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He was a pro-life champion.

He was a great supporter of EWTN and Mother Angelica.

He was a huge booster for Franciscan University.

He was a tireless therapist/spiritual director/advocate for priests in trouble.

He was a lighthouse for fidelity and truth in the faith during the tumultuous 60’s and 70’s.

He was co-founder of Good Counsel Homes.

He was an early and active participant in the Charismatic Renewal.

He was a celebrated author with dozens and dozens of books, tapes, and DVD’s.

He was a co-founder of a reform religious community.

He was a Columbia University educated psychologist.

He was a seminary professor for over 40 years.

He was a spiritual director and sage who was very good to women’s communities.

He was an advisor to bishops from all over the world.

He was an international lecturer.

He was a retreat master without equal.

He walked with Saints John Paul II and Theresa of Calcutta.

He was a television host who boosted countless ministries on his show.

But for all of that, if he could have chosen to be remembered for anything, if any group could lay claim to this man of such broad appeal, he would want to be remembered for this above all things…

He was a good friend to and mighty advocate for the poor and the least among us.

He was a true son of Francis, a true son of the Church.

Father Benedict Groeschel was my professor when I was in the seminary in the late 1980’s. He taught us ascetical theology and gave us spiritual direction on retreat. His classes were in themselves mini-retreats, whose content I have spent a lifetime unpacking. When I left the seminary and told him that I was pursuing biomedical research, and that Columbia University’s post-baccalaureate pre-medical studies was my first step toward the Ph.D. he was delighted that I would be attending his alma mater. I continued to see him every now and then when I hit bumps in the road in the spiritual life. Several years later, when I finished the Ph.D., I drove up to Trinity Retreat House to have lunch with Fr. Benedict and talk about the uncertainties ahead, as well as our son Joseph’s newly diagnosed autism and my deep, deep fears around that whole issue. I was a burnt out mess.

Fr. Benedict came across the room to me with outstretched arms and congratulated me. He then shared that when he finished his doctorate he breathed a sigh of relief because he never had to write another paper again. When he said this I pulled back with an incredulous look, to which he inquired why. I said, “You’re kidding, right?” And he said, “No, why?” I responded that he went on to author 5,000 books! Fr. Benedict just smiled with the knowing twinkle in his eyes. We went in to lunch, and then I spent two hours pouring out my fears for Joseph, my doubts about my capabilities, and how utterly alone I felt, sensing the absence of God.

My old mentor took me through whence I had come spiritually, and then led me through the Dark Night of the Soul. When I was leaving, we exited his room, which opened into his secretary’s office. Fr. Benedict has shelves filled with the books he authored. It was the stock room, in a sense, for the books people purchased online and via mail order. He grabbed a copy of Stumbling Blocks and Stepping Stones, as well as Spiritual Passages and handed them to me. When I said, “Thanks, but I have them at home,” he said in reply, “Take two more!”

He was truly one of a kind. A session with Fr. Benedict could range from side-splitting laughter to dealing with being on the edge of the abyss. Whenever I saw him, he always asked for Regina, and then each of the children by name. He was gracious, and holy. His brilliance and incisiveness could easily be overpowering, had he not tempered them with his quick wit and self-deprecating humor.

When I began doing pro-life work in earnest, Fr. Benedict was there with wisdom beyond description. He mapped out all of the spiritual pitfalls I faced, and helped me avoid them all.

I could tell a number of other stories about Fr. Benedict, and what he did for elderly priests who needed the guidance and support to take them the rest of the way home, of how he was never too busy, never said no. But we’ll let those stories rest with all of those good men who found their way with Fr. Benedict’s guidance.

What will endure, more than anything, was the one great constant in all of our conversations: Fr. Benedict’s love for the poor and the least, his admonition to me that I never forget them and their needs, that they are the living face of Jesus.

A priest who met popes, walked with saints, advised the bishops and cardinals of the Church, and yet craved time with the lowliest in society, because that’s where he felt closest to his God.

I should feel some sorrow at his passing from us, but I can’t. Though I’ll miss him, I’m overjoyed that he now sees face-to-face the God he could only see tangentially as he walked among us.

Yes, I believe that Fr. Benedict went to Purgatory (as he insisted he would), but only to collect a few souls along the way home.

Thank you, Fr. Benedict Joseph, and please pray for us.

EPierrot-BenY

Wrongful Birth.

