Archive for October, 2011

From LifeSite News:

UTRECHT, Netherlands, October 24, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) has released new guidelines for interpreting the 2002 Euthanasia Act that now includes “mental and psychosocial ailments” such as “loss of function, loneliness and loss of autonomy” as acceptable criteria for euthanasia. The guidelines also allow doctors to connect a patient’s lack of “social skills, financial resources and a social network” to “unbearable and lasting suffering,” opening the door to legal assisted death based on “psychosocial” factors, not terminal illness.

The June 2011 position paper, titled “The Role of the Physician in the Voluntary Termination of Life” concludes that the “concept of suffering” is “broader” than its “interpretation and application by many physicians today.”

Included in a broader interpretation of suffering would be “disorders affecting vision, hearing and mobility, falls, confinement to bed, fatigue, exhaustion and loss of fitness,” according to the authors.

“The patient perceives the suffering as interminable, his existence as meaningless and—though not directly in danger of dying from these complaints—neither wishes to experience them nor, insofar as his history and own values permit, to derive meaning from them,” explains the KNMG position paper.

“In the KNMG’s view, such cases are sufficiently linked to the medical domain to permit a physician to act within the confines of the Euthanasia Law.”

“It doesn’t always have to be a physical ailment, it could be the onset of dementia or chronic psychological problems, it’s still unbearable and lasting suffering. It doesn’t always have to be a terminal disease,” said Dr. Nieuwenhuijzen Kruseman, Chairman of KNMG to Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

Read the rest here.

This is an absolute descent into madness. We doctors of science and medicine spend close to twenty years of our adult lives in training, and for what? This???

This represents moral and intellectual bankruptcy, the collapse of reason and sanity, of love for our patients and experimental subjects. In the Netherlands, medicine no longer seeks to better the human condition. It makes the problems go away by killing the patients.

We don’t need extensive education for this anymore.

We simply need executioners.

This is what many in this country are pushing for. And this is what national healthcare will deliver.

It’s time for this nation to have a serious family talk.

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This is a mess. It’s also one of the thorniest questions in vaccination medicine to have surfaced in a long time. From the outset, it must be clear that I am neither endorsing, nor dismissing the question of vaccinating boys. Get a cup of coffee, and let’s kick this one around for a bit.

The issues here are many, so let’s start with some straightforward infectious diseases epidemiology.

Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) is the most prevalent of the sexually transmitted pathogens. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have an excellent fact sheet which is a must-read. Click here.

From a strict infectious diseases perspective, the goal of public health is to certainly limit the pool of pathogen within a population, and to eradicate it if at all possible. This was done successfully with smallpox through a determined and aggressive campaign of world-wide immunization. From a strictly scientific perspective, the same makes sense with HPV. Why not shoot for eradication?

Of course, smallpox and HPV are very different diseases, both in their lethality and in their mode of transmission. The smallpox virus is spread through saliva droplets and remains alive for anywhere between 6-24 hours on contaminated surfaces. Someone might have sneezed into their hand, touched an object in the office such as a phone receiver, and thus facilitated transmission to others touching that object.

HPV requires sexual contact. It is that dimension of personal behavior, of choice, that leads to disease transmission and the current debate.

Certainly, as Cardinal O’Connor used to say, good morality is good medicine. Virginity followed by fidelity in both parties to a marriage obviates the need in that couple for any immunization against STD’s. For the rest of the world, we have an imperfect reality. Let’s consider the parent who does not want their child immunized (and we’ll get to the vaccine safety issues shortly).

Regina and I will stress virtue in our children, and would hope that they remain virgins until marriage. Assuming all goes well, there is no guarantee that their spouses will be virgins, despite assurances given verbally. Therein lies the danger. With well over half of the population infected, the probabilities of even the most virtuous among us encountering HPV are astronomical.

Given that the vaccine is only effective before one is exposed to the virus, the question of when to vaccinate becomes a real concern for parents. Children from the best and most faith-filled families succumb to peer pressure and have sex. Many identify virginity with vaginal intercourse and settle on oral and anal sex as compromise activities that bring about orgasm while ‘preserving’ their virginity, such as they define it.

The problem is that HPV can be spread from the genitals to the mouth and oropharynx, with 35% of all throat cancers being caused by HPV. HPV can also be spread from the mouth to the genitalia.

