Every Life Brings Love

Today, January 24, we celebrate our third child Genevieve’s birthday. Eleven years ago today, I held my newborn baby in with tears in my eyes as I watched the March for Life taking place in Washington D.C. My heart was overcome with emotion as I cradled her in my arms and fed her, so thankful for the new life I held close to my heart. 

I can only imagine the fear an unplanned pregnancy would bring to any mother who found herself pregnant, yet not feeling able to provide for the child she carried within her. By God’s grace, I was married and we were ready to welcome and support our children when they arrived; yet I realize that not every pregnancy comes at the most opportune time and in an ideal situation. To these mothers, we offer our daily prayers, support and love and say, as President Trump said today at the 2020 March for Life, “Every life brings love!” God has a way of helping us through the most difficult and heart-wrenching situations and bringing good out of every hardship, if we only trust him and follow his will for our lives and for the life of every unborn child. 

St. John Paul II so beautifully addressed us, “America you are beautiful . . . and blessed . . . . The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless. If you want equal justice for all and true freedom and lasting peace, then America, defend life.”

(Image by epicioci from Pixabay)

Faith in the French Quarter

Joan of Arc Monument on Decatur Street

My family made the two-hour drive to New Orleans today for an afternoon in the French Quarter. We had a wonderful lunch of steamed and fried Louisiana seafood – a fare that we dearly miss enjoying on a regular basis as we did before we moved away from the state. Balcony seating made the experience truly rich, watching the cargo ships steaming by on the Mississippi and hearing the French Market jazz music wafting over from across the street. The kids were trying to recruit me for a game of Polytopia, a world-building smartphone game that I have no idea how to play. My youngest daughter told the others to “teach Mom how to play,” a lesson that I could probably learn again at this point in my life in both video games and life in general! And what better place to help a person relax and ‘laissez les bons temps rouler,’ while taking in abundant historical and religious culture, than the Big Easy?

We walked through Jackson Square and viewed the majestic St. Louis Cathedral, the seat of the Archdiocese of New Orleans. There are also numerous other churches in the French Quarter area, along with cemeteries and the Old Ursuline Convent Museum. Further down Decatur Street is the Joan of Arc Monument, which was a gift from France in 1972. The statue depicts the warrior saint holding her banner bearing the names of Jesus and Mary in victory. New Orleans is the namesake of Orleans, which was defended by Joan of Arc during the Hundred Years’ War.

We also had time to wander through the French Market, which reminded me of my dear faithful friend, Mary, who passed away from breast cancer in 2017. She was a native of New Orleans and the last time I visited the French Market was with her before we both married. Her friendship was truly a gift, and I cherish our many memories of laughing, crying, and praying together.

View from the balcony of The Original French Market Restaurant

The roots of Catholicism run deep in New Orleans. The city celebrated its Tricentennial in 2018, and the history of the Catholic Church in Louisiana goes back nearly as far. Louisiana was a colony of both France and Spain at different times before the Louisiana Purchase, and the settlers were to be loyal to the Catholic Church to be faithful subjects, which solidified the Faith as a way of life for them.

Two other shrines which are definitely worth visiting in New Orleans are The National Shrines of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos and Our Lady of Prompt Succor. The Seelos Center houses a shrine and a museum honoring the “Cheerful Ascetic,” who was beatified in the Jubilee Year 2000 by Saint John Paul II. Blessed Seelos was a German Redemptorist priest with mystical gifts who became an itenerant preacher, assigned to the Redemptorist community in New Orleans in 1866. He was known for his joy and love of the poor, and he died of yellow fever in New Orleans in 1867 after patiently suffering the disease.

Our Lady of Prompt Succor, or “Quick Help,” is the patroness of the city of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. The statue is a resplendent gold and stands high above the alter at the shrine. Locals and pilgrims come asking her intercession for protection from misfortunes, illnesses, and calamities. The Ursulines had a devotion to Our Lady under the title of Prompt Succor, and after the victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans, the nuns promised to celebrate a Mass of Thanksgiving to her on her feast day of January 8, a tradition which still endures today.

It was a fantastic day, and I would definitely recommend a visit to the historical and religious sites in the city of New Orleans if you are ever given the chance. Visitors can’t help but be captivated by the excitement and spirit of the city.

Placard outside The Original French Market Restuarant

Forgiving and Living Well

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If you could summarize the gospel in one word, it would be LOVE. “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34) To love requires forgiveness when we are hurt by others. Jesus forgiving his executioners from the Cross is the ultimate example of mercy and forgiveness.

