In Defense of Kids and Babies (Part 1)

It’s been awhile since Hannah and I tag teamed a post. I was scrolling on facebook when I saw this post from BeliefNet.com, 10 Things to do Before You Have Kids.

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it definitely wasn’t this. I was even more surprised that it came from a Christian website and supplied some really lame things to do.

I then participated in an activity that I rarely do online…I read the comments. ACK. They ranged from heretical, ignorant, to down right insulting.

But many readers asked the same questions Hannah and I asked: why are these things so important? Why can’t people do these things after having kids? Why is this Christian website even posting this kind of article?

Since Hannah has a beautiful baby girl, she has provided her rebuttal to each of the 10 things.

Join a Kickball League:

I know plenty of responsible, working, involved parents who are members of sports teams, and it doesn’t seem to distract from their lives in any way. Yes, you might watch some sports when your kids get old enough, but what is a better deal – you having to do all the sweating and working and getting tired and feeling old because you can’t run like you could in college, or watching your kids who have boundless amounts of energy run around like mad men chasing after a soccer ball with no apparent objective in mind? Seems like a clear winner.

Attend Coachella:

It may have always been a dream of mine to go to Coachella. But let me tell you, just because I have a baby now is certainly not the reason I won’t be going anytime soon. Who has the moolah to afford one of these things? Plane fair, lodging, plus the cost of entrance is just a ridiculous total. I’d much rather take my baby to a free outdoor concert, have her sleep through the whole thing, and really get to enjoy it rather than stress about a grocery budget for the next year because I went to Coachella. (And yes, that argument was the same before I had kids. Even more so, perhaps, during the broke-a$$-college-phase).

Travel to a Festival:

The author gives no reason you can’t do this one with your little one(s)…oh wait, maybe because there’s no reason not to bring them! Whether you want to go to Oktoberfest in Germany or perhaps even just the local St. Patty’s day parade in your hometown, kids are pretty much always welcome at festival-like events like these. Why do you think they invented the stroller? Festival-going.

Make Brunch a Weekly Event:

I don’t know about you, but I do love me some breakfast food. I’m pretty sure it’s one of God’s greatest gifts to mankind. (That and the toothbrush. I’d be happy with just those two for the rest of my life.) Why would you want to deny the deliciousness of brunch to your new favorite people – your kids? Sure, they might not have as intellectual conversations as some people’s friends, but sharing is caring…especially when it comes to breakfast food.

Spend a Good Chunk of Change on Yourself:

To me, this just reads: Be irresponsible because it’s fun, and don’t bother to plan for the future. Now I’m all about treating yourself every once in awhile, because life is meant to be lived, but I will never advocate for fiscal irresponsibility. True story: my parents always encouraged us kids to put half of our earnings from jobs in the bank, and I thank them for that lesson greatly. Fiscal responsibility is important no matter your stage in life.

Save Like There’s No Tomorrow:

Wow, there’s actually some good advice in this list. I agree – if you know you’re having kids in the future, it’s never a bad idea to start saving ahead of time. They are expensive little things – obviously, worth it, but expensive! Saving is good, again, no matter your stage in life.

Add a Pet to Your Family Dynamic:

Now, I don’t totally disagree with this point. Pets are (from what I’ve heard) a great way to practice for the responsibility of parenthood. But let’s be real, the range of what your Golden Retriever can do will only grow so far. A kid, on the other hand (human, not goat) will far surpass a puppy in about 2 years. Want to teach your dog to speak another language? Probably not going to happen…but kids can do that! I’m certainly not advocating against pet-owning though. Pets make great friends for kids! But you don’t HAVE to get one before you have a baby.

Stay out all night:

Who does that? That’s for bored teenagers who have nothing more fun to look forward to the next day that sleeping in til noon. Plus, when you have kids, you get to stay UP all night – or at least some of the nights, probably (unless you have a miracle baby) and what can be more precious than that? And the author says that you’ll want to stay home rather than go out “on the town” when you have kids. But let’s be honest, if you’re reading an article about things to do before you have a baby, you’re probably on your way to a stay-at-homer anyway.

