Thursday, December 30, 2004

Catholic myopia

This morning I was thinking about the horrific events in Asia and Africa, and could not help but wonder if as Christians, in our efforts to raise the flag against abortion and gay marriage, we sometimes drop the ball on other aspects of living out our Christian faith.

For example, if we are opposed to gay men and women becoming foster parents, are we prepared to step in to care for the more than six hundred thousand children who are court wards and without a permanent home? If every Catholic family in the United States took one child, or one sibling group -- perhaps in reparation for one of those lives ripped limb from limb -- we could also redeem one more life, whose prospects are otherwise unquestionably dim.

As Christians, and particularly American Catholics, it is not enough to wring our hands at the tragedy in Asia and Africa. As the richest people group in the world, we are morally obligated to respond to the very real needs of our brothers and sisters who are struggling to survive in Asia and Africa. Scripture tells us that each of us will have to give an account for how we used the resources God entrusted to us to help our brothers and sisters who cannot help themselves.

Consider it from this perspective: The Church entrusts those forty-four million innocents to the care of their heavenly Father. The hundred thousand lives lost since Sunday, on the other hand, very likely had no opportunity to avail themselves of the sacraments before they died. Those who live are going through their own personal hell on earth.

The world is watching how we are going to respond. Our faith demands that we do our part. Below is a link for Catholic Relief Services, a group initiated by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to alleviate suffering in the world -- and right now, particularly in the East. Please respond generously.

Catholic Relief Services:

Here is an article from America magazine on this organization:

God bless you!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Advent 2004: Day 2

Today I was awakened by the sensation of a small child poking me with the eye and inquiring in a loud stage whisper: "Mommy, you awake?"
Sadly, I was, after less than three hours of sleep, thanks to my paper writing procrastination skills. At least I got it done.
In lieu of writing said paper, yesterday I made the first batch of fudge of the season. It's my friend Kimberly's recipe, which she taught me to make when we were both at what I affectionately call "the convent." In reality, it was just a REALLY conservative Bible college.
Kimberly was one of those girls that guys would stop mid-sentence to watch her walk down the sidewalk, even in those ankle-length dresses she used to wear in the name of modesty. It is impossible to keep some kinds of beauty under wraps, and Kimberly had that in spades.
Shortly after we graduated from said convent, Kimberly married a nice German guy and they made plans to go to China as missionaries. We kept in touch by e-mail from time to time, then lost touch. I didn't think anything of it until I got a note from a mutual friend, announcing her own nuptials.
"Will Kimberly be there?" I asked, making conversation.
Maria stared at me strangely. "Then... you haven't heard."
Kimberly had been picking her parents up at the Chinese airport when their car piled into the back end of a truck, killing them all instantly. At the time, her husband was in Germany, and it took him almost a week to reach his motherless sons.
By now you're wondering if I remembered the name of this blog. Just where is the mercy in this, anyway?
Today is the second day of Advent, a time of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child. As I make Kimberly's fudge, I remember my friend who is celebrating Christmas in heaven, and I resolve to work a little harder to get ready to go there myself.
A blessed Advent to you and yours.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

It Begins with a Trickle...

Any published author will tell you that writing a bestseller is one thing. Cultivating a mailing list of loyal followers who will actually shell out cold, hard cash for one or more of those little bundles of literary candy, on the other hand... That's the hard part.
So when my most recent book "With Mary in Prayer" (Loyola Press) went OOP (literally) in just over two years, it finally dawned on me that it wasn't enough to wheedle, coax, and beg my nearest and dearest to swarm the nearest B&N for a copy. I needed to catch your attention.
Yes, you. Hello.
So... who am I, and why should you keep reading? Let's see... maybe we have something in common.

* I'm a Catholic convert (joined the Church in 1994, thanks to God and the dedicated staff at Holy Family Parish in South Pasadena, California). Before that, I was alternately Baptist, Lutheran, Assemblies of God, Evangelical, and Nondenominational Protestant. (Oh, yes, and I was baptized Presbyterian.) Right now I'm studying for my MA.Theo. from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, Michigan.

* My husband Craig and I are foster parents and soon-to-be adoptive parents of the two most wonderful kids in the world, four-year-old Christopher and two-year-old Sarah.

* I love to travel, and have been to or lived in: Mexico, Canada, Senegal (West Africa), Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and all over the US of A.

* In my spare time, I like to read, write, ballroom dance, bake bread, sing, and tame "Mommy Monsters" (more about those later).

* I'm an editor and writer (for more on that, go to my website, and in my spare time work with Johnnette Benkovic (EWTN television and radio personality) to develop her new imprint Simon Peter Press, especially study materials for her new Catholic women's apostolate "Women of Grace."

* The reason for this particular blog is that, through all the many and varied twists and turns that have gotten me this far, I have been the unabashed and unapologetic beneficiary of Mercy... God's Mercy, that is. Even in the darkest moments of my life, and especially when I've least deserved it, I've experienced gushing torrents of divine grace. Some of those moments I've chronicled in another (OOP) book entitled "Touched by Kindness."

Maybe you've experienced this mercy, too... Or maybe you're just looking for it. Perhaps you feel overwhelmed with the mess that is your life (been there), or have that certain restlessness that comes from catching just a glimpse of all the possibilities, but being unable to focus on the one thing that will make you truly, deeply happy. (Hint: happiness is meant to be a byproduct, not the end result.)

Enough for now. I've procrastinated long enough on this Church History paper that is due tomorrow. I hope we run into each other again. Soon --

Under the mercy....