FOREVER: A Catholic Devotional for Your Marriage (Week One)

Spontaneous date night in the middle of the week. Not totally unheard of in the Dyogi home after our spur-of-the-moment boba date in August, so I figured we could pull this one off. I asked my sister Emeline if she could watch the kids so that Gary and I could make it out all the way to Christ Cathedral for Jackie Francois Angel and Bobby Angel’s book release of their new Catholic marriage devotional. We desperately needed time together and something concrete to keep us connected on a regular basis, as super-busy as we are.

Surprisingly, after eleven years of marriage, connection still doesn’t always come easy for us. At least when it comes to any interaction beyond letting my husband know whether I have a client appointment to go to when he comes home…if the kids ate dinner or not…who wasn’t getting electronics the next day because they were fighting with a sibling. I’ve addressed the importance of actively working on our marriage, but it is definitely a challenge because the kids and work have been our main priorities since our oldest was born. If you ask Gary, he will tell you that we have a good marriage, which I agree with; however, I know that there’s a deeper intimacy that we can share and model for our children.

So yes, I’d bug him every so often about it. And no, I wasn’t planning on letting it go.

Why? Because marriage is incredibly fragile in our society. The sacrament itself in the Church is solid, but with brokenness, concupiscence, temptation, complacency, emotional baggage, etc., etc., etc., the husbands and wives of today need to fiercely nurture the love that God has placed in our hearts for each other.

Hence, down the 405 and 22 freeways in rush hour traffic we went.

It was a beautiful evening, with Jackie and Bobby starting off with a Q&A about their book and their marriage. We appreciated their candid, honest, and grace-filled responses, knowing well the struggles of living as both spouses and parents of young children. Finding their experiences common to our own got us excited about starting the devotional together, and it came at a perfect time as we’d been planning to grow our ministry and start a YouTube channel for it. Lifting up our relationship in prayer during adoration that night led to the beginning of a new journey for me and Gary – one that would teach us more about each other and about God’s plan for our family.

We made this video at Christ Cathedral immediately after meeting Jackie and Bobby and committed to doing the devotional every day for 6 weeks.

We just finished Week One a whole three weeks later because life happened. Between work schedules, kiddos, chores, family events, much-needed rest, and a temporary pause due to issues we needed to work out with each other, it was hard getting the time in to do the daily devotions. Nevertheless, we made it to Day 7. I’m proud of us for even starting this because it’s more than we’ve ever done before, and I’m so grateful to Gary for persevering through it with me.

My favorite Week One challenge was from Day 3 when we had to find time to be alone with God.

A lot went through my mind and heart as I stood in front of the statue of St. Anthony.

St. Anthony statue
St. Anthony of Padua

I knew that if I myself was not abiding in the Lord, it would be very difficult to strengthen my marriage and see my husband with the eyes of Jesus. As I write this, I’m making a mental note to be more intentional with my individual prayer time so that it can then feed into my relationship with Gary and the kids.

The topics in FOREVER do touch on very personal aspects of marriage, and we will speak to these as best we can. Many of the subjects have already been publicly discussed in our talks over the years or shared with my Creighton Model clients at our follow-up appointments. These videos are primarily for our Dyogi kids so that they can witness the beauty of our vocation with all of the hills and valleys. And if there is something others can learn or be consoled by, praise the good Lord.

To get your copy of FOREVER: A Catholic Devotional for Your Marriage by Jackie Francois Angel and Bobby Angel, visit Pauline Books & Media or for the Kindle version. There’s no better time to start than right now!

If you can do it in 6 weeks, that would be awesome. But if you have to take some time working through it like we do, that’s okay! No matter what, you would be building the foundation of your domestic church with Jesus Christ as the cornerstone. It’s worth the investment. Your family depends on it. Have fun!

App for Life

It was such a great privilege to be part of this App for Life promo video. When my sister Roselynn told me she was pregnant at 16 years old, I didn’t know how to speak up for the life of her unborn baby. She said she was thinking about abortion because a friend of hers recommended it, and her boyfriend had the money to pay for it. Of course she was scared and didn’t know what to do. After talking to my mom, Roselynn decided to keep the baby and sadly lost little Jocelyn in miscarriage. What love our mom showed to her in the midst of family hardship, even as we struggled with our dad’s illness and his eventual passing that same summer of 1995. We are so glad that my sister chose life because an abortion would have not only killed my niece but also caused Roselynn more emotional pain on top of everything she was already dealing with.

Now as educated Catholics, we understand how valuable the life of each human being is from the very moment of conception until natural death. No matter the circumstances, it is not up to us to determine when a person’s life should end. When we get the notifications through the App for Life to pray for these pregnant mothers and their babies in crisis, we don’t know how difficult their situations are. We have no details about whether they are married or not, whether it is their first pregnancy or their fifth. All we know is that they need our prayers…so we pray.

We pray that Jesus will give them the courage to choose life for their children and that they will get the support and resources necessary to either grow their family or allow their babies to be adopted by generous and loving couples. The App for Life has become part of our family culture. And I invite you to make it a part of yours, too.

Please download it onto your phones and offer your intercession for life. Donate if you can. Volunteer when you are able. Join the movement. Change the culture. Help save lives. The next generation depends on it.

Because 56 million lives in the U.S. alone have already been taken.

It’s time to take a stand. #prolife

Inspiring Speech of an Abortion Survivor

This story is about love.  It may not have been so when Gianna Jessen’s birth mother made the decision to abort her at 7 1/2 months, but God – in His great mercy – uses her life…her survival…to teach us a lesson.  We don’t know the exact circumstances her mother faced when she walked into Planned Parenthood.  What we do know is that GOD loved Gianna into being.  And God continued to loves Gianna as she shares not only the truth about the horror of abortion, but also witnesses to the beauty of LIFE.

