Listen. Learn. Love. Life

 

quote-i-m-norma-mccorvey-the-former-jane-roe-of-the-roe-vs-wade-decision-that-brought-legal-norma-mccorvey-77-30-47This past weekend, the woman known as Jane Roe of Roe vs Wade, Norma McCorvey, passed away at the young age of 69 from heart failure.

Her sad passing puts abortion back in the headlines for a little while. While her death is in no way good news, the fact that people are reading about her life is good. Why? Because people are learning that she never even had an abortion. They are learning that she was deceived by her lawyers, encouraged to lie about her pregnancy, and immediately discarded after the ruling was brought down. She changed her mind on abortion years later and fought to undo the damage.  What an incredible burden to carry for your entire life – to know that your case made abortion legal. I can’t imagine the torment and internal battle that she went through.

“I think it’s safe to say that the entire abortion industry is based on a lie…I am dedicated to spending the rest of my life undoing the law that bears my name.” Norma McCorvey, aka Jane Roe

Thinking about her conversion and how she changed from being pro-choice to completely pro-life, I thought about testimonials and listening to the voices of those we disagree with.

Do we really listen to what they have to say or are we too busy shouting our own opinion and defending our views? Are we so afraid of the possibility that we may actually change our mind too?

This brings me to the Women’s March on Washington.  This march took place the day after the inauguration. And the media covered this in full force. In fact, the media seemed to be spending an unprecedented amount of attention on this march that seemed to have no clear agenda.

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Believe it or not, this picture is actually from the Women’s March on Washington. Students for Life of America ended up LEADING the march for about 15 minutes before pro-abortion activists tried to rip up their signs and scream their slogans of “My Body My Choice “over them. But because of the absolute disorganization of this Women’s March, no one was there to say when it started. Kudos to SFL for actually starting the march with their 3 huge banners. Here’s video of their experience there.

But there was one clear message they sent: No Pro-Life Women Allowed.

As I looked at the pictures of the women and and children marching in D.C. that day, I really only had one reaction: Sadness. It made me feel such pity for these women, young and old, holding up signs with vulgarity and mocking their own gender. You can say these vulgar images were just one part of this Women’s March. And you would be correct. But who got the most attention from the media? The more vulgar or outrageous the sign they carried or the costume they wore, the more attention they got.

Who’s voice was left unheard? Probably women like my friends and family who marched. The ones who say they marched for equal pay for men and women. Those who marched for the abused woman. The ones who marched for paid maternity leave and the rights of disabled women.

I am in complete agreement that these are rights worth fighting for.

But when the organizers of this Women’s March come out and say, “We want to see an end of violence against women” but in the next paragraph of their “Unity Principles” say how they are FOR unlimited access to abortion, how can we stand together in that? What about violence in the womb?

If they hadn’t promoted this event to be a pro-choice feminist event, even more women would have joined the cause! It would have been unprecedented to see all of us standing together. But that didn’t happen. Pro-life feminists were left out.

“I’ve noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.” – Ronald Reagan, September 22, 1980.

In complete contrast, on January 27th I had the pleasure of attending my first March for Life in D.C. It was an absolutely beautiful experience. All these people of different races, ages, faiths, (yes, atheists too!) and backgrounds coming together to celebrate LIFE.

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The March for Life has Life Principles. The Women’s March had Unity Principles. The goal of the pro-life movement is clear: To show that all human beings are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which is the right to life.

The goal of the Women’s March is not so clear to me. I’m still scratching my head over it.

While I was pursuing their site, I came across something rather interesting under the heading #DayWithoutAWoman. Apparently they are organizing another protest where they are asking women to not show up to work? Again, I’m just confused as to what message that sends. But I would also ask, will abortion workers and women who work at Planned Parenthood not show up to work that day?

But what’s really interesting are the 3 questions they ask that they state are their principles that guide their actions:

  1. Do businesses support our communities, or do they drain our communities?
  2. Do they strive for gender equity or do they support the policies and leaders that perpetuate oppression?
  3. Do they align with a sustainable environment or do they profit off destruction and steal the futures of our children?

