Spring is (finally!) in full swing, and with summer right around the corner we have all been audience to endless talk of the “body”. Between Victoria’s Secret’s “ The Perfect ‘Body’” Campaign, the rows and rows of colorful (and, finally, … Continue reading
Recently, many friends have approached me with hearts full of sadness. So this is my response to them. It is not a letter of advice because I do not think I am qualified to give that, but merely a personal narrative.
There have been times in my life when I have woken up everyday to the dreaded feeling. That feeling in your heart, like an anchor is strapped to your chest. It has many causes: an awful job, relationship troubles, or just plain old human pride. It also comes from wanting what I am not ready to receive, grasping for what does not belong to me, or thinking I am entitled to what I am not… and I have lived long enough to know that suffering comes almost exclusively from within (almost).
What do I do on those days? The days that I wake up with my heart in a knot? The days that I feel a stone hanging from a string from my chest? I fight it of course. I fight with myself, I fight with God, I fight with people who annoy me… I just fight. That is my reaction. I am a fighter. In the good ways and in the bad ways.
Why? Because suffering sucks. No one likes to suffer, me the least of all. I’m the one who prays to God to “just rip off the band- aid” and get lessons I need to learn over with. Now, I do have a pretty good pain tolerance… just ask the dentist who thought he numbed me when he yanked two teeth out of my mouth (he didn’t). Or the poor nursing student who, when drawing blood, went through my vein. Twice. I, of course, did not whimper. (Mostly because I felt bad for her) However, there is a catch: my pain tolerance only lasts for short periods of time. This is why I was a sprinter in track, and why I was a rower. I can do anything… for about seven minutes. Then we have problems.
The problem with heart pain is, it doesn’t just go away. Not without making us suffer just a bit longer than we’re comfortable with. In my experience, pain does not go away until I accept it. I have to lean into it, I have to be grateful for it, but most of all I have to discover the lesson that God is trying to teach me. Only then will I have grown.
2 Corinthians 7:9-10 As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
There is always a reason. There is always a reason why we are being stretched, sometimes tortured. That restlessness which lives within us is not something to be fought but must be harnessed. My mother always told us that my Abuela had a saying, that we must control our minds before our minds control us. I find this to be true with my heart as well. It must be kept under control, despite well meaning friends imploring, “You can’t help what you feel!” “You are feeling that way for a reason, don’t fight it!” I have said these things as well, and to a point they are true, but we must harness our emotions as well as our imaginations, and we must look at suffering for what it is. It is a training for the obstacles we have yet to overcome, it is an alarm clock alerting us to what is wrong in our lives, and it is the tug of our Savior, drawing us close so that we may rest in him alone.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
1 Peter 5:9-10 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
Pain is a kindly, hopeful thing, a certain proof of life, a clear assurance that all is not yet over, that there is still a chance. But if your heart has no pain — well, that may betoken health, as you suppose: but are you certain that it does not mean that your soul is dead? ~ A.J. Gossip
God bless you, my brothers and sisters in Christ! Fight the good fight, and fight well.
I just got notification that this awful, disgusting page was removed- thank goodness! Guys, if there is something out there that is just plain wrong… say something! This page was clearly insulting Christians and all those who believe Jesus made a positive impact on the world, and it was also making abortion fodder for its hatred! Abortion, which is not only the heinous murder of a child but also the cause of so much heartbreak and sadness for men and women who feel they have no choice but to undergo one. To essentially make fun of this is despicable.
Everyone has the right to an opinion, they are like bellybuttons, and we know this. However, everyone also has the responsibility to express his or her opinion in a sensible and defensible manner. Lets please do so going forward.
Today we are going to talk about prayer. More importantly, we are going to talk about the way God responds to us when we pray. Recently I have heard people say, when asking what God has revealed to them when praying abut a certain situation, “ Well, God has pretty much left the decision up to me.” (Insinuating that God supposedly doesn’t have an opinion one way or another). I mean, sure, God does leave pretty much everything up to us- its part of the whole “free will” thing. But God also has his own will. I am going to attempt, as well as I can, to not describe God as if I (or anyone) truly can- but when it comes to whether or not there is a right or wrong decision to be made (This is concerning something important, not what toothpaste to use or which type of burgers to buy at the grocery store –> that answer is always BUBBA BURGERS!)… it seems, biblically, that God has a road on which He would like us to go, and pretending not to see that road when approaching a fork usually means that He is telling us something we don’t want to hear.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. “- Jeremiah 29:11
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”–Prov. 3:5-6
“And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”- Isaiah 58:11
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” –Psalm 27:14
In the Christian walk, there are certainly times where it seems the Lord is utterly silent and distant and you have no idea where He is or what He is doing (this is part of our purification process and it is good, even though it stinks at the time!) (“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthian 10:13) However, this lack of response or distance from God doesn’t seem to be the constant. (“Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24) It may be so for particular periods of difficulty, but it always seems that God’s will is revealed in the end.
