Peter Baklinski

‘Professor of love’: Daughter with Down syndrome inspires pro-life author to pen trilogy

Peter Baklinski
Peter Baklinski
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GILBERT, Arizona, March 20, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A family from Venezuela once gifted Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity with a house and some land. The family also cared for an acutely disabled child. Mother Teresa, immediately drawn to the child, asked his name. “Our ‘professor of love’, that’s what we call him,” answered the child’s mother. “Beautiful!” replied the holy woman, “let him continue his teaching on love.”

How can a disabled, diseased, or sickly child teach anyone how to love? The common understanding is that the child’s overwhelming needs may simply swamp the emotional and physical capacity of the parents or caregivers. In fact, nearly ninety percent of mothers with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome fall for this argument, and opt for abortion.

But when author Sherry Boas adopted a baby girl with Down syndrome she could hardly have imagined how her little girl was about to wiggle into her heart, ultimately inspiring a trilogy of novels that are taking the culture of life by storm.

Boas told LifeSiteNews her stories “attempt to subtly proclaim the value of every human soul, even if it can do nothing more than love or be loved.”

Boas revealed that not only did her adopted daughter Teresa have an extra 21st chromosome, but she was also conceived in rape. “Her chances of making it into the world were very slim,” she said. “Her birth mother acted out of love, not fear, and so because of her valiant choice, the rest of us get to benefit from Teresa’s very rare brand of love.”

The first novel of Boas’s trilogy, “Until Lily,” tells the story of Bev Greeley, a crotchety old woman faced with the task of trying to find meaning and purpose in her life as she approaches the end of her road in the desolation of a sterile nursing home. Bev’s only link to sanity is her adopted daughter Lily, an embodiment of joy who has Down syndrome.

Lily had made a forceful and unwanted entrance into Bev’s shallow life many years ago. Now Bev finds herself turning to Lily, the burden she had sorely borne for so long, as her treasured source of joy, consolation, love, and even redemption. A brilliant twist at the end of the story opens the reader to the great vista of all the enriching potential that a child with Down syndrome could bring into one’s life.

The second novel, “Wherever Lily Goes,” is about Bev’s daughter Terry, a married woman with children who finds herself midway through life’s journey with a depressed husband who has had a vasectomy, and a high school daughter who has already wetted her feet in the culture of death. An opportunity for Terry and her family to care for Lily sets the family on a journey of self-discovery, forgiveness, and healing. Lily and her joyful exuberance become the therapeutic salve for the various wounds suffered by the members of the family.

In the final novel, “Life Entwined with Lily’s,” Terry’s daughter Beth has succumbed to the culture of death. The ghost of a particular choice she once made relentlessly haunts her and threatens to overshadow her entire future. Lily unwittingly gives the struggling Beth the courage and hope that she needs to confront her past demons and come to peace.

Boas told LifeSiteNews that she was inspired to write the series after tucking her daughter with Down syndrome into bed one evening. “What are we missing because these people — and all the other people who have been aborted — are not among us?,” she asked herself as she kissed her daughter good night. Boas pointed out that the Lily trilogy answers this question in a “very subtle, entertaining, humorous and sometimes heart-wrenching way.”

“I wrote a trilogy of novels that set out to subtly address a good number of issues contributing to the culture of death: abortion, euthanasia, sterilization, unresponsive medical care, divorce, infidelity and promiscuity,” she said. “The books are based around Lily, a character with Down Syndrome. But they are not about her. They are about you and me.”

Boas hopes that her readers will be left with the message that “hope reigns and mercy is unbounded.”

“It’s an emotional series. Some people have told me that they have had to stop part-way through and rest for awhile to deal with all the difficult issues the characters are facing. But when they get to the last page, there is a great and gentle uplifting. Other readers devour the books in a weekend. I think it means something different to everyone because there are so many different emotional threads that run through it.”

Boas’ trilogy is striking a cord with people from all walks of life.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona called Sherry’s novels “made for our times,” adding that they are “another sign that the Lord is building a culture of life today, even as the culture of death rages around us.”

“[The Lily Trilogy] shows the rich humanity of those least appreciated in our day: the elderly in nursing homes, unborn children in the womb, and persons with disabilities. It does so with warmth and humor, but without sugar-coating or omitting the sacrifice that love always costs,” he said.

Jeffrey Mirus, President of CatholicCulture.org raved that the trilogy “provide[s] a thoroughly natural, and so thoroughly believable, look at life, aspirations and family. ... The author’s perceptiveness and wit are present on every page.”

Catholic retailers are delighted to have fiction to offer their customers from a genuinely Catholic worldview.

“It is not very often that one gets to read something that pairs relevant, current, hot-button life issues with masterful storytelling,” said Aquinas and More product manager Jeremy Oliver.

“The Lily Trilogy does just that. With expert character development that makes you feel like you could be reading about one of your neighbors, you will be taken on an emotional roller coaster that will have you laughing, crying, and thoroughly enjoying being caught up in Lily’s world.”

