Related and tragic. A wave of infanticide has stunned Germany which is trying to fight it by aggressively marketing Baby-Klappe hatches that allow women to drop off their babies to be found and cared for without having to give their names. 23 known cases of infanticide have come to light this year - well above average.
" Professor Helmut Kury, a criminologist, say: “Some women have a greater fear of losing their partners than of losing their child. They take desperate measures to save a relationship.”
"Professor Mechthild Neises, head of the Psychosomatic Unit at the Medical University in Hanover, agreed: “Such women have usually lied about their pregnancy for so long that they have stopped believing that they are actually pregnant. When the baby suddenly arrives, they panic and just want to get rid of it.”
But the baby-drops, modeled on foundling wheels that were first used in Italy in medieval times, are not seen as the final antidote to these killings. “Often the mother is under such psychological pressure that she doesn’t even register alternatives like the Baby-Klappe,” Dr Neises said.
But they do offer an alternative for some mothers. The drop-off point is usually hidden from view, shielded by trees and away from security cameras. The baby is put on to a tray that slides through a hole in the wall and is gently lowered into a heated cot. An alarm bell alerts nursing staff — but only after the mother has been given sufficient time to make a getaway. The baby can be reclaimed, usually up to three months later, should the mother change her mind.
In Berlin the posters, giving full addresses and phone numbers of three hospitals with baby-drops, are sponsored by Hans Wall, a businessman whose company maintains bus shelters and public lavatories. A baby was dumped in one of his shelters on a cold night last January. He became its godfather and will finance its education."
Sherry's comment: The baby drops are wonderful (thank God for them!) but the church has been fighting abortion with foundling wheels and homes since the middle ages.
A woman centered approach like the Nurturing Network is a longer term solution but requires someone with the vision, resources, and entrepenturial ability like Mary Cunningham Agee to set it up.
The Nurturing Network’s objective is not a political one but a most practical one: to provide a real choice to women whose own support networks have let them down. Each woman served by TNN is empowered to move beyond her economic, emotional and social constraints in order to exercise her choice to have a healthy pregnancy and nurture the life of her child.
As Mary Cunningham Agee puts it:
Those who support ‘choice’ can hardly dispute the value of creating another choice; those who support life can hardly reject an alternative made real.”
The key is NN's 47,000 volunteer resource members who provide all of the practical support a woman needs to nurture her child’s life—and make the most of hers as well.
The good news: The Nurturing Network has spread to 30 countries now and is present in all 50 states. Their website features "Maternal profiles in courage" - true stories of women who made the journey and chose life.
Check NN out. Tell your sister, daughter, grand-daughter, friends about it. Pray about getting involved.
Take a look at this simulaneously cheering and discouraging post by Katie Crane from Luceat!, the blog of FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students about their esperience of a "Sex Out Loud" sexual health fair at the University of Illinois.
It reveals alot about current student culture and the impact that smart, faithful, daring lay Catholics in their midst, who are willing to talk about the faith, can have.
"Last week, Student Health Services along with a feminist student organization at the University of Illinois sponsored an event called “Sex Out Loud,” a so-called “sexual health fair” held in the Illini Student Union. Upon entering the room, one was aware of the driving-animalistic beat of the latest dance club favorite emanating throughout the hall, a variety of t-shirts with pithy sayings so fraught with sexual innuendo I am unable to repeat them, free condoms everywhere, and a nurse practitioner filling out prescriptions for the “morning after pill” before our very eyes. And there I was, wearing a pink baby tee with the words “Virtue is Sexy” scrawled across the front, standing with a group of young Catholic students by a table sponsored by St. John’s Newman Center dedicated to the proclamation of the Theology of the Body. And I loved every minute of it!
In nearly two years as a missionary with FOCUS, never have I ever had such a dramatic experience of sharing the Gospel. Picture this: with half a dozen condoms and/or morning after pill prescriptions in hand, students would meander passed our table, read the words “Theology of the Body,” and just sort of stare, dumbfounded at how these two words might have anything in common with one another. At this moment, one of the Catholic students and I would approach the aforementioned dumbfounded co-ed and ask if they had ever heard of Theology of the Body - to which they would invariably reply “No.” Next, we asked if they would like to hear a little bit about the Theology of the Body to which they would invariably reply “Yes!” We then shared the following five points:
1) The Theology of the Body is a rearticulation of the Christian Gospel rooted in terms of human sexuality, who we are as men and who we are as women.
