My Spring Reading List!

After the heavier reading of Lent, I thought I'd like to continue some inspirational spiritual reading through the Easter season as well. 

Here's my book list!

Private and Pithy lessons from Scripture - Mother Angelica
Little Book of Life Lessons - Mother Angelica
Three to Get Married - Fulton Sheen
The Little Oratory
Diary Sister Faustina
Getting Past Perfect - Kate Wicker
The Words We Pray - Amy Welborn
Perfectly Yourself - Matthew Kelly 
Crossing the Threshold of Hope - Pope John Paul II

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EIFWAIL and Catholic Teaching.

Some of my readers may remember the tumultuous months of February through May of 2005 on this blog. If you remember this, and this and this, you will probably be interested in this.

I find that I still can't discuss this without a lot of emotion and I don't want to stir up any more hostility so I just want to point out three admissions in this post that had they been made back in 2005 probably would have saved a lot of bandwidth, time and energy.

1. Finally an admission that this decision "flatly denied church teaching and authority."

2. And that the church authorities who were continuously thrust into the discussion as "knowing the whole story," "didn’t believe that Catholic thought had caught up with the Science or dealt with our specific reality."

3. Secondary effect didn't apply here.

I absolutely hold to the belief that the Catholic Church is absolutely right on this issue. Life is a precious gift. It needs to be supported, nurtured and honored. Where there is life, there is hope.

Addendum  July 9, 2008

 Back in November 2007 Anne, who long time readers from 2005 will probably remember, wrote of her struggle with her Catholic faith and her decision to undergo elective induction of her daughter who had anomalies incompatible with life (EIFWAIL)

Anne wrote:

And where homosexuality is concerned, I accept the Authority of the Church and will not be a homosexual. Funny, but it’s taken me three years to come to the place where I can deal with my bigger issue of rebellion and church Authority. And it’s not in the area that this person and I were discussing. It’s actually with regards to Sarah. My induction for a child incompatible with life is something that this person has been supportive of me on. Funny, she never questioned my faith or encouraged me to leave the church over it. And yet, it is the area that I flatly denied church teaching and authority.

My Parish supported me because those who had all of the information didn’t believe that Catholic thought had caught up with the Science or dealt with our specific reality, which was a child who couldn’t live and could kill me. Catholic thought really only deals with babies incompatible with life who pose no risk to the mother, as in cases of anencephaly. But, according to the Church, I had to be literally about to die before the induction would be licit. I didn’t think I needed to risk my life to give a few more weeks in utero to a baby who couldn’t live outside of me. Especially when later would mean more pain and suffering for her. I believed both then and now that allowing her to be born gently and whole was the best for both of us, though the decision broke my heart and has left a wound that will never fully heal.

So, I don’t believe the Church has authority to advise me on that. Nor do I think the Church should be teaching me things that can’t be backed up in Scripture or Christian Tradition. So, am I a Catholic? Even if I love the Church and don’t want to leave? I don’t know.

As I spent a lot of bandwidth on this topic I blogged on this here as an addendum to our discussions.  I did not mention Anne's name, only a link to her comment.  This was in November.

Today Anne and of course her BFF Jennifer decide to take me to task for it - a full  8 months after the original posting.  Anne writes:

This was a very emotional post for me to write. One would think that in reading it a sister-in-Christ would be moved perhaps to pray for me, or to write me some words of encouragement. Instead Elena posted this response on her blog:

I actually opted not to get ripped apart in her com boxes at all.  Particularly since Anne had commented last year in my com boxes that "I wasn't worth it" I didn't think she would be terribly interested in anything that I had to say.  It was not my purpose to rehash the entire episode, but to merely point out some information that those who debated against EIFWAIL were not privy to at the time.

No Anne, I got that you were struggling with your faith.  I've been aware of that since 2005.  My purpose was not to advise or counsel you either way on that.  Rather you argued pretty heavily that you had Catholic priests and DREs advising you that your decision was licit.  You never EVER mentioned that they disagreed with the church's teaching.  That was a pertinent piece of the puzzle that was missing for us in 2005.

