February 2005 Archives

A conversation chez-Lu

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Mama-Lu: Fasting doesn't start until your 18 right?
Papa-Lu: Um, I think it's 12 when it starts.
M: No, I think that's abstinence.
P: WHAT?!!?....wha- oh, that abstinence.

For the record:

Ash Wednesday & Lent Rules
For Catholics:

All persons over 14 years of age are gravely bound to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and on all the Fridays of Lent.

All persons over age 18 and up to the age of 60 are gravely obliged to fast by limiting themselves to a single full meal on Ash Wednesday and on Good Friday, while the other two meals may be light.

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Mass conversion

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Anglican pastor converts and brings wife, children (three under the age of three - go on with your bad selves) and SIXTY parishioners with him.

Praise God!

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Ticked at the idiot who ruins two parking spaces, or who parks crookedly so it's hard to parallel park in front of him? Vent your frustrations:


A cute idea, but I sense it will end up causing more than one fistfight.

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Where's Bill Luse when you need him?

A promotion for breast enhancing cream that involved three models having a 15 minute mammary massage in public has caused a furore in Thailand, with family groups saying it violates traditional values and morality.

He's explained his views on public breastfeeding multiple times, but to my knowledge he's never discussed his position on public breast massage.


Moving right along, I know Cuba has its problems (murderous Communist dictator and all) but I didn't know things had sunk so low:

Cuba on Feb. 7 banned smoking in air-conditioned public buildings, theaters, schools, sports centers, buses and taxis as part of a health initiative.

Wait a sec, so before February 7 you could smoke in a school in Cuba? Hmm... maybe there's something to this Communist dictatorship stuff after all...


Man bites dog... no, really, Man bites dog.

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Posted without comment

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Keep 'em coming!


World Population to hit 9 billion in 2050.

Of course, the reporter uses the data to get all doom and gloomy about the developing world, but it'll be awfully hard for the developing world to continue developing without working age people to do the developing.

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Il Papa Update


Apparently, the Pope had surgery yesterday.

Pope John Paul (news - web sites) II is breathing on his own, but his doctors have advised him not to speak for a few days, the Vatican (news - web sites) said Friday, a day after he was rushed to a hospital and underwent surgery to ease another breathing crisis.

Papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said the frail 84-year-old John Paul spent a restful night at Rome's Gemelli Polyclinic, where doctors said there was no sign the pope had a lung infection such as pneumonia.
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Not cool

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This guy thinks he's funny. Actually it is pretty funny. Painful and traumatic, but funny. Did I mention that the first spring training game is in 6 days?

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Pope back in hospital


VATICAN CITY (AP) Pope John Paul II was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance Thursday suffering from a relapse of the flu, a fever and congestion, the Vatican said, a day after the pontiff made his longest public appearance since being discharged from the clinic two weeks ago.

Full story.

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Book and Movies to Grow a Mind

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Papa-Lu- First off, I love you and you are the best papa and hubby ever! Second, I was just thinking I would like to create a list of books and movies I want to get for Matthew and I thought this might be a good place to do it. I also thought you might like to make it a permanant feature (perhaps providing an alternative to loud or large gifts?) However, if you feel that it would be too much for one little blog to handle that's fine. For now, I'll just post my thoughts. (If you feel like you could add pics of these, but I can't remember how:)

La Ballon Rouge
Apple Dumpling Gang
Milo and Otis
All Muppet Movies
Maurice Sendak's Nutcracker

Winne the Pooh
Anything Suessian
E.B. White's 3
Where the Wild Things Are and other Sendak stuff
Chronicles of Narnia

mmmmm, that's enough for now. back to CCD planning.

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Goodnight, Moon!


This is today's Foxtrot (the one on my desk calendar, not the one in the comics:


Ha! This is much funnier if you're familiar with this book.

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Apostolic Letter on the media


Zenit has the full text.

Giving it a brief skim, I think I've identified the papal understatement of the decade:

"The world of mass media also has need of Christ's redemption."

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God-Spy interview with Bai MacFarlane


Really good stuff on her situation and on the American civil and ecclesial systems. Published - get this - on Valentine's Day.

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The Old Oligarch links to and comments on this post from the Chevalier with regards to conversions. They are both good reads, and I wanted to throw in my own $.02 here since they've stirred up thoughts I've had brewing.