Score your dream job:

Just because you have kids means you lose your entire identity? I know plenty of men and women who were inspired by their children (even at a very young age) and went and found their “dream job” while having kids. Plus I have always believed that the idea of a “dream job” is unrealistic. Anything that you have to work at is going to be frustrating at some point, and will never completely fulfill you emotionally or spiritually…so like, what’s the point in stressing about it?

Write a Letter to Yourself:

Again, this is a good thing that I do not disagree with. I wish I would have thought of it before having K! But then again, I wasn’t trolling the internet looking for a list of things I absolutely-needed-to-do-before-having-kids, because I’m a believer that your life doesn’t change all that much with kids, it only grows and gets better. (Call me crazy if you want. It’s the internet, after all.)

For (in my opinion) better and more exciting posts about kids and babies read: “I’m Not Prejudiced, I Just Don’t Like 25% of Humanity” and Contributing to the Anti-Child Culture.

 

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Look at this mother of one having zero fun.

Mission Statement

I never know if I should acknowledge how long it’s been since I’ve posted when I return from a hiatus…or if I should just try to slip back in, unnoticed.

But my friend Marilyn posted on my wall so the shame is already there.

I’ve been thinking a lot about mission statements and why businesses/people/organizations have them.

This is partly because I work for FOCUS and we have a Main Thing and a mission statement (and often I mix them up). But also because I’ve neglected blogging here for awhile now and it made me think about what the purpose of this blog even is.

This is not some drawn out finale letter, so don’t you worry.

I think I started blogging because I had opinions about things and I wanted to get them out in a safe space. Then I realized that I really enjoyed writing, so that was an added perk. And then it transformed into a nice little community of people who might actually be enjoying what they are reading.

So, I think this will be my blogging mission statement for my contributions on TCG’s blog:

To the best of my abilities I will use the gifts and talents that the Lord has given me to share Christ Jesus, His Church, and the Truth in a way that is encouraging and loving. I will use this blog as a tool in the New Evangelization to speak on Christ’s love and mercy in a way that is relatable and repeatable.

Short and sweet.
And maybe I’ll do these things on a more regular basis.

Thanks for sticking around!

Love,

Caitlin

PS: I’ve decided to finalize how I will sign all posts so there is some kind of continuity.

 

“Friend, why are you here?”

“While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, ‘The one I shall kiss is the man; seize him.’ And he came up to Jesus at once and said, ‘Hail, Master!’ And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, ‘Friend, why are you here?'” Matthew 26:47-50

In Scripture, Jesus asks a lot of questions. I read (via Google) that He asks about 87 questions, and most of the time He asks a question in response to a question.

But this question in the Gospel of Matthew has real stuck with me during this celebration of the Triduum. Friend, why are you here?

Jesus knows why Judas is there, He knows that Judas is the betrayer, He knows that Judas is betraying Him right at this second, but He still asks the question. I used to read it as a way of Christ giving Judas the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps Judas isn’t here to betray Him…in the middle of the night…with all these men…who are armed.

But more and more the idea of mercy has been on my heart (many thanks to Pope Francis, Consoling the Heart of Jesus, and the upcoming double canonization on Divine Mercy Sunday).

I believe that Jesus is asking Judas, I know what you are doing but why are you here? Judas, these men know who I am, I would willingly give myself up for them. Judas, do you need to be here? Couldn’t you have told them where I would be and then gone away?

I believe Jesus is asking this because there is still time for mercy. 

Even after the exchange of money, even after Judas leads the men to Christ, even after Judas addresses Him as “Master”, and even after he kisses him, there is still time for mercy.

The deed is done and Christ asks him, are you here to receive My mercy? There is still time.

Even after the guards grab hold of Me, even after they take Me away, even after the rest of My disciples leave Me, after the beating and the scourging, after the crucifixion, even after everything seems to be lost, there is still time for My Mercy.

“Let us … remember Peter: three times he denied Jesus, precisely when he should have been closest to him; and when he hits bottom he meets the gaze of Jesus who patiently, wordlessly, says to him: “Peter, don’t be afraid of your weakness, trust in Me.” Peter understands, he feels the loving gaze of Jesus and he weeps. How beautiful is this gaze of Jesus — how much tenderness is there! Brothers and sisters, let us never lose trust in the patience and mercy of God!”Pope Francis’ Homily on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 7, 2013

 

Have a holy Good Friday!

