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December 1997


<><+++TOTALLY CATHOLIC E-ZINE+++><>

December Issue, 1997

Welcome to Totally Catholic E-zine, the newest Email magazine designed specifically for traditional Roman Catholics. This forum will provide informative articles and commentary on issues related to the One True Faith. UPDATE (4/27/98)T.C.E. is no longer available in the e-mail format.



THIS ISSUE IS DEDICATED TO OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE, PATRONESS OF THE UNBORN, WHOSE FEAST DAY IS DECEMBER 12



++++Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Unborn++++

The miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which appeared on the tilma of Blessed Juan Diego in the 1500's, is now often invoked as Patroness of the Unborn. The reason is because the Aztec people recognized that the Woman in this image was pregnant, by the fact that She wore a prominent black sash around her waiste. This makes the Guadalupe image one of the few representations in which Our Lady is actually pregnant with Our Lord. When Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego, an Aztec Indian and early Christian convert, Her messages helped to put an end to the practice of ritual human sacrifice which the Aztec Indians practiced, and millions were converted to the Faith. Today, She is likewise invoked under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Unborn, in hopes Her intercession will put an end to the continued practice of human sacrifice, which today goes under the name of legalized abortion. Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Unborn, PRAY FOR US! Jesus, Mary, Joseph, I love you very much, I beg you to spare the life of the unborn baby which I have spiritually adopted who is in danger of abortion! by Maria Compton-Hernandez, T.C.E. Editor




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+++Our Lady Saves Another+++by Carmen Ana Klosterman

It was March, 1993. I had taken one of my sons to have a finger x-rayed to see if it was fractured. At the receptionist’s desk I noticed a sign indicating that mammograms were now covered by insurance. Being almost 40, I figured I should get one. I inquired at the desk and was told that I needed a doctor’s order for the mammogram. Later, I called my ob/gyn and asked for the order. Since they had not seen me for over a year, they suggested that I come for a checkup first and from there, they would give me the order. Since it was close to Holy Week, we set the appointment for the Tuesday after Easter, the 13th of April.

I went to the appointment and the doctor found what he termed ‘a fullness’ in my left breast, nothing defined. Just enough to get me moving and praying! When I got home, I made an appointment to get the mammogram the next day. On Wednesday, the mammogram showed two lumps, about one inch in diameter. They performed a sonogram right after the mammogram and figured that they were cysts. So, I went home thinking that I had inherited my mom’s propensity for developing cysts.

The next morning I felt a new lump under my arm. Now I could feel three bumps, each of them felt about the size of a Ping-Pong ball. I called my gynecologist and he suggested that I make an appointment with a surgeon and have the cysts emptied. He gave me the name of a local surgeon, since I did not have a family surgeon (who does?). I proceeded to call the surgeon, who happened to have an opening that afternoon. Immediately I asked my husband, Rick, to go with me, and a friend, Becky, to come and watch my six children.

The surgeon tried to empty the cysts, but found that they were solid. He then suggested a biopsy. We could schedule it at the hospital or “we can do it here, now.” Well, as long as we were already there, we might as well. He said that there were four lumps, all about the same size, two on lymph nodes and two on plain tissue, so he took out one of each. He asked his nurse to advise the lab that he was taking the samples to the lab personally and would appreciate the results the next day.

So, the next day we went back and found out that they were malignant. Since they had shown up so fast, the doctor suggested a radical mastectomy to be performed as soon as there was room in the operating rooms at the hospital. While we were still in the office, the nurse reserved an operating room for the following Wednesday. That left us with Monday and Tuesday to get a second opinion (for insurance purposes) and all the blood work. As the doctor was rattling off the list of blood tests, I suggested that he also ask for a pregnancy test. I was not late yet, but there was the chance. The doctor frowned and then said, “Well, if the test comes out positive, we’ll just do a D and C as long as we already have you under.” He must have understood the look on my face because he added, ”We don’t have to make that decision until we know for sure.”