2) In Genesis, we read that men and women are made in the image and likeness of God. Sounds nice, but who is God?
3) God is a communion of Love. God the Father pours himself out in love to God the Son, and God the Son receives that love and gives a total gift of Himself back to the Father in return by dying on the cross. And the love between them is so tangible that it becomes a third person, the Holy Spirit.
4) In the same way, in the sexual act a man pours himself out in love for a woman. The woman receives this love and gives a total gift of herself back to the man. And the love between them is so tangible that nine months later, you have to give it a name - it becomes a third person!
5) Therefore, the sexual act is meant to be nothing less than the number one sign and symbol that God has written into our very nature as men and women to be an image - a symbol - an icon - of who He is in His inner self - a communion of Love. That’s why Catholics save sex for marriage - because it is so good and so holy and so sacred. We say “no” to sex before marriage so we can say “yes” to sex in a much deeper way - in a way that most perfectly images the God himself.
People’s jaws dropped down to their knees. “That’s so beautiful,” said a Kim, a freshmen business major. “It’s refreshing to hear chastity and abstinence spoken about in the positive rather than in the negative,” said John, an agnostic religious studies major. “Why hasn’t anyone told me this before?” asked a beautiful young woman named Jill with a quivering lower lip and a tear in her eye.
I don’t know, Jill. But I am honored to be the first."
Well, after a day's delay, I finally walked in the door at my house about 6pm. Much to do, so the reflections on the papal audience will have to wait a bit. But in the meantime, here's a couple of pictures and now YouTubes of short movie captures I did at the papal audience. I apologize for the quality of some of the pictures you will see in the coming weeks. Once I learned that Rome was so dark, I decided to forego my flash. But I am not as patient as I should be, without a tripod as well, to do the camera tricks (the limited ones my cheap digital camera can do) to compensate for that. Also, does anyone know where I might be able to host the audio for free? YouTube limits length to 10 minutes and if I were to just host it as a file at Integrity on the side a mere 7 of you downloading it would eat up all my bandwidth. Any suggestions?
From Catholic World News - According to the results of surveys undertaken by Poland’s Center of the Thought of John Paul II, 94% of Poles speak of the late Pontiff as “my "Pope” and identify Pope Benedict XVI's predecessor as an important moral authority.
Some 75% of those who responded to the survey prayed at least once for the beatification of the Krakow's former archbishop. More than 90% have at least once listened to a media broadcast of a homily by the former Pontiff, while 50% reported at least once reading in the press a homily by the Polis Pope.
And 33% of Poles responded that they had read at least one book written by the former Pope and 75% reported that they are familiar the teaching of the Polish pontiff. An ever greater number, 80%, declared that they live according to the teachings of John Paul II.
Somehow I missed this last year.
So it's not surprising that for the second year running, the Torch of Lolek, as Karol Wojtyla was called when he was a boy, will be carried from Rome to the late Pope’s home town of Krakow in Poland. Also this second edition will combine Spirituality and Sport and there will be a special stop in Venice with a torch- light procession of boats along the Canal Grande of Dragon Boats and Canoes.
The 8 lap journey began on Sunday 25 after a special Mass and the lighting of the Torch at the tomb of John Paul II in St Peter’s Basilica.
Rocco mentions one of the most delightfully eccentric and winsome saints of all : St. Philip Neri.
"Some saints were known specifically for their sense of humor. St. Philip Neri, called “The Humorous Saint,” hung at his door a little sign: The House of Christian Mirth. “Christian joy is a gift from God flowing from a good conscience,” Neri said."
Neri was the only saint we know of who had a joke book and a Bible beside his bed. He began his apostlate as a lay man and later become a priest and founded the Oratorians. Many of the practices associated with Neri's Oratory, for many years a gathering of lay men before it became a community of priests, are remarkable for their spontaneity and directness.
"The program of their meetings took some ten years to crystallize into the following form: reading with commentary, the commentary taking the form of a conversation, followed by an exhortation by some other speaker. This would be followed in turn by a talk on Church History, with finally, another reading with a commentary, this time from the life of some saint. All this was interspersed with short prayers, hymns and music, and the service always finished with the singing of a new motet or anthem. It was taken for granted that everyone could come and go as they chose, as Philip himself did. He and the other speakers used to sit quite informally on a slightly raised bench facing the gathering.
