Story in a nutshell:
Mom of 18 week old twin boys was being treated horrifically by hospital staff because she refused to induce delivery due to a potential infection that would risk her health.
Since she's got a chance to carry the boys for a few more weeks until delivery, she wants to give them a fighting chance.
Since making that decision, doctors and nurses alike have treated her with contempt - freely telling her she was wasting time and resources.
Go to her Facebook Page and "like" to keep updated on her prognosis.
Offer up every spare prayer you can for her intentions. Memorares and prayers to Sts. Gianna / Jude are quite fitting!
As I stated on FB, this is where the land of contraceptives, abortion and euthanasia leads us...
No longer are children within the womb looked upon as children. No longer are mothers who want to protect their children as best they can looked upon as loving. Instead, these unborn children and the mothers who wish to save them are hysterical wastes of time and resources. They have no dignity - they are simply hormonal imbalances.
Yellow Wallpaper much?
And they say they care about the rights of women. I wave the BS flag on that.
May God have mercy on the stone-hearts tottering around that hospital.
That beautiful, wonderful, amazing-in-every-way woman I'm standing with is Sister Vincent. Those of you who have followed this blog may remember her from my Mac Nun Memories entry. More than a few of you ended up asking me if I named my son after her, and I honestly think I did! But shhh... we'll never tell John that, okay? :)
Anyway, Mary and I took a trip down memory lane today.
With our elementary school, Incarnation, closing this June, the admin scheduled an open house that invited all alumni and past teachers to walk the halls one last time. Truth be told, we ended up having a blast and got some great pictures!
We were just wrapping up a conversation with Sister Pat, our old principal, when she asked for my son's name. I said "Vincent" and admitted that I'd named him for Sister Vincent. We all then wondered aloud if Sister Vincent might make an appearance. Not a minute after that, Sister Vincent walked through the doors. As Mary said, the only way it could've been better planned is if birds had flown in to announce her. Ha ha!
We rushed over to greet her with hugs, smiles and excited babbling. Oh my goodness, I can't even properly explain how overjoyed I was to see her! I know Mary was just as excited. I almost felt bad for all the other Inky alumni who couldn't make it on Saturday, because they ended up missing out on seeing her!!!
Oh, thank goodness you talked some sense into me, Mar!!! I'd've been SO jealous had you seen her without me!
She hasn't changed a bit. She remembered Mary and I fondly, and didn't even need us to introduce ourselves. I wasn't altogether surprised. Like I mentioned in that Memories entry, she poured her heart and soul into teaching and really got to know her students incredibly well. She cared about all of us, so it's no surprise that she took a piece of us with her for safe-keeping. :) What an absolute blessing she was today!
And it's doubtful she even registers what a joy it was to see her. She's so unassuming. So incredibly sweet. God knows how to pick 'em, that's for sure!
Whoa with the hating on my husband, ladies! While you're at it, slow your roll with the ridiculous accusations against me, too!
I'd like to take a quick moment to express my sincerest gratitude for those of you sent prayers and messages upon reading My Darkest Secret (either through Facebook threads, this blog or e-mail). I've been humbled and deeply touched by your thoughtfulness, love and generosity. Considering how difficult posting that entry was, you each made it worthwhile with the support, gentleness and understanding you showed. Please know I'll be keeping you all in my prayers.
I have to admit I was not expecting the sort of response that was received. Apparently this was picked up by a page called "Guggie Daily" on Facebook. From there, it was shared (a woman named Mattie apparently posted this to every group known to man), Twittered, and e-mailed all over the place. Wow!
Considering this is an unknown little blog in the corner of nowhere, I was really surprised to see the flood of comments and e-mails. Most have been very kind and supportive. As I said above, I am so grateful for that. Some comments have been slightly confusing, and others have been outright mean. I felt I needed to respond to those latter comments in a general way in the hopes that folks see this as they're scrolling down to troll.
The majority of the "mean" comments can be broken into a few categories. They are:
1. Divorce John. He's a horrible, evil minion of Satan.
2. You should be ashamed of yourself for setting the feminist movement back [insert number] years.
3. You obviously don't understand what the Church's teaching on annulment is, because if you did, you'd totally do it.
4. You are writing this entry to be a spiteful, manipulative jerk in an effort to guilt your husband into giving you children.
5. You're both going to hell. Him for using birth control, and you for allowing him to do it.
6. You don't really care about your son because if you did, you'd be fighting a lot harder to make sure he gets siblings.
And my favorite:
7. You just ruined Santa Claus for me. I wonder if it was MY neighbor all along, too.
Ha ha - okay, obviously that last one was sent by a reader, George, who understands the power of a good joke. Thank you, George! Those others, however, were recurring themes in many of the responses I got. In fact, several messages had combinations of most included!
So instead of answering each one individually (or deleting them en masse again), here is my response.
Divorce John. He's a horrible, evil minion of Satan.
Look, I get that he hates washing the dishes, is color blind and hates HGTV. Fine. And this whole issue of being afraid of the financial / time / emotional strain that future children could place on our family? Yeah, okay... it's a little tough to swallow at times. But labeling him a follower of Satan?
There's this thing called hyperbole. You're totally doing it right, but maybe it'd be best to leave such literary devices to poetry.
You're setting "the movement" back a bazillion years.
I didn't realize that making a sacrifice (albeit a painful one) for the good of my family was setting the bra-burners back a few decades.
One of the Facebook users who commented on my situation had a profile photo of herself in a bathroom wearing her underwear. I'm serious. I wish I was kidding.
Anyway, she said something along the lines of me being the type of woman who endures years of being barefoot and pregnant, scrubbing mountains of dishes and piles of laundry, never able to find satisfaction in anything not related to serving my man.
Sheesh. Really? Is that how my entry REALLY came across?
Let me assure you that, though I do like being barefoot (and would certainly like to be pregnant again), I don't make it a point to spend all my free time washing dishes for
"my man." Granted, I also don't spend my time in bathrooms taking half-naked photos of myself in order to generate "OMG, you're so hot!" comments from him, either.
John and I have discussed this repeated times. This isn't an area one can compromise on, and thus, I willingly make this sacrifice for the good of my family because I love and respect them, myself, and any potential children enough to do it.
If this is considered weakness, I'd be curious to know what you consider strength to be.
Also, judging me for my desire to be a good wife and mother goes directly against that whole feminist idea of women being enabled to do that which they believe is right for them. Or do you not note the hypocrisy of your own words?
You don't know what annulment is, 'cause if you did...
I sincerely wonder if the folks who accused me of this actually understand annulment even half as well as I do. If they did, they'd understand why an annulment (even by Church standards) is out of the question from a moral standpoint.
When John and I married one another, we did it with the full knowledge of what it was we were signing on for. We had discussed children and we were pretty much on the same page for everything. We loved (and continue to love) one another, and we strive to think of the other person in all we do. With the exception of the openness to children, nothing has changed. To request that the Church deem our marriage invalid because he changed his mind AFTER the fact is fallacious. Also, it's pointless as this particular issue is something we have reached an agreement on for the good of our family as a whole. To go through a pointless process when we still wish to remain as a family is so beyond the realm of common sense that I really do kinda shake my head in wonder at these folks who are so quick to "give up" the second something difficult comes up.
No wonder divorce rates are so high (and cheap) in this country. Folks are so busy thinking about themselves that the second a sacrifice is necessary, they head for the hills.
You are a spiteful, manipulative jerk!
I definitely can be, but this most certainly isn't one of those times. Considering this blog was relatively unknown until it got picked up by folks on Facebook, I didn't think it'd get further than the tiny circle of followers I've amassed.
Also, John will likely never read this. He doesn't have to, because he already knows my feelings. I set this off into cyberspace because writing is therapeutic for me. It also helps me better understand my own thought-process and feelings. This had nothing to do with guilting John. How could it when there's really very little chance of it ever effecting him? That's just silly.
You're both going to hell.
Eh, you're probably right. ;)
In all seriousness though, since John doesn't believe in Catholicism, the idea of birth control being sinful is foreign to him. So though it'd still be a sin, it can't be a mortal one because he doesn't have the proper knowledge necessary for it to be a mortal, hell-inducing sin. Also, I cannot be held responsible for John's decision to use birth control (he's the one who uses it, not me). In as plain a way as possible, take this illustration:
Mike hits Jane.
Jane feels pain.
Mike sinned, but Jane did not.
When they die in a fiery explosion later that afternoon, Mike will be punished for his sin. Jane, being blameless (unless she's the one who caused the fiery explosion of doom), will not be judged.
Kinda straightforward, right?
You don't care about Vince 'cause if you did, you'd fight...
Oh yeah - 'cause that makes any sense.
So I apologize that this is a little more negative than my entries tend to be. But in light of recent developments, I thought it prudent to dispel these things from the gate. Blessings to all of you, and thank you for your continued prayers!
So this question came up both in my CCD class and in an open forum for adults last week.
I wasn't surprised to see it in my CCD class. They're sixth grades. However, I was surprised that it cropped up in the forum from a well-versed Catholic adult!
So I figured I'd share my answer here since it's a more prevalent question than I'd realized.
We technically have the Romans to thank for the title of "Good Friday."
See, back when the St. Paul started preaching the "good news" of Jesus Christ, there was another word you might be familiar with in constant use... "gospel."
Before us Christians usurped it as our own, the word "gospel" had a very specific connotation. Since Rome enjoyed conquering every community known to man, they were frequently in far-off places fighting a variety of different people. As a result, they needed fast couriers to let the various generals (and Caesar) know if they were winning or needed backup.
When these couriers skitted back to the capital with news of a victory, they called it the "euangelion" (which is actually the Greek word for evangelization or "bringing good news"). The good news was victory for the people. Oddly enough, it also referenced the official laws and privileges that these new Roman citizens could be assured of if they played nice and followed Roman authority. That, in turn, was the actual "gospel."
So apply this knowledge to what our Christian gospel actually is. St. Paul describes it best as the death and resurrection of Jesus. From the Throne of the Cross, Christ defeated the enemy and assured salvation for those who would accept His Authority. It makes perfect sense, then, why we would consider that first Good Friday to be "Good." It was the true trumpet of humanity's "gospel." That act secured for us victory in addition to the privileges that come with being a child of God.
