U.S. Notes & Quotes

Blind Mexican Singer Witnesses to God's Love

LOS ANGELES TIMES, Aug. 2-“All eyes are fixed on 16-year-old Sandy Caldera, standing in front of the altar at Our Lady of Loretto Church in Echo Park,” wrote the Times' Joseph Trevino.

In mostly Catholic churches in Latino neighborhoods throughout Southern California, Sandy, a blind gospel singer from Tijuana, “is packing the pews with thousands of people, who are drawn to her powerful, throaty voice and spiritual ballads about overcoming life's ordeals,” reported Trevino.

“I used to see my handicap as a limitation. Now I see it as a gift. It brings me closer to people,” especially children, said Sandy.

Her family has financed the recording of six CDs. But her latest album, Solo con Dios (Only with God), has been released by a Christian label, and there are plans to have Sandy's songs aired on mainstream Spanish-language radio stations. A promotional tour is also in the works.

Sandy's parents, devout Catholics, at first struggled with their daughter's handicap, discovered at birth. “Little by little, we've understood that [God] had a plan for her,” explained Sandy's mother, Constanza, who accompanies her on her trips.

The young artist credits a priest from a poor parish in Tijuana with launching her singing career. The church's catechism program needed to build a room to teach children.

The priest suggested that 9-year-old Sandy help by recording a tape with her songs, with proceeds going toward construction of the room. The tape was dedicated to slain Guadalajara Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo.

Since then, Sandy has traveled throughout Mexico, Latin America and the United States.

‘Power For Living’ Commercials Hit by Time

TIME, Aug. 9-Time's David Van Biema initiated a search for information about the “secretive” DeMoss Foundation by wondering who's behind those Power for Living commercials.

“Like a majority of DeMoss undertakings, the Power for Living campaign turns out to be a simple call to Christ. But a significant minority of the foundation's projects are harder edged, targeting abortion and gay rights and promoting a vision of a Christian America some find overzealous,” said Van Biema, who asks: “What are its larger social goals?”

Time reports that the DeMoss family is not only evangelical Protestant but politically conservative. Its members have either worked for or donated money to the campaigns of such figures as Newt Gingrich and Jesse Helms.

The family foundation was also responsible for pro-life commercials in the early 1990s that carried the message, “Life. What a beautiful choice.”

The Power for Living booklet itself “employs simple metaphors … in support of the classic invitation: ‘I want You, Jesus, to take over my life.’”

“Given their history, I'm looking for the other shoe to drop,” said Chip Berlet of what Time calls the “left-of-center Political Research Associates.” Berlet pointed to a book financed by the foundation that lists the homosexual-rights movement, abortion and “our humanistic, secular public school system” as proof that “Americans have lost their way in part because they do not know their own Christian heritage.”

The foundation's 1997 tax filings “show both sides of the group's character,” said Van Biema. Of the $25 million in expenditures, “three-fourths of DeMoss's giving qualifies as relatively non-controversial,” he concluded. However, “1.6 million went to the American Center for Law and Justice, a nonprofit law firm founded by Pat Robertson that opposes gay marriage, defends abortion protesters and promotes various types of school prayer.”

If the mainstream news media views those causes as “hard edged” and worthy of careful scrutiny, it's no wonder the DeMoss folks are so secretive.

Horace Vernet, “The Angel of Death,” 1851

Don’t Wait to Cram for Your ‘Final Exam’

“Each man receives his eternal retribution in his immortal soul at the very moment of his death, in a particular judgment that refers his life to Christ: either entrance into the blessedness of heaven — through a purification or immediately — or immediate and everlasting damnation.” (CCC 1022)

Francisco de Zurbarán, “The Family of the Virgin,” ca. 1650

Why Do We Ask Mary to Pray for Us?

“After her Son’s Ascension, Mary ‘aided the beginnings of the Church by her prayers.’ In her association with the apostles and several women, ‘we also see Mary by her prayers imploring the gift of the Spirit, who had already overshadowed her in the Annunciation.’” (CCC 965)