Longing For Some “Magnificent Desolation”

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A few weeks ago marked the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 and landing on moon. I caught a few ads for some documentaries in the days leading up to it but it wasn’t until someone Tweeted out this link that I went from “Oh that’s interesting,” to “Oh my gosh I’m obsessed with this and I must get my hands on anything to do with the moon and the space program!!!”

The creator of this amazing website, Apollo 11 in Real Time is my new favorite person. His name is Ben Feist he created this website (not sure how long it took him but it had to be quite some time) that allows you to enter into the mission at any point. From an article and interview with him:

The website replays NASA’s Apollo 11 mission as it happened, second by second. The coverage begins 20 hours from the launch, which took place on July 16, 1969, and continues until just after Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins stepped aboard the USS Hornet recovery ship on July 24. It does so using all of, and only the media from the mission — photos, film footage, television broadcasts and more — all synchronized to Ground Elapsed Time, the mission’s master clock.

“If you want to see a certain photo, for example, the whole experience jumps to the moment the photo is being taken. If you’d like to research one of the lunar samples you can find it at the moment the sample container is being filled,” Feist described.

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So after texting my family and telling some friends about this amazing website, thinking this is literally the coolest thing I’ve seen ever, I found this gem of a podcast on YouTube called “Apollo 11: What We Saw” hosted by Bill Whittle. It’s 4 parts at an hour each, but worth every minute. Bill takes you through the entire history of this mission but also includes all the science-y stuff that makes it all possible.

With this video series coupled with the real-time website, I came away with a new appreciation for the entire space program. I don’t know if people born long after we landed on the moon can truly grasp just how momentous this feat was until you really learn about the amount of resources, the amount of people (400,000!) and the courage it takes to fly a rocket into space, not quite knowing if this is all going to work!

And the fact that it DID and the entire world was watching. And WE, the United States, we did it first. That’s what Buzz (or perhaps Neil or Michael, can’t recall which) said in an interview – that people came up to him and said, “WE did it!” Not “You did it,” but WE meaning the country.

Sidenote: I had no idea Michael Collins didn’t land on the moon. He was in the ship that was to take them back after Buzz and Neil left the surface. He said he was okay with that, just chillin and orbiting around the moon.

From Wikipedia: Since he would be the active participant in the rendezvous with the LM, Collins compiled a book of 18 different rendezvous schemes for various scenarios including ones where the LM did not land, or it launched too early or too late. This book ran for 117 pages.

The sheer amount of intelligence and smarts to land on the moon is just incredible when you stop to think about it.

And that’s what I did that entire anniversary weekend to the point where I think I became (and still am) a bit obsessed with it. I think it’s because it contains something for everyone: History, nostalgia, adventure, rockets, fire, outer space, the unknown, exploration, team work, and most of all just plain FUN!

Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon after Neil Armstrong, uttered the phrase “Magnificent desolation” to describe the lunar surface. And when you hear them both describing the feel and the look of the surface, and then you see the photos and video that they took, it’s like you are really there with them. No wonder Cronkite choked up on camera when he saw them land and was speechless.

Maybe it’s just being connected to this point in history that I wasn’t alive for and that no one except these two men got to experience that explains this obsession, this longing to see what they saw and to be there. And to see the Earth from their viewpoint too. Can you imagine? Looking at EARTH from such a distance.

I would guess that this is the most prime example of that expression:

“The pictures don’t do it justice. You just had to be there.”

In the meantime, I’ll have to be satisfied to look out my window on a clear night and stare up at that beautiful magnificent desolation from down here until the day comes when I’ll be able to see ALL that God created.

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Debating Abortion…200 Characters At A Time

So anyone who follows me on good ol’ Twitter can see that I occasionally will engage with abortion supporters in an effort to have a fruitful dialogue. I have learned to pick and choose my battles carefully, not bothering to really engage or tweet at someone who is clearly just trying to stoke the flames. I do try to see if there’s some logic behind someone’s response to the most divisive issue of our day.

With all of the heartbeat bills and restrictions being passed in various states lately, the conversations are dissolving into shouting matches, but I do find that there’s hope for a resolution to this. And I’ll be the first to admit that Twitter is not the best place to have this debate but honestly, sometimes you can really have great conversations in 200 characters or less. (For those who aren’t familiar with Twitter, you only have about 240 characters to make your point before you have to keep replying. It’s not like a comment box on Facebook or an email where the characters are limitless).

