Friday, July 31, 2015

7QT: Seven Quick Takes (Volume XXI)

I'm linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum to bring you seven quick takes from my world this week.


It's my last week of work before vacation next week.  It has been a busy week of trying to finish projects before my vacation.  Once I get back, it'll basically be the end of summer.


I'm excited to have the week off and (hopefully) relax.  It's sometimes hard to relax around family when there is such tension and history with us, but I'm hopeful.  It's a milestone family event, there will be professional family photographs taken, and we will all be together day and night for days on end.  As I told my husband, "welcome to the family!"  Before it all kicks off, we will be hosting seven house guests this weekend.  

Carpe Diem.  

As I posted earlier this week, please pray for the repose of the soul of Leslie Sisti, an internet-only/blogger acquaintance.  She died at age 30 of a heart condition, leaving behind a husband and two young girls.  So sad.  We never know how much time we have on earth.  Be grateful and love well.  The death of those who seem to go too soon just rips my heart out.    


I finally am finished with my dental work, I think.  I had the ninth appointment this week, or was it tenth?  I honestly don't remember. It should have been finished in three, max four, visits.  I do plan to be breaking up with the dentist ASAP.  And being able to chew on both sides of my mouth again is great.  It's the weirdest feeling in the world to floss UNDER this new fake tooth (bridge).  When I feel food or liquid go under the tooth and touch the gum there, I can only describe it as my teeth floating.  Not a good feeling, but I guess that's how bridges work.  When I had the temporary one on for so long, it didn't have this lovely "feature."    

Passive Aggressive. 

In my personal life, over the years, I've tried hard to be more direct, less manipulative, less passive-aggressive.  I've tried to mean what I say and say what I mean.  I've tried to let others be how and who they are without judgment.  And I've tried to figure out what it is that I want or need in a given situation and voice that.  It's been so difficult at work to deal with the most passive aggressive, manipulative person you could imagine.  He is the boss of the whole office, although I directly report to someone else.  He somehow (micro)manages to get involved in all projects, not in an "I'm the boss and need to know what's going on," way but in an "I'm insecure that you'll do a bad job without me monitoring your every move" way.  It's exhausting and doesn't convey trust or lead to a healthy work environment.  I have to say, aside from the GIANT commute that ruins my life, I wouldn't be interested in other jobs if he were different. But alas, there is always someone or some situation like this to deal with, no matter the job.  I was annoyed yesterday because he asked another coworker to ask me questions, convey his preferences, and report to him my answers.  She is my equal and has nothing to do with my project.  It annoyed me to no end.  I need to let go of my need for him to be perfect and try to deal with this.  I'm not sure how to deal with it, and I don't know why he gets under my skin so much, but he does.


I think everyone has a different definition of what modest is for them, what they feel comfortable with.  I will say that mine has changed over the years.  I don't wear anything sleeveless, I don't wear anything above the knee.  I like the look of a v-neck, but I rarely wear them anymore and either layer or wear something that covers me up more.  It's funny.  I don't feel quite the shame and self-hatred I used to toward my body.  I'm happily married and understand that chastity and modesty are virtues that extend beyond the bedroom and apply to more than just females. In that way, my self image has gotten better, and at the same time, my style of dress has gotten more conservative.

It's exceedingly difficult to find a wedding dress with sleeves (found that out last year, and I had to have mine modified).  Even more difficult is the search to find a modest bathing suit.  Not modest as in, "this is a one piece that covers my stomach," but as in "I wouldn't wear this as an outfit, why would it be appropriate at the pool?"  Again, to each his (or her) own.  I don't fault people for wearing bikinis.  I just personally can't.  I wouldn't walk around in my underwear, and that's essentially the same amount of coverage as a bikini.  I understand that for the purpose of swimming, one should wear appropriate swimwear, but for me, I bought a swim shirt (sometimes called a "rash guard"), usually only marketed to men and boys.  I also bought swim shorts - not booty shorts that are the equivalent of underwear, but actual shorts that extend almost to my knee.  It's not that feminine, but it's swimwear, it covers me up, and I was able to just enjoy swimming without having to worry about my cellulite, my cleavage, whether or not I missed a spot shaving, etc.

I had to hodge-podge this suit together, but after doing that, I found a website that sells modest swimwear.  Truly modest.  I love it, and I wanted to share.  (I get no benefit from sharing this, it is simply an opinion).  I also mean no judgment or hard feelings to those who wear normal swimsuits.  I'm not saying you're immodest, I'm just saying that I am not comfortable in traditional (American) female bathing suits.  It's called HydroChic Modest Swimwear.  Take a look if that sort of thing interests you.


For whatever reason, my left eye has gone allergy crazy this morning.  I took out my contact and put it back in about 5 times while driving, and finally had to leave it in while I "cried" out of the one eye.  Once I got to work, I had some contact solution here, so I'm only using my right eye to read now.  It's so miserable.  I don't understand why it only happens to one eye at a time.  (Thrilling addition to the quick takes, I'm sure.  Congrats for reading this far.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

That's all I got.  Have a lovely weekend, and lovely last day of July.  

I hope to be seeing a similar view as this one, starting Sunday!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


"Life is short, but sweet for certain."

Pray for the repose of the soul of Leslie Sisti, wife and young mother to two sweet girls.

Pray for her family as they process this great loss.  It seems she suffered from a congenital heart defect that worsened after the birth of her second daughter.  (I only know her from her online presence, but it truly breaks my heart to hear this news.)

Leslie's instagram

Leslie's blog

Other bloggers are linking up with these hashtags:

        #beblessedlovelies (as that's how Leslie always signed off on her blog) and

Here is a link to her obituary, and here is a link to help grow a college fund for her daughters.    

God, have mercy.

Spiritual Warfare

I love Fr. James Martin, SJ.  He is funny and sensible.  He reaches non-Catholics and Catholics alike. You may know him from Stephen Colbert's show.  I love how he distills Catholic teaching and Ignatian spirituality into bite-size portions on Twitter, or very accessible "take aways."  When someone reasonable like Fr. Martin posts about evil (or the "devil" or "satan" or whatever-you'd-like-to-call-it), it strikes me as even more convincing.  This isn't a person prone to scare tactics or crazy fanaticism.

Here are two links regarding the statue that recently went up in Detroit.  One from Fr. Martin, and one from Fr. Dwight Longenecker.  I mostly leave them here as food for thought, and for myself to refer back to at a later time.

