RSS

Monthly Archives: September 2011

On the Road to 2012: An Exclusive Interview with Karen Santorum

at Catholic Online

This week I had the great honor of interviewing the woman I hope will be the First Lady in 2013.  As I picked up the phone to call her, my nerves were jumping and I was praying she wouldn’t notice.  After just a minute of talking with her, it felt as relaxed as having coffee and dessert with a good friend.  Karen Santorum is warm, gracious, completely genuine, down-to-earth, immensely likable, and filled with a spirit of love.

We spoke at length about everything from campaign life to family life to faith and trials, and the serious concerns she has about the direction our nation is headed.  She is highly motivated to fight for our country alongside her husband, Senator Rick Santorum, and believe me, she’s got the steel for it.

The Campaign

What struck me the most was the distinct lack of ego in their decision to run for President.  For them, it’s not about Rick trying to win something for himself – it’s about preserving a nation for their children and simply following the road God has laid in front of them.

JH:  How did you and Rick come to the decision to run for President?

KS:  We’re doing this because we truly believe God is leading, and we have to be faithful.  We spent more than a year praying about this, talking with our friends, our families, our spiritual advisors, and our children.  It was a long process of talking it out, and we all had some real reservations.  I had no desire at all to jump back into the political arena.  We were in that life for 17 years and now I had a different vision for my family.  Our kids all had their own thoughts and concerns, too.  The boys wanted their Dad to continue coaching their baseball team, for instance.  They weren’t too sure they wanted to share their Dad with the whole country.  It’s a real sacrifice for them.

Rick and I both said that if even one of the children had said they didn’t want Dad doing this, we absolutely would not have done it.  But they are behind their Dad all the way, and the whole process is teaching them a lot about the way our political process works and how a President is elected.  We’re very protective of our family time when Rick is able to be home these days, and we maximize that time together.  No one is allowed to intrude!

To be honest, Rick had no desire to run until Obamacare.  That was the final straw for him, the line in the sand.  Something has to be done.  That law will change our country fundamentally forever, and as parents of a special-needs child we knew that they would be the first to be denied care under Obamacare.  Rick and I can’t stand on the sidelines and allow Obama to bring our nation to its knees.  We knew we had to get in and fight.

But ultimately, we are just trusting God and praying for His will to be done.  He could end this tomorrow and we’d be at peace with it.  It could be God’s will that Rick just has a voice in the mix; it could be God’s will that he get to the Caucus and he’s not the guy; or it could be His will that Rick is the guy.  Trust and be faithful is all any of us can do.

JH: What are the unique gifts and strengths that Rick brings to the table to solve our nation’s biggest challenges?

KS:  Most important, he’s rock-solid.  Rick is rooted in his faith and has a solid foundation.  You get what you see.  He walks the walk.  He’s someone who goes after the issues with such a passion.  Preserving marriage, the sanctity of Life; these are things we really have to roll up our sleeves and fight for.  He’s also brilliant in matters of the economy and national security.  He has a mind for history and facts and numbers.  There’s no doubt in my mind he’ll be a great leader to this nation.

JH: Why should Catholics vote for Rick Santorum?

KS: He’s a devout Catholic who lives his faith, is very prayerful and will always stay grounded.  He’s a loving, devoted, faithful husband and father.  It’s one thing to take the pro-life stance and another thing to fight for it and yet another thing to live it.  Rick lives it every day.

Catholics in America need to understand the critical importance of their votes in 2012.  Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were both elected because they won the Catholic vote.  That is not to our credit!  I see America right now literally poised on the edge of a cliff, and Catholics will decide whether the nation goes over the edge or gets pulled back.  We have a huge responsibility.

Life with Bella

Here is where Karen’s heart and passion come shining through.  Here is also where the mama bear’s claws come out.  In 2008, Rick and Karen welcomed little Isabella to their family.  Just four days after her birth, they got the devastating news that Bella has Trisomy 18, a rare and usually fatal genetic disease.  Since that moment, they have intensely battled our culture of death, protecting their daughter from being euthanized and fighting for her medical care.  Most doctors urge women to abort babies with genetic diseases, and many such infants are euthanized after birth in order to “relieve their suffering.”