What follows is NOT one of the fruitful dialogues, unfortunately. But what I just wanted to give readers was a glimpse into what, as far as I can tell, rational, sane people are saying about abortion. In case you didn’t know, the days of “safe, legal, and rare” are LONG GONE. Abortion is now being touted as on demand, plentiful and good.

So in this thread, I responded to a young woman named Lynne (I blocked out her screen name even though her profile is public) who said something about “children should only be born if they are wanted.” Notice how she never uses the word “mother” or “female” or “woman” when referring to pregnancy. This is not by accident. Pro-aborts and the left carefully construct their terms so they never acknowledge the sexual difference. Thus, they use the phrase “pregnant person.”

The sexual difference is being erased, folks!

Anyways, I responded with a question:

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Lynne had responded that she didn’t believe my last sentence was truthful about men not leaving before abortion and contraception came on the scene. I then tried to help her understand that contraception turns women into objects for use because you are erasing your fertility. I admit I could have done a better job explaining this but the fact remains, that before the Pill, if you had an affair, you took a risk that your indiscretion would be found out if the woman became pregnant.  With the Pill, people could have consequence-free sex, which led to an increase in infidelity and divorce. And when birth control fails, as it frequently does, it leads to an unplanned pregnancy, which leads to – duh – abortion.

Lynne didn’t respond to this and just called me a crazy person because I didn’t believe in contraception and in her mind, “contraception prevents abortions.” I then sent her this study from the pro-abortion research arm of Planned Parenthood, Guttmacher, that proves that contraception does not prevent abortions as much as one is led to believe. She didn’t reply. Pesky facts. 😉

In a separate thread Lynne had said that babies shouldn’t be born unless they can be “properly taken care of.”  She responds by saying she is a social worker so she considers herself an expert in this.

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Her comment about people believing the lie that “abortion is awful” struck me in particular. So I decided to define what an abortion is to her. To which Lynn retweeted my definition and took it upon herself to “shout her abortion.”

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I was going to exit the conversation at this point, but the fact that she is trying to promote abortion as being “great” needed a response:

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Thus ended our Twitter “conversation.”

This is just one encounter and no, I don’t sit there for hours wasting time “tweeting” to people who clearly are not going change their mind. It’s really not about that. It’s about planting a seed here and there. Because if she truly is post-abortive (yes, people do LIE on social media so it’s entirely possible she tweeted “Abortion is great” to get a reaction), she is in need of mercy and healing, which is why I sent her the Project Rachel Twitter handle. She also deserves to be told the truth.

And just look at her sad response about her parents “shouldn’t have been able to reproduce.” She isn’t the first pro-abortion person to say something along those lines. I wanted to be able to at least plant a seed that plenty of women regret their abortions. But, as you can see, she called those testimonials “bull****.”

Sadly, the abortion debate is only getting more and more volatile. This little twitter conversation between myself and Lynne is extremely TAME compared to the absolute hatred and evil coming out of people’s mouths (or keyboards in this case).

Case in point: I came close to tears watching this encounter at a pro-abortion rally in D.C. The woman screaming is in desperate need of healing. You can see it and hear it in her voice as she lashes out at the young woman holding a pro-life sign in front of her. My heart breaks for her:

Abortion supporters lash out at pro-lifers at #StopTheBans protests

The final video in that article is the one that truly breaks my heart. Her reaction to just scream vulgarity is NOT A NORMAL response. I want to find this woman and hug her. She is in so much pain. But she’s clearly not in a place to hear the truth.

So now for some good news.

An actress on a show I used to watch called “The Good Place” recently tweeted about how great her abortion was. She then proceeded to give her opinion on foster homes and how “cruel” that situation is. Well, that didn’t go over too well with the adoption/adoptee’s on Twitter who responded with their inspiring stories of choosing life:

The people whose lives you suggest aren’t worth living? They can hear you.

And finally, a really great thread initiated by a supporter of abortion.

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She was clearly expecting crickets to her tweet, but was ratio’d* badly as you can see. *Ratio’d means the replies, in this case 13,500, far outnumbered the amount of Retweets, in this case 1,500.

