Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

October 29, 2010

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Comes to an End. Let's Reflect.

I hope you will take time to consider the following article by Jenn Giroux from today's Zenit new source. I re-post here in full, because it needs to be heard! And spread the word to the women you love!

Is Abortion and Hormonal Contraception a Prescription for Breast Cancer?
By Jenn Giroux

CINCINNATI, Ohio, OCT. 29, 2010 ( Everywhere I looked this month I saw a pink ribbon. It was on my dry cleaning bag, grocery bag, coffee cup, mail catalogs, receipts, billboards … it goes on and on. Don't get me wrong. I love the color pink, and breast cancer prevention and finding a cure is critical to women today. However, I also love the truth.

That is why October 2010 is a good time to take Breast Cancer Awareness Month to a whole new level with some facts which can lead to both the physical and spiritual health of women in America and across the world.

We live in the world of media messaging where the one with the most money and the loudest message wins the day. What is the "Race for the Cure"? Why are we not being told the truth about the real risks and prevention for breast cancer? According to the SEER data at the National Cancer Institute, there has been a 400% increase in noninvasive -- or "in situ" (in the same place) -- breast cancer in pre-menopausal women since 1975. How do abortion, hormone replacement therapy, and hormonal contraception factor into the equation?

For years, abortion, hormonal replacement therapy and hormonal contraception have been largely ignored by most of the medical community and the media in general as significant risk factors for breast cancer. However, studies have consistently concluded that breast cancer risk increases as a result of these three factors.

Researchers in Iran have published results of a new study showing that women who have had an abortion face a 193% increased risk of breast cancer. This has to do with the interruption of breast tissue development during pregnancy. It is important to note that this (and other studies like it) have nothing to do with a person's belief in abortion. It has everything to do with the scientifically undeniable development and growth of breast tissue within a woman's body. There are many other studies that have been published as well that confirm that abortion presents increased risk to women for breast cancer, and that confirm that carrying a baby to full term provides a natural protection to the mother if the pregnancy is not unnaturally interrupted.

For years, doctors have been prescribing hormone replacement therapy for women who experience hot flashes and periods of sweating in menopause. The widespread belief was that these hormones would not only reduce a woman's risk for heart disease but also keep her "youthful, sexy, and healthy." This week the New York Times reported that studies have now confirmed that taking these hormones not only increases breast cancer risk, but "also make it more likely that the cancer will be advanced and deadly" (New York Times, Oct. 19, 2010).

This revelation, finally being recognized by the mainstream medical community and media, makes our final topic on hormonal contraception downright frightening.

Obstetricians and gynecologists across the country freely encourage long-term use of hormonal contraception such as "the Pill," the intrauterine device (IUD) Mirena, NuvaRing, Yaz, Yasmin, and all forms of emergency contraception without giving adequate attention to the short- and long-term side effects. Pediatricians have also joined in on this by encouraging mothers to place their young daughters on "the Pill" to help with acne or to relieve monthly menstrual cramps. Recently, a college student shared with me that inside her dorm, cell phones go off in the early morning hours as a reminder to the girls to take their birth control pills. This was at a Catholic college.

The number of young women on "the Pill" is alarming. Have these girls been told that "the Pill" has been classified as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency on Research for Cancer, a research arm of the World Health Organization? Are women in general being informed that any form of hormonal (estrogen-progestin combination) birth control (including "the Pill," the patch, Depo-Provera, Norplant, Ortho Vera Patch, or any others on the market) are actually increasing risk for breast, cervical, and liver cancer?

The sad reality is that any woman who takes a hormonal contraceptive for four years prior to her first full-term pregnancy increases her risk for breast cancer by 52%. It is worth noting that this same research arm of the World Health Organization also places "the Pill" in the same category with asbestos and cigarettes.

The difference is the dose

So, you may ask, what is the difference between the hormones that are given to women during menopause, which cause deadly breast cancer, and the hormones that are given to young women in the form of "the Pill"? The answer is shocking. The hormones in the drugs are the same. The only difference is in the dose that is given to the younger women and girls. It is necessary to give a much higher dose than that given in hormone replacement therapy because younger women have active, healthy ovaries. Does this give better context to the 400% increase in "in situ" breast cancer in pre-menopausal women since 1975?

In order to silence the public discussion of the harms of contraception we have often been told that we are pushing our "Catholic" views on women. This has effectively kept many health care providers and pro-life groups silent on this issue. Do you know what has nothing to do with being Catholic? Experiencing breast cancer in your 30s, having a stroke in college, or having an undetected and sudden blood clot that results in permanent health damage or death are life-threatening side effects that visit women of all faiths.

Women deserve to know the truth. They have been failed by physicians in not being warned of the physical damage that they are doing to their bodies, and they have been failed by their priests in not being warned of the spiritual damage that they are doing to their souls.

