I Asked God (Kirk Kilgour)

I asked God to make me strong
To carry out marvellous plans:
He has made me weak to preserve me humble.

I asked God to make me healthy
To carry out great exploits:
He’s given me pains to make me understand health better.

I asked Him richness to own everything:
He has made me poor so I could not be selfish.

I asked Him Power
Because men would need me:
He has given me humiliation because I would need them.

I asked God everything to enjoy life:
He has left me my life because I could appreciate everything.

Lord, I have not received what I asked,
but you has given me what I needed
and quite against my willing.

The prayers I did not say were answered.

Be praised my Lord, among the men
None has what I have!

Kirk Kilgour was a USA Volleyball athlete. He came to play in Series A in Italy in 1973. Due to a training accident he became paralyzed on his limbs. He passed away in 2002, he remains in history for his profound humanity in front of suffering.

You loved us first, oh God – Soren Kierkegaard

amare per primiYou loved us first, oh God.
Alas, we speak of it as if you loved us first one time only, historically speaking, when in very truth, without ceasing, you love us first all the time.
When I awaken in the morning and my soul turns at once toward you, you are first. You have already turned toward me.
If I rise at dawn and in the very first second of my awakening my soul turns to you in prayer, you have beat me to it.
You have already turned in love toward me.
Thus, we speak ingratitude if, unthankful and unaware, we speak of you as having loved us first only one time.

32. How does erotic movies hurt relationships?

Impurity blinds the heart and mind:

  • Warps perspective
  • Enslaves
  • Perverts love

Indeed, day after day, insidiously, men and women see each other as objects to be used for their personal pleasure. Our view becomes biased. Instead of discovering our fiance(e) or spouse in the fullness of their personality including their corporal, spiritual, emotional, intellectual and sensitive dimensions, we become set on a single pursuit, namely sensual indulgence.

  • In relationships with friends or in professional life the prevailing attitude becomes centered on sex as the memory is saturated with erotic images. Our relationship with others becomes blurred.
  • Pornography destroys love in a marriage. Indeed, true love is expressed by the gift of self, in listening to one another, considering one another’s feelings, in tenderness and attentiveness to each other. But here, our heart experiences blindness, stifled as it were by depression and disgust, the result of eroticism.
  • But the Creator, we realize, inscribed in the depths of our being a longing for purity. Such a longing is always present in us even when much has been done to damage it. It is always possible to regain purity whatever our situation or our past.

This comes first of all in receiving God’s forgiveness. In everyday life this continues through an inner attention: this requires an inner resolve to ward off simply but firmly all that might soil our heart (Controling one’s imagination, avoiding obscene publications and posters, looking the other way… )

  • We can be sure that, little by little our good will will gain the upper hand, and we will rediscover peace and joy of heart.
Personal Experience

Claire and I lived the first years of our married life like a young worldly couple with outings, friends, theatre, plays, videos and movies. We wanted to explore and experience everything. It was with such inclinations that we frequented erotic films.

We would come back full of laughter from such outings but not without a tinge of uneasiness and even disgust. We didn’t want to fall prey to guilt. But then in our sexual intimacy Claire was no longer the real Claire and vice versa. Mental perceptions get wedged in most insiduously driving us apart from each other.

A major family crisis made us question ourselves and our lifestyle more seriously. We came to realize that the erotic images, as they pervaded our memory, were gradually stifling our love. We decided not to go to such films anymore and, in general, not to go “grabbing” for everything under the pretence that it was the current fashion. We could now enjoy a life more in harmony with our deepest aspirations.


A new text from Benedict XVI (Easter 2017)

Ever since I first read the Letters of Saint Ignatius of Antioch in the 1950s, one passage from his Letter to the Ephesians has particularly affected me: “It is better to keep silence and be [a Christian] than to talk and not to be. Teaching is an excellent thing, provided the speaker practices what he teaches. Now, there is one Teacher who spoke and it came to pass. And even what He did silently is worthy of the Father. He who has truly made the words of Jesus his own is able also to hear His silence, so that he may be perfect: so that he may act through his speech and be known through his silence” (15, 1f.). What does that mean: to hear Jesus’s silence and to know him through his silence? We know from the Gospels that Jesus frequently spent nights alone “on the mountain” in prayer, in conversation with his Father. We know that his speech, his word, comes from silence and could mature only there. So it stands to reason that his word can be correctly understood only if we, too, enter into his silence, if we learn to hear it from his silence.

Certainly, in order to interpret Jesus’s words, historical knowledge is necessary, which teaches us to understand the time and the language at that time. But that alone is not enough if we are really to comprehend the Lord’s message in depth. Anyone today who reads the ever-thicker commentaries on the Gospels remains disappointed in the end. He learns a lot that is useful about those days and a lot of hypotheses that ultimately contribute nothing at all to an understanding of the text. In the end you feel that in all the excess of words, something essential is lacking: entrance into Jesus’s silence, from which his word is born. If we cannot enter into this silence, we will always hear the word only on its surface and thus not really understand it.

