Sunday, 29 May 2011

Julia Holcomb: "I could not imagine a world where a tiny baby could be born alive and tossed aside as worthless without ever seeing his mother’s face."

Did Julia Holcombe, the ex-girlfriend of Steve Tyler leave a comment on this blog post? After I read the story about Steve Tyler being haunted by Julia's ['Diana Hall' as he calls her in his book] abortion, I went to St Anthony's statue in The London Oratory, and asked the saint to 'find' Julia, and give her the strength to render her testimony. 
Julia has ended her three-decade long silence, and explained her side of the story. It differs significantly, in many details from that of Steven Tyler, such as the fact that her pregnancy was planned and that Julia had never been pregnant before. This is an extract from her story.
Meeting Steven Tyler
A few months before I met Steven, while I was still 15, I became friends with a girl who had access to backstage parties at concerts…. She quickly taught me to dress in revealing clothes to get noticed and use sex as a hook to try to catch a rock star. I still remember dressing to go to the Aerosmith concert, intending to get backstage with her… I went to the concert hoping to meet Steven and after the concert we met for the first time. At that time, I thought he was the best thing in my life. My sad, vulnerable story, as well as my youth and personal attractiveness captured his interest.
My mother signed over guardianship of me to Steven after I had moved to Boston. I remember my surprise when Steven told me she had signed the papers and trying to take this in mentally. A sense of vulnerability came over me, knowing that I was his ward, but we were not married. He had not expressed his intentions of a long-term relationship with me. He had mentioned that he wanted guardianship papers so I could travel across state lines when he was on tour. I had told him my mother would not sign me over to him. I asked him how he had got her to do it. He said, “I told her I needed them for you to enroll in school.” I felt abandoned by my mother as well as my father and stepfather. Steven was really my only hope at that point.
I became lost in a rock and roll culture.  In Steven’s world it was sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but it seemed no less chaotic than the world I left behind.  I didn’t know it yet, but I would barely make it out alive. 
The Pregnancy
When we first lived together I took the birth control pill.  It is not true that my pregnancy with Steven was unplanned, as has been written.  After some months together, Steven spoke to me of his desire to have a child. He had grown up in the New Hampshire countryside and at times he behaved like a down-to-earth farm boy.  He wanted a family and he asked me if I was willing to have a child with him.  I was touched by his sincerity and said yes. I wanted children, and began to believe he must truly love me since he had made himself my guardian and was asking to have children with me. He threw my birth control pills off the balcony of the hotel where we were staying, into the street far below. 
Within a year I became pregnant.  I had never been pregnant before, contrary to what Steven has written.  At first Steven and I were both happy about the baby. I remember telling him, “I’m pregnant” and from his reaction I believed he was truly excited.  He asked me to marry him a few months later and I said, “yes.”  He took me to New Hampshire to tell his parents about the baby and the marriage. He asked his grandmother if he could give me her wedding ring.  His parents were conflicted about the idea of Steven and I marrying.  His mother was supportive of everything Steven wanted and I remember truly loving her.  She was such a kind-hearted lady, with a wonderful sense of humour.  His father had grave reservations because of my youth and immaturity. 
His grandmother declined to give us the ring.  She loved Steven but expressed concerns that if we divorced, the ring would leave the family.  Things went quickly downhill from there for the two of us.  When we left that night, Steven and I had a heated argument: I felt he should buy me a ring at a jeweller and we should get married anyway.  He did not. 
Looking back, I do not fault him for a change of heart after his parents expressed concerns.  Marriage is a serious step that should not be jumped into, even when a baby is on the way.  Still, I was in a bad position.  I thought I loved him, I wanted to marry him, and he had asked me to marry him; now the wedding was off and I was very angry with him for not standing by me. It seemed like a cowardly change of heart after he had asked me to have a baby with him and purposefully set out to get me pregnant.  For the first time I realized that I should not have been foolish enough to conceive a child outside of marriage with a man who might not be interested in a life-long relationship.  His guardianship of me complicated things further. I was subordinate to him as in a parent relationship and felt I had little control over my life. I had trusted him and now was the moment of truth….
The Abortion (Julia was in hospital at the time, recovering from a fire)
The doctor left the room and Steven came in.  He told me that I needed to have an abortion because of the smoke damage to my lungs and the oxygen deprivation I had suffered.  I said “No,” I wanted the baby.  I was five-months pregnant.  I could not believe he was even asking me to have an abortion at this stage.  He spent over an hour pressing me to go ahead and have the abortion.  He said that I was too young to have a baby and it would have brain damage because I had been in the fire and taken drugs.  I became very quiet and repeated the answer “No” more than once.  I said I should not be asked to make that decision while still in the hospital. He said I had to have the abortion now.  He said I was too far along to wait because it would be illegal for me to get an abortion in another week. 
He sat beside my hospital bed, but we did not look at each other. I said no again. Finally he gave up and said, “OK, you can go home to your mother’s and have the baby there.” I was worn out and began to feel hopeless. My mother and stepfather would not be happy to have me return home pregnant. I believed they would also want me to have an abortion. I began to feel like life was caving in on me. I had no health insurance or money and did not believe Steven intended to help provide for our baby or me. He had not been providing medical care for me up to that time. I believed he was abandoning me as my father and my mother had. I began to cry and agreed to have the abortion. Steven was relieved and happy. He reassured me that he cared for me and that after the abortion everything would be fine.
I was moved to another part of the hospital and a different doctor performed the abortion. It was a horrible nightmare I will never forget. I was traumatized by the experience. My baby had one defender in life; me, and I caved in to pressure because of fear of rejection and the unknown future. I wish I could go back and be given that chance again, to say no to the abortion one last time. I wish with all my heart I could have watched that baby live his life and grow to be a man.
The doctor did not explain what the procedure would be like. Steven watched when the doctor punctured my uterus with a large needle. Then I was taken to a room to wait for the contractions. Steven sat beside me in the hospital until it was over. When the nurse would leave the room he was snorting cocaine on the table beside my bed. He even offered some to me once, but I just turned away, sick inside. Steven, high on cocaine, was emotionally detached, witnessing the procedure but cut off from the normal reaction and feelings of horror you would expect. At the time I was shocked and hurt by his behaviour.
But I know now that on an unconscious level, he must have been traumatized witnessing the death of his first-born son in such a horrific and direct way. Steven watched the baby come out and he told me later, when we were in New Hampshire, that it had been born alive and allowed to die. (I was not allowed to see the baby when it was delivered.) Steven told me later that it had been a boy and that he now felt terrible guilt and a sense of dread over what he had done. I did not know that such a thing could be legal. I could not imagine a world where a tiny baby could be born alive and tossed aside as worthless without ever seeing his mother’s face.
Nothing was ever the same between us after that day, though I did not return home for over a year. I became very quiet and withdrawn after the abortion. I was grieving the loss of my baby and I could never look at Steven again without remembering what he had done to our son and me. I had just lived through a horrific fire that nearly claimed my life, but the abortion made me feel like part of me died with my baby. I felt cheated and betrayed, and angry with myself for agreeing to something that I knew was wrong. I felt deep anger and almost hatred for the doctor who performed the abortion.
Everyone around me seemed to be moving on with life, but I was carrying a wound that would not go away. Steven was already involved with other women at that time. The fact that he was my guardian complicated things for him because he was legally responsible for me. I was young, had dropped out of high school, and did not understand my legal rights at the time. I felt completely powerless.
I left Steven in February 1977 and returned to live with my mother and stepfather. Steven called a few times after I returned home and then I never heard from him again... Read the full story here