Listen to Karen talk about Bella, and you’ll hear one word over and over:  blessing.  Rick and Karen want the whole world to know the joy they’ve found in their sweet angel.

KS:  After having Bella I had to relearn how to live my life.  Now I’m a blessed mother of a special-needs child.  Since her birth, I’ve learned that God truly has a reason for everything.  Like every one of us, God has a purpose for her.  Bella has made all of us grow in our faith like never before, made us more virtuous and shown us God’s love and mercy.  Her life is a very happy and joyful life.  Bella is an angel.  I truly believe I am in the care of a saint.

We are so blessed to be her parents and her family.  Yes, there’s also a painful side of the journey because you’re fighting for her life, to have her treated with the same dignity as every other child.

JH:  What would you say to those facing the possibility of a child with Trisomy 18 and wondering whether they can handle it?  Maybe a woman tempted to abort a baby she is convinced will only know suffering?

KS:  It doesn’t make any sense to me that we choose death over love.  You never lose with love.  It’s never made any sense that when a doctor says your child has whatever defect, he then says “let’s kill the baby.”  If the doctor said that about your five year-old you’d be outraged!  As parents we’re wired to do everything possible to save our child.  Why does that not apply to these sweet babies in the womb who need our love and care?  Just simply bring your child into the world and love your child.  You don’t know what God has planned.
Bella is the greatest “burden” I’ve ever had.  I wouldn’t trade the blessings that have come with her for anything in the world.

JH:  Is it safe to say that special-needs children and their parents will have a fierce advocate in the White House under President Santorum?

KS:  Oh, absolutely!  I have a real fire in the belly about this issue.  It’s heartbreaking what these families go through.  I was a NICU nurse for years and I thought I understood, but in fact, I was clueless.  Now I know; now I get it.  Until you’re in it every day, you just don’t know.

I’m on a mission to get every obstetrician and geneticist in the country to change the way they think and especially the way they talk about genetic diseases like Trisomy 18.  When a doctor says your child has a “lethal diagnosis” that is “incompatible with life” – those words are toxic.  Those words lead to death.  Doctors need to stop saying those words.

I can’t tell you how many battles we’ve fought with doctors who wouldn’t even call Bella by her name.  These children are denied the dignity they deserve as human beings. Parents should not have to fight for their children to receive medical care.  This is why it’s critical that we get rid of Obamacare.  Special-needs kids will be seen as lives not worth living and they’ll be the first to go.

We’re grateful that Bella now has a good team of doctors who take great care of her and she’s doing great!  I love Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  Other hospitals we’ve been to didn’t even want to try to give Bella the care or help she needed – she wasn’t worth it to them.  At CHP, their philosophy is, “Just give the babies a chance.”  Amen!

JH:  Years before Bella was born, you and Rick experienced a “crisis pregnancy” and you lost your son, Gabriel.*  Again, you battled the culture of death.  It was the same time Rick was fighting in the U.S. Senate to pass the Partial-birth Abortion Ban.  You were living exactly the scenario the abortion peddlers point to as proof that we need abortion.

KS:  Before Gabriel we always had picture-perfect pregnancies.  Then to have a baby with a fatal defect – that’s how the doctors say it – right at the time of the Partial-birth abortion debate, that was no coincidence.   God blessed us with the gift of “why.” As though He said, “Here’s why I’m doing this.”  We saw the fruits of our son’s life and the significance of it.

Before Gabriel, I thought I was pretty strong and could handle just about any cross.  Any cross except the death of a child or a sick child, I told the Lord.  Don’t give me those!  But I’ve gotten both!  Our crosses come in all shapes and sizes, but we’re better because of them.  All you can do is embrace the cross God gave you and thank Him for it, because there’s definitely a reason.  Even in the worst times God’s light shines through and He is working.
Family, Faith and Church

Karen dreams of getting 8 hours of sleep someday.  For now, she’s up by 0600 and doesn’t quit til midnight.