Fr. Martin's take

Fr. Longenecker's take

My own parish priest, who is truly dear to me, has alluded to the fact that he doesn't quite exactly believe there is a "devil."  As a representative of the Catholic Church, he doesn't dissent from Church teaching officially, but he says that it's a possibility because the Church teaches that it's true.

Back in my charismatic Protestant days, pretty much we were taught that the "devil" was in everything.  For the first time, I was taught (and believed) that God was good.  Truly good.  Only good.  I still believe that.  But, what wasn't present in charismatic Protestant circles was the idea of the cross.  Suffering was a result of the "devil" or your own lack of faith.  It was sort of a Christian karma, couched in the language of sowing and reaping.

It's a mystery that God is good, goodness itself, and yet, we do sometimes have to suffer.  God is not up there trying to create something bad in our lives, but He may not always heal us, cure us, fix things just how we want him to.  Instead, sometimes we bear a cross.  Not necessarily a cross that he inflicted upon us - sometimes we are the victims of evil - but a cross that he helps us to bear.  (In the words of Teresa of Avila, "If this is the way you treat your friends, it’s no wonder you have so few!")  It's a mystery what God allows and what He doesn't allow, who gets healed and who doesn't, whose prayers are "answered" the way we'd like and whose are not.

In my conversion experience, it is only the Catholic Church who presents a sane version of reality - a way to deal with suffering that both acknowledges it, believes in the supernatural, affirms that God is good, and also permits there to be a cross.

I do believe the devil is real.  I believe that there are forces of darkness, just as there are forces of light and grace.  I have felt the "resistance" when I try to do good or seek God.  I have been tempted and deceived.  I have heard satanists' accounts of their hatred of Jesus, especially in the Catholic eucharist.  I know it's real.  It's a battle we must fight.

As our world seems to just get darker and darker, we must be brighter and brighter lights.  As a Protestant, we used to sing songs about "Onward Christian Soldier" and bind the devil.  Now, as a Catholic, I am beginning to see that we are missionaries in this world and culture.  Sometimes it's the world who attacks and misunderstands us, sometimes it's fellow Catholics, sometimes it's fellow Christians who mean well.

I don't want to be a conspiracy theorist.  I don't want to have to fight some of these fights.  I don't know how bad it may get.  And, yet, in my adulthood, I have seen quite a change in the world around me.  We hold the truth and the light.  We must stand for it, proclaim it in our own lives, and dig deep enough to let it sustain us.  I love the Franciscan idea that our lives proclaim the gospel, or Augustine's idea that the truth defends itself.  At the same time, the gospel my life proclaims may not be worth following.  We have to be willing to speak up if needed, to do our part to love and serve our neighbors, and to speak the truth with as much love as possible, steeped in prayer.

Friday, July 24, 2015

7QT: Seven Quick Takes - NFP Style (Volume XX)

I'm linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum to bring you 7 quick takes (+1 to grow on) from my world this week.

It's NFP awareness week, and if there's one thing I'm super-aware of, it's fertility...specifically mine and my husband's.  

So, here's a link to the 8 takes I have on NFP, written earlier this week.  

When I think of family life and human nature/sexuality, John Paul II comes immediately to mind.  
St. Pope John Paul II, pray for us!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Happy NFP Awareness Week

According to the USCCB, it's National NFP Awareness Week.

It seems like last year at this time, there was much more awareness, or maybe because I was just learning to chart with Natural Family Planning and preparing for marriage, I was much more aware.  This year, I haven't come across as many blog posts or articles about it.  I'm now married, using NFP, going on about 10 months.  You could say we are "successful," in that we have been using NFP to avoid pregnancy, and so far, we have.

So...what could I say about NFP that hasn't already been said?  Likely, not much, but I will offer my 2 cents on the matter.

1)  NFP is hard.  
NFP, if you're using it to avoid pregnancy, is difficult.  It can be difficult because you're super-fertile, infertile, have wonky signs, etc.  It can be difficult because you've got signs that can be discerned, but it requires abstinence from your husband/very best friend/life partner, and you just so happen to be in love with that person and sleeping next to them every night.  NFP is also hard if you're using it to achieve pregnancy and have encountered unexpected obstacles.  It requires discipline, self-control, and sacrifice.  

2)  NFP should be universally taught to all fertile females.
I was so surprised that the signs of ovulation were never taught to me.  Essentially, the heart of NFP is recognizing when you're fertile and infertile, naturally within a cycle.  We all have had to learn about "that time of the month," and it's essentially unavoidable.  But, ovulation is the other "time of the month," and though not quite as obvious, can usually be determined.  The culture of death and the prevalent use of birth control has subtly taught us that our fertility is a hassle, at best, and a curse to be medicated away, at worst.  The female body is objectified by our culture, and yet shrouded in mystery.  The thought that we could use science to understand ourselves is somehow disregarded when it comes to female fertility, and it seems like the pill is seen as the universal answer.  I think all females should learn about their entire cycle, from a young age, regardless of whether they'll marry or not.  It cannot hurt, and maybe it'll keep some from using birth control unnecessarily.  And speaking of birth control...

3)  The real war on women is staring us right in the face. 
I remember specifically asking my doctor about the increased chances of cancer when taking the pill a few years ago, and she said there was nothing to worry about.  Come to find out, it is a class 1 carcinogen according to the World Health Organization.  Follow the money on that one, is big pharma benefiting from the widespread ignorance and medication of women?  Most likely.  Follow the culture of death, is widespread suppression of our fertility having other negative effects?  Yes.

What gets me really riled up is that, if I wanted to be chemically sterilized and on the pill the rest of my fertile years, the government would make sure that was free.  However, if I wanted to have a family, whether big or small, the government and my job would make that a much more difficult choice, through the costs of pregnancy, labor, and childcare, and through the lack of support post-partum with my job.  In our culture, it's easier to choose sterility or "child-free."  And that lack of support for the traditional family choice really saddens me.  Maybe because it's a choice I'd like to make, but don't know how it would be possible for us in the foreseeable future.