If you’ve ever been truly hurt or betrayed, you know how difficult it can be to forgive your offenders. Forgiveness often goes completely against our human nature, and sometimes requires a painful act of the will. As hard as it is, I believe it’s the only way to freedom, peace, and happiness. When someone stabs us in the back, we can leave the knife in and continue to be angry and complain about it, or we can remove it and move on. The knife is like the hurtful action that was done to us. If we choose to leave it where it is, hold on to it, and wallow in the suffering, it will fester and lead to infection or worse. Often, we choose to cling to the pain and suffering because our pride tells us we should be angry and demand justice, so we leave the knife in and hold on to the unforgiveness.

The more difficult thing to do, but the thing that will lead to peace, is to remove the knife and clean the wound so it can heal. We remove it by giving up bitterness and anger and choosing forgiveness of our enemies. The wound is cleaned when we confess any wrongdoing on our part – anger, revenge, hatred – and decide to let go of the negative thoughts and feelings.

Forgiveness is an act of the will. We make a choice to move forward and put the past behind us. Jesus makes it very clear that we are to forgive repeatedly if necessary: “Then Peter approaching asked him, ‘Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times. ‘”(Matt.18:21-22) I think that the more we forgive, the easier it becomes.

Jesus stressed the importance of loving and forgiving one another throughout his ministry. The gospels are filled with examples of his love for others and his teachings on mercy. St. Paul also reminded the Ephesians to be merciful: [And] be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. (Eph. 4:32)

Getting past the hurt feelings doesn’t often happen overnight, so we should be patient with ourselves if we find it difficult to forgive. I think the important thing is to continue to confess our faults when we harbor resentment or anger, and to rise each time we fall into sin. Just as the knife wound doesn’t heal overnight but takes time, our hearts, when they are damaged and broken, sometimes take a long time to heal. While we are learning to forgive, we can always pray for those who have harmed us and avoid having unkind or uncharitable thoughts or actions towards them.

I was horrified back in 2002 when 14-year-old Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped, raped, abused, and held captive for nine months, and I followed the story throughout her ordeal. I wondered how she would be able to recover from that horrible event. Today she speaks about how her faith helped her through the trauma and, over time, to heal and begin to forgive. In 2018, she tweeted:

“A question I’m always asked when I speak is, “have you forgiven your captors?” Yes. But when I say yes, I don’t mean I think their actions are acceptable. For example I will never be ok with rape, abuse, or kidnapping. But to me forgiveness is another word for self love, and perhaps the greatest form of self love. And I forgive my captors because I love myself enough to want happiness, joy, and freedom. And holding onto the negativity, pain, and suffering from my past doesn’t allow me to embrace and live my life fully now. It didn’t happen overnight, and my family and God we’re absolutely instrumental in coming to this place. But I believe everyone should have a chance at happiness and I refuse to let mine pass me by.”

Elizabeth’s attitude toward her terrible ordeal is courageous and healthy. She forgives but doesn’t excuse the actions of her torturers. She chooses to surrender the negative feelings so she can be free to live with joy and peace.

With all of the injustice, violence and division present today, our suffering world is desperately in need of Jesus’ example of love and mercy from the Cross. We can be that example to others if we imitate him. Who do I need to forgive today, and what steps can I take toward fostering healing and forgiveness?

Easter and Ice Cream

With the stress of school and standardized tests this week, our girls have been asking for an ice cream run, which we finally went on this evening. Their anticipation was rewarded with double scoops of S’mores and Peeps (yes, you heard right… ’tis the season!) ice cream from Cammie’s Old Dutch tonight.

Think of a time when you were really looking forward to something – a vacation, a promotion, a party – and recall the excitement and anticipation you felt. It probably gave you hope and something to be eager and happy about, and made any difficulties you experienced during the waiting time seem, well… less difficult. Easter is like that. With the hope and joy of the glorious Easter season on the horizon, we continue our Lenten practices and penances, knowing that in less than three weeks we will enjoy the biggest celebration of the Church year. Like our girls trudging through the school week, waiting patiently on their ice cream, we continue to shoulder the burden of our Lenten practices and penances, as difficult as they can sometimes be.