It is a legal term rooted in deep narcissism and dressed in the clothing of contract law. Translated, it means some parent didn’t get what they hoped for, or paid for when their child was born. Somebody screwed up and the wrong product was delivered. It’s a form of business and/or medical malpractice.

Wrongful Birth.

The very words reveal the ugly side of human nature, the neurotic side of the human psyche where human fear meets with human failure, and growth becomes a forced issue, and someone has to pay a price for it.

Consider the white lesbian couple in Ohio who ordered sperm from a sperm bank, expecting sperm from a donor with a certain genetic (Caucasian) and personal profile. What they were sent was sperm from a black man, and what resulted was a mixed race baby. Read the story here.

It’s a truly tragic story, and heartbreaking that a child should be born into such poverty of spirit, especially to a lesbian mother who should have learned a thing or two about oppression and survival. Consider the following quotes from the story in Mail Online.

Jennifer Cramblett, 36, claims the mistake has caused her stress and anguish because her family is racist and she lives in a small, all-white Uniontown in northeast Ohio…

Ms Cramblett [sic] she has ‘limited cultural competency relative to African-Americans’ and worries that her daughter Payton will not be accepted in her hometown of Uniontown.

‘Jennifer lives each day with fears, anxieties and uncertainty about her future and Payton’s future,’ according to the lawsuit.

Is it understandable that a woman coming from a family she labels “racist” would also claim to have “limited cultural competency” to raise a mixed race child?

No, it isn’t.

In labeling her family as racist, Ms. Cramblett identifies herself as somehow above it all. That is the necessary precondition for self-education in gaining cultural competence in the raising of her mixed race child. But that, too, begs the question. Why does this child need to be singled out as something other? How, exactly, should she be raised compared to potential future siblings who are white? Is that not itself racist? And then there is the matter of living, “each day with fears, anxieties and uncertainty about her future and Payton’s future.”

Do these lesbians see the world so categorically that they actually think that living, “each day with fears, anxieties and uncertainty about her future and Payton’s future,” is not something every single parent on the planet experiences?

There’s more:

Even simple tasks have become more complicated because Payton is mixed-race, the lawsuit says.

‘Payton has hair typical of an African American girl. To get a decent cut, Jennifer must travel to a black neighborhood, far from where she lives, where she is obviously different in appearance, and not overtly welcome,’ according to the lawsuit.

Again, note the objectification of blacks by this mother. What does it take beyond a universal smile and common courtesy for people of different ethnicities to develop warm and cordial relationships? So what is this woman getting at?

On the one hand, she doesn’t feel culturally competent, then castigates an entire community of color when she brings the child to a hairdresser who can do the child’s hair some justice. And as for traveling out of one’s way? Heterosexuals do it all the time for their children. It comes with being a parent. God forbid she should turn it into a quality mommy-daughter day out.

The article ends with the mother saying that in a few years when her daughter begins school, she may be the only black child in her class in her small, rural town, and this worries her. An indictment of the entire community. But how small-minded can the community be if she and her lesbian partner live there?

For a mother so ostensibly concerned with her daughter being picked on by racist family, tortured by racist classmates and neighbors, failed culturally by her mother, she has chosen to label the little girl a mistake, a wrongful birth, a human who never should have been. All because of a little extra melanin and some different hair.

For all their talk of tolerance, and openness, and inclusivity, and compassion, it isn’t unreasonable to expect gays and lesbians to put their money where their collective mouth is. One would expect a lesbian couple, of all people, to abhor the notion of “wrongful birth,” claiming a genetic etiology for their own orientation as they do.

Pity the child born to such poverty and bigotry.

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On the day that Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973, a companion case, Doe v. Bolton was handed down as well. The Doe case made abortion legal in all nine months of pregnancy. Like Norma McCorvey of the Roe case, Bolton’s name was used without her knowledge or consent. From Lifesite News:

Cano told the Catholic Register, “It’s a nightmare to be connected to a case that I never wanted to be connected to. Doe v. Bolton allows abortion up to the ninth month. This case takes children’s lives.”

“Back in 1970,” Cano begins, “I had a very complicated marriage and had two children in foster care. I was pregnant and wanted to get my babies back from foster care. I was poor, uneducated and ignorant. My life was very unstable. I was in a survival state. I went to Atlanta Legal Aid to get a divorce. Whoever was there to try to help me, I trusted. That’s how I became unknowingly involved with Doe v. Bolton. Never once did I know that we were going to kill babies.

“I can’t understand how a case like this could go to the Supreme Court without anyone knowing or speaking to me to find out if what the attorney was presenting to the court was true. I was so ignorant I didn’t know that there were two cases that legalized abortion.

