Thursday, July 24, 2014

A great post for NFP Awareness Week

Update: The link now works!

What I should do is share my own post for NFP Awareness Week, but with the likelihood that I will not have time to pen my thoughts before the week is out, I want to share this post by Rita Buettner, which beautifully articulates why NFP is not birth control ... in fact, that it's not about being "in control" at all.
NFP says to God, "We recognize that we are not in control. We are going to do the best we can to make what we feel are the best decisions for our family, but we are also leaving this in Your hands. You are the giver of life, the One who knows better than we do what we can handle, what lies ahead, what plans you have for us."

NFP says, "Jesus, we place our trust in You. And we will be grateful for any gift you give, especially the gift of life."

God sent our children to us in a different way. And we endured years of infertility before we started down the road to adoption.

- See how God worked in the Buettners' lives here: http://www.catholicreview.org/blogs/open-window/2014/07/23/nfp-is-not-just-birth-control-how-infertility-deepened-my-appreciation-for-natural-family-planning#sthash.CiyEaStq.dpuf

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Hobby Lobby's degradation of women

This just in -- women in the United States are being victimized, humiliated and reduced to an all new low.  Perhaps you've heard about it?  Blaring across headlines, news shows and all of blogdom is the persistent idea that who women are involves one thing, and one thing only, and what women want is one thing, and one thing only.  


The tale, it is told, is that women's biggest interest in life is sex.  And what women want, nay, what they need more than anything in the world is love contraception.  Make that free contraception.  To give them less than free contraception is to deny their dignity, goodness and humanity.  Shall we treat them like women-persons who must supress their fertility on the company dime and give them free contraception, or shall we treat them like an object that is capable of bringing forth new life and force them to do so by rejecting their pleas for monthly free trips to the pharmacy?  That's the message we've been given.


You know what's ironic about it?  The idea that women are solely interested in sexual encounters with "freedom" from pregnancy, the idea that women require free contraception to be happy, fulfilled or even to be themselves is, in truth, what is objectifying, victimizing and humiliating.  Women have been reduced to their ability to engage in sex, and a broken sort of sex at that -- an intentionally sterile sex that uses hormones or copper or metal impants to reverse what is perfectly healthy.  If an alien were to come to earth and hope to learn what this strange creature, "woman" is, he would spend five minutes listening to Nancy Pelosi or Barbara Boxer or nearly any reporter and conclude that a woman is a sex-enjoying machine who relies on the government to give her the medicine she needs to ensure that this act remain on a superficial, inconsequential level.


How is this not insulting?  The alternative to the vision of women embraced so wholeheartedly by the government, the media and so many unsuspecting, not-truly-listening Americans is not to see women as baby-making machines.  The alternative does not demand that all women be cooped up in little shacks, stirring broth to feed their 22 children, each a year apart.  No, the alternative, ironically, sees women as persons, not as machines.  It sees women as unique, unrepeatable creatures whose greatest need -- and what they most deserve -- is love.  It sees women as possessing an inherent language of their bodies that allows them to speak love.  It sees the potential to give life as so beautiful and feminine that every woman is called to bear and nourish life spiritually.


Women have bodies, even in some sense are their bodies, but their bodies aren't just a necessary object for sex.  And women are not just their bodies.  They have a rich, interior landscape.  Women have feelings, emotions, desires (not just sexual!), talents, fears, joys, struggles, thoughts.


All of the whining and complaining that the Supreme Court just insulted women by saying that certain closely-held employers can avoid paying for contraceptives if it goes against their religious beliefs -- and instead send their employees to the government who will pay for their birth control --almost sounds like an article from The Onion.  The complaint is that women are being mistreated and denied their fundamental rights by 5 justices who clearly have no respect for women.  But isn't it really the other way around?  Isn't the reality that reducing women to the right to free contraception is denying that what women need and deserve most is not a handful of synthetic hormones but authentic love?

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Quote book

“The mutual love of Christian spouses is enfolded within Christ’s love, which reinforces the bond of fidelity that is already an integral part of natural marriage. Indeed, by lifting human love into his relationship with the Church, Christ the Bridegroom transforms that love’s innate promise of eternity into an expression of his total yes of unconditional faithfulness to his Bride. In exchanging their marriage vows, the spouses receive the Holy Spirit, who seals their mutual self-giving within the indestructible, or indissoluble, love between Christ and the Church. Just as the unbreakable bond of natural marriage is rooted in the Creator’s love, the indissolubility of Christian marriage (which reinforces the bond of natural marriage) is rooted in the love of Christ. The husband and wife share in the indestructible union between Christ and the Church, which is the real basis of their fidelity” --“Called to Love” (180-181) by Fr. Jose Granados and Carl Anderson

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What's going to happen at the Extraordinary Synod in October?

