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Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Deeper Meaning of Resolutions

The Problem of Reality

I had a friend come to me with a recent quandary.  She did not like the word "resolution".  (Oh-and I have a different friend who does not like the word "fellowship"). On both counts, the friends asked me not to use these words but to rather, come up with replacement words.  Replacement words?  It does not take long to figure out that this might get a little problematic.  The implication here is, if you don't like the connotation of a particular word, we can change the word and avoid the connotation.  Seems logical on paper, however if you do the higher math, you might find that all you've done is apply a thin coat of veneer to the reality of what really IS. Just because we rename something, doesn't mean we have removed its meaning; even though, subconsciously, this is what we would like to do.  If we are very honest we will quickly determine that this blurring of definitions is a rather common form of lying and it finds its origins, no doubt, with the Father of Lies:

Some Examples of Unreality

homemaker = domestic engineer
Divorce = marital restructuring
Boob job, nose job or any other kinds of body jobs = enhancement surgery
sin = missing the mark/being off target
dishonesty = bending the truth/white lies
laziness = procrastination
manipulating others = people pleasing
sarcasm (which means 'tearing at the flesh') = humor
Pornography = adult magazines
Strip joint = Gentlemen's Club
Pornographic content = mature audiences
Old = mature
semi-pornographic content = parental guidance suggested
Spouse = Domestic Partner
Fornicate = to living with someone who you are not married to, as though you are married
fetal homicide = abortion
Killing off older or vulnerable adults = mercy killing or euthanasia
God* = Good,  Collective Conscience, Life Force, Force, Energy, Universe, Chuck Norris, blah blah blah

(* I am pained to include the term Higher Power here because, for those in 12-Step Recovery programs, the idea of God has been so painfully maligned and associated with injury that there is a need for a God of one's understanding as a point of departure.  I have watched many a recovering addict/alcoholic expand their HP definition once they begin to trust God, themselves and others)

I am sure that you could find a dozen or so more on your own without having to work too hard.  We do this with just about everything that is difficult to talk about:  body parts, excrement, death are subject matters that have not been plumbed here, but you get the picture.

When we relativize the reality, we blur it to make it less recognizable.  A thin coat of varnish, pretties up something that might be really hard to tolerate, doesn't it?  When we redefine something to irrelevance, it can  keep us from making the necessary amends in our lives that lead to real growth.  Let me be very clear, if this sounds like a trick that an enemy might use on us to keep us away from reality, then you'd be understanding a bit of that playbook.

Welcome to Reality

So what's the solution?  Come to terms with the real meaning(s) of things. Let's starting with the word "resolution".   I suggested to my friend that she find a definition of resolution in order to plumb into a deeper meaning; obviously the meaning that she had internalized, had a foul odor.  Here's what she found instead:

Resolution is derived from the Latin verb Resolutio, originally Resolvere, meaning: to UNTIE, UNFASTEN, LOOSEN, UNBIND. The meaning has changed over the centuries meaning to change something with firm determination and will.  From Webster:  a resolve made, a fixed determination or purpose, the state of acting with fixed purpose; the answer or solution to a problem.

I just LOVE that!  If I unfasten, unbind, loosen something, I set it free.  If I make a resolution about something, I am becoming freer.  And everybody loves freedom, right?  I can do things in freedom.  I can become more me.  I can be more available to the pursuits that bring me true happiness and joy. I can pursue my heart's desire.  I can only pursue this as a free person, not as a slave.  Remember how Christ refers to his friends?  "I no longer call you slaves....slaves do not know what their Lord does; I call you friends because all things that I have heard from my Father, I have made known to you."  Freedom allows us to think and move and be.  It allows us to be us in the fullest sense. Resolutions bring us closer to this personal freedom.

It takes a lot of courage to be honest.  It also takes a lot of courage to want to change, but this leads to my next point.  Once we get honest about things, we realize that it behooves us to change. And this, my friends, is where the devil really loses power and gets irritated.  In myself, I recognize that personal change is possible in and of myself only to a certain degree.  I am usually thwarted by something or someone that I am powerless over.  For this I need Extra Help.  Prayer is my best tool.  More on this later on under "Tools..."

Coming up with Resolutions

So be courageous and come up with that list of resolutions...maybe it's one or two things that your doctor keeps telling you to give up (cholesterol, coffee, cigarettes, anger, food, excessive drinking). These tip-o-the-iceberg bad habits usually give weigh to more deeply rooted ills and evils which probably have their origin in the seven deadly sins.  Do you think this might be why most people give up on their resolutions before the end of January?  They are attacking symptoms rather than the real root problems. I wonder what it would be like to use an Examination of Conscience as a tool to structure a Resolutions list.  Or how about the 10 Commandments?  This might help to tease out those unruly 7 deadlies, and hasten true change.  Add to this a monthly retreat to renew your commitment to following God's laws more faithfully.  

Another approach has trinitarian roots.  Devise a triparteid column list with headers such as: Health, Happiness and Character (Thank you Dennis Prager) or Mental, Physical, Spiritual.  

And then there is the giant unstructured list.  This is fine too.  Just be sure to post whatever it is your doing in a common location like a journal and don't wait until Lent to figure out that you've not spent any time reviewing it.  

Tools for Maintaining your Resolve 
(That's Re-Solve for those of you hanging in there with me on the real meanings of things). 

Prayer:  The action of recollection; our conversation with God who is the lover of our hearts.  Directing one's thoughts, actions and will towards God.  Every good action begins and ends in prayer. 
Courage: Courage is not the absence of fear, but acting in spite of it (Mark Twain).  The courage to want to change is a great spiritual virtue. The idea that we want to change is a signal that we desire to be better people.
Calendar:  track progress and ensure motivation & follow through.
Accountability - Let somebody in on your plan.  A friend or accountability group is a great support system to let others into your life and give you needed encouragement.  Who knows, you just might be an inspiration to others! My accountability group will be  sharing our "bucket list" items starting this January.  This includes my friend mentioned in the first paragraph who has happily renovated the "resolution" word for us. Kudos to you CAMH :-)   Oh, boy...there is a significant temptation to publish bucket list here on the Spikenard blog but let's just say that for now I will keep you posted on the progress :-)

Happy New Year! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The 'Herods' in our midst

Herod "The Great" king of Judea was unpopular with his people because of his connections with the Romans and his religious indifference. Hence he was insecure and fearful of any threat to his throne.  He was a master politician and a tyrant capable of extreme brutality.  He killed his wife, his brother and his sister's two husbands, to name only a few.

