Friday, December 30, 2011

Quick Takes: End-of-year random

Wrapping up the Old Year with some randomness for you to savor.

1. Looooooved this article about introverts, and all you sassy little extroverts out there need to read it and digest!

I especially love #2. I could scream it from the rooftops: "INTROVERTED DOES NOT MEAN SHY!!" If I had a dime for every extrovert who has said to friendly, talkative me, "Whaaaat?? No way! You're not an introvert!" even though I am about as classic an introvert as they come, I would have at least 37 dimes. Yes, I am an introvert, and introverts are not necessarily shy. Introverts can even be the life of the party. If they feel like it. Tell your friends.

2) Y'all have probably seen this one, but it's just so… right

Here's a peek. See if it doesn't resonate with you:
Once upon a time, women wanted to project an innocence.  I am not idealizing another age and I have no illusions about the virtues of our grandparents, concupiscence being what it is.  But some things were different in the back then.  First and foremost, many beautiful women, whatever the state of their souls, still wished to project a public innocence and virtue.  And that combination of beauty and innocence is what I define as pretty. 
By nature, generally when men see this combination in women it brings out their better qualities, their best in fact.  That special combination of beauty and innocence, the pretty inspires men to protect and defend it. 
Young women today do not seem to aspire to pretty, they prefer to be regarded as hot. Hotness is something altogether different.  When women want to be hot instead of pretty, they must view themselves in a certain way and consequently men view them differently as well.
Read it all, and with apologies to Justin Timberlake, let's bring pretty back!

3) Here is family law attorney Rebecca Kiessling who should have never been born:

Mother of five

Well, at least according to most folks. You see, Rebecca, like many other people in this world, was conceived in rape. A violent rape by a serial rapist. She is only alive today because abortion was illegal when she was conceived. For everyone who says, "I am pro-life, except in cases of rape", I hope you will read her story and those of the others like her, and never say those words again. I applaud their courage, as it must feel pretty yucky living in a culture that believes you should have been killed. There are stories, as well, from courageous mothers who gave birth to their children conceived in rape

4) I saw from Betty Beguiles that some bloggers are ending their year with links back to their favorite 2011 posts. Well, I am notorious for linking certain of my posts all over the blasted universe, but some of the lesser known ones would be fun to revisit. Many of which I'd forgotten I'd written!

2011, you had your moments. There was...

My correspondence with a sex educator (in three parts)

and also...

Answering "L": The Culture War and more

Oh, and this was a good one...

The power of a nun in a habit

…which in turn made me think of this next post to which no secularist or pro-"choicer" even responded (other than to suggest these women were lying). The total silence from the left honestly shocked the heck out of me:

Laughing at dead babies and the avenging conscience

And then...

Who is obsessed with sex?

And of course this one is becoming scarily more true by the day:

Catholics: Your misguided compassion will come back to bite you in the rear

So, let's end with a funny one that makes me smile:

Motherhood: It ain't all wine and roses

5) Speaking of funny, Andrew Centrella (who let several of us bloggers hog tie whip his butt lovingly mother him back into the Church) made a funny comic for me a few weeks ago. I especially love the way he incorporated the new mass translation confusion into the strip. Am I the only one who loves Catholic humor?? Cracks me up, I tell you!

(Why yes, that is Danya's left ear in the third frame!)

Thanks, Andrew! And the world thanks you for not going with your original idea of drawing me in a trashy-looking superhero bikini costume.

6) No words needed. Just read it:

See, we Catholics have real superheroes.

7) So excited! Tomorrow we will meet my daughter's boyfriend Carter, who arrives in town to stay with us for a week! We will be trying desperately to convince him that we are normal. But the fun part is that he and my daughter were introduced a year ago by a fellow blogger, the lovely Mary at the Screllos (now private). The Catholic bloggy world is amazing, people! 

Happy New Year, and thanks to Jen for hosting!!!


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Can non-Catholics be saved?

The short answer is yes. Non-Catholics and non-Christians can be saved.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church sums it up this way:
1260 Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.
This is known as the "baptism of desire", an extra-ordinary way of salvation that occurs outside of the sacramental system. The Catechism also says:
1281 [A]ll those who, without knowing of the Church but acting under the inspiration of grace, seek God sincerely and strive to fulfill his will, can be saved even if they have not been baptized.
Now I'll attempt to explain this in my own words. Catholics may correct or clarify what I am about to say, but Feeneyism (the belief that only card-carrying Catholics can be saved) will not be accepted. That is a heresy, and we don't do heresy here in the Bubble. At least not on purpose. :)

First, the foundation.

Every human soul is made for one end: Union with God for all eternity. However, as we've discussed before, union with God cannot be achieved without the grace of Christ, which was won for us on the Cross.

There is no salvation except through Christ Jesus, and it is simply impossible for anyone to get to Heaven without Him.

(That's the basic, immovable ground rule for the rest of what I have to say, so if you forget that as we go along, I will refer you back to it.)

Human beings are hardwired for God. Every man is expected in his lifetime to seek truth, and to do the will of God as best he understands it. People who daily strive to discover what is true, good and beautiful, and who risk great suffering to conform their minds, hearts and lives to God, are rightly called men of good will. During this Christmas season, we should recall the words of the angels who announced Christ's birth (correctly translated in Catholic Bibles but mistranslated in some Protestant Bibles*):

Glory to God in the highest; 
and on earth peace to men of good will. 
-- Luke 2:14

As we discussed recently, God gives everyone the actual grace to seek Him and to desire to do His will. An open heart will naturally search for truth, and as Jesus promised: "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you." -- Matthew 7:7

Those who were raised up in the Catholic Faith have easier access to the fullness of truth than others, with a quicker route to sanctifying grace. That is a blessing beyond words. However, "to whom much is given, much will be required". Those who know more will be accountable for more. To know God's will and yet neglect our duties as Catholics is to act in bad faith, and we become men of bad will. (We should tremble at the thought!)

