had never heard of ‘homosexuals’ and ‘gay’ simply meant ‘happy’ then. One girl in high school was ‘boyish’ but I don’t think she was bullied over it. There were people who were poorer than others but most of us had more or less the same kinds of clothes as everyone else. The only ’ labels’ in our clothes were Sears mail-order labels.
How do we teach self-esteem?
Today’s children are taught that if they want to they can be anything they want. Perhaps there is an over- emphasis on teaching children self-esteem. And yet the message of self-esteem has not had any effect. On one hand, our children are told that they are made up of only molecules, there have no soul and when they die that is the end of them. We spend the rest of the time trying to convince them in spite of being just a collection of chemicals they should have self-esteem!
We don’t tell our children that they are made in the image of God and that they are worthwhile because of this very fact. We forget to tell our children that there is a God who made them and loves them.
St. Augustine said, “You have made us for Yourself, Oh God, and we are restless until we find our rest in Thee.” But we have forgotten that truth and we try to find purpose in a world that we say has no purpose. We seek our happiness only in sex, power, popularity and money and if we do not have these in abundance, we are are seen as failures.
The media, television, movies, books and the internet, teach values that are often at odds to the values we would like to pass on to the next generation. Young people lose their innocence as they are exposed to pornography at a click of the mouse. It is impossible for a girl to have self-respect and self-esteem if she thinks she is only wanted for ‘her body’ and ‘to be used by others’.
How we should treat others?
Most of all we forget to teach our children “Always treat others the same way that you would like to be treated.” This means that you shouldn’t bully others because you wouldn’t want to be bullied. Christians know that Jesus said this but apparently other world religions also teach a form of this Golden Rule. But today religious teaching is looked upon with contempt and some even believe that parents should not be allowed to teach religious values to their own children!
Yes, let’s stop bullying. But let’s stop it by teaching children those two important things:
1) You were created in the image of God so you have true worth
2) Treat others the same way you would like to be treated.
Bullying won't be eradicated completely but there may be less of it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012



Book Review: The Rage Against God by Peter Hitchens

Hitchens, Peter. The Rage Against God. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Press. 2010.
It is always fascinating to see how a person is led to change his or her direction in life. It is even more fascinating when the brother of the well-known atheist, Christopher Hitchens, describes his journey back to the Christian faith. How did two brothers, brought up in the same home, have such different ‘faith’ journeys? Christopher continued his rage against God and religion until his death . His brother, Peter, also an atheist, returned to the Christian faith.
During his atheistic period Peter confesses “... there were things I thought and wrote and said, the high jeering tone of my conversation, the cruel revolutionary rubbish I promoted, sometimes all too successfully, with such conviction that I persuaded others to swallow the same poison.”
Hitchens describes the Britain of the ‘50s and ‘60s when he was part of ‘the generation who were too clever to believe’. He had lost confidence in the Christianity and democracy that Britain stood for. And he had seen the hypocrisy, the scandals and the oppression of other peoples in his country.
Hitchens does not go into many personal details of his journey back to Christian faith and how he eventually came to believe that God did exist. This is somewhat disappointing. However, the sub-title of the book is ‘How Athiesm led me to Faith’ and he does describe his experience with atheism, especially during the time when he was a journalist in the Soviet Union. It is in this description of his personal experience with the Communism of that day and its hatred of the Christian church that he excels . He relates some anecdotes but also gives hard facts, for example, the looting of Russia’s churches and the fact that 2,691 priests, 1,962 monks and 3,447 nuns were killed by Lenin in 1922. (page 180)
Hitchens also spent time as a journalist in North Korea, Iran, Burma, The Congo and China. He lived and worked in the United States from 1993 to 1995 and now lives in Oxford, England. His experience in these countries has helped him to see the truth of Christianity and also makes him an astute commentator on the religious and social climate of the world today.
Read the complete article on the link below www.suite101.com .
This link is temporarily disabled as Suite 101 is changing its website.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Maternal Health Care?