4)  Stop complaining. 
Perhaps related to #3, true feminism to me is the ability to have a family and stay at home, to have a family and work, or to not have a family, depending on where you feel God is calling you.  (Yes, I'm Catholic and a feminist, and yes, I'm referring to grave reasons for no family at all.)  Having pointed out that our culture encourages the autonomy of adults and a minimal family size, I wish that all Catholics and Christians would be supportive of other families, regardless of their size or station in life.  You never know what they are going through that leads to their current circumstances.  Maybe they are "open to life," and can't conceive.  Maybe they have financial or medical problems that you know nothing about.  Maybe their giant family and super-fertility is a cross for them.

It's just that, when you're the infertile or sub-fertile woman, and all you'd want it is to stay at home with your own children and not work, it's really hard to hear mothers in that position complaining about it.  By the same token, when you're the stay-at-home-mom, working her ass off for her family, and someone says something insensitive like, "I wish I had that kind of free time...what do you do all day?" it's a slap in the face.

Let's respect one another, not make assumptions, and stop complaining about our lives.  Someone may be praying to have the very life circumstances that they see you living with ingratitude, and it can be so so hurtful.  There's a difference between having a bad day, needing to express frustration, and complaining about your station in life.  I'm objecting to the complaining.  

5)  We need community.  
While I think we should refrain from making assumptions and attacking one another, we definitely need community to let off steam or feel heard/understood by our fellow sojourners.  That's why I think conferences like Edel are so great.  (I just wish there was something like it for all Catholic women, not just mothers.)  All people need to know they are not alone, and creating communities is a great way to support one another.

When I wrote about the gay marriage debate, I mentioned that creating a culture of life, supporting marriage and family life within the church through communities, is one way I think we can "fight back."  I think that we need to create a civilization of love, and by making our churches vibrant, supportive places for families in all stages, it will be attractive.  We need better marriage preparation and help for newlyweds. We need more NFP classes and teachers.  We need to connect older "successful" couples with younger ones.  We need single people to feel welcome in families. Basically, we need community. Unfortunately, in my experience, the Protestants have us Catholics beat on this by a long shot, and it's a shame.  I would really like to see something happen in my own parish, and I'm trying to figure out how I can help, but I think we've got to address this as Church.    

6)  There is always a cross.
Before I learned about Theology of the Body and NFP, I really had no qualms about any form or expression of sexuality.  I guess I thought that it was cruel to ask a gay friend to be celibate for life, when none of my straight friends were celibate or disciplined in any form of sexual restraint (myself included).  I thought "anything goes."  Once I learned, accepted, and practiced Church teaching, it turns out that all of us have a cross to bear, and all love requires sacrifice.

Maybe your sacrifice is in the form of abstinence for grave reasons.  Maybe it's in the form of life-long celibacy due to your station in life or disordered attractions.  Maybe your cross is the fact that you want kids and can't have them, or that it's difficult to raise the children you have.  There is always a cross.  And, embracing that cross when it comes to our sexuality is called chastity.  It's a virtue, and we are all called to practice it, in one way or another.  NFP has really helped me to put the gift of sexuality in perspective and realize that, it is possible (difficult, but possible) to live out the life God is calling us to.  And, no matter which life that is, the grass isn't greener on the other side.  We all have a form of sacrifice.  God gives us the grace for that situation, not for our neighbor's situation. We should pray for one another that we would receive that grace and walk in it with greater understanding and love.

7) Discipline.
I've always been bad at Lent.  Coming from a non-liturgical, Protestant background, we never celebrated Lent.  I also had a healthy dose of self-loathing, and confused that with fasting or penances.  I'm just coming out of all that fog and really trying to lead an integrated Catholic life. When Lent rolled around this year, I was sort of beating myself up for once again failing at Lent and not knowing how to fast, when a little voice reminded me, "Yes, I do know how to fast.  We've been practicing NFP for several months now."  While I don't deserve a badge of honor for this, it was a nice reminder that practicing NFP has been a good form of discipline, and it can carry over into other areas of my life.  It is just part of developing virtues.  And, related to there always being a cross, NFP helps me sacrifice a little bit on a regular basis, growing in love, humility, and chastity.

8) Open to Life.
Ever since learning about Theology of the Body and practicing NFP, it has been my personal experience that I am much more open to life in general.  Although we are avoiding pregnancy right now, I no longer take my fertility for granted.  I hope that one day, we can have children when we discern that it's time.  I see my sexuality and fertility as a gift, perhaps for the first time.  And, even though we don't have kids, I find myself much more open to children and excited about that prospect than I ever have been.  Maybe it's the biological clock ticking, but I really think there is more to it.  Some have pointed out that NFP-practicing families might be big, not because the method doesn't work, but because they understand the gift that children are, and NFP makes them more open to life than contracepting families.

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Bottom line, I thank God for the wisdom and consistency of the teachings of the Catholic Church, especially when it comes to the areas of family life, sexuality, the human person, and morality.  Yes, these are difficult teachings.  NFP is often hard.
But, it is so so worth it.  

~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Bonus: I'm linking up with Call Her Happy regarding all things NFP!

Friday, July 17, 2015

7QT: Seven Quick Takes (Volume XIX)

I'm linking up with This Ain't the Lyceum to bring you seven quick takes from my world this week.

Psychic Moments.

I revealed/discovered last week that I might be an INFJ instead of an INTJ.  INFJs often have "psychic moments" in which their intuition tells them something before it happens, or they have strong impressions about unseen or unspoken things.  It's happened to me a lot over the course of my lifetime.  And it happened to me yesterday twice, very strongly.    

First, I woke up with the face of a former student at the forefront of my mind.  Someone I haven't really thought about for a few years, someone I was never really that close to, but whom I loosely know.  I could not get him out of my mind for the first several hours of the day.  I even checked social media to make sure he was still alive.  (dramatic much?)  The only thing I could figure out was to just pray for him. He was raised Catholic.  He is gay and left the faith.  He graduated from college (where I was his advisor) and is living the high life in one of the country's largest cities.  I don't know if I was called to pray for him specifically, or to pray for who he represents to me.  It's just been so much on my heart lately (for obvious reasons and for personal reasons) to pray for my gay friends. Especially those who were raised Catholic or Christian, but are no longer practicing.  I'm not sure what God was asking of me, but I know our prayers are never in vain.