But non-Catholics who are sincerely ignorant of the necessity of baptism or who have never heard the Gospel are not responsible for the things they -- through no fault of their own -- do not know. After all, God is perfect Justice. He reads each human heart and knows who is truly seeking Him (even if that person hasn't quite found Him yet), and who desires to do His will (even if that person has it wrong at the moment).

This is the soul who would without hesitation ask to be baptized if he knew that baptism was the will of God. This is the soul who might never actually hear the name of Jesus Christ on this earth, but will see Jesus upon his death and say, "It is You! You were the One I was seeking all my life!" He will know Jesus, and Jesus will know him.

So yes, non-Catholics can be saved. And when these "men of good will" reach Heaven, when they are counted among the saints, every one of them (and us) will be of one mind and heart, one big Catholic family, professing Jesus Christ as Lord of all.

*Many Protestant translations are built upon bad theology, and thus many of their Bibles read: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. As you can see, that changes the meaning completely!

Monday, December 26, 2011

What I learned on my Advent vacation!


Anyone still out there?

I'm baaaack!

I missed you!

I thought I'd jump back in by telling you what I learned on my Advent vacation (and other random thoughts), in no particular order:

1) I really enjoyed the time off, and I realized I can live without the blog quite happily. But at the same time, I truly missed what we do here, and I'm excited to be back in action!!

2) Okay, actually, I didn't take time off in quite the way I should have: For a couple of weeks I simply moved all the debates over to my (and others') facebook pages! Ack! When will I learn? I need to be able to walk away from contention sometimes. "Leila, put the controversy down on the ground, raise your hands in the air, and slowly back away. Do that, and no one will get hurt."

3) I discovered that I use the Bubble as a way to avoid repeating myself. The same old stuff (atheist and Protestant objections to the Church; challenges to the moral law; misunderstandings of Church teaching, etc.) comes up on facebook and everywhere else on the web, and I like that I can just link 'em to something I've already written. Do they read what I link? Eh, probably not. But I'm lazy and it saves me time. Besides, who knows? Maybe the detractors (or some lurkers) will providentially take a peak and start to think a little deeper about these things. 

4) I have learned that I need to be more disciplined in every area of my life contributing to the comments on my own blog. I love engaging in fruitful discussions, especially for the lurkers, but it's crucial that I learn to identify those rabbit trails that need not be followed. Many of you have commented on my "patience" in going over and over certain ideas, but I don't think it's been patience at all. I think it's been a combination of incredulity ("Wait, does he/she really believe that?!") and my own stubborn pride (I'm like a dog with a bone). I do wish I had a minder who could keep me away from fruitless discussions and rabbit trails, but since I don't, I will try to be strong and disciplined on my own.

5) I have to chuckle when I think of how desperately some atheists want to rid public places of Nativity scenes. I mean, think about it: Christmas is a government holiday. The Nativity depicts the first Christmas. The Nativity is the historical event behind the very Christmas that we celebrate as a federal holiday (yes, I am being redundant). So, it's bizarre that atheists want Nativity scenes banished, but they don't seem to be lobbying for a revocation of the actual federal holiday that is called Christmas, which is commemorating the Nativity. Do you get how silly that is? 

6) I occasionally add new "Bloggers' Faith Stories" at the top of my blog. The newest ones are at the end of the list. Check 'em out! 

7) A few days ago I was shocked to learn that a dear friend had passed away. She and I had never met in person (much like the great blogger friends I have made in the past two years), but we had a special friendship nonetheless, which spanned almost ten years. She hadn't let me know that she was fighting cancer for the past year and a half. I will keep her name anonymous, but you all can read her words (in blue) in this Bubble post about scrupulosity. May God rest her soul. She was a dear woman with a deep love for Christ who leaves behind a grieving family. Thank you for your prayers.

8) During Advent and Christmas I put a metallic "Keep Christ in Christmas" decal on the back of my Suburban. However, I like what I read on Brent Stubb's Almost Not Catholic blog even better: 

Keep "Mass" in Christ-mas

Christmas is, literally, the Christ's Mass. It is the Mass that commemorates the Nativity of the Lord. Anyone celebrating this holy day (i.e., "holiday") is celebrating a Feast Day of the Catholic Church, and the Church is so pleased that they do! The Lord Jesus came to save everyone, and it is right and just that all Christians -- and all humanity, frankly -- would celebrate His birth. But Christ and the Mass go together, so don't take one without the other. ;)

9) Just a reminder that although most of the world believes that the Christmas Season is now over, the reality is quite different: The Advent Season -- our time of waiting, penance and preparation -- has just ended, and finally Christmas begins! 

10) And on that note, the Millers are not at all late in wishing you a very merry Christmas!

Why yes, it does look like the baby is giving a Papal blessing! Future Pontiff, perhaps?

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent Break

Yep, I've decided.

I am taking an Advent break from blogging. If I want to prepare for Christ carefully and properly this year, I have to step away from the Bubble. I may actually even get my Christmas cards out this year! (I skipped last year for the first time in decades.)

When I told one of my sons about the break, he told me that I had to do a Christmas post, at least. Well, I think I will refer you to the highly personal one that I ran last year, here.

And then my son said that, really, the most important thing was to remind people to "keep Christ in Christmas". So, consider yourselves reminded, people!

I will still be reading the blogs, and I will still be responding to comments on this blog, but except for that (and my ubiquitous presence on facebook), I will see you all in January!

Blessed Advent to all!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Understanding the two kinds of grace

This is a bit of a rerun. What follows is the modified answer to a Doctrinal Quiz Show from back in February (omitting the fun stuff like the bonus question and Bubble Awards!). It's a good prelude to my next (half-written) post that, God willing, will be fully written before you all forget there ever was such a thing as a Little Catholic Bubble! Okay, here we go….

There are two kinds of grace: sanctifying grace and actual grace.

Sanctifying grace is the very life of God (let that sink in!). It is interior grace, which dwells in the soul and transforms it, making it holy. The ordinary way we receive sanctifying grace is through the sacraments.

Actual grace is supernatural help from God (like nudges). It is external grace, working on us from the outside only; it does nothing to change the state of our soul. Everyone receives actual grace, and it comes to us when we need it. We have the free will to cooperate with it or ignore it.

