Saturday, April 29, 2017

Fellow ProLifers, Beware: Trump Is Desecrating the Sanctity of Human Life!

This is not a matter of politics. It is not about being Democrat or Republican. It is not about religion either. It is just about common sense. Who can believe that Trump is trying to foster the right to life? Who can be so gullible as that? From a moral standpoint, Trump has already proven that he doesn’t care for anyone. From a practical one, anyone who wants to further a cause knows better than soiling it as a right-wing “thing”. Seriously? If some of you want to get fooled, I don’t.

    With his last-minute revision of his terrible Trumpcare bill that thanks God didn’t pass, Trump provided me with the proof I needed to show what I have been saying from the beginning--even before the results of the 2016 election became known. No, I'm not talking about his collusion with Russian hackers, which means that he resorted to dirty play to win. That alone makes him an unlawful president--on top of being a totally unfit one. Yet, as crucial and true as that is, it is not my main point here. From long ago I have been saying that Trump is NOT (sorry for the capitalization) truly ProLife. He is only ruining the ProLife movement by soiling it with his apparent, fake endorsement.

Needless to say, trying to take healthcare away from millions of people is certainly not what someone who believes in the sanctity of human life does. With his latest revision of that atrocious Trumpcare that he wanted to see made into law, flat out he proved my argument. He was not only taking away prescription drug coverage but was also taking away maternity health care. How can he even dare pretend to defend the unborn??? And now he's charging back with another equally bad healthcare plan project.

Let's make it straight:
- Someone who is ProLife does NOT take away health care from expectant mothers--or from anyone who, regardless of ability to pay, needs medical attention.

- Someone who is ProLife does NOT try to eliminate environmental protections for the benefit of the big oil rigs and large manufacturing companies. Aren't unborn babies among the most vulnerable and worst affected victims of pollution and contaminants?

- Someone who is ProLife does NOT want to punish those women who had abortions, but tries to help them heal. That's why so many Catholic Parishes have ministries reaching out to women and to anyone else, such as husbands or boyfriends, dealing with post-abortion guilt and assisting them to heal, find peace, and embrace life in the future.

- Someone who is ProLife does NOT push forth legislation that, by reducing and taking away health insurance coverage from millions, will unavoidably result in a significant reduction in the number of special needs adoptions--and in the concomitant and sadly uncontrollable increase in the abortion rate.

    So, Donald Trump is damaging the ProLife cause much more than any pro-abortion propagandist can. That's what friendenemies do. That's what those who hit below the belt do. That's what those who play dirty do. That's what, through him and all his

 right wing scoundrels as its best allies, Satan is doing---right here, right now, endangering unborn babies, the whole ProLife movement, the needy, the immigrant, the minorities, the physically and mentally challenged, and all humankind at large.

    Think about it. When children, no matter how small, want to have a dog, they don’t approach their parents with a bunch of stories about bad dogs attacking their owners or their owners’ guests, about neighbors complaining because of the barking, about dogs running away and getting killed by passing vehicles, about puppies chewing on everything, or about dog health care resulting in huge veterinary bills. From very early age kids are smart enough to surround their request with real life stories of dogs saving lives, of nearby examples of well-behaved dogs, and of facts about the many psychological benefits of having a dog, most likely wrapping it up with some cute puppy images. Just common sense, isn’t it?

    Similarly, when parents want to make their children have salad, they don’t use the dressing their children hate the most, don’t play their children’s least favorite music at dinnertime, and don’t hire a nasty, unfriendly nanny to help in the process.

    In the business world, it is a proverbial habit to meet for lunch in order to go over and close important transactions. Why? Common sense again. A nice restaurant and a good meal create a comfortable, pleasant, and thus more favorable atmosphere for people to find it easier to arrive to a meeting of the minds and go ahead with the deal.

    All that is easy enough, correct?  My examples speak for themselves. Now, let’s think about Trump and what he is doing. Do you get the idea? Do you really believe that he wants to further the cause of life if at the same time and in all other areas he does the worst things he can think of and surrounds himself with the worst people possible so as to get the just condemnation of the vast majority in U.S. and all over the world?  He only has the temerity of insulting the ProLife movement by falsely alleging to favor life while his action clearly shout out otherwise.

    Even leaving aside for a moment the moral considerations and the intrinsic repugnancy of each and every one of the measures taken by Trump in his very short time in office, it appears as if  he had been looking for which actions could be the most unpopular ones of all—so as to scandalize and horrify the public opinion by going forward with them.     Let’s just mention banning immigration from certain countries, discriminating against one religion, sending refugees back, constructing pipelines that will very negatively impact the environment and will violate Native American rights, surrounding himself with neo-Nazis and KKK sympathizers, praising a foreign dictator, among many other, and besides trying to bring back the C.I.A.’s torture unit, creating insecurity around health care coverage and social security benefits, and favoring an increase in mortgage rates.

    For God’s sake, don’t you see it? I’m coming up with another example.  Whether you prefer to place yourself in the shoes of a food manufacturer or of those of a stay-at-home parent trying to make some extra income, imagine that you’re selling a healthy snack—whichever kind you’d like it to be. Now imagine that a couple of people who hate you start posting all over the place very negative reviews of your product. They claim it to have no nutritious value, result in significant weight gain, and have no real taste like it’s supposed to have.  Obviously. your enemies will cause some relative damage, but—how big can that damage be?  Most likely people will realize that those post are no more than the result of hatred—not against your product but against you. With very little effort on your part, you may be able to curb the damage—and if you handle the situation properly, chances are that far from deriving any loss of business due to such negative publicity, the hostility, animosity, hatred breathing through it may even help you build your venture even stronger. People will view you as the victim of defamation, as the target of someone’s hatred for whatever reason . . . and thanks God, people tend to be more likely to help crime victims than perpetrators, to help those who are victimized by hatred than those who hate, those who suffer from someone else’s wrongdoing than those who do wrong. In other words, your enemies are not very likely to ruin you that way.

