It doesn’t fit with the narrative of the workshop, which was focused on economic inequality, maintaining biodiversity and proper use of the Earth’s resources.
Nothing actually written by the workshop seemed out of line with the Catholic Church. If someone would like to comment and prove otherwise, please be my guest, I will gladly post again admitting I missed something.
The media is using fake news to rip apart the Catholic Church from the inside. By misquoting Pope Francis, it makes traditional-thinking Catholics think he’s extremely liberal, and it reinforces their wrong belief that Vatican II should be completely rejected. For Catholics who grew up after the 1960s, the media’s portrayal makes it look like it’s OK to accept ideas that are actually heretical (and ideas they have been pushing for some time now). For those of us in the middle, who like tradition but also try to understand the spirit of the Catechism, we get marginalized by both sides, and the media simply tries to overwhelm us with volume to silence our voices.
It’s nasty. As a military planner, this is the sort of thing I would want to do to my adversaries. The media are using fake news to tear down the Catholic Church in a way that could cause almost all persons to turn away from teaching and towards what makes us comfortable. We would do well to reject it and focus on understanding our Catechism and why we believe what we believe.
The post represents the views of the author alone, and does not represent the views of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other federal agency.
So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, 19 and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.
National Harbor Sun 6:50 AM
I’m mostly packed and well rested getting the full 6 hours of sleep having held a short version of DaTechGuy’s Midnight Court at 8 PM so I could get upstairs and be packed and ready for the shuttle to the airport at 9:30 but more important than the sleep is waking up reassured.
As some of you might know this CPAC trip was completely unexpected just one month ago what you might not know is that on Last Sunday this odd story took one more unexpected twist.
Valery had been unable to sleep and when I came downstairs she was in great pain requiring a trip to the ER. Seven hours later we left with a diagnosis of a bad gall bladder that had to come out, the doctor set up a meeting with the surgeon for Wednesday and said both work that morning was no prob and CPAC also looked good as this was routine.
When I got home from work Monday Morning after work and mass Valery was up, she had slept well due to the prescriptions but was planning to contact our personal physician to ill him and our insurance in so I did some packing then hit the sack.
By the time I had woken up her pain was back and our doctor had called seeing the ultrasounds etc and said he wanted her in the ER not in Leominster but at St. Vincent’s in Worcester that evening. The determination was she needed the surgery this week, perhaps as soon as Wednesday.
My wife and sons insisted that CPAC should go on, I had not been here for the last two years and my oldest assured me he could handle things here, after all the surgery is routine. He had even managed to find my cell phone missing for 5 months (with a holy card & relic of St. Maximilian Kolbe on it)
So to CPAC I went arriving Tuesday, still worried but sure things would work out. Tuesday evening we talked and Val was tired by OK. Wednesday the surgery took place in the evening and everyone was reassuring me. Thursday I was told there was some minor complications but again NBD. Friday during a call Valery insisted I shouldn’t blame myself for not being there which given the situation I found odd but things went on normally and I found myself holding the Midnight court till 5 Am when I headed up to the room to sleep.
Saturday Val asked if I could get home quicker than the train could take me so I called my brother Dominic and asked him if he could get me at the airport instead.
At this point the story turns because my Sicilian brother violates the 1st rule of being Sicilian, he talked.
Apparently his son the nurse had visited my wife in the Hospital as he lives near, he knew the actual situation rather than what I had been told and mentioned it to his father who assumed I knew just how serious and non routine the complications and the prognosis for my wife was.
I was crushed but there was nothing to do. By this time it was nearly noon, I was flying out in 24 hours and the added expense to try and get home that evening would simply add weight to a financial burden which was the least of my worries. So I went downstairs camera in hand and carried on, getting several good interviews and appearing on a radio show to talk about TBS’s and Samantha Bee people’s attempted shenanigans with me before heading back to the room.
This displayed one of the few disadvantages of the sleep arrangement my friends were all there when I got the news and had been sympathetic and when I returned to the room Cynthia (A conservative Lesbian) continued to be, but I desperately needed to be alone.
Leaving my laptop behind I walked down to the BBQ place, where I had eaten each day (the Brisket is excellent) and asked for a seat out of people’s sight it was after 3 pm by now and the lunch crowd was gone so it was pretty easy to achieve this. I removed the hat and put the monopod & camera aside and ate considering all the unpleasant futures that might be ahead.
At this point Evan Sayet came by and noticed me and saw immediately something was wrong. I told him of my troubles, that helped a bit and by the time I left I was feeling a little better, but only a little.
As I re-entered the hotel Senator Santorum was trying to head for the door. (To no avail as every single person wanted to shake his hand and take a picture, he was most accommodating to them all) I asked for an interview (uploaded later) and as he is very devout asked him to pray for my wife.
It was in that hall that I heard somebody say there was a Mass downstairs.