Caitlin

 

How to Observe Holy Week

Holy Week is one of those times during the liturgical year that I struggle observing the most.

I don’t have a problem with the last days in Advent, because everything is already so Christmas-y already that I can’t help but be reminded of the day we’re looking forward to at the end.

But Lent is a different story. Perhaps it’s because it’s longer, or because it’s filled with more sacrifices, or maybe just because the spring season is so busy and filled with events all around that the end of it always sneaks up on me.

This year I want to observe Holy Week in the best way I can. So I’ve come up with a list of 5 things I’m going to do to try to observe Holy Week in the best ways I can. If you’re so inclined, feel free to join with me – or give me some suggestions on things I should have included!

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1. Read the Daily Readings

With work and growing a baby, I just know I won’t make it to Mass every day of Holy Week, as much as I’d like to. So this year I’m going to commit to reading the readings every day of Holy Week in preparation for Easter. If you have a subscription to Magnificat, they’re all set up there for you – if not, just click on over to the USCCB website each day and read to your heart’s content. You can also listen to it at work via iTunes or on their website here. If you’ve got a smartphone, download Laudete in your marketplace and the daily readings are the top link in the navigation pane! (Ahh, the age of the internet. Glorious, isn’t it?)

2. Go to Confession

Receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation during Holy Week always feels like the best Confession I have all year. Perhaps it’s because it’s a set time that I always go, but more than that I think it’s because Jesus’ suffering and death seem so much closer than during the rest of the year. I always try to go at least twice during Lent, and this is one of the times I make sure to get there. Celebrating Easter Sunday Mass feels extra-special with a squeaky-clean soul. 

3. Pray the Stations of the Cross

If you can squeeze it, try to pray the Stations of the Cross – either at your local parish or by yourself. I have vivid memories praying the Stations of the Cross every Friday afternoon during grade school, but after that they became harder to fit in my schedule. (Yes, I realize that was over 10 years ago…whoops.) But I do always try to pray them during Holy Week, especially on Good Friday. Most parishes should have a time on Good Friday where the Stations are prayer together as a community, sometimes in conjunction with a Good Friday Service. If your parish doesn’t have them, no worries! You can find lots of versions online to pray (again, thank you Internetz) – here’s one of my favorites. 

4. Add Some Sacrifices

During Holy Week, I like to pile on the Lenten sacrifices, especially if I’ve failed a few times during the season of Lent (which for me is inevitable). Okay, maybe I don’t pile them on, but I do like to sacrifice a couple of extra things during Holy Week. Sometimes that’s things I was considering giving up for the entirety of Lent, or perhaps it’s just adding some more daily prayer to my schedule. A couple of my favorites for Holy Week are: no TV/radio (or limited), giving up your pillow at night, no snooze button for the week, or praying a rosary every day. Anything works though – I like to think of it as the extra “adrenaline rush” I might need to be prepped for Easter.

5. Think about Holy Week

This seems kind of like a “duh, Hannah” sort of piece of advice – but I find that just reminding myself that it’s Holy Week helps me to remember and appreciate the last days of Lent. If you’re busy like me, maybe set an alarm on your phone that pops up every day of the week that just says “Holy Week!” on it. Or find some other way to remind yourself – put a sticky note on your desk (added bonus of evangelization, maybe?) or a note on your bathroom mirror. Doing all the above-mentioned things might help you to remember more than normal but a little help never hurts.

Hopefully this list helps me remember to observe Holy Week better this year than any other year…there’s always room for improvement, right? What am I missing on the list – how do you observe Holy Week? 

Prayers -

Hannah

“Heart of the World”

I’ve wanted to write a book review for awhile but for some reason I thought it was a bit of a creative cop out. Like, let me review in text something greater that someone already published in text?

But I am low on creative juices so here is my very first book review!

Heart of the World by Hans urs von Balthasar

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Rarely do I read a book multiple times, but I am currently enjoying this book (which, in all fairness, took me almost a year to get through the first time) for the third time. I am a voracious underliner in books and my copy is so marked up that a page does not go by without multiple sections underlined. 

