Friday, November 30, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

1.)  Haven't done 7 Quick Takes in awhile, but I'm resurrecting it today.  Does that count as one?  Not sure.  We'll pretend that it does.  :)
2.)  Lately I've been reading a bit about the Catholic Land Movement.  Have you heard of this?  The idea (which is nothing new and has its roots in distributism) is a return to an agrarian, rural lifestyle, and it is all kinds of fascinating.  Yesterday I started GK Chesterton's The Outline of Sanity, which is predictably brilliant and insightful.  And while I have no desire to actually do any real farming (like, ever), Kevin and I have talked for awhile about moving out of the city and finding a home on a couple of acres.  There is really a lot of theological signficance to the concept of the land, and having grown up in a rural community it's always held an attraction for me.  But really I'm just a hack, because I have no intention of growing/raising any food.  Shhhhh.
3.)  My kids have not had their weekly school-for-homeschooled-kids in a couple of weeks, and can I just say that it has been incredibly peaceful having that break?  It's only one day a week, but for some reason it has been feeling intrusive on our routine.  This is the first year it's felt that way, maybe in part because as my kids are getting older, we have more to do at home.  And we're also quite involved at our parish.  So all of that to say I'm honestly not sure if we'll continue with it after this year, and going off the grid completely is sounding better and better.
4.)  Advent starts this Sunday.  It's funny because in the Protestant churches I've belonged to, we observed Advent by lighting the standard candles and acknowleding the season.  But nobody ever really talked about what the season means, and how it's a season of--wait for it--penance.  The p-word.  Which is odd.  (The random selection of traditions kept by Protestants vs. the ones rejected is generally odd, in my opinion.)  At any rate, I do love this liturgical time of waiting and expectation, and of preparing our hearts to receive Jesus at Christmas.
5.)  In spite of the fact that Advent is only just beginning, we put up our Christmas tree.  (I know.  Old habits die hard.)  Anyway, it's a fake, pre-lit tree, and this year the lights at the top aren't working.  And I haven't fixed them yet, so it looks downright ridiculous.  Grrrrrr.  Maybe that's my punishment for putting up a Christmas tree weeks before Christmas.
6.)  I'm so excited because my blog redesign should be done by January!  Hooray!  If you're interested in giving your blog a facelift, please consider using Sour Apple Studio.  Lindsey was my roommate in college, and does great work!
7.)  We watched the documentary Forks Over Knives recently and I've been inspired to be more diligent about serving vegetables to my kids.  Who love veggies, which makes it easy.  We're not going vegan or anything but good grief, statistically-speaking, the average American diet is horrible.  Who is eating that much meat, processed food and soda?  Sheesh!  Trust me when I say I'm no purist, but really, it's gross.  We eat at home each night and in spite of the occasional fast-food for convenience's sake, we eat fairly healthy.  My kids have oatmeal for breakfast every.single.morning., sweetened with a little honey and cinnamon.  It's typically PB&J (on whole-wheat bread, with natural peanut butter and organic non-HFCS jelly) for lunch, and then whatever we're having for dinner.  I figure if we aim for healthy eating most of the time, I won't feel bad for the occasional corn dog or mac and cheese.  (Which I don't.  Kids need to be kids, too!)
Thanks to Jen, who incidentally now has her own reality show, at Conversion Diary for hosting! 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I'm writing over at Ignitum today about transforming the world, simply through living one's faith.  Come join me!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The sibling factor

I know, right?

Them's a lot of (squinting) kids at Grandma and Grandpa's house for Thanksgiving.

And yes we are pretty handy to have around when you need help eating a 20-pound turkey.

Oh how I love each of those sweet individual souls, even as I am slightly overwhelmed when I consider the fact that at 31 years old, I have seven kids.  Look at those little faces! I think.  How is it possible that I am somehow responsible for these people making it to adulthood?!

Having a Catholic marriage ordered towards God's two-fold purpose for marriage (the procreation and education of children, and the good of the spouses) naturally results, of course, in assorted messes chaos little people running around the house.  And I know our decisions and values seem old-fashioned and outdated to the average 21st-century American parent. 