The New York Times article on Oct. 19 published information by "The Journal of the American Medical Association" that is a real breakthrough and victory for women's health. The exposure of this important medical information further reveals the outrage of Komen for the Cure giving $7.5 million back to Planned Parenthood in 2009. This was money from trustful donors who were unaware that they, indeed, gave to a cause working against the cure of breast cancer. Clearly, both abortion and hormonal contraception, a huge source of Planned Parenthood's income, are contributing risk factors for breast cancer.

October 2010 is the time to recognize the seamless pink ribbon that connects breast cancer with abortion, hormonal contraception and hormone replacement therapy. It is only then that we can get on with true prevention and, God willing, finish the race for the truth, which will then pave the path for the cure.

* * *

Jenn Giroux is the executive director of HLI America, a program of Human Life International. She is a registered nurse, wife, and mother of nine. She and her husband, Dan, live with their family in Cincinnati, Ohio. For more information go to

October 28, 2010


"All of us belong to a crossed species, even our Lady. The foremost handmaid of the Lord wanted some details, some explanation of God's doings. "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord." But also: "How shall this be done? I know not man." And the angel's reply was hardly something to answer the human question satisfactorily. "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee." But who is the Holy Spirit? "And the Holy to be born of you shall be called the Son of God." These are scarcely explanations that would have elicited a reply of "Oh, I see." No, she did not see."
The Annunciation (1898), by Henry Ossawa Tanner

October 26, 2010

"You Must Teach Them How to Use Their Freedom"

I am volunteering for a tutoring center that helps inner city girls do well in school, forms good study habits and good character, and helps the girls build skills to get them into college. The center focuses on girls from grades 4-12. My job is that of an 'adviser' to girls in 11th and 12th grade. No easy task. First, I have five girls I need to chat with for about 20 minutes each (and really, do you know me!?! 20 minutes only!?) and I basically talk to them about what is going on in life. I am to help them instill the cardinal (and theological) virtues in their lives. An even more difficult task.

Last week, we advisers had a training session with a priest who said something very profound that I have been mulling over all weekend. He told us that so often we (as human beings, that is) try to force people into the mold of what we think is right. We tell them ‘Do it this way, Say that, Don’t do this,’ etc. But he said, we cannot do that. For these girls and for all in our lives – we are to teach them how to use their freedom. They will do what they will do because they are simply free to do it. But our responsibility is to teach them how to use their freedom – how to be free. That is really, really hard. And who among us is not enslaved to some bad habit or annoying behavior? Is that not the very essence of sin – to be enslaved and to stifle our own freedom? How do you teach someone how to be free?

So far, I can only come up with this solution: “For you shall know the Truth and the Truth shall make you free.” Christ is Truth and by giving these girls that Truth, they will learn how to use their freedom. It's a delicate balance, I think, between imposition and informed guidance in freedom. And it is a line that I think, especially in jobs of education (and higher education) that we often see very blurred. For example, yesterday Julian spoke of the Gospel of Tolerance that insidiously affects us all. It's the gospel that I see these girls living by. As I said above, they are indeed free to do as they will. And they will often times choose to do the wrong thing. But it is by constantly bearing the person of Christ to them that we can show them (and ourselves) how to live freely.

October 24, 2010

The Gospel of Tolerance

I would love to write an essay on this topic, but teaching and extracurricular activities preclude me from it right now. However, I can post, and so, here goes.

Any thoughtful Catholic is aware of the "gospel of tolerance" that is being preached by our brothers and sisters in the Church. It's the "good news" that all are invited to the table of the Lord, because we can no longer call anything a sin if it can be attributed to nature. Since God created us as we are, we should allow everyone to be as they are, and to respect their life choices, lifestyles, and life trajectories. Live and let (others) live.

Somewhere or another, people are saying that this is a central tenant of Jesus' own message and preaching.

This "gospel" is poisonous for the Christian, in that it takes something good (refraining from one person passing judgment on another person's soul) but mixes that up with evaluating and judging actions, which is in fact, a moral imperative. We are called to evaluate moral action, character, and sin so as to elevate each other and ourselves to perfection in Christ. I am hearing this "gospel" preached from the pulpit, discussed at meetings (even at reputable Catholic institutions), and of course, from my students who think that any statement on morality is a statement of intolerance, bigotry, or closemindedness.
I'm at a loss right now as to how to convey how the tolerance of Christ is not equated with moral relativism. The truth is, that Jesus does no condemn us but at the same time elevates us to perfection. It's right here, in the actual gospel. How else can we convey that "anything and everything goes" is not, in fact, what Christ says? How can we talk about nature and its proper end?

October 23, 2010

Some Words to Live By

"He remains, being tempted in all those who are tempted, in those who are in mortal sin, He is in the tomb. We should never come to a sinner without the reverence that we would take to the Holy Sepulchre."