The common misconception among pro-abortionists is that anyone who is pro-life is “really only pro-birth. Once the baby is born they don’t care!” This is the typical go-to response from pro-abortion people. I’ve gotten it several times. But what this woman didn’t expect were the onslaught of responses from pro-lifers, which you can read about in this article:

Pro-lifers really do care about single moms, and it shows

So this is just a little peek into Twitter and the abortion debate today. As volatile and divisive as it is getting out there, I remain very hopeful that Roe is going to be overturned and the decision goes back to the states. While making abortion illegal will not stop it from happening, the day is coming, and I believe it’s coming very soon, when abortion will be unthinkable.

Pray for Lynne, pray for that woman in the video, pray for scales to fall off the eyes of all people who have been duped into believing the lie that abortion is good.

Ask the Lord to forgive them. They know not what they do.

Note: I am compiling a list of pro-life resources, books and articles on the facts of abortion for my blog. In the meantime, both websites listed above Live Action and Secular Pro Life are great starting points.

Helping Myself To Some Leftovers

aisle-altar-arches-226345Rod Dreher, in his book The Benedict Option – A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, writes a short section on “Love and Support Unmarried People in the Community.”

Dreher correctly writes that the church can me a lonely place for singles.

While it’s correct and right for the Church to affirm marriage and family as the ideal forms of the Christian life, we singles sometimes get overlooked.

What about our witness? What about our lives? And what about those of us who haven’t discerned a call to marriage? It’s not wonder that our nickname is “the leftovers.”

Their status as singles that leaves clergy and parish staff scratching their heads a lot. Where can they “place” us besides babysitters and clean-up crew?

It’s normal to be confused by us because really, we confuse ourselves! We’re in our 20’s, 30’s and some of us are nearing our (gasp!) 40’s. More and more people are delaying marriage, more and more of our friends are co-habitating, and more and more of us are getting sucked into the online dating scene or possibly something worse out of desperation to be in a relationship.

We may be succumbing to the hook=-up culture. If you haven’t dated anyone in the past 5-10 years, the dating marketplace has dramatically changed. And if you haven’t dated in more than 20 years, I doubt you’ll recognize single-dom today. It’s messy. It’s strange. It’s sad. And it’s lonely.

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Of course, it’s not all bad news. There are still good men and women out there. I picture them all wandering…aimlessly searching for their equivalent. They want someone just to have a conversation with. It’s been a while since they’ve sat down and had an actual conversation face to face. They’re used to 1 dimensional screens. Some of them don’t know life without a smartphone, without the internet.

Most would love to meet someone organically. But lately, that seems to be harder and harder.

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As more and more people become secularized, and more and more people leave the Church, that whole, “Maybe you’ll meet someone at Church” seems to be falling away.

Where are the solid young people, the orthodox Christians and Catholics?

Besides the pews, because I promise you there are some of them there, many of them are hanging out at the Latin Masses, which is growing in popularity, at least in my diocese. A lot of the TLM’s take place in parishes that aren’t your typical Catholic parishes with Bingo and Daycare. It’s usually the larger cathedrals/older churches that still have a Low and a High mass and that’s attractive because it’s different. And for those young adults who desire authenticity, the traditional Latin mass is home to many young adults these days.

There’s also groups like your local Young Catholic Professionals chapter or simply those that attend a Theology on Tap event or Young Adult event. And they may not go just to meet a potential date; they go so they can meet other people, period. It’s an added bonus if they end up dating.

While it’s good to meet like-minded singles, it doesn’t always end up being the case. And it’s hard to meet people at mass when you’re in the pews trying to worship.

So gatherings of young adult singles doesn’t always have to revolve around religion, per se. Recreational/intramural sports leagues and going to the bars for trivia nights and just hanging out in casual social situations is usually enough to meet someone to engage in a conversation with.

But in the meantime, I appreciated Dreher’s advice for the parish community with regards to guiding and mentoring young singles:

All unmarried Christians are call to live celibately. And that can be incredibly difficult in today’s culture. So it wouldn’t be a bad idea, besides a Young Adult Ministry, to “consider establishing single-sex group houses for unmarried members to live in prayerful fellowship.” He goes on to point out that it’s difficult to live chastely in a culture “as eroticized as ours, especially when there is so little respect for chastity. One expects this from the world, but the church must be different.”

While setting up housing may not be an option for your local parish at the moment, there is something you can do, no matter what your state in life, to help with the “leftovers” – encouragement and mentorship.