We have already compared one of Philip's activities to those of the Salvation Army; the same comparison holds good for these informal meetings.
Generally speaking, the pattern followed by Evangelist meetings, invented as is supposed by Anglo-Saxon revivalists of the eighteenth century, was no more than a repetition of this Roman priest's experiment in the sixteenth century. We find the same spontaneity, jealously suspicious of any rule which might bridle inspiration or lead to formalism, the same outburst of sensible fervor, above all the same attempt to return to the Gospels and make them available to everyone."
It was Neri and the confraternity that he founded who introduced the 40 hours Devotion to Rome, accompanying Adoration with continuous prayer and spontaneous feverini. Whever Neri went, music followed, but especially the Laudi, venacular hymns of praise. Palestrina, who was one of Neri's disciples, wrote many Laudi for the Oratory. It was Neri who instituted the pilgrimage to the seven churches of Rome as an alternative to Mardi Gras - but typically, he inserted a picnic and live music into the pilgrimage.
Frederick Faber, who joined the English branch of the Oratorians to which John Henry Newman also belonged, wrote in his life of Neri:
"He looked like other men.. he was emphatically a modern gentleman, of scrupulous courtesy, sportive gaiety, acquainted with what was going on in the world, taking a real interest in it, giving and getting information, very neatly dressed, with a shrewd common sense always alive about him, in a modern room with modern furniture, plain, it is true, but with no marks of poverty about it -- in a word, with all the ease, the gracefulness, the polish of a modern gentleman of good birth, considerable accomplishments, and a very various information." Accordingly, he was ready to meet the needs of his day to an extent and in a manner which even the versatile Jesuits, who much desired to enlist him in their company, did not rival; and, though an Italian priest and head of a new religious order, his genius was entirely unmonastic and unmedieval; he was the active promoter of vernacular services, frequent and popular preaching, unconventional prayer, and unsystematized, albeit fervent, private devotion."
Discussing the situation that is occurring within the Anglican Communion, Amy Welborn over at Open Booktalks a bit about subjects that make up the focus of the blog. She writes:
A subject that comes up here a lot runs sort of like this:
A. The Roman Catholic Church claims to be the one, true Church of Jesus Christ. B. The Roman Catholic Church botches things up more or less continually. C. So, how can the Roman Catholic Church be the one, true Church of Jesus Christ?
The discussion usually revolves around issues of liturgy, catechesis and evangelization. It goes deeper than "bad liturgy." The question, as I've come to understand it, really comes down to this:
You have an "ideal" Catholic Church that is constituted in the deep rich Tradition of Catholicism. But hardly any of that is visible in the experience of the average Catholic parish today. Liturgies do not reflect the mind (not to speak of the liturgical law) of the Church, catechesis only scratches the surface and homilies..well...why do they even bother to go to seminary?
The problem is particulary acute for those who have "read" their way into the Church. It's been articulated over and over again.
She then highlights the same question that has been asked on Fr. Kimel's blog, Pontifications:
I do believe the pastoral problem is not one to be ignored. The transition of converts into the Catholic Church can be painful in a way that extends beyond the difficulty so many parishes have in communicating and expressing, in word, sign and ministry, the fullness of the Faith. Many former Protestants, active in their former church communities, have a difficult time finding a similar sense of fellowship and interest in evangelization in a Catholic parish.
All of that is by way of introduction to a comment hidden away on another blog. The comment is by the blogger - Fr. Al Kimel - but it is buried in the comments and was so good I thought it was worth sharing. It's #13 on this post:
#11: Adam, it is not just the poor worship. The poor worship has a cause, and the cause is ineffective, poor, or misleading catechesis. And, for me, still, this calls into question the proposition that “this is THE church”. If this is THE church, shouldn’t it do better at making Christians, out of both unchurched adults and little children?
Check out more of Amy's reflection and Fr. Kimel's response to the above question by going here. It's worth the look.
But this is something we can all come together around: This very moving video of Team Hoyt. Amy featured it on Open Book a year or two ago but it's worth watching again - and especially if you have never seen it before.
