by Grace Wilde
When you take a deep breath, do you ever think of how important that air is in this world? Are we truly thankful to God for the air that permits us to exist? Think of all those things that could never happen without the atmosphere around us. If that air was gone and/or taken over by some other toxic gas we would never survive. The sad thing is, that unless we have a true change in our hearts and in our world, this could happen. This is called air pollution. I experienced it first-hand many years ago when I visited Shanghai with my family. Even wearing a mask, breathing felt unbearable and the city advertised as fun and shiny, was barely seen, covered in a thick layer of toxic fumes. I realized there that air pollution has become a real and dangerous problem all around the world.
The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22).” (Laudato Si’ 2)
Air Pollution happens when toxic gasses or liquids such as CO2, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, and Ozone are released carelessly into the atmosphere through the burning of substances such as petroleum and natural gas, which humans over the last 100 years have come to depend on. Most of this is burned through factories, transportation, and home heating and cooling. Once these toxic fumes are released into the atmosphere they may be taken anywhere by the wind.
After this three distinct things may happen. The first one is that this toxic air falls on a city in the form of smog. This often happens “when mountains or tall buildings prevent air pollution from spreading out” . This is part of the reason why we often hear of smog in countries like China who have high population density and many cities. When this toxic air is inhaled it causes many health problems. “Ambient (outdoor) air pollution accounts for an estimated 4.2 million deaths per year due to stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and chronic respiratory diseases.” (WHO, ) And even those who survive the impacts of smog end up with very weak lungs and asthma.
The next possible outcome is acid rain. Acid rain is when some of the gasses become trapped in rain clouds. When the rain clouds let go of the water droplets, they also let go of this gas which, mixed with the water, is liquid and toxic to the environment. Acid rain does not have any immediate effects but, over time direct effects can be seen. Some effects can be, less nutrient water hurting the environment in those waters. It also affects trees, “dead or dying trees are a common sight in areas affected by acid rain. Acid rain leaches aluminum from the soil. That aluminum may be harmful to plants as well as animals. Acid rain also removes minerals and nutrients from the soil that trees need to grow.” (EPA, ) Humans are not affected directly but overtime, health problems tend to increase in influenced areas.
The final effect of air pollution, but probably the hardest to stop is Global Warming. “Global warming is the long-term heating of Earth’s climate system observed since the pre-industrial period (between 1850 and 1900) due to human activities, primarily fossil fuel burning, which increases heat-trapping greenhouse gas levels in Earth’s atmosphere.” (NASA, ) When toxic gasses in the atmospere do not fall back down in acid rain, they are trapped in the atmosphere preventing heat from escaping. We are literally smothering the earth, and it will be hard to turn back.
We show our respect for the Creator by our stewardship of creation. Care for the earth is not just an Earth Day slogan, it is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation. This environmental challenge has fundamental moral and ethical dimensions that cannot be ignored.” (USCCB, )
That does not mean we ignore this climate crisis. We must take action at once before it is too late. This will not only make this world more beautiful and cleaner but it will prevent any more pandemics like this one!!! Did you know that our lack of care of the environment is what started and is nurturing this virus. It has been proven that this virus came from bats in the jungles in china. The virus did not hurt the bats, they did not even show symptoms. But then when we started in the US to buy more and more stuff from china. The people there were forced by us to cut down the forest where the bats were living in order to fill the demand. Then these bats which were living peacefully before, were forced to live among humans. And that is when the virus came to humans. All because of our own greed and selfishness. Unless we think more environmentally friendly we will have more and more viruses like this one. But how do we do this? Here are three simple commencing habits we can make to end this worldwide calamity:
Buy Prudently: One of air pollution's greatest contributors is the exhausts from factories. Now we cannot shut factories down. But we can limit the ways we are obtaining the objects these factories make. For example, before you buy something think, do you need this? Is there something you already have that could supplement this? If no, then you check resale stores for this product you might need. Then finally, if necessary you may go buy from Wal-Mart or stuff like that. This may seem like a lot of work, but because of this you are saving money and the environment.
Drive Prudently: Another grave contributor to air pollution and global warming is car exhausts. How do we stop that, we have to get places? Well we can walk when we are only traveling short distances. Bike if you can, for medium distances. And when the distances are really far, take public transportation or ride with someone else. This really helps this cause and gets you a daily exercise on the way to work.
Speak Out: Now this is what over time will stop air pollution for good and it is not as hard as it looks. You can buy and drive prudently, but one person doing this does not help the overall effect of air pollution. But, if we do these things and share them with everyone you meet. We will make a difference and this world will truly be a cleaner place.