Some of this is simply because parenting values have shifted over time.  People thus have a lot of questions about our family, and the way we live.  And one of the things that comes up regularly is the "s" word.


My kids obviously, um, have several.  And barring some unforeseen future personal crisis (where we'd need to use NFP to limit our family size), my kids will probably continue gaining new brothers and sisters throughout my fertile years.  I really don't spend time thinking about the final number of kids that I want and how to achieve that, because I don't believe that line of thought is generally in keeping with the heart of Church teaching on the matter (as laid out by popes throughout the centuries, and articulated quite well in the book Covenanted Happiness.)  Plus, life and marriage just don't really work like that.  But anyway, I'd imagine that this precious baby due in February won't be the last.

And in decades past, kids generally had multiple siblings--no big deal.  The average American home was smaller too so room sharing was the norm, and people had fewer personal possessions in general.  Life was simpler in many ways, because it had to be.

Now though, families like ours are not the norm.  Parenting values have changed. 

I met a woman at a wedding a couple of years ago who, upon hearing that we were in the process of adopting two little girls, leaned in and asked in a concerned voice, "Do your kids have to share rooms?"  I didn't fault the woman for thinking we were crazy for adding to our already-big family, but I think her sentiment is indicative of the (troubling and insidious) mentality that a childhood involving multiple brothers and sisters is not a pleasant one.

But I'm here to say that I wholeheartedly disagree. 

And I will tell you that no matter how crazy people think it is, my children are a gift to one another. 

Yes they fight and cry sometimes, but they're never truly alone.

Yes they share rooms, but they love chatting with each other after the lights go out, every.single.night.

Yes they have limited space for toys and clothes, but they have a healthy detachment from material goods--and would much rather spend their time playing together, anyhow.

Yes they share my time, but they also have a bunch of other people clamoring to congratulate them on their awards, or to ask how their sleepover at Grandma and Grandpa's house went the moment they get into the car.

Yes they have two siblings with medical and developmental needs, but those two siblings are Mary Lu's best friends.

Yes they will surely experience the births of new babies in the years to come, but they have without fail receieved each and every new sibling with eager and open arms and hearts.

My children, all seven of them, have a strong genuine affection for one another.  They are the best of friends.  They are thrilled about the baby on the way.  And the more I think about the ever-changing world around me, the more I believe that life in our home--shared rooms, small closets and all--is good. 

And I always hoped my kids would get along well, but believe me when I say that I do not force them to play together.  I don't micromanage every little conflict, nor do I tell them they have to act excited at the news of a pregnancy. 

I do hold them to standards like showing respect to one another, and being kind.  I do have a policy that says younger siblings are to be included if they are wanting to play with bigger siblings--even when an older brother or sister has a friend over.  I do regularly tell them that virtues like charity and patience are best learned (and hardest to practice) within our very own home, around our very own table.

And lo and behold, our family culture has somehow (in spite of my failings) been conducive to my children developing a love for life and a sincere excitement anytime a child joins our family, through birth or adoption.  My kids choose to spend time together vs. time spent playing independently.  The older children help the littler ones and the littler ones adore their older siblings.  They enjoy being together, and know that most any activity is more fun with more people.

So if you are considering family size, wondering if remaining open to children throughout your marriage is even possible in this day and age, Catholic or not, I want to tell you that it is.  Counter-cultural, yes.  The lesser-travelled road, most definitely.  But it is also really, really good.  We must resist the temptation to internalize arbitrary cultural norms that tell us our homes or our cars or our hearts are too small for more than _____ children.  We must consider our priorities, and how we've ordered our lives, and see how that lines up with what Christ's Church has always told us: that children are a natural part of marriage, and are a gift to marriage--not primarily a burden.

And of all the considerations, I can say with confidence that a child with many siblings is a very loved child--many times over.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What we do

Hard to believe, but it's been a year now since my two Ethiopian daughters both underwent heart catheterizations, on the same day, one right after the other.

When you adopt two children with Down syndrome from a developing country, you know that a previously-undetected congenital heart defect is a very real possibility.  So we reasoned that maybe one of them would have some sort of issue, but that if they did, it would surely be nothing major, since they'd survived so long in such an unideal environment.

