Archive of March 10, 2013

Catholic teen amputee finds strength to overcome challenges

Marana, Ariz., Mar 10, 2013 (CNA) - Laura Thompson had been through the emotional rollercoaster before when she was told by doctors that her daughter was going to be born with a cleft palate before being born without one, and now, in her doctor's office, she gets news that her son will face a life of uncertainty due to a rare physical condition.

It was almost two decades ago when she was on her back in the doctor's office getting an ultrasound about a week before Christmas when her doctor told the expectant mother that he saw a fibular malformation called Fibular Hemimelia.  It is the developmental anomaly characterized by the absence or gross shortening of all or part of the limb.

"I guess we all doubt our inner strengths until we are faced with this kind of a situation," Thompson said.  "The doctor walks in with x-rays and said we have problems that we have to talk about, and at this point you are not sure what is going on or what needs to be done.  It is tough when you find out that your baby is not perfect."

Jake Wesley Thompson was born on May 18, 1996, to his parents Curt and Laura Thompson, on a day that would end up testing her Catholic faith and taking it to heights she never knew was possible.

She remembers when she brought home Jake from the hospital knowing that he did not have brain damage and how important it was to her because she would have the opportunity to bond and connect with him.  Yet, she still had a good cry thinking of all the ridicule that he would face in his lifetime.

He was born with only three toes and not enough foot to work with for the doctors when they suggested to have it amputated, which was eventually done when he was eight months old, and got his first prosthetic when he was 15 months old. 

His parents and everyone else eventually found out that Jake had his own plan on how to deal with it.

One of Jake's first memories of having a prosthetic leg was when he was in kindergarten.  He soon knew that he was not like most other kids.

"I remember when the prosthesis fell off when I was in class and everyone started to laugh at me," Thompson said. "I remember being hurt and asked why am I so different."

Thompson remembers another time when he went to Hawaii at nine years old, in the fourth grade, and his prosthesis got wet.  He soon overcame the situation with a realization that would get him through that moment and still is a big part of him today.

"I remember thinking that it does not matter that I only have one leg because I am here with my sister, mom, dad and best friend, and I did not care about my situation or feel sorry for myself because I had them in my life," Thompson said.

The 16-year-old is now a junior at Marana High School in Tucson, Arizona, where he starts at third base and pitches for the school’s baseball team, the Tigers.  He goes snowboarding with his friends in the mountains over Christmas break, never letting any kind of physical impairment become a setback or deterrent to reaching his goals.

He also is a member of the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team where he plays with those who have lost limbs in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Desert Storm.  He received a call in April 2011 to be a batboy for the team, but eventually was invited to play when he found out he was too old to be a batboy.

"I felt honored to be able to play with these guys in this chance of a lifetime," Thompson said.

"These are guys who went into battle and through a lot more than I did.  I realized that if they can re-learn how to do many things for everyday life, then I can too."

Jake's mom said that her son playing on the Wounded Warriors Softball Team has given him the inspiration to overcome his physical challenge.

"He has related how it feels so good to be in the company of others who he can relate to and understand his situation," Laura Thompson said.  "He is so motivated to be a better athlete and became more motivated to be better to others especially after seeing other amputees who were worse off than him."

Besides being involved in athletics, Jake is a member of the worship band at church, where he has played acoustic and electric guitar since he was 13 years old.  He has learned how to read three different types of music from sheet music, chord chart to a tab and along the way learned how to play guitar by receiving lessons from Grammy award-winning artist Gabriel Ayala over the past four years.

Thompson's favorite Bible quote comes from a combination of being alive and his passion of music and playing it for God.  That passage is from Psalm 150:4 which is "praise him with the tambourine and dance: praise him with stringed instrument and pipes."

Posted with permission from the Catholic Sports Association, an organization dedicated to highlighting Catholic sports professionals and enriching junior high and high school student-athletes with Catholic sports articles, conferences, a Web series, and other programs.

