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Archive for January, 2010

“Great is the glory of the Lord!  Great is the glory of the Lord!                                                            The Lord is exalted, yet the lowly He sees, and I will sing of the ways of the Lord.”

Such begins one of the exuberant songs we sing in the People of Praise, not just here in the Northern Virginia branch but throughout the 21 branches and various other places where the community members are.  Today, in NoVA, you might say we experienced a hearing of the wind of the Holy Spirit.

We had gathered as men and women leaders, musicians, and sound technicians for a music workshop.  The purpose was to revisit four of the talks given first at a Community-wide Music Conference in 2008 in order to apply the concepts more fully in our Branch.  Of course, singing was sprinkled throughout.  “You send us out to be Your sons and daughters.  You send us out as Your new creation.  For You have given us Your own beloved Son, and with this love we can … change the world.”

Those who are serious about following the Lord’s call (I can only speak for myself that I have spent my adult life trying to do so), must continually grow, to move forward toward unity in Him.  At this workshop, leaders in our Branch were making new connections between lyrics, song themes, song leader’s demeanor, group worship, and the role of meeting leader in all of it – connections that will allow us as a Branch to be more who we are and do more what we should be doing – “Sing out your praise, sing out People of Praise!”  Further, we were growing in the understanding of why we do what we do and why we sing what we sing.

We are the People of Praise!   To whatever Branch we go, we will be able to praise the Lord with our common repertoire of worship songs.  “Oh, hallelujah, Oh praise the Lord!”   By ensuring that all can worship with a common body of songs, we put more of our lives in common as brothers and sisters in a ‘family of families’.  “We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun.”

May the name of the Lord be praised!  ~Job 1:21

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Make a positive choice!

When considering the horrors of slavery, many American citizens who knew that it was wrong did several things that now we consider appropriate but which were, at the time, illegal and controversial.  Some freed their slaves.  Others, who had never treated people as slaves were brave enough to help them get away (http://americancivilwar.com/women/harriet_tubman.html)  Some hid them in their homes to help them that way.  Others spoke eloquently about the need for abolition of slavery to the government (Frederick Douglass).  Countless others prayed and did what they could.

I believe that life is sacred from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.  This makes abortion a heinous moral act, all the more because the victim is a completely helpless, preborn baby.   What positive choice can be made to combat this evil practice?

Pray to God daily (or more often) and trust He will act.

Ask Mary, the mother of Jesus, to intercede for life – Our Lady of Good Success of Quito, pray for us!

Financially support your local Catholic Charities and other crisis pregnancy centers.

Pray and be willing to counsel outside of an abortion clinic.

Support the idea of ADOPTION; find out more about it to be able to talk about it.

Write letters and make phone calls to your Congressman, keep up with the news and be civicly active.

Take a pregnant woman into your home – I know a family that has done this several times through Catholic Charities.

Check out the local resources for women/ girls in crisis pregnancy in your area.                                                                             

A Better Choice! (click on this link to get ideas)

Pro-life, Pro-baby

May the Lord be praised! ~ Job 1:21

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1776, story by Peter Stone, music and lyrics by Sherman Edwards, has been a favourite of the Elliott family for a long time.  It is seasonal, showing well around July 4th.  But the musical comedy itself, is based squarely on history, much of the dialog coming from journals of the founding fathers as seen in the plot.  It has a message for our time, that would do well to be heeded by the Congress of today.

In the story of 1776, the Continental Congress of the 13 American colonies of Great Britain, is meeting in Philadelphia.  They have many important matters on which to debate and vote.  For the obnoxious and disliked delegate from Massachusetts, John Adams, the most important matter is ‘Independency’ which he sings about in the song, “Sit down, John” as he and the other members of the Congress fight over whether to openly debate the topic at all.  [Does this seem at all familiar?] John leaves the chamber and sings of his frustration with the lack of concrete progress by this ineffective Congress in any important area in the song “Piddle, Twiddle, and Resolve”.  [Sounds even more like another group we all know.]

The story moves along, chronicling the events of history, but with the endearing, comic presence of Ben Franklin (Pennsylvania), Richard Henry Lee (Virginia), Stephen Hopkins (Rhode Island), and many others, there is humor and humanity charging through the entire film.  However, when the motion to debate Independence is finally brought to the floor, difficult issues are brought up by different delegates that must be overcome if there is any chance that Independence from the British crown could possibly be achieved.  The ways in which these issues are resolved by the incredibly diverse and incompatible persons who made up that Continental Congress – our Founding Fathers – is the moving, exciting, and humorous topic of the rest of the movie, including the arguments for and against slavery and the writing of the Declaration of Independence by delegate Thomas Jefferson.