Now I had asked the EWTN folk if they knew of a priest saying daily mass days ago and had tweeted looking for a priest to no avail. As soon as I had my interview I dashed downstairs asking a staff member if they knew about a mass. I checked all over the bottom floor, no sign of any such thing.
So I headed up the 1st escalator and right across from the media registration desk I was intercepted by old friend Rob Whittermore saw me and directed to where the mass would be.
There were 30 chairs set up before a table, the priest had not arrived yet, and people were sitting in silent prayer. The priest, a young man entered and started setting up when I realized nobody had Holy Water to bless themselves. I had given away all the four large bottles I brought with me but remembered the small one in my suit pocket and proceeded to go from person to person to allow them to bless themselves as the priest vested himself.
He introduced himself as Fr. Bjorn Lomborg (not the skeptical environmentalist the one from the catholic radio show Morning Glory) and the sacrifice of the mass began.
It was a great comfort to me. The first reading (Is 49:14-15) addressed my feelings.
Zion said, “The LORD has forsaken me; my LORD has forgotten me.” Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you.
The Psalm (62) and response reminded me of what to do
Rest in God alone, my soul.
But it was the Gospel for the day, Matthew 6:24-34 that hit me exactly where I was living at the moment
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
I was worrying about the future that worry wasn’t going to do any good.
So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’or ‘What are we to wear?’
The best case scenarios running through my head all involved the return of debt far beyond what had been expected from the hospital stay. This reminded me how foolish I was being
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.
This brought to mind the message of divine mercy: Jesus I trust in You.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”
It was exactly what I needed when I needed to hear it and Fr.’s sermon built on that.
Just before Holy Communion Fr. dispensed us from the communion fast as most of us didn’t know about the mass but it was not until after the mass was over that Robert mentioned we had been part of a historic moment.
It was the 1st Catholic Mass ever celebrated at CPAC
It had never occurred to me that in all the decades that CPAC had been around that mass had never been celebrated. This was something that needed an interview and Fr. Lomborg graciously consented to do one on audio
As I headed back to the room, I considered how unlikely this all was.
I managed to attended the first mass ever at CPAC, celebrated by a priest who is regularly broadcast on our local EWTN station 89.3 WQPH Shirley/Fitchburg that I do volunteer media for and even scored an interview with the priest for the station.
Moreover I found the mass completely by accident, and the readings directly addressed all of my turmoil running though me exactly at the time when I most needed it.
Just about 14 hours ago Stacy & I had a back and forth with a 20-year-old man who was doubting the reliability of scripture and of his own faith. Perhaps the day will come when, at the time he most needs it, the tapestry that the Spirit weaves when be there to catch him as he’s ready to be crushed by the rocks as he falls and God will stretch out his hand saying “Do not be afraid”.
And he will be able to answer with the same feeling that I had going back to my room, my worries gone:
There is plenty more from CPAC coming over the next couple of weeks, but what is also going to be coming are a lot of hospital bills and debt from work that both my wife and I are going to be missing because of this.
If you are able and inclined to help mitigate them I’d ask you to consider hitting DaTipJar
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Now that I have school-aged children, I spend more time every time we move analyzing school districts. A friend of mine that lives where we are moving to next sends both their kids to Catholic elementary school, to the tune of about 9,000 dollars. Although I choked when I heard the cost, it didn’t surprise me too much. In Georgia, we ended up sending our oldest kid to kindergarten at the local Baptist school, which cost 150/month, instead of the Catholic school, which would have cost 650/month.
Hate to say it, but the Baptists got it right.
Catholic schools are too expensive for most people in a one-earner family. So we face the choice of either having both parents work, living paycheck to paycheck, or sending our kids to public school. Public schools don’t have the best track record of being friendly to Catholics, which means the parent staying at home has to spend a considerable amount of time educating the kids in the faith.
Given that too many parents don’t have a good understanding of the faith as it is, we’ve just setup a system that allows our kids to be plucked away from the Church.
I think we’re missing the mark on Catholic education. If we want a future generation, we should be educating our young parents in the faith. Poor understanding of the faith creates kids with a weak understanding of what they believe in, which sets them up to be lead astray in high school and college.
School choice is going to help as well. I think a large part of the negative reaction to Betsy DeVos is because she threatens to break the stranglehold of public elementary and middle schools, a stranglehold that has been contributing to an increasingly non-religious world.
Our future generation is caught in an education setup that is pushing them to leave the church. We would be wise to recognize that.
If you like the work I have done at CPAC and wish to support it (along with paying for the ER & Surgery bills for DaWife’s illness that our insurance doesn’t anymore (thanks Democrats and Obamacare!) please consider hitting DaTipJar
Please consider Subscribing. You can be listed as a Friend of DaTechguy blog for as little as $2 a week. If only 130 of the 209K+ unique visitors who came in 2016 .07% subscribed at the same levels as our current subscription base we would make our current annual goal with ease. If we could boost that number to 260 I could afford to cover major events in person all over the country.
