Archive for January, 2009

Having an abortion affects mental health

The ability of parents to learn of defects in their unborn children through modern technology has greatly accelerated the rate at which these children have had their lives ended before they start by abortion. This makes abortion a very important disability issue. In addition, the mothers who have their children aborted also, according to a number of studies, are also at increased risk of the mental health disabilities. recently published online an article detailing a study which connects having an abortion with later mental health problems for the woman involved: New Study Shows Direct Link Between Abortion and Mental Health Problems (to access, click on): see also &

The Canadian Medical Association Journal has published a number of responses to earlier studies by this research group. Here are two; one against the credibility of the research, and one which not only supports it, but also lists other studies which also give evidence of this connection.

Here is the response by Dr. Brenda Major challenging the research behind these claims:

And here is the response supporting the claims, by Annie D. Banno:

From an Orthodox Christian perspective, the spiritual (mental, emotional, physical) damage incurred by having an abortion is strongly attested from very early in the Holy Apostolic Tradition. (see )

See also this imperative issued on the Self-ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America‘s website in regard to the Freedom of Choice Act:

Orthodox Christian Service for victims of abortion

March for Life 2007

March for Life 2007

To access a service written for the victims of abortion, click on:

Office for the Victims of Abortion  

And for more Orthodox Christian pro-life resources, click on (the source of the picture ot the right) (The URL for the Service for the vicims of abortion)

Jesus wept

 Roe versus Wade

. . .We ignore our poor and elderly, the dispossessed, the mentally ill, the stranger in our midst. We are too busy pursuing our own 15 minutes of fame! We have no time to spare to help others, to visit the sick, to comfort the despairing, to guide the lost, to resettle the dispossessed, to show hospitality to the stranger. Abraham entertained angels but we do not even know who our neighbors are! We do not even see the homeless. The pains and trials of those “not of our class” or “not of our race” are “not our problem”! . . . .Life itself is progressively cheapened. People who cannot defend themselves -the unborn, the severely disabled- are treated as things to be managed (or disposed of) by others. In our greed for personal wealth and power, we trash the environment, God’s glorious creation and the web of life that He designed to sustain us all, as if it were merely our property over which we have a right to do as we please. . . .

An excerpt “God Must Be Weeping,” by the Very Rev. Archimandrite Nektarios Serfes. For the entire spiritual writing, click on this website:

I try to keep this weblog on a positive note, but as we all should well know, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” The 100,000 or so who march each year in the frigid air and the grim, grey streets of Washington D.C. on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme 1973 “Roe versus Wade” decision to legalize abortion with virtually no limits are largely ignored by the U.S. media outlets for their efforts. But God sees; He counts our every tear, shed according to His call to mourn our sins, personal and corporate.

And here is a podcast by Frederica Matthewes-Green on the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade exploring the Orthodox Christian perspective of this continuing injustice:

And here is a reprint of a previous post, Down Syndrome and Abortion:

Prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome has been shown to lead to abortion in 84 to 91% of cases in recent U.S. studies. An estimated 70% of U.S. women choose to have prenatal screening tests.

Health care providers tend to assume that if a woman consents to prenatal screening, she is open to the option of abortion. And so it is often encouraged that she choose to avoid this “burden.”

But a Harvard study of those who chose to continue their pregnancy (mostly on the basis of conscience and religion, but also on the basis of information about Down syndrome from printed materials or from a parent of a child with Down syndrome) indicated that “most of these mothers felt that their doctors did not explain DS adequately or in a balanced fashion.”

These mothers “suggested that doctors and genetic counselors should convey consistent, accurate, and sensitive messages about life with a child with DS, and that doctors, nurses, and hospitals should provide contacts with local DS support organizations.”

But the trouble is, the March of Dimes, the National Down Syndrome Society, and the National Down Syndrome Congress all take a neutral stance on abortion. This neutral stance, in effect, implies that the abortion of unborn children diagnosed with Down syndrome is in the best interests of society, that it is justifiable.

Would it not be better if these organizations stand in defense of the inherent value to society of persons with Down syndrome?

(from “Down Syndrome And Abortion,” by Susan W. Enouen, P.E. in Life Issues Connector, January 2007) To access their website and this article:

As St. Paul writes, “On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable.” (1 Corinthians 12:21) This verse is often quoted on this site, for it is a truth that must be upheld, in the Church, and by extension, in all of our life.