I decided to play a little word game and replace the word “businesses” with Planned Parenthood. Let’s see what results we come up with:

  1. Does Planned Parenthood support our communities, or do they drain our communities?

Planned Parenthood locations are mostly in the poorer communities. I’m going to say the answer is DRAIN our communities in the form of killing them before they’re born.

  1. Does Planned Parenthood strive for gender equity or does it support the policies and leaders that perpetuate oppression?  

Considering abortion is the ultimate form of oppression, I’m going to have to again say that PP is actually THE leader in the oppression movement.

  1. Does Planned Parenthood align with a sustainable environment or do they profit off destruction and steal the futures of our children?  

Oh the irony. I find the language in this particular question almost comical if it weren’t so sad. This clearly parallels the goal of the abortion industry and Planned Parenthood = The destruction of children; children have no future when they enter a Planned Parenthood clinic. Their life ends in that moment. And profit??? Yes, they absolutely profit off of the 320,000 unborn lives they terminate in the womb every year. 


Norma McCorvey isn’t alive anymore to have her voice heard. Let’s make an effort to listen to those who have been there, who have believed the lies and have lived to regret them. I believe it’s our duty to hear what they have to say in order not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

And then maybe, next January 22nd, when we gather in D.C. to March for Life, perhaps we’ll be joined by newcomers to our movement. We’ll link arms together with these sisters with hope that one day we can say:

“Let us unite our voices to abolish abortion together.”

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Too Scared to Speak

In the past 6 months I have shared many articles on social media about pro-life and bioethical issues that are most controversial in our world, especially concerning those about abortion and birth control with the occasional post about homosexuality, gender identity, and so-called “same sex marriage.”

It never seems to fail that each time I post, one of my Christian friends privately messages me and thanks me for speaking up and not being afraid for saying what they wish they could say. At first it was random, but lately it’s been a more frequent occurrence. And the verbiage is usually similar – A common theme of fear.

“I’m not brave enough like you to say anything. ”

“It’s so great that you have so much courage to speak up on such controversial issues.”

“I can’t speak up like you do, I’m a wimp.”

Courageous? Brave? It’s strange that people use these words to describe a simple keystroke. I mean, really, how difficult is it to click the word “share?”  But what is even more strange is the “fear” that people have in their own hearts.

What are we afraid of? If we know this is truth, what is there to fear?

I suppose the biggest fear is fear of losing an argument. Fear of losing friendships maybe. Fear of looking foolish. Fear of what others think of us.

But something I think we need to be more fearful of is Ignorance. If we don’t stay informed of these pressing issues, then this allows misinformation to spread. And let’s keep in mind one of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to “Instruct the Ignorant.” So that means, in this Jubilee Year of Mercy issued by Pope Francis, that we not only have a duty to seek the truth ourselves, it means we need to share the truth. (The “ignorant” isn’t meant to be an insulting term here; it simply means the “uninformed.”)

For example, the controversial undercover Planned Parenthood videos:

I have met with and conversed with a few people who have never even seen a minute of any of the undercover video footage from the Center of Medical Progress and journalist David Daleiden. Not surprising when you read that none of the major media outlets gave it more than 39 seconds of coverage.

But just today, a grand jury in Houston has found Planned Parenthood not guilty of any wrongdoing and decided to bring charges up against Daleiden himself. Oh and one of the DA’s is on the board of Planned Parenthood. Sigh…

To those of us in the pro-life movement, this would seem like a huge step backwards, especially considering the March for Life in D.C. and the Walk for Life in San Francisco were so successful.

But see, I think of this as a misstep by Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry. I think, rather, I pray, that this will be their undoing. How?

Because now they will be forced to take the stand. Of course, nothing is going to stop liars from lying, even under oath. But I predict one of these doctors will have a major conversion.

If “Jane Roe” could have a conversion, would it not also be possible that one of these abortion doctors could have one as well?

Today in the Catholic Church we recognize the Conversion of St. Paul. St. Paul had the biggest conversion ever. Like, if there was an award for conversions, this dude would receive the award, hands down. The  guy was pretty awful when he was Saul, persecuting followers of Jesus left and right.

Reading about him was one of the catalysts for me when I myself “came back” to the Church after a short departure.

Reflecting on him tonight I can’t help but think, “Wouldn’t it be great if one of these PP docs or workers had a conversion? Wouldn’t it be awesome if they decided to find a way to give life instead of taking it away?”

