Friday, August 10, 2012

We Interrupt This Catholic Blog For Some Auntie Fodder

My goddaughter's mom, J, and I have a long history together. And we also have a similarly weird habit: we make up songs. About everything. Not off the top of our heads, but from real songs, inserting words to make them fit. Her big achievement was "Puppies in the Dark" (when you come home to your dogs after being out all day) mine was probably something about cats. Until now. Working off of the most annoying song ever written, and one she sings to Miss G, I present to you: Red Sippy Cup. You're welcome.

Now, red sippy cup is the best receptical
For music class, playdates, fairs and festivals
And you, my friend, may be kind of a noob
If you prefer drinkin' from boob

Hey, red sippy cup makes snack time easy
It travels in diaper bags, clean up is breezy
And unlike my diapers, it’s not too skeezy
Those Pampers can be kind of crass, whow

Red sippy cup, I fill you up
Let's have a party, let's have a party
I love you, red sippy cup, I lift you up
Proceed to party, proceed to party

Now, I really love how you're easy to sip
But I really hate how you're easy to drip
'Cause when juice runs down my lower lip
Well, that, my friends, is quite yucky

But I have to admit that mommy gets smitten
Admirin' how happily I can be sippin’
On you so she’s not gettin' bitten
I’ve got teeth- so that’s pretty lucky

Red sippy cup, I fill you up
Let's have a party, let's have a party
I love you, red sippy cup, I lift you up
Proceed to party, proceed to party

Now, I've seen you in blue and I've seen you in yellow
But only you, red, will do for this fellow
'Cause you are the Abbot to my Costello
And you are the fruit to my loom

Red sippy cup, you're more than just plastic
You're more than amazing, you're more than fantastic
And believe me that I am not the least bit sarcastic
When I look at you and say

Red sippy cup, you're not just a cup
(No, no, no, God, no)
You're my, you're my
(Friend, friend, friend, life long)
Thank you for being my friend

Red sippy cup, I fill you up
Let's have a party, let's have a party
I love you, red sippy cup, I lift you up
Proceed to party, proceed to party

Thursday, July 19, 2012

"Tell The Truth Through Whichever Veil Comes to Hand..."

I’m not much of a discerner. First off, I don’t honestly know how to discern (despite my best efforts and trying to buddy up with the Holy Spirit), but also because I tend to be an over-thinker in most things and so when I feel moved to just implusively do something, I kind of just do it. In my experience, when I do something impulsively, it has always, always worked out for me. I think the Holy Spirit knows this (of course He knows this) so, I find when I start to have the desire to know or do something, He puts it everywhere for me and makes me REALLY want to do it.

So it was with veiling. People often ask me why I do it, and I do wish that I was one of those really lovely, holy Catholic women who could say “I had it on my heart and so I prayed on it for a few weeks and I felt a deep calling to do it, discerned that it was a calling from God and not from my own pride and I went along with the call.” (I will admit that I wish I said this because I just really like freaking people out with all the Catholic jargon I know.)  No, with veiling, I heard about it somewhere, read a website or two and I promptly went to the only Catholic store in town at the time—owned by a SSPX parishioner-- and bought a chapel cap. The next time I went to Mass, I pinned it to my hair and never looked back. I actually got quite a few compliments on it- mainly from older ladies in the parish- and so I felt less weird about switching to a full on mantilla when I was given one that belonged to Hubbs’ grandma. I won’t go in to all the stuff about whether it’s required still but no one observes it or no longer required but we should do it. I do it. It’s not not allowed, so I do it.
In my parish, there are only about 5 women who veil that I have seen and they are all under the age of 30. All but one is married. My parish is the most traditional in town (aside from the SSPX one, of course) but it’s by no means stodgy; both of our priests have been priests for fewer than 5 years and we have an elementary school attached to our parish. There are a lot of older people, but there are also a ton of kids. I never felt as if anyone gave me weird looks or scoffed at me or anything like that.

I have heard people say that they don’t want to veil because they feel like they will call attention to themselves because they will be the only one. I have heard people say that being the only one will make them prideful. I understand both of these inclinations. I know, for me, that it has made me less prideful, actually. For me, veiling is a reminder of my submission. This may be surprising to exactly none of you, but I’m sort of rebellious and incorrigible. Wearing the veil, which, to the person I was before I came back to the Church, would have seemed really backwards and patriarchal (“what do you mean I should cover my hair? I will cover my hair when men have to cover their hair!”), is a sign that I am submissive to the Church that Jesus founded on Earth- to the teachings and traditions she gave us by His authority. It’s an outward sign, not to everyone around me but to ME that I said yes to this life; that I chose, against all the “rational” thoughts of a former me, to be authentically feminine, to think of myself as a daughter of God. Standing out in front of people when I would rather have disappeared in some back row is breaking down my pride. It says “yes, I know I look a little silly, but I am a Catholic and this is how I show it.” Because, let’s be honest: without the veil, I could be going to work. Priests wear collars, nuns and brothers wear habits- I wear a veil when I’m at Mass. There are benefits, too. My mantilla blocks my peripheral vision so I can’t see when people dress inappropriately, or read the bulletin through the entire Mass, which allows me to be more focused on what’s going on and less judgmental.
So, if you are thinking of veiling (and you have discerned if that’s how you do things) here are my practical tips for veiling:

Wear what’s comfortable to you.
You can wear any kind of head covering that makes you happy- from a hat to a wide headband to a full-on veil. Since I live in a colder climate, I don’t go for the hat because it would feel more disrespectful to me to leave it on, since I am in the habit of always taking them off when I get inside. However, there is a lady at my parish (who must be either British or Southern) who wears SPECTACULAR vintage style hats and dress suits. She looks great. That would make me prideful, personally, since I’d be trying to match my awesome hat to my awesome outfit.
Start slow!
If you feel a little hesitant at first, that’s okay- try something small like a chapel cap or even just try it out at daily Mass. If you feel really weird after wearing it a few times, maybe it’s not for you.

