Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Souls of the Faithful Departed --- the Catholic teaching on purgatory

 We are finishing up November, the month that Catholics devote to the souls of the dead. There is a lot of misunderstanding about the teaching on purgatory. What follows are Blessed James Alberione's thoughts on the subject.

My Protestant readers will likely find this teaching contrary to their understanding of salvation--- one that teaches a binary destination at death of heaven or hell [as I understand it.] But I want to at least explain the Catholic notion. To my mind it is particularly consistent with the experience of sin and grace that we have in earthly life:
"They who leave this earth in God's grace but are not worthy to enter at once into the vision and enjoyment of God, are retained in a place of suffering, purgatory. This is a state of purification by means of which the soul concludes the total detachment of his affections from earthly things in order to ground them once and for all in God.
Purgatory is, moreover, a state of painful love. There the tepid soul, who passed out of life without that fervor needed for entrance into heaven, completes the refinement of his desires with his ardent yearning to see God.
Purgatory is both a blessed and a painful place. Why blessed? Because those souls are all saved! St. Francis de Sales says that if they were given a choice between returning to this world or remaining in that fire, they would prefer to stay there... The souls held captive there are burning with thirst for God, longing to be able to drink from the refreshing Fountain, trying with their sighs to hasten the vision of the Lord!
Do many souls go to purgatory? Our Faith has nothing to say on this subject; it is content with teaching us that purgatory exists and that the souls suffering there can be helped by us, by our suffrages, particularly by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. But to the question as to whether many go to purgatory, we must reply like this:
The greater part of mankind is not so wicked or so obstinate in wrongdoing as to deserve hell. Most people sin out of weakness and repent as soon as they commit the sin. At least before dying, most have some sentiments of sorrow and hope. …
Yet the majority of men are not so holy that they can enter heaven at once. Some vain thoughts, some angry sentiments, some indulgence toward our body or our heart, some thoughtless words—how many miseries prevent the gates of heaven from opening wide at once!
On the other hand, we ourselves would not dare, with certain stains, to enter heaven where all is holy and perfect. The soul itself, having beheld God's infinite sanctity at the judgment, would at no cost enter heaven before being thoroughly cleansed and purged. [Purgatory] might be called a vestibule, where souls cleanse themselves and put on the wedding garment to be admitted to the real Presence of God. "

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Gimp, gimp, gimping along ...

The Tardis lands at Newark Reservoir, Simon Gregg & Rae Stabosz

I re-booted my blog with much fanfare last month, and promptly stopped writing. Quite honestly, the intensity of activity in the real and virtual worlds since George Floyd's death has amped up emotions to the point that I lost my will to write. I am reluctant to express myself in writing at the moment unless duty or conscience tells me that I absolutely must. 

So I have turned to GIMP to exercise my creativity. GIMP is a free and open-source graphics editor nearly as robust as Photoshop, the leading commercial product. I have been using GIMP for a decade or more via the hunt and peck method: if I need to do something, I hunt up how to do it and peck around the editor until it works.  But I have never tried to learn the software from the ground up. Also, layers, masks and alpha channels confound me.

So now I am exploring GIMP. It's lots of fun. Maybe I can learn to use my own photos to do memes and stuff. I've always been poor at the graphic arts but hey it's never too late to learn. 

So my first blog entry after reboot is image heavy. Here are my efforts.

Simple layering, as simple as it gets. Two images into one.

Reetie and Owen superimposed on the rolling sea. Weird, man!


A silver bowl of miraculous medals: I did this before I learned layers:

Our Lady of 120 Ballantrae, my Maryland home.

Thus endeth my show and tell. Please don't ask how long I spent producing these four meager images, Toodles.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Confessions of the Cooperator: The Reboot

In the last couple of years, this blog has gone the way of hundreds before it: moribundity. I started it in 2005, back when blogging was a hot new internet trend, and I was at the height of my fervor as a Pauline Cooperator. I wanted to embrace the Pauline charism: evangelization through the modern means of communication.

