Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Excellent Retreat!

Today, Good Shepherd staff went to Prince of Peace Abbey for our Lenten Retreat.

With the guidance of Fr. William Rausch, a Franciscan priest from Los Angeles, we were led to reflect on ways to reinvigorate our ministries and overcome obstacles or "ruts" we mind find ourselves in during the ins and outs of our parish life.

Some memorable quotes from the first talk (I only got to attend that once since I had to get my son home for his nap!) were:

  • In Jewish though, God bringing them out of Egypt was not a past event but a present one, even the ones that were never in Egypt. So, we have to ask ourselves, "What is my Egypt?" What is the bondage that God wants to deliver me from?

  • It's impossible to "forgive and forget." In fact, it may even be dangerous to because sometimes you need to remember. But what it means to "forget" is not to put it out of your memory but to diffuse the anger or emotions which that memory brings with it. We can look back on past hurts or offenses against us with the wisdom and be cautious, but we don't want to find ourselves feeling the same emotions of those past hurts. If we do that, we will never let it go, we will always be burdened by the anger that that caused us and we will not learn to give people a change and work with them.

  • It is important to be careful to not set unrealistic expectations of oneself so as not to cause resentment of ourselves if we don't meet our goals.

These are just a few great insights from the talk which really stuck out in my mind.

It was so enjoyable!

Not only was the environment beautiful and a great way to foster prayer and reflection, but we were able to attend Mass with the Benedictine monks and many people from the community as well as other retreatants.

The staff enjoyed lunch together, some reflection time where we could wander the grounds and pray, walk the stations, and reflect, and Fr. Rausch gave more talks before he fought the traffic to head back home.

Thank you to Prince of Peace Abbey for your hospitality...thank you Fr. Rausch for your wisdom, and thank you Fr. Michael and the Good Shepherd staff that coordinated it so we can be renewed and refreshed to better serve the parish community!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Embryonic Stem Cell Research and the Faith

Yesterday was yet another sad day in this president's administration: President Obama lifted the executive ban on using federal money to support embryonic stem cell research.

Stem cell research is studyng cells that haven't specialized into a particular type of body cell yet. For instance, when an embryo is conceived, that single cell multiplies and multiplies billions of times and during fetal development, the stem cells begin to specialize into particular body cells, such as heart cells, muscle cells, brain cells, etc.

Researches are very keen on being able to manipulate these stem cells because if they could somehow control the cells that become other cells, if a person suffers some degenerative disease, stem cells could be stimulated to become whatever body part needs regeneration and used to restore that person's body: and the great thing is that those cells are from the same genetic make up of the patient and therefore the risk of rejection of a foregin object is eliminated.

It seemed tempting to some scientists that if we could get the cell of a recently fertilized person, before the cells specialize then we have the "freshest" stem cells available. However, this method results in the destruction of a human person (people become people at concetion) for the sake of "harvesting" his or her body parts to experiment on them.

Yeah. Kinda scary.

Well, what makes this worse is that you don't have to take the life of a newly conceived person in order to get stem cells. Adults carry stem cells in their bodies even into adulthood, such as in their bone marrow or fat. These can be obtained without the destruction of human life...seriously, if you want fat for stem cells, you can have some of mine!

Just to make it clear: there is NO moral objection by the Church on adult stem cells...but there is a grave objection to embryonic stem cells since it results in the death of the baby. Furthermore, creating humans in order to harvest their genetic material is wrong, wrong wrong.

It is important to note that ALL studies scientifically demonstrate that adult stem cells are the type of stem cell that is effective in helping reverse the effects of degenerative diesases...NOT embryonic stem cells. No cures have resulted from embryonic stem cell use. In fact, just the opposite, people get tumors.

But many cures are attributed to the use of adult stem cells!

So the benefits of stem cell research can and has been ethically applied to advance science!

This all makes the obsession with embryonic stem cell research all the more inisidious. It is almost like the scientists are setting aside demonstrable scientific proof simply to destroy unborn babies. It is abhorrent.

So, now, good Catholics, your taxpayer money now gets to go to this horrible and INEFFECTIVE branch of science while a perfectly good, licit and moral branch is even more effective and available in abundance.

What is so very interesting is that the President spoke carefully (presumably attempting to appeal to the more moderate crowd) talking about rigid restrictions set on this science.

What sense does that make? It's not a baby so you can kill it and harvest its cells for your ineffective experiments, but because of the "moral implications", you cannot create an embryo just to use its stem cells, and you can't clone, either.

If it's just a lifeless lump of cells, why does it matter what you do with it? If that embryo is not a separate person with its own unique dignity, why have any restrictions at all, or any more restrictions that you might have on say, a medical school cadaver. After all, it's not a life, right?

The very nuanced position bespeaks the truth that there is someONE to consider....the baby! And that this practice is gravely evil. Maybe the president hasn't come to the full realization of it yet, but perhaps this need to nuance will lead to a realization that the whole practice is immoral, inhuman, and a mass execution and experimentation on little humans who have no chance to live their life with freedom, life and happiness.

Our Loday, patron saint of the Americas, pray for our country.


As with most blogs, I feel like it's necessary to begin this blog with a little bit of an introduction.

Why would a DCM (Director of Catechetical Ministry) want a blog?

For several reasons.

First, because this is 2009 and it's how information is spread. Bloggers pick up news stories and put it on their blog and if they are clever enough in their writing or interesting enough in their opinions, people will go to their blog and pick up on interesting things around the world that may not have made the nightly news.

Second, because the internet is where people spend their time! People like to surf! They expect answers to be there and they like the dynamism that is present in a blog that is updated regularly. To have a website with a blog lets the reader know that someone is "there" and that website is not too old or outdated.

Finally, because catechesis, faith formation is personal. The faith was passed down through people. So instead of merely putting information on a website, it is also not a bad idea to put witness up there as well. People can come to the website and not just learn about the faith from linkes to other web pages, but they can also come and listen to a witness.

So, that's what it's for. As a catechist, my job is to make sure that the things I say about Jesus, the Bible and the Church are all true and are all faithful to the Church's teachings. So you can rest assured that this blog is not merely my own personal "take" on things.

However, it does give me an opportunity to say things like "Jesus gives us His Body and Blood in the amazing is that?!" and be a little more personal than a static website.

Feel free to e-mail me if you have questions and please come back as this blog grows!