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

196, 109 lives lost...

These are the abortion figures for 2010...
* In total, there were 196,109 abortions notified as taking place in England and Wales in 2010.
* 34% of women had one or more previous abortions with Black or Black British women being 48%
* The abortion rate in 2010 was highest at 33 per 1,000 for women aged 19 and 20.
* 96% of abortions were funded by the NHS.
* 91% of abortions were carried out at under 13 weeks gestation.
* 2,290 abortions (1%) were carried out under ground E (risk that the child would be born handicapped),
* In 2010, there were 85 abortions which involved selective terminations. In 51 cases, two foetuses were reduced to one foetus.

Monday, 23 May 2011

In denouncing abortion, may we simultaneously deplore single motherhood?

The wording, images and jokes in this video may offend some. When I saw the title ‘The Hilarious World of Abortion’, I thought it was a pro-abortion comedian poking fun at pro-life arguments. But this video, furthers the debate by, instead, finding inconsistencies in the pro-abortion position, and making fun of discrepancies such as a woman having the right to kill anyone in her body… The video does have its own grave incongruity; it might show that abortion and ‘illegitimate births’ (that word ‘illegitimate’ insults many people whose mothers struggled to bring them into the world alone) have both ‘skyrocketed’. The video is from the pro-life position and states that children from single parents are at ‘enormous risk of ending up on welfare or in prison’. But, as pro-lifers, can we have it both ways? In denouncing abortion, may we simultaneously deplore single motherhood? And associate their children with high rates of unemployment and imprisonment? The visible single mothers chose life for their children. If fewer abortions were to be done; there would be an instant related rise in single mothers. There are factually speaking, millions of invisible single mothers, although their children’s lives were snuffed out in the womb. Being fully pro-life involves practising that which we preach; if we teach that pregnant women (often panicking at the thought of being a single mother) can avoid abortion, it’s our Christian duty to know how they may get enough practical support. If we don’t, then yes, it’s very easy to remark on the attendant woes of single motherhood.