Fifteen years later, scores of social media apps offer endless possibilities for expressing oneself to the world. My fervor as a Pauline also went on the backburner a bit during those 15 years. On the other hand, I took on the job of co-editing the Pauline laity blog, which pretty much satisfied my desire for expressing myself through blogging.

"Rae Stabosz: 'I was attacked outside of Planned
Parenthood.' " nbcphiladelpia.com
Life turns on a dime. In March of 2013, on the same day as Pope Francis was elected, I suffered a disorienting traumatic event at a Planned Parenthood protest and prayer vigil.[1] At the time, I was heavily involved in the Delaware pro-life scene. Afterwards I slowly came to recognize that for my own mental health, I needed to retire from that activity. I turned instead towards spending my time and energy with my ever-growing gaggle of grandchildren. And to cruising the Caribbean with my husband Bill.

I turned 70 in November of 2019. Although turning 50 and 60 had caused me no grief, the idea of being 70 years old had an impact on my outlook on life. I started to feel like my life was over. My brain was all too obviously not as sharp as it once had been, and my body felt held together by the seven prescription drugs that I take each morning for a variety of chronic medical conditions.

From Women on Writing (WOW), Interview
With Kelly L. Stone
In January 2020, I began the first of two distance learning classes, "Time to Write" and "Empower Your Muse", both taught by Kelly L. Stone and both taken with friend and fellow writer Debbie Hosey.  Debbie had argued for years that she and I ought to stay closer in touch with each other in order to encourage each other in our writing efforts. I demurred. As it turns out, not for good reason. I am enough of a loner---a loner surrounded by a huge family---that I didn't see the need to increase my commitment to ongoing conversation, even with good friends. But Debfriend was right and I was wrong; communicating regularly about our writing turned out to be powerfully motivating.

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. The world fell apart. #MeToo. Tough times.

But then Zoom entered my life. Sr. Jackie Gitonga, now-director of the Association of Pauline Cooperators, began to hold regular Zoom meetings focused on the mission of the lay Pauline.  I started re-reading work by Blessed James Alberione, Founder of the Pauline Family of 10 religious and secular institutes and association. I found comfort and solidarity with my Pauline friends, and I became re-invigorated in the effort to explore and embrace my Pauline charism.

Through the mercy of God and the serendipity of life as a senior, I find myself revitalized in my commitment to the Pauline charism and in my realization that I am now, and always have been, a writer.

So welcome to Confessions of a Cooperator: The Reboot.

Header image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 Internationallicense

[1] It is debatable as to whether my filming a 911 emergency transfer was a morally defensible action. I believed at the time, and still do, that it was. My subsequent trauma came not just because I was unused to physical confrontation, but because my colleagues in the DE pro-life world would not accept that I had no regrets about my part in the incident. They thought it deleterious to the cause of recruiting people to pray outside of Planned Parenthood and wanted an apology, which in good conscience I could not give. 

Sunday, March 17, 2019

We're Moving to Maryland! Plus, PHOTO SLIDESHOW!

Our new house in Maryland with Em and Scott and kids. Click the photo for a tour.

It's fitting that my first blog post in awhile feature the house we're moving into very soon. Em and Scott bought this great place at 120 Ballantrae Drive in Elkton, Maryland and moved into it while we were here in Alabama. There's an in-law suite for us and we'll be moving into it posthaste.

Meanwhile, I created a slideshow for Gerry's birthday and posted it to Facebook. But some family members don't use FB so she asked me to make it accessible to them. Brother Wally, this one's for you!

50th Wedding Anniversary Photo. Click to see Gerry's Birthday Slideshow.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Does SB5 permit elective third-trimester abortion in Delaware?

A full-term infant. Third-trimester elective abortion is currently
disallowed in Delaware. Passage of SB5 will change that.
Folks, legislative language is annoyingly tough to suss out. It is easy to misinterpret.  If you've ever watched your legislature debate a bill, you will know how hard even to agree on what the language of the bill means.