I’m attempting to do something like this with a 4-week series with the Young Adult ministry at my parish called Dating and Discerning Marriage As A Catholic. We’ll be hearing testimonies from young married couples (some with kids, some without) about their dating experience, their marriage, how they pray as a couple, how they pray as a family, practicing chastity as they dated and now that they are married, the ups and downs of NFP, etc.

It’s going to be a very engaging series touching on subjects like interfaith dating, setting boundaries within friendships, how the heck to practice chastity in today’s world and how singleness bears fruit, despite it’s difficulties.

I’d love to report back on it after it’s over here so look for that in the fall.

In the meantime, pray for the young people who come to this series to have receptive hearts and minds as they hear from the couples as well as myself; that they learn something new and especially for those who have been single for a long time, who desire nothing more than to do God’s will and feel a painful ache to be married, but for whatever reason, haven’t met their future spouse.

Spend some time with your single friends when you get a chance. Ask them how life is going. Don’t pry into their dating life unless they begin that conversation. And don’t pity them. Pray for them and offer any insight you have with them on relationships and marriage. Don’t try to tell them that you know what it’s like, but DO try to share your own stories of struggle and success. Give them hope.

They are not leftovers. They are the future of the Church. And they need our support and our love.

 

Overcome with Gratitude

So something random and interesting and really quite extraordinary happened to me yesterday (Sunday, Good Shepherd Sunday) morning.

I don’t know if it’s the fact that it was the first sunny day in who knows how long here in Michigan.

I don’t know if it was the fact that I was in a good mood to begin with.

I don’t know if it was the smell of clean clothes and clean countertops in my kitchen that I just sprayed as I cleaned my apartment and did the dishes and laundry. (Who doesn’t appreciate a clean dwelling space?)

But all of a sudden, as I was listening to a podcast from Bishop Robert Barron (of all people!) and folding laundry (of all things!), I had this overwhelming sense to drop to my knees and praise and thank God out loud.

This has simply never happened to me. The urge to thank Him was simply overpowering. I was just overcome with a mixture of joy and elation and gratitude, for about 10 minutes. I couldn’t get over it!

Maybe it was the fact that I had gotten up very early and just started to clean like a madwoman. I had incredible energy and had neglected to do my “typical” routine of sitting down on my couch, opening my LOH, or praying a rosary.

I almost feel like God was saying, “Umm…Hello!? Creator of the universe over here. Are you even going to acknowledge me, my daughter? What happened to thanking me first thing? The dishes can wait.”

So I went out on my balcony, because it was such a beautiful day, and I was literally watching birds chirp in the trees and prancing (jumping?) in the grass. And not a cloud in the sky. The only other sounds coming from the cars driving by on the street. And maybe my neighbor’s wind-chimes when the breeze picked up a little.

It was simply the most beautiful scene I could have envisioned on this Sunday morning. Truly a day that the Lord had made.

I came back inside and saw my Grateful Giving prayer card sitting on the table. I had been given this little card at a church function in Cleveland a couple years ago and kept it on my kitchen table and another copy in the visor in my car. A great prayer to pray on the way to work/school/etc:

God, Creator and Giver of all that is good,

we thank you for our many blessings.

Mindful of your generosity, we acknowledge

that all that we have is from you.

Daily, we offer you thanks and praise for

the beauty of the earth, our work, our family

and our loved ones.

In the dawning of a new day, you are with us.

In each dark hour you are here.

Blessed by your grace, we show gratitude to

You by sharing what we have.

By serving our brothers and sisters,

We serve You.

As you protect and guide us on our journey,

We, your disciples,

remain ever grateful for your constant love.

AMEN.

But wait, it gets better!

This morning, I read this in the Office of Readings:

“In a word, every blessing is showered upon us, both in this world and in the world to come. As we contemplate them even now, like a reflection in a mirror, it is as though we already possessed the good things our faith tells us that we shall one day enjoy. If this is the pledge, what will the perfection be? If these are the firstfruits, what will the full harvest be?

From the book On the Holy Spirit by St. Basil the Great

I’m pretty sure they call this an affirmation.

Because that’s what it felt like; a showering of blessings. And if I’m this overwhelmed by His goodness to little old me, how much more awesome is going to be when this is all perfected?!

