Have you ever gotten that feeling that someone is watching over you and that calling yourself extremely lucky just won't cut it anymore? After Hurricane Ike, as I said before, one half of a big tree fell on the roof of my house - but there was no damage. Another smaller tree fell on the garage roof but there was no damage there either. In my backyard, imagine an area the size of a two car garage, on one side is the tree, on the second side hangs the power line to my house from the lamp post, on the third side is the glass window of my kitchen and on the fourth side is a row of big glass aquariums given to me by a pet store I was in the process of cleaning. A couple of huge tree branches fell right in the middle of this area without hitting anything. It was a perfect fit. A few inches off would have resulted in either a lot of hassle or expense.
Remember my car with another half of a big tree on top of the trunk? Not a scratch, not a teeny winnie dent. Somebody explained that the tree must have fallen in like a slow motion manner and the branches absorbed the weight. I can tell from the howling of the wind and the horizontal raindrops pelting my glass window that the words "slow motion" and "hurricane" just do not go together.
I don't think I was extremely lucky or blessed for I know I deserve to be neither. I know it could have been worse, but that is a very poor measure of good luck, isn't it? Why were things bad in the first place. If the hurricane blew a suitcase full of hundred dollar bills into my front lawn, then we're talkin'. Neither do I think I was blessed. For one thing, I will be the first to admit that I am not a religious person. I go to church only because the whole Christendom is celebrating one of two things at the time: Either Jesus was born or Jesus died. Don't laugh at me, I know a lot of you out there are the same way. When trees fall all over your house, it's hard to consider that a blessing. Unless I missed something in the fine print. Also, I don't believe in blessings in disguise. To me, a blessing in disguise would only exist if the blessor wants to remain anonymous. But since we all know who doles them out, what's the point.
Kidding aside, I really am convinced that someone was watching over me and my son that night. Not only then, but in many other times in our lives when the difference separating safety and disaster was a nanoevent. And so I told my son that we need to go church because we have so much to be thankful for. For one thing, we had our power back on after only two and a half days (I know, it could have been worse).The people on the other side of our street don't have theirs yet and it has been two weeks. Two and a half days and I was already going crazy from the heat, humidity, discomfort and darkness. Without the entertainment provided by electronics, me and my son can only play so much board games. We got tired of scrabble, my son hates chess, I hate monopoly, we bended the rules in pictionary since there are only 2 players. I learned "go fish" and my son got into solitaire only because he found out it was a one person game and so he did not have to deal with his irritable father the duration of the game.
And so we both went to church and thanked God for looking after us and to please continue to look after us and I promised to be a better member of His flock. I also talked to Him about this earthly concept we have called the "lottery". Couldn't hurt. I was thinking, you know, while He's at it, maybe we can work out something. If you receive a postcard from the Caribbean with a picture of suntanned me sprawled on the beach, you know He obliged me.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
…“He said in reply ‘Yes, sir’, but did not go.”…
…“He came to the first and said,
'Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.'
He said in reply, 'I will not, '
but afterwards changed his mind and went.
The man came to the other son and gave the same order.
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go.
Which of the two did his father's will?"…
From this parable, we can conclude that the first son declined outright and said so, but had a change of heart later on. The second son also declined outright, although his uttered words signified the opposite. I imagine he was probably shaking his head sideways while he was saying ‘Yes sir!’.
The parable refers to the refusal of the chief priests to recognize John the Baptist as a messenger of God. They were indifferent, for they felt neither the desire nor the need to change. This parable also reminds me of this story of the rabbit who tried to roar.
A lion met a tiger as they drank beside a pool. Said the tiger: “Tell me why you are roaring like a fool”.
“That’s not foolish”, said the lion with a twinkle in his eyes. “They call me king of the beasts because I advertise”.
A rabbit heard them taking and ran home like a streak. He thought he’d imitate the lion’s strategy and roared, but his roar was squeaky. A fox came to investigate the squeaky sound, and made lunch of the rabbit.
So when you advertise, be sure you’ve got the goods!
