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In the debate surrounding the purported link between abortion and breast cancer (ABC link), there has arisen a core of individuals whose demeanor can best be described as zealous. This group has all but abandoned the core scientific principle of allowing themselves to be led, without prejudice, by the preponderance of the scientific data. It is a dangerous tack that they have taken for as scientists we are trained in a method that is meant to protect us, and the public who listen to our informed opinion, from the errors that come with thinking not in empirical terms, but from hewing to outmoded orthodoxies. Scientists and physicians fall into this error time and again, which precludes being open to new information. Currently the abortion breast cancer debate swirling in Australia as one of the chief proponents of this link (Dr. Angela Lanfranchi) is there to give a presentation on the topic. This debate provides us a window into this issue of orthodoxies creeping into the scientific community and taking stubborn hold. The identity of the orthodox wing in this debate, and its machinations, may be surprising.

As the Canadian Nobel Laureate (Chemistry), Dr. John Polanyi, noted:

At the heart of science lies discovery which involves a change in worldview. Discovery in science is possible only in societies which accord their citizens the freedom to pursue the truth where it may lead and which therefore have respect for different paths to that truth.

While Polanyi’s words beg to be taken to heart, the reality behind the denial of the ABC link is rooted in precisely the abuse of intellectual freedom Polanyi abhors. For over a decade in the United States all major medical and cancer societies have adopted the position that there is no link between abortion and breast cancer. They have done so based upon a single workshop conducted at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Louise Brinton, who dismissed the unambiguous data in the literature establishing an ABC link, chaired this workshop. In it only those on her side of the issue were given a voice. Brinton would go on to coauthor a paper six years later that included oral contraceptive use and induced abortion as risk factors for breast cancer. For an excellent update on the state of the international literature in the field, Dr. Joel Brind gives one here.

Far from discredited junk science, researchers all across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas continue to do research, publish in peer-reviewed journals, and continue to substantiate the ABC link. Their data, contained in two meta analyses discussed by Dr. Brind, all build on a devastatingly simple biological model that even the data deniers at NCI do not refute.

When a woman becomes pregnant her estrogen levels increase 2,000 times greater than baseline. The immediate effect is a swelling of breast tissue as the number of ductal cells roughly double. These cells are immature, undifferentiated, and cancer-prone. In the latter part of the second trimester and during the third trimester human placental lactogen is produced by the placenta, which matures and differentiates about 85% of the breast tissue from the cancer-prone Type 1 and Type 2 cells to milk producing and cancer resistant Type 3 and Type 4 cells. With breast-feeding and successive pregnancies the remaining 15% of cells are successively transformed to cancer resistant cells.

This is not only true in humans, but has been repeatedly demonstrated in animal models as well.

These facts are not in dispute by either side. Neither are the data showing that women who suffer first trimester miscarriage have no increased risk of breast cancer compared to women who have induced abortion, as their hormone levels never really increase appreciably. Neither in dispute are the data that demonstrate the earlier a woman has a first full term pregnancy, the lower her risk for breast cancer. Neither are the data by Danish epidemiologist Dr. Mads Melbye who discovered a 3% increased risk of breast cancer for every week after week seven of gestation where women have an induced abortion. He found an 89% increased risk of breast cancer after week eighteen in women who have had induced abortions. Melbye, it must be noted, denies the validity of his own statistically significant data.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Melbye, Brinton, and the rest of the NCI coterie deny the validity of their own data (as well as data from all over the globe), data that time and time again substantiate the ABC link. Their sole reason for denying the data in case-control studies (which are retrospective analyses) is the assertion that women who have had induced abortions are more likely to recall them, or report them if they have breast cancer. Dr. Janet Daling who included in one of her studies a test of this putative bias, studied women with cervical cancer and found absolutely no recall bias in her cases or controls. That makes sense because nearly all cervical cancers are caused by human papilloma virus. Janet Daling also publishes with the deniers.

That’s all they have: A disproven assertion, destroyed by one of their own.

That’s all there is behind the attack on results substantiating an ABC link in over seventy peer reviewed papers and two meta analyses. A small group of deniers with a large platform who didn’t give time or fair hearing at the workshop held to address this significant objection to results that cut across nations, cultures, religions, and reproductive practices and belief systems.

So how to explain all of this? The elephant in the room isn’t induced abortion as that which prevents attaining the protective effect of placental lactogen in the latter stages of pregnancy. The issue is the legality of induced abortion and what the frightening specter of breast cancer fifteen or twenty years later might mean. In other words, it’s scientists denying scientific data because of a political agenda. In the words of Dr. Leslie Bernstein who helped run the sham NCI workshop which so many scientific societies have swallowed uncritically:

The biggest bang for the buck is the first birth, and the younger you are, the better off you are….There are so many other messages we can give women about lifestyle modification and the impact of lifestyle and risk that I would never be a proponent of going around and telling them that having babies is the way to reduce your risk. I don’t want the issue relating to induced abortion to breast cancer risk to be part of the mix of the discussion of induced abortion, its legality, its continued availability. I think it should not be part of the argument.

This flies in the face of the freedom so essential to not only pursuing scientific truth, but in keeping the scientific community the free society Polanyi so eloquently proposes. Political orthodoxy has trumped the science and reason of hundreds of epidemiologists all over the globe, in scores of studies. Predictably the deniers will as a last resort point to the religious faith of some, suggesting that people of faith are incapable of adhering to the scientific method and discovering truth. Such orthodoxy prevents the funding by NCI of further studies along the ABC line of investigation, which only hurts women and their families in the long term.