“I ran away to Oklahoma to keep from having an abortion. They knew I was against abortion. Grady Memorial Hospital said I had gone before a panel of nine doctors and nurses to seek an abortion. I never sought an abortion. The hospital has no records because I never went to the hospital.

“It was only later that I learned that, through Margie Pitt Hames, I had sued Georgia Baptist Hospital to have an abortion.”

The Register asked how she discovered the truth and she replied, “In 1974, I went to Georgia Right to Life to try to find someone to help me. I told them that I was the woman who was involved in the abortion law, but didn’t know what it was about. They sent me to Fayetteville to seek help. On and off over the years, I would come forward, but when you don’t have money or people willing to help, a lot of people think you’re someone off the nut wagon.

“In the 1980s, I talked to an Atlanta Journal and Constitution newspaper reporter. She told me I had to prove who I was. I asked, “How do you do that?” She told me I had to go down to the court to verify that I was the person involved in the case. When I did that, they told me I had to go to the Federal Archives building. When I did that, they gave me this humongous book to look through. I didn’t understand half of it. I was out of my league. There was also a sealed envelope. I wanted to open it, but couldn’t. They told me that I would have to go to the court to have my records unsealed. Someone at the court showed me how to petition the court to unseal the records.

“A week later, Judge Owen Foster called me. He told me, “I don’t normally do this, but think you need a lawyer. We’re going to be hearing your case.” I found an attorney and went down to the court to unseal the records. Margie Pitt Hames didn’t want me to open the records. After unsealing the records I wrote to the Supreme Court. They said that the statute of limitations had passed.”

“They connected my name to a case that I never knew about in the beginning, never participated in, never believed in. I carried a guilt for many, many years. I was just a pawn,” Cano told The Blaze.

Read the rest here.

Eternal Rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let Perpetual Light shine upon her.
May she rest in Peace, Amen.

Supporting Jill Stanek

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On December 24, 2009 Pro-life nurse/blogger/speaker/activist/apostle, Jill Stanek, gave me the Christmas gift of a lifetime. After having encouraged and even insisted that I start my own blog, Jill promoted it on her own extremely popular blog. See it here.

For those who may not know, Jill was the Ob/Gyn nurse who broke open wide the issue of babies born alive and left to die. Some are from botched abortions, some having severe congenital anomalies. In insisting that this issue come into the light it cost Jill her livelihood as a nurse. If there is anyone more detestable in medicine than a whistleblower, it’s a Christian, pro-life whistleblower. Jill abandoned the peace and economic surety of a solid nursing career to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit into the wilderness of the life issues. Like Peter and the other apostles who left their fishermen’s nets to follow Jesus, Jill left it all behind and never looked back.

In that time, Jill jumped into the emerging world of blogging, recognizing the internet as the new town square for the shrinking global village. She has gathered under her roof at Jillstanek.com every activist, physician, scientist, clergy person with a positive program and promoted their work. She has become a hub of news and information. When Twitter emerged, Jill jumped right on board and has used the medium to mount several successful campaigns against the abortion industry.

All during that time, she has crisscrossed the nation and traveled the globe in her apostolic mission to end abortion and restore a culture of life and a civilization of love. Those of us who do so know the toll this takes on our family lives and on our finances. In all of that time Jill has never asked for support for her blog, and following her example neither have I. However, today Jill has posted on her blog a very modest request for support. Read it here. It is the first time in her blog’s eight years that she has done so. If she’s asking, then there is good reason.

I would humbly ask that those reading this consider lending support for Jill’s ongoing and indefatigable work in ending this horrendous scourge of abortion. Click the link to her site, read her request, consider how incredibly modest her request is (compared to many who always ask for as much as you can possibly afford), and then prayerfully consider your response.

I am only one of many, many people with whom Jill Stanek has been completely generous with her time and resources.

It’s reciprocity time.

God Bless.

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John Vianney, Good and Holy Priest
O holy Priest of Ars, you lived in an age of much upheaval, in a time when men turned their backs on God. Your bishop told of a parish to which he wished to send you where there was no love. He assigned you to Ars and said that you would be the Priest who would enable the people to know the love of God. Not only did you draw these people back to God, but your saintly reputation soon spread and many people were converted to a life of holiness. You said that a good Priest, a Priest after Christ’s own heart is the greatest treasure that God can give a parish. Give us such Priests!

