Tag Archives: abortion

On Pope Francis and Mother Teresa….

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Below is a link to what I consider “Internet Treasure”…..something that Cristina and I stumbled upon one night after a close friend of ours gave us a chromecast device…..which one uses to beam or “cast” videos on to their television.

Alas, a midst all of the funny fluff, we found the original Mother Teresa of Calcutta documentary, in it’s entirety, on Youtube. Needless to say, although it was a week night, “let’s just watch a few minutes…..” quickly turned in to a prayerful meditation on Love.

Mother Teresa, for any of those who haven’t been with us since the inception of this blog, is one of our patrons. We didn’t choose her, she chose us. And in some of life’s most difficult moments, even when we probably tried to keep her out of things, (for fear of what she, one of our closest friends, might have asked of us) she always had a way of popping back up…..and asking us to give love to someone around us. You know, love…..the kind that hurts.

mother t 1

You see, as I grew into adulthood and got onto my high horse during my time of new-found Faith “ownership”, (which for me, beyond simply defending Christ’s Bride, included a bit of my own pride) I would get really annoyed when those that sought to attack the Church’s teachings, would often use saints like Mother Teresa as a sort of justification for not sticking to Doctrine and just simply “loving everyone”. Although I had no way of articulating it at the time, I knew that so-called “love” to be exactly what Pope Francis condemned this past Saturday, at the close of the Synod. A “love that is tainted by:

“….a destructive tendency to goodness, that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots.” – Pope Francis, 

Mother Teresa is not, nor ever was, all about that kind of “goodness”. The problem for most ultra-conservatives is that many, including Mother Teresa, chose not to explicitly preach and teach with theological words….but rather, to love. Truly love, with a love that suffers together…..a love that, when the timing (and one’s heart) is right, leaves the door open, ever so gently, for God to truly heal the deepest “causes and roots” of our own slavery to sin.

This is what Mother Teresa and now Pope Francis (along with MANY others in history) have been teaching us……and it’s a difficult teaching because it is UNCOMFORTABLE. We don’t “get the last word” in……and some times, that “surrender” of not getting the final word, takes everything out of us!

Sure, they can dine and carry-on with those who even appear to be “enemies” of Christ and His Church, but they know where they stand – firmly in Christ.

Pope Francis does an off-the-cuff interview and is asked a hypothetical question about someone suffering from SSA… .. and his response relates that if a person is seeking Christ and remaining chaste… (paraphrasing here) “Who is (he) to judge?”….the media goes WILD  “Pope Francis approves the gay lifestyle!” ……not quite. Shortly after the encounter, in one of his homilies at daily mass, he preaches about family and marriage only being between a man and a woman.

Mother Teresa spent hour upon hour being with the sick and dying, usually not explicitly nor deliberately teaching/converting them to the Catholic Faith, but then she spent hours in Adoration with Our Lord (every day) and countless people throughout the world convert to Catholicism through her example.

What’s my point? I’m not entirely sure…..but one thing I am sure of is that both Pope Francis and Mother Teresa know/knew WHO they live(d) for – Christ and His Bride. Although Pope Francis would never deliberately confuse anyone or desire for them to be unclear on Church Teaching, but it is as if he  is saying “I’t’s MUCH more important to me that each individual person walks away knowing that I love them and even more, that Christ loves them…..than it is for someone to be 100% educated on a doctrine or a dogma”

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It seems like every time the media interviews and confusions arise with Pope Francis, the Synod, prudential judgments made by Cardinals and Bishops (ie – St Patrick’s Day parade?), I hear a resounding “I just don’t know anymore” from my Catholic friends and family. I often have the same reaction.

Maybe, just maybe, Christ desires for me to be at an even deeper place than what I’ve been used to, than what I’m comfortable with. Maybe my response should be “I just don’t know anymore (about anything!). BUT, I trust.”

Besides, if I don’t know everything like I used to pridefully think I did, He is able to enter in and mold and guide me how He wants, not how I want Him to.

In the meantime, if you have the time, pray through this youtube treasure. No doctrine here, no mystical or fantastical miracles revealed at the end. Just pure, tough and real love. Perhaps that is what God wants us all to cling to?

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The Latest Happenings….

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Wow! It’s been another long period since we updated this blog……and a lot sure has happened!

It was actually in returning home from New York City this past weekend that I felt inspired to update our blog and create this post. (and hopefully, be more consistent in it!) I’ll go in to more detail about NYC later in this post.

