Author Archives: admin

Preventing Opioid Abuse At Home

Here are some measures to help prevent opioid misuse and abuse in the home, according to the CDC:

Communicating with the doctor. Anyone requiring opioids should work with his physician to create a plan for managing pain. Options should be considered that do not involve opioids. Side effects or concerns should be discussed, with regular follow-up as directed.

Taking and storing opioids correctly. Directions should be followed; medication shouldn’t be taken in greater amounts or more frequently than directed. Opioids should not be mixed with alcohol, with other opioids, or with other medications including benzodiazepines (such as Xanax or Valium), muscle relaxants (such as Soma or Flexeril), or hypnotics (such as Ambien or Lunesta). Opioids should not be shared or sold. They should be stored in a secure place, out of reach of others – children, family, friends, and visitors included.

Disposing of unused opioids properly. At the end of treatment, unused opioids should be returned to a community drug take-back program or flushed down a toilet.

 Signaling help. If you know someone who needs help for a substance-use disorder, talk to a doctor or call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP.

What The Murdicks Want You To Know

Here are three main points Tim and Kim Murdick hope families will take away from their talks about opioid addiction:

Be informed. “Know healthy choices for what is put in your body. Ask questions.”

 

Be vigilant. “Don’t think it cannot happen to your family or your loved ones. It can happen to anyone at any point in their lives.”

Be hopeful. “Despite our story, we truly believe that there is hope, and that recovery is possible. There are people who want to help families who need it.”

Renewed ERA-rights activism holds decades-old underpinning

Proponents of reviving the dead 1972 Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which, originally passed with a 7-year ratification window, claim that this statement of the late Justice Antonin Scalia shows why the ERA should be made part of the Constitution: “…the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.”

They ignore a 2012 interview NPR’s Nina Totenburg conducted with Justice Scalia:

Totenberg: Covering women under the 14th Amendment?
Scalia: Well, come on. Covering women under the 14th Amendment [laughs]. Women were always covered under the 14th Amendment. What are you talking about? Were they entitled to due process of law? Could you send them to jail without a trial? Without a jury? Come on, women were always covered by the 14th…
Totenberg: …Scalia didn’t mention it, but…discrimination against women in employment and other spheres is now banned under federal law, a ban that Scalia has consistently enforced.”

ERA advocates say there should be no time limits for ratifying the ERA. But a unanimous Supreme Court (Dillon v. Gloss, 1921) addressing time limits on Amendments, noted, “Of the power of Congress, keeping within reasonable limits, to fix a definite period for the ratification we entertain no doubt.” 

And John Harmon, assistant attorney general in President Carter’s Justice Department, wrote (10/31/77) that: 

“Certainly, if a time limit has expired before an intervening Congress has taken action to extend that limit, a strong argument could be made that the only constitutional means of reviving a proposed amendment would be to propose the amendment anew by two-thirds vote of each House … Congresswoman Griffiths … ‘I think it is perfectly proper to have the 7-year statute so that it should not be hanging around over our head forever. … Senator Hartke, a supporter of the resolution, stated…‘if there is such a delay [beyond seven years], then we must begin the entire process once again.’”

ERA supporters claim they only need to add three states to the original 35 that ratified the ERA almost 40 years ago to make it part of the Constitution. But five states later rescinded their prior ERA approvals, and the Congressional time limit for states to ratify the ERA ended June 30, 1982.

The ERA was not ratified because of the controversial policies it would mandate. Here are a few:

Congressman Henry Hyde (R-IL), author of the ban on Medicaid-paid abortions, testified in Senate Committee in 1983: “Since 1970, the ERA advocates have emphasized that the amendment’s principal legal effect would be to make sex a suspect classification under the Constitution. … If sex discrimination were treated like race discrimination, Government refusal to fund abortions would be treated like a refusal to fund medical procedures that affect members of minority races …”

Hyde noted that under the ERA no abortions could be legally prohibited through nine months of pregnancy (like the law NY Gov. Cuomo recently signed). Doctors and nurses would lose their medical licenses for refusing to perform abortions. Also, there would be no informed consent, parental notice, or waiting periods for abortion.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, now a Supreme Court Justice, wrote in 1977, that: “Equal rights and responsibilities for men and women implies that women must be subject to draft registration if men are … Supporters of the equal rights principle firmly reject draft or combat exemptions for women as Congress did when it refused to qualify the Equal Rights Amendment by incorporating any military service exemptions.”

