‘God has answered’: How my daughter got her name
Note: Michael Hichborn is the director of American Life League’s Defend the Faith project.
July 3, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - June 29th was our 10th wedding anniversary, and as my wife Alyssa and I drove home, the intense storm and downed trees that met us along the way reminded us of the intense drama of just 17 months ago.
In December of 2010, Alyssa was eight months pregnant with our fourth child. One quiet evening, as we were cleaning up after dinner, our 5-year-old daughter, Sonya, was practicing writing her letters. As we were discussing names for the new baby, Sonya would interrupt by handing Alyssa a sheet of paper filled with scribbled letters and ask, “What does this say, Mommy.” She had been doing this for weeks, and normally the letters spelled nothing more than “pbthfsa,” or some such nonsense. But on this particular evening, what she handed my wife was “Elia.” We thought it sounded like a name, and suggested that perhaps if it held some meaning, we might consider naming the baby “Elia.” Little did we know how prophetic this event would soon become.
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On January 27th, our new little girl made her grand entrance into the world. With a healthy new baby, and a wonderful home-birth experience, we could never have suspected what was about to happen. Less than 36 hours after delivery, Alyssa woke me up, screaming in agony with intense pains in her lower right back. Of course, we thought it was nothing more than post-delivery spasms, so I did everything I could to make her comfortable, and stayed up most of the night tending to her and helping her as much as I was able. That morning, I called the midwives to ask them to see her, and when they arrived, they told me that something was wrong and I needed to take her to the emergency room.
On this day, everything seemed to go from bad to worse. When we arrived at the emergency room, the triage nurse attempted to take her vitals, but couldn’t get her blood pressure. Needless to say, it was a matter of minutes before they set her up in a room, and then whisked her away for an MRI. As I nervously waited to hear from a doctor what was wrong, I called for a priest to come anoint her. When he arrived, I saw my first miracle that day.
When Alyssa came back from the MRI, her vital signs continued to crash. Her blood pressure was dropping, her temperature was falling, her heart rate was rapidly increasing, and her color was draining. The on-duty doctor, who was overly perky and lacking in answers, finally told me that they detected a lot of blood around her kidney and her bladder, but couldn’t find the cause. And while Dr. Perky was attempting to explain the possibilities to me, Fr. Bresnahan came into the room, and gave Alyssa the Church’s sacrament for the sick and dying, and then Holy Communion. From that moment on, though the situation got much worse, I never saw her vitals dip below where they were. I am thoroughly convinced that our Blessed Lord, through the ministry of His Holy Church, preserved her life though these powerful sacraments.
Shortly after her anointing, a specialist introduced himself to me, and explained that Alyssa had a ruptured aneurysm in her kidney. We discussed options, and he suggested an arthroscopic procedure that would effectively seal the artery going into her kidney. She was going to lose the kidney whether they took it out, or sealed the artery, so I agreed to go along with the less traumatic approach.
By this point, family and friends had put out the call to prayer, which had reached thousands of people across the country. E-mail prayer chains through our Christendom College alumni association, Facebook posts, and a network of family and friend e-mail chains had reached every state in the country, several convents, and countless priests.
Alyssa was scheduled for surgery at around 4:00, which meant I would have about an hour to run to the house, check on the kids, take a shower, and pick up some supplies. When I got back to the hospital, I got a call from the doctor that there were some unforeseen complications. My heart sank into the pit of my stomach and the blood drained from my face as he explained that she suffered a sudden vascular spasm, which prevented them from completing the procedure, and from removing the arthroscopic line they ran through an artery in her leg. I asked him what this meant, and he said that they hadn’t stopped the internal bleeding, and were concerned that she now might lose her leg.
All of a sudden, I was all alone in a room full of people. The doctors were doing what they could, but no amount of sympathy from family or friends could fill the massive void growing in my heart. My children were unaware that anything was wrong, and all I could think of was how I would have to go home to tell them that Mommy isn’t ever coming home again. I locked myself in a bathroom for a few minutes and wept. And then I prayed. I prayed like I had never prayed in my life. On my knees, I thought of Christ’s passion. As I remembered Jesus’ words, “I make all things new,” I begged him to make my wife new.
When I saw Alyssa again after the failed procedure, she never complained, but only apologized for how much she had inconvenienced me. She told me about the pain she was in, but also how she thought of so many people that were suffering worse than she was. She told me about someone she knew who was suffering terribly, and said that she would offer her suffering up for that woman. Selfishly, I wished I could trade places with Alyssa because the pain in my heart was unbearable.
As the day waned on, her condition continued to deteriorate. I consulted with the surgeon, and we decided that he had to go in to remove the kidney. I walked my wife to the operating room and gave her a kiss. I really didn’t have anything to say, but to tell her that I loved her, and she chastised me for “doing that thing again.” I asked her what she meant, and she said, “you know, that thing where you worry so much when you know that everything will go according to God’s plan.” I gave her another kiss, they wheeled her into the operating room, and I sank to my knees.
