In the morning, I drop Vince off at school. I sign him in at 8 AM. John picks him up between 3-5 PM depending on the day and signs him out.
We've begun leaving one another notes in the sign section. Instead of leaving our initials (like we're supposed to), we've taken to leaving each other tiny phrases:
It makes me laugh because no one ever checks this thing, so these tiny scribbles are like secret notes passed back and forth between class.
This particular morning, he'd been feeling rough on account of his wisdom teeth being removed the day before. I knew seeing "Feel better" would give him a smile when he picked up Vince, but imagine my surprise when I saw "Thanks beautiful" in the box to greet me the next morning. Such a small, tiny gesture, but those are the gems that make me happiest.
He and I might not see eye-to-eye on religion, but we do love one another deeply, take our responsibility as parents seriously, and are committed to one another and our family.
I truly believe John and I were made for one another. We met young, fell in love young, and married young. I believe this was by design, and I am grateful for the spouse I've been blessed with. He is a good man, a good father, and a loyal friend. While I know the religion issue is a tough one, I hope you don't use that as the only stick to measure him by.
If tomorrow he decided to teach Vincent all about Atheism and telling him that Stephen Hawking agrees that there's no need for God when science explains everything, I'd be incredibly upset. He feels the same way about Catholicism. Because he views it as something akin to a fairytale, he sees it as a crutch... something fine for children to believe but necessary to outgrow (like Santa Claus). Adults can't rely on God for things. Adults shouldn't need direction in things from a book predating most civilization. Adults also shouldn't base social lifestyle choices on religious rationale.
I understand his mindset; I do. However, I simply don't share that viewpoint and, though he doesn't understand my point of view, he vowed to support me, so he does it as best he can. I must recognize the difficulty he faces as well when he watches me teach our son what he views to be fantasy and unnecessary superstition. At the same time, he recognizes his promise to allow me to raise our children Catholic.
Believe it or not, this is what love looks like. Love isn't always the romantic, happily-ever-after fodder you see in the movies. In reality, love is dirty, sweaty and yes, even tearful at times. It is also beautiful, and the appreciation we have for one another... the trust we've developed precisely because of our struggles... the knowledge that we've survived the dreaded "D-word" and come out stronger... this is love, because love endures.
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, it is not pompous, it is not inflated; it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests. It is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrong-doing but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Cor 13: 4-8)
These words were chosen by me for our wedding Mass. I recently read them, myself, at the marriage of two other friends. These words of Saint Paul are so crystal clear to me whereas before, I'd only understood them in a sterilized, Disney-shaded sense.
The day I married John, I heard these words as "Be nice to one another because that's what lovers do. They aren't rude or arrogant, they don't hold grudges and they don't act selfishly. The lovey-dovey feelings you have today will carry you through everything because love never fails."
Oh, Gina... Saint Paul was no Nora Roberts. How naive of me to fancy him one! When I read those words now, I hear something so much richer... so much deeper. Saint Paul might not be Nora Roberts, but if the above snippet doesn't embody the truth of love, there is no such thing as truth and no such thing as love.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
~Shakespeare, Sonnet 116~
Found Marian Artwork!
As promised, I'm finally getting around to posting some of the Marian art I've found in my travels recently. First up is a beautiful tapestry located in the Parish Office of the church I was married in. Since I'd never been in the Parish Office, I'd had no idea this gem was hanging behind the secretary's desk. It's big (maybe 3.5 ft high?) and quite beautiful. While not a favored style of mine, I really appreciated the use of color in this one. The red and blue are swirled together, at times indistinguishable from one another. Mary's Motherhood is, after all, inextricably entwined with martyrdom. You can't tell from my photo, but there is gold thread (paint?) laced throughout. It's beautiful.
Next up is a wonderful candle holder I found at a thrift store. I didn't purchase it (because I would have nowhere to put it), but I liked it enough to take a photo! It features the Holy Family at the Nativity, but instead of an angel surrounding them, the Blessed Mother stands guard while the angel kneels in adoration. I bet the little star cutouts make for a fantastic light show when a candle is lit within.