Now there are many other things you can do, but just start with this and the rest will come sooner or later.
For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God” (Romans 8:19)
So, air pollution is a problem even if it has not affected us yet. But, just because it does not affect us doesn't mean that we do not do anything about it. For by the time we are affected by this calamity, it could be too late to turn back. So today let us speak out for our Mother Earth whose voice has been silenced. Let us take care of this gift God has truly given us, not for personal wealth, but for us to use and reuse. So as to constantly continue in this beautiful form of praise to him.
Laudato Si’ By Pope Francis
 National Geographic on Air pollution
 WHO on Air Pollution
 NASA on Global Warming
 EPA on Acid Rain
 US Conference of Catholic Bishops on Care for Creation
by Jason Wilde
When our daughter, Grace, was 2 or 3 years old, she was a bit of a night owl. We'd find her hovering over our bed at 5 o'clock in the morning, playing in her room just before midnight, or randomly wandering to and from her room at all hours of the night. But there was this one time when I remember checking on Grace just before going to bed myself when I found her huddled in the corner of the hallway, reading the story of the Annunciation in her Children's Bible. It kind of shocked me so much, not that she was clandestinely reading in the hallway, but that she was reading the Bible.
At the time, I don't think we actually had any other Bible in our house. Sure, I grew up always seeing the giant white book with gold embossed letters on our bookshelf, right next to the 28 volumes of the World Book Encyclopedia, but I could only count maybe a handful of times when I actually opened God's Word and read it myself (and all of those were part of either an assignment or trying to use it to prove myself right in some trivial argument). I guess I fell into the old excuse that "Catholics read the whole Bible every 3 years in the Liturgy". (While I can't prove or disprove this, it also requires one to actually read the Sunday AND all weekday readings to even be close.) Because of this, I can honestly say that I didn't have an intimate relationship with the Word of God, or with God Himself. To know God is to know His Word!
Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ. - St. Jerome
The early Christians didn't have the Word of God in any written form - for about 300 years it was passed solely by word of mouth, tradition, and through teaching. Saint Jerome lived at the time of the Synod of Hippo, which identified the Greek and Hebrew canonical scriptures which we would come to know collectively as The Bible. However, Jerome himself didn't really know or read any of these scriptures, even though he was baptized and could read and understand Greek. Of course, he was a very learned and cultured young man. But in modern terms, he was a lukewarm Christian, far more passionate about Greco-Roman literature than about Christ.
You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. (John 15:3-4)
Then one night while sick with a deathly illness, Jerome had a dream in which he was being judged by God. He told God that he was a Christian, but Jesus countered that Jerome was actually a Ciceronian because he knew more about the Roman philosopher and his writings than about the Gospel of Jesus. This shook Jerome so much that when he recovered, he resolved to put all of his efforts into the Word of God, eventually translating it into Latin, the common language of the people at the time.
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. (John 15:7-8)
Like Jerome, I called myself a Christian for many years, when in reality I was relying only on my knowledge and understanding of the Catholic culture and tradition I grew up in. I knew all about the fasts and devotions, rituals and prayers that are so prominent in a Catholic Church, but had very little personal experience with the Word, aside from hearing three short sections read to me every weekend.
This all changed when we signed up for our first mission trip to the Philippines. On the preparation list was a Bible (we actually had to buy one!) My eyes were opened to the Word as the missionaries directed us in reading, reflecting, and in praying with the Bible in various ways. For me, it was like spending time talking with a new friend whom I'd only seen in passing my entire life. After the mission trip, I was hooked! I began by reading through the entire Gospel of Luke, then Genesis and Sirach. My eyes were opened so much to the actual Words of God that I began to see things differently, to understand His ways and how He wanted me to follow. In many ways, it was the difference between visiting China without studying the language and visiting China with even a very basic non-conversational understanding of Mandarin Chinese. Knowing a few basic words really doesn't help you understand the announcements at the train station, or talk with the taxi driver, or even find the street you are looking for, but in learning those words, it helps you to understand how the traffic can seem so chaotic and yet organized, why people may seem to be so rude, and even why that elderly man is wanting to touch my child's hair.
If you immerse yourself into a foreign language, then you can actually rewire your brain...it affects how you see everything. (Ian Donnelly, Arrival)
Bishop Robert Barron explains how 'Arrival', a sci-fi movie involving an alien ship that suddenly appears on Earth, relates to the Word of God. In this film, the alien language is the central component that draws a linguist, a scientist, and an unhealthy supply of military involvement together to understand how and why the aliens suddenly appeared, and what they wanted with humanity. The language at first seems impossible to learn, but after spending time studying and exploring the strange figures in more detail, the linguist suddenly begins to understand and can even converse. She then comes across a word that causes great panic and alarm: "Weapon". But her study and understanding of their language allows her to look past the initial human response. She tries to explain that "The weapon is their language. They gave it all to us. Do you understand what that means?" to which the anxious Colonel answers "So we can learn (their language). If we survive."