We must not allow ERA activists to highjack our Constitution.

ROBERT MARSHALL served in the Virginia General Assembly for 26 years. He is the author of Reclaiming the Republic: How Christians and Other Conservatives Can Win Back America. Email him atrobertgbobmarshall@gmail.com.

Abortion clinic worker’s unplanned wakeup led to conversion

I started volunteering at Planned Parenthood because I believed the lie that they wanted to reduce the number of abortions and help women. It wasn’t until I had spent eight years at Planned Parenthood that the scales dropped from my eyes. Abortion was profitable and I was right in the middle of raking in that money for Planned Parenthood.

At my clinic in Bryan, Texas, surgical abortions cost $450 up to over $800 and RU-486 abortions were $450. We did surgical abortions once a week and dispensed the abortion pill on certain days. But by the time I left, we were selling RU-486 daily to increase profits.

Unfortunately, my clinic also participated in the sale of fetal tissue. We were paid about $200 per specimen by Amphioxus Cell Technologies, a company no longer in business. At the time, the Houston facility had an abortion quota of 75 abortions per day and, while not all women consented to having the remains of their baby used for research, and while not all fetal tissue was sellable, this practice brought in millions of dollars for Planned Parenthood. 

When then-Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards testified in front of Congress in 2015 about their illegal selling of fetal tissue, one of her statements went largely unnoticed. She revealed that 86 percent of her nonprofit’s revenue came from abortion. 

Among other things, Planned Parenthood’s annual reports detail how many abortions they do every year and their revenue. The year after Cecile Richards testified in front of Congress, Planned Parenthood reported a revenue of $1.296 billion, which included over $500 million in taxpayer dollars. That year, Planned Parenthood performed 323,999 abortions.

 In 2017-2018, abortions increased to 332,757 and revenue jumped to $1.665 billion, including nearly $564 million from taxpayers. Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry makes millions of dollars every year from tearing apart babies in the womb and taxpayers subsidize the largest abortion provider in the country.

How did I not understand the abortion business model throughout my years at Planned Parenthood? Maybe I didn’t want to see it. Maybe I didn’t want to face the fact that my salary, vacation days, 401K, and health insurance were being paid for by abortion.

My conscience was pricked throughout my time at Planned Parenthood but I quieted that voice until one day, as I watched a baby fight for its life against the abortion instruments on an ultrasound screen, my heart was immediately changed and I saw the truth of abortion. What I saw on that screen, while my own hand held the probe so the abortionist could see what he was doing inside the womb of that woman, changed everything.

I woke up. I could no longer be a part of abortion and selling the dismemberment of children to women as a solution to all their problems. My story is being told in the new film, Unplanned, in theaters now. I urge you to see it. No one will be able to walk away and say they didn’t know. 

Abortion is immensely profitable and preys upon women who are being told they need it in order to live their best life. We need to come to these women from a place of love and join together to make abortion unthinkable, to relegate the business of abortion to history books where future generations will learn about the atrocities in the womb and how it was us who stood in the gap between good and evil and put an end to the business of abortion.

ABBY JOHNSON is founder and director of And Then There Were None, which helps abortion workers leave the industry. She is the author of Unplanned and The Walls are Talking. Unplanned, a movie about her conversion, was released in theaters March 29, 2019.

St. Teresa of the Andes (1900-1920)

Feast Day: April 12
Canonization: March 21, 1993
Patroness of Ill People, Youth, and Against Illness

Juana Enriqueta Josefina Fernandez Solar was born July 13, 1900 in Santiago, Chile. The fourth of six children, from childhood she demonstrated an openness to the spiritual life.

Educated by French nuns from the Sacred Heart order, she read St. Therese of Lisieux’s autobiography which had a profound effect on her. She was inspired to overcome self-centered character traits.

At 14, she consecrated herself and became a religious. In May 1919, she entered the Discalced Carmelites in Los Andes, and was given the religious name, “Teresa of Jesus.”

Sister Teresa of Jesus was in religious life only briefly. She might have contracted typhus, though some historians suggest it was Spanish Flu. She professed religious vows on April 7, 1920, and died five days later, three months shy of her 20th birthday.

Pope St. John Paul II beatified and canonized St. Teresa, the first Chilean declared a saint, and the first Discalced Carmelite outside Europe to be canonized. An estimated 100,000 pilgrims every year visit the shrine in Los Andes where her relics are venerated.