Recalling Jesus’ suffering during his Passion and death can help us to bear the sacrifice of Lent. We know, like Jesus did, that God wills us to take up our cross of Lenten penance, and our ordinary crosses, and that our patience will be rewarded on Easter Sunday as his was at the Resurrection. In addition to our Lenten sacrifices, we experience the ongoing trials and sufferings of life. Maybe we feel the sadness of pain, sickness, or rejection. Some of us feel the loneliness of having lost a loved one. Whatever our difficulties this Lent, we know that Jesus bore the suffering of the world before us, and that he carries a large share of our cross with us.

Sometimes I wonder and complain about the injustice, evil, and suffering in this world, like many do. Will we ever see justice? Where can we find hope in a world full of darkness and suffering? Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in one of his pre-papal writings, Seek That Which is Above: Meditations for the Year, answers that question:

“Christ is risen! There is justice for the world! There is complete justice for all, which is able retroactively to make good all past sufferings, and this is because God exists and he has the power to do it.”

We can not expect to see complete and perfect equity or experience total happiness and satisfaction on this earth, but with God all things are possible, and we know in heaven all will be made whole and right. So we keep our eyes fixed on the coming celebration of Christ’s Resurrection and continue on the journey. Easter, like our ice cream, is a sweet, satisfying reward after hard work; the perfect dessert to celebrate and be refreshed with after the long labor of the Lenten season. What are some things you are looking forward to about Easter?

Beyond Beauty – Seeing Past the Externals

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Meticulously manicured lawns, flawless makeup, perfect Instagram pictures… not bad things in themselves. What do they all have in common? They are all things we use to create an attractive image of ourselves. They are attractively-wrapped packages for the product that is “me.” In today’s world, pervaded by the internet and social media, we utilize external and visual means to draw others to ourselves to try and create meaning and meaningful relationships. We’ve become obsessed with aesthetics, and we’ve gotten so good at it, that it’s often our main criteria for judging other people, places, and things. Of course, it’s okay to have a nice house and yard, to look pretty and to post cute pictures, and there is nothing wrong with makeup. (Mother Angelica once quipped that for some, wearing makeup is an act of charity!) However, when we neglect taking care of the inside of ourselves – nourishing our spirit – in favor of constantly focusing on the external aspects of our personhood, we are in danger of becoming a shell of a person and forfeiting genuine relationship with others and with God, who is not concerned with our appearances, but our souls.

I went to Pet Smart the other day to buy dog food for our puppy. I had difficult finding our brand because the packaging had changed and I didn’t recognize the new design on the bag. The contents were the same – puppy food for small and toy breeds – but the outside had been altered. I’m assuming the marketing department thought the new design would seem more attractive to shoppers and boost sales. Honestly, though, I wasn’t concerned at all with the outer packaging. I know what’s inside and that is what is important to me. We like our brand, our puppy likes it, and this is all that matters to us. The lesson? It’s what’s inside that truly counts. Or at least it should be.

Don’t we alter and embellish our packaging sometimes, and for the wrong reasons? We spend inordinate amounts of time and money improving our image and appearance so others will like us or give us respect or attention. Instead of letting others see what is on the inside and allowing our personality and character speak for itself, we depend on externals and gauge our self worth on how others react to them.

How does God judge us? When the Lord is sending Samuel to Jesse of Bethlehem to choose a new king from among his sons, Samuel feels sure it will be Eliab based on optics and image. However, the Lord corrects him: “But the LORD said to Samuel: Do not judge from his appearance or from his lofty stature, because I have rejected him. God does not see as a mortal, who sees the appearance. The LORD looks into the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7) We all know how the story ends. Surprisingly, David, the youngest, is chosen from among all the other sons.

Shakespeare, in the Merchant of Venice, 1596, introduced the proverbial quip, “all that glisters (glitters) is not gold.” It is so easy to be enticed and swayed by external beauty and minimize or ignore completely whether a person possesses beauty of character. It’s important to be reminded in today’s society to look past the glitz and glitter and search for treasure in the heart and character of a person and not in outward adornment.

One way to do this is for us to put down the cell phones and have meaningful conversations; to get to know one another on a deeper level, instead of reading about each other on a Facebook feed. Spending quality time with family and friends is becoming a lost art. Having actual interpersonal experiences is integral to truly knowing another person and discovering who they really are.

Our spiritual journey is all about inner transformation or striving to become more like Christ every day. We use all of the tools that the Church has given us to become conformed to him and to grow in faith, hope, and charity. This action is what will make us truly beautiful where it counts – on the inside.