We all know what happened in the end, the Continental Congress voted to sever the ties with Britain, and the rest is history.  What you don’t know, if you haven’t seen the film, is how the divisive issue of slavery threatened to completely destroy any chance that Independence would pass in the Congress.  Here is the connection I see in the battle for Health Care Reform in today’s 50 states.

Like the 13 colonies, where it was necessary and time to secure the blessings of liberty for the inhabitants of America, NOW is the time to reform the inadequate system of health care in this country.  The wealthy landowners in much of colonial America did not see the need for independence just as the healthy, employed, and insurance-covered Americans do not see the need for reform today.  In 1776, the problematic issue of abolishing slavery was the one that caused delegate Edward Rutledge (South Carolina) to  promise to vote No, if it were not removed.  Today, the issue of federally mandated (in the public option) and taxpayer-funded abortion is the issue that threatens to deny the passage of needed reform.  There are doubtless many other important issues that truly need debate.  What is the hurry to pass a bill that is so controversial and disliked by millions of Americans?  But one thing that must be removed, is the language that changes the longstanding ban on federal funding of abortion.  Let health care be about caring for health, about helping people live life, and not about abortion – killing innocent life.  In the eerily, pro-life and pro-liberty reasoning uttered by delegate John Dickinson (Pennsylvania), “that no colony [may] be torn from its mother country without its own consent,”  may we see analogously that no preborn infant should be torn from its mother by anyone’s consent because killing  (abortion) is plainly wrong!

As Benjamin Franklin said to John, “First things first, John … Independence. America. If we don’t have that, what is the rest worth?”, I say now to Senator Reid, Speaker of the House Pelosi, and the other pro-abortion representatives:

First things first, Democratic majority leaders… Health Care Reform.  America.  If we don’t have that, what is the rest worth?’

Be bipartison, and “remove the offending clause” to give a hope that Health Care Reform might be passed that will HELP those who need it most, the ill, the hurting, the aged, the poor, the people.

May the name of the Lord be praised!   ~Job 1:21

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On January 22, 1974, the very first March for Life occurred in Washington, D.C.  It was the one-year anniversary of the infamous Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.  I was there with many other Bishop O’Connell students, only 14-years-old and excited to stand up for life.  It is sad to say that 37 years later, abortion is still legal and will even be mandated by law to be covered by health insurance (if the liberal Congress passes the health care bill).

People of good will who believe that abortion is a bad choice, and life should be protected from conception to natural death, must “Stand Up Now — Unite for the Life Principles — No Exception! No Compromise!”  This is the theme of the 2010 March for Life.  If you have not been to the March before for whatever reason, why not go this year?  People come from all over the country.  Who will speak for the defenseless preborn children if not we who live and breathe and know right from wrong?

Come to the March if at all possible.  Here is a link to the map of the March route in the nation’s Capitol:

http://www.marchforlife.org/images/2010/mapbw.jpg

Some of us will be meeting at the L’Enfant Plaza metro station on 7th street at 12:30 p.m.  If you would like to join us and 200,000 other concerned citizens, then come out!

Meanwhile, send messages to your senators and congress representatives regarding the Health Care Bill that they are crafting behind closed doors.  The transparency promised by President Obama is not forthcoming, but deals are being made out of the public eye.  Let the offices of Congress be overwhelmed by messages politely requesting that:

  • Abortion should NOT be federally funded as it has not ever been before
  • Citizens should not be compelled to buy health care, either
  • Doctors and nurses who oppose abortion should have a conscience clause to protect them
  • All deserve access to quality health care, and legal immigrants must be cared for

To contact your representatives, go to: http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

There are two ways to live your life.
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle.
~Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Our Lady of Good Success of Quito, pray for us!

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I am a member of the Roman Catholic Church, and this gives me access to any number of potential devotions and styles of prayer.  I sometimes ask one of the saints to join me in prayer to God.  This connects me to one of the earliest Christian movements, memorializing and venerating martyrs and the mother of Jesus.  As part of the communion of saints who live in heaven, Mary is accorded special honor and under the title, Mother of God, has a preeminent place among the saints in the faith lives of many observant Christians.  She was a great role model in several ways and due to her close connection with her Son, Jesus, Mary is seen by many as the ultimate intercessor in times of need.  Who better to ask for help than the Mother of God?

I did a google search for “Our Lady of Ecuador” and to my surprise, immediately saw several explicit articles popped up.  One of them Our Lady of Good Success, in Quito, Ecuador caught my eye.  How wonderful, I thought, knowing that Kathryn would be there for the next several months.  This is a picture of the statue in the Church of the Royal Convent of the Immaculate Conception in Quito.

