Friday, July 22, 2011

Stem Cells- What's Moral and What's New in the News

I love this one!

If you're confused about the stem cell controversy, you're not alone. What's the big hype? Why are people saying it's not ethical? I hope to sort it out for you and share some news from the science community about what's going on with stem cells.

Basically, as a Catholic, a mommy, and a compassionate person, I cannot condone embryonic stem cell research because it involves the destruction of a human embryo. A human embryo is a human life and therefore, killing it is murder, which is against the Fifth Commandment.

There are also what they call adult stem cells. These come from cord blood (the blood from your baby's umbilical cord when he or she is born), and from various organs around your body. The main role of adult stem cells is to maintain and repair tissue in your body. There is nothing morally wrong with using adult stem cells in research and medicine because nobody has to die to obtain them.

Adult stem cells have been used for years for treatments in such things as leukemia and spinal injuries. Recently, they've been used to grow a human heart. Read about it here.

Here's an older article, but I thought it was interesting because it lists loads of uses for adult stem cells. Read that here.

The nice thing about adult stem cell therapy is you can use the patient's own cells, which work more in harmony with his or her body. A foreign cell would seen as an invader and could be rejected.

If you would like to know what the Vatican says on the subject, go here to read Declaration on the Production on the Scientific and Therapeutic Use of Human Embryonic Stem Cells.

I was excited to read about a new development. Read it at LifeNews.

Two scientists independently devised a way to force adult stem cells to behave more like embryonic stem cells. I love this quote from Dr. Shinya Yamanaka:

“When I saw the embryo, I suddenly realized there was such a small difference between it and my daughters, I thought, we can’t keep destroying embryos for our research. There must be another way.”

Or, as one of my daughters said, after I briefly explained embryonic stem cell research, "Why would anybody donate their baby for that? It's like abortion!"


*Links to image sources embedded in image captions.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Catholic Nonfiction for Kindle

I enjoy my Kindle ebook reader. I can take it anywhere, even read in the sun, and carry so many books on it! I'm pleased on the number of titles available for Kindle- fiction and nonfiction and some of it FREE.

Today's post will highlight some of the Catholic nonfiction books you can get for your Kindle. While I haven't read every one of these books cover to cover, I trust all of these authors to be knowlegable about the Catholic faith.

I like that you can get Kindle books instantly and without worrying about shipping cost. Plus, I can highlight and make tons of notes in my Kindle books, something I didn't realize I'd be able to do until I got my Kindle.

The following isn't a complete list, but it can get you started. I encourage you to especially check out the other books by these authors.

(Prices are current as of when this post was written.)

The Ignatius Bible ($9.99)
Product Description
A completely new design and typeset edition of the popular Ignatius Revised Standard Version-Catholic Edition Bible, with minor revisions to some of the archaic language used in the first edition. This revised version is a contemporary English translation without dumbing-down the text. This second edition of the RSV doesn't put the biblical text through a filter to make it acceptable to current tastes and prejudices, and it retains the beauty of the RSV language that has made it such a joy to read and reflect on the Word of God.

Product Description
The popular apologist and author of the bestselling Catholicism and Fundamentalism provides insightful answers to 52 of the most common misconceptions about the Catholic Faith that are held by Protestants and Catholics. He draws on Scripure and Church teaching to provide clear explanations about misunderstood Catholic beliefs.

I think this is a valuable book to have on Kindle because you can carry it with you and when you get a tough question about the Faith and you don't know the answer, (or you get tongue tied from nerves), you have a ready resource.

The National Catholic Register ($1.99 per month)
Product Description
Get a complete picture on the day's issues from the perspective of the Catholic faith. Get news, trends, Q&A and more, plus fascinating commentary from our unparalleled staff of bloggers: Mark Shea, Jimmy Akin, Pat and Matthew Archbold, Jennifer Fulwiler, Simcha Fisher, Edward Pentin, Steven D. Greydanus, Matthew Warner, Tim Drake and the Register's editors.

Kindle blogs are fully downloaded onto your Kindle so you can read them even when you're not wirelessly connected. And unlike RSS readers which often only provide headlines, blogs on Kindle give you full text content and images, and are updated wirelessly throughout the day.

Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life by Karina Fabian and Steve Lumbert ($2.99)
Many times one sees Roman Catholicism explained using either closely reasoned theology or an appeal to ancient writers of the Church. While both are legitimate approaches, the average reader looking to explore the faith is often left cold. In their collaboration, Why God Matters, Deacon Steven Lumbert and his daughter, Karina Lumbert Fabian, delineate the Catholic Faith as experienced by a pair of average, everyday people like the great majority who make up the 24 percent of Americans who share this religion.

In the stories of this pair, one see both ways people come to Catholicism, by birth ('cradle Catholics') and by conversion. Their descriptions of their separate paths thankfully lack the religiosity of the all too common 'and then a miracle takes place' school of religious experience. Rather than blasts of light, fiery swords, spiritual fistfights, and angelic choirs, theirs is the long religious slog of the everyday. The effort that one must put out each day in the long trek to Heaven.

What is Catholicism really like? One would be hard-put to find a better verbal painting of the faith so many call their own.