JH:  How do you juggle all the demands of the campaign and family life and still keep your sanity?

KS:  It’s not easy.   It’s a cross to do without Rick at home these days.  He’s on the battlefield right now fighting the battles God wants him to fight.  The only way I get through it is daily mass and keeping my prayer life in order.  Daily mass, prayer time, family rosary; these things give you strength and I notice a real difference.  I know if I’m not there I won’t be able to walk this walk.

JH:  Any advice on passing the Faith on to our children?  What have you and Rick done that’s worked well?

KS:  It’s a work in progress!  They’re not going to get the Faith if you don’t live it.  Live it with a lot of love.  If you talk, but don’t live it, or maybe there’s anger, they’re not going to get it.  You have to live it.  The family rosary has been a beautiful thing for our family.  It’s the time we can all come together again and you’re praying, and offering your prayers for so many other people.

The most important thing is, do it with love.  Always with love, never with force.  You just can’t teach the Faith without the love of Christ.  It has to be infused with love.

JH: Why be Catholic in 2011?  Isn’t the Church outdated and full of criminals?

KS:  God’s truth never changes.  No matter how modern we get or where we are technologically, God’s truth is the same throughout the ages.  We can still be pure in the middle of a modern world!   The terrible betrayals and disgusting scandals have served to prove one thing:  God is in charge.  Despite the sin and failings of men over the centuries, God is still in control and we’re still here.  We are human and we’re going to fail and make terrible mistakes, but God is leading His Church.  We can never forget His love and mercy.

~~~~~~~~~~

As I finish writing this, the Church is celebrating the feast of the Triumph of the Cross.  My time with Karen left me keenly aware that I’d met a woman who knows the Cross intimately.  She knows the suffering and the pain, yet she is radiant with hope, overflowing with Love.  She understands that embracing and carrying our cross always leads to triumph.  Her strength and faith is, quite bluntly, awe-inspiring.  It is abundantly clear that Rick is forged by that same fire, and possesses the strength and courage born of a deep love of Christ and His cross.  That, folks, is a house built on rock.

That’s the stuff great leaders are made of.

* I highly recommend Karen’s book, Letters to Gabriel, which chronicles the entire store of little Gabriel’s life and death.

Advertisements
 
2 Comments

Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , ,

Elect This Man Immediately

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

It Ain’t Funny

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags:

Innocence Lost, Innocence Restored

at Catholic Online

 

I have a melancholy streak a mile wide.  I love grey, cloudy days and cold weather and I especially love a beautiful, haunting sad song.  (Guess I’m kinda weird that way.)  Several years ago I heard a song in the background of a TV show that grabbed my melancholy by the arm and dragged me over.  The music – a simple piano – was beautiful and the young man’s voice was earnest and mournful.  I was hooked.  I meant to hunt down the song later and find out about it, but life happened and I never did.

Somehow it rose up in my mind this week as the solemn anniversary of 9/11 approached.  This time, thanks to iTunes, I finally tracked it down.

“I’d trade wisdom back in for innocence/to get away from all my lies/I’d trade wisdom back in for innocence/to get away from getting by/ I’d trade wisdom back in for innocence/for just one look through those eyes”
“Slow Down” (Ben Jelen)

There are many days when I’d give anything to trade in some life experience and get my innocence back.  That loss is the worst part about growing up.  The gradual, almost unnoticed fading away of our ideals, our hopes, our belief in goodness and even the possibility of things we can’t imagine.  Cynicism replaces optimism; guardedness shuts out generosity and faith; fear replaces trust.

Then there are the moments like September 11, 2001, when innocence is shattered forever in an instant by a horror we still can’t comprehend and never saw coming.

One minute I was sleeping cuddled up with my firstborn baby, holding her tiny fingers, breathing in her intoxicating new-baby scent, surrounded by bunnies and pink blankets, and everything was perfect and pure.  The next minute the explosions in New York blew everything apart.

I remember thinking, “This can’t be real.  The United States doesn’t get attacked!”  I sat glued to the television like every other person in the country, unable to believe my eyes.  It was simply too surreal, too hideous to take in.  The shelter of our homeland had been invaded by the most hateful violence.   And just like that, I realized that my daughter and I were no longer from the same country.

