Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Jesus

There is no reason for hope in this world -- not one glimmer -- if Jesus Christ did not die and rise.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Answering "L": The Culture War and more

I know that I exasperate my secular readers at times. "L" has been a loyal reader and commenter, and I have enjoyed debating and discussing with her. I think we have much more in common than we initially realized, although yesterday's post may have set us back a bit!  ;)

A few days ago, L challenged me on some things, and I thought I'd give it a whole blog post, even though it's a mix of subjects.

I feel that this "culture war" is a farce designed to keep everyone politically polarized and towing their party lines. The DEMs & GOPs need this war to be happening because many people are realizing that there is common ground, but we can't lose our voting bases, so we demonize the "other side." 

I disagree with this. The liberal and conservative bases are comprised of true believers. The "war" is a battle of ideas between those true believers: Liberals truly believe that their philosophy and worldview is the best one, the one that will help the most people. Conservatives truly believe that their philosophy and worldview is the best one, the one that will help the most people. 


I thank God for the freedom to have the vigorous debate so that those in the middle can see the clear difference. The culture war is not contrived, it's utterly real. 


"Common ground" has its place, but not when fighting for truth over error. I'll let Gandhi make my point:

All compromise is based on give and take, but there can be no give and take on fundamentals. Any compromise on mere fundamentals is a surrender. For it is all give and no take. 
and
An error does not become truth by reason of multiplied propagation, nor does truth become error because nobody sees it.

For the conservatives I know, it's not about towing any party line. I can't think of a single conservative friend who is not disgusted or disappointed with the GOP. Catholic Republicans will walk if the GOP begins to support abortion or gay "marriage". Catholics have no ultimate loyalty to any political party. We are loyal to our Church and our God. From our perspective, it's a battle between the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death. And the battle is a spiritual one (again, utterly real).


Think about this: You have me, you all, and college student - all different religious/political persuasions and nuances, yet we can ALL agree: Abortion isn't good. We don't want abortion.

I believe that you don't want abortion. I believe that many liberals don't want abortion. However, the leaders of the pro-"choice" movement are not exactly saying that. They are saying "Abortion on Demand and Without Apology". Some of them call abortion a "sacrament" and a "blessing". The abortion lobby convinced the Democrats to take the "rare" out of "abortion should be safe, legal and rare" in their party platform. Planned Parenthood issues "Choice on Earth" cards, equating (and mocking) the "peace" brought by Christ on our holy day to the "choice" of abortion. 


Does any of that sound like "abortion isn't good"? I beg you to read what the abortion lobby, the feminist movement, and academia write and think about abortion. 


We are talking about life and death for millions upon millions of children. Real live human beings, not figments of our imaginations. If you really think that the 50 million body count, the over 4,000 aborted babies a day is "not good" and you "don't want it", then why do you support it? Why do you call yourself pro-"choice" when the "choice" is so horrific? Why don't you fight to make it illegal to kill these children? I could never identify myself with a movement that promotes and defends something I believe to be "not good" and something that "we don't want." Help me understand why you are not on our side?


So instead of putting our heads together and thinking of solutions we can agree on, like building up women's self-respect, embracing our fertility and demanding more out of men OR how to stop pregnancies form being a "burden" and forcing women to choose between career and kids.... We're having a "culture war."

Yes, yes, all these things you want, I want them all, too. Please, yes! However, all those laudable goals are not a substitute for the legal protection of the unborn. The laws of our land protect every human being except for the smallest of our brothers and sisters. They deserve as much legal protection from killing as you and I get. So, these are completely separate issues. It's not an either/or, it's a both/and. 


If a "culture war" is necessary to protect the lives of innocent people, then it's essential to have a culture war. Think of the culture war over civil rights in the 1960s, and how vital it was! Abortion is the human rights issue of our day. The beautiful thing about America is that we are free to debate ideas vigorously and work to influence public opinion -- i.e., a culture war.


The problem is that you will not be satisfied unless everyone immediately converts to Catholicism.


No, not true. This thought has never crossed my mind, because it is absurd. Would I absolutely love it if all people were Catholic and knew Jesus Christ as the savior of the world? If they realized that they were made in the image and likeness of God and never acted contrary to their own human dignity? If they found peace and joy living according to the Ten Commandments? If they achieved their highest happiness in union with God, a union for which they were made? Yes, I would love that! But it never occurred to me that the goal was to immediately convert the world to Catholicism. 