As I was reading the new book by Robert Cardinal Sarah, all these thoughts went through my soul again. Sarah teaches us silence—being silent with Jesus, true inner stillness, and in just this way he helps us to grasp the word of the Lord anew. Of course he speaks hardly at all about himself, but now and then he does give us a glimpse into his interior life. In answer to Nicolas Diat’s question, “At times in your life have you thought that words were becoming too cumbersome, too heavy, too noisy?,” he answers: “In my prayer and in my interior life, I have always felt the need for a deeper, more complete silence. … The days of solitude, silence, and absolute fasting have been a great support. They have been an unprecedented grace, a slow purification, and a personal encounter with … God. … Days of solitude, silence, and fasting, nourished by the Word of God alone, allow man to base his life on what is essential.” These lines make visible the source from which the cardinal lives, which gives his word its inner depth. From this vantage point, he can then see the dangers that continually threaten the spiritual life, of priests and bishops also, and thus endanger the Church herself, too, in which it is not uncommon for the Word to be replaced by a verbosity that dilutes the greatness of the Word. I would like to quote just one sentence that can become an examination of conscience for every bishop: “It can happen that a good, pious priest, once he is raised to the episcopal dignity, quickly falls into mediocrity and a concern for worldly success. Overwhelmed by the weight of the duties that are incumbent on him, worried about his power, his authority, and the material needs of his office, he gradually runs out of steam.”

Cardinal Sarah is a spiritual teacher, who speaks out of the depths of silence with the Lord, out of his interior union with him, and thus really has something to say to each one of us.

We should be grateful to Pope Francis for appointing such a spiritual teacher as head of the congregation that is responsible for the celebration of the liturgy in the Church. With the liturgy, too, as with the interpretation of Sacred Scripture, it is true that specialized knowledge is necessary. But it is also true of the liturgy that specialization ultimately can talk right past the essential thing unless it is grounded in a deep, interior union with the praying Church, which over and over again learns anew from the Lord himself what adoration is. With Cardinal Sarah, a master of silence and of interior prayer, the liturgy is in good hands.

Benedict XVI, pope emeritus

Vatican City, Easter Week 2017

No to the destruction of human embryos (Pope Francis)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I welcome you with joy, and I greet each one of you present at this opportunity for meeting and reflection dedicated to Huntington’s Disease. I wholeheartedly thank all those who worked to make this day possible. I am grateful to Dr Cattaneo and to Mr Sabine for their introductory words. I would like to extend my greeting to all people who, in their body and in their life, carry signs of this disease, as well as those who suffer from other so-called rare diseases.
I know that some of you have had to brave a very long and difficult journey in order to be here today. I thank you and I am happy you are here. I have listened to your accounts and the difficulties you must face each day; I understand how much tenacity and dedication your families, doctors, health care workers and volunteers have as they support you in a journey that poses many uphill climbs, some of which are extremely difficult.
For far too long. the fears and difficulties that characterize the life of people affected by Huntington’s Disease have surrounded them with misunderstandings and barriers, veritably excluding them. In many cases the sick and their families have experienced the tragedy of shame, isolation and abandonment. Today, however, we are here because we want to say to ourselves and all the world: “HIDDEN NO MORE!”, “OCULTA NUNCA MAS!”, “MAI PIU’ NASCOSTA!”. It is not simply a slogan, so much as a commitment that we all must foster. The strength and conviction with which we pronounce these words derive precisely from what Jesus himself taught us. Throughout his ministry, he met many sick people; he took on their suffering; he tore down the walls of stigma and of marginalization that prevented so many of them from feeling respected and loved. For Jesus, disease is never an obstacle to encountering people, but rather, the contrary. He taught us that the human person is always precious, always endowed with a dignity that nothing and no one can erase, not even disease. Fragility is not an ill. And disease, which is an expression of fragility, cannot and must not make us forget that in the eyes of God our value is always priceless.
Disease can also be an opportunity for encounter, for sharing, for solidarity. The sick people who encountered Jesus were restored above all by this awareness. They felt they were listened to, respected, loved. May none of you ever feel you are alone; may none of you feel you are a burden; may no one feel the need to run away. You are precious in the eyes of God; you are precious in the eyes of the Church!
I now turn to the families. Those who experience Huntington’s Disease know that no one can really overcome loneliness and despair if they do not have people at their side who, with self-sacrifice and steadfastness, make themselves ‘travel companions’. You are all this: fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, children, brothers and sisters who, on a daily basis, silently but effectively, accompany your family members on this difficult path. For you, too, at times, the path is an uphill climb. For this reason, I encourage you, too, not to feel you are alone; not to give in to the temptation of the sense of shame or guilt. The family is the privileged place of life and of dignity, and you can cooperate to build that network of solidarity and of help that the family alone can guarantee, and which the family is first called to live.
I speak to you, physicians, health care workers, volunteers of the associations that are involved with Huntington’s Disease and with those who suffer from it. Among you there are also workers from the Ospedale Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, who, both with assistance and with research, express the contribution of a work of the Holy See in this most important field. The service that you all provide is valuable, because it is surely your dedication and your initiative that give tangible shape to the hope and motivation of the families who trust in you. The disease poses many challenges related to diagnostics, therapy and assistance. May the Lord bless your work: may you be a point of reference for patients and their families who, in various circumstances, find themselves having to face the already difficult trials that the disease entails, in a social-health care context which often is not oriented to the dignity of the human person. In this way, however, difficulties multiply. Often adding to the disease are poverty, forced separations and a general sense of dismay and mistrust. For this reason, national and international associations and institutions are vital. You are like hands that God uses to sow hope. You are the voices that these people have so as to claim their rights!
Lastly, geneticists and scientists are present here, who, for some time, sparing no energy, have dedicated themselves to studying and researching a treatment for Huntington’s Disease. Clearly, there is a great deal of expectation surrounding your work: resting on your efforts are the hopes of finding the way to a definitive cure for the disease, but also of improving the living conditions of these brothers and sisters, and of accompaniment, especially in the delicate phases of diagnosis, at the onset of the first symptoms.
May the Lord bless your task! I encourage you to always pursue it with means that do not contribute to fuelling that “throw-away culture” that at times infiltrates even the world of scientific research. Some branches of research, in fact, utilize human embryos, inevitably causing their destruction. But we know that no ends, even noble in themselves, such as a predicted utility for science, for other human beings or for society, can justify the destruction of human embryos.
Brothers and sisters, as you see, you are a large and motivated community. May the life of each of you — both of those who are directly affected by Huntington’s Disease and those who work hard every day to support the sick in their pain and difficulty — be a living witness to the hope that Christ has given us. Even through suffering there passes a path of abundant good, which we can travel together.
I thank all of you! May the Lord bless you, and please, do not forget to pray for me, as I will pray for you. Thank you.
Pope Francis