As the years went on, this word was picked up and converted into "Godspel." It was a Germanic combination of "God / good" and "story / message." That's why most of us today understand the word to mean "Good News." Originally, however, it meant an entire group of people were welcomed into the fold with privileges and rewards so long as they agreed to abide by the authority of the one who conquered their territory.
In other words, Jesus came to earth, conquered it through His Passion, Death and Resurrection, and gained for us the inheritance of eternal life so long as we submit to His Will (which is nothing more than loving one another as He, Himself, has loved).
So yes, I've obviously been in quite the doom and gloom mood as of late.
The issues surrounding the Philadelphia Archdiocese hit home in a big way last week. I was asked to attend a meeting that was to finalize plans for a school farewell. The pastor had asked me to explain a memento book I'd been pushing for since 6 days after the closings were announced. To say the least, I was beyond floored by how unprepared and disorganized everything was.
While trying to get a handle on the situation (I was trying to figure out how to work the tiny number of volunteers we had for the number of stations we needed coverage for), the principal (a sweet, wonderful woman who is doing the best she can in a situation in which everything is stacked solidly against her) misunderstood my attempt to figure out man-power as an attack on her dedication.
Poor Sister. I honestly feel awful for her and all the other people both in our and other schools who are struggling with the same reality. Alumni are knocking down the doors for some sort of open house / farewell, but no one wants to actually take the time to properly plan things out. On top of that, current families and students tend to get shuffled aside.
It's just a sad, disheartening situation all around.
And then in Jersey, in my own parish, there's been an atmosphere of bubbling anger and indignation still seething from the mergers over the last few years. With the last several meetings we've had, I feel like I'm watching our wonderful pastor struggle harder and harder against the overwhelming tide of criticism and ineptitude overflowing from his own superiors (who, in turn, are probably struggling with much of the same). In our last meeting, I couldn't get the image of Atlas struggling to hold up the weight of the world on his shoulders out of my head. Instead of Atlas, though, it's our poor pastor. Eeps!
So yeah... I've been a miserable little bum. Everything was really getting to me because I felt like I couldn't do anything to make any of it better.
Until I remembered the following quote from St. Francis de Sales:
Every Christian needs a half-hour of prayer each day, except when he is busy, then he needs an hour.
Ha! This quote is wonderful because it reminds us that no matter how busy we are, no matter how stressed or over-burdened we think we are, God never gives us more than we can handle. All we need to do is rely on Him through prayer, and all the craziness takes care of itself.
So I spent some time in Adoration. I normally don't go during lunch because I feel like I can't give Jesus the proper time He deserves. That, I've realized, is an excuse. Any time with Jesus is time well-spent, so I took my spare ten minutes and found myself in the adoration chapel.
I was absolutely miserable, so I wasn't really expecting much to come of it. I then said to myself, "So what if nothing comes of it? Adoration isn't supposed to be for us. It's supposed to be a gift to Jesus. So stop your whining and be grateful for the fact that He allows you to spend time with Him at all."
(I really do have these sorts of conversations with myself... don't judge me! Ha ha!)
So I went. I didn't even bother with the veil. I just went in to the lonely little chapel room and said "Hi" to Jesus. I didn't recite any fancy prayers, and I didn't even turn on the lights. I just knelt before the monstrance and said, "Hi Jesus. I love You. Help me to love You better."
I didn't know what else to say. I really didn't. I was sheepishly grinning at Jesus, because I knew He was enclosed in the monstrance and was probably hoping for something a little more profound than "Hi Jesus" over and over again.
But I quickly realized that wasn't true. Jesus was just glad I was there with Him... that I came to Him when I realized the flood of emotion was too much. Like any good friend, He was waiting patiently (no... EXPECTANTLY) for me to ask for help. As I acknowledged the truth of that, an immediately wave of relief came over me. I felt happiness and love. I actually put my arms out a bit because I knew in that moment, Jesus was hugging me. I don't care how much of a crazy person that makes me. Jesus was hugging me, and darn it - I was gonna hug Him back!
After that, I spent the last couple minutes just "hanging out" with Jesus. I repeated my prayer of "I love You, help me to love You better" a few more times, and then thanked Him for the opportunity to come see Him.
I left with the dopiest grin on my face. I had gone over my Best Friend's house in the middle of the day and snuck in a few minutes of chit-chat. It really made all the difference in the world.
I then took the advice of a dear priest friend who suggested that lunch / dinner might be a good option to cheer up our pastor. Armed with his suggestion, I began making plans to surprise him (Fr. Atlas - I'm totally going to call him that from now on) with a luncheon. After all, Mark Twain said it best: The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up.
Hopefully this will provide a morale-boost to Fr. Atlas in addition to those of us who are able to attend. I sincerely hope we draw a good sized crowd for him. He deserves to know he's appreciated and supported by his community. He's done so much for us, and it's be nice to acknowledge him for his love to remind me that even though he's facing a deluge of criticism, he has a deluge of appreciation to balance it out.
So yeah... Adoration, even for a few minutes, really can make a difference!
I don't believe that the end of the world is going to be this crazy Armageddon of fire balls, alien invasions or even zombies (jury's still out on sentient robot armies - ha).
Nope. I believe it's going to be something much more innocuous, and I also believe we're seeing the creepings of it in the push for politics like this.
Being a Catholic, I believe that there will be a time in which Christ comes back to judge the living and the dead. It's right there in our Creed. It's right there in our Bible. Jesus promised to return in glory at the end of the ages in order to usher in an era of peace in which He reigns as King.
However, He won't be back until the Church is thoroughly decimated by a necessary cleansing (and I do mean decimated - read the definition here). Oddly enough, we seem to be entering into the beginnings of some sudsy action right now!
Times are not only changing... they're coming to a head. For as much of a crazy woman as this will make me sound, I am convinced we are living on the cusp of these "end times."
We've seen a complete betrayal of faith (both in the Catholic community and elsewhere). Religion has become something to be ashamed of. The name of Christ is only uttered by those too "unenlightened" to know any better. Morality has been skewed so beyond recognition that we accept the murder of innocence as "choice." We've already begun our trip down the proverbial "slippery slope" and evil is already working at desensitizing us to its perversion.
There are those within our own ranks that are calling for the abolition of firmly held dogma. These wolves in sheep's clothing are, in my opinion, the work of evil attempting to tear us down from within . It will be from them that the trumpets of Armageddon will sound, and yes... I have no doubt that even the chair of St. Peter will be corrupted. One day in the not-too-distant future (yes, maybe even in my lifetime), a pope will be "elected" who will make it his nefarious goal to destroy the Church.
I pray for Pope Benedict, because I wonder where we'll be after his pontificate ends. Will we luck out with another strong and brave leader that is willing to stand in staunch defense of our faith? I fear not, and I fear the day that the teachings of our previous popes go ignored. I honestly dread the day in which homosexual marriages are taught as a natural right of equality... when abortion is accepted as a social justice... when women are "ordained" as Catholic priests. All done, of course, under the guise of "charitable acceptance."
I have no doubt that these things are to come, and as they do, those true Catholics who can still discern the work of satan will be persecuted beyond endurance. We'll understand that the sacraments are being slowly siphoned away from us (after all, women priests are not priests at all, thus consecration providing us with the Eucharist is impossible... confession... confirmation... all our greatest avenues of grace will be denied!).
I've been saying for the last two years that our beloved Church is headed for a schism. With all the dissent, misinformation, and bad catechesis running rampant within our ranks, the only true way we'll purify ourselves is through an ugly split. Folks who don't truly understand / believe what the Catholic Church has taught for the past 2,000 plus years can move on and create yet another protestant denomination that thinks they've got it all figured out.
The remnant Church (fragmented though she may be) will have successfully been purged of all those who are seeking her destruction. Then, and only then, can we expect Christ. No one knows the day or hour, but we can be assured that our Church must endure the aforementioned chastisement for allowing the follies of her members to spread with such alarming apathy.
It is only through this chastisement that we can really prepare ourselves for the Second Coming.
I realize all of this makes me sound like a crazy person... maybe even as crazy as Harold Camping's rapture predictions.
However, I'm not suggesting anything outside the Bible. I'm simply following our current path to its logical end. More and more we can see religions being persecuted (specifically Christians), and more and more of our own religious are turning away from dogma (Fr. Z just compiled a great list of the sisters that served as catalyst for the Vatican "crackdown").
This is not a matter of the Church "finally changing with the times." Dogma CANNOT "change." It's what makes our faith so steadfast, reliable and holy. When folks start tinkering with the divine, there will be consequences... and we're feeling those consequences with a lack of vocations, a lack of reverence, and a lack of dignity in the public sphere.
May God have mercy on us.
I just got the most touching message ever. It was from a reader (who will remain anonymous per his request). I'm reposting with his permission, though. I'm hoping he'll be kind enough to guest post a more in-depth entry, but at the very least, maybe he'll be kind enough to stick around and answer commentary that gets left behind.
I have to admit being incredibly surprised when I got this entry. It's from a family member that I didn't think even knew my blog existed. Also, I'd never - EVER - heard him tell this story before. It honestly made me wonder how many other people close to me have been / are grappling with this pain.
His message is below. I edited it a bit so others who don't know him can follow the story better. I also removed names and identifying information so he could keep his identity private.
I'd also like to take this time to thank him again for sharing this, and for allowing me to share it with all of you. THANK YOU! You've moved me beyond words.
I read your most recent article last night. You have a great way of explaining the unexplainable and that's a nifty gift.
I feel compelled to write now because of your last article. It might seem strange to you because I am a man, father and grandfather.
Long ago in the days of walking to school uphill both ways in bare feet, I got my lady friend pregnant. We were young. Against my wishes, she chose to abort our child with a homemade concoction she learned from her mother. I pleaded with her not to do it and I did everything to keep her from drinking that sludge, but I failed and my baby never made it into this world breathing.
I'm married with two grown children now, three grandchildren and one on the way. Not a day goes by that I don't think of my angel baby. I failed her. I know she's with God, but she should have had a chance to be with me first. Her younger brothers (my two boys) never got to meet her. I believe she's been their guardian angel all these years. I wish they got a chance to play and grow together.