This month, Australians have in their midst a physician and surgeon who boldly proclaims the truth of global discoveries. Can we all be wrong? And should a small band of highly placed scientific truth deniers sell the public on the scientifically heretical idea that there is such a thing as settled science around hotly contested issues? If one’s hypothesis isn’t open to being falsified by further research, then by definition one has exited science and entered the realm of orthodoxy. Such is the political orthodoxy, so truthfully stated by Dr. Bernstein, that has led so very many away from a small mountain of clear and convincing data on an issue impacting hundreds of millions of women who have had induced abortions.

This isn’t how good science is done. It is the very thing of which they accuse us: substituting political orthodoxy for science and reason.

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A few thoughts on the growing Ebola scare for my friends and loved ones…

This comes from the heart and mind of a medical microbiologist. Yes, I think that not enough is being done to shut down travel from the endemic areas, and this carries with it the potential for ebola’s introduction here. I also think the American aid workers should have been treated in the hot zone for the same reasons. While ebola is truly frightful, there is no cause for panic at this juncture.

NONE.

PERIOD.

What is needed is vigilance and sound policy decisions. This is the time to call your Congressional representatives. However, I’m seeing plenty of paranoid meanderings from folks who think that Obama wants to unleash ebola on the streets, that “THEY,” whoever “THEY” are, want to wipe out Africans in an attempt to conquer a continent with vast resources.

Look, biological warfare is indiscriminite. To aid an outbreak and shepherd it into a pandemic, thinking it will somehow limit itself to the despised class, is breathtakingly naive. There is a reason why nobody has deployed biological weapons in war. They are the gift that keeps on giving.

IF an outbreak occurs here, we’ll deal with all of the safety measures when that happens. Right now, there are no signs pointing to any outbreak. So let’s just put our trust in the Lord, be vigilant, be proactive and call our politicians regarding restrictions on travel, and in the words of Psalm 46:

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

Breathe.

(It isn’t airborne, either.)

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The internet social media sites have lately been swamped with photos and videos of mass executions, raped women, severed heads and blood flowing like a river. A monster has been unleashed on the civilized world once again, but to be fair to Islam, this monster has been seen before. Among some of the many practitioners have been the ancient Greeks, Romans, Caananite cults, Medeival and Renaissance Christians (Yes, Catholics!), Turks, Mongols, Chinese, Japanese, Communists (in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Soviet Union), etc.

Islam does seem to have a greater degree of recidivism, however.

In all of these episodic spasms of violence, it is not usually the civilization itself, but death cults that well up within them and sweep up many in much the same way ordinary people can find themselves easily swept up in a vigilante mob and doing what hours before would have been unthinkable. Much is the same in the latest spasm of satanic slaughter in the Middle East.

We are alarmed at the persecution of Christians, their wholesale slaughter, and that of rival Muslim sects as well. We are sickened at the sight of their slaughter and want to do something about it.

But what?

Beyond prayer and consciousness raising, what else can be done? The answer is military, but in a war-weary nation that actually helped precipitate this by the sudden withdrawal of our troops (creating the vacuum for ISIS) there is no political will or stomach for another fight. So the answer is what?

A steady diet of these photos will only produce compassion fatigue, the genesis of which is illustrated in the Venn diagram below:

Diagram - Compassion Fatigue

Moreover, there is a legitimate debate about the potentially voyeuristic participation in such atrocity and its effects on the psyche and soul. Such imagery becomes like pornography in requiring ever greater thresholds of depravity depicted in order to elicit arousal. This occurred with the nightly news images during the Vietnam War, which had no greater degree of atrocity than other wars, as the historical record continues to bear. Eventually we became outraged, then numbed, then seized with the desire to move on.

Teddy Kennedy led the defunding, we declared victory and came home. This created the vacuum for Pol Pot and his slaughter of over three million humans in just a few short years. In Iraq, history is repeating itself, and the question is what do we do with these images?

On FaceBook I have joined Deacon Greg Kandra in declaring that I will unfriend anyone who posts these images. I don’t need them on a daily basis, and their abundance will merely desensitize me. In just a few short weeks I have already lost the ability to feel shock and horror. It’s becoming just more of the same, and that’s the real shock and horror.

In a recent blog post, Fr. Dwight Longnecker declared that we dare not look away. I disagree. The real danger is incurring the fate of Lots’ wife, of turning to stone for having looked back.

If we truly care, we’ll act. We’ll actually DO something. That will begin with electing new national leadership and rebuilding our military. Death cults have only ever been stopped by military force, and this one is no exception. However, maintaining our edge means not looking on the horror with unfiltered gaze.

That’s the challenge.

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The Magic of Belief

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Through the years I have been asked to review a good many books on topics from microbiology, to evolution, biomedical ethics, spirituality, and even the life of Cardinal Newman. It’s always a privilege to do so, to be a part of the birthing of an author’s dream, to help bring forward an idea, a perspective, or message that will have great consequence in the lives of readers. Earlier this year I was asked to do just that for a series of children’s books released a week ago by Feiwel and Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing, a series that every parent of a young child can and should support. What was different was that I was approached directly by the author, Mike Lane, and the author is my friend.

This is a story that just doesn’t happen to new authors, and has happened to the most deserving married couple I’ve ever known. It involves a first-time author, whose work is just the sort that we parents dream of our children reading, that has been picked up by Scholastic Books, and recommended by the Junior Library Guild months before its release date.

Pure magic.

I met Mike Lane in college when he began dating my friend, Donna, who has always been to me the personification of goodness itself. Having met a man of equal character, Donna and Mike were married before long and settled into building a life together. As I came to know Mike, I learned that he had a passion for doing magic. He would perform for anyone, anytime, anywhere. As the years rolled by, Mike’s passion grew into a show that he would do for children’s parties, and finally, sell-out dinner theater. People cannot get enough of “Magician Mike Lane.”