First of all, conversion of the heart is generally a very slow process. Secondly, there's that "free will" thing again. The Church proposes, not imposes. It is meaningless to humans and to God if someone is "forced" to believe something. We would all recognize that as a farce. It's like a bride being "forced" to love her husband. Who wants that? It's not real, and it's not love. God wants our love, not our forced conversion.


Everyone must see sex as god's gift for hetero, married procreation only. 


Well, there's no changing the truth that sex is God's gift for marriage and the procreation of children. Sexual intercourse is the union of a man and a woman who become "one flesh", and it is ordered only within marriage. Genital stimulation and sexual play can come in all forms, but only a man and a woman can have sexual intercourse, become one flesh, and make a new person. 


Anyone who is disenfranchised, simply cannot have sex. 


When you say "disenfranchised" people, what does that mean? That designation can cover everyone from homosexuals to pedophiles to polygamists to those desiring incestuous sex, or sex with animals, or children having sex, you name it. How do you define "disenfranchised"? 


But yes, sex is a privilege of marriage, and unmarried people should not be engaging in sex. Interestingly, the world "celibate" actually means unmarried. Think about that. The culture used to understand that sex was for marriage. The Church still does.


Everyone must want children.


I'd say it this way: Everyone who gets married and has sex needs to be open to having children, because sex produces children. That is actually what sex is for. The purpose of sex is babies, and the meaning of sex is love. These two aspects cannot be separated. Life and love always go together. It's a beautiful theological truth that I hope to blog about sometime. And it's true not just for sex, but for God Himself and for our whole lives.


If someone truly does not want children, then perhaps he or she is not called to marriage. It is actually grounds for annulment if a couple comes to the altar of marriage with the express intention not to have children. "Will you accept children from God lovingly...?" is part of the Catholic wedding ceremony, and must be answered in the affirmative, before God and man.


You seem to think there was once this Utopia where these rules were the norm and everyone lived happily and perfectly... until the Devil infected the people we now call "the liberals." (ha ha - my tone is fairly light) And we all have to hearken back to this mythical time. Newsflash- there never was such a time. 

Well, of course there was the Garden of Eden before the Fall, but after that, you are so right! I don't think you'll find any entity on earth that knows and speaks of this more than the Catholic Church. That we live in a world of evil and sin is not a newsflash to Catholics. I see my own sins every single day, and it's not pretty! Time and again on this blog we've said that "there are no new sins, just recycled old ones". So you are preaching to the choir here. I am glad you agree with the Church on this! 


Ironically, it's actually progressive liberals who believe that we humans have "evolved" morally, and that we are *this close* to forming some great, vast Utopia on earth. (If only Christians would stop oppressing everyone! ;))


And as far as community help is concerned, I don't have a problem with that! Please help out your community! To be frank, my husband and I always defend the Christians when it comes to charity -- they are awesome. We have many Christian friends an relatives who are always doing amazing work. I am inspired by them. 

That's awesome to hear! Thanks!


But on the other hand, if we only supported our own communities and the charities we thought worthy, most people would be left out. Sure, Maggie's Place in Phoenix would be booming, flat-screen TV's, top-line Medela breast pumps and leather rocker/glider ottoman sets. 


I know you are being funny, but seriously, a charity like Maggie's Place takes any extra money and simply opens a new house to help more women in crisis. They will always use the money as wisely and frugally as possible, in order to help the greatest number of people who need help. You won't find any excess and waste in these charities. (They don't operate like the federal government, heh heh!)



Inner-city and rural substance abuse shelters? Not so much. Babies are way cuter than most of these guys and besides - inner city & rural people don't have the resources that the folks in your neighborhood do. Hence we all need to chip in for them.


Oh, but we do. We don't give only to the cute babies. Did you read about some of the stuff St. Vincent de Paul does for example? Not much about babies there. And last time I hosted a table at their annual fundraising breakfast, there were over 2,000 attendees filling two huge adjacent ballrooms in a resort. The halls, food and staff were all donated for the occasion by the host hotel. All this to help "not so cute" people (homeless, elderly, disabled, sick, imprisoned) find their dignity. 



And DCFS, Public Aid, things like this that save people every day are vilified by the right as being "entitlement." Healthcare coverage for all children is an entitlement to them. 