Petition to the Virgin of the Rosary of Pompeii

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

O August Queen of Victories, O Sovereign of Heaven and Earth, at whose name the heavens rejoice and the abyss trembles. O Glorious Queen of the Rosary, we, your devoted children, assembled (on this solemn day*) in your Temple of Pompeii, pour out the affection of our hearts and with filial confidence express our miseries to You. From the Throne of clemency on which You are seated as Queen, turn, O Mary, your merciful gaze on us, on our families, on Italy, on Europe and on the whole world. Have compassion on the worries and trials which embitter our lives. See, O Mother, how many physical and spiritual dangers and how many calamities and afflictions press upon us. O Mother, implore the mercy of your Divine Son for us and conquer the hearts of sinners with your benevolence. They are our brothers and your children who cause the heart of our sweet Jesus to bleed and sadden your sensitive Heart. Show us all what You are, the Queen of Peace and of Pardon.

Hail Mary…

It is true that, although we are your children, with our sins we are the first to crucify Jesus again in our hearts and pierce your heart anew. We confess that we deserve the most severe punishments, but remember that on Golgotha You received, with the Divine Blood, the testament of the dying Saviour, who declared You our Mother, the Mother of sinners. You then, as our Mother, are our Advocate, our Hope. And we raise our pleading hands to You with sighs crying, “Mercy!”. O good Mother, have pity on us, on our souls, on our families, on our relatives, on our friends, on our deceased, especially on our enemies, and on so many who call themselves Christian and yet offend the Heart of your loving Son. We implore mercy for today’s misguided Nations, for all Europe, for the whole world, so that, repentant, they may return to your Heart. Have mercy on us all, O Mother of Mercy!

Hail Mary…

Deign kindly to hear us, O Mary! Jesus has placed in your hands all the treasures of His Grace and His Mercy. You are seated crowned Queen at the right hand of your Son, resplendent with immortal glory above all Choirs of Angels. You extend your dominion throughout heavens, and earth and all creatures are subject to You. You are omnipotent by grace and therefore You can help us. Were You not willing to help us because we are ungrateful children and undeserving of your protection, we would not know to whom to turn. Your Mother’s heart would not allow seeing us, your children, lost. The Infant whom You hold on your lap and the mystical Rosary which we gaze at your hand, inspire confidence in us that You shall hear us. We confide totally in You and abandon ourselves to You, like helpless children into the arms of the tenderest of mothers, and on this very day, we expect from You the longed-for graces.

Hail Mary… 

Let us ask for Mary’s blessing

One last favour we ask of You, O Queen, which You cannot deny us (on this very solemn day*). Grant us all your steadfast love and in a special way your maternal blessing. We shall not leave You until You have blessed us. Bless, O Mary, at this moment, our Holy Father.

To the ancient splendours of your Crown, to the triumphs of your Rosary, whence You are called Queen of Victories, add also this, O Mother: grant the victory of the Faith and give Peace to human Society. Bless our Bishops, Priests and particularly those who work zealously to give honour to your Shrine. Finally, bless all those who are associated with your Temple of Pompeii and all those who cultivate and promote the devotion of the Holy Rosary. O Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet Chain which binds us to God, Bond of love which unites us to the Angels, Tower of salvation against the assaults of hell, safe Haven in the universal shipwreck, we shall never abandon You. You will be our comfort in the hour of agony. For You is the last kiss of our dying life. And the last word on our lips will be your sweet name, O Queen of the Rosary of Pompeii, O Dearest Mother, O Refuge of Sinners, O Sovereign Consoler of the Afflicted. May You be blessed everywhere, on Earth and in Heaven, today and forever. Amen.

Hail, Holy Queen…

(*) Only on the 8th of May and the first Sunday of October.