We all strive to keep up appearances; to present our best selves to the world. We package ourselves in pretty homes, clothes, and pictures. What would the world be like if we shifted the focus from these externals and let our true selves show? What if we dropped the facade and let others see what we are really like, warts and all? Maybe others would be encouraged to let down their guard too, and we would all grow in love, understanding, and acceptance of one another and our relationships would be more honest, genuine, and satisfying.

Get to Know Autism

Today is World Autism Awareness Day, and the month of April is Autism Awareness Month. Unless you have someone on the autism spectrum in your family or among your friends, it can sometimes be difficult to understand and know how to approach a person with autism. The diagnosis is often associated only with its difficulties and challenges, which can discourage and prevent neurotypical individuals from getting to know autistic people and developing relationships with them. Because they think differently and often struggle with social awkwardness, it can be easier to avoid trying to get to know them and develop friendships with them.

The truth is, most autistic individuals are loving, funny, and smart and make wonderful friends and companions. Once you get to know them, you will find them to be honest and straightforward and they are loyal and trustworthy friends. Behind the social difficulties are often caring, intelligent individuals who desire friendship and love as much as you do, and who enjoy some of the same things you do. The Autism Site posted a great article recently highlighting the strengths and gifts of people on the spectrum.

When our daughter was in second grade, she was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a diagnosis which is was removed from the DSM in May 2013, and now falls under the broad category of autism spectrum disorders. The signs had been there since her first few years, when she often failed to make eye contact and her verbal development was slightly delayed. Although this diagnosis, along with her diagnosis of ADHD, has presented us with challenges, we wouldn’t change one thing about our beautiful, precious daughter. She is sweet and warm-hearted, intelligent, and can be delightfully witty. Our lives have been blessed and enriched by her caring presence. She has many kind and loving friends, whose friendship she cherishes and values.

Thankfully, people are beginning to understand autism more fully and to realize that these individuals, with their unique abilities and gifts, are valuable assets to society and in the workplace. A recent article in Fortune magazine discusses how tech companies and other employers are realizing their tendency to be very detail-oriented and focused and are utilizing these skills to increase productivity. There are some companies in our city who are beginning to hire young people with these diagnoses to work entry-level jobs with supervised training. There is still much progress to be made, since many autistic individuals remain unemployed, but the tide seems to be turning towards recognizing their strengths and embracing their differences.

Fr. Matthew P. Schneider is a priest with the Legionaries of Christ, ordained in 2013, who was diagnosed as an adult with autism. He revealed his diagnosis via social media today, April 2, 2019, on World Autism Awareness Day in order, first, to evangelize the autistic population. Fr. Schneider says that individuals on the autism spectrum are more likely to be atheists and to not practice their religion. Secondly, Fr. Schneider says he values transparency and wants to be open and honest about his diagnosis. He wants people to understand the diagnosis and be more accepting of it.

Following Fr. Schneider’s example, we need more openness and transparency about autism and both its challenges and the positive traits and characteristics of those who have the diagnosis. Autistic people can contribute so much to our communities if given the chance. We need to value their unique skills and abilities and welcome them socially and into the workforce. We can learn so much from them, especially the lessons of love and acceptance of those who are different.

Laetare Sunday – Hastening Toward Easter

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Laetare Sunday – a day of rejoicing. The halfway point of Lent. The celebration of Easter Sunday is within our sights! It’s almost Alleluia time!

While driving my daughter to her Confirmation catechetical session today, we were running late, of course, and I was driving just a tiny bit over the speed limit. She told me to stop speeding, at which I replied that I wouldn’t call it speeding. It was more like hastening, I said. Didn’t the Virgin Mary hasten to help Elizabeth after the Annunciation, after all?!

She didn’t think it was funny.

At Mass this evening, our parochial vicar wore the rose color vestments signifying today’s joyful feast. In honor of the day, and in keeping with the liturgical color of the feast, I’ve poured myself a glass of rose. It has been a long Lenten week, and I think my evening prayer was actually more effective because of it!

With today’s gospel, we recall the amazing tale of the Prodigal Son that never gets old, in my book. To hear of the Father’s overflowing love and mercy for his wayward son never fails to encourage me and give me hope for my failures. I am so thankful for this story that continues to reveal to us how God forgives the worst transgressions and sins, and always welcomes us home.