Please watch this speech.  We can’t turn a deaf ear any longer.  There are too many deaths…too many wounds…too many consequences as a result of this tactic the enemy has used to prey on a woman’s fear during pregnancy.

Fear does not come from God, especially when it drives millions of women around the world to take the lives of their own unborn children.  How many?  1.2 million in the United States every year.  42 million worldwide.

The Silent Holocaust has to stop.  Now.  Every time a child is aborted, that’s ONE LIFE TOO LATE.

“I didn’t survive to make people feel comfortable.  I survived to stir things up a bit….  I say you didn’t get me.  The Silent Holocaust didn’t win over me.” – Gianna Jessen

Testimony of abortion survivor Gianna Jessen before the Constitution Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee on April 22, 1996.

My name is Gianna Jessen. I am 19 years of age. I am originally from California, but now reside in Franklin, Tennessee. I am adopted. I have cerebral palsy. My biological mother was 17 years old and seven and one-half months pregnant when she made the decision to have a saline abortion. I am the person she aborted. I lived instead of died.

Fortunately for me the abortionist was not in the clinic when I arrived alive, instead of dead, at 6:00 a.m. on the morning of April 6, 1977. I was early, my death was not expected to be seen until about 9 a.m., when he would probably be arriving for his office hours. I am sure I would not be here today if the abortionist would have been in the clinic as his job is to take life, not sustain it. Some have said I am a “botched abortion”, a result of a job not well done.

There were many witnesses to my entry into this world. My biological mother and other young girls in the clinic, who also awaited the death of their babies, were the first to greet me. I am told this was a hysterical moment. Next was a staff nurse who apparently called emergency medical services and had me transferred to a hospital.

I remained in the hospital for almost three months. There was not much hope for me in the beginning. I weighed only two pounds. Today, babies smaller than I was have survived.

A doctor once said I had a great will to live and that I fought for my life. I eventually was able to leave the hospital and be placed in foster care. I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as a result of the abortion.

My foster mother was told that it was doubtful that I would ever crawl or walk. I could not sit up independently. Through the prayers and dedication of my foster mother, and later many other people, I eventually learned to sit up, crawl, then stand. I walked with leg braces and a walker shortly before I turned age four. I was legally adopted by my foster mother’s daughter, Diana De Paul, a few months after I began to walk. The Department of Social Services would not release me any earlier for adoption.

I have continued in physical therapy for my disability, and after a total of four surgeries, I can now walk without assistance. It is not always easy. Sometimes I fall, but I have learned how to fall gracefully after falling 19 years.

I am happy to be alive. I almost died. Every day I thank God for life. I do not consider myself a by-product of conception, a clump of tissue, or any other of the titles given to a child in the womb. I do not consider any person conceived to be any of those things.

I have met other survivors of abortion. They are all thankful for life. Only a few months ago I met another saline abortion survivor. Her name is Sarah. She is two years old. Sarah also has cerebral palsy, but her diagnosis is not good. She is blind and has severe seizures. The abortionist, besides injecting the mother with saline, also injects the baby victims. Sarah was injected in the head. I saw the place on her head where this was done. When I speak, I speak not only for myself, but for the other survivors, like Sarah, and also for those who cannot yet speak …

Today, a baby is a baby when convenient. It is tissue or otherwise when the time is not right. A baby is a baby when miscarriage takes place at two, three, four months. A baby is called a tissue or clumps of cells when an abortion takes place at two, three, four months. Why is that? I see no difference. What are you seeing? Many close their eyes…

The best thing I can show you to defend life is my life. It has been a great gift. Killing is not the answer to any question or situation. Show me how it is the answer.

There is a quote which is etched into the high ceilings of one of our state’s capitol buildings. The quote says, “Whatever is morally wrong, is not politically correct.” Abortion is morally wrong. Our country is shedding the blood of the innocent. America is killing its future.

All life is valuable. All life is a gift from our Creator. We must receive and cherish the gifts we are given. We must honor the right to life.

Let true Freedom ring!

Because I love the African-American communities I serve…

We need to speak up for the rights of all people in America. No matter what their size, their age, or their color.

I recently went on a field trip with our junior high students to the California Science Center specifically to see the RACE exhibit. It opened my eyes up the the fact that inequality and discrimination still in fact do exist very prevalently in our society.  It brought up thoughts and questions to which there were no easy answers.  But there was something more to this…a meaning that I would draw from it beyond the displays, videos, and knowledgeable facts.

It wasn’t until we were allowed into the “America I Am” exhibit that I began to understand.

They had an original copy of the Declaration of Independence. I looked for the words that gave hope to so many people over the last two centuries:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

There it was.  Every one of us has the right to life.

Then I turned and read behind me:

“The Great Compromise of 1787 counted slaves as 3/5 of a person for representation to the House of Representatives.”

Today, we have reduced ourselves to a nation that does not recognize the personhood of the unborn child.

While we have made progress through the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, few people are aware that abortion clinics were strategically and predominantly placed in minority communities to essentially reduce the population of African-Americans, Latinos, and others that inhabit lower-middle class neighborhoods.  These clinics are all over the country.

This is a problem.  A very big problem.  Please see why…

It’s worth looking into.  Plenty of information and resources are available on the Priests for Life African-American Outreach.  Please…for the sake of God’s children…


I Speak Life VIDEO

Priests for Life  African-American Outreach

Another shooting star on the pro-life scene

Watch Eduardo Verastegui’s short film “The Butterfly Circus” (2009 Winner of the Doorpost Film Project):

Visit Manto de Guadalupe for information on a pro-life clinic in Los Angeles to open on March 25, 2010!  (Spanish site)