It’s good, clean fun. Nothing dark, or brooding, or frightening, or edgy. It’s old school, “How’d he do that?” kind of magic. It starts with fun and leaves you wanting more by the time it’s over. Adults are returned to the innocence of childhood as the cynical accretions of time are stripped away, and the primordial experience of wonder grabs hold once again. There’s good reason why people cannot get enough of Mike’s magic.

One day, a few years ago, Mike shared with me a longstanding dream that had been brewing beneath the surface, and was now bubbling over with the irresistibility of an idea that could no longer be ignored. Mike had a desire to write a children’s book, and he shared the storyline with me. As he spoke, he actually had several really good ideas, all involving children as characters, friendship, magic, and the central theme of believing in oneself. Through a fortuitous series of events, Mike had the opportunity to pitch his ideas at Feiwel and Friends after several rejections from other publishers (“Great stuff, but nobody knows you…”).

This time, things would be different. Gathered in that room was a team of sharp publishers who knew the goodness of the story, and more importantly, saw the goodness of the man before them. As he performed his magic for them, and spoke of his idea, a series of books was born. They tell the story of Mike Weiss, a fidgety fourth-grader who can’t seem to get it together. (It bore an uncanny resemblance to myself in school.) From the opening of book one of The Magic Shop, The Vanishing Coin:

“Nine-year-old Mike Weiss slumped in a hard chair outside the principal’s office, Fourth grade was supposed to be a fresh start, but he was right back where he always was. Every year since kindergarten, at least once a week. In trouble.

“He wasn’t a bad kid. He wasn’t mean. He didn’t hurt anyone. He just couldn’t sit still. Sometimes he did things without meaning to…”

The story tells of a supportive (and not punitive) teacher and principal, kindly secretary in the principal’s office, loving parents, and Mike’s new friend, Nora, who accepts him as he is and complements his personality. It involves a bully, Mike’s nemesis, and tells of how Mike and Nora discover a magic shop, whose keeper takes Mike under his wing and begins a mentoring relationship. Throughout, the reader is entertained by Mike’s ups and downs in school, cheers him on as he finally finds mastery in something nobody else can do, bedeviling his nemesis by showing strength and proficiency in an area where the bully cannot top him, and soars to new heights with Nora as the wind beneath his wings. The theme throughout is the simple, powerful admonition: Believe!

Throughout the well-illustrated book the readers are given a peek into The Book of Secrets, as they are shown several of the magic tricks performed by Mike Weiss. That’s part of the genius in this series. By teaching the protagonist’s tricks, which are easily mastered, the reader joins the author and Mike Weiss in the shared experience of bringing wonder to family and friends. And that’s just the first book in a series that develops the story and teaches new magic, new life lessons.

To know Mike Lane is to know the secret of what is rapidly developing into a runaway success. He is a profoundly good, loving, and decent husband and father, with a wife who is his equal in every way. The story of the protagonist is really Mike Lane’s. The goodness, fidelity, encouragement, and gentle wisdom of Nora is Mike’s wife, Donna. The author and his work are one.

At the rollout in Barnes and Noble on Staten Island three weeks ago, Mike sat with co-author, Kate Egan, (A professional author and editor with monumental credentials) and signed books for 4 ½ hours, with a line stretching around the store that never abated (wait time: 1 ½ hours). It was a George Bailey moment as the community turned out in droves for our beloved, “Magician Mike Lane.” Sales approached nearly 600 books, and Mike’s signing was the second largest in the history of the store. As advance word spread to the schools and bookstores where Mike went the following week on a national tour, the stores were chagrined when they had no books for signing, as the local schools snapped them up for their children in advance of Mike’s appearances.

It’s a pleasure to take a break from the heaviness of bioethics and promote something for our children’s character formation that harkens back to the goodness and simplicity we parents and grandparents remember from our own childhoods.

It’s a comfort to know that there are publishers who see the goodness for which we all clamor and are proud to present it.

It’s refreshing to see a team that approaches children with an appeal to all that is good, and wholesome, and decent in human character and doesn’t adulterate it with an edgy agenda.

Most of all, it has been my blessing to know since college the love and friendship of Mike and Donna, to see them raise their children up to their high standard of goodness and kindness, and to see this book series open a window for countless children to share in the fruits of Mike and Donna’s wisdom and goodness. A father’s simple, yet powerful admonition to a generation of children in a culture often hostile to them:

Believe!

The books are available here.

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It’s been quite a journey, one that I swore I would never make.

I would never blog, and I would never get involved in the pro-life movement. Having worked with unwed mothers for five years, then with kids with HIV/AIDS for two at Covenant House in New York’s Times Square during the 1980’s (before Disney took over), I had put my social activism behind me as I embarked on a career in science.

God, evidently, had other plans.

Not appreciating the power of the medium, nor of the maturity and sophistication of the pro-life movement, I was stuck in the typical academic mindset of refereed journals and academic conferences. But the truth be told, while there is still the great need for peer-reviewed research, there are precious few peers left in academia who hold to traditional morality and ethics. The American academy has been thoroughly infiltrated by leftist hacks who know only radicalized autonomy. It says something when Princeton’s Peter Singer has to stay awake at night trying to invent ways of staying ahead of the extremist curve.

No, the real intellectual mavericks have gone back to the future. The wedding of traditional Hippocratic medicine and Catholic Healthcare with contemporary medicine, technology, and law. They are not so present in the colleges as they are in the think tanks, the laws firms, the pro-life organizations on the right. The real heavy-lifting is being done on blogs and in the other social media, while the left have marched straight into Auschwitz and Dachau and set up shop.