‘Wound’ perils of listening to other voices

During my childhood, I learned to tune out God’s voice in my conscience when I justified my sins. I thought I was living in freedom by making my own choices, but without realizing it, I was quickly becoming a slave to my human passions and to the evil forces lurking behind those seductions. At the time, I did not realize I was listening to and obeying other vices that were in opposition to God. It started when I listened to the voice of temptation through my brother and friend, but eventually those tempting voices emerged from within my own mind and heart. I discovered how quickly we can be seduced by our own passions, the seductions of the world, and by the deceiving voice of the father of lies.

These other voices are constantly presenting before us false illusions of distorted love and a counterfeit happiness which will never satisfy our deepest longings for genuine love.

 These seducing voices gradually pull us out of communion with God, often imperceptibly. We may still be going through the motions of religious worship with our mouths, but our hearts have drifted away from genuine intimacy with God (cf. Mark 7:6). We become more like the Pharisees, the ones Jesus refers to as hypocrites (the word literally means “actors on a stage”). Like the Pharisees, we may find ourselves projecting our guilt and shame onto others, judging them mercilessly for their sins and condemning them for not measuring up to our self-righteous standards. Inevitably, the measure we use to judge and condemn others comes back like a boomerang to become our judge. We end up condemning ourselves (cf. Luke 6:37-38). Self-condemnation in turn increases our feelings of shame and unworthiness.

In the long run, listening to these deceiving voices only serves to increase our buried guilt and shame, resulting in a more intense spiritual suffering. As our sins accumulate, our minds become darkened to God’s truth. Our hardened hearts then are unresponsive to His love. We slowly lose our God-given capacity for spiritual and emotional intimacy and instead become addicted to sensual pleasures in our search of counterfeit happiness. Over time, the seven deadly sins become our replacement for authentic joy. We worship created things because we have lost the capacity to enjoy intimacy with our Father and Creator.

Excerpt by Dr. Bob Schuchts, from his new book Real Suffering: Finding Hope & Healing in the Trials of Life (Charlotte, North Carolina: Saint Benedict Press, 2018), pp. 136-138.

DR. BOB SCHUCHTS is founder of the John Paul II Healing Center in Tallahassee, FL, and is a nationally renowned speaker, presenter, and writer. He is recently retired from his private practice as a licensed marriage and family therapist, now devoting his time to writing and healing conferences.

Catholics Can Fall In Love With The Bible

“Okay, take out your Bibles,” a speaker at a Catholic conference directed the audience and then paused. “oh, wait,” he said. “never mind. I forgot you are all Catholic.” The audience laughed. Reading the Bible was not our strong suit; not even among Catholics at a religious conference.

But that story happened 20 years ago. Since then, Catholics stopped laughing and started opening their Bibles. It’s been a trend reflected in increased sales of Bibles and a growth of Catholic Bible studies.

At Ascension Press, publisher of books and parish programs, John Harden, product manager, said that they cannot even keep their newest Bible, The Great Adventure Bible, in stock. After just three months, the first three press runs have sold out, with more than 100,000 now in print. It is based on The Bible Timeline learning system developed by theologian and Bible instructor, Jeff Cavins, with charts showing how the 73 books of the Bible fit within one overarching chronological narrative of God’s loving plan for humanity through salvation history.

“This is a game changer,” Harden said. For him, the Bible itself was a game changer 18 years ago while attending Benedictine College. “I did not see it as relevant in the modern world or even understand what it meant to say it’s the ‘Word of God.’” He credits reading and learning about the Bible with an encounter with Christ and making Him the center of his life.

Scripture Studies Grow

Gail Buckley Barringer, a Methodist convert, also credits the Bible with her conversion to the Catholic Church 25 years ago. “As a Protestant, there were a lot of gaps—questions that Scripture didn’t explain,” she said. “By reading it in light of Catholic teaching and apostolic and oral tradition, everything came together. For example, in John 6 on the Eucharist, Jesus keeps saying: truly, truly my flesh is real food. No Protestant commentary makes sense of that, but when I learned that the Catholic Church teaches that Jesus gave us His Body and Blood, it made sense to me that He said it over and over.”