O great St. John Vianney, once again we are living in day of upheaval. There is much evil in the word. Obtain for Cardinal Dolan the grace to persevere in his faith and never to despair. May he walk with the Lord and trust in Him all the days of his life. Obtain through your heavenly intercession, for Cardinal Dolan the grace of modeling his life after that of Jesus Christ, that his people will know the love of God. More than ever the people need him to be able to bring the world to Christ.
Pray for Cardinal Dolan and all Priests, O great Priest of Ars.

Novena Prayer: O holy Priest of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, you loved God and served Him faithfully as His Priest. Now you see God face to face in heaven. You never despaired but persevered in your faith until you died. Remember now the dangers, fears and anxieties that surround Cardinal Dolan and intercede for him in all his needs and troubles especially console him in his most difficult moments, grant him serenity in the midst of crisis, and protect him from evil. O St. John Vianney, I have confidence in your intercession.
Pray for Cardinal Dolan in a special way during this novena.

Amen.

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Timothy Cardinal Dolan is my archbishop, an as such he is entitled to my respect and obedience. There have only been a couple of times where I have publicly disagreed with him and written of it. It is not bishop-bashing, but rather the strongly worded disagreement of a faithful and respectful son of the Church. As such, critique must always be balanced by prayer for the Cardinal’s intentions. This novena is that prayer. Please join each night after 8PM EST as we pray for Cardinal Dolan’s intentions. We begin…

St. John Vianney, Lover of Penance and Mortification O holy Priest of Ars, you led a life of detachment from worldly pleasures. Your meals consisted of a boiled potato each day; you slept a few hours each night. But you did all of this so that you would be able to serve God to the best of your ability. Your life was portrayed by the saying: We complain when we suffer. We have much more reason to complain when we do not suffer, since nothing likens us to our Lord as the bearing of His cross.

O great St. John Vianney, in these days when we are surrounded by so many comforts and pleasures, it can be so difficult for us to do penance for our sins and live a life of detachment. I resolve to offer some sacrifice today for the expiation of Cardinal Dolan’s sins and the sins of all mankind. Assist Father in accepting the cross God chooses to send him. May he embrace the life of sacrifice to which Priests are called. May he willingly offer his whole life to God! Obtain for Cardinal Dolan the grace to imitate the life of Christ by the bearing of His cross.

Novena Prayer: O holy Priest of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, you loved God and served Him faithfully as His Priest. Now you see God face to face in heaven. You never despaired but persevered in your faith until you died. Remember now the dangers, fears and anxieties that surround Cardinal Dolan and intercede for him in all his needs and troubles especially console him in his most difficult moments, grant him serenity in the midst of crisis, and protect him from evil. O St. John Vianney, I have confidence in your intercession.
Pray for Cardinal Dolan in a special way during this novena

Amen.

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Timothy Cardinal Dolan is my archbishop, an as such he is entitled to my respect and obedience. There have only been a couple of times where I have publicly disagreed with him and written of it. It is not bishop-bashing, but rather the strongly worded disagreement of a faithful and respectful son of the Church. As such, critique must always be balanced by prayer for the Cardinal’s intentions. This novena is that prayer. Please join each night after 8PM EST as we pray for Cardinal Dolan’s intentions. We begin…

O holy Priest of Ars, your life was filled with humility. You wore an old cassock. You ate meager meals. You realized that before the throne of God, you were one of His creatures made to glorify God and praise Him in all things. You said that the first virtue is humility; the second, humility; and the third, humility. You counseled people to remain humble, remain simple and the more one is so, the more good he will do. Your simplicity of soul and your uncluttered way of life led you to sanctity.

O humble St. John Vianney, when Cardinal Dolan forgets he is totally dependent on God for everything, intercede for him with Almighty God, to allow him to see that without His Creator nothing is possible and that he must rely on God for everything. He is his Creator, who keeps him in existence at every moment. Obtain for Cardinal Dolan the grace of humility. May his life exemplify your humility and simplicity, a life uncluttered, a life totally dependent on God.

Novena Prayer: O holy Priest of Ars, St. John Marie Vianney, you loved God and served Him faithfully as His Priest. Now you see God face to face in heaven. You never despaired but persevered in your faith until you died. Remember now the dangers, fears and anxieties that surround Cardinal Dolan and intercede for him in all his needs and troubles especially console him in his most difficult moments, grant him serenity in the midst of crisis, and protect him from evil. O St. John Vianney, I have confidence in your intercession.
Pray for Cardinal Dolan in a special way during this novena.

Amen.

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