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Assisted Reproductive Technologies Overcome: Keeping Faith with a Disability Respect Life Sarah

IVF Hurts People with Disabilities

IVF Hurts People with Disabilities My heart froze when I heard about the eradication of Down syndrome in Iceland. According to CBS News, “Since prenatal screening tests were introduced in Iceland in the early 2000s, the vast majority of women — close to 100 percent — who received a positive test for Down syndrome terminated their pregnancy.” Doctors perform these tests on a naturally conceived baby. They can also perform the test on fertilized embryos outside of the womb. When done as a part of IVF, the fertilized embryos not chosen are either discarded or never implanted. IVF helps eradicate down syndrome and potentially could harm other genetic disabilities. I want to live in a world where disabilities exist!

My relationship with other people with disabilities

My parents were my primary caregivers growing up with a disability. They helped assist me with daily living skills. Growing up with a disability, I didn’t have too many opportunities to rebel against my parents. One of my few moments of independence consisted of going away to summer camps. I would attend camps for people with disabilities. At these camps, we would get to participate in a wide range of activities. Some activities included canoeing, swimming, and arts and crafts. At the camps, there were multiple people with disabilities represented. Meeting people with different physical and mental capacities expanded my horizons. I met two young bright girls with Down Syndrome. Forget every stereotype you know about people with Down syndrome. these girls broke all of the stereotypes. They were witty, funny, and articulate. Did they have struggles? Yes, they struggled to focus and communicate with a group. They had to share their answer independently. This was very frustrating as a group leader. Yet, I’m glad we got to hear their voices. My experience helped me appreciate different perspectives. Yet given IVF technology, we are approaching a disability-free world.

What the Catechism says

A child is not something owed to one but is a gift. The “supreme gift of marriage” is a human person. A child may not be considered a piece of property, an idea to which an alleged “right to a child” would lead. In this area, only the child possesses genuine rights: the right “to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents,” and “the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.”170 (CCC 2378)
IVF is wrong because it invites a third party into the marital chamber. Likewise, it makes children into a product we choose. The movie Gattaca embodies this perfectly. The movie describes their first child as a product of love. Not wanting to make the same mistake for the second, the parents opt for IVF. The doctor asks them what they want for their child. The parents sheepishly reply that they were hoping to leave it up to chance. Then the doctor replies, “no you want to give your child the best of you.” He lists out their specifications and encourages them to choose a gender. It is no longer a product of love, but design.

Objection

A lot of people feel that it is wrong to knowingly bring a disabled child into this world. They argue that when all things are equal, having a healthy child offers more well-being. The argument is that disabled children are not harmed by not being brought into existence1. People, who make this argument, tend to value what a person can contribute.

Response

We need not look at disability as a disease that society needs to eradicate. Rather, we should see disability as a respectable form of human variation. Disability should be similar to sex, race, and ethnicity. It is morally suspect to choose males over females. Yet a similar decision occurs when we choose disabled over non-disabled. Furthermore, society dictates normal species functioning. Imagine if a majority sprouted wings and could fly. Society would consider those without wings to be disabled. As someone, who has a disability, I do not want to live in a world where disability no longer exists. My disability has made me a stronger and more resilient person. I am glad that those girls got to have a voice. We soon may be living in a world where people with Down Syndrome don’t exist.
  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1734131/pdf/v031p00231.pdf
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Ink Slingers Overcome: Keeping Faith with a Disability Sarah

Dating With Disability

Dating with Disability (1)

As a person with a disability, I can feel lost. Questions run through my head.

What will dating be like?

Will anyone ever love me?

What is my vocation?

Luckily The Catholic Church has always held a universal vocation:

all the faithful, whatever their condition or state – though each in his own way – are called by the Lord to that perfection of sanctity by which the Father himself is perfect. (CCC 825)

This gives me peace.

Regardless of my ability, I am called to holiness just like everyone else.

Yet I do feel this call to love another exclusively, intimately and completely.

The Catechism states

The vocation to marriage is written in the very nature of man and woman as they came from the hand of the Creator.