Remember it’s not required
 If it’s not for you, then no big deal. We all have ways of expressing our devotion. I have never been able to stand a scapular.

Be prepared for questions
Someone somewhere will ask. Even if your answer is as simple as "I just feel like it's a really beautiful tradition" have an answer.

Still interested? Here is a website that I like Mantilla With Me

Friday, July 6, 2012

Captain America and the Catholic Church

I’m not sure, if in all the time I have been writing this blog (admittedly sporadically), that I have ever mentioned that Hubbs is a HUGE comic book nerd. I am not exaggerating either. The top shelves of my closet are full of long-boxes, the office is littered with pages in process for his very own comic book and every month there is a giant box on my doorstep that comes from Discount Comic Book Service. I have lately started to embrace this aspect of his personality more fervently, and it has gone from a mild curiosity about his interests into something that I find somewhat more fascinating. I have seen every XMen movie, every Spiderman movie and all the origin stories for the Avengers (except the Hulk, during which I fell asleep- I don’t think I missed much.) After seeing the most recent Avengers movie, I slightly switched my allegiance from Tony Stark/Iron Man (an allegiance that, to be fair, came just as much from his portrayal by Robert Downey Jr. and a penchant for AC/DC than anything else) to Captain America.

My husband loves to tease me about my overtly girly-ness when I talk about how much I love Captain America. I guess it says something about me that I love BOTH the bad boy (Tony Stark) and the All American Good Guy (Capt. Steve Rogers). Fine. He’s probably right. But hear me out on this one.

In light of the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the health care bill which, in turn, upholds the HHS mandate, I found this little gem from Captain America.
I know, right?!

That’s right, folks. Captain America. And do you know why I like good ol’ Cap so much? Because Captain America is like the Catholic Church! He is full of heroic virtue! As a military man, he obviously knows what it’s like to have to sacrifice for a greater good, a higher ideal. He was chosen to become a super soldier based on his character, not his physique. He has always, always stood up for what he believed in, even in the face of doing something “unpatriotic.” He knows that patriotism goes deeper than just following orders; if the orders are unjust, the best a patriot can do it disobey them. This was apparently the theme of a recent series called Civil War (where that panel comes from) in which he defied a law based on the fact that it was not a just law. These are characteristics that we, as Catholics, should embody. No, we should not be laying down our lives for a secular government (as Cap is essentially doing as a military member), but, we are the Church Militant! This means that we should be fighting to live out a Truth, even if that is made difficult for us.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

It's 2am...

One of the spiritual works of mercy is to admonish the sinner, but we are also supposed to be charitable and loving, right? I know it’s 2am and so I don’t pretend that this post is going to make much sense, but this is something that is really troubling me (hence the 2am.) I hear all the time that we are to speak the Truth even when the Truth is unpopular. Is this whole “don’t be judgmental” thing coming from society? How can I speak the Truth when it is unpopular and admonish the sinner without being “judgmental”? Isn’t just pointing out that they live in sin a judgment, or, again, is that just society that says that?

I have some acquaintances (a couple) who used to be friends. There are personal issues I have with them, but there are also moral ones. I have actually had to cut myself off from them, but Hubbs is still involved. Whenever I bring up something about how they are not living their lives correctly and how that makes me uncomfortable, he always tells me I’m not supposed to judge. I insist I am not judging, I am not saying they are bad people or making any kind of prediction of where they are going in the afterlife. But they are in mortal sin. I can’t just pretend that they are exempt from being in mortal sin just because they aren’t Catholic or because Hubbs likes them. It really… pisses me off that he constantly tells me I’m being judgmental. He says that all I can do is be a good witness, but I have cut myself off so I can’t do that anymore. I do sincerely hope that if I they think I’m a bitch, they attribute it to me and not that I am Catholic.

But again, this brings me to my question: am I being judgmental? My problems with this particular couple are more personal and less moral, but the fact that there are personal problems make the moral ones feel bigger than with other people. I know that I have made mistakes, the very same mistakes that they are making, in fact. I know that I am not above sin. We are fallen and we all sin. I know that. How do we admonish sinners, speak the Truth and still be loving people in a society where no one will take responsibility for anything they do and any kind of questioning of anything is judgmental or intolerant? I don’t want my attitude to reflect badly on my faith (and I know it will) but I also don’t want to be relativist or permissive about things I know are wrong. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Someday You Will Be Loved

In a very dark part of my life, this song was extraordinarily comforting to me. I wanted these words to come off of the lips of the person who did the very same thing as the author of this song. I wanted to know that someday I would be loved, and someday everything that hurt, that made me feel as if I were cheap and used and disgusting and not worth it would go away, like bad dream. But you know what? It didn't. Because that's not how we work no matter what society and mildly romantic emo songs tell us. They don't tell us that we will continue to feel this way even when we ARE loved. In fact, we might even feel worse, and all of those feelings will be amplified, because once you know what you are worth you mourn even more that you didn't believe it enough to be strong. That if we let other people tell us that it's okay to feel hurt when we're used, then that's okay, but buying that we are going to feel fine about it once someone doesn't use us is just buying into yet another one of their lies. This song... this song is just wrong. And while maybe, MAYBE these things do fade to  memories that "seem more like bad dreams" they're still vivid and they still can hurt.  If you buy into the lie that "well this one didn't love me, but someday someone will" you will continually make the same mistake. Hopefully, when anyone who has been in this situation is loved, the person who loves them is themselves. Because until you can love yourself and not get your self-worth from someone else who is likely lying to you, just looking for the "someone" who will love you, you will never be able to truly love. Until that day, you will likely be too broken to give or receive the love needed.