It’s a mess.

In the strictest sense, vaccinating our children against this pathogen can save a great many women from cervical cancer, males from penile cancer, and both women and men from throat cancer. That’s simply a fact.

The problem comes in with some 68 reported deaths from Gardasil given to girls, and tens of thousands of reported adverse side-effects. Still, when one considers the following ANNUAL numbers from CDC:

Cervical cancer. Each year, about 12,000 women get cervical cancer in the U.S. Almost all of these cancers are HPV-associated.

Other cancers that can be caused by HPV are less common than cervical cancer. Each year in the U.S., there are about:

1,500 women who get HPV-associated vulvar cancer
500 women who get HPV-associated vaginal cancer
400 men who get HPV-associated penile cancer
2,700 women and 1,500 men who get HPV-associated anal cancer
1,500 women and 5,600 men who get HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancers (cancers of the back of throat including base of tongue and tonsils) [Note: Many of these cancers may also be related to tobacco and alcohol use.]

The question arises: What is an acceptable risk in vaccinating?

No vaccine is 100% safe. Ever. Period.

People get sick and people die from vaccines. It’s a numbers game. It’s a cost-benefit analysis. If all of the reported adverse effects of Gardasil are actually true, they still represent a drop in the bucket compared to the numbers of HPV-associated cancers reported above. In the cold calculus of public health, it seems an acceptable risk.

Enter again the behavioral component of disease transmission, and the clarity of acceptable risk immediately becomes foggy. Were smallpox once again in the population, I wouldn’t hesitate to accept these numbers as an acceptable risk, precisely because one cannot see the disease coming.

However, people contract HPV through willful behavior. They will the behavior that carries the risk of transmission. In that light, here is the dilemma faced by Regina and me:

Do we risk our children’s lives and health today in an attempt to hedge our bets on their behavior years down the line, or of their future spouses’ premarital behaviors?

Even if our children remain virgins, there is no guarantee with their future spouses. Do we risk their lives to attenuate a possible case of HPV in a future mate?

If Gardasil is good enough for girls, then it’s good enough for boys.

The question is whether it’s good enough?

I honestly don’t know.

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Note: It’s been two weeks like no other. Yesterday we had the funeral mass and burial of Jon in Warwick, NY. We also had the memorial for Kortney and Sophy in Virginia.

Today, on the Lord’s Day, we rest.

Tomorrow, all will return to our lives and a new normal, a phase of healing and living the rest of our lives marked indelibly by the searing events of the past two weeks. As we keep the Blythe, Gordon, and Scharfenberger families in our prayers, there is one other we need to remember. The man who caused the accident, and who also perished in it, leaves behind a wife and four children. Their loss is no less profound, and they have the added burden of our losses, which has now become a permanent part of their family legacy. They too need healing.

Tomorrow, as we return to our lives, Coming Home will again pick up the work of advancing the understanding of science and how scientific truth continues to substantiate Catholic Christian Anthropology and the pro-life cause.

For now, to bridge the divide from the old to the new order, today’s homily from Deacon Greg Kandra’s blog.

Here’s Deacon Kandra:

By a happy coincidence, this gospel touches on a theme that was so vital to Pope John Paul. In the parable, a tree is given one more chance to bring forth good fruit. The gardener gives it that chance; he offers it the gift of mercy. John Paul, you’ll remember, was beatified on the Feast of Divine Mercy. In fact, the opening prayer for this mass begins, “Oh God, who are rich in mercy…”

Mercy was something Pope John Paul understood in a profound way.

Less than a third of John Paul’s 85 years were spent as pope. Most of his life, in fact, was spent living and working and praying among ordinary men and women in small villages around Poland. From that experience, I believe, he came to understand in a very personal way how deeply the human heart seeks just one more chance, how much the soul seeks the mercy of God.

So this afternoon, I wanted to speak about someone besides that man we all remember as Pope John Paul II.

I’d like us to consider Karol Wojtyla. A lonely boy….a poet… a laborer working in a quarry…a young man in hiding.

Jesus, you’ll remember, spent most of his life in Nazareth, preparing for his great public ministry.

Well, Karol Wojtyla had his own Nazareth. He had many Nazareths, in fact — places and experiences that touched his heart and shaped his life.

His first Nazareth was a town called Wadowice, where he was born.

