Friday, February 27, 2009

In Memoriam

Yesterday, at 9am, my Aunt Karen passed away. She entered a coma like state the day before. We received a phone call around 6am that she had taken a turn for the worse. When my parents and I arrived, she was struggling with her breathing, sounding much like a coffee maker or percolator.

My mother was at her side the entire time. My Aunt had made my mother promise that she (my mother) would tell her when it was time to go. After getting permission, the breathing became less strained. As her pulse began to grow fainter, we prayed around her, and I traced the sign of the cross on her forehead. She took three gasps of air, squeezed my mother's hand tightly, and died.

According to the nursing staff, by the smooth and calm look on her face, she was not in any pain. Thankfully, she had a rather peaceful end to a horrible disease. She was 52 years old.

Hospice is a wonderful organization, and the staff there have been wonderful to my Aunt and family. They have a policy of having their patients leave through the front door, just as they entered, not sneaking them out the back, but letting them leave with dignity. The staff who knew my Aunt washed her and prepared her to be transferred to the mortuary. When the undertaker arrived (old schoolmates of my Aunt and Mother), my Mom, Dad, God Mother, and childhood friend of my Aunt's escorted the body outside, along with the nursing staff in procession. My mother thought it suiting that she was being taken back to Riverside-Buffalo (the section of Buffalo they grew up in) in an old Caprice Station Wagon... just like the type my grandfather used to drive.

It's been hard at times for us, as we lost a remarkable woman, full of kindness and generosity, but we also feel a great sense of relief. Her long and painful journey is at an end. Aunt Karen died on my Grandmother's (her mother) birthday. I'm sure the party she arrived to in Heaven was like nothing we ever experienced here on Earth.

Eternal Rest grant unto her O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May she and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, Rest in Peace. Amen

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Documents show Pius saved Jews from Nazis

(Taken from the British Catholic Herald)

Documents discovered in the Vatican Secret Archives prove that Pope Pius XII helped to save thousands of Jews during the Second World War and firmly opposed anti-Semitism before he became pope, it emerged this week.

The 300 pages of documentation, posted online last week, suggest that Pius saved 80,000 lives by persuading the Hungarian regent to prevent deportation of the Jews, and that he saved a further 12,000 by securing visas for them to leave Europe for the Caribbean.

The documents, discovered by Dr Michael Hesemann, a German historian, show that, as Archbishop Eugenio Pacelli, the future pope intervened with the German government to assure that their Turkish allies would not harm the Jews living in the Ottoman province of Palestine.

As nuncio to Bavaria, Pacelli personally helped World Zionist Organisation representative Nachum Sokolov to meet Pope Benedict XV in 1917 to discuss a Jewish homeland in Palestine. And in 1926 Cardinal Pacelli encouraged German Catholics to join the Committee Pro Palestina, which supported Jewish settlements in Palestine.

Other documents include an entry written by a nun detailing Pope Pius XII's order of 1943 to hide the Jews of Rome in religious houses, and listing the names of Jews sheltered.

Furthermore, they show that Pius's anti-Nazi tendencies went back to before the war. A 1939 US Foreign Service document in which the US Consul General to Cologne reports to Washington on the "new Pope", stating that he surprised him by his hatred of Hitler and the Nazi regime, and how Pope Pius supported the German hierarchy's opposition to Nazism, even if it meant losing the support of German Catholics.

A 1938 document, signed by Cardinal Pacelli during his last months as Vatican Secretary of State, declare the Vatican's opposition to a planned Polish law to make Kosher slaughtering illegal. The anti-Semitic bill was defeated. Other documents show that Pius XII convinced the Brazilian government to accept 3,000 Jews and helped to forge baptismal papers to allow Jews to pass as "Aryans".

The Pave the Way Foundation, invited by Yad Vashem to carry out research into the conducted of a man vilified as "Hitler's Pope", has also posted several video interviews on its website (, including an interview with an elderly priest who describes how Pope Pius helped 12,000 Jews to escape to the Dominican Republic.

Pius XII died in 1958 but his wartime reputation became a source of controversy five years later, when German Communist Rolf Hochhuth wrote The Deputy, a fictional play that indicts Pius for his failure to speak out against the Holocaust.

Pave the Way now has testimony from Lt General Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking KGB agent ever to defect to the West, that The Deputy was financed and edited by the Soviets, and sustained by doctored Vatican documents as part of a KGB plot to discredit the Vatican.

Gary Krupp, the president of Pave the Way Foundation said: "Personally, as a Jew, I find that correcting this revision of history according to documented proof has really nothing to do with the Catholic Church. In the interest of Jewish justice we must acknowledge the efforts of one man during a period when as a people we were abandoned by the rest of the world. It's time to recognise Pope Pius XII for what he really did rather than what he didn't say."

