Tuesday, January 22, 2013

More NILMDTS Pictures

We are forever grateful for our beautiful photos from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep volunteer photographer Heather, www.heatherbeephoto.com 
What an amazing gift!
All photos on this blog post credited to Heather Behlendorf, www.heatherbeephoto.com

We are so thankful for our beautiful photos from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep
All photos on this blog post credited to Heather Behlendorf, www.heatherbeephoto.com
Thank you! Thank you!

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Funeral of Joseph Angelo

Planning for and celebrating Joseph's funeral was incredibly healing for us.  We chose to celebrate the funeral with the daily mass readings for the day of his funeral 12.22.12, which applied perfectly. Thus, the universal church prayed with us on that day. We were so touched and beyond blessed to celebrate with 8 Priests and countless others who were impacted by Joseph's life.  By popular demand, for those of you who were unable to attend and those who were there but wish to revisit the Mass, following is the Funeral Mass program and video clips of some highlights of the beautiful celebration..... Enjoy!

Mass of Christian Burial
In Celebration of the life of
Joseph Angelo Mohler

 Born and went to Heaven on  December 13, 2012
Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy. It makes us fruitful, because it expands our hearts in hope and enables us to bear life-giving witness.”
Pope Benedict XVI, Porta Fidei, On The Year of Faith
December 22, 2012
St. Mark Church

Catonsville, Maryland
“The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost.” -GK Chesterton
 “America you are beautiful . . . and blessed . . . . The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless. If you want equal justice for all and true freedom and lasting peace, then America, defend life."  -Pope John Paul II
Each child is sent into this world by God with a "Unique Message" to deliver, a new personal act of love to bestow"... - John Powell, S.J.,
“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” -Dr. Seuss
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb." Psalm 139:13
"Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you."   Jeremiah 1:5
"I was cast upon thee from the womb; thy art my God from my mother's belly" Psalm 22:10
“I will never forget you. See upon the palms of my hands I have engraved  you.” Isaiah 49:15-16
“To those without faith, death is the enemy, but to those who believe, Heaven is the ultimate goal.” -unknown
“One who hopes lives differently.”  -Pope Benedict XVI

The Celebration of the Beautiful Life
Jospeh Angelo Mohler



Rev. Christopher Whatley


Rev. Erik Arnold
Rev. Michael DeAscanis
Rev. Joseph Dorniak
Rev. Michael Fappiano
Rev. John Kelley
Rev. Gene Nickol
Rev. Colin Poston


Jerry Graves s John Mohler Jr sMike Graves sDr. James Baronas


Scott Osterle  s Phil Rosensteel sSt. Mark Adult Choir


My Soul Magnifies the Lord by Chris Tomlin

Good news of great joy
For every woman, every man
This will be a sign to you
A baby born in Bethlehem
Come and worship, do not be afraid

A company of angels
Glory in the highest
And on the Earth peace among
Those of whom His favor rests
Come and worship, do not be afraid

My soul, my soul magnifies the Lord
My soul magnifies the Lord
He has done great things for me
Great things for me

Unto you a child is born
Unto us a Son is given
Let every heart prepare His throne
Let every nation under Heaven
Come and worship, do not be afraid

First Reading

1 Samuel 1:24-28
Gabriela Silvani Antonelli
In those days, Hannah brought Samuel with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and presented him at the temple of the Lord in Shiloh. After the boy's father had sacrificed the young bull, Hannah, his mother, approached Eli and said: “Pardon, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who stood near you here, praying to the Lord. I prayed for this child, and the Lord granted my request. Now I, in turn, give him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the Lord." She left Samuel there.

Responsorial Psalm

Better is One Day by Matt Redman
R:  Better is one day in Your courts
Better is one day in Your house
Better is one day in Your courts
Than thousands elsewhere
How lovely is Your dwelling place, Oh Lord Almighty
My soul longs and even faints for You
For here my heart is satisfied, within Your presence
I sing beneath the shadow of Your wings.  R.

One thing I ask, and I would seek, to see Your beauty,
To find You in the place Your glory dwells.  R.

My heart and flesh cry out,
For You the living God
Your Spirit's water for my soul
I've tasted and I've seen,
Come once again to me.
I will draw near to You.
I will draw near to you.