Now let’s imagine that instead of openly trashing your product, your enemies take a much more sophisticated approach. They come up with online posts and  traditional posters that start describing your snack as the best one in the world.  They praise how nutritious, energizing, yummy, low-calorie, and easy-to-carry it is, suitable for all ages and not messy at all. It couldn’t get any better, could it? But then the advertisement keeps on going to say that it gives so much energy that had it been available in nazi Germany, Hitler himself would have endorsed it, and that it’s now endorsed by neo-nazis, white supremacists, and lingering KKK members. Oh, and as a closing, the posts and posters address males and tell them that your snack will be so stimulating that they’ll feel like grabbing their “chicks” by you-know-where and do whatever they want with them, with some explicit images included. Now, my question is: Which kind of approach will be most detrimental to your business? The first one where it is only too obvious that you’re being the victim of hatred, or the second one, which pretends to praise your product but then aims at presenting you as a hater with very dubious moral values?

Isn’t the second one a much cleverer, more sinister, more diabolic way to ruin not only your business but also your personal reputation and your standing in the community while stripping you of the support and affection of your true friends? Furthermore, the second approach is likely to cause your real friends to split up between those who still believe that you were not responsible for those posts and posters and those who don’t want to have anything to do with you any more?

    Fellow ProLifers:  Do you get it?  Don’t you see the parallel?  For the sake of  the unborn babies, of the brain damaged, of the terminally ill,  I urge you all to avoid biting into Donald Trump’s diabolic, satanic plan to destroy the ProLife cause.

    That is exactly how Trump is ruining the ProLife movement, how he is attacking the sanctity of human life, how he is undoing what had taken years for ProLife activists to build. The public opinion was getting increasingly shaken, disgusted, sickened at the atrocity of dismembering babies alive or sucking their brains off their little skulls. The public opinion was getting shocked to learn about babies being left to die and even strangled to death if they had survived a third-trimester abortion. The public opinion was getting revolted to learn that Planned Parenthood was, and is, profiting in huge amounts from the sale of baby body parts.

    Yes, more and more people were turning proLife. It was something natural, something that was coming as a given, the same as constantly increasing longevity in the light of always advancing medical technology, the same as fairer and always improving anti-discrimination, inclusion, labor, and consumer protection laws and policies in the light of deeper and always deepening social conscience.  Improved ultrasound images and pain capability findings were changing minds. They were changing hearts.

    When I was drafting this post, I happened to meet with someone who said something that hit it right into the core issue. Although we had met for a totally unrelated reason, our conversation touched upon all the havoc that Trump is causing in such a short time. I took the opportunity to set forth that Trump may claim to be ProLife but is not. The other person agreed with me. As literally as I can recall her words, she said, “No, he is not ProLife. He is whatever he thinks is going to make him win and give him power.”

    She couldn’t have phrased it any better. If claiming to be proLife helped Trump win the elections, what does that mean? It means that the public opinion was already tilted towards the cause of life. It means that more people were being ProLife, that many were turning already from pro-abortion to ProLife.

    Thanks to many brave men and women who had spoken up and continued doing so, awareness was slowly arriving to reach the unborn.  As early as in 1984, after having performed over 75,000 abortions, after having co-founded N.A.R.A.L. Pro-Choice America, and after having directed in New York City the Center Reproductive and Sexual Health for years, Dr. Benjamin Nathanson had been stricken, impacted, and forever touched by the ultrasound screen in front of him showing the baby he was murdering open his mouth as if trying to shout in pain.  It was too late to stop that killing, though.  That little baby died but saved millions of others as from that day on and until God called him in 2011, Dr. Nathanson became a prominent crusader for life and against abortion.

    And he was not the only one. Nurse Jill Stanek got horrified to witness the atrocious deaths of little abortion survivors who were painfully murdered by denial of medical care and even by direct killing action. Former Planned Parenthood director Abby Johnson got nauseated by the butchering of innocent babies and became a proLife advocate as well.  After having performed 1,200 abortions, Dr. Anthony Levatino had a total change of heart and began producing videos that exposed, and keep on exposing, the barbaric cruelty of different abortion procedures. Norma McCorvey, who was Jane Roe in the infamous Roe v. Wade decision that made abortion legal in U.S., also became an eloquent ProLife activist and vowed to devote the rest of her life to overturning such regrettable decision.  Norma followed through to her last day on this earth. A few days ago, on  Saturday 18, 2017, God called her—-and this is my tribute to her for having the courage to face what she had done and trying to remedy it, for becoming a true, wholehearted, energetic ProLife advocate whose honesty about her past and her guilt over it had made her an ever stronger champion for the cause of the unborn.

    So, yes, it was happening. Many former pro-choice supporters were turning proLife. It was the normal course of history, the triumph of good over evil. In the past there used to be slavery. Then slavery was abolished, but there was still segregation. Then desegregation came, and integration started, and kept on progressing, but still wasn’t full and still there was no true equal opportunity. Maybe there is still not total integration. Maybe there is not true equal opportunity yet. But as time goes by and social conscience deepens, we keep on getting closer and closer.  Lately, with an increasing number of interracial marriages and adoptions, we’re almost there.

    Something similar had already happened and was still happening with respect to those with physical and developmental challenges. Slowly people began realizing that the disabled did not bring any shame to their families. People with disabilities were no longer sent out to waste away in cold, bleak mental institutions. They started to be kept at home and cared for.  But there was no inclusion yet—until the fight for inclusion began. And, no matter what schools may claim, inclusion is at its initial stages still. Nevertheless, it’s there, and getting better.