O.O says of converts:

Converts comprise a majority of my friends, including my wife. Try as I might, I too cannot mentally put myself in their shoes. The intimacy of our friendship is to no avail. I might know their mind on a dozen other issues, and know it well on points where we disagree, but as a cradle Catholic who never (Deo gratias) had a period of apostacy or estrangement, I cannot imagine what it is like to convert. On occasion, I worry that this means, as a theologian, that I am desparately blind to an important area of the theology of faith, revelation and grace.

Funny, though I'm not a theologian, I have a similar struggle when I compare myself (a "revert" of sorts) to cradle Catholics (such as my wife) who were raised with observant Catholicism in their bones. For one example, I notice a tendency in myself (as well as some other converts I know) to be pretty over-scrupulous - sometimes ridiculously so - with regard to Catholicity.

On the other hand, I once had a cradle Catholic tell me that they envied me because I knew God's mercy and forgiveness better (my reaction: please be thankful you didn't offend God the way I did in my darker years). I think there's a little bit of "the grass is greener" going on here, but I also think that there are some real differences between how cradle Catholics and converts experience the faith.

Later on, O.O. observes that

"there are some very insightful theological descriptions of the search for God and its fulfillment... Yet the feeling remains that these helpful categories have not succeeded in domesticating the phenomona of conversion -- it still remains fundamentally wild and escapes analysis in an important way. Perhaps because it is a pure action of grace, or "actual grace" (versus habitual grace), as they say.

A big part of the problem is that God comes to every convert in such a dramatically different way. Two of the most important moments in my spiritual life were dreams that changed my life from that night forward. Others were subtle moments - something I read, words that were said, moments of Adoration or meditation - that affected me just as deeply. How can I possibly discern why God chose to come to me in one way or another?

With somebody born and raised in the faith, the Sacraments bring about a certain rhythm to their spiritual development. Obviously the rhythm isn't the exact same for everybody because we use our free will to accept or reject the grace in different measures, but there is a natural progression.

Conversion is a different story. The phenomenon of conversion is a complex interplay between God's action and man's reaction. How can we possibly form postulates based on that? The best we can come up with are broad categories: the intellectual conversion, the conversion from sensuality, the abandonment of riches, some combination thereof, etc. But on the individual level, what we have is a drama played out uniquely in each individual heart, as man tries to run away from a God who do anything to speak to us.

The Sacraments are the ordinary means of grace, and each can be found in the Gospels and tradition of the Church, but what did God say about conversion except that he would leave the 99 to search after the one who strays? What do we know about his action except that like the father of the prodigal son, God will come out to meet us when we turn back towards Him? Or what can we say about those who until their conversion never knew God, except that His law was written on their hearts all along?

That said, I also want to address The Chevalier's question:

But in this modern culture which denies faith in favor of empirical evidence, rejects the conclusions of reason as a legitimate basis for truth, refuses to distinguish between competing "ethical value systems," and proclaims rational autonomy as the good for man, why does anyone turn to an authoritarian, hirerarchical, tradition-saturated Church with a basis in supernatural faith and an insistence on objective truth as Her sole possession? How does anyone get past the myopia, the conditioning, and the general brainwashing of the Modern ages in order to see the radiance of the Catholic Church "like the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array"?

First of all, nicely put.

Second, the answer for so many converts is that the modern world, for all its strict material empricism, myopia, conditioning and brainwashing, simply cannot deliver the goods. The truth is in their hearts, burned into their DNA as "imago Dei." Many converts, such as myself, come to Christ precisely because we've received the grace to perceive that nothing short of Him can satisfy. The greatest experiences this world has to offer are in the end exhaustible. When we've had our go and dipped our toes into a little of this and a little of that and yet find ourselves unfulfilled, God will still be there calling us as He always has.

The last point I have to make is that conversions are truly "awesome;" they elicit awe, they uplift, they inspire. They can be as edifying as the lives of the saints. In each story we can see the reality of the Shepherd seeking out the lost sheep and bringing him home. In each, we can see not only the Father's willingness to come to us each in a different way, but also the one aspect of the Father's love which is the same for us all - its relentlessness. The Father will never give up. Can a mother forsake her child? He will not abandon you. It gives us great hope that we will always be able to turn to Him for comfort, for forgiveness and for peace.

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Terri Schiavo


I havent blogged at all about this because so many others have been doing a fine job (see here for more info if you wish). But the situation is in somewhat of an emergency.

Terri Schiavo is scheduled to be starved to death per court order beginning at 1 PM today. Prayers for a last minute reprieve are necessary to save this woman's life.

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Mining for treasure

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I think I posted this once, long ago on a blog far, far away, but it's something I've rediscovered so I thought I'd bring it up here.