Secondly, at the end of the day, I was just getting home and my husband was just leaving for a rehearsal.  I had a terrible feeling about him leaving.  I kind of dismissed it like I was being extra fearful and too imaginative in the worst-possible-scenario type of way.  It's been about one year exactly since he got in a near-fatal car wreck before our wedding.  Anyway, I just hugged him extra tight before he left.  I even chased after him and hugged him another time to say a second goodbye. Well, he's fine, but his mom got in a car wreck last night.  I think my radar was a little off, but once again, I tried not to slip into fear when I had these feelings last night, and I prayed instead.  I hope God applied them to my mother-in-law, as needed.  (Does it count as a "psychic moment" if you're "off", like I was?)

Anyway, both of these scenarios are not really about me.  It's more about what I'm called to do in that moment, which is pray.  I heard someone say that when someone comes to mind like that, pray to their guardian angel because your guardian angel, or the Holy Spirit, is prompting you.  So, I did that. I really feel called to more prayer and fasting, especially in situations where I feel helpless or don't know what to do.  Our prayers are never in vain, even if our premonitions are off.  

Here I Am, Lord. 

I have a background in music, and ever since I moved to my current city, I haven't used it as much.  I only have one job now, and it's my "day job," which has nothing to do with music.  I have substituted on piano for a Catholic Church in town.  I have helped my husband with his concert series, both by performing and doing things behind the scenes.  I also played and sang at the parish Christmas concert last Christmas, but I still haven't found my niche for music in this city or in my life.  I keep asking God, how am I supposed to use my musical training and love for music?  It's hard, because when opportunities come my way, I do want to help out my husband's music career first, and since I'm not depending on music to make a living, I usually think he should be getting the first shot at opportunities.  Also, the majority of last year was dominated by moving and wedding planning.  It wasn't a priority.  Now that things have settled, I really want that piece of my life back.

Anyway, last weekend, in a city of over 4 million people, it seems like no one was available to sing for the Saturday evening mass at our church.  I was going to be there anyway, my husband was going to be there also, playing piano.  And, the music director asked if I might sing.  I knew it was the right thing to do.  I was really reluctant and hesitant (and nervous).  I said yes, but may not have had the greatest attitude.  As I was practicing the music for that evening's mass, I was going over the old Catholic standard Here I Am, Lord.  It literally wasn't until I sang that refrain that I got it.  I had kind of half-heartedly prayed to God, "how am I supposed to use my music?"  And, when the answer was right in front of my face, I still sort of resisted out of pride, or because it wasn't exactly what I had in mind.  It cracked me up.  I laughed, and said, "Okay, God.  I get it."  I need to be open and willing to do your will.  If I'm needed to sing, that's what I should do.  God's will, not mine.  Here I am, Lord.

This is usually how God works in my life.  He's gracious.  It often comes in the form of writing on the wall, a 2x4 over the head, or something extremely, really, obvious that no one could miss, like the words to a song, reminding you, "Here I am, Lord.  Is it I, Lord?  I have heard you calling in the night.  I will go, Lord, if you lead me..."  He lead me alright, it just took me a minute to see that it was the answer to my prayer of "how am I to use my music?"  God was like, "Well, how's this?"

So, all said and done, last weekend, I attended four masses.  I sang at one mass.  I was a Eucharistic minister at two masses.  And I helped my husband advertise for his concert at all four masses.  Here I am, Lord.  I get it now.  However you want to use me...  Thanks for working with my obliviousness.    

One of our good friends is in town and staying with us for several days.  It's been fun to see her and catch up.  I really just want her to move back to town.  Our house is kind of a disaster zone in every area but the guest room and common living areas.  We are glad to finally have things in a semi-reasonable state to accommodate guests.  No reason to have a house with extra bedrooms if they can't be used once in a while!  But, we enjoy our guest so much that we stayed up way too late talking.  It was worth it, though.  I love good friends that feel like family.  


I'm sure there's an entire website dedicated to this phenomenon - when a man (for whatever reason, men do this more than women) overtakes way more than his allotted share in a public space, such as a subway or waiting room.  (I'm scared to google it.)  It's called manspreading when a man "spreads" out over two or three chairs.  It's especially offensive when those chairs are needed by others. Egregiously offensive if the elderly, children, pregnant women, etc. are standing by, when the man is spread out all over seats they could be using.  (I'm sure women sometimes do the same thing, especially with purses or bags or something.)

Anyway, I had to trip my way up the stairs of our on-campus bus the other day because a man had spread himself all over the stairs.  Literally leaving about 1-2 inches to get by.  It was so rude and annoying.  I had to take a picture.  I rudely said, "Excuse you," as I passed by, which did nothing.  I should have calmly and kindly said, "I'm sorry, could you move your leg so I could pass by? Thanks."  I'm sure he would have obliged.  What can I say?  It was the morning, and I was cranky.  I thought I'd take a picture and publicly shame him on the blog that no one reads instead.  Two wrongs make a right, you know?  

Come on, baby, light my (Kindle) fire.  

In a moment of weakness,  During Amazon's "Prime Day" the other day, I caved and purchased a Kindle fire on sale.  In order to get the deal, I also had to sign up for Amazon Prime.  We did a free trial via my husband's card a few months ago.  I wasn't too impressed, so we cancelled at the end of the free trial.  I fully intend to cancel Amazon Prime again at the end of this free trial, but I needed to sign up via my card in order to get the Kindle deal.

I'm hoping that the Kindle, with its free wi-fi, ability to read books, camera, email/internet/apps, will make it possible for me to either downgrade my phone to a stupid phone, or refrain from getting a newer phone.  If I get a new phone, I will lose my grandfathered-in, unlimited data.  I'm hoping that between an aging phone and a new Kindle, I can do what I need to do without having to purchase more data, a new contract, or a new phone.  The cost of the Kindle was about one month's cost of my cell phone bill. I'm excited to see how it goes!

Black thumb. 

I'm guessing that black thumb is the opposite of green thumb.  Whatever the opposite of green thumb is, that's what I have.  I have managed to kill succulents - plants that are in the cactus family.  Plants that virtually need no attention.  Since we got married, we have received killed three basil plants from my husband's Italian family.  I love the idea of fresh basil in the kitchen or backyard, but I can't seem to get the right combination of sunshine/water/basic care to these plants.  I'm really hoping that the third time is the charm.

As for the rest of the yard?  Well, last year during wedding planning, I sort of gave up and started paying for someone to come mow.  And, where we live you have to mow all year.  And, I guess I just sort of never cancelled that service.  So, we pay for mowing.  But, our front and back yards are extensively landscaped by the previous owner.  We are doing that whole apostolic thing where Jesus said, "let the weeds and wheat grow together until the harvest," (Matthew 13:30) and letting it run wild.  I really really need to pull some weeds and put down some mulch before the house is over-run. Maybe someday.