    That happened in all fields of human life. In the old times there were horrendous executions. Then they became a little faster and slightly less barbaric, but still cruel, painful, and dehumanized, like death by electrocution. Then those methods were replaced by lethal injections that reduced the pain. Finally, some tragic mistakes brought increasing awareness of the irreversibility of potential error, and nowadays most civilized societies have abolished capital punishment altogether.

    The same upward trend included many other areas of human life and human relationships, such as landlord and tenant, labor, consumer protection, products liability, and environmental laws. Everything was becoming fairer and tipping more and more towards the weak.

    That increasing sensitivity was reaching out to animals as well. Obviously, it should have reached babies much sooner than animals—but was finally coming up anyway.

    It was an always upwards way—until only a few weeks ago. In such short time Trump is curving everything back—not just in a downward slope but in a vertical chute. Everything that humankind had been conquering over the years has been either already attacked or targeted for attack.

    Moreover, the enormous increase in special needs adoptions had opened many people’s eyes to how incredibly precious those little lives are.  No matter how hard the abortion industry tries to push and sell the myth of the “unwanted child,’  people were realizing that such image was, and is, only that: a myth, an invalid excuse, a total lie.  For real there are numberless families ready and willing to adopt babies, children, and even teenagers with the most severe physical and developmental challenges, with serious and even life threatening diseases, with chronic and even degenerative conditions, with the most difficult acting out behaviors, and, although in a lesser number, even with terminal illnesses.

So, birthmothers who were unable or unwilling to raise a child presenting with any or certain kind of special needs were progressively becoming more and more aware that all they needed to do was to continue their pregnancy for a few more months, and then their babies would have loving, caring, stimulating homes where they’d be encouraged to develop their full potentials and would be cherished no matter how unlimited or limited those full potentials might prove to be.

    Yes, I’ll say it once more. It was arriving. Protection to the unborn was almost there. Planned Parenthood’s evil dealings had been exposed.  Multiple factors were pulling more and more people towards the proLife cause. The public opinion was getting nauseated after learning about little abortion survivors being left alone to die if not directly killed,  about the dismembering of tiny humans limb by limb, about the suction of their brains out of their skulls. The public opinion had been shaken by scientific proof that unborn babies do feel pain. Clearer ultrasound images allowing pregnant women to see the little ones they were carrying in their womb were making it even more difficult to kill them. Special needs parents and disability advocacy groups were working hard towards increased awareness of the joys that children with physical and developmental challenges bring to their families, whether biological or adoptive.  People were getting horrified at the findings that Planned Parenthood had been profiting big from the sale of baby body parts.

    You may wonder how I came up with this ludicrous, childish, kind of disgusting comparison, but I dearly love both the ProLife movement and family pictures. Everyone who knows me knows that.  It would tear me apart to see a family picture smeared with feces—and, even if the metaphor may be somewhat inelegant, that is exactly what Trump is doing to the ProLife cause.  He is soiling it by attempting to associate it to his racist, discriminatory, insensitive right wing agenda. Think about one of your most cherished family photos. Think that you didn’t arrive to digitalize it yet, and only have that single old print. There is no other image that could be used for further reproduction. Now imagine that your neighbors didn't pick up after their dog, and that the wind pulls your beloved photo off your hands and it ends up on the ground, stuck to doggie excrement. Would you still touch it? Most likely, in order to try to save it, you and your family members would still touch it, even if with disposable gloves—but nobody else would. If some friends of yours were there with you, you wouldn't even expect them to hold that  soiled photo, would you? Now, do you see the analogy? Trump is dragging the ProLife cause to the mud, to the dirt, to the execration of a bigot right-wing agenda. So, only those of us who are totally, firmly, solidly ProLife with no exceptions will keep on embracing the ProLife cause, will try to save it, and will try to clean it up from the bad publicity artfully launched against pro-lifers by those who try to portray the ProLife movement as as a hardline position that is only for those who have hard hearts.  Yes, that’s what is happening. The baby killers accuse the baby savers of hardness of heart—and the most effective detractors of the ProLife movement are those infiltrated into it who pretend to be baby savers but who associate themselves with baby killers who couldn’t care less about those families that are unable to procure private pre-natal care for themselves, about undocumented and refugee expectant moms, and about the very harmful effects of environmental contaminants on unborn and newborn infants.

    So, all those who had already made it from being pro-abortion to becoming Pro-life but who were not too invested in the ProLife cause yet may end up moving away from it.  Going back to the family picture metaphor, your friends may have enjoyed seeing it in the past, but would no longer touch it if it's soiled all over.  Why? Simply because they are not as invested in it as you and your family are. Remember the common adage that says that "birds of a feather flock together."  As defenders of the sanctity of human life, we cannot flock together with a border wall, an immigration ban from certain countries, a registry for members of a certain religion, massive deportations, a total disregard for environmental health, the praise of torture, mockery of the disabled, reductions in health insurance coverage and social benefits, and the proliferation of hatred and divisiveness in what, even if not perfect, used to be a relatively harmonious and welcoming society.

    It is not just my opinion, but an obvious fact that Trump is causing precisely the opposite effect than the one he intends or claims to intend to cause. An article from 02/16/17 by Laura Bassett in the Huffington Post is entitled in a way that summarizes precisely that opposite effect that, except for his fanatics, Trump elicits from everyone:
“Donald Trump Has Mobilized Women In A Way Hillary Clinton Never Quite Could - Regular Women with No Background in Politics Are Leading the Resistance.”

    In a totally different context, even though not that different as human issues are all intertwined, with reference to the Muslim ban, former Navy pilot John McCain meant exactly the same concerning this opposite effect that Trump’s personality and actions cause when in an interview he said that the Muslim ban might “give ISIS some propaganda.”

    The issue is that Satan was finding that Planned Parenthood was no longer strong enough. Yes, it had, and still has, funding—but funding is not everything.  People were getting disgusted at Planned Parenthood, at its butchering of babies alive and its profiting from their tiny body parts. So, what could Satan do to fight back against the ProLife cause? Exactly what it did: to come up with someone equally disgusting, equally nauseating who would falsely proclaim himself to be ProLife. It was a very clever plan. The sad issue is that some people fell right into the trap.

    But not all. Not the majority. Not those who truly care. That brings me to my next sub-title:

Proud to be Catholic. The Catholic Church Speaks Up

    I am proud to see how the whole Catholic Church spoke up against Trump’s racism and right wing agenda.

    Pope Francis  publicly voiced his concern about and disapproval of Trump’s ban on immigration from designated countries with predominantly Muslim population.

    Do you know what else I’m proud of? I felt proud, truly and deeply proud to learn that on the weekend of February 4 -5, 2017, around Rome some posters appeared against Pope Francis. Why against Pope Francis? Well, the accusations were that he was not “conservative”.  

It looks like the accusers were totally confused. Why should the Pope be conservative? Our Catholic faith is progressive. The Catholic Social Teaching is progressive. Jesus was born to a Virgin. He was born in a manger. He was born among people who already were and would be persecuted and oppressed. He preached humility. He preached equality.  He was committed to the poor.  He taught us that humans were more important than rules. He invited sinners to His table. He washed His disciples’ feet. He demanded fair pay for the workers.

One of those so-called “conservative Catholics,” who don’t seem to know that the core of Catholic Social Teaching is social justice, commented with vulgar language and in a very disrespectful way on my timeline—not just against me but against Pope Francis. What could make me any more proud than that? No matter how extremely limited what I can do is, I am standing up with our Pope against his detractors who dislike him because of his commitment to the poor, the immigrant, and the oppressed.

Back in February 2016, when Trump was only running for the presidency but was already indicating his intention to build a wall along the Mexican border, Pope Francis had clearly stated that walls between nations were “not Christian.” worried about Trump immigration order

    Catholic Relief Services and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, two leading Catholic organizations,  not only spoke up against the Muslin ban and the executive order against refugees, but are also actively campaigned against Trump’s anti-Muslim, anti-refugee, and anti-immigrant bigotry, and urged Catholics worldwide to do the same.

    I’m quoting a paragraph of the letter that Catholic Relief Services and the United Sates Conference of Catholic Bishop were urging Catholics to personalize a little and send to their senators:
“As Catholics and Christians, we have a moral obligation to offer shelter and assistance to our brothers and sisters in Christ, to afford them refuge. As a Catholic, I support refugees because of my values and agree with Pope Francis: "There must be no family without a home, no refugee without a welcome, no person without dignity...." As people of faith we must act and send a positive message to those around the world who are suffering. In Matthew 25, Jesus is asked, "When did we see you a stranger and welcome you?" Jesus replied, "Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least ones, you did for me." I ask that we follow this example and welcome the stranger, not turn them away.”

    Many prominent figures within the Catholic clergy have firmly condemned Trump’s actions as well. These are just only a few examples.

- In an interview with an Italian Catholic T.V. channel, and with reference to that same infamous executive order against Muslim refuses, Archbishop Angelo Beccia said that "Certainly there is worry because we are messengers of another culture, that of openness.”

 - In Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich referred to Trump’s executive over as “one of the darkest moments in U.S. history” and said that it was “contrary to Catholic and American values.”

- Sister Donna Markham, President of Catholic Charities USA also condemned the Muslin ban, the same as retired Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza, as two of the most prominent figures among countless others.

- About one year ago,  in February 2016, when coincidentally with Trump’s increasing presence in the electoral campaign the anti-Muslim feelings were also increasing throughout U.S., Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego urged Catholics to fight against “the scourge of anti-Islamic prejudice.”  Bishop McElroy exhorted the Catholic community “to recognize and confront the ugly tide of anti-Islamic bigotry” and “to view with repugnance the "repeated falsehoods" that Islam is inherently violent, that Muslims seek to supplant the U.S. Constitution with sharia law, and that Muslim immigration threatens the cultural identity of the American people.”

    In addition, Bishop McElroy also exhorted Catholics to break through obsolete “patterns of social segregation” and to interact and associate more with others from dissimilar backgrounds, from faiths and cultures different from our own. Bishop McElroy found it to be a negative fact that  many Catholic may never have had the opportunity to get to know anyone within the Muslim religion.

 Ironically, some of the allegedly Christian leaders that support Trump pretend to defend his actions by claiming that the government is under no duty to follow the Bible that urges us to welcome the immigrant.
It appears to me that those Christian leaders should be reminded of Jesus’ teachings—just in case they are having some memory problems.

    On January 21, 2017, one day after Trump’s inauguration, following the 5:15 Saturday evening Mass, the Liturgy Committee at our Parish invited all the congregation for coffee at the rectory for all and everyone to be able to candidly express their views on how things were being done at the Parish and how they could be done even better.  I attended and started by praising how at different occasions both before and after the elections both our pastor and pastor emeritus had been very outspoken in standing up for immigrants and refugees and against Trump.  I praised them for that and said that it was important for us as Catholic to make it clear that we cannot be, and are not, with Trump, that we cannot allow anyone to think that because he now claims to be pro-life we support him. I took a deep breath, and was prepared to be met with both support and antagonism—but I was mistaken. Support was unanimous.  Even though that was prior to Trump’s infamous executive order, immediately someone added that Trump’s anti-immigration and anti-Muslim position was against the Catholic Social Teaching—and, again, we all agreed.

A little background information

     I was born into a very devout Catholic family, where Catholicism was always a pivotal aspect of daily life, not only in the Creed or profession of faith, but also and even more dramatically in the total, absolute, emphatic embracement of the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church. In such light, by word and deed my parents and grandparents invariably not only taught me but also enacted for me the values of equality, social sensitivity, and social justice. They always placed social sensitivity way ahead of socio-economic profile and social prestige. I was not even allowed to mention that our family background went back to the oldest Italian nobility. I used to be reprimanded every time I even mentioned that because, I was reminded, everybody’s blood is the same. Similarly, despite being surrounded by the strictest and most uplifting family values, I was taught to be open to people from all walks of life. I was raised to respect the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death with no exceptions, and to stick to such respect regardless of any circumstances.  I was taught that being Pro Life is not just a matter of  learning that “love waits” but of embracing life and, if necessary, defy society and its moral standards in those cases when love did not wait. I was taught that neither the worst medical prognoses nor the most forcible or even violent circumstances leading to conception justify the murder of an innocent child. I was only a teenager when my Mom told me that to point a finger at an unwed mother was paramount to promoting abortion. I was also a teenager when she told me that if one day I wanted to adopt children with special needs she and my Dad would do everything within their power to help me. I was an adult when she not only lived up to but went way beyond those words and that promise and sacrificed her own mobility and eyesight for the sake of my international adoption expenses.  She, my three biological children, and I prayed together every step of all three adoption processes, which resulted in the addition of five awesome children, two from Haiti and three from Bulgaria, to our family—all with special needs and special talents. My Mother spent her last six years on this earth almost blind and in a wheelchair but never had any regrets. That was a sacrifice that only a saint could have made—and that saint is now with God. I can also prove that at one point around mid 2008, it was my Dad’s intercession from Above what saved the adoptions of my two sons from Haiti when the U.S. Consulate in Port-au-Prince had made a serious and otherwise rather irreparable mistake that could have jeopardized the whole processes. My three older children are devoted to their five younger brothers much more than words can say to the point of quite often putting their own goals and dreams aside for the sake of theirs.

    Without denying that I do like to brag about my family, for the purposes of this article, the above information is useful to prove a totally and unambiguously solid family ProLife track record that lends even more force to it.


Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Washing of the Feet. . . because of the King Who washed His disciples' feet.

 On a Sunday a couple of weeks ago, when Mass was over, Fr. Ray, our pastor emeritus, asked us to wait for him for a moment. I thought he wanted to talk about my younger sons' upcoming First Holy Communion, but he'd surprise us by asking Maximilian whether he'd like to participate in the Washing of the Feet on Holy Thursday.

Needless to say, Maximilian was thrilled to have been asked. That day all the high school freshmen were going on a field trip to the Boston Museum of Science, from where they would around 4:30 p.m.. The Holy Thursday Mass would be at 7:00 p.m., and we'd need to be at St. Joseph's, in Newport, RI, by 6:30. Maximilian didn't even want to go on his field trip for fear of being late for the Washing of the Feet. Yet, we convinced him that he'd be able to do both, and even if with some delays and some rushes, we'd manage to be at the Church not exactly by 6:30 but still well in advance of 7:00 p.m..

We all know that there is always a blessing in disguise in absolutely everything we go through. Well, I finally found a blessing in disguise in a presidncy that is no blessing at all. Seeing how the Catholic Church stood up against Trump's racism and bigotry, how emphatically they condemned Trump's Muslim ban and Mexican border wall strengthened Maximilian's faith. It is unthinkable to have at the White House a jerk who belittles the immigrant and laughs at the disabled. I cannot find any justification for that. Trump is not ProLife and is only damaging the ProLife cause. But when it comes to that adorable little boy turning into an awesome young man who impresses everyone around him, it took that big bigot playing president of the United States for him to witness what sparked, ignited, fired up his faith so that now he became a faithful, fervent, devout, committed Catholic, eager to have his First Holy Communion this spring and to get even more involved with the Church. He witnessed how the Catholic Church stood up against racism and supported the immigrant. He loved to hear both our pastor and pastor emeritus clearly and emphatically exhort the congregation to side with the undocumented aliens whose only "fault" is to want a better future for their children, to give their kids what they never had in their countries of origin when they themselves were growing up. He loved to learn that Pope Francis, The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholic Charities U.S.A., Catholic Relief Services, Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, and countless cardinals, archbishops, bishops, and clergy members not only denounced the evils of the Muslim ban and Mexican border wall but also urged Catholics and the population at large to do the same.

Notwithstanding having entered our family through international adoption from Bulgaria, Maximilian shares that passion for volunteering, reaching out, making a difference that I saw in my parents and grandparents, at a time when they could give away not only their time and efforts, but also sizable financial support---something that I cannot even remotely do today. Maximilian shares that passion for service to the community that made my three older, biological, children be top volunteers since the age of six or seven in San Diego area to the point that they were featured in the Rancho Santa Fe Review eighteen or nineteen times and interviewed by local T,V. channels due to their extraordinary volunteerism. And, by the same token, it was that same, or, rather,  even more selfless call to serve others what in July of 2008 made my three older children give up the laurels of organized volunteering and since then devote every minute of their free time to an even more selfless, more self-sacrificing, more self-denying, more self-effacing kind of service--the one that since then they have been doing for their younger siblings in the anonymity of the immediate family context, without it ever showing up in their resumes.

Quite often I have felt, and keep on feeling guilty for allowing my three older children to put aside their own goals and dreams for the sake of their five younger brothers, to do for me what I cannot do by myself. But my older ones are happy that way, and, of course, so are my younger ones. All my five younger sons love their older siblings much more than they love each other. Even if the road might be slightly bumpy sometimes, all five of them are learning from the awesome, amazing  examples they get from my older daughter and twin sons. For my younger ones, it is a slow process of ridding themselves of the effects of many long years of abuse and neglect in their early lives as they were all between the ages of seven and ten at the time of their respective homecomings. But it is happening. No matter some behavioral outbursts now and then, they all have good natures, and they all know how to care and how to love.