Remember all subscribers get my weekly podcast emailed directly to you before it goes up anywhere else.
We are the Roman Catholic parish of St. Peter’s – Our Lady of the Rosary, encompassing
St. Peter’s Church, Our Lady of the Rosary (the Seton Shrine) and St. Joseph’s Chapel
(The Catholic Memorial at Ground Zero).
We are the first Catholic parish in New York State (est. 1785) but our legacy in Lower Manhattan pre-dates the American Revolution. The parish has served as a safe haven both in the past for needy immigrants and more recently for victims and rescue personnel in the wake of 9/11, without regard to religion. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and the Venerable Pierre Toussaint, who performed many works of charity in this parish, inspire us to a tradition of service to the residents, the many people who work in the area, and the multitude of visitors who come from around the world. We strive to serve our neighborhood in that spirit, with welcome and compassion for all because we are all children of God.
The Church is located just a street away from The World Trade Center, which was attacked by islamic terrorists on February 26, 1993, and, again on September 11, 2001. Via the St. Peter’s website, here is their story about what happened on both occasions:
“Prior to September 11th we were accustomed to look at the Twin Towers as the symbol of America’s strength and power in the world of trade, commerce and finance. But as those buildings turned to dust before our eyes, we came to look to each other to see where our true strength and power lie. Our true strength was in all those acts of compassion, those deeds of generosity and self-sacrifice that were performed that day and in the days, weeks and months afterward.”
– Fr Kevin Madigan
WE WILL NEVER FORGET
The World Trade Center cast a shadow over the Church of St Peter’s, a street away. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 profoundly affected our parish and without a doubt made us stronger and more connected. Here is an account of how we opened our home and hearts at our three places of worship and how faith helped to resurrect downtown in New York City after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.
ST PETER’S CHURCH AND 9/11 TIMELINE
At 8:45am, the impact of the first plane hit the first World Trade Center and shook St Peter’s Church with a violence that caused the parish secretary, Patricia Ruggiero, to scream. She ran outside and took a look at the enormous gash surrounded by flames and billowing smoke. Rushing back inside she called out to the pastor, Reverend Kevin Madigan, that the plane had hit the building. Fr Madigan looked out the window and saw the almost instantaneous response of fire engines and ambulances, and he hurried out to find out where the wounded were. At 9:03am, Fr Madigan was speaking with the police when the second plane crashed into the South Tower. Debris blew everywhere from the second impact; many larger pieces were on fire.
“I remember seeing a wheel of the plane fly over my head”, Fr Madigan told American Catholic Magazine.
Fr Madigan rushed back to St. Peter’s to make sure the staff got to safety and then returned to the street. He met the Assistant Fire Chaplain and started walking southbound on Church Street when the South Tower began to collapse at 9:59am. Thinking quickly, Fr Madigan led the assistant chaplain down into the nearby subway station where they took temporary shelter with transit police officers and emerged safely after some of the dust had settled.
When Fr Madigan returned to St Peter’s, he found out the landing gear of one of the airplanes had pierced the roof.
STAGING GROUND FOR 9/11 RESCUE AND RECOVERY
Roman Catholics were the most represented faith group of those lost in the attacks. The parish can’t be certain of all the members of the parish who were lost, since many don’t register but we do know that a lector at St Peter’s and a parishioner at the mission of St Joseph’s Chapel were killed on that day. After 9/11 far fewer were coming to weekday morning and lunch hour Masses because the roughly 50,000 workers in the towers had to work in new locations
During these operations, Fr Madigan celebrated Mass, heard Confession and provided pastoral care to rescue workers and those allowed to enter the area. The church was open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for the workers until the end of October 2001 when martial law was lifted and workers returned to work downtown.
The doors of St Peter’s stayed open to America’s heroes, and the church transformed into a relief supply station. “We were the first place they were bringing all the emergency equipment. Everything was in disarray,” Fr Kevin Madigan stated. “Supplies were piled six feet high all over the pews, bandages, gas masks, boots, hoses and cans of food for the workers and the volunteers, many of whom were sleeping in the pews on bedrolls.”