Her response is pivotal, if not absolutely Biblical: "If you learn it, when you really learn it, you begin to perceive time the way that they do. So you can see what's to come. But time, it isn't the same for them."
In Genesis, "God said: Let there be light, and there was light" (1:3). God literally spoke 4 words, and all light now exists. Think about that! God's Word, His Thoughts, and His Breath all have power unimaginable to us. If we, as people of God, truly believe this, and we believe that the Bible is the very Word of God, then why would we use it? Why wouldn't we try to use the Bible as our language course to understand God's Ways, how He works, how He thinks, and how He loves? And even more, why wouldn't we speak it out loud as defense against Evil and Darkness (also known as 'Executing the Word')?
Language is the foundation of civilization. It is the glue that holds a people together. It is the first weapon drawn in a conflict. - Arrival
For the past three years, I have tried to understand the Language of God by reading it every day. Some days I forget, or get distracted or sidetracked. But I try to read it every day, from the Original Source. Even 15 minutes is powerful. In fact, if you read only 15 minutes every day, you can finish the Bible in a year! Now, I can admit that I have not consciously read the Bible in entirety, but I challenge myself every year to do so, and I believe it has truly changed me and my family. Every day, I learn the Ways of God and how He wants me to live while exiled from my Home. If you do not already, I challenge you to become more intimate and familiar in some way with God in this way. Some simple ideas are:
1) Pick a Gospel and read from beginning to end (over several days or weeks is fine!)
2) Do the same for an historical Old Testament book.
3) Read a Psalm each day for the next 6 months.
4) Even better, EXECUTE a Psalm out loud each day! "So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; It shall not return to me empty, but shall do what pleases me, achieving the end for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:11)
5) Play Bible Roulette - open your Bible to any random page and begin reading for 15 minutes.
6) Practice Lectio Divina - read any daily reading, think and pray about something that catches your attention, and then read again twice more. Refrain from reading another person's reflections or thoughts.
In addition, if you'd like to join us for a virtual Bible marathon to proclaim His Word around the world, we are looking for readers to fill 144 slots - 30 minute slots over 72 hours (the time it takes to read the entire Bible) - on the days leading up to Palm Sunday, 2020. Please see the link here for details and to sign up. We will be simultaneously hosting a live New Testament marathon at our parish in Littleton, Colorado and would appreciate the power of your readings of God's Word. Please contact us for more details if you'd like to join the live marathon.
by Grace Wilde
For if I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! (1 Cor 9:16)
You all know by now that we are becoming missionaries. We are all so excited, but, many of you may ask, have we thought through this? By the time we leave we will have discerned for 1 year. Yes, even us kids have discerned. But still what do us kids think about this? Why did we choose to be missionaries for Christ? Here is how I got to this conclusion.
Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to be a missionary and love God and others. The first book I ever remember reading was the Bible. I kept on saying I wanted to be a nun. But, I thought kids could not do the job of a religious nun. Little did I know that they could with their family.
My mom kept on telling me about the refugees and the other afflictions of the world today. She kept on saying we should pray for them. I wanted to help them. It was hard to think of those struggles in the world today and not wanting to help them. As Mother Teresa said
Soon, we just had to do something so we decided to fulfill the dream we had had for ages, to adopt. We started the adoption process as many people do. We started looking for a baby girl who fit our abilities. We were surprised in the end to have chosen a little boy named Hong Yu Chen. We had seen he needed a home for long time and were surprised that God had chosen him. We finish a lot of paperwork and got him June 11, 2016. We named him Chi Yu and he is a joy in our home today. I love him very much. But, we were still missing something.
Like the Good Samaritan, may we not be ashamed of touching the wounds of those who suffer, but try to heal them with concrete acts of love. - Pope Francis
We like many people wanted to keep on adopting, but, God had other plans.
Then we found it! One day my mom Googled family missions and found FMC. We signed up for a short term mission. Then, exploring the website she saw that it was full time as well. I knew this was our call and we started discerning.
Why did we choose to be missionaries for Christ?