Matthew 2:1-18 tells this story:  Herod was "greatly troubled" when astrologers from the east came asking the whereabouts of the "newborn king of the Jews," whose star they had seen.  They were told that the Jewish Scriptures named Bethlehem as the place where the Messiah wold be born.  Herod cunningly told them to report back to him so that he could also "do him homage." They found Jesus, offered him their gifts and warned by an angel, avoided Herod on their way home.  Jesus escaped to Egypt. 

Herod became furious and "ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under."  The horror of the massacre and the devastation of the mothers and fathers led Matthew to quote Jeremiah: "A voice was heard in Ramah,/sobbing and loud lamentation;/Rachel weeping for her children..." (Matthew 2:18).  Rachel was the wife of Jacob/Israel.  She is pictured as weeping at the place where the Israelites were herded together by the conquering Assyrians for their march into captivity.  

(The above was excerpted from Ibreviary, December 28, 2011)


Isnt' it strange how history repeats itself?  The names and circumstances are a little different but the image we witness from antiquity is eerily similar to the present day slaughter of the innocents that Pope John Paul II coined as the "culture of death".  The Israelites demanded a leader to respond to their every whim and need and they got a "herod".  They demanded a liberty of convenience to relieve them of their responsiblity to integrity and they got bondage.  They demanded a relief to fear and insecurity and they got tyranny and death.  

True for us. We have mistaken human figures for God; we call this government.   We demand and expect our needs to be met through government programs and services.  We have learned that the more "choices" we get, the less free and more savage we become.  We demand the pleasure of sex over its consequences and the convenience of intimacy over the responsibilities that it entails.  We fail to realize that the fruits of sex and and intimacy involve life.  And the very best place where life can flourish is in the protected environs of a family.  So when we want one without the other, chaos and disorder follow. 

Most women who I meet who have had abortions, regret them later. They may have demanded a relief to their fear and insecurity which they experienced temporarily in an abortion.  Unfortunately the tyranny that arises some time later results in great anguish for the woman who has tried to suppress her conscience either by drinking,  drugging, eating, spending, working or escaping into some fantasy world. The "herod" of addiction is a brutal tyrant to those who would refuse to face the friend in their conscience.  

There are personal herods and societal herods as well.  The society that employs these herods fosters this bondage when we continue to make it okay for people to escape the consequences of reality.  Obamacare, divorce, mortgage bailouts, capitol punishment, gluttonous and irresponsible overspending, euthanasia, abortion, moral relativism; the realm of evils left untended and not remanded to the custody of the human conscience will not find a Robin Hood or his merry men to save them in the end.  Hopefully when the conscience is aroused there will still be time for an epiphany of repentance.  Will it be in time? 

I was struck by the words fear and insecurity that were used to describe the Herod of antiquity.  Here is this powerful guy enabled by a dysfunctional societal system that has left him to his own devices, and he is so scared and insecure of being relieved of his addiction (power) that he is willing to kill family members and helpless infants.  Stew on that for awhile.  If you've ever seen an addict, you know that they are mostly willing to go to any length to ensure that they get their "fix".  While the addiction is active, precious little is safe.  Keep this in mind as we elect or re-elect a powerful leader in 2012. 

And how about closer to home? Don't we all have some herods to tend to in our own life?  Are you in charge of you or is something else driving the bus?  Is the desire for power and control mastering you? Yes, there is an addiction to power and control and it's one of hell's ugliest demons. Just watch Lord of the Rings or read Genesis Ch 3 if you don't believe me.  

The slaughter of the innocents was a result of fear, insecurity and a paralyzed personal and societal conscience.  May we take the necessary efforts at home, interiorly, and abroad, in our communities to ensure that these tyrants are chained and muzzled.  When we take care to do this, perhaps we are enacting the 149th Psalm where the two-edged sword is put to use on our personal and societal herods:

"Let the praise of God be on their lips and a two-edged sword in their hand, 
to deal out vengeance to the nations and punishment on all the peoples; 
to bind their kings in chains and their nobles in fetters of iron;
to carry out the sentence pre-ordained;
this honor is for all his faithful."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Merry Statistical Anomale

Did you know that, in scripture, there are somewhere in the neighborhood of not 5, not 10 but 456 prophecies regarding the Jewish Messiah, the Christ, Savior, Vanquisher of Evil, establisher of the New Covenant?  That's an impressive figure. The probability of one Individual fulfilling just five of those prophecies would be one in a million.  What's the statistical probability of one Person fulfilling all 456 of them?  Ready?  Here goes:


(That's 126 0s...from Abp Fulton Sheen's "True Meaning of Christmas")

Pretty amazing isn't it. 

O Come, let us adore Him. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Padre Pio's Christmas Meditation

Thank you Sandie M....

Padre Pio's Christmas Meditation
Appearing in volume four of the Italian-language edition of Padre Pio's letters, this essay was taken from Padre Pio's hand-written notebooks. To the best of my knowledge, it is presented here for the first time in English.
Translated by Frank M. Rega, December 2005.

"Padre Pio da Pietrelcina: Epistolario IV," Edizioni Padre Pio, San Giovanni Rotondo, 2002, pages 1007-1009.

Far into the night, at the coldest time of the year, in a chilly grotto, more suitable for a flock of beasts than for humans, the promised Messiah – Jesus – the savior of mankind, comes into the world in the fullness of time.

There are none who clamor around him: only an ox and an ass lending their warmth to the newborn infant; with a humble woman, and a poor and tired man, in adoration beside him.

Nothing can be heard except the sobs and whimpers of the infant God. And by means of his crying and weeping he offers to the Divine justice the first ransom for our redemption.

He had been expected for forty centuries; with longing sighs the ancient Fathers had implored his arrival. The sacred scriptures clearly prophesy the time and the place of his birth, and yet the world is silent and no one seems aware of the great event. Only some shepherds, who had been busy watching over their sheep in the meadows, come to visit him. Heavenly visitors had alerted them to the wondrous event, inviting them to approach his cave.

So plentiful, O Christians, are the lessons that shine forth from the grotto of Bethlehem! Oh how our hearts should be on fire with love for the one who with such tenderness was made flesh for our sakes! Oh how we should burn with desire to lead the whole world to this lowly cave, refuge of the King of kings, greater than any worldly palace, because it is the throne and dwelling place of God! Let us ask this Divine child to clothe us with humility, because only by means of this virtue can we taste the fullness of this mystery of Divine tenderness.