So, since our last update in April (right after our return from Honduras), it was as if Christ was calling us to truly learn to live our normal, routine family life. Yep, I’m talking about all of the small things: working a 9-5 job while Cristina stayed at home with Bella, then coming home to have dinner and spending the last couple of hours with Bella playing, coloring, bubble-bathing and saying our nigh-night prayers before bed. As Cristina puts it, Christ was “romancing us” in the beauty of simply-living and breathing.

Daddy and Bella reading

A lot less dramatic/exciting than one imagined their life would be after having spent years as a missionary in Honduras! But, alas, this is EXACTLY where Christ has us.

God speaks to us in the ordinary

God speaks to us in the ordinary.                         (Bella saying Grace before dinner)

You see, there is a really profound piece of advice I’ve gotten from a Catholic blogger I’ve been following for the past few months (charliej373.wordpress.com) . A former political consultant, Charlie has dedicated himself to giving a sort of spiritual direction to his readers as the events of the world unfold around us, (ISIS, Ebola, our Govt, etc etc etc) yet he reminds his readers that our call isn’t to await some huge world-changing CATASTROPHE or for the END OF THE WORLD, nor does he spend time focused on the panic or the fear that the world news could cause us. His daily reminder is that:

“The only thing that will put flesh on the bones of our plans is to relentlessly acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around us.”

I digress.

As I was sharing, these past few months have served as a reflection on the importance of our home. Not only for Bella and her future siblings (God-willing), but for both Cristina and I as well. Cristina and I, since our youth and young-adulthood, recognize that God has molded our hearts and our calling to be outward-focused…..but over the years and through the process of spiritually maturing, (which seems to be slower than we’d like!) we see the importance of starting at home and creating a refuge there.

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This time has been full of laughter and of tears…..of days that fly by and days that seem like they will never end. In the midst of all of them is our life, for better or for worse. We’ve had 2nd birthday parties:

 bella birthday

…gone to Princess Parties:

bella princess

…enjoyed the beach:

“I got and in my baysoo”

bella beach bandw1 bella and daniel1 bella and grace1 bella and daddy 1

….visited old stomping-grounds:

Family selfie in Philadelphia

…..had a day at the zoo:

bella zoo 1 bella waterfall zoo bella giraffe 1

…saw old friends (and future mother superior…?)

why so serious?

….got first Dominican-salon haircuts:

bella haircut

Don’t let the skin color fool you, this girl is half Carribean!

…hung out with cousins:

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…but most of the time, goofed-off:

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More than anything else, we’ve had days full of love. Mostly the fun, sloppy-wet-kiss-on-the-lips kind of love, but even the tough kind as well. It’s all good…..it’s all real….and in it is where we find God.

That brings us back to this past weekend in NYC….3 years after we lay prostrate before Our Lord in our wedding…..who would’ve known?

Congreso Foto

This past weekend, Cristina and I were invited to speak at the 7th Annual Pro-Life Congress for the Spanish Office of the Archdiocese of NY. This time, we were actually invited to lead workshops, separately, regarding Masculine/Feminine Sexuality and it’s role in rebuilding a pro-life culture. It’s incredible to look back at our lives and think about the gift that is our sexuality. How many problems in our world could be traced back to that: the misuse of the sexual gift? I’d argue the vast majority. On the flip-side, how many victories have been won for God’s Glory because of a healthy and whole understanding of our sexuality? I’d say many more.

Our Corazon Puro friends at the Congress

It was a blessed time, and since the folks that put on the event are old colleagues (at the Archdiocese) and good friends (Catholic Marriage Movement from the Bronx) of ours, it was like being with family.

As you can imagine, Bella stole the show. I’m pretty sure that more people showed up for her than to participate in our workshops!

That’s all for now…..pray that I can update this more frequently – that really is my goal!

Please pray for this little family,

In Christ and Our Lady,

Andrew, Cristina and Maria Isabella Pocta

Thoughts on “Special Needs” / Pensamientos sobre las “necesidades especiales”

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(This is a little article that I’ve been working on for the Archdiocese – Family Life/Respect Life Monthly Newsletter)

(Spanish at the bottom/Español debajo)

Frida Kahlo is one of the most important figures of 20th-century Mexican culture. Born in 1907 in Mexico City and raised during the Mexican Revolution, Kahlo is widely considered the face of 20th-century Mexican “surreal” art. Her folk art and bizarre self-portraits continue to have a strong influence in modern art and with artists of all nationalities. Famous actress Salma Hayek even portrayed her recently in a Hollywood movie! Ironically, had Frida Kahlo been conceived in 2007 –just 100 years later — statistically, it is most likely that her parents’ physicians would have suggested that they abort her…and we would never have known her beautiful works of art, nor her legacy as it is found in the modern art of other famous artists.