God called me to be a missionary. I loved God and his people from the beginning. I can’t bear to see and hear the suffering of them. So I go out in the world from now on to help them like the first disciples at Jesus’ command. God may still call me to be a nun when I grow up. For now I am happy just as I am, as a Missionary for Christ.
by Grace Wilde
We all love St John Paul II. Many knew what it was like when he was alive, but, others like me have never known what he was like as the pope. He died 12 years ago. A lot has changed since then. But, his message still relates a lot to today's world with refugees, war, peace and dialogue. His message transcends time with its roots in the Bible and its continuation with Pope Francis. Let us look at his message and let it guide us in our everyday life.
War is a fun game right? Never in the world as Pope John Paul II said:
"NO TO WAR"! War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity. International law, honest dialogue, solidarity between States, the noble exercise of diplomacy: these are methods worthy of individuals and nations in resolving their differences. “
(Address of his Holiness Pope John Paul II to the Diplomatic Corps, 13 January 2003)
Even today, many people think that war is the only answer to quickly solve a problem. But, war only causes death, hate and unbalance in the world. As Gandhi said, domination is not the answer either.
But if Gandhi says that domination is not the answer to war, then what is? The answer is peace.
"Peace is a value with no frontiers. It is a value that responds to the hopes and aspirations of all people and all nations, of young and old, and of all men and women of goodwill. This is what I proclaim to everyone, and especially to the leaders of the world."
(Message of His Holiness Pope John Paul II for the Celebration of the World Day of Peace, 1 Jan, 1986)
As Pope John Paul II said “Peace is a value with no frontiers.” There is not an excuse for peace. Peace causes love between enemies so they become friends. Peace causes love for the weaker, so they become rich in spirit. Pope Francis said:
“Many religious traditions contribute by promoting compassion and nonviolence and protecting victims of injustice. For that reason, I emphatically reaffirm that 'no religion is terrorist'" and the name of God can never be "used to justify violence. Peace alone is holy. Peace alone is holy, not war!"
(World Day of Peace Jan. 1 2016)
But if Pope Francis says that “no religion is terrorist” why not welcome all religions into our hearts? John Paul II said this as his Message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees in 1996
“Today the trend in migratory movement has been as it were inverted. It is non-Christians, increasingly numerous, who go to countries with a Christian tradition in search of work and better living conditions, and they frequently do so as illegal immigrants and refugees. This causes complex problems which are not easy to solve. For her part, the Church, like the Good Samaritan, feels it her duty to be close to the illegal immigrant and refugee, contemporary icon of the despoiled traveler, beaten and abandoned on side of the road to Jericho (cf. Lk 10:30). She goes towards him, pouring "on his wounds the oil of consolation and the wine of hope" (Roman Missal, Common Preface VII), feeling herself called to be a living sign of Christ, who came that all might have life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). “
This message was given 21 years ago but, today it's the same. Today “the trend in migratory movement” as John Paul II said is still upside down. Refugees and illegal immigrants come to America searching for a job, and a home. The Bishops are advocating for the immigrants and refugees. In a letter they wrote, mirroring Pope John Paul II,
“Jesus, Mary and Joseph, as immigrants and refugees sought for a place to live and work hoping for a compassionate human response. Today this history repeats itself; this morning we visited detention centers and respite centers for mothers and their adolescent and minor children traveling with them. These centers are described as places of intolerable and inhumane conditions. There we heard the evangelical call: “Because I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was hungry and you gave me food…” (Mt 25:35-36).”
(Statement of the Bishops “The cry of Christ and voice of the migrant moves us” 2/15/2017)
But what keeps peace and welcoming hearts together? The answer is dialogue. Pope John Paul II said this:
In the spirit of solidarity and with the instruments of dialogue we will learn:
- respect for every human person;
- respect for the true values and cultures of others; respect for the legitimate autonomy and self-determination of others;
- to look beyond ourselves in order to understand and support the good of others;
- to contribute our own resources in social solidarity for the development and growth that come from equity and justice;
- to build the structures that will ensure that social solidarity and dialogue are permanent features of the world we live in.
(Pope John Paul II, World Day of Peace, 1 Jan 1986)
Today we still have problems with dialogue with each other. If someone is different some people do not talk to them. If somebody does not agree with other people, some people will respond with anger, tearing people apart. These instructions that St John Paul II gave us can start a peaceful dialogue between friends and enemies. Even Pope John Paul II teachings mirror the Bible which was written thousands of years ago. Colossians 4:6 says:
“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”
The Bible and other sources might have made way for Pope John Paul II, but, Pope John Paul II made way for Pope Francis and the bishops. They did not know it but their words were supporting each other. So, now they can all speak to the world for peace.
Do not be afraid to take a chance on peace, to teach peace, to live peace...Peace will be the last word of history.