Let's go into a little detail about each.*

Sanctifying Grace

I'll start with an analogy that was very helpful to me: We all know that our human nature is not equipped to live in the ocean. We will die there unless we have something outside of (or above) our nature to sustain us. Scuba gear is the apparatus that allows us to transcend our human nature and live underwater. Similarly, our human nature is not equipped to live in Heaven. Sanctifying grace is the "apparatus" that allows us to transcend our human nature and live in Heaven. We need sanctifying grace, for in our merely human state, we are simply not equipped to live in the presence of God.

When God created our first parents, Adam and Eve, He immediately infused them with the extraordinary gift of sanctifying grace (i.e., a sharing of His divine life). This undeserved gift elevated them above their own human nature and allowed them to live in the direct presence of God. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve threw away this supernatural gift when they "fell from grace" by choosing to sin. Without sanctifying grace, they were now separated from God, and Heaven was closed to them.

Since the Fall, humans are no longer given the gift of sanctifying grace at their creation. However, thanks to Jesus Christ and His atoning death, we are able to receive the gift of sanctifying grace through the sacraments of His Church. At our baptism, our souls are infused with sanctifying grace (God's very life!), and we become fit for Heaven. Assuming we continue to live in God's friendship and not commit mortal sin, this grace can continue to grow in our souls throughout our lives (through our prayers, acts of mercy and love, penance, etc.), making us increasingly holy. We hope to die in a state of grace.

Actual Grace

Actual grace is like little nudges from God. These nudges can take many different forms and come to us from many different places (and people). Actual grace could come in the form of your mother reminding you not to miss Mass on Sunday, or a friend telling you that you should get to confession. It could be a catastrophic event which leaves you on your knees before God, when before you wouldn't have gone near Him. It could be the promptings of your own conscience when confronted with your sins. It might be a class you took or a book you read which compelled you in the direction of justice or righteousness or humility. It could be the unexpected presence of a holy person or the feeling of awe you get when you look at a coastal sunset. It could be just about anything which moves you closer to the Lord.

Actual grace can be acted on or it can be ignored; but just like a train, there will always be another "nudge" coming around soon. God never abandons anyone, and every human being on the planet receives as much actual grace as is necessary to prompt one to seek out salvation. Unlike sanctifying grace, actual grace does not touch the interior of a person, but only works from the outside. Actual grace does not change the state of a person's soul, but is merely the agent that pushes a soul to seek out and receive sanctifying grace.


*When I taught myself the Catholic Faith in the mid-90s (before I had internet), I bought a great set of little tracts from Catholic Answers. They were chock-full of practical, easy-to-understand information, and much of what you are reading here is from those tracts. You can find all of that today on their website.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Just Curious: Any easy meals to help my pathetic self?

It's time for an utterly selfish "Just Curious" (because this is much more about me than you)!

While I take a lovely hiatus from fighting the Culture of Death (don't worry, I'll be refreshed for the battle again soon), I need your help with something.

As you are well aware, I am not a cook. I've analyzed why preparing a meal is so stressful and difficult for me in particular, and I have concluded that it's all about my utter inability to multi-task. The best way I can describe it is that I am completely linear in my thinking and in my execution of tasks. I am not spacial (as opposed to special, ha ha), and I think that most good cooking requires spacial thinking.

So, today I am going to coin a phrase and ask if you have any "linear meals" to share with me? I will make it easy and give you an example of a linear meal, one that we use at the Miller home. Please note the number of ingredients and steps:

"Amazing Beef"
(which we have dubbed "Spicy Beef")

  • Small roast
  • 32-oz. jar of pepperoncini peppers
  • Crushed garlic

Place the roast in the crock pot. Dump the entire jar of peppers and liquid over it. Add garlic. Cook all day on low.

The end.

Oh, I almost forgot: Serve over rice.

Okay, so do you get the picture? That's what I am looking for. I'm "just curious" if you all have any linear meals to share with me. If so, kindly put the recipe in the comments, which won't take long and will fit nicely in the little box, because it will be so short and linear, right?

Bless you!


Friday, November 18, 2011

Quick Takes: Proud Mama Edition

And in the nick of time….

1. I am one proud mama! At the wonderful Bioethics Defense Fund event this evening, my younger daughter gave a short testimonial to those in attendance. It was her first shot at public speaking, and she did an amazing job! Poised and eloquent. I think the girl may have found her calling!

That's my girl!!

What an honor that our beloved Bishop Thomas Olmsted was in attendance:

Why, yes! That is the same red dress I wear to every event now!

2. The week started out fantastically as well, with an awesome blogger meet up last Sunday! Alison from Matching Moonheads flew in to town, and Danya (He Adopted Me First), JoAnna (A Star of Hope) and I got to have a fun girls' lunch together! As usual with these blogger meet-ups, we could have gabbed for hours!!

Life is good when you blog!

3. Loved the fact that sweet Alison, above, who looks like she is about 19, has her Ph.D (as does her dear, fresh-faced husband)! We've got a highly educated group of Catholic blogger ladies around these parts, as there are at least two more Ph.D's in our midst (I'm thinking of Stacy at Accepting Abundance, and Wheelbarrow Rider). You go, girls! Who says we devout Catholic women are uneducated, unenlightened and oppressed?

4. What do I do now? I had a few more quick takes semi-prepared, but they are just too dang depressing to include with the joyful stuff. I don't wanna include them anymore! So, as my (then) six-year-old said happily when in the middle of a family play with his cousins, I might go random….

5. My favorite sport is baseball. I love baseball. I love it so much that the very first research paper ever I wrote was on the history of the Negro Leagues. (The second one I wrote was on the history of demonic possession! I should post that one on the Bubble, but I don't want to scare y'all!)

6. My elder daughter has this quote from Saint Augustine on her facebook page, which I love:
I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are wise and very beautiful; but I have never read in either of them: Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden. 
His yoke is easy, His burden is light. Thank you, Jesus.