The stories are already changing people’s hearts and minds.

“I was very surprised at the ending but most happy at the turn of events,” wrote one reader. “Thank you for helping me to complete my healing concerning my own two abortions in my younger years. I have felt forgiven for a number of years but had never allowed myself to mourn the loss of my children until today. Thank you for leading me where I needed to be.”

Boas hopes that readers of her trilogy will experience the deep realities of hope, mercy, and of a love that casts out fear.

“The problems our world faces today are caused by fear. Love and fear cannot co-exist. Where there is love, fear flees. Why does a woman have an abortion? She is afraid of something. Why does a woman carry a child, bearing all the discomfort and pain that goes with it? She does it out of love.”

She believes that God has a purpose for every person he brings into being. “To be missing any one of them is to be missing the blessings God had planned for us.”

Sherry Boas’ books are available in paperback or as ebooks at LilyTrilogy and Amazon.

Note: This is the second part of the Sherry Boas story. See first part here: Stories our world needs to hear: An interview with Author Sherry Boas.

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Lisa Bourne

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Cardinal Dolan: Debate on denying Communion to pro-abortion pols ‘in the past’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

As America heads into its 2014 midterm elections, a leading U.S. prelate says the nation’s bishops believe debate over whether to deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians is “in the past.”

The Church’s Code of Canon Law states in Canon 915 that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Leading Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict XVI himself, have said this canon ought to be applied in the case of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. However, prelates in the West have widely ignored it, and some have openly disagreed.

John Allen, Jr. of the new website Crux, launched as a Catholic initiative under the auspices of the Boston Globe, asked New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan about the issue earlier this month.

“In a way, I like to think it’s an issue that served us well in forcing us to do a serious examination of conscience about how we can best teach our people about their political responsibilities,” the cardinal responded, “but by now that inflammatory issue is in the past.”

“I don’t hear too many bishops saying it’s something that we need to debate nationally, or that we have to decide collegially,” he continued. “I think most bishops have said, ‘We trust individual bishops in individual cases.’ Most don’t think it’s something for which we have to go to the mat.”

Cardinal Dolan expressed personal disinterest in upholding Canon 915 publicly in 2010 when he told an Albany TV station he was not in favor of denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians. He said at the time that he preferred “to follow the lead of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who said it was better to try to persuade them than to impose sanctions.”

However, in 2004 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI the following year, wrote the U.S. Bishops a letter stating that a Catholic politician who would vote for "permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" after being duly instructed and warned, "must" be denied Communion. 

Cardinal Ratzinger sent the document to the U.S. Bishops in 2004 to help inform their debate on the issue. However, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then-chair of the USCCB Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, who received the letter, withheld the full text from the bishops, and used it instead to suggest ambiguity on the issue from the Vatican.

A couple of weeks after Cardinal McCarrick’s June 2004 address to the USCCB, the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger was leaked to well-known Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, who published the full document. Cardinal Ratzinger’s office later confirmed the leaked document as authentic.

Since the debate in 2004, numerous U.S. prelates have openly opposed denying Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

In 2008, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley suggested the Church had yet to formally pronounce on the issue, and that until it does, “I don’t think we’re going to be denying Communion to the people.”

In 2009, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. in 2009 said that upholding of Canon 915 would turn the Eucharist into a political “weapon,” refusing to employ the law in the case of abortion supporter Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, said in a 2009 newspaper interview that pro-abortion politicians should be granted communion because Jesus Christ gave Holy Communion to Judas Iscariot.

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However, one of the Church’s leading proponents of the practice, U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, insists that denying Communion is not a punishment.

“The Church’s discipline from the time of Saint Paul has admonished those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin not to present themselves for Holy Communion,” he said at LifeSiteNews’ first annual Rome Life Forum in Vatican City in early May. "The discipline is not a punishment but the recognition of the objective condition of the soul of the person involved in such sin."  

Only days earlier, Cardinal Francis Arinze, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told LifeSiteNews that he has no patience for politicians who say that they are “personally” opposed to abortion, but are unwilling to “impose” their views on others.

On the question of Communion, he said, “Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?”

Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala, told LifeSiteNews around the same time that ministers of Holy Communion are “bound not to” give the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who support abortion.

Pro-life organizations across the world have said they share the pastoral concern for pro-abortion politicians. Fifty-two pro-life leaders from 16 nations at the recent Rome Life Forum called on the bishops of the Catholic Church to honor Canon 915 and withhold Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy.

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Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten

‘His bones are basically like paper’: Parents refuse to abort baby with rare condition

Kirsten Andersen Kirsten Andersen Follow Kirsten
By Kirsten Anderson

At just 11 weeks old, little Layton Diven is not like other babies. Every time his parents pick him up or cuddle him, there is a chance they will break his bones. In fact, Layton has already suffered more than 20 fractures in his short life – beginning at the moment of his birth.

Layton has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a rare disease that makes his bones brittle and prone to breakage. There are several types of OI, and Layton’s type, OI Type III, is the most severe type found among infants. Most babies born with the disease, like Layton, are born with multiple fractures, especially along the rib cage. Many struggle to breathe or swallow. The incurable disease is progressive, so it will get worse as he gets older.

Layton was diagnosed with OI in the womb, but abortion wasn’t an option for his parents, Chad and Angela Diven, who considered their baby a gift from God, no matter his condition.

“We weren't going to have an abortion, so he was born with the disease,” Angela Diven told KSLA. “God chose me for him, to be his mom, so I have to take that huge responsibility and do what's best for him.”

That responsibility comes with a heavy price. Layton requires 24-hour care, but both Angela and Chad have full-time jobs. He can’t go to regular daycare, because it’s not safe for him.

“You can't just pick him up like a normal baby,” Diven said. “You can't dress him like a normal child; his bones are basically like paper. He can't go to daycare because of his condition. He's medically fragile, and a daycare can't handle him."

Childcare costs are just the beginning, though – the treatments Layton will need throughout his life are expensive and may not be covered by insurance.

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Layton is currently receiving pamidronate IV therapy, which will help to strengthen his bones. But in order to be able to stand or walk, he will need metal rods implanted in his legs – an operation that will cost the Divens $80,000. The OI specialist coordinating Layton’s care is in Omaha, Nebraska, while the Divens live in Louisiana. As he grows, Layton will also require special equipment, such as a wheelchair, along with extensive physical therapy.

Despite the hardships they knew would come, the Divens stepped out in faith to bring Layton into the world. Now, they are reaching out to the internet for help to shoulder the financial burdens that came with their baby blessing. The family has set up both a GoFundMe and a Facebook page called “Lifting Up Layton Diven,” where people can receive updates on Layton’s condition and contribute to the cost of his care.

To donate to baby Layton’s medical trust fund, click here.

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John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry

Sources confirm Cardinal Burke will be removed. But will he attend the Synod?

John-Henry Westen John-Henry Westen Follow John-Henry
By John-Henry Westen

Sources in Rome have confirmed to LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, is to be removed from his post as head of the Vatican dicastery and given a non-curial assignment as patron of the Order of Malta.

The timing of the move is key since Cardinal Burke is currently on the list to attend October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family. He is attending in his capacity as head of one of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, so if he is removed prior to the Synod it could mean he would not be able to attend.

Burke has been one of the key defenders in the lead-up to the Synod of the Church's traditional practice of withholding Communion from Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried.

Most of the Catholic world first learned of the shocking development through Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, whose post ‘Exile to Malta for Cardinal Burke’ went out late last night.

If Burke’s removal from the Signatura is confirmed, said Magister, the cardinal “would not be promoted - as some are fantasizing in the blogosphere - to the difficult but prestigious see of Chicago, but rather demoted to the pompous - but ecclesiastically very modest - title of ‘cardinal patron’ of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, replacing the current head, Paolo Sardi, who recently turned 80.”

At 66, Cardinal Burke is still in his Episcopal prime.

The prominent traditional Catholic blog Rorate Caeli goes as far as to say, “It would be the greatest humiliation of a Curial Cardinal in living memory, truly unprecedented in modern times: considering the reasonably young age of the Cardinal, such a move would be, in terms of the modern Church, nothing short than a complete degradation and a clear punishment.”

On Tuesday, American traditionalist priest-blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf also hinted he had heard the move was underway. “I’ve been biting the inside of my mouth for a while now,” he wrote. “The optimist in me was saying that the official announcement would not be made until after the Synod of Bishops, or at least the beginning of the Synod. Or at all.”

“It’s not good news,” he added.

Both Magister and Zuhlsdorf predicted that the controversial move would unleash a wave of simultaneous jubilation from dissident Catholics and criticism from faithful Catholics. The decision to remove Cardinal Burke from his position on the Congregation for Bishops last December caused a public outpouring of concern and dismay from Catholic and pro-life leaders across the globe.

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Both men speculated on the reasons for the ouster. 

Magister pointed out that Burke is the latest in a line of ‘Ratzingerian’ prelates to undergo the axe.

“In his first months as bishop of Rome, pope Bergoglio immediately provided for the transfer to lower-ranking positions of three prominent curial figures: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Archbishop Guido Pozzo, and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, considered for their theological and liturgical sensibilities among the most ‘Ratzingerian’ of the Roman curia,” said Magister.

He added: “Another whose fate appears to be sealed is the Spanish archbishop of Opus Dei Celso Morga Iruzubieta.”

Fr. Zuhlsdorf observed that Pope Francis may also be shrinking the Curial offices and thus reducing the number of Cardinals needed to fill those posts. He adds however, “It would be naïve in the extreme to think that there are lacking near Francis’s elbows those who have been sharpening their knives for Card. Burke and for anyone else associated closely with Pope Benedict.” 

“This is millennial, clerical blood sport.”

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