What does Frida Kahlo have to do with everything? You see, biographers and historians now know that Frida was born with spina bifida. This condition develops within the first 5 weeks in utero and causes defects in the spinal cord and in the bones of the backbone, leaving permanent damage to the nerves that control specific motor functions such as walking, or the control of the bowels. Nowadays the majority of parents or doctors who discover this defect in an unborn child, decide to terminate the pregnancy early, in order to “avoid the challenges” that might come with their child’s potential handicap.

A little boy with Spina Bifida

It is ironic that in our modern society—so internationally connected, conscious of the environment, focused on the humane treatment of animals, obsessed with the “free will” of all human beings, and  supposedly tolerant of any and all human expression—there is not much room for people with disabilities or “special needs.”

“Life seems to be demanding enough,” some say, “without adding to it the extra responsibility or burden of caring for someone else, especially someone with extra needs”

Now perhaps you know someone who lives with some sort of “special need.” Perhaps you even have a close friend or family member with some sort of handicap….and while the vast majority of people claim to have had this type of experience, sadly, there are many people who have not been blessed to know someone like this.

While it might not seem very important at first, this simple fact may just change the history of our world, especially in the way that we value human life. Let us remember during this time of Easter what while we celebrate the greatest mystery of our Faith —that is, the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ—we also celebrate the gift that is each and every human life, the sign that there is Hope for our world.

This past month, the Family Life/Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of New York, in collaboration with the Catholic Marriage Movement, hosted the 6th-annual Pro-Life Congress for the Spanish Population. Instead of focusing on just one aspect of the pro-life mission, the invited speakers formed the participants about the most fundamental idea – “Choosing Life” – and how this must take place at the most basic level in our society. In reality, this theme is central to every discussion of policy and morality, be it at the national level, state level, community level, and all the way down to the smallest family unit. In contrast, the rejection of the basic value of human life leads to abortion, birth control, euthanasia, and even some current health-care legislation; it has also transformed the way society views unborn babies, even more viciously a child who may have a prenatal diagnosis that is anything outside of norm. More than ever before, abortions are the so-called “solution” for a pregnancy where there is a diagnosis of a genetic problem (such as Down’s Syndrome) or a birth defect (such as spina bifida). I’ve even heard rumors of an adoption waiting-list of over 450 US families waiting to adopt the first unwanted child to be born with Down Syndrom. The reason there are so many couples waiting is simple. The great majority of Down Syndrome-diagnosed babies don’t make it past their first few months. It seems that in such a fast-paced (and so-called “advanced”) society, there is simply no room for anything “out of the ordinary”…..and all the responsibilities that may come with it.

Right now—in 2012—we find ourselves at the threshold of a new era. Our traditional values and ability to uphold a common morality have been replaced by a new underlying ideology: pleasure. (and the subjective sense of personal gratification) For many people, the pursuit of pleasure has evolved into an obsession rather than simply a pass time, where many human beings sadly choose to neglect their responsibilities in order to seek out the almighty self-gratification.

For the average everyday citizen, life in this post-modern world already has its own responsibilities: paying bills, buying groceries, and of course all of the grueling hours at work (required to maintain a their preferred lifestyle). One can imagine that adding anything to these already “burdensome” requirements would frankly be just too much to ask. And so, the discovery of a pregnancy —an event that once was a cause for joy and celebration, no matter the circumstance — is now commonly seen as “an obstacle in the way of personal happiness” all because of the sacrifices and responsibility needed to care for a new life.

Now on top of that, what about the diagnosis of a genetic disorder or birth defect in a pregnancy? Forget about it! For the world, that would be like asking someone to sacrifice even more to what already looms as a “huge responsibility” in the first place. One child out of every thirty is born with special needs, but that number is rapidly decreasing because of the popularity and availability of abortion.

If we don’t embrace our call as “Pro-Life” messengers in our society, we will soon arrive at a moment in history where the life of every “special needs” baby is at risk, simply by virtue of being in the womb of it’s mother. Unless we speak out in truth about the gift and blessing of all human life, both doctors and parents will more increasingly view the life of a “special needs” child, as not “worth all the pain and challenge” that they may encounter in their life.