I can't help wondering if I missed my chance to walk her down the aisle. She would've been married by now and probably would have given me a few grandbabies. I'll never know them, my other kids will never know them, the other grandkids won't know them. An entire world has been closed off to us because of her mother's choice - and I had no say.
Men can feel this loss too. I feel it every day and I battle jealousy like you. My friends have all had their daddy's little girl. When my boys were in high school, I never got to participate in the father-daughter dances that others did. That was real hard on me because I believe my angel baby was my baby girl. And that Butterfly Kisses song they play at weddings is like a bayonet to my guts. I'm an old man and I cry every time I hear it.
I'll keep John in my prayers. You and Vincent, too. It is a very heavy load to carry around. Like you said it doesn't heal. But thank you for expressing what I never have. For men, this isn't a conversation you can have. Your outlet has become my outlet. I hope you continue to be blessed and I hope you continue to write out your thoughts like this. They are insightful and moving. I'm streaming tears with you.
My wife says to tell you she appreciates your comments. I had her read your article and she understands better how much I hurt sometimes. Almost want to send it to my kids, too.
Shhh - I've got a secret to share...
This is a post I've attempted to start dozens of times. I'm half wondering what's going to happen to this one.
Will this be the one that gets published? Or will this one, too, be drowned out by tears, frustration, anger or sadness?
Guess the only way to find out is to keep typing.
My earliest memories revolve around my two younger siblings (both sisters) whom I always tried to "mother hen." I'd initiate games, I'd always be the "teacher" during pretend play, and I'd be the one that would organize and direct whatever mischief we'd get ourselves into.
However, I never liked dolls. That was my sister's thing. Maria was the quintessential "mother." She'd run around carrying her dolls everywhere, being sure to feed, diaper and burp them. I was much more interested in real babies. Plastic recreations simply made me feel cheated. I wanted real children to play with!
Like this in hot pink molded plastic!
I remember one Christmas, "Santa" brought me a swing for dolls. Santa, mind you, was our neighbor, Stan, who would dress up and bring us gifts on a random night leading up to Christmas - we all looked forward to that special visit every year. Anyway, the year he gave me the doll swing, I knew a mistake had been made. "Santa," I said, "I think this is Maria's gift."
Truth be told, Maria's eyes were glistening with jealousy. She hadn't opened her present yet, but boy did she want mine! It was pink and white and perfect for any doll lucky enough to find itself seated there.
Santa replied that he was certain the swing was mine because he picked it out especially for me. He knew I'd need it for the gift Maria was getting. Turns out she was given a Baby Alive type doll - moving parts, eyes that opened and closed, and she even giggled after sipping her bottle. Maria was absolutely in her glories, and she immediately went to town cooing over the new "baby doll" she was given charge over. I took its spoon and tried to figure out how the disappearing peas worked.
That night, feeling completely gypped, I went to bed angry with Santa for not knowing that I thought baby dolls were stupid. What he said about me needing it for Maria irritated me even more, because my Christmas present should've been for ME, not for Maria.
Obviously I was a selfish little brat at 5 years old. *Sheepish grin*
Anyway, I'd love to say that I immediately learned my lesson but I didn't. It took me a few days of sulking before I understood that "Santa" had wanted to foster sharing between my sister and I. Shannon, at this point, was still too young to really play with Maria and I (though I remember trying to get her into the doll swing at one point). I also tried to get our cat, Sparky, in there, but he refused to have any parts of it.
Finally, Maria said to me that her dolly wanted to take a ride in my swing. I knew her dolly didn't want to do anything of the sort. Dolls don't have emotions or desires. Maria just wanted to use my swing. Stupid doll. No, no she can't use my swing. It's my swing, and even though I think it's a stupid present, she can't use it because it's mine.
Maria (being extremely sensitive at this point in time), crinkled her face at me and said I was being really mean. I should be nicer to the baby doll because her feelings were hurt now that I was being so mean.
Just like I knew Maria was expressing her own desire to use the swing through the doll, I understood then that she was also letting me know she was hurt because I was being mean to her.
Fully reproached, I handed over my swing to let her play to her heart's content. I was the big sister... it was my job to be nice to Maria, even if I thought what she wanted to do was stupid. I realized, too, that letting her play with the swing made me feel like a mom. I spent a while with her, just helping her play, wondering if that's what our mother felt like when she sat down to play a game with me.
I was proud of myself because I knew what I was doing was right. I was acting like a real mom - something I'd always, always wanted to be - even from an early age.
Anyway, fast forward through the years. I began keeping a diary. The diary wasn't just a collection of angst-y whining that is typical of a tween (but boy is there a lot of that in there!). It was a history lesson meant to show my future children that I was once exactly like them.
My entries always called out my future progeny. I'd write letters to them, or when I'd describe the mischief I'd get into, I'd say "So don't think Mommy doesn't know what kind of games you're playing when you just say you're going out with friends! I know better!"
Really. I did this from my very first diary entry (I still have them all) and continue right up until present day. All throughout my pregnancy with Vincent I'd write him little love notes telling him about all the excitement his very existence brought. I'd mention his future brothers and sisters, telling them that I couldn't wait to feel the same excitement for them, just so they didn't feel left out at all the talk about Vincent.
I always imagined my kids finding my set of diaries in a forgotten box in the attic. They'd laugh at the same entries that now make me cringe, they'd be surprised by some of my antics, and they'd learn something from my more vulnerable moments. It was always my hope that these diaries would give them a window into who Mommy is outside of just "Mommy." I always wanted my kids to understand that I'm a person with emotions that rival their own... that Mommy DOES understand the hurt of lost friendships, the joy of new romance, and the thrill of independence.
You see, in my mind, these children already exist. They always have. I've been longing for them from my earliest memories. I've thought of them, planned for them, and made many decisions based on what their future perception of me would be (hence my lack of tattoos even though I've always really, really wanted one). I've just been waiting for them to finally arrive so I could meet them.
That's what makes this entry so incredibly difficult for me.
I am the mother of children I'll never meet.
I am not infertile. John is not infertile. Neither of us are sterilized, and there isn't even an age issue considering we're both young enough to not have the fear that accompanies the pregnancies of older mothers.
Why, then, am I lamenting the fact that I will never have the family I'd always envisioned?
Here is my secret...
My husband does not want any more children and defends his desire to use birth control to ensure I remain barren.
This is typically the moment I delete the entry and lock myself in a bathroom. The thought of other people knowing that this is my reality is incredibly scary. To even admit that this is my reality is tantamount to me "giving up" on my kids - the ones who always have (and always will) exist in my heart, just waiting to be given a body to hug me with.
Ugh - each passing sentence has me feeling like I'm walking through thicker and thicker mud. I keep stopping mid-sentence, unsure if I can continue, half-wanting to retreat and find that aforementioned bathroom.
However, I won't stop this time. The pain of secrecy is almost as much to bear as the pain of vulnerability now. The last couple weeks have been particularly thorny for me, which I think is why I'm now feeling the overwhelming "urge to purge" through writing.
Several friends recently had children (with about a dozen more expecting). I'm both ridiculously happy for these friends and admittedly jealous. I am truly thrilled for the new life they're bringing forth because they all deserve the happiness that these children will undoubtedly bring, but I also have a twinge of jealousy that I don't get to experience growing my family as well.
Every time I hold their newborns or see the pictures on Facebook, my heart both grows with joy and falls apart with grief. I don't say anything to anyone about this, because God forbid anyone feel guilty about sharing their joy with the world. I would never want that. I really do enjoy sharing in their joy, and I am content to keep my grief my own. I really am.
However, the questions are getting to be too much, the insinuations too hurtful, and the comments too overwhelming.
Over Christmas, we spent time with a family that just had a newborn. Of course, I was more than happy to hold her to give her mom a break. Several comments were made by my family that I looked good with a baby girl (or maybe I'd be next, etc). I both appreciated the comments and just about died from how overwhelmed with grief I felt. More than anything I'd like to add a few more names to the family tree, but I knew what they didn't. Their longing for grandchildren / cousins / nieces / nephews pales in comparison to mine. Couple it with the fact that I needed to keep that tid-bit to myself only made it worse. I was walking around choking back tears knowing that I couldn't provide what we all wanted.
Over Easter, we spent time with this same family. The new mom asked when John and I would be having another. Thank God for sunglasses, because tears immediately sprang to my eyes. Having been bombarded for weeks with babies and pregnancy reveals, I was barely able to conceal the pain as I murmured, "Hopefully one day. Still haven't quite convinced John the timing's right."
I then looked up at the ride my niece was on and made some sort of comment about her making an adorable face. I couldn't actually see Alliya's face, but it immediately brought the conversation to a halt as the mom tried to search her out among the crowd.
My beautiful Alliya!
Later that afternoon, my niece saw me with the baby again. As she and Vincent were dancing around the living room, she said,
"Aunt Gina, do you want another baby?"
I smiled at her and said, "Alliya, I'd like 100 more babies."
She laughed (as did my mother-in-law) and replied, "Why did you have Vincent?"
I said, "Because I loved him so very much."
My mother-in-law was trying to answer her as well, but Alliya was pretty intent on my response. She's a smart one! She didn't accept my answer as good enough, so she pressed me further with:
"Then why don't you have more?"
Her innocent question was more loaded than she realized, and I fault her none for the immediate torrent of grief that coursed through me. I pulled the newborn against me and kissed her head, once again taken hostage by my pained knowledge that the baby I held wasn't mine and likely never would be.
I soon handed the baby back to her mother so I could recollect myself in private. I could see John sitting on the porch talking to the men and it made me slightly irritated that he never got these kinds of questions. These were conversations for women, not men. Besides, even if someone did ask him about children, he'd nonchalantly express his contentment with Vincent (which is fine).
Then this weekend, we spent some time with my best friend's family. She and her brothers have exactly the kind of relationship I always knew my kids would have with one another. Watching Mary and her siblings play ball in the yard together was both wonderful and painful. When I think of the children I'll never have, I can't help but feel like I'm cheating Vincent out of his siblings. I mean, I even asked John about that - he and his siblings have a good relationship. Didn't he think that Vincent deserved the same?
