Compatible with life: the joy of John Paul Hauser

What does it mean for a baby to be “incompatible with life?”

Even before a baby is born, doctors are doing tests, reviewing ultrasounds, and monitoring the mother closely for unexpected results or problems. If the unborn baby has too serious a condition, parents might be told by doctors that their baby is “incompatible with life.” That’s to say, it’s not expected to live long, if at all, and parents can face a choice of life or death for this person they’ve not yet met.

After doctors identified Trisomy 13 in John Paul Hauser, his parents were coached to consider having an abortion. Despite having this major genetic corruption, and a life that might last for minutes if at all, John Paul’s parents chose to give him that life.

And live he did.

“He just could love so unconditionally. He was never disappointed in you, and he was never angry at you. You were just always good enough the way you were and it was just the kind of love that we the rest of us aren’t capable of giving. He could just give that in his perfect little imperfect state.”

Tami Hauser about her son, John Paul Hauser

John Paul Hauser lived to the age of 12—a much-too-short life for most, but a miraculously long life for someone who had his condition. In today’s episode, we learn how John Paul’s love transformed his family and those around him, and what lessons we can take from his time on earth.

“And that’s how I think of him in Heaven: I just think of him as answering all of our prayers and just with a big delightful smile on his face, like I know that he’s up there just with that same big glorious smile being happy to serve, you know because he was served.”

Barb Baxter about her godson, John Paul Hauser

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A falling crucifix and a crisis of faith

To hear of a man crushed by a giant crucifix, it should rightly give us pause. Years ago I heard of a man who prayed before a statue of Christ on the cross every day, asking God’s mercy for the man’s wife who was battling cancer. His wife made it through, and after enduring the pain and emotional exhaustion of that fight, the man wanted to clean the statue in appreciation. Except, the statue fell on him, leading to his leg being amputated. The church raised money and donations for the man, but he ended up suing.

I’ve carried this story with me for so long not just because of the many twists and turns in it, but also because of some clumsy writing in the news story about it, and what genuine theological issues we might consider from it. We’ll explore some of them in this short episode of Faith Full.

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Montreal’s Oldest Church: Our Lady of Good Help (Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours)

As a Catholic, there’s something comforting about facing the windswept contours of Canada’s St. Lawrence River, in all its power, and then seeing the Blessed Virgin Mary keeping watch from atop a chapel, leading us to her Son, Jesus Christ.

The chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours (Our Lady of Good Help) is Montreal’s oldest stone church, sitting for hundreds of years as a beacon of hope. It celebrates a special milestone this year…having acted as a refuge for residents, pilgrims, sailors and travelers arriving by the Seaway.


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Panhandling and Christian Duty: the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s approach to works of mercy

Christian duty and panhandlers. What’s the right thing to do? For a long time I’ve struggled when approached by panhandlers, people on the street asking for money. I want to help, but I don’t want to be taken advantage of, or feed an addiction, or endanger myself.

As a Catholic, as a Christian, I know helping the less fortunate is central to my faith. In one of the most famous passages from Scripture, in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus says in a parable ‘whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’

So on the street, someone asks you for change…what’s the answer? In this episode we explore this issue with Gary Sole, CEO for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in the Diocese of Cleveland.

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Why Catholics should think about “aliens”

Just to mention aliens turns some people off, but to a Christian, to a Catholic, thinking about extraterrestrial life can hold tremendous value. If you replace the word “alien” with “the other” then we start down a familiar path.

Does “the other” exist in the universe? Would “the other” mean us peace or harm? Should I will the good of “the other?” Some of the greatest Catholic thinkers wrestled with this question of “the other.” Whether you’re thinking about so-called aliens, people who live in the center of the earth, or maybe creatures at the end of the world, how we approach our theoretical brothers and sisters of the universe might tell us a lot about what our faith really means to us.

This episode features a conversation with Paul Thigpen, author of “Extraterrestrial Life and the Catholic Faith.”

“From earliest times people have looked up into the heavens especially at night and seen the stars in that and though they had no idea just how vast it is, that we’re beginning to get a sense of still, those who are of faith you know able to say the one God I know who loves me, and created me, also created all this, and so it presses them to become even more full of wonder and adoration toward God and appreciation of who He is.”

Paul Thigpen

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St. Aloysius Gonzaga and the holy angels

Angels seem mysterious and familiar all at the same time. Angels are by definition different than you and I are—they’re spiritual beings, without bodies, but can be present in our world. St. Augustine says “angel” is the name of their office, or what they do: they are servants and messengers of God.

They show up throughout the Bible, in the Old Testament and New Testament at key moments…

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For example the siege at Jericho:

He replied, “Neither. I am the commander of the army of the LORD: now I have come.” Then Joshua fell down to the ground in worship, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?”