Hmmmm.  :)

When the cardiologist told me at the girls' first clinic visit that both of them had heart defects necessitating surgery, and that one of them would also require open-heart surgery in order to survive childhood, I was semi-surprised, semi-afraid, but mostly just anxious to get the ball rolling.  I didn't know a thing about cardiology but I knew my daughters had lived far too long without these problems being addressed. 

So I arrived at Children's Hospital early one November morning, roughly one year ago.  Both girls were  happy as could be, because that's just how they are--but I was nervous.  None of my kids had ever been admitted to a hospital before.  So having to wait through two heart procedures, praying that Tigist's would be effective in repairing the hole, and that Mekdes' would reveal that she was a candidate for open-heart surgery...and attempting to keep Tigist still during recovery and to console an out-of-sorts Mekdes when she was hard.

Something that strikes me now looking back though is that even when you get the crazy news that your two-year-old and five-year-old both need heart surgery, it is really just a process of putting one foot in front of the other.  Normal life keeps slipping and rushing by, even though you're making big medical decisions for two children you scarcely know, and subjecting them to necessary but large medical risks.

It's weird.

Because we all have this idea in our heads about what being a mother looks like, what it entails, how it feels.  And few of us ever envision ourselves dashing between two hospital bedsides in an attempt to comfort children as they regain consciousness.  No woman imagines receiving updates in a waiting room about her daughter being put on a bypass machine.  And yet, I've experienced both of those things as a mom.  And something tells me that even if you haven't, there are things that maybe took you by surprise, or that didn't fit with the narrative we've all bought into about raising children.

I honestly think that our definition of motherhood is deeply flawed.  I suspect it is too narrow, too short-sighted, and that our lives as women might be different if we adopted a broader and more accurate view of the vocation.  This is why I detest the term "Natural Family Planning" (why yes, I really did just say that), this is why adoption can be difficult, and this is what leaves us dissatisfied and disenchanted when things don't go according to the fairy tale.

If we want a good, beautiful, true picture of what it means to be a mother, it seems we must shed any beliefs or assumptions we already have about what makes for a happy life, and look to the wise words of God instead.  It is hard to throw off long-held expectations and beliefs, but it is well worth it if we exchange them for wisdom and for truth. 

Often unintentionally, we absorb far more of our culture than we realize.  How many of us have believed at some point that "being a good mom" includes providing each of our kids with his or her own bedroom and lots of "personal space"...a fully-paid-for college education...a gourmet meal each night...unlimited extra-curricular activities...brand-new, trendy clothing options...a mother and father who feel they have everything under control at all times?

I know I have.

Because yes, moms-to-many are susceptible to this error too.

But the more I read and learn and live, I'm coming to see that the safe American Dream my generation inherited is regularly at odds with God's methods for cultivating virtues like charity and holiness.

See the problem is that my desire for comfort, happiness and ease does not always square with what my daily tasks and vocation require of me.  While we may attempt to carve out the precise existence we want to have, life itself remains fluid and unpredictable, independent of our whims and fancies.  Relationships, health, death, and other circumstances far beyond our control will always fail to bend to our wills, and what an amazing witness our Church might be if we clung instead to Jesus.  And to the road less travelled.  What if we fully embraced our vocations and our faith, even when they flew in the face of conventional, 21st-century American "wisdom"?

Over the past few years, I've been blessed to discover these precious and beautiful encyclicals: Casti Connubii, Humanae Vitae, Evangelium Vitae, and the Address to Midwives on the Nature of Their Profession.

Profoundly rich writings on the Sacrament of Marriage, the gift of children, and life itself, they offer incredible insight into God's design for humankind.  These documents are an immense gift to the Church, and to the world.  (Side-note: don't be put off by fancy words like "encyclical", or by the fact that they were written by intellectual, scholarly, and holy men.  The fact is that these men wrote these words for us, in order that we might have generous and happy marriages.  There is an unfortunate tendency in our culture to avoid source documents in favor of watered-down articles and, yes, blogposts.  But these writings are SO worth reading, and I promise you won't be sorry for investing the time.) 