Nuestra Señora del Buen Suceso de Quito

In the article (link above), Mary’s title “… of Good Success” is explained to refer originally to the time her Baby was in the womb – the entire period from conception to birth.  She was viewed as the patroness of successful childbirth, and later of travellers or those undertaking new ventures.  As always, she was understood and interceded to with Christian faith.

In the image, Mary has that ethereal look so common in representations of her.  But I know that she was flesh and blood and full of questions and emotions and concerns just like any of us.  Still, she is a true heroine to me, and like Mother Teresa of Calcutta, inspires me to not worry about doing great things, “but to do small things with great love”.

One “small thing” she did was welcome the life of the embryonic Jesus in her.  What a tough situation to be an unwed teenage mother in a culture that would stone women in that dilemma!  Not taking time to brood, she left to serve her relative, Elizabeth, “in haste” as it says in Luke’s account.  Later when she returned home, she had to face her fiance and everyone in the village and go through the issues of damaged reputation, new marriage, probably morning sickness, and whatever else her difficult, primitive sort of life involved.

How different is her life from the comfortable, materialistic, “feel good” life so many of us lead.  When young girls in our day become pregnant, they are encouraged by the society to “take care of it” through abortion.  Our U.S. Congress is poised to pass an alleged Health Care bill that will force the citizens of our country to pay for “taking care of” pregnancies, by aborting or killing the preborn life that results from the choices made by those in that opulent lifestyle.  Further, that bill, if the majority party has their way, will require all citizens to be covered by a health care plan that would include abortions as a benefit.

We need to stand against this breach of constitutional rights – ALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO LIFE, LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.   Babies should be free to live (to be born.)  Citizens and legal immigrants should be free to choose how and even whether to buy insurance plans.  Doctors and nurses who conscientiously object to abortion should be free to decline to participate in or support them.

Call, write, email, or go see your representatives and senators.  If you’re not sure how, get help from:

USA.gov

And let us pray and work to “establish justice…promote the general welfare… and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity” (preamble to the Constitution):

Dear Lady of Good Success, grant success to those who are working for Life, to protect and save the lives of the innocent and helpless babes in their mothers’ wombs.  May we learn to embrace your Son who is Life, and by our actions do what will please Him who reigns with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and forevermore, Amen!

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Ecuador in my Eyes

enmisojos.wordpress.com

~ This is my daughter’s blog; I am plugging it here.

Vamos a ver, ¿qué debo hablar hoy?  (Let’s see, what should I talk about today?)

My daughter, so talented, intelligent, and adventurous, is leaving for a semester away in Ecuador this very day!  After our visit to Britain, I am more excited than ever for her.  Also, her going is like a dream I have had to go someday to my father’s country, but it will be realized through Kathryn.  I love the name of her blog site “… in my eyes”.  All of the beauties of the land of my father will be seen through her eyes, and we will see Ecuador in her eyes as indeed I already do.  She has loved our ancestral country and language since she was a little girl and called me “Mamita” the affectionate term for “Mom”.

She will be studying in Quito, the capitol high in the mountains and God-willing will spend some time with our relatives in Guayacuil after the course ends in May.  So please pray for Kathryn Maria to be safe and will adjust quickly to the altitude and the language and customs.  Also, I am hoping she will learn a lot to share with all of us and greatly enjoy her gran oportunidad!  ¡Que se vaya con Dios! (May she go with God!)

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B-ball

This week we have been watching our boys J.T. and Brad play basketball for Trinity at Meadow View.  Brad is on the Middle School Boys team and J.T. on the Varsity Boys team.   Boy, what a commitment it is both in time and effort, quite eye-opening for us.  They started training the middle of November and games began in December and will continue through February.   Games or practices happen three (for MSB) or four (VB) times a week.   This week alone, MSB had two games and VB had/have three.   Often, games are scheduled one after the other including the MSG(irls) and VG(irls).  When the games are “away,” the teams (and parents) must travel, sometimes an hour or more to get there.  Families like ours with multiple student athletes can end up staying for hours at the court.  Then after travelling home, the dinner and homework must be done.

Yesterday was fun because our whole family (even Kristin and Kathryn) went to see them play.  Both Brad and J.T. were contributors to the wins for our Tempest athletes!  Some late hours were put in to get all the homework done.  It is really cool to see how our children are doing things their parents never did and building their character as they participate in these sports programs.  It is also nice for all of us to hear the coaches (even of the other team last night) putting the talents and activities into a bigger context of “doing it all to give God the glory and honor” and “keeping in mind the hurting and suffering of the world, as in Haiti” while they strive on the courts.   What a rich life we have!

May the name of the Lord be praised!  ~Job 1:21

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