If I had to pick a book that changed my world view, changed my way of thinking, or one that I would take with me on a desert island, it would be this one.

Father von Balthasar weaves a beautifully poetic and soul shaking text that dives deeply into the Heart of Christ. What does it mean that Christ, who is fully man and fully divine, had a human heart just like ours? Literally, it was made of same stuff as ours and emotionally it experienced the full spectrum of feelings and emotions. 

The chapters vary from the perspective of a speaker (like us, fully human) and Christ addressing us. It is remarkable to me that a Swiss theologian and priest who died in 1988 can write in such a way that is so reflective of my own heart. There are sections in this book that made me stop and wonder if Father von Balthasar can read my soul, even years after his death.

Of course, he can’t, but he can write in a way that addresses all of humanity, how we deeply and intimately Christ loves us, how if we believe that Christ died and rose for our salvation that it should affect every aspect of our lives.

I pulled some sections from the book that seemed especially appropriate for Lent. They, of course, do not do the book justice since von Balthasar’s sprawling chapters need to be read in context (in my opinion, one sitting) to really experience the beauty of the text.

“Into what hole can I crawl so that you will no longer see me, so that I will no longer be a burden to you and that the decay of my person may no longer importune you? I have sinned right to your face, and the mouth which touched your lips — your divine lips –a thousand times has kissed the lips of the world and said: ‘I do not know him'” (p.145)

“He seeks trust, intimacy: he is a beggar for your love” (p.121)

“But see: the weakness with which you weaken me can no longer be an obstacle. When I am weak, then I am strong. Let yourself be weakened by my weakness, my Bride, that the fruit of your body may grow within you, the child of our love. How much longer will you insist on my making up for your refusals by my suffering? How much longer will you shift the burden onto my shoulders, a burden, which, if bourne by both of us, would become the delight of the Kingdom of Heaven?” (p.82)

In a real and unapologetic way, von Balthasar reminds us of how we quarantine Christ to sections of our life, of our hearts. We let Him reign on Sundays, we let Him in when we have cleaned our homes, but we refuse to let Him see the messy parts, to enter into our lives when we feel that we have control.

Truly, I love this book. It combines Scripture, allegory, imaginative language, and alarmingly honest human thoughts that ultimately point back to the Heart of Christ which beats with love for us all.

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CRCM

Truth and Beauty and Kissing Strangers

I’m very sure that to many I will sound like an uptight prude, but I find nothing beautiful about strangers making out with each other for a film project.

Perhaps you’ve seen the video floating around Facebook; it’s black and white, a mellow coffee shop song plays mournfully, and very beautiful and hip individuals meet for the first time and kiss.

Apparently it’s beautiful. I found it weird, awkward, and only watched thirty seconds of it. Amanda Hess of Slate wrote a piece that sums up my feelings with just its title, “This video of strangers kissing is ‘beautiful’ because it stars models“.

“The video peddles the fantasy that beauty can spring from an unexpected connection between two random people, but what it’s really showing us is the beauty of models making out. It’s like the hipster Bachelor. I doubt that millions of viewers would be so quick to celebrate a video of randos kissing if they were all less thin, hip, stylish, charming, and well-manicured. “

Casey Chan from Sploid wrote in favor of the film saying:

“Um, wow. I don’t know if it’s the song selection or because it’s in black and white or the fact that everybody in this video is so attractive, but what started out as incredibly awkward—seeing two strangers meet each other and kiss—turned into something pretty damn beautiful.”

To which I replied, it IS because of the song selection and the black and white and the fact that everyone is beautiful that you find the whole thing beautiful.

The film maker, Tatia Pilieva, effectively dressed up the situation enough to make viewers believe it’s beautiful. If you take away, like Hess says, the glamor of the individuals, the moody music and Instagram filter, you have an incredibly awkward situation. And it should make us awkward.  

The effect of the film is to shock us, surprise us, manipulate our emotions into…something, I don’t really even know. Am I supposed to feel like if I kiss strangers that is somehow more beautiful than kissing people I know? Am I supposed to just view it as a piece of art?