With all of the recent hype and speculation about the upcoming Extraordinary Synod on the Family, you would think the doctrines of the Catholic Church are about to change. Reading the just-released "Instrumentum Laboris" -- a summary of the world's bishops' reflections on the status of marriage and the family today -- gives a different picture. Here's my take at Aleteia.

Just to get you started:
The world’s bishops have taken stock of today’s cultural landscape with respect to marriage and the family and have found a serious lack of understanding–and therefore, living–of the Church’s teaching. It comes as no surprise to those in the trenches, (or even to those who just pick up a newspaper occasionally). We’ve all seen headlines about the legalization of same-sex “marriage.” We’ve all observed a blasé attitude toward marriage among family, friends, neighbors or colleagues, attitudes that non-judgmentally condone contraception, cohabitation and divorce. But for the Church’s hierarchy to acknowledge the difference between the faith and how it’s lived is an important admission. 
There are plenty of questions regarding who might be to blame–Are parents catechizing their children? Were the parents ever formed? Are priests preaching or advising properly in confession? Are bishops promoting defense of the family as a priority? Are marriage preparation programs adequate?


The tone of the document, however, is not to find a scapegoat; it is to acknowledge that something must be done. The victims of our marriage-destructive culture are many and are identified in the document–children of divorce, single mothers, spouses remaining faithful to wedding vows though separated, abused women and children, those living in canonically irregular situations and so forth. The document reveals that the bishops are aware of the grave challenges now facing the world and of the way these challenges converge and relate to the family, the fundamental cell of society.


Read the rest here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Divorce parties and family photographs

A divorce can bring a variety of reactions, depending upon each person affected, one's attitude toward marriage and the situation at hand.  In a Marriage in the News column I recently wrote for the USCCB's "For Your Marriage" site, I focus on the contrast between lavish "divorce parties" and an adult child of divorce who isn't sure the best way to handle childhood family photographs.  Read about it here.

Friday, June 13, 2014

World Youth Day's long-reaped fruits

I still remember the shock of the difference between Toronto, Canada and Cologne, Germany's World Youth Days.  The first was such a brilliant celebration, excellently executed, with a million young people joining St. John Paul II for his final World Youth Day.  But the second seemed flat, in my eyes.  The event took place in three different cities, limiting the amount of time the pilgrims were together.  Pope Benedict did not ride through the crowds for his entrance, but rather on a boat on the Rhine, which was difficult to see.  At the time, I was disappointed in my second World Youth Day experience.

Pope Benedict XVI at World Youth Day in Madrid.
But then we were participating in the walking pilgrimage to the all night vigil in Cologne, when I noticed the locals watching from their windows and porches.  They saw hundreds of thousands of young people from throughout the world making their way to an evening with the Holy Father.  They saw faith and sacrifice and trust and solidarity.

And then I realized -- the Germany World Youth Day was not for us, the pilgrims, in the way that Toronto's event had been.  No, this World Youth Day was for Germany.  This was a gift to a country whose faith was fading, an invitation to a greater love and joy.

So, when I saw the "First Things" headline, "Is Spain Regaining Its Faith?  And Why Isn't Anyone Else," I knew the answer had to involve, at least in part, World Youth Day.  The event was held there in 2011.  It was to be Pope Benedict XVI's final one.  It wasn't like Toronto's, at least for me, (though, admittedly, I was now a chaperone, not a soon-to-be freshman in college), but the streets of secular Spain were teaming with youth, the subways and buses were filled with song.  As we hiked to the field for the overnight vigil, generous Spaniards maneuvered their shower heads out their windows to offer some cool relief from the blazing sun.  


World Youth Day is the gift that keeps on giving.  Denver is a city transformed by Pope John Paul II's visit in 1993.  The cities chosen cannot just be the best logistical location for massive crowds.  The cities chosen become centers of renewal.  And these cities on a hill, popping up around the world, will undoubtedly contribute to the re-evangelization of many people, families and nations.