As I sat on that balcony, I thought- I GET to clean!! I know it sounds so strange but how many people would DIE for the chance to have a roof over their heads to clean! Or a bed they get to sleep in. The ipad that I GET to listen to a podcast or a homily or watch a TV show or a movie, anytime I want. I GET to read all these books on my shelf, anytime I want. I GET to write on this computer for my little blog, anytime I want. I GET to text or call or email anyone in my family or my friends, anytime I want.

What gifts!!!

I get to live in the greatest country in the world where I am free to worship my Lord and Savior. I get to drive a car to a job that I get paid to fight for religious freedom and pro-life causes. And just a month ago I got to travel to the Middle East to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. I’m still in the shock and awe phase apparently.

Maybe I’ll come back to this post the next time I feel like complaining about my slow internet connection, or the price of gas going up, or when I burn my toast.

Thank you God for this little life of mine.

Where There’s Despair, Let Us Bring Hope

For the past few weeks I’ve been shadowing instructors from a local pro-life group that goes to Catholic and Christian schools teaching junior high students about the current life issues in our world. (I’m delighted to instruct my own class in less than a month.) The curriculum includes facts about abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, as well as the Good News of chastity and how we are all created in the image and likeness of God and what respecting human dignity entails.

Most of the classes are inspiring and educational as these kids learn about people who were born with disabilities, who were told by their parents to abort, but here they are living and thriving. They hear and read testimonials from post-abortive women who now advocate and promote the pro-life message. They hear from rape survivors who became pregnant and gave their child life.

On one particular day, as the 8th graders learned about abortion, I had a moment of profound sadness.

A boy in the class asked the question:

“So what do they do with the baby when it’s aborted?” 

The instructor responded with the truth: “They throw the baby into the trash, into biohazard waste.” 

The look on the children’s faces was something I don’t think I’ll forget.  They just couldn’t believe it. They were shocked and appalled.

I was told later by one of my friends who’s been advocating for the unborn for years that they don’t actually throw them in the trash. At least some places don’t.

“They put them in a grinder and grind them up into pieces,” he said.

Maybe we need to just reflect on that for more than a second.

Dead humans.

In pieces.

In the trash. 

No funeral. No burial. No memorial.  Just thrown into the trash. 

I really have a hard time wrapping my head around all of it. 

I sometimes just sit in plain shock at it all.  

Like looking at the pictures of the victims of the Holocaust. The burned bodies lying on top of one another in black and white photos that I’ve seen. And even having visited a concentration camp when I took a trip to Europe as a teenager – I saw death. I felt it, it was palpable. Even decades later.

And there was another feeling there…

Evil. 

I don’t think I identified it as Evil at the time. I think I just knew the feeling was dark. Only years later as I would tell people that I visited one of the camps did I then recall and think, Oh….so that’s what that was. That was indeed evil I felt. It permeated the site.


 

I get that same feeling over me as I visit and stand outside abortion clinics to pray. There’s this dark, heavy feeling. Like you know something sinister is happening behind those doors but you can’t do anything to stop it at that moment.

It’s a very helpless feeling.

And it can quickly turn into hopelessness. 

It has on occasion.

But thank God for those kids. Thank God for those kids having the courage to ask questions and listen and hear the truth.  This is a lot of their young minds to process. What I would have given to have heard this message at their age!

I noticed something else about these young pro-life warriors:

They have NO FEAR. They are not afraid to engage.  

An outsider reading this might think, “Just wait until they get to high school or college. They’ll be too afraid to fit in to speak up about anything.”

While it’s true that most 20-somethings become easily swayed into moral relativism in college, I still have hope.

You just wait. This generation is braver and smarter than we are. They have much more information at their fingertips than we ever did. Which means they have greater access to the TRUTH, while filtering out the LIES. 

And they aren’t pushovers. They want Authenticity. They want people, adults and peers alike, to be Genuine. Heartfelt. Compassionate. Fighters! Honest! Bold! 

 

So when I look around me at the various people praying outside abortion clinics, when I look around to see who will stand with me to fight for the unborn, the disabled and the elderly, the most vulnerable and weakest in our world, and when I look around and wonder who will have my back at the times when it seems hopeless, I see these kids.

I see hope in their eyes. I see something GOOD that I can cling to and hang on to.