And then I worry about when we get older - will Vince be forced to care for us by himself? Will he have no support system with which to rely when John and I die? It's one thing to share this sorta pain with your friends - it's entirely different to share it with those who know EXACTLY the loss you feel. Who but a sibling can share that sort of grief with you?
And then what if Vincent does grow up and decide to become a priest (I can only pray - ha!). In addition to me not having children, I would then also be denied grandchildren. These things are painful to me alone. John doesn't really desire these things, so there isn't any loss for him in that regard. And that's fair. I can't (and wouldn't) force him into caring for something that is a non-issue. He can't be faulted for his feelings on this subject. Considering how bombarded we are anymore regarding children being nothing more than a hinderance to personal gratification and success, I really am unsurprised.
He was afraid I'd resent him for his feelings, but I can't. I understand his feelings and they are valid. So please don't attack him for that which he has no real control over. His feelings are just as strong (and valid) as mine.
Hiding this flood of emotion has become extremely taxing. I don't like to bombard John with it, and I certainly never want to "out" him to his family (because no doubt there would be some head-wagging from certain corners). I also never want to make others feel bad for sharing their joy - or even making comments that imply the children I'd bear are wanted.
But the pain is there. It is palpable, and I honestly think this must be what couples struggling with infertility face. It has made me much more sensitive to my own comments regarding children and time-frames that revolve around them. After all, I'm kind of dealing with a forced sterility.
No, that's not fair. It's not forced. It took me a while, but I've recently come to understand that this is something I have willingly accepted for the benefit of my husband.
Lady and the Atheist
For a while, he was worried I'd grow to resent him for his unwillingness to grow our family. He'd avoid the topic like the Plague, afraid that if he was honest about his desire to remain a one-child family, I'd divorce him for someone who would give me what I wanted.
In fact, he suggested I do that, himself, during one of the many heated debates we had about this.
He was also concerned I'd attempt to force a pregnancy. God only knows how he thought I'd do that. I explained I'd never force a child into a situation in which he or she might end up resented. For as much as I want these children, I'd never want to raise them in an environment in which they weren't given the unconditional love due to them.
Besides, I didn't marry John because he'd be my baby-factory. I married John because I love him and saw a future with him. We did have discussions on children before marriage, and I've always envisioned a large family. His vision changed along the way (hence the situation I now find myself in). Regardless, I vowed to stick it out with him. I didn't vow to stick it out with him so long as he conformed to my desires for a large family.
Now two of my friends who are aware of the situation have pointed out that John, himself, vowed to be open to life. That opens the door to an easy annulment so I could drop him and move on.
While I understood they were attempting to help me "out" of my situation, they didn't understand that I didn't accept divorce (or even annulment) as an answer. Even though I technically have every right to dissolve the marriage because of his refusal to accept this particular vow, I would never do such a thing. It's non-sensical.
Well, for starters, I know without a doubt in my mind that John was meant to be my husband. When I prayed to Our Lady for a good man who would be an incredible father, the response was John. He is a good man and an incredible father. His ideas on the size of our family may have fluctuated, but his integrity as a person never has. Also his ability to provide a life for Vincent and I can never be called into question. I have more in John than most women could find in 100. For that, I am eternally grateful.
Besides, if you think about it, marriage is a covenant. It's a promise between two people to uphold certain things, right? Well, how many covenants did God make with the Israelites? Plenty - each one of them broken by humanity. However, God never reneged on His end of the deal, right?
Maybe this is the cross Christ is asking me to bear. Thus, I offer this to Him for whatever it is that He needs it for. I admit that I really, REALLY struggle under the weight of it at times. These last few weeks have been the toughest by far. But I believe that He never gives us something so heavy that His Grace can't prop us up enough to handle it.
In accepting this, I think I really came to understand what I've always said about Christ's love. When I explained to John the sacrifice I was willingly making for him (and thus, for our marriage), he responded with, "I don't deserve so much sacrifice. It's too much."
I heard myself in his voice. I really did. We were having this heart-to-heart in bed when he said that, and I can honestly say I immediately pictured myself at the foot of the Cross saying the same thing to Jesus.
The point of sacrifice is NOT that the person you're sacrificing for deserves it. A real sacrifice is a gift of love, given freely because you WANT to give it without any expectation for repayment. That quote I found a few months ago was right:
Love transforms suffering into sacrifice.
It is LOVE that enables me to make this sacrifice without contempt, without resentment, and without anger.
That doesn't mean I won't feel intense emotional pain. Love just gives me the strength to survive it... to endure it willingly for the benefit of both John and Christ.
That knowledge is the only thing that gives me solace. I understand this is a wound that won't heal... and maybe it's not meant to. Maybe it needs to stay fresh with each innocent comment, each new pregnancy, and each new experience I have seeing siblings tottering around the park together while Vince unsuccessfully tries to butt in and play, too.
My ways are not His ways, and maybe He's got something in store for me up ahead.
Just keep me and my family in your prayers. As I said, this has been an incredibly difficult few weeks (on an emotional level), and I'm hoping this entry lets off some of the steam that's been suffocating me.
Also, for those of you still with me ('cause wow... this really got long), I appreciate the time you spent. Blessings to you and yours.
***PS - I've written a rebuttal to several of the more Negative Nancys who have written in to lament the many shameful things I've said. That can be found here.***
***PPS - I've now had to swap commentary to "Approve First" due to the overwhelming number of respondents who have declared themselves Christ by judging my husband and I guilty of mortal sin. So feel free to comment, but know that if you overstep your bounds, I'm very friendly with the delete button.***
Geez, I'm on a roll today.
Just stumbled across this article summarizing one man's journey through a whirlwind taste-test of 12 different faiths.
He and his wife suffered the trauma of miscarriage. Wife, Heather, finds solace in the Baptist Christianity and husband, Andrew, spends a few years hating the idea of a god who could so cruelly take away the miracle of life they'd participated in creating.
When Andrew finally hits a wall where his hatred threatens to destroy him, he develops the idea for what he calls Project Conversion (complete with its own Facebook page). He took it upon himself to follow 12 different faiths for 12 months, spending half the month learning and half the month practicing these new faiths.
In theory, this is a fairly decent idea. He was reaching out to God in the only way he knew how - to sample the various faiths and see which one fit him the best. I know a lot of hard-line Catholics will razz me for that (considering that faith should not conform to you, but you to the Truth), but I think it's very important for someone with no real religious background to do a bit of digging. It's important for cradle Catholics (or cradle Buddhists, Muslims, etc) to broaden their perspectives, too.
I'm not advocating trying to practice other religions, mind you. I'm suggesting learning about these different theologies and cultures because, as Andrew Bowen found out, there truly is something to be gained from each.
I've always believed the idea of God to be similar to a mountain. God is at the top of the mountain, and our journey to Him can take us through many paths. Some may find their way to Him through Islam. Others may find their way to Him through non-denominational Christianity. Others, still, might find their way to Him by virtue of their defense of all that is good in the world. I believe Catholicism offers the straightest path to God, but I don't discount the virtues in other faiths.
I think that's what this guy was trying to get at as he made his way through the cycle of religions.
However, I wish the author of the article pointed out that it is impossible to even skim the surface of these religions - many (though not all) of which date back thousands of years.
I also take the statement "But this was no reality TV stunt" with a grain of salt. Considering the pictures that accompanied the article, it was obvious that from the start he was looking to do something with this "Project Conversion." Also, you don't start calling something a "Project" unless you've got an idea in mind of what you plan to accomplish. Ha ha ha.
But that's fine. He's now looking to write a book about his experiences, and more power to him if he cashes in. It's a great idea that could very well have a very positive impact!
However, I still wish that you can't "immerse" yourself in any religion within the confines of one month. There simply isn't enough time, and no mentor (no matter how brilliant) could possibly cover the nuances of the various faith sets.
Regardless, it's an interesting experiment, and I'm curious to see where it will lead. Thought you folks might be interested, too! :)
K, so this post springs out of a comment that gave me a belly laugh from a reader, Sandra. She gave me permission to repost, so I'm taking full advantage.
While commenting on this recent entry, she said:
The mantilla is too old-fashioned and the snoods make me feel like an amish woman.
Ha ha ha ha! I am so glad that I wasn't drinking coffee or something when I read that, because I no doubt would've scalded myself snarfing.
Anyway, I own two beautiful mantillas (both from Veils by Lily). I don't have any snoods because the first time I attempted to wear one, I came out a jumbled mess. Plus, the style just isn't for me. My neck is way too giraffe-like to not have some sort of hair to balance me out.
I use what I call "chapel veils." Now I realize that mantillas and snoods are chapel veils, too, but I dunno if the particular style I utilize has a name all its own. Thus, when I refer to "chapel veil" go ahead and picture something like this:
This type of veil is very plain (I think made of chiffon?) and what I guess would be considered mid-length. I dunno - it's like 15 inches and ties in the back (which is extremely helpful considering Vincent is dedicated to toying with my veils at every Mass). It keeps my hair covered and out of my face, but it doesn't completely hide the fact that I have hair, usually making me look like this from the front:
You can't really tell, but the above black veil is actually lace and not chiffon and it follows the same pattern (15 inches with a tie) that the white one does. It's not too long and it's not too short. It stays in place without pins or combs, and being very basic colors, they go with pretty much everything. They don't stand out as anything special.
Being a very basic sorta person, these veils are right up my alley.
For as much as I love the mantilla style (and I do!), I feel like they don't fit me... almost like they're too pretty or something. I feel like others view me as "holier-than-thou" when I'm wearing them, and I'd much rather focus on the Mass than my self-consciousness on Sundays, so I typically leave the mantillas at home (except for special occasions because I can't help but want to wear those gorgeous veils at least once in a while!).
Sandra's comment on the snoods, however, really made me giggle because I understand what she means. For any of you lovely women who prefer snoods, please don't take offense. I mean none, and I doubt very much that Sandra meant any. As I said, the style just isn't for me, much in the same way as the mantilla (which really bugs me because I REALLY like some of the designs for both snoods and mantillas).