After becoming Catholic, Barringer attended a Protestant Bible study for three years—the only option then in North Carolina. At the time, there was only one small company publishing Catholic study materials. She created a Catholic Scripture study in 2003 and founded the Catholic Scripture Study International which now publishes more than 30 Bible study programs. And in 2011, St. Benedict Press/TAN books published an apologetics Bible she put together with a host of well-known Catholic Bible scholars which includes articles, faith facts, a section on apologetics, a topical index, and study materials.

The landscape has changed dramatically since Barringer first looked for a Catholic Bible study. Today, there are hundreds of them supplying a growing demand.

Bible Timeline

Jeff Cavins was also in the vanguard of teaching Catholic Scripture studies. After 12 years as a Protestant pastor, he returned to the Catholic faith in 1995, wanting to ignite the same love for Scripture in Catholics he had witnessed among born-again Christians.

“After Bible college, I knew the individual stories, but I wanted to wrap my mind around the whole story,” Cavins explained. When the idea came to him in 1985 to create a color-coded chronological chart based on mnemonics (“memory devices”) to make it easy to understand and remember, he spent the next 48 hours in a whirlwind of activity, not even stopping for sleep. He kept it at his desk for personal use, but whenever staff or other pastors became aware of it, they asked for copies.

“I realized that I had stumbled on a key that got people excited,” Cavins said. He returned to the Church in 1995, and the next year introduced his Great Adventure Bible Timeline to Franciscan University of Steubenville where he taught. That same year, fellow professor Dr. Scott Hahn teamed up with him to film “Our Father’s Plan,” a 13-week series for EWTN Television based on the timeline.

A Wider Catholic Audience

In 2003, while speaking at a conference using his Bible timeline, Matthew Pinto was in the audience, filling his notebook with notes. “Oh my gosh, this could change the Church,” Pinto told him after the talk. As the president and founder of Ascension Press, Pinto, who is also a Legate in the Philadelphia Chapter, had the wherewithal to make Cavin’s Bible instruction accessible on a large scale. Since then, The Great Adventure Bible study program has helped millions of people read and understand the Bible.

“Being in the faith formation ministry, I knew that Scripture was important,” Pinto explained. “There is something in the very DNA written into Scripture that brings about transformation in our hearts and minds.” Catholics often feel intimidated by the Bible, according to him. “But a Catholic literate in the Bible is both an excited Catholic and a contagious Catholic.”

Within the last five years, Pinto said that he has witnessed a push towards evangelization outreach in the Church, as people live as intentional disciples. “They need the practical tool of Scripture to help them on the journey because it is the journey,” he said. “I want people to experience what I have experienced through the Bible. In fact, we are all living the salvation history story right now –from Creation and Adam and Eve, all the way to me sitting in my office today.”

Keys For Catholics

According to Cavins, the biggest mistake Catholics make regarding the Bible is fearing they will misinterpret it. “The Church gives us wonderful guidelines, in the Catechism,” he said. “so, we don’t need to be afraid.”

He pointed out that we can get personal guidance from God using Scripture especially through using the four steps of Lectio Divina: to read, meditate, pray, and contemplate passages. “It’s also a marvelous source for coming to know the theology and the economy of God,” he said. “The economy of God means getting to know the heart of the Father and His plan for your life. Scripture gives us a foundation on which we can trust God.”

Although there are many options today for individual and parish Bible study programs, is it okay to attend a Protestant one if there is not a Catholic one available? According to Cavins, engaging in God’s Word is always profitable, but we need to understand that Protestants and Catholics have different world views. Protestants believe in sola Scriptura (“Scripture alone”) — as the only divine means of revelation — while Catholics understand divine revelation includes both Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture.

“Be on guard for others narrowing the scope of revelation through Protestant interpretation,” Cavins said. He suggests engaging them by asking, where did you find that in the Bible, or who told you it only had to be in the Bible? 

“I tell people in my classes, that we did not make that up,” Cavins explained. “The Jews believed in both written and oral tradition taught by the elders; it’s always been that way.” And when in doubt on something, Cavins said to consult the Catechism of the Catholic Church for the certitude of reading the Bible in union with the Church.

 Wherever a person is on his faith journey, Cavins encourages Catholics to simply “jump in” and read the Bible. “God wants you to know Him even more than you want to know Him,” he said. “The only way our life makes sense is in relationship with God’s stories. You’ll find your story in His story.

 PATTI ARMSTRONG is a Legatus magazine contributing writer.

