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
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.
Amber Fernandez is a student and friend of mine. I am delighted to feature her guest blog article, which eloquently expresses the exaggerated malice this society has expressed (and obvious pain we have felt) towards the natural differences between men and women.
Call me naive, but I don’t really believe in the political idea of feminism. Yes, I believe in equal rights for women. I believe that women should legally be allowed to vote, make equal salaries as men in the workplace, and be entitled to the same inalienable rights as men. I don’t believe women should have the right to terminate a life they helped conceive, breed hate towards the family structure, or condemn men simply because of their genitals.
I value my femininity. I treasure my softness and grace, and I protect my spirit and virtue. Some see this as oppressive, but maybe I just believe in a deeper meaning of feminism. I find solace in what comes naturally to me. The Lord has blessed me with inherently female talents and tendencies. I excel at cooking and baking; I enjoy shopping and pampering myself. I love wearing dresses, jewelry, and make-up. I’m not saying that women who don’t find joy in these things aren’t feminine, but I recognize and embrace that these attributes make me feminine. I am able to differentiate that there are natural male and female qualities, and I love the idea that God made us separate and unique to each other!
I believe in something called Complementarianism. It is the theological view that God created specific, but complementary roles for men and women. I don’t think there should be a standard patriarchy or matriarchy, simply because neither can flourish without the other. Menand women were made to complement each other: physically, emotionally, and politically.
That being said, while browsing through Facebook one day, I came across a satirical article on “PIV”.
I had no idea what PIV even meant, so I did some further digging. PIV is an abbreviation for “Penis in Vagina” sex. One would think that most could deduce what sex is without an abbreviation, but after reading more, I realized there is a radical feminist movement that classifies PIV (aka sexual intercourse) as rape. Has our society really perverted the union between husband and wife into this? Are we that sensitive and desperate to be politically correct that we need to objectify men as phallic symbols, existing only to oppress women?
Sex, in my opinion, has two main purposes: procreation AND recreation. I understand that sex is designed to create a family, but I also understand that sex was designed to create a physical and emotional bond between man and woman. If you don’t agree with the latter, I suggest you read Song of Solomon and get back to me. Sex (or PIV, as self titled “radfems” like to call it) is not rape, however.
Just to give you some insight into this “revolutionary” movement, here are some main ideas that I believe are perverting the true purpose of sex and love as God intended it:
“trauma bonding”- the theory that sex (PIV rape) is a traumatic experience that degrades women into believe their captors hold life or death powers over them. Women must feel that their captors have shown them some sort of kindness, and see their perspective as the only perspective. They must be isolated and alone. (By the way, captor is nut a synonym for kidnapper, etc. Radfems, according to their PIV idea, believe ALL men are captors, and romantic relationships are a facade)
Female child grooming- the idea that young girls are bombarded with ideas of Prince Charming, being a “daddy’s girl”, etc, so they become brainwashed into believe men are dominant and more powerful. This brainwashing idea leads to “forced child bearing” and “rape”, even if the acts are consensual.
Radfems who hold these beliefs also consider sex as PIV rape because it is harmful to women. Why is it harmful? Because sex can result in pregnancy. Since when is the capability to produce life considered harmful? If more women (and men) understood what sex is intended for, I think that concepts like this wouldn’t exist.
By accepting and embracing our differences, we can better understand the opposite sex. Ladies, embrace your femininity! Men, be masculine and recognize that it is your responsibility to defend our femininity. There is nothing shameful in this! Defy the ever-changing norms and trends of society, and be radical by living as God intended us to. Trust that God is the constant in our lives, and He will overcome the distorted world we are living in.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
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!
About two years ago, Julia Bluhm gave a magazine an idea that could have propelled it from mediocre (at best) to groundbreaking. I am bringing it up now because I recently wrote a rant on magazines, and I don’t like complaining without offering a solution. Granted, the solution for the over-sexualization and dumbing down of women’s magazines should be obvious (stop reiterating the same (weird) sex advice and start putting current events in your magazines). But nevertheless, this is a push in the right direction.
On May 3rd 2012, Jim Dwyer for the New York Times wrote a story on a red-headed, blue eyed cherub who led an online petition asking seventeen magazine to publish one untouched photo-spread per magazine in order to show what “real girls” look like, in the hopes of removing the impossible standards that have girls nation wide purging and starving. This impressive feat began in ballet class, where she claims her fellow dancers, like most adolescent women, “declared that they were having a fat day. Or that their skin was pimply or blemished. Or that they looked disgusting.” Which she, of course, thought was ludicrous.
