Monday, March 12, 2012

International Adoption- The Saga Continues......

So, we continue to wait to hear from the Russian court if we should proceed or forget about Russia for adoption.  No news today, and we were hoping to hear from them.  Maybe there was another snowstorm in Moscow.  Wait, there's a snowstorm everyday in Moscow!

No matter what, I guess we should start prepping for a home study.  So, I'm pretty close to putting together a fund-raiser.  I will have tickets made up soon for it.  Thinking we will do a giveaway of a "New Ipad", or whatever it is they will finally call it.  You can most certainly bet I will be posting about it once we proceed.

Did I tell you I am freaked out by this?  That I cannot simply the believe the overwhelming responses I've received in regard to this issue?  That we are afraid of hurting a little boy who so deserves to be loved.  But I worry.  Don't sound surprised by this, I will admit only under extreme scrutiny or torture (like being forced to watch "Wall-E" over and over without the benefit of Jameson's) that I worry about very many things at all.  But I worry for everyone involved here.

I am freaked out about the overwhelming body of evidence that points to the fact that little boys that come out of Russia have great difficulty attaching/bonding to their new families.  Even boys that have spent some time with their biological family before becoming part of the Russian orphanage system have some issues, but ones that have never been in a family setting, and reach certain ages have the deck stacked even further against them.

And oh yeah, and let's not forget the language issue.  My pitiful excuse for Russian comprehension is non-existant.  Any grasp I had of the language was lost years ago.  How do we communicate with a little boy who speaks no English, and prepare him to enter school?  The math says that if we start this now, best case we get him home by the end of the year.  Do we keep him home from December until next summer and put him in school the following August?  Or do we immerse him in the language and put him in kindergarden right after Christmas?  What school would even take him?  Not to mention we don't even know how well he can get around, or if he has the cognitive ability to grasp the material.

So we sit, and we pray.  And we wait, and we pray.  We discuss, we research, we try not to become overwhelmed by the body of evidence that says that if we bring this little boy into our home, that he may never adapt, that he might not ever function independently.

Does anyone out there know anyone that can offer advise?  We are willing to listen, and to prayerfully consider all options.  But we don't want to hurt this little boy, and we need to know if we are up to the challenge. 

St. Jerome Emiliani, pray for us

Blessed Mother Teresa, pray for us

Blessed Pope John Paul II, pray for us

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Here Comes the Catholic Church

I really enjoyed this video from Father John Hollowell from the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.  It is his response to the Planned Parenthood video from Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood.

There are many arguments to why employers should not be forced to pay for contraceptive services for their employees.  Simply, why would I want those chemicals in my wife and daughters?  Why would I want to interfere with God's plan for us?  Who am I to tell God that He, the Creator of the Universe, does not know what He intended for us?

If you cut away the spite, the lies, the hatred, and find what is true, good, and beautiful, it is not hard to see that God's plan should always be our plan.

But back to the video from Father Hollowell:

I really like the part at the end- before the music, when he quotes JRR Tolkien- The board is set, the pieces are now in motion.  At last we come to it, the great battle of our age. I truly believe this to be the forefront to the great battle of our age.  As you know, our freedoms are being challenged daily.  The government tells us to violate our conscience in the name of "preventative health care" for women.  Recently, I saw a news piece where universities and employers are demanding access to current and prospective students and employees Facebook accounts- they are asking for and expecting usernames and passwords, or expecting to "look over your shoulder" while you log in and they scroll through your wall.  I can't even imagine what next could look like, but I am sure we will see it soon.

If you are interested further in the Father Hollowell's blog site click here.

Catholic Media- Is this really the best we can do?

This was originally posted on Catholic Phoenix on March 24, 2011, and thought I had posted here, but guess what, I didn't!

I saw a blog post regarding the movie "There Be Dragons" courtesy of OSV via New Advent today, and thought I would share this.

Please enjoy:

On March 15th I was surprised to learn (via Facebook) that it was “Catholic Media Day.” What I saw was a number of persons and groups promoting their own books, websites, publications, etc. Now I have no problem with this, but it caused me to ponder what I think of when I hear the term “Catholic Media.”