After picking up the children at Becky’s and crying on her shoulder for a while, we went home. The job now was to call my family and let them know what was going on and, hopefully, have my parents come and stay with the children while I was at the hospital. Unbeknownst to me, another movement was under foot. Our friends were also being informed and prayer was springing up to God from many directions.

Monday we had the blood work done and we also visited another surgeon, who agreed with the first one. Tuesday I received a call from my gynecologist, telling me that the pregnancy test was positive. He said, “[The surgeon] wanted me to tell you; I think he thought that I could talk you into having the D and C. What are you going to do?” I told him that I was not going to abort the baby and he said, “I didn’t think so. I think you should just go ahead with the treatment and we’ll pray real hard for the baby.”

By now, my parents had arrived from Puerto Rico. That Tuesday evening, my friends put together a prayer/healing service at our house. There were people there that I would have just considered acquaintances. Not any more! A deacon friend of ours brought holy oils, a group of my friends put music together and we just offered it all to the Lord. One of our friends was even slain by the Holy Spirit for the first time! It was a great comfort, and it brought healing to many of those who attended.

Wednesday, as Rick and I were walking down the hallways of the hospital, we saw my gynecologist. He was looking for us. As we met, we huddled in the hall and prayed for my safety and the safety of the baby. What great blessing! I had the mastectomy done and on Friday, I went home. A week later I went to the surgeon to remove my drainage tubes. Then we set up an appointment with the oncologist.

At this time, very few people knew about the pregnancy. Since we did not know what was going to happen to the baby, we decided not to tell the family.

When Rick and I went to see the oncologist, we spoke first with his wife/nurse, who pretty much told us that she would not want to be in our shoes. When the doctor came, he told us how bad the prognosis was, gave us all sort of percentages of cure depending on the treatments. His plan was to send me to Duke University, where they would perform a bone marrow transplant together with a major treatment of chemotherapy. Before that, he would start some other chemo treatments. All of that had to be started within a month or so. The cancer was thought to be so aggressive due, in part, to the pregnancy. My body was in ‘reproduction mode’. The doctor, therefore, did not want to want to wait until after the baby was born in December.

So the bottom line was that I could not get treated unless I aborted the baby. As the doctor put it, “The baby will probably die from the chemo and, if he doesn’t, he will probably be so deformed you will wish you had aborted him. I would not want to deliver that baby. I have consulted with all the doctors in this office and with those at Johns Hopkins and they all agree that is the only way.” With those words, we went home. I knew that I could not abort the baby. Rick and I have always been strongly pro-life. At the same time, what were we to do? We were so numb, we couldn’t even pray clearly.

When we arrived at the house, we saw that my parents were outside, waiting. One look at my mother’s face and I burst crying, telling her what he said and letting her know about the baby at the same time. My mother wisely suggested I speak to a priest before we made any decision. We decided to talk to the priest who was then (and still is) the spiritual director of the Cursillo Movement in Baltimore, Father Bayer. He is also a medical ethicist and very much in touch with the teachings of the Church.

I was not at any time tempted to have an abortion, but the question was: Do I get treatment or not? Ron, a very good friend of ours, talked to Father Bayer and set up a meeting for the next day. When we spoke to Father, he made it clear that treatment was allowed since its purpose was to save me, and not to hurt the baby. Unless, of course, “you are asked to give your life for your child.” This was the loneliest moment of the whole ordeal. How do I know if I am asked to give my life or not? How about my other six children? How about my husband?

As we were heading home, we discussed all the alternatives, but I still did not know what to do. I just kept asking God to let me know if I was supposed to receive treatment that could hurt my baby, or reject the treatment and risk my life. That evening, Ron was talking to his brother, who was following our saga, and he said that a friend of his was an oncologist and he would ask him about my case. The next day, Ron called us to say that we had an appointment for Tuesday at 8:30 in the morning.