His Excellency Bishop Edward Scharfenberger – Diocese of Albany

Bishop Edward Scharfenberger of Albany, New York is dealing with the fallout of the state legislature’s approval earlier this year of the Reproductive Health Act, a law that increases access to abortion, including those of late-term pregnancy

Bishop Scharfenberger, the chaplain of the soon-tobe-chartered Albany Chapter of Legatus, said he is considering all options available to him in Church law to sanction Catholic politicians who supported the law, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Speaking to Legatus magazine in mid-February, Bishop Scharfengerger also discussed his hopes concerning the Vatican summit on the international clergy sex abuse crisis, which was held Feb. 21- 24 in Rome.

How big a setback to the protection of life is the Reproductive Health Act?

The point I’ve been trying to make publicly is that this is far more than a Catholic issue. People see the protection of life in its most vulnerable form as something so essential to the foundation of any civilized society. We warned of the consequences of this act, and people are already beginning to see them. I think it’s a marvel to see the law being exposed so quickly for what it really is.

Are you considering sanctioning Catholic politicians who supported that law, including Gov. Cuomo?

I don’t discuss publicly the way I am dealing with the politicians on a personal basis. The reason I don’t is because my concern is to actually change their hearts and to move them so they see the gravity of what they are involved in.

As far as any sanctions, I have left all doors open. I have not said I would exclude any sanction whatsoever, but before imposing any sanction I need to identify what the crime is, for which a sanction would be given. I know it’s my responsibility to make that investigation. You can be sure I’m doing what I need to do, and what I feel both the law and my conscience direct me to do. I’ll follow where the facts play out, and then I’ll decide accordingly as time goes on.

What are your hopes for the abuse summit in Rome?

Naturally, I would hope that out of the summit, some of the very positive suggestions that have been advanced from our part of the world and others to establish the proper codes of accountability are considered. There has to be accountability. The hope of the bishops conference certainly would be all of the bishops consenting and the Holy See approving, that those codes would be developed in all dioceses. I’m doing that anyway. I haven’t waited for the conference or the meeting at the Vatican to determine that.

If nothing else, I hope what comes out of the meeting is a clear awareness and statement or some form of public accountability by the Holy See that this is an international problem. To put it another way, the protection of young people and vulnerable adults is something that must be part of our law. There need to be clear procedures as to how we do this and clear expectations as to what codes of behavior need to be followed.

What do the bishops need to do to rebuild the trust of the faithful?

The only trust we have is in preaching and living the Gospel, the truth of the presence of Christ, which includes the sinfulness of humanity, our own weaknesses, our own failures and our need to turn to the only one who can save us from them, which is Jesus Christ.

We recognize that people in power, including bishops, are not always the most morally outstanding people. Bishops must be held to higher standards, certainly in terms of virtue, but their ability and their obligation to fulfill their office does not change by the status of their own holiness. You could go to a priest who is the town drunk and he can still absolve you of your sin.

Deploying gene-editing tempts man to play ‘creator’

This past winter a Chinese doctor made headlines when he claimed he created the first genetically modified human embryos who were successfully nurtured to birth.

The doctor used a developing biotechnology known as CRISPR-Cas9 that allows scientists to genetically edit cells. The technique holds the potential to treat a variety of genetic disorders such as cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease, and more complex conditions like cancers and heart disease.

As promising as that sounds, deploying gene-editing to human embryos is rife with ethical questions: concerns about experimentation on minors, human embryo destruction, the creation of life in a lab, “designer babies,” the boundary between therapy and “enhancement,” and interventions in the genome that will be passed on to future generations. 

Genetically modified human embryos raise new versions of old bioethical problems, as well as some new ones.

First, countless embryonic human beings were killed in the process that led to the live birth of these genetically modified children. Like all “assisted reproductive technologies,” many more embryos are created than are implanted and subsequently delivered. The remaining embryonic human beings are either frozen in perpetuity or destroyed. 

We should also care about the dignity of life in its origins. There is great danger in creating children in the laboratory, treating human subjects as objects of technological mastery. That will have profound moral and cultural implications as science progresses: societies can then view human life—all life, modified or not—as something that can easily be toyed with and discarded.

 We forget the fact that children should be begotten, not made, at our peril. We should be wary of practices that separate the life-giving act from the lovemaking act. Indeed, these new technologies are misnamed. They don’t “assist”— they replace fertility and procreation with reproduction in a sterile lab. Human beings are to be welcomed as gifts, not manufactured as products.