Do you know what’s stopping them?

Probably the same thing that stops you from sharing or speaking up on controversial topics like abortion: Fear.

They probably have no idea how to leave the industry. Think about it – What would they do if they left? How would they make a living? What would their co-workers think?

Enter the awesome website run by Abby Johnson called And Then There Were None. She seeks to help former abortion workers (yes, even doctors themselves) to leave the industry for good. To date, they have helped approximately 200 workers out of this darkness and on to the path to healing and recovery.

She helps them speak up when they are too afraid.

So let’s set the example and show people we aren’t afraid of a little debate, of a little controversy, of a little action.

We have truth on our side.

  • Looking for ways to help the unborn from the inside out? Consider writing a “Love Letter” to abortion clinic workers in your city/state. Before someone can be converted, they need to know they’ll have support when/if they leave. This means we don’t shout obscenities and awful things to them when we stand outside abortion clinics. This means we love them and pray for them. We hate what they do for a living. But we always love them because they are humans and worthy of respect and dignity.
  • If you’re looking for simple ways you can help the unborn and promote the pro-life message, here’s a short article from Word on Fire.
  • For other helpful websites that speak the truth when it comes to bioethics and the Catholic Church teachings, especially the unborn and human dignity, I recommend the following:

National Catholic Bioethics Center

Life Site News

Live Action

LifeTeen

EWTN

 

 

 

Breath of God

 

I cannot get enough of this Hymn that I came across a couple months ago while praying the Liturgy of the Hours. This was in the Daytime Prayer in my iBreviary app and I just have to share it because it almost makes me cry every time I read it!  Enjoy.

Breathe on me, breath of God,

Fill me with life anew,

That I may love the things you love,

And do what you would do.


 

Breathe on me, breath of God,

Until my heart is pure,

Until with you I have one will,

To live and to endure.


 

Breathe on me, breath of God,

My soul with grace refine,

Until this earthly part of me

Glows with your fire divine.


 

Breathe on me, breath of God,

So I shall never die,

But live with you the perfect life

In your eternity.

 

Help Me To See

I’m not blind, but I’ve experienced “sight” twice in my life that I feel compelled to share.

The first was when I was taken to the doctor for an eye exam in the 4th grade. I had no idea I couldn’t see the chalkboard; it was my teacher who told my Mom that I was squinting to see it. When it was clear that I could barely read the eye chart at the doctor’s office, we went to get a pair of glasses.

I’ll never forget sitting in the chair at the optometrist. Before he came in, I looked into the holes of the giant machine that he would use to ask #1 or #2, #1,  or #2. (Anyone who’s been to the eye doctor knows all too well this process, it’s kind of comical).

Anyways, I took a peek and I remember telling my mom, “Wow!!! There’s a dog on that wall over there!”  I think she said something like, “Yes, that’s a picture of a dog, what’s the big deal?”  And I replied something like, “But…but…it’s DIFFERENT when I look through this thing. It’s like it’s magic! I can see the dog! I can see him!”

Having never had a need for glasses, she couldn’t understand what I was trying to say. I was trying to tell her that I could see every DETAIL of this dog. I will NEVER forget that dog. The picture is ingrained in my memory forever and the first image I saw clearly.  I recall thinking this machine that I was looking through must have been magic. I honestly didn’t understand the concept of SEEING CLEARLY.

After the appointment we went to LensCrafters to get my glasses. I remember picking out pink frames, thinking they were the “cutest” looking glasses, although I was dreading wearing them. Glasses, at age 9, were not “cool.”

“Do you see what I see?”

I will never forget walking out of LensCrafters to the car. I recall it was fall and the leaves were starting to change color.

Imagine seeing leaves for the first time. I know it’s hard to picture seeing something that you see every day but just imagine never having seen the leaves on a tree.

I could SEE! I could see every single leaf on the trees that we were walking past! And the concrete – I could see that too!

I was literally looking down at my feet walking on the sidewalk and noting to my mother, “I can see!! I can see the sidewalk!! I can see the leaves!!! Do you see them? Do you see that?”

I wish I could remember her reaction. I wish I could ask her if she remembers that day that I got my sight.