Study Finds Babies in First Trimester Have “Adult-Like” Nerves

Tridimensional Visualization and Analysis of Early Human Development

The study published in the journal Cell used 3D images of human embryos that revealed previously unknown features of human development. The images showed that an adult-like pattern of skin innervation is established before the end of the first trimester



Generating a precise cellular and molecular cartography of the human embryo is essential to our understanding of the mechanisms of organogenesis in normal and pathological conditions. Here, we have combined whole-mount immunostaining, 3DISCO clearing, and light-sheet imaging to start building a 3D cellular map of the human development during the first trimester of gestation. We provide high-resolution 3D images of the developing peripheral nervous, muscular, vascular, cardiopulmonary, and urogenital systems. We found that the adult-like pattern of skin innervation is established before the end of the first trimester, showing important intra- and inter-individual variations in nerve branches. We also present evidence for a differential vascularization of the male and female genital tracts concomitant with sex determination. This work paves the way for a cellular and molecular reference atlas of human cells, which will be of paramount importance to understanding human development in health and disease.

Constructing abortion as a social problem: “Sex selection” and the British abortion debate

Fem Psychol. 2017 Feb;27(1):15-33. doi: 10.1177/0959353516678010. Epub 2017 Feb 12.

Constructing abortion as a social problem: “Sex selection” and the British abortion debate.


Between February 2012 and March 2015, the claim that sex selection abortion was taking place in Britain and that action needed to be taken to stop it dominated debate in Britain about abortion. Situating an analysis in sociological and social psychological approaches to the construction of social problems, particularly those considering “feminised” re-framings of anti-abortion arguments, this paper presents an account of this debate. Based on analysis of media coverage, Parliamentary debate and official documents, we focus on claims about grounds (evidence) made to sustain the case that sex selection abortion is a British social problem and highlight how abortion was problematised in new ways. Perhaps most notable, we argue, was the level of largely unchallenged vilification of abortion doctors and providers, on the grounds that they are both law violators and participants in acts of discrimination and violence against women, especially those of Asian heritage. We draw attention to the role of claims made by feminists in the media and in Parliament about “gendercide” as part of this process and argue that those supportive of access to abortion need to critically assess both this aspect of the events and also consider arguments about the problems of “medical power” in the light of what took place.

Is fetal analgesia necessary during prenatal surgery?

During the second half of the pregnancy, external stimuli can awake the fetuses, although they spend most of the time in sleeping state; the presence of ENIn is absolutely not enough to guarantee an effective anesthesia during surgery. Thus, direct fetal analgesia/anesthesia is mandatory, though further studies on its possible drawbacks are necessary.

J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2017 Apr 16:1-5. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2017.1311860. [Epub ahead of print]

Is fetal analgesia necessary during prenatal surgery?

Author information

a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit , University Hospital of Siena , Siena , Italy.
b Department of Molecular and Developmental Medicine, Division of Obstetrics and Gynecology , University of Siena , Siena , Italy.


Fetal pain and fetal anesthesia are still matter of debate: some authors hypothesize that several intrauterine endocrine neuroinhibitors (ENIn) anesthetize the fetus, keeping it in a constant state of sleep, and making pharmacological fetal anesthesia useless for fetal surgery, while others argue fetal pain is possible and shoud be prevented with fetal anesthesy.


To retrieve evidences about fetal pain, fetal arousability and about the level of sedation induced by the ENIn, in order to assess the necessity of direct fetal anesthesia during prenatal fetal surgery.


We performed a careful literature review (1990-2016) on fetal arousability, and on the possibility that ENIn at the average fetal blood levels induce actual anesthesia. We retrieved the papers that fulfilled the research criteria, with particular attention to the second half of pregnancy, the period when most fetal surgery is performed.


Fetuses are awake about 10% of the total time in the last gestational weeks, and they can be aroused by external stimuli. ENIn have not an anesthetic effect at normal fetal values, but only when they areartificialy injected at high doses; their blood levels in the last trimester of average pregnancies are not dissimilar either in the fetus or in the mother.


During the second half of the pregnancy, external stimuli can awake the fetuses, although they spend most of the time in sleeping state; the presence of ENIn is absolutely not enough to guarantee an effective anesthesia during surgery. Thus, direct fetal analgesia/anesthesia is mandatory, though further studies on its possible drawbacks are necessary.

The biography of Gianna Beretta Molla (1922-1962)

Gianna Beretta was born in Magenta (Milan) October 4, 1922. Already as a youth she willingly accepted the gift of faith and the clearly Christian education that she received from her excellent parents. As a result, she experienced life as a marvellous gift from God, had a strong faith in Providence and was convinced of the necessity and effectiveness of prayer.

She diligently dedicated herself to studies during the years of her secondary and university education, while, at the same time, applying her faith through generous apostolic service among the youth of Catholic Action and charitable work among the elderly and needy as a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. After earning degrees in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Pavia in 1949, she opened a medical clinic in Mesero (near Magenta) in 1950. She specialized in Pediatrics at the University of Milan in 1952 and there after gave special attention to mothers, babies, the elderly and poor.

While working in the field of medicine-which she considered a “mission” and practiced as such-she increased her generous service to Catholic Action, especially among the “very young” and, at the same time, expressed her joie de vivre and love of creation through skiing and mountaineering. Through her prayers and those of others, she reflected upon her vocation, which she also considered a gift from God. Having chosen the vocation of marriage, she embraced it with complete enthusiasm and wholly dedicated herself “to forming a truly Christian family”.