In the US, videos like this contribute to the debate about the public funding of Planned Parenthood. But here in the UK, we have yet to see a proper debate, happening in society at large, where we question why our money should finance social abortion. I suggest that the lack of debate about (our) taxes funding abortions is due to apathy of how much money is spent on abortion, and perhaps a deeply entrenched acceptance in our British society that abortion is a necessary evil. Consider this; I have attended pro-life vigils, and both pro-life and pro-abortion members of the British public have stopped to speak to me. They would tell me of a friend, sister or girlfriend who had an abortion, and that they could not oppose the tax-funding of abortion, because someone close to them had got an abortion free on the NHS.   
Once a man said to me, ‘you’re Irish; you have no business being an anti-abortionist here in the UK!’ I asked him why and he said that ‘a lot of English money has gone to Ireland, and with your history you can’t come here and tell us how to spend our money.’ My nerves didn’t stand up to telling him that yes, I am Irish, but in London I am a tax-payer, so now it’s actually my money too…

Latest Communiqué from Vatican Blogmeet

This just came into my in-box...
Dear Bloggers,

As the buzz and excitement of the Vatican Blogger Meeting settles and your feedback and discussions take flight through the blogosphere, we wish to send to the blogging community, through the 150 representatives, a word of thanks and encouragement.

The pastoral presence of the Church in this emerging cultural reality is our concern and it is our desire to sustain and support the work you, be you Catholic or other, are undertaking to make the net more human. Besides reflections on copyright issues and what it means to be a Catholic blogger, this meeting has been a first step in recognising this expression of human experience, not just as an alternative and supplementary form of news diffusion, but as a lively community with its own needs and expectations, anxieties and difficulties. It is our intention to listen to you, walk and work with you as social networks and micro-blogging evolve and the effects of these rapidly developing languages spill over into the wider community.

In concluding this moment of a dialogue which we imagine will continue in other times and places and with different means, we bring to your attention two review articles, which for the moment are only available in Italian unfortunately: one by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture [ ] and one by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications [ ].

Please accept our cordial regards and thanks for all your contributions to this dialogue, including on the twitter handle #vbm11.

The Organising Committee

Friday, 20 May 2011

The Tablet uses The Royal Wedding to bash Catholic teaching on cohabitation...

The Tablet editorial is trying to sell this formula; Catherine and William are the golden couple who long-term cohabitated (we assume), but went on to get happily married, and that therefore a high-profile example of cohabitation-leading-to-marriage has been set. And we should all follow… Because as The Tablet in its usually patronising way concludes; “This intriguing feature of their story raises questions. They are marrying in accordance with Christian teaching, which regards marriage as a lifelong commitment. The Church no longer denounces cohabitation as “living in sin”, and many of its clergy prefer to turn a blind eye to what is increasingly regarded as a sensible precaution against incompatibility. In this respect, society seems to have figured out something about stable marriage that the Churches have, officially, yet to grasp.”
The ‘something about stable marriage’? That ‘something’ is cohabitation? That ‘the Churches’ should cotton on to this ‘something’, and start promoting cohabitation as practice for good marriage?
Is it just me, or does anyone else have the sense that The Tablet is written without any regard to real-life, and even secular research?  The book The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially* gives a very frank account of how society, as a whole, dreams that cohabitation will be much better for us, than ‘traditional’ dating and saving sex for marriage. The authors Waite and Gallagher portray that the more often, and the longer that men and women cohabit, the more likely they will be to divorce later.
* Waite, L. and Gallagher, M., The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially, New York: Doubleday, 2000, p. 46.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Queen’s Visit Essentials...