Disability should not exclude me or anyone from pursuing their God-given calling. While I am not married currently, I have been around long enough to confront some common misconceptions about dating and disability.

Here are five common misconceptions about dating and disability.

1. Must date other people with a disability

This began early on in my childhood.

I remember in middle school riding the bus for disabled children.

This year I rode with a young man with muscular dystrophy. Now no offense to this man, I was not attracted to him. Yet all the people on the bus insisted that we were a couple.

This was the first, but certainly not the last time I’d be paired with someone because we have similar disabilities.

I understand the appeal of having similar walks of life. Yet a lot more goes into a relationship such as communication, mutual interests, and attraction. Disability should have very little to do with it.

2. Feeling Like a burden

I’ll admit I have felt broken and inadequate.

I have often wondered why a guy would choose to someone who is, “broken” rather than another able-bodied individual. In these moments, I have felt unworthy of love.

This is the lies of the devil.

The Bible says, “I praise you for I am wonderfully made” Psalms 139:14 (RSV 2nd Catholic Edition).

You are not broken. You are not a burden to your future spouse. Both of you carry the cross together.

3. Can’t have children

One of the requirements for marriage is openness to life. As a person with a disability, society has challenged my ability to answer this call.

I remember my mom had taken me to the gynecologist. She had asked about options to regulate my period. The doctor looks at me and my mom and says, “well she’s never likely to have children anyway so we could just remove her uterus.”

As someone, who has achieved so much already, I refuse to believe motherhood would be an impossible challenge. After all, with God all things are possible.

4. Impure motives

I can tell when people feel sorry for me.

There’s a certain sweetness in their voice that gives it away.

I would never want to date or spend time with anyone, who didn’t see me as a person first. It is true that people taking advantage of people, who are disabled exist. The vast majority of interabled relationships are normal and healthy.

5. Dating disabled is boring

Two of my guy friends and I were at the beach for the 4th of July. We had passed by some jet skis. I had asked them if they had ever ridden one before. They said, “no”

At that moment, I realized that as a person, with a disability, I have had more exciting adventures than two able-bodied men. My life has definitely not been boring.

Yes, there will be something I cannot do or that may be more challenging to do.

I do think interabled relationships have unique challenges. I also believe that it can be rewarding. So if you’re disabled and feel God’s call to marriage, God will make a way.

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Ink Slingers Sarah

Passing on the Faith: Resources for Parents

Passing on the Faith Resources for Parents

As moms, we always want the best for our kiddoes. As Catholic moms, we want even more for our children when it comes to our faith. It’s an uphill battle sometimes, with today’s culture being what it is. But we are also living in a time teeming with resources just at our fingertips. Today, I want to share just a few of my favorites.

Podcasts: As a homeschooling mom to many, sometimes I just want a passive way to get the lessons into my kids little brains. We are a busy family, so we do spend a nice chunk of time in the car each day. When we moved our family from the center of town out to the country a few years ago, people told us that we’d be sorry for all the driving we’d be doing. Instead, I try to harness that time for chit chats, deep discussions, and some podcast listening {and of course, music. Or my favorite, silence!}

We LOVE the sweet little podcast Catholic Sprouts. Nancy kindly teaches the children a different lesson each day. She takes weighty topics and deep theology and, without watering it down, presents it to the kids in a way they can understand. It takes talent to teach kids well, and Nancy has that talent. Each episode is long enough to have great information, but short enough to keep the fleeting attention of a bunch of little kids. With a new podcast each day, this can be a nice little piece to your daily faith formation.

BooksMarigold Hunt is another person with an amazing ability to take the complexities of the Catholic Church and present them in an easy to understand format for children. We have read through both Life of Our Lord for Children and The First Christians. We tend to hop back and forth between them, depending on where we are in the liturgical year. Life of Our Lord is an excellent Advent and Lent companion.

Toys: Play is a child’s work and it’s the absolute best way he can learn and really internalize the world and the lessons presented to him. Heidi, from Work and Play, Day by Day has a whole host of Catholic Montessori resources to guide parents in teaching the faith to their children. Her advent collection looks excellent! When children can work with their hands and create while they learn, they hold onto that information much more readily. Heidi’s thoughtfully created, hands on resources are invaluable tools.