This is such a unique piece. I regret not purchasing it when I saw it!
This next piece is a plaque that sits out in front of our Human Services office. As little Jesus rests against His Momma, Our Lady basks in the feel of His Head against her cheek. St. Joseph, hard at work behind Them, drinks in the sight of his Beloved Family, likely with a psalm of thanksgiving in his heart.
It's such a serene image... I feel comforted just looking at it! I gave you the close-up because it's just so wonderful.
The next one is a bit blurry (sorry! I plan to get a better one). This charcoal drawing was sent to me by a wonderful friend who knows well my love for Our Lady. Here, we see her calmly sewing a garment. Did poor St. Joseph tear his cloche on a nail? Was she creating the tunic Jesus would be stripped of before being nailed to the Cross? Maybe she was creating altar linens for the Temple. Regardless, she seems focused in mind, body and spirit, calmly doing the work set before her. What must she have thought about to pass the time while she waited for Jesus and Joseph to come home from work?
The below artwork is by a studio called "Flor Larios Art." I've become a big fan of her colorful designs of Our Lady. They are so child-like... I just love them! She creates bookmarks, canvas, wood paintings and boxes like the one below and sells them through Etsy. I've been eyeing this one the last few weeks and finally went ahead and purchased it!
So there you have it, folks! These are the most recent bits of Marian art I've found to share with you! If you ever come across unique pieces of Marian art, please share them with me!!!
Can I Get a Hallelujah?!
This is incredible. I bowed my head in appreciation and reverence for the outpouring of solidarity, faithfulness and piety that was shown to the Blessed Sacrament in reparation for the horrid mockery allowed to happen in Oklahoma City under the guise of religious freedom.
We must consistently show this sort of solidarity. We must consistently and unapologetically pour out our faithfulness and reverence for the God who created us.
Bless these folks and all who took part in supporting the reparation. <3
Advice to a Catholic Woman Dating an Agnostic Man and an Admission of Omission
I must've written and rewritten this entry a dozen times. I've come to the realization that there's simply no neat and tidy way of being fully honest, especially given the circumstances. Thus, I apologize for the mess you're all about to find yourselves in.
A lovely woman named Anne is a Catholic woman who is dating an Agnostic man. She believes they are a perfect match in all things but religion. He was born and raised Catholic but now views Catholicism as something akin to a fairytale while she obviously has deep reverence for her Catholic heritage.
She asked us for our advice on what to do given she's looking to marry this man.
I've been wrestling around a lot with this one. She commented her plight at the end of August to my "I Married an Agnostic" post from 2011, and I'm half afraid she thinks I've forgotten all about her!
Anne, I promise that I haven't. I just didn't know how to write this without upsetting you. My advice, I fear, is not what you're hoping for.
My advice, in fact, is to get out now.
I realize you might be surprised to hear that from me, but I've walked in your shoes. For miles. I'm STILL walking in them which is precisely why I'm telling you that unless you know for certain you are being called to convert this man through a lifetime of marriage (which, itself, carries the reality of conversion not happening and your struggle having an adverse effect on future children), cut your losses, give your heart a healthy time to heal, and ask God to put the right man in your midst.
You might be wondering how I could say such a thing when my own marriage hasn't fallen apart and my son is a (mostly) willing participant in the Faith.
This was not without toil, tears, a very real threat of divorce, and an intense overhaul of my entire relationship with John. That's not even counting the amount of prayers and work that still go into it.
Am I saying I wish I hadn't married John? Of course not. I got two children out of the deal and undoubtedly grew closer to Christ. However, I was significantly less spiritually mature than you currently are when I answered the call to marriage.