The First Things website has an online archive featuring every issue going back to February of 1993, which is updated every month with the previous issue. There are some true gems in there, and it's all free.

Also, can anyone either soothe or convict my conscience about ordering a "student" subscription to a magazine when one is a part-time student and has a full-time job? Keep in mind that this somebody is not rich and has an infant. :)

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New Pics up!

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New baby pictures are here! Check them out (after you read my wife's post on JP2 below)!

Here is a sample:

The most precious gift the Lu- family got this year.

Rice cakes were one of Matthew's first solids. WARNING: babies seem, to love nibbling on them, but ricecakes+baby saliva = concrete.

The Lu- family Christmas picture

We gave Matthew chocolate chip cookie for dessert on Christmas day.

What makes him so happy? Being decked in cubby blue, of course!

Sometimes... my boy gets excited... actually, the funniest part of this picture is his left foot. Look how spread out his toes are! He does this whenever he gets really excited.

First taste.JPG
Introducing him to the finer things at a Super Bowl party at Uncy Larry's.

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JP2 We Love You

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The Catholic Post invited readers to share their experiences with the Holy Father and thoughts on his legacy. Since I feel JPII has had a deep effect on my life, I responded and since I love to share about my love for Il Papa, I decided to share my response here too. I know its long and probably full of typos, but the Klingon clinging to my knees does not help me write well.

When I was little, I remember reading the Pope's biography in comic book form at the Family Resource Center in Peoria and renting from there "The Jeweler's Shop," a screen adaptation of one of the Holy Father's plays. Then came the chance to see him in Denver. World Youth Day '93 was a changing moment in my life.

Cherry Creek State Park was 12 years ago, but I can still hear John Paul II saying "It is time to preach it from the rooftops." He encouraged the young people present to imitate the early Apostles in their fearless preaching of the Gospel. Those words stayed with me through adolescence and I tried hard to live that message among my friends in high school, even picking up the nick-name "pope" because I was such a big fan.

After high school, I took a year to work in Nashville. There, in a library belonging to the Nashville Dominicans, I read some of the Pope's plays. It was here that I realized the Holy Father's love of family life and through his writing I began to see the great holiness of the home. I also read Blessed Are the Pure of Heart and understood the call to celibacy much more clearly.

The University of Illinois, where I went to college, provided a big "rooftop." Though pro-life activism I had many opportunities to preach the Gospel of Life and the words from Cherry Creek provided encouragement. The words "do not be afraid," with which the Holy Father started his pontificate and has repeated numerous times, also resounded in my heart.

I continued reading the writings of the Holy Father and plowed through part of the Theology of Body. During this time I was attempting to discern my vocation and I found the writings of John Paul II to be very helpful. By reading his works, I realized how perfectly each person's vocation matches their personhood. I finally understood that discernment did not mean figuring out some cosmic plan - it meant figuring out the glory God created me for. I had always been attracted to the holiness and charity of women religious, but in reading the Holy Father's writings, I became convinced that the Domestic Church also possessed tremendous sanctity and that was the path God laid in front of me.

Then came the great Jubilee Year, and I went to another World Youth Day. Here the Pope called us to be "Saints of the New Millennium," and not only that, but he said it with such hope that we would all respond generously. He seem convicted that all 2 million of us could be saints, and I did not want to disappoint him.

A few more years passed and I went to World Youth Day in Toronto with my brother and some close friends, including my boyfriend who is now my husband. Seeing him there and again later that summer in Rome taught me a very important lesson I needed to learn before getting married. The Pope's voice was weak and his movements difficult, but his presence was strong because it was full of love. The idea of preaching from the rooftops had been with me so long and I was struggling to understand how I could continue to do that as a wife and mother. The Holy Father's example showed me that the Gospel can be preached loudly without words simply by loving at all times, in all places.

My husband and I both found a mentor in the John Paul II, and guided by his words and the teaching of Holy Mother Church, we entered marriage with a complete openness to life, knowing that for us it would mean poverty and sacrifice. When I became pregnant with our son, I was too sick to work. Not being able to leave the couch gave me lots of time to read "Witness to Hope," by George Weigel. It was inspiring and touching, but the most tender part for me was reading about the families that were the Holy Father's dear friends in Poland and how he and guided them. Though separated by many years and miles, I felt like my little family was one of them. These days my rooftop is a sink full of dirty dishes or the grocery store line, and I think the Holy Father would approve.