The Lord had answered our prayers! This new doctor was pro-life and had a solution. He would wait until the baby had reached thirteen weeks of gestation and then start a treatment of chemo that would be aggressive, but, hopefully, not harmful to the baby. After the baby was born, we would then have a stronger treatment with the transplant and all.

We went home on a cloud! Now we could tell everybody what had happened and what we were going to do and about the baby! Our friends presented us with tickets to go to Mexico City during Memorial Day weekend to pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Just before we left, Becky came with a little “something.” It was a beautifully written Perpetual Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe, asking for my healing. Around the novena prayer, there was a list of all those who would be praying for us, around the clock, all the time we were in Mexico. While we were in Mexico, we put ourselves under the protection of Our Lady. After that, I felt hope and a very strong feeling of a protective dome around the baby.

We started chemo in July and finished the first course of treatments in October. On December 21st Maria Milagros was born, perfectly healthy.

In February, I spent 18 days in the hospital with the second treatment. I had the opportunity there to tell others about our past year. It still amazes me how negative so many doctors and nurses can be when they do not factor in the help we get from prayer. During all this time, from April, 1993 to March, 1994, there were people praying for us all around the world. Every time someone visited a shrine, they brought a petition for us. I received calls and cards from people I barely knew. I received a phone call from and old friend who had heard about my sickness through her husband, who had heard about it at the Knights of Columbus meeting as one of their prayer petitions. No one in that meeting knew me personally. All those prayers held us up through the year.

That was three and a half years ago and, thank God, everything seems to be fine so far. Maria is a hopping, mischievous three year old, trying to keep up with her siblings. I am still meeting people who, upon hearing my name, say, “Oh, so you are the one we were praying for!” We are still hoping and praying for total recovery and we are very thankful to our friends for their prayers and, especially, to Our Lady for her protection.








++++A Sidewalk Counsellor's Story+++++

Almost every one of us has had an experience in our lives where we truly felt the presence of God. For some, it may have been a conversion experience; for others, perhaps it was holding their baby for the first time; or perhaps it was a brush with death, where God gave them a second chance at life. But for nearly everyone, there has been at least one memorable moment when they KNEW that God exists and where they felt His love in a most powerful way. For me, it was one morning at a pro-life rescue in the early 90's. That experience forever changed my prayer life. To this day, I cannot tell this story without getting chills.

I had been sidewalk counselling for several months and was getting a little experience "under my belt". A few "saves" now and then helped to give me the confidence I needed to keep going. When you are talking to a hostile woman who feels abortion is her only choice, you have to have a little confidence about yourself, or it's a lost cause right from the start.

But what this experience taught me was not that I was an experienced sidewalk counsellor whose words and arguments could convince any woman to change her mind. It was that God is always the one who is in charge, and that He is the one who really does the saving. And this experience tested my faith like none other.

I was sidewalk counselling during a pro-life Rescue. Two Hispanic girls (sisters) were brought to me. They were from out of town and spoke very little English. One of them was scheduled for an abortion that morning. Here I was trying to counsel them in ENGLISH, showing them pictures...having a terrible time of it. Finally, out of the group of "rescuers" blocking the door, two women were brought to me. Both spoke Spanish. Great, I thought! So, I told these ladies what to say, and they interpreted. It was so wonderful! We had quite the animated conversation going. The two sisters, convinced, turned away and drove off, saying that they had changed their minds and were keeping the baby.

I was elated. However, after the police came and arrested the protesters blocking the clinic doors (my interpreters were among them), the girls came back. They had changed their minds again! But, my interpreters were gone--taken away by the police! What was I going to do now? I walked rapidly behind the girls, with my counselling book open, saying, "No, no, please no" (I know but a handful of Spanish, so I was really at a loss here). They just shook their heads firmly and went into the clinic.

I started crying. One of the ladies standing next to me said that maybe it was just meant to be that I wouldn't save that baby. Something very stubborn rose up inside of me, and I shouted, "NO!", and gathered a small group of women into huddled prayer immediately.

