Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2010

Abortion and abortion’s apologists have succeeded in twisting and distorting even a once-objective, just-the-facts, and statistically-oriented discipline as Public Health. In the not-so distant past, pregnancy was defined in medical textbooks as the result of fertilization of egg by sperm. Now it’s defined as implantation of the embryo in the uterus. Semantics? Hardly.

This represents a fundamental shift that protects the in vitro fertilization industry. If pregnancy is defined by implantation, then there is hardly an ethical hurdle when it comes to sifting through dozens of embryo’s in search of the ‘most fit’. Some might call them ‘keepers’. The rest may simply be discarded.

The in vitro fertilization industry and its related embryonic stem cell research industry, which makes use of ‘leftover’ embryos in frozen storage, serve as a bulwark for abortion, appealing to utilitarian sentiments regarding the alleviation of emotional and physical suffering, respectively.

Even defining something as simple as infant mortality has become a semantic three-ring circus.

Case in point: CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics released a study this past November entitled, Behind International Rankings of Infant Mortality: How the United States Compares with Europe. The Bottom line is that the U.S. ranks 30/31 nations in the study in infant mortality rates.

A look at figure #1 in the study doesn’t inspire confidence as the study bills itself as a comparison between the U.S. and Europe, but goes on to include Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Cuba.

Table #1 inspires even less confidence as it details what constitutes ‘live births’ in the countries under study. The following countries take the most expansive definition of ‘live birth’ to include any birth of a living baby without regard to gestational age:

Austria, Denmark, England and Wales, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Scotland, Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, United States.

Norway, Czech Republic, France, Ireland, Netherlands, Poland are listed as having varying reporting criteria, including a 500 gram birthweight, gestational age, and in the Czech Republic, the added requirement that the infant survives the first 24 hours.

No mention at all of the remaining 12 countries in the study.

Additionally, the study claims, “Differences in national birth registration notwithstanding, there can also be individual differences between physicians or hospitals in the reporting of births for very small infants who die soon after birth.”

It’s difficult to compare nations to one another when the very definition of ‘live birth’ is up for grabs, when different nations take a more or less aggressive approach to saving the life of the neonate.

These approaches also have much to do with who is paying the bill. Governments with socialized medicine and flat economies have a powerful disincentive to attempt aggressive, costly life-saving measures, and may well be more apt to recommend abortion in cases where fetal anomalies are detected, further skewing the data.

Of course this study neglects to mention those realities.

They’re not politically correct.

Read Full Post »

By Popular Demand

Quite a few people have asked if we could use the book EMBRYO: A Defense of Human Life, by Robert P. George and Christopher Tollefsen, for our Pro-Life Academy. Beginning March 16, we’ll discuss a chapter per week from this extraordinary book. Written in plain language, it gives an excellent biological description of development, as well as the philosophical and ethical arguments in favor of the embryo’s personhood. Check it out at Amazon. Order soon!

Read Full Post »

File photo of unknown event. Copyright © L'Osservatore Romano - Tutti i diritti riservati

REPOST AS WE DIG OUT FROM THE LATEST SNOW

From the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) #99:

“I would like to say a special word to women who have had an abortion. The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly.”

“If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You will come to understand that nothing is definitely lost and you will also be able to ask forgiveness from your child, who is now living in the Lord.”

“With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life. Through your commitment to life, whether by accepting the birth of other children or by welcoming and caring for those most in need of someone to be close to them, you will become promoters of a new way of looking at human life.”

~Pope John Paul II

I’ve included a side-bar panel titled Healing Post-Abortion for post-abortive women and men, or those who know them. There are wonderful ministries linked to there.

Read Full Post »

THIS BLOG IS A GOOD FRIEND OF KAREN MALEC, PRESIDENT AND COFOUNDER OF THE COALITION ON ABORTION/BREAST CANCER. SHE DOES GREAT WORK WITH THE COALITION, AND DOES NOT OFTEN ASK DIRECTLY FOR SUPPORT. IF ANYONE WHO VISITS THE SITE IS AS IMPRESSED AS I HAVE BEEN AT THE REPOSITORY OF LIFE-SAVING INFORMATION THERE, THEN I ASK THAT YOU CONSIDER SUPPORTING THE COALITION’S WORK. THE FOLLOWING WAS IN MY EMAIL TODAY.