To be completely honest, the thought of most Catholic media makes me cringe. I frequently hear people comment how wonderful EWTN television is, and I stop to wonder if I am watching the same channel. The production quality of the programs leaves a lot to be desired, in my own opinion. The material for the most part is magisterially sound but poorly produced. I look at how the shows are put together and wonder if they are using the same sets that they made when the network was founded. I tried to get my daughter to watch one of the children’s programs one morning, and it was so saccharine sweet that I found her rolling her eyes and myself wishing the show would be over soon. With no commercial advertising, I guess there is not any other way to demand better quality.

On the other hand, I switch over to Trinity Broadcasting, a Protestant network, and find a completely different quality of show entirely. 21st century technology appears to be employed, and an effort appears to be made to meet their audience where they are. Are all the movies made about the Bible made by Protestants? You would never know a movie about the Bible was made by a Catholic, at least in my own experience (Mel Gibson doesn’t count!). Yet, on any given weekend, you can switch over to TBN, and catch a movie on Genesis, the Gospel of John, and the band plays on.

My next beef is with Catholic Radio, at least in my own experience, Immaculate Heart Radio in Phoenix, and various stations in the Western United States. Now I understand fully that these are listener supported stations, and they rely on donations, gifts, contributions in order to fund their operations. I was pleased to be “charter supporter” when IHR held their first pledge drive last spring. But I must admit that after our commitment came to the year’s end, my wife and I asked ourselves where we thought our gifting dollars were being best utilized. Regrettably, we found that our confidence in IHR was not what I had hoped it would be.

I find that many call-in type shows are usually aired before we get to hear them in Phoenix, with the exception of Catholic Answers Live, which does air live in the afternoon, but we get to hear the replay the next morning. This is fine if you only hear one version, or do not care to call in. However, if you hear Tuesday’s show live, you might find yourself hearing the exact same show the next morning as you drive into the office. In addition, the station seems to play music of some sort at the end of each hour, but in the time that I have been listening I have yet to hear a complete song. These sorts of things make me wonder about the “testimonies” of people that claim to have had their life transformed by Catholic Radio.

All this makes me ask the question, “Is this really the best we can do?” Or if it’s not, why is the product produced? I know there are wonderful, glowing examples of what Catholics are capable of. I see the young men who produced The Human Experience and know that it doesn’t require high finance, but high creativity to produce something meaningful, appropriate, and capable of delivering the Truth of Christ to the world. One need go no further than the movie Bella to see that the message of the Gospel of Life can be promoted in a way that draws anyone in who views it. I see the quality of the work done by the Catholics Come Home ad pieces and see that media designed for mainstream society is not only capable of being produced, but is being seen in communities across the country. Now, if we could just get that type of material out in other arenas…………..

What can we do? How do we break this cycle of truly bad media? How can we make it less cringe worthy? For my own part, I have chosen to vote with my dollars, and with direct contact with the management of IHR (which for the record went unanswered). I would ask that others consider ways that we can make a change. Most of us are partakers of the product, so if enough agree with me, then perhaps as a part of the whole we communicate our desire to be nourished in our faith in a way that reaches out to a broader cross-section of the community, and perhaps bring others closer to Christ.

Monday, March 5, 2012

International Adoption- Who would have thought....

For those of you that know me, you probably know that my wife and I have been considering adopting for some time.  Truth is, there has been some real foot dragging in the whole thing (yes, you are quite correct, it has come from me!).  Cannot really say why, could not give you a decent t reason if my life depended on it, unless of course, you throw "fear of the unknown" in, well then yeah, I guess that might cover it just fine, thank you.

Our first course of thought was to go the foster care route, and that may not be completely ruled out for the future, but being able to get into the classes has been a challenge, and oh yeah, did I mention the whole dragging my feet thing?

