Friday, December 30, 2011

How Things Change

At around this time last year, I was jealous of a co-worker of mine who travelled all the time and had a lot of fun with her husband. They decided after they got married that they would never have kids, even though both of them really love kids. I remember being really envious of them, as I had just started my convalidation process and was really struggling with the no birth-control thing (you know, that little piece of infallible dogma). I was covetous (yes, I have used the thesaurus today) because I felt like they were so free-- they didn't have a Church telling them what they had to do and how they had to do it and when they could do it and how they had to feel about it when they finally did.
My "mantilla friend" from our local newspaper on a story they ran for the
New Translation.

Today, I find myself being more covetous of people in my parish with the big families. The ones with all the kids. Like the family who recently baptized their newest addition, who, from what I can tell is the 6th or 7th (they're not always at Church at the same time, so I can't really tell), who gave their newborn the deliciously Catholic name Augustine James. Or the woman who I call my "mantilla friend" (because she is the only other woman at my parish who wears one regularly), who has 4 sons and from what I can tell, the oldest is definitely going to be a priest. I can tell by the way he's very solemn and serious at Mass and clutches his rosary, though he's probably only 6 at the oldest.
I don't know if this is my biological clock ticking, or my desires becoming more and more ordered. I hope it's a little of both.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Venite Adoremus Dominus

On Friday night we were over at T and J's house for the annual cookie party, and T's mom said "Mary wrapped the first Christmas present!" And for a moment, I thought she meant Mary herself physically wrapped the first Christmas present in her womb, but realized that she meant in the swaddling clothes. It made me start thinking about Mary and Christmas and Merry Christmas and all that jazz.

There's something to be said about Mary wrapping Jesus up in those swaddling clothes, the incarnate God bound; humble, unable to speak, reduced to the state of a newborn child, dependent on His earthly parents for everything, just as we all are. Is it a metaphor for how we are to depend on God? For how humble and silent and trusting we should be? Let us all be like Mary, whether falling to our knees in adoration, or simply allowing ourselves to be "thrones" for our Lord. Let us remember those who are helpless, innocent, dependent, needy. Let us always remember that Christ came in to this world a fragile human being, which is all that we are, and gave us salvation. He made us, and then He made us better.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

News Agencies May Run Stupid Articles, Logic Says

Allow me to quote Charlie Brown: AUUUUUUUUUGGGGGGGHHH! Seriously, Fox News? I mean, I know you’re not fair and balanced, and the majority of the time your headlines read like something from The Onion, but really??
I’m a little confused as to the aim of the article, since I automatically assume that every news agency has some sort of agenda.
1.)    Birth control helps to lower cancer risk, so everyone should take it! (Except the increased cancer risk you get from taking the pill.)
2.)    Not having babies increases your cancer risk (so take the pill, and decrease the chance of having babies!)
I’m confused and annoyed and terribly appalled! 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Nudge, Nudge

I keep having these dreams on Saturday nights that, for some reason or another, I end up being forced to go to The Other Catholic Church in town. The one that I had to stop myself from walking out of so many times because of awful Protestant gimmicks like youth Mass and drum kits. The Church that literally made me leave The Church.
I always have the same reaction in these dreams, I go to Mass, try to be reverent and halfway through, I'm practically jumping out of my chair (yes, chair) and screaming because I am so distraught over having to be there.
I'm not sure if this is God's (or my subconscious') way of telling me that I'm attending the correct parish and I am right to be outraged over how this particular Church abuses the Mass, or if I'm supposed to be paying closer attention. I should remember that the Lord is present at every Mass, regardless of how bad the music, how irreverent the Parishioners and how ugly the surroundings. Thank God these are always dreams and I am able to wake up and go to my own beloved parish and smell the incense and feel at peace.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Duggars: Calculating Our Demise, One Baby at a Time

I was perusing the interwebs the other day, on my favorite source for blog fodder, Facebook, when I noticed this on one of my friends’ pages. How kind of the 7 Billion and Counting people to make a wonderful judgement call on Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar’s selfish-ness. Just what we needed! Selfish people calling other people selfish! And they even sent a gift. Precious. Read the comments for a rip-roaring good time!