St John Paul II pray for us.
by Jason Wilde
I've always had an awe for the many revelations when God shows himself at just the right time in order to make his point. It is in these miracles that Jesus frequently gets to play the part of an illusionist after his resurrection, staying hidden from perception until just the right time, when one of his disciples have said what they needed to say and then 'POP', "Hey, it's me!"
My favorite is Saint Paul's story of revelation and conversion. Who else but the Holy Spirit would lead Christianity's number one nemesis out into the desert, not to be left for dead, but to blind him by the full-on light of God with the sole intent of building him into to Christianity's bulldog evangelist? Maybe the reason I have fallen in love with Paul's revelation is because in my own life, I have been shown the light in such a way that it completely turned me around, pointed me in the right direction, and then gave me a kick in the rear for good measure. Of course, it didn't all happen overnight, but I can point to a few times in my life where I was changed, or even had a revelation, you might say.
June 2015 was one of those times. I thought we had it all figured out - a good salary, a manageable house, small enough that we could have an exciting travel life with our 3 kids, and a weekly Sunday routine that included an hour of God.
In that month, Pope Francis caused a stir in both the secular and religious world with his encyclical Laudato si' (On Care for Our Common Home). I was on the side of many Catholic conservatives when I scoffed at the media reports of an environmentalist Pope who believed in climate change. "Why in the world would he be talking about this?" I remember thinking to myself. "Must be just media spin", I rationalized to myself.
Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity. (Laudato si 14)
It was such a strong conviction that it actually convinced me to download a copy of the heated encyclical (pun intended), with the sole purpose of confirming my beliefs.
Now, I wasn't exactly someone who would sit and read the Bible, much less a 184 page homily about the environment. And, like Paul, I didn't even make it past the first couple of chapters before I was hooked, blinded, knocked off of my pedestal, and, for the most part, proven wrong. I say 'for the most part' because the encyclical really didn't provide a lot of new information to me, but instead it linked together issues that I thought previously unrelated, and it opened my eyes to what God really cares about. I already had a minimalist mind, one that had downsized our family to living in a condo with a single car, recycled faithfully, and converted the bulbs in my house to lower energy versions. All these things were very environmentally friendly. But I only did them to serve a purpose - to save me money. I was incredibly selfish in this way, to the point of becoming fanatical about saving for the next trip, which I now think was akin to idolatry.
But, what Laudato si' taught me was that we shouldn't have selfless love for just ourselves, or for only the people whom we already loved.
Everything is connected. Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society. (Laudato si’ 91)
What I learned from Laudato si' was that we should love all of humanity, and one of the ways we do this is by caring for the creation that God entrusted to us. We should be pro-life in the sense that all life is worth caring for, and countless lives are impacted by our environmental footprint. Pope Francis often refers to the 'throwaway culture', using it as a double meaning for a culture of resource waste and a culture which discards lives if they are not deemed worthy or valuable. This is an intentional joining of life and our environment. Caring for our common home is a part of this holistic fulfillment of Jesus's pro-life teachings that asks us to love one another. Focusing only on one aspect, or neglecting another, is akin to the misguided Pharisaic views about sinners, the lame, the weak, the dying, or Jesus himself.
If you have men who will exclude any of God’s creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who deal likewise with their fellow men. - Saint Francis of Assisi
We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the underprivileged, and at the same time protecting nature. (Laudato si 139)
As I found myself reading more of the church's teachings, and eventually cracking open a Bible myself, I found that like Jesus, Pope Francis's 'radical' views weren't really new or very different from any of his predecessors, or from the saints who lived exemplary Christian lives before him, or from Jesus Himself. If anything, the reason his views are considered so extreme by most Christians is because he is now explaining things in such a way that we are all listening.
(Bartholomew) asks us to replace consumption with sacrifice, greed with generosity, wastefulness with a spirit of sharing, an asceticism which “entails learning to give, and not simply to give up. It is a way of loving, of moving gradually away from what I want to what God’s world needs. It is liberation from fear, greed and compulsion. (Laudato si 9)
And so, in the spirit of Laudato si' on this Earth Day, I challenge you to do something selfless. Instead of thinking only of yourself, or the neighbor you already love, or your personal idol (whatever that may be), try to do something that will have absolutely no benefit for yourself but will help life and our common home. Try to do something that will form a new bond between yourself and God's creation, to allow you to love without expecting something in return. Maybe that is picking up trash on a random street, making a pledge to recycle, spending the entire evening outside with the kids (remember to turn off the lights inside!), slowing down to treat other drivers with love, turning up the A/C a degree, finding a way to use those last few carrots in the bottom of your crisper instead of going out to eat, sitting on the porch and read the first few pages of Laudato si, or walking to the mailbox instead of driving. Any selfless act of modesty, or kindness for someone or something in God's creation would be a good start.
