Thursday, May 14, 2015

7 Eye-Popping Headlines for May and Mother's Day

I really could tease you with some headline grabbing phrases for how the month of Mary and Mothers is going so far.   So I will. (And also join H/P/F/R and 7 QT)

1.  When Jesus Came Over with The Exorcist's Purse

            I called my favorite neighborhood exorcist for a confession appointment and left a message on his voicemail.  Couple hours later, Father asked if he could come over. I was tempted to arrange a scheduled visit for the following day because the house was in its customary disarray.  (*Blush*) But, as my husband pointed out, you don’t refuse if Jesus says he wants to come over.  You say, “Yes, I’ve got dinner in the oven.  Ready when you are.”  So Husband and I hurriedly salvaged our home and gave it a make-over that could pass for presentably eclectic.

            While Father visited with us and gave us an impromptu teaching on healing and deliverance (more on that in my next full post), our dogs got into his exorcism kit and tore up his leather pouch.  (*Mortified*) Thankfully, Father laughed it off and still agreed to pray over my sick daughter, anointing her with holy oil and water. (Thank God the dogs didn’t drink them).  Needless to say, the plague left us and I had a first hand lesson on not knowing the day nor the hour when your dogs will chew up Jesus’ purse.  

2.  Mary Came Over, Too

            The travelling statue of Fatima also graced our home. The visit was scheduled, but I have a feeling the Blessed Mother  understands some form of chaos in the home.   Or maybe not. She had only one child and He was perfect.  Then again, she’s got billions of children who live messy lives. I’ll stick with the theory that she understands, and I know for a fact she always helps.

3.   Awesome Advice from the Man Who showed up for the Mother’s Day Tea Party.  

             So our parish mom’s group organized a tea party and invited someone I thought was a quiet, serious Benedictine monk but who turned out to be a funny, wise, down to earth priest who knew a LOT about motherhood.  Father talked about finding sanctification in our work (oro et labora), moderation in entertainment and  balancing it with service, the importance of finding a role model for motherhood, and gave the best advice since don’t-tell-your-kids-you’re-showering-unless-you-want-to-be-interrupted. Father advised, “Whenever a person pops up in your thoughts (e.g old highschool friend), you need to drop to your knees and pray for that person because that’s your angel inspiring you to pray. Someday you’ll catch yourself thinking about your children and it’s a sure sign that they need prayers right NOW.”

4.  Mother’s Day Means Waking Up at 5 in the morning

            In most homes, those thoughtful husbands went shopping for ingredients for breakfast in bed and the wannabee chef kids cooked up a feast so mom could sleep in.  In mine, the day started earlier than usual with a bowl of cold cereal because my girls and I were thrilled that they were joining other children for the May crowning and offering roses to Our Lady at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament for the 7 AM Mass.  The crowning ceremony (with the Litany of Loretto, nuns singing like angels, and renewal of consecration to Our Lady,) led by Fr. Dominic (of EWTN fame) was beautiful, solemn, and worth every second of waking up at the crack of dawn.

       Sorry no pictures.  Photography inside the upper Church is not allowed. In lieu of, here’s a pic of my daughter’s award winning painting for the parish Marian Exhibit.

5.  Why I bought into the materialism of Mother’s Day

            I caved and bought my own mother’s day present when I saw these two books:

               I figured they’re wise investments if they make me a better momma. And honestly, I’d rather receive books than store bought flowers.  (Disclaimer: I’m not a flower hater. I do love flowers especially when my children pick flowers/weeds off our back yard and hand them to me at least once a week in the spring. *Achoo!*)  

6.  One Candlelit Night at the Grotto…

            There’s something about healing services and evening processions with the glow of candlelight  that I can’t resist.  The procession in question was in the Mini-Grotto of Lourdes at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament for the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. The faithful was sprinkled with Lourdes water and the priests used two relics of St. Pio (his glove) to pray for every. single. person. who was there.  Won't you join us for the next procession?  Its on the Feast of Mother of Perpetual Help.

             P.S. I love the Fatima procession so much that it’s a scene for the climax of my novel. Incidentally, did you know that processions are mini-pilgrimages, and thus, a way of offering penance?
Happy to be here.

7.  Milestone for Catholic Moms

            Teaching my children to read ranks up there as ‘greatest mom moments’. But surpassing that is preparing my children for First Communion (and hopefully, teaching them a love and devotion for the Eucharist.)  My second born receives First Communion on Ascension Sunday.


Bonus.  The Lawyer Turned Priest and the Need For Spiritual Mothers

            I realize this is getting long.  But I love the story of this lawyer turned priest as much as I love the writer of the article.  Spiritual motherhood is an actual vocation, too.  Do you feel called to be a spiritual mother of priests?  Prayer, constant prayer, is all they need.

Friday, May 08, 2015

What Lurks Behind the Vaccine Mom Wars

            Featured on Catholic Stand.
             The heated online vaccine debate in some Catholic circles has my jaw dropping like a draw bridge.  Respectable mommies are acting like ill-bred kids: name-calling, pointing out who started what, bullying their dissenters, tattling to Big Brother for back up…  Good grief, mommas, can we just sit on time out and bring to trial the legal issues that lurk behind the veil of the vaccine hoopla?

            “To vaccinate-or-not-vaccinate” debate/ advice is not the question of this article. (Please do not take this as medical or legal advice). As our family vacation to Disneyworld with a newborn approaches, I engaged in civilized discussions with medical professionals and moms that I respect, while perusing reports, jurisprudence and legal opinion. This is an analysis of facts and legal issues that I digested as I formed my own opinion.