Dear Friends:

We are sharing with you four stories in our Abortion-Breast Cancer News Headlines (below) concerning the link between abortion and breast cancer. All but one discusses the latest findings from the study, Dolle et al. 2009, whose authors included National Cancer Institute branch chief Louise Brinton.

As our readers know, Jessica Dolle, Louise Brinton and their colleagues reported that “…abortion and oral contraceptive use were associated with increased breast cancer risk.” The increased risk for an aggressive, deadly form of breast cancer – triple-negative breast cancer – among users of oral contraceptives was astounding. Users under age 18 multiply their risk by 3.7 times. Recent users within the last one to five years multiply their risk by 4.2 times.

Try finding a report concerning the study, Dolle et al. 2009, on the websites of the pro-hormonal steroids for women crowd. We could not find any mention of it. You know what groups I mean – those who talk a good talk about being “pro-woman” and “caring about women’s health,” like the Feminist Majority and the National Organization (supposedly) for Women.

We cannot find any mention of the study, Dolle et al. 2009, on the websites of the American Cancer Society (which downplays the link between oral contraceptives and breast cancer) and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Nor do they display the least concern about the U.S. National Cancer Institute’s evident misconduct in covering up the abortion-breast cancer link at its infamous workshop in 2003.

Even though the agency’s position on the abortion-breast cancer link is clearly at odds with its branch chief’s (Louise Brinton’s) position. Even though the agency’s videocast shows that only studies showing no risk elevations for women with abortions were permitted to be examined at the workshop.

But wait, ladies! Be encouraged! Komen is teaming up with yet another new breast cancer foundation called the Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Foundation. And guess what! Together, they will “fight” triple-negative breast cancer and “find a cure” by raising funds for “breakthrough, life-saving research.”

Research is necessary, but it would not be as necessary if they would just tell the truth about how to avoid highly carcinogenic exposures, such as abortion and use of oral contraceptives.

Our January 2010 press releases broke the news about the Dolle team’s findings, and they generated many news stories about it. If you want us to continue our important work of protecting women’s lives, then please send us a contribution today.

Don’t forget to read the news stories below.

Sincerely,
Karen Malec
Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer

ABORTION-BREAST CANCER NEWS HEADLINES

“Correcting the bs on the abortion-breast cancer link”
By Dennis Byrne
ChicagoNow
February 12, 2010
Available at: http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/dennis-byrne-barbershop/2010/02/correcting-the-bs-on-the-abortion-breast-cancer-link.html

“Ignatieff’s abortion push unhealthy”
By Ian Gentles
Calgary Herald
February 15, 2010
Available at: http://www.calgaryherald.com/entertainment/Ignatieff+abortion+push+unhealthy/2565292/story.html

“Politically correcting the abortion-breast cancer link”
By Gerard M. Nadal, PhD
Headline Bistro
February 22, 2010
Available at: http://www.headlinebistro.com/en/columnists/nadal/index.html

“Medicine and the true cost of being in denial”
By Rev. Tad Pacholczyk, PhD
Director of Education, National Catholic Bioethics Center, http://www.ncbcenter.org
Colorado Catholic Herald
January 15, 2010
Available at: http://www.abortionbreastcancer.com/download/Medicine&truecostofdenialsm.pdf

Read Full Post »

If you missed Part I last week, read it here.

In the past lesson we saw that the hormones estrogen and progesterone are responsible for normal breast development in an adolescent girl’s menstrual cycles. Birth control pills have extremely high levels of these hormones which mimic the elevated levels of the hormones during pregnancy. In either case, the breasts are stimulated to develop numerous extra cancer-prone Type-1 and Type-2 lobules with doubling of the number of ductules on each lobule. Today we consider the mechanism (we love that word in biology), or how, these situations give rise to cancers.

In past lessons we covered mitosis. During mitosis, DNA is replicated. When this happens, errors in DNA synthesis occur. Sometimes the errors escape the notice of a proofreading molecule that corrects these errors. When the repair crews come in they can make mistakes which lead to permanent mutation. If such a mutation occurs in certain cancer-causing genes, as illustrated in the diagram to he left, that cell is in danger of becoming cancerous.

Type-1 and Type-2 cells have greater numbers of receptors to bind estrogen and progesterone, which precipitates the DNA synthesis. The more these cells are stimulated, the greater the chance that the requisite number of mutations in a cell will be reached leading to cancer, as shown below right.

