Faith in Action Blog

Faith in Action Blog

The Valenti FamilyThe last time this blog mentioned Mary Rose (Bacani ’93) Valenti, it was to report that the veteran TV producer and host was hanging up her microphone to become a fulltime mother. Now, less than two years later, we have an insight into what Mrs. Valenti’s new life is like, thanks to a column she has written for Fathers for Good, an initiative sponsored by the Knights of Columbus:

“I had traveled to different parts of the world as a television producer — from North America to Australia, from Europe to the Middle East. In my new job as a stay-at-home mom, the farthest I have to travel is from the kitchen to the bedroom and back. My previous job entailed interviewing high-profile people. Today, I am the one interrogated by a two-and-a-half year old toddler.…

“The heart of what I did professionally and what I loved about my work was telling stories. Ironically, I’ve never been pressured as much as I am pressured now by my child to come up with stories. Where are the earthworms hiding today? Did the bubble get hurt when it popped? I am doing what I love — learning, teaching, studying, storytelling, and being and being loved for just being.”

Be sure to read the whole delightful story, and look out for more. Mrs. Valenti will be writing three more columns for the Fathers for Good site over the course of the month.


The above video is a trailer for Diary of a Country Mother, a new book by Cynthia (Six ’77) Montanaro that chronicles the life of her beloved son Tim, with the liturgical year and changing seasons as a frame. The book reflects a yearlong journey of prayer and meditation, begun about six months after Tim’s death in 2005 at the age of 15. Written in diary form, it includes Scriptural, religious, and literary quotations, as well as beautiful photographs of Tim captured by his dad, Andrew Montanaro (’78).

“I envisioned an extended period of time in which to record, before memory failed me, all of the little humorous and profound incidents that made up my son Tim’s short life,” says Mrs. Montanaro. The result is a work that is replete with the love of a mother. That love is also on display in Mrs. Montanaro’s blog.

Writes Dr. Thomas Howard, author of Chance or the Dance and Hallowed Be This House, “Cynthia Montanaro have given us the story of a splendidly faithful Catholic household. … The word ‘contemplative’ is the key to this memoir … and the quiet pace belongs to its essence.… Every chapter (or meditation) entails some concrete, softly-textured, domestic narrative, all of it bespeaking both Tim’s inner man, and the household in which the Lord placed him to pass his brief time here on this earth.”

“Like Our Blessed Mother’s sorrow,” says fellow alumna author Suzie (Zeiter ’87) Andres, “Cynthia’s sadness is illuminated and shot through by the light of the resurrected Christ. This book is in no way depressing. Instead, Cynthia’s diary entries record time and again the peace that passes all understanding, the beautiful hope that only true faith can give, and most of all, love elevated and fulfilled by Love.”

A worthy read for the Easter season, Diary of a Country Mother is available via Amazon.com.


Rev. Sebastian Walsge, O.Praem. ('94)Lost in the ongoing political debate over marriage is a more fundamental question, namely, where does marriage come from? Does the state have the power to define what marriage is, or does the definition precede and transcend the state — something government cannot alter?

Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem. (’94), a regular guest on the Catholic Answers Live radio program, takes on this question and others in a recent episode titled, The Nature of Marriage.

Marriage, Fr. Sebastian says, “comes about as a result of nature,” and as such is not subject to human redefinition. “The state doesn’t have the right to define triangles. The state doesn’t have the right to define dogs and cats. They are what they are. So the state doesn’t have the right to define marriage,” he explains. Moreover, for government to claim authority in this instance is to assert for itself “absolute power” over marriage “and, as a consequence, family life, because the foundational relationship in any family is the relationship of marriage.”

The show is available both in streaming and downloadable form on the Catholic Answers website, as are these other episodes featuring Fr. Sebastian:

 


Among the issues at stake in today’s election is the future of marriage in four states, including Washington. There, a group of dissenting Catholics recently published an open letter that defied Church teaching on the subject. In response, Dr. Pia de Solenni (’93) and two other prominent Catholics have published a rebuttal in the Seattle Times titled, We Are Catholics and We oppose Referendum 74 to Legalize Same-Sex Marriage.

The article defends both the Church’s position and marriage itself, stressing the institution’s importance to families, society, and religious freedom:

The state does not involve itself in marriage in an effort to regulate its citizens’ sexual activities. It does so because marriage generally involves children by the very nature in which the spouses express intimacy and union. As such, the family becomes the basic unit of society and thus deserves special protection.…

As Catholics, we believe that marriage is the unique bond of love and life between a woman and a man, which is the source of the family. In union with our church and our bishops, we are voting to reject Referendum 74. We urge other Catholics and people of goodwill to join us.