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Received from DC:
As soon as it was safe to venture out last Saturday morning after the
> hurricane, I went outside to check the damages and my number one concern was
> the tree that was on top of my car trunk. After a horrific night, the
> thought of being trapped and not being able to haul ass if we have to was
> very uncomfortable. I got my hacksaw (works better on wet wood) and was
> starting on the smaller branches when this Hispanic man parked his truck in
> front of my house and asked if he could help me. Of course my first question
> was how much he was going to charge me. I was prepared to pay because I know
> there was no way this hacksaw can go through the tree trunk, I was just
> going to cut as many small branches as I can and put the damn car in reverse
> out of there. But he said there's no charge, he just wants to help me. So I
> said, sure.
> He went at this fallen tree with the chain saw and was quite adept at the
> instrument, I could swear he does this for a living. He had the precision of
> a Benihana chef attacking a pile of shrimp but with the grit and
> determination of one who just had a bad job performance review that morning,
> you know what I'm saying? My next door neighbor commented that this man was
> really a savior this morning. I said, freakin' eh. Every house in the
> neighborhood have either fallen trees or big tree branches in their front
> yard and this man chose to stop at mine. Not content with that, he went up
> the roof and took care of the other half of this tree, once again cutting it
> to pieces for easy disposal, even asking for a broom and trash can so he
> could sweep up.
> It took him a while and after he was all done, I shook his hand and of
> course thanked him profusely. I asked him what his name was, I thought it
> was just a polite thing to do. He said his name is Jesus - quite a common
> name in Spanish influenced countries, the Philippines included. (Come to
> think of it, I have never met a white dude named Jesus.)
> Now, I know what you are thinking: Ha, ha, I know Jesus is a savior but I
> did not know He comes down from heaven with a chain saw when you need Him.
> But that is not it. I also asked this man if he lives in my neighborhood,
> thinking that is the reason he helped me. It would then be possible for me
> to return the favor later. But he said he lives across town.
> I thought, how could that be. How could he make it to this side of town so
> soon after the hurricane when the roads are impassable due to fallen trees,
> billboards, lightposts and what have you. Even if he found a clear road all
> the way, he still would have to have left while the storm was still raging
> to get here so early. I could not see that happening but since I could not
> think of any reason why he had to lie about that fact, I just let it go.
> My next question of course was: "What are you doing in this side of town in
> this weather?" And his answer was: "Oh, I just came over to check on my
> younger brother." With that said, this man in black shoes, black pants and
> black T-shirt turned around, washed his hands in a rivulet of flood water
> and boarded his black Nissan truck. He gave me a faint smile, a short wave
> and drove off. As I turned to gather the pile branches, an eerie realization
> came over me. Wait a minute, I did have an older brother named Jesus.
> He died a few years ago.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Spielberg, wife donate $100,000 to fight gay marriage ban
First Posted 06:15:00 09/24/2008
LOS ANGELES -- Hollywood heavyweight Steven Spielberg and his wife have donated $100,000 to help defeat a California referendum seeking to outlaw same-sex marriage, his spokesman said Tuesday.
Close Support of the Third Kind?
Santiago bares P11.5-B ‘secret pork barrel’ in 2008 budget
By Maila Ager
First Posted 16:46:00 09/23/2008
MANILA, Philippines -- Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago has uncovered a “secret pork barrel” in the 2008 budget amounting to P11.5 billion from one department alone, which she alleged could be used by legislators in the 2010 elections.
Santiago said the amount, “secretly inserted” in this year’s budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways, was “unusually large” as it represented 12 percent of the estimated P95 billion budget of the Department of Public Works and Highways.
“That amount is unusually large. Normally, insertions are smaller in percentage than 12 percent. That’s my first point. Why so big?” she told reporters before the session on Tuesday.
Because it is supposed to be "secret".
RP gets lowest score ever for anti-corruption efforts
By Jesus F. Llanto, abs-cbnNEWS.com, Newsbreak | 09/23/2008 5:01 PM
The Philippines is perceived as more corrupt now than last year, a study by the international anti-corruption group Transparency International showed.