While there are thousands of various ways to pray, prayer, in the Christian sense, is meant to be a conversation. A conversation is where one person speaks and the other responds. (“At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved.” Daniel 9:23) There are two parties to a conversation. God speaks to us in a multitude of ways, indeed, however it pleases Him. He speaks most especially (according to the testimony of various Saints) through hardship (“If there be a true way that leads to the Everlasting Kingdom, it is most certainly that of suffering, patiently endured.” — St. Colette), but also through adoration, other people, music, books, realizations, apparitions, and visions; as well as direct dialogue while journaling or in quiet prayer, or in the silent places in the depths of your heart, where the Holy Spirit reigns and where you feel His presence.
God wants communion with us, He adores us, and He wants us to know him, even as He knows us and was willing to lay down His life for us. Will we make the attempt to truly know Him? “‘Many cry to God, but not with the voice of the soul, but with the voice of the body; only the cry of the heart, of the soul, reaches God.’” –St. Augustine.
It was once shared with me that God is the perfect combination of the masculine and the feminine. We can see His masculinity in the strong sequoia trees that rise solid and strong above the earth, masking many in its shade. We can see His femininity in the beauty of a field of wildflowers, delicate yet glorious and moving. How many times have hikers climbed up to untraveled heights, encountering breathtaking scenes of beautiful landscapes? Who sees that? God delights in decorating the Earth and showering it in his majesty, the way women enjoy making each part of a house a home- even if it seems hardly anyone will see or appreciate it.
While I am not an expert in prayer (or much else for that matter), I could say that I have enough experience in being a woman to be somewhat of an expert in that. The thing about women is, deep down inside, in the deep recesses of our hearts, we want to be known. And even more than that, we want to be delighted in. (Boys, let me know if this resonates with you). God has this quality. He wants us to know and delight in Him.
“Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.” –Psalm 43:4
“May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the LORD.”- Psalm 104:34
“…then you will find your joy in the LORD, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.’ The mouth of the LORD has spoken.”-Isaiah 58:14
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,”- 1 Peter 1:8
In prayer, in communion, adoration, mass, or any other time that we spend in the worship of our Creator, we are learning more about who He is, and we are delighting in God our Savior. Yes, this can include petition, intercession, supplication, etc- but it could also include mutual sharing and loving and delighting in one another. A Priest once advised me, when I was in a particularly anxious time of my life, to simply sit at the fountain of Jesus’ love and mercy; and to allow myself to be filled with His love for me.
That’s all. He told me to just sit and let Jesus love me and to love Him back.
While this is often much easier said than done, it is my prayer that each of us experiences this type of communion with the Holy Trinity. Let us be open to knowing and acknowledging Him with all of our hearts and let us be patient in waiting on the Lord to reveal Himself to us.
If I have to make the choice between being a baby and milk machine for the rest of my life or having the decision to abort and use contraceptives, I choose the former, every time. Bringing life into this world is far more worthwhile of a calling than even having the option of ending the life of my child and using group 1 carcinogens (hormonal and oral contraceptives cause cancer) on my body (this list also includes the Nicotine compound, known as N’-Nitrosonornicotine (NNN), meaning oral contraceptives are on the same list as cigarettes).
Fortunately, I don’t have to choose between those two options, as there is now the gift of the Natural Family Planning, including NaPro technology, which is an idiot proof way of determining whether or not you are fertile. Yes indeed, planning your pregnancies naturally has never been easier or safer!
Now, before I am accused of committing treason against my gender, you should know that I believe women are equal to men in merit and intelligence and all that jazz.
I just also happen to not find killing babies justifiable, in any circumstance.
If you are tremendously offended at one or more of the statements above, take a cold hard look at why this sets you on fire. Does the idea of not being able to do whatever you want with your body just make you red with anger? Well, in a country where you can’t even attempt to kill yourself without being committed into an institution (the nerve!), how can we have the ability to kill a child?
If you, right now, are about to even THINK about using the word “viable” in an argument against this, please stop- go volunteer in a nursery, and then get back to me. Children are not viable until they are about 5 years old. Get over this argument. If you are about to say, well it’s not a person; it’s just a clump of cells! Again, stop, give yourself a hard slap in the face, and then ask yourself the question, “What am I? What is every living thing?” Thank God for science. And then lets think, “What can two humans create?” The only answer being, obviously, another human. So the growing clump of cells CAN ONLY be a growing human. Humans cannot grow anything else. Unless it’s an abnormal growth, which would be growing inside of you NOT because of the contributions of another human (unless its an STD…) but because of other reasons… and, obviously, that abnormal growth won’t pop out 9 months later with ten fingers and toes and a personality to boot. Ain’t nothing abnormal about the fact that sex makes babies. You don’t need a college degree to figure that one out.