The voiceless have a voice in the youth of today. 

“When the time comes, as it surely will, when we face that awesome moment, the final judgment, I’ve often thought, as Fulton Sheen wrote, that it is a terrible moment of loneliness. You have no advocates, you are there alone standing before God — and a terror will rip your soul like nothing you can imagine. But I really think that those in the pro-life movement will not be alone. I think there’ll be a chorus of voices that have never been heard in this world but are heard beautifully and clearly in the next world — and they will plead for everyone who has been in this movement. They will say to God, ‘Spare him, because he loved us!‘”  – Congressman Henry Hyde – author of The Hyde Amendment, which the Democratic Party wants to repeal.


Anytime I blog about abortion, I think it’s important to mention post-abortive healing and counseling:

www.RachelsVineyard.org

www.SilentNoMoreAwareness.org 

www.HopeAfterAbortion.com

www.AbortionWorker.com

Listening to Mama Church

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In granting married persons the privilege and great responsibility of becoming parents, God gives them the grace to carry out their mission adequately. As spouses, parents and ministers of the sacramental grace of marriage, they are sustained from day to day by special spiritual energies, received from Jesus Christ who loves and nurtures his Bride, the Church.  —The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, Guidelines for Education Within The Family

Most people that know me are aware I have a lot of time on my hands.(Not too surprising considering that I’m single and childless). But what many are NOT aware of is in the past year and a half, I’ve basically gone “all in” with my Catholic faith; reading and researching and attending webinars and seminars and conferences and retreats. And among the many things I have uncovered, is that there’s more that the Church has gotten RIGHT than most people realize. And one of those is Her teaching on sexuality. 

Since most people are totally unaware of this (The Church and SEX don’t exactly appear in the same sentence very often), I figured I’d give out some resources that parents can use to not only educate themselves, but their kids as well.

Mama Church Knows Best

“No good parent accepts and endorses everything their child chooses.”

We view the Church as our Mother. And like any good Mom, she wants what is best for us.

If you’re scratching your head in disbelief, allow me to explain.

Let’s take the example of a child running into the street without looking. If you see your child starting to run into oncoming traffic, are you going to say “Well, I can’t judge them for doing that. If they feel like running into the street, that’s their right. I can’t stop them.”  Of course not!! You’ll run to save them. You’ll tell them to stop running so they don’t hurt themselves! Because you love them.

If you see your child start to take drugs, will you just sit by and say, “Well, that’s their choice. I mean, they might end up hurting themselves in the long run but I can’t stop them. If they feel it’s right for them…” Clearly you wouldn’t. You would try to stop them and tell them that there are consequences for their actions and that doing drugs is wrong and unhealthy and harmful. And since you love them, you get them help so they can thrive and stay alive.

This is how the Catholic Church sees us – as children in need of guidance. One of the best examples of this is seen in the document entitled Humanae Vitae. This document (HV for short) explains the Church’s stance on contraception (a big no-no). But WHY was Pope Paul VI (the Pope at the time this was written) so down on the pill? Well, just read it to find out.  It’s easy to understand, I promise!

For one thing, the Pope predicted that the legalization and widespread access of contraception in partnership with the sexual revolution would lead to: single parent families, fatherless children, increased divorce, unplanned pregnancies, and increased abortions. In other words, a culture of death.

Gee…you think he may have been right on that?

What makes this document so controversial for some of us in the Catholic world is that the teachings are difficult to implement. Because, as we know, it’s not easy to be a Christian, especially today.

So maybe before you start to talk to your kids about sex and God’s design for our bodies and marriage, perhaps you need a re-fresher? Reading HV is a great start. But wait, there’s more!

Educate yourself:

  • One good first step is to get yourself a copy of the Catechism. It’s easy to read, although it’s very thick. But it’s divided up into sections so you can jump around. One of the best tips I received recently was from Dr. Bob Rice at Franciscan University at Steubenville. He says to start reading the In Brief sections and praying with those before actually reading it from cover to cover. I am finding that to be really helpful.
  • If you’ve followed my blog you know I’m a Theology of the Body enthusiast/addict/obsessed person. Besides listing everything in my Recommended Reading tab, I would say the best book for married couples and parents is The Good News about Sex and Marriage by Christopher West. It’s format is Q&A so you can jump around to the sections you want to read. It addresses infertility, contraception, celibacy, natural family planning and much more. Best of all, it addresses the beauty and truth about what marriage means between a man and a woman.
  • Hate reading?  If you prefer videos, you’re going to want to subscribe to both Fr. Mike Schmitz and Bishop Robert Barron. Bishop Barron is especially popular for his YouTube videos explaining everything from Advent to War. You can find his homilies, videos, and blog posts at Word on Fire. Here’s what you get when you search “Sexuality.”
  • As for Fr. Mike Schmitz, he’s considered more “real-world” and is a big hit with the teens and young adults. His videos can be found on Ascension Presents YouTube channel. Here is his video on the Transgender question which was probably one of the most popular.