When I modeled the snood for John, he grimaced and said something similar to Sandra. The mantilla he kinda just rolled his eyes at, saying he preferred the "regular chapel veil" if I "had to wear something" because it was much more subtle. He felt the mantilla was way too in-your-face, I guess. Ha ha.
His reactions to the mantilla and snood are probably why I stick to the simple "regular" chapel veils. I guess if he had that reaction, others would as well, so I tend to play it more on the safe side.
Garlands of Grace was my go-to shop. Unfortunately, it looks like that can no longer be the case. Luckily, these veils will probably last me through another summer, but I should really start looking into new ones.
Michelle over at Liturgical Time has some really pretty ones (I think I actually salivated over this one). Cam from A Snood for all Seasons also thinks she can wrangle up a custom order (which is awesome!). So luckily, all is not lost for Sandra and I. Ha ha.
So if any of you other ladies are feeling a bit bummed that GoG is no longer an option, we've got plenty of talented Catholics who are able to help us along with our desire to veil. Yay for that!
Father Z (WDTPRS) brought to my attention to a recent statement by the US Bishops regarding the importance of Catholic bloggers and the role we play in the current "struggle for religious liberty." As Father Z highlights, they specifically request us to join them in the front lines.
That's an incredibly welcome sign, in my opinion, sing it trumpets that our Church is mobilizing in a big way. I think folks are finally waking up to the battle we are on the cusp of, and our bishops are rightly calling on us to ready ourselves for it.
There is so much disinformation regarding faith, theology and politics that it's important to have trusted, well-reasoned folks fighting back with with the truth. That's where bloggers come in.
For many of us, we hopped on-line to utilize the blogosphere for a variety of reasons. Some of us needed a creative outlet, some of us wanted to share our secrets of parenthood. Some wanted a way to document their struggles with infertility or adoption, and others wanted to find a soapbox with which to decry the evils of Mets fans (I kid, I kid). Still others were looking for feedback on recipes and more realized they could network with other like-minded individuals who agreed that needlepoint is cooler than crocheting.
Point is, all of us came here for different reasons, but in the end, we all share information with one another. We all write and most (if not all) read the content of others. Information travels ridiculously fast through Catholic circles, and much of the credit is due to Catholic bloggers.
I can't even tell you how many times I've come across gems from folks like Father Z, Cam over at A Woman's Place, or Devin over at St. Joseph's Vanguard. The Deacon's Bench is like a revolving door of news, and places like Spirit Daily summarize all sorts of interesting tid-bits.
This is all highly important work (though it may not seem like it at first glance). Education is key to winning this battle because we need to be fully aware of the situation at hand. Being kept abreast of the various bills floating around, the sentiments being publicized by our politicians, and the calls to action being made by our Church leaders all need to be in the forefront of our mind.
Bloggers from all over the world are able to give very unique insights to these issues. They're also able to alert others to what's going on in different parts of the country / world - things that very rarely make the highly secular news networks.
However, our call to blog (as Catholics) should be tempered by the teachings of the Church, and a summit / council / whatever would be a great way to not only give a voice, but guidance, to those of us who want to answer the call. So consider this my vote of support for Father Z's petition. Please spread the word to other bloggers! Write to your bishops and see if we can't get others involved.
Or, you can do what Diane over at Te Deum Laudamus did (which I find to be absolutely hilarious): Start a Rumor! Ha ha!
Today is the Feast of Divine Mercy. Not one mention of it was made in my parish. :(
The deacon gave a nice little homily that referenced the book Heaven is for Real, but nothing about Divine Mercy Sunday!
Nothing about St. Faustina and the incredible promises made by Christ to those who venerated and adored His Gift of Mercy on the Sunday after Easter!
I hope others of you had better luck than I.
However, I was still able to celebrate Christ's Mercy on my own. I participated in the worldwide novena, got myself to a confessional, and participated in the Eucharist (though I dunno if I'd go so far as to say it was a "good reception" considering I was wrangling Vincent at the time).
Anyway, I'm going to ask our pastor if we've got an image of the Divine Mercy for the parish. If not, I believe I've got a good fundraising goal for the Evangelization council. Ha!
For those of you unfamiliar with Divine Mercy, I suggest starting here. This is a relatively new Feast (but not so new that my parish wouldn't have mentioned it!). Anyway, Jesus promises a total absolution of sin and the punishments due to Divine Justice for those who observe this feast through confession and reception of the Eucharist. Considering it the plenary indulgence to end all others. Heh.
Seriously - powerful stuff and desperately needed in this day and age.
The picture itself is of Christ, His Hand raised in blessing as His Sacred Heart pours forth the Blood and water that gushed forth as His Body hung upon the Cross. When the Roman centurion lanced Him, that Blood and Water were the last blessings He imparted to us, offering every last drop of Himself for our salvation. Through His Feast of Divine Mercy, He beckons us to run to Him and steep ourselves in His Mercy. No sin is too great for His Mercy. No sin too dark that it can't be washed clean.
The gospel, of course, ties into this theme as Christ imparted Reconciliation to the Apostles. He "breathed on them" that they might receive the Holy Spirit and thus the authority to provide absolution of sins.
This reminds us of God's enduring Mercy. It is made available to us each time we humble ourselves before Him in the confessional. It is made available to us each time we accept Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. It is made available to us each time we seek forgiveness from one another - and we taste the healing power of this as we, in turn, forgive.
I sincerely hope other parishes took full advantage of this great Mercy.
And if you haven't already, might I suggest St. Faustina's Diary? I cannot even begin to describe how illuminating that was! Plus, you can read it online for free!
by Ron DiCianni (click for info)
I just read a heartbreaking story. I'll link it here with the warning that the image is painful to view. While the child is most certainly at peace, her little body enfolded in the burial shroud while her agonizing mother openly grieves her will sear your soul.
Jesus... have mercy on us.
Please offer your prayers for this woman and all families who are faced with this violence. There are still so many cultures throughout the world that do not value women... so many that cruelly neglect, hurt and murder innocent female children simply because of their sex.
Again, may God have mercy on us. We are victims of ourselves with no way of obtaining relief.
This is Divine Mercy weekend. If you're not already aware, please take the time to learn about the Promises of Divine Mercy Sunday. Make a good confession, and accept Christ in the Eucharist while praying for entry into His Compassionate Heart.
Join us in the Divine Mercy Novena.
Humanity - we truly need His Mercy. We are lost if not for His Grace.
Over on my buddy's blog, Philliedelphia, an interesting article began the thread you see below (through Facebook, though).
The idea of there being "much bigger things" to complain about is a valid one. Typically when folks (myself included) start whining about X, Y, or Z, there are at least a zillion other things more important that we could be sniveling about. That being said, I take issue with the "much bigger things" argument being used to allow moral decay (via lack of responsibility, accountability and common decency) to take root. Thus, I chose that moment to enter the thread.
*Sigh* (Sorry, Mar... I know you hate my sighs.)
Barring the fact that I could easily turn the argument around and say, "I, too, am a paying customer and I don't appreciate that garbage being spewed across loudspeakers to my children... I didn't realize it was perfectly OK for me to sacrifice MY enjoyment - and subsequently, my children's - so you could enjoy some anti-women screamo," and the ridiculous allusion to the idea that parents who refuse to be a party to this foolishness are simply "wasting... 'teachable' moment[s]," I responded incredulously with:
Notice how, for pointing out the lack of logic behind her argument, I'm the one immediately thrown under the bus. I actually did laugh out loud when I read that.
Anyway, instead of registering that I'm simply demanding accountability from the ballpark for the music they control in what they bill as a family-friendly venue, she attempts broadening the argument to include every person in the ballpark, as if I even remotely alluded to an obligation on their part to manipulate the crowd into being saintly.
This is a common tactic that folks use without even realizing it. This is what's known as blowing smoke in the face of real issues. If we alter the perception of an argument juuuuust slightly (in this case, making it appear that my beef is with society in general as opposed to the duty of the proprietors upholding their image as family-friendly), you can have an entirely different set of rules with which to attempt dismantling your opponent (since the real issue is no longer in focus). Lucky for me and all those communication classes I've taken, this is something I avoid like the plague.
Again, she's going for that whole blowing smoke in the face of the real issue. Now, instead of focusing on the problem of the ballpark failing to uphold its dedication to family-friendly entertainment, my words are warped into a personal attack, somehow devolving into calling her "dumb." Instead of this remaining a civil discourse that has nothing to do with how we feel about one another as individuals (and rather, our opinions of the corporate decisions of a ballpark), it become as "Yeah, well... whatever. You're just mean."
For the record, I very much like Beth on a personal level. The two of us went to school together, I'm a huge fan of her family, and she's proven herself to be very intelligent, witty and compassionate. This discussion doesn't call any of that into question. Somehow, she thinks it does.
Which leads me to the point of this post.
I honestly can't help but make the connection between this conversation and darn near every other one I've had regarding Catholicism, the HHS mandate, or even politics lately. It seems that folks immediately get threatened when you don't fall in line with their beliefs. Worse, they get REALLY snippy when you call them out on fallacious statements. Instead of accepting that the argument has nothing to do with personal feelings, any challenge to their ideology / opinion / belief becomes a personal attack against their integrity as human beings.
And yet I'm the one who somehow gets accused of being constantly offended or agitated by these conversations.
I seriously can't help but shake my head and laugh at that. Typically, while panties are in a bunch across the internet, I'm calmly typing out my thoughts, researching points, or asking for clarification on something. Now of course there are certain things that'll rattle me (like spiteful things said about the Blessed Mother or remaining obstinate in one's proven folly). There have been times where I've let my sharp tongue get the better of my charity. But truth be told, I very rarely get upset about discussions (even "heated" ones) because I view them as opportunities to learn, teach and share.
Folks think I'm attempting to convert or force my beliefs on others. That's never the case. I know better than to attempt converting someone through intellectual conversation. Ha ha. I simply can't accept half-assed logic. If you've got an argument for or against something (and it's something that piques my interest), I expect you to be intelligent enough to explain yourself properly. Many times, though, especially online, people aren't able to do that. They've got very superficial ideas about things (which they love to spout), but the second someone probes a bit, tempers flare and panties get all sorts of bunched.