7. I love bamboo sheets. Have you ever heard of bamboo sheets??? Neither had I, until I bought some a few years ago. It is like a foretaste of Heaven to sleep on those sheets. They are calling me…. See ya!!

Thanks to Jen for hosting!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A journalist's loaded words, a nun's proud dissent, and a bishop's humble faith

We all know that some things, like death and taxes, are inevitable.

And we Catholics know that misrepresentation of Catholic beliefs by the mainstream media is also inevitable.

And in Phoenix, we Catholics know it's inevitable that an article by Michael Clancy of the Arizona Republic will be biased against the Catholic Church.

Consider the recent piece Clancy wrote about Sister Margaret McBride, the nun who excommunicated herself last year when she authorized the abortion of an 11-week-old unborn child at St. Joseph's, which was then a Catholic hospital:

Let's hone in on the first part of the second sentence (emphases mine):
Sister Margaret McBride, who was targeted by Bishop Thomas Olmsted for her role in a lifesaving medical procedure that the bishop deemed an abortion…

Whoa, whoa… hold up.

Does anyone see anything fishy here? "Targeted"? Bishop Olmsted "targeted" a nun?

In reality, the bishop was made aware of Sister's approval of a direct abortion at a Catholic hospital in his diocese. The bishop later confirmed that, by her own actions, Sister had excommunicated herself. How does this constitute a "targeting" of the nun, exactly?

Seasoned journalists such as Clancy choose their words carefully. So, ask yourself why he would choose the loaded word "targeted" in this instance? Could it be that he'd chosen a side and wished to sway the reader? And, is that the job of a local religion reporter?

Now, on to the next curiously chosen word. "Deemed"? The bishop "deemed" the "lifesaving medical procedure" an abortion? Ummmm, no. The procedure wasn't deemed an abortion, it was an abortion. If it weren't an abortion, there would be no issue at all.

Again, ask yourself why the reporter would choose a word that implies deceit or pretense on the part of the bishop? Clancy leads us to believe that in fact some other procedure --a good and healing and moral "lifesaving medical procedure"* -- took place. Yet this mystery procedure is never actually named in the article. Call me crazy, but I don't think it's the bishop who is being deceptive here.

So, while the first part of his sentence tells us a lot about reporter Michael Clancy, this second part tells us something about Sister McBride:
…[Sister McBride] will be honored this weekend by Call to Action, a national group that supports a married priesthood**, women priests, gay marriage and other positions that the church opposes.
Call To Action (CTA) is a notorious group of Catholic dissenters that has been trying to remake the Church in its own image for decades now. Its members are embarrassed by Church teaching (especially on human sexuality) and disdain the institutional Church. They have an open contempt for faithful clergy, from the Holy Father on down. It's no surprise that these folks would honor a "progressive" nun who authorized an abortion in a diocese with a faithful bishop --the kind of bishop that CTA cannot stand.

After one courageous bishop, Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, publicly excommunicated the members of CTA in his diocese, the Vatican approved the action and stated:
 [T]he activities of ‘Call to Action’ in the course of these years are in contrast with the Catholic Faith due to views and positions held which are unacceptable from a doctrinal and disciplinary standpoint…. Thus to be a member of this Association or to support it, is irreconcilable with a coherent living of the Catholic Faith.
When this organization that is incompatible with the Catholic Faith offered Sister McBride the Call to Action 2011 Leadership Award, she was thrilled to accept. She was, in her own words, "very proud to be receiving this award".

'Nuff said? It is for me.

While Sister McBride is being feted by the those who despise the Catholic Church, and while reporter Michael Clancy continues to promote the "Victim-Hero Nun vs. Mean and Heartless Bishop" narrative that the public loves***, Bishop Thomas Olmsted has been faithful and humble through it all, finding his identity in Jesus Christ alone. Listen:

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great. 
 Matthew 5:11-12

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 
John 15:18

*Direct abortion of a child is never a cure for any medical condition. However, there may have been a truly lifesaving treatment available for the mother and her child: A doctor in Milwaukee has a 100% success rate in saving both patients in the case of pulmonary hypertension in pregnancy.

**For the record, the Church does not "oppose" married priests. The Latin Rite has a longstanding discipline of priestly celibacy that has served the Church well, but there are occasional exceptions to that discipline, including my own associate pastor who is married with six children.

***Check the vicious anti-Catholic comments that follow almost every Michael Clancy story on the Church. If such raw bigotry and hatred were directed at Muslims or Jews, how fast do you think the Republic would move to close down the comment box?


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The most important question in the gay "marriage" debate

I am thrilled to have stolen one of Joe Heschmeyer's posts to present as a guest post today in the Bubble. If you don't read Joe's blog, Shameless Popery, you need to rethink your priorities, people. His attorney mind always impresses me. Joe, take it away…. 

The Most Important Question in the Gay Marriage Debate

A lot of people, even a growing number of Christians, have trouble understanding opposition to legalized gay marriage. After all, if the whole "marriage is one man plus one woman" thing is based on religious values, why force views those on other people? And what's the deal about destroying the sanctity of marriage? How is a heterosexual couple's marriage damaged in any way by gay marriage? For me, a single question helped clear up all of this...

“What is marriage?”

I. The Traditional View of Marriage, and Why Society Should Protect It

A. What Traditional Marriage Is

It seems to me that there are basically two views of what marriage is. The first is the traditional view. A good working definition comes from the Code of Canon Law, which says that marriage is that institution “by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring” (Can. 1055 §1).

This view of marriage isn't unique to Catholicism, or Christianity, or even religion. Cultures across the world (with all sorts of religious views, or none at all) have understood marriage to be something very near this for as long as marriage has existed. What's fascinating about this is that even with the diversity of marriage customs and norms, much remains the same.  Even cultures which permitted or encouraged polygamy recognized that the polygamy was heterosexual, and tied to procreation. A man might have two wives, but he's just committing himself to caring for two families as a result. And even cultures which encouraged homosexual and pedophilic sex (like Ancient Greece) never thought of those sexual and even romantic relationships as marriage-potential.

