Monthly Archives: February 2008

Missing man has "probably" had Marfan syndrome his whole life

Please pray for Steven Cooper, a 47-year-old Scottish man with Marfan syndrome, who has gone missing. Besides the normal reasons a person might go missing this way, there are two blatantly obvious reasons for someone dealing with Marfan syndrome. Either his aorta blew while he was all by himself in the woods or wherever (not knowing the exact geography of his disappeance), or he committed suicide.

Either way, pray for him and his family.

But what I want to draw attention to is this comment by the reporter:

He has probably had it all his life, but it was diagnosed when he was
seriously ill after a motorcycle crash about 12 years ago. [emphasis added]

?????
It’s a genetic disorder! He *has* had it all his life. There ain’t no “probably.”

Devotion of the Day: 30 Days’ Prayer to Mary

Especially fitting for Lent, May, and October is the Thirty Days’ prayer to Mary, a long meditation on the Mysteries, a great deal focusing on the passion. The above link is to a version that is both more archaic and poetic than the one I’m used to.

It’s a very powerful devotion.

Speaking of films, and in honor of "Have a Heart" month, check out _Mo_

Mo is an award-winning, independent film about a boy with Marfan syndrome. You can read a press release about it here.

Order the DVD here.

A thought for Ash Wednesday, from "Ash-Wednesday"

From T. S. Eliot’s “Ash-Wednesday V” (1930):

Will the veiled sister pray for
Those who walk in darkness, who chose thee and oppose thee,
Those who are torn on the horn between season and season,
time and time, between
Hour and hour, word and word, power and power, those who wait
In darkness? Will the veiled sister pray
For children at the gate
Who will not go away and cannot pray:
Pray for those who chose and oppose

O my people, what have I done unto thee.

These words always speak to me of the horror of abortion. The “children at teh gate / Who will nto go away and cannot pray,” the innocents trapped in limbo because of their murders.
Eliot’s use of “chose and oppose” prophetically echoes the language of the Left. We are the “opponents” and they are the advocates of “choice.” Yet Eliot is also referring to those who choose Mary and to those who oppose her.

And then, of course, the last line, quoting Micah 6:3, “O my people, what have I done unto thee,” reflecting the horror of genocide.

Yet, again, in its original context, it was God’s lament as to what would make His children reject Him. So the words work both ways.

40 Days for Life, Phase II

The first 40 Days for Life, in October, sent Planned Parenthood into a panic. Now, the folks at Eugenics ‘R’ Us are beside themselves in horror: 40 Days for Life II starts on Ash Wednesday!

Recently, in the controversy about the Georgia Bishops, I asked why the bishops weren’t participating in abortion demonstrations. Well, Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota, is one who *does* pray in front of Planned Parenthood, and he is a leader in the 40 Days movement.

Another award-winning pro-life movie

L’Osservatore Romano is praising The Diving Bell and a Butterfly, which has one two Golden Globes and best director at Cannes, and has four Oscar nominations.
It’s the true story of an Elle magaine editor who was completely paralyzed from a stroke, except for his eyes, but had a fully functioning brain.
Rather than being an argument for euthanasia, it emphasizes the worth of even those whom the world would dismiss as most “useless.”

Spiritual Warfare prayer of the day

Quick review, because I don’t have time, but this looks like a cool prayer. We’re gonna do it in a little bit, and I’ll edit this post if i have any kind of detailed review.

But I’ve scanned over the site. It’s from http://www.domestic-church.com/. From a brief perusal, it seems to be a fairly orthodox site, not too “lovey dovey,” not to Charismatic, and not too radTrad, but a balanced resource with different stuff on Catholic parenting.

Dollar Tree Method of Natural Family Planning

Dollar Tree now sells ovulation predictor kits, 1 for $1. That’s a lot cheaper than the $15 they cost when we were first married.

Obviously, one still needs to pay attention to physical signs, but it makes for a more reliable form of NFP. The hardest part of NFP is knowing, for certain, the day on which ovulation occurred. Whether women get “double ovulations” is up for debate, but it is definite that some women have double, or even triple, peaks.