You fully understand the importance of your faith and the necessity of a father to be a spiritual leader for his family. I didn't understand that; worse, I didn't even think such a thing was necessary! As a result of my ignorance, my family started out with a distinct disadvantage. We were not a cohesive unit in what would become a very large and important part of our lives. That friction reached its tentacles into everything, especially as I matured in my faith and realized the depth of my ignorance.
John's refusal to accept my religious beliefs as valid directly - DIRECTLY - correlates to his refusal to be open to more children.
So Anne, if you plan to have children, be prepared for a similar fate. It is an excruciating,
at-times-unbearable, cross to shoulder.
Readers who have been following me for a while might be incredibly unsettled by this.
When I first learned that this was the driving reason behind my husband's reluctance to have more children, words couldn't possibly express the emotions that coursed through me. In fact, it's been over a year since I learned that this was my reality and this is the first time I've voiced it beyond my two closest friends.
It's also the prime reason why responding to you, Anne, has been so challenging. I couldn't be honest with you without being honest about the depth of my own struggle. This is a tragic, brutal and incredibly bigoted reality, and it's a reality I want so much to protect you from. I wouldn't wish this sort of sacrifice on anyone.
It's a sacrifice that I willingly make, yes, but it's a willing sacrifice only because I've already made my vows. You have not. Please understand that this is what you'd be saying "I do" to... not just for yourself, but for your future children.
And before you think to yourself that your boyfriend would never do such a thing, again, I've walked in your shoes. My husband said he accepted my Catholicism.
Seeing Vincent's participation alongside me must've shifted that for him, because Catholicism was no longer some harmless fairy tale. To John, it became a bitter irritant. Prayers at bedtime are nails on chalkboard. Sunday Mass can solicit anything from an eye-roll to not-so-secret vindication when Vince cries that he doesn't want to go.
Catholicism has become such a hated thing to my husband that he does not want to see it replicated in his children. Because he cannot love that part of me, he cannot love that part of our children. Thus, the only way to stave off such irritation is to stop having children. To poison one is enough... to poison more than one is unthinkable to him.
And that is his mindset. Through tears, I demanded to know how he could hold such a bigoted notion in his head. He is not what I'd consider a bigot. He's otherwise incredibly tolerant and accepting. In fact, should any of his friends read this, they'd probably think I was somehow mistaken - that I'd misunderstood his motivation.
I assure you I have not. I had him spell it out for me. That was one of the most painful and damaging conversations I've ever had with anyone in my entire life. It still stings when I think of it.
I couldn't understand. I still don't to a certain degree. I asked him what part of Catholicism bothered him so much that he couldn't stand to see it played out in me... in Vincent. He couldn't answer me. He noted prayers at bedtime or his little sayings of "Jesus loves me" irritated him, but our son is wonderful. Him being baptized Catholic has not somehow made him less wonderful, but for John, it was enough to make him resent and yes, even hate, Catholicism. Hate it to the point where he willingly allows me to suffer an enforced infertility so as not to bring forth any other children who would suffer the fate of *gasp* Baptism and a Catholic education.
It is not fear of finance... fear of time constraints... fear of love or capability that has condemned me to this cross of infertility. It is my husband's hatred of Catholicism.
He shared this in a moment of deep and unfiltered honesty just over one year ago. I appreciated his honesty, because it showed a level of trust that we'd never come close to understanding. However, I've lived with this knowledge, completely unsure how to proceed. When I thought his decision was based on finances and such, the cross was easier to bear. At least his rationale made sense. This, however, was almost insurmountable. It is still a daily struggle.
It is a struggle I want to preserve you from, Anne. It's a struggle I want to preserve your future children from.
My husband and I have since discussed things. We both agree that had we known then what we know now about the importance of faith to one another, we likely would not have gotten married. I had, after all, broken off the engagement at one point when he tried to get me to agree not to baptize our future children. We should've known then that faith was more important than we were giving it credit for.
But we didn't, and we publicly vowed to love one another every day for the rest of our lives. Love doesn't begin and end with tummy butterflies. It is an active choice to respect, honor, protect, nurture and support your spouse - every day.