But most of all, I WISH I could have every person I know experience this newfound sight. It’s like being born again. It’s like realizing you are alive when this whole time before, you had been dead.

I recently came across a video from a popular speaker named Nicky Gumbel, and he discusses how he got glasses as an adult and HIS reaction is very similar to mine.  (Fast forward to 12:30 to SEE what I mean.)

“I am the way, the truth, and the life.”

I mentioned I gained sight twice in my life. The most recent time I found sight had nothing to do with a new pair of glasses. It has everything to do with looking at life through a different lens, a different perspective.

This “secondary” sight occurred when I read Theology of the Body for Beginners just 8 months ago. I knew something was happening to me as I read this book and took notes on it, which I have NEVER done while reading any book as an adult. I felt compelled to reflect on these words this man Christopher West, was writing. It was another experience of saying to myself, and sometimes to others, “Wow, NOW, I can see! I see things the way they REALLY are! THIS, this is what is truth!”

It was a few months later in June that “the scales fell off my eyes.” I had heard this expression before but never truly understood it until it actually happened to me. This experience took place during a week-long course through Theology of the Body Institute.. I recall telling myself and others, “I cannot un-see what I just saw. I can’t un-hear what I just heard. I will never be the same person I once was. I can see again!”

Where I once thought I saw love, I see lust.

Where I once saw truth, I now see the lies.

Where I once saw friendship, I now see possession.

Where I once saw harmless entertainment, I now see abuse.

Where I once saw freedom, I now see impurity.

But don’t get depressed and discouraged! There’s Good News to share:

Where I once saw rules, I now see freedom.

Where I once saw archaic teaching, I now see beautiful meaning.

Where I once saw restriction, I see chastity.

Where I once saw punishment, I now see blessings.

Where I saw an aged, celibate, old-fashioned man in Rome, I now see a Saint that I want to embrace in heaven and thank him for helping me to see.

Thank you God for my sight. I never want to be blind again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Birthday Blog Post – 37 Life Lessons

Last year I wrote this post for my 36th birthday which included 36 life lessons. I just read it again and I must say, not much has changed. I agree wholeheartedly with all of them to this day. So, here’s to being consistent!

But as I mentioned last year and it bears repeating: We are always learning, are we not?

With that, I give you 37 NEW Life Lessons:

  1. You don’t HAVE a body, you ARE a body. (shameless plug for my last blog post which discussed this from a fitness standpoint)
  2. Having a goal of writing a book is so much more daunting than I ever thought possible. So much to say, but no idea how to say it. But I keep plugging away!
  3. Setting an alarm on your phone is perhaps the best advice I ever gave myself and anyone else. The alarm can be anything from “Cook your dinner now!” to “Everything will work out fine.”
  4. Since evil is the absence of good, I want to avoid evil at all costs. I ask myself if I’m working towards that which is good prior to taking any sort of action.
  5. I worry less and less about the physical flaws and worry more and more about…nothing!
  6. Fasting once a week is a great way to appreciate how lucky you are.
  7. When people told me, “You’ll change your mind,” in response to my decision to not have children, I realize now that they were right. I did change my mindSET. I still don’t desire to have them, but I probably love them more and appreciate them more than I ever have.
  8. Being thankful everyday you have breath is a great reminder of how awesome life is and how blessed we are each day to be alive to witness this miracle.
  9. Seek advice from those who do very little talking. Those people are the best listeners.
  10. Nutella is a drug. The side effects include ecstatic happiness and a constant state of euphoria. Eat sparingly to avoid eternal bliss.
  11. There are living saints among us. I call them Mothers.
  12. This past year I found my lats. This means after many many many lat pulldowns, I finally was able to activate the muscle that is supposed to be working during this exercise. Just further proof that the mind is a powerful tool when it comes to bodybuilding.
  13. When you take the blindfold off your eyes, amazing things begin to happen.
  14. Face to face contact is still my preferred form of communication. Sadly, not to many people care enough to make the effort to engage in this kind of contact anymore. It’s considered “archaic.” I would also add that no one seems courageous enough for face to face interaction.
  15. I will probably never have good handwriting. And I will continue to blame my left-handedness as the reason even though it probably isn’t.
  16. Changing your heart is one of the best side effects that comes from changing your mind.
  17. The gym is the best place to people watch.  It’s also kinda gross to see how much people sweat on the elliptical without wiping it down.
  18. Thinking of 37 life lessons gets more difficult after number 15.
  19. I wish more people would take the time to get pictures developed instead of just sitting on your phone/computer for no one to enjoy.
  20. Babies are awesome to look at but if you stare too long the parents will think you are a little weird.
  21. Sometimes kids take forever to grow up into mature adults. Give them time. Like, 37 years.
  22. The reason people do stupid things is because they mistakenly believe those stupid things will make them happy.
  23. The biggest lie I believed for a long time was in order to be a productive member of society, I must always be doing something. Nope! There is beauty in being still.
  24. Multi-tasking is NOT a skill.
  25. It gets even harder to think of 37 life lessons after number 24.
  26. When I think of what I wanted for my 30th birthday, I cringe. Someday I’ll write a blog post about it.
  27. Speaking of writing, everyone should keep a journal. It’s awesome to see your thoughts from years gone by.
  28. The word terrific actually means terrifying. But no one uses it in that way anymore. Which is terrific and terrifying to think about how the english language has changed.
  29. I did just learn this year that dilemma is really spelled that way.
  30. My love/hate relationship with social media continues but I’m proud to say I’ve practically discontinued use of Instagram, Twitter and Periscope. Some things just don’t need to be shared.
  31. If you’re ever tempted to send a text while driving, throw your phone in the backseat.
  32. If you’re ever tempted to speed while driving to get somewhere, think of how much that speeding ticket will cost you.
  33. I try and carry enough cash on me to give some to the homeless guy on the W 150th exit ramp. But if I don’t have change, I try and just smile and look him in the eye. It’s not much but if you look someone in the eye instead of looking away, I think that leaves an impression.
  34. Miserable people HATE associating with happy people. They will do everything they can to make you as miserable as them. Love them anyway. Sooner or later, your happiness will either rub off on them or they will flee from you to be with their miserable cohorts.
  35. No matter how many times I cheat on my diet, I still think, “I’ll do better tomorrow.” Sometimes I do…Sometimes i don’t. But many times just saying it and believing it helps me to TRY to do better.
  36. For my fellow PT’s: Don’t ever give away personal training for free. There’s value in what you do.
  37. A blog post under 1,000 words is the best way to ensure you readers will read all the way until the end. Tell your readers to comment and share their life lessons.

The Body is a Sign of the Divine Mystery

If you’re just joining us, be sure to read my last post to get “caught up.”

“You are made in the image and likeness of God.”

This statement was implanted firmly in my brain starting in Freshman Religion class. I remember thinking “I know this is true, but I’m still not quite sure what it means.”

I don’t think my 14 year old brain could process it. And this is probably true of a lot of teenagers.

I knew my life was a gift from God, but I also remember thinking, “But what does God have to do with my parents conceiving me?” In other words, what do Sex and God have in common? I literally had no idea the two were connected, as strange as that sounds to me 23 years later.

Now, after reading TOB, something finally clicked.

Human nature is both spiritual and physical. We aren’t spirits “trapped” in our bodies. The Church has always maintained that we are embodied spirits, or spiritualized bodies. Through the profound union of body and soul in each of us, our bodies reveal or “make visible” the invisible reality of our spirits. But it does even more. Because we are made in God’s image, our bodies also make visible something of God’s invisible mystery.  TOB For Beginners

God has revealed his innermost secret: God himself is an eternal exchange of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and he has destined us to share in that exchange. CCC 221

And here’s where this all comes together –

God created us male and female so that we could image his love by becoming a sincere to gift to each other. This sincere giving establishes a “communion of persons” not only between the sexes but also-in the normal course of events- with a “third” who proceeds from them both. In this way, sexual love becomes an icon or earthly image in some sense of the inner life of the Trinity. TOB for Beginners

Whoa.

Have you ever heard anyone describe sex like this? Yeah. Pretty awesome right? It gets better.

As St. Paul says, quoting from Genesis, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32).