This is a fact downplayed by some NFP teachers, who insist it’s rare. Creighton Method actually admits it’s quite common. Creighton has also taught us about cervical bruising, a post-partum phenomenon which makes NFP challenging.

NFP methods are all based upon identifiying the “peak” days, in terms of signs. In theory, a woman has one “peak,” which is when ovulation occurs. In practice, though, many women have multiple “peaks.” So, the “failure” of NFP usually happens because a woman has double peaks.

The couple abstain until they see the signs of “peak”, and think ovulation has occurred. Of course, NFP instructors advise to never abstain when there’s mucous, but it’s often ahrd to tell what, exactly is mucous versus other fluids. So, if Peak 1 occurs, the couple say, “ovulation!” They wait a few more days, then stop abstaining. Then, the woman has a second “peak” that is actual ovulation.

Using an ovulation predictor kit helps you know when “peak” has occurred. I don’t know how much artificial birth control costs, but, at $1 a kit, ovulation predictor kits cost $30 a month, right?

Just use a kit a day for the first X days of the cycle, until it’s positive, in conjunction with other NFP signs (mucous, etc.). Keep using them a few days till the positive goes away. You know ovulation has gone away. Wait another 48-72 hours for mucous to go away, and you’re home free.

Better yet, on Amazon, you can buy 40 Ovulation tests & 10 pregnancy tests for $25.

Should St. Peter’s in Columbia name a building after Bernardin?

St. Peter’s Catholic Church, the oldest Catholic church in Columbia, is a beautiful, gothic church with a fantastic music program. It’s technically closest to our house (not counting Good Shephered, the Anglican Use Parish that I mentioned below), but it’s also lacking a cry room (they strongly encourage use of the nursery, which, any reader of this blog should know or guess, we oppose). We chose to join St. Joseph’s for a number of reasons, but we still visit St. Peter’s from time to time, about once a month.

Well, Mary went there tonight, and they were having a vote about what to name their new parish hall. The pastor was pushing in favor of Cardinal Bernardin Hall, in favor of the parish’s most famous parishioner/alumn (he grew up there and served as pastor at one point). There are many controversies around Cardinal Bernardin, not the least of which include the allegations against him by several individuals. But he also supported the heretical, pro-abortion group Call to Action and criticized Archbishop Burke for excommunicating them in the Lincoln Diocese (an excommunication which, of course, the Vatican backed up).

Bernardin is also the one who coined the “seamless garment” idea, although some falsely give it a long history in Catholic thought. Many in the pro-life movement argue that the “seamless garment” idea shot the pro-life movement in the foot in the mid-80s by giving liberals an excuse to vote for politicians who were “good on other issues.”

Why don’t we just name buildings after canonized saints?

Please contact St. Peter’s and ask them not to honor a Cardinal whose legacy is one of great scandal.

Obama’s ego

Some time ago, I posted about how I had sent a message to the Barack Obama campaign, responding to a speech in which he criticized pro-lifers for “hijacking” Christianity.

In response, I was put on their mailing list as a supporter, and I keep getting messages from them in my GMail.

So, this weekend, I started replying.

First, this message from “Michelle Obama” to me:

Dear John,This is the season where many of us get to leave the pressures of daily life behind and focus on what keeps us grounded — being together with our families.For our family, it’s been so important for us to maintain our traditions no matter how hectic life gets. Just a few weeks ago, Barack left the frenzy of the campaign trail to come home to get the Christmas tree with the girls and me.Today, I’d like to share a special holiday greeting from our family to yours:

I replied:

And some of us actualy worship Jesus Christ, at the Mass, on the day of
Christ’s Mass.

Editor’s note: why is “Christmas” politically incorrect, but “Holiday,” “holy day,” is not?

Then there was

With extremely close races shaping up in states across the country, we need to
win every delegate we can this Tuesday, February 5th. . . .

And a bunch of junk after that. So I replied,

I’m hoping for the Democratic Party to split over this nomination, since there’s
no other way the Republican losers will be able to beat Hillary Clinton, now
that they’ve decided they want pro-abortionists Mitt Romney and John McCain as
their leading candidates.