My Catholic Kids: Here are a few more fun card games and books to help the kids learn the saints. Saints are the Church in heaven, so these cards give the kids a chance to get to know and befriend these Catholics who have gone before us. What better way to learn to want to emulate these holy people, than through a fun little game of cards.

There are so many high quality tools today to help us pass on our faith to our children. These are really just a few of the ones we love.

What tools to you use and love with your kids?

 

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Ink Slingers Offering your suffering Overcome: Keeping Faith with a Disability Prayer Sarah Series

When Healing Hurts: How I Almost Lost My Faith.

Overcome: Keeping Faith with a Disability

The Beginning of Doubt

I exited the Taco Bell, oblivious to the event that would forever change my life. At the time, I was a young 13-year-old girl with Cerebral Palsy. My mom had hired a companion to work the weekends in order for me to have more independence. I was waiting for my companion to start the car when a man approached me. He said, “if you believe, Jesus Christ will save you, you will be healed.” His words shocked me. As a young Catholic, I had no idea what he meant by Jesus Christ saving me. I knew Jesus Christ.  I thought I believed in him. Yet the concept that he could save and heal me never crossed my mind. I immediately wondered if the guy was an angel since my companion never saw him. However, upon returning home I began to embrace reality. In the midst of tears, I told my mom what happened. For the first time in my life, I asked myself, why doesn’t God heal me?”

At the dinner table that night, My family went to say the blessing. I tried to take my mom and dad’s hand, but I was shaking. My mom saw that I was clearly uncomfortable. She asked, “ are you having trouble praying because of what happened today?” I nodded my head weakly. At that moment we stopped praying the blessing. Throughout high school, my family and I would continue to go through the motions of being practicing Catholics. I would reluctantly attend Mass and youth group. Somewhere along the way, my mom decided to raise my brother in a Baptist church. As an 18-year-old, my mom left me to make my own religious decisions. Still angry and confused, I entered college as an agnostic.

Tragedy Strikes

During my last year of college, I became very ill. No-one could figure out what was wrong with me. I would end up leaving the university and returning home. While home, I would be admitted to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical hospital. Even in the hospital, I could not escape the mentioning of God’s healing. One instance, in particular, affected me. I was in the hospital bed waiting to receive x-rays. A fellow patient from across the room commands my attention. He asked me if I believed in Jesus Christ. I said I thought he was a good teacher. The gentleman proceeded to tell me about the healing of the blind man in the gospels. He said that he would pray for my healing. This stands out to me because I had assumed that my physical disability made me an easy target. Yet, this man knew nothing about me and still wanted to pray for my healing. The hospital experience forced me to acknowledge a higher power. I had to rely on and trust in something beyond my own strength. While in the hospital, Regent University accepted me into their Masters in theology program.

Confronting Name it Claim it Theology

Regent University, while a good school, caters to Pentecostalism. Thus one learns to expect the miraculous at every turn.  I would attend events on campus and random strangers would ask to pray for me. During my time at Regent, there were two notable instances. The first occurred when I was volunteering at a homeless shelter. We had just finished our job and were in the parking lot. My friend was meeting another mutual friend for a late dinner. While in the parking lot, this mutual friend decided to pray over me. After he prayed, he insisted that I get up out of my power wheelchair and walk. His forcefulness shook me emotionally. I felt broken. He claimed that God had called him to be a prophet that would bring down heaven. He wanted to keep praying until something happened. Emotionally drained, I declined. Second, a man confronted me at a praise and worship concert. He asked if he could pray for me. I accepted and told him what I wanted for prayer. Unfortunately, he decided he would pray for me to walk instead. I interrupted him and asked if I could finish the prayer. He was shocked.  These two instances stand out in my mind. I had multiple opportunities to confront the Name It Claim it theology while at Regent University.