Instead of acting like God and deciding which people will have a “low quality of life” due to physical or mental limitations, we should first reflect on our own lives.

Don’t we all have special needs?

How many times have we lacked charity towards another? How many times have we lied or become impatient with someone, not because of their actions but due to our own selfishness or sinfulness?

The truth is that we were created for much more than this! God has called us to strive for perfection, but most of the time we fall very short, by not living as we should—and even worse when we knowingly act wrongfully!

Can you see what I mean? If we (who are fully aware of what we should do) fall short in doing what we know we are called to do—and God still forgives us, and loves us!—we have no right to take life away from anyone, even if we ignorantly consider their life to be of “low quality.” If we are sincere in our own reflection of ourselves, it’s easy to see that each one of us has certain “disabilities” that keep us from being good and righteous, as we are all called to be. Who ever said that our “abilities” are only limited to the physical and mental?

Even though we witness how much of the world has been consumed by selfishness, our eyes are never to be focused on that. We are a people of Resurrection, and the dying and rising of our Lord Jesus Christ is the cause of our Faith and Hope—the very thing we live for.

We know that God has created each life, from all eternity, in His image and likeness! He has a purpose for the life-long journey (in the joys and pains!) of every human being, regardless of what society claims that someone may or may not be able to contribute.

Let us dedicate ourselves to fight for every human life, especially now that we are aware of this pernicious and widespread attack against those with special needs. Instead of letting society decide which lives are worth being born, let us defend the right of each person to live, so that every human being may have the opportunity to enrich our lives and culture, just as Frida Kahlo has done in influencing art all around the world!

En Español :

¿No somos todos “especiales”?

 

Frida Kahlo es una de las figuras mas importantes de la cultura Mexicana durante el comienzo del siglo veinte. Nacida en La Ciudad de México en el año 1907 y criada durante la Revolución Mexicana, Kahlo se destacó como una de las pioneras de arte “subreal” de México en el siglo veinte. Sus autorretratos y obras de arte folklórico todavía influencian mucho de lo que es el arte-moderno, en el mundo entero. ¡Más aún hicieron una película biográfica de su vida en Hollywood! Pero si Frida Kahlo hubiera sido concebida en el año 2007, (tan solo cien años después) es muy probable que sus doctores les hubieran sugerido a sus padres que la abortaran y nosotros no hubiéramos conocido sus obras y contribuciones a la cultura y sociedad de hoy. Es muy conocido que Frida Kahlo nació con Espina Bifida, una malformación durante la gestación del tubo-neural, algo que la mayoría de personas hoy día (doctores y padres de familia) deciden abortar temprano durante el embarazo. En nuestra sociedad moderna, tan conectada internacionalmente, tan consciente sobre el medioambiente y el tratamiento de los animales y enfocado en el “bienestar” y “libertad” de todo ser humano, irónicamente parece que no queda mucho espacio para las personas discapacitadas, con sus necesidades especiales.

Es muy probable que conoces o has conocido personalmente a alguien que vive su vida con menos “capacidades” que la mayoría de personas quienes viven su vida “normal”. La mayoría de personas en este mundo han tenido una experiencia – pequeña o grande –  de trabajar/cuidar o llevar una amistad con alguien de “necesidad especial”, pero lastimosamente, hay muchos que no han vivido esa experiencia. Aunque parece algo tan sencillo, este simple hecho puede cambiar la historia de nuestro mundo, en cuanto valoramos la vida de todo ser humano. Como celebramos la Resurrección de Nuestro Señor Jesucristo en La Pascua, también celebramos el signo de esperanza que es la vida.

Durante el fin de semana pasado, La Oficina de Vida Familiar/Respeto a la Vida de La Arquidiócesis de Nueva York junto con el Movimiento Matrimonial Católico (MMC) celebraron el Sexto Congreso Pro-Vida para la comunidad hispana. Este año, en vez de enfocar en algún tema Pro-Vida, (como el aborto o la eutanasia) los invitados dieron formación sobre algo mas fundamental – “Escoger la Vida” – y como esa idea y actitud tiene su efecto a cada nivel de la vida humana. Este tema juega un papel importante en cada aspecto de la vida, sea a nivel nacional (el gobierno federal), a nivel estatal (leyes en cada estado), a nivel de la comunidad cercana y hasta el nivel mas básico de la familia. Mientras la lucha para “Escoger la Vida” se manifiesta en varios asuntos como el Aborto, la Eutanasia, los Anticonceptivos (que a veces causan abortos) y ahora la lucha para el Seguro Medico “Universal”, también se ha transformado la sociedad en la forma en que valoramos la vida humana, especialmente cuando se habla de los diagnósticos tempranos de embarazos con niños que no son, para los médicos, “normales”. Actualmente, mas que nunca, el aborto es el destino para muchas vidas cuando el diagnostico en-útero muestra señales de problemas genéticos como el Síndrome de Down o defectos físicos como el Espina Bifida. Parece que al mundo de hoy, la vida de un bebe que no sea 100% “normal” no le conviene puesto que llevaría con ella una responsabilidad y sacrificio aun mas grande.