Glittering were the palaces of the proud Hebrews. Yet, the light of the world did not appear in one of them. Ostentatious with worldly grandeur, swimming in gold and in delights, were the great ones of the Hebrew nation; filled with vain knowledge and pride were the priests of the sanctuary. In opposition to the true meaning of Divine revelation, they awaited an officious savoir, who would come into the world with human renown and power.

But God, always ready to confound the wisdom of the world, shatters their plans. Contrary to the expectations of those lacking in Divine wisdom, he appears among us in the greatest abjection, renouncing even birth in St. Joseph’s humble home, denying himself a modest abode among relatives and friends in a city of Palestine. Refused lodging among men, he seeks refuge and comfort among mere animals, choosing their habitation as the place of his birth, allowing their breath to give warmth to his tender body. He permits simple and rustic shepherds to be the first to pay their respects to him, after he himself informed them, by means of his angels, of the wonderful mystery.

Oh wisdom and power of God, we are constrained to exclaim – enraptured along with your Apostle – how incomprehensible are your judgments and unsearchable your ways! Poverty, humility, abjection, contempt, all surround the Word made flesh. But we, out of the darkness that envelops the incarnate Word, understand one thing, hear one voice, perceive one sublime truth: you have done everything out of love, you invite us to nothing else but love, speak of nothing except love, give us naught except proofs of love.

The heavenly babe suffers and cries in the crib so that for us suffering would be sweet, meritorious and accepted. He deprives himself of everything, in order that we may learn from him the renunciation of worldly goods and comforts. He is satisfied with humble and poor adorers, to encourage us to love poverty, and to prefer the company of the little and simple rather than the great ones of the world.
This celestial child, all meekness and sweetness, wishes to impress in our hearts by his example these sublime virtues, so that from a world that is torn and devastated an era of peace and love may spring forth. Even from the moment of his birth he reveals to us our mission, which is to scorn that which the world loves and seeks.

Oh let us prostrate ourselves before the manger, and along with the great St. Jerome, who was enflamed with the love of the infant Jesus, let us offer him all our hearts without reserve. Let us promise to follow the precepts which come to us from the grotto of Bethlehem, which teach us that everything here below is vanity of vanities, nothing but vanity.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Intensify your prayer life-fill up the sidewalk

The story I've posted below is a beautiful conversion that happened recently in Charlottesville, VA.  Here's a man that had been yelling and screaming at Pro-Life sidewalk counselors on a regular basis and who eventually came to a new understanding of abortion, in my opinion, as a result of the prayers that were offered for him in the midst of his rants.

As sidewalk counselors, we do this, right?  We pray for the folks that get right up in our face.  Or at least we should. Whenever or wherever I've been verbally accosted by someone who is pro-choice, I try to introduce them to facts about abortion, how it takes a human life; how it is bad for women; how it really harms society.  This usually fails because a thick veil of emotions is blocking real understanding. I have yet to my knowledge, been able win over any pro-choicer on an intellectual plane alone; not because the intellectual argument is not sound but rather because the argument of fact breaks down into emotional sparring.  I'm not saying we should jettison the idea of educating those with whom we come in contact on the sidewalk.  We should always educate and provide copious amounts of information as the seedbed of understanding.  What I do want to emphasize however is that we cannot stop at the intellectual or educational pursuit.  We must plunge headlong into supernatural terrain. Which brings up the profound need for PRAYER.

Prayer loosens the soil of the heart...tills up all those clods.  Prayer softens the sharp temper.  Prayer brings God into the discussion.  Prayer is supernatural conversation that transcends human abilities because it is a fruit of love of neighbor.  Prayer is what brought the man in the story below back to his sensibilities.  Prayer is what will close abortuaries and convert the hearts of the workers.

Prayer will also change the pray-er.  I used to become frustrated with the F-bombs, Brooklyn salutes and verbal jousting that turns most good folks off to the idea of standing and praying in front of an abortion clinic.  Now, I am resigned to the fact that this is due partly to the ignorance of the people who have never examined the flaws of the pro-choice mentality because of the moral decay & relativism of our generation.  And, (this second part is really a hoot to those who thing we are all mentally imbalanced anyway) partly due to the result of demonic activity that is prone to volatility when provoked.  (Please read Demonic Abortion.) How patient I can be is directly proportionate to my prayer life.  It is not me acting but God acting through me for the sake of that person.  That my prayer presence would actually cause someone to curse and explode is telling, is it not?  Further edification that it is not fang-less me that they are mad at, but a system that has continued to propagate huge lies about the sanctity and dignity of human life.  If they admitted that the pro-life "side" is right, then they would have to admit to being duped.  (And let's admit it....nobody wants to be a dupe.)

I'm going to miss "Steve of the Sidewalk" even though I've never met him personally.  I don't know where he's going but it's probably somewhere else that his strong light is badly needed.  So this is your invitation...whoever you are.  We need a replacement STEVE.  There are lots of souls who need your prayer.  If you're in Phoenix on Christmas Eve, join us out at Glendale Planned Parenthood (a.k.a. Eugie).  Bishop Olmsted will be with us to pray the Rosary at 11am.  

"After you have made a decision that is pleasing to God, the Devil may try to make you have second thoughts.  Intensify your prayer time, meditation and good deeds. For if Satan's temptations merely cause you to increase you efforts to grow in holiness, he'll have an incentive to leave you alone."
Ignatius of Loyola.

Merry Christmas,
Karen of the Sidewalk

Hi folks,

Today was my last day at the abortuary on Commonwealth Drive just around the corner from the Pregnancy Center in Charlottesville, Virginia. This particular clinic had fallen under the radar and been ignored for far too long until this year. Even the accountant who lives next door was shocked to see pro lifers standing vigil. I thought it was going to be an uneventful final day where I would get to say goodbye to all the wonderful pro lifers who have been sacrificing their Weds evenings from 5 pm to 8 pm to defend the unborn and be a living example of God's never ending love for moms and dads in need of spiritual rescue.

Many familiar faces and some new faces were there and I was glad to see them all -- but sad that it was going to be the last time. 

It turned out to be the busiest day I had ever seen at the Commonwealth abortuary -- the cars kept coming and coming. Most of the pro life volunteers were in the drive way ministering to their spiritual brothers and sisters that were there to abort their babies.  A couple other pro lifers were standing on the sidewalk in front of the abortuary holding signs and I decided to join them.

Eventually a car pulled over and a young man jumped out. It was dark, so I recognized his voice before I saw his face.

This young man had been a familiar sight at the Planned Parenthood during 40 Days for Life, but I'd never seen him at the Commonwealth abortuary. Many of you will remember him because he also pulled over during the Hour of Power and walked up and down Hydraulic Road yelling at us. Eventually the police were called and he reluctantly left.

