Rape

Upon hearing about the murder of Emmett Till as we were discussing the Civil Rights Movement in history class, one of my more troubled students muttered, “If he had known that that was going to happen he should have just raped her.”

My shock rendered me speechless, so I was only able to mumble something stupid like, “He didn’t know what was going to happen…” How I wish I could go back in time.

This response to a horrific act of murder, saying that it would have been worth it had the woman in question been raped, is the consequence of a society that has completely ruined sex for those who don’t have parents to raise them and teach them the true meaning of the gift. This distorted view of sex is not helped by shows such as Game of Thrones, which recently boasted an incestual rape scene, which the director said, “…became consensual at the end…” (If you choose to watch it, you can clearly see that there was no consent.)

I am deeply troubled at the world that is being created. Of course, rape is not a 21st century invention, and I don’t pretend to think that sex, for every person, has always been free, total, faithful and fruitful as it should be. However, can we at least try for that? Can we at least try to create a world in which this incredible act of procreation and bonding between a man and a woman be between two people who desire it, give themselves completely to each other, and only each other? Can we just try?

Please, if you have been a victim of this gruesome crime, know that it is not your fault, ever. Call this Hotline, or look up more information and resources that are available to you at the same link.

I Don’t Want Reproductive “Freedom”

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!

Cohabitation and Engagement

This week’s guest writer, James Rooney is proof that the Holy Spirit is intimately involved with the inner workings of your life and will do anything, and use anyone to bring you closer to him.  I am so honored that this blog was chosen by God to play a role in building a stronger marriage for James and Alyssa.  Their story is an inspirational example that it is never too late to begin following God’s will in your relationship. James and Alyssa were married November 2013.

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The Holy Spirit has taken me for a spiritual roller coaster ride these last couple months and for that I would like to thank the Holy Ghost and blame Janelle!! J Seriously though, I am so grateful for my sister in Christ having tasked me with the writing of this blog. It has forced me to take a long hard look at my spiritual life and remedy the sinful nature of my relationship. When I was initially asked to write this blog on chastity and engagement I thought Janelle knew my fiancé and I were living together. I proceeded to write a draft of my blog and sent it to her. She informed me she couldn’t post anything condoning cohabitation, which in turn motivated me to contemplate even more about the state in which I was living and the damage I was causing to my relationship by continuing to live contrary to what I believed was right. I figured it would be ok for my fiancé and I to live together so long as we weren’t engaging in sexual activity. Long story short, I called off the engagement and we separated shortly thereafter. The following couple months would be full of heartache and spiritual growth, both for myself and my fiancé Alyssa.

  I think it is important to first understand how the Catholic Church defines cohabitation, which is exactly how it is defined in the dictionary. Cohabitation is living in a sexual relationship with your significant other as if married without legal or religious sanction. I justified living with my fiancé because we were not having sex. However, there are two parts of that definition. Though we weren’t having sex, we were still living ‘as if married.’ I’m not even going to begin making excuses for why Alyssa and I decided to move in together. It was a whole series of events and circumstances that led us to make that decision and I admit it could have been avoided if we had been willing to live with those events and circumstances. Now that hindsight is 20/20, we gave up certain hardships to take on a monumentally more difficult one. Remaining chaste while living under the same roof was far more difficult than I had anticipated.  

Why is it so difficult? Why is remaining chaste so important if you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you will be marrying this person? If we started fooling around, there is no sense in stopping now right? The damage has been done hasn’t it? And there is no way either one of us is moving out now that we have a place together, which would be ridiculous. Well that’s what I used to think. And with the permission of my ever loving fiancé, she has allowed me certain liberties so that I may share a little about her life as well as my own.

We had both previously been in sexually active relationships throughout our high school careers and college. I had only been with one person ever, in a relationship that spanned the better part of 6 years. I had been raised Catholic and I guess I harbored some good old fashioned Catholic guilt so for the longest time my girlfriend and I refrained from actual intercourse and just did everything else as if that was better in some way. I also convinced myself that it didn’t matter if my girlfriend and I were sexually active because we “KNEW” beyond the shadow of a doubt that we would be married one day. HA! As the years went on our relationship became nothing more than hanging out and fooling around. About a year before our relationship would come to a close, a night of heavy drinking led to the “actual” deed being done. And since the damage had been done, why not just keep doing it? So from that point on our relationship took a nosedive and finally we went our separate ways. I spent that next three years remaining celibate and swore that I would not make the same mistakes in any future relationships.