Educate Your Kids:

I’m sure there’s plenty of parenting styles that someone is going to use to discuss the uncomfortable topics (pornography, masturbation, premarital sex, cohabitation, etc) and maybe you have already covered all of these topics with your kid. But I would definitely suggest none of these are “One and Done” subjects. I think it needs to be an ongoing dialogue as they grow up.

One great resource I found recently is this document from the Pontifical Council for the Family from entitled “The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality written in 1995.

This won’t tell you exactly what to say and how to say it, but hey, it’s a start! I would especially encourage parents to keep these things in mind:

  1. The information you present should be appropriate to the child’s developmental phases.

  2. The media violates these stages of development. Don’t allow the media to tell your child what is moral/immoral.

  3. Present chastity and virginity in a positive light (because it is!) and that’s contrary to what kids, especially teens, hear from their peers/media.

  4. It doesn’t matter what *you* did in the past. You can be vulnerable in front of your children but don’t think just because perhaps you fell into temptation, that you have “no right” to tell your kids how to be chaste. Don’t fall into the moral relativism trap.

  5. Everyone can be chaste, because we are all called to holiness.

  6. Not everyone is called to marriage. Be supportive in the discernment process for your children, especially if they seem drawn to the celibate/religious life as they become teenagers and young adults.

Another great (and shorter) resource comes from Focus on the Family. This PDF is free and downloadable after you enter in some basic information. This is probably most helpful for parents who have children who go to a public school but children who are at private schools can benefit as well: Empowering Parents Amidst Confusion on Sexuality

Lastly, the best one-stop-shop for teens and parents is the Chastity Project. You can search their resources for all kinds of answers to your questions regarding sexuality and what is in line with Catholic doctrine. Many of their blog posts are from teens and young adults struggling with everything from peer pressure to same-sex attraction to discerning consecrated life. Visit it often for all your questions and concerns about the confusing culture we are living in today.


There are countless other resources, books, talks, commentaries, etc. on how to raise your kids and discuss sexuality in a positive way that I cannot possibly list them all. My main point here was to emphasize that we can’t rely solely on the schools, teachers, catechists, priests, or youth ministers to “take care of it” for you. Parents NEED to be open about these things, especially with the conflicting and confusing messages kids see in the news, on social media, on the cover of magazines, from pop culture, and from their peers. Remember to teach the truth in love and to make sure your child knows they can come to you if they have questions. Be not afraid!

Love Thy Neighbor or Mind Thy Own Business?

no-access-71233_1280You know how people usually compare  the journey of dieting and losing weight to the journey of faith?  Maybe it’s just me since I seem to have an ear for this sort of thing and my ears perk up when I hear anything related to food. But I swear ever since I started reading more about the saints and listening to Catholic speakers and reading Catholic books, it seems like desire and sin are always compared with our desire for food, and the  journey to sainthood and heaven is always linked to a weight loss goal.  It’s fascinating because, truthfully, it’s spot on!

Don’t believe me? Read on.

So I have a spiritual director (Hello Fr. Adam!) and what I’ve discovered is that SD’s are similar to Personal Trainers in a lot of ways (similar to any coach/counselor).

We give instruction, we give guidance, we ask questions. But ultimately, we can’t force you to lose weight/get stronger etc. That’s something you have to do on your own. My SD can’t force me to do anything but he does provide guidance, instruction, asks probing questions (that I sometimes hate to answer). “Did you workout like you planned?” similar to “Have you prayed using Lectio Divina?” to which I usually answer, “I plead the fifth Father!”

