Category: Disability, Sickness & Suffering

Erring on the Side of Life
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Erring on the Side of Life

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The history of human knowledge as it relates to the human body is a fascinating and terrible thing. In every age, the ability for physicians and other medical practitioners to effectively treat wounds or combat disease has been constrained by the technology – or lack thereof – available at the time. In the past, people […]

Derogatory Labels for People
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Derogatory Labels for People

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Words can be so cruel and degrading. There was a time in the 19th Century when North American natives were commonly called “savages”. The term was used to dehumanize first nations people in order to take their land. I remember a time when people with a mix of Aboriginal-European descent were called “half-breeds”. Somebody at […]

Not According to Plan
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Not According to Plan

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There are the plans we make, and then there are God’s plans. Sometimes, they line up. Take for instance last week. I thought I had it all figured out. Easy trip to the airport with one small caveat, the necessary requirement of bringing the old family dog into the friendly skies. Never having done this […]

From Angels We Have Heard
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From Angels We Have Heard

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“The Word became flesh” (John 1.14) is a central tenet of Christian truth. It’s what Christmas is about ? not some little fat man in a red suit. Jesus is the Word that became flesh. The Incarnation: God made man.  It is a unique and singular historical event so significant that the universe rejoiced. Saint […]

The Power of Prayer: Does Prayer Heal?
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The Power of Prayer: Does Prayer Heal?

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There is much debate on whether or not prayer can help a person heal from a physical malady. There have been numerous studies to test whether patients would heal faster and have fewer complications while healing if they knew that others were praying for their recovery. The results are mixed. Some find that no, there […]

Hidden Treasures
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Hidden Treasures

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Working with the ‘least’ among us in nursing homes Over the years, I have had some interesting and exciting professional experiences as an interviewer and a writer. But nothing quite compares to my time visiting people in nursing homes. I’ve lived in six states, visited a number of facilities, and my interest hasn’t waned. Sometimes […]

Down Syndrome Does Not Make Life Disposable
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Down Syndrome Does Not Make Life Disposable

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The Holy Father’s universal prayer intention for September was, “That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.” This is such a timely prayer. In recent weeks there has been a steady drumbeat to dehumanize and marginalize those with mental challenges, especially those with Down syndrome. For example, […]

Happy Boy Makes Mass
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Happy Boy Makes Mass

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Last year I remember rushing into mass minutes before the opening song. Exhausted from hours of setting up for a ministry event, I was unable to prepare for mass properly. Sliding into my usual spot I jumped to attention as the procession began. My eyes naturally scanned the area directly across the expanse to those […]

Go Through Doors of New Possibilities
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Go Through Doors of New Possibilities

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Helen Keller was deaf and blind from early childhood, yet she became one of the great humanitarians of the 20th Century. When news of her death in 1968 came over the radio, I remember my father said, “There goes a great person.” I was fifteen years old at the time and too self-absorbed to care […]

An Open Discussion About Suicide Might Save Someone's Life
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An Open Discussion About Suicide Might Save Someone’s Life

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Funny, talented, wealthy, generous, admired people aren’t supposed to want to die. People are supposed to live beyond the age of 63, Robin Williams’ age when he died August 11. People aren’t supposed to die by suicide. Yet, Williams is no different from thousands of other Americans who die that way. More than 39,000 people […]

Book Review: Mortal Blessings
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Book Review: Mortal Blessings

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I am a daughter of aging parents. While I don’t know the day or the hour, I know that the time is coming when I will need to walk with them on their final journey home. Death is part of life, and as a Catholic, I understand that it is the doorway to a different […]

Including People with Schizophrenia
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Including People with Schizophrenia

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My wife, LaRee, never knew her maternal grandmother: Her name was Dora and she suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Dora was institutionalized in a mental hospital in 1932 at 34 years of age. Eighty-two years ago the shame and stigma of having a family member in a mental institution was so great that few people in the family […]

A Path to Freedom and Peace for Young People With Addiction
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A Path to Freedom and Peace for Young People With Addiction

