Sunday, October 9, 2011

My NFP Testimonial

I wrote this NFP testimonial for The Guiding Star Project. I would like to post more on my NFP experience later on, but for now, I just wanted to post this. It's not quite in the same "voice" that I use on the blog, since it was for the website, but maybe it will be helpful for other women wondering about it. 

The number one obstacle to my returning to the Catholic Church was its teaching on birth control.

Looking back now, I find that absurd, as I had been known to tell many, many people prior to my return to the Church that I hated birth control and was going to go to my doctor and demand a better option. I had a lot of issues on birth control. I was put on it as a young woman to control my acne. Yes, my acne. The first “pill” I was on made me absolutely insane… it made my hormones spike and plummet and for at least a week every month (not the one where I was on my period) I was cranky, agitated, anxious, overly emotional. For 7 whole days, due to one little pill, I displayed classic signs of clinical depression. After about 3 months like that, I went back to the doctor, who cheerfully told me that there was virtually no shortage of the type of pill I could be on, and they would find one that was “right for me!”

So we tried a second pill, this one made me bleed for 3 weeks straight. A third killed my libido, which was devastating for a newlywed. A fourth gave me intense migraine headaches. I was so fed-up, but had no idea what my options were. When I went in to speak to my doctor again, her next idea was a copper IUD. That was where I drew the line. I am squeamish about a lot of things, one of which is things being inside my body. For this reason, the shot, the ring and the IUD were completely out. But I was allergic to latex and had no desire to have children, so I stuck with the pill.

When my husband and I decided to have our marriage convalidated, this was the bone of contention for me. He had been urging me to get off the pill altogether, he had heard the study about it being carcinogenic and, being a bit of a “natural health” buff, he was very concerned about the long-term effects on my health and fertility. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to give up the “control” on my fertility, and I didn’t like what I thought was the Church’s teaching on having to have a bunch of children. I would rather be sick than possibly get pregnant with a man I married for better or for worse. But, we were required to take the class, and we were required to “live as brother and sister” until we were sacramentally married, so it seemed as good a time as any to go off the pill.
When I received my materials to take the class (we had to take it online because no in-person courses were offered in our area), I opened it with trepidation. As I started to take the class, I got very frustrated. It seemed impossible to remember all the rules, it felt like a sneaky way to make people give up and have 10 kids. My husband embraced it, though and learned it like a champ. He was always the more logical of the two. As time went on, though (and after switching gynecologists to a nurse mid-wife who was helpful), I learned how to chart, I learned how to see the cycles and it made a lot of sense. I feel better than I have in a long time; I’m not bloated, or having headaches or cranky. And, guess what? I don’t have acne any more either!

But the thing I have learned the most aside from the charting and being in tune with my body is that all the things our culture tells us about “the pill” are false. They tell us it will make us free, but we are chained to it because we have to take it every day. We feel like if we don’t, we can’t do anything “fun” without the pesky fear of taking responsibility for our actions looming over our heads. They advertise it to us like it’s this really great thing, telling us all about the awesome side effects it has: lessening PMDD, getting rid of acne and fewer, lighter periods. But they never tell us that it can cause other issues like cancer or infertility after prolonged use.

NFP has opened up many new things for me. I feel like I understand my body so much better now, something that I never knew before. When they teach you in school about your menstrual cycle, it’s more like an advertisement for tampons, they don’t really tell you what is going on in your body. So many women think something is wrong because they have no idea, and their doctors don’t either! (When I went to a doctor’s appointment with a friend the other day, I was appalled when her doctor told her that he was a little concerned about her “white discharge.”) Now, not only do I know what is going on in my body at any given time, so does my husband! There’s a reason why the statistics on divorce for NFP practicing couples is at 2%! I feel freer now, and healthier! I’m also more open to life because I feel like I am working with the rhythms of my body and not putting up any kind of barrier between my fertility, my husband, God and I. We’re all in this boat together, and I have come to value my fertility as a part of me as a woman that, rather than being shamed into suppressing by the culture at large, I am now accepting and in-tune to it! NFP is a wonderful gift that I wish more women would learn and I know so many women could benefit from if only it had the kind of funding and advertising that the pill has. I, personally, try to spread the word as much as I can. NFP is a true blessing in my life and marriage. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Better than "The Book of Mormon: The Musical" is CATHOLICISM. I could only be more excited about this if it were directed by Ken Burns. Okay, not really!