As someone who has studied the psychology of communication, this is a particularly interesting thing for me. However, it's very concerning that this has become relatively normal, and I really believe this is due to the internet.
But I digress... (don't I always?)
The Garlands of Grace saga ended in much the same fashion (though a few of us are still plugging away).
I wonder what one can do to combat this sort of thing. I enjoy open discussions and having my ideas challenged (as it forces me to really understand my own conclusions better), but I don't enjoy the inevitable fallout that seems to happen so much anymore.
I just found a beautiful blog entry through Facebook. It's entitled "Your Children Want YOU!" and it handles the all too familiar subject of us moms unwittingly comparing ourselves to the outside images of motherhood that we see (whether through TV, movies, or social media).
Heck, Vincent is at that stage in his life where all he wants is Daddy.
I feel like every morning when I go into his room to get him ready for his day, he revolts against me, crying for Daddy. And woe to me if I attempt to hug him when Daddy is in the room. Woe to me if I attempt to play with him while Daddy is around. There really are times when I feel as though he doesn't love me - or that I'm not good enough for him to hang out with.
I realize it's just a phase, but it's impossible not to feel hurt at times. It's impossible not to question your own worth when you're bombarded with images of perfection from every angle.
Times like that I try to remember that even though Vince prefers Daddy during the day, I'm the one he wants at night. I'm the one he cries for when he wakes up at 2am, and I'm the one he snuggles against until it's time to start the day. I'm also the one he clings to when he's sick, or when we find ourselves in a new place. Remembering that while he's running me over to throw his arms around Daddy tends to help.
Anway, this entry was just the reminder I needed that though things aren't always as perfect as they seem elsewhere, they're perfect for me. As they say, there's no way to be a perfect mom, but there are a million ways to be a great one (even if your kid doesn't realize it for a couple decades).
Special thanks to my buddy Frank for cluing me into this gem today.
Father James Martin has apparently been the victim of an entertaining (and absurd) trend that, at some point in time, we've all been both victim and perpetrator of. Interestingly, this is a post specifically geared towards Catholics attacking other Catholics, because this really is a struggle many of us are familiar with (yet seldom do we talk about it).
Father Martin paints a picture of how foolish and nit-picky we can get regarding what is, in essence, nothing.
Read all about it here! Bust out the popcorn for this one... it really is entertaining.
A few thoughts...
I attended a funeral today for the grandmother of a high school friend (let's call this friend Linda). I was very grateful that Linda took the time to let me know, as she ensured I was able to make arrangements to attend the Mass.
Back in high school, we were privileged to visit with "Mom-mom" on occasion. We were typically good, respectful kids, but at her house, we weren't just treating her with respect because we were supposed to. We were genuinely attracted to her gentle, open and generous personality. She'd tell us wonderful stories of Linda and her sister from back when they were little - stories we almost couldn't picture them being a part of! The same with stories of their mother. Yet we believed them because of who was telling the tale.
Honestly, for as much time as I spent with Theresa's family, I think Linda's was the family that was central to our group. Everyone felt welcome, and we all looked forward to spending time there. Considering how similar the 3 generations are in their personalities, it's unsurprising. The apples didn't fall from the tree at all in this case. Ha ha. Linda (and her sister), her mother, and grandmother are all incredibly sweet, genuine people who strive to make others feel accepted and loved. They are thoughtful, generous and humorous. I'm sad that earth lost such a light, but I'm immensely happy to know that Heaven gained her.
Anyway, the priest gave a very educational homily. I say educational because he took great pains to explain the various Catholic symbols used during the funeral Mass. He also went into detail regarding the promise of Christ's Second Coming as well as what our faith teaches occurs at death.
Though I was already aware of everything he was talking about, it was really nice to see a priest going to such lengths to ensure the people understood the rituals of the Church, and how they always keep Christ as our central focus.
One woman behind me grumbled that he was rambling. I didn't mind - I was secretly making a mental note to suggest that whichever priest presided over my funeral do the same. It's important to remind people what our rites are all about, especially when funeral Masses are likely the only times many of these folks enter a church. Utilizing the homily as something both educational for the congregation and consoling for those grieving is what priests are called to do. More power to him! :)
The rest of the service was nice. I felt slightly bad for Father because he didn't have an altar server (for example, he ended up using the altar rail as a make-shift side table for the censor since no one was there to hold it for him). This parish still has its school, so I'm not sure why they didn't just pluck a student or two from class for an hour. I remember when I was in grade school, I'd jump at the chance to serve a funeral. Not only did I get out of class for an hour, I got a $5 tip as well.
I'm not proud of my motives, but I'm being honest. That's what they were as a 6th grader.
Anyway, after Mass we headed to what must be one of the largest and most gorgeous Catholic cemeteries I've ever seen. It made me happy to know that this beautiful woman would be laid to rest in such a beautiful, serene place.
Unfortunately, I had to leave for work immediately afterwards. I really would've liked to have caught up more with the family, but time constraints would not allow me.
Though this brings me to my other thought...
About three weeks ago, I wrote an entry entitled "Broken Friendships." I described the falling out between myself and a friend, and also described the emotional toll it still sometimes has on me.
I was pretty certain that Divine Providence had goaded me into settling down to finally write out my feelings on the matter. I know for a fact now that it was God's plan for me to confront those feelings.
This same friend showed up at the funeral today.
I had just gotten finished a Divine Mercy chaplet when I turned to figure out where the chilly breeze was coming from. No sooner had I turned around than I noticed he had walked in with his partner. He had obviously seen me, but was refusing to acknowledge it. I didn't mind. I went back to my prayers as he greeted the family.
I filed in behind them after Mass as the procession led out, but I didn't want to interrupt the silence with a greeting. I figured I'd see them at the cemetery and greet them then. As I said earlier, though, I didn't really get the chance as I had to get back to work. Linda's mom, being as impossibly thoughtful as she is, had actually brought Vincent his Christmas gift since we hadn't been able to see her over the holiday.
Can you believe that? In her grief, she was off thinking about someone else. I was both touched and unsurprised. When I say that these women are a rare breed, I'm not kidding. I've never met anyone quite like them, and I doubt I ever will again. The world is a better place simply by their existence in it.
Anyway, by the time I'd gone off with Linda's mother to collect Vince's gift, my friend and his partner made their way over to Linda and her sister. I considered going back down to say a proper "hello" but I didn't think it prudent. Today was not a day for confrontations, and considering his response to my presence from the moment he entered the church, I figured that's what it would end up being for him, especially due to the emotional circumstances of a funeral.
On the way back to Jersey, I realized that it was a good thing I had written that entry 3 weeks ago. Though I didn't speak to him, I didn't have any negative emotions towards him, either. There was a bit of an issue that will remain unspoken that caused me grief, but barring that, I was content in my indifference.
I feel as though I would've been irritated or upset had I been so openly ignored previously. I realize, though, that he's got to deal with things on his own terms, same as me. Avoidance may very well be his security blanket at this point, and I'm content to give it to him if that's what he thinks he needs. When and if he's ever ready to approach our fragmented past, I am confident I'll be able to respond with a clear mind and a level heart.
So yeah... I'm definitely glad that God shoved me into writing that entry down. It forced me to confront my feelings and solidify my understanding of what transpired, because He no doubt knew I'd be seeing him today. With that foundation, I was able to give myself the closure necessary to put this entirely behind me. Maybe one day he'll be able to do the same.
I sometimes go home for lunch and today I lucked upon some leftover Indian food John had shared with Faith. That meant I also got to see Faith for all of two seconds before she ran off to complete some errands. Yay on both counts.
However, after I finished lunch and started the 2 minutes drive back to work, I saw a couple of kids on the side of the road, one hunched over the other one. I slowed down to make sure they were okay when I realized I recognized one of the kids as a student in my CCD class.
I stopped the car and rolled down my window, calling his name and asking if everything was alright. Apparently his buddy took a turn too harshly, and since there isn't any pavement over that area (it's a grassy mess), his bike must've come out from under him and he went careening into the curb.I put the car in park, turned on my flashers and went around to check on him. He wasn't crying, but he was definitely in some pain.
I'm not a nurse or anything, so I wasn't really sure what to "check." So I said, "How far are you two from home?" My student told me they were about 10 minutes off from his friend's house (he was staying there while his mom was at work during break). I cautioned his friend against driving his bike for the 10 minute trek home, but when I asked if he'd called his mother to pick them up, he said she wasn't answering her phone.
So I said, "Alright, we should be able to get your bikes into my car. Just get in and I'll take you home."
As soon as it was out of my mouth, my heart dropped. I remembered the orientation class I'd had specifically instructing CCD teachers never to offer rides home to their students because of child-abuse allegations. Then, when I realized that I felt guilty for offering a ride to these kids, I got angry with myself for even thinking that leaving them there was an option. Then I got doubly irritated that society has become a place that makes this inner struggle a reality.
This thought-process took less than a half-second to run its course, but I'm still grumbling about it. I dropped the boys off after making sure the injured boy's mother was aware of the situation. She was thankfully very nice and it's doubtful she had any concern about me taking them home, especially after my student explained I was his CCD teacher (so not a total stranger). But still... I've now got this nagging worry that I'm going to be either reprimanded or, God forbid, accused of something.
I realize this is the stupidest worry ever, but is it really all that far-fetched? How horrible are we as a society that good samaritans can no longer feel free to help a child on the side of the road? How horrible is it that children must fear every single person they come across?
I should honestly be happy that I got to help a kid out today. I should be doubly happy that my student was there to witness what it means to be Christ's Hands, and how he helped Divine Providence along (a theme we've talked a lot about this year). Instead, I'm worried that me helping the kid into my car could be misconstrued as touching him inappropriately. I'm worried that the Director of Religious Education is going to find out and chide me for being negligent. I'm worried that if my student recounts this story to his parents that they're going to wonder if I'm stalking him or something.
Seriously - how the heck did our world get so messed up that anyone should end up thinking this way about the simple act of helping a kid?
What the heck?
And how many teachers / priests / coaches go through this thought-process on a daily basis regarding things like hugging a student, having students after hours in their office / room going over a project or paper, even offering a student a quick ride home on a rainy day when you know the kid walks a mile and forgot an umbrella?