So that is how I find myself in this situation. I love my husband, Anne. I love him, respect him, support him, and do my best to nurture him in ways that will ultimately make him a better person. He obviously tries his best to do the same for me. However, I'd be remiss if I didn't warn you of the heartache that comes with this sort of union.
Take my story to heart. For as much as you love your boyfriend (and I have no doubt you do), you will also love those children you create, and you need to be thinking of them. The best decision you can ever make for them is who their father will be.
In all things, you have my prayers. Other readers, please feel free to chime in with your advice for Anne.
In the Mail!
Guess who finally sent in her hair donation to Wigs 4 Kids? With my hair, I sent the application, a letter to W4K, before / after photos and a letter to the recipient. I don't know if the recipient will ever get the letter, but I wanted to add one just in case W4K allowed that sort of thing. Either way, I'll let you know.
I know a few of you out there were contemplating taking the plunge... have you done so yet? If so, PICTURES!!!
If you haven't considered donating your hair in the past, please do! It's a renewable resource, and such a gift goes a long, LONG way to making the lives of recipients that much brighter. Love to you guys!
At Mass on Sunday, our church looked SPLENDID with all the red and gold finery. When we Exalt the Holy Cross, you'd better believe we know how to do it!
Anyway, I picked up Vincent so he could see the procession and various trimmings adoring the altar and sanctuary. I explained why our pastor was in red and gold, and I whispered how special this Sunday was because of the Feast it celebrated.
He clung to me in rapt attention, clearly enjoying the brilliant splashes of color. However, as I was explaining this, Mr. Knight of Columbus whispered (not so quietly) to his wife: "You'd think he'd know that by now."
I'm not the type of person to let comments like that roll, but it was the very beginning of Mass (the Processional) and I didn't want to make a scene before Father got to the sanctuary. Plus, people ALWAYS assume Vince is older than he is because he's taller than most 7 year olds.
So I bit my tongue and stifled the urge to give the man whiplash.
I continued explaining things - as I do - to Vince throughout Mass. He's at the point, however, that he's really starting to "get" certain things - chief among these is the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. When our pastor raised the Host during Consecration, Vincent always says "I love you, Jesus!" as I've taught him to do.
This time, he said it a little too zealously and the man audibly huffed as if my son's adoration was somehow disturbing or shameful.
Again... bit my tongue.
Finally, Vince had to use the potty right after Consecration. I asked him if he could hold it until after Communion, but he couldn't, so we started leaving the pew. Knight Perfection huffed again.
I gave him a death stare as we left the pew.
When we got back, folks were already lining up for Communion. Vince, as he always does, genuflected with me before I received. When we got back into the pew, he kissed me on the lips (as he always does) so he could "kiss Jesus." I was proud of him, and I wanted that guy to see why. Sure he doesn't know what the liturgical colors are all about, and maybe he doesn't know the responses yet, and yeah, okay... the kid's got a bladder smaller than a dixie cup, but ya know what? His heart is as big and beautiful as the Milky Way Galaxy, and all he wants to do is have Jesus come live in it.
SO BACK OFF MR. KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS DUDE.
As I was venting about this today, my buddy said I should've said something to him. Again, normally I would, but I didn't think it'd do much good. He was a crotchety older guy who obviously didn't have a soft spot in his body for children. Such misery doesn't tend to find sunshine in July let alone a lesson in a mother's scold.
But now that I've vented, I feel somewhat better. I just hope I never have the displeasure of sitting in front of him again. Yick.
Prayers for him and all those who would treat children with such disdain. The Kingdom of God belongs to them, too.
I used this photo in my last entry, but I wanted to do a separate entry about this scarf.
Isn't it gorgeous???
I love it, but it's not mine. My wonderful coworker allowed me to steal it from her for the purpose of "disguising" myself to accompany the Confession post.