That brings us to SB5, the late-term abortion bill up for vote in Delaware. The bill's supporters say there is no late-term abortion bill, that this is just a wee attempt to bring old fashioned language into compliance with federal law.

I don't buy it. I think the abortion industry in Delaware intends to permit elective late-term abortion in the state.  Late-term abortion is already permitted in this state if certified as necessary by either two physicians (medical necessity) or a physician and a psychiatrist (psychological necessity).

I've got no patience for trying to mount an argument. So I'll just let anybody who is interested read the following exchange between a pro-SB5 person (Rep. John Kowalko) and an anti-SB5 person (me, Rae Stabosz). Make your own judgment if you're even patient enough to look for truth. IMO there's very little search for truth in these legislative battles. But in case you want to delve a little.

I. My original post to Representative Kowalko, who favors SB5:

Rae Stabosz rstabosz@gmail.com

12:11 PM (4 hours ago)
to John.Kowalko, bcc: me
Dear John,
Paul Baumbach, you, and other Delaware House Democratic Caucus members insist that 
SB5 does nothing more than bring DE abortion law into compliance with federal law.
This is false:

1. Federal law allows states to restrict third-trimester abortions.

2. The Delaware code currently allows third-trimester abortions for cases certified medically 
or emotionally necessary. It disallows third-trimester abortions for elective reasons.

3. SB5 removes the requirement for two licensed medical doctors, or one medical doctor and
 one psychiatrist, to certify a third-trimester abortion as necessary for medical or emotional

4. SB5 permits elective late-term abortions in Delaware.

WHY would the Delaware Democrats want to pass a bill allowing late-term abortions for 
reasons of personal choice rather than for medical or emotional necessity?

In poll after poll,  voters say they want reasonable restrictions on abortions done in the third 
trimester of pregnancy. And US voters have long memories.

PLEASE reconsider and change your vote to NO to SB5. 


Rae Stabosz - Newark, DE

II . John Kowalko's reply:

Kowalko, John (LegHall)

Attachments12:56 PM (3 hours ago)
to me
​I want to share this with you.
John Kowalko

From: Deborah Hamilton <dhamilton@hamiltongoodmanpartners.com>
Sent: Saturday, May 6, 2017 2:06 PM
To: Kowalko, John (LegHall)
Cc: Lisa Goodman
Subject: SS1SB5 & late term

John,  I wanted to keep you up to date on the substitute bill that was drafted 
to provide reassurance with respect to informed consent and parental notification
 - SS1 has language that explicitly references the location of existing language that 
remains elsewhere in the Code and is unchanged (not in Title 24, Chapter 17, 
Subchapter IX).  SS1 also adds language to clarify fetal anomaly.

“Late term” abortion question:  SB 5 makes no change regarding the legality or 
practice for late term abortion procedures in Delaware that have been in place
since the Delaware law was ruled unconstitutional per U.S. Supreme Court decisions
of Roe v Wade (1973) and later again in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern 
Pennsylvania v Casey (1992). These cases both require that post-viability exceptions 
be made for the life and health of the mother. Current Delaware law has outdated 
language struck in SB5 “permanent physical deformity or retardation” 
(lines 19 & 20 in SS1) - clearly out of date replaced with updated language regarding
 exception for serious fetal anomaly with the clarifying language below.


1. Inserts reference in SS1 to the existing informed consent language 
in Admin code [lines  84 & 85]
2. Inserts reference the SS1 that SB5 does not change  Tit 24, Chapter 17 
Medical Practice Act, Subchptr VIII Parental Notice of Abortion Act [lines 86 & 87]
3. Adds language in SS1 to further clarify on lines 31-34 “fetal anomalies” - added language
in SS1 displayed in red for you here. [lines 33 & 34]

b) A physician may not terminate, attempt to terminate, or assist in the termination or attempt at 
termination of a human pregnancy otherwise than by birth after viability, unless, 
in the good faith medical judgment of  the physician, the termination is necessary 
for the protection of the woman’s life or health or in the event of a fetal anomaly for which 
there is not a reasonable likelihood of the fetus’s sustained survival outside 
the uterus without extraordinary medical measures.  