FATHER MYCHAL JUDGE
Father Mychal Judge OFM, the beloved chaplain of the New York Fire Department, was early to the scene of the disaster, giving absolution and prayers for the wounded and dying. Late that morning, he was in the North Tower lobby surrounded by rescue workers when the South Tower collapsed. The force of the building falling on itself blew cement dust and debris at speeds estimated to be 100mph. The impact of the implosion was so violent that parts of the compromised North Tower building fell. Obscured by the cloud of dust, it was only after the incident that the men nearby saw that Fr Judge had been struck down and killed. Fr Kevin M. Smith, another fire chaplain from Patchogue, NY blessed the body on curb. Eventually his body was carried by two firemen, an FDNY medical technician, a police lieutenant and a civilian bystander into St. Peter’s and laid in front of the altar. Fr Fussner, a priest at St. Peter’s Church noticed that Fr. Judge’s neck was swollen and appeared to be broken. Resting on the marble, Fr Judge’s body was covered in a white cloth with a fresh stole from sacristy on top and his chaplain’s badge and helmet resting on his chest. Fr Fussner added that the firemen pulled two of the candles close to either side of his body and a Franciscan friar later pointed out that the resulting pose resembled a bas-relief sculpture of Christ immediately behind the body. At around 2pm, two Franciscan friars from Fr Judge’s residence carried his body to a fire station across from his residence.
Fr. Mychal gave the following sermon at a Mass for New York City Firefighters at Engine 73, Ladder 42, Bronx, NY on September 10, 2001:
You do what God has called you to do. You get on that ring, you go out and do the job. No matter how big the call, no matter how small, you have no idea of what God is calling you to, but God needs you. He needs me. He needs all of us. God needs us to keep supporting each other, to be kind to each other, to love each other.
We love this job, we all do. What a blessing it is! It’s a difficult, difficult job, but God calls you to do it, and indeed, He gives you a love for it so that a difficult job will be well done.
Isn’t God wonderful?! Isn’t He good to you, to each one of you, and to me? Turn to God each day — put your faith, your trust, your hope and your life in His hands. He’ll take care of you, and you’ll have a good life. And this firehouse will be a great blessing to this neighborhood and to this city. Amen.
WORLD TRADE CENTER CROSS
Two days after the 9-11 attacks, Ground Zero looked and felt like hell on earth. The ground was scorched, the air held the odor of incinerated building material and felt heavy with the weight of thousands of departed souls. Long shadows of autumn sun and lights erected to illuminate the wreckage gave the area an amber glow. Police, firemen, first responders and many volunteers began to search the rubble for a few survivors and scarce remains. Many of the men who flocked to the site to volunteer were experienced hands that knew how to cut steel and move rubble so the search could continue and the area cleared.
(Frank Sileccia found the World Trade Center Cross)
A volunteer construction worker named Frank Silecchia discovered the cross in a carved out area of the pile in the lower core of Building 6. There he spotted a cross made of steel standing upright. Fused to one side of the cross was large piece of melted metal that resembled a rumpled cloth which brought to mind the cross and shroud of resurrected Christ. Frank Silecchia fell to his knees as did many who came to see it later. Firefighter John Picarello described what he saw in a story published by Christian Broadcast News: “Just the way the sun shone down…it looked like an amphitheater with benches.” Believers and non-believers came and bowed their heads or knelt. Many of them came back again and again over the course of eight months to reflect, worship and hope. Mayor Giuliani remarked that the cross, “kept a lot of people going”, especially those directly involved in the recovery efforts.
Ten days after the cross was found, Frank Silecchia took Fr Brian Jordan, OFM, a Franciscan priest, to see what he thought was a revelation: that God had not abandoned us. Fr Jordan saw it as a sign. Some time later the men were concerned that in the reconstruction efforts the cross might be taken away to a storage facility or destroyed, so Fr Jordan contacted the mayor’s office. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani replied quickly that, ‘we will keep that cross as a reminder of God’s love for all of us’.
Fr Jordan then reached out to Fr Madigan who agreed to host the cross. In October 2006, a group of about 150 workers from the site, relatives of those killed in the attack and onlookers watched over as volunteer workers labored to move the 6,000-lb steel cross three streets and set it down outdoors on the side of the Church at Barclay and Church streets. People from all over the world and all faiths came to see the cross. In 2011, the relic, borne of the terrible events of 9-11, was lifted by a crane, loaded onto a truck and taken to its current location at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
On August 11, 2011, a new custom cross was installed to stand in the same place on the side of St. Peter’s. The modern sculpture commissioned by the Archdiocese of New York, was made by artist Jon Krawczyk. Crafted in Malibu, California, the cross was transported through sixteen states to reach New York. On the journey, many stopped the artist to inquire about the cross and share a moment of reflection over the events of 9-11. The “Tribute Cross”, as it is now called, represents the resurrection of the neighborhood.
ST JOSEPH’S CHAPEL BECAME A FEMA COMMAND STATION
On September 11, the cloud of dust and ash from the imploding World Trade Center towers also engulfed St Joseph’s Chapel. During the week of the disaster, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) designated the chapel as a command station. The Chapel and its furnishings were a great help to the rescue effort and even altar cloths were used as temporary bandages. Following the rescue operations, the chapel became a temporary sanctuary where construction workers, police offers and firefighters could come to eat, email their families, talk with spiritual counselors and rest from the physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausting work at Ground Zero. The priests of St. Joseph’s continued to celebrate Mass in a gym nearby..