Reflect on it.

Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God

Photo Credit

October 22, 2010

Creative Solitude

T. F. Simon, "Vilma Reading a Book", 1912

"I seek to see my own moments of loneliness as an opportunity to enter more deeply into communion with Christ, and to allow Christ to transform loneliness into holy, fruitful, creative solitude."

--Maria (emphasis mine)

October 19, 2010

Woman Warrior: St. Mary MacKillop

This weekend Pope Benedict XVI canonized six saints, including the great Br. André (of Montreal), and St. Mary MacKillop, the first Australian born saint. According to reports, Australia had quite a party celebrating Sr. Mary of the Cross.
The first nun, and mother superior of the Josephite Sisters, Mary MacKillop is also somewhat of a rarity in the canon of saints--she was excommunicated for "insubordination" by a bishop. (Her excommunication lasted less than a year.)
The story goes as follows:

But the full story is that Mary MacKillop was excommunicated out of "revenge," in the words of one priest familiar with her life, for uncovering a case of sex abuse by a Father Keating, in a nearby parish. Paul Gardiner, S.J., the former postulator of MacKillop's canonization process, told an Australian television documentary a few days ago, "Priests being annoyed that somebody had uncovered it--that would probably be the way of describing it--and being so angry that the destruction of the Josephites was decided on." A statement from the Sisters of St. Joseph has confirmed that the documentary's reports are "consistent with" studies of the event.
--James Martin, S.J. in America Magazine via The Deacon's Bench. Read the whole story here.
She was clearly a remarkable woman, and a wonderful reminder to us that not only is there a role for women in the Church, but that we have something powerful to fight for: the protection of innocence in all its forms through our witness to the faith.

October 18, 2010


Has any ever written to a television station? Because I'm really close to doing so. I'm fed up with virginity being construed as some sort of deviation from nature.

As I was unpacking the last remnants of my trip to France this week, I decided to put on mindless television in the background, namely, Grey's Anatomy. Why? I have no idea. For some reason I'm still holding out hope that this show will touch on very human pain and redemption, but instead, it just riles me up.

One of the latest episodes was entitled, "Superfreak," and intended to tackle the fact that all of us, no matter how put together we seem, struggle with some sort of neurosis or fact about ourselves which can make us feel like a "freak," or just really odd. Someone suffered from arachnophobia, another from PTSD, and another....from being a 28-year-old virgin. As a 26-year-old virgin, I was infuriated, mostly because the young woman didn't seem to be bothered by it, until she was ceaselessly taunted by her colleagues and mocked during several of the vignettes.

My virginity is not something that I am ashamed of, nor is it something that I lord over people who are sexual active. It is something I am convicted about, and not something that makes me a "freak." Why is it okay to engage in all sorts of sexual behavior but not to remain chaste? Why isn't hooking up portrayed as the unnatural route instead of abstinence (which, by the way, was mocked on The Office this past week, too)? Why am I the one with the problem?

With a movie entitle, "The Virginity Hit," out in select theaters documenting a young boy's loss of virginity and mocking the experience, I want to scream loud and proud that this is not a disease, not something freakish. Will you join me?

October 16, 2010

Blasted Nature

You know that song "I Enjoy Being a Girl" Here it is just in case:
I pretty much feel this way sans the seductive looks and dancing in lingerie, but give me pink, frills, poofs, and curls any day!

But other days, I just want to be a metaphysical rebel - like rebel against the very metaphysics of being a woman. Seriously - why do I have to be hung up on the feeling of being loved and loving someone else? Women, I believe, experience this in a way totally different from men. I believe that our desire to be loved by that "brave and free male" that our lovely lady above sings about is so utterly and metaphysically female. And I hate/love it! I hate it because of my previous experiences this year, as you might guess. I hate not being able to shut off my emotions sometimes and I just want to rebel.

Does anyone else feel a little split like me, or am I just one of the crazies? Probably the latter....So perhaps you might be able to give me some suggestions!

October 15, 2010

Happy Feast of St. Theresa of Avila

To have courage for whatever comes in life -- everything lies in that.
--St. Theresa of Avila

October 14, 2010

All Eyes on Chile!

I don't know about you all, readers, but I have been sitting on the edge of my seat watching these miners being pulled to safety in that tiny little capsule. What joy that they are all out safely with NO PROBLEMS! What I love most about the coverage has been the place of God in the story - at the beginning and the end! Above is Esteban Rojas who knelt to the ground to pray after he emerged from that capsule. According to CNN,
Rojas' wife Jessica Yanez grasped onto a religious tapestry with Mary on it as she awaited to see her husband - the 18th man to be lifted from underground.