His mother died when he was eight, his older brother when he was 12. Karol was raised by his father, a tailor, in a small one-room apartment. A friend remembered entering their apartment one day to find the father and son playing soccer with a ball made of rags.

His father died of a heart attack when Karol was only 20 – leaving him completely alone.

His next Nazareth was Krakow, where he enrolled in a university and was required to undergo military training. He did as he was told, but with one exception: he refused to fire a weapon. After the Nazis invaded Poland, all able-bodied men were required to work, so Karol worked in a chemical factory, and labored in a limestone quarry. In his free time, he tried his hand at acting and writing – crafting plays and poems and short works of fiction.

But after his father’s death, only one thing mattered. He felt drawn more and more deeply to the priesthood. But the Nazis had closed all the seminaries. He began studying in secret – risking imprisonment, or even death.

A year into his studies, in 1944, the Germans fled Poland. Karol and other seminarians reclaimed the abandoned seminary. The future pope volunteered for the most unpleasant work imaginable: he spent hours cleaning away piles of frozen waste in the bathrooms.

That winter, he was on a railway platform waiting for a train when a 14-year-old named Edith Zierer collapsed. It turned out she was a Jewish girl who had fled a Nazi labor camp in Czetochowa. Karol picked her up and carried her to a train and traveled with her to Krakow, so she would be safe. Years later, she would say that Karol Wojtyla had saved her life.

After he was ordained a priest, he was sent to another Nazareth, a small village about 15 miles from Krakow. When he arrived, the first thing he did was kneel and kiss the ground — a gesture he repeated again and again in his travels as pope.

He was a typical village priest. He said mass, heard confessions, presided at baptisms and weddings and funerals. He founded a small youth group that quickly became so popular, it grew from 20 people to 200. He took students hiking, kayaking and skiing. While he was kayaking on the lakes of northern Poland, he got word that Pope Pius XII had named him a bishop. He was 38 years old. Karol Wojtyla refused to cut short his trip. He kept on paddling.

And so it began. This is how he began the path to sainthood. His was a life spent not only gazing toward the heavens, but also kissing the earth. He picked up those who fell and rescued those in need and risked his life for what he knew to be true. He saw hardship, and hate, and hope. He shared joys and sorrows, struggles and fears. And he saw God’s mercy at work, in sins that were forgiven and faith that was restored.

So it was that 33 years ago today, on an autumn morning in 1978, he stood before the world and said with clarity and conviction: “Do not be afraid.” They were the first words of his first homily as pope. They were words that he had lived.

“Do not be afraid.”

This day, we remember where they came from.

And we remember, too, that greatness often begins in unexpected places.

Blessed John Paul had his own Nazareth. But so do we all. Maybe it’s an apartment in Queens. It might be a hospital in Brooklyn, or split-level on Long Island, or a shelter in the Bronx. But it is still Nazareth: the place where life is lived, where we are formed day-by-day, where we learn and grow and love.

These are the places where God’s plan unfolds.

He has a plan for each of us – just as He did for Karol Wojtyla.

So, on this, his first feast day, we recall that lonely boy from Wadowice, that poet in Krakow, that laborer in the mines, that priest in the kayak paddling against the current. We pray for his intercession, and his companionship. We ask him to be with us, to guide us, to be a reminder to us of God’s infinite mercy.

And we ask him to help us remember the words that gave light to world hidden in darkness — words that angels spoke to shepherds two thousand years ago, and that then echoed in our own age, from Rome to Gdansk to Manila to Denver to New York.

They are words of boundless hope.

This is the message of Blessed John Paul — the message he learned as Karol Wojtyla: no matter how lonely, how isolated, how persecuted, how endangered we might feel…no matter how wide the world or how great our challenges…a merciful God is with us. He calls on us still to remember that.

“Do not be afraid.”

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I was at the wake today for Jon, and will drive back up for the funeral mass in the morning. I sat here tonight and watched this video of Jon doing his thing for SFLA’s Pregnant on Campus Initiative, which he was directing. This is masculinity in action; gentle strength born of a life lived in union with his God.

Enjoy these few minutes with Jon, and rejoice that we were gifted with him in the time we were allotted; then let’s make this video part of Jon’s legacy by helping it to go viral!!

Pray for us, Jon! We need the prayers, as you well know.