She became engaged to Pietro Molla and was radiant with joy and happiness during the time of their engagement, for which she thanked and praised the Lord. They were married on September 24, 1955, in the Basilica of St. Martin in Magenta, and she became a happy wife. In November 1956, to her great joy, she became the mother of Pierluigi, in December 1957 of Mariolina; in July 1959 of Laura. With simplicity and equilibrium she harmonized the demands of mother, wife, doctor and her passion for life.

In September 1961 towards the end of the second month of pregnancy, she was touched by suffering and the mystery of pain; she had developed a fibroma in her uterus. Before the required surgical operation, and conscious of the risk that her continued pregnancy brought, she pleaded with the surgeon to save the life of the child she was carrying, and entrusted herself to prayer and Providence. The life was saved, for which she thanked the Lord. She spent the seven months remaining until the birth of the child in incomparable strength of spirit and unrelenting dedication to her tasks as mother and doctor. She worried that the baby in her womb might be born in pain, and she asked God to prevent that.

A few days before the child was due, although trusting as always in Providence, she was ready to give her life in order to save that of her child: “If you must decided between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child – I insist on it. Save him”. On the morning of April 21, 1962, Gianna Emanuela was born. Despite all efforts and treatments to save both of them, on the morning of April 28, amid unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations of “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you», the mother died. She was 39 years old. Her funeral was an occasion of profound grief, faith and prayer. The Servant of God lies in the cemetery of Mesero (4 km from Magenta).

“Conscious immolation», was the phrase used by Pope Paul VI to define the act of Blessed Gianna, remembering her at the Sunday Angelus of September 23, 1973, as: “A young mother from the diocese of Milan, who, to give life to her daughter, sacrificed her own, with conscious immolation”. The Holy Father in these words clearly refers to Christ on Calvary and in the Eucharist.

Gianna was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994, during the international Year of the Family, and canonized by John Paul II on May 16, 2004.

Forced Marriages Introduction

What is a forced marriage?

forced marriage happens when one or both participants are coerced into matrimony – without their free consent.

They may have been emotionally blackmailed, physically threatened or abused.

Forced marriages differ from arranged ones, which may have been set up by a relative or friend, but are willingly agreed to by the couple.

An indication of being made to marry someone against their will is ‘a feeling’, says Sue from Central Manchester Women’s Aid. “You know from a young age whether you can say yes or no to your parents.

“And on the day of the ceremony, it is extremely difficult for anyone to say no when everything has been organised.”

Some young people, especially of South Asian origin, have been taken on visits to the subcontinent by their families, unaware of plans to marry them off. Passports have been confiscated to prevent them returning home.

Those who either have been or fear being forced into marriage can become depressed and frightened, develop mental and physical health problems and harm themselves.

A number of those trying to escape unwanted unions have even become victims of honour-based violence or committed suicide.

No major world faith advocates forced marriages although some may try to justify it on religious grounds.

The practice crosses boundaries of culture and class and happens worldwide, but it especially concerns those living in and originating from Asia.

“It’s tradition, not religion, that is the problem,” says Jasvinder Sanghera, who runs a charity that helps forced marriage victims and survived a forced marriage herself.

Human rights’ violation

International bodies have condemned forced unions and supported women’s right to choose their marriage partner.

Forced marriage is a violation of internationally recognised human rights standards. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16(2)

A woman’s right to choose a spouse and enter freely into marriage is central to her life and dignity, and equality as a human being.

General Recommendation No 21, UN Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women

State parties shall ensure on a basis of equality men and women…the same right freely to choose a spouse to enter into marriage only with their free and full consent.

Convention to Elimination all forms of Discrimination against Women, Article 16 )1), (b)

from: www.bbc.co.uk

31. What is Original Sin?

God created man and woman in His image so that they may be happy both in daily human life and as children of God, sharing in God’s life and finding fulfilment through an unselfish gift of themselves.

  • But man, misled by the devil who made him doubt God’s word, decided to depend only on himself. He decided to become his own judge of good and evil. Man deliberately turned his back on God, cutting himself off from the source of Love. This is what we call original sin. It’s the breakdown in our relationship with God. This breakdown, brought about by the first human beings, has repercussions for each one of us today, in our own lives and in the world around us.
  • This break with God entails:
    — Loosing our relationship with God as sons and daughters. For the first time, in front of God, man is afraid and ashamed. Man hides himself: “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid.” (Gen 3:10) Man separates himself from God, yet thinks that it is God who distances himself from man.
    — A weakening of freedom. Man’s freedom, having once been used against love, remains, from that time on, torn between good and evil. Human conscience and intelligence become obscured. We do not always know how to use our freedom with coherence and judgement. The will itself, by which we exercise our freedom, is weakened. “I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate”, observes St. Paul. (Rom.7:15) Consequently, the will lacks determination and authority. Dominated by different passions and emotions, paralyzed by guilt, our will gives up. And so, very often, this stops our growth in freedom and leads to a disunity deep inside us: man becomes divided against himself.
    — A breakdown of relationships. Man’s decision to rely only upon himself and live for himself alone and not for others spills over into all relationships: we blame others (what happens to me is his fault). An ally becomes a rival and a threat. We become suspicious and afraid of others. This is why one person can be aggressive to another, dominating or evasive. Also, we make use of others for our own pleasure. We do not want to be in need of someone else, but rather we want him to be like us, claiming an equality which refuses that others be different from ourselves.
    But in the depths of the human heart, the need for love and the call to give of oneself remain unfulfilled. Man lives with this painful contradiction in his own life, in his relationship with God, in his relationship with others. Have we not all experienced this in our own lives?
    — Our relationship to the created world is equally disrupted. Man, who received the mission to “master” the earth in service of love, is greatly tempted to use this power for himself and claim creation as his own.
  • But God does not accept this failure. Man cannot restore his relationship with God by himself. God took the extraordinary initiative of sending among us His only Son, God himself, who became man. (This is the Incarnation). In saying ‘yes’ and in offering His life unconditionally for us, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, freed us from sin. He made it possible all over again for us to live as sons and daughters of God. Every person who welcomes salvation is restored to his true self because he once again becomes the son and daughter of the Father. He is a new creation.