III . My reply to Representative Kowalko:

Rae Stabosz rstabosz@gmail.com

3:29 PM (1 hour ago)
to John

I would like to reply:

I. In the existing Delaware Code, the following language remains intact:(b)  A physician may not terminate, attempt to terminate, or assist in the termination or attempt at termination of a human pregnancy otherwise than by birth after viability, unless the termination is necessary, in the good faith medical judgment of the physician, to protect the woman�s life or health or in the event of a serious fetal anomaly.
However, this language is removed by SB5:

In no event shall any physician terminate or attempt to terminate or assist in the termination
or attempt at termination of a human pregnancy otherwise than by birth unless:
(1) Not more than 20 weeks of gestation have passed (except in the case of a termination
pursuant to paragraph (a)(1) of this section or where the fetus is dead); and
(2) Two physicians licensed by this State, 1 of whom may be the physician proposed to
perform the abortion, certify to the abortion review authority of the hospital where the procedure
is to be performed that they are of the opinion, formed in good faith, that 1 of the circumstances set
forth in subsection (a) of this section exists (except that no such certification is necessary for the circumstances set forth in paragraph (a)(3)b. of this section); where the personal physician of an
expectant mother claims that she has a mental or emotional condition, a psychiatrist licensed by
this State shall, in addition to the personal physician, certify to the abortion review authority of
the hospital where such procedure is to be performed that the physician is of the opinion, formed
in good faith, that 1 of the circumstances set forth in subsection (a) of this section exists (except
that no such certification is necessary for the circumstances set forth in paragraph (a)(3)b. of this
section); and
This means that there is no longer a requirement for two physicians (in the case of medical 
necessity) or one physician and one psychiatrist (in the case of psychological necessity) to 
certify that abortion during the third trimester is necessary.  After these clauses are struck out,
the only requirement is that a single physician--and this can be the prospective abortionist-- 
certify this necessity.

Can you tell me specifically when and where " the Delaware law was ruled unconstitutional per U.S. Supreme Court decisions of Roe v Wade (1973) and later again in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v Casey (1992)."  There may be a presumption that it could be found unconstitutional, but please cite the ruling she refers to above where DE code is explicitly found to be unconstitutional.

I believe the intention behind this bill is to insure that elective abortion is available up to and including viability in Delaware, should it happen that a future Supreme Court strikes down Roe v Wade as unconstitutional.  

There is NO NEED for this bill at this time. Third trimester abortion is already available for necessity. This bill intends only to bring elective third trimester abortion to Delaware.

^^^^^^^    So there you have it, folks. Legalese doesn't make it easy. But all you    ^^^^^^
^^^^^^^    really have to do is ask, "Why amend the code if third trimester abortion ^^^^^^
^^^^^^^    is already legal for medical necessity? Unless it is to bring elective         ^^^^^^
^^^^^^^    abortion to Delaware?                                                                                       ^^^^

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

An Eyewitness Account

Hot off the press from the Pauline Laity Blog:

Meister der Braunschweig-
Magdeburger Schule
Public domain, The Yorck Project
Tradition holds that St. Luke used eyewitness testimonies for his account of the Good News. The author makes this perfectly clear in his opening paragraph:

“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word,it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.”  (Luke 1: 1- 4, NASB)

First, a confession.  Until (very) recently, and although I have read Luke's Gospel many a Christmas Eve, I never noticed this important opening sequence to his Gospel.  Eyewitness accounts change everything!  Especially when one realizes WHO he was interviewing!  Luke's rendition of Mary's encounter with the angel Gabriel, her journey to Bethlehem, and Jesus' birth were not his piecing together of what might have happened but what truly DID HAPPEN!  Before now, I never realized that his use of eyewitness accounts meant that what we are reading is truly MARY'S ACCOUNT of the Annunciation, the Visitation and the Nativity!  This was not someone's idea of what may have occurred but comes from the very source of these precious moments–Mary.  