Luke 1:46-56

Mary said:
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
for he has looked upon his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
and has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever."

Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months
and then returned to her home


Rev. Christopher Whatley

Prayers of the Faithful

 Dr. Jack Baronas

Offertory Hymn

Prepare the Way
Prepare the way, prepare the way,
Prepare the way of the Lord.
R:  Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.
You are the Light of the World.(3x)  R.
You are the Coming King.(3x)  R.

Presentation of the Gifts

Carol Graves  s Cindy Mohler s Jill Graves s Katie Mohler

Communion Hymns

O Come All Ye Faithful by John Francis Wade
O come all ye faithful joyful and triumphant Oh come ye O come ye to Bethlehem; come and behold him born the King of angels;
O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, O come let us adore him Christ the Lord.

Sing choirs of angels sing in exultation sing all ye citizens of heaven above; glory to God in the highest: O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord.
I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me
I can only imagine what it will be like
When I walk by Your side.
I can only imagine what my eyes will see
When Your face is before me
I can only imagine
Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel?
Will I dance for You Jesus or in awe of you be still ?
Will I stand in Your presence or to my knees will I fall?
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all?
I can only imagine
I can only imagine
I can only imagine when that day comes
And I find myself standing in the sun
I can only imagine when all I will do
Is forever, forever worship You
I can only imagine
I can only imagine
Emmanuel, God With Us by Mercy Me

Words of Remembrance

Jerry Graves
John G. Mohler, Jr.
Rev. Michael DeAscanis
Dearest Friends and Family,
There are not words for us to express our gratitude to all of you for all your love, prayers and support over the past several months. Not only is Joseph’s life story about our love for him, a story about the strength that faith brings, and a story about trust in God’s will, it is a story about our friends and family who stood by us through it all. His life could not have touched so many without your prayers, God’s grace and the Holy Spirit working through not only us as his parents but all of you.
As parents we believe our primary responsibility is to lead our children to heaven, thus Joseph’s life, though short, fulfilled our ultimate goal.  In the hour Joseph was with us on Earth he experience only joy and love.
We love you and you will always be a part of our family. Though your body was not perfect, your soul is. You have taught us all more lessons about life and love than many who have lived long full lives. “you are my son with whom I am well pleased (Mark 1:11).”               Joseph, pray for us.
Gratefully, with Love and Prayers,
Jenny and John
In lieu of gifts, flowers, etc. please consider helping other moms and babies in need with a donation in Joseph’s honor to The Northwest Center, Maternity Home and Pregnancy Center Programs in Washington, DC  http://www.northwestcenter.net/
All Music and lyrics reprinted with permission                             CCLI License #1916063
Entrance Song; My Soul Magnifies the Lord

Responsorial Psalm; Better is One Day

Homily; Father Whatley, Part 1
 Homily; Father Whatley, Part 2
Words of Remembrance; Joseph's Grandpa Graves
Words of Remembrance; Joseph's Grandpa Mohler
Eulogy; Father Michael DeAscanis
Recessional Hymn; Blessed Be Your Name

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Joseph's Birth; An Eye Witness Account

"Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God... for God is Love." 1 John 4:7-8

"(Joseph's life) so touched my heart that it would change my life forever. For the first time in my life I observed what unconditional love is and learned how to give thanks in all circumstances." Dr Huang, Anesthesiologist, Sinai Hospital

Joseph meeting his family
(Photo Credit: www.heatherbeephoto.com NILMDST)
Finally we meet face to face!
Singing in the OR
We love you sweet baby
Joseph Angelo, Pray for Us!
On the day of Joseph’s birth, we met Dr. Ligang Huang, the Anesthesiologist who would be caring for me during the Caesarean Section. Dr. Huang was so moved by her witness of Joseph’s life that she wrote a beautiful, very personal essay about her experience and has shared it with us. I am humbled and blessed to share some excerpts of her essay with you now. She she shares her experience from a perspective of one who met Joseph and was deeply touched by his brief life. We are so thankful for her account….. She writes….