In four years, I have tried to chronicle the descent of medicine into hell, the expansion of abortion within hospitals as clinics continue to close, of the increase in euthanasia, of Planned Parenthood’s ongoing eugenics program aimed at blacks and other people of color, of Obamacare’s thorough malignancy, and of the corruption of the scientific leadership in the nation.

Along the way, we’ve seen the fall of pro-life titans in the clergy, and the continued rise of an ever-younger and more vocal generation who have had enough of the culture of death.

I have met and had the privilege of working with hundreds of the finest people God ever made, and have become involved in some excellent research endeavors, as well as traveling the nation to teach the fundamental truth of medical science, showing how it all lines up on our side of the fence.

It’s been anything but boring, and for so many blessings I am truly grateful.

I am grateful to all who stop in and read, who comment, who challenge and argue, who affirm, who offer sage counsel, and their own priceless experiences.

I am grateful to know that so many others travel the same road, and have allowed me the privilege of walking that road with them.

I am grateful to God for all of that, and most especially for a wife and children who walk this road, too; who are so understanding when daddy needs to travel to so many cities and states, and who support me with their love, their prayers, and their patience.

There are times when I miss the solitude and the zen of lab work, but they are few and far between. In truth, I never realized how necessary this work is, how many physicians and scientists are needed out here in the virtual town square. I never realized how challenging and rewarding it would all be as we all join to save what is left of a Judeo-Christian civilization.

For as challenging as it all is, I sincerely believe the toughest fights are still before us.

I have no illusions about seeing the end of abortion in my lifetime. It won’t happen.

That’s not to say that I don’t believe in miracles, I’m just not sure that a miracle is what is necessary for the big picture.

God desires our hearts first. Our legislation ought to flow from hearts overflowing with love of God and neighbor. In the broader economy of salvation, it’s more important that we rebuild a civilization rooted in an understanding of who we are, of our great dignity, and of our resultant duties.

There is simply no room in such a civilization for abortion, eugenics, euthanasia, gay marriage, and all the rest.

My children aren’t perfect, but they’re wonderful. They radiate an inner beauty that comes from knowing who they are, knowing how unconditionally they are loved, how perfectly they are valued. Because they know how perfectly they are loved by their parents, they can believe they are loved even better by God. That security gives them the room to grow into the sort of citizens God expects both on earth and in Heaven. What we have here in microcosm is what is needed in macrocosm.

We’ll never end abortion, nor any of the other ills, until that day comes.

Along the way, we have much work to do in rebuilding Western Civilization from the ground up. It’s a blessing to have the company, the prayers and encouragement, of so may extraordinary people along the way.

As Coming Home embarks on its fifth year, we need to double our efforts at prayer for the bishops of the Church, the priests and religious, as well as all clergy of the other faiths. We will never build a civilization of love without them.

Once again, thanks to all who have welcomed me into the movement, and who have sustained me with your kind words, prayers, and good humor. It’s appreciated more than you know.

God Bless.

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We continue our Divine Mercy Novena today.

We Pray…

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Day 8
Today bring to Me THE SOULS WHO ARE DETAINED IN PURGATORY, and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice.

Lord Jesus, we take the pain of our doubts and confusion, of disappointment and despair including those of Dr. Booker and offer them to you to be washed clean by the waters of your love and mercy. In life, he lived the very definition of Hell as he practiced his murderous trade. We ask that if he is in Purgatory, that you accept the merits of the saints in the pro-life movement, the sacrifices all in this movement make, and apply their merits to Dr. Booker and any from the abortion industry who suffer the pains of purgatory.

Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said that You desire mercy; so I bring into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls in Purgatory, souls who are very dear to You, and yet, who must make retribution to Your justice. May the streams of Blood and Water which gushed forth from Your Heart put out the flames of Purgatory, that there, too, the power of Your mercy may be celebrated.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls suffering in Purgatory, who are enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. I beg You, by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son, and by all the bitterness with which His most sacred Soul was flooded: Manifest Your mercy to the souls who are under Your just scrutiny. Look upon them in no other way but only through the Wounds of Jesus, Your dearly beloved Son; for we firmly believe that there is no limit to Your goodness and compassion. Amen.

Chaplet of Divine Mercy

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For the past 18 months, I have been serving as the Executive Director of the Children First Foundation (CFF) under the leadership of Dr. Elizabeth Rex, who is President. We have the “Choose Life” Plates in New Jersey and Connecticut, and soon in New York if all goes well in our case against Governor Cuomo, which is now in the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. If any pro-life citizens live in the nation’s capital, they may wish to avail themselves of CFF’s newest plate in our program, the D.C. “Choose Life” license plate, just out yesterday. If the folks reading this would spread the word, I would be personally very grateful.

From Elizabeth Rex, Ph.D., President of CFF:

Dear “Choose Life” Friends in DC:

This red-white-and-blue “Choose Life” License Plate in Washington, D.C. is a great new way to help “mobilize” a greater Culture of Life in our Nation’s Capital in union with 29 “Choose Life” States in the USA!

The Children First Foundation of DC sponsored the Washington, D.C. “Choose Life” License Plate which was made available for purchase to residents of the District of Columbia on Wednesday, October 23, 2013, by the District of Columbia Department of Motor Vehicles that welcomed the participation of our pro-adoption, non-profit, charitable, and educational organization into their popular DC DMV Organizational Tag Program.

As stated on the official DC DMV website www.dmv.dc.gov/service/obtain-organizational-vehicle-tags, “organizational tags are a marvelous way for an organization to promote itself while allowing its members to demonstrate a commitment of pride.” The proud mission of The Children First Foundation is to raise greater awareness and funding for Adoption and Safe Haven efforts. Our members believe adoption is a loving choice for an unwanted unborn or newborn infant that deserves greater public awareness and support, and their $25 membership donations provide funding for DC Pregnancy Centers, Maternity Homes, and Safe Haven efforts.