Dick and Rick Hoyt are a father-and-son team from Massachusetts who together compete just about continuously in marathon races. And if they’re not in a marathon they are in a triathlon — that daunting, almost superhuman, combination of 26.2 miles of running, 112 miles of bicycling, and 2.4 miles of swimming. Together they have climbed mountains, and once trekked 3,735 miles across America.
It’s a remarkable record of exertion — all the more so when you consider that Rick can't walk or talk.
For the past twenty five years or more Dick, who is 65, has pushed and pulled his son across the country and over hundreds of finish lines. Team Hoyt is scheduled to run again in the 2007 Boston Marathon.
God tube- . Yes, now there is a Christian version of You Tube.
It has all sorts of things from footage of Benedictines taking final vows to a quite funny take-off on the MAC/PC commercials that skewers the gap between traditional evangelicalism and emergent church approaches - and inadvertently shows how different the ethos and debate is in the Catholic world. (especially funny if you have some first hand experience of the evangelical world.)
The Catholic footage is long on sermons and religious congregations. There's footage of John Paul Ii's funeral, the God and the Girl tv series, a number of homilies, portraits of religious life, the ordination of a priest, etc. Some moving footage of Mother Teresa. The tone is sooo different from the evangelical stuff.
And then there are lots of debates between James White (a professional anti-Catholic) and well, everybody.
This is why I call myself a bi-cultural Christian. Watch this and you think:
Two peoples separated by a common devotion to Christ.
In France, these communities play major roles. For instance, the Beatitudes is in charge of the shrine of St Therese in Lisieux. Two members of the Emmanuel community are now French bishops.
It is the charismatic movement within the French Church that insists most urgently on the importance of evangelization. For these communities, evangelization is a matter of letting the Word shine forth, not shutting it up in small clubs of polite company. This is what motivates members of Emmanuel to organize regular missions of evangelization. They gather in front of churches to sing and share their faith with passersby, inviting them inside to adore God in the Eucharist or to speak with a priest. Marie, who works for a job-placement agency, participates regularly in these missions. "To evangelize, to witness—whether it be in the community or in my professional life—is to say that God is my joy," she says. "Joy can’t be selfishly preserved; it is diffusive of itself. It’s like being in love and wanting to tell everyone all the time about the person you love."
"Dressed in the white habit of an Olivetan Benedictine novice, Brother Dominique is a child of the charismaticrenewal. It was in one of the newer communities, Le Chemin Neuf (the New Path), that his contemplative vocation was born. "Of course, I might have discovered it some other way, but it was during thecharismatic prayer groups that the Lord revealed to me what prayer is," he says. "More than a duty, more than a set of requests, prayer is a song of love. I also saw that God is not far away but very close, intimate."
For Brother Dominique, the journey from the charismatic community to the Order of St. Benedict was a smooth one. "There are, of course, differences of style, of form, as one passes from upbeat modern melodies to the sublime sobriety of Gregorian chant, but there is something ludicrous about opposing the one to the other," he says. "Generally speaking, I’m a little suspicious of these overly subtle distinctions that are set up between these different spiritualities: Catholic spirituality is really one thing, even if it takes on several forms. The charismatic renewal, the Benedictines, it’s all the same holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. It would be better not to draw boundaries where they don’t exist."
And this story of a young Muslim is quite moving:
"Ahmed walks calmly toward the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. The young philosophy student says that it was in a charismatic prayer group that he "met the living Jesus Christ." Reacting against his Muslim upbringing, Ahmed had become an atheist. "I saw life as an absurd evasion, a perpetual fleeing," he says. "This idea fit very well with my melancholic temperament. Then at university I met a group of young people whose joy intrigued me. It was more profound than ordinary joys, and it seemed to unite them. After a few months, I wanted to know where this light came from. They told me about a charismatic community where they went regularly to make retreats."
He stops as a priest motions for him to join a group of young people who are entering the cathedral. Ahmed was baptized last year.
Exaudiam Eum is the name of a wonderful recording by Consortium Vocale. It features chants from the five Sundays of Lent, Palm Sunday and Good Friday, recorded in the medieval church at Ringsaker in Norway.
And you can read them here. This one seems to be the most relevant given our recent discussions:
That brings us to my second conclusion. In the north, when Catholics become frustrated with the church, they usually just drop out, drifting into non-practice. In the south, when Catholics become frustrated, they often become Pentecostals.