College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario: revised Professional Obligations and Human Rights

syringes-and-vial-1028452-mOn December 11, 2014, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) put out a revised draft policy entitled Professional Obligations and Human Rights. If enacted, the policy will take away the freedom of conscience rights of Ontario’s physicians and surgeons. The CPSO is inviting the public to comment on the proposed policy.

The Catholic Doctors Guild asked me to write an article about this problematic development. I invite you to go to to read the article. Then click on the link to the CPSO website and enter your comment.


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As Morning Breaks

One of the many gifts in my blogging life is the privilege of being part of the  Gospel Reflection team at  where I am also a monthly columnist. As a Gospel Reflection team member, I write short, hopefully helpful, monthly Gospel reflections at

This year, I had the wonderful opportunity to contribute to As Morning Breaks: Daily Gospel Reflections, an ebook project of evangelization conceived by founder, author and speaker, Lisa Hendey. My reflections are on the third day of each month for the year 2015.

As Morning Breaks: Daily Gospel Reflections is now available from and as a Kindle download ($2.99 US, $3.29 CDN). We hope that our Gospel reflections will help readers begin their day in a Christ-centred, prayerful way that prepares them to spread the Good News to all they meet.

As Morning Breaks: Daily Gospel Reflections

December 11, 2014New Book from Encourages Daily Morning Prayer with the team of collaborators publishes daily devotional for 2015 to raise needed funds for websiteFresno, December 11, 2015—Looking for joy in 2015?  Begin each day of the year with As Morning BreaksDaily Gospel Reflections, a new ebook just released by Lisa M. Hendey and  This book was written in collaboration by over thirty authors, all of whom freely volunteered their work. The writing team includes men and women, parents, singles, a married Deacon and his wife, a religious sister and writers of all ages.


Priced at only $2.99, the 685 page book was launched to raise needed funds to support the work of, an international apostolate that provides services to families, parishes and individuals worldwide free of charge.


Let this prayer community guide and support you with daily reflections on the Gospels and the Liturgy of the Word.  As Morning Breaks invites you to make morning prayer a fruitful part of your day, and ponder the joy of the Gospels in your heart.“A terrific resource to include in your daily prayer routine…an ideal way to either springboard your morning prayer or supplement it.  Highly recommend!” notes Ellen GableHrkach, president of the Catholic Writers Guild and award-winning author.As Morning Breaks contains 365 daily reflections from various vocational perspectives; with each, thereaderis invited into a further examination of the Gospel passage. A “ponder”questionis provided for contemplation, discussionorjournaling. Each meditation ends with a brief prayer to help you transition to your own quiet meditation.  With links to each day’s Gospel passage,andfollowing the liturgical calendar of the Catholic Church, thisbookis designed to offer you a beautiful, prayerful and joyful start to your day.Available for immediate download

in the Amazon Kindle store

Special Offer: $2.99 – Makes a Great Christmas Gift!
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St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross: the vocation and role of woman

St. Teresa Benedicta of the CrossSt. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was a brilliant philosopher, an accomplished author, a Jewish convert and a Carmelite nun, a martyr, and a saint. In her great body of writing, she considered the unique gifts that God has endowed upon women and asserted that “woman’s intrinsic value must be investigated in relation to her unique nature.”

Recently, I attended a talk that explained her writing on the vocation and role of women. The following excerpts from her work which we explored express in turn, the equality and complementarity of man and woman, sexual confusion, the unique and distinctively feminine vocation, and lastly, the sharing of virtues that is possible in the transformative union with Christ our Lord through grace, imitation and love.

“In the first account of the creation of man, the difference between male and female is immediately proclaimed. But mutually they are given the threefold vocation: they are to be the image of God, bring forth posterity, and be masters over the earth. It is not said here that this threefold vocation is to be effected in different ways by man and woman; at best, this is implied…. The second passage of Genesis, which deals more extensively with the creation of man, elucidates the question a b it further. It relates the creation of Adam…. “But no helpmate corresponding to him was found for Adam.” The Hebrew expression used in this passage is barely translatable - Eser kenegdo – which literally means “a helper as if vis-a-vis to him.” One can think here of a mirror in which man is able to look upon his own nature…. But one can also think of a counterpart, a pendant, so that, indeed they do resemble each other, yet not entirely, but rather, that they complement each other as one hand does the other.”