Praise Be To God!
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
(St. Francis Prayer)
by Jason and Jessica Wilde
Today, we learned from Chi Yu’s geneticist that he does indeed have Duane’s Radial Ray Syndrome, a flipping of one of his genetic indicators that typically causes limb differences, problems with eye muscles, pancreas and kidney issues, and in some cases, heart defects. While this official diagnosis wasn’t really a surprise to us since he has most of the symptoms, it was the doctor’s follow-up questions that caused us to step back.
To start with, his specific genetic variant is slightly different from the typical case. The doctor was particularly curious about this difference and said it may be due to the lack of cases from Asian backgrounds in the genetic database. She then asked if we would consent to his case being used as the subject for a medical paper. Naturally my response was “Sure, why not if this could help someone.”
While waiting on the doctor, I received this text from my eldest daughter, Grace.
While seemingly unrelated, I thought it was a good quote and wanted to post it on Facebook. But like a good investigator, I did my research and looked up the quote. It comes from Saint John Paul’s mass at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC in 1979, where he spoke at length on the sanctity of human life and family.
“When Chi Yu decides to have kids, it will be a ‘flip of the coin’ chance of his child having this same condition”, I was told. The doctor casually explained all of his ‘options’. He could do selective in vitro fertilization. They could test the embryos for this before implanting them in his wife’s womb. Or, they could do amniocentesis to test for this condition after the baby is conceived…and then what? Lastly, almost as an offhand comment, he could do nothing about it and flip the coin.
We chose a child with a special need. His special need is just one small part of the amazing person Chi Yu is. It doesn’t make him less. It doesn’t make him unworthy of life. When his wife falls in love with him, I pray that she falls in love with everything about him, including his disability. It is a part of him as a human being.
And then I think back to the medical paper. Would it be used to help predict this condition and be a reason for a mother to abort her child? Or how could you choose which embryo gets to continue living based on an indicator for a physical disability? Why would this kind of discrimination be any different from racial, religious, gender, or poverty discrimination? These are all equivalently an attack on life.
The interjection of a random text from my daughter had a purpose. At first it seemed unrelated, but after researching the context and praying about it, her text was a gift of wisdom in that dark moment. God’s Word through a Saint’s intercession is timeless. The issues that Saint John Paul spoke against almost 40 years ago - racism, discrimination, attacks on the dignity of life, poverty, and acts of selfishness like exclusion and natural resource squandering are still prevalent today. And, as pro-life supporters, we can’t pick pieces - all are equally important.
Given these thoughts, we can’t in good faith allow Chi’s results to be used for this paper. What do you think?
(All quotes above from Saint John Paul’s mass at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC in 1979.)
by Grace Wilde
We all love our Lady of Guadalupe. A bush of roses miraculously appeared in the middle of winter! A picture of Mary appeared out of nowhere on Juan’s cloak! But why did Mary come to Mexico? How were the apparitions effective? Why did she pick the miracle of flowers coming out of winter? What were some of the reasons that our Lady choose Juan? There are so many more questions asked about our Lady of Guadalupe. Every detail means something to us. Every detail is a secret waiting to be discovered. But to tell all the secrets, that would turn this into a book, so let's just go over a few.
Mary came to Mexico for a very important reason. During that time most of the people in Mexico were Aztec. Aztecs were Native Americans who practiced human sacrifices. 12 years before, Hernan Cortes and the Spanish had conquered the Aztecs. After many battles and capturing the Aztec king Montezuma, Cortes and his men forcefully tore down every Aztec temple and turned them into churches. This made the Aztecs mad and most of them stuck to their religion even more than before. For the next decade missionaries worked hard to convert Mexico. But, baptisms were rare, until Our Lady came to Mexico.
The question that many people ask about Our Lady of Guadalupe is, ”why did Mary come to Juan?” One reason she chose him might be because Juan was not a Catholic from birth but an Aztec convert. So when he became a Catholic, he could understand the culture of both Spain and Mexico. So, he could talk and act with any culture in Mexico in their own language.
Mary came dressed in a special way. First of all, Mary always comes dressed as the culture in the area. So she dressed like a native princess. But, her appearance was more than that. She had stars on her dress and was standing on the moon, These were old Aztec symbols of power. This shows us that she is as powerful as the stars and the moon, but she is not God.