“I have been an anesthetist for eight years and I’ve lost count of the times I’ve done anesthesia for caesarean sections. Many times I celebrated the birth of a new life. Sometimes I was saddened to see some premature babies requiring intubation sent to the neonatal intensive care unit. A few times, the fetus had already died in vivo, and I mourned with the moms. Over all these years of providing obstetrics anesthesia, I either celebrated the new births, or lamented for the lives lost. There was never a time to celebrate and mourn, feel joyful and sorrow at the same time. Last week, one of the caesarean sections transcended this dichotomy. It so touched my heart that it would change my life forever. For the first time in my life I observed what unconditional love is and learned how to give thanks in all circumstances.

Preoperatively we were informed that the fetus had Thanatophoric Dysplasia, the term means death bearing in Greek. This is a very rare genetic disorder due to one single gene’s mutation. The fetus’ skeletal system is severely affected, as a result of it, the thorax is extremely short and small, and the lungs fail to develop. Many fetuses die in the wombs, and a few who survive to birth will soon die due to respiratory failure. Knowing this, all the people at the labor and delivery unit showed extra consideration to the patient Jenny and her husband John. I had a brief conversation with them during the preoperative interview. They looked quite calm, though a hint of sadness was observable.

Technically this C-Section was no different from other Caesareans. My student did a spinal anesthesia for Jenny…. Then the obstetricians started the surgery. I saw John holding a small bag with blue-flower print. I asked him what it was for. He said it contained a small water bottle and other baptism supplies. Soon the baby was delivered. He only cried twice in a weak voice, then stopped.

She goes on to describe the surgery and Joseph’s  appearance and states

Then John walked over to him, disregarded the baby’s physical appearance, gently said to him: “Joe, Joe, dad is here, mommy is here. We both love you, but Jesus loves you even more. Happy birthday!” He talked to the baby as if this child was a healthy, vibrant, handsome boy, a noble prince.

She describes Joseph being handed to John and him cutting the umbilical cord, and states she was so touched when she heard John say something like...

 “Although you are not perfect in appearance, you are whole. In the eyes of the Lord Jesus, you are whole. ” I did not know how many people in the room understood what he just said, yet I was shocked and touched. The baby was motionless, did not breathe. A little bit light of life in his eyes gradually dimmed, the color of his face became more and more pale and dusky. John held the baby to Jenny’s bedside, his hand stroking the child's little hand.  Then this young couple started singing hymns and praying together. One of the hymns was Jesus the King of Kings. John looked at the baby tenderly, kissed his little face, touched his little fingers. As he was kissing, he choked with singing……From time to time he kissed his wife, holding her hand to comfort her….Jenny's abdomen was being stitched….. She suppressed her own discomfort, turned her head toward Joe and kissed him. At last, this couple’s hands locked together holding the baby. They sang to him so gently as if singing lullabies. Such tenderness, passion and love overwhelmed me. I had never seen something like this in my entire life. Everyone’s eyes were wet.

I stood next to John, not knowing what to say. All the words in the world seemed inadequate. In the intense light of their love for the baby and for each other, all words become feeble. The only thing I could do was to give a couple of gauzes to John to wipe his tears. My nurse anesthetist picked up John’s camera and took hundreds of pictures.

They did not despise the baby for his appearance, nor reject him because he did not do anything for them in return.  They loved him unconditionally, the way he was, not expecting any reward. They had known that this child's life might last just a few minutes, and he would never become a Dr. Successful to bring them glory. Yet they still loved him. They knew that this child would not even smile, or cry, or respond to their love, but they still loved him tenderly. They loved him, because he was created by God with the breath of life. They loved him in awe and fear of God, and accepted the gift from God humbly and gratefully. They loved him, because Jesus loves us unconditionally.  God has chosen us, not depending on our cute appearances, talents, wealth, intelligence or innocence. There is not a single righteous man in the world, all people have sinned. …..Yet Jesus still accepts us just the way we are. He even willingly came to this world to be crucified for our sins!

Oh, Jesus, Lord Jesus! As Christmas is coming, in the peak business time of the year, people are busy buying gifts, installing lights to decorate for the holiday; they seem to forget the true meaning of Christmas. The holiday is anything but a time for more fun and happiness. But what is the source of happiness? If Christmas is not focused on the Lord Jesus Christ, why do we celebrate Christmas then? At this season of celebration, how I am grateful for Jesus’ incarnation 2,000 years ago. If he did not come, we would have no future to look forward to. We would not know what unconditional and selfless love is. If he did not resurrect, we would not be able to receive His new life for eternity. The true meaning of Christmas is not about commemorating the birth of a child, but rather to commemorate the Word became flesh, the King of kings’ incarnation. Now God's love shines its radiance from within this young couple.