It was obvious that God was working on him.

In fact, just last Friday he rolled down his window and yelled for us to go home as he drove past the Planned Parenthood. And someone else yelled back that God loved him and that he needed to start fearing Him. 

But tonight was different, it the wasn't the same young man we'd encountered so many times in front of Planned Parenthood. For starters he wasn't yelling at us. =-)

He told us that he recently had a telephone conversation with a female friend in Philadelphia and the topic of abortion came up and in the middle of that conversation he began to cry uncontrollably. At first he wasn't sure why was crying so hard. After all, he believed in a woman's right to choose and had been verbally jousting with us on that very topic for months. He said that he suddenly realized that it was wrong for these women to abandon their babies.

He then talked about the the Apostle Paul and how he could identify with that story. He said just as Saul cheered as Stephen was stoned, he had been stoning us with his words and been hateful toward us.  And then he quoted the words of Stephen shortly before his death, "Father do not hold this sin against them."

This presented the perfect moment for me share my first name with him.  ;-)

He said part of the reason he hated us was because he misunderstood us. He said he came to his conclusions about us based on television and other unreliable sources. He thought we were trying to judge them. And then we told him that we were there because God loves them and God loves those babies. And it wasn't about trying to prevent freedom of choice, but protecting the right to life of the child and avoiding the dire consequences of sin. 

To my surprise he began to weep as he considered his place in the world and what was going to happen to this country because of our sin. As he wiped the tears from his face he said he knew that our sin was going to bring an end to the world. He wept because he understood that sin would interrupt his plans and that he might not live a full life.

We agreed with him that sin has consequences, but reassured him that God has already prepared the way -- even in times of God's justice.

It's true that those who sow the wind will reap the whirlwind, but God has a spiritual cave for his faithful servants. And God sends them into the world to minister and offer rescue until the very end of time. And long after we've all given up and thrown in the towel God is still there until the end.

He heard a few stories of our own impatience when we'd given up. Even as some servants of God had given up on him, but God never gave up. He was told that he was an answer to prayers. And that one day his voice would be heard through the chaos of voices in the world by men and women hurting and in need of God's love. He didn't realize it then, but when he responded to the deafening call of God's voice and pulled his car over rather than ignore it ... his life would never be the same.

He fought and struggled with it -- but he never ignored it like so many busy Americans.

As I placed my hand on his shoulder and heard his name for the time I felt joy and sadness. I was happy that he was finally surrendering to God's plan for his life, but I was sorry that I was leaving just as it was about to take root and grow. I wouldn't get to see the miracle of his ministry in Charlottesville, but Lord willing many of you will get to see it firsthand.

I'm being a little bit selfish since I was fortunate to see your ministries unfold before my eyes.

Many of you loved him when all he was expecting was hate. And many of you prayed for him and your prayers were heard and answered. And still others were stranding in front of those clinics for his eyes to see and his heart to ponder. And it changed him. Thanks for being faithful -- young men like him recognize God's servants when they see them. And your constant presence in front of those clinics is a reminder of the choice we must all make every day: who will we serve?

Think how different the story would be if the sidewalks were empty.


Steven Lopez
Spiritus Films

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Congrats Sr. John Mark Maria!

Despite wind, rain and a bit of ragged nerves, I was able to witness a joyful & blessed event at the Our Lady of Solitude Monastery out in Tonopah with the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration yesterday.  Our friend, Sr. John Mark Maria celebrated her first profession of vows to the Poor Clares....and she was truly radiant!  Having never attended anything of the sort yesterday, I felt that I was transported to another world.  All of the elements of this liturgy were truly beautiful and Sister was a most stunning bride.
Enjoy the slideshow below.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Juan Diego and the Blessed Virgin

Last night on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, some of our committees united to to pray on a spectacular, giant, 500 foot long rosary that was made by my friend Maria M.  She's a spiritual powerhouse, packed into a tiny 4' 11" frame; proving to me once again that great things can manifest themselves in small packages.  Those who were gathered prayed the rosary in three languages: english, spanish and italian. It was marvelous.  Afterwards, anglo that I am, hung around to completely butcher the Marian hymns in spanish with those who remained.  Despite my lameness of skill at singing, speaking or even clapping in spanish, I am humbly reminded that I am part of a beautiful, rich family of faith.  How is this so?  Because we have a common Mother--the most exquisite of God's creations. She unites us all under her mantle of love, as my pastor beautifully recommends in his intentions.   I also realized that it was good for me to listen to the music being sung and lauded about Our Lady & God's grace; even though the words were in a language that I did not understand.  Why?  Because the language emanating from their hearts transcends words.  Their devotion surpasses the senses.  Just like little Bernadette Soubirous did not understand the words "I am the Immaculate Conception" spoken to her by the Blessed Virgin a few centuries ago, as it was way beyond her level of comprehension.  She was 14 years old and had no formal education; yet she somehow knew that it was important that these words reach her bishop .  Perhaps this is how we may someday come to appreciate the music of the angels and the songs of heaven.  Though God's ways are far above our own and Mary is the sublime Seat of Wisdom, the heart language is the common bond, the bridge between two shores.  

I am grateful for the rich spanish cultural influences that have helped shape my faith and graft me into a spiritual family.  I made a Cursillo back in May of 2000 as a 4 year-old fledgling Catholic.  It was in the rollo room of the Mt. Claret Center where I was introduced to Mary as my Mother and climbed our little version of Tepeyac Hill to the Madonna icon which adorned the mini summit; where I learned sweet songs like DeColores, Alabare and Ave, Ave, Ave Maria.  I brought home souvenir words like "mananitas" and "ultreya" and allowed myself to be serenaded by mariachis, (who's name coincides with Maria).  It was a letting go of sorts and as I learned to surrender some of my pride and familiarity, I experienced an appreciation for worshipping Our Lord through His Mother that I had never before known or recognized.  Their vibrant love for Our Lady melted me and made it possible for me to love her too, like a daughter. I am forever indebted to my spanish compatriots for their extraordinary passion to Our Lady. 