Mostly it just makes me want to have a sit down with my generation (Generation-X, or the Millennial or whatever dumb label we get) and politely ask us to stop doing whatever this is. Stop grasping for the cheap imitation of beauty, stop replicating what isn’t true nor good, to remember that we are so much more talented than we think we are. 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

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Lenten Sacrifice Ideas {right under the wire!}

If you’re like me, Lent completely snuck up on you this year. 

Yes, we’ve been hinting at it in the readings for the past couple weeks, and I had it circled in my calendar, but still — this Sunday’s announcement of Ash Wednesday Mass times at our local parish completely hit me out of nowhere. Something about the shortness of February and the epic cold weather we’re still suffering in Nebraska made it seem impossible that Lent could already be here.

I immediately panicked: oh shoot, what am I gonna do for Lent? Immediately I started sweating, panicky, and realized: my brain is broken. I can’t come up with ANYTHING. I can’t even think of words that relate to Lent, let alone a good couple things to give up and take up during these 40 days of penance.

I’m here to help you out. (Whew! Breathe a sigh of relief now, and maybe go put on more deodorant. Friendly advice.) I’ve collected a list of the blogosphere’s best resources for Lenten sacrifices for your perusal. Click through, weigh your options, and give some love to these bloggers for having great, foreward-thinking posting. 

1. Outside the Box: 66 Things to Give Up or Take Up for Lent (in Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced)

Kendra at Catholic All Year came up with a fantastic, easy-to-read list of ideas for your Lenten sacrifices. And handily enough, you can decide a level for each sacrifice, or even come up with a sort of schedule to increase your difficulty as the season progresses. (You get level-up points if you do it that way, I’m told.) 

2. FOCUS’s Lentsanity app

FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students, aka Caitlin’s employer) has a great solution to your Lenten worries: an app designed specifically for Lent! Called “Lentsanity,” it’s got daily reflections, meat-free recipe ideas, and you can even set reminders before meals on days of fasting and abstinence so you have no excuse to miss out! Go to your fancy marketplace on your smartphone and download it for free, or click to the link above and navigate to “Lentsanity App.”  

3. What to Give Up for Lent: 20 Weird Ideas

LifeTeen’s got a great list of easy-to-implement but definitely grace-inducing ideas for Lenten sacrifices. Each one on their list is guaranteed to make you step back every day and rethink your daily living, refocusing it on Christ.

4. 100 Things to Do for Lent

I read this post last year right before Lent and it’s just as relevant today. The author’s gathered 100 ideas to pick from for sacrifices during Lent — with 100 things to choose from, how can you not find one that fits your spiritual needs?

5. My Lenten Challenge: 40 Days of Living Sacrifice [and] Planning for Lent: How Sacrificing Time for Exercise Can Become a Lifelong Offering of Love

This one is a double-whammy, and I’ve included both of them because they’re motivating me for my own Lenten sacrifices (more on that later). Steph at Little Bit of Paradise has a great (and challenging!) promise for Lent: to exercise once every day for the entire 40 days. Sounds tiring, doesn’t it? Her reasons are beautiful and good and heartening for those of us maybe joining her. And Susan at Sole Searching Mamma makes the same case for recognizing the care of our bodies as a sacrifice for some — one with infinite benefits. Give them both a read!

If you’re Catholic, or happen to have a lot of Catholic friends on Facebook, perhaps you’ve seen these all before — if not, enjoy the list. As for me, I’ll be reading the Gospel of Luke (thanks to Caitlin’s recommendation), working out every day with my husband as our joint sacrifice (which will be harder to do this year seeing as I’m 28 weeks pregnant!), spending 15 minutes of quiet time a day in prayer with Our Lord, and giving up pop. I usually tack on a couple more sacrifices for Holy Week in order to prepare myself for Easter, so I may be back with a follow-up post for that later…if you’re lucky. 

Happy Fat Tuesday, and a prayerful Lent to all of you!

Hannah

In Memory of my Grandma, Joan

I didn’t plan on writing about anything too personal on this blog, but, my grandma recently and unexpectedly passed away this week and I write about it because I would love to ask for your prayers, and because she read every post on this blog.