Anyone who has ever listened to a proud mother share stories of her children, can know and believe the accuracy of Luke's retelling.  This understanding completely transformed how I engaged with Luke's Gospel–and brought me to an even deeper encounter with Christ.  Scripture is so filled with grace that with every reading we are never left the same. As Blessed James Alberione writes, "The Gospel is something divine; it corresponds to all minds; it is capable of meeting all demands, [encompassing] the full embrace of the two sisters in Christ-God: reason and faith.[1]" 

Human artists too help us to encounter Christ.  Visual and creative representations of the Word of God appeal to the senses.  They too raise us to the contemplation of the sacred mysteries.  "By means of visible things we come to the knowledge of God who is invisible," wrote Blessed Alberione, who urged his Paulines to embrace the creative arts: "Dedicate yourselves to embroidery, painting, sculpture, and make progress.  Oh, if only you had skillful painters, skillful sculptors.[2]"  "There is never piety or truth alone, but all things connected together.[3]"

In light of this revelation, I invite you to read Luke's account of the Annunciation below, broken down into dialogue from the Word of God and visual representation from artists through the ages– including the self-portrait the Blessed Virgin herself gave to St. Juan Diego.  Later, consider reading the rest of Luke over this Advent or Christmas season.   Allow yourself to be transported back to Nazareth and Bethlehem: peeking into Mary's world–and the most amazing moments in all of history.  Let these be your Advent reflections as we all await the coming of Christ, both in the season of Christmas on December 25th, 2016 … and in His second coming on a date yet to be revealed.

The Annunciation:

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, 27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
Henry Ossawa Tanner
Public domain, Google Art Project.
28 And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29 But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was.
Sandro Botticelli - Annunciazione
Public domain, The Yorck Project
30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; 33 and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.
Hubert van Eyck - Annunciation
Public domain, The Yorck Project
34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

Antonello da Messina - Virgin Annunciate
Public domain, The Yorck Project

35 The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God. 36 And behold, even your relative Elizabeth has also conceived a son in her old age; and she who was called barren is now in her sixth month. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.
Bartolomé Esteban Perez Murillo - The Annunciation
Public domain, The Yorck Project 

William Brassey Hole, The Annunciation
Public domain, fineart.com

38 And Mary said, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1: 26-38, NASB)
Photograph of Our Lady of Guadalupe tilma
Public domain, uploaded anonymously to Wikimedia Commons
Thoughts to Ponder:

                     The angel appeared to Mary amidst the ordinary of her everyday life.  Jesus wants to come to us not only in the special appointed times we set aside for him; but in every moment of our lives.
                     Mary does not doubt what God can do; but how it will be.  Her question is for clarification although she has already assented to God's Will. Mary's response allows her to be filled with God's grace and peace.
                     Verse 37 – "For NOTHING is impossible with God"such a powerful statement of faith! What in your life do you need those words spoken over?  Where do you need this reminder to restore you peace, so you too can assent to the Will of God in your life? 

May the grace of the mystery of the Annunciation come into your heart as you prepare for the coming of the Lord. May the grace of all the profound mysteries found in St. Luke's inspired recounting of Mary's holy recollections help you this Advent as you make your way to the celebration of Christ's Nativity.

[1] Alberione, Giacomo. Abundantes Divitiae Gratiae Suae, (English title: Charismatic History of the Pauline Family), 198.
[2] Alberione, Giacamo. Ipsum Audite I, 114-115. 
[3] Alberione, Giacomo. Prediche V, 119. 

Allison Gingras is the founder of www.ReconciledToYou.com (RTY); and host of A Seeking Heart on Breadbox Media weekdays 10 am ET. Allison created the "Words with" daily devotional App Series: Words with Jesus and Words with Mary. Allison offers retreats and talkson: Forgiveness; Works of Mercy; Tru