The technologies behind the manufacture of babies raise new questions, too. The CRISPRCas9 procedure allows scientists to take further steps down the road to creating designer babies. This would allow parents—or other authorities— to dictate the characteristics of future people.

There’s also the specter of a kind of “brave new world” genetic arms race. Imagine John Edwards’ ‘Two Americas,’ but between the genetic haves and the genetic have-nots. An America where certain wealthy (and morally unscrupulous people) design super-babies, while everyone else remains “unenhanced.” It isn’t hard to fathom how these new technologies could be deployed in the hands of racist, eugenicist, or genocidal governments of the future.

As Leon Kass has explained, “As bad as it might be to destroy a creature made in God’s image, it might be very much worse to be creating them after images of one’s own.”

 Of course, we have no idea what the consequences — both physical and social — will be to these genetic interventions. Scientists simply don’t know whether knocking out a particular gene will have other, unintended health consequences later. The genetic code is complicated and interconnected, and even a small, well-intentioned modification could have large ramifications. 

Furthermore, genetically modifying human embryos will modify their germline (sperm and ova), such that those modifications will transfer to future generations. So, for these Chinese babies, not only has their genome been modified, but their entire lineage could be affected. Right now, it all amounts to an experiment.

Just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should. To avoid the trap of falling into a technocracy, humans must govern technology, not the reverse. We must avoid the trap of becoming Luddites. New biotechnologies hold potential to cure and prevent disease, to promote human flourishing— but only if the deployment of technology is governed by morality.

The experiments in China with genetically modified babies are just the beginning of what could go wrong.

RYAN T. ANDERSON, PH.D. (@RyanTAnd) was a featured speaker at the Legatus 2018 Summit. He is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and author of the book Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, and of the recently released When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.

Set season ablaze with missionary spirit – and flavor of faith

Ancient man’s introduction to fire was likely a brush fire set by lightning. After watching animals eat flesh of other animals trapped and burned in the fire, man sampled the roasted meat and found it tasty. Once he harnessed fire, man duplicated the roasting method by throwing small animals into flames for dinner. Hunters around a campfire might easily have pierced a chunk of meat with their spear, thrust it into the flames, and spit-roasting was born.

Fire and cooking catapulted the concept of taste along with nutrition. The late anthropologist Carleton Coon stated that cooking was, “the decisive factor in leading man from a [rudimentary] existence into one that was more fully human.” Heat when applied to food broke down fiber, released proteins and carbohydrates, and transformed inedible foods, such as tough or toxic roots and tubers, into edible, nutritious forms. Cooking meat killed bacteria, reducing food-borne illnesses. Cooking allowed man to consume higher-quality nutrients, resulting in healthier, stronger, smarter people.

Fire revolutionized humanity, forever distinguishing men from animals and was a giant step toward civilization. Communal fires brought people together to socialize. Language, communication, planning and organization evolved around the evening fire. Eventually storytelling, the harbinger of recorded history, was ablaze as well.

Reflective of the Easter season are the “tongues as of fire” which rested on each Apostle at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit descended upon these believers directing their missionary efforts throughout the world. St. Catherine of Siena believed, “If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze.” May the Holy Spirit ignite our souls that we, too, may be ablaze to spread the truth of God to men of every tongue and nation. 

CHEF JOHN D. FOLSE is an entrepreneur with interests ranging from restaurant development to food manufacturing, catering to culinary education. A cradle Catholic, he supports many Catholic organizations, including the Sister Dulce Ministry at Cypress Springs Mercedarian Prayer Center in Baton Rouge, LA.

MICHAELA D. YORK is vice president of communications for John Folse & Company.

 

Roasted Rack of Lamb • prep time: 1 hour • Serves 6-8

Comment:
Most lamb is sold frenched (with part of rib bones exposed). In this dish, lamb is seasoned with herbs and garlic to enhance the flavor. This recipe can be prepared in the oven, fireplace, or outdoor rotisserie.