Perhaps more striking, the thing that gets overlooked is: all of these cultures have marriage. Many of the cultures punished premarital or extramarital sex; others simply declared that premarital sex acted as a marital covenant. If marriage is simply a social construct, it's certainly striking that all of these cultures across the globe, in both the New World and the Old, independently enshrined this construct at the heart of their cultures.

B. The Importance of Family

The reason for this universally-accepted tradition of marriage is obvious: family. Parents are the primary educators of children, and they pass on the culture's values. Children raised in this environment are statistically better citizens: more law-abiding, less violent, and so on.  We're born with our own desires. It's largely through education, much of it at the feet of our parents, that we learn how we're supposed to act.

Even animals understand this instinctively. You don't see birds just leaving their chicks to raise themselves, or be raised by some other bird, or by “the village.” A great many species mate for life, and even amongst those that are effectively polygamous, there's a real sense of family tied to the biological parents of the animal youth. Obviously, this isn't true of all animals, but it's remarkable that it's true of any. Now-Secretary Hillary Clinton wrote a book, It Takes a Village. Former-Senator Rick Santorum's response came with a more accurate title: It Takes a Family. Both sociologically and even biologically, he's right.

So “family” is critical to society. And traditional marriage is critical to family. The logic of it is obvious. Our sexual desires are often fleeting, but when we act on them, and a child is conceived, that's a lifelong consequence. In the absence of marriage, women in particular are vulnerable, since they're ones (biologically) who are left to raise the child if the man splits.  By tying heterosexual, potentially-reproductive sex to marriage, society ensures that a family is formed.

Given this, it makes absolute sense for society to enshrine traditional marriage into its laws and norms. We want (and even need) a society in which there aren't a lot of children conceived out of wedlock, and that those children conceived out of wedlock are still raised in a family (thus the popularity of "shotgun weddings" and the like). Enforcing this as the norm by law through legal recognition of the institution of marriage, and the thousands of incentives tied to marriage, is absolutely sensible. It's a principle that virtually everyone in history has understood (including those who freely engaged in non-reproductive sex outside of marriage).

II. The View of Marriage Behind Gay Marriage

A. The “Romantic” View of Marriage

Almost without exception, those in favor of gay marriage approach the question through a common lens. You can discover this quickly, by asking, "Why should gays be able to marry other gays?" The answer will nearly without exception be that  “these two people love each other.” And for about two hundred years in the West, we've really harped on this notion that marriage is the result of romantic love.

Let's be clear a couple of things. First of all, romantic love is ideal: I wish every married couple was romantic towards each other. The biological and spiritual purpose behind eros and romance is to help get through the rough patches in marriage, to make marriage joyful, and to remind us of the incredible love God has for us. But let's be clear about something else: romantic love isn't necessary for marriage. The canon law view calls it a "partnership," and in selecting the word, carefully avoided anything suggesting that romance was necessary for marriage.

Plenty of married couples find the spark dimmed or dead, and marriage can be rough-going sometimes. When you swear your allegiance to another human being "for better or for worse" for the rest of your life, you're knowingly pledging that even though marriage might seem awful, you'll stick to it. If marriage wasn't hard sometimes, so bad you wanted to quit, you wouldn't need to promise you wouldn't quit. No one has to pledge to keep doing something they're obviously going to do, and enjoy doing, like eating or relaxing. They'll just do those things without provocation.

So the problem with gay marriage is actually something distinct from the problem with homosexuality. Homosexuality is wrong because it perverts sex from something reproductive into something non-reproductive. But homosexual marriage goes a step further, and turns the bedrock of society, marriage and family, into something fleeting and pointless.

Here's what I mean. If romance is the critical factor in marriage, just consider that married couples often don't feel romantic towards each other, even if they did at the outset. It's easy to love the other person on your wedding day. It's harder when they've let themselves go physically, there's a screaming baby, and the house is a mess. Meanwhile, there may be someone else -- a co-worker, a friend, whoever -- who you do feel that "spark" with. The New York Times caused a minor controversy in December when it ran in its marriage section, "Vows," a blurb spotlighting a couple who met while married to other people. The story was told as if it was romantic to do the forbidden and abandon your families for a new fling. But this is absolutely consistent with this view of marriage. So is the sky-high divorce rate in America, and the massive amount of infidelity, homosexuality, and premarital sex. We're a culture taught to follow our hearts and our hormones, and those are fickle things.

B. Peering Over the Precipice

So here's my point. Because the heart is fickle, don't condition marriage on romance. If you're serious about being open to having children with this person, and working with them to raise children, and staying together until death, whether things are wonderful or awful, great. If not, wait to marry until you get to that point with someone.  Marriage is one of the single most important decisions most people will make in their lives, and it rarely gets the serious treatment it deserves.

More importantly, even if individuals want to stupidly declare, in a fit of romantic passion, that they'll be together for better or worse (while closing their eyes tightly to what "worse" might mean), as a society, we need not indulge that madness. Society has a huge vested interest in family, and by extension, traditional marriage. Society has no interest whatsoever in just-romantic marriage without a connection to family.

Interestingly, even many gay marriage advocates recognize this. Alan Dershowitz at Harvard argued that the solution to the gay marriage debate is to end governmental recognition of marriage altogether. Time Magazine agreed, arguing that marriage is just a religious or spiritual practice. This is the sort of end-point of the campaign to redefine marriage: leave "marriage" something so vague and meaningless, an idea whose meaning is unique to the person declaring him- or herself "married," that it ceases to be a protectable institution at all.  Of course, the consequences of trying to become the first society without marriage are ones that we can't even fathom.

The point is clear. Society, including the state, has a clear interest in protecting marriage, if marriage means what it always has meant. But if "marriage" becomes an amorphous and individualistic romantic concept, what role could society possibly have in regulating or promoting that? So the end point of the gay marriage debate is necessarily the implosion and unraveling of the institution of marriage, even if individuals still declare themselves "married" in non-recognized ceremonies.