This next part is literally hard for me to write about. It was one of the most powerful things that has ever happened to me. And one of the strangest....

We began our prayer. But it was as if there were two forces battling inside of me. One was Satan: large, black, overpowering. The other, God: small, still, a far-off tiny, flickering light. It was almost as if I saw this inside of me. It was as if the Devil was saying, "It's too late...they're gone...give up". That voice was very strong! The other voice was barely audible, "Keep praying, Jeannie....BELIEVE that *I* can do it." There was a battle going on inside me like I've never felt before. A tug. It physically hurt me to believe; I don't know how else to say it. I believed with an abandonment that was like spiritual free-falling. It was so frightening to believe that way! It was almost as though God was counting on my belief to save that baby!

There were about three or four of us girls huddled together, praying, crying (literally)...just pouring out our hearts. I've never experienced prayer as powerful as this. Never! We invoked every saint known in heaven. And then I prayed specifically to Our Lady of Guadalupe. I asked her to take care of these gals (Hispanic, remember?). Plus, Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron saint of the unborn. And then immediately following this prayer, I asked God to just fill the clinic with the "stench of death". "Make it just a horrible place to be right now", I prayed.

Just a few seconds after I prayed this prayer, one of my friends nudged me, "Jeannie, LOOK!" she whispered. The girls were literally RUNNING out of the clinic! I blinked my eyes in disbelief--I was paralyzed! Finally, I got over my shock and ran up to the girls, who were beside their car by this time.

"What happened?" I said. "Are you okay?"

They looked terrified, and said in broken English, "Bad place...we go home...bad place...."

I asked, "Keep baby?" (and rocked an invisible baby in my arms).

"Si, keep baby, keep baby", they said. And they drove off smiling and waving.

I share this because I truly believe in Our Lady of Guadalupe and her powerful intercession for the unborn. And I share this because I believe that God does all of the saving of those precious little lives...we are simply His instruments. How humbling it was to me to see that the baby saved that day wasn't saved because of words I said but because of God's almighty power.

Praise be to God forever!!

by Jeannie Mainzer (mainz@dtc.net)



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<>< + BABIES, BLESSINGS, AND CHOCOLATES by Shelly Lembke + <><

I got a phone call today informing me of an acquaintance's new pregnancy. "Oh, how wonderful," I said to the caller. "But then, what other response would you expect from me?" I added. A knowing laugh on the other end of the phone revealed that my comments had made complete sense to the caller. She knows that I think all babies are wonderful gifts from God. I am unashamedly prolife.

This, of course, results in me not quite fitting in with the rest of society. I've gotten used to it. Whenever the subject of kids comes up in conversation, the mouths of most people hang open at the mention of the fact that we have four children (which includes a set of twins). The aforementioned mouths usually hit the floor when I add the phrase, "so far." Yes, I admit it! We have four children, so far. We are very open to the idea of having more.

If those mouths can recover from the shock of such a comment, the next thing they inevitably say is, "Why?" "Why on earth?" "How can you possibly?" or some other such polite query. Well, the Good Book says not to throw pearls before swine, so I am left to judge whether or not the person actually cares about my opinion or if they've written me off as needing psychiatric attention.

My answer to the honest question is a complicated one, or rather, my arriving at the answer was complicated for me, but maybe the answer is really deceptively simple. So simple, in fact, that it eludes most people all together. One day I was thinking about how hard people try to have babies and become pregnant. Consider fertility drugs, invitro fertilization, surrogate parenting, egg and sperm donation, and storage of embryonic human babies in case of later implantation. Once a pregnancy occurs, the next hurdle becomes keeping the woman pregnant.