The conversion of 85% of these cells to cancer-resistant Type-4 cells at the end of a first full term pregnancy (FFTP) is the good news of pregnancy. The younger a woman is when she has a FFTP, the less cancer-prone cells she has developed over time. One Harvard study puts the risk of breast cancer at 3.5% elevation per year after the age of 24 until a woman has a FFTP. After a FFTP, the number of Type-4 cells produced from the remaining 15% of Type-1 and Type-2 cells increases.

Women add substantially to their risks when they delay FFTP, take oral contraceptives and/or have induced abortions, as these leave the breasts with an ever-increasing number of cancer-prone cells over a greater period of time in which cancer can develop.

Again, miscarriages are the exception to this rule, as it is precisely the lack of elevated estrogen and progesterone that led to the miscarriage.

Next time: Lies, damned lies, and more damned lies (from pro-choice hacks in lab coats).

Illustrations from the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute

Read Full Post »

In the great struggle between the Culture of Death and the Culture of Life, a propaganda war against the Church and her view of women has been waged with great success in many quarters. Several lies have become the food of feminists, a grotesque bread of life for their disciples to feed upon. Chief among these lies are:

The Church teaches that women are servile.

The Church teaches that sex is only for making babies.

The Church teaches that women have no place in the work force.

The Church teaches that men are dominant in marriage.

We also know that war has been declared by these lost souls on motherhood, fatherhood, babies, family and sacramental union in marriage.

This is the first of several articles that will systematically deconstruct the tissue of lies fabricated by the feminist radicals. We begin with the writings of Pope John Paul II, who loved women and was loved by them in return. From:

APOSTOLIC LETTER
MULIERIS DIGNITATEM
OF THE SUPREME PONTIFF
JOHN PAUL II
ON THE
DIGNITY AND VOCATION
OF WOMEN
ON THE OCCASION
OF THE MARIAN YEAR

“Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the woman’s womb. The mother is filled with wonder at this mystery of life, and “understands” with unique intuition what is happening inside her. In the light of the “beginning”, the mother accepts and loves as a person the child she is carrying in her womb. This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings – not only towards her own child, but every human being – which profoundly marks the woman’s personality. It is commonly thought that women are more capable than men of paying attention to another person, and that motherhood develops this predisposition even more. The man – even with all his sharing in parenthood – always remains “outside” the process of pregnancy and the baby’s birth; in many ways he has to learn his own “fatherhood” from the mother. One can say that this is part of the normal human dimension of parenthood, including the stages that follow the birth of the baby, especially the initial period. The child’s upbringing, taken as a whole, should include the contribution of both parents: the maternal and paternal contribution. In any event, the mother’s contribution is decisive in laying the foundation for a new human personality.

“In God’s eternal plan, woman is the one in whom the order of love in the created world of persons takes first root…

“Unless we refer to this order and primacy we cannot give a complete and adequate answer to the question about women’s dignity and vocation. When we say that the woman is the one who receives love in order to love in return, this refers not only or above all to the specific spousal relationship of marriage. It means something more universal, based on the very fact of her being a woman within all the interpersonal relationships which, in the most varied ways, shape society and structure the interaction between all persons – men and women. In this broad and diversified context, a woman represents a particular value by the fact that she is a human person, and, at the same time, this particular person, by the fact of her femininity. This concerns each and every woman, independently of the cultural context in which she lives, and independently of her spiritual, psychological and physical characteristics, as for example, age, education, health, work, and whether she is married or single.

“Therefore the Church gives thanks for each and every woman: for mothers, for sisters, for wives; for women consecrated to God in virginity; for women dedicated to the many human beings who await the gratuitous love of another person; for women who watch over the human persons in the family, which is the fundamental sign of the human community; for women who work professionally, and who at times are burdened by a great social responsibility; for “perfect” women and for “weak” women – for all women as they have come forth from the heart of God in all the beauty and richness of their femininity; as they have been embraced by his eternal love; as, together with men, they are pilgrims on this earth, which is the temporal “homeland” of all people and is transformed sometimes into a “valley of tears”; as they assume, together with men, a common responsibility for the destiny of humanity according to daily necessities and according to that definitive destiny which the human family has in God himself, in the bosom of the ineffable Trinity.”