Anyway, she's apparently had this beauty in her closet forever; this was her first time wearing it (and as a scarf aficionado, I'm not surprised this was lurking in her closet with about a million other gorgeous swathes of fabric).
Are any of you familiar with the brand below? I think I'm willing to go on a hunt for this one because it's just so pretty.
Here's the company that makes the scarf. Turns out they make LOTS of scarves and such. They're in the $25 price range, but they're superbly pretty.
I don't think they make this particular pattern anymore (booooo) but I did find this one!
Anyway, just thought I'd share a pretty with you fine folks today. This sorta kickstarted me on the prowl for a new chapel veil, and since I've been looking into more colorful options, I might go beyond the solid white / black / red / purple and opt for something a little more THIS.
Given the fact that I work for the Archdiocese, I know a lot of priests; worse, these priests tend to know me!
Normally, I'm totally on board with getting to know priests; they're a pretty awesome bunch! However, this familiarity works against me hardcore when it comes to Confession.
I dunno about the rest of you, but I go out of my way - WAY, WAY out of my way - to confess to a priest that will not recognize me. That is not an easy task when you work with so many of them on a routine basis. It's especially tough when your normal place to confess just happens to have two of your most well-known priests in residence.
C'mon now, Jesus, you're kidding me, right?
Every year, I go to Confession before the start of CCD. I want to be as ready as possible to teach these kids, and that includes a fresh soul-scrubbing. So as I do, I promised Jesus I'd get myself to Confession before Tuesday's class.
This past weekend, I didn't make it as a result of my own stupidity. When I went on Monday, one of those aforementioned priests greeted me at the Cathedral. Turns out he was the only one doing Confessions that day, so I immediately turned around and walked back to my office.
When Tuesday rolled around, I prayed the whole way over: "Jesus, please. I promised you I'd go to Confession, but I just don't think I've got the courage to go to Fr. Happy Meal (who happens to be in residence there). Whoever You've got doing Confessions today, please, please, please do NOT let it be Fr. Happy Meal."
I was so worried Jesus was going to specifically put him in there as an extra dose of penance via humility.
When I got there, a brand-spankin' new priest was in the confessional. Instantly, I had this realization that Jesus wants me to reconcile myself to Him... of course He'd make it easy for me to do so. Why had I spent so much time worrying I'd have to turn away again?
Ah well... at least I'm an absolved Gina now. Ha ha ha!
Do any of you go out of your way to steer clear of priests who would recognize your voice? I can't possibly be the only one!
***DISCLAIMER*** I don't believe all men are effeminate, but I definitely think there is a tendency for popular society to pigeonhole men into being seen as aggressive monsters or metrosexual children. Given I married a man who is neither, I obviously understand that not all men are effeminate. That being said, there are glaring problems with the way society tries to feminize men (and coax women into masculinity). For most of this entry, I'll be focusing on the gents.
I know you folks are likely burned out on all the hullabaloo about Fifty Shades. Truthfully, I haven't read any articles on Fifty Shades because I'm incredibly disinterested in the entire thing. However, a male friend of mine pointed something out that started what I felt to be an interesting discussion.
Someone posted a photo of the actors portraying the main characters in the upcoming film adaptation. There were comments from women (and a few men) commenting on the "hotness" of Jamie Dornan (the actor portraying Christian Grey).
Someone mentioned something about the movie (and book) being porn for women. Magic Mike (another soft-porn, mainstreamed movie) was also brought up and then the conversation veered into "Why the sudden interest in porn for women?"
I'm relatively certain that most of my readership would agree that Magic Mike, Fifty Shades and its contemporary ilk are pornographic in nature. That's not the point of this entry.
I pointed out that the reason this sort of porn is taking root amongst women is due to the concerted effort to confuse, diminish and transpose traditional gender roles.
In other words, society is telling women that they should be more masculine while simultaneously telling men they need to be more feminine.
I personally know men who use more makeup and hair products than I do. It's fine for guys to thoughtfully put themselves together in the morning, but when they start insisting on getting waxed eyebrows, mani/pedis and plumping their lips with a touch of gloss... lines are crossed.
