Monthly Archives: November 2013

Pray with Me: Mega Novena

Veni Sancte Spiritus

Come, Holy Spirit,
send forth the heavenly
radiance of your light.

Come, father of the poor,
come giver of gifts,
come, light of the heart.

Greatest comforter,
sweet guest of the soul,
sweet consolation.

In labor, rest,
in heat, temperance,
in tears, solace.

O most blessed light,
fill the inmost heart
of your faithful.

Without your divine will,
there is nothing in man,
nothing is harmless.

Wash that which is unclean,
water that which is dry,
heal that which is wounded.

Bend that which is inflexible,
warm that which is chilled,
make right that which is wrong.

Give to your faithful,
who rely on you,
the sevenfold gifts.

Give reward to virtue,
give salvation at our passing on,
give eternal joy.
Amen. Alleluia.

Emergency Novena to the Infant Jesus of Prague

O Jesus, Who said, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock
and it shall be opened to you,” through the intercession of Mary, Your most holy Mother,
I knock, I seek, I ask that my prayer be answered.

[List Requests]

O Jesus, Who said, “All that you ask of the Father in My Name He will grant you,”
through the intercession of Mary, Your most holy Mother,
I humbly and urgently ask Your Father in Your Name that my prayer be granted.
[List Requests]

O Jesus, Who said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My word shall not pass,”
through the intercession of Mary, Your most holy Mother,
I feel confident that my prayer will be granted.

[List Requests]

Novena Prayer to Mary, Undoer of Knots

O HOLY MARY, full of the presence of God, during your life you accepted with great humility the holy will of the Father, and the legacy of your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and evil never dared to entangle you with its confusion.

Since then, you hast interceded for all our difficulties as you didst at the wedding feast of Cana. With all simplicity and with patience, you hast given us an example of how to untangle the knots in our complicated lives. By being our Mother forever, you arrange and make clear the path that unites us to Our Lord.

HOLY MARY, Mother of God and ours, with your maternal heart, please untie the knots that upset our lives. We ask you to receive into your hands our finances, careers and housing, and deliver us from the chains and confusion that restrain us.

O BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, through your grace, your intercession, and by your example, deliver us from evil and untie the knots that keep us from being united to God, so that free of every confusion and error, we may find Him in all things, keep Him in our hearts, and serve Him always in our brothers and sisters.

O MARY, Undoer of Knots, pray for us who have recourse to you.

Amen.

Novena to St. Jude

May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, loved in all tabernacles until the end of time. Amen.
May the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised and glorified now and forever. Amen.
St. Jude pray for us and hear our prayers. Amen
Blessed be the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Blessed be the immaculate Heart of Mary.
Blessed be Saint Jude in all the world and for all eternity. Amen.

Our Father
Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen

Hail Mary
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen

Prayer to St. Jude

O glorious Apostle, St. Jude, true relative of Jesus and Mary, I salute you through the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Through this heart I praise and thank God for all the graces He has bestowed upon you.

Humbly prostrate before you I implore you through the Heart to look downSt. Jude upon me with compassion. Despise not my poor prayer, let not my trust be confounded. To you God has granted the privilege of aiding mankind in the most desperate cases.

Oh come to my aid that I may praise the mercies of God. All my life I will be grateful to you, and will be your faithful client until I can Thank you in Heaven. Amen

Veni Creator Spiritus

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
and in our hearts take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heav’nly aid,
To fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

O Comforter, to Thee we cry,
Thou heav’nly gift of God most high,
Thou Fount of life, and Fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.

O Finger of the hand divine,
the sevenfold gifts of grace are thine;
true promise of the Father thou,
who dost the tongue with power endow.

Thy light to every sense impart,
and shed thy love in every heart;
thine own unfailing might supply
to strengthen our infirmity.

Drive far away our ghostly foe,
and thine abiding peace bestow;
if thou be our preventing Guide,
no evil can our steps betide.

Praise we the Father and the Son
and Holy Spirit with them One;
and may the Son on us bestow
the gifts that from the Spirit flow.