And I wonder how much easier I must have it being a woman. I wonder if that boy's mother would've been just as grateful if it were a male teacher bringing her son home...
Death cannot best the Author of Life
Vince, Gram (my husband's maternal grandmother), my mother-in-law and I attended Mass together on Sunday. It was the first time since I began taking Vincent that they've seen how he acts in a church. Gram was not only thoroughly entertained by his presence, she was very proud of his impeccable behavior (as was I - thank you God!).
He actually fell asleep for about ten minutes before the 1st reading. After his cat nap, he was awake and golden, patiently listening and looking around in awe at all the beautiful decorations. He especially seemed to like the choir loft - something our regular church doesn't have.
Anyway, as we made our way up the Communion line, Vince kept stopping at regular intervals, dropping to his knees and saying, "Hi Jesus." He knows that we typically genuflect in the center aisle upon entering or leaving a church, and always right before I receive the Blessed Sacrament. However, Gram didn't know that, so she poked me with a grin and said, "Future priest, eh?"
Ha ha ha - I can only pray, right?
But I admit my heart swelled to the size of Texas. It must've doubled when, after I received, he reached up for me to carry him. Once I had him secured on my hip, we kissed as usual with the prayer that Jesus use my lips as His own so He could kiss Vincent in blessing. I always whisper to Vincent, "Give Jesus kisses" after reception in the hopes that he learns early on that Christ is truly present in the Sacrament.
The rest of the day was pretty much spent eating and enjoying time with the family. Vince was in his glories chasing after Alliya (or, as can be seen in the video below, torturing Pop).
I hope each of you had a blessed Easter as well!
I'm an incredibly forgetful person when it comes to leaving the house with everything I need.
Actually, that's not entirely true. I typically remember everything I need, I just happen to remember it as I'm pulling out of the driveway.
Anyway, we were heading down to Ocean City for the weekend as we always do for Easter. I got just over half-way there when I realized that I'd left my Easter outfit hanging on the bedroom door.
I informed John and said, "I guess I'll just drive back tonight."
He suggested I do it Saturday night after Vince went to bed. I agreed, and thus, I took the trip tonight. That's actually the only reason I'm able to write today.
Anyway, my mother-in-law insisted that I just "buy" something down there or go to Mass in my jeans (on EASTER?!). She couldn't fathom why I'd bother driving all the way home when I could just as easily pick up something else down there.
She's sorta right, but I'm not really one to just randomly throw money at a new outfit when a perfectly good one is waiting at home (temporarily forgotten). Besides, I was looking forward to spending the 2 hour round-trip hanging out with my husband. We'd done something like this before last year, and we had a really good time of it. I forget what it was we were looking for (I think flip-flops for him and Vince), but we had such a fun time just getting out and driving around.
Unfortunately, he ended up too tired to come tonight so I had to make the trip myself. I accepted it as a penance and offered it up for all the stupid stuff I did during Lent.
So say a quick prayer for me that I make it back down to OC in one piece without falling asleep at the wheel. Ha ha. I'm getting pretty bushed and am looking forward to hitting the hay as soon as I get back.
May you all have a blessed Easter!!!
I took Vincent with me to the Mass of the Lord's Supper. I'm so glad I did. My mom had originally wanted to watch him for me, but I declined because I really wanted him to witness such a special Mass.
I know some people think it's silly to take young kids to Mass. The argument is that they don't really understand what's going on and are more of a distraction than anything else to others who are attending. I get that. I used to leave Vincent at home for those same reasons. However, after coming to understand what a benefit it is bringing him with me (religious education and formation, exercising patience, and being in the Presence of Jesus), I couldn't imagine leaving him home for the celebration of the Mass from which all other Masses would follow, emulate and unite with.
When he realized where we were going, he pitched a fit, of course. However, as soon as we got into the family room, he nestled against me and relaxed quietly for the rest of the Mass. He was content to stay on my lap, which amazed the elderly couple in the room with us (sparse crowd - *sigh*).
Anyway, as Father knelt to clean the feet of the 12, I wondered how each one of them felt as he approached them. I wondered what the Apostles had thought and felt as Christ approached them, considering that the act of washing feet was considered beneath even a Jewish slave's dignity. Obviously St. Peter recoiled in horror at the thought, and no doubt the other apostles probably tried to get Christ off His Knees, but that act of Ordination must have been completed to prepare them for the serving role they'd take on as priests.
Yet they wouldn't understand that until Pentecost. Not until the grace of the Holy Spirit removed the veil from their eyes would they realize what this act meant for them.
So as Father Piotr put his chausable back on, I choked back tears, realizing that Christ must've put on his outer garments in much the same manner - what were the Apostles thinking at that moment?
Anyway, after the Eucharistic celebration, as the lights were dimmed and the Procession towards the place of repose completed, people started shuffling out of the Church. As the lights went out, one by one, and the sanctuary was emptied of its candles, furniture and linens, Vincent's little voice asked, "What happened?"
Actually, it sounds more like "Bah bappened?" but the point is, he understood that something very special was taking place and wanted to know why it was happening.
All I could think to answer in a hushed whisper was, "Jesus sacrificed Himself. He died so we could live."
May the rest of your Triduum be blessed.
For Good Friday, I was lucky enough to find a parish that offered Confession for two hours before noon.
The church was barren, save for an empty wooden cross crowned with a ring of thorns. I wanted to kiss the cross as I waited for confession, but it was in the sanctuary so I could not.
This church had also removed all the kneelers which I thought was interesting. I didn't mind kneeling on the floor and thought it was a good idea that we could now offer up this slight mortification in union with Christ.
All the fonts were either empty of draped in purple. It almost felt wrong that the sunlight poured in through the gorgeous stained glass windows. Did nature somehow forget that Jesus was suffering death? Did the sun forget that we were to remember His Passion today?
No - nature didn't forget. That same sun shone down upon Christ as He followed the Via Dolorosa. That burning sun tried so hard to light His way... to warm His Body that must've been shivering dreadfully for lack of Blood. It poured its rays of warmth over Our Lady to offer her even the simplest of condolences. It offered itself to the people - the same people who angrily kicked, spit upon and mocked the Savior. If the sun could think, would it have let loose torrential solar flares in an effort to enlighten these ignorant people that they were cruelly murdering the innocent and mighty Hand of Creation? Would it have spun faster to strengthen its gravitational pull in order to pull its God closer to itself in a protective embrace?
That sun - our sun - was the same sun that shone down on Christ's hanging Body upon the Cross. It didn't forget... maybe it just knows better than we do the power of Christ's resurrection and wants to remind us that though our hearts are black with grief, His Light will prevail and will work Itself into even the darkest of tombs.
Then I began thinking about Our Lady and the grief she must've carried along that same trail of tears. To stand at the foot of His Cross and to fully understand that this was the Sacrifice she was born to offer in union with Her Son... incredible. The same Baby she cradled in her arms and nursed at her breast... the same Child who picked her wild flowers and proudly crafted His first wood project into a gift for her... the same Man who she watched heal, love and unite - now she watched His final, passionate act of Love during His earthly Life.
I cannot even imagine that pain. When I think of the Blessed Mother and the other women who were forced to watch their children be sacrificed (for early martyrs, this was common- to endure witnessing the torture and death of your children before being killed yourself) my heart nearly stops. My breath always catches because as a mother, I cannot help but put Vincent's face on each of those children. I cannot help but imagine my own indescribable terror, pain and fury as I was shackled to a wall to endure Vincent's agonizing torture, unable to help, comfort or avenge him. Would I be able to offer our suffering up to God as Mary did?
And I do think of this often. I can't help myself, especially with the increasing amounts of political pressure being built up against the Catholics not only in this country, but all around the world.
It's no secret that Christianity is the most persecuted faith in the world (actually, it might be in the US where many assume it's Islam). Also, since I subscribe to VOM's monthly newsletter, the reality of this problem is often in my thoughts.
My husband has often questioned why I continue reading these things as they tend to make me upset. I respond that my ignorance doesn't help, and at the very least, these folks deserve to have people aware of their plight... even if the only thing we can do is offer prayers for them. I'm not willing to ignore the suffering of others in order to spare myself a few sleepless nights. It doesn't seem right.
I won't lie - there have been times where I've wanted to put down books or newsletters. I've wanted to ignore particular headlines because of the emotional stress I'd end up with, but I typically end up reading on. I have to. How would I feel if someone ignored me? How would I feel if someone had the ability to help me and shut the door because it was just "too painful" to even acknowledge my pain's existence?
It's why I forced myself to endure learning about the different methods of abortion. For weeks I'd burst into tears, dropping to my knees to beg God to force us to stop these heinous murders. I didn't care if that meant the world would end, I just wanted the suffering of these innocent children to stop. This was actually during a period that John tried "forbidding" me from accessing the internet. Heh - he knew he couldn't really forbid me, and I doubt he wanted to, but he was so upset for me that he didn't know what else to do. He didn't understand why I kept trying to learn more about abortions. He said, "You know they happen, and you learning about how they happen isn't going to make abortions happen less."
I said, "You're right. My understanding won't stop abortions because I already made the decision to never participate, but I bet if others who haven't made that decision learned about abortion it would happen less!"
And it's true - so many people who are "pro-choice" really don't understand all that goes into an actual abortion. For all the philosophical waxing pro-choicers do, they never once get into the hard-science of what an abortion physically does to both a child and the mother who carries it.
But I digress. Sorry!
Back to Good Friday. After confession, I went to my own Church for the silent prayer before the Crucifix before 3pm when the statue was veiled. I tried to imagine how God the Father felt - He willingly handed Jesus over. He understood that His Sacrifice was necessary, but the cost! How much He loves us to do this!
Would I be willing to hand over Vincent for such a slaughter?
I mean, let's say that 1 million people were in jail. I'm not talking about the US jail system that allows inmates to watch TV, hang out in a cell, and be provided with 3 meals a day.
No... I'm talking about a hellish, hard labor camp akin to Auschwitz or worse.
Now let's say these million people aren't just random strangers... they're family. Yes, they are family that's guilty of every offense possible ranging from cursing all the way through murder, but they're family. Would I be willing to sacrifice Vincent for the lot of them?