Most personal trainers or strength and conditioning coaches will ask their client to record their workouts and their food intake in a journal. It’s more about self-reflection than anything else. Same is true for anyone seeking the “more” to life. I’ve always journaled but I go through periods of lulls where I just don’t feel like writing anything. And I cannot even begin to tell you how many times I’ve attempted to log my food and kept failing because of laziness.  It’s an ongoing struggle.

And then there’s the gym. Clearly, the most obvious similarity is that to a Church, with the congregation being fellow gym-goers.

But I would say watching people work out is not like sitting in the pews. That’s probably more comparable to every day activity.

For example – I see people at the gym doing exercises improperly at least once or twice at each visit. Of course, no one is going to be perfect all of the time, but that’s why we have gyms – so people can exercise and work their way to their own version of the “perfect” body. (A whole other blog post)

But what about these gym people who seem to have terrible form and their breathing is off and they look like they might drop a dumbbell on their foot (or face!) any minute now?

Do I have an obligation to go up to them to tell them what they are doing is wrong and that they might hurt themselves? If the potential to hurt themselves is imminent, I do and I have. (A dumbbell to the face is no something I would like to watch!) But usually, they’re just going to hurt themselves over time. Not right away.

Keep in mind these are people I have seen repeatedly throughout the week. It’s usually something as simple as improper form. Will it kill them? No. Will it hurt them? Most likely, over time. Will it be an injury they can’t recover from? No idea. But most likely not.

Do I now have an obligation to help them or to say something? What if I wasn’t a PT and just a regular knowledgable gym-goer? Do I interrupt their workout and say something or just let them figure it out on their own? I could just wait until they learn from someone else more qualified. But then, won’t they feel kind of silly or stupid for doing it “their way” for so long? Will they wonder – “Why didn’t anyone tell me this before?”

Why is it so hard for me to work up the nerve to say something, and offer a better way for them to achieve their exercise goal at that moment?


Won’t You Be My Nosy Neighbor?

As you ponder that, let’s take the guy out of the gym and put him in a real-life scenario. Let’s say it’s a neighbor. Like, literally, your next door neighbor.

You know he’s married with a kid. You’ve met his wife and daughter. They go to your church. But you don’t know them that well. Just well enough to wave hello and once in a while borrow a cup of sugar or something. (Does anyone do that anymore?)

Let’s say over a period of time, you notice this guy talks down to his wife and daughter. But he seems to verbally abuse the wife more than the kid. You only notice this when you can overhear them if they’re outside. But let’s say it starts to become more frequent. And let’s say he starts to do it while you’re hanging out with him and his family at a cookout or something. Or at a church function.

Do you wait and not say anything? Do you pull her aside and say something? I mean, these people go to your church. But it’s not like he’s sinning right? He’s not hitting her because you’d be able to tell, right? You could always assume he’ll learn how to be a better communicator eventually from someone more qualified than you. You’re just a neighbor and you should probably just mind your own business…right?

The big dilemma is this: At what point do we go from casual observer to intervener?

Because I think that’s what’s happening in the world today but it’s being misinterpreted as being nosy and injecting your self into someone else’s life. Or the most popular argument: “You’re forcing your beliefs onto me!”

No, actually, no one can force you to believe anything. I can’t force you to lose weight, I can’t be forced to lose weight and I can’t force you or anyone to become a saint.

The Christian and Correct Response

It comes back to what I said in the beginning: We can guide. We can offer assistance. We can start the conversation.

And one thing I’d love for people to know, especially those who don’t quite get us Christians, is that we want to help people. I know some Christians are better at this than others. Some yell and scream (not good, seriously can we stop that please?) some calmly approach (better) and some literally offer to accompany and walk with that person on their journey (best). But even this approach may come across as hurting someone, because we are telling them bluntly, that they are hurting themselves by whatever sin they are committing. But even if we tell them the truth in love, I promise we really have their best interests at heart.

When we see someone living their life a certain way that we believe to be wrong and that will hurt them, we have a moral obligation and a duty to help that person the best way we can. But, and this goes to my fellow Christians, once you try to help someone, you have to get out of the way and drop it. No amount of coercion or yelling or degrading will ever get anyone to change their ways.

So I end with a question, for myself and for you, to think about: If you see someone, your neighbor, your fellow parishioner, your friend, doing harm to their soul, will you work up the courage to provide a better way?  Or will you just walk on by? Is minding your own business really the loving thing to do?