I’m responding here because I need to put it out there somewhere.

Private LJ entry - works for me!

I’m still struggling with whether or not I’m a Catholic anymore and it’s posts like those that push me one way, and posts like Doug Phillips that push me the other. I don’t want to follow a faith that has so little real respect for life that they would sacrifice two on the alter of a principle that is supposed to be about preserving and honoring life.

I think you are misjudging and misinterpreting what the church teaches on this.

So here is Anne's letter to me on her blog.

Dear Elena,

I’m so sorry that the death of my baby is such an emotional topic for you. I guess I never considered your feelings about the loss of my daughter. How selfish of me. But it occurs to me that if it’s a difficult topic for you (and Lord knows it is for me) and that you don’t want to stir up hostility (which you did) perhaps you should stop blogging about it. Just a thought.

Just to put in a little perspective at that time in 2005 I too was pregnant with my 6th child.  I had previously had a stillbirth in 2002 for an unknown reason.  I never had the opportunity or the choice to be able to hold or see that child alive.  The  time period from February to June of 2005 was full of high emotion. As you say Jennifer  - the full story and all of that.

But I object that I stirred up the hostility here.  I made a posting in November 2007.  Anne chose to comment on it publicaly eight months later!  I submit that she is the one stirring the pot.

1. Yes, my induction was against church teaching that says that one must be in immediate danger before ending a pregnancy. My life wasn’t there yet, but if I had waited I could have died. It was also against church teaching because when they deal with poor fetal prognosis, they don’t deal with what that means when it’s also a risk to the mother.

Does anyone have the source that says that the mother must be in immediate danger before ending a pregnancy?  The literature I have and that I shared with Anne in 2005 was that it was proportional danger.The risks must be proportionate.

2. Yes, Elena, they didn’t believe that church teaching had caught up to the Science, because it hasn’t. You’re thought on this is a prime example. To you, our induction wasn’t licit because you believe it was just due to Sarah’s fatal prognosis. In fact, it was not. Our decision was based on the danger to me.

Acutally I got that part too.  You were quite vocal as time went on about how this was because of a danger to you.  That was the key to the entire controversy which you declined at the time to share with your readers. You said it was "private."   I am utterly amazed that now this information is "unclassified."  I'm also wondering what was so private about it and why in all the reasons you gave, this was not one of them.

And Catholic thought hasn’t caught up on that either. Long ago one only knew that the mother’s life was in danger when she was literally about to die. That isn’t the case anymore.

I don't think it is the Catholic teaching that is out of date.  Perhaps your DRE gave you outdated literature?

3. Our induction was dealing with secondary effect and your saying that it isn’t is spreading information about me which isn’t true. Our biggest danger was a placenta which didn’t like to stick to the uterine wall. I bled quite a bit in my pregnancy to the point that they told me not to come back to the ER unless it was over a pad an hour. That’s a lot of blood. As the placenta got bigger the danger of hemorrhage would grow. The induction was to remove the danger of hemorrhage, and the loss of Sarah was secondary.

All of which is information that you never mentioned in 2005 despite numerous requests from different people for the information.   But now I'm confused.  First you say it was against church teaching, then you submit that was licit secondary effect.  If it was secondary effect it was licit. But  you have also said in the past that it wasn't secondary effect?  I can't keep up!

I know that you believe that it is important to shout to the rooftops what you believe to be right, good, and true. But again, I implore you to consider that perhaps it’s equally important to do so with love and genuine concern about the people involved? Jesus may have thrown over the tables of the money-changers in the temple, but those individuals that he knew to be in sin he treated with tenderness, mercy, and compassion. Something I haven’t seen you extend to me through all of this.

 Anne, I donated $20 to your Paypal account at the time.  I looked it up because I wondered if I had imagined it.  Never, in all of that time during these heated exchanges of Elena is a _________ (fill in your favorite slur)  have you ever mentioned it in these discussions. That sure seemed like genuine concern to me.

  I would also like to direct you to this comment.
 I once asked you:

You know Ann, I would like a concrete example of something I wrote that you felt was wrong, bad, mean, hurtful uncompassionate etc. Because I honestly don't see that.

