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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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

You can also donate by phone or mail. We would love to hear from you!

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