The person who loves you will not ever use you. They will not ever pressure you. They will never make ultimatums. The person who loves you will wait.

I am now going to hug my husband and thank God that we found one another.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Death of Masculinity

Last week I was at work, doing a monthly project that requires me to work in our warehouse for the day doing an inventory of certain product and then boxing them up to have them shipped. I had to move a box full of something heavy from one table to another so all of the order was together. I grabbed one of the guys, the shipper, who is thin and kind of spindly and said “Can you do something manly for me?” He just looked at me and said “I’m not very manly, but I can try.” I thought about that all afternoon, because here I am: 5 ft tall, about 100 pounds and a guy told me he wasn’t manly. As if I was somehow more manly than he was?! 

Young men today are floundering, and I think I might know why. Women are told they can do anything and so they do everything. I believe it was Mandi (Catholic Newlywed) who had a post about letting your husband be the man, and she hit it right on the head. In the wake of the sexual revolution, women stepped out of the home and into the work world. But they didn’t relinquish control. So men and women are equals, but men no longer have a domain. Not saying I want all women back in the home taking care of the babies. Some women (me included) would likely go stark raving mad if that were to be their fate. But at least when women were in charge of the home they had a clear domain. Men went out and made the money, women had the home and everyone had a place. It might not have been as equal of a partnership as people claim to have nowadays, but at least each partner took a role and went with it. Now, women do both and men do…. What? They stay at home with mommy and daddy and expensive gaming systems till they are out of college, then marry, and go out and make half the money and on weekends play video games or watch hours of sports or hang out with the guys while mom suffers from higher rates of stress and depression than ever. Our men are stunted. And it’s our fault. We need to let our men do something for goodness sake. Even if they are the ones that stay at home with the kids all day. We need to let them be in charge of something so that they can feel like they are providing value. I really believe that many men today feel like they are replaceable. And they are, aren’t they? A woman can have a career and no children. If she decides she wants children, she can run down to her local sperm bank, pick out someone who is a doctor or has an MBA and blue eyes and brown hair and create the perfect little human for herself. She can have that baby and show it off like the newest handbag. Why would you need a man? There are women out there, single moms, who have genuine hardship and have to do it all. My mom was one of them. She had to be mom and dad, and she tells me all the time that she wished she had done a better job of it. Which is absurd because my mom was an amazing mother. She didn’t have a choice. But all us married women out there, we do. We have husbands and partners and fathers to our children. So why don’t we let them feed that need in their brain to provide?

Guys. If you're not swooning, you're paying too much attention
This is reflected in popular culture these days, too. I was thinking about this after the re-release of Titanic, and then it was compounded for me while listening to a podcast of Catholic Answers Live. Nowadays, the men in movies tend to take the “feminine” role in the relationship, whereas the women tend to take the “masculine.” The women are the pursuers, the ones who feel trapped, the ones who make all the decisions. The men are typically oafs or completely passive or both.  Everything from sitcoms to Huggies commercials show you how incompetent they are at practically everything. All they do is sit around and drink beer and make a mess of things and they can’t even change a diaper for goodness sake!  And there is something to be said about the fact that we never call men “men.” We call them “boys” and then “guys.” And it never progresses from that. Men are perpetually teenagers and this is because in a post-sexual revolution world, we don’t ask them to be any more. Gone are the days when a man who had just graduated from high school had essentially 3 options: go to college, get a job and get married or get a job and get married or join the armed services and get married. They were expected, at 18, to figure out how they were going to provide for a family and they were pretty much out on their own at that point. Girls would stay with their parents until they were married. When I was looking at the 1940 census, I found my great-great grandparents. They had one daughter, aged 28, still living with them. She was a school-teacher, and I presume, unmarried and therefore still under her parents’ jurisdiction. Nowadays, the feminists have decided that men are incompetent and treat them as such. So guess what men do? They act incompetent. They have decided that they use women for pleasure and so men do. They have told men they are replaceable, or just not that important, and so they aren’t. This attitude is prevalent in our mothers’ generation, so their sons were raised this way along with their daughters. No wonder the modern family is declining at a rapid rate and resembles something my great-great grandparents would not even recognize. This infects everything in the world today. Birth control which was hailed by the 1960's women's "liberation" movement basically gave men a free pass to use a woman and take no responsibility for what happened. Many abortions happen after a woman is pressured by her boyfriend because we've conditioned men that we can be used for pleasure with no consequences. No one asks men to step up, and so they just...don't. If women claim that chivalry is dead, it’s because the sexual revolution held a gun to it’s temple and executed it in cold blood.