UPDATE: We’re within a few thousand dollars of being able to pay the full cost of Jon’s burial. Many, many thanks to all who have given already. The pro-life community would like to take this burden from Jon’s family, especially as he died doing the hard work of pro-life witness. Regina and I will be donating again. If folks haven’t as yet, every little bit counts. It all adds up. Thank you again, and God Bless!

Donate by clicking here.

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Trusting God in the Midst of Confusion

In the midst of this tragedy, it’s tough to sort it all out. It also precipitates a crisis of faith for many.

I’ve posted this video before, but Chuck Girard takes the psalms and drives the message home beautifully.

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Jon’s sister, Kim, posted the following funeral arrangements on her FB page tonight:

“Thank you for all the prayers and condolences. We are going to need them through this time. For any who are interested, Jon’s wake and funeral will be held in our hometown, Warwick NY. The wake is on Friday the 21st at 2-4 PM and 7-9 PM at Lazear-Smith & Vander Plaat Memorial Home. The funeral is on Saturday the 22nd at 10:30 AM at the parish of St. Stephen the First Martyr.”

We are still taking a collection for Jon’s funeral expenses. The cost associated with flying the remains of a beloved one home are quite substantial, on top of the normally substantial expense of a funeral. The community responded so generously with Kortney and Sophy’s funeral expenses, covering them all. Please rally to Jon’s family and do the same. Donations (all of which are tax-deductible, and 100% of which will be given to the family) may be made by clicking here:


A few thoughts as we get ready for this weekend.

Jon wasn’t typical of most men his age. For one thing, he was a man. A real man. Not in some pseudo-masculine macho sense of the term, but in the truest sense of masculinity.

He was principled, and all in the pursuit of virtue. He had unusual strength of conviction, all aligned along the axis of moral clarity. Such clarity only comes in self-giving and not in self-assertion. It comes through self-discipline, of subordinating one’s appetites to a vision of the other as worthy of our best and not as an object for our consumption. It’s the stuff of which the more cynical among us who have only ever known being used cannot believe exists in reality.

But it does, and in a world of virtual reality, Jon was the real deal. Jon proved that a virtue-driven life was not only possible, but also attainable.

It takes guts to stand up to the Culture of Death at so young an age, to be defiant in the face of hell’s angels. It takes a real man to stand for the most defenseless among us in the midst of his peers in a hook-up culture, and not count the personal cost of going against the grain, all without being loud and abrasive.

Where do such people come from, many ask? They aren’t born. They’re made.

They’re made by mothers and fathers who empty themselves, pouring out their lives for the sake of their children’s growth in mind, body and soul. That’s where the selflessness and principle are learned. That’s where the love of God and neighbor are modeled.

I’ve never met Jon’s parents. I’ve never spoken to them, but I know them well. They raised me and my siblings, my cousins and friends. They’re the backbone of the Church.

Never on this blog have I asked for money, for me or for any organization with whom I am affiliated, until this tragedy. Again, people’s generosity paid for the Christian burial of Kortney and Sophy, and again, I ask that we all honor the Scharfenberger family who gave to the Church and the pro-life movement so precious a gift as their son, Jon. As we offer whatever money we are able, let us be lavish in our prayers for this beautiful family in their deepest sorrow.

Again, the link:


God Bless.

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This isn’t how we hoped this novena would conclude. Jon entered his eternal rest yesterday. The need for prayers for the victims continues. Four human beings perished as a result of this accident. Two others face a long road back to health, and countless others have been shattered by the experience. We know that God is always with us and that one day this side of eternity will all pass away.

We conclude our novena grateful for Jon’s ultimate healing, while at the same time bewildered and filled with inexpressible sorrow.

We gather in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.


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.

We pray that just as Jesus gave to Jon the ultimate healing yesterday, that you would intercede for Jon’s family and friends, that they be given the grace to bear this staggering loss. We pray especially for Jon’s parents and immediate family, and ask your maternal intercession on their behalf.

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.

Our Lady of Lourdes , pray for us.

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.

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A Note About the Blog

There are few things as unbearable as the death of the young, especially a gem like Jon.

Last night I posted that I wouldn’t be blogging about the life issues until Jon’s condition resolved. I’ll pick up the blogging again after the burial. For now, I’ll be posting meditations and prayers, as well as beneficial videos of spiritual masters such as Father Benedict Groeschel.