  Queen Elizabeth bows her head before the memorial to those who died fighting her grandfather’s armed forces
Gordon Rayner gives an impassioned view of the historical context to the fact that Queen Elizabeth was the first British Monarch to set foot in the Republic of Ireland: "It was a moment that would have been impossible a generation ago, but which had become an imperative in laying to rest the two countries’ troubled past following the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998…The unprecedented security measures surrounding her four-day state visit meant that no members of the public were able to witness the moment, but millions were watching on television as Ireland’s troubled relationship with the Royal family was finally banished… Republican terrorists had tried, predictably enough, to hijack the visit by planting a bomb on a bus, hours earlier, but nothing was going to allow a vanishingly small minority to thwart the will of the Irish people and their president, Mary McAleese. In the months since the visit was first announced, Irish politicians have promised that the Queen would receive a “warm welcome” when she followed in the footsteps of her grandfather, George V, who made the last state visit to Ireland by a British monarch in 1911… To the disappointment of thousands of Dubliners who had turned out to cheer and clap the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, police had set up exclusion zones extending hundreds of yards from each of the sites the royal party visited.As well as the 8,000 police and soldiers on the streets, helicopters hovered overhead, police spotters stood on rooftops and church spires, and plain-clothed detectives were joined by 120 armed officers from the Metropolitan Police to make sure no one could get through the ring of steel. Even so, a small but vocal minority of republican demonstrators made sure the Queen was unable to ignore them as she carried out the most controversial engagement of the day, and arguably of her entire tour, at Dublin’s Garden of Remembrance. As she lay a wreath of laurel leaves, and bowed her head at a memorial “to those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom”, a minute’s silence was repeatedly broken by chants, jeers and whistles from protesters venting their hatred 300 yards away. A military band briefly drowned them out as they played God Save the Queen... The Queen arrived on the anniversary of a series of car bombings in Ireland in 1974 which killed 34 people in the deadliest single day of the Troubles. As she visited Aras an Uachtarain, the official residence of the president, families of the victims were holding a service of remembrance in Talbot Street, The royal motorcade also passed the General Post Office on O’Connell Street, the seat of the Easter Rising in 1916. Today the Queen will visit Croke Park stadium, where 14 people were shot by British security forces in 1920."
Ed West has a very good piece on why the Queen’s visit will be a chance for us to remember all the Irishmen who died for Ireland’s autonomy.
William Oddie’s article that ‘Very few Brits understand how appalling our record in Ireland really is’, is intensely moving: ‘Only a monarch, surely, could so embody the national identity of her people as to make the symbolism of that simple gesture, of bowing her head before the memorial to those who died fighting her grandfather’s armed forces, so irresistible. Earlier in the day, as she inspected the guard of honour at Arus an Uachtarain, the presidential residence in Phoenix Park (how many times have I driven past it?) I found that tears had come to my eyes; when the tiny Irish airforce did a flypast, I was entirely undone.’
William Oddie’s discovery of Irish history, how he fell in love with Éire ‘hook, line and sinker’ and how this week, he dissolved in tears when the Queen inspected inspected the guard of honour at Arus an Uachtarain  has been resounding in my thoughts constantly.

Musts for the Queen’s Visit…

Enda Kenny (the Irish prime minister or 'Taoiseach' pronounced 'tuh'ee'shuck') and David Cameron on the visit.

Love and Responsibility...

Check out this post on Love Undefiled for details on a great weekend in Oxford...
Twitch of the mantilla to Love Undefiled.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Queen views The Book of Kells

 The Queen wears the traditional colour of Ireland, and is the first British Monarch to visit Ireland in over 100 years.
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The lighter side of Queen Elizabeth....

This video does not have footage of her cheerfully greeting the Pope to Britain...

Much as I love him...

During Lent, I outed myself as a big Fawlty Towers and John Cleese fan, and during the past week, many have brought this interview  to my attention.  
Christians who advocate that marriage is for one man and one woman are practising “a kind of Christianity that I don’t think would be recognised by Christ”, according to John Cleese.
The comedy actor made the comments during a BBC Radio Merseyside interview.
The 71-year-old actor, most celebrated for his role in Fawlty Towers, said: “Some of the fundamentalist Christians seem to be performing or practising a kind of Christianity that I don’t think would be recognised by Christ.”
On the subject of marriage, Cleese said; “I don’t think Christ said a lot about abortion or even about single sex marriage.”
“I don’t know where all these Christian doctrines came from but that had nothing to do with what Christ ever said in the Bible.”
During the interview Mr Cleese argued that the Life of Brian film, which was banned in some countries on the grounds of blasphemy, was anti-Christian. The divisive film tells the story of Brian Cohen, a Jew who is mistaken for being the Messiah. John Cleese said: “Life of Brian was never an attack on religion, which is what some people seem to pretend it was…It was an attack on how people hold religious beliefs, an attack on what I would call intolerance and narrow mindedness.”
My own comment: Cleese has been accused of making a ‘scathing attack’ on Christian values – but in fact – his comments aren't informed enough to be ‘scathing’. Cleese is openly uncertain about Christian beliefs, and is not knowledgeable enough about Christian beliefs for his opinions to be anything other than assumptions. If anything, his interview is representative of the apathy about Christian principles gripping Britain. This is not a defence of Cleese, but for sake of argument, were we take a sample of one hundred average people milling around Britain; would their interview responses be that different to Cleese’s? So much as I love him for the scripts he wrote for Fawlty Towers, I won’t be consulting him when I have a query about a letter to the Thessalonians.