I get the term "metrosexual" is thrown around a lot, but that's simply a politically correct way of saying:
And it's not just a physical change. Due to the feminist movement that seeks to butcher boys instead of raising up women, things like "Girls Rule and Boys Drool" or the "Boys are Stupid" mindset have turned men into caricatures of petty neanderthals. Not only does society treat them as perennial little boys who are incapable of mature thought or action, but men, themselves, take on this view and don't realize the rut they've been thrust into.
And since men don't realize that they've slowly given up the respect due to them as men, women don't feel the need to give it to them. After all, why respect a man who is no man at all?
It's yet another reason we've got an epidemic of boy-men who live in a quasi-fantasy world that is free of most adult responsibilities, adult goals, and adult consequences. Women, in turn, get frustrated because they can't find men with solid male traits, but in reality, we've brought this on ourselves by attempting to become masculine in how we operate.
This goes beyond the "assertive / bossy" dilemma. I'm all for equal rights and gender not standing in the way of one's ability to get a job done. However, women are becoming increasingly aggressive in their treatment of others. This overcompensation stems from a deep-seated insecurity about their strength and place within a patriarchal framework (and let's be honest - we do have a patriarchal framework in the US workforce).
In order to keep up or get ahead, women admit that they try to be "more manly" because of its social and professional benefits.
Again, this reinforces the gender-bending dysphoria present in our social fabric.
So what does all of this have to do with Fifty Shades, you ask?
I believe the current role-reversal of men and women makes traditional male and female roles a fetish.
I realize that might seem silly at first, especially since most of you wouldn't concede to BDSM (present in the Fifty Shades series) being traditional, but give me a chance to explain...
Currently, society is telling us this:
Obviously we know better, but this is the picture society is attempting to paint for us (with alarming success).
As a result, a book like Fifty Shades becomes popular not just because BDSM is a fetish. The fetish (and why I think women enjoy it so much) is that the roles are swapped into their traditional (if highly denigrated) roles.
But what is a fetish if not the warping of something natural?
Christian Grey is an intelligent, successful, confident man. Ana Steele is an innocent, quietly supportive woman who is also intelligent but not nearly as confident as Grey. In fact, from what I understand, she's actually portrayed as being highly insecure.
Christian makes it known that he's interested in Ana. He wants Ana and revels in her feminine qualities. He appreciates her femininity. She, in turn, appreciates his thoroughly masculine characteristics.
BDSM is a warping of the connection between male and female love, but again, I don't think that's the biggest thing that matters in this case. Women, today, are craving men - REAL MEN - and our options are few courtesy of the contraceptive movement (<---- that's a great video!).
As a result, women are getting their fix for the socially taboo "traditional man" by finding him in the pages of an erotic book. They can fantasize of the real man they envision for themselves... a strong, confident, savvy man who knows what he wants and takes it.
Grey is not the stammering guy in class who is unsure how to ask a girl for her number. Grey would never wonder when the right time to kiss a girl would be. Grey certainly wouldn't be found in his mother's basement or fiddling away on XBox until 3 in the morning.
No no. Grey would appreciate the beauty of the woman standing in front of him. He'd instinctually know her wants and needs and willingly rise to the challenge of meeting them. He'd provide for her, take care of her, and make her feel loved, appreciated and above all, wanted.
THIS is precisely what women today do not get from men. This is what they want. This is why they go looking for it in pornography, because in our topsy-turvy world, pornography is somehow more socially acceptable than expecting our men to be men.
Again, I obviously don't believe all women fall victim to this given that I don't even fit this mindset. However, it's incredibly easy to see how and why so many women fall into this trap given the terribly difficult time we have finding men who have the potential to be suitable life-partners and dependable fathers for our children.