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Being Where Terri Was: Part 1–How I Got There

Since late May, I have debated in my mind about what or whether to write about my experiences in April. Like most such autobiographical topics, I’ve fretted about such quibbles as whether to write it here first or save for some formal publication opportunity, whether to go with a fiction or nonfiction approach, how much to share, etc. So I’ve ended up squandering the time I’ve been given to share it by hindering myself, and I decided I’d better just post it here and trust God’s will.

So, here goes: on March 27, as my few regular readers are aware, I had my aorta repaired from the middle of the arch to the middle of the abdomen. I knew going in that it was a risky procedure. I’d spent 2 years reading medical abstracts, studying statistics, talking to surgeons, emailing surgeons, etc., not to mention having spent my entire life *up* to that point studying for the inevitable. For an otherwise “healthy” person, surgery on the descending aorta carries, depending on whose stats you read, something like a 40% chance of mortality within the first two years, and I forget the exact numbers I started with, but when I added them all up, I came up with a 90% chance of some kind of “permanent complication,” be it death, paralysis and/or organ damage. The likelihood of those complications occurring, and the need for surgery ASAP, increased if one was a) A Marfan (check), b) had previous surgery on the aortic root (check), c) had already suffered dissection (check) and/or d) had an aneurysm greater than 6 cm in diameter (check).

Since my dissection in January 2011, I’d been debating whether and where to have surgery. My longtime cardiologist agreed with me that my odds weren’t good and it was better, if I did anything at all, to find someone relatively local who was competent enough rather than do it long-distance. i had already ruled out Johns Hopkins, Emory and UNC, and while I’d been seeing a local surgeon who was competent and confident enough to do it, he needed at least one more team member and told Tme that he literally asked every cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon in the Augusta area, with no one willing to “touch me.” The last time I saw him was in May 2012, when he told me that, recommended I see his mentor at UNC, and told me I wouldn’t live through the end of the summer without surgery (this was based upon CT scans done in November of 2011 and January 2012).

After ruling out UNC, I put the whole thing in God’s Hands. I happened to see a trailer on my Facebook feed about a new movie of _Les Miserables_. I thought, “Oh, not another one,” thinking it was going to be another adaptation of the novel. Then I clicked play, and heard Anne Hathaway’s amazing performance of “I Dreamed a Dream,” and I was ecstatic: THEY MADE A MOVIE OF THE MUSICAL?! I ran to my wife and kids. I called my parents and my in-laws. My wife said, “That’s it: no doctors, no surgery, no activity. Total bed rest for six months. I want you to live long enough to see that movie!” That was the “goal,” and in the mean time we got to go on a Make-a-Wish trip to Florida, and I was able to make my definitive promises as a Secular Carmelite. At my Community’s Day of Recollection, after making my Promises, last December, one of my friends not only knew what I was talking about about when I explained about the surgical options I was considering (and trying to get someone to do, since I was hoping to find someone willing to do a stent operation rather than “traditional” open surgery) but knew one of the top vascular surgeons in the country and had another friend who’d had an iliac aneurysm repaired by that surgeon–I believe he was at Shands in Florida. So he immediately got his cell phone out and called the surgeon’s registration nurse, with whom I spoke for a few minutes that Saturday morning. She gave me a few more names. I started researching.

In early January, having done all that and seen _Les Miserables_ twice, I started looking these names up. I stumbled on the _US News_ list of top surgeons and, since their database of “top vascular surgeons” was nowhere near as long as other categories, I just started scrolling through it after having specifically searched for the other names. Of course, most of the people on the list were from NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, etc. Surprising, few of the names I’d been given were on the list. The one doctor, Dr. Svensson, I believe, at Cleveland Clinic was named by _US News_ as the top cardiac surgeon in the country. I contacted his office and explained how the only reason I was going to travel that far for surgery was for stents because I knew I couldn’t physically handle the travel or financially or emotionally handle the consequences of being stuck 10 hours from home should complications arise. She said, “No way, no how would we ever do stents on a Marfan.” I thanked her for her time.