For what seemed like an eternity, family and friends joined me in the waiting room, where we prayed the Rosary on our knees. About half-way through the Sorrowful mysteries, a hospital chaplain came in to see me. He assured me that he had no news of the operation, but was only there to talk or pray with me. I told him that we were praying a Rosary, and though he was a protestant chaplain, he joined us on our knees, reciting the Lord’s Prayer and the end of every decade.
Fourteen units of blood, a removed kidney, and the longest two hours of my life later, and the doctor entered the waiting room to tell me that the operation was a success, and all of her vitals had returned to normal. He couldn’t account for the success of the operation because when he looked, he said her kidney had completely dissolved. Instantly, the room filled with a celebration of tears, hugs, and smiles. A second miracle had occurred.
But the most remarkable thing about this ordeal comes back to our new baby’s name. For each of our children, we chose names with strong Catholic significance. Brendan Xavier after the great navigator saint, and the powerful Jesuit missionary; Sonya Elaine, whose two names mean wisdom and light; Sebastian Alexander, after two great martyrs, one a soldier and the other a pope. We had settled on our baby’s first name, Tatiana, after the Russian patroness of students, but still wondered about her middle name. But her middle name had to be Elia, because when we looked it up that night in December, we found that it was a Hebrew word which means, “God has answered.” God had answered, indeed.
Please, enough with the cult of pop stars. Our kids need real heroes.
April 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Two things happen each time a significant pop culture figure dies: Christians attempt to dredge up some moderately conservative or traditional thing that figure said at some point during his long career, and mainstream media attempts to convince a society thoroughly bored with such things that the person in question was a ground-breaking radical. The two most recent examples are the androgynous David Bowie—a cringe-worthy and possibly blasphemous video of him dropping to his knees during a rock performance and uttering the Lord’s Prayer circulated just following his death--and the pop star Prince.
I’ve had to suppress my gag reflexes many times as I saw my Facebook newsfeed fill up with memes sporting quotes from Prince about his faith and articles announcing that the musician who “embraced gender fluidity before his time,” according to Slate and “will always be a gay icon” according to The Atlantic, was against gay marriage. Sure, maybe he was. But only a Christian community so shell-shocked by the rapid spread of the rainbow blitzkrieg and the catastrophic erosion of religious liberty would find this remarkable. After all, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton said the same thing barely one election cycle ago. As one obituary celebrating Prince’s paradigm-smashing sexual performances written by Dodai Stewart put it:
Dig, if you will, a picture: The year is 1980. Many states still have sodomy laws. The radio is playing feel-good ear candy like Captain and Tennille and KC and the Sunshine Band. TV hits include the sunny, toothy blond shows Three’s Company and Happy Days. There’s no real word for “gender non-conforming.” But here’s what you see: A man. Clearly a man. Hairy, mostly naked body…a satiny bikini bottom. But those eyes. Rimmed in black, like a fantasy belly dancer. The full, pouty lips of a pin-up girl. Long hair. A tiny, svelte thing. Ethnically ambiguous, radiating lust. What is this? A man. Clearly a man. No. Not just a man. A Prince.
Right. So let’s not get too carried away, shall we? I know Christians are desperate to justify their addictions to the pop culture trash that did so much to sweep away Christian values in the first place and I know that latching on to the occasional stray conservative belief that may manifest itself in pop culture figures makes many feel as if perhaps we are not so weird and countercultural, but this bad habit we have of claiming these figures upon their passing is downright damaging.
After all, parents should be teaching their children about real heroes, titans of the faith who changed the world. Heroes of the early church who stood down tyrants, halted gladiatorial combat, and crusaded against injustice in a world where death was all the rage. These men and women were real rebels who stood for real values. If we want to point our children to people they should emulate, we should be handing them books like Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness by the brilliant writer Eric Metaxas rather than the pop albums Purple Rain or Lovesexy by Prince. If parents spend their time glorifying the predecessors of Lady Gaga and Miley Cyrus instead of highlighting heroes like William Wilberforce, they can hardly be surprised when their children choose to emulate the former rather than the latter.
The mainstream media’s adulation of these pop stars is equally irritating. The unspoken truth of these obituaries is that the flamboyant antics of Prince and the rest of the so-called rebellious drag queens populating the rock n’ roll scene have been mainstream for a long time already. Want to see dozens of bizarre body piercings? Weird hairdos? Purple mohawks? Dudes with nail polish? Strange tattoos? Easy. Just go onto any university campus, or any public high school without a dress code. With headphones wedged firmly in their ear canals, they can pump the cleverly commercialized “counterculture” straight into their skulls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
More than that, some of these courageous rebels have actually sued their employers to ensure that they can let their establishment-smashing freak flag fly at work, too. An Edmonton woman with 22 visible body piercings complained that her employer was unfair because apparently she was being discriminated against “based on body modifications.” Yeah! The Man must be told, after all. And if he doesn’t agree, we will lawyer up. I wonder what the shrieking rebels of the early days would think about the snivelling children of the current grievance culture.