That's all I got, folks.  Let us pray for God's mercy on us, and on the whole world.  Let us pray for the victims of the shooting in Chattanooga and the Christian martyrs around the world.  Let us pray for all those we love and their intentions. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Grace - Finding God in All Things

We talk a lot in Christian circles about God's grace - what we have been "saved" from, what we have a specific charism (or grace) to do, how amazing it is.  We talk in Catholic circles about the special graces given to Mary to be Jesus' mother, the grace of God guaranteed to us in the sacraments.  To quote an old hymn, we believe in "the grace that is greater than all of our sins."  We know that God is rational, loving, and personal - that he loves us in a way that is specific to us - ordinary, if you will - but also very real, and sometimes extraordinary.

What often happens is that we see someone else in a situation different from ours, and we think, "I don't know how she does it.  I could never do that."  The young widow, the cancer patient, the mom with 10 kids, the couple struggling with infertility, the single mom, the recovering addict.  You know what?  It's okay.  God gives them grace for that situation.  You don't have the grace for that situation because you're not in it.  God's busy giving you grace for the situations you are in.  Situations that are familiar to you, hardships and crosses that fit snugly, even though they may be heavy, your day-to-day life that is filled with joys and struggles.  God's grace is for you in those situations, not the theoretical, hypothetical situations of the future, not in the hardships of others. 

Right here.  Right now.  Your life.

We do not understand God's grace for others outside of ourselves, but we should be busy finding and receiving God's grace for us, right within our grasp.  As St. Ignatius reminds us, you can "find God in all things."  Another quote I love, from Paula D'Arcy, "God comes to you disguised as your life."

On the flip side of that same token, God's grace is extended to us in the form of forgiveness, too.  He cleanses us from original sin at baptism, and actual sin from that point forward.  Why is it so hard for us to believe that God forgives others of their sins?  Sins with which we do not struggle, perhaps. Sins we may not even be tempted by.  Sins that, "I could never...." or sins that, "I don't know how they can do that..."

Ugly, isn't it?  Sin's ugly.  And the sin of looking down from our high horse at another person struggling differently, only to say, "I could never commit..." is pretty ugly, too.

We are all tempted.  We are all deceived.  We all have weaknesses.  Mine may be different from yours.  

I can be grateful in saying that I was never tempted to drug addiction, that was a grace.  But, I did have to overcome sexual sins, and that was a grace.  We may watch a Planned Parenthood director explaining the harvesting of fetus' body parts and think that she's a monster or a criminal, but we don't recognize that - that sin, that mistake?  It wasn't ours.    

God's grace is there for everyone.  We are so bad at showing that grace to one another.  It's almost as if we are proud of our graces, of the gift we have received because our gift of grace is different from your gift of grace.  God is waiting in the moments of our lives - in our sins, our failures, our joys, our mountaintops, our struggles.  He's there in ALL of it.  And there is grace for everyone, every moment.  God's grace for me is different from God's grace for you, both in how I sin and in how I overcome my difficulties, both in my gifts and in my weaknesses.  May we learn to encourage others, and not to judge them.  May we stop comparing ourselves with one another.    

"Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do." - Luke 23:34

Friday, July 10, 2015

7QT: Seven Quick Takes (Volume XVIII)

I'm linking up with Bonnie from A Knotted Life to bring you Seven Quick Takes from my world this week.

Weeks after a holiday are always brutal.  I only worked 2.5 days last week, so this 5 day week has been excruciatingly long.  Not to mention pay day is so close...yet so far.  

I finally wrote down some of my thoughts on the gay marriage ruling here.  Bottom line, we need to make clear that ours is a message of love. We need to evangelize and re-evangelize Catholics about what marriage really is.  We need to build communities of support for married couples, singles, families, etc. in order to live out what we believe.  We need to pray for our country and live our own vocations to holiness.

I filled out a little survey about marriage for fun here because, what can I say?  I'm a newlywed, and I'm in love.

It might seem trivial, but I found out this week that I'm actually an I-N-F-J, not an I-N-T-J according to the Myers-Briggs personality test.  It explains so much!  I'm fascinated by human behavior, personality, habits, what motivates us, etc.  I'm also always trying to crack the code of my own personality to make sure I'm living the best life I can.  It has been great fun to perceive myself as an I-N-F-J instead of I-N-T-J.  I really think it's more accurate, after thinking that I-N-T-J was like looking inside my brain.  

Here are some I-N-F-J traits that stopped me in my tracks because they were so right on: 
 - have "psychic" moments sometimes in which they either have a prediction about the future that comes true, or feel a connection to a loved one right when something significant is happening to a loved one (can't tell you how many times this has happened to me from where I was going to go to college to who is calling me when the phone rings (without caller ID))
- work in the arts, higher education, or ministry (I have a background/degrees in music, I currently work in higher education and have for years, I have worked in the past for the Church, and it's something I've strongly considered for the future - plus, I just finished catechist training for my diocese
- sometimes are really bad at expressing their own personal feelings (YES)
- often fixate on external things when stressed (YES YES YES!!  I was so deep into scrubbing toilets and showers when stressed a few weeks ago that I didn't hear the doorbell or the phone ring, and I was expecting that person to come over!)

Anyway, apparently an I-N-F-J is most likely to doubt their own mental stability and also to seek therapy.  I'm still learning, but I feel like a door has been unlocked.  Take a test here for yourself and unlock the key to understanding yourself.  I-N-F-Js unite!!

It's going to be a busy July.  We have a friend staying with us for about a week next week, which will be great.  I need to do some cooking and cleaning.  My love has a concert coming up soon, which is also great, but takes lots of work.  And, once we recover from that, we have a family vacation/my parents' 50th wedding anniversary in August.  So, I have about 3 weeks left of summer to finish all my work projects before the students return.  Where has summer gone?!

On a more serious note, I heard someone saying that if you can't pray a rosary a day or do a novena, pray one Hail Mary every day for our country, for marriages, for our gay friends.  It's time for us to wake up and live the lives we are called to.  I've been so grieved and burdened by the lack of knowledge, lack of formation, lack of any effort at all on the part of so many Catholics.  How can we change the culture if the truth means nothing to us, if the truth hasn't changed us?  Let's learn our faith and live it with God's grace!