Read Full Post »

“The first casualty when war comes is truth.”

So said Senator Hiram Johnson a century ago, and remains true today in the war declared on Christian Civilization. The pivotal battle in this war is the issue of abortion, as abortion strikes at the very sanctity of human life, of motherhood, fatherhood, family, and the very essence of who we are, in Whose image we are made. So desperate are abortion’s proponents to present it as an absolute good, that clear and consistent data establishing a link between abortion and breast cancer have been actively denied by some of the very authors who discovered them, as they drafted a National Cancer Institute policy paper denying the existence of fifty years of data linking abortion and breast cancer.

The biology behind the issue is relatively straightforward. During puberty, girls produce 15-25 lobes in the breast, which will produce milk after the births of their babies. Each lobe may be thought of as a main branch of a tree. These lobes branch into several lobules. Under the influence of the menstrual hormones estrogen and progesterone, immature and cancer-susceptible Type-1 and Type-2 lobules form.

During normal pregnancy the ovaries secrete elevated levels of estrogen and progesterone, which cause the Type-1 and Type-2 lobules to increase in number. By mid-second trimester the breast size has doubled and rapidly matures under the influence of human placental lactogen. By 40 weeks of pregnancy, 85% of all lobule cells will be cancer-resistant Type-4 cells.

After a woman is finished nursing, many Type-4 cells will revert to Type-3 cells with evidence existing that genetic changes in these cells leave them cancer-resistant.

The mechanism by which abortion, oral contraceptives and combined hormone replacement therapy leaves women susceptible to breast cancer becomes evident since the biological basis for all three risks is the same. In terminating a pregnancy before a first full term pregnancy, the breasts have drastically increased Type-1 and Type-2 cells (leaving the breasts with more places for cancers to start), but have been denied the maturational and protective benefits of the last trimester. The birth control pill mimics this process on a monthly basis.

Miscarriage is an exception, as most women never produce significantly elevated levels of estrogen in these pregnancies.

Dozens of studies dating to the late 1950’s have established links between abortion and breast cancer, ranging from over doubled risks in teens to an incalculably high breast cancer risk for women who have abortions before age 18 as well as family history of the disease. Most of these studies are retrospective. That is, they take breast cancer patients and a group of healthy control subjects and ask questions about past gynecologic and reproductive history, including answering questions about prior abortions.

Incredibly, Dr. Louise Brinton of the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute (NCI), chaired a panel in 2003 that dismissed the findings of these peer-reviewed studies (including her own), claiming the women involved were subject to “recall bias”, as though women who have had abortions are likely to forget.

Scientists have tested for recall bias on many occasions, in several different countries, but no scientists today claim to have found credible evidence of it. Nevertheless, Brinton’s workshop produced a “Fact Sheet” which summarily dismissed all credible data establishing a link between abortion and breast cancer.

The NCI workshop looked at only a few prospective studies, those relying on medical records before a patient developed breast cancer, and which were subsequently shown in medical journals to be methodologically flawed. The depth and breadth of the methodological flaws exceeds the limits of this article, but may be found at the Coalition on Abortion/Breast Cancer (ABC):

http://www.jpands.org/vol10no4/brind.pdf
and
http://www.abortionbreastcancer.com/Brind_NCBQ.PDF

ABC links to excellent articles by Joel Brind, Ph.D. of Baruch College, City University of New York, which critique the flaws in NCI’s workshop and in the prospective studies used.

Brinton was part of a research team led by respected cancer researchers Janet R. Daling and Jessica M. Dolle of the world-renowned Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, which published a paper last year: Risk Factors for Triple-Negative Breast Cancer in Women Under the Age of 45 Years, in the Journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention.

This 2009 paper, under known and suspected risk factors, reports a statistically significant 40% increased risk of breast cancer. That’s an astounding admission from coauthor Brinton, in light of her NCI denial of such a link, as is this quote from the results section of the paper,

“In analyses of all 897 breast cancer cases, the multivariate-adjusted odds ratios for examined risk factors were consistent with the effects observed in previous studies on younger women. Specifically, older age, family history of breast cancer, earlier menarche age, induced abortion, and oral contraceptive use were associated with an increased risk for breast cancer.”