So all of this to say, fear not when things don't go as planned.  Don't be discouraged when motherhood throws you a curveball, or when raising children turns out to be less like the pretty Pinterest boards, and more like Lord of the Flies.  Don't think you're doing it wrong if you have a miserable week, and don't believe that the quiet and often unnoticed work you do each day in your home is not contributing to society or to Jesus in any meaningful way. 

Because I assure you that it most certainly is, and that the creating and raising of souls is the most significant donation of self a mother can give.

Instead, be encouraged--even when motherhood is simply watching and waiting, nerves completely shot, while your two new daughters recover from heart procedures in side-by-side, post-op rooms.  Seeing myself in that photo actually brings tears to my eyes, because that day wasn't fun and it sure wasn't easy.  But I love my girls, and I'm their mother, so it's just what I do.

And maybe that's the point.  Being a mom is hard and it's beautiful and it's messy and it's good. 

Simply put, it's just what we do.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

On losing

Mary receiving her nightly blessing.

Well, in spite of my glowing last-minute election day Romney endorsement, Obama beat him in the end.

A group of us got together last Tuesday night for pizza, drinks, and what we hoped would be some sort of celebration.  The kids colored festive Mitt Romney coloring pages and decorated cookies with an "R" on them.  We adults huddled around the TV, checking our cell phones and laptops, poking fun at the news commentators, and cursing Jay-Z.

Of course the victory went to President Obama--in fact I'm pretty sure that every.single.thing. I voted for/against ended up going the other way.  Apparently I'm contrary like that.

And while I may wish the outcome were different, our nation has spoken.  So while pundits point fingers and say that Republicans should have done this or that, I busy myself with the small tasks of motherhood--with a renewed conviction to instill an authentically Catholic worldview in my children. 

Maybe this is a strange takeaway from a night of commiserating with friends over aggravating electoral vote counts, but it's true.  Political theorizing is all fine and well, but what this election's outcome highlighted for me was simply a clashing of visions.  A meeting of disparate worldviews.  Not so much between Republicans and Democrats (there is the potential for quite a bit of common ground between people, regardless of their party affiliation), but between differing ideals of what the common good looks like.

We live, clearly, in a post-religious culture.  (Sort-of.  Because everyone more or less has a moral code they live by, so in that sense everyone adheres to some sort of religion.  But on the other hand, society has long-since shed any sort of dogmatic values-based ethic.  For better or for worse.)

My family on the other hand is--and I say this with no reservations whatsoever--religious.  Not primarily "spiritual" (though we are that too), but dogma-following, Nicene Creed-reciting, Jesus-loving, organized-Christian religious.  We believe in the Trinitarian God, in Heaven and Hell and Purgatory, and in a visible Church on earth established by Jesus Himself.  We believe in the teachings of the Apostles and in the Sacred Scriptures.  And in attempting to base our lives on this faith, we also attempt to pass it on to our children. 

Who receive a very different message from mainstream society.

That message diminishes virtue and celebrates relativism, obscures the issues and feeds on emotion.  It is a message that is ever-present, and inconsistent with the message of our religion--which says that God is goodness itself, and infinitely holy, and ultimately love.  Yet it's not enough to say "avoid this" or "they're wrong about that"--on the contrary, our children must know how to think and how to live.

I'm not ashamed to say that I want my kids to reach adulthood having been immersed in a historically Christian worldview.  Because, trust me--every child will have adopted a worldview by the time they leave home.  The only thing up for grabs is which worldview it will be.

So, in light of all the political and moral and, well, heated discussions over the past week, here are a few things I've been thinking about in regards to shaping my childrens' worldview:

1.)  Reading and knowing God's Word. 

The Bible is God's written revelation to humankind.  It is ancient and timeless and supernaturally inspired.  The Sacred Scriptures are read at each and every Mass and comprise much of the liturgy.  It is where we learn about the human condition, about where things went wrong, and about Jesus setting them right.  We see the birth of Christ's Church, the apostles in action, the Blessed Mother's love and the weaving of a beautiful story of brokenness and redemption.  We regularly read and discuss the Bible in our home, and I think it is vital.