So it is fitting that today in the church we celebrate another extraordinary feast of a humble Mexican/Indian Man named Juan Diego.  May Our Blessed Mother's imprint be fixed onto your heart today just as the image was emblazoned onto his mantle; allowing us all to understand the perfect language of love that God longs to impart. I didn't know I was under the mantle back in 2000, but I sure knew that something different was going on.  Maybe a little bit like Juan Diego..."who is this aztec princess adorning me with Castilian Roses and emblazoning me with her image?  It is Mama. 
Juan Diego was born in 1474 in the calpulli or ward of Tlayacac in Cuauhtitlan, which was established in 1168 by Nahua tribesmen and conquered by the Aztec lord Axayacatl in 1467; and was located 20 kilometers (14 miles) north of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City).
On December 9, 1531, a native Mexican named Juan Diego rose before dawn to walk fifteen miles to daily Mass in what is nowMexico City. Juan lived a simple life as a weaver, farmer, and laborer. That morning, as Juan passed Tepeyac Hill, he heard music and saw a glowing cloud encircled by a rainbow. A woman's voice called him to the top of the hill. There he saw a beautiful young woman dressed like an Aztec princess. She said she was the Virgin Mary and asked Juan to tell the bishop to build a church on that site. She said, "I vividly desire that a church be built on this site, so that in it I can be present and give my love, compassion, help, and defense, for I am your most devoted mother . . . to hear your laments and to remedy all your miseries, pains, and sufferings."
The bishop was kind but skeptical. He asked Juan to bring proofof the Lady's identity. Before Juan could go back to the Lady, he found out his uncle was dying. Hurrying to get a priest, Juan missed his meeting with the Lady. The Lady, however, met him on his path and told him that his uncle had been cured.
She then told Juan to climb to the top of the hill where they first met. Juan was shocked to find flowers growing in the frozen soil. He gathered them in his cloak and took them at once to the bishop.
Juan told the bishop what had happened and opened his cloak. The flowers that fell to the ground were Castilian roses (which were not grown in Mexico). But the bishop's eyes were on the glowing image of the Lady imprinted inside Juan's cloak.
Soon after, a church was built on the site where our Lady appeared, and thousands converted to Christianity. Our Lady of Guadalupe was declared the patroness of the Americas.
He died on May 30, 1548, at the age of 74.

Juan Diego deeply loved the Holy Eucharist, and by special permission of the Bishop he received Holy Communion three times a week, a highly unusual occurrence in those times.

Pope John Paul II praised Juan Diego for his simple faith nourished by catechesis and pictured him (who said to the Blessed Virgin Mary: “I am a nobody, I am a small rope, a tiny ladder, the tail end, a leaf”) as a model of humility for all of us. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Friendship: Low expectations vs. High expectations

I set before you today 2 stories; One from current, popular culture; the other, from antiquity. I would suggest only two differences set them apart:  First, their time in history and the second, our familiarity with the saints mentioned in the latter.  Lest we forget:  Human nature has not changed.  The message & the challenge therefore, remains the same.  We are responsible for our neighbor. We are obligated to elevating ourselves, and our friends beyond the dung heap.  We have tools. (We don’t have to be tools; to use a popular euphemism.)   And if we are going to be a “tool” we should set our sites on sainthood, because WHAT ELSE IS THERE?

The Problem of Low Expectations.
Excerpted From Fox News, 12-8-11

Think most of the misogyny on MTV comes from men? Guess again, says a new study of the network’s shows, which finds women engage in a whopping 88 percent of the shows’ sexual dialogue, insult each other much more than the men, and offer themselves up in positive portrayals only when they’re talking about physical appearance and their ability to bounce back from getting ridiculed.

Television watchdog group The Parents Television Council (PTC) releases its jaw-dropping report “Reality of MTV: Gender Portrayals on Reality TV” on Wednesday, and got an exclusive first look at its findings. They're not pretty.  Nielsen data were used to identify the most-watched prime time reality shows on cable among the 12 to 17 demographic in 2011, which included MTV showsJersey Shore,” “Real World,” “Teen Mom 2,” and “16 and Pregnant.” Analysts then analyzed the content on the most recent full season of each show, logging the language and context of the language used.
Here are their bombshell findings:
-- Only 24 percent  of what females said about themselves was positive across all shows combined.
-- Positive dialogue between females focused on their appearance, sense of accomplishment and emotional resilience.
-- While terms men used for each other were often viewed as complimentary (e.g., big man, dawg, superhero, McGyver, winner), women used far more degrading language when talking about other females (e.g., rodent, skank, trash bag, trick, ho and much worse). 
-- Females talked about sex acts more than men, talked about sex more graphically than men, mentioned sexual body parts more than men, and talked about intercourse and foreplay more than men.
-- Although 88 percent of the sexual dialogue between females and males across all shows focused on intercourse and preliminary activities leading to intercourse, the topics of virginity (0.2 percent), contraceptives (1.4 percent) and STDs (2 percent) were only mentioned 4 percent of the time.
-- “Jersey Shore” made up 47 percent of the disparaging remarks (mostly coming from cast members Ronnie and Sammi) and 59 percent of the sexual references across all four shows.

The most shocking finding – or at least the most disturbing – was the way the two genders spoke of themselves. The women were overwhelmingly more disparaging when speaking of themselves. With so much being invested and so much at stake in empowering one’s self, especially for girls, the overwhelming message from reality television targeted at teen girls is to be overly negative to yourself,” PTC President Tim Winter told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “After so many years of pursuing equality for women, our study suggests a glamorized, but grossly distorted view, of what it means to be feminine.”

According to the study, the issues surrounding negative media models of female and male behavior have only been exacerbated by the increase in reality television shows over the past few years, particularly as networks strive to reach the next level of shock value for their audiences. The report also claims that the continued success of these shows is dependent upon the “outrageousness of the content,” and that this can have serious implications on teens and tweens in the middle of establishing their own identity and core social values.

The PTC hopes that the study will intensify the national dialogue that has already begun with regards to the sexualization of women and girls in the media, and is urging parents to pay closer attention to the potentially harmful media images and messages their children may be consuming. They are also calling out advertisers, claiming that the media dollars underwrite television programming which contains “sexualized and narrowly defined gender portrayals.”

“Collectively, we must call upon media makers to present a more balanced view of ‘reality.’ We must demand more responsible depictions of how females and males resolve conflict and broader perspectives of what it means to be a female or male beyond the limits of current stereotypes,” the study concluded. “The saddest commentary is how ultimately these media themes and images serve to paint a very vivid picture of low expectations. The fear of setting low expectations for our young girls and boys is that they may fulfill them.”

MTV reps declined to comment until they had a chance to see the report.

So while the Fox article expounds on the idea that media is ultimately responsible for the steady downhill progression of self-esteem and poor view of reality; I would say that it is more symptomatic of a deeper spiritual wound….read on.