The “previous studies” which Brinton’s study mentions include studies conducted in 1994 and 1996 by this same team of researchers. Brinton served as co-author in the 1996 study. Although Brinton and the NCI had said that studies relying on women’s reports of abortion histories were flawed, Dolle’s team (which included Brinton) relied on women’s self-reports of abortion histories.

This 2009 paper was picked up by the pro-life blogosphere in January of this year and created a firestorm. A notation was subsequently added to the NCI Fact Sheet that states: “Reviewed 1/12/2010”. No change in policy or the webpage was made.

Thus, there is a compelling incongruity between the NCI and its branch chief’s denial of the link between abortion and breast cancer on the one hand, and what its branch chief’s research has reported before and since.

Women are dying, and continue to contract breast cancer at frightening rates. Yet abortion’s proponents have engaged in scientific misconduct at the highest levels: reporting the truth in journals, then publicly dismissing those data in a Procrustean attempt to accommodate a political agenda, leaving millions of women’s lives compromised as a result.

Read Full Post »

22 February 2010
Feast of Saint Peter’s Chair

Excellencies,

It seems that during this season of Lent, and especially on this Feast of Saint Peter’s Chair when we celebrate the institution of our first Pope and the one whom Jesus promised to make a “fisher of men”, that we contemplate a renewed strategy to net some who are regarded as most lost among us, those who have sunk to the level of killing children to earn their living. The abortionists.

At a meeting in Washington D.C. before this year’s March for Life, Troy Newman of Operation Rescue spoke of his organization’s past successes and ongoing efforts at shutting down abortuaries by going after the medical licenses of abortionists when they inevitably harm women beyond he normal harms inflicted by abortion. This has proven to be an effective strategy.

To counter this strategy at shutting down individually owned and operated abortion ‘clinics’, Planned Parenthood has begun to open a series of abortion megacenters staffed by several abortionists. The loss of any one or two will not be enough to shutter these places. A new strategy is therefore necessary, and I propose the following proactive strategy.

The key to most abortionists is the understanding that most feel trapped: trapped spiritually, trapped emotionally, trapped professionally. Freeing the captives is where we shine.

Rather than waiting for these people to do harm to the extent that they lose their licenses, we as a Church should approach these physicians with a comprehensive program of professional, personal and spiritual rehabilitation, leaving the flock and aggressively seeking them out as Jesus tells us He does as the Good Shepherd.

Within the Church’s extensive network of teaching hospitals, surely we can make room for a discrete program of retraining these physicians in OB/Gyn. Such a program would not impose the indignity of throwing these physicians in with the normal resident physicians, but would welcome them as attending physicians or post-doctoral fellows with a salary and benefits package that is sufficient economic inducement so as to not present financial hurdles to making the decision to walk away from abortion.

In this regard, certainly the Church has enough benefactors who would leap at the opportunity to rob the abortion wildfire of its oxygen.

Beyond the clinical retraining, we know enough former abortionists who could provide peer support and mentoring through the difficult readjustment. Then we have our excellent Priests, Deacons, Religious and Laity to assist in their spiritual and personal growth and development.

As I’m sure you are aware, Most Reverend Fathers, a key to success in a program of this sort would be the assurance of complete discretion, and that these men and women would never be held up publicly as converts. I suspect that grace would motivate many to step forward of their own accord, in their own good time.

Such a program is desperately needed on behalf of the innocent unborn who today stand in harm’s way. It is desperately needed by our nation and the Civilization of Love which we would have as this nation’s defining quality.

Most importantly, it is a comprehensive way out for men and women who are desperately trapped in sin, self-loathing, and professional alienation from their peers.

No one body is better equipped to institute such a sweeping program of reconciliation and rehabilitation as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Troy Newman and Operation Rescue have done a fine job to date in shutting down abortuaries. Now it’s our turn to innovate an effective strategy in targeting the physicians. Through the loving embrace of abortionists themselves, we demonstrate to them that we are not merely anti-abortion, but truly pro-life.

With deepest gratitude to you and respect for your Holy Office, I remain,

Sincerely,

Gerard M. Nadal, Ph.D.

Read Full Post »

In the movie Pope John Paul II, actor John Voight plays the part of the Pope. In one scene, John Paul’s first trip home to Poland, a crowd has gathered outside of the window of his residence. John Paul climbs onto the full window to address the crowd. In his brief comments (true story), he says, “Allow Christ to Find You.”

