Fonticulus Fides

Friday, July 28, 2006

A small word on a big problem

I haven't been ignoring the Israeli-Lebanon conflict -- I've just been trying to sort through what few facts I have available to me.

While the loss of human life, especially that of innocent civilians, is very, very troubling and should be brought to a speedy end, I do think the Israelis have a right to defend their nation. Their attitude, I think is more noble. They are saying,
"For our own survival, we need to prevent this small sect (Hezbollah) from fulfilling their goal to wipe us off the face of the planet, but we have no qualms with the Muslim religion existing at large." Hezbollah, by contrast, wants all Jews exterminated. And Lebanon, I'm afraid, is culpable because they have allowed Hezbolla to openly train soldiers, aquire weapons and set up missle launching sites in civilian communities without any interference.

To me, that would be like the U.S. government allowing the Ku Klux Klan to operate openly, aquire their own army and weaponry and start launching missles agains Mexico. If the U.S. did that, we could expect Mexico to retaliate against ALL of us, just as Israel is retaliating against primarily Hezbollah, but Lebanon, too.

All in all, though, a very sad situation and a brutal war and the sooner it ends, the better.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Home births still illegal in Nebraska

Not really illegal altogether -- if a woman has a baby at home, she won't be prosecuted. However, if she is attended by a midwife or a doctor or a nurse, the medical professional will be prosecuted. Here's the latest story (and do scroll down to read the comments if this subject interests you at all).

Makes so much sense, doesn't it -- forcing people who choose home births to go without trained medical help?

When I was pregnant with Zooey, my doctor (family practiioner and very "earthy") suggested that I invite her over for dinner as soon as I go into labor, and if the baby comes before we made it to the hospital -- oops. My husband couldn't stomach the thought, though. Seriously, if we would have had any of our babies at home, he never would have entered whatever room they were born in again!

Fortunately, our local Catholic hospital has stepped up and made giving birth as comfortable and home-like as possible, without the parades of nurses, interns, etc. and pretty good food. A decent compromise, but it still would be better if women had a choice.


Ancient book of Psalms found in Ireland

This is way cool! An ancient book containing at least some Psalms was unearthed from a bog in Ireland. Kind of amazing that it didn't completely disintegrate over the years...or that the backhoe didn't destroy it before anybody noticed it.

It was open to Psalm 83 when discovered. Text follows:

A Song, a Psalm of Asaph.
1 O God, do not remain quiet;
Do not be silent and, O God, do not be still.
2 For behold, Your enemies make an uproar,
And those who hate You have exalted themselves.
3 They make shrewd plans against Your people,
And conspire together against Your treasured ones.
4 They have said, "Come, and let us wipe them out as a nation,
That the name of Israel be remembered no more."
5 For they have conspired together with one mind;
Against You they make a covenant:
6 The tents of Edom and the Ishmaelites,
Moab and the Hagrites;
7 Gebal and Ammon and Amalek,
Philistia with the inhabitants of Tyre;
8 Assyria also has joined with them;
They have become a help to the children of Lot. Selah.
9 Deal with them as with Midian,
As with Sisera and Jabin at the torrent of Kishon,
10 Who were destroyed at En-dor,
Who became as dung for the ground.
11 Make their nobles like Oreb and Zeeb
And all their princes like Zebah and Zalmunna,
12 Who said, "Let us possess for ourselves
The pastures of God."
13 O my God, make them like the [a] whirling dust,
Like chaff before the wind.
14 Like fire that burns the forest
And like a flame that sets the mountains on fire,
15 So pursue them with Your tempest
And terrify them with Your storm.
16 Fill their faces with dishonor,
That they may seek Your name, O LORD.
17 Let them be ashamed and dismayed forever,
And let them be humiliated and perish,
18 That they may know that You alone, whose name is the LORD,
Are the Most High over all the earth.

Hmmm...there's new meaning to those words nowadays, isn't there? Wonder what the major Catholic bloggers will have to say about it?


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

NFP awareness week

Huh, I had no idea there was such a thing as NFP Awarenenss Week. And today is the anniversary of Human Vitae. Have you ever read it? I've muddled through it -- it's the kind of document that takes concentration, and as a busy mom, I rarely have that privilege. But there are many wonderful bits in it, and I do think it's a valuable document for any married couple and any Catholic, married or single.

Thanks to HMS blog for cluing me in on NFP week.