The 2008 Corruption Perception Index showed that the Philippines got a score of 2.3 in 2007—down by 0.2% from 2.5 in 2007. This year’s score is the lowest for the country since 1995 when the first CPI was devised as a tool for a country’s resolve to fight corruption.
Maybe Miriam is not trying hard enough?
...Johann Graf Lambsdorff, professor at University of Passau in Germany, said countries can gain a lot from fighting corruption. “Evidence suggests that an improvement in the CPI by one point [on a 10-point scale] increases capital inflows by 0.5 percent of a country’s gross domestic product and average income by as much as 4 percent.”
Oh. I thought they said that contraceptives is the solution to poverty?
Foundation for Family and Life (FFL) comes out with a half-page ad in yesterday’s edition of Philippine Star, campaigning against HB 5043.
I hits hard.
Should you support reproductive Health Bill No. 5043?
Take this simple test to find out.
1. As employers, do you agree to be compelled to provide free reproductive health care services, supplies, devices and surgical procedures (including vasectomy and ligation) to your employees, and be subjected to both imprisonment and/or fine, for every time that you fail to comply?
Section 17 states that employers shall provide for the free delivery of reproductive health care services, supplies and devices to all workers more particularly women workers. (Read the Definition of Reproductive Health and Rights Section 4, paragraph g, Section 21, Paragraph c and Section 22 on Penalties)
2. As health care providers, do you agree that you should be subjected to imprisonment and/or fine, if you fail to provide reproductive health care services such as giving information on family planning methods and providing services like ligation and vasectomy, regardless of the patient’s civil status, gender, religion or age?
(Read Section 21 on Prohibited Acts, Letter a, Par 1 to 5 and Sec 22 on Penalties)
3. As a Spouse, do you agree that your husband or wife can undergo a ligation or vasectomy without your consent or knowledge?
(read Section 21 on Prohibited AActs, Letter a, Paragraph 2)
4. As parents, do you agree that children from age 10 to 17 should be taught their sexual rights and the means to have a satisfying and “safe” sex life as part of their school curriculum?
Reproductive Health Education will be mandatory from Grade 5 to the end of High School (see Sec 12 on Reproductive Health Education and Sec 4 Definition of Family Planning and reproductive Health, Par b,c and d)
5. Do you agree that you should be subjected to imprisonment and/or pay a fine, for expressing an opinion against any provision of this law, if such expression of opinion is interpreted as constituting “malicious disinformation”?
(See Sec 21 on Prohibited Acts, Par f and Sec 22 on Penalties)
If you answered NO to any of the questions above, then you are not for RH Bill 50433. Read the bill. You will find more objecrtionalble provisions such as losing our parental authority over a minor child who was raped and found pregnant (sec 21, 1, no. 3), reclassifying contraceptives as essential medicines (Section 10) and appropriating limited government funds to reproductive services instead of basic services (Section 23).
Protect our families. Protect our children.
Dump Reproductive Health Bill No. 5043.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
...The Last Shall Be First...
Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
"...For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD." (Is 55:6-9)
"The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth." (Ps 145:17-18)
"...Are you envious because I am generous?
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Mat 20:1-16)
A story is told of a father that dropped off his son for Sunday Mass. He didn't attend but wanted his son to go. The father's lack of concern rubbed off on his son. After Mass he picked him up and asked him what the homily was all about about. The boy replied, "I'm not really sure. A parable about cold people or something." "What?" the puzzled father said. The boy explained, "Well, the priest kept saying many are cold, but few are frozen. :-)
Many are surprised by this parable. It seems unfair to give the same reward to everyone, without taking into account the corresponding labor and sacrifices. But Jesus was giving a parable about grace, which cannot be calculated like a day's wages. Indeed Jesus' thoughts are unlike our thoughts, because the rewards in the parable does not seem to make economic sense. Without doubt Jesus wanted to shock us and shatter the idea we obstinately cling to: we have merits that God must recognize. But we observe that nobody was cheated! Not a single worker was underpaid. While it may be argued (based on human, subjective, economic comparisons) that some were overpaid, nobody was cheated. The complaint of the early workers offered no evidence of wrongdoing. It was a complaint born in hearts of jealousy, not objective reality. A true sense of community rejoices that many are called together to work and be rewarded together. The warm fellowship in a community of workers in the Lord's vineyard delights in rewards given to all. No place for cold feelings.