“Everywhere about us, we see in the interaction of the sexes the direct fruit of original sin in its most terrifying forms: an unleashed sexual life in which every trace of their high calling seems to be lost; a struggle between the sexes, one pitted against the other, as they fight for their rights and, in doing so, no longer appear to hear the voices of nature and of God. But we can see also how it can be different whenever the power of grace is operative.”

“A quality unique to woman is her singular sensitivity to moral values and an abhorrence for all which is low and mean; this quality protects her against the dangers of seduction and of total surrender to sensuality. This is expressed by the mysterious prophecy, become legendary, that woman would be engaged in battle against the serpent; and this prophecy is fulfilled by the victory over evil won for all humanity through Mary, Queen of all women. Allied closely with this sensitivity for moral values is her yearning for the divine and for her own personal union with the Lord, her readiness and desire to be completely fulfilled and guided by His love. That is why, in a rightly-ordered family life, the mission of moral and religious education is given chiefly to the wife.”

“[Christ our Lord] bound Himself so intimately to one woman as to no other on earth: He formed her so closely after His own image as no other human being before or after; He gave her a place in the Church for all eternity such as has been given to no other human being. And just so, He has called women in all times to the most intimate union with Him: they are to be emissaries of His love, proclaimers of His will to kings and popes, and forerunners of His kingdom in the heart of men.To be the Spouse of Christ is the most sublime vocation which has been given, and whoever sees this way open before her will yearn for no other way.”

“It is the vocation of every Christian, not only of a few elect, to belong to God in love’s free surrender and to serve Him. The further the individual continues on this path, the more Christ-like he will become. Christ embodies the ideal of human perfection: in Him all bias and defects are removed, and the masculine and feminine virtues are united in their weakness and redeemed; therefore His true followers will be progressively exalted over their natural limitations. This is why we see in holy men a womanly tenderness and a truly maternal solicitude for the souls entrusted to them while in holy women there is manly boldness, proficiency, and determination.”

Source: ‘Vocations of Man and  Woman‘ in The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Volume Two. (1987) Washington: ICS Publications

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Eight Strategies for a Calm, Fruitful Advent

800px-Adventkranz_andreaMost of us are distracted with so many things. Busyness is a stress-inducing condition of daily life. We rush from one place to another, and try to juggle one too many commitments. With only one month left before Christmas, our lives are going to be even more rushed. We are in danger of not giving ourselves the time to be still, to breathe, to just  be.

When our lives are hectic, we don’t pay attention to important matters including our time of preparation for Jesus’ birth. In Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives, Pope Benedict XVI teaches us that “man is a relational being. And if his first fundamental relationship is disturbed – his relationship with God – then nothing else can be truly in order.” During the past month, my life has been busier than usual and I know that my relationship with God has been disturbed. Do you feel the same way? As we enter into the Advent season, I’m sharing some strategies that will hopefully put the  focus on our relationship with God.

  1. Display the Advent wreath. At the beginning of Advent, I clear everything off the living room coffee table, give it a good cleaning, and set up the Advent wreath. Eliminating the clutter on our table reminds me to get rid of the clutter in my life. Our Advent wreath reminds my family to concentrate on the state of our minds and hearts as we await the birth of Jesus.
  2. Learn to say no. During this month of Advent there will be many activities that will zap our energy, tire us mentally, and pull us in too many directions.  Feeling frazzled takes our attention away from God and centres it on ourselves.
  3. Don’t shop ’til you drop. Sometimes people feel trapped into over-buying and over-spending because that is the tradition in their families or circle of friends. Certain traditions are meant to be broken and this is one of them. Even though we have a very large extended family, my husband and I only give presents to our eight children and a few close friends. Spending and buying too much stuff misdirects our time and mind to trivial matters while pushing out what is essential: re-aligning our relationship with God.
  4. Look after your body. Our mind, body, and soul are interconnected. When we don’t look after our body, the other parts suffer. We feel sluggish, we get sick and we don’t have the energy to pray and focus on God.
  5. Enjoy some spiritual reading. Last Christmas, my older children gave me Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives. I am reading it again because “this is a story of longing and seeking…. It is a story of sacrifice and trusting completely in the wisdom of God.” Pope Benedict XVI’s wonderful work is a balm for restless hearts that long for God.
  6. Pray constantly. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “the desire for God is written in the human heart because man is created by God and for  God.” St. Thomas Aquinas teaches us that prayer is “an expression of man’s desire for  God.” Advent is the time to be silent and listen to the desire of our heart.
  7. Think of others. As a registered nurse, I know that the seasons of Advent and Christmas can be very difficult for people who are alone, ill, forgotten. Seek out your neighbours who are struggling and for whom this time of year only brings pain and sorrow. Give your time, not just your resources.
  8. Be joyful. To be joyful is to be thankful, to see everything as grace, to believe in faith that everything is a gift from God who became Man so that He could take upon Himself the sin of the world.