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Urgent prayer request

Mrs R, the godmother to all my children and my own sponsor into the Church, called me this morning to report that her father has been diagnosed with a very grave form of lung cancer, fast-moving and difficult to put into remission. It is beyond operable and he is not a candidate for radiation. He was told if he does nothing, he will only have about three weeks to live. He elected to try chemotherapy and has already started. Please pray for him, his wife (who is really having a hard time with all of this), his four kids, his grandchildren and his great-grandchildren as they accept this trial and come together to work through it.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Rest in peace, Jack

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Jack C.

Jack is the father of one of my dearest friends (we gave her name to Lola as a middle name). Jack is a great guy and even helped us name Zooey years ago when I was very pregnant and he was visiting town for one of his granddaughter's confirmation ceremony.

He died yesterday of a sudden heart attack while vacationing with his children and grandchildren. My friend had been with the group over the weekend but returned to work on Monday, so she was the only one of Jack's children not with him as he passed. His wife is in a home for Alzheimer's victims and has not recognized him for some months -- not sure when she will be told, by whom (she doesn't recognize any of her children any more, either) or how she will take it. The whole family is devastated as Jack really was the pillar of wisdom and faith for them all. So if you could pray for Jack's survivors, too, it would be much appreciated.


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

More on the Miraculous Infant of Prague

I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to get all this into writing, but I don’t want to delay it any longer.

As I blogged previously, I had been praying to the Miraculous Infant of Prague for help with our financial needs. As the Lord is apt to do, He answered my prayers in a big way.

The financial need has been weighing heavily on us for some time. Sales are down at the store where my husband works for a variety of reasons, including the opening of a new, rival store in the south part of town and my husband’s boss’s refusal to (a) advertise, (b) get good merchandise into the store and (c) price things appropriately. Long story short, my husband has been making anywhere from $200 - $300 less per month than he used to, and on our tight budget, that’s begging for disaster.

We figured that we needed to eliminate some bills that we’ve been paying. I’ve been using all my income from the paper to pay off a nasty dental bill (emergency crown that ended up being charged at emergency rates plus 16% interest every month after they very nicely told me that they were happy as long as I sent them something every month – no wonder!), and various doctor bills, mostly incurred by Lola’s antics. But even with those two bills paid off (early June), we were having trouble making ends meet, especially because the paper only comes out every other week all summer, so I have fewer stories and lower income myself.

So, I had this prayer card for the Miraculous Infant of Prague and I threw myself into a Novena. Almost immediately, my husband made a little extra cash on some freelance stuff, which tided us over. Then, out of the blue, my mom called.

Okay, backtrack. I don’t have an exceptionally great relationship with my parents, mostly because they have chosen not to welcome my husband into the family, and also because they have pretty much rejected my Christianity (partly my fault because I came on like a bulldozer when I was a brand-new evangelical back in the day, and they can’t forgive me for it).

My mom is not Catholic, but she was raised Catholic by my grandmother. My grandmother died in May 1997, well before we became Catholic. Grandma had several talents, including cooking, needlework, raising African Violets and thrift. So while I was doing my Novena, it occurred to me to ask my grandmother to pray for us, too, since she was good with a buck.

More backtracking – I’m not very good with houseplants. I used to be, but ever since I had Zooey, every plant I’ve ever owned has died a horrible death due to neglect. My mom isn’t any better – when my grandmother had a stroke in 1996 and went into the nursing home, she expected mom to care for her African Violets, and those all died from neglect, too. So when my husband and I went to visit her in the home, we brought her a couple of new ones, one with white flowers, one purple. After she died a few months later, I brought those same violets back to Nebraska. One died a couple of years ago, and the other has soldiered on, ministered to occasionally by my mother-in-law, who would water, repot, drip in fertilizer, etc. for me when she came to babysit. It never bloomed, and I couldn’t even tell if it was the purple one or the white one that had survived.

About the time I started the Novena, I was really neglecting that sole surviving African Violet! I even had it sitting over the kitchen sink, where I wash dishes every day, thinking that would help me remember to care for it. Every once in a while, I put a little water in its pot out of guilt after I was done washing dishes, but it was really down to one crumpled leaf and some dead ones when I started praying for financial relief. I remember pulling off the dead leaves and seeing only a little green and thinking I’d better water it or it was going to die for sure.

So anyway, like I said, my mom called. She said that she was worried about our finances. There was “a little money” left from what my grandmother had given her, and Mom thought that she could pay off one of our bills and help reduce our monthly obligation.

Well, I have to tell you, my jaw hit the floor. My mom hasn’t been inclined to share her mother’s money with any of us in this way (she does by gifts for the children with it). And here I was, praying to God for financial help, and praying to my grandmother for her prayerful support, and the answer came like this!?!?!? Grandma’s money?!?! From my mom? Whom I’ve been slightly estranged from ever since I was married 12 years ago?!?!?!?

Then I turned around and looked at the African Violet. Here, see for yourself. It’s healthy. It’s full of blossoms – twelve of them, actually (there is more on the reverse). And each blossom is gigantic. That’s a 4-inch pot, so they each must be 1.5” across, and I’ve never seen an African Violet with blossoms bigger than 3/4” or maybe 1”.

I took it as a sign, a sign from Heaven that my grandmother is there, living a new life with Jesus. Which was important to me, because I have been praying for my grandmother’s soul and feeling very guilty that none of us were Catholic when she passed, so we were all very negligent in praying for her or having Masses said for her. And maybe even it’s a sign that we’ll have new life in our financial situation (I’ve been praying for either a new job for my husband, better revenue at his current job, or better revenue from one of his other ventures or just whatever Jesus wants to do!)

And the phone call from mom, I took that as a sign that God still speaks to my mom’s heart, even though she often seems to reject him (from my puny understanding of the situation). That made me feel a ton better, because I often pray that my parents will be reconciled to the Church now that they are entering in the final decades of their lives.

I discussed the bills with Mom and she and Dad decided to help us pay off two bills. My husband’s truck, which was going to be paid off in October, and a nasty credit card, which was small but sold to one of those huge banks that levied 29.99% interest on us just because they could. Together, those two payments totaled $250 or so a month for us in obligations. Paying them off felt great, and I am so thankful to God, to my grandma and to my parents for enabling us to make that happen.

Another freelance check came and is enabling us to paint our house – it badly needed it, with paint peeling like crazy and exposed wood. So it wasn’t just aesthetics, it was preserving our home. (Although I must say, the new paint looks spectacular -- we’ve gone from a nasty flesh-color with chocolate brown trim to Sherwin-Williams Avocado with Muslin trim and Burgundy accents, all bought on sale, 25% off!).

We’re still not out of the woods yet, unfortunately. Tuition to our parish school is due next week, and we don’t have it. I can probably get a reprieve until the first day of school on Aug. 24th, but that’s not a ton of time. Still no business coming into the shop, but I’m still praying for relief…

…although my prayer card of the Miraaulous Infant of Prague has disappeared. Lola probably walked off with it. She loves it and I always catch her sleeping with it.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll say a prayer of thanksgiving on our behalf (can’t say enough of them ourselves). Thanks be to God!!!


Monday, July 17, 2006

More on contraception

This interesting article is about some research done on the depression and other emotional side effects caused by contraception and sterilization. HMS blog pointed me there, and I think it's a good read.


Friday, July 14, 2006

Pharmacists upholds Catholic values

This is a piece I wrote a couple months ago, which was just published in today's paper here in the diocese.

When a Catholic person becomes a pharmacist – or when a pharmacist becomes Catholic – he or she must eventually grapple with the disparity between Catholic teaching and legally available prescriptions: namely, artificial birth control and abortion-inducing drugs like RU-487 or “Plan B.”

Like physicians, pharmacists adhere to a strict code of ethics, beginning with “Do no harm.” Dilemmas for Catholic pharmacists arise due to the difference between the generally accepted idea of “harm” and what the Church teaches is “harm.”

There is no question that drugs like RU-487 were created and are dispensed with the sole purpose of causing abortions. In contrast, artificial hormones can be administered for several different reasons, which clouds the issues. For example, the same item that is used as contraception can be prescribed to control abnormal bleeding or to help ease a woman through menopause.

Most people consider hormonal contraception “safe,” even though scientific research proves that hormone-based birth control – pills, patches or injections – are all potentially harmful to both women and any baby who may be conceived despite the prescription. The Church further instructs that artificial contraception is harmful to marriages and “intrinsically evil” (See Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1652, 2363, 2370).

It can be difficult for a pharmacist who is Catholic to determine how to deal with legal prescriptions for morally problematic drugs. Several Catholic pharmacists in the Diocese of Lincoln have spent years working through the issues, at times risking their livelihood to stand up for their convictions.

Change of Heart

When Lane Hawley decided that his business, Superior Pharmacy, would no longer fill prescriptions for artificial contraception, it occurred to him that he might be out of business within six months.

“I had to rely heavily on my faith,” admitted Mr. Hawley, who converted to Catholicism while still in pharmacy school.

He had been employed at the same pharmacy, which is located in Superior, first as a student intern and then as a licensed pharmacist until he and his wife, Anna, purchased the store in 2003. The whole time, artificial contraception was stocked and dispensed.

Mr. Hawley remembered, “2004 rolled around, and I was seeing the side effects in my customers – the cancers, failed marriages, fertility problems. I got to the point where I’d seen enough.”