Then I got this “endorsement” message, “personally” to me from Ted Kennedy:

The fact that Barack Obama has been endorsed by Ted Kennedy, the illicitly
divorced and remarried, pro-abortion “Catholic” who railroaded Judge Robert Bork
makes me loathe Obama even more. Why do I get all these e-mails from his
campaign?

Another one from “Michelle,” earlier last month:

Right now in Iowa, your fellow supporters are calling their neighbors and
asking them if they need someone to baby-sit while they caucus tonight.

My reply:

I would never trust a Democrat to come near my children, much less baby sit
them.

(OK, there are one or two exceptions to this rule).

Then, on Jan. 29, I got this message, allegedly from Barack “Infanticide is a Woman’s Fundamental Right” Obama:

You did it. Not just on Saturday, but every day for almost a year, you did
what the cynics said we couldn’t do.

Me:

Why would I vote for a mass murderer like Barack Obama?

I voted for Huckabee.

"Adult stem cells don’t work."

Yet here’s a guy with a new jaw grown from his own stem cells.

What’s Wrong With the Church 1: Clothes

I have always had a major problem with “Sisters” who don’t wear habits. I’ve always envied the fact that religious can wear habits and be freed from the world’s slavery to fashion.

I’ve also had a problem with Catholic schools–regardless of orthodoxy–being all about “fancy dress,” or the idea that we’re supposed to dress fancy for Mass.

After all, Our Lord said, “Consider the lilies of the field . . . “

In my wife’s most recent teaching experience, at a public school, she was criticized by her students for not dressing in fashionable clothes; she learned in that situation that, to their minds, a “Christian” is “someone who dresses nice.”

At a Catholic-in-name-only school in the past, she was criticized by the nuns for the same thing. “Your clothes aren’t fancy enough for a Catholic school.”

At the very orthodox “in the Catholic tradition” school where I taught once, I got the same thing.

Where does this come from? Where did Catholics get so obsessed with clothing?

Why are nuns–who supposedly take vows of poverty–wearing designer clothes and then criticizing their poverty-wage school employees to do the same?

What’s wrong with thrit stores and Wal-Mart. If Catholics, laity and religious alike, are not going to wear habits, at least we should be buying clothes that are as inexpensive as possible. Modesty does not just mean covering up one’s body parts, it also means being unassuming and humble.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit. . . . .”

Cool ideas for titles 1

“Life on the Edge of the Bed: an AP Dad’s Challenge to Dr. Dobson”

Please pray for our Latin Mass here in Columbia

We have _Summorum Pontificum_, and we have a community with an established Traditional Latin Mass community. The FSSP have been sending priests here from Atlanta for a few years. They come to the “historical” (in several senses) Church of the Good Shepherd, a formerly Angican parish which came to Rome in the mid-1980s, catalyzed by the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church.

Most of their liturgies are Anglican Use. We’ve wanted to go, and even tried a couple times last year (got to daily mass too late, or it had been cancelled). However, we have been informed that the pastor isn’t fond of children at Mass–a fact which has deterred the homeschoolers from attending even the TLM (though the pastor isn’t involved).

The parish priest is elderly. The parishioners are elderly, too. They want their parish to survive, but they turn away potential “new blood” like us.

Meanwhile, the local priest who received training in the extraordinary rite and was going to take over starting this month, perhaps making it a weekly TLM, has been transferred to Myrtle Beach.

I’m praying that, somehow, we can get a FT FSSP priest here in Columbia.

Spiritual Warfare Prayers

I picked up this book at the St. Francis Shop here in Columbia, SC. It’s written by a Charismatic, but they seem to be about the only people doing this kind of stuff. Not much objectionable in it, except for the equation of genetic disorders and “generational curses,” which I find a bit contrary to the Gospel. As anyone who knows me or has read this blog extensively knows, I take serious issue with the idea that original sin caused genetic defects, since, to me, that gives way too much power to the Devil. I prefer to think that God intends these things we consider “defects” for some purpose, which we fail to fully understand, and they only become “defects” because of our fallen nature (e.g., we don’t help each other like we should).

Also, the prayers in his book kind of tread the line of what is acceptable for Catholic laity in this regard. We must be careful to distinguish deliverance from exorcism (he does), but part of that is not addressing demons directly. The Church advises us to always pray in the form of asking God to drive out the demons, and not directly addressing them. I’m not 100% certain if this book stays in that guideline.