Some scholars, including Pinchas Lapide, the Jewish diplomat and historian, estimate that the Catholic Church under Pius saved between 700,000 and 850,000 Jews from the Nazis, mostly by either providing sanctuary or passage to safe countries but also by intervening, when practicable, to stop their round-up in occupied countries.

But John Cornwell, author of Hitler's Pope, a critical biography of Pius, said: "If Pius is to take credit for non-Aryans given safe passage to Brazil via Rome during the war, then he should take responsibility, by the same token, for Nazis given safe passage via Rome after the war. It could well be that he was ultimately responsible for neither."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I'm Dorothy!

I have officially become Dorothy from the "Golden Girls" sitcom. I'm tall, sarcastic, witty, dateless, and am now a substitute teacher.

I got a letter in the mail from a local district that I applied to, and it seems I have been hired without even an interview. I only applied to do it part time, as it's not really the money I'm looking for (Walmart pays my health insurance), but I want to keep my resume active.

I am excited, but I have to admit I'm extremely nervous. What I'll be doing in the classroom isn't very intimidating.. let's face it, I'm a glorified baby sitter, but I'm nervous about learning the schools I'll be working in, and getting to know the staff there. I HATE being the new kid on the block. I also don't like going into a new place blind... an orientation to the school would have been nice. HaHa!

This district might be having openings for teachers for the next academic year.. so I'm hoping I may land a permanent job while subbing. Like I said, it's experience, and there is always something to learn from every job!!

I'll keep you posted as I start actually working in the schools. I'm sure I'll be asking myself, "What would Dorothy do?" :-)

Monday, February 23, 2009

And the Oscar Goes to...

Some speeches worth hearing.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bad Nights

I have a history of nightmares, mostly because of the medication that I am on. The meds get the job done, but this is one side effect that can be a real annoyance. Lately, the dreams are getting very intense. I'm waking up more and more feeling confused and utterly exhausted. In other words, I'm just as tired, if not more, than when I went to bed. On my days off this isn't too bad, but when I have a day of classes and or work, it wears on me physically.

Sigh, better living through chemistry has a price.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Game On

I haven't followed the video game world since the 1990s. In fact, the last game system I had was a Sega CD. Aside from a Star Trek game I play on my laptop.. which tends to freeze up because my computer is too slow, I have pretty much lived the past decade in a video game vacuum.

Last night, while visiting with Neil, we played his Wii sports game. Using a controller which looks more like a lazer pointer, we bowled a few frames, and played a few games of tennis. I was amazed at how much video games have changed, and I really enjoyed playing. I was getting so into the games, I actually had a sore arm from playing a few rounds of tennis.

I'd like to purchase a Wii to use as a distraction from school work, but the budget just isn't there. It was a fun time though.

Friday, February 6, 2009

What I learned today....

After a very long and tiring day at work, I met a facebook friend out for sushi. In case I haven't mentioned it.. sushi is my crack. I would pimp for sushi, it's that good! That being said, Neil invited me out to dinner at a local sushi bar. DELICIOUS!

My sushi goodness was the icing on the cake.. today, thanks to Neil, I learned how to use chopsticks!!! Many have tired to teach me over the years, but in two minutes, Neil helped me to figure it all out. I managed to eat my whole meal without dropping any food. I am very impressed with myself.

I had such a blast with Neil... we have so much in common, and we had a great conversation going. I hated to end it. Looking forward to more time hanging out!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

You go Sisters!

As I have said over and over, while I am more "liberal" in my political views (ie: gay rights), I am very "traditional" when it comes to Liturgical matters. This means that I believe social teachings can change without having to water down our faith practices and traditions that make us Catholic.

I have often lamented the radical changes that have hit the religious congregations in the United States since their misinterpreting of the documents of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960's. Many (not all) congregations and individual sisters seemed to abandon their ministry as teachers and nurses, and went into obscure jobs that came under the title of "social action". Since the 60s, these congregations of women religious have engrossed themselves more in radical feminism rather than being faithful to Christ in and through His Church.

Most children have never seen a nun, and if they did, they wouldn't know it since they have ditched any type of habit. Many feel that within 20 years, "nun" will be a term regulated to history textbooks. Most congregations have dwindled to dangerously low numbers, with no new women joining, and a median age of 60. "By their fruits you will know them". Time is the ultimate test, and the results seem to be in.

Thankfully, there are groups of women religious who still follow a more traditional prayer and community life. Faithful to the Church and her teachings, they draw new YOUNG postulants from all over the country, and offer hope for the future of women religious communities, and serve as a powerful witness to this ever increasingly secular world.

One group I would like to highlight are the newly established Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Church. They are based out of Spokane Washington, with a charism of teaching in schools. I have had the privilege to speak with some of these sisters via e-mail, and they are so very kind. I wish them all the best, and keep them in my prayers for their continued growth and success in their ministry.

Please pray for them, and help support them any way you can. Theirs is a powerful witness!!