III. Conclusion

Understanding this clash of visions explains nearly everything. When opponents of gay marriage say that it destroys the sanctity of marriage, what they mean is that gay marriage is incapable of being marriage, as that term has been traditionally understood for thousands of years. So a government that embraces gay "marriage" is a government that discards marriage (as traditionally understood) in favor of something much more volatile and dangerous. Likewise, if the government started to declare business merges "marriages," the term marriage would be deprived of its meaning until it meant something vague and sort of meaningless.

To imagine that a culture that drains marriage of its meaning, or tries to substitute (in its place, or in addition) something foreign as a new form of legally-sanctioned "marriage", can do so without it having far-ranging unintended consequence is naivety to an astonishing degree.

My point is that gay marriage is a sort of "point of no return" in a much broader fight that most Americans have somewhat disconnected from. Rather than viewing this as a battle over "gay rights" or anything else, this needs to be understood as a battle of the definition of what "marriage" actually means, and whether marriage is a thing that society and government can and should fight for.

*Be sure to read Joe's follow-up post, "What's the State Interest in Promoting Gay Marriage?"


Friday, November 4, 2011

Quick Takes! Marie Bellet, Norwegian wisdom, and a little tiger

1) You may not have noticed, but I am not churning out the posts the way I used to. To avoid blogger burnout (I'd hate to see the Bubble burst!), I've had to slow way down. I hope I won't lose any of you if I publish only once or twice a week, but I have to find balance, especially coming into the holiday season. Of course, it's not as if the action stops when the posting slows, since there is still quite the discussion going on under the last post. We are well into the second page!

2) The fallout from the post entitled "Leila's sins and shortcomings on public display" "Why I never should have had eight children" has been too much fun!

For starters, Marie Bellet emailed me! If you don't know who Marie Bellet is, then I am thrilled to be the one to introduce you! When I was just a wee lass with four children (probably around the same time I was pondering that fifth child), Marie was my constant companion. Her first album, What I Wanted To Say, was written when she had seven small children (she has nine now), and the songs were so incredibly synchronized to my own life and feelings that I often told people it was like she was singing me spiritual direction. I could write a whole post on each of her songs and its meaning to me. Marie added more albums through the years, and I love them as well. Lo and behold, she emails me words of encouragement after having read "that post" and then sends me copies of her brand spanking new album, Everything Changes, which fits perfectly with the time of life and motherhood she and I have reached today. Moms in their forties and fifties with some grown children will especially relate!

I really could go on and on, but I will end by saying that I have two copies of her new CD that have not been spoken for, and if you tell me why you want one, you may be a lucky recipient! As those of you who have yet to receive your Bubble onesies know, it may take me some time, but I will get them mailed eventually. I plan on a random drawing if we have more than two takers.

3) More great responses from "that post" included emails from Catholic brothers and sisters as far away as Portugal and Brazil (LifeSite has an edition in Portuguese!), the gift of a wonderful book from the Jeub family, Love Another Child (which they do well, as they have 15 kids!), and this remarkable video sent by the Schweitzer family, made by their son Josiah about his little sister with Down Syndrome:

Wasn't that cool?

4) Switching gears now, JoAnna found a quote from a pseudonymous Norwegian blogger reprinted on John C. Wright's blog yesterday, and it eloquently states what I have often pondered but didn't know how to say:
I never fail to be amused by how sex transforms liberals from hard-headed sociobiologists into velvet-minded romantics. From a strictly biological perspective, the ultimate purpose of sex is procreation alone, and the pleasure we derive from it is simply nature’s little stick and carrot. Why, then, this irrational and adamant defense of non-procreation and anti-natalism from people who otherwise jump at any opportunity to smugly wax prosaic about man being just another animal or the Darwinian origins of everything from organized religion to the nuclear family? 
The reason, I believe, is duplicitous. To liberals, sexual hedonism is not valuable because it brings pleasure, but because it serves, Rousseau-style, to tear down the deleterious influence of civilized society. Had liberals really been friends of sexual joy and pleasure, they would have realized that sex is more valuable when it is limited or mystified by things such as pre-marital chastity or modest clothing. These things turn sex into the best it can be — a sacred ritual — rather than simply a biological act no different than defecation or sleep. 

5) Last year I met JoAnna in person at the Bioethics Defense Fund "Passion for Life" benefit, and this year I'd love to have more blogger meet ups! The Witness for Life Honoree for 2011 is Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, and that alone is worth the price of admission. This annual event is one of the most inspiring nights of the year, benefiting one of the most important pro-life organizations out there, whose work is not typical but is desperately needed. Sign up here, and I'll see you there on November 18!

6) My little tiger! The cute baby fingers just kill me… ahhhh!!!

7) Get prepared. My next post is a guest post by the brilliant Joe at Shameless Popery, "The Most Important Question in the Gay Marriage Debate", and it's a great follow-up to One Man's post about gay "marriage" and civil rights. I can't stay away from that topic for too long, because it's too important culturally to let go. Join us, as it's sure to get interesting….

Have a great weekend, and thanks to Jen for hosting!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

And this is soooo different from other abortion clinics because...?

Go ahead, read the article first. It's short. I'll wait.

Former Gosnell employees Adrienne Moton and Sherry West.

Done reading? Great.

Now, can anyone tell me what the salient, essential difference is between Gosnell's abortion mill and any other?

I'm serious. What's the difference?

Sanitary conditions?

If sanitation's the issue, then this part shouldn't be so horrible to read:
According to testimony by former employees, Gosnell and his assistants killed “hundreds” of newborn babies by severing their spinal cords rather than killing them in the womb...
Because, severing a baby's spinal cord outside the womb (rather than dismembering a baby or crushing his skull in the womb), can be done sanitarily, I'm certain of it.

So, I'm truly interested in what the big deal is? If they had cleaned the place up (assuming anyone cared about standards for abortion clinics), there would be no moral objections, right?

And this: abortion worker has been found guilty of murder for killing a baby… 
Seriously, rest for one moment on those words; take them in. Are you laughing at the absurdity?