Coming Home will continue to be our virtual chapel for folks to stop, pray, reflect, and post any well-wishes for Jon and his family.

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Today was the day all prayed to avoid. Jon Scharfenberger entered his rest slightly before noon. The pro-life community lost a warrior and future general.

Students for Life of America lost a beloved colleague.

Dr. and Mrs. Scharfenberger lost a son, something I cannot fathom as a father.

We’ll finish day nine of our novena tomorrow, keeping in mind the Scharfenberger family. There is a website for donations to assist the family with Jon’s burial expenses:


In the ten days since that terrible accident, there were over 25,000 hits on the updates and novena here at Coming Home. That says something about this incredibly inspirational young man, and the family who formed him.

Beyond that, I’m beyond words. More tomorrow.

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We gather in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.


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.

That Jon’s fever be reduced, and that your Son send His Holy Spirit upon Jon to lift him up and heal the damage in his brain that has kept him so very unstable. We ask your maternal intercession that Jon be returned to us with health in mind, body, and soul.

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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For those who are praying for Jon, Father Benedict Groeschel has timely advice in a 1999 broadcast.

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I haven’t blogged about any of the life issues since the tragic accident eight days ago that claimed three lives, and critically injured three others.

Jon Scharfenberger remains in extremely critical condition, and quite frankly, it doesn’t sound good from what I am hearing. But then, things often swing to those extremes in an ICU.

I won’t be blogging, going about business as usual here at Coming Home until Jon’s condition resolves, hopefully in a manner for which we are all praying. This has been very difficult for me on very many levels. The issues will all be there when Jon’s life has been secured. In the interim, we’ll hold vigil for Jon here at Coming Home, exclusive vigil. It simply can’t be business as usual, though my work with Medical Students for Life forges ahead.

For now Coming Home will be our virtual chapel, a place to come and simply pray for all involved in this unspeakable tragedy, to meditate on God’s perfect will for us all.

I haven’t been able to get this song out of my mind for days. In the darkness of Jon’s condition, and his family’s anguish, this classic Catholic hymn is the perfect prayer.

Peace, everyone.

Christ Be Our Light

1. Longing for light, we wait in darkness.
Longing for truth, we turn to you.
Make us your own, your holy people,
light for the world to see.

Christ, be our light! Shine in our hearts.
Shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.

2. Longing for peace, our world is troubled.
Longing for hope, many despair.
Your word alone has pow’r to save us.
Make us your living voice.

3. Longing for food, many are hungry.
Longing for water, many still thirst.
Make us your bread, broken for others,
shared until all are fed.

4. Longing for shelter, many are homeless.
Longing for warmth, many are cold.
Make us your building, sheltering others,
walls made of living stone.

5. Many the gifts, many the people,
many the hearts that yearn to belong.
Let us be servants to one another,
making your kingdom come.

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We gather in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.


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.

We pray that during these three days of induced coma that your Son, our Divine Physician, may come to our brother Jon and make His perfect will known to him, that our earnest and humble prayers for Jon’s healing may be realized, and that he may be restored to us, that we may continue to be graced by him in our lives. We pray too that during these three days of induced coma, that Jon’s family may have time for rest and restoration for the long road before them.

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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We gather in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.


O glorious Mother of God, so powerful under your special title of Our Lady of Lourdes, to you we raise our hearts and hands to implore your powerful intercession in obtaining from the gracious Heart of Jesus all the helps and graces necessary for our spiritual and temporal welfare and for the special favor we so earnestly seek in this novena.

We earnestly pray that your Son restore Jon to complete function in mind and body, for Ben’s healing, and for the other victims of this tragedy, that all may be made whole.

O Lady of Bernadette, with the stars of heaven in your hair and the roses of earth at your feet, look with compassion upon us today as you did so long ago on Bernadette in the Grotto of Lourdes .

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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We gather in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.


O Mary Immaculate, Mother of God and our mother, from the heights of your dignity look down mercifully upon us while we, full of confidence in your unbounded goodness and confident that your Divine Son will look favorably upon any request you make of Him in our behalf, we beseech you to come to our aid and secure for us the favor we seek in this novena.

That Jon stabilize this weekend so that he might be transferred to a hospital specializing in brain trauma, and for the healing of all who have been affected by this tragedy.

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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