Let's go back to Maximilian, who is now totally over those little sharp, mordacious, hurtful comments he used to make. Those are totally a matter of the past. He has severe mobility limitations and some medical issues. Yet, his most cherished dream is volunteering and helping others. And he has a larger-than-life personality that makes its way into people's hearts. Meeting Maximilian equals liking him and being impressed by him. It means admiring his noble attitude in the face of his physical challenges, his resiliency, and his determination to change this world for the better.

Maximilian understands all about equality and social justice and does care about it.  I grew up in a home embedded into those values. I was taught to see Jesus in the homeless and the hungry. From very early age, my three older children stand up for the underserved, the minorities, the immigrant, and the oppressed. Maximilian fully shares in those concerns, and it was through those principles that he now totally embraced the Catholic faith.

Participating in the Washing of the Feet was perfect for him. First, Fr. Jacques and Fr. Ray washed the feet of a few previously selected parishioners, and then, in turn, those parishioners would wash the feet of any attendees who wished to have their feet washed. This is a tradition that honors the humility of the King of Kings Who washed the feet of His disciples, Who came to this world not to be served but to serve (Mark 10:45), and Who sent His Apostles to serve others in His Name (John 13:14-15).

It was a beautiful ceremony where everyone felt united together as members of the "one and only human race."  It was a bilingual Mass. Many helpers had some challenges of different kinds. An altar server with D.S. (Down syndrome) was among the most avid ones to assist with everything and to convey the most vivid testimony of true faith.

Working on this post is a real opportunity for me to confront my own frustration, my own pain and bitterness over the things I cannot get done, and to see the wonder of those things that do get done. Yes, I do receive lots of help in the process. I so much wish I could do more on my own. But it's time to look at the cup half full and see how very much is getting done, how very much got already done, no matter how much help I may have had.

Moreover, it's a matter of giving testimony. There are so many children wasting away in orphanages all over the world, with only one bifurcated prospect for their futures. Those with no medical diagnoses are more than likely to end up on the streets, and those with even the slightest special needs may be locked up in a so-called mental institution. There are also so many kids living in foster homes where, even if in a family environment, they are fully aware of not being full-fledged members of that family. And, on the other hand, there are so many people out there who might have better, more fulfilled, more meaningful lives if encouraged to rescue at least one child instead of keeping on dwelling on past mistakes or past pettiness.

Let's say it once again. This is precisely why Jesus voluntarily accepted the excruciating pain of dying on the Cross--to bring us closer to each other as the most effective, most loving way of saving us all.

I'll just let the pics speak fir themselves.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Satan Couldn't Have Done a More Evil, More Diabolic, More Demonic Job. Please take a moment to read before you go to the polls.

Well, this time Satan did the best job ever to try to destroy the cause of life. Why? Obviously the devil could not be pleased to see how many people were turning ProLife. Even under an adverse government such as the Obama administration, the work of many courageous men and women who exposed the horrors of dismembering babies limb by limb and / or sucking out their brains was being fruitful.  The public opinion was getting moved by the heartfelt remorseful stories of mothers who had done it and  couldn’t live with that guilt as well as by the honest conversion of some former abortionists who dared expose the atrocities of what they themselves had done in the past. Those stories and videos were getting viral—and effective in building increasing awareness of the frail predicament of babies in the womb. More and more people were adopting children that many would have thought to be unadoptable due to the extreme severity of their physical and / or developmental challenges, the touch-and-go status of their serious medical conditions, or the concerning degree of their acting out behaviors. The constantly increasing number of adoptions, and particularly of special needs adoptions, had almost completely destroyed the myth of the ‘unwanted child’ that pro-choice propagandists were trying to sell to unsuspecting victims faced with a prenatal diagnosis that they didn’t expect or even with just an unplanned pregnancy. A so-called ‘unwanted child’ is a child who is frantically wanted, dreamed of, and prayed for by millions of families all over the world looking to adopt.

So, Satan had to come up with something more sophisticated than pushing for a candidate who is a recalcitrant abortion supporter without exceptions. That was not bad enough. It was not bad enough to get somebody who goes so far as not only promoting abortion but arriving to the point of celebrating  it. If you come to think about it, that was actually an insult to countless women who did it and now regret what they've done.

And the devil didn’t stop there anyway. It did something much more diabolic than that, something much more difficult to fight than pro-abortion propaganda, pro-abortion legislation or Supreme Court decisions. Even if abortion is available, thanks God still most mothers don’t kill their babies. And even the ones who are thinking about doing it can be shown how wrong that is. They can be helped to reconsider and can be given support and assistance to raise their children or place them in loving arms.

What Satan did was much more devastating, much more insidious, and much more damaging.  It found someone who embodies everything that is despicable, reproachable, nauseating, revolting . . . and made that person say that now he’s ProLife.

A large number of Catholic organizations condemned Trump as someone who goes against what the core of Catholicism is--and that was way before his scandals were made public. Someone who discriminates against minorities, has KKK affiliations, rejects the immigrant, and makes fun of the disabled is totally against what Catholic values stand up for and support. And I'm not even addressing his obvious lack of good moral habits. That man is a disgrace to humankind. Far from helping the ProLife cause, Trump is deeply harming it by trying to put people against it. Why do you think he said that women who had an abortion needed to be punished somehow? To help all of us who defend the sanctity of human life--or to be against us in a much more concealed and dangerous way? The Catholic Church is the strongest force against abortion--and yet, far from talking about punishing those women who already did it, many parishes have programs to help them heal. I'm totally against Hillary--but Trump can damage the cause of life even more. As evil as it is, Hillary's fanatic pro-abortion stand make people feel disgusted at the atrocity of tearing babies apart limb by limb or chopping their little heads off. Instead, because Trump's nauseating personality. his recent and still suspicious alleged conversion to the pro-life side may make many who are undecided on the issue become pro-choice.