That line lands like an atom bomb in the lives of all who seek, and all who are lost.

The work of salvation is not our own. It is not entirely up to us. It is God’s work.

Immediately after The Fall, God comes seeking after Adam in the Garden of Eden. “Where are You?”, He asks. God knew perfectly well where Adam was. The question was not for God’s information, but for Adam’s benefit. Though he sinned, God wanted Adam to know that he was still His son, that he was worthy of being sought out, that a Father’s love never fails.

God’s search for us becomes a constant, central theme throughout the rest of the scriptures.

But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up;
the flames will not consume you.” Isaiah 43:1-2

In the Gospels, Jesus tells us that He is a Good Shepherd who leaves the flock to search out the lost and bring them back to the fold.

In Hebrews 3:15, we are admonished, “If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” Indeed, what was the very purpose of the Incarnation?

But how do we “allow” Christ to find us? The answer is easier said than done.

We must stop hiding.

Lost sheep hide behind all sorts of rocks, trees, hedges… There’s no shortage of places we find to cower.

Pride, lust, gluttony, greed, wrath, envy, sloth-the seven deadly sins, are a good place to focus. Replacing these with their associated opposing virtues is the work of Lent.

Lust-Chastity
Pride-Humility
Greed-Charity
Gluttony-Temperance
Wrath-Patience
Envy-Kindness
Sloth-Diligence

Then there is despair. We are often hobbled by guilt over what we have done. Jesus tells us in the parable of the Prodigal Son, how the Father is waiting on the road for his son’s return. When the disgraced son sees the father, he is consumed by self-loathing. The father, for his part, is consumed with joy over his son’s return.

Volumes can be written unpacking that one line from John Paul the Great. For us in the Pro-life Movement, we must first ensure that we have allowed Christ to find us, which means abandoning those hiding places that close us in and imprison us. That means not defaulting to our rationalizations when we do hear the Shepherd’s voice as He seeks us.

“The soul only communes with itself when the heart is stirred,” says Abraham Joshua Heschel in his book God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism.

We must act on those stirrings. They are the leading of the Holy Spirit of God who dwells within, the Shepherd calling us by name and claiming us as His own. When we come out of hiding, we are better able to be enlisted to encourage others to do the same.

The Pro-life Movement is at its best when we not only champion the rights and dignity of innocent human life, but when we champion the dignity of our pro-choice brothers and sisters with equal fervor, when we advocate not only for ‘our side’, but for them as well. The voice of the Shepherd seeking them out with love.

Read Full Post »

Lenten Reading

From today’s Liturgy of the Hours, Office of Readings.

A homily of Pseudo-Chrysostom

Prayer is the light of the soul

The highest good is prayer and conversation with God, because it means that we are in God’s company and in union with him. When light enters our bodily eyes our eyesight is sharpened; when a soul is intent on God, God’s inextinguishable light shines into it and makes it bright and clear. I am talking, of course, of prayer that comes from the heart and not from routine: not the prayer that is assigned to particular days or particular moments in time, but the prayer that happens continuously by day and by night.

Indeed the soul should not only turn to God at times of explicit prayer. Whatever we are engaged in, whether it is care for the poor, or some other duty, or some act of generosity, we should remember God and long for God. The love of God will be as salt is to food, making our actions into a perfect dish to set before the Lord of all things. Then it is right that we should receive the fruits of our labours, overflowing onto us through all eternity, if we have been offering them to him throughout our lives.

Prayer is the light of the soul, true knowledge of God, a mediator between God and men. Prayer lifts the soul into the heavens where it hugs God in an indescribable embrace. The soul seeks the milk of God like a baby crying for the breast. It fulfils its own vows and receives in exchange gifts better than anything that can be seen or imagined.

Prayer is a go-between linking us to God. It gives joy to the soul and calms its emotions. I warn you, though: do not imagine that prayer is simply words. Prayer is the desire for God, an indescribable devotion, not given by man but brought about by God’s grace. As St Paul says: For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself intercedes on our behalf in a way that could never be put into words.

If God gives to someone the gift of such prayer, it is a gift of imperishable riches, a heavenly food that satisfies the spirit. Whoever tastes that food catches fire and his soul burns for ever with desire for the Lord.