Our pastor reminded us that the lesson we learn from the older son is that we are always obligated to welcome the prodigal children returning to the fold, even when it is not convenient. We have to make room in the Church for those coming home, and even to step up and volunteer for the Welcoming Committee – to follow the Father as he goes out to the returning son to welcome him even as he is still far off. We have to be the ones who fetch the ring and the robe and help slaughter the fatted calf for our brothers and sisters who find Christ and are seeking his mercy and forgiveness.

In this Sunday’s Vespers, the antiphon for the Canticle of Mary proclaims, in the words of the Prodigal’s Father, “My son, you have been with me all the time and everything I have is yours. But we had to feast and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost to us and now he has been found.” The Father is telling his older son not to be envious or bitter because of the celebration over the returning younger son, but to rejoice with him over his conversion. So must we be with those who return home.

My husband and I often joke about how, just when we think we get our spiritual house in order and get cozy and comfortable with our lives, God comes and “moves our furniture around.” Some trying circumstance or, sometimes, a cataclysmic event, happens and upsets our spiritual “Feng Shui,” throwing us off balance. We are forced to reevaluate our lives and reorient ourselves.

This can happen when the Church community changes and people convert and return. It is easy to go along effortlessly when things are easy and going well and everything is familiar, but when God or circumstances upset the balance of our lives, or our church community, our true character and our real selves are exposed. That is what happened to the older son in the parable. Things were fine when he was the favored one with his father, but when the younger son returned home, his world was changed and his virtue was challenged. His furniture was moved unexpectedly and he was caught off-guard.

The lesson for us is to always stand humbly ready to receive those returning home to the father. We should show charity, forgiveness, and humility when doing so, and we should never think ourselves better than them:

To think of oneself as nothing, and always to think well and highly of others is the best and most perfect wisdom. Wherefore, if you see another sin openly or commit a serious crime, do not consider yourself better, for you do not know how long you can remain in good estate. All men are frail, but you must admit that none is more frail than yourself. (Imitation of Christ Book 1, Ch. 2)

The lesson for the older son is challenging, but the message of the return of the Prodigal Son and of Laetare Sunday is encouraging and exciting. The anticipation of the coming celebration of the most joyful season of the liturgical year is growing. The closing prayer of Vespers exhorts us:

“Let us hasten toward Easter with the eagerness of faith and love”.

This is the kind of hastening God wants us to do!

Remembering Those Who Went Before

I drove by a run-down, grey cemetery today while running an errand. Sadly, many graves were in disrepair and seemingly forgotten, like so many of those who have gone before us. The dreary scene was in stark contrast to the bright and sunny spring day and would have been easy to ignore or miss. The thought occurred, “How often do we pass by a cemetery without a second thought, when we should turn off the radio and say a prayer for the hundreds of souls buried there?” I stopped and offered a quick prayer and resolved to remember to do so again next time I encountered a graveyard or memorial park.

Traditionally we don’t think much about Purgatory until fall rolls around and we enter the month of November, dedicated to the remembrance of the Holy Souls, but it is important to remember that friends and loved ones who have gone before us are in need of our prayers throughout the year. Plenary and partial indulgences can be obtained and applied to the Holy Souls not only on All Soul’s Day and from the 1st to the 8th of November, but also during any other time of the year as well. Eucharistic Adoration, the Way of the Cross, recitation of the Rosary, or devoutly reading Sacred Scripture are all devotions which can be exercised for the acquisition of an indulgence, which can be applied to yourself or the souls in Purgatory.

As Catholics, we believe that when we die in God’s grace but not yet perfectly cleansed and purified from the stain of less serious sin, we undergo purification in Purgatory. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains the doctrine as such:

“The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned. The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire. As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire.” -CCC #1031

Scripture speaks of Purgatory in the book of Maccabees, which is acknowledged by Catholics but has been removed from Protestant bibles. It is clear from this passage that shortly before the coming of Christ the Jews believed in praying and offering sacrifices for the dead. When Judas Maccabeus and his military discovered their fellow soldiers who had been killed in battle were carrying “sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear” (2 Macc:12:40), they saw that the deceased men had sinned. As a result, they prayed and took up a collection as a sin offering. The passage continues:

“In doing this he acted in a very excellent and noble way, inasmuch as he had the resurrection of the dead in view; for if he were not expecting the dead to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin” (2 Macc. 12:43–45)

Praying for the living and the dead is one of the spiritual works of mercy. We are to show kindness through our prayers and good works to those around us and to those who have gone before us. When we pray for our deceased loved ones, they can also offer us their assistance since we remain in unity with them even after they have died. We should nurture and maintain our friendship with both the saints in heaven and the souls suffering in Purgatory, as we are in communion with them in the Body of Christ.