As soon as he exited the capsule Rojas too knelt down on the ground, clasped his hands in prayer and lifted his hands to the sky to praise God. His wife then wrapped the tapestry around him as they hugged and cried as workers rallied in a Chile chant.
A friend of mine also passed on this news story to me. In this article,
Jimmy Sanchez, one of the 33 Chilean miners who have been trapped for over two months in the San Jose copper-gold mine in the Atacama Desert, would like to make one small correction to all the stories about life in the mine:

“There are actually 34 of us,” the nineteen-year-old miner wrote in a letter sent up from the mine on Tuesday, "because God has never left us down here."
What joy! God is so good - so many prayers poured out for these men. One thing this shows in a way words just cannot express - life is good, precious, worthy and so very BEAUTIFUL! Let's bask in it!

Here are the men from a BBC article

Florencio Avalos (31), Mario Sepulveda (39), Juan Illanes (51), Carlos Mamani (23), Jimmy Sanchez (19), Osman Araya (30), Jose Ojeda (46), Claudio Yanez (34), Mario Gomez (63), Alex Vega (31), Jorge Galleguillos (56), Edison Pena (34), Carlos Barrios (27), Victor Zamora (33), Victor Segovia (48), Daniel Herrera (27), Omar Reygadas (56), Esteban Rojas (44), Pablo Rojas (45), Dario Segovia (48), Yonni Barrios (50), Samuel Avalos (43), Carlos Bugueno (27), Jose Henriquez (54), Renan Avalos (29), Claudio Acuna, (35), Franklin Lobos (53), Richard Villarroel (27), Juan Aguilar (49), Raul Bustos (40), Pedro Cortez (24), Ariel Ticona (29), Luis Urzua (54)

October 13, 2010


Well, thanks for your prayers. I am back safe and sound from Paris, and I miss it already. Maybe it is because my ancestors are European, or maybe it is because I needed a retreat from my routine, but the three days abroad refreshed my soul and spirit. I already feel a tangible propensity toward anxiety now that I am back in my routine of grading, answering emails, and responding to demands at work. The time away allotted me several sweet moments with the Lord and with myself that I didn't know I needed. God is indeed very generous.

I will tell you that our beloved patroness is to be found everywhere in Paris. Just when I thought I had seen the last of her, Mary Magdalene showed up in all of her glory. It was a reminder to me not only to pray for my two sisters on this blog, but that the Lord was looking out for me, and is looking out for me, in my life in the present moment. He is so good and generous to appear to us in His creation, most notably the saints. I found Magdalene in Versailles, possibly on the facade of Notre Dame (though I'm still trying to confirm this), and in the Louvre, respectively.

I also ask you to pray for the respose of the soul of my family's very dear, dear friend. She passed away on Monday night after a battle with ALS. This woman was so supportive of me at very critical times in my college experience as well as a good friend to my brother, mother, and father at different points in their lives. For the blessing of friends, Lord, I praise you.

May the souls of faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Notre Dame, pray for us.

October 6, 2010

Prayer Request!


Please pray for me. I'm taking a trip to Paris for a few days on behalf of our World Youth Day tour next year with my students. I will offer up prayers for you all en route and in Notre Dame!

With love,

October 5, 2010

I'm Not Looking for Average

Earlier this week I had a post written on "dating outside of the Catholic bubble." I was reflecting on the great parts of finding stimulating conversation that revolved around non-religious part of life, getting a fresh perspective on things, and being pursued by a man who just knew what to do in the initial stages of dating. I was also going to comment on the challenges of things like asking to say grace at dinner, talking about certain aspects of my job as a theology teacher, and wondering about other expectations that don't always need to be specified when dating a Catholic (or Christian).

However, I don't feel the need to go into detail about those things in light of my most recent dates. I have an inkling that with the right person, even if he is not a practicing Catholic or even a religious person, that certain things would work themselves out. As someone becomes more invested in another person, what is important to their significant other becomes interesting (even if not totally applicable to them).

However, I don't know if I can make it work with the average guy. I don't know if I'm convinced that the average guy of today's world will find some of the things that are integral to me to be something that would be integral to him. The average guy probably wouldn't think it's weird to have a calendar of provocative pictures up in his office. The average guy probably wouldn't see anything wrong with sleeping in the same bed a month into dating. The average guy wouldn't think it was off-putting to tell you he got your number when he was seeing someone else.

I guess, though, I'm not looking for average after all.

October 4, 2010


I love my country, really I do. But there are times when I am ashamed of her. Like for this: in the 1940's, US officials infected about 1,500 of men in Guatemala with STD's to do experiment. They allowed prostitutes carrying syphilis and gonorrhea to visit them and infect them. After penicillin was discovered as a cure, these men were not given the drug. Rather, the US gave them free meals...and free prostitutes. Shame. Just imagine a world where human dignity was respected all the time. Oh, Jesus, Have Mercy on us!!!
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