Parental Point of Views on Vaccines

            Children have suffered permanent disability or died from vaccine-preventable diseases. Along with the American Pediatric Academy, pro-vaccine parents warn of the catastrophe of not vaccinating.  Many parents champion the supposed "social responsibility" of all families toward public health.

            Vaccine-cautious parents delay or select vaccines because of children whose immune systems are compromised, suffered a severe adverse reaction to vaccines, or got infected with the disease and died after vaccination.  Others refuse the unsafe components of vaccines and prefer natural prevention, remedies and resulting immunity.  Still, some parents cannot in their conscience participate in the use of unethical vaccines derived from aborted fetal cell lines. All of these moms love their children, and despite varying parenting decisions, none of them deliberately wish harm to their children or grief to other parents.

Medical and Scientific Opinion on Vaccines

            Most medical professionals support vaccines because vaccines serve the common good of public health; they decrease outbreaks, and protect the elderly, pregnant and infants who cannot yet get vaccinated. Theoretically, the fewer in the population vaccinate, the less effective the herd immunity is.

            A number of physicians argue against the myth of herd immunity and criticize the safety of vaccines.  Whatever is best for the herd is not always an across the board solution for all families as not everyone needs a vaccine or the same amount of vaccine to be immune. The CDC aggressive schedule has been scrutinized as well as vaccine association with serious adverse side effects like seizures and deaths. An expert-scientist refutes the general safety and efficiency of particular vaccines, and stresses that an unvaccinated person per se does not pose a threat to public safety.  Scientific research is complex and not immune to change or challenge since long-term side effects to drugs could be upended by new discovery generations later.

Legal Issues on Vaccines

            The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 was established in acknowledgement that “vaccine injuries and death are real” (and strangely to shield pharmaceutical industries from civil liability lawsuits). The Department of Health provides a table for vaccine injuries which lists known side effects (e.g anaphylaxis and death)  which is presumed to be caused by vaccines. In 2010, the amount awarded by the US Circuit Courts to vaccine victims amounted to $2 billion dollars. In 2014 alone, the Special Court in Washington DC awarded $202 million in compensation to 365 victims. The Center for Disease Control concludes in its Vaccination Mandates document
“Vaccines are safe and effective. However, they are neither perfectly safe nor perfectly effective. Consequently, some persons who receive vaccines will be injured as a result, and some persons who receive vaccines will not be protected.”
            The more I’ve dialogued, the more I empathize with both parties and respect the right of all parents to discern what’s best for the care of own families, or to refuse or assume risks. We can vaccinate our own children or encourage vaccinations to protect others, and  we can oppose unethically sourced vaccines to push the production of ethical vaccines or promote vaccine safety and conscientious discernment. We have neither right nor obligation to decide for other families.

The use of controversially unsafe drugs for public safety is illogical.  To mandate blanket vaccination is a grave legal issue that has terrifying repercussions on our parenting rights and religious liberty. A Catholic parent who is ready to hand over these rights blindly to a federal or state government or government agency needs to consider the can of worms it shakes loose.

Threat to Parental Rights
             The Fourteenth Amendment shelters the fundamental parental “right to the care, custody and control of their children.” The “compelling interest” of public health and safety may limit this right provided it passes the “least restrictive means test.”  Mandatory vaccines fail the test since it is more restrictive than other means of ensuring public health and safety (e.g medical remedies of diseases, free vaccine campaign, health education, public hygiene and sanitary enforcement etc.) 

            However, if the Supreme Court is persuaded otherwise, and establishes leniency over the Fourteenth Amendment watch, this stampedes off over a cliff of dangerous precedent. Who could be next? Formula-fed infants or psychologically neglected “cry-it-out” babies? Toddlers abandoned to traumatic time out consequences? Special-needs children who should have been aborted? GMO-Paleo-Vegan-Whole40-Glutten-nourished children? Home-educated and Catechized tweens? Sexually-active teenagers carrying venereal disease?

Menace to Religious Freedom
            Certain mandatory vaccines are upheld to be part of the police power of the state for public safety and health (immigrants and military members). The recent landmark Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby case tethered the breadth of compulsory “healthcare” interests, (i.e the contraceptive mandates in the “Affordable Care Act”) with the sacrosanct First Amendment right of religious freedom imbedded in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Specifically, the Supreme Court held that the Affordable Care Act failed to pass the least restrictive means test.  However, Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby also perilously hinted that a lower standard would be applied for vaccines.

              As Catholics, we know the freedom to form one’s conscience has ramifications in eternity for every soul. A misplaced responsibility to public health as a common good, being only temporal, is subordinate to that. The religious exemption must stay or we risk losing our own conscience rights in matters of homosexual unions, abortion participation, or sterilization and artificial contraception use.

                Our children are ours to love, not the government’s as parens patriaie, not the American Pediatric Academy’s, not the Center for Disease Control, not our next-door neighbor’s. Our Catholic religion must be defended against the crush of secularism. The government would be overstepping their Constitutional boundaries if they shot their tentacles into the privacy right of our homes, and our consciences.

            Mandatory vaccinations as a scapegoat to violate our rights and freedoms is the sinister submarine lurking behind this issue. If Catholic parents could spot the red flags of what’s at stake, maybe they can get past the mommy wars of vaccines, rediscover the virtue of charity and recognize that there is something more evil than measles here. We mommas need to stick together for our children, our Church and our freedoms.