Perhaps the boy got it right after all.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Auditors uncover fake signatures of farmers
By Jocelyn Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:35:00 09/15/2008
MANILA, Philippines—Fake signatures on the list of beneficiaries were among the irregularities in last year’s P218.7-million expenditure of the Department of Agriculture for hybrid rice, certified seeds, farm inputs and fertilizers for farmers in four regions, according to the Commission on Audit.
The purchases were part of the GMA (Ginintuang Masaganang Ani) program intended for the “poorest, often neglected” sectors of the population—farmers and fisherfolk—to increase their harvest and boost competition in the global market.
“[T]he good intention of the GMA rice program to reduce poverty incidence and attain national food security is tainted with weaknesses and irregularities in its implementation, reducing the effectiveness of the program,” said a report released recently by the COA.
The GMA program also figured in another scam in which former Agriculture Undersecretary Jocelyn Bolante allegedly diverted P728 million in fertilizer funds to finance President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s campaign during the 2004 presidential election.
Now in as much as argumentum ad populum seems to be used as a pitch to justify the Reproductive health bill, we might as well determine what the “overwheming number of Filipinos” think about the massive corruption in the funds intended – as the above report says - for the “poorest, often neglected” sectors of the population—farmers and fisherfolk.
It goes like this: to solve poverty, rob the poor of the allocated funds already due to them, and ask for new allocation to subsidize contraceptives. Taxpayers money, mind you, all of them.
In other words, let them eat condoms.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Philosophy 103: Introduction to Logic
Argumentum Ad Populum
Abstract: The argument based upon what most or all people think or believe is characterized and shown to be sometimes persuasive but normally fallacious.
Argumentum ad Populum (popular appeal or appeal to the majority): The fallacy of attempting to win popular assent to a conclusion by arousing the feeling and enthusiasms of the multitude. There are several variations of this fallacy, one of which is:
"Bandwagon": the fallacy of attempting to prove a conclusion on the grounds that all or most people think or believe it is true.
Shall we hitch on to the Reproductive Health bandwagon?
On Friday, Lagman made a bold statement ahead of the plenary debates on the proposed Reproductive Health bill, also called House Bill 5043.
He said the Catholic Church would be rendering itself “irrelevant” to its flock by continuously opposing the measure and that an overwhelming number of Filipinos “strongly approve the government's allocation of funds for modern contraceptives.”
“If the Catholic Church wants to continue to become significant in the lives of the faithful, (it) must listen to (its) flock or risk becoming irrelevant,” the Albay lawmaker said.
Mr. Lagman should know that an overwhelming majority of people also strongly approves of good governance marked by:
- no massive corruption
- more allocation of funds for livelihood projects
- more allocation of funds for education
- more respect for the poor
- more honest public servants
That last one, most of all.
Argumentum ad Populum?
Try another one, Mr. Lagman.
Friday, September 12, 2008
Scientists: To avoid heart disease, brush your teeth
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 07:27:00 09/12/2008
PARIS—Here’s another reason to brush your teeth: Poor dental hygiene boosts the risk of heart attacks and strokes, a pair of studies reported this week.
“We now recognize that bacterial infections are an independent risk factor for heart diseases,” said Howard Jenkins of the University of Bristol in Britain, at a meeting of the Society for General Microbiology in Dublin.
“In other words, it doesn’t matter how fit, slim or healthy you are, you’re adding to your chances of getting heart disease by having bad teeth,” the professor said.
AND WHEN everyone avoids you due to bad breath, it also leads to HEART BREAK.
LTO hoping new licenses will not fade
By Riza T. Olchondra
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 08:15:00 09/12/2008
MANILA, Philippines—The Land Transportation Office (LTO) on Thursday said it would bid out the contract to manufacture driver’s licenses within the year and hoped the bidders would tap technology that would prevent the cards from being baked in their plastic jackets.