So, after knocking off everyone else from my list, I finally hit someone within my 3-hour ideal radius that wasn’t Emory: Dr. Jeb Hallett at Roper St. Francis Health Care in Charleston. Plus, he had a little star indicating that he was in the “top 10%.” I Googled his name, and I found this video:

I called his office and scheduled an appointment. When I saw him, it was the most amazing medical appointment I’d ever had. I can honestly say that in all my experience with doctors, now as a patient and a parent, and having known some very excellent physicians, I have never known a doctor quite like Dr. Hallett. He knew everyone whose names I mentioned either as previous surgeons or as surgeons I’d considered. He even agreed with my reasons for ruling out some of the others. He spent a good 2 hours with us. He pulled the CT up on the computer and went over it with us. When his colleague, whose name I can never quite spell correctly for some reason, came for the cardiothoracic consult, Dr. Hallett stayed in the room. They talked right there with us. Our two eldest daughters were with us, and rather than insisting that they leave the room, as we feared, he included them in the conversation.
Afterwards, Mary asked me to talk to the girls about how they felt about it, as Gianna seemed a bit taken aback (as Mary and I both were) by seeing my aorta on the computer screen, and how shockingly huge it was. I said, “What do you girls think?”
Allie said she wanted them to do her surgery when the time comes, and said, “I think it’s a miracle!”
I later told Dr. Hallett on the phone what Allie said, and she said, “She may be right.”

"I am eternally grateful to God for both of these men."  -- my wife

“I am eternally grateful to God for both of these men.” — my wife

Pray with Me: Mega Novena

Veni Sancte Spiritus

Come, Holy Spirit,
send forth the heavenly
radiance of your light.

Come, father of the poor,
come giver of gifts,
come, light of the heart.

Greatest comforter,
sweet guest of the soul,
sweet consolation.

In labor, rest,
in heat, temperance,
in tears, solace.

O most blessed light,
fill the inmost heart
of your faithful.

Without your divine will,
there is nothing in man,
nothing is harmless.

Wash that which is unclean,
water that which is dry,
heal that which is wounded.

Bend that which is inflexible,
warm that which is chilled,
make right that which is wrong.

Give to your faithful,
who rely on you,
the sevenfold gifts.

Give reward to virtue,
give salvation at our passing on,
give eternal joy.
Amen. Alleluia.

Emergency Novena to the Infant Jesus of Prague

O Jesus, Who said, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock
and it shall be opened to you,” through the intercession of Mary, Your most holy Mother,
I knock, I seek, I ask that my prayer be answered.

[List Requests]

O Jesus, Who said, “All that you ask of the Father in My Name He will grant you,”
through the intercession of Mary, Your most holy Mother,
I humbly and urgently ask Your Father in Your Name that my prayer be granted.
[List Requests]

O Jesus, Who said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My word shall not pass,”
through the intercession of Mary, Your most holy Mother,
I feel confident that my prayer will be granted.

[List Requests]

Novena Prayer to Mary, Undoer of Knots

O HOLY MARY, full of the presence of God, during your life you accepted with great humility the holy will of the Father, and the legacy of your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and evil never dared to entangle you with its confusion.

Since then, you hast interceded for all our difficulties as you didst at the wedding feast of Cana. With all simplicity and with patience, you hast given us an example of how to untangle the knots in our complicated lives. By being our Mother forever, you arrange and make clear the path that unites us to Our Lord.

HOLY MARY, Mother of God and ours, with your maternal heart, please untie the knots that upset our lives. We ask you to receive into your hands our finances, careers and housing, and deliver us from the chains and confusion that restrain us.

O BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, through your grace, your intercession, and by your example, deliver us from evil and untie the knots that keep us from being united to God, so that free of every confusion and error, we may find Him in all things, keep Him in our hearts, and serve Him always in our brothers and sisters.

O MARY, Undoer of Knots, pray for us who have recourse to you.

Amen.

Novena to St. Jude

May the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, loved in all tabernacles until the end of time. Amen.
May the most Sacred Heart of Jesus be praised and glorified now and forever. Amen.
St. Jude pray for us and hear our prayers. Amen
Blessed be the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Blessed be the immaculate Heart of Mary.
Blessed be Saint Jude in all the world and for all eternity. Amen.

Our Father
Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. Amen

Hail Mary
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you, blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen

Prayer to St. Jude

O glorious Apostle, St. Jude, true relative of Jesus and Mary, I salute you through the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. Through this heart I praise and thank God for all the graces He has bestowed upon you.