After opening her arms to so many, the chapel interior suffered extensive damage. The pulpit, pews and chairs, which were moved outside, were destroyed in a rainstorm. After a degree of normalcy resumed in the downtown Battery Park City neighborhood, the idea for a Catholic Memorial was brought up in discussions about the need for a renovation. The initial thought was to express the journey of grief and healing the parish had taken as a faith community. But as we clarified our vision through discussion and prayer, we determined to create a memorial that would respond in a broader way to the event from a Catholic perspective. The memorial also affirmed our belief that life is stronger than death and love is stronger than hate.
Fundraising commenced and the Mission of St Joseph’s Chapel received the support of Cardinal Edward M. Egan and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. In a letter, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani wrote, “St Joseph’s Chapel in Battery Park City is creating a Catholic Memorial at Ground Zero to honor those who were lost, and pay tribute to those who responded with such heroism and bravery in the face of mortal danger.” (Read full letters written by Cardinal Egan, Mayor Giuliani and Fr Madigan.)
In May 2005, Cardinal Edward M. Egan held a ceremony to bless the refurbished St Joseph’s Chapel. Cardinal Egan remarked that, “the memorial affirms the presence of God in a place that has tested the faith of many.” The completed Catholic Memorial at Ground Zero honors those who died, those who performed heroic and selfless acts on that day, and all of us who survived to bear witness. The memorial compliments the 9-11 National Memorial and gives visitors an opportunity for prayer and reflection in a quiet sanctuary.
OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY REACHES OUT TO BRETHREN
After September 11, 2001, Our Lady of the Rosary held a memorial service for the sixty-seven British and twenty-four Canadian citizens who died in the World Trade Center attack. The church kept its doors open and, for seven Sundays, hosted the services of Trinity Episcopal Church. Trinity had to shut its doors until they were assured the historic building was structurally sound. Two months later when Trinity held a ceremony at their reopening, they thanked
Fr Peter Meehan, the pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary and Seton Shrine, for the generosity.
THE FIRST ATTACK IN 1993
February 26, 1993, a truck loaded with bombs, parked in a public garage below the North Tower of the World Trade Center and exploded. Terrorists set of the powerful homemade bomb by way of a twenty-foot fuse. The blast killed six innocent civilians. The bomb was powerful enough to create a 200 by 100 foot hole in the building. Approximately a thousand office workers suffered smoke inhalation injuries. One hundred and twenty four of those injured were rescue personnel. Seventeen kindergarteners were trapped when the electrical power line was knocked out and one woman in labor was airlifted out of the area to a hospital.
The terrorists intended for the North Tower to come crashing down and topple the South Tower. Seven men have been convicted for their role in the attack but only six have been caught.
Many have forgotten the first truck bombing of the World Trade Center in the wake of 9/11. A son of a victim in the attacks, Stephen Knapp Jr., is quoted in the New York Times: “It started on Feb. 26, it played out on 9/11, and it is still going on now.”
Our Parish has not forgotten. Every February, the families and friends of people who died and those who were injured, hold a memorial Mass at St. Peter’s Church.
This account of what transpired on September 11, 2001 and in the aftermath of the attacks has been prepared by parish volunteers. The research and fact checking continues and will soon include further quotes from our clergy.
May God continue to bless St. Peter’s Church, parish, and people, and may the Good Lord forever bless New York, America, and you as well.
This last week I asked everyone to pray for Rebecca, my youngest daughter. She had gone in for open heart surgery on Wednesday to repair an Atrial Septal Defect. The surgery was fairly routine (at least, as far as open heart surgery is concerned), and considering that Yale New-Haven was performing the surgery, we couldn’t have had a better team. But as you know from that same post, she wasn’t recovering well.
On Monday, I went to work, only to get called back to the hospital. My wife and I arrived and consulted with the surgeons, who said Rebecca had gone into heart block, where the heart doesn’t pump well and blood flow is sluggish. They wanted to install a temporary pacemaker so that her heart would keep working, and the surgeons were very hopeful that she would heal out of it. We agreed, and they wheeled her down to surgery.
Thirty minutes later, the nurse came up and said we needed to go downstairs. We were rushed to surgery, where the doctor came in and said Rebecca had gone into cardiac arrest after anethesia. He asked if I wanted to continue compressions or put her on bypass. Either way, she had a high chance of death. I told him “You walk into that room and make the best damn medical decision, and I’ll stand by you.”
Rebecca’s heart recovered on its own. Pacing wires were placed. The Code Blue paging stopped. We went back to recovery, and the local priest came in and performed an emergency Confirmation. The surgeon told us she was critical, but stable. We cleared our Tuesday schedule and drove home, an hour away from Yale, scared, but confident that things would work out.