Stephen Harper and the Canadian government have been praised for improving the health of women and children in the developing world. They did this without plunging into the murky waters of 'family planning' which so often means abortion. Harper explained that many of the countries where they directed help have laws against abortion or cultures which do not accept abortion or methods of family planning. Melinda Gates, who in the past has funded family planning and abortion programs in developing countries, this time has worked with the Harper government. Much praise has been directed to both Harper and the Canadian government for this kind of positive help and so many appreciate that abortion was not a part of the plan.
What kind of medical care is needed for mothers and children in developing countries? I worked in the medical field in Asia for fourteen years. Although I was not a midwife or a physican, I know firsthand that there are many ways to improve maternal and child health without providing abortions. Improved nutrition and access to trained medical professionals for prenatal care, delivery and postnatal care should be the primary foci.
Often the cause of a problem in an obstetric unit is post-partum haemmorhage (excessive bleeding after delivery of the baby). Here I was more involved. As a medical laboratory techonologist I had to find whole blood and crossmatch it with the patient so we could give her a transfusion. We usually had to find relatives of the same blood group to donate blood. Often the blood is needed urgently so if a mother delivers her baby in a remote area where these services are not available, the mother dies. We have to ask the question,'Is safe blood and the means to get it to the patient quickly available?'
Pre-natal (or in the UK antenatal) care is a vital part of maternal and child healthcare. Expectant mothers need food which provides all the vitamins and minerals necessary for formation of a child. The baby will take necessary vitamins from the mother and leave her depleted if she does not have enough for both. Foods rich in protein (e.g. meat and fish) are often too expensive or not available for everyone. Of course, calcium for strong bones, iron for healthy blood - these and lesser known minerals are also important. In developing countries it is necessities like these that need to be provided for expectant mothers.
Reports from Chile by epidemiologist, Dr. Elard Koch, claim that accessibility to professional birth attendants in a hospital setting is primarily responsible for a decrease in that country's maternal mortality rates:
                           1960   275 maternal deaths in 100,000 live births
                           1999     23 maternal deaths in 100,000 live births
                           2000     18.7 maternal deaths in 100,000 live births
In South America, Chile has the lowest rate of maternal mortality and yet Chile's laws do not allow legal abortion!

Guyana, on the other hand, has allowed abortion since the 1990s and has the highest maternal mortality on the South American continent. In 1999 the maternal mortality was 110/100,000. Compare that with 23/100,000 in Chile in the same year. (See Nationmaster.com for stats)

Cultural Aspects
Apart from the health care aspect - why do Western women want to impose their ideas about abortion on those women in Asia and Africa - many whose religion and traditional cultures teach that children should be welcomed?  In many countries having children means that there will be people around to look after you when you are old. Yes, these families cannot have fancy houses or live lavishly but they believe that children are irreplaceable treasures.

Children's Health
I have spoken about maternal health and abortion and have not mentioned children. Obviously abortion is not very healthy for children!
Children who survive birth need to be protected from the diseases around them: mosquito nets so they don't get malaria, electrolyte packets to prevent serious dehydration when they have diarrhoea, nutritious foods so they do not become anaemic and vaccination to prevent diseases like measles and polio. There are lots of things to spend money on without spending it on provision of abortion facilities or contraceptives.
Hopefully people will realize that abortion is not the answer to maternal and child healthcare - in fact, it is not healthcare at all but the very opposite.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Articles that don't make the headlines.......

July 11, 2012 The European Parliament condemned the practice of forced abortions and sterilizations in China as a violation of human rights. Reference was made to a woman in her seventh month of pregnancy who had been kidnapped by ‘family planning officials’ and was forced to have an abortion. The couple had not paid the required fine for having more than one child. It is estimated that 13 million children are aborted in China every year. The United Nations Population Fund and other Western NGOs help to carry out this policy. (summarized from Elizabetta Pittino’ article in Zenit News.org July 11, 2012)

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review of The Cameo

The Cameo From a review by Theresa Doyle-Nelson ( a Suite 101 writer) on her personal blog. "I enjoy an historical fiction book now and then … it can really be a very comfortable and fun way to learn some history. I also like an occasional historical romance novel, if it is a gentle and tender sort of romance. And, of course, I enjoy reading about Catholic things. However, finding these three genres blended into one book can be quite a challenge! But, I recently did find one and enjoyed it very much! The Cameo is a charming novel set in both the 1800s and post-World War II Europe. It involves an intriguing mystery (about a uniquley designed cameo), a few sweet romances, thoughtful and accurate portrayals of the periods, non-aggressive teachings of the Catholic Church, and more." The link to this is temporarily disabled as Suite 101 is re-vamping its site.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Do We Value Life?