However, Mary and I have both been praying out of this book off and on since Christmas, and it definitely seems effective prayers.

That said, Alexandra should be totally blind, according to her doctors, and the fact that she sees at all is proof of the Holy Spirit working in her.

The author has a few different websites. One focuses on warfare, while the other focuses on healing. You can read his warfare prayers here and his healing and deliverance prayers here.

Have a Heart for Marfan Month!

As you know, February is National Heart Disease month, and, as such, it’s also National “Have a Heart for Marfan” month. I’m also kind of relaunching this blog after being mostly on hiatus since August.

To that end, I thought I’d post some info, trivia, etc., regarding the Marfan syndrome and related disorders. This is is copied and pasted from a post I did to our homeschool group, so forgive formatting errors. 🙂

Mary recently found out about a foundation based in Charlotte called the Luke Pier Foundation. They don’t say they’re Catholic, but they’re a Christian familyof ten, and Luke has a bulging aortic aneurysm, pectusexcavatum (sunken chest) and long limbs and fingers. These are all classic aspects of Marfan syndrome, butthe diagnostic criteria are now stricter, so rightnow, they just know Luke has some kind of “connectivetissue disorder.” Anyway, they raise money for bothresearch and for medical assistance to families:http://www.thelukep%20ierfoundation.%20org/

Speaking of diagnosis, there are a number ofhistorical figures who are hypothesized to have had Marfan or some related condition. Usually it’s figures who

a) were extremely tall and/or hadextremely long fingers and hyperflexibility, but also

b) had lifelong health problems.

1. Anyone who’s heard of Marfan has probably heardthat it was “Abraham Lincoln’s disease,” but it’s increasingly doubtful he had it. Lincoln did havechronic lifelong health problems, but they were mostlyunrelated to Marfan, and an article came out oa fewyears ago that found a genetic disorder in his closestliving relatives which explains his health problems.

2. Niccolo Paganini: One of the most famousviolinists and violin composers in history, Paganinidid things that were considered impossible. He was sopale and boney and sickly that people thought he hadmade a deal with the Devil. A doctor describedPaganini as having normal sized hands but incrediblylong, elastic fingers (in fact, that was the originaltrain Marfan identified). In 1978, a theory wasadvanced that Marfan syndrome would explain bothPaganini’s amazing violin abilities (due tohyperflexibility and long arms); his strange, skeletalappearance. His sickly complexion and increasing illhealth late in life would have been consistent withaortic aneurysm.

Other musicians known or speculated to be Marfans include Sergei Rachmaninoff, Joey Ramone, and Robert Johnson.

3. Pharoah Akhenaten was history’s first monotheist. He revolutionized Egypt with his new religion, but itall went back to normal after his death. His son,Tutenkamen, is more famous to history due to hisinfamous “tomb” but didn’t do much as Pharoah due tohis early death at 18.Akhenaten is always depicted as extremely tall andthin, with disproportionately long arms and legs,different from any other king. Since there’s beenEgyptology, archaeologists have debated why Akhenatenwas drawn so differently: Was it his differentreligion? Was he gay? Then, in the 1990s, an Egyptologist happened to hear alecture on Marfan syndrome and suddenly realized thatthat would explain Akhenaten perfectly. However, theofficial authorities in Egypt find the propositioninsulting and are fighting to quash the theory.

4. Apropos to the history of Catholicism in the UK,Mary, Queen of Scots, is believed to have had aMarfan-like disorder, given her *extreme* height forher era (much taller than most men of her day),thinness, etc.

5. Famous Posthumous diagnoses include _Rent_composer Jonathan Larson, University of Marylandbasketball star Chris Patton and Olympic volleyballstar Flo Hyman (I met her sister! She said I wascute, and she picked me up and turned me in the rightdirection when I went the wrong way ddown a hospitalcorridor!) We made headlines again in June 8, 2004,when Florida State basketball player Ronalda Piercedied of undiagnosed Marfan syndrome.

