Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Jim Caviezel on adoption

Thanks for this tip from the Son Rise Morning Show about actor Jim Caviezel's adopted children. It's a short but beautiful article -- read it here. We need more people like Jim and his wife Kerri to remind us of the value of each and every human life.

Monday, April 28, 2008

St. Gianna, pray for us!

Many of us think of saints as icons from the Middle Ages, who wore shining white robes, fasted on bread and water and constantly looked toward heaven, with their hands folded in prayer. It's rather refreshing, then, to know that there are modern saints, with whom we may have more in common.

St. Gianna Beretta Molla, whose feast day is today, was born in 1922 in Italy. Throughout her young adult years she struggled to know what her vocation was. Eventually she became a doctor and married Pietro Molla in her thirties. Their commitment to having a holy marriage and family is a beautiful example for us today.

St. Gianna is most known for her brave decision to put her fourth unborn child's life before her own. While she was pregnant, St. Gianna was diagnosed with a uterine fibroma and was presented with three options: Have an abortion, have a hysterectomy (in which the child would die) or have a surgical procedure that would allow her baby to live while not offering much help to the mother. After choosing the third option, she told her husband, "This time it will be a difficult delivery, and they may have to save one or the other -- I want them to save my baby."

A beautiful little girl was born to the Molla family on Holy Saturday of 1962. A week later, St. Gianna died.

Her husband and daughter were present at her beatification and canonization and are still living.

In 2006, I was studying abroad and was able to take a train to Magenta and Messero, Italy, where St. Gianna lived. I was blessed to see the church in which she was baptized and married, as well as the outside of her home and office. Her grave was located in the middle of the local cemetery. (You can see my pictures of the church and grave on this post.) It was amazing to walk along the streets that St. Gianna travelled only 44 years earlier. Her sacrifice is an incredible example to all mothers and to all within the pro-life movement.

You can learn more about St. Gianna and find a prayer asking for her intercession here.

Friday, April 25, 2008

40 Days for Life in the 'Nati

It is finally Cincinnati's turn to host the 40 Days for Life campaign. This beautiful peaceful and prayerful witness to life involves fasting, prayer and 24/7 presence at two local abortion clinics. For more information, or to sign up for a shift, visit http://www.40daysforlife.com/cincinnati.

Friday, April 18, 2008

My apologies

This has been the busiest week of the year in our chastity program. Unfortunately the blog has suffered from a lack of new posts for this reason. I hope to get back on track next week. Meanwhile, enjoy the coverage of Pope Benedict XVI's visit at http://www.pope2008.com.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Cincinnati 2000: CREDO, I Believe

We hope to see you at Cincinnati 2000: CREDO, I Believe this weekend (April 11-13) at Moeller High School. Hundreds of high school students will attend this Eucharistic retreat, with national speakers, fellowship, small groups, music and more. Check out the website for more information. I have attended about five similar retreats, beginning in high school, and my experiences were always amazing.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

All about birth control

We frequently receive questions regarding the morality of birth control inside of marriage. Here are some other articles to read for more information and further clarification.

There's plenty more out there, but this is a good list for those who may be looking for further clarification of what we have discussed in our high school presentations. Also, I came across this analogy from Mary Healy, which may be helpful: "In the language of the body, the difference between NFP and contraception is the difference between refraining from speech for a time and lying."

Monday, April 7, 2008

Add this to my student quote list...

Once again, I am blown away by the students I am speaking to. I just returned from a grade school where I posed the question to the eighth grade class of if someone was not saving sex for marriage now, if it would affect his/her marriage in the future. One of the boys raised his hand and said...

"If you can't control yourself now, why do you think you could later when you're married?"

Wow. Couldn't say it any better myself.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Oxytocin, vasopressin and a tale of two voles

A Tale of Two Voles

Once upon a time, there was a meadow vole who was quite promiscuous in his behavior. He would mate with several voles and practically ignore his children. His cousin, the prairie vole, on the other hand, remained faithful to one female vole. So, scientists decided to give extra vasopressin (a hormone found in the prairie vole) receptors to the meadow voles, which have fewer vasopressin receptors.

"The results were remarkable. After the V1a receptor gene was introduced, the former playboys reformed their ways. Suddenly, they fixated on one female, choosing to mate with only her -- even when other females tried to tempt them," reported the BBC News.