I felt much guilt and regret over the course of those years. And looking back on it I felt that way because of what I was doing to her, not necessarily myself. I should have been her rock and not taken advantage as I did. You can nit-pick a relationship to death trying to figure out what went wrong, but I promise you that if you are sexually active with your significant other outside of marriage THAT is what’s wrong. If you love someone enough to have sex with him or her, then why aren’t you married? We come up with all sorts of creative and seemingly believable excuses as to why we won’t marry someone, yet we will continue to selfishly take advantage of that person’s body while possessing no respect for our own as well. It is important to understand that when you have sex with someone out of wedlock, you are consummating a marriage that doesn’t exist!! You are telling that person that they can have all of you, except your hand in marriage. When we realize that marriage is far more than a couple signatures on a piece of paper, is when we can truly start to understand why this no having sex before marriage thing is so important.

            My fiancé had also been sexually active in the past and had no real intentions of saving herself until marriage. I remember when we were first talking I had mentioned that I would not be engaging in sexual activity until I was married. She later admitted to not taking my claims seriously and entered into our relationship with expectations of sex before marriage. When she realized I was being serious she was somewhat intrigued as to why I held those beliefs so firmly. I explained to her my past experiences and gave her a brief overview of Catholic theology on the matter and she began to see the parallels between her past relationships and my own. Having come from sexually active relationships, living together was definitely a difficult task and ultimately led to our separation.  

My advice to couples who are cohabiting, whether engaged or not, is to respect each other as children of God. Furthermore, the need to live separately should be seriously discussed and followed through with. If your marriage date is close, maybe someone lives with a friend or family for the time being. If not, someone needs to move out and find a place of their own. The sacrifice may seem extreme but your relationship will benefit from it greatly. Know that marriage is more than the signing of documents and moving into the same building as the other. If you are sexually active with your future spouse, please consider learning more about the Theology of the Body and abstaining till you are both bound in marriage. Understand that marriage is a beautiful way that God channels his grace through two individuals and it is not until then that we can truly be open to life and love. I would ask that you and your significant other pray about your current sexual state and consider a life of loving sacrifice over a life of selfish desires.

As of about two weeks ago Alyssa and I decided to continue with our engagement. We are living separately until the wedding and couldn’t be happier. We have both grown so much in such a short period of time. I realized that the Lord had a plan amidst all the heartache and now I feel we are better because of it. Know that if you claim to love your significant other you will do anything to preserve your relationship. I avoided weighing this blog down with statistics and percentages because I believe that these matters, and whether they are right or wrong, are written on our hearts. Know that if you are living together before marriage the odds of your marriage lasting, or even making it to your wedding day, are not in your favor. Remember, Christ didn’t say it would be easy. He said it would be worth it!!!  

Becoming a Father at 17

I am so honored to feature this blog article from my friend, David Schonacher. David and his beautiful family are an incredible example to all of us about accepting what life brings you. Thank you for being such an amazing testimony for life!

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Am I Pro-life? Sure. Pro- Derek? Absolutely.

When a 17-year-old boy is faced with the news that his girlfriend of less than one year is pregnant, time can stand still. In those moments, he and everyone around him find themselves reciting every moral conversation, scripture or advice they’ve ever been exposed to. Without the benefit of a sound spiritual upbringing what could one possibly use to begin to make sense of the decisions before him? Decisions need to be made, not only for himself but for the future mother, her family, his family and now this new being we know nothing of.

Where did this story begin?