The country I grew up in was gone.  I could never pass it on to her.  She’ll know it only through stories and history books.  I don’t claim to be the first parent to ever feel this way, and there’ve surely been other page-turning events in our history that left two different Americas on either side.  But there’s no denying that 9/11 changed everything in a radical way.

The last remnants of innocence and naïveté went up in the smoke and rubble of those burning, collapsed towers.  No place on earth felt safe anymore.  Perhaps safety had been just an illusion before, but now even the illusion lay in ashes.

I long to go back to the days when I wasn’t nervous getting on a plane.  I long to return to childhood, when I didn’t know that life can be altered in the blink of an eye, completely against your will.  I wish more than anything that I could protect my own children from losing their innocence, but I know I can’t.

Is it hopeless then?  Not hardly.  We cannot go back to unsullied ignorance; we’ll never be naïve again.  But we really can be restored to purity again; our innocence can be renewed.  At the Cross we trade in our dirt and rubble and the Spotless Lamb washes us clean again.  Innocence Himself takes away our stain and gives us His own pure life.  “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”  2 Cor 5:21

We still live in the midst of explosive hatred and violence, but we are not obligated to become hardened and bitter.  In fact, we must pray to remain guileless and hopeful, like a little child.  “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”  Matthew 5:8   “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  Psalm 51:10


If I could say something to my country today it would be this:  Follow the instinct you had in the hours and days after 9/11, when your heart told you the remedy was not in government or business or might or yourself, but in God.  Only the One who had made us can heal us.  That isn’t mythology or a fairytale or a crutch, and somewhere in our bones we knew it on that terrible day.  Before we talked ourselves out of being “religious” we heard that still small voice in our spirits calling us to seek His face again.

While we stare evil in the face and guard against danger, we may still remain pure in heart if we ask.  Whatever violence may be done to us, if we live in the heart of the Holy God who came to us as a Child, and offered Himself as an innocent Victim in our place, then we can be made new each day, over and over.  We can wear our “wisdom” like a ball and chain or we can trade it back in for Innocence.  Let us choose wisely.

God bless us, every one, on this day of remembrance.  We will never forget.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on September 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , ,

The Gospel of Tolerance: You Must Approve

at Catholic Online

Stacy Trascanos is one gutsy lady.  Last week she wrote a little blog post about how she’s getting tired of wondering “what in tarnation we’re going to encounter” every time she and her kids leave the house.  Two men ogling each other at the pool?  Two women engaged in public displays of affection in the park?  These are scenes she’d rather her young children not be exposed to every time they go out in public, but it’s become impossible to avoid in her community.

For having the nerve to express her objection to immorality, she’s become the object of wrath and nasty threats from homosexual activists.  Those who understand how Stacy feels (count me in) also know that her real crime is that she has rejected the Gospel of Tolerance.

The Gospel of Tolerance really only has one rule: thou shalt tolerate any action, belief, lifestyle, agenda, and person except the person who believes a certain lifestyle, action or agenda is wrong and has the gall to say so out loud.  The Gospel of Tolerance requires that you have no objection to that which it says must be tolerated.  In fact, it requires that you not even question that which it says must be tolerated.

Noncompliance will not be tolerated.

The Gospel of Tolerance only contains one verse:  “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”  It should be edited, however, to read more accurately, “Judge not me nor anything I say, do, or want, lest ye be judged intolerant.”  In the vocabulary of the Gospel of Tolerance, sin has no meaning.  It has no concept at all.

Those who preach this gospel have fashioned a “christianity” more to their liking, since the real thing cannot be tolerated.  Theirs is a toothless kitten; soft, warm, cuddly, sleepy and sentimental.  Its only purpose is to soothe and affirm.  It makes no demands.  It certainly will not tolerate any demands forthcoming!