With the decision made, he developed a policy statement to hand out, composed letters to physicians and customers, and made the announcement to his employees. Even though these prescriptions comprised only 1-1.5% of the pharmacy’s total business, the staff was shocked. They all feared the repercussions, but their concerns did not dissuade Mr. Hawley from making the change.

“For the most part,” Mr. Hawley reported, “people handled it well. I had people come in and thank me because they didn’t know about the side effects.”

Nearly two years later, business is improving at his full-service pharmacy. A few customers protested the decision by taking their business elsewhere, but most have now returned.

Taking a stand

Dan Dailey, co-owner of both Daily’s Pharmacy Clinic and Coleman Clinic Pharmacy in Wahoo, took a similar journey nearly 15 years ago. There were differing opinions among Mr. Dailey’s team as well, along with the fear of losing customers. Still, he knew he had to persevere.

Initially, he chose to refrain from dispensing the drugs himself, allowing one of the other pharmacists on staff to handle those prescriptions. “I eventually hit a point where being co-owner, I was uncomfortable with that.” He conferred with his partner, and the pair soon agreed to stop dispensing hormonal contraception altogether.

“I honestly don’t think it hurt our business at all, financially,” Mr. Dailey emphasized. “In fact, we have some people who are supporting us because we are pro-life.”

Like Mr. Hawley, Mr. Dailey notified his customers of the change with a very carefully worded letter, so as not to offend anyone who may have held a different stance on the issue. His letter frankly detailed the abortifacient aspects of hormonal birth control, explained his moral opposition to it, and recommended Natural Family Planning instruction at a local hospital.

“It is not my intention to judge any one else’s moral beliefs,” he wrote, “I hope by the same token, you will respect mine.”

Reaction, he said, was “generally good…We have a really good relationship with all our patients. People were understanding.”

Starting from scratch

When he became a pharmacist, Scott Kirkegaard took a job at the Hastings Regional Center, where artificial contraception was rarely a concern. He spent his days helping physicians pick medications for treatment regimens and consulting with patients.

Faced with the regional center’s closing, Mr. Kirkegaard had to determine the next stage of his career. He and his family are fond of Hastings and didn’t want to leave. But he knew that working in a regular pharmacy would test his Catholic convictions.

“I didn’t want to work for a Walgreen’s or Wal-Mart where those issues do come up,” he said.

Mr. Kirkegaard had another idea – opening a pro-life pharmacy. Though there are many other pharmacies in Hastings, none of them advertised as “pro-life.”

Coincidentally, a Catholic bookstore was moving out of Hastings to another city. So, the Kirkegaards decided to augment the traditional drug store offerings with Catholic gift items like rosaries, Bibles, statues and the like.

Mr. Kirkegaard’s investors agreed his plan was viable, and Crosier Park Pharmacy opened nearly a year ago. It’s situated next to a doctor’s office that also advertises as pro-life. The first year hasn’t been easy, but Mr. Kirkegaard hopes his clientele will continue to grow as more people become aware of his store

“I think in the long run, we will be blessed that we did it,” he said.

Differing views

While Catholics who own their own pharmacies can choose not to stock or dispense hormonal contraception, those who work for owners who do not share the same moral beliefs must negotiate a compromise.

James Polk and Jeff Rademacker both work for a SunMart pharmacy in Lincoln. SunMart, a large chain of grocery stores and pharmacies within grocery stores, requires every location to stock artificial contraception.

In such a situation, a Catholic pharmacist might defer such prescriptions to another pharmacist on staff who doesn’t have a problem with the drugs. For Mr. Polk and Mr. Rademacker, who share the same view, that isn’t an option.

“We struggle with dispensing them,” Mr. Rademacker said.

In fact, before he even finished pharmacy school, Mr. Rademacker consulted a priest about the issue. He was told that as long as the drugs could be prescribed for a morally acceptable reason (such as alleviating severe symptoms during menopause), and as long as he wasn’t helping a couple make a decision to contracept, he would not be sinning by filling the prescriptions.

Ethically, there is little that the pair can do to reduce the number of prescriptions for artificial contraception that are presented to them. Education is their best course of action.

“We encourage customers to ask the questions about the prescription,” explained Mr. Rademacker. “That leaves the door open so we can tell them the truth about the side effects and offer extensive counseling.”

He continued, “We try not to be judgmental, but we both feel they are unsafe and can cause abortions. People don’t know that, and they need to know.”

It’s a different story when it comes to Plan B, or the so-called, “Morning After Pill.” Even though the item is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), neither Mr. Rademacker nor Mr. Polk will dispense such a prescription – ever.

“I have talked to my district manager, and I’ve made it quite clear as long as I’m the pharmacy manager here, we won’t stock those products,” stated Mr. Polk. So far, his employer has acquiesced, which, Mr. Polk said, “is kind of nice, because some other companies are not that supportive.”

Legal Considerations

For now, pharmacists in most parts of the United States are not required to dispense either hormonal contraception or abortion-inducing drugs, even though they are legal. Late last year, however, the situation changed in Illinois.

After a pharmacist refused to dispense the abortion drug in an Illinois city, the state legislature passed a mandate requiring all pharmacists to fill such prescriptions, even if they had a moral opposition to the drugs. Many Catholic pharmacists in that state have been forced to either move or change professions.

Mr. Dailey considers that law outrageous. “It’s not fair to tell a pharmacist that he has to participate in an abortion by selling the Pill or the Morning-After Pill or RU487,” he said. “They can’t make a physician write a prescription for it, so they shouldn’t make a pharmacist dispense it.”

Each of the men is keeping an eye out to make sure that a similar situation doesn’t happen in Nebraska. “I don’t really have time to fight it,” Mr. Hawley said, “but I would have to make the time if the issue came up.”

One of Mr. Rademacker’s sons is currently studying to be a pharmacist at Creighton University. When he thinks about the pressure his son may face to dispense these drugs, Mr. Rademacker sighs.

“I think it’s going to get worse,” he said. “Plan B is making its way into the states, and depending on the government and Planned Parenthood and groups like that putting pressure on the voters, I really think unless we stand up, it’s going to get even worse.”

And here is the accompanying sidebar...

Assessing the risk of artificial contraception

When it comes to hormonal birth control, many pharmacists agree that couples often do not have a firm understanding of how much risk the drugs carry. The public generally accepts FDA approval as a sign of safety, but that might not be the wisest conclusion.

The University of Nebraska Medical Center instructor who taught Lane Hawley’s course on artificial contraception and other hormonal therapy clearly believed these items were not safe.

“It made an impression on me,” Mr. Hawley recalled.

That course as also where it became evident to Mr. Hawley that the birth control pill is abortifacient, meaning it causes the death of unborn humans.

Mr. Hawley, James Polk and Jeff Rademacker all agreed that patients are not educated enough about the potential danger of hormonal contraception.

“They’re not getting the full story,” Mr. Rademacker said. He believes that artificial contraception was approved by the FDA because people wanted convenience, not because the drugs are safe.

Mr. Polk explained that during the developmental phase in the early 1960s, researchers were studying contraception for men as well. After a minor side effect showed up in men, they stopped progress on that drug. However, when three female patients in the first study died, they simply reformulated the dose.

“That just shows the hostility that society has toward women,” he said. He recommends the tape and book series, Contraception: Why Not, by Dr. Janet Smith, for more details.

Mr. Polk also compared the use of hormonal birth control with certain arthritis medications. “You got a medication that millions of people are using for arthritis. A half-dozen people die, then eight to ten more, and the FDA pulls it from the market. How many thousands die from contraception, and yet the public demands it.”

Each of the pharmacists recommend that a woman who is currently taking hormonal birth control consult her doctor or pharmacist about her potential risks. These risks include*:

• High Blood Pressure
• Blood Clots
• Strokes
• Heart Attacks
• Migraine Headaches
• Menstrual Problems
• Vaginal Infections
• Abortion
• Infertility
• Gallbladder Disease
• Liver Tumors
• Breast Cancer

*Source: Jose M. Fernandez, M.D.,

Monday, July 10, 2006

Saint Question

Does anybody know if the name of the Woman with the Issue of Blood is known? I have a suffering friend for whom I am enlisting the prayers of this faith-filled woman, and I feel like I should know her name, but I don't.



Friday, July 07, 2006

Bishop Vasa on the Eucharist

Sorry to have been away too long -- lots of stuff going on including painting our house (exterior!) and getting ready for Edyn's fourth birthday party, which is on Sunday. It's a princess theme...I'll try to provide details afterwards.

Anyway, I was kindly pointed to Bishop Robert Vasa's excellent writing on Eucharistic Adoration by Jeff Miller and I heartily encourage you to go read it. It's wonderful!

I interviewed the Bishop (Diocese of Baker) recently, when he was returning to Lincoln to give a keynote address at our Light of the World banquet, and he is a most delightful person and an ardant adorer of our Lord. Bishop Vasa, for those of you who don't know, is a priest of the Diocese of Lincoln, and under our former Bishop was really raised up to be a great Christian leader. The folks in eastern Oregon are lucky to have him around!