6. You have have heard of the “God Squad,” Msgr. TomHartman and Rabbi Marc Gellman. Rabbi Gellman hasMarfan syndrome and acts as a celebrity spokesman. Fr. Hartman and Rabbi Gellman are both outspokenlypro-life. Fr. Hartman, who has Parkinson’s, hasstarted a foundatino to promote research that does notuse embryonic stem cells.

7. Actor Vincent Schiavelli had Marfan syndrome,although he died of lung cancer. He was a bigsupporter and “celebrity” for the NMF, but he is mostremembered in the Marfan community for how hismentorship of the kids (I never met him).

8. There is a theory that Osama bin Laden has (orhad? Depending on whether he’s dead) Marfan syndrome:his body structure is very Marfanoid, and he has longbeen known to have had heart problems. He has 24 hourcare from a personal physiciand and walks with a cane.

9. Another famous Marfan is John Hathaway, featuredin the children’s book, _How John Was Unique_, writtenby Joseph and Nancy Hathaway. sadly, it’s currentlyout of print: the first time I’ve seen it to be such. There’s another book called _A Very Special Mouse_,but I say, without bias, that it’s rather lame. Ittends to emphasize, “Why am I so funny-looking, andwhy do people laugh at me?” My parents’ book is morealong the lines of _Curious George Goes to theHospital_.10. I was also one of the 1,000 patients in the studywhere they found the mutation that causes Marfansyndrome, the gene now known as FBN1 on chromosome 15.Marfan syndrome is a defect in a protein calledfibrillin, which is both foundational to connectivetissue and a shut-off protein for Human Growth FactorBeta. There are 10,000 nucleotides on the Marfangene, and in a study of 1,000 mutations (they foundthe gene by matcihng the DNA of known mutations to ourparents), they found my exact nucleotide mutation in 3people–the odds were astronomical. Hoping taht it’ssomehow a more common mutation, they asked me todonate a skin sample–which I did–back in 1995,taking a deep chunk out of the back of my arm to getmy stem cells.

11. Allie’s prognosis is quite good. They’ve beendoing all sorts of research on a drug calledLosartan/Cozaar, which seems to act chemically similarto fibrillin. It has not only slowed but completelycured the aortic aneurysms in lab mice with Marfansyndrome. Subsequent evaluation of the lab mice showsthat it’s reduced dural ectasia (the equivalent of ananeurysm in the lining of the spine), subluxation ofthe lens, and other problems. They’re doing clinical studies on humans, but Allie’saorta isn’t big enough for her to be eligible. Butshe saw Dr. Shuler here in town on Tuesday, and hesaid that, as soon as the clinical studies show anypositive results in humans, he’ll put her on Cozaar.

I, for one, have been on Cozaar for a year now, and ithas done amazing things for me.

A New Beginning

I’m back-if I still have any of my former, humble readership.

Last summer, I was kind of crushed by the whole ALL/NRLC/USCCB debacle. Long story short: the “incrementalism” debate, the main division in the pro-life movement, has finally split the movement down the middle, thanks to the Partial Birth Abortion law and _Carhart II_. Judie Brown at American Life League, Fr. Eutenauer at Human Life International and others who take an absolutist stance on abortion have criticized _Gonzalez v. Carhart_ for basically being a blueprint as to how to ignore the partial birth abortion ban. As I will discuss in a separate post, they have been proven right. Also, the verdict explicitly approves of _Roe v. Wade_ and says that abortion otherwise is OK, which goes against the Natural Law and against Catholic social teaching.

However, the NRLC and the USCCB, pushing the “incrementalist” strategy, support the decision. NRLC excommunicated Colorado Right to Life (the only state branch to support the Campaign for Ethical Vaccines) after CRTL, with Brown, Eutenauer, Charles Rice and others as signatories, called on James Dobson of Focus on the Family (not one of my favorite people, anyway), along with NRLC, USCCB & Priests for Life, to change their positions.

Now, I don’t fault Fr. Pavone and PFL, since they support *everything* (although I fault him for endorsing McCain).

Anyway, I thoroughly argued and researched the matter, confirming the rectitude of ALL’s position. There were some other issues messed up in it, and I made a few mistakes for which I am greatly sorry, but it pretty much crushed my spirit for a while.

Meanwhile, I had a very busy semester, anyway, and barely had time to do much else besides work.