Ingredients:
2 racks of lamb, frenched
2 tsps chopped rosemary
2 tsps thyme leaves
2 tsps chopped tarragon
2 tsps chopped basil
1 tbsp minced garlic
salt and black pepper to taste
granulated garlic to taste
¼ cup olive oil
2 tbsps Dijon mustard
¼ cup fresh bread crumbs, divided
¾ cup pinot noir
1 cup prepared demi-glace

Method:
NOTE: Prepared demi-glace may be purchased in the meat section of most upscale grocery stores. Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine rosemary, thyme, tarragon, basil, and minced garlic in small bowl. Season with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Rub lamb well with herb-garlic mixture; set aside. In 10-inch skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté lamb racks, bone-side down, 3–5 minutes, taking care not to move lamb racks while cooking to keep herb and garlic seasoning in place. Turn lamb racks over and sauté additional 3–5 minutes. Place skillet with lamb racks, bone-side up, in oven and roast 15 minutes. Remove lamb racks from oven. Using a pastry brush, brush each rack with 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and top with an equal portion of bread crumbs. Return lamb racks to oven, bone-side down, and bake 7–10 minutes or until lightly browned and thermometer inserted into the meat registers 128°F for medium-rare. Remove lamb racks from skillet, place on a plate and cover loosely with aluminum foil 10–15 minutes for juices to redistribute. Remove all but 1 tablespoon of oil from skillet. Deglaze skillet with pinot noir; reduce volume to half. Add prepared demi-glace and bring mixture to simmer, stirring constantly to incorporate well into the wine reduction. Season well using salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. To serve, slice into individual lamb chops, place onto platter, and top with sauce. NOTE: If cooking the lamb racks in a fireplace or outdoor rotisserie, eliminate placing the racks in the oven. Once the lamb is roasted to your liking, brush with Dijon mustard and bread crumbs. Cook an additional 5–7 minutes or until bread crumbs are lightly toasted.

A Tough Pill To Swallow

There’s an opioid addiction crisis nationwide, and it affects even the best of families. To swallow a tough pill here’s how it started and what we can do about it.

Sean Murdick of West Sand Lake, N.Y., was a co-captain of his high school football team who took a few classes at local colleges before finding work in construction. After he fell and broke his arm on the job, his doctor prescribed a 30-day supply of oxycodone to manage his pain.

His mother, Kim Murdick, didn’t think the opioid prescription was a good idea. Sean reassured her:

“Mom, I got this,” he said.

Before his prescription had run out, however, Sean was addicted. He began buying oxycodone on the street. Soon after, he switched to heroin, a cheaper and widely available alternative, to feed his addiction.

When his parents learned he was addicted, Sean asked for help. Tim and Kim Murdick checked out treatment centers for their son but found either that Sean didn’t meet admissions criteria or that insurance would not cover the cost. The Murdicks exhausted their savings as Sean went through several three- and five-day detox stays and intensive outpatient programs. Nevertheless, Sean repeatedly relapsed. At one point he described his opioid addiction as “this demon inside me.”

Sean finally was accepted to a Florida residential treatment center that helped him get clean. Six months later, struggling against relapse, he checked himself back in for a week of stabilization before returning to his sober home. Later that month, his roommates found him on the bathroom floor, dead from a heroin overdose. He was 22.

“We thought we did all of the right things,” Kim Murdick said. “We don’t expect that when you get a prescription for a broken arm that it’s going to end up with a drug addiction, but that’s what can happen.”

SCOPE OF THE PROBLEM

Sean’s tragedy illustrates the crisis of opioid addiction in America, which has seen overdose deaths rise from 8,048 in 1999 to 47,600 in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Often addiction has developed from the use of opioids prescribed by doctors as painkillers.

Opiates like morphine and codeine derive from opium, while opioids like hydrocodone and oxycodone are synthetic or semi-synthetic drugs that mimic the pain-reducing properties of opiates. Morphine was used as a battlefield anesthetic during the Civil War to treat wounded soldiers, but many became addicted. In 1898, Bayer began commercial production of heroin, which is synthesized from morphine as a supposedly less-addictive alternative. By 1924 all narcotics required a doctor’s prescription, and the sale or production of heroin was outlawed.

In 1980, the New England Journal of Medicine published a 101-word letter to the editor describing a very narrow hospital study that found addiction to be “rare” among medical patients treated with narcotics for acute pain who had no prior history of addiction. Other researchers and journals began citing that study out of context, and by the mid1990s pharmaceutical companies like Purdue Pharma, makers of Oxycontin, began aggressively promoting opioids to doctors with the assurance they were not addictive to patients.

Prescribing opioids for home use or to manage chronic pain, however, opened avenues for misuse and abuse. So as prescriptions for opioids skyrocketed, so did addiction rates and deaths.