We pulled into our driveway and called the hospital. They told us to come back. We made it back at 10 pm. I walked in and the heart rate monitor was reading zero. The doctor had his stethoscope on Rebecca’s chest, looked at me, and shook his head. I clutched her tiny hand, desperately hoping she would squeeze, but that movement never came. I spent the next hours cradling Rebecca in my arms and crying.
Everyone was in shock. We had the best team of pediatric heart surgeons, cardiologists, NICU and PICU nurses that you could assemble in America. Rebecca had been recovering. Her echocardiograms had all been good. The pacing wires had been firing. Everything should have worked. It was like the A Team of cardiology teams was on her side. They simply don’t lose people, certainly not kids like Rebecca. But as the head surgeon later told us, “One minute she was fine, the next she was in arrest and would not come back.”
The next few days made me wonder, “Why?” I’m used to death. As a Naval officer, I know that I willingly place my life on the line for others. I work with other members that do the same thing. I’m OK with that. But Rebecca? She was just a 7 month old kid. She spent too much time hooked up to tubes and wires. She didn’t deserve that. Honestly, as a Catholic, it depressed me. It didn’t seem fair.
So we started planning a funeral. And a wake. And a reception. We filled out forms. We called people and sent emails. And all of a sudden, I realized that I had missed the point.
Rebecca’s death wasn’t about her. It was about everyone else.
It was about the Yale New-Haven team. The team of doctors, nurses and surgeons that saw us choose life, saw us pray over Rebecca, and watched her emergency Baptism and Confirmation. Many of them didn’t share our beliefs on abortion and life. Some of them do now. Rebecca had tons of people from Yale that came to visit her even when she wasn’t in their ward or on their floor. I spied on many a nurse and doctor playing with her and making faces to make her smile. She touched their lives like no one else could. Rebecca’s death was about that team.
It was about the Down Syndrome community. It dawned on us when the Eastern Connecticut Down Syndrome group set up a Go Fund Me page that netted over 1,000 dollars in less than a day. Rebecca was born with Down Syndrome, and the Down Syndrome community in the northeast mobilized to support us. So many people that we had never met, or only met briefly, were praying for her. It brought them together. Rebecca’s death was about that community.
It was about my Navy command. My Assistant Officer in Charge told my Sailors the next morning what had happened. Almost immediately, my Sailors and their families began reaching out, asking what they could do to help. They didn’t have to. There are plenty of Navy resources, and often the going assumption is that Navy Officers have it all figured out. But as one Sailor put it in a text message, “He’s our Officer in Charge, and he always helps us. I want to help him.” Many of the Sailors had only ever seen Rebecca at the occasional family event, yet they wanted to help. Our Navy team grew closer. Rebecca’s death was about my Sailors and their families.
It was about people who lacked faith. People we didn’t know were suddenly reaching out to my wife. They said that Rebecca brought them to church and they were praying when they hadn’t done so in years. A friend of my wife that is a very vocal atheist asked people openly on Facebook to pray for Rebecca. No clauses in her request. No “If you believe” or “keep her in your thoughts” disclaimers. She made a genuine request for prayers. Rebecca’s death was about her.
It was about our family. I was honestly frightened about the thought of raising a kid that might live with me forever. It made me do a lot of research and talk to people. After meeting people from all walks of life who loved people with Down Syndrome, and seeing kids and adults with Down Syndrome do well in life (even swim the English Channel!), I realized that all life matters, even the ones that we view as disabled. My kids learned to love Rebecca, despite her being very different from other babies. Or perhaps, it was because she was so different that they cared even more. Rebecca’s death was about us.
I realized that I made a mistake. I focused on Rebecca’s pain. I watched her cry when she was stuck with needles. I watched her struggle to finish a bottle because her heart wasn’t strong enough to breast feed. It made me sad, but what I didn’t realize was that she was changing everyone around her. My focus on her pain blinded me to how she was an instrument to change those around her.
Many of us spend a large part of our adult lives influencing, or trying to influence, those around us. We read books, we devise arguments, we make PowerPoint presentations, and we argue on Facebook. And yet here I had a little girl, not even a year old, who came into my life and changed everyone around her, including people she never met. Her broken heart was changing those with hardened hearts.
She did it without words, without slides, and without a social media account.
It truly was never about her. It was always about us, about making us better. And even though it took her death for me to realize it, I’m glad that I did.
“At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18: 1-5
Rebecca will be buried on Tuesday, with a wake on Monday. If you are in the Eastern Connecticut area, you are welcome to stop by. Please follow the link for details.
This post represents the views of the author and does not represent the views of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other federal agency.
I know this post is very VERY late but a lot has been going on and given my CPAC 2017 trip is in 10 days it’s a good preview of the type of interviews etc you might see.