WHAT on earth are those license cards made of? FLOUR?
Gas price going down, pan de sal going up
By Abigail L. Ho, Michael Lim Ubac
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 03:58:00 09/12/2008
MANILA, Philippines—The cost of fuel is going down at the pump, but the over-the-counter price of bread is likely to go up, reflecting differing reactions to international market adjustments. According to Trade Secretary Favila, “The reason they provided us is the increase in the price of raw materials. For flour millers, the reason they gave us was that current inventory was acquired three months ago at higher price. So they will unload it now,” Favila said.
“As of Wednesday, we have been paying P970—or P40 more—for each 25-kilogram bag of flour,” said PhilBaking president Simplicio Umali Jr.
“We might add 25 centavos per pan de sal but we’d make it bigger or we might keep the current price but make it smaller,” said Philippine Federation of Bakers Association vice president Lucito B. Chavez.
NOW its pan de sal. The Big-3 Oil companies must be in league with the bakers, notice the same worn-out excuse.
Make pan de sal smaller? Not any smaller than it already is, please.
I'd say make drivers LICENSE CARDS smaller instead.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:25:00 08/26/2008
We are a group of friends, all pro-lifers. Some of us are private medical practitioners—all faceless supporters of the stand of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) against artificial contraception. We would like to express our support to the CBCP not by starting another debate but by enlightening readers and, we hope, our legislators as well, regarding this hot topic, from a theoretical standpoint.
Oral contraceptives (more commonly known as pills), hormonal injectables and Intra-Uterine Devices (IUDs) are all artificial contraceptives. Unfortunately, most people are not aware that they are, indeed, abortifacient. A review of the various literatures on these contraceptives will show that each of them has an efficacy rate that is less than 100 percent because fertilization (the meeting of egg cell and sperm cell, which leads to the conceptus) is not absolutely prevented.
For instance, the IUD does not prevent ovulation and so fertilization may occur several times in the span of time the device is in the womb of the woman. However, most of the fetuses will not be able to implant themselves because there is an “appliance” in the womb that prevents them from doing so. This is why the IUD is abortifacient.
In the case of the pill, ovulation and fertilization can still occur and we have seen this in our practice. We have seen patients with abnormal bleeding and positive pregnancy tests despite their taking the pill, which proves that fertilization had indeed occurred. Unfortunately, the pill—whether oral, patch or injectable—renders the uterus hostile to implantation. And this is what makes it abortifacient.
Some people pushing for this reproductive health bill may even want to define that life begins at implantation. But even if we all go back to our Biology in high school, life truly begins at fertilization. Catholic or not, should we not all protect life from the beginning to its very end?
VIRGINIA G. MANZO, M.D., CAROL SANCHEZ, NINA REYES, P. ALVIA, ROSE A. DOMINGUEZ, IRENE B. OCAMPO and 4 other signatories
Thursday, September 11, 2008
is a question that biological science readily answers.
A new individual is created when the elements of a potent sperm merge with those of a fertile ovum, or egg.
Encyclopedia Britannica, “Pregnancy,” page 968, 15th Edition, Chicago 1974.
Development begins at fertilization when a sperm fuses with an ovum to form a zygote; this cell is the beginning of a new human being.
Moore, Keith L., The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology, page 12, W.B. Saunders Co., Philadelphia, 1974.
It is the penetration of the ovum by a spermatozoa and the resulting mingling of the nuclear material each brings to the union that constitutes the culmination process of fertilization and marks the initiation of the life of an individual.
Patten, Bradley M., Human Embryology, page 43, McGraw Hill, New York, 1968.
Almost from the moment of conception, great quantities of these biochemical messengers appear in the cell, indicating that at the direction of the DNA, the vital processes of the new organism have swung into action…Even when the organism consists of only one cell, researchers have been able to demonstrate the presence of two new proteins…complex molecules which were not present in the unfertilised egg…By all criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.
Gordon, Hymie, M.D., F.R.C.P., Chairman of Medical Genetics, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, Testimony to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee, April 13, 1981.