This passage from Ephesians 5 is a key text- perhaps the key text- for understanding the body and sexuality “theologically.” Christ is the one who was sent by his Father in heaven. He also left the home of his mother on earth. Why? To give up his body for his Bride (the Church) so that we might become “one flesh” with him. Where do we unite sacramentally with Christ? In a most profound way in the Eucharist. TOB for Beginners

Confused? Don’t be! It’s simple really.

When all the confusions are cleared and the distortions are untwisted, the deepest meaning of human sexuality – of our creation as male and female and our call to communion – is “eucharist.” John Paul II describes the Eucharist as “the sacrament of the Bridegroom and of the Bride.” God created us male and female right from the beginning to live in a “holy communion” that foreshadows the Holy Communion of Christ and the Church. In turn, the gift of Christ’s body to his Bride (celebrated in the Eucharist) sheds definitive light on the meaning of man and woman’s communion.

The Spousal Analogy

The Bible begins with the marriage of the first man and woman and it ends in Revelation with another “marriage” – the marriage of Christ and the Church.

And here is what we learn from the Pope’s Theology of the Body: God wanted this eternal “marital plan” to be so plain to us – so obvious to us – that he impressed an image of it in our very being by creating us male and female and calling us to become “one flesh.” TOB For Beginners

So two things to take away from this:

1. God is a communion of love

2. We are destined to share in that exchange (God wants to “marry” us – Hosea 2:19)

There is so much more to be discussed here but it is my hope, my dear readers, that you now have an idea of what it means to be created in the image and likeness of God. I understand it’s a difficult idea to wrap your head around, and one that is never going to be understood completely due to our limited brain power, but that’s why it’s called the “mystery.”

Fitting in My Faith: I look at Eucharist differently now that I have read TOB. Now I understand why it’s a sacrament. Now I understand why marriage is a sacrament. Now I know why the Church takes it seriously, and now I appreciate it even more when I hear the words, “This is my body, given up for you.”

I also appreciate life, my own life and the lives of others, much more greatly. I don’t think of how we are created as just “sex between two people who love each other.” And 9 months later, life. It’s much more than that. It’s a sacred union. It’s not gross or disgusting or bad. It’s awesome and it’s miraculous and it’s a small, tiny, itty bitty taste of what heaven is going to be like. No, we won’t be having sex in heaven, 🙂 We’ll BE in heaven, we’ll be in UNION with God! We’ll be married to Him!

This is the purpose of sexual union in the divine plan: to prefigure in some way the glory, ecstasy, and bliss that awaits us in heaven TOB For Beginners

I don’t know about you, but understanding why we were created, makes me have greater faith of the heaven that awaits us all.

to be continued….

-Michelle

For those who have lost a loved one…

From The Holy Longing by Ronald Rolheiser

“Just as Mary Magdala did not find Jesus in his tomb, we too will not find our loved ones there. Where will we find them? We will meet the ones we can no longer touch when we put ourselves in situations where their souls once flourished. Our loved ones live where they have always lived and it is there that we will find them.

Simply put, we find our deceased loved ones by entering into life, in terms of love and faith, in the way that was most distinctive to them. We contact them and connect ourselves to them when, in our own lives, we shape the infinite richness of God’s life and compassion in the way that they did, when we pour ourselves into life as they did.

Every good person shapes the infinite life and compassion of God in a unique way. When that person dies, we must seek him or her among the living.

Thus, if we want a loved one’s presence we must seek him or her out in what was most distinctively him or her, in terms of love, faith, and virtue. If your mother had a gift for hospitality, you will meet her when you are hospitable; if your friend had a passion for justice, you will meet him when you give yourself over to the quest for justice; if your aunt had a great zest for life, for meals with her family, and for laughter in the house, you will meet her when you have a zest for life, eat with your family, and have laughter in your house.

That is how a Christian searches for his or her loved ones after they have died. Theists visit graves (and Christians too visit graves because we are also theists) but, given the incarnation, given that we are all part of the word becoming flesh, as Christians, we search for our deceased loved ones outside of cemeteries, among the living— at our tables, in our places of work, and in the decisions, great and small, that we must daily make.”

Fit in Your Faith Today: How do you “revisit” your lost loved ones? When was the last time you engaged in something that made you think of him/her? Besides visiting the grave, what else can you do, after reading this passage, that keeps the memory of your loved one alive?