While many of the bloggers I read (and have never met in person) are off partying at Edel, I'm just staying home.  No $$ to attend, plus I'm not a mom, so I don't know how comfortable I'd be there.  (I know it's open to all women, but it's emphasis is for moms to connect.)  I've really been thinking a lot about community lately, and I hope those ladies have a great time, and that I can find a little community here in town for myself.  It is sorely lacking, in my experience.  My husband and I were just talking about another couple we'd like to try to befriend from church.  It feels like you're asking someone out on a date at first.  Ha ha.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Peace and all God's blessings to you.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Married Life Is Awesome...a Questionnaire

when did you meet?

how did you meet?
We were both students at music school.  I was a graduate student, and he was an undergraduate.  We had the same teacher, and we were just acquaintances the first year or so.  

first impression?
My first impression of him is that he was an arsty, absent-minded professor type that was really smart. He says his first impression of me is that I was "deep" and "funny."

first date?
This is really hard to determine since we were friends who eased into dating.  But I remember our first outing after our first kiss.  He asked me to our favorite coffee shop because we needed to talk.  I was as nervous as heck because we had kissed the night before.  I didn't know if it was just a fluke, or if it meant more. Right after we kissed, I asked, "What does this mean??"  But, he said, "Let's not ruin the moment."  So, the next day at the coffee shop, he said he'd like to start dating me.  I agreed.  And, I guess that was our first "date." 

what's our song and why?
Our song used to be Pink Floyd, "Wish You Were Here," because we spent so much time in a long-distance relationship or temporary spells of long-distance.  That song makes me sad now, and reminds me of hard times, missing my love.  I do like the line, "We're just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year," because I sometimes feel like we are two lost souls who found each other.  But, we have yet to find a new "song" that conveys our deep love and how good things are now.  We could say that it was the song for our first dance at the wedding, "Set Me As a Seal on Your Heart."   

first event you went together to?
This is really hard to determine, since we knew each other as acquaintances and then friends for so long before dating.  I'm guessing a classical music concert.  

when did you fall in love?
For me, it was pretty much right off the bat after we started dating.  I remember after the first 6-10 weeks of dating thinking that this was different, and that I loved him.  We would say things like "I love being with you," or "I love what we have together."  I remember I already pictured our future together.  

who said it first?
He said "I love you" first, 9 months after we had been dating.  And, he left it on a voicemail.  He was out of town, talking to an old friend.  He told his friend that he loved me, but that he hadn't said it to me. The friend convinced him that he needed to let me know, and as soon as possible.  That friend ended up being his best man.  It was really cute and surprising to get that voicemail.  I was at work, and I remember listening to it the first time, then over and over and over again.  I really, really wanted to say it for quite some time, but I didn't want to say it first.  After that, we said it (and continue to say it) constantly.  

when did you move in together?
We didn't move in together until after we got married, in 2014.  

what ​were the first few months like?
The first few months were great, but an adjustment.  We were figuring out how to split chores and personal habits.  But, it was still awesome.  It is still new (less than a year married here.)  But, in some ways, it feels like hanging out with your best friend or going on a date every night with your love.  

who​'​s the cleaner one of you two?

​​when did you get engaged?  how did it happen?
Well, funny love proposed to me in 2011.  I didn't say "no," but I didn't exactly say "yes," either.  I couldn't accept the ring in good faith.  We stayed up all night talking after the proposal (down on one knee, a ring, roses, a beautiful card, the works...)  We didn't even live in the same state.  We hadn't talked about marriage.  We had tap-danced around the issue during 4 years of dating.  I hadn't even told my parents I was Catholic, and I knew that would be a huge issue.  I was obligated to stay in my house for at least 10 more months at that time...on and on.  But, that question got the wheels reaction to the proposal also got one of the worst phases of our relationship going.  It was really really difficult.  He felt rejected.  I was angry that he would ask me without considering all those practical things.  I felt like I had been put in the "bad guy" seat by having to make real considerations of practical matters.  I was the one who would have to move and give up my whole life - family, job, house, friends - that I loved.  He felt like he was being romantic and hopeful, and I had crushed him.  

Well, about a year after the first proposal, I ended up applying for jobs where he lived (and I now live). We had had some truly horrible fights in the meantime.  I regret them and how I acted in every way.  But, we had decided to make it work again.  There was a new presence of distance, hurt, and coldness, between us after those fights.  We had each been pursued by other romantic interests that seemed tempting, and yet, we kept coming back to each other.  We decided to give it another go.  

I ended up getting my current job and moving.  My house sold in less than 10 days.  We started really working on our relationship, and it really helped to be in the same place.  So, about 6 months after I moved here, we got engaged.  This time, there was no bended knee, no roses, no card.  Just a discussion where he said, "I want to spend the rest of my life with you."  We had both healed enough from the wounds we caused each other since the first proposal.  We both saw that it was so much better in the same city, so much easier to work on our relationship.  I was ready to assert my independence from my parents by announcing my Catholicism.  And, so, we got engaged.  This time, I picked out my own ring. forward to an engagement slightly longer than a year.  
We got married on the exact same date as the initial proposal...3 years later to the date.  

how long have you been married?
just over 9 months 

describe married life
awesome, exciting, a really good chance to grow in selflessness and humility, if you let it

what is the best part about being married?
Everything is better as a team.  While I estimated that marriage would increase responsibilities, bills, dishes, etc. (and that's true), it also increases the problem-solvers.  I'm not alone when it comes to paying bills, taking out the trash, or solving problems.  It's like being with your best friend and having a date every night.  It's awesome.  

what is your favorite memory together?
Sitting together on a moon-lit beach, the first summer we dated back in 2007.  We went out to the beach after a bonfire and just sat in silence together until about 3 am.  It brings me peace to think about that night, and also a smile to think that we were together and happy.  I remember when I was having a particularly hard time once, he said to me, "Remember the moon-lit beach."  It's a beautiful memory we both share, and I treasure it.    

would you change anything?
I sometimes look back and wish I had said, "yes" at the first proposal.  But, I wasn't ready.  I wonder if I had said, "yes," at that time, and we had had those same, awful fights, if our engagement would have lasted.  I think when we finally did get engaged and then married, we had worked through lots of issues together.  I had also worked through lots of my own issues that I was bringing to the table - my parents, my childhood, my own wounds, insecurities, sin.  I had finally learned and begun to practice my Catholicism more deeply, including Theology of the Body, and being open to NFP.  I'm definitely not perfect.  I just think I was in a much, much better place to be engaged and married when we actually did it than when the first proposal took place. Not to mention the practical matters of living in the same city and starting a new life over here had fallen into place.  I wish the hurt hadn't happened.  But, in the end, the timing all worked out, and we got to be together.  I'm so grateful for every day we have together.  I never want to take it for granted.  Often, when we are falling asleep, I say to him, "Every day married to you is the best day of my life," and I mean it.      

