I’m pretty sure I have some rights being violated here…

In 8th grade we had a test on the Preamble of the Constitution and I got a 100%, so I don’t want to say I’m a expert, but I’m pretty sure I know when my Constitutional rights are being violated.

The Obama Administration Health and Human Services Department has gone too far.

“When Obamacare passed, it gave the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, the power to require that insurance companies cover certain procedures. This was so that greater coverage could be guaranteed to more Americans, which was the stated goal of Obamacare. Thus, HHS creates certain rules which health insurers have to follow.” (read the full and legit blogpost here)

Fishy.

“The Obama administration on Friday finalized a regulation that orders all Americans—unless they work directly at a church–to purchase government-approved health insurance plans that cover sterilizations and all FDA-approved contraceptives including those that cause abortions.” (read more at CNSnews.com)

Does that mean Catholic hospitals are exempted because they are a Church organization? No because it’s not technically a Church, they are just taking care of sick people.

Oh, and by the way, the Huffington Post just wrote a piece about how religious hopsitals, specifically Catholic ones, provide superior patient care (source).

There’s an old phrase that says, “if it ain’t broke don’t break it by ignoring Constitutional rights and attacking religious freedom”. Something like that.

But don’t worry, says HHS.

“Nonprofit employers who, based on religious beliefs, do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan, will be provided an additional year, until August 1, 2013, to comply with the new law,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.

Whew, because it will only take one year for the Catholic Church to decide that what she has taught for thousands of years is wrong.

Thankfully, Catholics don’t just roll over when our rights are being attacked. Archbishop Timoty Dolan (to-be-Cardinal-Dolan) and the USCCB have given us many options for fighting back.

But, some might say, President Obama is just looking out for the health of women. Wrong. As Omar the bloggist points out, this new coverage act does not give medical coverage to women suffering from infertility which is an actual medical issue.

And now a quote from the President on the 39th “anniversary” of Roe v. Wade:

“As we mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we must remember that this Supreme Court decision not only protects a woman’s health and reproductive freedom, but also affirms a broader principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.”

Protect mass-murder and a billion dollar industry and call it a private family matter? Check.

Protect Constitutional rights and allow religious organizations to run their organizations according to their beliefs? Not his kind of thing.

Don’t let this be another issue you read and forget about.

So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. — Revelation 3:16

Caitlin

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The Bachelor: Good or Bad?

I admit it shamefully: I am an avid fan of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Every time a new season starts, I tell myself that this will be the one year I finally escape its clutches. But then I’m searching for something to watch while doing homework, or I stumble across a reference to the current season on the interwebz, and I succumb and watch it. I get through the first episode, and I’m like, “Get a hold of yourself, Hannah! Don’t watch the second one. Just don’t.” But I always do. Once I’m there, I’m through. I have to stick it out through the rest of the season.

What can I say in my defense? I am a sucker for cute, romantic dates, emotional plotlines, and girl drama. I have to say, though, it’s the only reality show I’ve ever watched and enjoyed – I was never an American Idol fan or Survivor fanatic. But the Bachelor’s got me hooked, and probably will for many years to come.

As I was doing my usual deep-thinking in the shower this morning, I was pondering the most recent episode and what I liked and disliked about it. And I began to wonder. Do shows like The Bachelor harm the women of America? If they do, how much, and why? If not, why not?

I think The Bachelor teaches both good and bad things. Being the list-maker I am, I set out to make a pros and cons list about The Bachelor. Let me know what you think – do you agree with my conclusions?

Good Things (From A Catholic Perspective)

1. The women portrayed on The Bachelor (or men on The Bachelorette) are real, American women. They have histories, pasts, things from their pasts that influence their present selves. They have home lives that they miss, broken hearts from relationships or hardships, real likes and dislikes. Yes, they’re all pretty gorgeous, but they are real.

2. The men searching for their woman are real men. Sure, their last experience of heartbreak was on national television, but they have real pasts and struggles that others do too.

3. Both the men and women on the show emphasize the importance of finding a partner with good qualities like communication, openness, trust, and the desire for a family.  In all the seasons I’ve watched, I’ve never heard any say “I just want a really hot wife/husband.” I’m not saying it’s not in their minds, but they seem to realize the importance of finding someone with good characters and virtues.

4. Anyone who watches the show wants the good girls to succeed. Indignant message boards are full of discussion of how the Bachelor of the season needs to see how fake a girl is being around him, and wants her voted off the show. Never have I seen a comment that wants a girl who is obviously being mean/spiteful/lying to end up with the Bachelor. It’s a natural human quality to want the good ones to win!