Women will go on complete bedrest, undergo "selective" abortions (a.k.a. "Selective Reduction" - how's that for a euphemism!) in the case of a multiple pregnancy, endure a plethora of diagnostic procedures, all to get a pregnancy to term. Physicians even perform prenatal surgery on babies to correct deformities before birth! Wow! As I marveled at modern medical science, a thought occurred to me one day: what is the difference between the fetus (a term I dislike, but will use for the sake of argument) at 20 weeks whose mother allows prenatal surgery to keep it alive, and the fetus at 20 weeks whose mother allows an abortion? Why is one allowed to live, and the other is not? Is one baby more valuable, more important a person than the other? Is one more of a person than the other?

The difference is that one is wanted, and one is not. Gee, that doesn't sound fair to me. Why is one pregnancy hailed as a miracle, and the other a mistake? Why is one a "baby" from the moment of conception, and the other just a "fetus?"

Many people will argue that a "fetus" isn't a person until it can survive outside the womb. Well, great, what age is that at? Modern science is there to rescue the preterm baby born months prematurely, but it is also there to perform a partial birth abortion on the unwanted infant at the same gestational age. If the wanted baby deserves life, why doesn't the unwanted?

What happens when younger and younger premature babies can be saved? What is the magical cut off point in a pregnancy when a child "deserves" to live or die? It's all just a matter of convenience really. What of the feminist argument that a woman has a "right to control her own body?" Ok, fine, what if a woman is pregnant with a girl baby? Doesn't that "woman" have any rights? Well, perhaps we should only abort male babies then? Um?no, that would be sex discrimination. How about only babies who are deformed? Well, that won't work either because we know those doctors can even operate before birth.

December is the month of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Unborn. It is also the month of the Nativity, the time we celebrate the birth of Jesus. Jesus wasn't born to parents of importance --- in the eyes of the world. He was born into poverty, into humility, with society questioning the virtues of His mother since she had become pregnant before her marriage. Sounds like conditions that could easily be played out in today's world, doesn't it? Mary knew her life would be fraught with difficulties because of the Child she humbly consented to carry, but she bore her responsibility with joy, love and faith.

And when Jesus came into this world, He came not as a rich king amid fanfare. He came as a poor, helpless baby. What does that tell us? If Jesus chose to come to earth as an infant-if it was important for us to remember his birth, should not all births be important? If His life was important, when we are created in the image and likeness of God, don't all human lives have dignity, worth, and value? We learn by example. The example He gave us is powerful if we will just look at it.

The Word made Flesh came as an infant. His Birth was a quiet one in earthly terms, but Heaven rejoiced. If God loves each of us as His own child, would Heaven not rejoice at the ordinary birth of one of us? God is glorified by each life He allows us to help create, no matter the circumstances.

So, back to that original shocking statement that I am open to having more children? We, as Catholics believe that all life is precious and valuable. In fact, never once does the Bible mention children being anything but a blessing! Barrenness was the curse. Unfortunately, nowadays, it's the exact opposite, just as Jesus said it would be. How can we change this around?

We must not be ashamed of our families. We must not cut ourselves off from the idea of new blessings. We can't allow ourselves to shut that part of us down-that part that tugs at our heart strings when we see a new baby, and think wistfully how nice it would be to have one of our own. We must help get to know other large families. The advice and support we can lend each other is enormous! And we absolutely must help support women alone who choose to carry their babies to term instead of aborting them. Find a maternity home or shelter near you and donate time, money, prayers or goods. Above all, we can't forget to educate our children in this area. They must know and see how precious all babies are.

I consider myself abundantly blessed that the Creator allows me a share in new life, that He entrusts to me a new life, a new soul. What an extraordinary gift! If, in the words of Forrest Gump's mama, "life is like a box of chocolates," then take a moment to examine this idea. That box of chocolates is usually given as a token of love. Most people would feel sorry for the poor guy who gave his girl a very specially selected, expensive box of chocolates and she refused them, threw them out, wanted to exchange them for something else, or picked a few and nibbled at them, but got rid of the rest. We would think she didn't appreciate his gift of love for her.

Well, if God is giving me chocolates, in the form of children, it's one box I won't refuse.



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