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

My Thoughts on the Gay Marriage Ruling

1)  ALL PEOPLE are beloved of God.  You don't have to earn that.  You don't have to qualify that statement.  God loves all of my gay brothers and sisters.  Let's all agree to retire the phrase, "Hate the sin and love the sinner," shall we?  Let's agree that God loves all, and stop at that.

2)  The Catholic Church teaching on homosexuality is actually compassionate, not hateful or bigoted. It is very important to clarify and to understand what the Church teaches about this.  Unlike many of our Protestant brothers and sisters who are also "against" gay marriage, the Catholic approach to this issue doesn't believe you can "pray the gay away" or that simply by having same sex attraction, you sin.  The Catholic Church distinguishes between the person, the attraction, and the actions.  The person is always, without question beloved of God (see #1).  The attraction is understood to be a deeply psychological issue, largely unexplained. (The removal of homosexuality from the DSM was not based in science, but in politics. "What’s noteworthy about this is that the removal of homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses was not triggered by some scientific breakthrough. There was no new fact or set of facts that stimulated this major change."  See this article for one explanation.)  While you may not be able to control your attraction, that does not necessarily mean you were born with it.  Nor does it mean that you can be accountable for having the attraction, by itself.

It's action that brings in culpability.  And why does the Catholic Church condone the act?  Because of natural law.  If you study the human body, it allows you to see how the design contributes to purpose.  Our "reproductive organs" are called that for a reason...that's their purpose!  And, it is "disordered" to use them for another purpose.  That is why, difficult though it may be, the Catholic Church teaches that all sex outside of faithful, married, open-to-life-sex is wrong.  What about infertile couples?  What about people who don't want kids?  What about those who are too old to conceive?  What does the Church say to them?  Well, the same thing, essentially.  We can use our bodies in the way God created us.  A male and female body are naturally ordered toward one another and procreation. If procreation is not possible, due to age or defect, that is qualitatively different from a couple of the same sex.  If procreation is not wise, due to finances, health issues, or other serious reasons, then you refrain from the act.  You don't participate in the act, and then thwart it.  It's like being on a diet - you refrain from certain foods.  You don't eat whatever you want and take a pill to remove its effects or throw it up to prevent the effects.  We would call that an eating disorder.  In the Western world, we now call that "contraception" when we do the same behaviors with sex.  We are not declaring that gay people "have a disorder."  But the Church, based on natural law, upholds that our sexual facilities and the acts they are capable of have a purpose and an order.  It's the difference between an apple tree that cannot produce apples or has a disease, and an orange tree, which you expect to create apples.  One is ordered toward creating apples.  The other is not, and never will be ordered toward creating apples.

Here is a fascinating article in the New York Times about the role that procreation has had in marriage law.     

3)  To the extent that this legal ruling will allow long-standing couples visitation rights at the hospital, insurance benefits, or the rights to raise their children or care for children, this is a WIN.  It is not right to separate life-long partners at the end of life or in critical care situations.  Often this person is their next of kin and ONLY kin, as families have sometimes abandoned their gay relatives. It is not right that spouses cannot receive benefits, such as insurance or retirement, when they have spent their whole lives together, and that is the wish of the other spouse.  It is always good to give better care and provisions to children who need a loving home.  Do I think children should be purposely deprived of a mother and father?  No.  But, I think caring adults who want to adopt or provide for children are better for that child than putting them in a foster care system or worse.  I do think that all of the above could have been accomplished with civil unions, rather than marriage, but the fact that these issues are resolved is only fair, in my opinion.

4)  Where all of this gets sticky is the separation of Church and state.  Will the Catholic Church be allowed to continue teaching and practicing sacramental marriages?  We have seen legal precedent that forces business to do things that do not comply with their religious beliefs.  As ministers of the church AND the state, when a marriage is performed, will the state eventually force ministers to perform weddings with which they do not agree?  I think this is a valid, not paranoid question.  One easy resolution is to do what many European countries do and require a civil ceremony with the court/justice of the peace and a separate religious ceremony, if so desired.  To me, this is the clearest way.  The future is uncertain as to the federal funding, tax-exempt status and other governmental benefits afforded to churches.  Gay marriage is federal law now, and it's possible that not performing a gay wedding will be punishable by law, that teaching gay marriage is not morally accepted will be deemed discriminatory hate speech.

By the looks of the way this played out on social media, this seems extremely possible, if not imminent.  I wish I could say that all were treated with respect and tolerance after this decision came out, but it was truly concerning and disappointing to see the way the debate played out within my social media network.  Lots of people took giddy delight in announcing that they would be "cleaning up" their list of friends, based on the "haters" and "bigots."  There is no room for public discourse.  I can see that if you viewed a traditional-marriage stance as equivalent to white supremacy, then you wouldn't want to dignify that with a "discussion."  Obviously, the two arguments are not parallel.  But, we have reached a time in public debate which reveals a complete LACK of rational, logical discussion.

5)  Sola Scriptura does not work.  My point on #2 about why the Catholic Church teaches what it does about sexuality is not based on Bible verses, text-proofing, "Jesus said ___ about gay marriage," "to lay with another man is an abomination," etc.  That is flawed, faulty logic.

(Side note, the Bible does not declare itself to be the pillar and foundation of truth, it declares the Church to be the ultimate authority.  Also, it's not a self-asserted document that compiled itself into canonization, it took humans and spiritual authorities.)

For all the well-meaning Protestants that are holding fast to their biblical interpretation on either side of this argument, it will fail.  First of all, those who do not believe the Bible will immediately ignore you when you quote the Bible at them, especially if it is used against them.  Secondly, lots of atheists and Christians who disagree with you can and will quote the Bible right back at you to prove their point.  They'll use the book of Leviticus to say, "you probably wear clothing with blended materials or eat shellfish - are you an abomination too??" or they'll say, "Judge not, lest you be judged," or they'll tell you why the Bible condemns same-sex relationships.

