Ellen KolbNovember 30, 2015Leave a comment

“I am the last person I ever thought would adopt a child.”

The Adair family on adoption day (photo courtesy of Catherine Adair)

The Adair family on adoption day (photo courtesy of Catherine Adair)

Published two years ago today (and shared on this blog before): a wonderful post by Catherine Adair from The Harvest is Abundant, celebrating her family’s adoption of daughter Ava. Enjoy her story as Adoption Awareness Month comes to a close.

“I am the last person I ever thought would adopt a child. I didn’t even want children after my abortion over 20 years ago. I felt unworthy of being a mother. After working in an abortion clinic, where I participated in thousands of first and second trimester abortions, I was determined not to have children. But here I was, married with children, being asked to help a young mother and her baby, and I knew God wanted us to say ‘yes’ to this child.”

Read the full post at The Harvest is Abundant.


Ellen KolbNovember 29, 20155 Comments

Advent – hold the Christmas carols

Advent 1st post 2015It’s Advent, the beginning of the liturgical year, penitential and contemplative in tone as befits preparation for a great feast. It’s a blessed relief from any number of things. I enter it this year sick at heart due to some recent events, ready for a time of prayer and quiet and humility and renewal.

Keep that elf doll away from me. Throw a curtain around that poinsettia display for a few more weeks. And in regretful (some will say regrettable) defiance of my bishop’s directive, I am fleeing my parish church for the duration in order to avoid Christmas carols at every Advent Sunday Mass.

Yes, carols. He used the plural and I assume that means more than one. It’s not as though Bishop Libasci is ordering the choirs to sing “Holly Jolly Christmas.” Nevertheless, I am not on board. I need Advent for the next not-quite-four weeks, not Christmas Lite. Carols at the kids’ concerts or at the store are one thing. Carols during an Advent liturgy are another.

The Mass is the Mass, and my feelings about the music are irrelevant to that. (We liturgical music critics can be insufferable.) My reaction to the bishop’s directive, though, isn’t a matter of mere distaste. I fear we’re diluting Advent and thereby losing something important.

I’ve worked retail, and I remember how we depended on November and December sales. Santa-shaped chocolates on the shelf and “The Little Drummer Boy” on the speakers put people into the shopping mood, so by golly we had the Santa chocolates on display and the music playing by Thanksgiving. We worked long hours. Our paychecks and material support for our families depended on that.

Wanna know what Christmas Eve is like for a retail worker after the store closes? There’s a lot of sleep involved – unless there are kids to be settled. Mass the next day, in all its glory and joy and beauty, is something to be gotten through.

I learned in those days to treasure and crave Advent. My attention to the Advent liturgies was renewed and sharpened. I hadn’t realized how much I had always taken the season for granted. The Old Testament prophecies, the old plainsong chant we now know as O Come O Come Emmanuel (however far from plainsong it’s been dragged by contemporary arrangements), John the Baptist’s blunt call to repentance: all became balm to my spirit when I realized I had to seek out and intentionally participate in Advent rather than just let it happen somewhere in the background. The beauty of the Incarnation, contra my bishop’s concern as expressed in his directive, wasn’t dulled by such preparation. Quite the opposite, in fact.

I mean no disrespect to Bishop Libasci, who has gone out on a limb as a Catholic leader in this very secular state of ours to advocate for refugees and defend religious liberty. The other aspects of his directive make sense to me, especially in view of the coming formal opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

Christmas carols during Advent liturgies, though, affect me like physical blows. I’ve heard them before, albeit by the choice of music ministers rather than directives from the Diocese. However scriptural the lyrics, they don’t fit Advent any more than Easter songs would fit into Lent.  The carols’ ill timing evokes for me the malls and commercials and movies that hijack them before Thanksgiving.

I guess I’ll be crossing the state line for a few Sundays, although it’ll be odd not to be amid familiar faces. What’s going on at the altar will be familiar enough.




Ellen KolbNovember 28, 20152 Comments

Colorado violence feeds a fallacy

As I write this, there’s news from Colorado about a shooter who has wounded and maybe killed an undetermined number of people in or near a Planned Parenthood facility. The assailant has been apprehended. I have no idea at this point how the victims are doing or whether they were attacked inside the PP office.

This much I know already: whatever the motives, premeditated killing and assault is every bit as ghastly outside the abortion-procedure room as in it. I wrote as much to the friend who alerted me to the Colorado news. One of her social media contacts saw my reply and commented “fallacy.”

As I saw televised updates about the atrocity (Twitter coverage at that point was already too befouled with invective to read), someone who regularly participates in peaceful pro-life witness outside abortion facilities forwarded a nasty email she had just received. It contained an excerpt from a news bulletin about the shooting, with “Congratulations!” added by the (of course) anonymous sender.

And so a slanderous, persistent narrative continues, equating bloodshed and terrorism with nonviolent witness and action in resistance to abortion.

Now there’s a fallacy. It has a grip. Look at the Twitter feed that followed the initial reports from Colorado, if you have the stomach for it. (Did someone say “viciousness“?)

Nonviolent witness needs to grow, not recede. It isn’t passive. It takes practice. It’s essential. Pope Benedict, 2007: “It is thus understood that nonviolence, for Christians, is not a mere tactical behavior but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is convinced of God’s love and power, who is not afraid to confront evil with the weapons of love and truth alone.”  That applies at all times, in the face of abortions and Colorado shootings and whatever vileness the Twitterverse may be throwing up.









Ellen KolbNovember 27, 2015Leave a comment

Pregnancy help centers offer ways you can help, close to home

personalThanksgiving has mellowed my Facebook feed, for a few days at least. Political disputes have given way to photos of family reunions, accounts of recipes that did or didn’t work, and cheerful appeals from area service agencies. One post in particular (embedded below) stood out today: a 17-year-old described how she organized a drive to collect items needed by clients of local pregnancy care centers.

I shared the post on Leaven’s Facebook feed, and I got a message from a reader: could I point out the new address (after many years on Kelley Street) for Manchester, New Hampshire’s Birthright? “Our clients have found us, our donors have not!”

Glad to do so: 247 South Main Street, Manchester. That’s next to Sacred Heart Church. Look for the Bishop Gendron building with the Sacred Heart food pantry. To confirm hours, call 603-668-3443.

If you’ve never checked out this blog’s page of New Hampshire crisis pregnancy resource agencies that do not refer for abortion, I invite you to do so. Some have web pages with a list of needed supplies. All would undoubtedly welcome financial help. Some have ongoing projects, like CareNet’s baby bottle drives. Perhaps you’re a member of a service group that could “adopt” a pregnancy care center to meet ongoing needs.

To all who are already working or volunteering or donating in support of this work, thanks. The rest of us can pitch in anytime, without going too far. The links on this blog will give you contact information for agencies in Manchester, Nashua, Concord, Portsmouth, Rochester, Dover, Claremont, Littleton, Keene, Laconia, Plymouth and West Lebanon.

Let a 17-year-old inspire you.