I thought "killing a baby" was the very goal of the abortion industry? Isn't the success of an abortion measured by the production of a dead baby? After all, when a baby survives the attempt on her life, we call that a "botched" abortion. A mistake. A goof-up. A fail. So if the workers can make things right just moments later and kill that same baby out of utero, what's the moral difference? Seems to me like they're just finishing the job they were paid to do.

Anyone else see the irony in this story? Any of you "pro-choicers" out there?

Just a teeny bit of irony amidst the horror?


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Subsidiarity: Why haven't I heard this before?

I think of this as a boring but important post. I'll keep it short, so stay with me. (And try to stifle your yawns!)

You've heard of "social justice" but have you heard of "subsidiarity"?

I hadn't, until about a year or two ago. The Catholic principle of subsidiarity has been added to my list of "Why haven't I heard this before??" (along with the three stages of holiness and the natural law).

So, here we go...

The definition of "subsidiarity" according to Wikipedia:
Subsidiarity is an organizing principle [which holds] that matters ought to be handled by the smallest, lowest or least centralized competent authority. 

The definition of "subsidiarity" according to the Oxford English Dictionary:
[T]he principle that central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level. 

In other words, if something can be done by a smaller and more simple organization (as opposed to a larger and more complex one) then it should be. The family is the simplest, most "local" organization in the social order, followed by such organizations as the neighborhood, city, state, nation, and the like. The more complicated, further removed and more centralized an entity or authority, the less effective, more impersonal, and even more harmful are its interventions into areas proper to smaller and more local authorities.

Subsidiarity holds that decisions and policies should be made at the lowest level possible, and intervention by higher and bigger social organizations should only be undertaken when those lower levels truly need and desire a supporting (not usurping!) action.

What's really cool is that subsidiarity is a Catholic principle, sprung from Catholic social teaching.

Pope Pius XI wrote of it here:
As history abundantly proves, it is true that on account of changed conditions many things which were done by small associations in former times cannot be done now save by large associations. Still, that most weighty principle, which cannot be set aside or changed, remains fixed and unshaken in social philosophy: Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them. (Quadragesimo Anno, 1931)

Sixty years later, Blessed John Paul II warned of the dangers that come from violating the principle of subsidiarity, namely, the modern welfare state:

[E]xcesses and abuses, especially in recent years, have provoked very harsh criticisms of the Welfare State, dubbed the "Social Assistance State". Malfunctions and defects in the Social Assistance State are the result of an inadequate understanding of the tasks proper to the State. Here again the principle of subsidiarity must be respected: a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good. 
By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending. In fact, it would appear that needs are best understood and satisfied by people who are closest to them and who act as neighbours to those in need. (Centesimus annus, 1991)

The role of the family must not be usurped by communities and cities, the role of cities must not be usurped by states, and the role of states must not be usurped by the federal government. Worst of all is when the federal government overtakes a role proper to the family.

On a personal note: It's frustrating when well-meaning Catholic proponents of social justice claim that a vote against more and bigger federal social programs is somehow "un-Catholic." Nothing could be further from the truth, of course, as the Catholic principles of social justice must never be divorced from the Catholic principle of subsidiarity.

But the misunderstanding is not really their fault, as they probably have never even heard of subsidiarity. Which leads me back to my original question:

Catholics, were you ever taught about the principle of subsidiarity?


Friday, October 21, 2011

Quick Takes: New Missal edition and more

It's still Friday here! Just in the nick of time….

1. Catholics! In case you haven't heard, the Mass is changing! Well, the essence of the Mass never changes, but beginning on November 27 (the first Sunday of Advent) the new English translation of the Roman Missal will be implemented. It's been a long time coming, and I for one am so excited!

Pick a video below if you'd like to know more about what's happening and why. Personally, I like the first and second videos the best, because my little mind needs things simple. Middle school or high school level… that's about right for me!

For middle school youth:

For high school teens:

The next two are a little more involved and scholarly. Fr. John Muir, a great priest from my own diocese, narrates these….

For parish leaders:

For parents and adults:

2. Remember my post called Laughing at Dead Babies and the Avenging Conscience? Well, here is another manifestation of how that works. Notice how pro-"choice" congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee cannot bring herself to say "heartbeat" when referencing the...wait for it...heartbeat of unborn human beings. She makes quite a linguistic gyration in order to avoid the word. Simply bizarre, unless you recognize the avenging conscience at work. Check it out:

3. Let's contrast that stalwart supporter of the Culture of Death to Jon Scharfenberger, the 22-year-old Students For Life staffer who died after a horrific car accident that also took the life of SFL Field Director Kortney Blythe Gordon and her unborn daughter Sophy. I speak often of a crisis of manhood, but Jon stood out from the crowd of his peers -- a rare, true Christian gentleman. As Dr. Gerard Nadal says, all who revere life and strive for virtue "knew" Jon, even if we didn't know him:

An excerpt:
Jon wasn’t typical of most men his age. For one thing, he was a man. A real man. Not in some pseudo-masculine macho sense of the term, but in the truest sense of masculinity. 
He was principled, and all in the pursuit of virtue. He had unusual strength of conviction, all aligned along the axis of moral clarity. Such clarity only comes in self-giving and not in self-assertion. It comes through self-discipline, of subordinating one’s appetites to a vision of the other as worthy of our best and not as an object for our consumption. It’s the stuff of which the more cynical among us who have only ever known being used cannot believe exists in reality.
The loss of such a truly good man is difficult to grasp, and as a parent, my heart goes out especially to his mother and father.

4. For anyone who wants to see a glimpse of Jon's gentle heart and firm conviction, take a look at him in action:

 Resquiat In Pacem

5. Oh, hey, did you know that there's no such thing as evil? Because some super-duper smart neuroscientists have said so, so rest easy...
Of course, people still commit innumerable bad actions, but the idea that people make conscious decisions to hurt or harm is no longer sustainable, say the new brain scientists. For one thing, there is no such thing as "free will" with which to decide to commit evil. (Like evil, free will is an antiquated concept for most.) Autonomous, conscious decision-making itself may well be an illusion. And thus intentional evil is impossible.
Check out the whole pathetic thesis if you must, here. I've heard of people trying to weasel out of moral responsibility, but this takes the cake.