…The merger is complete within twelve hours, at which time the egg – which may have “waited” as many as forty years for this moment – is fertilized and becomes known technically as the “zygote,” containing the full set of forty-six chromosomes required to create human life. Conception has occurred. The genotype – the inherited characteristics of a unique human being – is established in the conception process and will remain in force for the entire life of that individual. No other event in biological life is so decisive as this one; no other set of circumstances can even remotely rival genotype in “making you what you are.” Conception confers life and makes you one of a kind. Unless you have an identical twin, there is virtually no chance, in the natural course of things, that there will be “another you” – not even if mankind were to persist for billions of years.
Shettles, Landrum, M.D., Rorvik, David, Rites of Life: The Scientific Evidence for Life Before Birth, page 36, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1983.
The zygote therefore contains a new arrangement of genes on the chromosomes never before duplicated in any other individual. The offspring destined to develop from the fertilized ovum will have a genetic constitution different from anyone else in the world.
DeCoursey, R.M., The Human Organism, 4th edition, page 584, McGraw Hill Inc., Toronto, 1974.
In that fraction of a second when the chromosomes form pairs, the sex of the new child will be determined, hereditary characteristics received from each parent will be set, and a new life will have begun.
Kaluger, G., and Kaluger, M., Human Development: The Span of Life, page 28-29, The C.V. Mosby Co., St. Louis, 1974.
The science of the development of the individual before birth is called embryology. It is the story of miracles, describing the means by which a single microscopic cell is transformed into a complex human being. Genetically the zygote is complete. It represents a new single celled individual.
Thibodeau, G.A., and Anthony, C.P., Structure and Function of the Body, 8th edition, pages 409-419, St. Louis: Times Mirror/Mosby College Publishers, St. Louis, 1988.
The development of a new human being begins when a male’s sperm pierces the cell membrane of a female’s ovum, or egg…The villi become the placenta, which will nourish the developing infant for the next eight and a half months.
Scarr, S., Weinberg, R.A., and Levine A., Understanding Development, page 86, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1986.
Each human begins life as a combination of two cells, a female ovum and a much smaller male sperm. This tiny unit, no bigger than a period on this page, contains all the information needed to enable it to grow into the complex structure of the human body. The mother has only to provide nutrition and protection.
Clark, J. ed., The Nervous System: Circuits of Communication in the Human Body, page 99, Torstar Books Inc., Toronto, 1985.
A zygote (a single fertilized egg cell) represents the onset of pregnancy and the genesis of new life.
Turner, J.S., and Helms, D.B., Lifespan Developmental, 2nd ed., page 53, CBS College Publishing (Holt, Rhinehart, Winston), 1983.
…Since the old ethic has not yet been fully displaced it has been necessary to separate the idea of abortion from the idea of killing, which continues to be socially abhorrent. The result has been a curious avoidance of the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception and is continuous whether intra- or extra-uterine until death…The very considerable semantic gymnastics which are required to rationalize abortion as anything but taking a human life would be ludicrous if they were not put forth under socially impeccable auspices.
California Medicine, Editorial, “A New Ethic for Medicine and Society,” page 67, September, 1970.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
"Charity is not just giving, rather removing the need of those who receive charity and liberating them from it when possible" - St Thomas of Villanova
Today, September 10, is the feast day of St. Thomas of Villanova
St. Thomas was from Castille in Spain and received his surname from the town where he was raised. He received a superior education at the University of Alcala and became a popular professor of philosophy there. After joining the Augustinian friars at Salamanca he was ordained and resumed his teaching, despite a continuing absentmindedness and poor memory. He eventually became the Archbishop of Granada.
He wore the same habit that he had received in the novitiate, mending it himself. The canons and domestics were ashamed of him, but they could not convince him to change. Several hundred poor came to Thomas' door each morning and received a meal, wine and money.
As he lay dying, Thomas commanded that all the money he possessed be distributed to the poor. His material goods were to be given to the rector of his college. Mass was being said in his presence when after Communion he breathed his last, reciting the words: "Into your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit."