Signs of Life: 40 Catholic Customs and Their Biblical Roots by Scott Hahn ($11.99)
Product Description
Signs of Life is beloved author Scott Hahn’s clear and comprehensive guide to the Biblical doctrines and historical traditions that underlie Catholic beliefs and practices. Devoting single chapters to each topic, the author takes the reader on a journey that illuminates the roots and significance of all things Catholic, including: the Sign of the Cross, the Mass, the Sacraments, praying with the saints, guardian angels, sacred images and relics, the celebration of Easter, Christmas, and other holidays, daily prayers, and much more.

In the appealing conversational tone that has won him millions of devoted readers, Hahn presents the basic tenets of Church teachings, clears up common misconceptions about specific rituals and traditions, and responds thoughtfully to the objections raised about them. Each chapter concludes with loving, good-natured, inspiring advice on applying the Church’s wisdom to everyday life.

150 Bible Verses Every Catholic Should Know by Patrick Madrid ($9.68)
Product Description
Essential Scripture verses and their meaning for Catholics.

I think that's a fabulous one to have on you when you have a few moments waiting in a doctor's office and such.

Summa Theologica by Thomas Aquinas ($ .99)
Product Description
The Summa Theologica (Latin: "Summary of Theology" or "Highest Theology") is the most famous work of Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274). It was intended as a manual for beginners as a compilation of all of the main theological teachings of the time. It summarizes the reasoning of all points of Christian theology, which before the Protestant Reformation subsisted solely in the Roman Catholic Church. The Summa's topics follow a cycle: the existence of God; God's creation, Man; Man's purpose; Christ; the Sacraments; and back to God. It is famous for its five arguments for the existence of God, the Quinquae viae (Latin: five ways). Throughout his work, Aquinas cites Augustine of Hippo, Aristotle, and other Christian, Jewish, Muslim and ancient pagan scholars.

This is an electronic edition of the complete book and includes an author biography. This book features a table of contents linked to every chapter.

On Prayer and the Contemplative Live by Thomas Aquinas (FREE)
This short book presents excerpts from his "Summa Theologica."

A Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux (FREE)

A Pocket Guide to the Bible by Scott Hahn ($5.56)
Product Description
The perfect how-to for easy and fast Scripture reference and comprehension.
Using straightforward, accessible language, Scripture expert Scott Hahn explains the nuts and bolts of the Bible how it came to be, the types of literature found within it, and the thrust of each book in a handy, yet thorough way that demystifies the Bible and simplifies understanding.

I must tell you, while writing this blog I discovered this gem and bought it on the spot and I love it!

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton (FREE) Review

If G.K. Chesterton's Orthodoxy: The Romance of Faith is, as he called it, a "slovenly autobiography," then we need more slobs in the world. This quirky, slender book describes how Chesterton came to view orthodox Catholic Christianity as the way to satisfy his personal emotional needs, in a way that would also allow him to live happily in society. Chesterton argues that people in western society need a life of "practical romance, the combination of something that is strange with something that is secure. We need so to view the world as to combine an idea of wonder and an idea of welcome." Drawing on such figures as Fra Angelico, George Bernard Shaw, and St. Paul to make his points, Chesterton argues that submission to ecclesiastical authority is the way to achieve a good and balanced life. The whole book is written in a style that is as majestic and down-to-earth as C.S. Lewis at his best. The final chapter, called "Authority and the Adventurer," is especially persuasive. It's hard to imagine a reader who will not close the book believing, at least for the moment, that the Church will make you free. --Michael Joseph Gross

Did Jesus Have a Last Name? And 199 Other Questions From Catholic Teenagers by Jason Evert and Matthew Pinto ($8.99)
Product Description
Sequel to the best-seller, Did Adam & Eve Have Belly Buttons? This long-awaited sequel to the best-selling Did Adam & Eve Have Belly Buttons? uses the same easy-to-read, question-and-answer format that has proven successful in capturing the hearts and minds of Catholic teens. With 200 actual questions from teens, Did Jesus Have a Last Name? offers clear and concise answers to some of the most burning questions about the Catholic Faith. Teens will learn the answers to questions such as: • How can we believe in a God we can’t see?
• Is the Catholic faith the only true religion?
• Did the miracles in the Bible really happen?

The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to The Teachings of The Early Church by Jimmy Akin ($15.65) It seems expensive, but believe me, it's well worth it because it's packed with info.
Product Description
What Did Early Christians Really Believe? The Answer Will Surprise and Amaze You! The Fathers Know Best: Your Essential Guide to the Teachings of the Early Church is a unique resource that introduces you to the teachings of the first Christians in a way no other work can. It is specially designed to make it easy for you to find the information you want and need. Amazing features in this fact-packed book include:

More than 900 quotations from the writings of the early Church Fathers, as well as from rare and important documents dating back to the dawn of Christian history.

Mini-biographies of nearly 100 Fathers, as well as descriptions of dozens of key early councils and writings.

A concise history of the dramatic spread of Christianity after Jesus told his disciples to evangelize all nations.

Special maps showing you where the Fathers lived, including many little-known and long-vanished locations.