At least they aren't in the prairie dresses here
So what is so selfish about the Duggars having all these darned babies? First of all, let me say, I’m not one of those people who think the Duggars are nuts. I think they are Baptist and a little weird, and definitely fashion-challenged, but I did watch their TV show admittedly more than I should have while I was unemployed and one thing I can say for them is that you can tell that family loves each other. Frankly, as much as the 7 Billion and Counting people would like me to believe that the Brazilian hooded tree frog (or whatever) is going to suffer as a direct result of the Duggars having another child, the notion is just preposterous! They are practically self-sufficient, and come on, since there are 7 billion people in the world, 20 Duggars really aren’t going to make that much impact. I think the secular “liberals” are the ones that are more likely using all the resources, what with their SUVs for themselves, their spouse and their golden retriever. It’s a lot easier to carpool when you literally lug 7 people with you everywhere you go. The Duggars make all their own clothes or buy them at thrift stores. They have 20 kids! They can’t afford to buy stuff just to throw it away, or drink Starbucks daily and chuck the paper cups or buy new clothes/shoes/cell phones whenever they feel like it. So your argument is a bit thin there, tree frog! If you want to blame anyone for your imminent demise, blame the guy in the Jetta over there with the Free Tibet and Coexist sticker on it. Let’s not forget the couple who want to "save the planet" by not having kids and are therefore throwing latex into landfills and chemicals into the water source because of the hormones leaked out (pun intended) when a woman on the Pill urinates.

No, I think if anything about the Duggars bothers me, it’s the fact that Michelle is getting on in her years and their last baby was very premature and almost died. Michelle also had preeclampsia with her last few pregnancies and could have died herself. I’m all for being open to life, but she should try to be around to see that baby through to adulthood, even if she will be in her 60’s by the time she gets there. I think they have done right by their beliefs in the 19 kids they have, and I doubt God would say to them “Hey, you could get in to heaven, but you decided to practice NFP rather than have that 20th child, so I think you’re out of luck.”  In any event, lay off the poor flipping Duggars! And they think religious people are Holier-Than-Thou. Eeesh. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Performance Anxiety

So, since Katie over at NFP and Me gave me a little bit of motivation, I decided I will write a commentary on last night's Glee episode.
Now, to start things off, I will say that I don't normally watch Glee. I have seen maybe 3 episodes total. I don't follow the story arcs and I know only a little about the overall premise. This is actually kind of surprising since, though I was never a theater kid in high school, I harbored a total theater kid envy and constantly entertained ideas of my whole life suddenly turning into a giant musical number. 
Be that as it may, last night as I was perusing the internet in the evening, I ended up watching the newest episode of Glee. At first I was sort of just having it on as background noise, but I got a little sucked in. I re-watched it tonight on demand, since I had missed some parts of it and I wanted to make sure that I had gotten the entire thing. 

The premise of last night's show was that the high school was putting on a musical- Westside Story (full disclosure: I haven't seen the musical since I was probably in Jr. High and I didn't like it). Rachel and Blaine are playing Maria and Tony and in the very, very beginning of the show, Artie, the director, tells them both that they lack passion because they are both virgins. And while he "supports their strained aversion to fun," they can't really "sell" the sexual awakening as someone who hasn't been sexually awoken themselves.  The rest of the show concerns Rachel and Blaine attempting to lose their virginity in order to perform more authentically. Glee has been pointed at by many in the Catholic media as being a somewhat “damaging” show, if you will, because it is targeted at a younger audience. The main reason for this is because of the gay storyline between Kurt and Blaine. To be honest, this doesn’t bother me at all. There are plenty of young people out there who have same sex attraction, who are ashamed of it, who feel isolated, and who may be bullied or attacked. I think in some ways, it can be good to have an openly gay character on TV that people can identify with and might make them feel less isolated in their own lives. It’s also nice that, based on what I saw in this episode, Blaine and Kurt have a normal teenage relationship and, at least until this episode, weren’t engaging in sexual activity.

The thing that bothered me was there was no talk as to why the characters were waiting in the first place. It was more of “well, we better be authentic, time to take care of this little annoyance.” At one point, Rachel calls a committee of girls, and they all tell her to wait, except one, who expounds on the fact that she and her boyfriend had discussed it, and they were each other’s first love, and that the moment will always be perfect for her. This is the deciding factor in Rachel’s decision to go for it.
This, to me, is more damaging than anything I saw happen with Kurt and Blaine in this episode. This attitude is so prevalent in today’s society that I fear how it will impact young people. I know how it impacted me.