If their christianity has a savior at all, he is merely an amiable, sympathetic mascot for their cause and the only thing he ever said was “Don’t judge.”  The only “sin” to require forgiving is the sin of intolerance, which of course is only committed by those who object to being told what they can and can’t object to.

The Gospel of Tolerance is a ruse; it’s just a marketing ploy.  The real goal here is submission.  It’s not enough to “get along” or tolerate quietly.  You must approve.  You don’t dare disapprove publicly.  Those who don’t tow the line will be punished.

Just ask the teachers who’ve been suspended for expressing opposition to gay “marriage.”  Or the Catholic health care facilities being told they must dispense contraception against their explicit beliefs; or the Catholic adoption agencies that must close down to avoid being forced to place children with homosexual couples against their explicit beliefs (beliefs they’re supposed to have the freedom to live by).

Ask the business owners now fighting lawsuits because they don’t wish to participate in gay weddings or receptions. When did they lose the right to run their private business as they wish?  Under the Gospel of Tolerance, there is no freedom to disagree, no right to object.  You must submit.  Either carry the banner or risk losing your livelihood and liberty.

Well here’s a radical piece of truth for you:  tolerance is not a virtue.  It’s not a moral victory to acquiesce to evil.

“We need to remember that tolerance is not a Christian virtue. Charity, justice, mercy, prudence, honesty — these are Christian virtues. And obviously, in a diverse community, tolerance is an important working principle. But it’s never an end in itself. In fact, tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of serious evil.” – Archbishop Chaput

It used to be that we could hate the sin and love the sinner, but the problem is now we’re not allowed to hate the sin anymore!  We have to love the sin, celebrate the sin, and above all, stop calling it sin!

It’s not intolerant to make the judgment that something is morally wrong and oppose it.  Just as sex does not equal love, neither does tolerance!  There is such a thing as sin, and it leads to death, and Love demands that we tell our brothers and sisters the truth so that they might decide to reject sin and gain life.

This is the sobering territory in which Christians now find themselves – in the middle of the new Dark Ages, when evil is called good and darkness is called light. (Isaiah 5:20)

Well, I’m with Stacy.  I’ve had it with all this darkness parading around as light, being championed by the government, paid for with my tax dollars, shoved in my face and my children’s faces and rammed down our throats.  I’m tired of being branded a hateful bigot for not abandoning the reasonable moral truths that have been the foundation of the human race since time began.  And frankly I couldn’t care less if you find that intolerant.

I find it intolerable that our children’s innocence is being ripped away from them beginning in Kindergarten with the new mandate of Sex-Ed that indoctrinates them into embracing and celebrating homosexuality, trans-sexuality, gender-neutral insanity, every imaginable manner of promiscuity and abortion.  It’s intolerable that our kids are seen as “sexual beings” rather than human souls.

What’s truly intolerable is that the adults in power are robbing the children of childhood purity to further their own immoral agenda.  What’s horrifyingly intolerable is that killing an innocent child is considered a woman’s sacred “right.”

It is intolerable that my children will probably not be able to make it to puberty without learning about sodomy and “gay marriage.”  It is intolerable that before they can even drive a car they will also be convicted of intolerance if they dare to defend true marriage and sexual purity.  It’s intolerable that they are growing up in a culture that defiles marriage, corrupts the family, perverts sexuality and destroys human life.

The irony is that because I believe that babies in the womb have the right to live and be born and children have the right to a mother and a father who are married to each other and that sex is sacred and beautiful and should be treated accordingly and that marriage only exists between a man and a woman because that is God’s plan for the human family, I’m the one who’s called an enemy of freedom and human rights and an intolerant bigot.

Then so be it.  Far better to be called intolerant than to call evil good.

One last thought – I recently read someone’s description of people who were “good Christians” and it boiled down to this:  good Christians are tolerant of others.  There’s that cuddly, feel-good christianity again.

Find your courage, people.  This gospel of tolerance is not our salvation and it will not bring us peace.  There is Good News to share and we must live it without fear.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on September 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: