Christmas Letter 2012

MERRY CHRISTMAS

AND

HAPPY NEW YEAR 

Christmas Letter 2012

On the beautiful, silent, holy night in Bethlehem when Jesus was born in a humble stable, the angels proclaimed “Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth peace among those whom he favours.”  Truly, there was a deep sense of love and adoration as Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and three wise men gazed upon the newborn infant.  Even the animals showed respect.

 As I prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus during this Christmas season, I reflect upon the lack of peace in so many parts of the world todayActs of violence are committed unceasingly among peoples of different nations, religions and cultures.  Little children are among the many victims of the rampant violence that occurs almost dailyThere seems to be no solution to end the senseless acts of violence taking placeThe road to true and lasting peace is obscure and full of roadblocks and detours.

 My reflections led me to the words spoken by Jesus “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to youI do not give to you as the world gives.”  Perhaps, if people had the Peace of Christ deep within their hearts, the road to true and lasting peace in the world would be clearer and easier to travel.

 So, my wishes for you this Christmas are May you and your family be blessed with the Peace of Christ.  May you also be comforted by the Holy Spirit in times of sorrow, strengthened in times of distress, protected in times of danger, enlightened in times of uncertainty and may you enjoy good health throughout the New Year.

 Joy to the World! Peace on Earth!

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Storm Sandy – Where was God?

STORM SANDY – WHERE WAS GOD?

I read an article by Dr. James Emery White in which he discusses the subject “God and Sandy” and decided that I would write my own comments here. You can read his lengthy article in his blog at http://www.churchandculture.org. His comments were written in answer to the question “Sandy: Most Destructive Storm – Where was God?”

I can see why some people will question God’s love and mercy and even His existence when severe storms like Sandy occur and cause such extreme devastation and suffering to people. Some people might even blame God for such destructive events. The fact is that the elements of nature behave in reaction to the ever-changing conditions of nature’s environment – land, water and air temperatures, wind direction and velocity, air pressure systems, shifting land mass below the earth’s surface. Sometimes these changes cause turbulent weather conditions and produce storms like Sandy. I feel that in many ways, human activities contribute a great deal to natural disasters taking place due primarily to land, water and air pollution and excessive destructive exploitation of the earth’s natural resources.

So, where was God when Sandy hit the US? He was right there in the middle of the storm making sure that the entire eastern USA was not completely wiped out. Understandably, those who lost loved ones, homes, jobs and treasured possessions will find it very difficult to accept this answer. Yes, it is very hard to see the presence of God in our suffering. During the last moments of his life on the cross, Jesus cried out “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Did God really abandon his own Son, Jesus, during his torture and violent death? I don’t think so. If he did, Jesus would not have been able to accomplish the task for which he was born – to sacrifice his life for the redemption of all God’s people.

Human suffering cannot be avoided but with God’s help in giving us courage and strength to endure the hurt and pain of our suffering, we will survive the struggle and one day enjoy the glorious end of all our trials and tribulations.

Leslie Chin

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Christmas 2011

MERRY CHRISTMAS

AND

HAPPY NEW YEAR

 Christmas Letter 2011

 A popular carol says Christmas is the season to be jolly and so we greet each other with the familiar words “Merry Christmas” and a warm smile.  Much of our Christmas celebration involves frantic shopping, dining, drinking, dancing, and having lots of fun singing carols and opening presents placed carefully under the tree so beautifully adorned with sparkling ornaments.  Yes, there is a special excitement that fills the air at Christmas time.

 This is the time of year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus over 2000 years ago.  What a wonderful and inspiring tradition to celebrate someone’s birthday faithfully over such a long period of time.  The truth is that we celebrate not just His birth, but the great promise of salvation of all people for whom He was destined to live and die.  And so we rejoice with much energy and emotion as we express our deepest love and gratitude for the birth of Jesus, our Lord and Saviour. 

 On the night Jesus was born in the humble stable in Bethlehem, there was a lot of celebration too, but a different kind of celebration.  The night was silent all around, the stars were shining brightly and the angels’ voices could be heard singing sweetly from afar “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will.”  Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, the three visiting kings and even the animals were all quiet as they gazed in deepest awe at the newborn baby lying in the simple manger that Mary and Joseph had prepared for Him. 

 So perhaps, during our holiday festivities this year, we too could be like Mary and Joseph, the kings and shepherds and spend some moments in quiet celebration as we reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.  As the angels greeted the shepherds, so Carmen and I also extend to everyone our greeting of joyful peace of spirit, mind and heart during this Christmas season and throughout the New Year.  We also pray that you will be blessed with good health.

 Joy to the World!  Peace on Earth!

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WHO AM I – PART 2

 By

Leslie R. Chin

September 26, 2011

 In my blog posted last May, I wrote about everyone being children of God and how He breathed life into us and gave us our soul.  Today, I learned from visiting the website www.birthverse.com that the biblical verse for my birth date, December 10, is Job 12:10In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.  The website commentary states: – You are a child of God, His treasured possession.  He created you in His own image.  He chose the day for you to be born.  He has a plan and a purpose for your life.  Cherish your birthverse.” 

 Our Destiny

 Knowing that our soul came from God led me to realize that the destiny of our soul is to return to Him when our earthly life is ended.  We learn from Jesus’ parable of the Lost Sheep that God does not want to lose a single soul.  And so He sent Jesus, His only Son, to die so that the sins of everyone will be forgiven completely and that all may receive the blessing of eternal life on our return to Him in heaven.

 Our Life’s Purpose

 The purpose of our life then is – to prepare for our return to God.  This preparation lasts a lifetime and requires a diligent and faithful application of our spiritual, physical and mental energy.

 Our Life of Faith

 God created us and gave us the gift of free will.  However, He wants us to live as His faithful children in a way that pleases Him.  And so, as a loving and caring Father, He sent prophets to teach us how to live and be faithful to His commands.  He sent His Son, Jesus, the greatest teacher of all, who taught us to love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our mind and our neighbour as ourself.  He said that we should forgive others who have wronged us not seven times but seventy-seven times.  He also said that we should do unto others as we would have them do to us and that we cannot serve two masters, God and wealth.  He told many parables to guide us in the way we should treat each other e.g. we should show mercy and be compassionate and kind to the suffering poor and needy.  These are just a few of Jesus’ teachings on how we should live as God’s children and be prepared and ready when He calls us to be with Him in heaven.

 When Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He told His disciples that they should partake of the sharing of His body and blood in remembrance of Him.  We remain faithful to Jesus’ command to share in this Blessed Sacrament by receiving the Eucharist at mass regularly.

 Jesus also gave His disciples some very important advice on praying with simplicity, sincerity and humility and taught them the sacred words of the Lord’s Prayer.  Special times for prayer e.g. grace before meals, morning, evening, should be a regular part of our daily activities and we should always remember to pray for those who need our prayers.

 In summarizing my thoughts about living as God’s children so that we may return to Him at the end of our earthly life, three distinct lifestyle traits come to mind that I believe will help to keep us on the right path– simplicity, moderation and balance. 

 May God’s blessings be with you!

 Leslie Chin

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WHO AM I? – PART 1

By

Leslie R. Chin

May 2, 2011

I spent four days last week with a group of Christian Therapists at their annual conference at Mount Carmel Spiritual Centre in Niagara Falls.  No, I am not a therapist.  I was there to lead them in singing at the discussions and masses during the conference.  The guest speakers were    Fr. Joseph MacDonald, OFM, Cap, MA, Sr. Maria Theresa Hronec, SS, CM, and Fr. Mark Goring, CC. 

Fr. MacDonald spoke on “The Healing Love of Jesus.” Fr. Goring spoke on “Who Do People Say I Am?” and   “And Who Are You?”  Sr. Hronec spoke on “Grant Me the Power to Change” and “The 12 Step Spiritual Healing Approach.”    

The subject that appealed to me most was “And Who are You?”  This is because I have spent many hours reflecting on this same question and other related questions that challenged my understanding of not only my faith as a Catholic Christian but also my response to how I should live my life as a Catholic Christian.  These countless hours of quiet reflection involved prayer and reading the bible, especially Jesus’ teachings recorded in the gospels.  Finally, I came to some conclusions that I felt made a lot of sense in explaining the issues that aroused my interest.  In arriving at these conclusions, I felt that the Holy Spirit was leading my thoughts and the progressive process of my deliberations.  That is why I feel very comfortable in the way I now look at myself, my relationship with God, my family, friends and other people.

The first question that I needed to answer was “Who Am I?”  I realized that the answer I was seeking was not my name, nor my relationship with my parents and children, nor my job title.  These qualifications are merely means of identification.  Fr. Goring stated that we are children of God because He created us.  I have always held that belief.  But the answer to the related question “How and Why Did God Create Me?” was not easily understood.  I knew how my human self was created – through my parents.  The other part of me, my soul, was created by God – but how and why did He do it?  I found the answer in Genesis 2: 7 “Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.”  In her talk, Sr. Hronec said “We are the breath of God.”  I had a chance to speak with her later and asked her to explain her comment.  She told me exactly what I was hoping she would say – that God breathed our soul into us and gave us life.

Knowing that our soul came directly from God provided the answers to my other related questions:

–   Our soul, being the breath of God, is part of Him, just as we are part of our parents

–   Our soul, being part of God, is therefore immortal and cannot die

–   We are made in God’s own image through our soul He gave us

–   God loves us unconditionally because our soul came from Him and is part of Him

–   God does not want to lose any soul that He created so He sent Jesus to die and redeem us from our sins

–   Without God’s gift of our soul, we would not be alive

These answers to my questions, while providing a better understanding of my own creation, also generated more questions that I will deal with at another time.

May God’s blessings be with you!

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Lenten Greeting

Lenten Greeting

by

Leslie R. Chin

March 21, 2011

At Christmas, we greet each other with “Happy Christmas,” at Easter “Happy Easter,” at Valentine’s Day “Happy Valentine,” at birthdays “Happy Birthday” and at anniversaries “Happy Anniversary.”  But during Lent, there is no “Happy Lent.”  I suppose it’s because Lent is a time when we recall the passion of Jesus Christ culminating with his violent death on the cross.  Not something to be happy about.    Yet, nailed upon the cross and fast approaching death, Jesus said to the crying women “Do not cry for me but for yourselves and your children.” 

How can we be happy during Lent, a time when we think about our weaknesses and failings and strive to be truly sorry for our sins and try to summon the courage and humility needed to seek God’s forgiveness?  Truly a difficult task because our minds are focused on the repentance and reconciliation aspects of Lent.

The other aspect of Lent that also deserves attention is the salvation aspect that relates to the main purpose of Jesus’ death on the cross i.e. to redeem all of us from our sins and reinstate us to a state of worthiness of God’s mercy and eternal life in heaven.  Before Jesus’ death, we were destined for eternal damnation.  His sacrifice, however, removed all barriers that separated us from God and reunited us to Him and to His promise of eternal glory. 

Should we be happy to receive such a wonderful gift of God’s mercy?  Yes, we should.  But our happiness is not one of dancing, partying and having a fun time.  Instead, it is a happiness of soulful prayer, quiet reflection, humble gratitude, faithful love, glorious adoration, healed relationships and renewed hope.  Do you think Jesus would be disappointed if we were happy during Lent?

I wish you a HAPPY LENT blessed with God’s grace and loving mercy!

Les

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Do You Remember?

Here is a very informative article that will probably be of interest to people in their senior years.  Doctors have told me that all medications have side effects – some serious, some not too serious.  Memory loss is a very serious side effect.
I checked the long list of medications and noticed some familiar names – Contac, Benadryl, Claritin, Zantac, Robaxin, Digoxin, Celebrex, Valium.  Although not included in the list, there is a related article that claims Lipitor can also cause memory loss. 
  
I don’t think there is need to panic and stop taking the medications that have been prescribed for our various illnesses.  But, as Dr. Galland suggests, we should consult our physician, especially if we experience signs of memory loss.
  
I have found an increasing need to rely on memory joggers and have incorporated them in my set of memory improvement habits and exercises (MIHE).  They are designed to help develop a keener sense of awareness and improved information reception and retention by effective use of my vision and hearing capabilities.  In the same way that we do physical exercises to keep fit, we can do mental exercises to sharpen our memory.
 
Les

Did you know that common over-the-counter drugs or prescriptions can cause memory loss and cognitive impairment?
Mild cognitive impairment is a common, age-linked condition that is often an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease. Its cardinal symptom is forgetfulness or impairment of short-term memory.
Numerous drugs have been shown to produce mild cognitive impairment (MCI). They may create or aggravate Alzheimer’s-type symptoms.
(NOTE: You should NOT stop taking medications without first consulting your physician.)
Most of the drugs that cause MCI have a property called “anti-cholinergic.” They inhibit activity of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which plays a critical role in memory and cognitive function.
Here’s the problem: only a few of these drugs are officially classified as anti-cholinergic. The official anti-cholinergic drugs are mostly used for relieving intestinal cramps or bladder irritability and are labeled “anti-spasmodic.” They’re at the top of the list below.
But there are 17 additional types of drugs used for many other purposes that may also have anti-cholinergic effects. The list includes commonly used drugs like antihistamines, acid blockers and antidepressants. Unfortunately, many doctors and pharmacists are unaware of the anti-cholinergic properties of these medications.
In an address to the American Academy of Neurology at the 60th Annual Meeting, Dr. Jack Tsao, associate professor of neurology at Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland, said, “… a lot of medicines that are not advertised as anti-cholinergic in nature actually have anti-cholinergic properties.” Dr. Tsao and his colleagues followed a group of nuns and clergy from the Rush Religious Orders for about eight years and found an accelerated rate of cognitive decline in those who began using anti-cholinergic drugs.
Several published studies have also shown that people taking drugs with hidden anti-cholinergic effects are at increased risk for MCI.
It is likely that these drugs have additive effects: the more anti-cholinergic drugs a person takes at one time, the greater the risk of side effects.
Because the list is long and includes drugs used for many different purposes, it is possible for an individual’s total burden of anti-cholinergic drug activity to be much higher than expected.
In addition, advanced age is associated with increased susceptibility to anti-cholinergic drugs because of a reduction in acetylcholine activity with age.
If you’re concerned about MCI in yourself or someone you know, check the list of drugs below to see if medication might be contributing to the problem.
Drugs with Anti-cholinergic Properties
Some of these are available without prescription and may be found alone or combined with other drugs, especially in over-the-counter cold and headache remedies. Don’t just rely on the product’s name. Check all ingredients. Bring this information to your doctor. Do not discontinue the use of any prescription drug without your doctor’s approval.
Antispasmotics: used to relieve intestinal cramps or bladder symptoms, these are also found in numerous over-the-counter and prescription combination products used for colds and coughs, with various brand names:
o Atropine
o Belladonna (Donnatal and others)
o Clidinium (Quarzan)
o Dicyclomine (Bentyl and others)
o Flavoxate (Urispas)
o Glycopyrrolate (Robinul)
o Hyoscyamine (Levsin, NuLev, Cystospas and many others)
o Oxybutynin (Ditropan and others)
o Solifenacin (VesiCARE)
o Propantheline (ProBanthine and others)
o Scopolamine (Transderm-Scop and others)
o Tolterodine (Detrol)
o Trospium (Regurin and others)
Antihistamines: these are used in numerous over-the-counter and prescription products alone or in combination with other drugs for relieving symptoms of allergies, colds, dizziness or improving sleep:

o Azatadine (Optimine and others)
o Chlorpheniramine (Chlortimeton and others)
o Clemastine (Contac, Tavist and others)
o Cyproheptadine (Periactin)
o Desloratadine (Clarinex and others)
o Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine and others)
o Diphenhydramine (Benadryl and many others)
o Doxylamine (Unisom and others)
o Hydroxyzine (Atarax, Vistaryl)
o Loratadine (Clariten and others)
o Meclizine (Antivert and others)
o Pyrilamine

Note: Fexofenadine (Allegra) and cetirizine (Zyrtec) are antihistamines without anti-cholinergic effects, but may cause sedation.
Antacids: these are histamine H2 antagonists, used to relieve heartburn and stomach pain. For more on acid suppressing drugs, see my article “Stomach Acid and the Future of Health Care“:
o Cimetidine (Tagamet)
o Famotidine (Pepcid)
o Nizatadine (Axid)
o Ranitidine (Zantac)
Note: Although these drugs have relatively weak anti-cholinergic activity, their use is associated with MCI in older adults.
Antidepressants:
o Amitriptyline (Elavil and others)
o Amoxapine (Asendin)
o Citalopram (Celexa)
o Clomipramine (Anafranil)
o Desipramine (Norpramin)
o Doxepin (Sinequan and others)
o Duloxetine (Cymbalta)
o Escitalopram (Lexapro)
o Fluoxetine (Prozac)
o Imipramine (Tofranil)
o Lithium
o Nortriptyline (Pamelor, Aventyl)
o Paroxetine (Paxil and others)
o Protriptyline (Vivactil)
Muscle relaxants:
o Carisoprodal (Soma and others)
o Chlorzoxazone (Parafon Forte and others)
o Cyclobenzaprine (Flexeryl and others)
o Methocarbamol (Robaxin and others)
o Orphenadrine (Norflex and others)
Antiarrythmics: used to treat cardiac arrhythmias:
o Digoxin
o Disopyramide (Norpace and others)
o Procainamide
o Quinidine (Quinaglute and others)
Antiemetics: used to suppress nausea or vomiting:
o Promethazine (Phenergan and others)
o Prochlorperazine (Compazine and others)
o Trimethobenzamide (Tigan)
Antipsychotics: used for severe psychiatric disorders:
o Chlorpromazine (Thorazine and others)
o Clozapine (Clopine and others)
o Mesoridazine (Serentil)
o Olanzapine (Zyprexa)
o Promazine
o Quetiapine (Seroquel)
o Thioridazine (Mellaril)
Antiparkinsonian: used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease and related disorders:
o Amantadine (Symmetrel)
o Benztropine (Cogentin)
o Biperiden (Akineton)
o Procyclidine (Kemadrine)
o Trihexyphenidyl (Artane and others)
Miscellaneous:
These drugs were shown to have anti-cholinergic effects at high concentration. They may exert clinically significant anti-cholinergic side effects when used at high doses or in people with impaired kidney function or a heightened susceptibility to anti-cholinergic side effects:
o Amoxicillin (an antibiotic)
o Carbamazepine (Tegretol, a drug for controlling seizures or chronic pain)
o Celecoxib (Celebrex, an anti-inflammatory pain reliever)
o Cephalexin (Keflex, an antibiotic)
o Diazepam (Valium, a tranquilizer)
o Diphenoxylate (Lomotil, a drug for diarrhea)
o Fentanyl (Duragesic, a narcotic pain reliever)
o Furosemide (Lasix, a diuretic used for fluid retention)
o Hydrocodone (a narcotic pain reliever, found in Vicodin)
o Lansoprazole (Prevacid, a proton pump inhibitor, used to reduce stomach acid)
o Levofloxacin (Levaquin, an antibiotic)
o Metformin (Glucophage, a drug that reduces blood sugar, used by diabetics)
o Phenytoin (Dilantin, a drug for controlling seizures)
o Temazepam (Restoril, a sleeping pill)
o Topiramate (Topimax, a drug used for preventing migraine headaches)
A medication does not have to be swallowed or injected to exert systemic effects.
Anti-cholinergic eye drops may affect the brain. They are used to dilate the pupils. These include:
o Cyclopentolate
o Homatropine
o Tropicamide
Anti-cholinergic Herbs: Numerous herbs and natural products have anti-cholinergic effects and may be more hazardous than medications. Here are those that have been studied the most:
o Amanita muscaria (fly agaric)
o Amanita pantherina (panther mushroom)
o Arctium lappa (burdock root)
o Atropa belladonna (deadly nightshade)
o Cestrum nocturnum (night blooming jessamine)
o Datura metel (yangjinhua, used in traditional Chinese remedies)
o Datura suaveolens (angel’s trumpet)
o Datura stramonium (jimson weed)
o Hyoscyamus niger (black henbane)
o Lantana camara (red sage)
o Phyllanthus emblica (Indian gooseberry)
o Solanum carolinensis (wild tomato)
o Solanum dulcamara (bittersweet)
o Solanum pseudocapsicum (Jerusalem cherry)
Learn more about herbs, traditional uses and side effects in my Herb Guide
In addition to memory loss and cognitive impairment, anti-cholinergic drugs may cause nervousness, confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, restlessness, irritability, dizziness, drowsiness, blurred vision and light sensitivity.
Know What You Are Taking
You should know everything that you or people in your family are taking: drugs and supplements and their potential side effects and interactions. If cognitive impairment is a problem and you’re taking one or more of the substances listed above, what you’re taking may be a cause or contributor.
And to get information on vitamins, nutrition and brain health read my articles:
“To B or Not to B Vitamins?” which looks at the complex relationship between B Vitamins and the brain.
Best Health,
Leo Galland, M.D.

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