Cause for Concern, Cause for Hope

by Melannie Svoboda SND on March 8, 2021

(Please note: Last week I accidently posted TWO reflections. When I realized my mistake at 5:30 am, I immediately took the first one down and reposted it for today Mar. 8. So, you might have read this reflection last week… or you couldn’t open it and wondered why. Well, here it is. Secondly, my blog emailed another reflection on Tuesday last week. It’s one that I posted in December! I have no idea how or why that happened. So, I apologize for the confusion. When my congregation gets our new website up and running soon, hopefully, such errors won’t be occurring! Meanwhile I thank you for your patience!)

Recently, I came across two articles that touched me… in different ways. The first I entitled “Cause for Concern.” The second, “Cause for Hope.”

Cause for Concern: The Journal of Environment International recently reported that scientists have discovered microplastics in human placenta. Kathleen Bonnette wrote about this in America (Feb. 2021). She writes that the particles were residue of “paints, coatings, adhesives, plasters, polymers and cosmetics and personal care products.”

(photo by Leah Kelley)

Scientists are very concerned about this finding. They worry that microplastics “may alter several cellular regulating pathways in the placenta,” which could interfere with the implantation of the embryo, with fetal development, and with maternal-fetal communication.

Apparently there is no place on earth that is not inhabited by these microplastics. They have been found on Mt. Everest as well as in the deepest trench in the ocean. But now, says Bonnette, it is alarming to learn “that our children are being formed in wombs infused with inorganic material.”

“With the discovery of microplastics in human placentas,” she says, “we can no longer look at environmental degradation as separate from, or tangential to, pro-life issues.” We are faced not with two separate crises–one environmental and the other social. Rather, in the words of Pope Francis in “Laudato Si,” we are faced “with one complex crisis which is both social and environmental.” In Let Us Dream, the Pope says we must allow “the principle of ecological regeneration to shape the decisions we take at every level.”

How does the principle of ecological regeneration shape your decisions on every level–such as what foods you eat, what articles you read, what clothes you wear, what you choose to do for entertainment, etc?

Through the miracle of ultrasound, the 4 and 1/2 minute video below shows the development of the baby in the womb. This video is sponsored by Pregnancy Chat, so there’s a short ad at the end.

A Cause for Hope: This story is told by Deacon Greg Kandra in the book A Stranger and You Welcomed Me, edited by Deacon Jim Knipper. If you’re looking for Dr. Jim Withers in Pittsburgh, PA in the evening, you’ll seldom find him in the ER or OR. Instead, he’s usually in the back alleys of downtown Pittsburgh with his stethoscope around his neck. His waiting room is under a bridge, in a gutter, or on a heating grate. His patients include the unemployed, the elderly, the addicted, former prisoners, mental patients, veterans, and people suffering from depression or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Withers practices in a growing field called “Street Medicine” through a group he founded over 20 years ago called Operation Safety Net. It is funded in part by the Sisters of Mercy of Pittsburgh. This network now has programs in 85 cities in 15 countries and in five continents. Withers sees what he does not as a job, but as a calling. He feels called to care for those our health care systems have forgotten. His inspiration was Mother Teresa who saw Jesus in the disguise of the poor. Deacon Kandra suggests that, to his patients, perhaps Dr. Withers is the disguise of Jesus too.

Here is a 3 minute video from CNN about Dr. Withers:

Did anything move you in either of these videos? If so, what?

PS: I ask your prayers for a Zoom retreat I will be leading for the Sisters of the Precious Blood in Dayton, OH, March 14-19. Thank you—and thank you too for reading “Sunflower Seeds.”

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