You are talking about policy here. Policy issues are issues of prudential judgment on which reasonable people may differ. In the public sphere, there are a few non-negotiable moral issues for Catholics. On everything else, there are no objectively "right" or "wrong" answers. Yes, we must feed the poor and help the needy. But the "how" of it can vary wildly from person to person, depending on our philosophy, experience and even our personality.


I have never in my life heard a conservative say that there should be no safety net for those who are truly in need. That is a no-brainer. But in my humble opinion, that is not what we have today. We have programs and departments that have become unwieldy and irresponsible, which too often serve to keep people entrenched in their unfortunate situations. The intention behind these vast government programs may be good, but the results are often horrible. The amount of bloat and corruption in these programs (some of which are glorified Ponzi schemes) is shocking to anyone paying attention, and no liberal or conservative should tolerate it. Fiscal responsibility is a moral issue, too, after all! If I go nuts charging up my credit card, and I end up bankrupting my family, then I am acting immorally. Disordered. Against virtue. 


Programs that truly help and are effective? Yes! And the more local, the better. Programs that are wasteful and strip the dignity away from those whom they serve? No, thanks. Just because a program "sounds compassionate" does not mean it's a good program. It might even be a very bad one.


Again, my political views, aside from the non-negotiables, are my own. You are free to disagree, Catholic and non-Catholic alike.


Libs can't understand why pro-lifers could throw sick kids under the bus and this is why you have the title of your post.


Look, we are all called to help the needy. And that's what conservatives do all the time. Since liberals incessantly slam conservatives for being mean and stingy and unfeeling towards others, I simply must correct the record: It is a fact that conservatives give to charity in much bigger numbers than liberals. It's really not even close. I think it's because liberals see taxes as their major source of "charity" and help for others, while we religious folk know that our obligation to help others begins after the tax man cometh. Jesus told us to feed the poor, clothe the naked, and care for the widows and orphans. He didn't tell us to pay the government (passively) so they could do it instead. So, we pay our taxes and we give to charity, in abundance. This is hardly "throwing sick kids under the bus" (or "wanting kids to die", or "wanting grandma to eat dog food" or any of the other unjust and insulting things we conservatives have to hear every day). I hope and pray that at least one liberal reading this will have the integrity to stop slandering conservatives on this issue. 


I just think you do have a gift of riling people up which can be used for good instead of another voice pushing us all apart.


I don't know. I think that on many issues we are already "apart", and my blog is an appeal to bring us together to talk it out, challenge assumptions, look for Truth, and remember our human dignity. A lot of us from different persuasions have come together and had good conversations, staying fairly civil and respectful!


If I wanted to "rile people up", I would use a lot more emotion, present fewer facts, ask fewer questions, all while rudely shouting down the other side. As it is, everyone is free to present their case, and I welcome it! I try very hard to stay in the realm of reason and evidence, and not go off on emotional tirades. It's true I might have failed at times, but I am trying. 


I realize that the only true "sin" of the modern liberal age is "offending" someone, but in the end, that cannot be my concern. I have to speak the truth as I know it, boldly (and hopefully charitably). Then, it's up to the readers to weigh the arguments and decide what they will. 


And ultimately, I gotta be me! :)







Friday, March 25, 2011

Why is the Left Ignoring Church Burnings and 'Near Genocide' of Christians?


Many of you are familiar with Lisa Graas and her work, both from her comments here and from my blog roll. She is an amazing lady, and the story of how we met 13 years ago (my first internet "friend"!) is a story in itself. We have quite a history together, and now we both have blogs, ha ha ha. Lisa, a convert to Catholicism and a disabled single mother of four, also writes for David Horowitz's NewsRealBlog. As you know, I don't post on politics too often (although I am a political animal at heart), but I asked Lisa to write this guest post for me because she is practically alone out there writing on this topic. 

Please, please, if anyone on the left can explain why the Left's dislike of Christianity is so strong, and yet their defense of Islamists so vocal (despite Islam's violent hatred toward liberal moral values), I would be so grateful. I have some ideas of why leftists cast their lots with Islam over Christianity, but I would love to hear it from someone here.

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From Lisa Graas....


On the Left, the end justifies the means. Abortion, which many acknowledge is not a good thing, is 'necessary' in order to protect the 'greater good' of 'choice'. Rationing of healthcare, which they also acknowledge is not a good thing, is set forth as a 'solution' to serve the 'greater good' of 'universal coverage'. Even our Catholic compatriots on the Left have become caught up in this erroneous thinking that 'the end justifies the means', having adopted the confused thinking that the 'greater good' is equivalent to the 'common good'. So it is that the vulnerable are trampled underfoot, even with assistance from within the Catholic community.