As also explained on the DC DMV’s website, “only members of participating organizations can apply for the organizational tags” and “organizational tags will only be issued for use on private passenger vehicles registered in the District of Columbia.” So, please join us, and together let us voice our choice for life in DC!

To purchase your DC “Choose Life/Children First Foundation” License Plate, please visit http://www.thechildrenfirst.org/washington_dc1.aspx and read the information and follow the instructions carefully. For questions and assistance, please call Larry Cirignano, our DC Representative, at (202) 306-6863. Thank you so much for putting “children first” in DC!

Sincerely for Life,

Elizabeth B. Rex, Ph.D, President

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If today’s Supreme Court decisions on gay marriage were tough to swallow, this post will be even more of a challenge to accept. On the merits of the cases, dissenting Justice Scalia got it exactly right. No argument there. It’s where the blame ultimately lies that separates me from many fellow conservative and orthodox Catholics.

It’s many, if not a majority, of us.

It’s hard for me to blame the gays and lesbians here. They are a tiny minority of the population who have managed to swing some 55% of the nation their way. Today was a hard-won victory for them, in a 5-4 ruling whose split on the Court mirrors the split in the nation. They have fought for years (along with cohabiting heterosexuals) to share in all of the goods and privileges of marriage, and they won them, one at a time while many of us were too busy with work and recreational activities to get politically fired up. By the time the Churches got serious, the game was already over.

Enjoying all of the goods and privileges of marriage: sex, adoption, child-bearing and rearing, shared benefits, etc…, the only thing missing was the piece of paper that labeled the lived reality.

Marriage.

Having permitted non-married persons of same-sex, or heterosexual pairings to cohabit with all of the privileges of married people, we have been reduced to a semantic argument. What to call it?? For a time, “Domestic Partnership” sufficed. But thinking people knew that was just a stop-gap measure. Incrementalism always works that way. So, really, where did the train leave the tracks?

Perhaps married people haven’t appreciated the goods of marriage as such. Perhaps we forgot somewhere along the way that society valued marriage so much because society recognized the complementarity of the sexes and the need of children for both their mother and father living under the same roof. It was always understood that the strength of society required stable children growing into stable adulthood, and the social scientific data have repeatedly borne out this pairing of stability with being raised by one’s mother and father under one roof.

With divorce hovering around 50% for two generations, with sex being dissected and reduced to mere pleasure-seeking through the help of artificial contraception, with children completely commodified, this was bound to happen.

Specifically, on the commodification of children, everyone makes money on them. Need to adopt because you became sterile from abortion, or STD’s, or because you are a homosexual couple? It will cost upward of $40K, often higher than $60K. Want a baby that’s genetically your own, but fall into one of the aforementioned categories, or are infertile for other reasons? There’s in vitro fertilization costing into the tens of thousands of dollars. Too old to use your own eggs? Pay some young woman $10K to juice her body full of hormones to facilitate egg donation. Then pay tens of thousands for IVF; or pay tens of thousands to hire a surrogate mother. Don’t want that baby? Abortions range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

The wheeling and dealing over children as a commodity is ghastly, to the tune of billions of dollars each year. That’s because marriage isn’t about them anymore. It’s all about the adults. Were it all about the stability of children, today’s rulings never would have happened. The sad truth is that untold married couples fit into every one of those abusive categories just mentioned. We have made a real hash of marriage.

Instead, today motherhood was declared as entirely unnecessary in the lives of children adopted by homosexual couples.

Instead, today fatherhood was declared as entirely unnecessary in the lives of children born to/adopted by lesbian couples.

But that was just the codification of a lived reality ceded many years ago. So, no, today came as no surprise; no moreso than the diagnosis of lung cancer to the person who has smoked for decades. I was one of those smokers, too busy with work, school, family to get involved. So where do we go from here?

First, we should use great restraint in directing our anger at a tiny fraction of the population, the gays and lesbians. They have sought out recognition of their love as they understand marital love. And they do love each other, many with a greater devotion than many of our failed heterosexual marriages.

Next, we must put our own house in order; strengthening our marriages and churches, subordinating our marriages to God’s wise design. Only when that is done can we, or will we be in a position to evangelize others and change this course we have been on for decades. That won’t happen anytime soon. And what of prayer? Many have said we need to pray for a miracle.

I don’t see that happening. It hasn’t happened with forty years of abortion.

As my grandmother used to admonish: God helps those who help themselves. We, in the aggregate, have been asleep at the switch for decades. A miracle Supreme Court decision only compounds that laziness. In working to redeem marriage we grow as individuals, as churches, and as a society. Just as Adam and Eve would have to earn their living by the sweat of their brow, so it will be with abortion and marriage.

The redemption of lives and marriage itself will have to be the result of an awakening in society, or else it is cheap grace that will not endure.

Time to get to work.

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It is said that when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain made his pact with Hitler, Winston Churchill arose in Parliament and said that Camberlain had a choice between dishonor and war, and that having chosen the former he would inherit the latter as a consequence. Thus it was today when the Boy Scouts of America’s national leadership voted by over 60% to embrace openly gay scouts, a vote that ignored the over 60% of 200,000+ leaders who responded negatively to a survey we all received.

In other words, the fix was in.

The great compromise today was that gay scouts would be permitted, but gay leaders would not. It was as gutless and cowardly a compromise as was the vote being announced the evening before the long Memorial Day weekend. These ‘leaders’, lacking the courage to take on themselves the full responsibility to radically transform the Boy Scouts of America, simply kicked the can down the road, leaving the rest of the job for the courts in the spate of inevitable lawsuits that will follow.