Go read the whole article — and be sure to vote!
 


A Little Way of HomeschoolingSome 18 months after its publication, A Little Way of Homeschooling continues to elicit great interest. The second work of alumna author Suzie (Zeiter ’87) Andres, the book profiles 12 Catholic homeschooling families and their use of the “unschooling” educational method, while drawing upon the works of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. John Bosco, and ancient philosophers.

On Friday morning Mrs. Andres appeared on the Mothers at Home radio program with Judy Dudich on BlogTalkRadio. You can listen to the broadcast in the player below.


Be sure not to miss these recent articles by alumni writers:

In The Public Discourse, S. Adam Seagrave (’05), a professor of political science at Northern Illinois University, addresses the often unspoken question that lies at the heart of debates about marriage law: Why does the state concern itself with marriage in the first place?

Although civil marriage is now commonly understood in the elevated terms characteristic of marriage’s more fundamental and profoundly fulfilling aspects, the purpose of civil marriage is, in fact, more in keeping with its sterile legality. Governments assign legal responsibilities and benefits to marriage, rather than to other relationships, to help mitigate the potentially destructive and tragic consequences of irresponsible procreation.

Writing for the National Catholic Register, Sophia Mason (’09), a graduate student at the Catholic University of America and a blogger, describes an informal evening with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at Washington’s Catholic Information Center:

The separation of church and state is, Scalia noted, “a subject that has been particularly good for Americans and that Americans have been particularly good at.”

The American skill in distinguishing the two is due in part to the diversity of American religious views, the “300 religions,” which makes separation of church and state “more politically needful in the United States than elsewhere.” It is also due, Scalia added less happily, to the growing decline in religiosity. “If one is a skeptic, it is easy to believe that one’s religious beliefs should not be imposed. … After all, one might be wrong!”

Also be sure also to see Miss Mason’s September story in the Register comparing the sagas of superheroes to the lives of the saints.

Finally, The New Oxford Review, Christopher Zehnder (’87), the general editor of the Catholic Schools Textbook Project, considers the question: What does it mean to “serve Mammon?”

The possession of great riches, thought not to be condemned in itself, nevertheless presents grave difficulties to the soul that seeks perfection. Great wealth coaxes us with a delight that “chokes the word.” It deludes us with a false security, tempting us to hoard our riches and to pull down our barns for larger ones. We become unwilling to live like the birds of the air or the lilies of the field and seek the Kingdom of God (Lk. 12:22-31); rather we are anxious to maintain what we have amassed and seek to amass more.

 

 


Venerable Solanus CaseyVenerable Fr. Solanus CaseyMichele (Grimm ’81) Loughman, a mother of 10, has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She will be undergoing more tests over the next few days, and she and her husband, Pat (’78), a member of the Greater Los Angeles Board of Regents, will be weighing her options.

The Loughmans invite all to join them in seeking the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes and Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey. Please keep Michele, her family, and her doctors in your prayers!
 


Dr. and Mrs. GrimmDaniel J. Grimm (’76) and his wife, Rose (Teichert ’76)Having obtained a master’s degree in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University’s Graduate School of Education and Psychology in 2006; having completed 3,000 hours of supervised treatment of couples, families, and individuals; and having passed the two exams specified by the State of California, Daniel J. Grimm (’76) is now a licensed marriage and family therapist. He has an office in Ojai, Calif., and also sees clients at Stillpoint Family Resources in South Pasadena. Additionally, he continues to direct the Thomas Aquinas College Choir, which will be performing Bach’s Mass in B at its Advent Concert on November 30.


While many Catholics across the country, including numerous Thomas Aquinas College alumnae, have protested the Obama Administration’s HHS mandate by citing religious freedom, others are also challenging it on a more fundamental level. They are questioning not only the federal government’s power to force Catholic employers to provide contraceptives and abortifacients, but also its stated reasons for doing so. “Is it really,” they ask, “in the best interest of women, marriage and family, society, or the environment to promote the use of oral contraceptives and other such medications?”