A Christian prayer in union with creation – Pope Francis in the Laudato Si

creatoFather, we praise you with all your creatures.
They came forth from your all-powerful hand;
they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love.
Praise be to you!

Son of God, Jesus,
through you all things were made.
You were formed in the womb of Mary our Mother,
you became part of this earth,
and you gazed upon this world with human eyes.
Today you are alive in every creature
in your risen glory.
Praise be to you!

Holy Spirit, by your light
you guide this world towards the Father’s love
and accompany creation as it groans in travail.
You also dwell in our hearts
and you inspire us to do what is good.
Praise be to you!

Triune Lord, wondrous community of infinite love,
teach us to contemplate you
in the beauty of the universe,
for all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness
for every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined
to everything that is.

God of love, show us our place in this world
as channels of your love
for all the creatures of this earth,
for not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess power and money
that they may avoid the sin of indifference,
that they may love the common good, advance the weak,
and care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.
O Lord, seize us with your power and light,
help us to protect all life,
to prepare for a better future,
for the coming of your Kingdom
of justice, peace, love and beauty.
Praise be to you!
(Pope Franics)

Pregnancy and Birth Outcomes in Couples with Infertility With and Without Assisted Reproductive Technology

Pregnancy and Birth Outcomes in Couples with Infertility With and Without Assisted Reproductive Technology: With an Emphasis on US Population-Based Studies.


Infertility, defined as the inability to conceive within one year of unprotected intercourse, affects an estimated 80 million individuals worldwide, or 10-15 percent of couples of reproductive age. Assisted reproductive technology (ART) includes all infertility treatments to achieve conception; in vitro fertilization (IVF) is the process by which an oocyte is fertilized by semen outside the body; non-IVF ART treatments include ovulation induction, artificial insemination, and intrauterine insemination. Use of ART has risen steadily in the United States during the past two decades due to several reasons, including childbearing at older maternal ages and increasing insurance coverage. The number of IVF cycles in the United States has nearly doubled between 2000 and 2013 and currently 1.7% of all live births in the United States are the result of this technology. Since the birth of the first child from IVF over 35 years ago, more than five million babies have been born from IVF, half within the past six years. It is estimated that 1% of singletons, 19% of twins, and 25% of triplet/+ multiples are due to IVF, and 4%, 21%, and 52%, respectively, are due to non-IVF ART. Higher plurality at birth results in a more than ten-fold increase in the risks for prematurity and low birthweight in twins versus singletons (AOR 11.84, 95% CI 10.56, 13.27 and AOR 10.68, 95% CI 9.45, 12.08, respectively). The use of donor oocytes is associated with increased risks for pregnancy-induced hypertension (AOR 1.43, 95% CI 1.14, 1.78) and prematurity (AOR 1.43, 95% CI 1.11, 1.83). The use of thawed embryos is associated with higher risks for pregnancy-induced hypertension (AOR 1.30, 95% CI 1.08, 1.57) and large-for-gestation birthweight (AOR 1.74, 95% CI 1.45, 2.08). Among singletons, IVF is associated with increased risk of severe maternal morbidity compared with fertile (vaginal: AOR 2.27, 95% CI 1.78, 2.88; cesarean: AOR 1.67, 95% CI 1.40, 1.98, respectively) and subfertile deliveries (vaginal: AOR 1.97, 95%CI 1.30, 3.00; cesarean: AOR 1.75, 95% CI 1.30, 2.35, respectively). Among twins, cesarean IVF deliveries have significantly greater severe maternal morbidity compared to cesarean fertile deliveries (AOR 1.48, 95% CI 1.14, 1.93). Subfertility, with or without IVF or non-IVF infertility treatments to achieve a pregnancy, is associated with increased risks of adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes. The major risk from IVF treatments of multiple births (and the associated excess of perinatal morbidity) has been reduced over time, with fewer and better quality embryos being transferred.


Cannabis and alcohol use, and the developing brain

Meruelo, Castro, Cota, Tapert

Sex hormones and white (and grey) matter in the limbic system, cortex and other brain regions undergo changes during adolescence. Some of these changes include ongoing white matter myelination and sexually dimorphic features in grey and white matter. Adolescence is also a period of vulnerability when many are first exposed to alcohol and cannabis, which appear to influence the developing brain. Neuropsychological studies have provided considerable understanding of the effects of alcohol and cannabis on the brain. Advances in neuroimaging have allowed examination of neuroanatomic changes, metabolic and neurotransmitter activity, and neuronal activation during adolescent brain development and substance use. In this review, we examine major differences in brain development between users and non-users, and recent findings on the influence of cannabis and alcohol on the adolescent brain. We also discuss associations that appear to resolve following short-term abstinence, and attentional deficits that appear to persist. These findings can be useful in guiding earlier educational interventions for adolescents, and clarifying the neural sequelae of early alcohol and cannabis use to the general public.