The next day we were up very VERY early as a new batch of pilgrims were due at St. Bernard’s monastery so we departed right after breakfast and said our goodbyes to the monks. Our old bus driver was doing good as we headed back to Castle Miguel and Mother Angelica’s monastery.
As before I spent a majority of my time holding religious items, rosaries, medals etc, to Mother Angelica’s tomb and praying a hail mary. These would be given away to people by WQPH once we got back up north. While others took free time to visit other locations at the site.
Around noontime we were back on the bus for a special lunch, we were off to Stonebridge Farms which while primarily a wedding venue opens it’s restaurant which offers a gigantic buffet of southern food one day a week.
I interviewed one of the family members who work there
We spent quite a while there, with a party as large as ours it took some time. I took advantage of it setting up my laptop in a corner to charge my laptop and try to upload some of the stuff I shot while we were eating.
When we got back to Mother Angelica’s monastery we had more free time in the area, here is a quick overview of the area
One of the things we got a glimpse of were the visitor rooms where the cloistered nuns on very rare occasions will receive visitors. basically there is a metal grille and seats on opposite sides one on the nuns side and one on the public side where people can see each other and speak.
One of the things that was really impressive to me was the Priest’s retreat building. Normally a group like ourselves would not have access but our two priests were staying there and it was decided that we would have our daily mass in the chapel of the retreat building around 5 pm.
Our guide Micha who had led us through the Eucharistic Center talked about what he described as a “man cave for religious” a statement that was highly accurate
To say the altar was impressive is the understatement of the year
It was quite a place for a mass and to participate as the congregation for a mass in that location was for me one of the highlights of the trip. When the mass was over we headed back to the main reception area at Casa Miguel where we were celebrating the birthday of our lady. (Because I needed to use the facilities I actually missed the bus and had to leg it back) there was a rosary made of cupcakes and a cake and we gathered together before a planned evening procession.
The procession itself was to a grotto and prayer area behind the Eucharistic center. It became very much a candlelight procession as we didn’t get to it till after dark. This complicated things a bit as we had a lot of elderly people and the path was a bit hard for them at the end of a day. However we said our prayers and prayed our Rosary with Gusto
That ended the day, there had been alternative lodging for us who had been staying at St. Benedict’s abbey. I and a fellow member of my Knight’s of Columbus council ended up in the furnished basement of one of the guest cabins that one of the other pilgrims had rented right down the street from Casa Miguel. It is a very convenient place for pilgrims and one of the only times on such a trip that I didn’t sleep in a consecrated place. But Jeff was an interesting and excellent roommate and while I knew of him from council meetings we had a chance to talk and occasionally saw each other at daily mass we had the chance to actually get to chat before hitting the sack for our final half day before flying out.
In 543 A.D., Saint Scholastica died of natural causes. Here is a story about her life and legacy, and something amazing that happened shortly before her passing:
Scholastica was born in 480 in Nursia, Umbria, of wealthy parents and according to Gregory the Great’s Dialogues, was dedicated to God from a young age. She and her brother Benedict were brought up together until the time he left to pursue studies in Rome.
A young Roman woman of Scholastica’s class and time would likely have remained in her father’s house until marriage (likely arranged) or entry into religious life. But wealthy women could inherit property, divorce, and were generally literate. On occasion several young women would live together in a household and form a religious community.
Benedictine tradition holds that Scholastica lived in a convent at Plumbariola about five miles from Monte Cassino and that this was the first “Benedictine” convent. However, it has been suggested that it is more likely that she lived in a hermitage with one or two other religious women in a cluster of houses at the base of Mount Cassino where there is an ancient church named after her. Ruth Clifford Engs notes that since Dialogues indicates that Scholastica was dedicated to God at an early age, perhaps she lived in her father’s house with other religious women until his death and then moved nearer to Benedict.
The most commonly told story about her is that she would, once a year, go and visit her brother at a place near his abbey, and they would spend the day worshiping together and discussing sacred texts and issues.
One day they had supper and continued their conversation. When Benedict indicated it was time for him to leave, perhaps sensing the time of her death was drawing near, Scholastica asked him to stay with her for the evening so they could continue their discussions. Not wishing to break his own Rule, Benedict refused, insisting that he needed to return to his cell. At that point, Scholastica closed her hands in prayer, and after a moment, a wild storm started outside of the guest house in which they were housed. Benedict asked, “What have you done?”, to which she replied, “I asked you and you would not listen; so I asked my God and he did listen. So now go off, if you can, leave me and return to your monastery.” Benedict was unable to return to his monastery, and they spent the night in discussion.
According to Gregory’s Dialogues, three days later, from his cell, he saw his sister’s soul leaving the earth and ascending to heaven in the form of a shining white dove. Benedict had her body brought to his monastery, where he caused it to be laid in the tomb which he had prepared for himself.