I was a junior in high school, defensive captain of the varsity football team, spending most of my time in the gym, on the field and finding myself wanting nothing more than to dominate anything between the tackles. This is my ground, my turf, and I’m in control. I’m an average size, below average speed middle linebacker who has a well above average heart and desire. I make up for what I lack physically with smart decisions, efficiency and overall effort. Prior to this, I had never faced any major obstacles I would consider life changing or path altering. I did however face larger pulling guards and stronger blocking backs. After short struggles with each I found a way to create success.

Shortly after Christmas break our senior year my girlfriend and I were faced with the news that she was pregnant. All the hours of training, college prep, studies, college visits and fantasies of my future stood still. All of those moments seem to pale in comparison to the news we’d just received. None of those moments on the field seemed to any longer have significance. None of my trophies provided certainty that I was capable of handling what I had just been called to. The intimate details of the moments, hours and days shortly after are foggy at best. I’m not sure my brain has ever struggled so hard in computing the problems that just fallen before us.

I’m the oldest grandchild on both sides of my family. The pressure to succeed and the self-assumed pedestal I stood myself on was crumbling beneath me. In hindsight it would seem almost as though I was losing, in those moments, the very identity I had worked so hard to create. Every decision in front of us seemed to have little to do with where we were headed prior to this information. I can recall the individual moments in front of each of our parents, the awkwardness, the uneasiness, and the shame. My father, as he often did, made jokes of it helping us bring a smile to a seemingly hopeless moment of our path in life. His efforts were effective to a degree but could not help us escape the reality of what was to become of us.

In almost an instant the relationship became no longer about her and I; but immediately a soul we had yet to meet started to chart our course. I do not recall any specific moment in any conversation where anything other than how to move forward with this child was discussed. I don’t recall any pressure to do anything but the “right thing”. But I’m a 17 year old college bound, non-spiritual boy. I am by no means qualified to make the right decision here, or am I? The conversations are mostly a blur, faded memories of supportive family counseling us, expressing their disgust, but still opening their hearts and providing even the faintest confidence that we are capable of handling the burden we’ve brought upon ourselves. I can’t recall any specific moment where the final decision, if any, was made. I cannot recall any singular moment where aborting the child was discussed. I can only recall my desire to take the burden, the struggle before me and show them all I am capable. I subtly recall the frailty we suddenly seemed to possess. I recall the sadness, perhaps a result our own insecurities. Certainly we were not qualified for what came next. I don’t recall much in the moments following about concern of what people thought. I don’t recall any friends or extended family giving any negative thoughts towards our decision to have this child. If anything, my only memory is that of a slow fade into the ocean. We became instantly not like everyone else, we instantly became different. We became that couple that was destined for something no one around us could comprehend at such a young age.

After the initial shock and emotion of the first week or so we moved slowly towards regaining the life we had. We attended functions, studied for tests and planned out our college future. It all seemed normal and possible, yet each decision now had a different and unavoidable reality. Visiting Tulane University in New Orleans made so much sense, but the reality of leaving the support of family behind made such a dream impractical, but not impossible. Our hopes and dreams were by no means crushed, but inexplicably altered. Our future, once clear and wide-open, now seemed like patchy fog at best. Our future may involve these hopes and dreams we once desired, but they were now bound by this very concrete reality.

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Fast forward 18 years, I’m now a 35 year old father to a 17 year old man. He is talented, joyful, funny and nothing like me. He has the heart of a lion, he’s three inches taller and will never play middle linebacker. He may soon become an Engineer like his father, but he’s mechanically inclined, a talent I do not possess. He’s a mess, a burden at times, but smiles like his mother. He is imaginative, creative and produces his own version of comedy while his father is calculated, dull at times and only recently found an imagination. He speaks Spanish fluently, English poorly and can recite more science facts than many museums. He played sports most of his life, perhaps only to please his father, but he is clearly charting his own course in life. He listens, strives to be a good man, but finds himself combative in talks of morals and justice. He is his own man.

I’m now a practicing Catholic for 13 years. We have a 13-year-old daughter as well. She’s an angel, the perfect combination of her Mother and Father with her own unique beauty mixed in. Until just recently I had not studied the Church’s pro-life position in any great detail. In fact, prior to this, I studied intently John Paul II and his “Theology of the Body” discussions. I spent hours upon hours reading and reflecting on the magnificence of our creation. I spent time understanding the amazing uniqueness we were each made with. I’ve spent three years now looking out at friends and family with a new perspective. Because of these revelations I’m now able to see the beauty in each and have begun to learn finally how to love and to be loved.