But now, I’m back, and hoping to find a way to make this blog more permanent and reliable, and useful.

One of my ideas in August was to revamp it to focus more on spiritual warfare, and I am going to try again, since we’re starting Lent.

Please pray for our Latin Mass here in Columbia

We have _Summorum Pontificum_, and we have a community with an established Traditional Latin Mass community. The FSSP have been sending priests here from Atlanta for a few years. They come to the “historical” (in several senses) Church of the Good Shepherd, a formerly Angican parish which came to Rome in the mid-1980s, catalyzed by the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church.

Most of their liturgies are Anglican Use. We’ve wanted to go, and even tried a couple times last year (got to daily mass too late, or it had been cancelled). However, we have been informed that the pastor isn’t fond of children at Mass–a fact which has deterred the homeschoolers from attending even the TLM (though the pastor isn’t involved).

The parish priest is elderly. The parishioners are elderly, too. They want their parish to survive, but they turn away potential “new blood” like us.

Meanwhile, the local priest who received training in the extraordinary rite and was going to take over starting this month, perhaps making it a weekly TLM, has been transferred to Myrtle Beach.

I’m praying that, somehow, we can get a FT FSSP priest here in Columbia.

Spiritual Warfare Prayers

I picked up this book at the St. Francis Shop here in Columbia, SC. It’s written by a Charismatic, but they seem to be about the only people doing this kind of stuff. Not much objectionable in it, except for the equation of genetic disorders and “generational curses,” which I find a bit contrary to the Gospel. As anyone who knows me or has read this blog extensively knows, I take serious issue with the idea that original sin caused genetic defects, since, to me, that gives way too much power to the Devil. I prefer to think that God intends these things we consider “defects” for some purpose, which we fail to fully understand, and they only become “defects” because of our fallen nature (e.g., we don’t help each other like we should).

Also, the prayers in his book kind of tread the line of what is acceptable for Catholic laity in this regard. We must be careful to distinguish deliverance from exorcism (he does), but part of that is not addressing demons directly. The Church advises us to always pray in the form of asking God to drive out the demons, and not directly addressing them. I’m not 100% certain if this book stays in that guideline.

However, Mary and I have both been praying out of this book off and on since Christmas, and it definitely seems effective prayers.

That said, Alexandra should be totally blind, according to her doctors, and the fact that she sees at all is proof of the Holy Spirit working in her.

The author has a few different websites. One focuses on warfare, while the other focuses on healing. You can read his warfare prayers here and his healing and deliverance prayers here.

Georgia Bishops Clarify their Position: Incrementalism at its worst

Last week, it hit the blogosphere that the Georgia Bishops have opposed a proposed state constitutional Human Life amendment.

The controversy has been reported and discussed at such places as American Life League, Catholic Answers, Cafeteria is Closed, and a cool newer blog I’ve discovered, the ironically named “St. John’s Valdosta,” written by a journalist in exile.

Now, in the speculation, several reasons were floated. I’ve posted my view to several of the above forums. Having lived in Valdosta, GA, for three years, I know all about Bishop Boland, and, knowing Wilton Gregory from his tenure as president of the USCCB, I am not at all surprised by this move on their parts. After all, among other things, both refuse to excommunicate pro-abortionists, and Wilton Gregory started the canonically illicit “Lay Review Board,” which, we all know, is staffed by prominent pro-abortion politicians.

But, this week, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Atlanta “clarified” their stance, and it was exactly what I figured: good old incrementalism.

I chronicled extensively last August (see archives) about how Evangelium Vitae and the Pontifical Academy for Life say that, while we may support “incremental” measures against abortion, we must not adopt incrementalism as an approach. They say that we must support every anti-abortion measure we can, that we should never fail to support a pro-life law for fear of offending the populace or for fear that it “isn’t the right time” or that it will be overturned. Pope John Paul II condemend such an attitude as the sin of despair.

Well, that’s what Archbishop Gregory and Bishop Boland have said, through this spokesperson: “This law won’t actually take effect, because we are convinced the Supreme Court will never overturn Roe v. Wade, so it’s a waste of time.” Thank you, Eeyore and Puddleglum, for your courageous leadership!!