Lord Deliver Us From Ourselves (Raoul Follereau)

Lord, teach us to not love only ourselves,
to not love only those who are dear to us,
to not love only those who love us.

Teach us to think of Others
and love especially those whom no one loves.

Lord, make us suffer the sufferings of others.

Give us the grace to understand that in every moment,
there are millions of human beings,
who die of hunger without deserving to die of hunger,
who die of cold
without deserving to die of cold.

Have pity, Lord, of the lepers,
who ask for your mercy
the hands without fingers …
and forgive us for having abandoned them.

Do not allow it any more, Lord
that we can be happy alone by ourselves.

Make us feel the pain of universal misery
and deliver us from ourselves. Amen.

The scientific research on the Shroud

The scientific research on the Shroud
As mentioned earlier, it is the first photograph taken in 1898 that initiates a totally new and fascinating period: that of the “scientific history” of the Holy Shroud.

The hypotheses on the origin of the impression
The question pertaining to the modality of the formation of the image was one of the first research themes which gave origin to a deep study by different scholars, right at the start of the 20th century. They wished to understand by which natural process a corpse would leave traces on a linen cloth characteristic of those visible on the Shroud.
Numerous theories were proposed in this period spanning over a hundred years. Many of them were also experimental attempts to reproduce (starting from a corpse or through an artificial method) a similar image to that of the Shroud. Someone thought that the imprint was caused by chemical reactions between the ammoniac evaporations emitted by the corpse and the aloe and myrrh (natural fragrant substances used in ancient times to honor the corpses) present in the linen; some others have thought that it could be radiation from the body or from some external source to the body. Some others have tried experiments using thermal energy generated from a statue of heated metal; others have also tried using red ochre to paint an image on a sheet of cloth, etc. In none of these cases were the experimental results really satisfactory (that is, being able to realize a similar image as that of the Shroud) and some of the characteristics of the image of the Shroud seem impossible to be produced to this day. The results obtained however, affirm with certitude that the image was produced through a natural process from the corpse of a human being, and exclude that it be due to the work of some artist through the use of a reproduction technique. In fact, the American scientists of the research group named STURP (Shroud of Turin Re-search Project) who in 1979 made direct experiments on the Shroud, confirmed through a complex series of tests, the absence of pigments and colors on the Shroud, proving, moreover, that the bodily image is absent below the blood stains (and therefore formed on it later) , which is merely some hundredths of a millimeter thick on the cloth’s surface and is “the result of cellulose decomposition, the oxidation-dehydration of the cloth’s surface” which took place through some unknown process and certainly not due to the use of artificial means.

Researches on the blood stains
The red stains visible on the Shroud were always considered to be blood stains. But absolute certainty required a detailed examination of the material found on these stains. In 1978 some samples of this material were taken by two groups of scholars (Italian and American) and the tests performed by them in the following years have confirmed it to be human blood of type AB.

The biological traces
In 1973 and 1978, through the application of some adhesive tapes on the Shroud, samples of micro traces containing pollen grains belonging to 58 floral plants were found. Since some of these come from plants that grow only in Palestine and in Anatolia (present Turkey) one can conclude that, besides Europe, it is highly probable that the Shroud had a prolonged permanence in those regions as well. Further research, conducted by scholars from Israel, has discovered other types of plants, reaffirming the above mentioned hypothesis.

A computer elaboration of the image
In 1977 some American scientists making an electronic elaboration of the image of the Shroud (by means of a special scanning process) discovered that it possesses three dimensional characteristics displayed neither by paintings nor by normal photographs. A year later an independent group of scholars from Turin also obtained three dimensional images of a high definition, so as to place in evidence numerous particulars otherwise not visible. For example, the traces on the right eyelid left by an object most probably identifiable with a Roman coin minted in the first half of the 1st century. They further succeeded in obtaining another advanced image of a face without the wounds and the bloodstains, obtaining in such away the real face of the man of the Shroud. Some years later they made an electronic elaboration parallel to the face of the man of the Shroud and of the main icons of the face of Jesus that date back to the first millennium of the Christian era, showing a high number of similar characteristics that make us consider the most probable hypothesis that the face of the man of the Shroud be the prototype of the Christian iconography (at least from the start of the 6th century).

The radiocarbon dating of the linen cloth
In 1988 three cloth samples were taken from the Shroud in order to determine its date with the radiocarbon method (the C14 dating test). The results obtained from three laboratories which conducted the tests dated the Shroud-cloth between 1260 and 1390 A.D.
These results are still a topic of wide debate between scholars concerning the reliability of the radiocarbon method to date an object with such historical and chemico-physical characteristics as those of the Shroud. The medieval dating contradicts various results obtained in other fields of research. Besides it is not easy to ascertain if in the course of time there no C14 was added to that present at the moment the linen was cut that was used to weave the Shroud. Studies done on ancient textiles have further opened up scientific debates on the date of the Shroud, rendering experimental results that seem to prove that both biological and chemical contaminations of the textile are prone to considerably alter the radiocarbon age of a cloth. Since the Shroud has certainly undergone contaminations which are biological (so prove the micro traces found on it) or chemical (as a consequence of the burning endured at Chambéry) the above experimental results deserve to be attentively studied and verified through the realization of a broader research program, and of new tests that evaluate the introduction of a factor of correction to the radiocarbon date of the Shroud textile. Hence, till now the problem of the date of the Shroud textile is not yet resolved.