Thomas of Villanova was already called in his lifetime "the almsgiver" and "the father of the poor." He was canonized in 1658.
The absent-minded professor is a stock comic figure. He earned even more derisive laughs with his determined shabbiness and his willingness to let the poor who flocked to his door take advantage of him. He embarrassed his peers, but Jesus was enormously pleased with him. We are often tempted to tend our image in others’ eyes without paying sufficient attention about how we look to Christ. Thomas still urges us to rethink our priorities.
St. Thomas, pray for us.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
MR. BROKAW: "Senator Obama saying the question of when life begins is above his pay grade, whether you're looking at it scientifically or theologically. If he were to come to you and say, "Help me out here, Madame Speaker. When does life begin?" what would you tell him?"
REP. PELOSI: "I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time. And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition. And Senator--St. Augustine said at three months. We don't know. The point is, is that it shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose. Roe v. Wade talks about very clear definitions of when the child--first trimester, certain considerations; second trimester; not so third trimester. There's very clear distinctions. This isn't about abortion on demand, it's about a careful, careful consideration of all factors and--to--that a woman has to make with her doctor and her god. And so I don't think anybody can tell you when life begins, human life begins. As I say, the Catholic Church for centuries has been discussing this, and there are those who've decided..."
Since this hi-profile interview with Speaker Nancy Pelosi about 2 weeks ago, prominent bishops have reacted strongly to decisively countermand Pelosi's public statements. Her own bishop, Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco, was a bit late in joining the chorus. On September 5, Archbishop Niederauer finally makes a statement amidst bated breath, and the message turns out to be anti-climactically muted. Father Z annotates the Archbishop's statement here, where we see Abp Niederauer affirming the Church's position while gearing the story into gripping suspense mode by saying: "I am writing to invite her into a conversation...".
It remains unsure whether the invitation to a conversation carries the urgency of a life and death matter, or if Pelosi is in a hurry to accept invitations of this nature. If it does mercifully transpire, I can imagine a conversation over an elegant dinner with excellent food and wine, and guarded confidentiality. Whether the conversation turns out to be pleasant or otherwise, is a matter that might be consigned heretofore to the hidden mysteries of the world. Coincidentally, today's Sunday Gospel (Mat 18: 15-17) concerns dealing with a sinner. Counsel the sinner privately, if that fails, take one or two persons to help out, and if that still fails then involve the church. Finally, if he will not listen to the church, treat him as though he were a pagan or a tax collector. We don't see Abp Niederauer treating Ms. Pelosi as a tax collector, at least not yet. The conversation must take place first, to determine one way or the other. We wonder though, how the unborn children treats her today and come judgment time. We take note however, that immediately prior to the verses on the brother who sins, is the Parable of the Lost Sheep. We should pray for the lost sheep as God doesn't want any of them lost. It would help though, if that one sheep won't be hiding.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
DOE sounds alarm on LPG-powered tricycles
"The Department of Energy (DOE) on Tuesday raised its concern on the safety of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG)-converted tricycles amid reports of exploding tanks and the health risks involved in using cooking gas to power vehicles. During its meeting with members of the industry, DOE officials urged manufacturers installing LPG kits on tricycles to ensure that they follow safety standards. The warning came after the energy department received reports that some tricycle operators in the provinces attached LPG tanks on the rooftop of their sidecars..."
Actually, LPG is non-toxic, non-corrosive, and lead-free. It is also cheaper per liter by almost 50% than ordinary gasoline.
It has already been in use in other countries as a cheaper alternative for gasoline-fed vehicles.
If installed properly, it could even be safer than gasoline. Check out this report.
Now with respect to LPG tanks attached to the rooftop of sidecars...hmm that's pretty ingenious. However...
Pray that it doesn't slip off and land on your head.
When that happens, you might as well been hit by a truck.
Today, September 3, is the feast day of St. Gregory.
Gregory was content to be a monk, but he willingly served the Church in other ways when asked. He sacrificed his own preferences in many ways, especially when he was called to be Bishop of Rome. Once he was called to public service, Gregory gave his considerable energies completely to this work. In the fourteen years of his pontificate, he crowded work enough to have exhausted the energies of a lifetime.