Hoy día en el año 2012, nos encontramos en el comienzo de una nueva época. Nuestra sociedad ya no se puede llamar “Moderna” – pues estamos al borde de una nueva edad donde los valores y morales han sido intercambiados por una nueva prioridad – el placer instantáneo/constante y la satisfacción personal. En muchos casos, no es solamente una prioridad sino una obsesión, donde el ser humano (por lo general) echa todas sus responsabilidades al lado en búsqueda de ese mismo placer.

La vida en una época como esta también trae sus responsabilidades; el pago de los “billes”, la renta y también el trabajo para sostener toda necesidad económica. Como uno puede imaginar, una sociedad así no puede ver la vida de un bebe recién concebido como una bendición como las generaciones anteriores puesto que traen consigo una cierta responsabilidad y sacrificio que no le dejaría vivir tal como uno vivía antes. La idea de un niño se convierte en un “obstáculo o carga” a la libertad previamente conocida. ¿Y el diagnostico de un defecto o problema genético en un embarazo? Olvídate. Es añadir a lo que ya se ve como un obstáculo, un sacrificio y responsabilidad mas grande y veremos una sociedad donde 1 de cada 30 nacidos con una necesidad especial seria aun mas raro. (De hecho, ese cifra ya está bajando por el simple hecho de que el aborto se ha hecho mas popular y común)

Para los que todavía no han reconocido o identificado la fuente de su “felicidad”, (especialmente los que no han tenido una experiencia con Dios) esa búsqueda los puede dejar en un estado de “adormecimiento”, donde el consumo constante de su adicción de alcohol, drogas, el sexo, u otras (televisión, música, materialismo, comida, etc.) los ha dejado adormecidos y prácticamente inconsciente de las repercusiones de sus acciones.

Si no abrazamos nuestro llamado de ser “Pro-Vida” en nuestra sociedad, llegaremos a un momento en la historia donde la vida de cualquier niño de “necesidad especial” estaría a riesgo desde el vientre de su madre por el simple hecho de que no “valga la pena”. En vez de pretender ser Dios y decidir cuales personas tendrán una vida “de baja calidad” (debido a sus necesidades físicas o mentales) debemos reflexionar en nuestras propias vidas. Piensa por un momento sobre la siguiente propuesta :

¿No tenemos todos necesidades especiales?

¿Cuantas veces hemos faltado a la caridad hacia los demás?

¿Cuantas veces hemos mentido o nos ha faltado paciencia con alguien debido a nuestra propia debilidad humana?

La verdad es que no fuimos creados para eso. Dios quiere que seamos santos, pero muchas veces no hacemos lo que debemos hacer.

¿Ya ves? Si nosotros no cumplimos con lo que Dios nos pide (¡y todavía nos ama y perdona!) no tenemos el derecho de quitarle la vida a nadie, aunque la consideremos una “baja calidad” de vida. Pues, si somos sinceros, vemos que todos tenemos nuestras propias discapacidades que no nos dejan ser buenos y bondadosos como debemos de ser.

Debemos tener bien claro que aun con nuestra naturaleza caída y toda la oscuridad que hay en este mundo, no tenemos nuestra mirada puesta en todo eso. La Resurrección de Nuestro Señor, causa por nuestra Fe y Esperanza, nos da una razón de vivir.

¡Sabemos que Dios ha creado a cada vida humana desde la eternidad, a su Imagen! El tiene un propósito para la jornada de cada vida humana, sin importar lo que la sociedad puede determinar de ella, por lo que puede o no puede contribuir a la economía.

Dediquémonos a luchar por la vida, especialmente ahora consientes del ataque que hay contra personas de necesidad especial. Defendámoslos para que Dios pueda enriquecer a nuestro mundo con personas como Frida Kahlo, en vez de dejar que la sociedad decida.