Monday, 16 May 2011

To set sail for the US in a little boat...

Today is the feast day of St Brendan - who some believe reached America long before Columbus. It's not a tenet of Catholic belief that he did, we just are open to the idea that St Brendan may have.

There was an orchestral suite for uilleann* pipes composed in 1980, called The Brendan Voyage.  Below is a clip.
 *'uilleann' means elbow in the Irish language.

The tickets have arrived for...

I heard about the tickets on Linen on The Hedgerow, who opined that the talk should be mandatory for all English and Welsh bishops.

Friday, 13 May 2011

30 years ago today, John Paul II was shot, and accredited his survival to Our Lady of Fatima

The Holy Father credited Our Lady of Fatima with preventing the bullets from piercing his main abdominal artery. Blessed John Paul II went on to say: “One hand fired, another guided the bullet.”
The Pope forgave Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish sniper who attempted to kill him, without hesitation:
“I pray for that brother of ours who shot me, and whom I have sincerely pardoned. United with Christ, Priest and Victim, I offer my sufferings for the Church and for the world. To you, Mary, I repeat: 'Totus tuus ergo sum.'" (I am all yours).

Monday, 9 May 2011

Why this royal wedding may last...

I shamelessly nicked this from Ed West's blog at The Daily Telegraph.
Here’s some cutting-edge research from Penny Mansfield, director of the marriage think-tank One Plus One, that points to a long and happy marriage between Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Mansfield has spent the last 30 years collating more than 3,000 academic studies into marriage and divorce. And, she says, William and Kate’s relationship is likely to be strong. Here’s why:

1. The bride is religious: Kate was confirmed into the Church of England in March, apparently at her own insistence, while William was confirmed at the age of 14.

2. The bride’s parents did not separate: Michael and Carole Middleton have been married for 30 years.

3. There are no children of previous partners in the household.

4. They both have high levels of education – both William and Kate graduated with a 2:1 honours degree from St Andrews.

5. William and Kate own their own home – no fears about getting on the property ladder certainly, with a large detached property in SW1 eventually awaiting them.

6. They have received marriage preparation, which is known to improve the quality of relationships. (William and Kate had classes with the Archbishop of Canterbury.)

7. They are not too young. Kate is 29 and William is 28. The last census shows the youngest married adults, aged 16-24 in 1991, were less likely to be living with the same partner in 2001 compared with older cohabiting adults.

All this is in contrast to Charles and Diana’s marriage, where the bride was just 19, had no higher education, and came from a broken home.

(Incidentally, forgive the tasteless question, but if we all get a day off today for the royal wedding, do we have to work an extra day if they divorce?)

Saturday, 7 May 2011

My Reflections on the Beatification of John Paul II

The election of John Paul II will be remembered as perhaps one of the biggest bombshells of the 1970s – a pope who had rock-star magnetism, virtuous charisma and the vigour to engage a culturally divided post-Woodstock Catholic Church. The world did not agree with his firm stance on the wrongs of abortion and contraception, but the world never stopped loving John Paul II. This handsome Polish Pope with his angelic smile became a globe-trotting phenomenon, visiting a total of 129 countries. John Paul II went all over the world, but during his Beatification last Sunday in Rome, the world came to venerate him.
Arriving in Rome on Saturday for John Paul II’s Beatification, the first sights were of priests and groups of nuns gathered in every station and on every street passing huge rosary beads in their hands. During the Beatification, Rome became New Poland. Everywhere you turned, there were representatives from every Parish in Poland, young Polish families with tears in their eyes, crowds of Polish priests and sometimes pristinely dressed but smiling Polish boy scouts. No matter how intensely crammed the crowds became, the people from John Paul II’s homeland remained in the vicinity of St Peter’s Square, their eyes peeled in case they would miss a minute of the proceedings.
Not surprisingly, just one million and a half people from over 100 countries came together on St Peter’s Square and around Rome to prepare for and witness the Beatification of who they called ‘the greatest man that ever lived.’ Talking to the crowds, I heard this joyful remark tens of times, ‘this is the happiest day of my life’. Some were keen to say that they would have stopped practising as Catholics and ‘would have left the church’ but didn’t, because ‘John Paul II led the way.’ St Peter’s Square was awash with photos and photographs, mugs, hats and t-shirts of JP II. Weary-looking Christian Evangelicals were doing their best to give leaflets explaining their belief that the Bible is the only route to salvation. Members of the crowd hugged and kissed the Evangelicals and welcomed them to the Beatification of JP II.