No, says Dr. Pia de Solenni, an ethicist, theologian, member of the Thomas Aquinas College Class of 1993, and recipient of the 2001 Pontifical Prize of the Academies. Last Saturday Dr. de Solenni spoke at The Pill Kills 2012, a national symposium held in Washington, D.C., and sponsored by the American Life League and 30 other pro-life groups. Presenting the teachings of the Church, Dr. de Solenni drew on references ranging from popular culture to St. Thomas Aquinas, noting how modern conceptions of love and sexuality are inherently truncated and unfulfilling.

“All of our cultural references, and all of our examples of ‘chick lit’ — from Bridget Jones to Sex and the City to Bridesmaids — they’re all manifesting a deep dissatisfaction, a sense that you have to do things this way because that’s the way it’s done. And yet they’re all yearning for something more,” said Dr. de Solenni. “When the Church is looking at sexuality, there is a context here, and it is a context shaped by love. Contraception impedes the sexual act between spouses because it holds back fertility. It’s not a gift of self.”

Dr. de Solenni’s presentation is available in the above video, and the rest of the symposium can be found on the American Life League’s YouTube Channel.


Charles GoodrichOn May 14, 2008, two-year-old Charles Goodrich, son of Kathleen (Ellis ’99) and Glen (’00), was killed when struck by an out-of-control pickup truck whose driver and passengers were under the influence of drugs and alcohol. This Friday the Goodrich family and many of their friends will gather by Charles’ gravesite, as they do every year around the anniversary of his death, to pray — for the three people in that truck.

Mrs. Goodrich explained this tradition in a Facebook posting last year:

“This coming May 14 is the third anniversary of my son Charles’ death. Most of my friends know this, though I suspect that some of you never heard about it, so really quickly, the bare facts are these:

“I was walking to the store pulling my two and a half year old son in a wagon, carrying my four-month-old infant in a baby carrier. At about 2:15 on a Wednesday afternoon, a couple of known gangsters were joyriding through the school zone I was walking through. The man at the wheel, Roberto Villanueva, two weeks out of prison on parole (and unlicensed) was high on cocaine. The owner of the pickup truck, Albert Garcia, was in the passenger seat drinking Jack Daniels from the bottle. Cindy Nunez, a mutual friend, was in the back seat. Horseplay in the front caused the truck to jump the curb, striking Charles’ wagon and killing him pretty much instantly. The driver regained control and sped away.

“Later on, Albert Garcia pleaded guilty (against the advice of his attorney) to various charges, and asked for full sentencing - he was the one most responsible for the accident. He is serving the third year of his 20 year sentence. Roberto Villanueva, a previous offender, negotiated a little more, but did eventually plead guilty to various charges, and was sentenced to seven years. According to his attorney at the time of sentencing, he has reconnected with his Catholic faith while in prison, and has requested Masses to be said for our family on the anniversary. Cindy Nunez, I don’t know about, but her daughter came to Charles’ visitation and abjectly apologized - their family is very broken.

So here is what I want. The anniversary is TAC Graduation Day, and most of you will be busy. So on Friday, May 13, I’ll be at the Santa Paula cemetery with my children, at 3pm, praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet for those three poor children of God. When people tell me they are praying for me, I appreciate it very much, and I know that it is the only thing pulling me through. But I am entirely wrapped in love and grace, surrounded by friends and family, supported by strangers and strengthened by the sacraments. These three people are vilified, tormented by guilt, and in probably the last place on earth where they can find comfort. They need your prayers.

“Christ said ‘Today I am sending you with My message of mercy to the people of the whole world. I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to my Merciful Heart.’

“Come to the cemetery and join me in prayer, if you like, or if you can’t be there, pray wherever you are. If you don’t have time for the whole chaplet, pray this prayer: ‘O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the heart of Jesus, as a fount of Mercy for us, I trust in You.’

“I’m not tagging or targeting anyone in this note. I would like as many people to know about it as possible, because I want as many prayers offered for their conversion and peace as possible, but I don’t want to hold myself up as a model of anything at all. Share it with anyone that you think would like to know about it —- share this note on your Facebook profile, send it to your e-mail list, whatever you like. But please pray for this dear intention of mine.”

For those who are interested in joining the Goodriches in their prayers this year, Mrs. Goodrich recently sent out the following invitation:

“Some people have asked me if we are doing anything public to make Charles’ feast day this year. As I did last year, I’ll be going over to the Santa Paula Cemetery on the Friday before (that’s this Friday, May 11) at 3pm to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the needs of the three people who were in the truck that day. Anyone is welcome to join me, in body or in spirit, at that hour or at whatever hour of the day they are able to join in. Feel free to pass this message on to anyone who may be interested.”

For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.