Source: Ratzinger, J. Pope Benedict XVI. (2012). Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives. New York: Crown Publishing.

Advent wreath: Wikimedia Commons under a Creative Commons Attribution/share-alike license




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Media influence, the Catholic family, and Fr. John A. Hardon

Peske_Playing_ChildrenStill buried in books and assignments as I finish the last two weeks of the parish nursing course I’m taking but I just had to take a break and write a post based on a recent discussion with the kids in my First Communion classes.

It’s over at Catholic Insight if you’d like to read it.



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Back to School

parish nursing booksEach day when I go to work, I have the privilege of sharing in the lives of many people at a time when they are most vulnerable. My patients (and sometimes their families) share with me their struggles, suffering, questions about life and death, as well as their joys and their hopes.

As a registered nurse, my responsibility is to care for the whole person – body and soul. With many years of experience, I am competent in the providing physical care but I am mindful that my ability to provide spiritual care is lacking. When the body is sick, the soul also suffers and most people whom I encounter are in need of spiritual care.

For a long time now I have been discerning the next stage in my calling as a nurse. I have been researching the role and scope of practice of parish nurses and have finally decided to take a leap of faith and pursue certification in parish nursing ministry.

What is a parish nurse?

According to the Foundations of Parish Nursing program given through the Institute for Catholic Formation at St. Peter’s Seminary in London, Ontario, Canada, a parish nurse is:

“a specially trained registered nurse who is called to ministry and affirmed by a faith community to promote health, healing, and wholeness among its members. Recognizing the interconnectedness of body, mind, and spirit, parish nurses promote wellness through health education, advocacy, and spiritual support. They work to link the needs of those they serve to resources in the greater community, health care system, and their community of faith. Parish nurse ministry is designed to involve individuals of all ages, families, and congregations as active partners in their personal health.”

For the next month I am taking an online course towards my goal, the first course over the next couple of years. It’s going to be a busy month with family, work, teaching Catechism classes, and studying taking up my time. Therefore, blogging here and at Catholic Insight will probably be non-existent.

If you think of it, please say a little prayer for me that I will listen to the Lord and follow His Will in this new adventure. See you in a month!


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Reparation to the Sacred Heart: a prayer for troubled times

Batoni_sacred_heartIt is understandable to feel concern, uncertainty, confusion, and anxiety in these troubled times. Jesus, it seems, is asleep as our little boat continues to be tossed amidst the storms that rage within the Catholic Church and throughout the world.

My short reflection and an Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus is over on my blog at Catholic Insight.

Painting: Sacred Heart of Jesus by Pompeo Batoni, 1767. In the public domain.

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Giving the Best of Ourselves

Posted at Catholic Insight

helping handOur parish just finished Bundle Sunday Weekend, our annual Fall round-up of gently used clothing and small appliances that are collected and donated to the St. Vincent de Paul Society. With six of my eight children still living at home, Bundle Sunday is an event at our house. About two weeks before the collection date, I instruct my husband and children to take everything that doesn’t fit or that they no longer want to wear and put them into designated oversized green garbage bags. We easily fill seven bags.