The Hope of High Expectations
From Mr. Bryan Y. Norton, SJ: 

Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Our Lord's sweet promise of repose in today's Gospel passage immediately makes me think of St. Augustine (354-430). In the opening paragraph of his Confessions-the first, true "autobiography" in all of Western literature and a perennial source of humanistic, philosophical, spiritual, and theological wisdom-Augustine famously writes: "You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts our restless until they rest in You." The connection between this Gospel reading and Augustine's own spiritual journey proves especially fitting on today's memorial of St. Ambrose. After all, Augustine recognizes Ambrose as a pivotal figure in his own journey of conversion:

"To Milan I came, to Ambrose the Bishop, known to the whole
world as among the best of men, Thy devout servant; whose eloquent discourse did then plentifully dispense unto Thy people the flour of Thy wheat, the gladness of Thy oil, and the sober inebriation of Thy wine. To him was I unknowing led by Thee, that by him I might knowingly be led to Thee" (V.13.23).

Tradition teaches that saints come in clusters. We can easily make the mistake of isolating the saints, as though December 7th were dedicated solely to the memory of St. Ambrose. Truth be told, though, the life of one saint always intersects inseparably with the lives of other saints. This realization should spur each of us on to sanctity: God sanctifies us through the most ordinary of ways, namely Christian friendship. This wisdom profoundly shaped the young Society of Jesus, for example. Long before the founding fathers of the Society were the "first Jesuits," they were simply "companions," "friends in the Lord"-amigos en el Señor.

Today's readings, clothed with the Tradition of the Church, bid us to consider our own experience of Christian friendship. Do we have, among the members of Christ's Body, true "friends in the Lord," with whom we can intimately share the joys and sorrows of Christian life? Perhaps we have lost touch with them. Perhaps we need to ask the Lord to send new companions into our lives. Such bonds of friendship strengthen us to receive Christ's yoke and enter into His rest. They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles' wings; they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow faint. Amen. 

While it may be a factor in better living and healthier productivity, the idea of unplugging form MTV still falls short of solving the age-old dilemma of bad alliances. Some of the most heinous acts in history have been committed by people who have never watched MTV; (Judas, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, to name but a few).  We must attack the root, for there is where the problem resides.

Where do our expectations reside?  Do we have any standards for friendship, or are we just available for anything?  Could we be counted on to deliver a tough message to a friend if we knew it was a matter of their integrity, or their eternal destination?  Do we encourage one another to follow the narrow path or do we simply sustain them on the broad highway?  The company that we keep is revealing of the interior life we engender. 

Food for thought. 

Do you know your Self?

Your real, new self (which is Christ's and also yours, and yours just because it is His) will not come as long as you are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for Him. Does that sound strange? The same principle holds, you know, for more everyday matters. Even in social life, you will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. The principle runs through all life from top to bottom, Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favourite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end submit with every fibre of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.
C. S. Lewis

Monday, November 7, 2011

Voices of Peace sing for Pope Benedict

What a profound statement.  A musical plea to God from a broken brotherhood.  May God heal our hearts and our land.

Hear my prayer. 
In my need,
You have always been there.  
Beth Shalom,
Bring him home. 
Beth Shalom.

Lord, hear our prayer.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person's ultimate good as far as it can be obtained. 
--C. S. Lewis

Happy All Souls Day...
Let us love them right into heaven. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

30% Drop in AZ Abortions in 1 Year

We are doing something really right here in the Grand Canyon State to end the evil that is abortion.  And just what is that, you ask?  We are using our KNEES.  Under the Mantle here in the Valley, we have some stunning statistics that, I'm convinced, are the direct and proportional result of prayer by more and more men and women who are using their voices, their rosary beads, their prayer booklets and their knees to bring a swift and necessary end to our generation's slaughter of the innocents.  I stand in awe of the remarkable testament to faith that is represented here, in our state.  My heart goes out to each and every one of you who continue to remain faithful to this cause.

The battle is not over.  But we keep trudging, under her mantle.

From LifeSite News
Showing pro-life legislation protecting women and unborn children has a tremendous impact in saving lives, new figures from Arizona show a new pro-life law has resulted in dropping abortions 30 percent.

Last week, Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy indicated the state released new abortion figures comparing the number of abortions in September 2011 with those done in September 2010.

“In September of 2010, 1,053 abortions were performed in Arizona. This September, 729 abortions – that’s 324 fewer abortions – a 30% decrease,” Herrod explained. “That number is also down from 1,069 abortions in August of this year. Simply incredible.”

The new follows on the heels of an appeals court upholding a pro-life law that protects the health and safety of women and their unborn children by giving them information they don’t normally receive. The Arizona Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in June in Planned Parenthood Arizona v. Horne, a case the abortion business filed which challenges key aspects of the 2009 Abortion Consent Act. The law is a pro-life measure Governor Jan Brewer signed which tells women of the risks associated with and alternatives to abortion. Planned Parenthood sued the state soon after its signing and a Superior Court judge blocked the law from taking effect while the case moves forward.

The law makes it so Arizona will require a notarized parental signature before an abortion can be performed on a minor child, women will be provided with full and accurate information by a doctor in person at least 24 hours before an abortion, medical professionals cannot be forced to perform abortions if it contradicts their sincerely held religious or moral beliefs and non-doctors will not be permitted by law to perform surgical abortions.

Responding to the decision, Planned Parenthood announced it will no longer do abortions at seven locations — including communities outside of Phoenix and Tucson rather than comply with the law.

Herrod says the new law and its effects are responsible for the abortion decline.

“Following the August court ruling upholding the 2009 Abortion Consent Act, Planned Parenthood announced they would stop providing abortions at 7 of their 10 clinics,” she explained. “Arizona’s new laws now ensure that all women considering an abortion are given an ultrasound exam and are provided the opportunity to see those results and to hear the baby’s heartbeat. Now, non-doctors are not allowed to perform surgical abortions, and doctors must be involved in the care of all women seeking abortion.”

“These initial numbers are the fruits of your partnership with Gov. Brewer, state legislators, and CAP to make a difference to empower women and give them the opportunity to make an informed choice,” Herrod continued. “The work is far from over – I anticipate further lawsuits from the abortion industry. For now, our CAP Policy Team is assessing what else can be done to protect women and preborn children. And, I hope you rejoice with us that lives are being saved.”

Herrod also thanked the work of pregnancy centers in the state — providing women with abortion alternatives — as part of the reason for the drop.

“The work of the almost 50 pregnancy resource centers in Arizona means more now than ever. As the new pro-life laws take effect, women facing crisis pregnancies will turn to your local pregnancy center rather than an abortion provider. Please do what you can to help those centers thrive and meet the overwhelming needs,” she said.

Naturally, Bryan Howard, president of Planned Parenthood Arizona, disputed the reasons for the decline, but admitted part of it has to do with the fact that non-doctors it formerly used to do abortions are no longer allowed to do them.

“It’s 100 percent due to the shortage of providers,” Howard said, according to the Yuma Sun.

Still, Planned Parenthood is the biggest abortion business in the state, doing 653 of the 729 abortions in September.

Maxwell Smart's got nothing on us...

This just in from Sheila Reila, Director of Life Choices Women's Center...
A note sent to her donors about recent Planned Parenthood Clinic closures in the Valley.  This one hits close to home, since the undercover work that helped cultivate this information was done by friends of mine with very good acting abilities.  

Thank you for your generous support.  You make hope and faith possible for others by sharing your blessings.  It is this faith and hope that allows a woman considering abortion to choose life for her unborn child.  We would not be able to serve our clients without financial support.  We remember you in our daily prayers.

I want to share some good news with you.   The largest abortion provider in Arizona, Planned Parenthood, has had some setbacks in the last few years.   In 2009, they consolidated four Phoenix area offices into one, the Eugie (Glendale) location.   This year, a law went into effect that prohibits a Nurse Practitioner (NP) from performing the chemical abortion procedure (RU486).  This resulted in 7 out of the 10 Arizona Planned Parenthood offices' ceasing to do abortions, further consolidating the abortion practice.  

Another result of this law was a decrease in NP hours since they can no longer provide the highly profitable chemical abortion.  We learned that the Planned Parenthood on Thunderbird, the closest to our 7th Street location, is now only providing NP services 10 hours per week compared to our 17 hours each week.  In addition, we have a Registered Nurse offering ultrasounds and counseling an additional 7- 14 hours each week and are open 46 hours per week compared to Thunderbird Planned Parenthood's 27 hours each week.  This means that women are more than twice as likely to find health care services in this area of Phoenix at a pro-life clinic then at an abortion referral location!   Our reaction to this was to increase our NP hours in our West office to ensure that this will also be true in another area of Phoenix.

Please know we work very hard everyday to make sure your donation helps as many mothers and babies as possible.  Clearly, the Hand of God is the most important factor in these amazing developments.  Your gifts have also helped us be positioned to take advantage of these developments.  

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

PP Probe Underway

Very exciting news as we start down the road less travelled to the truth about abortion funding and the black hole that is Planned Parenthood.  Read more: House Launches Probe of PP

Monday, September 26, 2011


"Just for fun" from my friend Robbie...

This is deeeelicious music for the soul.  If you listen very carefully about almost 4 mins into this piece, you will here a familiar tune that we sing at Mass:  The Thaxted melody of "O God, Beyond All Praising" is beautifully conjured by the violins.  It all reminds me of what the psalmist composed in the 8th Psalm:

"O Lord, our Lord how majestic is Thy name in all the earth! Thou whose glory above the heavens is chanted by the mouth of babes and infants, Thou has founded a bulwark because of Thy foes to still the enemy and the avenger.  When I look at Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars which Thou hast established; what is man that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou dost care for him?  Yet, Thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor. Thou hast given him dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the sea.  O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Thy name in all the earth!"

Somebody just asked me recently what kind of music I like.  That's hard to nail down, but I'm pretty sure that this music is straight from heaven. Just a small sampling of what God has in store for us, I think.

Friday, September 16, 2011

'There is no outside solution to an inside problem'

"ACCEPTANCE is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation -- some fact of my life unacceptable to me and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake.  Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes." ~ Paul O., p. 417 4th Edition of Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Glorious News Under the Mantle of Our Lady

I’m deciding to share this news with you on a most fitting feast day – The Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

On Ash Wednesday of this year (March 9, 2011) some prayer warriors from my church, St. Joan of Arc in Phoenix, starting showing up at our neighborhood abortuary to pray weekly for the end of abortion.  We joined an existing valley initiative named Our Lady’s Mantle and, armed with rosary beads, prayer booklets and hearts fixed on the Lord, we took our love of the unborn to the streets to offer peaceful, prayerful vigil for our littlest brothers and sisters who were dying just a few blocks away from our parish.  

We wanted Planned Parenthood Thunderbird to know what so many people already know about abortion. It is bad for women, bad for our community and deadly for our unborn brothers and sisters.

We showed up with some informational signs, (not torches and pitchforks).  The signs simply stated that women and men regret their abortions.  You would have been amazed at all of the people who paid attention to those signs.  Thanks Karl.

We showed up with some love & compassionate understanding for those who suffer from our abortion-wounded culture.  We were pelted with raw eggs, and raw emotional outbursts but we did not return the hostility.  This was not easy, but we have a great Teacher.

We showed up with some prayer.  And boy did we have backup!  Father, with the assistance of Carol and a few others instituted Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration at our parish on the 7th of May.   The Poor Clares out in Tonopah lifted our intentions weekly.  The understatement of the century: “ I think it worked.”

We showed up with consistency.  Examples abound:
·      My dear, anonymous friend who made our first ‘offering of suffering’ by literally leaving part of her chin skin on the sidewalk on opening day.
·      My pastor who showed up in his “Sin Fighting Suit” at the hottest times of the day—later joined by my husband, Ron.
·      The kids who showed up from their afternoon RE class with Jim and Linda.
·      The abortion-wounded women who courageously thanked us for our witness.
·      The green truck that was always joyously honking a triumphal thumbs up.
·      The friendly police officers who kept watch
·      Robbie, Laurie and Peg…my prayer warrior sisters who showed up rain and shine.  (Mostly blazing hot sunshine).
·      The Knights of Columbus & Mary M. on their Tuesday Night Vigil
·      Charlie, Ray and Jared; the men of the Fab Friday crew
·      The Thursday Ladies, Connie, Patricia, Pat, Linda, Maria and Kathleen
·      The stranger who gave us water bottles on more than one occasion
·      The good neighbors who told us to keep up the good fight.
·      Rebecca, the Avon Lady, who kept vigil next door to the abortuary and allowed us to keep our signs in her windows
·      The boutique: who offered their ongoing prayers.
·      The many individuals who suffered either physically or mentally- for the protection of those on the sidewalk

And most importantly, we showed up with our most powerful advocate…Our Lady.  Thanks for securing that wonderful image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas, Sheila.  Her presence spoke volumes.

There is one thing that the people of Planned Parenthood do not understand about Our Mother.  She has an abiding love for her children.  She hates the evil that is abortion and she is imploring us to change our culture at the Calvary that exists in these Planned Parenthood facilities.  She uses her daughters and sons on the sidewalk to remind Planned Parenthood that she is here for them too.  She longs for them with a Mother’s love.  She wants to wrap them in her mantle and take them to herself and show them that they do not need to shed any more innocent blood.  She admonished us to persevere at the sidewalk and she promised that Her Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ would be there with us.

So we followed Our Lady’s direction and we are so happy to know that God heard our prayers.  No longer will this Planned Parenthood at 32nd and Thunderbird offer abortion services.  May God be praised.   Lifesite News Article about the Abortion Changes

We continue to offer prayer and sacrifices for the conversion of all who participate in this abomination.  We have not given up on Jackie, the nurse practitioner, her staff and the other Planned Parenthood Clinics that are still operating. There is room for them in our midst.  There is still some time to change.  I say that with great experience, for I was once like them.   

Our Lady’s initiative of peaceful, prayerful vigil will continue. The clinic website states that they will be offering abortion referrals and the morning after pill, so our work is not yet finished.  But one day…one glorious, blissful day, there will be a “For Lease” sign in the window of the Planned Parenthood clinic at 32nd street and Thunderbird. 

Until THAT day, I’ll see you on the sidewalk.

Under the Mantle,

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New Study, Alarming Stats, Same Ol' Message...Abortion harms women!

Huge Study Confirms Link between Abortion and Mental Health Problems; Validates Silent No More Women

A study published today by Great Britain’s Royal College of Psychiatrists concludes that women who have had abortions have an 81% greater chance of subsequent mental health problems.  Leaders of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign (SNMAC), the world’s largest network of individuals harmed by abortion, say that the report validates what many post-abortive women already know.

“This is not just another study.  It’s historic,” said SNMAC co-founder Georgette Forney.  “It combines the results of 22 studies conducted over a 14-year period in six countries involving 877,181 women.  And it confirms what Silent No More members have been saying all along – abortion harms women.”

The study is the first meta-analysis of research conducted on abortion’s impact on mental health.  It found that post-abortive women are 37% more likely to suffer depression, 110% more likely to engage in higher alcohol use, and 155% more likely to engage in suicidal behavior.

“This report is devastating to those who try to deny the hurt and anguish women suffer from abortion,” added Janet Morana, another SNMAC co-founder.  “The cruelty of those who lie to pregnant women about abortion’s impact is compounded by the heartlessness of abortion industry propagandists who dismiss post-abortive women’s pain as non-existent.  After this enormous scientific study, abortion’s apologists should apologize to the millions of women they’ve tried to marginalize.”     

Fr. Frank Pavone, SNMAC Pastoral Director and National Director of Priests for Life, expanded on the report’s impact.  “What I pray will be one of the major results of this study is that more women will realize that they are not alone.  The pain they’ve been internalizing, perhaps for years or decades, is not uncommon; in fact, it’s quite normal.  There is help and there is healing.  I urge them to”

Since the launching of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign in 2003, 3,4845 women and men have shared their testimonies publicly at over 865 gatherings in 48 states and ten countries where more than 110,830 attendees have heard the truth about abortion’s negative aftereffects.  More than 10,100 people representing 57 countries are registered to be Silent No More.  Raising awareness about the hurtful aftermath of abortion and the help that is available to cope with the pain are two of the Campaign’s goals.  The Campaign has over 1,300 testimonies posted here, with over 120 that are shared via video! 
The Silent No More Awareness Campaign is a joint project of Anglicans for Life and Priests for Life.  For more information, please visit our website: 

Coleman, P.K. (in press). Abortion and Mental Health: A Quantitative Synthesis and Analysis of Research Published from 1995-2009.  British Journal of Psychiatry.

This review offers the largest estimate of mental health risks associated with abortion available in the world literature. The results revealed moderate to high increased risk of mental health problems after abortion. Consistent with evidence-based medicine, this information should be used by health care professionals.  

What are the basic results? What should women know?
1) Overall, women with an abortion history experience an 81% increased risk for mental health problems. The results showed that the level of increased risk associated with abortion varies from 34% to 230% depending on the nature of the outcome. Separate effects were calculated based on the type of mental health outcome with the results revealing the following: the increased risk for anxiety disorders was 34%; for depression it was 37%; for alcohol use/abuse it was 110%, for marijuana use/abuse it was 220%, and for suicide behaviors it was 155%.
2) When compared to unintended pregnancy delivered women had a 55% increased risk of experiencing any mental health problem.
3) Finally, nearly 10% of the incidence of all mental health problems was shown to be directly attributable to abortion.
Why was this meta-analysis conducted?
1) Recently published, less systematic reviews of the scientific literature on abortion and mental health, including the American Psychological Association report and one by Johns Hopkins researchers among others, are prone to bias, and as a result actively mislead the public.
2) Practitioners need an accurate synopsis of the best available evidence in order to provide women with valid information in order to make informed health care decisions.
How is a meta-analysis different from the many other papers and reviews published in recent years? Why should we believe the information from a meta-analysis is any more accurate and reliable or less biased?
1) A meta-analysis is a quantitative or numerical synthesis of data from many previously published studies.
2) In a meta-analysis all studies are not treated equally. Contributions of individual study effects to the overall results are weighted statistically based on sample size.
3) Only studies that meet very stringent methodologically-based criteria are entered into the analysis; whereas in other types of reviews authors may not reveal the criteria employed or the criteria may be too restrictive (missing valuable studies) or too general (including weak studies in conclusions).
4) The bottom line is the results are far more reliable than the results of a single study or a qualitative review, because of the wealth of data incorporated and the objective methods for combining effects.  
Isn’t it possible for meta-analyses to differ in strength and reliability? What distinguishes this one?
1) In order to avoid any allegations of bias, very stringent inclusion criteria were employed. This means every strong study was included and weaker studies were excluded. Specifically, among the rules for inclusion were sample size of 100 or more participants, use of a comparison group, and employment of controls for variables that may confound the effects such as demographics, exposure to violence, prior history of mental health problems, etc.
2) This meta-analysis is based on 22 published studies, 36 effects, and it brings together data on 877,181 participants 163,831 of whom experienced an abortion.
3) The paper is being published in a very prestigious journal, the British Journal of Psychiatry, which is considered one of the top psychiatry journals in the world. This means the paper has been extensively scrutinized by well-respected scientists and the results of studies are trusted by practitioners throughout the world.