The Bible was not meant to be used as a means of defending our beliefs, taking verses out of context and saying, "See??!!  It's in the Bible, it must be true."  You can twist it any which way.  Just like in real estate - location, location, location - the Bible needs to be taken in context.  The Bible is not "a book," it is a library of books, written over time by multiple authors, in multiple locations, with multiple purposes.  To say something is "in the Bible" therefore it is true, is like saying a book regarding slavery is "in the library," therefore slavery is condoned (or condemned) by that library. Context, context, context.  

Case in point, Rachel Held Evans, God love her, even revealed her Sola Scriptura bias in a Twitter fight earlier this week.  I guess I shouldn't be surprised.  She has grappled publicly with her Evangelical upbringing, but found her way to liturgical worship in the Episcopalian church.  While she has a much less literal view of the Bible than many evangelicals, nevertheless, she's still a Protestant, and reveals as much when arguing that the Bible is silent on condemning gay marriage, therefore, a committed relationship between two people of the same sex is okay.

I've heard Rachel speak in person and read several of her books.  I relate to her rejection of evangelicalism.  I don't relate to her nostalgia for it, since it was mostly a negative, abusive experience for me.  And, we ended up in different places after rejecting it.  Here I am in the Catholic Church, thinking...she's just still so...Protestant.  I guess I'm surprised that people like Rachel Held Evans are even looking to the Bible for literal, prescriptive verses to support such viewpoints to combat those who look for literal, prescriptive verses to support their viewpoints.  It fails.  It comes down to interpretation of the scriptures, not the scriptures themselves.

Using the Bible on either side of the gay marriage argument has made me so glad to be Catholic.  We get to use natural law, reason, philosophy, the Bible in context, and a myriad of other reasons for our beliefs.  We have an entire philosophy of the human person.  We are consistent.

6)  It is time for the Catholic Church to support communities of families - host adult events with FREE child care, form groups within the church of young married couples, couples with children, couples practicing NFP, single people.  Create mentorship relationships between older "been there, done that" couples with younger "what are we doing?" couples.  Help single parents by changing their oil, offering babysitting.  Help new parents by bringing a meal or cleaning the house.  Maybe it's just my parish, which I love...but Protestants have us Catholics way beat on this fellowship thing.  If I were to attend a Protestant church, I could immediately get "plugged in" with people in my age group or stage of life.  They are great at community and small groups.  Maybe I wouldn't have deep friendships immediately, but I could have 10 new friends, with phone numbers, that I could call for coffee or an emergency.  And these would be people I trusted, at least at a basic level. If it weren't for the truth of the Catholic Church, there are days that I think I'd leave it to find the fellowship that's so available in Protestant circles.

7)  We are making marriage too difficult and divorce too easy.  Yes, couples should go through marriage preparation.  We are clearly not catechized or prepared for marriage well enough to have the divorce and annulment rates that we do.  We don't have tons of great examples. And, by the time we want to walk down the aisle, a couple is usually just jumping through the hoops to have a Church wedding.

I have to say our marriage preparation was mostly a waste of time.  Our church didn't offer anything on NFP, which I wanted to learn about.  Instead, we took a personality test and discussed compatibility with a non-counselor.  There were no skills learned.  Aside from about an hour in which our priest talked about marriage and sacrifice, the rest of the marriage preparation weekend was pretty mundane, nothing I would refer back to in times of crisis.

In our case, since my parents don't have tons of money, and since they expressly did not give their Protestant blessing to our Catholic wedding, we were on our own paying for it.  Everything is more expensive when it's "for a wedding."  And, gone are the days in which you can have a cake and punch reception in the church fellowship hall.  These are the days of Pinterest and Instagram.  There is a lot of pressure to feed people, give them something to drink, and make their cross-country trip to your wedding worth their while.  Even with the smallest of budgets and lowest of expectations, it is hard to have a simple wedding these days.  That shouldn't be the case.

The church needs to do everything they can to help people get married (not rush them into a marriage, but help them have a wedding).  As a community, as a culture, we need to bring back the days of all the momma's pitching in, baking a cake, or sewing a dress.  Maybe it's because we live in a big city and had no support from my (the bride's) parents, but even with my secondhand dress, not buying clothing for the bridesmaids, DIY programs and invitations, etc., our wedding was expensive. I had sticker shock.  We should not let cost be an impediment to Catholic couples who want to get married.  We need to do better supporting that process as a community - donating goods and services, giving people options, etc.

8) Similar to #7, we need to make child-rearing a community effort again, and the Church should be front and center with that.  One of the reasons we practice NFP to avoid pregnancy right now is financial.  The cost of having a child even with insurance is extremely high.  We also have a very high maternal death rate.  We also have some of the worst policies in the western world when it comes to missing work.  Let's say, you can afford to have the baby.  What about caring for the child?  Well, we are failing there, too.

I would love to have as many children as possible, quit my job or work from home, homeschool, and spend all my time with my family.  However, that's just not possible for multiple reasons, finances being one of them.  We used to raise children in community, but now, each home needs its own set of equipment.  Stay at home parents are often isolated and overwhelmed.  Many don't live close to family for help with childcare.  Institutionalized child care (or day care) is extremely expensive.

Why am I harping on this?  What does it have to do with gay marriage?  Well, I am pro-family, pro-marriage.  But, when it comes to having the ability to live this out myself, it's not possible right now. The Church needs to be creative here and see how we can truly change the culture.  Not just by teaching people more about Theology of the Body, but helping them out when a marriage or a baby comes along.  That's all I'm saying.  We will only succeed in changing the culture on a grassroots level.  It is hard enough to be counter-cultural, but it's even harder when your Church talks a big theological game with no practical community in place to back it up.

9)  My final, closing thought on gay marriage is that God loves my gay brothers and sisters.  I am slightly worried about the direction our country is going.  And for that reason, I encourage all of us to pray for others, our country, marriages, and our gay friends.  We will never convince someone of their sin, the Holy Spirit does that.  We must build loving relationships to have any effect on others whatsoever.  In the meantime, we need to be building a strong culture of healthy marriages and happy families in the Catholic Church.  We need each other.

And, if we create a civilization of love, that truth will be attractive.