Trump does not hide his racism. He uses racial slurs, mocks disability, and boasts of his indecent, deplorable, immoral treatment of women. He sells himself to a foreign government and admits to his admiration for a foreign dictator.

On September 17, 2016, in his homily at our Parish, St. Joseph's, in Newport, RI, Fr. Ray, who retired last year but is pastor emeritus,  very directly said that he was talking about the elections and that being a priest of course he is Pro-life, of course he supports life--but precisely for that reason, protects life at all stages, from conception to natural death, and including the poor, the immigrant, and the disabled. Once again, he made it clear that he was talking about the polls. Those are words that bring support for the ProLife movement, words that speak the truth and result in pews filled with Mass attendees.

I want to make it clear that I have nothing in common with Tim Kaine. I'm a devout cradle Catholic, and as such stand up for the sanctity of human life at all life stages and no matter any circumstances. There are no exceptions to the rule. Precisely because of that, having had the most fervent, most committed, most involved, most impeccable Catholic upbringing, my family always taught me by word and deed to respect everyone, to welcome the immigrant, to ignore skin tone, to reach out to anyone in need, to see Jesus in the homeless and the hungry.

I do care about the ProLife cause much more than many of those who are unable to see that there cannot be any greater danger to it than Trump. Please mind that what I'm about to say is not at all in favor of Hillary. This is the scenario, though: With her in the White House a lot of pro-abortion legislation will be passed. Yet, the legislation itself does not kill babies. It's murderous mothers and physicians turned into butchers who do. And if we keep on campaigning by showing the atrocities of all abortion procedures and resorting to social justice and human rights arguments, more and more people will keep on changing from pro-abortion to pro-life, as it did happen during the Obama administration. Instead Trump, with all that bigot, racist, lewd, vulgar garbage he has built upon himself, will cause many without too solid Pro-Life convictions to become pro-choice. Had the Republican party appointed anyone, and I do mean it, almost anyone other than Trump, they'd have been sure to win over Hillary at the elections. I am ProLife with absolutely no exceptions--and that is why I'm so extremely concerned about all the damage that Trump has already caused and may keep on causing. All the Catholic saints and martyrs have devoted their lives and died for those Trump had the nerve to laugh at, to make fun of, to insult. Only he devil itself could have made Trump run for president so as to cause division and confusion within the ProLife movement and to pull many away from it. Only the devil can cause so much havoc as what we have in front of us at this time.

I will say it in plain language—and I apologize for capitalizing it for emphasis, without trying to shout at anyone: THE PRO-LIFE CAUSE IS NOT AT ALL RIGHT WING AS TRUMP IS.  The problem here is that we all know the common aphorism that says that “birds of a feather flock together.”  That's why no ProLife supporter can flock together with Trump.  Only the devil could have devised such a clever, sophisticated plan—not to save babies but to get more babies killed.

There is absolutely no situation in which I'd condone an abortion or any end-of-life measure of any kind. I'm not 100, but 1,000% Prolife. That's why it hurts me when some people out there identify the ProLife cause as being a hard line position.  We care about good moral values--but are not ProLife for the sake of good moral values. We are ProLife for babies' sake.  We are ready and willing to defy society for the sake of one human life. We need to talk louder about social justice and about human rights. We should appeal more to the sensitive arguments that are the ones that will stop women from killing the babies in their womb.

For instance, although it's been a while with no activity in it, I entitled my YouTube channel as "ProLifeProAmnesty", meaning an amnesty for all hard working undocumented immigrants that are trying to give their kids what they didn't have in their childhood. We should make people know that we protect babies, the elder, the terminally ill, and that we seek better life conditions for the immigrant and the oppressed, that we give voice to the voiceless, that we feed the hungry and clothe the naked.

In 1989, at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, which he owned at the time, Trump co-sponsored a dinner to honor Robin Chandler Duke, a former president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. In 1999 he described himself as “very pro-choice” and stated that he would not support any ban on partial birth abortion. And now he claims to be pro-life while doing everything possible and impossible to present himself as a totally reprehensible person from every viewpoint. He has even insulted veterans who suffered at the hand of the enemy by saying that he didn’t like someone who got caught. What kind of a statement was that?  Well, nothing can be surprising if coming from someone who seems to pledge allegiance to a country other than the one he wants to rule and expresses his admiration for that country’s leader whose approach is a  dictatorial style.

On election day, Trump is resorting to intimidation by having his almost all-white fanatics wearing fake badges and patrolling precincts in minority neighborhoods. He has been telling those fans to “go around and watch other polling places”—meaning “other than white”, and has been doing that for months.

What kind of presidential candidate is he? Who thought that those things didn’t happen in the United States. Those things are happening right now, in U.S. in 2016.

God bless us all—and God protect us all, starting with those who need protection the most.

Much more eloquent than my own words, I’m copying and pasting herein what a large number of very respectable Catholic organizations had to say about Trump.  I’m not talking about fake Catholics here, but about Catholics who embrace the right to life, social sensitivity, and social justice, in the true spirit of the Social Teaching of the Catholic Church. I'd like to copy and paste part of the document--but before doing so I want to repeat that as Catholics and therefore defenders of life we should not allow the devil to cause division, bad will, and grudges at and against each other. Otherwise we ourselves will be handing in the weapons to the culture of death for them to destroy us. That will mean countless helpless babies being brutally, atrociously, mercilessly massacred in the womb. That will mean desolate, distraught, heartbroken families powerlessly watching how murderous physicians without the least respect for their hippocratic oath rush to pronounce brain damaged patients brain dead way too soon. Let's not allow that to happen.

 I'm copying and pasting a good part of the article, as follows: "On March 7, dozens of prominent Catholic leaders released an appeal calling Trump “manifestly unfit to be president of the United States.”