So these days, the media’s eulogizing about aging culture warriors who went mainstream a long time ago rings a bit hollow. After all, most rock n’ roll stars these days look tame compared to what shows up in the children’s section at Pride Week. Freaky is normal now. Normal is radical. Welcome to 2016.
When Christians are posting nostalgic tributes to the rebels who helped inoculate their children against the radical views of Christianity in the first place, you know that the victories of the counterculture are complete and Stockholm syndrome has set in.
Target boycott climbs to over 1 million
April 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Over 1 million people have signed a pledge to boycott Target over its new policy allowing men to access women’s bathrooms.
The American Family Association’s Boycott Target petition gained traction immediately, reaching the one million mark in only nine days.
“Corporate America must stop bullying people who disagree with the radical left agenda to remake society into their progressive image,” said AFA President Tim Wildmon. “#BoycottTarget has resonated with Americans. Target’s harmful policy poses a danger to women and children; nearly everyone has a mother, wife, daughter or friend who is put in jeopardy by this policy. Predators and voyeurs would take advantage of the policy to prey on those who are vulnerable. And it’s clear now that over one million customers agree.”
Target defended its policy in a statement saying that it believes everyone “deserves to be protected from discrimination, and treated equally” and earlier this week, a Target spokeswoman defended the policy as “inclusive.”
The AFA said that unisex bathrooms are a common-sense alternative to allowing men unfettered access to women’s bathrooms.
“Target should keep separate facilities for men and women, but for the trans community and for those who simply like using the bathroom alone, a single occupancy unisex option should be provided,” the petition says.
The AFA warned that Target’s new policy benefits sexual predators and poses a danger to women and children.
“With Target publicly boasting that men can enter women's bathrooms, where do you think predators are going to go?” the petition asked.
There have been numerous instances of predatory men accessing women’s bathrooms and intimate facilities in the wake of “transgender” bathroom policies allowing them to do so.
“We want to make it very clear that AFA does not believe the transgender community poses this danger to the wider public,” said Wildmon. “Rather, this misguided and reckless policy provides a possible gateway for predators who are out there.”
Amazing new video captures the flash of light the moment life begins
CHICAGO, April 29, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Life begins with a spark – literally.
Researchers at Northwestern University have documented the striking event in a new video that accompanies a study published this week.
At the moment of conception, the egg releases massive amounts of zinc, which creates a spark that can be seen with the aid of a microscope.
“It was remarkable,” said Teresa Woodruff, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University's medical school. “To see the zinc radiate out in a burst from each human egg was breathtaking.”
The research team had noted the zinc sparks before in mice eggs but had never observed the process in human beings.
“All of biology starts at the time of fertilization,” Woodruff said, “yet we know next to nothing about the events that occur in the human.”
One of the researchers, Northwestern chemistry professor Thomas O'Halloran, explained the science behind the process in 2014.
“The egg first has to stockpile zinc and then must release some of the zinc to successfully navigate maturation, fertilization and the start of embryogenesis,” he said. “On cue, at the time of fertilization, we see the egg release thousands of packages, each dumping a million zinc atoms, and then it's quiet.”
“Each egg has four or five of these periodic sparks,” O'Halloran said. “It is beautiful to see, orchestrated much like a symphony.”
Since the amount of zinc in an egg correlates with successful implantation and birth, the Northwestern researchers are highlighting that their research may be used to assist in vitro fertilization.
But that raises concerns given the grave moral issues with IVF, which involves creating numerous embryos that are either killed or frozen. Moral theologians also emphasize that IVF is an injustice even for the children who are born as a result, as they are created in a lab rather than in the union of man and woman.
The study may have far-reaching consequences the research team did not intend, such as strengthening public belief in the longstanding scientific consensus that life begins at the moment of conception/fertilization.
Many of those who saw the Northwestern video said it testifies to the beauty of life and the shallow lies that buttress the argument of abortion-on-demand.
“I saw this, and I was blown away by it,” said Rush Limbaugh on his nationally syndicated radio program Thursday afternoon. “For anybody in the mainstream media to openly admit that life begins at conception” defies arguments that an unborn child is only “tissue mass.”
Researchers released a separate video of the zinc spark taking place in a mammalian egg more than a year ago:
The paper, which is entitled “The Zinc Spark is an Inorganic Signature of Human Egg Activation,” was published by Scientific Reports on April 26.