Scholastica is the foundress of the women’s branch of Benedictine Monasticism.
She was selected as the main motif for a high value commemorative coin: the Austria €50 ‘The Christian Religious Orders’, issued 13 March 2002. On the obverse (heads) side of the coin Scholastica is depicted alongside Benedict.
The Franciscans offer on their website this reflection on Saint Scholastica and Saint Benedict:
Scholastica and Benedict gave themselves totally to God and gave top priority to deepening their friendship with him through prayer. They sacrificed some of the opportunities they would have had to be together as brother and sister in order better to fulfill their vocation to the religious life. In coming closer to Christ, however, they found they were also closer to each other. In joining a religious community, they did not forget or forsake their family but rather found more brothers and sisters.
What a remarkable woman she was, and what a beautiful relationship she and her brother had. May we all learn from her example. My humble suggestion for honoring her memory is to get in touch with your siblings if you have any, and make peace with them if you need to. You will be glad that you did!
MJ Stevenson is best known on the web as Zilla of the Resistance at MareZilla.com. She lives in a woodland shack near a creek in one of those rural parts of New York State that nobody knows or cares about with her family and a large pack of animal companions.
Over Christmas break, I watched her constantly working. Despite the holidays, she would get up at 5:30 in the morning and was working constantly until 8 pm. At that point, she collapsed onto the couch next to me, maybe making it through an episode of “The Man in the High Castle,” and then going up to bed right after.
After a few days of this, I saw an opportunity for us to just sit together and enjoy each other’s company. Her response was “I need to dust upstairs.” Now, I’m sure there are some dust bunnies hiding in the crevices, but overall our house is fairly clean, and certainly dusting wasn’t on the priority list. So I asked her to nix that. She looked stressed, which I didn’t get. I mean, I just STOPPED her from doing work so we could relax together. How is that not…relaxing?
My wife’s reply was telling. “If I’m not working, I feel lazy. But if I work all day, I’m exhausted and tired.”
A catch-22 if I ever saw one, exacerbated, I think, by social media.
Social media has done great things to connect people. One big problem is that it is only a snapshot in time. For every cute baby picture there are a thousand moments of baby’s crying, screaming, puking and otherwise doing things you DON’T post on Facebook.
Every parent of multiple children knows this. Every new parent that grew up with social media does not. We mistakenly view our friends social media as the truth and compare ourselves to this ideal constantly, despite knowing that not everything on the internet is true. It isn’t helping us one bit.
The other brutal truth is that work is not the same as having purpose. We continue to tell ourselves that if we just made enough money, or had a nicer house, or did a bit more to discipline our kids, or whatever, then we would be happy. And yet, we can spend our entire lives working hard and never get any happier, even if our income rises.
So we get stuck in a nasty loop. We’re told that our success is measured by having the perfect kids, perfect house, perfect job, etc. And yet, none of us do, and what’s worse, we see others that we think “have it all.” So we work harder, driving ourselves further into the negative reinforcement loop. Are we surprised that Facebook makes us sad?
This isn’t new, in fact, it’s as old as the Bible:
As they continued their journey he entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary [who] sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.” – LUKE 10: 38-42
We can get purpose out of work, but that requires placing work as an offering to God, as a way to find meaning. We short circuit this when we use work to elevate ourselves over others. We get into a comparison war, even if it’s only in our heads, and we always wind up as the loser.
Martha vocalized her comparison war. Jesus reminded Martha that work is no substitute for purpose. We all likely need this reminder more often than not.
If you haven’t watched “Man in the High Castle” and you’re an Amazon Prime member, put it on your weekend “To Do” list. I’m only on the first season, but it’s an amazing dystopian view of an America that lost World War Two. One of the most intriguing characters (to me anyway) is John Smith, a Nazi SS agent that is hunting down members of the American resistance movement.
Warning: Spoilers below from Episode 8 of Season 1.
In previous episodes, little things crop up indicating the Nazis continued their ethnic cleansing efforts. One episode features ash raining down from the incinerators due to a weekly burning of the infirm and cripples. Other Nazis make references to “cleansing” of all the Semites in Europe.
John Smith gets a nasty surprise in Episode 8. He travels to his son’s school to find out why the school nurse keeps pulling him out of sports. The school doctor shocks him with news that his son has a form of muscular dystrophy. As a degenerative disease, this means John will have to kill his son, since he would be crippled by the incurable disease. It’s definitely hard to watch the doctor pass John vials and recommend that he “take care of this at home.”
Thankfully, we live in a better world, where we wouldn’t make such decisions…or do we?
We’ve managed to win the war against the Nazis only to allow part of their ideology to take over. As we sit on the cusp of a new year, perhaps we can find ways to use our medical advances to save lives instead of ending them.
This post represents the views of the author and does not represent views of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other agency.