Humbly prostrate before you I implore you through the Heart to look down St. Jude upon me with compassion. Despise not my poor prayer, let not my trust be confounded. To you God has granted the privilege of aiding mankind in the most desperate cases.

Oh come to my aid that I may praise the mercies of God. All my life I will be grateful to you, and will be your faithful client until I can Thank you in Heaven. Amen

Veni Creator Spiritus

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,
and in our hearts take up Thy rest;
come with Thy grace and heav’nly aid,
To fill the hearts which Thou hast made.

O Comforter, to Thee we cry,
Thou heav’nly gift of God most high,
Thou Fount of life, and Fire of love,
and sweet anointing from above.

O Finger of the hand divine,
the sevenfold gifts of grace are thine;
true promise of the Father thou,
who dost the tongue with power endow.

Thy light to every sense impart,
and shed thy love in every heart;
thine own unfailing might supply
to strengthen our infirmity.

Drive far away our ghostly foe,
and thine abiding peace bestow;
if thou be our preventing Guide,
no evil can our steps betide.

Praise we the Father and the Son
and Holy Spirit with them One;
and may the Son on us bestow
the gifts that from the Spirit flow.

Pray with Me: Mega Novena

The Lewis Crusade

Veni Sancte Spiritus

Come, Holy Spirit,
send forth the heavenly
radiance of your light.

Come, father of the poor,
come giver of gifts,
come, light of the heart.

Greatest comforter,
sweet guest of the soul,
sweet consolation.

In labor, rest,
in heat, temperance,
in tears, solace.

O most blessed light,
fill the inmost heart
of your faithful.

Without your divine will,
there is nothing in man,
nothing is harmless.

Wash that which is unclean,
water that which is dry,
heal that which is wounded.

Bend that which is inflexible,
warm that which is chilled,
make right that which is wrong.

Give to your faithful,
who rely on you,
the sevenfold gifts.

Give reward to virtue,
give salvation at our passing on,
give eternal joy.
Amen. Alleluia.

Emergency Novena to the Infant Jesus of Prague

O Jesus, Who said, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock
and…

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Today is the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address

Which also happens to be the subject of one of my best lessons, a lesson on critical analysis, showing the elements that make it a great speech and explaining different possible essay outlines for a critical essay on the speech.

This is probably the last recording of my voice before I lost my left vocal cord.

A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand: TBN sues itself, and shows how it compares negatively to EWTN

Paul and Jan Crouch, founders of Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN), are being sued by their own granddaughter for financial misdeeds. The granddaughter, in turn, is being sued by them on the allegation that *she* is the one who embezzled. What strikes me most about the article is learning the network’s operating budget, given that it’s already known how the Crouches live an extravagant lifestyle, and how it’s very clear they’ve never read the Gospel (a spokesman cites some verse about not owing anyone anything, but I guess he missed the part about “Let him who has two coats share with the one who has none”).

People often compare EWTN to televangelism (in the negative sense) and TBN in particular, especially since they both claim, for different reasons, to be the largest religious broadcaster in the world. I think that TBN takes the cake on that one, and not in a good way. Even granting their claim that the “private jet, multiple mansions and $100,000 mobile home for their dogs” are truly about security and housing network facilities, EWTN manages to do the same thing with just a few modest facilities: and, until relatively recently, just one.

Some people have been trying to say that EWTN’s lay staff are “in it for the money,” reaping huge benefits from donors’ money, etc., because they collect middle class salaries, while the Crouches really *do* that, and it’s proven in the difference between their operating budgets. According to the original article I linked above, TBN’s maximum known budget one year was $170 million. EWTN has a budget of about $24 million a year. Both networks broadcast worldwide. What’s the difference?

The Cockroaches–I mean Crouches

Mother Angelica, criticized for wearing a habit.

Some people, of all backgrounds compare the superficial similarities of the sets. Yet the criicisms of EWTN’s sets and studios are inconsistent: on the one hand is the claim that they don’t deserve donors’ money, overspend, etc., and that their sets are opulent and gaudy; on the other is the more accurate claim that their studios are still like a local TV station from the 1980’s. A Facebook friend pointed out that she visited EWTN’s studio at the JPII Center in DC a few years ago, and the cameras were being held together with duct tape.