The crowd was a fine mix of saints and sinners. Zimbabwe’s villainous president, Mugabe, had forced his way into Rome, and was as timid as an altar boy during the Beatification. Mugabe did after all spend spent some time in a seminary. Mugabe obtained special permission to attend; after all he is banned from travelling in the EU. Silvio Berluscoi, perhaps the most wanton prime minister in the chronicles of Italy, was in attendance. Lech Walesa was one of the most celebrated politicians in attendance; he was welcomed as the good Catholic politician who was earnestly devoted to JP II.

Pope Benedict looked quite exhausted, but joyfully bestowed the status of Blessed on JPII, an announcement to which the crowd whooped and gave a cheer that would have reached heaven. Portions of the crowd, showing their impatience with the lesser title of ‘Blessed’, and cried ‘santo subito’ or ‘sainthood now’. There was clearly no pleasing some in the crowd who would have preferred that Pope Benedict announce John Paul II a saint – immediately. A vial of his blood, sheathed in a silver reliquary was presented to Benedict by two nuns. One of the nuns was Sr. Marie Simon Pierre, the French nun who was miraculously cured from Parkinson’s after she prayed to JP II. This was the miracle that was used to prove John Paul II’s sanctity.
Before the Catholic Church used to spend hundreds of years deciding if they would beatify someone; but it has taken six years to beatify John Paul II. Pope Benedict has beatified John Paul II when his memory is still alive in the hearts of the millions of faithful who loved him. Pope Benedict was keen to point out that John Paul deserves to be ‘Blessed John Paul II’, because of his immense personal holiness. Benedict said in his sermon; ‘Blessed are you, beloved Pope John Paul II, because you believed!’

Padre Pio’s first hospital is a success, but an earthquake strikes

Surely it is a shame that more people, especially people devoted to Padre Pio, do not know of his great practical works; especially that he founded hospitals?
Padre Pio had superhuman compassion. It was Christ who said that ‘I was thirsty and you gave me a drink…sick and you visited me.’ And Padre Pio who defined for us that ‘in every sick person there is Christ who is suffering. In every poor person there is Christ who is languishing. In every sick person who is poor, Christ is doubly there.’
And the outlook was at times – very bleak - for the poor and sick in San Giovanni of that time. We must not neglect the fact that Padre Pio lived in San Giovanni of the 1920’s – then it was a primitive town situated on the Gargano Mountain. Health care was basically nonexistent, with the nearest hospital being quite far away – and over extremely rough terrain. Only people with serious medical emergencies took the arduous journey to the hospital. Among his followers, Padre Pio sought collaborators, raised money, and bought an abandoned Poor Clare Convent.
Then in January 1925, The Civil Hospital of Saint Francis was established. It was a little hospital – we would identify it as more of a small clinic. It had an operating room, two wards (one for men, the other for women) and two private rooms. Those who could not pay, were treated for free. The medical staff were chiefly Dr Angelo Maria Merla who was on call daily and nursing was provided by the sisters of the Sacred Heart and Sisters of the Precious Blood.  Dr Bucci, from Foggia went there twice a week and performed surgery.
To express appreciation to those who had helped make the hospital a reality, there was a plaque on the outside wall, listing the names of those who had collaborated to make the little hospital a reality. On the plaque was written; ‘Padre Pio of Pietrelcina wished that this town would have a hospital. From his faithful followers, he gathered the necessary funds for the establishment of the same.’
The Hospital of St Francis was an amazing gift to the local people for 13 years. Until a brutal earthquake jumbled the earth upon which the hospital was founded, and buried the operating room. The little clinic was closed forever. But the need for medical care in the area was still acute, and Padre Pio was undeterred…
To be continued…
Facts for this post obtained from Frank Rega's book Padre Pio and America. 
If you would like to see amazing video footage of Padre Pio later opening the hospital 'The House for the Relief of Suffering' - click here.  

Friday, 6 May 2011

Padre Pio as he launches hospital called; 'The House for the Relief of Suffering'

The footage contained in this video is amazing. However, an extremist sedevacantist vein runs through this video's title and the other videos that YouTube presents in the right margin. Perhaps the '10 Wise Virgins' who said that Padre Pio was surrounded by 'vultures' of Vatican II might like to read the very supportive letter that Padre Pio wrote to Paul VI.

 The text from Padre Pio's speech (as it appears on the video above) translated into English:
“Men and brothers in Christ, ‘The House for the Relief of Suffering’ is complete. I thank the benefactors who assisted from all around the world. This is the project that Divine Providence, helped by you all, created. I introduce it to you: admire it and bless it together with me and Jesus Christ Our Lord.