2.)  Going to Mass as a family. 

I was really surprised to learn that many Catholics don't take their children to Mass.  Maybe it's my Protestant background coming into play here, but church has always seemed like a family affair to me--not something relegated to adult life and hidden from a child's view.  Yes it can be hard to pay attention to the priest when I'm hissing at my kids and working up a sweat wrestling them into the pew, but guess what?  I'm called to serve Jesus through my vocation, and that vocation is marriage and motherhood.  Not the cloistered and silent religious life.  So, yes, I attend weekly Mass with my husband and seven children ages eight and under.  The kids may not all fully understand what is going on, and yes it is occasionally difficult, but I love that they're there.  They know when they see the host lifted up and hear the bells that Jesus is present.  They know to genuflect when entering and leaving the pew.  They know to pray.  They know when they look around and see our many dear friends that they are not on this faith journey alone.  And, surely they receive graces from merely being in the presence of the Holy Sacrament. (I will also say that I've found that most children over the age of four are capable of being somewhat quiet and respectful during the Mass--and of sitting, standing, and kneeling at the appropriate times.  It takes work, but generally speaking, it can be done.)

3.)  Being the domestic church. 

This concept was new to me as a convert, and I love it.  Essentially, each of our families is a microcosm of the Church, and we can live that out every single day.  I found this quote online (in a catechism summary) and I think it's great:  The home is the first school of the Christian life where all learn love, repeated forgiveness, and prayerful worship.  We have started a tradition of praying a decade of the Rosary each night as a family, my children have learned the traditional Catholic prayers, my husband blesses each child individually at bedtime (including the little girl residing in my uterus), we regularly have discussions about God and the Church around the dinner table, and we try to make faith the primary constant in our home.  We have crucifixes on our walls and some beautiful religious art too.  We use Holy Water.  May we be a small and humble representation of His Church.

4.)  Studying the lives of saints.

Each and every morning, I read the kids a story about whichever saint is having a feast day.  My kids love learning about the saints--oftentimes the stories include martyrdom, persecution, and/or miracles.  They are also testimonies of everyday people living radical lives for Jesus, and so over time you start to get a picture of how God works through His people, and how counter-cultural faith really is.  I know for myself that reading these stories (intended for children!) has greatly strengthened my own faith and given me a better perspective on not counting the cost of following God.  And I do believe my kids are learning that sometimes standing up for Jesus won't be popular, and carries risk, but is always worth it.

5.)  Applying God's truth to current situations.

I am of the persuasion that faith means something.  And that if we truly believe, we must actually live that way.  So we try to use the kids' own experiences, certain political issues (with moral implications), and even our middle-ages-era history lessons as jumping off points for religious discussions.  We once for example organized a little debate at the dinnertable between our four oldest kids regarding the crusades--and were pretty amazed by the spiritual implications they were able to come up with.  I think it's important for children to see that following Jesus is part of the everyday, and that the decisions we make must be made in light of God's love and instruction, and in keeping with the teachings of the Church.  For our own good and the good of the world.

6.)  Embracing life.

Not only am I happy to identify as being pro-life, I am also determined to find ways to live those convictions.  Many years ago I saw Gary Haugen (of International Justice Mission) give a talk on freeing young children from the sex trade.  He posed the question, "Do we care about what Jesus cares about?"  And, it changed my life.  For real.  Because I'd never given much thought to that before.  And if you think I'm being overly dramatic, I'll tell you that his question would eventually result in our adopting four children (including two with Down syndrome), and also (indirectly) our being received into the Catholic Church a little over a year ago.  Jesus loves life, and it may be a daily battle to fully embrace all that comes with it in its various forms (noise and mess in the case of raising small children, derision and rejection in the case of standing and fighting for the unborn), but it is a must.  And it is something I desperately want to pass on to my children: caring for the "least of these", protecting the vulnerable, loving the orphan and widow, and loving one another.  I want their hearts to remain soft towards the forgotten and the lonely, and to break for the scourge of abortion.  I never want them to wonder why a couple capable of conceiving children might still choose to adopt, nor do I want them to internalize the popular notion that children are a distraction and detriment in a marriage.  And maybe if they see me in some small way working to embrace life--whether that's explaining to someone why I can't vote for a pro-abortion candidate, or praying for a young girl scheduled to have an abortion, or joyfully receiving a new baby--they will continue to embrace life too.