Maybe I’m just bitter because I didn’t get a chance to discuss it with my first love and have it be a perfect moment that I will remember for my whole life. Instead, it’s a terrible thing that I will always feel ashamed of for the rest of my life. Because I waited, too, just not long enough. And my reasons weren’t well-formed enough in order to stave off advances. When you get to a certain age (which apparently now is senior in high school) in today’s secular society, it’s expected of you to have had sex. And if you haven’t, you’re almost more damaged goods than someone who has with everyone that walks by. I found myself at 20 years old as a virgin and being completely un-dateable. I was not practicing my faith, so what option did I have? I could date Christian boys (which wasn’t an option as I didn’t identify as Christian) or I could date guys who didn’t value me. And what was the big deal anyway? Everyone else had had sex, what difference did it make if I did, too? That’s how it was presented to me, anyway, and I was dumb enough to think that someone who would say that to me actually cared enough about me to consider it in the first place. So what’s the big deal? I mean, if you want to be an actress, you’ll eventually be playing people who aren’t virgins, so you can’t possibly be a virgin and authentically play a non-virgin. It’s only natural, right?

What I would have liked to see, just once, is a character with some moral fortitude- but maybe I’m just looking for something I didn’t have. I would have liked to see someone who maybe thought about it, and then decided against it. Maybe not for religious reasons, but because they decided to be above that. To do something that was right for them. I dunno, maybe I just wanted to see an actual discussion of how many, many girls (and possibly guys, but I can’t speak from a position of knowledge there) feel when they DO lose their virginity, and then go on to be sexually intimate with every person with whom they have a relationship afterwards. I would like to see a discussion of how that impacts their future marriages, their trust, and their self-worth. I would like to see an honest discussion from the flip side. Not just that “sex is good! It feels good, it’s natural, everyone should be doing it—all the time, with whomever they want!” Or even, “sex is a true expression of love for whomever you feel like you love at that moment.” Because, I’m sorry, but this message that is being peddled out to our culture, our young people, is a lie! I can think of only one of my friends who is still with the person she lost her virginity to. And I can remember all the pain and heartache that occurred in the wake of the breakups for the rest of them. Except my own, because I was so messed up, I ended up in a therapist’s office and on antidepressants, so I have no real recollection of it. Even Hubbs will say that when he really thought back on his life, he realized that not one good thing ever really came about from his previous attitude toward sex. It was a lot of selfishness, low self-worth, and somewhat of an addictive behavior. It was also a harbinger of problems in the relationship, especially when it’s compensating for any kind of real intimacy or love.

I know that today’s society has a schizophrenic relationship with sex. We are puritanical in one sense, and over-sexed in another. What I want to see on TV, what I want told to young people everywhere, what I wish everyone would just understand is that we’ve made sex too important. So important that we have tried to downplay it to the extent that it’s mundane. It’s a classic Catholic both/and. But the Catholic Church has made sex unimportant. So unimportant that it’s the most important thing in the world. The Catholic Church teaches us to value ourselves and each other by respecting our basic dignity as human beings. Not animals who have to give in to our instincts, not creatures to use and be used by others.

And would it be so crazy to point out that, since Westside Story is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, Tony and Maria got married before they had sex? Just sayin’.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I have so many things that I want to blog about-- half ideas just swarming around in my head, with some things pinned down and other things just mere passing thoughts.
Right now, I am having an ADD tornado of wanting to blog about:

  •  The new law being passed in Mississippi juxtaposed with the 7 Billion people fanatics flipping out over the Duggars having another child. 
  • Glee having an episode about losing your virginity (which I am watching right now) and the mainstreaming of secular culture 
  • The article about the sterilization clinic, and something to do with birth-control

I am still making my way through Discerning the Will of God and I don't really feel any closer. I need to really get my prayer life in order. I have been feeling the need to buckle down and hit a better routine for many aspects of my life, but right now my job is just insane and I come home and find myself just zoning out. Maybe I should start saying the rosary on the elliptical. I am having a dry spell in my spirituality and I hope that everything will get back to normal (or better than before) soon!
In the meantime, enjoy this beautiful song, because my brain is fried.