A seed was laid in the ground and He will warm it with His rays of love. A new defence force, made of renunciations and love, is going to rise to the glory of God and to the consolation of the sick souls and bodies.

Don’t deprive us of your help, collaborate in this apostolate for the relief of human suffering and Divine charity, that doesn’t know any limit; that is the very light of God and of eternal lifen - will accumulate for each of you a treasure of thanksgiving, which Jesus made us heirs to, under the cross.

Let’s try and do our outmost to imitate His Mother, especially in the virtue of suffering. Besides, like it or not, everyone suffers. So let’s try to make suffering become virtuous for us. If we imitate our Mother of Sorrows, Our Lady will aid us.”
Grateful thanks to Italian expert Chiara Castagna who translated Padre Pio's words into English.

More posts to follow tomorrow on 'The House for the Relief of Suffering', or if you would like to read very detailed chapters on the subject, you could get a copy of Frank Rega's book Padre Pio and America. 

The exact speech in Italian that Padre Pio gave:

"Signori e fratelli in Cristo, la “Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza” è al completo. Ringrazio i benefattori di ogni parte del mondo che hanno cooperato. Questa è la creatura che la Provvidenza, aiutata da voi, ha creato; ve la presento: ammiratela e benedite insieme a me il Signore Dio.

È stato deposto nella terra un seme che Egli riscalderà con i suoi raggi d’amore. Una nuova milizia fatta di rinunzie e d’amore sta per sorgere a gloria di Dio e a conforto delle anime e dei corpi infermi. Non ci private del vostro aiuto, collaborate a questo apostolato di sollievo della sofferenza umana e la carità divina che non conosce limiti e che è luce stessa di Dio e della vita eterna accumulerà per ciascuno di voi un tesoro di grazie di cui Gesù ci ha fatto eredi sotto la croce.

Cerchiamo e sforziamoci di imitare questa Madre, in modo speciale nella virtu’ del soffrire. Del resto, o vogliamo o non vogliamo, la sofferenza e’ per tutti. Quindi cerchiamo che questa diventi virtuosa per noi. Imitando la nostra Mamma Addolorata la Madonna ci assistera".

"I survived an abortion" Melissa Ohden

The beauty of this video is that it is done with good taste and with a very gentle, calm approach. It leaves the viewer with a serene sense of that awesome virtue of Hope - that a life can endure an abortion. But also there's the implicit question that if Melissa had not survived...the human race would be impoverished for her loss.

Melissa has clearly forgiven her biological parents, but admits to having felt a lot of personal guilt. I take it that this is 'survivor's guilt' where the abortion-survivor asks; 'why did I survive, when thousands each day are falling dead to the same 'procedure' that nearly killed me?' We can give thanksgiving that her life was saved, and that she is a great asset to the pro-life cause. We may offer her mission in our Rosary intentions. 

Thursday, 5 May 2011

'This is the secret of a man in love with a woman...'

H/T to A Reluctant Sinner.

Blogmeet kit anyone? Blogmeet style becomes the fashion?

Cyberteologica reports that (So Far) reactions to the Vatican for Bloggers Meeting are contained in more than 17 million Web pages. With the Blogmeet garnering more interest than pop concerts, it's only a matter of time before this paraphenalia hits the street.

Could this garb become de rigueur?

Here is a snap of my identity card, which I will be keeping safely, in the event that I have children and can pass it on to them.

And the t-shirts above are printed in a very Marian shade of blue.

Below: Would this battle-cry of the blogosphere look good on a t-shirt? Or even as a car sticker?
Thanks to Cyberteologica for the image of the t-shirt and 'Let the Bloggers Blog' sign.

Bloggers to Replace New York Times? Blogmeet Memoir Part 3

Preferring to be energised and caffeinated – I’d stuck with the coffee and avoided the prosecco. We took our seats for the second panel. There was still an atmosphere of whatever-will-happen-next, as 150 bloggers’ eyes bugged to see the next speakers take their place on the panel. And now for the moment we had all been waiting for; the second panel will answer the question; in what esteem does the Vatican hold blogging and social networking? Fr Spadaro, S.J. moderated the panel, and was flanked by five Vatican representatives. Fr. Antonio Spadaro, S.J. told us that his background is in studying literature, and that he views each blog as a novel. Fr Lombardi gave a lengthy talk, but it was peppered with Pope Benedict’s plans to use social media. Lombardi opened with some insights on Pope Benedict's reaction to social media. "He doesn't blog and he doesn't use Twitter," Lombardi said, "but he does understand the power of new media." Lombardi included that the Pope will use satellite technology to host a live meeting with astronauts in space.
Thomas Peters earned a resounding applause when he enquired of Fr Lombardi if bloggers would ever be privy to advanced copies of Vatican documents. Thomas proposed that if the Vatican were to give bloggers embargoed news stories, such as are given The New York Times, it could benefit the Vatican. Secular media outlets do not always get the story right, and put their own twist on the story. Bloggers might be more brutally honest. But this begs the question; which blogs (and why) would be privy to these semi-classified documents? 