Sunday, September 25, 2011


I’m having a big problem of late. My usual malaise at typical daily life which has been with me since I could figure out what daily life was seems to be getting worse. Not in the sense that I am depressed or anything, but I am about to turn 27. Now, I have done "the usual" in the sense that I went to college, I got married, I bought a car and a house, children are likely in my not-too-distant future (as in the 3 year plan rather than the 5-to- never year plan). But I still feel like I have yet to figure out what it is I am supposed to do. This isn't troubling in and of itself, this is rather normal, I should think, for anyone who holds a BA. No, I am troubled because many, many times, even as a married person in a happy marriage, I seem to think about how great it would be to be a religious sister. I guess this is because being a religious sister fits the skills I have, and let me tell you, I don’t have many. I’m not saying that to be self-depraving or humble, it’s just the truth. I always had a hard time trying to figure out what my career should be because I don’t have any specific talents other than knowing stuff. When I took one of those career tests in high school, it told me I should be a rabbi (which had two glaring issues being that I am neither male nor Jewish.) Although, rabbis do know a lot of stuff.

Now imagine them in cubicles. 
I work in a dead-end job. Literally. I do data entry. I don’t particularly want to take on a job that has more responsibility because my job affords me a lot of time to listen to podcasts and little stress. I am busy most of the time, but it is feast or famine, and I have very little stress. When I am busy, I am still able to go home at the end of the day, completely sure that nothing I did can’t wait till tomorrow and it’s not going to ruin my or anyone else’s career. I have few deadlines, and I am essentially a minion in my workplace. I like it. I also have a part-time hobby business that I barely have any time for and that is wedding planning. I enjoy planning weddings, or at least I did, before I had a bride that kind of ruined for me and am still burned out from. I liked wedding planning because it afforded me the ability to be the person who knew everything, who got to take charge in a quiet, no-fanfare-needed kind of way. So the other day, when I was informed of an opening at my parish for their wedding and events coordinator/parish support staff I got pretty excited about it. Then I found out how much it paid and that it was part-time, and I got really, really sad because it’s basically impossible for me to take it if Hubbs and I ever want to do anything other than be mid-to-late 20 somethings at the beginning stages of our marriage. We would be basically stuck in the same situation as we are right now until the job either paid more, got more hours (preferably both) or I got so stressed out from the amount of work I had to do for the amount of money and too little sanctioned time to do it in that I had a nervous breakdown and ended up taking another dead-end job. I was sad for a little while and then I kind of realized I don’t really want to do that anyway. Which got me thinking: what do I want to do?

The reason why this whole religious sister thing really puzzles (and, yes, troubles) me is because I wasn’t religious when I went to college. I wasn’t religious when I met and then married my husband. Remember how I am super trepidatious about kids? Yeah, that troubles me too. I keep thinking to myself: what if I was meant to be a Sister? I definitely never discerned anything for myself then, and I have no idea how to discern things for myself now. I keep trying to tell myself that God has a plan, sure, but he also gave us free will which I’m pretty sure means that maybe if I had been religious I would have figured out that maybe I should have run off and joined an abbey, but since I didn’t choose that path, God’s not going to slam the door on me and make the rest of my life difficult, nor would He place on my heart a desire to do something I can’t do unless I completely go against His will. Not to mention, I don’t really want to leave my husband because I think that would make me miserable anyway. I keep trying to figure out what it is about religious life that has me so enthralled and all I can come up with is: you never have to worry about money because you’re provided for--no debt, no payments, no bills, no expensive clothes to buy when your company gets bought out by another one and changes the dress code, no clothes to buy period; Lots of alone time studying and praying; Depending on what order, the chance to share your love of the faith and the Church and God and the Saints—no questions asked because no one is going to argue with a woman in a habit.

So what I can take away from all of this is: I want to study the faith and share it, and I’m sick of worrying about money. I guess the money thing is my cross to bear, but I can’t exactly figure out how to go about the other two. It’s not exactly lucrative to be a theologian, though with an MA I could teach at the Parish school. So yet again, the devil of money jumps out at me. I guess maybe what I need, before I go out and get an MA, is a crash course in discernment.

Friday, September 16, 2011


So the blog post that gets the most hits on my blog is the one about tattoos and the majority of them come from Apparently a LOT of people in Italy want Padre Pio tattoos. Rock on, Italian ink lovers!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Right Words Can Be Comforting

I was dreading going to Mass a little today-- my parish has been all too keen in the past to make Mass into a show of patriotism that kind of gets under my skin. I sincerely dislike the Sundays when we get to sing "God Bless America" and "America the Beautiful" in Church. This always kind of bugs me because America, while founded on "religious freedom," hasn't always been the nicest of countries to Catholics, and this random outburst of nationalism seems trite, contrived and a bit anachronistic to me. In any event, it turned out okay. Because today, GOD had a message for us.

While people in Protestant communities across the country were sitting in... pews (folding chairs? Gymnasium bleachers?) listening to what I can only assume was their preacher's thoughts on today's milestone, possibly diatribes about the need to Christianize Western society, Catholics all around the world got this message, from the Book of Sirach (don't try to find it in your KJV):

Wrath and anger are hateful things,
yet the sinner hugs them tight.
The vengeful will suffer the LORD's vengeance,
for he remembers their sins in detail. 
Forgive your neighbor's injustice; 
then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. 
Could anyone nourish anger against another 
and expect healing from the LORD? 
Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself, 
can he seek pardon for his own sins? 
If one who is but flesh cherishes wrath, 
who will forgive his sins? 
Remember your last days, set enmity aside; 
remember death and decay, and cease from sin! 
Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; 
remember the Most High's covenant, and overlook faults.
Sirach 27:30-28:7

Now, for those of you who don't know how this works, today was the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time. Catholic liturgy includes four readings per Mass: one from the Old Testament, a Psalm, one of the Letters of the Apostles and a Gospel reading. These are on a cycle so that the Gospels are chosen from a different book of the Bible depending on the cycle year we are in. This Old Testament reading is one that we have been reading on the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time for at least 40 years, likely for centuries. It  just so happens to have fallen on September 11th, 10 years later. 

Perhaps we should all reflect on this passage and really think about it.

...And be grateful that we didn't have to sing "God Bless America" at Mass today.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Rebels of the Sacred Heart

"Rebels are we! Though heavy our hearts shall always be! Ah, no ball, no chain, no prison shall keep, we're the Rebels of the Sacred Heart!"- Flogging Molly

So, last night I was talking to one of the people in RCIA class about something that I know a lot about: rebellion. As I believe I have mentioned many times, I spent a lot of my formative years rebelling against a lot of things: “class” structure at my school, statistics on single-mom households, religion, football games, studying for the SAT’s, etc. Basically, anything I could get my overly logical brain behind. Most of this was in defiance against something “society” made me do. I didn’t jump around from fad to fad and passionately just believe in it, I did, in fairness, tend to be loyal to my anti-social structure and was properly brooding by the time I was 17. I blame this entirely on my blood, by the way, which is a nice mix of Cajun (also called “The Defiant Ones” by the English when they refused to take the Oath of Allegiance to Queen Anne and the Church of England), and German, who we all know are stubborn as mules—all the ones I know anyway. Which is why, when I came back to the Church it was something I had to laugh about to myself a lot. “Oh, so many people who knew me will think this is so crazy!” I thought to myself, chuckling and shaking my head “they will all think I’ve lost it entirely this time.”
Rights?  I don't own them. Such a rebel!
But last night, as I was talking to this person, I realized something. I think I am drawn to Catholicism precisely because it’s rebellious now. Not only is it rebellious to be religious in a very secularized world, it’s almost a rebellion in itself to be Catholic in religious society. Maybe that’s what drew me back to it in the first place. I studied a lot of religions, as in-depth as I could, starting from about age 10. Deep down, I wanted to belong to a religion, I think, probably just not “my” religion because that was not rebellious. But once I was completely removed from it and had all belief structures at an intellectual arm’s length, I was drawn back in. It’s not rebellious to be Buddhist or New Age! It’s not rebellious to be an atheist or a relativist. It’s rebellious to be a good, traditional Catholic; to actually know something about your faith and not refer to yourself as “recovering” or “raised that way.”
Hopefully this person, who, by the way, is concerned that she will never be able to not disagree with the Church on some things, will see it that way. I wish I had thought of this when I was talking to her about it. Maybe all us defiant Catholics out there just need a change of viewpoint. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Just One Quick Take

So.... I was going to do the Blog Meme that Elizabeth over at Startling the Day tagged me in, but I con't honestly answer the questions it had because I only have 16 posts and one of them I was ranting about mail I received. But, since a mild internet "following" fills me with glee (the Hubbs' terminology, not mine), I didn't want Elizabeth to feel like I was ignoring her (which I doubt she would), so I will just give her the shout-out and link. ; ) And try not to post any more run-on sentences.
Everyone who likes this blog, if you aren't reading her blog, go and do it. If you're not already.

Tomorrow, I am going to start helping to teach RCIA/Adult Confirmation classes at my parish! Yay! Hubbs is getting confirmed and I am a little bummed out that he's getting confirmed at the Easter vigil for two reasons:
1. I got confirmed on Divine Mercy Sunday and the Beatification of Blessed Pope JPII the Great (or as he's affectionately known in the Deaner household: JP Deuce.) Which was so super awesome. What WASN'T awesome was that I got confirmed at the youth mass where there were guitars and girls in flash-dance inspired get-ups serving as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. And we sang "worship" songs that had no copyrights older than the year 2000. When I left, even though I had been anointed and smelled like balsam, I actually felt as if I hadn't fulfilled my Sunday obligation because I didn't even feel like I had attended Mass. Hubbs will get candles, and solemn singing and probably even some LATIN!
2. This will make the Easter Vigil push the 3 hour mark for sure.

The search is now on for a suitable confirmation saint. I am voting for St. Augustine because of the quote "Lord, give me temperance... but not quite yet." I feel like that sums up Hubbs' spiritual life perfectly. Any thoughts would be awesome, and prayers would be appreciated.

Until next time!