Joshua 5: 14

Or in the Book of Tobit

“I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who stand and serve before the Glory of the Lord.” Greatly shaken, the two of them fell prostrate in fear.”

Tobit 12:15

And all throughout the Gospels:

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall name him John.”

Luke 1:13

“And the angel said to her in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”

Luke 1:35

“…saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.” And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.”

Luke 22:43

Jesus mentions angels a lot, as they are His angels…they did after all help explain the Resurrection of Christ to confused disciples.

“…two men in dazzling garments appeared to them. They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground. They said to them, “Why do you seek the living one among the dead?”

Luke 22:4

In the Gospel of Matthew at one point Jesus tells us that angels that watch over us, the Guardian Angels, also “always look upon the face of my heavenly Father.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which explains what Catholics believe, says, “From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession.”

What more do we know about angels and how we should think of them?

In this episode we learn about St. Aloysius Gonzaga’s Meditations on the Holy Angels, translated by Fr. Robert Nixon, OSB.


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Your quality known among your enemies

War, Catholicism, and quality.

On today’s episode we’ll hear from a Catholic Bishop and a former member of the British armed forces talking about how our duties as Christians, striving to walk the path to Heaven, and how does that square with the hell of war?

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“That’s what they say war is hell, you know, so it’s a terrible scenario for anybody to be placed into. It should always be the last resort.”

Bishop Neal Buckon, Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA

This is a big topic with many twists in turn so we’ll attempt to somewhat narrow our conversation today, and it will be driven by a single line of dialogue from the movie Kingdom of Heaven: “your quality will be known among your enemies before ever you meet them.”


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Wisconsin Wonder: Wayside chapels and everyday pilgrims

Standing on the shore of a mountain lake at sunrise, you may not think you’re necessarily on a pilgrimage, but then you’re drawn toward a prayerful moment. You gaze into the raspberry and amber skies, as the lapping waves try to sing you back to sleep.

But you’re called to be present and aware of the awe.

Or maybe you hike toward an Alpine peak when you’re serenaded by birdsong; nature’s hallelujah. Again you’re very present in the moment; thankful and introspective, like a pilgrim. And then on the trail you literally see Christ on the cross.

A traveler, a pilgrim, before you thought to install a wayside chapel—a small, wooden structure to draw you even further toward God. These things are common in Europe, and in Wisconsin chapels created by European immigrants still pepper the countryside.

Today we round out our series on the Marian Apparition site in Champion, Wisconsin with a few more thoughts on making pilgrimages wherever you are. You don’t have to go far to travel deeply in prayer. Sometimes you just need to look closely around you and decide to spiritually get away.

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Wisconsin Wonder: Blessed Virgin Mary appears in Champion

A painting of a woman with flowing hair dressed in white, a ring of stars around her head. This is the description of the apparition of Mary from Adele Brise.

There’s a crisp hint of Autumn in the air when a young Adele Brise first catches sight of the mysterious figure she would soon know to be the Blessed Mother Mary. It’s October 1859.

Adele carries her bag of wheat toward the grist mill, in a wooded patch of Northern Wisconsin, when she freezes, frightened.

There, between a hemlock and maple tree stands a beautiful woman clothed in dazzling white, wearing a yellow sash and crown of stars atop her flowing golden hair, until…she’s gone.

The vision of the woman fades, and Adele all alone, continues on her way. A second encounter with the mystery woman a few days later is just as startling, compounded by the fact this figure doesn’t say a word.

On counsel from a priest, Adele is prepared for her next encounter and says to the figure: ‘In God’s name who are you and what do you want from me?’

‘I am the Queen of Heaven, who prays for the conversion of sinners,’ the woman says, ‘and I wish you to do the same.’

The Queen of Heaven—the Blessed Virgin Mary—proceeds to explain to Adele what she’s being called to do: teach the children of this wild country what they should know for their salvation, while also encouraging Adele, that she’s not going to have to do it alone:

We continue our series on the only Catholic Church-approved Marian Apparition site in the United States, and we hear how the words given to Adele can help us all. That’s to come, on Faith Full.

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Wisconsin Wonder: A pilgrim seeks a guide

When you strip away distractions, you might come closer to the part of yourself calling out for more. Not more stuff. Not more flashing lights. But more substance of the purest kind; the kind only God can provide.

It’s goodness. It’s hope. It’s love.

Catholics believe were are continually journeying through our lives, as Pope Francis said, until the final and marvelous goal…reaching Heaven.

But sometimes that spiritual journey, also becomes a literal journey…a pilgrimage.

Today we begin a series of episodes about a visit to the only place in the U.S. where the church has approved a Marian apparition…in Wisconsin.

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