Much will change now. This isn’t a simple, “live and let live” policy. The chartering organizations with strong religious prohibitions will be forced to accept gay scouts and not speak against their chosen orientation or risk the sensitivity training that follows homosexualism wherever it finds a home. They will not be permitted to exclude gay scouts.

There will now be pressure to rewrite the program, such as the Family Life merit badge book to include gay and lesbian marriages, and here is where the new agenda will be shoved down the throats of every boy in scouting, especially as Family Life is a required merit badge for the rank of Eagle Scout.

Let’s be clear about what it is that all boys will be expected to embrace. In lesbian unions and marriages a father is regarded as entirely unnecessary in the life of a child. Two women are just as good, and even better. Similarly, in homosexual marriages and unions a mother is entirely unnecessary. Two men are just as good, and even better. Those new social situations will be held out as the moral equivalent of heterosexual marriage. If attempts are made to fight this moral equivalence, such attempts will be regarded as hostile rejection of the scout or his family situation, a hostile rejection that is now incompatible with the new membership reality.

To do other would be to treat gay scouts and gay/lesbian marriage as second-class citizenry.

Thus we see the complete incompatibility between the homosexualist agenda and traditional morality. Both cannot coexist in a given institution. Each sees the other as immoral and incompatible with civility and liberty.

Today, traditional Christianity, Judaism, and Islam lost big.

Many respond to the argument put forth above that many children in homes afflicted by divorce also live without either a mother or a father, and that gay/lesbian unions are no different in this regard, and even better, as there are two loving parents in the gay marriage to the one embittered divorcee in the straight home. But morally, this is fallacy. It is generally understood that divorce represents the failure of a moral good, namely heterosexual marriage, and that children raised in a single-parent home without the other gendered parent is a tragic consequence of that failure.

In the gay/lesbian marriages the opposite gender is regarded as unnecessary in the life of a child and this is not only NOT the failure of a moral good, but is in fact a celebrated principle of the lifestyle.

Indeed, much will now change. This blog post will be denounced as hate speech by many, and that shows how fidelity to Catholic moral teaching will now be regarded by the Boy Scouts of America. And where that is concerned, the National Catholic Committee of the Boy Scouts must be singled out for their weak and measured position throughout the run-up to this vote. Would that they had the firmness of our Baptist Brethren.

In our Scout Oath we say:

On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law. To help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.

Duty to God requires not embracing that which is taught by His Church as mortal sin. In order to make the gay scouts feel at home, straight scouts will simply have to accept moral equivalence. When those gay scouts become Eagle Scouts and become young adults, will we suddenly turn on them and keep them away?

Finally, if two-thirds of the leaders nationally opposed this move, why did two-thirds of the National Council ignore our concerns?

Today we witnessed the death of honor in scouting. Having chosen dishonor, the National Council will inherit war as a consequence.

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shroudstory12z[1]

New data using infrared light date the Shroud of Turin to the time of Jesus. This is heartening news for believers, as the new data are at odds with a 1988 carbon dating analysis which placed the age of the shroud at the 13th or 14th century.

Criticism of the 1988 study centers on the possibility that the small swatch of fabric taken from the shroud may have actually been a patch added around the time of the 13th century when a fire scorched parts of the folded shroud. Could the scientists in 1988 have made such a methodological blunder?

Sure.

But even if they didn’t, and if they took a swatch of the original cloth, there is still an interprative blunder that has been made regarding the carbon dating data. First, a brief explanation of exactly what happens in carbon dataing.

The procedure is simple. A sample is placed in a test tube and burned. The resulting carbon is analyzed and the amount of radioactive carbon (carbon-14) is measured compared to non-radioactive carbon (carbon-12).

How the dating is performed is based upon the fact that radioactive carbon (carbon-14) decays by half at a steady rate of every 5,730 years in what is known as its half-life. So, for instance, if we start with a pound of C-14 today, 5,730 years from today one-half of it would have decayed, leaving a half-pound of C-14. In another 5,730 years there would be 1/4 pound remaining. 5,730 years after that, 1/8 pound would remain, and so forth.

Living organisms incorporate C-14 from the atmosphere and serve as the baseline for the C-14 content that is measured in fossils and other archaeological artifacts. By comparing the C-14 content of an archaeological sample with the avaerage C-14 content of a comparably weighted modern organism, one may establish the age of the sample.

So, to use round and simple numbers, if a modern sample of human bone contains 5 nanograms of C-14, and a sample from bone found in an archaeological dig contains 2.5 nanograms of C-14, then the bone is approximately 5,700 years old. If the C-14 content of the found bone is 1.25 nanograms, then it is approximately 11,400 years old.

The same method holds true for dating cloth.

In the case of the 1988 carbon-dating of the Shroud, assuming that an original piece of the Shroud was tested, and assuming that the Shroud indeed dates from the time of Jesus, how could the results be off by 1,300 years? How could there be more C-14 present than there should have been?

A variable I have never heard mentioned is the fire that scorched the Shroud. Recall that C-14 analysis requires the burning of the sample to produce a readily analyzable sample of carbon. That fire carried soot from the church, and produced soot from the burned portions of the Shroud which deposited and permeated into the fabric of the Shroud. Add to that the soot from burning candles in churches and private halls in all the years the Shroud was opened and venerated.

All of this soot carries C-14 which, when deposited in the fabric of the Shroud, would artificially push up the age of the Shroud when C-14 analysis is performed. For example, suppose a sample of the Shroud ought to contain 1 nanogram of C-14 if it were from the time of Jesus. Soot deposits would actually raise the amount of C-14 present in the sample, leading researchers to believe that the sample is from more recent times.