Heroin sparked a second wave of overdose deaths beginning in 2010, and illicitly produced fentanyl – often laced into other drugs and 80 to 100 times more potent than morphine – initiated another deadly spike in 2013.

Drug manufacturers and suppliers now face major lawsuits for their role in the opioid epidemic as state and local governments seek compensation for the cost of responding to the crisis. Doctors have been accused of overprescribing, and many patients have admitted to using opioids irresponsibly; in 2016, more than 11.5 million Americans reported misusing prescription opioids in the past year. There’s enough blame to go around.

“In the beginning, there was certainly the emphasis on treating not only acute but chronic pain with opioids, leading to increased marketing, production, and prescriptions of opiates,” said Dr. Cynthia Hunt, chair of the National Opiate Task Force for the Catholic Medical Association (CMA). Pain came to be seen as a “fifth vital sign,” and physicians were required to receive continuing medical education in pain management. “Unfortunately there was a definite misunderstanding about the addictive nature of opioids.”

Another contributing cause is a trend in “self-medicating” not only physical pain but emotional and spiritual pain as well, Hunt added. “There is widespread abuse, trauma, and neglect that individuals suffer which contribute to the desire to ‘numb’ oneself.”

Other gateways to opioid addiction in addition to prescription drugs exist, and most individuals who are treated for acute or post-surgical pain with opioids do not become addicted, she noted.

But as the Murdicks found, securing help for someone with opioid addiction can be difficult.

“When someone has a substance use disorder, very often they are resistant to recognizing, seeking, and accepting help,” Kim said. “Yet far too often when the person has recognized that they want help and are willing to go into a treatment facility, there are so many barriers that treatment isn’t always available. That was the case with our Sean.”

CATHOLIC RESPONSE

Lawmakers and government agencies at the federal, state, and local levels have taken steps to address the opioid crisis and make treatment more available. Churches and other nonprofits have taken the lead as well. Catholic Charities agencies are tackling the epidemic as are many Catholic hospitals and ministries.

Last summer, Bishop Edward C. Malesic of Greensburg, PA issued a pastoral letter outlining a 14-point action plan for responding to the opioid crisis in a holistic way. He called for the diocese, its parishes, and the faithful to work with existing health care facilities and social service agencies to address the problem. He also stressed the importance of prevention and education — as well as prayer.

The CMA’s Opiate Task Force that Dr. Hunt leads was formed eight months ago to educate Catholic leaders about the struggles of addiction, to bring together existing treatment centers regionally, and to strengthen the faith-based approach to healing of the whole person. It has identified several pilot dioceses to help identify models for “best practices” for facilitating biological, psychological, social, and spiritual healing.

“Spiritually, we are a wounded society, and addiction is part of this spiritual malady,” Hunt said. “Most deep healing will arise with spiritual means, surrendering to God our entire being including our brokenness.” She cited “primarily spiritual” 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous as successful examples of this holistic approach.

“To the extent that suffering can be relieved without harm to an individual, that should be our goal,” she explained. However, “with Jesus, suffering can be redemptive and can actually bring us closer to God, in union with Our Lord on the Cross.”

SHAME AND STIGMA

Out of their grief, the Murdicks founded NO piates, a nonprofit organization that seeks to raise awareness about opioid addiction and advocate for solutions. They share their story of Sean with other families, young people, and decision makers.

“We are seeking access to housing, employment support, addiction treatment, and community-based recovery supports,” Kim said. “Progress has been made regarding the treatments for those who suffer with the disease of addiction, but there is so much more that needs to be done.”

Some of the progress includes hospitals that offer detox and medical stabilization services to assist with physical withdrawals, as well as increased recognition of the value of peer-supported recovery. “It’s no longer a one-size-fits-all recovery,” she said.

Many people still need to understand that addiction is a disease and not a moral failing. “Shame and stigma are still deeply rooted in the disease of addiction for those who suffer from substance use disorders and those who love them,” cautioned Kim.

Dr. Hunt agreed that society must overcome the stigma of addiction so that those affected can be open to the professional help they need.

“If addiction is suspected in oneself or a loved one, it is so important to name it, ‘destigmatize it,’ recognize it as an illness — biologically, psychologically, and spiritually — and obtain help in a holistic manner as soon as possible,” she said.

GERALD KORSON is a Legatus magazine staff write