The new method of conservation
In 1992 an international commission of scientists was assigned the charge of finding a new and more modern method of conservation of the Shroud. After some years of study and verifications, two new protection caskets were designed: one ensuring maximum security and used for the public exposition in 1998, 2000 and 2010 and another lighter one for ordinary conservation. In this the Shroud is placed horizontally, completely spread open, immersed in argon, an inert gas, protected from light and maintained in constant climatic conditions (temperature, humidity, pressure), and held under a monitored computer system. The conservation in an inert gas, argon (which does not react with most common chemical elements), is indispensable to arrest the growth of bacteria and to stop the progressive fading of the cloth (provoked by the natural process of oxidation due to the oxygen of the atmosphere) which is responsible for the progressive reduction of the visibility of the image. The two new protection boxes have the form of a parallel floor, whose lateral and inferior surfaces are made of a metallic composition and its superior surface is made of a bullet proof glass.
In 2002 the Shroud underwent an important and indispensable restoration. The patches stitched in 1532 on the holes provoked by the fire, were removed and were substituted with the so-called Dutch cloth. The restoration has permitted the removal of polluting materials present under the patches, residues of the fires of Chambery in 1532 – materials which are accurately gathered in special sealed and catalogued containers.
The work of improving the conditions of conservation of the Shroud which took effect in the decade 1992-2002 constitutes a milestone in the history of the Shroud, inasmuch as it guarantees optimal modern conditions of conservation which will allow future generations to continue to admire this unique and fascinating image.

To thee, O blessed Joseph (Prayer to Saint Joseph)

S JosephTo thee, O blessed Joseph, we have recourse in our affliction, and having implored the help of thy thrice holy Spouse, we now, with hearts filled with confidence, earnestly beg thee also to take us under thy protection. By that charity wherewith thou wert united to the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and by that fatherly love with which thou didst cherish the Child Jesus, we beseech thee and we humbly pray that thou wilt look down with gracious eye upon that inheritance which Jesus Christ purchased by His blood, and wilt succor us in our need by thy power and strength.

Defend, O most watchful guardian of the Holy Family, the chosen off-spring of Jesus Christ. Keep from us, O most loving Father, all blight of error and corruption. Aid us from on high, most valiant defender, in this conflict with the powers of darkness. And even as of old thou didst rescue the Child Jesus from the peril of His life, so now defend God’s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity. Shield us ever under thy patronage, that, following thine example and strengthened by thy help, we may live a holy life, die a happy death, and attain to everlasting bliss in Heaven. Amen.

Influence of maternal remifentanil concentration on fetal-to-maternal ratio in pregnant ewes.

J Anesth. 2017 Mar 8. doi: 10.1007/s00540-017-2332-4. [Epub ahead of print]

Influence of maternal remifentanil concentration on fetal-to-maternal ratio in pregnant ewes.

Author information

Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, Juntendo University Graduate School of Medicine, Bunkyo, Tokyo, Japan.
Division of Obstetric Anesthesiology, National Center for Child Health and Development, Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan.
Department of Anesthesiology, National Defense Medical College, Tokorozawa, Saitama, Japan. kenichi@masuinet.com.
University Farm, Facility of Agriculture, Utsunomiya University, Utsunomiya, Tochigi, Japan.
United Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Fuchu, Tokyo, Japan.
Center for Maternal-Fetal, Neonatal and Reproductive Medicine, National Center for Child Health and Development, Setagaya, Tokyo, Japan.



Maternal remifentanil infusion is used for minimally invasive fetal surgery or ex-utero intrapartum treatment. The fetal-to-maternal (F/M) ratio of remifentanil concentration at various dosing regimens is useful to manage remifentanil effects. The aim of this study was to investigate the F/M ratio of remifentanil at various concentrations.


Five pregnant ewes received continuous remifentanil infusion under propofol anesthesia. The remifentanil infusion rate was increased by 0.4 µg/kg/min every 15 min. The response to tail clamping in fetuses was assessed immediately before the change of infusion rate. Arterial remifentanil concentrations in the mother and fetus were determined at each tail clamp. After observing a loss of response to tail clamping, remifentanil infusion was terminated and the concentrations were assessed.


The median remifentanil maximum infusion rate and maternal concentration were 3.0 µg/kg/min (range 2.4-3.6) and 21.6 (range 18.0-29.9) ng/mL, respectively. During continuous infusion, the F/M ratio was 0.15 (0.07-0.17), and the slope of the linear regression for the F/M ratio versus infusion rate in each individual was -0.001 ± 0.012/μg kg min (P = 0.876 vs hypothetical value of 0). The F/M ratio at the first sampling point in the elimination phase [0.33 (0.07-0.65)] was higher (P = 0.033) than at the last sampling point during continuous infusion [0.15 (0.06-0.17)].


The F/M ratio was constant at a steady state regardless of the remifentanil concentration up to 29.9 ng/mL, and increased in the elimination phase in pregnant ewes.