Our Lady of Guadalupe spoke in a special way as well. She spoke as a mother would to a child. She spoke in the native Aztec language. When Cortez conquered Mexico he forced much of the Aztec people to speak Spanish and Latin. The only people who would speak the Aztec language were, Moms who probably taught their children to keep their native Aztec language by speaking it to them. Another way Mary spoke like a mother is by calling Juan “my son.” So Mary showed us that she is the mother of all people and of the whole world.
Mary picked the miracle of flowers coming out of winter as a special sign. It resembled good things coming out of hard things. Winter is a very hard time especially for farmers like Juan. Then all of the sudden at the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe a rose bush sprouts. A rose bush is a joyous, happy sign of spring that was coming out of something bad like winter. Mexico was in a hard time, just like that.
After our Lady came to Juan a church was built on the spot she had appeared. But, did she keep her intention of converting the Aztecs? In ten years thousands of Aztecs were Baptized. In one hundred years, human sacrifices were not seen in Mexico, and most of Mexico was converted.
I celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe by going to my church where they have a Mariachi band, a play during mass about her, then a procession when we take flowers to a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe. After Mass we have cookies and Mexican hot chocolate. It is very fun. This year we went and I was an altar server. I was not supposed to be an altar server on that day. I was just called up because there were not enough altar servers. But, before altar servers were called up to serve I had a feeling that I was needed to be an altar server. Then I was called up, I was amazed.
In conclusion, Our Lady of Guadalupe came to show that she came for the conversion of Mexico. She shows us that she is powerful but not God, loving, and the mother of the world. Here is a poem I wrote on Our Lady of Guadalupe,
My Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe
Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe, you have shown us your secrets.
Loving Virgin, you have shown your love for everyone.
Powerful Lady, you have shown us your power.
Mother of the world be a mother to us.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for us.
Saints of the States by Dan Lynch
by Grace Wilde
Hi, it’s me again, Grace. Today I am going to talk about one of my favorite saints, St Therese of Lisieux: the little flower of the Child Jesus. Why do I like her, you ask? Well, there are many reasons. First, GG ‘Meier planted many roses and flowers in her garden and it reminds me of the flower we are and how we make God's garden beautiful. Second, I love how she spent much of her life as a normal person at her home. But, inside it was a different place of love for our Lord and we should do the same thing. The last reason is that she is the patron saint of missionaries, and I want to be a missionary when I grow up.
Therese was born January 2, 1873, to Louis and Zelie Martin in the town of Alencon. She was one of five children, Marie, Pauline, Leonie, and Celine. Not only were they a very loving and happy family, but also very religious. Zelie would go to morning mass whenever there was time. Therese also loved going to mass, and looked forward to Sundays. Louis and Zelie owned a lace business. Zelie would sew the pieces of lace together at home and Louis would take care of selling and helping the workers all around France. Even though she was very busy, Zelie still never forgot to teach Therese about her beloved faith. But, then when Therese was only 4 years old, her mom died. The family was very sad. With the help of Therese’s uncle, Louis sold there house, closed the business, and moved to Lisieux.
Therese was very happy when they moved to Lisieux. She was near her favorite cousin Marie Gurin, and it was a whole new world for her. There are many orders of nuns in Lisieux and the Martins loved to visit them. But there was a convent that the Martins supported greatly. It was the convent of Mt. Carmel. The nuns were stuck in the convent praying and working all day. They are very poor so the Martins often sent needed supplies and talked to the mother or leader of the convent. When she first learned of this order she didn’t know it yet, but this order would change her life.
One day in 1882 Therese’s big sister Pauline announced that she was to enter the Convent of Mt. Carmel in a few months. This shocked Therese at first but after a few days she asked Pauline if she could enter too. Pauline said that she still would not be able to see her often because she had to devote herself to God and her work. Therese also was too young since the youngest you were ever accepted was 15 years old. This saddened Therese and after Pauline left Therese became sick almost to dying. When the doctor had lost hope, Therese just sat there almost unconscious. There was only one thing left to do which was to pray. There was a statue of Mary in the room she was in. So, the family prayed to the statue on her bedside. Then something happened. She started praying with them, and she started to seem to understand what they were saying. In the next few weeks her health improved and she was better. Afterwards she said that night she saw the statue of mary smile and everything came to life again.
