I "like" the Huffington Post's parenting section on Facebook. A cringe-inducing header led me to comment on a particular piece that ended up garnering top comment honors. See below:
As you can see, there were 26 comments as of posting this. A good majority of them are nothing more than vitriol directed at me for not joining in the hero-worship of yet another parent who wants to pat herself on the back for whatever the heck this is supposed to be.
And really - what exactly is this supposed to be?
As I said back in March, I'm so sick of these stories. And given the fact that I'm the top comment, I'm not the only one. We are a minority, but we're a minority that stubbornly refuses to go away.
We are a stubborn minority that refuses to enable our children to navigate an already confusing, misshapen world by promoting MORE confusion and celebrating the deviance from basic, unalterable facts about themselves. For as much as the liberal world likes to make fun of Catholicism for not caring about science (read: blatant ignorance), these same folks love to throw science out the window when it comes to sex and gender.
This has nothing to do with boys wanting to play with dolls or girls wanting to drive a race car. This has everything to do with the concerted effort of a very liberal media working towards a genderless, sexless utopia in which traditional families are trampled so that the morals and dignity reflected by our very existence no longer call them to better.
The traditional family might not be a perfect reflection, but we're not called to be exactly perfect. We are, however, called to be reflections of He who created us, and we're called to teach our children to be reflections of He who created us. No matter how much folks try to ignore this, hide this, or confuse this reality, there will always be those of us who stand in staunch defense of that which we are blessed to know: We are created in the image and likeness of God.
We all know that Christ instituted the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist on Holy Thursday.
And we know He went ahead and made Confirmation vogue a month and a half later at Pentecost.
However, ya know what else Christ instituted on Holy Thursday?
Holy Orders. And He did it by washing the feet of His apostles one by one and charging them with serving others with the same humble abandon that He exemplifed whilst on His Divine Knees, doing the reviled work of the lowest of slaves.
So my question is this:
Did the Apostles receive Holy Orders before they were confirmed?
Special thanks to my coworker, Russ, for choosing the names like a champ!
Congrats to the winners:
Ladies, you'll be receiving an e-mail from me shortly if you haven't gotten one already. Thanks to all who participated!
Stay tuned for an upcoming Christmas giveaway that I'm hoping to have posted by the end of this week. Yes, a veil will be included in the giveaway, so you've got another chance coming!
Friend: Where's the Indian [food]?
Me: I ate it.
Friend: All of it?
Me: It's gone, man.
Friend: That's why your fortune cookies tell you you're fat.
True story! *Giggle*
How many of you are aware of / taking part in
Wear a Veil to Mass Day on December 8th?
It's starting to gain traction on my newsfeed where it's mostly been puttering along. I'm glad to see the trend starting to blossom.
For those of you unfamiliar, the idea is as simple as it sounds. We are calling on women to don the veil for one day - the Feast of the Immaculate Conception - in order to raise awareness for this traditional (and oft-neglected) sacramental.
Yes! Sacramental! The chapel veil is an outward sign of an inward faith. Since women personify the sacred vocation of Mother Church as Bride to Christ, each time we wear a veil we act as living iconography. It's not a way for us to seem holier than the rest of the congregation; it's a way for us to embrace the place God created for us and the unique roles we play in His Family.
With that being said, how many of you are taking part? How many of you are discerning the call to veil?
I'd like to help you along. You guys know I've got a ton of veils (infinity, mantilla, tie-back, etc). I want to give three away to you!
To participate, leave a comment below stating your feelings on the veil and why you'd like to win one! I'd love to hear from folks who already veil. Leave your testimony as to how veiling has enriched your spiritual lives!
I will randomly select 3 winners on Sunday!
**Please note that this contest is over. I'll post the winners shortly!**
I'd like to do a final review of my husband's most recent movie, and for the first time in his professional life, I'm going to do so publicly because it's the first one the majority of my readership wouldn't be completely scandalized by.
Warning: Those of my more conservative readership may want to skip it as the movie does contain elements they'd rather have nothing to do with Santa (sexual deviance, drunkeness and a general lack of education regarding who St. Nicholas actually was). If it helps, this movie is not about the historical Santa Claus. It has nothing to do with Santa's origin, how he's been commercialized or even who he is to different cultures.