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At 17 years old, with little to no spiritual direction, perhaps I was intent on having this child because I refused to fail and I saw an abortion as a failure. But now I know different. I now know our gut feelings, our conscience would never allow us to consider anything else but to meet this beautiful creation of ours and to do the best we could with what we had. We were fortunate to have family support. Everyone played a part in our journey. Parents babysat for us. Grandparents sent supplies and money when needed. Friends, albeit rarely, offered time and tender support. We even found decent assistance from the local, state and federal government.

Not a day goes by that I don’t get up and go to work and genuinely desire to succeed, but no longer for myself nor for the approval of others. I knew the second I saw Derek what my purpose was. I was a father. Every step I took from that moment forward was to provide for him and to ensure his protection and salvation. Just like I failed to make the right decisions as a teenager, I have failed at times as an adult. I have had more periods of sin than purity, more episodes of shame than exalting, and more times of struggle than success. But, with Derek around I find victory each day. He is our creation shared in God’s touch. He is beautiful, unique and has no clue yet how great he can be. I suppose I am now officially “Pro-Life”, but before that I was always Pro-Derek.

Why I Chose Love: Journey of a Catholic with Same Sex Attraction

A friend of mine, who has chosen the pseudonym Jake Stanwood, asked me if he could write about his journey with Same Sex Attraction as a Catholic for my blog.  My response was an unequivocal yes.  After reading this amazing story, I am blown away by Jake’s love for God and trust in his plan.  This story is truly inspirational.

 

“We love you no matter what sexual orientation you choose to live out.” These are the words of a father to me, his 15 year old son, 10 years ago. Um…  Awkward? Up until that point my dad had never talked to me about sex, and the topic was never mentioned again. I remember every little detail about the conversation: The sweaty palms, cold freezing office space, and the awkwardness created by the long wooden desk separating us from talking like normal people. How did I respond? I said nothing. Absolutely nothing. I stared at him with a blank face and ran back into my room crying and thinking about how the heck I ever got into this mess.
“Great….even my parents think I’m gay” “That person at school thinks I’m gay too, maybe it’s because of the way I talk” “Wait…maybe I should change the way I talk?  That will make me look manlier” “Crap that person is totally staring at me and thinks I’m gay” These are just a few of the crazy thoughts that constantly ruminated in my head. Talk about feeling paranoid. It always felt as if I was split in between two worlds. One side was telling me “Just come out of the closet, hook up with someone, embrace the fact you’re gay!”  The other side, (far less appealing) said, “If anyone ever finds out! You’re dead!! Don’t ever talk about this to anyone.”

Praise God, He created a Church that has given me a third option, that doesn’t seem like it’s going to drown me in lust or turn me into a stoic that’s being internally destroyed by his desires. I have chosen the path to Chastity. I have chosen the path toward authentic love and sexual self-control.

Is this easy? NO.
The sexual temptations have always been there for me, and I suppose will always be. I am not afraid to admit that until the day I die I will probably always be attracted to men. However, I don’t think this aspect of my cross has been the greatest struggle. The greatest struggle has been my interior life. Having same sex attraction and being Catholic is hard (well, being Catholic is hard).  It is a unique/heavy cross to carry, and a very painful one. It comes with its share of anxiety, heartache, tears and boogers. Us folks, who have SSA, we struggle with a lot. Among those things are body image, father wounds, bouts of depression, feeling less masculine, and a lot of us aren’t good at sports (which makes it harder for us to bond with other men). Growing up I always felt different and uncomfortable around other men, as if I was unworthy to even be called a man. However, I think it’s especially difficult to carry out this chaste lifestyle in the midst of today’s hyper sexual culture.