Time passed and she still wanted to go to the Carmel. She often prayed especially to the Infant of Prague which she had a special devotion to. When she was 13 years old her oldest sister Marie left for the Carmel as well. Soon she told Louis that her wishes were the same. Then he reminded her the same thing Pauline had said long ago. “You still would not be able to see your sisters often because you have to devote yourself to God and your work. You are also too young since the youngest you could ever be accepted is 15 years old” he said. But, Therese said it was for the work of God. “But you are still too young,” said Louis. With some thought and prayer Louis supported his girl greatly in her vocation. By early 1889, Therese was finally admitted into the convent. The years after was a dream come true for Sister Therese of the Child Jesus. Soon her sister Celine and her cousin Marie were also Carmelite nuns. To make a note, Leonie entered the Visitation convent a few years earlier. Therese loved praying to the Lord and taking care of the shrine of the Infant of Prague.
Sister Pauline, who had now been granted the title of Mother Pauline, thought about Therese’s time in waiting, and how good she had been in waiting. Then she thought of the ones who were not patient and knocked on their door every day. So she asked Sister Therese to write a whole document on her life from Alencon to her life in the convent. Therese obediently agreed. When she had finished The Story of a Soul with the word love, Mother Pauline was full of content.
Then, the nuns began noticing Sister Therese coughing a lot, and her handkerchief was full of blood. So they called in the doctor who said she had Tuberculosis. He said that she must be very careful with her health and spend most of her time in a chair or bed. Her health worsened. On September 30, 1897 Sister Therese died at age 24.
How was such a person who was cut out from the world known to the world, then become a saint? Well it is said that someone outside the convent read some of The Story of a Soul and was enlightened. In a year, the whole book was published to the world to see her great deeds. One of the most popular quotes were ones on flowers. Here is one:
The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of it’s scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.
Soon, the Pope was starting to beatify her, which is the first step to becoming a saint. Some of the process is finding and seeking out details in her life. Next, they found out if she was in heaven. Then, a miracle through her. After that, they sought out to canonize her by waiting for two more miracles. Finally, she was canonized in a great ceremony on May 17, 1925 by Pope Pius XI. She is the patron saint of missionaries because she sent letters and prayers to the missionaries.
Today, Oct 1, is St Therese of Lisieux’s feast day. Let us think about how to use her as a role model for our life by being obedient and patient.
St Therese of Lisieux pray for us.
For more info:
Saint Therese and the Roses - By Helen Walker Homan
St Therese of the Child Jesus - By Rev Jude Winkler
The Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux
By Jessica and Jason Wilde
The beautiful part of year round homeschooling is that on any given day, I have the flexibility and time in my schedule to scrap an entire day’s lesson plans and follow the Lord’s plans instead.
Today, we were inspired by the canonization of Mother Teresa, a Mother Teresa box that we recently won at a Knights of Columbus Gala, and recent volunteer opportunities serving the poor. We spent the day studying Mother Teresa’s life and reflecting on our role in helping our neighbors.
We are thus called to translate into concrete acts that which we invoke in prayer and profess in faith. There is no alternative to charity: those who put themselves at the service of others, even when they don’t know it, are those who love God (cf. 1 Jn 3:16-18; Jas 2:14-18)
(Pope Francis's Homily at Mother Teresa’s Canonization Mass)
One of my favorite quotes from Pope Francis is “We pray for the poor. Then we feed them. This is how prayer works.” Charitable acts are the foundation upon which God’s love builds, and it is only through these acts that we may fulfill the commandment to love thy neighbor. The physical connection that we have with another person when we help them is God’s love pouring out, and without us as a conduit for that love, the world becomes a very dark place. Mother Teresa spent her life trying to serve the most vulnerable poor in India, but she did so not to help the poor become rich, but to help God’s light shine on them and to keep them from being lonely. She is frequently quoted in saying that “The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved”
The Catholic Church is not at a loss of words for helping the poor. To begin with, in order to fulfill the beatitude “Blessed are the Merciful”, we must perform corporal works of mercy, over half of which are directly helping the poor. And, being corporal (meaning ‘of the body’) works, we are told not to merely pray for the poor, but to physically help them! “If a brother or sister is ill-clad and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body, what does it profit?” (CCC 2447). Finally, CCC 2446 quotes St. John Chrysostom - “Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs.” So, by passing by that beggar or homeless person on the corner of the street, we are actually committing a sin against life. Helping those in need is not just something you do to be nice and compassionate - it is a duty and obligation of us as Christians. And it is with this mindset that we always keep Mother Teresa bags in our car in order to serve those whom we meet on the roads of life.
Mother Teresa Lesson plan ideas:
Next stop, reaching out, meeting the poor, and sharing our riches with the poor.
On a Mission
Two passionate parents and their four children are excited to bring His Word to everyone in need while living a life of Gospel poverty as missionaries. They invite you to join them on a journey to encounter our global neighbors that Jesus commands us to love through works of charity and service.