An Apple a Day – Healing the Body with Food

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If you would rather eat an apple than take a pill to prevent and treat illness, you may be in luck. The age-old wisdom that food can be used to treat illness is gaining increased acceptance in some studies. As Hippocrates stated, “our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food.”

A variety of nutritious foods should be consumed every day. Reach for 5-13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, which contain vitamins and minerals, phytonutrients and fiber. Whole grains such as whole wheat, oats, and brown rice contribute to good health by lowering cholesterol, regulating blood sugar, and aiding with digestion, among other things. Meats, fish and beans are proteins which are essential for providing the body with amino acids, which it does not store. Proteins also fill you up, helping to control appetite. Healthy fats and oils help increase the body’s amount of good cholesterol, and perform a host of other roles.

How does a healthy diet affect risk for disease? This question is being studied and researched to help us understand better how to live healthier lives. A developing area of study called Nutrigenomics is acquiring knowledge about how certain foods interact with specific genes and can possible increase or decrease the risk of various diseases. Nutrigenomics also seeks to pinpoint the molecules in foods that interact with the genes to cause sickness. A home genetic test or blood draw can indicate a person’s particular genetic makeup and it can be determined what kind of personalized diet he or she should follow to stay healthy. We may be hearing more about nutrigenomics in the future.

How we feel mentally and emotionally can also be affected by the food we eat. Deficiencies in vitamins and minerals, including Omega-3 fatty acids, folate, vitamin B12, iron, zinc, and selenium have been observed in individuals with depression, according to an article by Lisa M. Bodnar and Katherine L. Wisner. The authors note three ways diet may improve mental health functioning: Adjusting diet or supplementing with vitamins can correct nutritional deficiencies that adversely affect mental health. Depressed people with increased nutritional needs can be helped by supplementing with nutrients. And lastly, good nutrition can help a person with depression respond better to pharmacological treatment.

It makes sense that whole foods that grow naturally and are not processed are better and healthier for the mind and body. When our nutritional needs are met, we feel better, look better, and are less prone to illness and disease. Good decisions about food can definitely make a significant difference in a person’s overall health and quality of life, and a nutrient-rich diet can even help the body heal when it does become ill.

Young Soldiers in the Battle for Life

The battle for the culture of life is fierce; we need as many soldiers as possible engaging the enemy in the conflict. Armed with the spiritual weapon of choice, the rosary, students from Catholic schools in the Mobile area are joining the fight by praying for the unborn on Fridays during Lent at the Women’s Resource Center.

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The young people are gathering each Friday to participate in the 40 Days for Life campaign being held across the country during the season of Lent. The campaign seeks to peacefully draw attention the evil of abortion through prayer and fasting, vigil, and community outreach.

Our daughters, along with several of their friends and classmates, made the sacrifice of getting out of bed at 5 a.m. this past Friday to be at the Center before sunrise to participate. Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi attended and spoke to the students, thanking them for their prayers and encouraging them to remember that, although there is darkness in the world, we are to be light to others.

“Abortion is darkness, the taking of a human life,” the Archbishop said. However, we are to “be light,” he added, and “eventually that light will overcome the darkness.”

The Friday morning rosary at the Women’s Resource Center began nine years ago when a small group of students and parents from St. Ignatius Catholic School in Mobile began praying for a pregnant mother whose family was pressuring her to have an abortion. Sugar Immell, a mother from St. Ignatius, shared the story with the students this Friday, explaining how that small group began to grow, and eventually they began meeting at the Center to pray for the unborn. Other schools became interested and began to join St. Ignatius for the rosary. Today, students from four schools have joined the fight and are praying for an end to abortion.

It is crucial that our young people be informed about the tragedy of abortion and encouraged to defend life, from conception to natural death, through prayer and action. We need also to teach our teenagers about the importance and beauty of abstinence. The secular culture is assaulting them with ideas that are contrary to God’s plan for love, marriage and family; therefore, we need to arm them with a true understanding about the gift of sexuality. They need to know that chastity preserves a person’s true dignity and is a fail-proof method of preventing the pain and difficulty that can come with an unplanned pregnancy.

Seeing the children make the sacrifice to participate in the rosary and stand for life is so inspiring. They understand the crisis and want to be on the front lines of the battle. Let’s continue to educate our young people about the perilous assault on the unborn that continues to be waged by proponents of abortion.