I often don’t check the quality of the clothing in the bags. When we hand them over to the St. Vincent de Paul volunteers I feel some uneasiness because I wonder how  many of our donated items are in such poor condition that no one should wear them.  And sometimes I keep items of clothing that know I will no longer wear just because they are still in good condition and I don’t want to part with them. Do you do the same thing?

Recently, the Sunday homily was about giving Caesar what belongs to Caesar and giving God what belongs to God. We give God ourselves because we belong to Him. But like the worn out, damaged clothing we give away although no one should wear them, how often do we give God our second best? How often do we rush through our prayers or begrudgingly give our time and ability. And like the unused items we can’t part with, how often do we give only from our surplus and say no when we can say yes?

When I reluctantly share my time and gifts, I feel a sense of dissatisfaction, as if I should have done better and given more of myself. But when I give 100% of myself, even to the point of exhaustion, I have a sense of joy and gratitude that I was given the gift of making a difference in the life of another person.

Jesus admonished us: “give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap, for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.” (Luke 6:38)

Life is for sharing and giving, for loving and squeezing out every last drop of the time and gifts that God has given us. In other words, life is about a complete sacrifice of ourselves wherever God has placed us, doing all things well for love of Him.  It isn’t for keeping the very best for ourselves, or holding back and sharing only that which we don’t need or want.

And so for today and every day, be a generous giver. “May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.” (St. Teresa of Avila)

Photo: Helping Hands by Anita Patterson. Under a MorgueFile license.

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Bl. Pope Paul VI’s Message to Women

Below is the full text of Bl. Pope Paul VI’s message to women as part of the  speeches and messages at the close of the Second Vatican Council,  December 8, 1965. You can read the entire text of the closing speeches and messages here.

pope paul viTO WOMEN

And now it is to you that we address ourselves, women of all states—girls, wives, mothers and widows, to you also, consecrated virgins and women living alone—you constitute half of the immense human family. As you know, the Church is proud to have glorified and liberated woman, and in the course of the centuries, in diversity of characters, to have brought into relief her basic equality with man. But the hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of woman is being achieved in its fullness, the hour in which woman acquires in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is under-going so deep a transformation, women impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid mankind in not falling.

You women have always had as your lot the protection of the home, the love of beginnings and an understanding of cradles. You are present in the mystery of a life beginning. You offer consolation in the departure of death. Our technology runs the risk of becoming inhuman. Reconcile men with life and above all, we beseech you, watch carefully over the future of our race. Hold back the hand of man who, in a moment of folly, might attempt to destroy human civilization.

Wives, mothers of families, the first educators of the human race in the intimacy of the family circle, pass on to your sons and your daughters the traditions of your fathers at the same time that you prepare them for an unsearchable future. Always remember that by her children a mother belongs to that future which perhaps she will not see.

And you, women living alone, realize what you can accomplish through your dedicated vocation. Society is appealing to you on all sides. Not even families can live without the help of those who have no families. Especially you, consecrated virgins, in a world where egoism and the search for pleasure would become law, be the guardians of purity, unselfishness and piety. Jesus who has given to conjugal love all its plenitudes, has also exalted the renouncement of human love when this is for the sake of divine love and for the service of all.

Lastly, women in trial, who stand upright at the foot of the cross like Mary, you who so often in history have given to men the strength to battle unto the very end and to give witness to the point of martyrdom, aid them now still once more to retain courage in their great undertakings, while at the same time maintaining patience and an esteem for humble beginnings.

Women, you do know how to make truth sweet, tender and accessible, make it your task to bring the spirit of this council into institutions, schools, homes and daily life. Women of the entire universe, whether Christian or non-believing, you to whom life is entrusted at this grave moment in history, it is for you to save the peace of the world.


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Eight suggestions for surviving the Synod hype

wedding ringsAre you overwhelmed by all the media coverage of the Synod? I am. While being informed about the events in Rome is necessary and even a duty of responsible Catholics, it is too easy to get swept along by all the commentaries, opinion pieces, and social media bickering.

On the Catholic Insight website, I wrote about my strategy for maintaining calm and reason while the Synod hype swirls around me. Here it is if you’d like to read it.


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