The Role of Vasopressin

So, what does vasopressin do? And what does it have to do with humans?

The vole escapades interested scientists in researching vasopressin in humans. Although not much is known about its effects, many refer to it as the "monogamy molecule."

In an article entitled, "The Two Become One: The Role of Oxytocin and Vasopressin," Dianne S. Vadney wrote, "Essentially, vasopressin released after intercourse is significant in that it creates a desire in the male to stay with his mate, inspire a protective sense (in humans, perhaps this is what creates almost a jealous tendency) about his mate, and drives him to protect his territory and his offspring. The value of such tendencies toward the maintenance of marriage and family can easily be anticipated."

Economics professor, Jennifer Roback Morse wrote about vasopressin in her book, Smart Sex: Finding Life-Long Love in a Hook-Up World. She says that although men may have a desire to have sex with multiple women, vasopressin helps them to counteract this tendency. She writes, "The man's body tells him that having sex with a woman puts that particular woman into a new and different category. This is not merely an attractive woman: this is a woman who may give birth to his child. She is, therefore, different from other women. The sex act has changed her from a potential sex object to the potential mother of his children, with all that this implies. No matter how sophisticated we think we are, our bodies continue to respond to the sexual act in this way."

Dr. Morse adds that vasopressin causes men to be jealous toward a woman with whom he has been sexually active. It also causes him to be loyal. She gives the example of the vast majority of men who go to great lengths to provide child support for their children, even if they are not permitted to see them. "The view that most men, most of the time, have no attachment to their sex partners is a caricature, a cartoon version of reality. While it may be true that men attach to their sex partners less than women do to theirs, men are not simply looking for a sexual release, but attach to their partners somewhat differently than women attach to theirs," writes Dr. Morse.

What about oxytocin?

Oxytocin is a hormone released in both men and women. Because a response is enhanced by estrogen, women tend to have stronger reactions to oxytocin, which is "thought to be released during hugging, touching and orgasm in both sexes. In the brain, oxytocin is involved in social recognition and bonding, and may be involved in the formation of trust between people and generosity."

So, how does it effect sexual relationships? There are a couple of ways oxytocin affects us in sexual relationships that have ended.

Dr. Eric Keroack said, "Emotional pain causes our bodies to produce an elevated level of endorphins which in turn lowers the level of oxytocin. Therefore, relationship failure leads to pain which leads to elevated endorphins which leads to lower oxytocin the result of which is a lower ability to bond. Many in this increased state of emotional pain and lower oxytocin seek sex as a substitute for love which inevitably leads to another failed relationship, and so, the cycle continues."

Based on the work of Dr. Keroack, we also have this explanation:

"An interesting finding in oxytocin research is the likelihood that oxytocin inhibits the development of tolerance in the brain’s opiate receptors. The excitement of sex is partly credited to endorphins exciting opiate receptors. As a human relationship matures, fewer endorphins are released. If sexual relationships are well bonded, though, the oxytocin response maintains the excitement despite how few endorphins are released. This keeps excitement present between oxytocin-bonded couples.

"In the same way, though, these studies reveal the rationale behind an inability of some to stay bonded in seemingly good relationships. People who have misused sex to become bonded with multiple persons will diminish their oxytocin bonding within their current relationship. In the absence of oxytocin, the person will find less or no excitement. The person will, then, feel the need to move on to what looks more exciting."

In Summary

Mary Beth Bonacci has a great summary of the normal effects of oxytocin and vasopressin: Oxytocin causes a woman to be forgetful, decreases her ability to think rationally -- and causes an incredibly strong emotional attachment to form with the man she is with. Men also produce some oxytocin during sexual intercourse. But their bodies also produce a hormone called vasopressin. Vasopressin, called "the monogamy molecule," kicks in after sexual activity, and its impact is to heighten a man’s sense of responsibility. It encourages that part of him which says, "My gosh, she may be carrying my child! I’d better get serious about life! I’ve got to get to work, to provide for this family!"

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Welcome St. Ursula students!

We enjoyed spending the past four days with sophomores at St. Ursula Academy. As promised, we will be posting more information about birth control and oxytocin/vasopressin. We should have it posted tomorrow.

Here are some things you may be interested in now:

* Dating advice from a guy

* Is pro-choice, pro-abortion?

* How far is too far?

* Modesty according to Stacy and Clinton