How About Post-Cana Counseling?

09/08/2015 Comments (45) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

As expected, Pope Francis' annulment reforms seem to be both sensible and doctrinally sound.  The first unofficial English translation of the two Apostolic Letters can be found here.  CNN sums up the three main changes this way:

• Eliminating a second review by a cleric before a marriage can be nullified.

• Giving bishops the ability to fast-track and grant the annulments themselves in certain circumstances -- for example, when spousal abuse or an extramarital affair has occurred.

• The process should be free, except for a nominal fee for administrative costs, and should be completed within 45 days.

That second point, as it's reported by CNN, is the one that will probably cause the...READ MORE

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Discernment of Amoral Issues

09/03/2015 Comments (23)

Nicholas Mutton [CC BY-SA 2.0 (].

 A reader writes:

I have two little boys a year apart and my husband and I felt the movement of conscience each time to find out the gender and reveal our babies' names that we had discerned and decided on. We truly feel that since a child's name is linked to their dignity (CCC 203) and that upholding the dignity of a child (unborn or born) to the utmost is a moral issue, that this is no longer "just a matter of preference" or "just a parenting choice" but an interesting moral responsibility in this age of ultrasound technology. Of course, the Church has not spoken to this or declared it a moral obligation, but I cannot understand why some practicing Catholics that I know do not agree...READ MORE

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Should I Let My Kid Dress Like a Weirdo?

09/01/2015 Comments (35)

Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), "Claude Renoir in Clown Costume"

Last night, I told my kids, "Make sure you have an outfit picked out for the first day of school, so it will be easy to get ready on time!" This morning, I discovered that they heard me say, "Make sure you have an outfit picked out mentally, so we can spend the first morning frantically tearing through mountains of laundry in the hopes that your My Little Pony tank somehow miraculously found its way into a basket."

This is just the little kids, who more or less want to look like all their friends. I do have teenagers, too, and they are all deep into inventing their own styles. Yesterday on Connecting the Dots, a caller asked me and Mark Shea how to navigate kids' style choices, especially...READ MORE

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Dear Teacher

08/27/2015 Comments (33)

Dear Teacher,

At the start of vacation, you sent us a letter about how to prevent "summer slide." It was really great advice, all about keeping the mind engaged, maintaining numeric literacy, cultivating assessment-compatible competencies across cognitive and affective domains, perambulating meaning-centered anagogical plutocracies to iterate syngergistic vainglory, and not just playing Mario Kart all the time.

I skimmed, I skimmed.

The upshot is, I'm sure that whatever you advised totally would have worked, if we had done it. If we had followed your suggestions, and played those fun math games, and done those enjoyable vocabulary exercises, you wouldn't be facing the prospect of...READ MORE

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Does a UK Court Plan to Kill Baby Jake?

08/25/2015 Comments (7)

A UK court has ruled that it would be lawful to withhold some medical treatments from the severely ill 10-month-old son of developmentally disabled parents, even if the baby dies after those treatments are withheld.

The baby's name is Jake, and it's a heartwrenching story. But is it a story about euthanasia?

I would like to set aside, as a separate issue, the question of whether the court or someone else ought to be making decisions about Jake's medical care. In this post, I will only address the issue of whether the care itself, as described in the news story, is ethical.

One Catholic pro-life site reports

Since 10-month-old baby Jake is not expected to live long enough to enjoy his...READ MORE

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St. Bernard, Pray for . . . Wha?

08/20/2015 Comments (7)

Francisco Ribalta (1565-1628), "Christus und der Hl. Bernhard"

This great story about St. Bernard of Clairvaux is circulating today, on his feast day: (more here from Word on Fire) 

Bernard was riding his horse up into the Alps to give a retreat, and as he passed a farmer along the road he heard a loud grunt. He stopped to look down at the him, and the farmer remarked, “I envy you, with nothing to do but pray while I have to kill myself working in this rocky soil.”

Bernard said, “Well, praying can be even harder work that digging around those stones.”

“I doubt that very much,” the man said, “With that beautiful horse and the gorgeous saddle, what do you know of hardship?”

Up till then Bernard hadn’t given any attention to his mount. He said, ”It...READ MORE

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Food, Love, Law, Jesus: It's All the Same Thing

08/18/2015 Comments (7)
By Wolfgang Sauber (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

"Allegory of Faith - Eucharist". Fresco in Karlskirche, Vienna, by Johann Michael Rottmayr (1714).

– By Wolfgang Sauber (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Two weeks ago, we heard about how the Israelites "grumbled" against Moses and Aaron, for good cause: they were starving. So God gave them manna from heaven, with the stipulation that they were to follow His commands on how and when to gather it and eat it. 

Then the LORD said to Moses,
“I will now rain down bread from heaven for you. 
Each day the people are to go out and gather their daily portion;
thus will I test them,
to see whether they follow my instructions or not.

And the Gospel reading from that day finds the apostles speaking explicitly to Jesus about the same thing:

Our ancestors ate manna in the desert, as it is written:
He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”
So Jesus...READ MORE

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Town in Spain Attacks Problem of Hunger With Community Refrigerator

08/13/2015 Comments (36)

David Teniers the Younger (1610-1690), "The Works of Mercy"

What's the best way to feed the poor? In Spain, the small town of Galdakao has taken a very direct approach by installing a community fridge. Citizens, restaurants, and supermarkets can leave leftover food there, and anyone who wants it can simply come get it. According to a story on NPR 

There are rules: no raw meat, fish or eggs. Homemade food must be labeled with a date and thrown out after four days. But Javier Goikoetxea, one of the volunteers who cleans out the fridge, says nothing lasts that long.

"Restaurants drop off their leftover tapas at night — and they're gone by next morning," he says. "We even have grannies who cook especially for this fridge. And after weekend barbecues,...READ MORE

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About Simcha Fisher

Simcha Fisher
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Simcha Fisher, author of The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning writes for several publications and blogs daily at Aleteia. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and ten children. Without supernatural aid, she would hardly be a human being.