One of the most powerful leftists in history, Josef Stalin, killed millions to serve the 'good' of the state.*

Millions died as a result of Stalin's famine and purges which came about due to the leftist ethos that 'the end' (in this case, the goal of 'equality') always 'justifies the means'. What Stalin might have believed was the 'common good', in reality was a reflection of 'the greater good' being sought, no matter the means.

Is it this belief -- 'the end justifies the means' -- that accounts for the silence of leftists in America today as the Islamic Egyptian army attacked Christian monasteries? After all, this news would have spoiled their good feelings as they cheered the 'revolution' in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

Is it this belief that 'the end justifies the means' that urges the Left to press continually for America to make a hasty withdrawal from Iraq even as the Christian community there faces 'near genocide'? (Have they even heard of Adam of Baghdad?)

I think it is...and the silence continues even now as the Left continues to be actively engaged in defending the 'good name' of Islam while refusing to raise so little as a whimper about the burning of 69 churches in Ethiopia with 10,000 Christians being now displaced as they flee Muslim wrath.

Obama's White House team and the mainstream media have turned a blind eye to the spilling of innocent Christian blood.

What 'crime' did these Christians commit to 'merit' the torching of 69 churches, a Bible school and an orphanage?

The violence erupted after a group of Muslims falsely accused Christians in the area of desecrating the Quran. 

Those on the far left would say, "These attacks were justified because a Christian probably really did desecrate the Qur'an."

Those who are just left of center will probably either look away or resign themselves to calling our mention of it "Islamophobic", which I have come to realize is the 21st century leftist version of 'Der ewige Jude'.

The wise understand that book burning leads to the burning of people, but truly....it takes a hardcore leftist to argue that in our quest to protect books from damage, we must sometimes burn Islamophobic churches and kill Islamophobic Christians.

Those on the Left, tell me where I'm wrong, because I desperately want to be wrong on this.






*To address the problems of hunger and poverty, in 1928 Stalin initiated the first of five "Five-Year Plans" that he would implement during his long reign as the leader of the USSR (the others would cover the periods 1933-37; 1938-42; 1946-50; and 1951-55).  This first Plan nationalized all aspects of Russian industry and commerce, with the goal of quickly industrializing the economy and collectivizing agriculture. Collectivization meant the confiscation of all private land and the organization of agricultural production by state-run "collective farms." The idea that drove this program was Marx's fantasy of social equality and social justice. In practice it meant that 25 million peasant farmers would not be paid any wages for their labor, but would instead produce their agricultural output entirely for the state, which would in turn allow them to keep a modest share for their own survival needs. Stalin's vision entailed the systematic replacement of small, unmechanized farms with large, mechanized alternatives that would theoretically produce food much more efficiently. In practice this meant that a nation which had once been Europe's breadbasket would experience famine and chronic agricultural scarcity for the next sixty years, until the system collapsed.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

News and thoughts

I am so thrilled to announce that Mary-Grace Eloise was born to our own dear Karen, from Hope-Pray-Trust on March 21. In Karen's words on that day:

"Today my world stood still and I saw a glimpse of heaven."


Mary-Grace
(I can't make the picture bigger or it gets blurry.)

Born at 6:15pm after almost 72 hours of active labor (she is looking forward to telling us the crazy story!), Mary-Grace came in at 8 lbs., 7 ozs., 21 1/4 inches. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

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My very own pastor, Fr. John Ehrich, is the Medical Ethics Director for the Diocese of Phoenix, chaplain of the Catholic Medical Association and chaplain of the Catholic Physician's Guild of Phoenix. He wrote an interesting blog post here, following up on the recent scandal at St. Joseph's Hospital here in Phoenix, where an abortion was illicitly performed and defended -- an act which necessitated Bishop Thomas Olmsted to ultimately strip the hospital of its "Catholic" status. 

If you are under the mistaken impression that St. Joseph's has been treated unjustly because of this *one* incident, you can read more about the truth of it here and here. Follow the money.

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Speaking of abortion (which is without a doubt the human rights issue of our time), TheUnchoice.com has released an excellent 30-second ad exposing the lie that abortion is a "free choice". A full 64% of abortions are the result of pressure or coercion. Where are the feminists fighting for these women and girls, who feel they have no "choice"?