So men, I, as a woman (and hopefully speaking for my sisters in Christ) am asking, nay DEMANDING that you step up. Women still want a man who is manly. This doesn’t mean that you work on cars or watch sports all day. No, we want a man who supports us as a woman, in whatever path we choose as your partner, from stay at home mom to career mother. We want you to put your family first and to provide for them, not just monetarily but by being an equal partner with your wife and providing that solid foundation on which to build the family unit. We want you to lead, because there are some times that we don’t want to have to make all the decisions around here. It has been my experience that when you hold people to a higher standard, they tend to rise to the occasion. So, I am holding men-- young men in particular-- to a higher standard. We were made for more, men and women, and now it’s time for the men to stop being guys and start being men. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Favorite of the Seven Deadly Sins

I am basically, like, the worst Catholic ever. I know, I know, this coming on a day when someone tweeted that I was not only faithful but also orthodox. Which I of course had to clarify that they were talking about me. But really, I am really bad at this Catholic stuff.

I learned a hard lesson the Saturday before Easter. I was in Confession (I know, I waited till the last minute, but I had tried to go to other parishes (because I am scared of confessing to my own priests) and the lines were so long they started to turn people away), and I learned the truth behind “never go to a Polish priest for confession.” (Do people say that? I think someone told me that.) This is because they are blunt. Really blunt. Like, so blunt that, even though you are telling them your sins which you already know are sins, they manage to make you feel like you sinned somehow worse than you did. But I should take my own advice and remember that sin is sin. And also, it’s kind of like when you have really bad acne and you put super harsh chemicals on it and it burns like hell. You know the acne is going away even though you feel like your skin is going to burn off. So, basically confession to a Polish priest = straight vodka on acne. I highly recommend both, for the record.

So, what is it that I am so bad at, you may ask? Forgiveness. Basically the most fundamental and base thing Jesus asks us as Christians. I used to think that being able to hold a grudge was some sort of badge of honor. Some kind of time-honored tradition that came with my Southern roots (I still hate carpet baggers, by the way. And I’m not entirely sure what a carpet-bagger is.) Then I thought maybe it was just a personality flaw, but a minor bad habit like interrupting people. It was annoying and maybe not very nice in high society, but no need to really get worried about it, right? But the closer I got to my faith, the more I started to realize that this sin was a nice little ball of lots of other sins, many of which were part of the 7 deadly ones. The problem was, with my unforgiveness, I felt justified. I could be mad at my father for walking out when I was 2 and never calling again, except randomly texting me to tell me that he loved me. That was allowed and no one could tell me that I should forgive him. What did they know anyway? And I could definitely not forgive the person who acted as my father for being mad about something that he never told me about and then leaving the country and not telling me about that either. Because, really, that is permissible. And I could be mad at my former best friend for hurting me deeply over 10 years ago and never apologizing. I could hold a grudge against my mother-in-law for saying something really hurtful and inappropriate the week before my wedding. Every hurt I ever had was easily justified in my head and the more I justified it to myself the more I nursed it. And besides, none of these people had asked me to forgive them. Heck, half of them had no idea that they had even hurt me. And I certainly wasn’t going to bring it up because why rock the boat. It’s probably all in my head and I am aware that I ruminate, so why bother talking it out? And it spiraled from there.

What this all comes down to is pride. I am prideful when I hold a grudge because I think it’s all about me. I am presumptuous that I know others’ intentions. I allow myself to believe that they are trying to hurt me because I am prideful that people should, essentially, want to hurt me. I have to be aware that all of us sin, every single one of us, including (and probably especially) me. I have to practice the virtue of humility, one of the virtues that are so, so hard for me. Because for so much of my life, humility just wasn’t required. By not acknowledging that God has a plan for me, I fail to see these people who hurt me as a way to be better. As a way to practice my humility, to better myself, to ask myself “what is God trying to teach me here.” Jesus tells us to ask the Father “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” So that’s that. If I can’t forgive people who have hurt me, how can I expect God to forgive me? I need to remember that as a Catholic, I can follow all the rules, but if I am not an example of God’s love, no one will want to follow those rules anyway. And if I can’t help lead people to God, what is the point?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Only the Lonely

When I was away from the Church and not practicing any kind of religion, one of the things that I loved to pontificate on was the fact that so many Christians were holding themselves to the standard set by Jesus. I scoffed that it was impossible, and that Christians should focus on the actuality that Jesus was human and not just God. While I recognized that it was an ideal to strive for, I saw it as just an ideal. As I have come back to the Church, it’s still something that I struggle with in a way. In fact, Jesus is something I struggle with. Okay, I know that sounds weird, and it could be that I have a weird association with Him. I think of Him in a few ways: the goofy high-school counselor who just wants to hug it out; the hippy-dippy goody two-shoes always telling us to love one another; the source of all those obnoxious televangelists who apparently is waiting for me somewhere in the ether, promising me health and happiness and anything my heart desires as long as I donate now. I never had these problems with God, and certainly not with Mary or any single Saint (well, St. Therese a little bit.) Don’t get me wrong, I never questioned the reality of Jesus or what He did, but more the idea of him. I think it’s Jesus’ dual nature that gives me the hang-up. Sure, it’s easy to be a nice person and turn the other cheek when you’re also God and perfected in nature. As mush as I didn’t like people focusing on just His divine nature, I had the hardest time thinking of Him as being human in any way. And so, I just sort of distanced myself from thinking about Him at all.

Lately, though, I have found myself really focusing on a couple of things about Jesus.
I always find myself feeling really bad for Jesus during the Agony of the Garden. It’s so sad to think that He asked His friends to stay awake with Him and they couldn’t even do it. Granted, they probably had no idea what was about to happen, but He did. He needed support and not one person could give that to Him. How many times have you spent a sleepless night, worrying about something you knew was going to happen? And that something is never, ever a brutal death by execution. I think the thing that gets me here is that Jesus shows Himself as a flawed human, even if just for a moment. He actually asks God the Father to take the fate away from Him, if it’s possible. Jesus knew that He was the Son of God. He knew that He was not going to die, and that many of the people who doubted Him would believe. But He was still scared. It seems to me that at that moment, Jesus had a hard time trusting that His Father would provide, would protect. This seems more poignant at Lent, knowing that Jesus was about to go out and die for me, someone who wanted to ignore him.
totally inappropriate- yet somehow fitting

This passage is where the Catholic notion of a holy hour comes from. We are asked to spend at least an hour with the Blessed Sacrament—Jesus. I heard something on the radio not too long ago from Fr. Antoine Thomas who teaches children to go to adoration. He told a little girl who was about to make her first Communion that she should spend time in adoration. He said that she should ask her parents to take her because Jesus was lonely. Again, a human emotion for someone who I previously wanted to think of as human, but just couldn’t. It hit me all of a sudden though, when I heard it. I thought about the state of the Faith across the country. I thought about how our Cathedral in Denver was three quarters empty on a Sunday and I later found out there were only 600 registered families. It struck me that Jesus really is lonely. He knew what He did, we know what He did and yet, so many of us can’t be bothered to stay with him for an hour once a week. I became so grateful at that moment for the gift of faith that I have been given, even if I fight it sometimes and can’t always wrap my mind around it. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Serenity Prayer for the New Evangelization

I sincerely hope that the Good Lord accepts my Facebook debating as Authentic Christian Witness. Sometimes, I just can't help myself, and I believe this to be one of my greatest weaknesses.
I find myself at least once a day wishing I had some kind of BadCatholic come-back generator (or just Marc Barnes whispering in my ear Cyrano-style) when I (inevitably) end up in these stupid social media throwdowns. Is this what BXIV meant when he called us to use the internet as our platform for spreading the gospel? When all manners are out the window (by the other party) and the gloves come off, I find it hard to keep my cool. In fact, this morning when I was called a religious extremist for the second time in 12 hours (before 9 am, mind you), I had to honestly stop myself from putting an end to the debate with this nugget: "well, I may be a religious extremist, but you're a putz. *drops mic*." But, somehow cooler heads prevailed, and I managed to just not retort.

So... I went ahead and wrote myself a little serenity prayer for this exact situation. Use as needed and call the BVM in the morning.

Lord, grant me the tenacity to defend the things I know
The wisdom to know the things I defend
And the patience to not call others names when I get branded a “religious extremist.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Sex, Style and Substance

I just finished reading Sex, Style and Substance: 10 Catholic Women Consider the Things that Really Matter edited by Hallie Lord (aka Betty Beguiles). And man, was it great! It was sold out everywhere, but it was still available as a Nook Book so I loaded up my little Nook (thank you gift card I got for Christmas) and went at it. It features chapters written by 10 different women on all aspects of Catholic life: from modesty and style to marriage to the single life to the media we consume. I tried to read only one chapter a day/night and really try to do the reflection questions at the end, so I could get something out of it. I found it really inspirational to read insights from all these wonderful Catholic women (many of whom have blogs that I enjoy), especially now when I feel like the Catholic Woman is under attack. I particularly enjoyed the chapter God and Godiva by Karen Edmisten. Here is an excerpt:
"Who is this contemporary Catholic woman of whom we speak? Let's take a quick inventory, shall we?

We work in the home and in the public square. We go to Mass every single Sunday (sometimes more), eat bread that we call God and sip wine we call Blood. We care about what that anciently-robed guy in Rome says, and we spill our sins to another human being. We mate for life. We shun artificial birth control. Let's face it-- we're, umm, different. We're proudly pope-loving, sterilization-eschewing, Eucharist-adoring, confession-going, twenty-first-century Catholic specimens of femininity who buck societal norms and balk at contemporary expectations. Yeah, we're the face of the new rebellion.
Scary, aren't we?"
I definitely couldn't have said it better myself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Sound of Silence

Sorry for the "dead air" lately. I have been wanting to post something positive and uplifting and I am finding that hard to do when I seem to get myself worked up almost daily on something I see or hear on the news. I want to add my voice to these things, but I am tired of fighting in some ways. So I am considering this stuff my penance for Lent and I am hoping that I am passing on the Truth to my Adult Confirmation class so that we can have more Church Militant to fight the good fight.

I just don't want to be that person who wages Facebook flame wars with the Liberal Ladies Who Lunch. Correction: I WANT to be that person, but I don't have the heart at the moment.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

On Sin, Statistics and Catholicism

Okay you guys, if I hear one more time that 98% of all women who identify themselves as Catholic (except when some of those women were baptized Catholic and are now actually Unitarian) use contraceptives, I think I am going to scream. Not kidding. I think I am going to go all ballistic and start pulling out my hair. And I rather like my hair so this is something I would like to avoid.

Let me just send a little message in all love and Christian charity: Sin is Sin. The consequence of sin is separation from God. Separation from God, if not corrected and continued willfully is a mortal sin. Mortal sins, if not corrected, will lead to Hell. Sorry for that, but that is the Truth. It doesn’t matter whether you particularly like a certain sin or whether you even agree that sin really exists. The truth is the truth whether you agree with it or not.

Being Catholic starts with baptism. But it doesn’t end with it. It is a journey and a constant battle, every single day. Believe me, there were times when I knew it would be easier to not be Catholic. I had that very thought the other day at the grocery store as I was passing the table of Girl Scouts selling their delicious wares (that fund Planned Parenthood). So it’s not a walk in the park and a yummy Samoa. But to me, it’s worth it in order to live my life aligned with the Truth. And I have been happier every day for it, even when I thought I was miserable in the moment (like when I had to wake up at 4am on my Hawaiian vacation to take my temperature). And being Catholic is something active. It involves things, very basic things, like going to Mass, availing yourself of the sacraments, and living the life that the Church in Her 2000 years of wisdom proscribes for us.

So here’s my main argument about that 98% statistic. If you don’t attend Mass and you don’t accept the rules that are being given to us (especially when not accepting them puts you in a state of mortal sin), then you are.not.Catholic. Even if some years back, your mother and father brought you into the Church in a beautiful little white dress and promised to raise you in the faith. Even if you attended Catholic school all your life until college and then had an “epiphany” that a “bunch of old guys in Rome have no idea what real life is like.” Even if you want to take birth control. The Church is not a democracy and your opinion doesn’t really count. You either are Catholic by actively being a Catholic or you’re not. This 98% squarely puts themselves in the “not Catholic” camp.  

I am so tired of being someone living the Catholic life to the best of my ability, and being the one ignored. Why are they measuring us by those who aren’t of us? I know this is media spin, and I know we have made strides, but really? There are plenty mass-going, NFP using self-identified Catholics and we never even pop up on the radar.

So what do we do? How do we make ourselves heard? What do we have to do to in order to prove that those of us who are actually Catholics truly live our faith and that it’s not really open to discussion?

If they can say “don’t like abortion, don’t have one,” can we all just say “don’t like Catholicism, don’t call yourself one”?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Now What Indeed.

There are so many things I could blog about. I could blog about HHS (ugh, don't even want to get started). I could blog about Nicki Minaj (why bother? She's like a somehow less talented Lady Gaga and she's dug her own gave.) I could blog about St. Valentine (because martyrdom= way cooler than pink paper hearts.)

But instead, I want to blog about a billboard I saw on my way to work today. It features a girl looking at a guy and smiling with the words "I've fallen for him. Now what?" and the address I was intrigued, so I went to the site. It's run by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Initiative to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy. And it's allllll about your choices in birth control! Yay!!! Finally, something that will tell me about birth control! Lord knows there is just not enough information out there.

One of the things that irritated me the most was this about us:
" is the hub for a Colorado statewide effort to reduce unintended pregnancy and help “normalize” conversation around sexual health and well being. About 40% of Colorado pregnancies are unintended, and the rate is even higher among young adults in their twenties. Poor knowledge about effective contraception or how to use it, jobs without health insurance, and ambivalence toward starting a family—If it happens, it happens—all contribute to this situation."

Um. What? I don't really think that "if it happens, it happens" is ambivalence. I mean, in my daily life, I call that "being open to life." But maybe I need to go to confession, I don't know. And I also don't think that a pregnancy that occurs when you have that attitude would really be "unintended" now would it? But then maybe I just have poor knowledge about contraception.

I feel unsettled by this and I think the Holy Spirit is prompting it. I mean, come on, they list FAM as "less effective" right up there with the withdrawl method. Really? Should they even list that as a method?? Because that's less of a method than a superstition. I did write them an email, but maybe we can "spam" them.

Small miracle there's not a bunch of information about how awesome abortions are.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Whose Idea Was This, Anyway?

Apparently, I am teaching an adult confirmation class.

I got an email from the Adult Education Coordinator at my parish, asking me if I wanted to, and of course I said yes! So now instead of just being a discussion leader and team teacher for the RCIA class my husband is in, I'm actually teaching my very own class! There are supposedly 12 people signed up, but on Monday night there were 7 people there and 3 of them are actually supposed to be in RCIA. So, who knows?

It's sort of ironic that, after spending all 4 years of my bachelor's program insisting that I did NOT want to teach (I double majored in history and religious studies), all I really want to to do is teach about the faith.

Did any of you go through this process yourselves? I'm looking for a way to really teach the faith without being overbearing or preachy, but I also want to be honest and authentic without being touchy-feely. I went through it last year and the woman who taught it is so great, but I want it to be "me." Any tips would be so, so, appreciated. And prayers of course.

Monday's lesson is "how to participate in the Mass." 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

He Put A New Song In My Mouth

This was the second week of having to sing "Here I Am, Lord" at Mass. This wouldn't trouble me so much aside from the fact that last week, for some reason totally unbeknownst to me, we  got a new Holy, Holy, Holy, a new Lamb of God and a new Great Amen. All with a tune that sounds like something from a Disney movie new arrangement.

I highly, HIGHLY dislike these new arrangements. We also got the new Gloria. No, not that new Gloria, a NEW new Gloria, with a new arrangement as well. I like the Gloria Simplex because it fits the new translation of the Mass. It sounds sort of like a chant and the simplicity of it works better than the cramming of the new words into the tune we were singing to before, so you can focus on what you're saying and not the odd phrasing with the arrangement. (Aside: When I was a kid, even at The Other Catholic Church in town, the Holy, Holy, Holy and Lamb of God were sort of chanted and I find myself longing for these older arrangements. My big beef with the Holy Holy Holy that we were doing before the new translation and are now doing again is phrasing. What is the need to repeat the "your glory" and "who comes"? Why can't we just put it into a normal phrasing? If you are repeating things in order to make them fit the melody, methinks you ought to re-write your melody, especially if your lyrics are coming from Scripture.) These new arrangements of these very important liturgical songs do NOT fit the elevated status of the new mass. They sort of jar me out of where I am. When the pianist started playing the tune for the Lamb of God, I actually got confused. I actually thought to myself  "why are they playing a song, we're not supposed to be playing a song here," and, based on how long it took people to catch on, I wasn't the only one. Here's my question: what's wrong with the Agnus Dei? I'm not saying that to be flippant, I am totally serious. Why can't we just sing the Sanctus and the Agnus Dei? Why all this kumbaya hand holdy stuff now, NOW that we have finally gotten rid of the kumbaya hand holdy translation?!

In any event, when I looked at these songs in our hymnal, I realized that they were all arranged by the same composer. I will not name him, mainly because the thread on his music on the Catholic Answers Forums was closed because people were being uncharitable. Now, I won't say anything about him personally (because I didn't even Wikipedia him to find out anything about him personally), I just don't like his "hymns." One because they are trite and contrived lyrically, two because they all sound like something from a Disney movie the same. But the last two weeks, with the exception of the Gloria Simplex and our recessional hymn this week ("How Can I Keep From Singing" which is a Protestant hymn, by the way), ALL of the songs we sang in mass were written by this good gentleman. It was like a This Dude love fest and not a Catholic mass at all.

Catholicism. You're Doing it Wrong. 
What does one do about something like this? I finally left The Other Catholic Church after putting my foot down over a horrendous rendition of Alleluia in which we clapped. Yes, you read that right. I am not a RadTrad, I'm really only a regular trad and this stuff really, really, REALLY bothers me. Can I ask my Pastor to put a moratorium on all the David Haas, Marty Haugen, Dan Schutte stuff? Can I respectfully request that we have a Catholic mass for the reals, or have the pew-sitting Catholics gotten so into their "let's sing the Our Father, use the orans posture, and clap through the Alleluia" mentality that people would actually be upset at the Catholicization of the mass? I know my personal preference should not dictate things and I know there are people out there who are very emotionally attached to these songs, but some of us are emotionally attached to the MASS as it should be and would like to at LEAST hear the liturgical prayers sung respectfully. I would trade one awful hymn a week for two good ones. Heck, at this point, I would trade two David Haas debacles for one Panis Angelicus. With so many beautiful, relevant, traditional Catholic hymns, do we really need to subject parishioners to this stuff?

Ugh, and now I have "Here I Am, Lord" in my head.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Teb-Over It: Why I Dislike Tim Tebow

Here in Colorado, we are known for several things:
1. Mountains
2. Hippies
3. Snow
4. Skiing
5. Having a large KKK community in the 1920's
6. Rabid Bronco fans
(Okay, so some of these things we might not be known for, but they are all true nonetheless.)

So, there's this guy, this football player and maybe you've heard of him. He does this particular thing whenever he scores. It's commonly called Tebowing. We Catholics call it praying and we typically don't do it in front of thousands of people in person and God knows how many on TV. 

Quintessential Colorado. Only this guy is not a hippy. That I know of
The Evangelical world just loooooves him. I can't tell you how many people on my Facebook just get all choked up at the thought of this man "witnessing his love for Jesus.” Nevermind that, at his vocation, he has been medicore at best (save a few “miraculous” come backs). They say completely inane and obnoxious things about how he passed a total of 316 yards in his miraculous comeback last night. 316, you guys! Like John 3:16! Like "God so loved the world..."! God is on our side. God wants us to win football games. 

The secular world tends to dislike Tebow. I attribute this precisely to the praying-in-the-endzone thing, the constant talk about being blessed and Christianity in general, and I'm sure the pro-life ad featuring him and his mother didn't really help his cause. The average everyday Joe just wants to sit back, relax, have a beer, watch the game and not have to think about Church and those pesky God and Jesus fellows.

But a lot of Catholics really, really like Tebow. A quick search on the Catholic Answers Forums brings up posts about how he is living his faith, and helping to evangelize. He could be bringing people to God, we want to live next door to him and he “seems like a really humble and great guy.” (I don’t like giving him so much attention as a Catholic considering that he was raised Baptist, his father is a pastor and both of his parents are missionaries. He was born in the Philippines. Now, why would a Baptist missionary family be in the Philippines, when 90% of the population is Christian? Maybe because 80% of them are Catholic.) There’s also a double-standard that is exercised with Tebow. Catholics paising him on the forums for being a good Christian example are the same ones in other threads who attack the Duggars for having a TV show because it’s “materialistic.” I guess being a football star really does have its perks. No one seems to be talking about how awesome Philip Rivers is, though, and he’s a Catholic football star who is a chastity speaker.

I have no doubt that God loves Tim Tebow. I have no doubt that God loves anyone. I just have beef with something that looks to me like showboating. We are supposed to be a good example to others in the life that we live. We are not supposed to fall on our knees in prayer in front of millions of people (Matthew 6:5). I honestly believe that Tebow is coming from a sincere place and that he really wants to glorify God in his way and bring attention to Him. But I feel like people are starting to glorify Tebow instead. I feel like attention is being paid to the fact that Tebow is a Christian without much conversation going on about Christ. I cringe every single Sunday morning when I see the families go up to receive Communion in their Tebow jerseys. They have made Church just a stop before watching Tebow run the ball. Idol worship is idol worship, even if that idol is Christian. This brings to mind what happened last spring with Father John Corapi. So many people really looked to him and followed him and when he fell, people were upset and their faith was shaken. They had put their faith in the man and not what he was preaching. Tebow is young, he is in the national spotlight, he is making a lot of money. He is also human. He will likely fall and then the media wolves will be all over it. People who were once inspired by him may be disappointed and turn away. Even if he doesn’t fall, what happens when the Broncos don’t go to the Super Bowl? Or if they do and they don’t win? If God’s favor is evidenced by the wins, is it lost when His team loses? I know God sees and is involved in everything, but being involved in who wins which football championship reduces Him to a level that almost makes my stomach turn.

I want the world to stop talking about Tim Tebow. When we do talk about him, I want it to be about football. If he plays well, then he plays well. If he doesn’t, then I want them to say so. I don’t want to hear any more talk about anything other than his playing skills. If he’s a nice kid, great. I’m glad. I’m just as tired hearing about sports stars shooting or stabbing people, robbing people or raping people. But let’s focus on his actions in football, and hope his life off the field is a good witness.

Besides, I have a pretty good feeling that God is a Saints fan, anyway. 
St. Jeanne d'Arc in New Orleans, hoisting a Saints banner

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Keep It Classy, Colorado

Just another example of why I believe abortion is a SYMPTOM and not the disease in this society. What gets me is that the girl's mother is upset about it too. Why did she allow the picture to be taken in the first place?

Colorado Student Banned From Yearbook

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Holy Day of... Eh.

Happy Epiphany Eve everyone!! As you all know, tomorrow is a Holy Day of Obligation, so make sure you all check on Mass times at your local....wait. What? You mean they moved the feast of the Epiphany to a Sunday?

The Feast of the Epiphany celebrates the day that the Magi arrived in Bethlehem and adored the baby Jesus and brought him presents and I think Mary had a little drummer boy show up and I'm pretty sure that it was the reason that men never, ever ask for directions...any more. It's one of oldest Feasts in Christianity- the prefigurement of all Christians on bended knee for our savior. 

With that said, I don't really understand why the Catholic Church in America has demoted this to a Sunday feast. I'm kind of a nerd in the sense that I really enjoy Holy Days of Obligation. I get so excited at the thought of taking time out of my normal life and going to Mass in the middle of the week. It's one of those things that make us Catholic, one of those things that no one else does. I read this book recently (and I apologize because I can't honestly remember who it was by or what it was called) about Vatican II and why it had such a big impact and why that impact isn't the things that everyone talks about-- the RadTrads talking about the change from Latin, for example-- but smaller things that slowly eroded our identity and lead to the really, really bad catechesis of the Baby Boomer generation which lead to the even WORSE (if it's possible) catechesis of our generation until we woke up and re-catechized ourselves. One of the things he talked about was this very thing. We all know we should go to Mass on Sundays, that's a given. And we all know we should go on Christmas and Easter, but it's those in-between feasts that should be shaping our lives. The ebb and flow of the liturgical calendar and the reflection outside of the race of this life. We've effectively been held less accountable for our own spiritual lives. The author of this book argued that we should all go back to the Friday meat abstinence (as the Bishops of the UK did recently) because it was something that all Catholics did, something that set us apart from all the other Christians out there. 

In today's world, when there is so much animosity toward Catholics and so many Christians aren't really all that much different than your average Secular Sally, (*coughunitarianscough*), it would be nice, just once to see the Church stand up for Catholic identity. To remind us that we are in the world, but not of the world. We need things like keeping up our Christmas decorations for the entire Christmas season and then going to Mass on the Epiphany (which is January 6, not "a Sunday between January 2 and January 8"). We need our Theophany water and chalk and whatever other trappings we can get. We need our St. Blaise days and May Crownings and Good Friday Fish Fries. We need to be reminded that that our Church isn't replaceable by going to whichever First United Congregation is closest to us, because the service times fit with soccer practice and the female pastor wears birkenstocks and a Hawaiian shirt and that's neat. Above all, we need to be reminded that we are Catholic and not only is it worth fighting for, it's worth living for, too. 

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ack! My Brain!

Last night, the Hubbs was watching Star Wars on a national cable television channel that is aimed at men, and literally EVERY single commercial break had a commercial for Trojan "Bare Skin"* condoms in it. It features a "beautiful" (read: sexy-librarian-type) "scientist" who works in a lab and couples who look like they are literally being magnetized together. Because this condom is to "bring you closer than ever before." Um... what? Even the Hubbs, who started muting the commercials after seeing it about 4 times, commented about how ironic it was that a condom, a device that by its very nature is meant to put a barrier between people, is being marketed to bring couples together.
I understand that not everyone is Catholic. There was a time that I wouldn't have considered myself Catholic. But I have said over and over that my reversion has made me see things from such a different perspective that it's actually difficult to understand the secular world any more. The Catholic Church's teaching on sexuality and human dignity is so profoundly beautiful that it actually makes me sad when I think that Protestant denominations who call themselves pro-life don't espouse about half of it. It makes me sad that so many people in the secular world- those going green, going organic, being crunchy- are still so tied up with their pills and IUD's and dubiously marketed prophylactics. Sometimes I feel like I've found the world's best product at a better price and everyone else is insisting on using something that just... doesn't work. 
In these Trojan commercials, where is the talk about how using a condom outside of a monogamous committed relationship *may* cause one or more parts of the couple to feel used, objectified or generally icky about things? Where is the warning that continued use of condoms may result in lower fidelity? Where is the caution that those who are being so "responsibly" intimate, may, in the end be irresponsibly treated by someone who claimed to love them?
Our product may not be as popular, it may not be as widely used. But. We win. 

John 1:23

*Please note that I do NOT condone the use or sale of this product. Ad is posted only for clarification purposes.