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Eastern Catholics pay tribute to St. Sophronius on March 11

Denver, Colo., Mar 10, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A courageous leader of the Jerusalem Church during the Islamic conquests of the seventh century, Patriarch Saint Sophronius I has his liturgical memorial on March 11.

Though he is acknowledged and celebrated as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, St. Sophronius is more commonly venerated among Eastern Catholics and within the Eastern Orthodox churches. All of these traditions commemorate him on the same date, the purported date of his death in 638.

Born in Damascus, Syria, around the year 560, Sophronius came from an esteemed family and received a deep philosophical education. His early devotion to God grew into an inclination toward monastic life, and while still young he entered a monastery in Palestine. He became a friend and student of John Moschus, his fellow monk who would become an important spiritual writer in the Eastern Christian tradition.

The Zoroastrian Persians – long-standing military rivals of the Byzantine Empire, hailing from present-day Iran – invaded Palestine in 605. As a result the two monks fled first to Antioch and then Egypt. But their flight became a spiritual quest, taking John and Sophronius to many monasteries throughout the Middle East. Moschus’ memoir of their travels, entitled “The Spiritual Meadow,” survives and is still read in the Church to this day.

The two monks' foremost patron was Saint John the Almsgiver, patriarch of Alexandria, with whom they stayed for a time until the Persians conquered the city in 614. The Zoroastrian invasion of Egypt forced the kindly patriarch back to his homeland of Cyprus, while Sophronius and John Moschus took refuge in Rome along with a group of other monks. Moschus, regarded as a saint by some contemporary Eastern Christians, died in Rome during 619.

Jerusalem, the future site of Sophronius’ patriarchate, was the subject of violent disputes even before the rise of Islam. Captured by the Persians in 614, it was not retaken by the Byzantines until 628. The Christian reconquest of the city was triumphant, after the long wars with the Zoroastrian empire. But the triumph would be short-lived: By that time the Islamic founder Muhammad had begun his conquests, which would continue under his successors the caliphs.

Eastern Christendom also suffered internally during the 620s, with a recurrence of doctrinal controversy over the person of Christ. During the 630s, Sophronius prominently opposed the “monothelite” heresy – whose adherents supposed Jesus had only one will, the divine. This error denied Christ’s human will, making him less than “true God and true man.” Saint Maximus the Confessor, the greatest opponent of monothelitism, was taught and mentored by Sophronius.

Chosen to lead the Church in Jerusalem during 634, Sophronius continued to oppose the monothelite heresy. But he soon faced a more tangible threat from Caliph Umar and his army of followers. The Muslims beseiged Jerusalem for two years during Sophronius’ patriarchate, forcibly depriving the city’s residents of food. The patriarch could only save the lives of his people by negotiating a surrender with the caliph. Thus, Jerusalem fell to Islam for the first time in 637. Heartbroken, St. Sophronius died the following year.

Patriarch St. Sophronius' stand against monothelitism was vindicated near the end of the seventh century, when the heresy of “one will” in Christ received formal condemnation at the Sixth Ecumenical Council in Constantinople. But the Jerusalem Patriarchate remained vacant for many decades after St. Sophronius’ death: a successor was not appointed until 705. Jerusalem, meanwhile, would not pass back into Christian hands until the First Crusade of 1099.

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Benedict praised for Holy Saturday broadcast of Shroud

Denver, Colo., Mar 10, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Benedict XVI's decision to allow a TV broadcast of the Shroud of Turin on March 30, Holy Saturday, has been lauded by experts for highlighting the link between the Shroud and death of Christ.

“Pope Benedict XVI, when he visited the shroud on pilgrimage in 2010, spoke about the Shroud in terms of Holy Saturday,” John Jackson, co-founder of the Turin Shroud Center of Colorado, told CNA March 7.

“From that vantage point, that all his remarks were made relative to Holy Saturday, it is fitting that the broadcast happens on Holy Saturday.”

The Shroud is venerated as the burial cloth of Christ, and bears a mysterious image of a man who suffered in a manner consistent with crucifixion. It is kept in the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy, and is rarely available for viewing.