 The culture today has become increasingly pro-gay. Just take a look at shows like Glee, Modern Family, or anything Lady Gaga… this stuff didn’t build up overnight.  While this DOMA thing was taking place my Facebook newsfeed exploded with red equal sings. The younger generation has become largely accepting of the gay community.  I’m glad that people are starting to become less homophobic and are speaking against gay bullying. However, this doesn’t mean that I’m for gay marriage or I think people should pursue same sex relationships.

It just doesn’t fit human sexuality or natural law.  Just because I have an inclination to do something doesn’t mean that I should follow it. When we pursue sexuality outside of the way God designed for it to be we can find ourselves in messy situations. Hence the high promiscuity, infidelity, and STD rates associated with the gay community. But of course the media will never portray it this way, living a gay lifestyle is portrayed as glamorous and fulfilling.  I am not saying that every gay person is living a promiscuous life and is carrying an STD on them. I have many friends who identify as gay who are hard workers and are doing awesome things with their lives. However, I will not deny that amongst the “gay scene” multiple partners and infidelity rates are pretty high. Homosexuality has to be identified more with behavior, than with identity.  That’s how the gay movement has progressed so much they’ve turned it into its own culture. The minute we reduce ourselves to our sexual orientation, we lose sight of who we really are.
I’ve chosen to never engage in a sexual relationship with another guy and remain celibate, despite the fact there are times I feel the ache of this desire. This may seem like a total fail in the eyes of the world, but am I really missing out on much? Chastity gives me so much more. It gives me the ability to live out healthy and loving relationships with both men and women. It is giving me the opportunity to bring healing to areas of my masculinity that have been gravely wounded. It respects me for who I am, allows me to appreciate beauty, and recognize the dignity in every person. This has involved a lot of wrestling with God. Many people think wresting with God is a bad thing. FALSE. You can only wrestle with someone who is close to you, so in a way wrestling with these attractions has drawn me closer to God. It is a cross, but with every cross the Lord is always right beside us.
Yes, I realize that I will not always get what I want. I can’t tell you about the hundreds of days I felt I just wanted someone to hold and be intimate with. Sometimes I look at happy couples and wonder if I am missing out!  But, I understand that fulfillment goes much deeper than wanting someone around. I find fulfillment by being in relationship with the God who created me to be fulfilled by Him, and in community.

The truth is, I love being Catholic.

The Church loves me. It desires what is best for me, and sometimes this kind of love hurts, because it doesn’t always feel good. However in the long run it guides me to a much more fulfilling life and a more adventurous one. No, the Church is NOT a bigoted institution that hates gays. Quite the opposite. I have never met as many loving and understanding people as I have in the Catholic Church. I am incredibly fortunate! I have many friends in the Church that know about my struggle and are there to support and encourage me along the way. I have a choir of saints and angels who are constantly interceding for me, a mother in heaven that deeply loves me, and a God who bears his very self in the Eucharist each and everyday.   If you ask me… I’ve hit the jackpot.

10 Differences Between Dating a Woman vs. Dating a Girl:

This blog is a response to the fantastic blog by Jarrid Wilson on 10 Differences Between Dating a Boy vs. Dating a Man. I highly recommend it!

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  1. A woman has her own goals and aspirations for the future. A girl is waiting for someone to come along and take care of her.
  2. A woman keeps the joys and sorrows of your relationship between herself and a few friends. A girl will ruin your reputation via social media before an argument has really even begun.
  3. A woman will encourage you to spend time with your family and friends. A girl will be self-centered and want all of your attention.
  4. A woman will encourage you in your goals while offering a realistic perspective. A girl will push her own agenda.
  5. A woman dresses modestly and respects herself. A girl will use her body to get attention from you and other men.
  6.  A woman will kindly wait for and then thank you warmly for holding the door open for her, paying for dates, and being a gentleman. A girl will be unappreciative and bitter.
  7. A woman holds tight to her faith, and puts her Lord first. A girl will be easily swayed.
  8. A woman uses her femininity to nurture and encourage. A girl is manipulative.
  9. A woman enhances her beauty and respects her body with clean eating and exercise. A girl is either obsessed with her physique or makes excuses for making unhealthy choices.
  10. A woman brings you closer to the Lord. A girl takes you away from him.