Of course, even if all of the scientific evidence were to date the Shroud to Jesus’ day, science can never, ever ascertain that the image it contains is that of Jesus. But that is not important. What matters above all is faith, not so much in the image of a dead Jesus impressed in fabric, but in the sure and certain knowledge that He rose again and lives.

That singular reality is what has changed the world, offered hope to billions, and is the focal point of today’s Easter joy.

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pope_benedict_xvi-20070510

Pope Benedict XVI’s impending resignation, announced this morning, has opened the usual spate of questions prior to a conclave, as well as new ones about the status of a living Pope emeritus. Among some pro-lifers there is lots of buzz about whether the new pontiff will be pro-life, as was John Paul II. It’s an earnest question with beautiful intention, but it misses an essential truth about Catholic DNA.

“Pro-life” is not a plank in a conservative party platform within the Church, as it is in secular politics. There are several encyclicals from several popes spelling out the two-thousand year teaching of the Church. Some of these encyclicals, such as Humanae Vitae, Evangelium Vitae, Donum Vitae, Dignitas Personae, and Casti Connubii, establish for the faithful the constant teaching and witness of the Church.

The new Pope does not begin from scratch, but from where all of his predecessors have taken the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

To be Catholic is to be pro-life.

Of course, many are either ignorant of, or reject the teaching of the Church. Nevertheless, the tenets of the faith are binding on popes and laity alike. To be Catholic is to be pro-life.

Rumors, questions, concerns will all swirl in the weeks ahead. Two things are certain:

First, no matter what happens Jesus will continue to keep His promise to the Apostles at the Ascension: “I will be with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Second, Jesus will continue to keep another promise to the Apostles: “I will send you my Holy Spirit, and He will lead you to all truth.”

Thus, for the Church and the pro-life community there is a good future. We lift up Pope Benedict in our prayers, thanking God for his papacy and for a gentle and peaceful retirement. As we pray, our prayers should be less for a pro-life pope than for a laity that will abandon their deepening enslavement to secularism and return to the liberating witness of the Church.

No amount of encyclicals will matter if they don’t.

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cu_lourdes

Tonight is the final night of our novena. Many thanks to all who stopped in, took time, and prayed. God Bless you and your loved ones.

Day 1 here.

Day 2 here.

Day 3 here.


Day 4 here.

Day 5 here.

Day 6 here.

Day 7 here.

Day 8 here.

Prayer

Be blessed, O most pure Virgin, for having vouchsafed to manifest your shining with life, sweetness and beauty, in the Grotto of Lourdes, saying to the child, St. Bernadette: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” A thousand times we congratulate you upon your Immaculate Conception. And now, O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, you know our wants, our troubles, our sufferings deign to cast upon us a look of mercy.

DAY NINE

O glorious Mother of God, to you we raise our hearts and hands to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the benign Heart of Jesus all the graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare, particularly for the grace of a happy death. O Mother of our Divine Lord, as we conclude this novena for the special favor we seek at this time.

That your beloved Son send His Holy Sprit upon this nation in its hour of despair, to enlighten every heart, showing the sacredness of all human life from the moment of conception until natural death; that through this tragedy the scales will fall from the nation’s eyes and all will see the seamless garment of human life and dignity.

We feel animated with confidence that your prayers in our behalf will be graciously heard. O Mother of My Lord, through the love you bear to Jesus Christ and for the glory of His Name, hear our prayers and obtain our petitions.
O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Read more: http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/novena/lourdes.htm#day9#ixzz2FvVPwYJd

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

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cu_lourdes

As we continue our nine days of prayer, please leave your supportive messages for the folks in Newtown and Sandy Hook in the comments section here on the blog. They’ll be seeing them, I assure you. Each night as we pray for the entire community, we’ll lift up in a special way different groups within that population. Thanks for joining in. God Bless you and your loved ones.

Day 1 here.

Day 2 here.

Day 3 here.


Day 4 here.

Day 5 here.

Day 6 here.

Day 7 here.

Prayer

Be blessed, O most pure Virgin, for having vouchsafed to manifest your shining with life, sweetness and beauty, in the Grotto of Lourdes, saying to the child, St. Bernadette: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” A thousand times we congratulate you upon your Immaculate Conception. And now, O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, you know our wants, our troubles, our sufferings deign to cast upon us a look of mercy.

DAY EIGHT

O Immaculate Mother of God, from heaven itself you came to appear to the little Bernadette in the rough Grotto of Lourdes! And as Bernadette knelt at your feet and the miraculous spring burst forth and as multitudes have knelt ever since before your shrine, O Mother of God, we kneel before you today to ask that in your mercy you plead with your Divine Son to grant the special favor we seek in this novena.

We pray tonight for all of the citizens of Sandy Hook and Newtown, that Christmas brings a reprieve from the trauma of these past eight days. We pray, too, for eternal rest for all 28 people who died in the madness of that day, especially for those most in need of your Son’s mercy.

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

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Church-bells-001

Today at 9:30 AM the church bells tolled 26 times: once for each of the victims in last week’s horrific tragedy in Sandy Hook Elementary. It was a fitting remembrance of the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School, and the Governor did well to request it. However, there was one victim intentionally not remembered, for whom no bell tolled, and that was Adam Lanza’s mother. She was shot in the head four times as she lay sleeping, and was all but unrecognizable afterward.

By all accounts she was a mother who doted on her son, who sought the best for him given his Asperger’s disorder. Why did we not remember a loving mother shot to death by her mentally ill son?