The extremely limited access to seeing the shroud gives the TV broadcast particular significance. It will be shown internationally by the Italian public service broadcaster Rai 1.

On March 1, Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia of Turin announced that as part of the Year of Faith, he had gotten the consent of Benedict XVI, prior to his resignation, to have a worldwide TV exhibition of the Shroud.

“The Shroud of course reminds us of the passion, death and burial of the Lord and then to Holy Friday, the day in which the Church remembers and celebrates the passion of Christ,” reflected Archbishop Nosiglia.

“Holy Saturday is a day of silent prayer and meditation on the Lord's death, but it is also a day of joyful waiting of the light of the resurrection that will explode in the great celebration of the Easter Vigil.”

The Shroud, he noted, “is a witness of this double mystery: it brings us back to the darkness of the tomb, but it also opens the way to receive the light that from it will emerge, in the event of the resurrection.”

The Holy Saturday broadcast of the Shroud images is only the second-ever, with the other occurrence taking place in 1973. “This is in honor of the 40th anniversary of the first TV exposition,” Jackson explained.

In his March 1 statement, Archbishop Nosiglia said that “the Shroud is not a sign of defeat, but of victory, of life over death, of love over hatred and violence, hope over despair...the face of the Man of Sorrows, which is the face of every man on the earth, represents his suffering, his death, it speaks to us of love and gift, of grace and forgiveness.”

He added that the Shroud is a reminder that “the proclamation of Christ dead, buried and risen again,” which is at the center of the Christian mystery.

The TV exhibition will last about an hour, and will be part of a celebration led by Archbishop Nosiglia.

Holy Saturday, the archbishop observed, is “a day of silence, prayer, contemplation of the mystery of the passion and death of the Lord, but also a day of expectation and openness of heart and life in the light of the resurrection.”

Archbishop Nosiglia voiced his hope “that this worldwide event will lead, in the hearts of many people who will see it, a little light and peace in these complex times and give strength and hope to many sick and poor, but also families and people in need.”

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Cardinal Dolan eager for conclave to start

Vatican City, Mar 10, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan told the press outside Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in Rome that he is anxious for the conclave to begin and that he feels peaceful now that the start date is known.

“I’m anxious to get started. There was a sense of peace once we decided to start the conclave on Tuesday. … God willing, I’ll be home before Palm Sunday,” he said as he went into his titular parish on March 10.

The action in Rome shifted today from the Vatican to the various churches throughout the city that the cardinals received when they were elevated. Many of the cardinals celebrated Mass at these parishes to spend time with the people of God before they enter into the conclave on Tuesday afternoon.

CNA had personnel at several of the churches and the amount of buzz surrounding the different potential Popes was observable by the size of the media pack that held vigil at their Masses.

At Our Lady of Guadalupe parish, Cardinal Dolan made his way into the packed church, greeting members of the press and the congregation with his trademark charm.

After greeting the pastor, his brother priests and the faithful, Cardinal Dolan began his homily by saying, “Listen, this is our secret, after Saint Patrick’s cathedral in New York City, this is my favorite church,” which was met with a round of applause.

He also urged the parishioners to pray for “we cardinals rely on the prayers of all the People of God.”

At Our Lady of Victory parish in the heart of Rome, Cardinal Séan P. O’Malley was also greeted by a large media presence, and interestingly, there were many Italian outlets on site.

Cardinal O’Malley delivered his homily in Italian and then offered some brief remarks in English. He called upon the Holy Spirit to descend on the cardinals as they choose a new Pope.

The cardinals will hold one final general meeting on Monday morning, giving the last people on the list a chance to speak. Later that evening, the sound technicians who will assist the conclave will take their oath of secrecy.

On Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. all of the cardinals will gather in St. Peter’s Basilica to celebrate Mass for the Election of a New Pope.

At around 5:00 p.m. the cardinals will enter into the conclave and take another oath of secrecy that is specific to that process.

The first vote for the successor to Benedict XVI will take place that evening and the first chance to see smoke will be around 7:00 p.m.  


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