John Paul II hopes in young people. Not an empty optimism that "children are the future," but a powerful, challenging belief that young people are today. His call to young people is not asking them to grow up to be saints, but to be holy now and to change the world around them today. His many writings provide tremendous insight on how live out this call. Some might feel his prolific and profound writings are his legacy, but in my eyes, these writings are merely meant to accompany the call to holiness which John Paul II has issued to the young people of the world. It is this challenge, this hope, that will be his legacy.

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Two gems from Zenit


First of all, here is the text of the Pope's Sunday address before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's square.

Last Wednesday, with the rite of ashes, we began Lent, liturgical time which every year reminds us of a fundamental truth: we do not enter eternal life without carrying our cross in union with Christ. We do not attain to happiness and peace without facing the interior struggle with courage. It is a struggle that is overcome with the weapons of penance: prayer, fasting, and works of mercy. All this must be lived in a hidden way, without hypocrisy, in a spirit of sincere love for God and for our brethren.

Also, here is an interview discussing the Pope's bodyguards. For some reason, this made me think of John Bambenek.... maybe it brought back memories of the "Sacristan Drop Squad" and "Koinonia Special Ops."

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Divorced are not excommunicated!

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Happily, the Vatican is attempting to clarify a common misconception: that those who are divorced are excommunicated.

"We speak correctly of the pastoral care of divorced persons which relates to Christians who live in an irregular situation, but are not excommunicated," he said.

The archbishop added: "It is urgent to assist wounded persons who suffer due to unhappy marital vicissitudes, at times separated and divorced in spite of themselves."

I think a further clarification that should be made is that having obtained a civil divorce in and of itself does not put one in a state of mortal sin. Unless one intends to remarry, an annulment is not necessary.

UPDATE: Alicia makes a good point in the comment boxes. I should be much more clear and state that usually in the case where a divorce occurs, at least one partner is probably guilty of a violation of the marriage vows. The instances I am referring to above are situations where a more or less "innocent spouse" may believe they are excluded from the Church simply because of the divorce. I intended the term "in and of itself" above to refer to the fact that the divorce of a valid marriage can often be the result of actions by one or both spouses that render it impossible for the couple to live with each other without a drastic change of heart on the part of one of the parties (think physical or mental abuse for one example). In such a situation, a civil divorce can sever ties for the good (and even sometimes the protection of) the other spouse.

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Vatican warns that book denying divinity of Christ (written by a Jesuit priest, natch) contains "grave doctrinal errors against the divine and Catholic faith of the Church."

An example of the errors in the article:

"one cannot still continue to affirm [...] that Christianity is the superior religion or that Christ is the absolute center in relation to which all the other historical mediations are relative."

Hmm... let's contrast this to the first line of Pope John Paul II's first encyclical:

The Redeemer of Man, Jesus Christ, is the centre of the universe and of history.

Yeeeaahhhh.... did you get the memo?

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Come on, Scottie

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Dear Scottie Pippen,

As a teenager and young adult in Chicago during the 1990s, I was a devoted Bulls fan.

I remember watching every single championship game. The first came when I was in 8th grade. At game's conclusion, the entire city erupted into an enormous celebration. My older brother and sister and I got in the car and drove all around the north side, slapping five with strangers and literally dancing in the streets. It's one of the finest memories of my childhood, nearly matched by the five subsequent titles which were accompanied by similar celebrations.

As a young fan, I particularly held you in high esteem. As one with a diminutive stature, I admired your long limbs, which helped you be the NBA's best defender of that decade (yes, better than Mike, I believe).

I remember when Mike retired, and you took over as team leader, performing admirably. I remember the All-Star game that year, when you - sporting corn rows and bright red sneakers - caught fire and won the game's Most Valuable Player award.

I always felt that you were the smoothest dresser on the Bulls, and knew that if you were injured for a game I could count on you to be sporting a sleek suit while you cheered your teammates on from the bench. It sounds silly, but I almost looked forward to it.

You were a hero of mine, Scottie. I wished I too could own my own Dodge dealership, and resolved then when I got older and bought my first car, I would patronize your establishment. I defended the size of your nose against mean-spirited friends and family, and I knew that on any other team you would be the best player, as you were for the Bulls when Mike was gone.

Every time I played NBA Jam I chose you. Every time I ate at Carson's, I stopped to admire your autographed picture and many times seriously entertained the idea of lifting it (alas, my fear of getting caught and being banished from the home of my favorite porkchops slightly outweighed my desire to possess your signed likeness).

My heart broke when you went to Portland, and it was sad to watch the rest of your career, as injuries and age slowed you down and diminished your skills.