In giving such documents to bloggers, there is a very strong element of relying on the bloggers’ good will. Perhaps I’m being cynical, but consider this scenario. What if a loyal Catholic blogger were to be given sensitive Vatican documents, but then this same blogger has a sudden crisis of faith and loses their trust in the Church and the Vatican, and uses the documents to write against the Church? If the Church were to give sensitive documents to bloggers, then they would have to be open to thousands of different interpretations being put out on the internet. 
Is this suggestion of mine so naff; with our new technology, would the Vatican reconsider/stop giving embargoed documents to the secular press and create its own worldwide media base, employing some bloggers in the place previously occupied by big media power houses like The New York Times? If the bloggers were staff, they would then be legally accountable to the Vatican. The bloggers who would come forward/be chosen would follow policy; but they would be responsible for the dissemination of information to Catholic worldwide and that is a responsibility not to be sneered at.
Have bloggers shown themselves to be more accountable in the past? It was mentioned at least twice that bloggers clarified what the Pope said in Light of the World on condoms.
Fr Lombardi said he was ‘very grateful’ to bloggers for their role in publicising the Church’s teachings against condoms in 2010, when the mainstream media chitchat was that the Pope was advocating condoms. Without bloggers, would Catholics have started relying on condoms, thinking that the Pope had changed Catholic teaching? During that vexed time in 2010, perhaps bloggers prevented the situation becoming like the mid 60s. The pre-June 1968, pre-Humanae Vitae mode. I’ve interviewed many Catholics who were engaged/married in the 60s, and they were told that they could use any contraception that they wanted because the Pope would ‘shortly’ be sanctioning contraception for married couples. Then came Humanae Vitae.
See Memoir One and Two

Aerosmith's Steven Tyler haunted by girlfriend's abortion

Long before he won accolades as an American Idol judge, Steven Tyler was a bona-fide rock star, with all that that implied. In 1975, when he was in his late 20s and the lead singer for the band Aerosmith, Tyler persuaded the parents of his 14-year-old girlfriend, Julia Holcomb, to make him her legal guardian so that they could live together in Boston.
When Miss Holcomb and Tyler conceived a child, his longtime friend Ray Tabano convinced Tyler that abortion was the only solution. In the Aerosmith “autobiography,” Walk This Way (in which recollections by all the band members, and their friends and lovers, were assembled by the author Stephen Davis), Tabano says: “So they had the abortion, and it really messed Steven up because it was a boy. He … saw the whole thing and it [messed] him up big time.”
Tyler also reflects on his abortion experience in the autobiography. “It was a big crisis. It’s a major thing when you’re growing something with a woman, but they convinced us that it would never work out and would ruin our lives. … You go to the doctor and they put the needle in her belly and they squeeze the stuff in and you watch. And it comes out dead. I was pretty devastated. In my mind, I’m going, Jesus, what have I done?”....
After the abortion, Tyler began a torrid affair with model Bebe Buell while still seeing Julia, the mother of his aborted son. If you were wondering what happened to Julia (who is referred to as Diana Hall in the book) after this purportedly psychologically safe procedure, Bebe tells us: “There were many suicidal calls from poor Diana as they were breaking up. It was actually a pretty sad time.”...
He went on a European concert tour, accompanied by Bebe, who tells us: “He was crazy … totally drunk, really out of it. … Steven destroyed his dressing room at Hammersmith … when we got back from Europe. … One night I found him on the floor of his bathroom having a drug seizure. He was writhing in pain.”....
Then Bebe Buell became pregnant with Tyler’s child. She realized it would be impossible to raise a child with him given his out-of-control substance abuse and rock-and-roll lifestyle. She returned to her former lover, the composer, producer, and recording artist Todd Rundgren, who agreed to act as father of the child and keep Tyler’s fatherhood a secret. Their daughter, who grew up to be the actress Liv Tyler, was born on July 1, 1977.
This story begs a very important question; did Bebe learn that the fallout from an abortion can be so grave, that she decided not to abort Liv?

Read the full story here
Twitch of the mantilla to Patrick Madrid where I first saw this article.
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