When Gregory became pope in 590 (the first monk ever to become pope), the world was in chaos. Things were so bad Gregory sincerely believed the end of the world was at hand. But he reached a peace accord with the Lombards in 593, administered a great relief program for the poor, helped organize political order in our troubled empire, developed church music and liturgy, wrote an important book on Pastoral Care, and expanded upon Christian doctrine such as his teaching on purgatory. He is associated with creating the form of music that has come to be known as Gregorian chant.
What makes his achievements more wonderful is his constant ill-health. He suffered almost continually from indigestion and, at intervals, from attacks of slow fever, while for the last half of his pontificate he was a martyr to gout. In spite of these infirmities, which increased steadily, his biographer, Paul the Deacon, tells us "he never rested". He was the first Pope to use the term “servant of the servants of God”. No wonder he was called “great” and shortly after his death in 604 AD, he was canonized a saint by public acclaim. It is interesting to note that he was reluctant to be a Pope, and preferred the secluded life of a monk. To this end, Pope Gregory the great had to say:
"Perhaps it is not after all so difficult for a man to part with his possessions, but it is certainly most difficult for him to part with himself. To renounce what one has is a minor thing; but to renounce what one is, that is asking a lot" (St. Gregory, Homilies on the Gospels).
What an awesome Pope.
And truly great as well.
St. Gregory, pray for us.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Ovulation--the release of an ovum by the ovary--is the most important event of the fertile cycle; it occurs only once at a moment in time during the cycle, even when more than one ovum is released.
The ovulatory mechanism also produces the two ovarian hormones, oestradiol and progesterone.
Oestradiol is produced alone by the developing follicle before ovulation; it stimulates the glands of the cervix to secrete a particular type of mucus ("mucus with fertile characteristics") which is essential for the sperm to pass through the cervix and reach the ovum. Oestradiol also stimulates growth of the endometrium lining the uterus (womb).
After ovulation, progesterone and oestradiol are produced by the corpus luteum which forms from the ruptured follicle. This progesterone causes the abrupt change in the mucus which occurs immediately after ovulation and defines the Peak symptom.
Progesterone also prepares the oestrogen-primed endometrium for implantation of the fertilized ovum.
In the absence of pregnancy, production of oestradiol and progesterone begins to decline approximately 7 days after ovulation and this results in shedding of the endometrium as menstrual bleeding 11-16 days after ovulation.
The Billings Ovulation Method utilises the changes in cervical mucus production as observed by the woman herself for identifying the underlying events of the ovulatory cycle.
Source: Pituitary and Ovarian Hormones of a Woman's Reproductive Cycle
by J.B. Brown D.Sc. Ph.D.
Emeritus Professor, Obstetrics and Gynaecology, University of Melbourne, Australia
WOOMB - World Organisation of the Ovulation Method Billings
MY SIDE NOTES:
- My wife and I, with the CFC Prolife Ministry, took a refresher/update teacher’s course for Natural Family Planning (NFP) conducted by WOOMB Phils. last weekend. I am sharing some material above and some other information here.
- The typical mentrual cycle is around 28 days, wherein ovulation occurs only once. At this time, the egg is available for fertilization from 12 to 24 hours, the only window where a woman is capable of conceiving within her entire menstrual cycle (of 28 days). NFP practitioners determine this fertile window by means of the Billings Ovulation Method (BOM) , in order to achieve or postpone pregnancy.
- BOM is effective regardless of the length/ regularity of a woman’s menstrual cycle.
- Mothers who fully breastfeed their child will not ovulate for up to 6 months. This is nature’s way of spacing births and protecting the health of the mother. I also learned that the act of breastfeeding also releases hormones for the fast natural healing of wounds and stress of child-bearing. Breast milk also contains natural ingredients that strengthen the baby’s immune system and food for brain development at the crucial 2-month period.
- I am amazed at the way natural hormones interact with the woman’s body for fertility, health, and child-care. It is a wonderfully intricate and amazing mechanism.
- Nature is great. God be praised.