Bad Things

1. From a Catholic perspective, the obvious lack of any talk about religion is certainly a negative in my book. I’m sure due to the television aspect, contestants aren’t allowed to be aired discussing their religious beliefs. But it is a very important aspect of any romantic relationship – so many things between a couple can be incompatible if they are from different religions. I’m not saying every couple has to be of the same religion – my parents are not, and they turned out fine – but a serious discussion of religion is vital to any relationship moving toward marriage.

2. The women and men on the show invest their emotions too early into each other, moving towards love much quicker than most relationships. Especially considering the fact that the man is having multiple “serious” relationships at the same time! If I were ever on the show, I wouldn’t be able to really open up to a guy about my feelings more than like unless I was sure of his regard for me. This aspect of the show gives women the idea that they must quickly decide their feelings for a man, and tell him immediately what they are. In reality, patience and discernment are the best tools to discover if you and a man are a match. It takes time to get to know someone – let alone tell them “I love you” and mean it.

3. There is an underlying pressure to appear perfect in every way on the show. Sometimes this transforms into a weird sort of guilt that happens to those who get voted off. They always say, if only I had done something different, then he’d certainly have given me a rose and kept me around, and eventually he’d have realized that we’re perfect for each other. It gives this crazy notion that actions are what make two people compatible, when it’s really something much more indefinable. Every girl is crushed when she goes home, wishing she had done something different. But they don’t take into consideration his perspective – if he didn’t feel that, but they kept going, how long would their relationship really last?

4. The thing I think the most harmful to women is the unrealistic world these people seem to fall in love in. Every week is full of uber-romantic dates, whether that is going to a private concert, hiking up a private mountain, or scuba-diving in your own ocean (that might be a stretch but you know what I mean). It’s all totally unsustainable! “Finding love” in a situation like this could just be adrenaline and the emotions involved from doing new strange things together and not real love. Obviously the contestants on the show are wealthy in some regard, but it’s impossible to keep up a date regime like this when you’re in a real-life relationship. There’s no downtime here, no just sitting and watching a movie together, or going to the grocery store, or seeing how someone interacts for long periods of time with their family, which are all important things if you’re looking for a real, loving relationship.

So there are my thoughts. What do you think? I’m pretty sure I need more time to examine these issues, so excuse me while I go watch the most recent episode…

Hannah

P.S. If you’re curious, my favorite is Kacie B. J

Marc and Being Pro-Life For The Win

In case you frequently troll the Catholic youth interwebz and somehow missed Marc of BadCatholic’s epically amazing video, we’re re-sharing it with y’all here.

All credit due to him, of course, and the thousands of humans of all ages who walked this year in the most underrepresented, recurring protest in American history.

Watch the video HERE.

Watch the video. Be impressed.

We love babies!

Caitlin and Hannah

Absent Friends

As I was browsing my new-and-improved Facebook timeline (when will they stop the change? the end of the world MUST be coming in 2012 because there’s nowhere else to go besides documenting your ENTIRE LIFE on a social network…), I came across a song my sister had posted on my wall a while ago.

To warn y’all, I have a very eclectic and often misunderstood taste in music. Even Caitlin can’t understand my love for bizarre artists at times, and that is saying something. Don’t worry though, we can always reconnect on our unabashed yet slightly guilty love for Kanye West.

As I was saying, my music taste can be strange, so I won’t blame you if you don’t like the song I’m talking about by The Divine Comedy called Absent Friends. See and listen HERE. Neil Hannon, lead singer/songwriter/etc. sings in the song about a bunch of famous people who have died, and how their memories live on as his “friends” even though they’re gone.

On a caffeine-boosted, little-sleep train of thought, in my head I was like, “Hey, that’s what saints are like! Great job, Neil!” Yes, I talk to band members by name in my head. Don’t worry about it.

What a cool analogy, though, really, isn’t it? Absent friends. The saints. They lived on earth for a while, some a little longer than others (St. Lucy, 21, versus St. Anthony of Egypt, 88), and even though they’ve gone to live with our Lord in Heaven, they’re never really gone from our lives.

I think one of the most common misconceptions about the saints in Catholicism is that we adore or worship these random people who, admittedly, lived interesting/cool and or boring/dull lives for no apparent reason. And what those who say that are missing is the friendship aspect.

Just like friends on earth, the saints are there for you whenever you need them – and often times are more open to a call at 4:00 in the morning than your roommate might be. They are willing to listen to your problems, to agree with you when you’re right, and they aren’t afraid to tell you when you’re wrong. They can have that always-helpful mentorship aspect, having gone through similar situations as you might find yourself in, and are never going to withhold advice when you need it most.