She was (arguably) our biggest fan. After every post she would send me a short email about which post she read and how much she enjoyed it. She would put in a small message of encouragement, a heads up about whatever weather I was going to experience, and always sign it the same way, “Love, G. Marmie”. 

G for Grandma, of course.

I was thinking about being sad and crying and mourning and all those things and then, of all things, Pinterest supplied me some relief. I came across this pin which, besides being aesthetically pleasing, is a beautiful reminder that Christ took on the fullness of humanity. Even the ugly and messy emotions we all experience.

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I like to think that when we experience death in our lives that Christ cries with us. Death was never part of the original plan of creation. He gladly welcomes His children back home to Him forever, but He knows that we on Earth experience the pain of separation. But it allows us to stop and remember to be grateful for all the time we had, all the time we have with those who are still on earth, and a chance to look ahead with hope for our own Eternal life. 

Thank you for all your prayers and kind words!

Eternal Rest grant unto her, O Lord, and may perpetual Light shine upon her. May the souls of the faithfully departed, through the Mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

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He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

Happy Valentine’s Day: I wrote about sexuality

On Monday I went to a free lecture on the Carnegie Mellon University campus called “Sex Positivism” that was put on by the Secular Humanist League and the Atheist, Humanist, Agnostic Group. The speaker was Greta Christiana who is a fairly prolific writer and blogger who often writes about (among other things) atheism, being a humanist (humanism?), and erotica.

I was hoping that Greta would be helpful in my understanding of the atheist lifestyle, help me to understand why atheists believe what they do, and how sexuality aligns to those beliefs. I was hoping that she wouldn’t make a bunch of pot shots at religion, but life isn’t perfect.

Within the first 5 minutes of her lecture she had already the f-word to describe the sexual act, and continued to use juvenile euphemisms to relate to sex. I like words, I like studying them, I like what they connote and denote. I hate when people use the f-word to refer to sex. Greta is obviously a well-educated, highly literate, and respected individual but her choice of language did not demonstrate that.

There was one moment in her talk that caused everyone (including myself) to laugh out loud. She said:

“Conservative Christians say ‘sex is dirty and bad and you should save it for the person you love’”.

Do Conservative Christians really say that? That’s awful. It makes me think of the highly-informative gym teacher in Mean Girls:

mean girls peer health exchange

Now, I’m not an expert in anything. Also, full disclosure, I am not a parent, nor am I married, and I’ve never had sex. But I have had a wide range of sex education type courses and I also have opinions. So, now that we’ve got that out of the way, I’m going to say some things.

1. Let’s actually talk about sex

Well, here’s a post I wrote about modesty . We need to approach sexuality the same way we approach modesty; with Truth and Love.

Also, we should talk about it. Parents are the first teachers, which is great, but I learned a whole lot about sex from my middle school peers. So perhaps our parents are getting beaten to the punch. That being said, I think many people approach it as a One-And-Done topic in an official setting. But as individuals get older we learn more and more from our peers and it becomes more and more challenging to ask questions and discuss it.

2. Include all the topics

My middle school presented a very biology centric presentation on the birds and the bees (why is it called that? Shouldn’t it be the bees and the flower? or like…the birds and the birds?). It was good because I knew the biology of the human being. But I didn’t understand how religion played a part.

In high school I received snippets of theology but it was mostly from a fear only perspective. If you do x, y, and z you are sinning and then you will go to Hell. I mean, that’s not wrong, but isn’t it better to talk about how much we are loved by our Creator, how intimately He designed us, how He wants us to be with Him in perfect union forever and that the marriage act is a glimpse of that? And that the last thing we want to do is separate ourselves from Him, and do something that might separate someone else from Him as well?

It’s like evangelization, I don’t think people become Catholic (or are open to the idea of Catholicism) when we argue and throw doctrine at them. The relationship (even just the idea of it) with Christ needs to be there.

3. Less fear and guilt

I once went on a retreat for high schoolers and there was a question and answer portion. One of the students anonymously asked about how to handle the fact that her boyfriend wanted to have sex with her. She was uncertain, she knew the “rules”, she was confused. There were two responses. The first involved some fear and guilt; you’re too young, you don’t know about love, you don’t know that he will stay with you, you need to save that for marriage, he’s crazy, you should break up with him.