Frankly, women don't put long-term stock in a guy who wears more eyeliner than she does. Women don't trust that a guy who lives in Mommy's basement can provide for a family. Women understand that a guy who spends more time caressing a game console than they do the curves of her body doesn't have his priorities in order.
So yeah - I believe the current satiation women are finding in socially acceptable forms of pornography is symptomatic of a much larger, deeper and socially threatening issue. When the gender norms are blurred to the point where folks have a legitimately difficult time knowing if someone is a man or a woman, it's time to reevaluate - everything.
I went from this...
You can, too! It is, after all, the season to donate. Donations accepted now will be processed in time for the Christmas season. Think of what a joy your hair will be to children who are already struggling with so much! Your generosity will enable to them to feel just as beautiful on the outside as they already are on the inside.
Please consider a donation to one of the following organizations:
Locks of Love
Wigs 4 Kids
Pantene Beautiful Lengths
A friend of mine pointed out that Locks of Love (my normal donation recipient) came under fire recently for mismanagement of donations. To be on the safe side, I decided to donate to Wigs 4 Kids, a charity based out of Michigan that makes wigs just for kids. Locks of Love ranges from toddler to 21 whereas Pantene's Beautiful Lengths charity focuses on adults.
Regardless of your donation preferences, please consider growing your hair out (or cutting it if it's already long!). There are so many beautiful folks out there who would be so happy to receive such a personal, lasting gift. Given the stressful issues they already face on a daily basis, hair - something you and I take for granted - makes a huge difference to their self-esteem and outlook.
My donations amount to more than cut strands. Every single time I washed my hair, I prayed for the child and family who would one day receive my hair. Each time I turned down suggestions to get bangs, layer my hair, color my hair, or even use particular products in my hair, I'd think of the child in need and offer those little primps and extravagances for their sake. Hair can always grow back, but your chance to gift these children and their families joy only comes around as often as you're patient enough to let your hair grow out.
= Gina turning in her Cardinal Dolan fangirl card.
Remember this past March when the big kerfluffle was caused by gay pride groups during the St. Patrick's Day parades in NY and Boston? Yeah... things are going to get a whole lot more kerfluffle-y now that Cardinal Dolan decided to come out with this.
If this isn't confusing to folks, I don't know what is.
I respect Cardinal Dolan as a priest; I do. I just don't understand his desire to appease and coddle. Loving thy neighbor does not include sanctioning public celebration of his or her sin.
Then again, with the way we've allowed the celebration of St. Patrick to be turned into an excuse to celebrate lewdness, intoxication and common brawling, I guess we shouldn't be too surprised when the door's been left open to more moral degradation.
But still, this (coupled with the cause for Venerable Fulton Sheen) is incredibly, INCREDIBLY disappointing.
First Day of School!
My little man on his first day of Kindergarten. KINDERGARTEN! This was taken on Tuesday, but still - KINDERGARTEN!
Where in the world has the time gone?
Just a few months ago, John and I were worrying about restarting preschool given our experience with mainstream classrooms. Now, we're happy to report that Vince is happily where he is and looking forward to seeing his friends every day. He's in a small class (8 kids) and is with a teacher he knows and loves.
Thank you, God, for such a gift! :)
Lifeline via MIL
My mother-in-law threw me a lifeline this weekend.
We were sitting around the dinner table with our neighbor and friend, Daisy. She's got two little girls, and she was joking about how she'd never be able to mother boys.
My MIL joined in to say that boys and girls are both blessings. She pointed out how lucky she'd been having two girls in addition to her son (and my husband), John.
The conversation then turned towards the difficulty of having multiple children due to rising costs of childcare. Daisy voiced her appreciation for her 2nd daughter, a surprise conception, while my MIL voiced appreciation for her grandkids. She was glad to have had one of each (my neice, Alliya, and my son, Vince).
I knew Daisy was itching to ask me if I ever want a little girl to "balance things out." It's a question that's been posed to me on numerous occasions. "Are you gonna try for a girl?" "When are you gonna make Vincent a big brother?"
I was bracing for it. Daisy's eyes locked onto mine and I tried to steady myself by focusing all my energy into spinning one of Vincent's plastic toys over and over again in my hand.
Luckily, my MIL realized where the conversation was going and threw a lifeline my way once she realized precisely how precarious my position was. She said, "Children are a blessing no matter what. Boy, girl, three, two or one, they're all blessings, right?"
Daisy promptly turned her attention to my MIL to agree.
My MIL then deftly offered Daisy some wine as I ran to "check on the kids."
I was quietly grateful. I knew my MIL realized - with nary a second to spare - that I was about to be exposed in a very uncomfortable, hurtful way. Daisy would never intend to hurt me, mind you; I don't think anyone is really that malicious. These questions just have a tendency to spring forth naturally in conversations between women. I don't take offense to them. I know some folks get upset at others asking such "personal" questions, but I don't think they're personal. I don't think they stem from a person's desire to snoop. I think people who ask those questions are just excited about the prospect of children being brought forth; I can't fault them for that!
I felt such gratitude in that moment, though, because my MIL recognized an unspoken need and immediately moved in to diffuse the situation - to protect me from unnecessary awkwardness. She didn't have to be so thoughtful, but she was.
That never would have happened had I not finally broken down and told her about Myla.
Just an interesting turn of events that again made me appreciative of the family I married into.
Uuuuugh. I've attempted writing things out numerous times, and every time I felt like an angry freight train slamming into a brick wall. I got NOWHERE.
A strange thing happened the last time I attempted, though. I asked the Holy Spirit to guide my words. Since I obviously can't get my ire across coherently, I figured a Divine Boost was necessary.
Alright, Holy Spirit, I'm ready. Give me the words that'll make him realize just how much he screwed up!
I didn't pray those exact words, but I'm pretty sure those were my sentiments.
God answered, but not in the way I was expecting. Instead, I got a quick tap on the shoulder and a chiding that went something like this:
I didn't put you on this earth to be my scourge; I put you on this earth to be my beacon. I've never asked you to punish as I punish, but to love as I love... to forgive as I forgive.
*Insert major whining.*
But Gooooood, c'mon. You know as well as I do that he needs to be set straight. Use me to do it! I can do it! C'mon! Just tell me what to say!
That's about the time images of giant redwood trees being wedged in my eyes started dancing before me.
Stupidly, I still persisted:
How am I supposed to forgive him when he obviously sees nothing wrong with what he's doing... what he's done!
Ask Jesus. He forgave you in the midst of crucifixion knowing you'd be hanging out in the Confessional 70 x 7 times for the same set of sins.
Silence, then. I guess He was letting that one sink in a bit.
Finally, He continued:
Again, I ask that you show him mercy - My Mercy. Show him love - My Love. Show him that which will draw him closer to Me so that, in My Time, I can correct that which needs correcting. I am his Father - not you. I'm asking that you bring Me to him since he cannot bring himself to Me.
I shamefully admit that I whined some more.
Nooooo, God! That's too hard. I want him to know exactly how frustrated and upset I am about this entire situation! I want him to know that this situation needs to stop because I don't want it affecting Vincent. There's gotta be a better way.
I don't know if this was God or my guardian angel stepping in, but I instantly shivered when I thought of coming to know precisely how frustrated and upset I made God with my litany of sins. I physically shivered. I didn't even need the words. The thought was enough to shut me up.
Okay, okay. So I don't go with the fire and brimstone. I'm still stuck, though. How do I start this whole forgiveness message?
Within a few minutes, it was done.
Moral of the story: Jesus modeled love and forgiveness for us. THAT was the example He gave us to follow. He didn't show us how to smite Sodom, how to set a plague upon Egypt or even how to rain condemnation on adulterers. Jesus showed us love. Jesus showed us mercy. The marvel is that He still shows us this love and mercy today; not just in the Confessional or Tabernacle, but in one another.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us...
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