I’m a writer, pro-life activist, and slow-but-steady hiker in New Hampshire. (More here about all that.) My attitude is summed up by something Pope Francis once said: “Do I, a Catholic, watch from the balcony? You can’t watch from the balcony! Get involved! Give it your best.

COVID-19 vaccine progress

Last April, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops organized a petition drive to urge the federal Food and Drug Administration to make sure any COVID-19 vaccine be derived from ethical sources, not involving cell lines originating from fetuses killed by induced abortion. So what has happened since?

Some vaccines are in the testing stage already. Two, from pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna, have been much in the news over the past couple of weeks. In a recent EWTN interview, ethicist Joseph Meaney of the National Catholic Bioethics Center said that neither of those vaccines are developed or produced from human fetal cell lines. I’m happy to hear that, since those two vaccines will likely be the first to market.

As the bishops wrote in their petition last spring, “It is critically important that Americans have access to a vaccine that is produced ethically: no American should be forced to choose between being vaccinated against this potentially deadly virus and violating his or her conscience.

No matter who’s in the White House or Congress or the FDA or a pharmaceutical company’s board, that’s a message that is going to need to be delivered over and over again.

Photo by Artem Podrez, Pexels.com

“When you claim Christ you choose exile”

“…when you claim Christ you choose exile, and therefore will be held to a different standard, entirely, than the world’s.”

The best thing I can do for my readers today is point them to someone else’s blog. Elizabeth Scalia has written something at Word On Fire to prompt reflection and prayer. It is a timely meditation now, when I’m tempted to let politics take the place of things that are truly valuable.

“…He, the Christ, is the Holiest within the Holy Thing that is creation, and that we too are Holy Things, able to work and walk with him within that swirling, vibrant, energetic, ever-ancient-ever-new Holiness, if only we keep our eyes on the One, ignoring the whirlwinds both exterior and interior that distract us, shake our faith and ultimately sink us.

Read Throwing Away Our Holy Things. Now excuse me while I go pray for the grace to approach my writing the way Scalia approaches hers.

Open Book, November 2020

I’m indulging my love of politics and American history not by watching the news non-stop this election season, but by reading Author in Chief: the Untold Story of Our Presidents and the Books They Wrote, by Craig Fehrman. Fehrman shows that there’s more to the presidential genre than campaign biographies and memoirs. He puts each president’s work in historical context, and he offers a writer’s view of the relative merits of various books. He has sparked my curiosity about presidential works with which I’m unfamiliar, and perhaps there’s an #OpenBook post ahead mentioning some of them.

As a trail-loving New Englander, I’m loving Following Atticus. This is the true story of an out-of-shape Massachusetts journalist, Tom Ryan, who adopted a pint-sized schnauzer puppy named Atticus, and set out to hike New Hampshire’s “4000-footer” mountains with his little canine friend. This sounds like the makings of a comedy, but Ryan delivers something very different. Thoughtful musings on his life, work, and friends alternate with accounts of challenging hikes with his intrepid little dog.

I continue to make my way through The Gospel of Life by St. John Paul II. Perhaps because I’m older, or perhaps because I’m giving the words time to sink in, this has been very different from my earlier quick readings of the document a couple of decades ago. I’ve been reading a section at a time as lectio divina for each day.

The Open Book linkup is hosted by blogger Carolyn Astfalk and the team at CatholicMom.com