In contrast, how many of us appreciate the lives God has given to us? How often do we offer thanksgiving when we wake up every morning, realizing that we are able to breathe? How often do we count our blessings before we go to bed at night? We don’t cherish the children God has given us. We often think the children are our own properties. We treat them as machines and demand them to perform exactly as we desire. We scold them when they are not sensible. When they don’t know how to handle things, we do not have the patience to teach them. When their academic performances do not meet our expectation, we belittle them. We speak harsh words to them. We think that we love them, but often we love the illusions in our minds. We plan for their future professions, but we do not think it worthy to bring them back to God. Do we ever appreciate our children solely on the basis of their being created in image of God? We have seen too much violence, selfishness, greed, and indifference around us. In fact, our love is selfish and conditional. We really do not know what true love is, and do not know how to love others.

John was well aware of the feelings and emotion of his wife. At this moment of suffering, he did not even think about himself, but held out his hand to console his wife. He did not even bother to wipe his own tear but reach out for her..... He kissed his wife affectionately. He did not blame his wife for the child's deformity nor turn any anger (if there was any) toward her. And Jenny meekly accepted her husband's love and care… How many couples can share the bitterness and sweetness of life together? How many couples can face trials of all kinds from heart- to- heart?.....

She goes on to say….

In the past two decades, I have watched magnificent choirs, have listened to hymns of all kinds, but none has moved me like this couple’s. Although this choir had only two persons, their voices trembling, songs with broken sentences, without musical instruments for accompaniment, but I dare say it played the most beautiful music in the whole world, and offered the most moving praise to the Lord, because they sang from the bottom of their own hearts.

How would parents feel when they watch their child's life gradually slipping away? How would they feel when they celebrate the coming of a new life and have to bid that life farewell at the same time? How is it supposed to be when joy mixed with sorrow?  How wrenched are parents’ hearts in the loss of their own child? Is there any trial in life greater than this? What is the strength that holds John and Jenny up? What is the secret that lets them sing praise while their hearts are broken? The answer comes from the faith which is rooted in the foundation of Jesus Christ. This couple’s faith is not merely intellectual faith or knowledge, or verbal profession. Their faith comes from the gospel of Christ.  They knew that this child, though his life was short,  would not be subjected to suffering any more, for he was now at a more beautiful palace, where there is no death, no disease, no pain, no crying. He rested in the embrace of the Lord Jesus.

The apostle James said: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds.” (James1:2) Many people think that it is just intellectual joy, and in reality no one can do so during suffering. But this couple proves that it is attainable to be joyful when one suffers. Their joy comes from the promise of Jesus Christ, from their faith in the words of the Lord. Yes they were sad, but more joy in the hope of seeing their beloved Joe in heaven again later.  Praises mingled with tears has great power to touch people’s hearts.

Jenny told me that they had known the diagnosis when she was in her nineteenth week of pregnancy. But they did not want an abortion, for they believe that life is a gift from God and God alone has the right to take it back.  “The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be praised.” (Job 1:21) Each day they would hug the baby in the belly while waiting for him to grow more. Their love for him got stronger and stronger.  Did they complain against God about the baby’s deformity? Did they blame unfair fate? Were they angry or upset? No. They chose thanksgiving and gratitude instead. With tears Jenny told me that she was very grateful, for she had not expected the baby to live more than a few minutes, but God gave them one hour to love him! Joe was born at 9:40 am and passed away at 10:40 am. Within this short period of time, Joe was baptized with water, held by his four grandparents, and hugged by his big sister. They wanted to give him nothing but love. What is the concept of one hour? … They thanked God for giving them far more than their expectation! I just could not believe my ears to hear her saying that. Do we ever thank God for each hour of our life? In 24 hours each day, how often do we give the due thanksgiving to God for being able to take a breath? We often take God’s blessings for granted, and we still complain! We really do not know how to be grateful.

This C-section experience will not only transform me, but also transform many people. Love, transcending time, space and circumstances, is the power of melting icy hearts. Thus love comes from God, for God is love. (1 John 4:8)