To begin on this path, start by adorning your house with modesty and humility. Make it shine brightly with the light of justice. Decorate it with the gold leaf of good works, with the jewels of faithfulness and greatness of heart. Finally, to make the house perfect, raise a gable above it all, a gable of prayer. Thus you will have prepared a pure and sparkling house for the Lord. Receive the Lord into this royal and splendid dwelling — in other words: receive, by his grace, his image into the temple of your soul.

Read Full Post »

Pro-Life Academy every Tuesday and Thursday.

Today we begin a new track. Breast Cancer will be dealt with on Thursdays, while our ongoing embryology lessons will continue on Tuesdays.

There exists in the peer-reviewed scientific literature a significant body of literature dating to the 1950′s, which shows a clear and consistent link between abortion and breast cancer. I’ve written about some of this on this blog. Click here.

Today, we begin with a consideration of normal breast development in puberty and first pregnancy.

Breast maturation begins at the onset of puberty when girls begin to menstruate. An event called menarche. During menstrual cycles the hormones estrogen and progesterone which are produced stimulate the development of breast lobules.

In each breast, there are 15-25 lobes, each of which is like a main branch on a tree. Each lobe branches off into several lobules, as shown on left. Each lobule prior to pregnancy is comprised of Type-1 and Type-2 cells, which are cancer-susceptible cells.

Once a woman becomes pregnant, her body begins to produce vastly elevated concentrations of estrogen, as well as a steady supply of progesterone. These hormones stimulate prolific development of lobules and ductules in the first trimester leading into the second trimester. By the middle of the second trimester the woman’s breasts have doubled in size.

From the second half of the second trimester and going forward, human prolactin matures the lobule cells into Type-3 and Type-4 cells, which are cancer resistant cells, as shown in the illustration below.


.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

By the end of her FFTP, 85% of a woman’s lobules are cancer resistant. After weaning, many return to Type-3 cells with evidence that genetic changes have occurred leaving these cells cancer resistant. With every subsequent pregnancy, more of the remaining Type-1 and Type-2 lobules mature.

The difficulty presented by abortion is that a woman’s breasts undergo growth and proliferation early in the pregnancy, but are deprived of the maturational effects of the third trimester. This leaves the woman with many more cells which can become cancerous.

Women having miscarriages tend not to produce elevated estrogen levels, and do not therefore undergo the same pregnancy-related breast development.

Oral contraceptives mimic a pregnancy followed by abortion every month, setting up even higher risk for breast cancer.

Next time, more on how cells become cancerous and an introduction to the literature.

Illustrations from the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute

Read Full Post »

Third in a series.

Today begins the season of Lent. It is a season of deeds, penetential in nature. Some of these deeds are acts of self-mortification to focus our minds on God and our relationship with him. But our deeds cannot end there, me and Jesus. He wants our faith to be lived in lives of service to others, especially the poor and the least with whom He most identifies.

James 2

Faith and Deeds

12Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[e] and he was called God’s friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

25In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

Read Full Post »

Pro-Life Academy every Tuesday and Thursday.

Humans actually DO HATCH. More on that later.

To date we have considered the events leading to and including fertilization of the human ovum (egg). Once fertilized, that egg is called a zygote. From here on out the biology becomes extremely complex at the molecular and organismal level. Necessarily, we’ll take a somewhat broad perspective, but will focus on certain details to make the case for organismal identity from fertilization onward.

First, a word about apologetics (argumentation). I’ve published on this blog a series of quotes from embryology texts which state that a new human organism comes into existence from the moment of fertilization. Click here for that list.

Many claim that human identity and status come into being only with the formation of a brain, nervous system, cognitions, etc. Immediately these criteria pose certain challenges.

How developed must be that brain? What thoughts, kind of thoughts must be present? How does one measure the thoughts of an embryo or fetus?

These are mere extensive phenomena, those traits that extend from the fundamental reality of an autonomous, organismal being. Todays lesson will begin to undo some of the rhetoric of denial surrounding the organismal identity of the early human embryo.

Beginning with the zygote, which is a single cell, it is a cell unlike any other. This cell is not just another of the 210 specialized cells that make up the adult form of the human. This cell IS a new human organism. It is not a potential human being, it IS a new human being. This new organism is intrinsically ordered toward development into the sexually mature adult form of the organism, and every developmental stage in between. It is arbitrary and capricious, illogical to say the least, that one would pick some developmental stage to suddenly posit human organismal identity.