Some of my best friends in the sainthood world are St. Thérèse of Lisieux, Blessed (almost saint!) Kateri Tekakwitha, St. Paul, St. Philip Neri, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Andrew. Whenever I pray for anything that really merits attention, I always ask them to pray for the same intention. I’ve learned so much about life from the example of all of them. From St. Thérèse, a love for doing the small things for the Lord. From Bl. Kateri, a humility and realization of my unimportance. From St. Paul, a knowledge of how the written word can impact others. From St. Philip Neri, an appreciation of laughter and joy in my life. From St. Teresa of Avila, a courageous and no-nonsense attitude towards my faith. From St. Andrew, the importance of bringing others to the Lord. And on, and on, and on.

These things are things I’ve learned from reading about them, at times, but more from just talking to them. You’d be surprised how willing they are to dialogue back with you when you make the effort – it might not be in so many words, but peace always comes when you invoke your favorite saint’s name.

And let’s be honest, asking someone on earth to pray for you can be powerful and effective, but how much closer are the saints? Hello, they’ve already gotten it all right! They won! Don’t be afraid to take advantage of them.

So, pick a saint, and start learning about them. You’ll be surprised what a good friend you might find.

Hannah

Mary, Warrior Queen

I was browsing the interwebs and I stumbled upon this gem of all gems.

Crushing the head of the serpent

With this description underneath:

“I used to have this up on my wall in college. In my head I always thought of her as the Second Eve, but that wasn’t her real title. I don’t remember the artist’s name, and I can’t find this picture anywhere online now. But I was rummaging through my old things looking for stuff to put up in my library cubicle & there she was, still as kick-ass as ever”

So Mary is my kick-ass, warrior Queen. I realize it’s a pretty non-traditional image of Mary but I love a good devil-slicing-armor-wearing-battle-worthy-still-peaceful-Mary.

And here are some more incredible images of the Queen of Heaven and Earth, Theotokos, Cause of my Joy, Mom, Mary.

These Marian images reminded me that I need to re-consecrate myself to the Blessed Mother. When I went through St. Louis de Montfort’s consecration the first time, I realized I only did it because all my friends were doing it. Any 3rd grader can tell you that is not a good reason to do things.

So this time it’s going to be just me and Mary (And the Holy Trinity…and the Communion of Saints…and probably Fr. Holdren…)

Also just crushing some heads

When you wikipedia “consecration” you can choose from two pages. The one about the Roman Catholic Church and our usage of consecration and a 1995 heavy metal album by the band Painstake.

This made me think about how serious is it to consecrate yourself to anything. I’m not implying that every heavy metal band has consecrated themselves to something sinister, but those who have are complelely transformed.

How much more transformed can we be when we consecrate ourselves to the Queen?

“They will have the two-edged sword of the word of God in their mouths and the blood-stained standard of the Cross on their shoulders. The simplicity and self-sacrifice of Jesus will be reflected in their whole behaviour.”

Fr. Benedict Groeschel

If you know me, you know I have a serious religious order crush on the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal.

It all started January of my freshman year in Orlando. I was there for the FOCUS National Conference and Fr. Benedict Groeschel was one of the speakers. At the time, I had no idea who this man was or the affect he would have on my life. I honestly do not remember much of what he talked about, but I do remember that although he was hunched over and confined to a chair, he captured his listeners with his holy enthusiasm.

Quick history: Born in 1933, joined a Capuchin order in Detroit in 1951 (the same order as Venerable Solanus Casey, another post) and was ordained in 1954. In 1967 he founded The St. Francis House which is now directed by Joseph Campo who is also a producer at Grassroots Films (makers of The Human Experience). Already a mighty action packed life.

Fr. Benedict (with a beret!) with Joe Campo.

In 1987, Fr. Benedict Groeschel and seven other friars, received permission to leave their order and begin a reform. This St.-Teresa-of-Avila-move started an amazing reform for these friars, and religious orders in general (for a better, longer, and more complete history read A Drama of Reform). This move began both CFR orders which continue to yield incredible fruit for their communities.

No big, just chatting with JPII.

In 2004, Fr. Benedict was hit by a car while crossing a street and nearly died.

“They said I would never live. I lived. They said I would never think. I think. They said I would never walk. I walked. They said I would never dance, but I never danced anyway.”

So I’ve decided that 2012 will be my Year of Groeschel. I will read his books and then provide a 4th grade level book report for your enjoyment.

Here’s a great video celebrating Fr. Benedict’s 50th Anniversary of the Priesthood.

Caitlin