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.