Every stage of organismal development carries with it a unique physical structure and associated functions. The zygote is no different.

Contained within the cytoplasm of the zygote, that material surrounding the nucleus and other organelles, are regulatory proteins and mRNA (blueprints for other regulatory proteins) whose job it is to enter the nucleus and upregulate and downregulate (turn on and off) certain genes associated with development. When the cell divides, it will divide along a very well-established equitorial plane. This very first cellular division results from the internal structure of the zygote establishes the “poles” of the embryo (which end will develop into placenta (an embryonic and fetal organ, which is part of the organism in utero) and which will develop into the remainder of the organism which no longer needs the placental organ post-partum.

Cleavage from one cell to two.

As the embryo begins its Cleavage Stage, dividing along certain equitorial planes, it forms cellular attachments called tight junctions that hold these cells into very precise 3-dimensional relationships to one another in a ball of cells called the Morula. This structure is comprised of 16 cells. There is an inner mass of small cells that will go on to develop into the
embryo proper, and an outer mass of larger cells, most of whose descendants will go on to form the trophoblast (trophectoderm), which will become the placenta.

Thus, the human organism’s body plan begins from the beginning with precisely structured zygotes that divide along precise equitorial planes establishing a polarity that sets up all the rest of development.

In the next lesson, humans hatch and have yolks. No kidding.

Read Full Post »

Matthew 25

As I so often mention here and elsewhere, there is a great difference between being pro-life and merely anti-abortion. This presents a challenge to us all. We cannot possibly champion every good pro-life cause. It’s impossible. There is a phenomenon in the social sciences known as Compassion Fatigue. Loosely defined, it is the emotional burnout experienced in trying to heal everyone’s pain.

We are not the Savior of the world, nor should we try.

We all have our areas of special interest which we integrate with our families, friends, prayer lives and our jobs; that one area where we pour our energies in hopes of making a difference. Yet, in the passage from Matthew today, Jesus expects us to see Him in a broad range of people. That’s our challenge-to see beyond the cause to which we are called. To aid others in the causes to which they are called; perhaps with our money, perhaps an evening or two here and there as a volunteer, and most certainly with our prayers. Perhaps it’s making a more conscientious effort at dropping a little food off at the local food pantry, or taking the time to visit a sick member of the parish or congregation. Perhaps we could baby-sit one evening for a young couple and give them a few hours to recharge and reconnect.

It doesn’t need to be heroic, just loving. That’s pro-life.

That said, the more we cooperate with grace, integrating deepening activity with deepening prayer, the more grace is added to us; thus increases our capacity to do more without falling prey to compassion fatigue.

Those whom I have met in the pro-life movement, particularly the post-abortive mothers have taught me a great deal about the love and mercy of God. Consequently, I have come to see Lent increasingly as a season more involving a focus on the readings in this series of articles and not exclusively acts of self-mortification. It’s more about coming to see Jesus as He wishes us to see Him in Matthew’s Gospel, and looking at those things that cloud our vision, freeing us to be truly pro-life.

The Sheep and the Goats

31″When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34″Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37″Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40″The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

41″Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44″They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45″He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46″Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

Read Full Post »

Ash Wednesday is upon us next week. Thoughts turn to acts of penance, often what we are going to “give up”.

To what end?

Will we be miserable creatures to live with? Will our fasting lead to harmony or discord, peaceful hearts or riven homes?

To what end?

Hopefully, we do penance to focus ourselves on the Lord. Our asceticism should lead us to focus on our love of God and how our weakness leads to separation from Him.

But what sort of fast is acceptable to the Lord God of the Universe? What does He require? Today we take a look at what it is that God wants of us.

First, before we focus our attention on art showing the radiant and majestic Lord of all, He requires us to see a different face, like the one above. It’s the sort that we try not to look at for more than a second, but feel the simultaneous invitation to look deeper and to look away. Here in Isaiah 58, the Lord Himself spells it out for us.

Isaiah 58 (New International Version)

Isaiah 58

True Fasting

1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the house of Jacob their sins.
2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.

3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.

4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

THIS PASSAGE ADAPTED AND SUNG BY JOHN MICHAEL TALBOT AND TERRY TALBOT. CLICK HERE.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 739 other followers

%d bloggers like this: