alicia: February 2007 Archives

emma's blog

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emma update

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The fetal echocardiogram showed a perfect heart.
The gastroschisis is stable.
The ventricles (brain) are still enlarged at 1.35 and 1.5 (normal is 1.0).
Emma was very mobile and Jess tells me that she has the most gorgeous feet. I will try to get some pictures scanned in and posted.
We are taking this day by day.
I can't tell you how much it means to me to have all of your prayers. I know that the internet has the potential for great harm, but it has been such a blessing to me to have this virtual community in addition to my physical community, in such a time of need. It seems to be a pale shadow of what the full Communion of the Saints will be when we get there!

What has been on my mind

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Thanks again for all the prayers, especially those of you who didn't quite know what the prayer need was. I'm at the point now where I can try to shed a little light on the situation.

We learned at Thanksgiving that we are/will be grandparents. As requested by our daughter, we have been keeping this news private within the family. She really did not want to disseminate the news widely until she was past the first trimester. I have no problems with that, none at all.

She went for the 'routine' second trimester ultrasound screening. She really wanted to know if she was having a boy or a girl, and hoping for a girl. She called me at work (something that she rarely does) in tears. On the ultrasound, they saw a birth defect called gastroschisis. oh, and the baby is definitley a girl. I told her that I have seen a few babies diagnosed with this prenatally, that they need surgery right away but that they usually do quite well. She told me that she had decided to let them draw blood for maternal serum screening, although she had originally declined this test. I reminded her that the AFP would come back abnormally high, as that is characteristic of gastroschisis. She told me that she would be seeing a specialist in maternal-fetal medicine the next day for a more detailed ultrasound. I told her that they would probably advise her to get an amniocentesis. She told me that she didn't want to take the risk of one, and that if she did, she would want me to be there for it.

I went and told my medical director (a wonderful Christian OB/Gyn) what was going on and started asking for prayers.

The next day, I got a text message from my daughter that they also found enlarged ventricles in the baby's brain, and also that the baby has shorter than average femurs. These could be signs of a chromosomal problem , especially one of the trisomies. I called her cell phone right away. My daughter was so distraught that she could barely speak. She told me that she thought that she should get an amniocentesis but that she wanted to wait till I could be there. I told my boss (the medical director) and she told me to get on the road, not to worry about the office or the practice, that they would cover things so that I could go. "Family comes first".

I called my husband, and he arranged with his boss to be gone. We got on the road at 7 PM and arrived at our destination at 6 AM, having fought an ice storm the last 20 miles. The last 5 miles of the journey took almost 30 minutes, due to weather. We pulled into a motel and napped for a couple of hours, and then picked up our daughter, took her to breakfast, and took her to get the amnio done. I also had the chance to talk to the MFM doc and look at our granddaughter on ultrasound. Good signs - she had open hands, perfect feet, a 4 chamber heart, and was very mobile. The amnio was done quickly and with no problems, and we stayed in town with our daughter until the critical 48 hours were over.

The results came back - normal chromosomes. 46XX. A deep sigh of relief, and thanks for many prayers answered. The baby will have her fetal echocardiogram monday (a closer look to see if there are subtle heart defects. She will be monitored closely throughout gestation, to determine the optimum time and route of delivery. She will need at least one surgery right after birth, and will not be able to eat until that heals. She may need other surgeries as well, depending on how the brain condition develops pre and post natally.

We are not out of the woods by any stretch, but we are cautiously optimistic. Prayers are still appropriate.

My daughter's specific prayer requests from the moment this first happened:
1) The best possible outcome
2) That the baby will continue to be a fighter

My prayer - that we can "be not afraid".

My granddaughter's name is Emma Collette. This name is very special. It was my mother-in-law's Christian name. At their grandmother's funeral, my children made a pact that the first girl born to any of them would be named after their grandmother. I am so glad, because I know that Emma in Heaven is looking down on her great-granddaughter and namesake.

My Jesus, Mercy!


Catholic Carnival 107


shrove tuesday


Happy Catholic has a recipe up
Meanwhile;Back in the Kitchen: Pancakes
but mine is better.

Grandma Pat’s Crepe Batter

Make in blender.

1 ¾ cup flour
¼ tsp salt
2 TBS sugar (optional)
¼ cup booze (brandy, rum, bourbon) (optional, can use vanilla extract + extra milk)
2 tsp lemon rind (grated) or extract
6 eggs
¼ cup melted butter
2 – 3 cups milk

put in blender in order listed. – use 2 cups milk at start. Blend until smooth, add in extra milk as needed to get to consistency of thin cream. Let rest one hour or more in fridge.