A guide to nearly 30 ancient heresies, many of which have returned to haunt the modern world.

The Fathers’ teaching on nearly 50 topics, including modern hot-button issues like abortion, homosexuality, and divorce.

This groundbreaking work presents the teachings of the early Christians in a way unlike any other book. It flings open the doors of the crucial but little-known age covering the birth of Christianity and the triumphant march of the gospel throughout the ancient world.

The Didache ($ .99)
Product Description
The Teaching of the Twelve- an early Christian compilation, written before much of the New Testament.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

My Ramblings About the Eucharist and Scripture: In which I mention pelicans, the big bang theory, and a certain science fiction hero

Today's blog post is mainly my musings about the Eucharist and scripture. I'm not posting to build a case for the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. That's for another post. I simply want to share my personal ...I hesitate to say revelations because it sounds so lofty and I'm about as unlofty as a person can get, but I can't think of another word.

It's strange, but lately it's often when I'm unfocused at Mass that the Eucharist has a dramatic effect on me. I'd have thought that when I was the most emotionally/religiously charged that I'd feeeel the most effect after receiving the Eucharist, but it seems that He is at work in a special way when I'm distracted. After receiving, He calls me back like he did when I was lost. I won't go into the experience because already I fear I'm starting to sound silly. I can't explain what it's like. Sometimes I cry and I'm not a crier.

Here's one of today's readings. It struck me profoundly.

(To always go back and look at the day's readings you can go here.)

Is 55:10-11

Thus says the LORD:
Just as from the heavens
the rain and snow come down
and do not return there
till they have watered the earth,
making it fertile and fruitful,
giving seed to the one who sows
and bread to the one who eats,
so shall my word be
that goes forth from my mouth;
my word shall not return to me void,
but shall do my will,
achieving the end for which I sent it.

Jesus is the Word of God- coming from the mouth of the Father and also the Bread of Life, put into our mouths in the Eucharist. For some reason, I am reminded of one symbol of God-- the pelican. I thought of how it feeds its young by regurgitating and the baby eats from the parent's throat.


People used to think they fed their young on their own blood, which is why it became the symbol of Christ. We now know it doesn't do that, but I think it's still a good symbol. (Check out the New Advent article on birds in Catholic symbolism for more.)

The words of Jesus in John 6:35 come to mind. "I am the bread of life."

They couldn't believe what he was saying. The Jews, you remember, didn't consume the blood of animals, let alone the blood of a person. The idea was ghastly to them. They're freaked- "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (John 6:51–52).

But Jesus doesn't back down or explain it as a metaphor or a parable, because it's literal. It's true.

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him" (John 6:53–56). 

I hope you'll read the entire discourse. It's important.

It occurred to me that Jesus feeds us because he is the one who gave us life. We always think of the Father as the "maker" but remember, the Trinity is all One God. It seems the world was made through Jesus, The Word.

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God...all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

I don't know how it was. If it was like in C.S. Lewis's Narnia book, The Magician's Nephew, in which Aslan (the Christ-like lion character) walks through the nothingness singing the world into existence. (Again, the word thing.) Or if it looked more like a big bang. (Read this to learn how a Catholic monk gave us the Big Bang Theory.)

We also read "The word became flesh and dwelt among us..." (John 1:14). That word of God, through whom everything and everyone was made (as we read above) became flesh like us. He's the maker and the makee. (Oh, spell check doesn't like that.) Fully human and fully divine.

God lives outside of time. He continues to offer himself. At every Mass, the priest acts as His agent, making the sacrifice and we are united outside of time and space with Jesus on the Cross and at the Last Supper. (For you fellow Whovians, Doctor Who fans, you can think of Jesus as the ultimate Time Lord.) If you're not a Doctor Who fan, never mind. :/

"Christ in the Eucharist" is a good article at Catholic Answers if you want more.

Friday, July 1, 2011

John Martignoni's Forty-Two Questions

Being a fan of the late author, Douglas Adams, I smile when the number 42 comes up in unexpected places. In case you haven't read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything. Unfortunately, the actual question itself is... well, a little unclear. :P

So, when I opened today's newsletter from  John Martignoni (of the Bible Christian Society), I was pleased as an intersteller hitchhiker with a pan galactic gargle blaster that he listed 42 questions useful for a Catholic apologist to have on the tip of his or her tongue. If another Christian is questioning your faith, you can use these to get them thinking.

The Eucharist
One of the questions is: "Where in the Bible does it list the books which should be part of the Bible? Scripture verse?" Another is: "Can God appear to you under any form He chooses? Yes or no?"

Anyway, you might want to go see the newsletter for youself because reading them all in order is important, as some of the questions build on eachother. While you're there, you can subscribe to the newsletter, check out his free MP3 downloads, booklets, and other things. Oh, gosh, I sound like an advertisement. LOL  No, he's not paying me. I never even met the man. The closest I've gotten to him is trying to imitate his super neato Alabama accent after listening to him on the radio.

Oh, I nearly forgot to tell you. Zip over to YouTube if you want to check out John Martignoni's channel, Crimson Catholic.

And for those of you in the United States, have a happy 4th of July! :)