Reprinted from January 2008, with some amendments.

photo originally from

the spiritual path of marriage

Another resource relating to the 2 keys to children’s social development: is this excellent article by Stephen Muse, PhD, LMFT, an Orthodox Christian psychologist entitled

Marriage as a Spiritual Path

from the Emerge! Journal: for an Orthodox Christian psychology. Click on the following URL to access it:

the 2 keys to children’s social development:

Faithful Fathers and Parents who love each other

(according to Dr. John Boojamra of blessed memory in his book Foundations for Orthodox Christian Education {see review at the bottom of the post})
This foundational reality is, obviously, applicable to families with members with disability. It is crucial for their socialization into the Church , the Body of Christ, for witness to the community at large. Click on and see

socialization: becoming Living Stones « Arms Open Wide

&   living stones- socialization revisited, in relation to deification

Some Resources

1. Fathers are Crucial, with some additional online resources listed:

New! Click on the following: Orthodox Christian Network – CRTL: Speaking About Fatherhood

2. Some Marriage resources listed on posts of this site

Understanding Brokenness in Marriage, by the Rev. Fr. George Morelli:

And Fr. George’s entire 13 part Smart Marriage series as well:

(Info on Fr. George: )

The Orthodox Church in America’s Resource Handbook’s Family Life Webpage:

Touchtone Magazine’s “Praying and Staying Together” Conference, available on CD or cassette, for purchase:

Finally, the Orthodox Christian Conference on the Family, held at New Ostrog:

Here’s the review of

FOUNDATIONS FOR CHRISTIAN EDUCATION, John Boojamra An outstanding Orthodox religious educator lays out the foundations for Orthodox religious education in the family as well as the parish. Those involved in Christian education on any level should do so with the benefit of new knowledge from developmental and educational psychology, and with an understanding, rooted in Christian tradition, of the nature of Christian life. Boojamra analyzes current Christian education practices and identifies the foundations of Orthodox Christian education. (from . . . )

See also

St. Alexei intercedes

St. Alexei

St. Alexei

From the website of Father Nektarios Serfes: a 1998 letter from a woman with a disability with the account of her miraculous healing through the intercessions of the Royal Martyr Tsarevich Alexis. She had asked for his prayers for six months before the acute pain subsided. And then, in the letter, she recounts how she was continuing to ask the Saint’s prayers for a six year old child with cancer and his family. She writes. “How strong the innocent are with God, as Dostoevsky wrote in The Brothers Karamozov!” Here is the letter on Fr. Nektarios’ webpage:

Later, Elizabeth posted this comment to Arms Open Wide:

Hello there, my Orthodox friends! This is the writer of that letter to Archimandrite Nektarios, Elizabeth, who converted to the true faith nine years ago, and continue to be encouraged by the example of the Tsarevich-Martyr Alexei.

I rejoice in what I feel to be true, that the child’s relics have been found as if to encourage us in these bewildering, difficult times. In the akathist written to him, this precious saint Alexei Nikolaevich is called ‘a star lighting the way to the Second Coming of Christ.’ As Fr. Seraphim Rose often said:

It’s later than you think!

Holy Martyred Tsarevich Alexei, pray to God for us!

– Elizabeth

For the  Wikipedia article on St. Alexei’s life, click on:

Alexei Nikolaevich, Tsarevich of Russia – Wikipedia, the free …

And here is  a poem written on his behalf:

A Little Sunshine – For The Royal Child Martyr Tsarevich Alexis

Reprinted, with additions,  from December 2007

the Word that proceeds from silence

For the divinely inspired prophets lived in expectation of Jesus Christ, and therefore were inspired by His grace so that unbelievers might be convinced that there is one God, Who has displayed Himself through Jesus Christ His Son, Who is His Word that proceeds from silence, Who in all respects, was pleasing to Him that sent Him.

– from the Letter of the Holy Martyr and Hierarch St. Ignatius of Antioch to the Magnesians

 “Rejoice always, pray constantly.”