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The culture of death has many pillars and many faces. One such pillar, surely is the tragedy of drug and alcohol addiction. Not only does addiction slowly kill the addict (physically, spiritually and emotionally), but sexual impurity is often associated with drug and alcohol abuse, which leads to many unplanned pregnancies and abortions. A friend […]

Including People With Downs
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Including People With Downs

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A Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) news blog featured a story about A new line of clothing for people with Downs Syndrome has been launched. Karen Bowersox of Mentor OH, has developed a clothing line specifically for people with the condition. Being an advocate for people with disabilities, I took note of the story. It’s not […]

Why I Keep Returning to the Music of Beethoven
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Why I Keep Returning to the Music of Beethoven

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In the great treasury of music, I keep finding myself coming back again and again to Beethoven. You may think it’s because he was one of the greatest composers who ever lived despite his deafness. That is true, everybody loves great music and everybody loves an over-comer. But there’s something more that keeps drawing me […]

Our Children Radiate the Joy of the Gospel
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Our Children Radiate the Joy of the Gospel

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I was recently reading about an upcoming conference at the Vatican entitled “The Pastoral Project of Evangelii Gaudium” to implement the Holy Father’s new apostolic exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel”. The keynote speaker is Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche communities, a group of homes for the disabled where their gifts are cherished. For a […]

Be Not Afraid! St. John Paul II’s Key to Building a Culture of Life
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Be Not Afraid! St. John Paul II’s Key to Building a Culture of Life

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The recent canonization of Saint John Paul II offers an impetus to reflect on both his life and his papacy. The Pope’s leadership of the Catholic Church was exemplified by his signature phrase “Be not afraid!” Yet, what exactly was he exhorting the faithful to face without fear? Pope John Paul II first uttered this […]

A Market for Disability: Down Syndrome and the Economic Imagination
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A Market for Disability: Down Syndrome and the Economic Imagination

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In a powerful profile of his son Jamie, a young man with Down syndrome, Michael Be?rube? explores some of the key challenges that those with disabilities face when trying to enter the workforce: The first time I talked to Jamie about getting a job, he was only 13. But I thought it was a good idea to […]

Life's Trials and Hope in Christ
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Life’s Trials and Hope in Christ

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A number of months ago I accepted a request to speak at a Baptist church about an hour and a half drive from where I live. They asked me to speak about the rising acceptance of euthanasia and assisted suicide in Canada, and my Christian perspective about suffering. Unfortunately as the date drew nearer, this […]

Boomers in the Middle
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Boomers in the Middle

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Somewhere along the expanse of rails from New Haven to New York, as I daydreamed during the two-hour train ride to visit my dad in the hospital and take my mom back to the apartment, I realized the accuracy of the term “sandwich generation.” This was my second weekend trip to New York in so […]

A Study of Transcending Disability
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A Study of Transcending Disability

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I keep a bust of Ludwig van Beethoven on the fireplace mantle in my home. It reminds me of the human capacity to overcome adversity to achieve great things. When I doubt myself in my own acquired disability of multiple sclerosis, I listen to Beethoven — particularly his 9th symphony — written in total deafness, […]

Little Lents, Little Easters
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Little Lents, Little Easters

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There are few things as toxic as envy.  Schadenfreude, envy’s cousin, is close.  To envy means to mistrust Jesus.  It is to say, in effect, that God has erred in what He has given you,  where He has placed you and what He has made you. When I am the object of someone’s envy, I […]

Our Risen Lord Gives us Strength to Build a Culture of Life
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Our Risen Lord Gives us Strength to Build a Culture of Life

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If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, will he not also give us all things with him? (Romans 8:31) This exhortation by Saint Paul vividly expresses the full extent of the love of God the Father and […]

Down Syndrome Discovery Has Implications for Human Genetic Engineering
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Down Syndrome Discovery Has Implications for Human Genetic Engineering

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The 21st human chromosome is the smallest of all our chromosomes. It contains a few hundred genes and is only 1% of our total DNA. As most people know, an extra chromosome 21 causes Down Syndrome. What most people did not know, until research published this week, is that tiny chromosome has an effect across […]

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