And you replied:

. I can't give you an example of a place where you were mean, there isn't one

Over time you keep popping over here to dredge up the past again and plead your case.  Our exchanges have been more heated since then.  But at the time I was very considerate of your feelings

There is only one thing I wanted you to learn in all of this. There is right and wrong in the world, but it is far more complex than you ever see. We real human beings live in a world that’s messy and difficult, and we look to God, and to each other to find our way through it. Please I ask that you would consider these words:

You might consider that yourself Anne the next time you decide to spontaneously get a lynch mob together.  Now I truly hope this is the last time we discuss the events of your 2005 EIFWAIL.

Related links.

Where I apparently tore Lindsey to shreds here and apparently here.

Sallie here  and here.

An endorsement from Cecily is in my sidebar and numerous friendly e-mails on gmail.

Shutting my own personal door on the entire era.

Second pre-term baby born.
Women who have an abortion could be risking the health of their next baby, it emerged last night. Those who terminate a pregnancy are subsequently more likely to give birth prematurely, with two or more abortions more than doubling the odds.

Jennifer apologizes - sort of:

(As an aside, I realize that I am getting a small taste of my own medicine here.  We weren't always that kind on the blog either.  I understand that and now I empathize with those people that we judged wrongly.  It can be quite annoying, if not painful, to see your words twisted to mean something completely different than what you intended.  And it never feels good to be unfairly judged.  May God forgive me for those times I was guilty of that.)


  1. I know that the Catholic family I know who "prematurely birthed" their almost five month old baby (fetus) has been destroyed by the decision. It was made by the mother and objected to by the father.
    The child would have died (or so they were told) shortly after birth since he did not have kidneys. The mother saw no need to put the family through the expense or emotions of birthing a child to death.
    Four years and many arguements later- they stay together to raise their other four. I feel that they will probably divorce shortly after the last one goes to college unless there is some admission of wrongness and healing begins. I further am convinced that their three girls - all of whom knew of the circumstances since mom is totally open- will be much more likely to abort for ANY reason they see fit- no matter or not that they all spend 12 years in a conservative Catholic school. The parental lesson has been shared and learned.
    I do not know who came up with the idea of inducing a child early is anything BUT abortion. It is a horrid idea.
    Sad- very sad.

  2. I have been looking at your blog for a short while so I had to go back and read to catch up.

    When I was in residency, I had a patient whose unborn baby was diagnosed with anencephaly, which is incompatible with life. My patient was not Catholic by any means, but I was one of the few staunchly Catholic residents there and I think God must have planned it that way. I told her I would help her all I could and see her every week if she needed it and encouraged her not to have an abortion, which is what it is if the baby is alive!

    She did consider abortion, but by that time in her pregnancy it was too expensive and she continued the pregnancy. I spent much time with her and when the baby was full-term, we planned an induction. During the induction she requested a C-section so that she would have the few minutes to hours to be with him and hold him(the chances of the baby being born alive were low with vaginal delivery). I found an OB who would do it and I had a wonderful neonatolgist there. A woman from the local crisis pregnancy center who had helped me with counseling and sonograms was there in the room with videocamera in hand.

    The baby was born alive and lived for 23 hours. The woman and her family took many pictures, named him, and have many precious memories of him. I know it wasn't easy for her, but there was a reason for all of it. It affected me and many others who witnessed it very profoundly.


  3. Non-Catholics have asked if it is hard to go to confession. I've thought about it, and IME there are several kinds of sins. The first is the everyday variety, I do them, I'm pretty sure you do them, we don't plan to, we just do and through work, we may reduce these, but they aren't going away. I find those easy to confess. Then there are the "I can't believe I did that sins"--whether mortal or not, I know I screwed up, I feel awful about it and want them washed away. Some may be embarrasing and hard to confess for that reason, but generally desire to be clean outweighs the embarrasment factor. The last category are sins I thought about and purposefully decided to do. Those are the hard ones to confess. Why? Because confessing them #1 requires that I admit they were wrong and #2 requires me to make some change. I think your friend is going through this now,.


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