Heat griddle, brush with melted butter, pour about 1/4 cup batter and swirl on heated griddle till all spread out. Cook until edges start to dry, flip, and briefly cook other side. Stack on hot place and keep covered in warm place until all are cooked. Serve with lemon and sugar or your favorite stuffings.

"A new way to do church"

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There is a mega church in our community that recently relocated from a spot next to the car dealers to one where they took over more than half of a shopping plaza/movie theater complex. They even have a 3 story parking structure - something that only one of the three hospitals in town seemed to find necessary. There have been many articles in the local paper about this church community. Their slogan is "A new way to do church". For some reason, that slogan really bothers me. It reminds me of the following scripture:

2 Timothy 4: (RSV)
1: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:
2: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching.
3: For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings,
4: and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.
Looking over the webpage for this church, it seems to be fairly typical of the mainstream Evangelical Protestant point of view - the 66 books of the Protestant Bible, sola scriptura, diffused authority, etc. Not too unusual. Their statement of faith isn't nearly as poetic as the Nicene Creed, but it isn't too far from the truth in many of its facets. But I am worried about a tendency of so many of these churches to focus on entertainment rather than worship.

A newspaper article from last September referred to "on-screen sermons (that) go along with the contemporary music, a cafe, and spiritual messages that address your day-to-day needs". And one from 1999 enthuses "delivers its contemporary message with a live band, dramatic skit, spoken words from a platform and a videotaped sermon projected on two large screens. "
Still, this was the 'worship' style of some other churches I had been to in my younger days, albeit writ large. So what exactly bothers me about this particular manifestation?

I found a few G.K. Chesterton quotes that addressed a part of my unease.

The New Religions are in many ways suited to the new conditions; but they are only suited to the new conditions. When those conditions shall have changed in only a century or so, the points upon which alone they insist at present will have become almost pointless.

There is a sort of rotation of crops in religious history; and old fields can lie fallow
for a while and then be worked again. But when the new religion or any such notion has sown its one crop of wild oats, which the wind generally blows away, it is barren...
Anyhow, the New Religions are suited to the new world; and this is their most damning defect. Each religion is produced by contemporary causes that can be clearly pointed out...
They hastily divested themselves of anything considered dowdy or old-fashioned in the way of vesture or symbol. They claimed to have bright services and cheery sermons; the churches competed with the cinemas; the churches even became cinemas. In its more moderate form the mood was merely one of praising natural pleasures, such as the enjoyment of nature and even the enjoyment of human nature. These are excellent things and this is an excellent liberty; and yet it has its limitations.

They say they want a religion like this because they are like this already. They say they want it, when they mean that they could do without it.

It is a very different matter when a religion, in the real sense of a binding thing, binds men to their morality when it is not identical with their mood. It is very different when some of the saints
preached social reconciliation to fierce and raging factions who could hardly bear the sight of each others' faces. It was a very different thing when charity was preached to pagans who really
did not believe in it; just as it is a very different thing now, when chastity is preached to new pagans who do not believe in it.

Something else that bothered me was the idea of 'doing' church. We don't 'do' church - we are members of the church. We are the body of Christ. We can 'do' liturgy - after all liturgy is literally work.
1069 The word "liturgy" originally meant a "public work" or a "service in the name of/on behalf of the people." In Christian tradition it means the participation of the People of God in "the work of God." Through the liturgy Christ, our redeemer and high priest, continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through his Church. (CCC)
The Catechism then goes on to say
1071 As the work of Christ liturgy is also an action of his Church. It makes the Church present and manifests her as the visible sign of the communion in Christ between God and men. It engages the faithful in the new life of the community and involves the "conscious, active, and fruitful participation" of everyone.

I read this (in shorthand) to mean that we are church, we do liturgy. Being and action. Both/and.