So, those are my belated election-day thoughts. Leaders will come and go, but I am ultimately responsible for doing my very best to raise children who love Jesus and want to follow Him. I honestly don't know what's in store for our Church in the days ahead, but I do know that Jesus will continue to be the foundation upon which we build our lives.

And that is certainly something that won't be changing every four years.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

On voting

My husband and my daughter before a recent Romney/Ryan rally.

Today is election day.

I've gone back and forth about posting anything political here whatsoever, but I finally decided to--at the eleventh hour.  And not with the express intention of changing anyone's mind as they're about to leave for the polling place (I would imagine your minds are all made up by now), but in order to explain who I'm voting for, and why it is such a clear-cut decision for me.  I'll say here that I have many friends who don't vote the way I do, and it should go without saying that while I may disagree with their choice, they are people I enjoy and respect.  And while I hate to alienate or offend anyone, I do feel the conviction to share my own thought process, because I'm one of those strange people who believes that voting has moral implications.

Today is election day.

And I'm voting for Mitt Romney.

Primarily because of the two candidates' respective positions on abortion.

Oh, I know what many of you are thinking.  Is Brianna really one of those uber predictable, simple-minded, gullible women who not only thinks that this issue--protecting the unborn--matters infinitely more than the other issues, but that the president actually has some sort of responsibility or sway in the matter?

Well I'm going on record here and now as saying yes I am, and yes it does, and yes he does.

It is outright naive (albeit convenient) to believe that President Obama's pro-abortion views won't affect his policies, his vetoes, his signatures, and his agenda.  As a Catholic holding to the historical tenets of Christianity I cannot support grave and intrinsic evil, which includes murder and thus includes abortion.  So a vote for Obama is out of the question for me.

As for Mitt Romney, no he does not have a spotless record on the abortion issue--but he is not pro-abortion like his opponent, and has already promised that if elected he would reinstate the Mexico City Policy (which Obama struck down.)  That in and of itself would be a step in the right direction, an incremental move towards protecting children around the globe.  Mitt Romney has also pledged to repeal Obamacare with attention to the issue of religious freedom--he does not seem to think, like Barack Obama does, that the Holy Catholic Church (or any other organization or company) should be forced to pay for other peoples' contraception and abortion.

There are some who say that Barack Obama's social policies will actually result in fewer abortions.  This claim is patently false, especially when we're talking about a man who voted multiple times against the Born Alive Act as a senator, and who receives a great deal of support from Planned Parenthood (which does not provide mammograms FYI, but is the largest abortion provider in the United States).  It of course makes perfect political sense for him to be connected with Planned Parenthood--the abortion industry is a complex and relatively unregulated system committed to lining the deep pockets of doctors and CEOs, who profit immensely off of vulnerable and oftentimes desperate women.  In other words, this is an insanely lucrative industry where a lot of money is changing hands.  It therefore benefits a candidate or president to be in their corner, and of course it benefits Planned Parenthood to have such a powerful political ally.

For people who claim that Obamacare's "free birth control!!!" provision (paid for by you and me because hello, nothing is free) will somehow reduce the number of abortions, try again.  You can read this post written by mega-blogger Bad Catholic for more information, but it ain't so.  And if you insist that it is, perhaps also consider the message and legacy of Margaret Sanger, foundress of Planned Parenthood and champion of birth control and abortion.  She's heralded as a pioneer of women's rights, but did you know she was also a major advocate of eugenics?  And that she had ties to the KKK?   And wanted to eliminate the poor, the disabled, and African Americans?   Thanks to Roe v. Wade, she's doing a superb job, even beyond the grave.  Her mission, in spite of being INCREDIBLY politically incorrect (and, you know, evil), lives on in the organization she founded and in the very fiber of our nation's being.  Contraception and abortion may seem like strange and opposed bedfellows, but they are not.  They go together.