Let's take it one step further... let's say these million family members aren't just distance relationships. They're a million Maria's and Shannon's... a million Raymond's and yes, even a million Evelyn's... my true brothers and sisters. What then? Would I be willing to hand Vincent over to save them?
And finally - even more than being my brothers and sisters - what if they were my children? What if these jailed souls were my children? Would I be able to hand over Vincent, my first, only and beloved son over for a torturous death so that they might be freed from jail?
What if I knew that even if I offered Vincent's life for theirs that they'd ridicule our sacrifice? That they'd scorn him?
How could God the Father ever consent to this sacrifice??? How could Christ, knowing full well what the future would hold for His wayward children???
Yes, we indeed crucified the entire Trinity that first Good Friday. We continue to crucify Them each time we are negligent in our duties as Christians... as dignified human beings made in His Image.
May God have mercy on us, and may we remember the Love shown to us through the truest Sacrifice ever made.
He's not gone - he's in Canada!
Many of you are aware of the situation in Philadelphia's Archdiocese regarding the closure of schools. Surprisingly, this post won't be about them (though you can add that as yet another symptom of our increasingly-ill system of education). This is about Canada's battle with the homosexual agenda and how it's poised to affect their Catholic schools.
Parliament member Glen Murray (a homosexual himself), said in a public comment to Canadian bishops, "You can't teach that anymore" (meaning Catholic doctrine regarding homosexuality).
He then went on to say "...can you imagine me describing a husband-and-wife relationship as inherently depraved?"
Sure I could imagine you saying it, Mr. Murray... same as I could imagine me telling you that the sky is yellow with pink polka-dots and that I cured 30 types of cancer while blindfolded with both hands tied behind my back.
All are ridiculous statements, and you're free to believe or not believe them to your heart's content.
Catholic teaching is one of those things you kinda KNOW you're getting when you enroll in a Catholic school. Parents who send their children to Catholic schools WANT the education that goes with it. They should all be very aware by now of what the Church teaches regarding abortion, contraception, the death penalty, and yes, even homosexuality.
Thus, your attempt to stick your nose into Catholic lesson plans is a gross injustice. How dare you attempt to stifle the religious liberty of your people? How dare you attempt to tell Catholics what they can and cannot teach?
I wonder if there'd be any confusion as to how wrong this is if the government were attempting to force Catholic schools to allow pro-abortion or pro-slavery clubs?
You can't force a religious institution (regardless of government funds received) to do something that goes directly against a well-documented set of beliefs, even if you find those beliefs to be contrary to your opinion on the matter.
That's the whole point of religious freedom - something folks tend to forget, especially when dealing with homosexuality.
Anyway, as this thread (which is on Facebook) stretched out a bit, I was reminded of a professor I had back in college. She was one of the most brilliant literature professors I've ever had, and I always walked away from her class feeling as though I'd learned something.
I took this professor twice. That first, basic Literature class was wonderful. I learned a lot, read a lot, and contributed a lot. I was very excited when I saw this same professor was offering a Women's Literature class. I thought, Wow! This is gonna be great!
Turns out she was a die-hard, ultra-liberal feminist who fully supported utilizing her required reading lists to advance an agenda in-line with her belief system, and Women's Literature was the perfect place to do that. Woe to anyone who sought to speak out against what she felt to be gospel.
It all kinda went downhill after she had us read The Vagina Monologues.
Now at this point, I was nowhere near my reversion to the faith. I was dating a bisexual man, my two close friends were in a lesbian relationship, I rarely went to Mass, and I was railing against what I decried as an inept, morally suspect government.
However, even being that far from identifying myself as a proper "Catholic," I cringed while reading the garbage that is TVM. Seriously - I'm not even going to bother linking that trash here. Suffice to say it actually sets the women's movement back about 20 years as the women portrayed routinely rely solely on sex and men to validate who they are as individuals. Bleck.
Anyway, the intro really irritated me. I forget who wrote the forward, but she attempted to compare a woman's vagina to a Catholic church. I tore apart her incredibly offensive (and shallow) analogy through the online discussion forum we were obliged to utilize. I thus found myself on the front line of a "The Catholic Church is evil" war in which I was the only soldier.
Several students responded, one who dragged Our Lady through the mud. I was so taken aback that I fired off a pointed response, effectively proving their misleading statements to be incorrect representations of Catholic teaching. This went on for about a week. Through it all, our professor remained absolutely silent.
Now for each class, she'd print off the responses and grade us on them. I'd get mine back with a check and no commentary. I honestly assumed that's how everyone got theirs back. Foolish, naive little Gina. I got mine back blank because she had nothing to say to me. Others in the class (two being friends of mine) showed me they would get responses all the time. Their responses typically fell in line with her opinions in class, so they were given all sorts of praise for their intelligence.
Me, on the other hand... probably the only person to actually quote from the prime source, the only one to seek outside support for my discussions, the only one to dissent from that which she set forth... I was met with silence.
And what's worse, I found out from one of my friends that she was reading my entries aloud to the class to mock me before I arrived. (I had to come from the South side of campus, so it took me the entire 10 minutes to walk from one end to the other.) It was then she confided to me that she understood through that mockery not to contradict this professor. She'd much rather regurgitate lies than speak the truth and be treated like me.
While I understood her sentiments, I really felt very alone and unsupported.
Yet I was undeterred. I continued to speak out against the vicious rhetoric directed against Catholicism (because no one could let up on beating the Church down). After all, much of what she chose as reading specifically brought up the Church as an example of all that's wrong in society, so it was a little hard to steer clear from the discussion. Finally I was called into her office. She basically told me to stop talking about Catholicism because it was offensive to other students.
I pointed at the Crucifix which hung in her office (why it was there, I honestly don't know because she had stated several times that she finds the Catholic Church to be full of deceit and hypocrisy). I said, "You do realize you teach in a Catholic University, right?"
I walked away absolutely disgusted.
I went to seek out the student with whom I'd had the bulk of my discussions with regarding Catholicism. She's the one who had attacked the Blessed Mother. I wanted to know if this professor had contacted her in regards to how often she brought up religion (since I only ever spoke about it to defend it - never to just start a Catholic conversation in the middle of a Literature class - ESPECIALLY considering I was always the odd man out).
Imagine my complete surprise when I learned that she had no idea what I was talking about.
Of COURSE the professor didn't contact her. Why would she? This student was not only falling in perfect step with her belief system, she was actively advocating them. Me, on the other hand... my Catholic viewpoint was creating trouble and took precious time away from decrying how unfair it was for the patriarchal Church to ordain women priests or allow them administrative duties, or to utilize birth control / abortion.
The surprise was short-lived. It was my first taste of anti-Catholicism. I honestly didn't understand it well at the time, but I DID understand that what had happened to me was not only unjust; it was unconscionable. A respected professor at a Catholic institution was reprimanding a student for speaking out in defense of Catholic doctrine...
Incredible. Absolutely incredible.
And we wonder why Catholic education is suffering? We wonder why the government thinks it can dictate what we teach?
We've made quite the mess of things, haven't we, Lord?
A dear friend of mine (who I think is an atheist) posted the following status update this morning:
All of the international partners I work with have the entire week off for Easter. A lot of them have very generous, mandated vacation packages as well. Why is the USA the greatest country in the world again?
It took all my will power not to respond with:
Must be that whole "Government hates religious expression" business we've been combating.
Since I know he had no intention of sparking a religious / political debate, I held my tongue (or fingers, I guess). Besides, not everyone in our government is anti-religious expression. Just seems to be the top dogs. Le sigh.
St. Peter's Denial
I remember the first time I was stuck working for Good Friday. The previous years I'd planned my vacation days to coincide with the days of Holy Week I wanted to observe. Even as a fallen away Catholic I'd be sure to take off on Good Friday so I could at least spend some time in reflection / prayer.
Anyway, the first time I had to work I felt like I was somehow betraying Jesus. Instead of accompanying Him to Calvary, I was sitting behind a desk updating lesson plans and making phone calls that I knew were absolutely pointless. I stole into the bathroom for a few moments at 3pm, but it just wasn't the same. I was miserable the entire day, because as I said, I really like I was betraying Jesus (and to a certain extent, His Mother).
I'll be keeping folks in the same boat this year in my prayers on Friday (I have off, thank God!). Special thanks to Michelle from Liturgical Time for reminding me that I'm lucky enough to spend my time in prayer this year.
I realized I felt similarly last night. I was trying to pray the rosary, but could hear a conversation going on downstairs between my husband and a friend. I wasn't really praying so much as reciting mindlessly, and I realized that I must've found the conversation between John and his friend more interesting than Christ's Passion. I was subconsciously putting more value on the conversation I was paying attention to than the prayers I was supposed to be participating in.
As soon as that thought crossed my mind, I imagined being presented with two options. Follow Christ along the road towards Salvation and be an active witness to His Mercy, or listen to pointless musings between my husband and his friend that have absolutely no bearing whatsoever on me.
Once I viewed it in this way, I closed the door to block out the sound and was better able to focus on what I was supposed to be thinking about. Sometimes we really do need a swift kick in the pants to set our priorities straight... to take inventory of the things that really matter.
I apologize - I wasn't able to find a clearer image of this incredible sculpture, but no doubt you get the gist.
This photo is taken directly from Cross Ministries, a non-profit dedicated to reproducing Christ's life through life-sized sculptures. I want to go to Texas so bad now!!! Apparently that's where all their best stuff is. Ha.
Anyway, I have no idea if this ministry is Catholic or not, but considering the items in their gift shop (I saw rosaries and St. Benedict medals), I lean towards the "likely" side. Not that I care. Non-Catholics have just as much claim to Christ's Life as we do, right? :)
Seriously, though - check out their site. Though it's not very stream-lined, the photos of their work are breathtaking.
Anyway, the reason I wanted to post this image is because it's got the Last Supper strategically placed before the foot the Calvary so that at this angle, you can see Jesus offering up not only the bread of Passover, but His Sacrifice on the Cross as well. This is truly the meaning of the Eucharist (which, again, leads me to believe there's a Catholic SOMEWHERE on this ministry's council).
I also found the video below through Cam's A Woman's Place Facebook page.
Up for a paradigm shift?
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