I'm a convert from High Church Anglican. I'll admit it, I can be a bit of a liturgical snob. I came into the church in 1973, as a teenager, in Los Angeles, at the height of the 'folk mass' movement. Initially, I was fine with that and I was part of a very devout college community/charismatic prayer group. I played flute along with the guitarists. My wedding mass had its music donated by my friends - a quartet with two guitars (acoustic, non amplified) and 'folk' type music, and it was a wonderful devout and reverential liturgy. However, as I grew in the church, and moved from parish to parish as we relocated, I found that there were enormous variations in the way in which the rubrics were interpreted, and I found myself longing for the beauty of the Anglican liturgy of my childhood (although I hear that they also have, for the most part, become almost Unitarian in the interpretation of liturgy these days, never mind the flawed theology of the ECUSA). I didn't really understand why Catholics just weren't singing at Mass, except for on those times when the Our Father was chanted. (then, you would hear the entire congregation participate).
I don't have a problem, per se, with the Novus Ordo mass. What I have a problem with is the additions, deletions, and abuses that have accumulated over the last decades. I have a problem with the mistranslations and dumbing down of the prayers of the Mass, especially the Nicene Creed. (e.g. seen and unseen for visible and invisible - there is a very real difference in meaning between seen and seeable).
I have problems with the borderline heresy of the lyrics for some 'popular' 'hymns'. Hymns written in "1st person God" should be very limited, and ideally sung by the priest 'in persona Christae'. I have problems with music that is written to display the expertise of the composer or performer, and not to encourage the participation of the congregation or to give glory to God. I also have problems with the "Low Mass plus 4 hymns" mentality, where the mass parts are not sung but music is plugged in with a passing glance at the readings but totally ignoring the designated antiphons (esp entrance and communion). I have real problems with the alterations to the psalms that are sung instead of properly chanting the psalms themself - I grew up chanting the psalms on a daily basis in an Anglican day school. (The NAB translation is a big part
of the problem here, though - they should have had poets translate poetry!)

I had the unfortunate experience as a child of attending some less than reverential Tridentine Masses, (with my Catholic friends) and I think that there is a "Golden Age" syndrome going on among many Catholics. Those priests and laiety who currently celebrate and worship in the Tridentine rite are a carefully self-selected group. They are not likely to be saying their rosaries during the Mass or indulging in other private devotions but rather to be attentive to the action at the altar - and the priests who currently go out of their way to say the Tridentine Mass are
also not likely to be rattling off the Latin sub voca at 120 KPH. I think that the Novus Ordo Mass, with its emphasis on the community of faith, has had an effect on the mentality even of those who are the most attached to the Tridentine, and that effect is not all bad. If only by contrast and by calling for a committment to what is supposed to be the central part of Mass - the timeless sacrifice of the altar, the eternal gift of Jesus' sacrificial gift, the reality of the incarnation of God made man who came to give of Himself for our salvation. The Eucharist.

So while I would prefer beautiful liturgy, all the smells and bells that used to be the defining characteristic of the Roman rite, I will take a banal N.O Mass with bad music and a bored congregation over the most beautiful but invalid Anglican liturgy. I would definitely take it over the canned sermon and overamplified 'megachurch experience'. I just wish that we could get more pew-sitting Catholics to realize the treasures that the Church has and get these treasures unpacked and into use.

and had not had all my recent distractions.

HPV Vaccine: Medical Cost versus Benefit Modeling

There are a few other things I would like to say about Gardasil, including the encounter I had at a meeting with the drug rep pushing Gardisil. But I will shut up for now.


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i'm home now and headed to bed pretty soon. just in the door less than an hour.
thanks for all the prayers - the situation remains in need of prayer and will be an ongoing concern. right now we are waiting for the results of some advanced testing. it will take about 2 weeks to get them back. we are all trying to get back into so-called normal mode of life for right now.
thanks again and keep praying

emergency prayer request

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I can't go into details, but I really need all the help I can get from the prayer warriors out there. I will be leaving soon to drive about 8 hours to be with a family member in a medical crisis situation. In some ways, this situation is an attack at the very heart of my being as a person, a mother, and a Catholic. In others, it is just a crisis, to be weathered with prayer and whatever strength God can grant.
Please pray and intercede for:
1) A medical miracle of healing
2)That test results will turn out to be hopeful rather than ominous
3) That, if God denies us a miracle, he gives us the strength to do what is right in His eyes.
4) That in all things He will be glorified.
St. Gianna, pray for us.

NFP only nurse practitioners

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Reprinted in my parish bulletin this week


Feminine Singular is a review of Dawn Eden's wonderful book The Thrill of the Chaste.
Patty Bainbridge, Respect Life director for the Diocese of Rockford IL, intoduced it thusly:

After Reading Dawn Eden's new Book, The Thrill of the Chaste, I planned to write a review of this excellent work for Life Matters. I then came across Dr. Pia de Solenni's insightful review. It is reprinted here with permission of the American Spectator in whose web edition it first appeared on January 4, 2007.

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