– 1st Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians

And so the Holy Fathers of the Eastern Orthodox Church recommend the following prayer for increasingly frequent usage (toward the Divine gift of constancy) as a means of stilling our restless minds and dwelling in continual repentance and Divine silence:

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

 (or Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, etc.; no rules against variation)

I have recently read an excellent blog entry on Beliefnet’s “Crunchy Con: Conservative politics and religion with Rod Dreher” (a Dallas journalist and an Orthodox Christian). He writes of stillness, calmness, healing, and the Jesus Prayer. He relates the value of these dispositions and this prayer to his son, who struggles with a sensory processing disorder:

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I was talking with a visiting friend about the sensory processing disorder that my oldest son struggles with, and that a surprising number of kids we know have. I suggested that perhaps human beings aren’t evolutionarily prepared to be in a modern environment, with so many stimuli bearing in on us constantly.   . . . .

For the rest, click on

And here, reprinted from October 2007, are two accounts of persons with disabilities practicing the Jesus Prayer, with two articles on the use of the prayer as well:

from the Very Reverend John Breck: On Silence and Stillness

“Most of us are familiar with the 19th century account entitled “The Way of a Pilgrim,” & “The Pilgrim Continues His Way.” Here an anonymous Russian pilgrim, physically handicapped and with only the most rudimentary education, undertakes a voyage of the heart that will lead him step by step toward the heavenly Jerusalem. His journey is marked by numerous encounters with all sorts of people, several of whom initiate him into the practice of the Jesus Prayer. In the Church’s ascetic tradition, that prayer is progressively purified, becoming, in rare and privileged cases, “pure prayer” (kathera proseuchê) or “prayer of the heart.” As many within that tradition have described it, repetition of the name of Jesus begins with the lips, gradually passes to the mind in a spontaneous outpouring, and finally descends with the mind into the heart, the spiritual center of our being. The hesychast tradition therefore invites us to “stand before God with the mind in the heart,” to offer Him intercession, thanksgiving, praise and glorification day and night, without ceasing.” . . . .

For the rest: 

  Also, from Beliefnet: Therapy in Christ, message 4 of 8:

2/2/2002 1:10 AM
4 out of 8
Boy can I empathize with you! I’m disabled at 55 but recovering more and more each day as I practice having a thankful heart. And I, too, find the very best rest and therapy in Jesus, imagining myself being carried like a little lamb close to His chest and listening to His heartbeat. And I’ve been through situations that are just horrendous, so we WONT describe them. Still, I remember that text that says the a spirit of fear doesn’t come from God but of boldness (I forget now, darn it) and it ends with a SOUND MIND. And I thank God for these things. And I thank Him for leading me and loving me and guiding me. And I try to Practice His Presence like Brother Lawrence all day and all night long wherever I go, wherever I am. Yes, I try to submit to His will in every situation and be His loving presence to those around me even if I don’t say one word about Him to them. And if I think of myself as someone He can use when maybe He doesn’t have too many others to use, I don’t care so much whether I look foolish or wise to the other people. I’m just glad He used me to do something for Him.And there’s one pearl of great price that has helped me to do this more consistently than anything else so I will share it with you. Yes, I’ll offer the most priceless pearl I’ve found in the 33 years since I converted to the Eastern Orthodox Church because I believed in the Spirit that I had found a viable link, the real successor to the churches that formed around the Apostles right after Pentecost and under St. Paul during his missionary trips.This pearl is the Jesus Prayer after the saying of Blind Bartimaeus who cried out “Jesus, Son of David have mercy on me.” And the version used for centuries is “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Repeating this prayer in the morning and trying to remember HIM all day long changes the day and changes me.” It reminds me that He’s always with me.
It allows me to murmur His Holy Name in the depths of my being like the Name of my Spouse as I’m dreaming of Him or caressing Him. And it enflames my soul with love for Him. (What more could I ask?)Then this love transforms me, because He is the only one who loves. I will always be learning and desiring to learn because He first loved me. This is the only way I know to increase my desire to submit all that I am and have to Him, My Beloved, My Savior, My Yeshua, My Jesus, My Christ, My King, My Lord and My God.For a more complete explanation of this prayer go to
Respectfully submitted,
judy, the wounded sinner who’s so in love with Jesus

The Jesus prayer does not require an extra measure of intelligence to be practiced effectively; in fact, living “in the head,” it is said, is a hindrance to acquiring the prayer of the heart, our goal. Most people with developmental disability could apply themselves to this practice profitably, “sowing to the Spirit,” as St. Paul says in chapter 6 of his letter to the Galatians. In fact, I would be interested in hearing stories along that line. Please comment!

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