“His campaign has already driven our politics down to new levels of vulgarity,” the statement says. “His appeals to racial and ethnic fears and prejudice are offensive to any genuinely Catholic sensibility. He promised to order U.S. military personnel to torture terrorist suspects and to kill terrorists’ families – actions condemned by the Church and policies that would bring shame upon our country.”

“And there is nothing in his campaign or his previous record that gives us grounds for confidence that he genuinely shares our commitments to the right to life, to religious freedom and the rights of conscience, to rebuilding the marriage culture, or to subsidiarity and the principle of limited constitutional government.”

The statement is signed by more than 30 leading U.S. Catholics, including Robert George, law professor at Princeton University; Mary Rice Hasson, director of the Catholic Women’s Forum at the Ethics and Public Policy Center; and Thomas Farr, director of the Religious Freedom Project at Georgetown University. Church teaching does not dictate which party or candidate a Catholic should choose. It does, however, offer guidelines for the faithful to use in making their decision.

In their document, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” the U.S. bishops outline an understanding of political responsibility based upon developing a “well-formed conscience.”

“While Catholics must vote their conscience, the conscience can be in error, and so faithful Catholics must make every effort to ‘educate’ or form their consciences according to the teachings of the Church,” said Dr. Chad Pecknold, a theology professor at The Catholic University of America and one of the signers of the Catholic petition against Trump.

Catholic teaching holds that the “right to life” is paramount. St. John Paul II described it as “the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights.” The bishops’ document stresses that the direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life “is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed.”

“When a candidate supports abortion rights, or assisted suicide, the Catholic should have no doubt that this is opposed to the teaching of the Church, and should not vote for such a candidate,” said Pecknold.

However, beneath the life issue, “Faithful Citizenship” also lists a number of other moral issues of grave importance that must not be ignored.

“Racism and other unjust discrimination, the use of the death penalty, resorting to unjust war, the use of torture, war crimes, the failure to respond to those who are suffering from hunger or a lack of health care, pornography, redefining civil marriage, compromising religious liberty, or an unjust immigration policy are all serious moral issues that challenge our consciences and require us to act,” the guide states.

Catholics may differ over “how best to respond to these and other compelling threats to human life and dignity,” it adds, but they “are urged to seriously consider Church teaching on these issues.”

It is on many of these issues that Catholics have raised concerns about Trump. While both major Democratic candidates – former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders – are long-time abortion advocates and therefore problematic from a Catholic perspective, critiques of Trump are more nuanced.

For one, Trump’s plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants stands in sharp contrast to the U.S. bishops’ repeated call for comprehensive immigration reform that emphasizes family unity and includes an earned legalization program.

The business mogul also gained considerable attention for his assertion that “torture works” and his plan to kill the family members of terrorists. Although he later backtracked on these statements, critics voiced continuing concern over his willingness to commit war crimes and compromise human dignity.

Trump’s casino was the first in Atlantic City to have an in-house strip club. And while the GOP frontrunner says he opposes same-sex marriage, he has attracted criticism from defense-of-marriage groups who note that he has bragged in the past about having affairs with other married women and has made numerous explicit and degrading statements about women.

Furthermore, his proposal for an indefinite ban on allowing Muslims into the U.S. has drawn serious concern from legal experts who say it is a flagrant violation of religious liberty, endangering the fundamental right for other faiths as well.

And while the Catechism teaches that the death penalty should be restricted to cases in which it is the “only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor,” Trump wants to expand the use of capital punishment, making it the mandatory penalty for killing a police officer.

While Trump currently says that he is pro-life, he made strong pro-choice statement in 1999 and 2000. A few months ago, he said that his sister Maryanne Trump Barry would be an ideal Supreme Court nominee, despite her striking down New Jersey’s ban on partial-birth abortions as a judge. Several major pro-life groups have questioned Trump’s commitment to the pro-life cause, saying he “cannot be trusted.”

Other criticisms of Trump include what many see as disparaging comments and actions toward women, immigrants, minorities and Pope Francis."

Halloween 2016 in pics

From left to right: Nicholas, Maximilian, and Thomas ready to go to a Halloween party, October 29, 2016

Thomas and Nichols as they went to school on Halloween. No actual costumes in high school. Just wearing orange and black.

Maximilian and Nicholas here

Spiderman (Philip) is doing a soldier's shoelaces while the soldier is holding Stella, the family dog

 No trick-or-treating this year.  just a family Halloween party at home. Now Catherine and Warren are working in Massachusetts and share a duplex there, from one and a half to two hours from home. They come all the time, though, to be with their brothers as they used to before. When I told them that they didn't need to drive so much back and forth on a working day just to come for Halloween, they told me that they would be here no matter what. They had even taken time off work already.  In honor to truth, I wouldn't have been able to prepare a Halloween party as Catherine did.  They all had a great time.

I never need to prepare any activities, arts, or crafts: Catherine does is all!!!

Maximilian and Philip are having too much fun spraying Catherine, who, BTW, had been the one buying and bringing the spray.

Thomas's turn to spray Catherine!

Catherine made them prepare some creepy, and yummy, edible bugs with pretzel sticks for the legs.

Not so easy to pick up those eight-legged treats with Batman gloves.

She made me try a bug too.

Catherine with Stephen: No more grumpy faces when she's around. Well, they all get grumpy with all the pictures I take.

Halloween dinner From left to right: Catherine, Stephen, Gerard, Maximilian, and, facing the other way, Philip

Catherine's culinary creation for her brothers: sausages made into octopi on mac and cheese. Yum!!!

Thomas has a grumpy face now.
Catherine's on a new mission: to turn another grumpy face into a happy, smiling one. Sometimes it takes a little longer than expected.

Warren, Nicholas, and I


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