Just last night I read an article by someone claiming that even if abortion were made illegal, the number of abortions procured would remain roughly the same.  And,  People need to stop perpetuating this ridiculous lie.  I'm under no delusions that the Supreme Court will be rolling back that ruling anytime soon (if ever), but if they did?  Fewer babies would die.  Period.  If for no other reason than that the medical establishment would no longer be able to offer the procedure as a legitimate solution to a prenatal diagnosis, or "unexpected" pregnancy.  (I put that word in quotes because I think all of us know how babies are made.)

And, on-campus health clinics could no longer push students to terminate their "pregnancies".  (Yes, push.  I'd been married a year when I discovered we were expecting our first child, and had the pregnancy confirmed at the university health center.  Not only did the nurse at the clinic seem to suggest this was a bad thing for me, I also received a follow-up phone call wanting to know if I was wanting to kill my baby.  How lovely.)  THERE IS AN AGENDA HERE.  Abortion is, as I said, big business, and claims both children, women, and men as its victims--while abortionists and CEOs and politicians are laughing all the way to the bank.

So that is one reason--the most important reason--I'm voting for Mitt Romney.  And why I believe he is the only morally licit choice.  (Aside from abstaining from voting altogether, and voting for a third-party candidate.  Those are okay too.)  And yes, I really did just say that.  I'm sorry if you consider yourself a classic liberal, hate Republicans, or think conservatives are a bunch of greedy jerks who don't care about the poor.  Some of them are.  (So are some Democrats.)  Because people are people, regardless of their party affiliation.  It's just that I simply do not believe pro-abortion Barack Obama is a legitimate option when there is another candidate who is significantly more committed to protecting the most vulnerable among us--including the (upwards of) 90% of children with Down syndrome who are presently being slaughtered in the womb in our great nation.

While a president cannot singlehandedly make a law or change things around, he can appoint justices, and set a course, and reinstate that Mexico City Policy.  It's a fact that our nation is in trouble right now with a huge deficit, appalling (and unacceptable) unemployment rates, soaring healthcare costs, and yes the scourge of abortion.  There is a lot to deal with, and I understand that when it comes to domestic policy, these two men represent drastically different visions for America.  I understand it would be difficult to vote for someone who does not approach healthcare or government aid the way you would.  And I also believe that more than ever, this is a time when our country needs to come together and offer opportunities so that men and women can provide for their families.

But if I'm going to cast a vote, it cannot in any way support the destruction of innocent life.  I must vote for the innocent and unborn.  And quite frankly, for women.  So I will choose not to have "voting for the most pro-abortion president in our nation's history" on my conscience, regardless of how much lipservice he may pay to "helping the poor" (and by the way I don't think expanding Planned Parenthood's influence, or distributing hormonal birth control, or strategically eliminating minority groups is helping the poor).  Don't buy into the lie that if you vote for someone who happens to be a Republican, you don't care about the downtrodden.  My faith demands I help the poor.  It also demands I not be complicit in any sort of grave, intrinsic evil.  The two are not at odds, period.

And this has nothing to do with the Religious Right, with which I (and the vast majority of prolife people I know) am not affiliated.  I don't align myself with Jerry Falwell or James Dobson, and it is a real shame that in hopes of distancing themselves from Evangelicalism, so many "progressive" Christians refuse to identify as prolife as well.

I applaud the Catholic bishops and priests who have proclaimed our duty to promote and choose life throughout this election season.  I commend my own parish priest and deacon for addressing abortion directly in their homilies, multiple times, and for reminding parishioners that our faith MUST inform and drive our choices in the voting booth--and that this does have the potential to affect our very souls.  And that may sound extreme, because it is.  Murder is extreme.  And the current president's agenda in the area of "women's health"--embodied by the likes of Sandra Fluke and this ridiculous ad that I am ashamed was put out by my president's own campaign--is something a prolife and anti-abortion citizen cannot support.

So last night I prayed a rosary, and now I'm off to the polls.  And I'm voting for life.  And if you haven't cast your vote yet, I hope you'll join me.


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