Coming to Terms

At this time, I attended Vineyard Church. The young adult pastor also wanted to pray for my healing. When I mentioned my struggles with healing, he said something insightful. He said that we do not pray for the results, but to increase our faith and trust in God. His advice has followed me through my reentry into the Catholic Church. Catholic theology allowed me to reclaim the notion of redemptive suffering. The notion that I can unite my suffering with Christ. In my heart, I knew that this is what I was missing. I no longer had to feel bad about my lack of healing, but rather my suffering had a purpose. Redemptive suffering needs the concept of healing otherwise it just becomes an excuse for unbelief. I desperately wanted to combine both theological principles. Luckily, The Catholic Charismatic renewal showed me the way. One must both pray for healing and offer up the situation.

Conclusion

Jesus said to pick up our cross and follow Him. He also said that His burden was easy and light. As disciples of Jesus, we are supposed to straddle both statements. For those who carry the cross of suffering and disability, this can be hard to accept. For myself, it took eight years for me to accept healing and miracles.  I rejoice in a God who loves me. God humbles and challenges me through unanswered prayers for miraculous healing. Yet despite the lack of answers, I cannot use it as an excuse to deny God’s provision. I pray that all those living with a disability can also find peace.

 

When Healing Hurts How I Almost Lost My Faith

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Faith Formation Ink Slingers Lent Liturgical Year Offering your suffering Prayer Sarah

Offer It Up! The Sanctification of Suffering

Offer It Up

As the cold winter has given way into spring, the Liturgical Calendar tells us that it is Lent. This once was a time when kids around the globe firmly resolved to give up chocolate for the next forty days, moms put down the snacks, and dads might even leave the beer in the fridge, untouched. We sacrifice in Lent, because Christ sacrificed for us.

But have you noticed the changing trend these days? We are a people who loathe suffering. We will do anything for comfort. We’ve seemingly abandoned the idea of “giving up” and embraced the “do-gooder” attitude. Instead of giving up chocolate, we resolve to use kind words. Instead of skipping the sugar in our morning cuppa, we affirm our neighbor. Forget all this suffering nonsense! I’ll just do something “nice.”

Why are we so afraid of suffering? We are afraid to face our humanity, afraid to admit just how small we are, afraid to admit that God’s plan is so much bigger than our own?

Kindness and affirmations are lovely – they truly are – but they miss the point of Lent.

When I was growing up, my mom loved to remind us to “Offer it up!” When we offer up our pain, we sanctify it. Pain and suffering came into the world through the Fall of Adam and Eve. It wasn’t God’s original design, but the logical result of the Fall. We now need to use this pain to draw closer to Him and join in the salvation He is offering us.

When we unite our suffering to Christ, even the small inconveniences become sanctifying. Lent is when we focus on small suffering and offer it to Christ. Our small acts of joyful suffering fortify our souls. They strengthen us, so that when the suffering is big, we are strong enough to turn from sin and embrace virtue. Suffering in the small things makes us strong for the large things. Suffering, offered to and united with Christ, gives grace to our souls and sanctifies us.

We are living in a spiritual battlefield and we need to strengthen our spiritual muscles and put on our spiritual armor. Prayer and real sacrifice are our means of spiritual strength. Each small sacrifice is like a trip to the gym for our souls! We are willing to sweat it out in the gym to make our bodies look and feel great. Why not do the same for our soul?

Christ came to earth to redeem us. He came to undo the effects of Adam and Eve’s Fall. One of the main effects of the Fall is suffering. While Christ could have chosen any means by which to redeem humanity, He chose to suffer! He chose to die a bloody, painful death on the Cross.

Lent has been our time to join Him on the road to Calvary. He didn’t walk that road, handing out joyful affirmations and kind words. He didn’t stop to tell the weeping woman of Jerusalem, “Cheer up! You’re beautiful!” He suffered real pain, offered it for our souls, and died on the Cross so that we could be redeemed.

This Lent, it’s not too late to choose to offer some small, painful sacrifice to Christ. Unite it to His Passion and sanctify your little suffering, particularly as we head into Holy Week. Certainly, be kind, too, but remember that Lent is a time to reflect on Christ’s redemptive suffering and in some small way, to join Him on the road to Calvary.