6. So Life Site News picked up my last post, which was an honor and very humbling. Humbling especially because the post that gets the most attention is the one in which I lay out all of my sins and deficiencies! Maybe if I write a post detailing the contents of my next sacramental confession it'll be picked up by the New York Times!

7. Get ready for Mass this Sunday by studying the readings ahead of time:

And have a great weekend!

Thanks to Jen for hosting!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Why I never should have had eight children

A few months back, I told you how to raise eight children without even trying. Today, I'm going to tell you why I never should have had eight children in the first place. Had I listened to the devil and modern conventional wisdom, that is.

When I was a happy mother of four, seriously considering and deeply desiring another child, an odd feeling overcame me. Over several days, my excitement at the idea of a new little soul became mixed with feelings of discouragement and fear. It began to dawn on me that I was barely good enough "mommy material" for the four treasures I already had, and that any further parenting would be irresponsible. It came to a head one evening: I remember standing in my kitchen, full of fear and anxiety, telling myself that I had no business -- no business! -- having another baby. Not now, not ever.

All my shortcomings and sins came to the forefront of my mind, and I stood there reeling from the truth of it*:

I can't cook.
I can't grocery shop.
I can't bring the kids out alone without help.
I have nooooo patience.
I am not crafty in the least.
I can't sew.
I can't throw a party.
I'm not athletic or outdoorsy.
I don't know how to make a pretty home.
I don't know how to make anything fun.
I am lazy and a procrastinator.
I'm used to being served, not serving.
I am sarcastic and cranky.
I am a complainer.
I like to be alone.
I hate to be interrupted or inconvenienced.
I am not particularly good with children.

In that moment, I knew all of these things. And I was discouraged. Any one of these reasons could be enough for a woman to convince herself that it's imprudent to have another child. In fact, you might just be saying to yourself now, "My gosh, that Bubble woman shouldn't have one child, much less eight!"

But see, there's the thing: Moms of big families are told constantly by other women that "I couldn't do what you do!" or "You must have so much patience!" or "You must have a real way with children!" They think we were given a special gift or have a mutant gene that they do not possess. But they have no idea how much we are just like them. In fact, most of the women who say those things to me are better suited to raise a large family than I.

As I stood there in the kitchen that night, a moment of grace overtook the moment of discouragement. How many times had I told others, "Discouragement is not from Christ, as Christ only encourages. Discouragement is from the devil!" I remembered it then, and my fears and anxieties were banished. Only the devil himself, the one who hates human beings to his rotten core, would taunt me with the notion that my lack of gourmet skills should preclude new life in my marriage. I saw the evil of it then, and I called him out. I still cussed a lot back then, and I am pretty sure I told the devil what he could do with his putrid flood of discouraging thoughts. Yeah, that was a good moment.

Since that day, five eternal souls have been created in our family, four of whom my husband and I have the privilege of raising on this earth. And, while I can't claim to have conquered all the deficiencies and vices on my list (not even close! drat!), the existence of all my children has moved me along the path of holiness. Because that's how it works: The souls in your life are gifts, each of whom is meant to sanctify you in a particular way. My little sanctifiers are the artisans who change and mold me in all the ways God knows I need, and they are their father's and their siblings' artisans, too.

That my family exists as it does is living proof that "with God, all things are possible" -- even Leila Miller mothering eight great kids.

Deo gratias.

*In the interest of full disclosure, when I began to write this post a couple of nights ago, I wrote out full paragraphs for each bullet point, explaining my shortcomings in detail. Let's just say by the fifth point, I was so depressed that I couldn't go on! I turned off the computer and went to bed, ha ha!

Related post:  Parenting: What I've Done Right!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Quick Takes: The Happy Edition!

Often, life is just too dark and depressing, and so today it's time to be happy!

1. Sometimes I use the term "LOL" which of course means that I'm laughing out loud which of course I'm really not. I am only laughing in my head. It is a very rare moment when I am actually moved to laugh out loud at anything that I see or read. So when that rare moment comes, I promise to share the source with you. I did that when I saw this from Devin Rose and now I share the following with you as well:

I was laughing raucously (interiorly only) until I hit a point at #5 which just made me burst out, audibly. Thank you, Marc Barnes, for making the world (and the blogosphere) a happier place!

2. After a terribly sad and disappointing outcome with Grace In My Heart's failed adoption (a process that I initiated), I was just so grateful at how kind she was to me in her loss. But I never expected the level of graciousness that followed, when I received an unexpected package in the mail, with a lovely thank you note and a set of the most adorable onesies I've ever seen! Check this out:


Yes, this beautiful and talented woman custom made little Bubble onesies for me and for you. She knows I love to give out prizes and suggested these could be an option! I don't think I stopped smiling all day. If you feel you have or could have a Future Bubble Reader, tell me why you want need this onesie (Mr. Bear not included)! It's a giveaway on this very happy edition of QT! (Because only the Good Lord knows when I will get around to another Doctrinal Quiz Show!)

3. Last weekend we rounded up everyone and went to visit our two oldest children who are away at college. The boys especially missed their elder brother, whom they had not seen in two months. This shot, of my oldest son taking some of his brothers on a private walk to the underpass, is a personal favorite. It was taken within minutes of the happy reunion:

You should've seen their smiles!

4. Did you know that there is only one passage in the Bible that describes Jesus as "rejoicing" here on earth? What would cause Him this joy? Here it is:
In that same hour, he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding, and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will." (Luke 10:21)
Jesus loved children profoundly ("Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God"), and that fact causes me to rejoice and be happy as well.

5. Speaking of Jesus (and LOLing -- though this did not make me actually laugh out loud):

But it did make me happy. :)

6. Remember "Gayle in the Bubble"? I happily announce that I will link to Gayle's weekly reflections on the upcoming Sunday readings just as often as my very slow brain remembers to do so. For this Sunday:

What a great way to prepare for Mass!

7. If there is something you want to share that made you laugh or made you happy recently, I'm all ears. Let's hear it!

Thanks to Jen for hosting!