Monday, September 27, 2010

A surprisingly poignant essay that takes off from an observation about Christopher Hitchens

Bell, Book, and Candle

Thursday September 23, 2010

By A.G. Harmon

Christopher Hitchens, journalist, author, and member of the “new atheists,” is in danger of death. After a recent diagnosis of cancer, he is reported to be building fortifications around his soul, to keep it from betraying his professed non-belief. As such, his position is now both foxhole and bunker, a place from which he lobs public promises against grace, and public vows to those with whom he stands in league. Any religious conversion that might occur, he swears, should be understood as nothing more than the ravings of a diseased mind. With his last will and testament, he desires to excommunicate himself: ring the bell—close the book—snuff the candle.

But despite Mr. Hitchens' wishes, I can only partly share his aspirations. I both hope that he lives and hope that he fails. That is, I hope not only that he survives this affliction, but also, if he cannot, that God dashes all of his well-laid plans.

Strangely tasteless as it may sound, I don’t want him to get what he desires—though I cannot rightly think what could break down the Alcatraz he has made. Still, that I cannot imagine it is of no consequence; there might be something; there might even be someone.

My optimism is born from an unlikely encounter. I was back visiting a bookstore last Sunday, rearranging displays as I’m wont to do, moving magazines about and foregrounding underappreciated novels, when someone interrupted my labors.

“But even the chaos, God made,” said a passing voice.

When I turned to see who had said this thing, I spied two people: a boy of about fourteen—in basketball shorts, flip flops, cotton hoodie—and, trailing behind him, an old man—tall, ungainly, spectacled. He was a spry octogenarian, though, and no matter how fast the boy walked, the man kept apace; the Roman missal was curled into a tube and held behind his back.

Read the rest.

Late-term Abortions in the United States

Live baby in womb, 16 weeks gestation
329,000 babies between this age & 20 weeks gestation were killed by abortion in the U.S. in 2005, the last year for which the Alan Guttmacher Institute* provides complete statistics.

Live baby in womb,20 weeks gestation
213,000 babies this age were killed by abortion in the U.S. in 2005, the last year for which the Alan Guttmacher Institute provides complete statistics.

Even if you believe that a fetus should have no legal right to live, how do you feel about the killing of 542,000 significantly developed offspring in the womb each year? What has gone wrong with the pro-choice vision of "abortion: safe, legal, and RARE"?
A person of conscience ought to wonder.

Take a look at the size of these babies. Think about what it takes to sever the lives of offspring this well developed. Even if you believe that a fetus should have no legal right to live, how do you think death should be administered to them? Should they receive anaesthetic before their skulls are pierced by scissors and crushed?
A person of conscience ought to wonder.

*The Alan Guttmacher Institute is the research arm of Planned Parenthood. Both pro-life and pro-choice groups accept the Guttmacher statistics on abortion in the United States.

Friday, September 17, 2010

40 Days for Life Kick-Off this Saturday, Sept. 18

Amanda Miner & Kelly Smith, Rachel's Vineyard

The worldwide 40 Days for Life campaign of prayer, fasting, and peaceful vigiling outside of abortion clinics begins this Wednesday, September 22. I've participated in this campaign a couple of times since it began in 2006; this year, I am one of the coordinators for Delaware Right to Life's Wilmington campaign.

Saturday is the 40 Days Kick-Off, and will take place from 8:30am-1:00pm at Church of the Holy Child, 2500 Naamans Road, Wilmington DE. It's a good place to find out about pro-life resources available in this area. Besides five speakers, there will be representatives from these organizations available at literature tables: A Door of Hope pregnancy center, Birthright of Delaware, Delaware Right to Life, A Rose and a Prayer, and Rachel's Vineyard. Great place to learn efficiently about the pro-life community and its resources in the Delaware area.

Fr. John McFadden

All 40 Days participants are invited to a
At Church of the Holy Child,
2500 Naamans Road, Wilmington DE

8:30 am – 1:00 pm

The schedule for the day is as follows and the times are approximate:

8:30 - 9:00 Sign in and Light Refreshments

9:00 – 9:15 Welcome and Opening Prayer (FATHER CARRIER)

9:15 – 10:00 Father John McFadden – “Witnessing for the Precious Infants”

10:00 – 10:15 Opportunity for Questions

10:15 – 11:00 Kelly Smith and Amanda Miner from Rachel’s Vineyard

11:00 – 11:15 Break

11:15 -- 11:45 Patricia Campbell – “Being at the right place at the right time”

11:45 -- 12:30 Lunch (Pizza, beverage, dessert)

12:30 – 1:00 Closing Remarks Prayer (PASTOR PETIT)
Parish contacts to pick up literature to use at PP

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Photo of Easter Almuena

The coda for this blog, Confessions of a Cooperator, is "Musings of a late middle-aged Catholic laywoman who has made The Promise to participate as a Pauline Cooperator in Fr. James Alberione's vision of evangelization through the new means of social communication." I am one of only two Cooperators in Delaware, and my comrade-in-arms, Eva Vary, is leaving soon to move permanently to New York.
But my fellow Cooperators are located throughout the world. Easter Almuena is in Hawai'i, on the big island (I think), and she recently sent me a copy of her just-published book, "Serving God Joyfully Right Here in Hawai'i: Stories, Life Journeys, Reflections." I recommend you order a copy directly through Easter at Joy of Christ press.

One reviewer characterized the book as a "Chicken Soup for the Catholic Hawai'ian Soul" and I suppose it is although I think that sells the book a little short. I thought of the Chicken Soup series also when I read Serving God Joyfully, but the few times I have picked up a Chicken Soup book I have put it down without much interest. I will admit here and now, freely, that I don't know if this is because the books are inspirational at a shallow level -- which is the impression I have always gotten from the few times I've flipped through them -- or because I am predisposed to look down my nose at anything so obviously non-intellectual. Intellectual snobbery is definitely one of my sins, against which I fight all the time now. Snarkiness has been the hallmark of popular intellectualism for most of my lifetime, and snarkiness is not a virtue but a substitute for real wit. Since the Chicken Soup books have not a snarky bone in their bodies, perhaps my disdain for them is my own sinful sense of superiority. I will have to give them another try, in the wake of my absolute love for Easter Almuena's book, which has a similarity of structure to the Chicken Soup books.

However, I do think the excellence of Serving God Joyfully Right Here in Hawai'i goes far beyond its incidental similarity to the Chicken Soup books. Easter's book inspires down to the very bone of my being. I don't know what instructions she gave to her contributors, but she has managed to produce an expression of how one local church - the Catholic Church in Hawai'i - reflects the beauty, excitement, vitality, heroism, dark-seeing faith, light-bearing compassion, of the unversal Church, visible and invisible. In Easter's book I find a modern witness to the reality of the communion of saints. I know why I love Christ in His Bride, the Church. And I long to visit the Diocese of Hawai'i and meet its people. Or, perhaps, to attempt a similar project and discover in the Diocese of Wilmington too a garden of flowering souls of faith, hope and love in Christ.

I'll most likely have more to write later. Right now, time for Mass. Got the inspiration to go from a quote in the book, by St. Alphonsus Liguori: "One single Mass gives more honor to God than all the penances of the Saints, the labors of the Apostles, the sufferings of the Martyrs and even the burning love of the Blessed Mother of God." My question to you -- hyperbole, or...???