Are we angry at her for having taught him how to shoot, and in our anger assigning to her some degree of culpability for this tragedy? If so, she’s not alive and well to receive our opprobrium. She became the first of her son’s victims, paying with her own life for whatever lack of prudence or discretion she exhibited in bonding over shooting at the rifle range.

I don’t defend Nancy Lanza’s judgement. But ten years of involvement with other parents of children on the autism spectrum has taught me a few lessons.

Nancy Lanza sought ways to reach her son, to connect with a very emotionally flat, difficult to reach young man. In very many ways, connecting with a child on the spectrum means encountering them wherever they are responsive. For us, Joseph found the Game Show channel on Cable TV and was into 70’s and 80’s reruns of game shows when he was 5 years old. That’s where we needed to begin connecting with Joseph.

Sound bizarre? You do that when you’re the parent of a child on the autism spectrum. You have little choice. The trick is to capitalize on the social connection and use that connection to build deeper ties and then slowly and gently redirect the child to more normal activities. It’s been a ten year journey with Joseph, and at age 13 1/2, he’s doing remarkable well. That said, I’m acutely aware that he’s just begun adolescence and I pray mightily that he emerges from adolescence and college in good shape.

It sounds as though Nancy Lanza found a common ground with her son and then it took a terrible turn before she could build on that connection with him. The point wasn’t shooting rifles together at a range, it was the common interest that facilitated communication.

As for the news reports of the “basement lair” or “windowless bunker” with his video games, such as Call of Duty, these sensationalized reports don’t reflect the fact that Call of Duty, Black Ops 2 sales reached $1 BILLION in just 15 days. That’s quite a few people playing these games, and shootings like this being comparatively rare.

I don’t know what was in the shooter’s mind, or whether his mother permitted these games because it might give him common ground for conversation with others. I wouldn’t have taken that road, and will not with my son. However, I also know the desperation of parents with non-communicative children. What is clear is this:

What we do with our shock, horror, and grief will either build us or twist and distort us. It is a defining moment, a watershed in American history. The bells did not toll for a desperate mother of a handicapped son who was butchered in her sleep with the same gun that she used as common ground to try and reach him in his neurologically impaired and stunted development.

So tonight in our Novena for Healing, we lifted up Nancy Lanza and her son in prayer, as well as their surviving family who are left with a burden of shame, guilt, and social stigma that they do not deserve. They’ll never live it down.

If one week into this watershed experience we don’t recognize the humanity or victim status of Nancy Lanza, it does not bode well for us as a people or as individuals. Forgiveness is something we do for ourselves. It is an immunization from fear, anger, and retribution. The parsimoniousness surrounding the single peel of a bell for Nancy Lanza does not bode well for us at all.

We may never have an answer this side of eternity as to why he did it. The rifle range alone doesn’t explain it.

The video games alone don’t explain why he did it.

The autism alone doesn’t explain why he did it.

There are plenty of individuals with autism who play those games and who shoot rifles who remain meek and socially withdrawn. In truth, they are far more likely to become victims of crime than perpetrators of it.

We are right to be filled with revulsion and rage at what happened. That’s normal and healthy. But St. Paul teaches that if we are to be angry that it must be without sin. Toward that end, Jesus teaches that we are to love our enemies, pray for our persecutors, and do good to those who hate us. Those prayers are the only thing that will give us the grace to accept that there will never be a rational explanation for the magnitude of evil that has shaken us all to our foundations.

So on this one week anniversary of that terrible, terrible day, we peel the bell once for the first of Adam’s 27 victims: the woman who gave him life and died by the vehicle she tragically employed to help salvage that life. We beg God’s mercy on Nancy and her son.

We do so because He commands us to do so.

God Bless.

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cu_lourdes

As we continue our nine days of prayer, please leave your supportive messages for the folks in Newtown and Sandy Hook in the comments section here on the blog. They’ll be seeing them, I assure you. Each night as we pray for the entire community, we’ll lift up in a special way different groups within that population. Thanks for joining in. God Bless you and your loved ones.

Day 1 here.

Day 2 here.

Day 3 here.


Day 4 here.

Day 5 here.

Day 6 here.

Prayer

Be blessed, O most pure Virgin, for having vouchsafed to manifest your shining with life, sweetness and beauty, in the Grotto of Lourdes, saying to the child, St. Bernadette: “I am the Immaculate Conception.” A thousand times we congratulate you upon your Immaculate Conception. And now, O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, you know our wants, our troubles, our sufferings deign to cast upon us a look of mercy.

DAY SEVEN

O Almighty God, who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary did prepare a worthy dwelling place for your Son, we humbly beseech you that as we contemplate the apparition of Our Lady in the Grotto of Lourdes, we may be blessed with health of mind and body. O most gracious Mother Mary, beloved Mother of Our Lord and Redeemer, look with favor upon us as you did that day on Bernadette and intercede with him for us that the favor we now so earnestly seek may be granted to us.

Once again, we lift up to you the parents, and grandparents, and godparents of those who were killed. We beg your beloved Son’s special blessings on them, for healing in heart, mind, body and soul. We lift up too, the family of Adam Lanza, who tonight bear a very different and unimaginable burden of not only loss, but shame and guilt for something of which they had no culpability. We beg your Son’s healing touch that all may find peace and reconciliation, through your loving intercession.

O Brilliant star of purity, Mary Immaculate, Our Lady of Lourdes, glorious in your assumption, triumphant in your coronation, show unto us the mercy of the Mother of God, Virgin Mary, Queen and Mother, be our comfort, hope, strength, and consolation. Amen

Our Lady of Lourdes, pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

lit-candles-in-heart-shape--romantic-candle-light--photos-92789

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