The second response was (in my opinion) a million times better; that is a really hard struggle, it makes sense that you have a lot of questions about it, it is natural for you to desire to have sex and an intimate relationship with another human being because we were made for an intimate relationship with our Creator. This was followed with a similar proposal that because this intimate union is such an important thing, since it has such immense implications physically and spiritually, it should not be taken lightly and should be something that is done within the context of marriage.

2333 Everyone, man and woman, should acknowledge and accept his sexual identity. Physical, moral, and spiritual difference and complementarity are oriented toward the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life. The harmony of the couple and of society depends in part on the way in which the complementarity, needs, and mutual support between the sexes are lived out.

2334 “In creating men ‘male and female,’ God gives man and woman an equal personal dignity.”
“Man is a person, man and woman equally so, since both were created in the image and likeness of the personal God.”

2335 Each of the two sexes is an image of the power and tenderness of God, with equal dignity though in a different way. The union of man and woman in marriage is a way of imitating in the flesh the Creator’s generosity and fecundity: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.”All human generations proceed from this union.

There’s my two cents.

In other news, Pope Francis spoke to ten thousand (!!) engaged couples about love and it’s a great read, and an especially great St. Valentine’s Feast Day read.

I love you all. Happy St. Valentine and Sts. Cyril and Methodius day!

He-Whom-We-Neglect-To-Name

Hello! Well, I’ve missed you all. This is weird now because I’m writing for an audience that is mainly (but not entirely) in NE which is no longer where I reside. It’s very strange.

It’s also very strange, and a little terrifying, that my new team here in Pittsburgh read my blog before they knew me. So, I’ve officially made it big. So hopefully they will still tolerate me while I write about all things PA and Carnegie Mellon.

My first week in town we had a dinner party because this is the East Coast (I know a lot of people will say that Pittsburgh is not the East Coast but I ask you, is it farther East than Ohio? Then, in my mind, it’s the East Coast). It was a really great opportunity for me to meet the women of the Newman Center and impress them with how outrageously large our apartment is (no sarcasm, it’s huge) and for me to do some cooking and demonstrate how grown up I am. But honestly it was a great experience and it was a lot of fun!

So there was a student there and as we all were conversing she told us that she was Hindu and, being unfamiliar with all things Hindu, I asked if she would be willing to share a little bit about her faith. She told us about the religious texts of Hindus, the temples they have, how there is a famous one in Pittsburgh, how they have religious individuals that they also call priest, etc. Okay, so keep this story in your mind.

Later in the week, my team was sitting in the UC at CMU (acronyms abound here) and were handing out free cookies for students who were willing to answer opinion based questions (What’s you favorite hobby? Which one book would you recommend to someone? Who is your biggest inspiration?). One student asked me what I believed and I told her, I believe in the Bible, the Catholic Church, apostolic succession, etc.

We chatted for awhile and then she took her free cookie and left. I then realized that no where in our conversation had I mentioned Jesus or a relationship with Him. So, that’s terrible. Going back to our dinner party, I have no idea what kind of relationship Hindus have with their higher powers.

Of course the Bible, the Church, the hierarchy, the Tradition are all very important things in the Catholic faith, but ultimately without Christ none of it matters. So why are we so quick to leave Him out of this? It’s not because the other topics are “easier” or less controversial. I think it’s because there is an element of scandal in the name of Jesus. He was radical in what he preached (praught?) and how He lived His life and He calls us to imitate Him. Most of us are really terrible at it, so maybe it’s easier to leave Him out of it?

Here’s a verse that has been very much on my heart lately:

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 1 Cor 1:17

As missionaries, we talk a lot about how winning arguments might seem important, but how rarely (if ever) do people convert because they lost an argument. People see joy, hope, love, community, peace, truth within the faith and desire a relationship with Christ.

Truth and love! It always seems to come back to that.

Reason is a wonderful tool, but it is a weak force for deep change in human beings. Faith, hope, and love are not tools; they are virtues, powerful and exceedingly difficult to embody, and much more efficacious than reason for changing lives. “Forming Intentional Disciples” by Sherry Weddell

New goal: bring up Jesus more, not just things about Jesus, but His actual name.

Peace.

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