(During my pregnancy, I became quite fond of reading and hearing my friend’s birth stories. Ours was not as eventful, but it is always nice to recall and share one of the most important and joyful events in your life. Enjoy!)
Short Version: Despite of months of training and preparing to have our Bradley birth, our baby turned out to be breech. We could not get him turned naturally before my water broke and he decided to come and join us. I had an emergency c-section, but we are just glad to have a happy and healthy baby boy!
- Thursday — September 30th, 2010
We had our 38-week prenatal appointment with our midwife. She checked the position of the baby and she was not able to feel his head in my pelvis. In order to be sure we could have a natural birth at home, she needed to have his presentation confirmed. Since I was already full-term (i.e. past 37 weeks), we scheduled an ultrasound that same afternoon. The ultrasound quickly confirmed that he was indeed breech–his feet were down and head was up toward my chest. My husband and I were “devastated” in that this could mean that we could not have a natural birth either at home or at a hospital, because the risks were too great with a vaginal delivery. Our midwife received a call from the radiologist with the news and she quickly scheduled a external cephalic version (ECV) with one of the OB/GYNs that works with her to turn the baby head down and attempt a vaginal delivery. The OB/GYN could not see me the next day (Friday), so we scheduled the ECV for Monday at 1:30 pm.
My midwife told me of exercises I could do at home in the meantime to get him turned. I started doing them religiously that same evening with the help of my husband.
Continue Reading »
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This speech was given to the Aresty Research Symposium in Rutgers, Spring 2008.
Ever since the beginning of Christianity, one of the main problems was evangelization. How were Christians supposed to propose what they call the “gospel,” the “good news” to all people as Jesus commanded them to (Matt. 28: 19-20)? Most of Jesus’ disciples were practicing Jews, that is, they had the same presuppositions and worldview that Jesus had. Yet, they were called to proclaim the good news not simply to the Jews but to the Gentiles, those who had different worldviews than they. We see examples of this when they had to debate whether Gentiles had to be circumcised and follow the Mosaic law in order to be part of the Church, the people of God (Acts 15; Romans 2-6). The early Church decided not to impose some aspects of Judaism to the Gentiles and yet proclaimed the necessity of Jesus Christ as the only savior. Today, the Catholic Church faces the same problem as the early Church. With so many cultures and religions today, she faces the difficult task of presenting the gospel in a non-imposing way while at the same time proposing an essential element in human life: relationship with Christ. Can the Catholic Church propose the necessity of Jesus Christ while at the same time be tolerant of other religions?
Christ as the Fulfillment of Human Life
The then-Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, in his homily to the College of Cardinals in the Mass for the election of a new pope, said that we are “moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal [in] one’s own ego and one’s own desires.” The Catholic Church, however, proposes that she can know for certain that in Jesus of Nazareth, there is “the full and complete revelation of the salvific mystery of God.” She cannot accept a religious relativism which teaches that each religion in their own independent way is a path to God, and that the revelation of God given by Christ is incomplete and that other religions are complementary to his revelation. Accepting such an idea would be destroying her understanding of who Jesus is. According to the Church, Jesus of Nazareth is the Incarnate Word of God (Jn. 1:14) in whom the fullness of Yahweh dwells (Col. 1:19; Rom 9:4-5). He is the definitive and final revelation of God simply because he is God; there is nothing more to add because God himself has shown himself in person. In Christ we find God’s triune tenderness to humanity and all of creation, which is fully expressed in his dying and rising from the dead. As Karl Rahner said, Continue Reading »
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The setting is first century second Temple Judaism. It is hard to fully describe the worldview of second Temple Judaism because it was pluralistic. We know that there were many eschatological movements and it is safe to say that “eschatology” in that time meant a restoration of Israel and the cosmos under the one God. For example, the Qumran community believed that they were the true Israel which God would vindicate. In the end, there will be a battle between good and evil, those who walk the ways of righteousness and those who walk in the ways of Belial, the ways of darkness, and God will destroy darkness, “destroy it forever” (1QS ch.4). Those who followed evil were not simply the Romans, but the Jews associated with the Temple. The Temple, they believed, was plagued by Hellenistic influences which they saw as evil. This anti-Hellenistic mentality is also seen in the Book of Jubilees (which is also found in the Dead Sea Scrolls) where even the angels in heaven have the Torah, that which distinguishes Israel from others. The earth reflects heaven and since the angels in heaven worship and follow the Torah, so too the people on earth must do the same (15:28-30). Doing the works of the law is what distinguishes the Jew from the Gentile, those who have false gods. For example, after retelling the story of the fall of Adam and Eve, it says, “[I]t is prescribed on the heavenly tablets as touching all those who know the judgment of the law, that they should cover their shame, and should not uncover themselves as the Gentiles uncover themselves” (3:31-32). Following the Torah is what made Jews righteous in the sight of God and others unrighteous in His sight. They believed that those who follow the Torah properly will be vindicated by God. N.T. Wright in summarizing second temple Judaism says, “Many if not most second-Temple Jews, then, hoped for the new exodus, seen as the final return from exile. The story would reach its climax; the great battle would be fought; Israel would truly ‘return’ to her land, saved and free; YHWH would return to Zion” (Jesus and the Victory of God, Fortress Press 1996, pg. 203). Wright is probably right that many believed that they were in exile. What kind of exile they were in is tougher to pin-point. Some may argue that they believed they were still under the Assyrian exile (B. Pitre). Whatever exile they thought they were in, the fact is that they were unable to do something appropriate. It was a lack of freedom to adhere and act the way they were supposed to. Freedom, then, was never thought of as doing as one pleases, but doing what one ought to do. The Qumran community thought that they were not free because the Jews in the Temple have corrupted and violated the Torah. Continue Reading »
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To Louis Feliciano
All tragedies leave us in awe. No other being in the world except man is affected by such events, whether they are natural disasters or moral evils. Tragedy reminds us our place in this world, that death is not something we can control. It reminds us of our own solitude in front of such situations.