It felt a nice, warm breeze of nostalgia when you returned to the Bulls last year. Although I've lost most of my interest in the NBA, it seemes so right that you were coming home to the city that loved you so much. I felt a tinge of sadness when you got injured and it shook my head in sorrow when you retired.

I say all this to let you know that this comes from a true fan. Mike was the man, but the Bulls couldn't have done it without you. I still remember you fondly, and I wish you the best in all your endeavors.

And yet, despite all of the memories and all of the gratitude I feel for your service to the Windy City, there's no way in h*** that you deserve $200,000 worth of farm subsidies paid with tax dollars taken from my fellow citizens and me. Surely your tens of millions of salary and endorsements are not yet run out, and surely you are not struggling to maintain the family farm. Please be the gentleman I knew you for and remove yourself from the agricultural gravy train.

Your Very Truly,


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EWTN for your handheld

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Note to self


Sit back with coffee and pipe and read this piece.

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More stem cells


Most of the time pro-life people discuss adult stem cells, they talk about it in the wrong way. You hear things like "embryonic stem cells have never helped one person and adult stem cells have."

That's true, but that's also not the point. Scientists like embryonic stem cells because of the potential they have to differentiate into any kind of cell, and adult stem cells can't match that yet. Using the embryonic stem cells have never helped a single person line is dishonest and shows little respect for the research side of the science.

That's what's so hopeful about this article. If a type of adult stem cell can be found that matches the potential of embryonic stem cells, then that makes the pro-life case a bit stronger. The ultimate argument is of course a moral one, for if the embryo were not a human life there would be no objection to the harvesting of its stem cells. But obviating the need for embryonic stem cells may prevent at least some od the tinkering with human life which is in fact going on because many don't recognize the personhood of the embryo.

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Stem cells

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Two comments appeared under my post of the article on stem cells.

Jeff Miller says:

Possibly, but not for a while. The debate has always been closer to abortion theology than to the merits of science.

and Zadok follows with:

Exactly... This is one battle that needs to be won on philosophical rather than scientific grounds. Even if embryo stem-cells were capable of solving all the medical problems in the world it'd still not justify the loss of one life.

I agree totally. I liken it to arguments for Natural Family Planning that start with its effectiveness. Well... that's nice, but wouldn't that make NFP + a condom + who knows what other contraptions they make these days even more effective? People need to be convinced that birth control is wrong, not that NFP is more effective.

Yet the debate hasn't been won yet, and in fact is being lost in some places (California). So while we pray and work to change people's hearts and minds about stem cells, the development of an alternative form of research that doesn't destroy human life can be a great good.

If adult stem cells show promise to be more effective than embryonic stem cells (the point of the article I posted), then by all means, let's hurry up and get there so we can people will stop tinkering with life. If I can convince a murderer not to kill somebody because it's in his own best interests, it's not the same as bringing him to respect life, but I've still saved a life.

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There we were in CCD on Sunday. Jenny was teaching and I was hanging out on the carpet with Matthew. All of a sudden, I realized that he was making his way over towards her. He'd been attempting to crawl for quite a while, but until that point could only go backwards or around in circles. This was the real deal.

Please spare me the warning about this changing everything; we get it. It was a matter of mere hours until we realized that nothing on the coffee table is safe any longer.

Pics coming by the weekend.

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Pray for the Pope

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If you have not yet heard, the Pope was taken to the hospital with complications from the flu.

Appropriately enough, his prayer intention for the month of February was for the sick. What better time to honor this intention?

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Must-read on contraception, divorce

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I'm about 3/4 of the way through with this piece by W. Bradford Wilcox from Touchstone magazine. I encourage you to take a look.

Wilcox discusses recent sociological data - data gathered by individuals not pushing a right-leaning agenda - which provide empirical support to the Church's teachings on contraception and divorce. The arguments for the Church's teaching haven't changed and are just as valid as they've always been, but the research is incredible and edifying to see. Please read it.

With this and with Mary Eberstadt's Home Alone America, I sense an encouraging trend. Maybe enough time has passed after the sexual devolution for its ill effects to be made empirically apparent.

Of course, some people didn't need 40 years to see what was going to happen. I don't say that to gloat (I can't gloat, it's not like I wrote Humane Vitae), because I get no joy out of seeing Pope Paul's predictions of the tragic effects of contraception being shown to be true. On the other hand, there is always beauty in seeing how the Holy Spirit has kept the Church free from error.

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Mama-Lu's Etsy Shop

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2005 is the previous archive.

March 2005 is the next archive.

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