The man who shot one hundred sled dogs in Whistler last year has been charged with causing undue suffering to the animals. The dogs were used for tourism sledding and after the 2010 Winter Olympics business declined. The dogs were killed because the company could not afford to keep them any longer. People world-wide were upset that the dogs were killed for economic reasons and without trying to find homes for them. A great fuss arose. Of course, no one wants to see healthy animals destroyed for no reason. No doubt there would have been those who would have taken the dogs and raised them. However, does anyone think about the thousands of unborn babies who are killed each year in countries around the world? Often, they are killed for economic reasons or just because they are not wanted by the couple. Perhaps the woman is single and the father does not want to take responsibility. Perhaps a baby would disrupt life too much by interrupting studies or a career. It is believed that these babies suffer pain when they are killed. Those who have been present at abortions have noticed the baby trying to 'escape' the probe as seen on the screen. According to Nationmaster (www.nationmaster.com) the most recent available statistics for legal abortions in the following countries are: Russia - over 2 million babies legally aborted in one year USA - over 1 million babies legally aborted in one year India - 596,345 babies legally aborted in one year Japan - 343,026 babies legally aborted in one year Canada - 70,549 babies legally aborted in one year This is just a sample of countries. Look on the Nationmaster site to check on how many babies were aborted in your country. Yes, it is legal but it is moral? The excuse is used - a foetus is not a person. But when one considers how upset people were about dogs being killed, why are they not upset about a foetus being killed? If you don't like the word 'killed' here say 'terminated their life'. It means the same thing. Pre-born babies are human beings that have their own DNA; for example,they may have a different blood group than their mother. They are separate little beings that if not interfered with will come into the world, grow into children and then adults. Just think - if your mother would have had an abortion when she was pregnant with you, you would not be alive now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Historical Romance




Now available from Amazon.com and CreateSpace eStore

Captain James Marsh returns from WWII and leases a house in the English countryside. The cleaning staff find a mysterious cameo brooch. When trying to find the owner, Captain Marsh learns about an English girl on the Grand Tour in 19th century Italy and how she is brought face to face with the real Catholic Church. Listen to an interview with the author on Salt and Light Radio, February, 2012 http://saltandlighttv.org/radio/

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

'It's a Girl' - could be a death sentence: A Controversial Editorial in Canadian Medical Association Journal.

CBC News, Vancouver at 6 pm January 16, 2012 reported that a ‘controversial’ editorial has been written in the CMAJ by the editor-in-chief (interim), Dr. Rajinder Kale. Controversial? You bet! Dr. Kale advocates that the results of the child’s gender from an ultrasound should be withheld from the parents until the very late stages of the pregnancy. In his editorial, entitled, “It’s a Girl - Could Be a Death Sentence” (online www.cmaj.ca January 16, 2012) he states that a considerable number of Canadians in the South Asian and Chinese communities use these ultrasound results to choose boys over girls. In other words, if the ultrasound shows that the baby is a girl, an abortion is done. Boys are preferred over girls because girls prove very expensive before marriage when a dowry must be paid to the groom. He claims that this type of abortion “is the worst form of discrimination against women.” Dr. Kale cautions against painting all South Asians or Chinese with the same brush as some are against such practices. But he adds “...postponing the transmission of such information is a small price to pay to save thousands of girls in Canada. ...If Canada cannot control this repugnant practice, what hope do India and China have of saving millions of women?” It, is of course, what people in the pro-life movement have been saying all along. But now we have a medical doctor who has written that abortion should not be used as a means of selecting boys over girls. But the implication in the editorial is more than that isn’t it? For if the ‘foetus’ is a boy or a girl, it is not just a ‘growth’ or a ‘blob of tissue’ that the mother has a right to do away with. Another medical doctor, Dr. Parghit Singh was also interviewed on the CBC report and he said that the practice of aborting female babies is ‘barbaric’. He actually said ‘female babies’! These two are not those radical,hated fundamentalists or Catholics who go marching around abortion clinics. Here are two doctors from South Asian cultures themselves who recognize that aborting female babies, for sex-selection at least, is wrong. It is a step in the right direction and perhaps soon people will realize that aborting babies of any gender is ending the life of not just ‘a foetus’ but a real, human life, ‘a baby’. It’s discrimination all right - against both male and female babies. And is it a barbaric custom.