So, on February 25, 2012, I attended the 5th annual Catholic Men's Fellowship Phoenix conference, this year held at Grand Canyon University Arena here in Phoenix.  For those of you that missed it, let me tell you, you truly missed something special.  1800 men from all over the Valley of the Sun and beyond converged to truly learn what it means to "Defend and Proclaim" our faith.  A blog post on that great day to follow, but let me return to the matter at hand.  As the day progressed, as we heard Bishop Thomas Olmsted defend and proclaim the faith, as he charged us to be the men that God intended us to be, and as the other speakers of the day covered their various topics of interest, I felt something happening.  In past years I would find myself coming home, feeling energized, telling my wife how wonderful things are going to be, how transformed I am (this time), and that you will see a profound change in me!!  I promise!  We've all had that feeling right?  Then about Tuesday, Wednesday, the feeling fades, and what really changed in the end after all?  Usually not much.  Yeah, I'm that guy.

Probably the same reasons I couldn't be a Protestant are exactly why those kinds of things tend to work against me.  Recalling Screwtape's own explanation to the dear Wormwood regarding the concept of undulation, one should recall that the human experience is one of peaks and valleys, and lest we forget that the highs do not last forever, so too should we recall the neither do the lows.  Keeping that in mind, I looked for some things to excite me and energize me but not so that they would blind me to what our lives truly look like. 

What ended up happening was something far more radical.  After a good solid confession, a great conversation with a good priest who was willing to listen to me, and oh yes, the bliss of being forgiven.  Repentance and Absolution are truly among the great gifts of the Church, surpassed certainly by and perhaps only by, the Eucharist!  After the last speaker, as a group we got time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, directly in the presence of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord, I was simply awestruck.  I found myself saying, "Jesus, you gave yourself, the sinless victim, that we might join you in Heaven one day.  Tell me what I need to do, and I will respond.  Your will, not mine, be done."

And that was that, right?  There was no surge of feeling, the was no angels playing harps, no "voice of God" giving me instruction.  There was pain in my knees, intense pain.  10-15 minutes kneeling on concrete is not for most.

So I went home, told my wife about the day, told here I think I joined the Knights of Columbus, but I'm not sure, that it was a good day, enjoyed being with my friends, that Josh and Sebastian Bautista (two fine young men, one discerning the priesthood) seemed to enjoy themselves.  I made a point to say that I was not riding a high, but that I wanted to find something I can use to be the man God wants me to be.

Along comes Monday, and what do I see but a post from my friend Leila Miller about this website, Reece's Rainbow, which specializes in international adoption for special needs children, especially those with Down's Syndrome, but other afflictions as well.  Scrolling through the pages, you find stories that break your heart, and some that give you pause, as you realize that in America, many of these ailments would not even be issues here.  If a child was born with them, you would get the treatment necessary.  Not so in many countries overseas.

Then there was this little boy who caught my eye.  He's a cutie, but after talking with my wife, we say that someone with his issues may be well more than we could handle.  We mistook him for another that was bedridden amongst other issues.  So I put him out of my mind.  Moving along.

The next morning, my friend Leila (you remember Leila, right?) posted a video of this little boy.  For a host of reasons, I am not yet posting his video.  But he stole my heart, I told Leila via Facebook, "I want him!  I want to bring him home"  And then God answered, the Holy Spirit immediately began working through a number of people, promising support, offering encouragement, ensuring that if we are willing, they would help us to ensure that we could bring this boy home.  This did let us meet some great people already.  A special thanks to Carla (you HAVE to read her story here) who gave me the courage to ask some hard questions.  And to show that through God, all things are possible, if not challenging, we find that if we but say yes, God will lead us through that which He has lead us to.

So we begin.  Those first questions, round one.  Stay tuned.

But before I go for now- thought I would pray an Angelus:

The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary
       And she conceived of the Holy Spirit

Behold, the handmaid of the Lord
       Be it done unto me according to thy Word

And the Word was made flesh
       And dwelt among us

Pray for us O Holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray:
       Pour forth, we beseech thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the Glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ, Our Lord.  Amen