To say the least, publishing unretouched photos would definitely cause a dent in the whirlwind of self- loath that has ravaged the nation since Twiggy first sat in front of a camera. In fact, many others agreed and she got 46,000 people to sign her petition. In addition, Bluhm actually managed to receive an invitation from Seventeen’s editor in chief Ann Shoket to discuss the matter. Did I mention? Julia Bluhm was fourteen at the time. Oh, the courage that comes from the mouth of babes.
Unfortunately, nothing really happened. Shoket and Bluhm exchanged emails, and although it WOULD be really cool if Seventeen led the way down the road of self- worth and body appreciation by not choosing emaciated waifs to grace their glossy pages, lets face it, its a stretch.
However, I do know this. At some point, some day, women are going to start getting fed up with the standards (if we are not already). The National Women’s Health Information Center states that fashion models weigh 23% less than the average female- and that is supposed to be seen as normal (Adolescent Girls and Body Image, NASW, 2001). Women nationwide are going to get fed up with feeling abnormal. And then, some mainstream magazine (Seventeen, possibly) will catch up with this trend and begin to actually show real girls in their magazines. They will defame the other magazines, saying they are contributing to the rise in eating disorders (which this magazine has already done, but never mind that). And do you know what will happen with this intelligent magazine? Their sales will skyrocket. Having already made a name for themselves in the conventional way, they will now use their name to promote something that girls and their mom’s have been praying for. Reality. Quite frankly, it was idiotic of Seventeen to refuse this offer. Yes, Bluhm singled them out of dozens of other magazines that do the same thing. But this was not a stroke of bad luck- this was an opportunity. Dove has been immensely successful with their campaigns for Real Beauty; it would have been nothing less for this magazine.
But, alas, they decided to maintain the status quo and continue along their fake, plastic and retouched way- to the detriment of their readership (and they call themselves feminists….). Perhaps one day (hopefully soon) another magazine will get the hint and start the revolution. Until then, we will wait.
Go to any magazine rack, anywhere in America. Look at the women’s section. What you will probably see are racks and racks of smiling, beautiful and fashionable faces underneath captions like, “How to Please Your Man, 100 Men Tell All!” or “Fifty Hairstyles That Will Turn Heads this Winter” or “Oprah, The First Woman President?”. Then, to a stark contrast, I would like you to turn to the “Men’s Section” (in quotations because its not technically called that- but you know its geared towards men). Yea sure, you will see maybe a dozen adult magazines, a few sports magazines, a whole lot of fitness magazines and some car magazines- but do you know what else you will see? Magazines discussing foreign affairs, business, science. Scientific American, National Geographic, Psychology Today, Entrepreneur Magazine… When was the last time you saw one of those magazines outline in pink with a bright orange background and bright yellow words trying to tell us all about the benefits to staring an online company? You won’t see one; they aren’t geared towards women, because women usually aren’t the ones who buy these types of magazines.
The Economist? 64% of their readerships are men. The Atlantic? 61%. Newsweek? 56% male to female ratio. An exception would be The New Yorker, who boasts a 51% female to male readership. The reason? Its content is substantially higher in the “Culture/ Lifestyle” section, and substantially lower in National Affairs, the Economy, and International Affairs sections.
I find this disappointing. Please note, this is absolutely not meant to be a bash on women or our reading habits. Absolutely not. It could definitely be said that these magazines do themselves a disservice by not targeting women. In terms of color scheme and language, why does The Atlantic look more like GQ than Women’s Health?
However, what I am attempting to do here is questioning why Cosmopolitan exists. How does that magazine, and others like it, help us earn the position we deserve in society? (While we are asking questions, how does it even entertain women?) It is not the same to earn something rather than simply demand it of a world that is desperately trying to be politically correct. That’s all. I’m not saying that your average twenty something year old guy is reading up on foreign affairs in his spare time either (These magazines also boast an older readership, on both sides of the gender equation). I’m saying that being knowledgeable on topics other than the newest seduction techniques or the latest gossips within your sorority is imperative to being taken seriously in today’s’ world. And I am finding it harder and harder to have these conversations with people other than my older male colleagues.
So ladies, do your brains a favor, please stop reading Cosmo and start reading a magazine that does not reiterate the same topic in bold new colors each month. For the love of feminism.