What affects us most about tragedies is that there is a silence, and maybe even an absence, that makes us tremble, a fear-provoking silence that gives us a sense of powerlessness to give answers to ourselves and to each other. It is a silence which makes us realize that we are in the midst of absolute mystery. It is a silence which provokes an unquiet longing in our hearts to beg for someone to speak, to beg for a voice, for an answer.
In the midst of tragedies, this longing cannot be neglected. It moves us not to run away from questions but to struggle to find answers, to find love even in a situation that is, in the truest sense of the word, ugly. It is a longing to find even the smallest drop of beauty, a beauty that might echo a voice we desire to hear. This longing to find love, to listen to an echo, is what makes tragedy a drama. Tragedy does not make us incapable of finding love. And that is why it is not hopeless. Hopelessness comes about only when love can no longer penetrate into our hearts.
Tragedy becomes a drama when we struggle to find beauty in its midst. But this longing to find beauty is in itself insufficient. Beauty is not what we ultimately long for. We may be passionate and enthusiastic about the beautiful, but we cannot love it. Beauty is not something we can give ourselves to. It is itself a sign that points to an unspeakable face that moves us to be enthralled. In the end of it all, it is not beauty that we desire. What we desire, what makes our hearts unquiet, what we find in ourselves when we look deeply into our tender affectivity, is a Father. It is His embrace that we seek. It is His Voice that we long to hear. It is the experience of His absence which makes us fear and tremble. Continue Reading »
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Being a gift to Christ means to give him what we value most: life. What destroys life, what makes it ugly, is sin. It is ugly because it destroys a friendship, it destroys the relationship with the people you love. Friends give you the certainty that you are loved and you cannot help but love them back. To love them back properly, you must love and know yourself so that you can properly give them what they deserve: your heart. Sin, first of all, destroys the ability to love and know yourself properly. And since you cannot love your friend unless you first love yourself (“love one another as you love yourself”), then you cannot love your friend the way he ought to.
Sin also breaks the source which binds you together. When a person is in sin (mortal sin), he reduces his relationship with his friend to mere gestures and to their own intentions. We all know how reducing friendship to mere joyful gatherings and laughter will soon break down. If the basis of friendship is simply that you enjoy being with the other, then you will soon find out how easy this friendship will end. There will be a day when someone will be in a bad mood and things will be said that is not meant to be said. Next thing you know, you have not been in contact for a couple of years. There must be a reason, a reason that lasts, that keeps you coming back to the other. The basis of friendship cannot be yours or the other’s intentions. You know how fragile both of you are. What is important is to understand that the other is not your friend because you somehow chose him or her. You have a relationship with your friend because Someone gave him or her to you. Your friend reminds you of your Destiny, keeps the thought of Christ in your heart, and moves with you towards Him. What sustains your friendship is Christ. Break this relationship with Christ and your friendship will not last. This is why sin is ugly. It ruins the relationship you have with your friends, that is, the Church. This is why you cannot receive the Eucharist unless you are in good standing with Christ. You cannot receive the Eucharist because you have broken the bond between you and your friends. Continue Reading »
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Here are some excellent books I have either read or am currently reading this summer and thought of recommending them to our readers:
1. Elisabeth Leseur: Selected Writings–Elisabeth was a lay French woman married to a staunch agnostic living in the late 19th century and first decade of the 20th century. Her husband, Félix, returned to the Catholic Church after Elisabeth’s death and became a Dominican priest years later. Elisabeth’s journal and practical resolutions stand as a great example for lay Catholic women who want to bring Christ to their homes. She was deeply affected by the social teachings of Leo XIII, which prompted her to reflect on the social issues of the time and what should be the proper Christian response to them. She was well ahead of their time with a deep understanding of the lay apostolate that would not surface officially in the Church until the Second Vatican Council. Elisabeth’s cause for canonization was opened Servant of God. The book I have linked to is from the Classics of Western Spirituality that has several of her writings, but if you want just her journal, you can find some cheap editions here. There are also some other good writings by her that you can find in Amazon. I will be posting on her life and spirituality sometime in the next few days in case you are curious to know more about her.
2. Christ in the Home by Raoul Plus, SJ–I found this book by accident on Amazon and I have incorporated it as part of my marriage preparation. Fr. Plus talks beautifully about the engaged couple, the nuptial Mass, the newly wed couple and life after “the wedding.” He has a lot of practical advice and spiritual direction for the married couple at any stage of their marriage as to how to bring Christ into the home.
3. Women in the Gospels by Carlo Cardinal Martini–Only for less than $3.00 in Amazon: these are talks by the Cardinal given to a group of thousands of religious women from his diocese. These are reflections drawn from Gospel scenes that intend to reflect on one’s vocation based on the response by the women in the Gospels to certain situations. The reflections are very Marian in nature, which has allowed me to gain a deeper appreciation of Mary and her motherhood of the world. Strongly recommended for both men and women.
Any other recommendations?
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