Here’s the good news, if you would prefer not to have a child, you have a few options: first, don’t have sex. Second, use contraceptives (Oh wait, they don’t work all the time, as noted author and former Planned Parenthood Clinic director Abby Johnson informs us, as she got pregnant THREE TIMES while on contraceptives, and she was considered an expert! Off the list.) Second, use your brain to learn about your body and determine when you (or your wife) are fertile so that you and your loving spouse can plan intimacy accordingly. There are many gynecologists and family planning experts at various Churches and institutions across the United States. Google them. Third, don’t have sex. Oh wait.
Since I can already hear the tirade of morons chirping, “You think sex is bad! You are getting your ideas from an archaic institution that needs to get with the times!” Stop it. Sex is wonderful. I’m very excited to have it. The intimacy of the marital union is something that is unparalleled on this earth and the fact that GOD CREATED IT AND ORDAINED IT (and because the Lord ordains it the Catholic Church does too, so…) makes it even better. It’s good. SEX IS A GOOD THING. I am not saying otherwise.
However, it is something to be participated in responsibly. And the lack of such responsibility should not be greeted with the option to murder a baby human. So you can keep that freedom.
Please Note: While I absolutely welcome comments and discussion, please keep them intelligent and respectful, free from cursing and nonsense. Thank you!
We have an epidemic of children leaving the Church as soon as they are 18, despite coming from seemingly normal, happy, Christian homes. Why is this the case?
Go to any Church, any. Go to the people who are the absolute most involved. Go find the members of the Women’s Guild, or the sacristans, or the secretary. Go find the bible studies and the people who seem to always be at Church. There you will find parents of children who no longer go to Church. We’ve all heard of the Catholic Grandmother who mourns daily for the children and grandchildren who have fallen away from the Church. The grandmother who has ten different altars in her home, she prays rosaries and Divine Mercy Chaplets and Novenas galore. Now, please note that there is absolutely nothing wrong with prayer and sacred places within your home. But, do the children understand why? Did she talk to them? Did she teach them about the gift the Lord has given us in the Holy Roman Catholic Church? Do they know, do they understand? Do they get it?
No. And that is why they leave.
Fortunately, some of them come back. Right off the top of my head I can think of five different people who I personally know who left the Church when they left home, a few came back, a few didn’t. However, all of the people who returned did so because at some point they were convicted to investigate for themselves why their families believe what they believe, and they did this despite receiving zero answers from their families.
I am all for investigating what you believe, I am all for checking the science and the philosophy and the morality to ensure that you are following the true path instead of just being blindly lead. What I am not for is children being blindly raised in an institution where the parents don’t understand what they are teaching their children.
If you are Roman Catholic, whether you are a parent or a child, answer the following questions for me.
- What is the Eucharist?
- How do we know the Eucharist is what it is? (Specifically, what verses in the Bible tell us so?)
- Who is Jesus Christ, and what type of relationship should we have with him? What specific Church councils clarified who he is amidst much controversy?
- Why are the books that are in the Bible in the Bible? At what council were these books chosen? By whom? By what authority?
- What does the Church believe about how the Universe was created?
- What are the Church’s teachings on Human Sexuality? On marriage? Why do they teach these things?
- Why do we have a Pope? What verses in the Bible establish the papacy as a succeeding office? What gives him Authority over the Church?
- Why do we go to confession? Specifically, what verses in the Bible establish the sacrament of confession?
- Why are the teachings of the Church Absolute Truth? Why is doctrine unchanging? What specific verses of the Bible establish them as such?
- Why do we revere Mary, Jesus’ mother, as the Mother of God? What specific verses in the Bible establish her as such? What Church teachings? At what Council was this determined?
- Why do we regard the Bible as accurate and reliable?
I’ll stop there. If you don’t know the answers to most of these questions, or at least where to find the answers, you are blindly following a faith that you do not understand. If you are a parent, you are doing your children a huge disservice.
Please, I beg you. Go, tonight, tomorrow, this week. Research the answers to these questions. It should only take you an hour. Google them, Go to Catholic Answers, buy a copy of the Catechism, open a Bible. Figure it out. Then, once you do, call a family meeting. Get your kids off the computer, turn off the TV, ask your spouse to support you in this. Then, share what you learned with them. Sit around the kitchen table and talk about what you believe and why you believe it. Show them that you are a leader they can follow, someone whose word they can believe in. Answer their questions. Tell them if you don’t know an answer, encourage them to research their questions, even research it with them.
Please, do this. Help us to stop the epidemic of people leaving a Church they do not understand, at risk of their salvation. Raise up a generation of people faithful to and able to defend the Holy Roman Catholic Church. We need you.