Instead, this movie is unapologetically about the red-suited, white-bearded, jolly old man who sits in malls whispering magic directly into the expectant souls of those he greets.
However, I Am Santa Claus is not simply a documentary about men as mall Santas. In truth, it's the story of mall Santas as men - living, breathing, fault-bearing members of humanity who are bonded together by their treasured love of Christmas and their dedication to instilling Christmas joy into every facet of their existence.
Still with me? Alright then!
I Am Santa Claus is the documentary brainchild of director Tommy Avallone. When I tell you this man has a resume more colorful than an Apache headdress, I'm severely understating his capacity to surprise, delight and entertain. Not only is he thoroughly creative, he's got the talent and drive to ensure his ideas come to life. God bless him; he knows how to get folks excited about his projects. In fact, Morgan Spurlock (of Super Size Me fame) was so taken with Tommy's idea that he signed on as Executive Producer!
My husband was also brought on-board as another producer. If there's one thing my husband is good at doing, it's making things happen! He's able to see the long-term needs of projects and come up with manageable goals that keep those projects steadily moving forward. Owning to his ability to see the whole picture, he's able to express that picture to others who've only glimpsed the canvas still wet from priming. Inspiring confidence and excitement in others for these films enables him to find and connect investors with the chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves. I'm very proud of him!
The filmmakers chose to whittle their litany of Santas down to five: four professionals and one newb (the incomparable Mick Foley). These Santas cover the gamut from down-on-his-luck divorcee to a tattooed grill-master with a smattering of high-society and homosexual detours to boot.
Now I actually felt my readership cringe at the word "homosexual." Let me make very clear that Santa Jim, the rainbow-suspendered Santa who proudly displays his "Mr. Texas Bear Round-up" medals while parading through a homosexual dance-off, is not a horrible man hell-bent on infecting children with ideas of man-on-man love.
In truth, he's actually my favorite Santa (after Foley) because you cannot help but feel the supreme and all-encompassing joy he gets from making others happy as Santa Claus. His personality is so genuine, loving and humble that you can't help but want to reach through the screen and hug him close.
The theme of homosexuality was very much downplayed for the majority of the film. There is a portion that is over-the-top-in-your-face, but I fully understand that it was done as a quirky insight into a world very few of us know or understand. However, the director goes out of his way to reinforce that sexuality of any sort (homosexual, swinger or otherwise) has absolutely nothing to do with the role of Santa Claus. I was appreciative of that.
The only real issue I had with the film was the fact that there was a significant bit of vulgarity that came from down-and-out Santa Russell. This man is, quite truly, his own worst enemy, and that is unfortunately showcased by the choice of what was left in the film vs. on the cutting room floor. And while I understand that this sort of schadenfreude is considered entertainment anymore, I really could've done without several of his scenes as it just felt mean after a while. That being said, I still feel as though he has his bright spots as well and the director used him marvelously as a juxtaposition to the others on several occasions to underscore a few important points.
The first half of the film is dedicated to introducing these men and telling us who they are in the off-season. These men hold regular jobs like you and me: real estate agent, contractor, antiques dealer and even unemployed. However, no matter what their position, each man is dedicated to Santa all year round by growing / keeping their hair and beards long, maintaining a certain jovial shape and practicing their "Ho, ho, ho" to children who clamor before them in grocery parking lots.
The second half of the film is where things get really interesting. Mick Foley (of WWE fame as Mankind, Dude Love, and Cactus Jack) makes the transformation from steel cage veteran to St. Nick novice.
And dear readers, prepare yourself a stockpile of tissues as you watch Mick blossom into the most endearing person you will ever have the privilege of watching. There is no one more generous, thoughtful or soul-beautiful on the screen. No one! He possesses within himself the true Spirit of Christmas (and you guys know what I mean!). There is an undeniable, Christ-like joy within him that compels him to bring happiness, healing and love to others. My heart is swelling with appreciation for him and others like him who go to such lengths to bring joy to others so selflessly.
The climax comes with an incredible Christmas Eve surprise that will leave all of you in tears of astonished joy. I won't ruin the surprise here, but that scene alone made the entire movie worthwhile. I've seen this movie a dozen times, but I cry EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. There is nothing quite like witnessing the wonder and awe of children, and this movie documents each open-mouthed gasp, giddy hug and raucous shout.
It is really inspiring to see the lengths these men go to in order to solicit smiles, wield magic and create lasting memories for the kids. God bless each and every one of them.
For more information (like the trailer), check out their website: IamSantaClausMovie.com
Otherwise, pick up your copy today at any of the places below!
iTunes Amazon Google Play Vimeo
Vudu CinemaNow Target Ticket VHX
Today I've got a treat for you guys - a guest post on Annulment!
I sent out a request to those who've experienced annulment firsthand to share their stories; this is the first one in.
Allow me to introduce you to Candace. She runs Popes and Pirates blog on Blogspot. Curious about her blog name? I was, too, until I found out why her aptly named slice of the internet had a pretty amusing story behind it. Click here to satiate your curiosity! She also writes about parenting, her miscarriage experience and going (and staying!) green.
Candace was kind enough to share her annulment story with you fine folks. Please feel free to leave questions in the combox (you may stay anonymous!). I ask that you leave questions there so other readers can benefit from Candace's responses. I've had several readers write in to ask about annulments, but since I don't have direct experience, I was hoping others who did would share! Thanks, Candace!
Without further ado:
The Marriage That Never Was
My husband and I recently celebrated the one year anniversary of the convalidation of our marriage on October 27th. Convalidation is the official recognition of our civil marriage by the Catholic church, elevating our marriage to a sacrament. Originally, we were married civilly in a small ceremony in October 2008. We have been blessed with a son and are currently expecting our second child. Marriage means so much more to me now than the first time I said "I do." I now know that marriage is a gift from God, and not to be entered in to lightly.
Most of my friends and family know that I was "married before." My ex husband and I dated for five years before we married. We lived together beforehand, and although we were both cradle Catholics, neither one of us lived a very religious life. We had a Catholic wedding ceremony, attended the required Pre-Cana training months before, and then continued on with life as we normally had. Nothing we learned or experienced changed our thoughts or feelings about the values our lives should hold important, or what marriage meant.
We civilly divorced less than two years after our wedding day. We chose to do this as amicably as possible. We had no children and didn't share any bank accounts or property, so the physical separation was easier than many couples experience. I didn't begin the Catholic process of annulment until two years after that, when technically, I was already civilly remarried to my husband.
The process of civil divorce is quite different than the process of annulment in the Catholic church. Depending on the state you live in, civil divorce is mostly about filing the correct paperwork and paying the required fees. Divorce doesn't actually exist in the Catholic church. Annulment means that your marriage never truly happened. It was missing one or more of the required pieces to make it binding in the first place.
Many people believe that if you offer the church enough money, you can get an annulment no matter what. This is simply false. I paid nothing to the Church in the process of my annulment. Others offer large donations, but there is no guarantee what the results will be. You have to wait and hope throughout the process.
And process it is. You are required to meet with a priest who is part of a marriage tribunal and verbally recount your story. You also do this in writing. Your ex spouse is also encouraged to participate. Other friends and family on both sides are asked for their testimony. It can take years. Mine took two years from start to finish. Every piece to this process is inspected closely to come up with a final determination. There is a back and forth with the responses to each inquiry.
It is a challenge to wait, especially if you have already moved forward with another relationship in your life. I also couldn't receive communion during this time which made me feel like I was missing out on the grace that might help me get through this ordeal. But, I feel it was totally worth it. There were many times I simply wanted to give up and tried to convince myself it didn't matter. But, deep down I knew it did. You are forced to make peace with your past and this is a blessing in itself. My husband and I celebrated when my annulment was granted, and then began the next phase of having our marriage recognized.
To all those contemplating starting this process, or who are already in it, stay the course. No matter the result you may find consolation and healing. Pray often and ask Mary for help and courage to make it through. I will be praying for you as well.
Working for the Church means I get to use words like "absolution," "seminary," "liturgical," and "Divine Providence" on a routine basis. I write them, edit them, add them, and speak them all the time.
While helping a co-worker draft a letter meant for a parish, I began editing things in a way that surprised her. I capitalized the words "body" and "blood," for example, because in the letter, they pertained to the Body and Blood of Christ. I also capitalized any "he" referring to Jesus. I definitely added "Divine Providence" in lieu of a sentence that implied it but somehow stopped short of just saying it, and I suggested that she adjust her language to embrace Catholicism rather than hide it.
She was confused by what I meant. I explained:
It just seems like you're writing a Catholic letter to a Catholic population while trying not to sound like a Catholic.
She laughed and said that was exactly what she was trying to do. I huffed in frustration because I knew precisely why she was practicing self-censorship. I pushed again saying:
Catholics sound different because we ARE different. We have different vestments, different rituals, different social action and yes, even different language and grammar because we are called to be different.
Just like the Jews were instructed to do things differently from the rest of the world in the Old Testament, Catholics were tasked with setting themselves apart as well so that we could easily be identified as followers of Christ. Our differences are what highlight our unique call to others that there is, in fact, a different way - THE Way - Jesus Christ.
So it follows that Catholic-speak is and should be different. That's okay!!!
I hate that there are Catholics who run around trying to dumb down their Catholic language in an effort to broaden the appeal of their message to those who aren't as entrenched in the Faith.
A hungry person isn't going to turn away from a banquet table because there are too many items to choose from! He's not going to turn away because he's not sure what a turkducken is! He's going to be drawn in by the delicious smells, the savory sight and, ultimately, the satisfaction of tasting the sumptuous spread before him.
Use your language as a sumptuous feast, Catholics! Do not be afraid to use words that convey the richness of our Faith! Don't scrub the Catholicity from your speech as if that will somehow draw more people to your message.
Your message IS your Catholicity. Proclaim it with everything you have - glorious diction included! If language is a staff, Catholic words are the gems and gilding that turn it into a crozier. People aren't going to be put off by that which is beautiful, even if they don't wholly understand it! Allow the language of Mother Church to draw Her children in. Don't shirk them in the hopes that, eventually, lost and hungry souls somehow stumble upon Her wisdom. Don't worry that you will turn people away with words that hint at deeper spiritual truths.
The Holy Spirit will gently call out to those willing to hear; allow Him to reach into their souls with the poetic patois of Catholic Faith.
I attended Mass in a parish the next town over this weekend. I attend this parish about once a month, and I always hope that a particular priest is presiding.
He's from Ireland, and he is EXACTLY what I've always pictured old-school Irish priests to be. He's young, but his sermon style leaves you with the impression that you were just schooled by the likes of Saint Pio.
He brought up some really great points about Purgatory that I thought were worthwhile.
First, of course, is that there is a Biblical basis for our doctrine. 2 Maccabees 12: 38-46 is all about praying and making atonement for the souls in Purgatory.
Father rightly pointed out that there's no point in praying for the departed if they only go to either Heaven or Hell. If they go to Heaven, prayer is unnecessary; if they are in Hell, prayer cannot get them out. Thus, if the Bible teaches that it is a wholesome and holy thing to pray for the dead, logic necessitates a third option which Mother Church teaches is Purgatory.
I've written of Purgatory a few times before, most notably with an experience I had involving my late Aunt Loretta.
The homily given by our Irish priest was epic, though. He explained that though the holy souls experience a torment inexplicable to the living, they also possess joy incomparable to our most glorious of joys.
Their joy lies in the certainty of salvation. We do not have that certainty while on earth.
He then relayed a story I'd never heard:
A platoon of soldiers was marching towards the front lines when they met a med-evac unit that was en route to the hospital with the wounded. One soldier saw his brother among the wounded and called out to him with an anguished heart.
A doctor replied, "Son, his wound looks fierce, and he is in great pain, but it is not mortal. He will soon be as good as new. Be happy, for he is safe. You still have your battle ahead."
Such is the lot of those in Purgatory. Their battle is over, and though they may suffer greatly from the wounds caused by sin, they know that ultimate victory - triumph in Christ - is theirs.
I just felt it was a very powerful parable.
He then explained his choice of chasuble: purple with gold embroidery. Before Vatican II, black was the vestment color prescribed. Celebrants today have the choice of purple, black or white. However, even for those who choose purple or black, there must be some bit of white or gold as well, for though we remember the penitential burden these souls bear, we recognize the glory that they have to look forward to.
I loved that reminder!
His closing line was beautiful: "Let us remember to always pray for these holy souls so that we may celebrate them on the Feast of All Saints."
Just sending a shout-out to this phenomenal priest who always does such a stellar job of teaching his congregation about the beauty and depth of our Faith. Bless him!
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