Mary with Marcus Grodi

Mary with Marcus Grodi

When we visited there in 2000, we saw all the shows, but only attended 2 tapings of _Mother Angelica Live_. Why? Because the sets are all on wheeled platforms like sets in a play. There are, as you can see from the live shows, just a few rows of seats. Compare that to the “Mega Church” stadium on TBN. I’m sure that TBN would attribute that to the “success” of their “prosperity Gospel,” and I’d say, “in a worldly sense, yes, that’s very sucessful,” but the claim that EWTN’s people are secretly like the Crouches (or even the Medjugorje visionaries, who also have their summer homes and private jets) is ludicrous at best and calumnious at worst.

Audience and Purpose and the Popes

One of the ways having a literature degree has made me a better Catholic is understanding the concept of “audience and purpose.” We too often think of text as something absolute and immutable. When we’re told as students to consider “audience and purpose” in our reading and writing we tend to think of it as something very superficial. Teacher: “Who’s your audience in your essay?” Student: “You are.” Teacher: “No, your audience is a group of people who have a problem you’re trying to address.”

A good example of this I heard came from Barry Manilow, on the _Tavis Smiley_ show, to promote _15 Minutes_. He said that he was a celebrity coach for _American Idol_ 3 times: one of them behind the scenes. One of the times he was a celebrity judge, a contestant wanted to sing “I Made it Through the Rain.”
He asked, “Who are you singing for?”
“The judges and the audience.”
“No, who are you singing *for*? You can’t just perform to the audience. You have to be singing to somebody. Are you singing to God? Grandma? Your best friend?”
“God, I guess.”
So he guided her performance to that, and she did a fantastic job.

In teaching writing, I often found that one of the key failures of bad writing was having an unclear audience and purpose, being “all over the map,” as they say. One example I often refer to is a student in a “writing for IT majors” class who wrote her term paper on video game consoles. She did the typical “beginning research paper” practice of getting the first few sources she could find (in the old days, it was library books; today, it’s web sites) and throwing together what she could get from them. Part of her paper explained what console games are, like its audience was people who know nothing about them. Then it shifted to talking about them like it was addressing grandmas trying to buy games for their grandkids. Then it shifted to the latest models, like it was addressing people who wanted to upgrade. Then it started talking about customer service issues, like it was addressing current users. It read this way because it was essentially summarizing four articles written with these basic audiences in mind.

I would always tell my students to think about magazine headlines: ‘Lose 10 lbs. by [upcoming holiday].’ Obviously, the headline is targeting people who want to lose weight in a short amount of time. It doesn’t mean those are the only people who will read it. It just means its message is targeted to those readers. Think about a medical student doing some kind of research. He is called for various reasons to present to a group of high school students, college students, professors and other med students in a class or defense setting, and to other researchers at a conference. To each audience he’s going to give a different talk, even if the “topic” in a broad sense is the same, because each audience has different levels of experience and different things they want to know.

So, when we’re reading, we need to think of who the intended audience is when we’re interpreting. This is especially true of Popes. When Pope Pius IX was addressing bishops in countries where Communist revolutions were taking place, and he condemned “a kind of religious liberty” that said people’s consciences were free from the Church, then we can be pretty sure he wasn’t condemning *all* religious liberty but a certain kind that met a certain description. When the Popes have spoken of “immigration reform,” and talked about how countries need to be more generous in welcoming immigrants, often their descriptions of what countries *should* do is much like what the US already *does*.

So, when we look at what Pope Francis has been saying, we need to consider his intended audience. While the Scalfari interview has basically been repudiated by the Vatican, the much-(mis)quoted Jesuit interview is a good example: much has been made of the Holy Father’s words about “obsession” with certain moral issues, but he’s very clearly, in the context of the interview, answering a question about homiletics and confession. He’s not speaking of political activism or even evangelization. He’s just talking about what priests say from the pulpit and how they treat people in the confessional (as for the content, I’ve addressed that already).