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Finally, after this post, I only had one pro-"choice" reader state that she would never again make the false claim that "Pro-lifers love the fetus, but they don't care about people after they are born." Are there any other pro-"choice" folks out there who are willing to concede that that popular line is untrue? I had hoped we could all at least agree on that.

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I hope everyone is having a fruitful Lent! As for me, I think this may be the worst Lenten showing of my life! ACK! Oh well, I still have some time left.... The Lord is kind and merciful!


Monday, March 21, 2011

How about Ordered vs. Disordered?

A few posts back, a reader made a plea for "middle ground" regarding our culture's view of sex. She rejected what she saw as the two "extremes" of 1) sex as recreation with any and all "consenting" partners, i.e., the Planned Parenthood view, and 2) sex as a privilege of marriage only, i.e., the Catholic view.

Initially, it struck me that those aren't actually the two extremes. As I see it, the extremes would be 1) sex as recreation, the Planned Parenthood view (she was right about that extreme), and 2) the puritanical (i.e., prudish) "body is bad, sex is dirty" view. So using the "extremes" vs. "middle ground" lens, the Catholic view would actually be the "middle ground", falling in between these two unhealthy extremes.

But then I realized there was something wrong with framing this (or any moral issue) in terms of "extremes" vs. "middle ground". After all, the commenter herself said that the Catholic view of sex "makes sense" and even seems "wonderful". In fact, far from being extreme, the Catholic view of sex used to be the cultural norm, not so very long ago!

I believe we are using the wrong terminology, because we are looking at morality through the wrong lens.

I suggest a different paradigm entirely: Instead of shooting for some mathematical mean between the "extremes", why not instead speak of what is ordered vs. disordered?

Our minds understand order and our souls crave it, because where there is right order, things flourish, thrive and strengthen. Where there is disorder? Not so much.

Some things are still easy for us to recognize as disordered:

Rape is disordered.
Pedophilia is disordered.
Murder is disordered.
Lying is disordered.
Theft is disordered.
Physical or emotional cruelty of any kind is disordered.

Some things that are fuzzier for us moderns become clearer when we look at outcomes. For example, it's popular to act as if sex with multiple partners is ordered and natural, but reality shows us differently: Sexually transmitted diseases and infections are nature's blunt way of saying that human beings are meant to be monogamous. Also, 50 million dead unborn babies is a (blood-red) neon sign that our use of sexuality (and our mindset about it) is gravely disordered. There are many other such signs, too, if we have eyes to see.

We know innately that the virtues are ordered. Think of patience, justice, prudence, temperance, fortitude, charity, truthfulness, and so on -- all these represent moral order, not "extremes" to be dismissed for a "middle ground". Chastity has always been included in the virtues.

Our human dignity requires that we aim our sights at what is ordered and then strive for that. Will we always hit the mark? Hardly! The virtues are habits, and moral habits must be cultivated over time (sometimes a long time!), with the help of God's grace. The goal should always be to leave disorder behind and head towards order, which will bring refreshment and interior peace to the soul.

All that to say that from now on, instead of talking about "extremes" vs. "middle ground", I'm going to speak in terms of ordered vs. disordered.

Thoughts?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"Pro-lifers love the fetus, but they don't care about people after they're born!"


If you're pro-life, you've heard it a thousand times. Recently on this blog, it came up again:


"it always seems that pro-life means helping babies in the womb, but not out"


It's a painful thing for pro-lifers to hear. There is no truth to it, and yet it's become a pro-abortion mantra, accepted without question. I'm about to expose this sentiment as fallacy, and later ask you to do the same. I want this to be a "reference post" that pro-lifers can bookmark and use as needed. 


When I first thought of writing this post many months ago, I sent off an email to one of my closest pro-life friends, LeeAnne, asking her to list some of the things she does to help women, children and families. Not knowing that I planned to publish it (heh heh heh), she shot me back a quick list. Here is my fleshed-out summary of what this mother of four does for the pro-life cause in her spare time:


  • Works with girls and women in crisis/unplanned pregnancies (loving, women-centered sidewalk counseling outside of abortion clinics), and trains others to do the same.
  • Works with referrals when people know someone in a crisis pregnancy, offering hope and guidance and/or material and emotional support when the girls are being pressured to have an abortion.
  • Works closely with the pregnant moms and alumni at Maggie's Place (see below), teaching parenting classes among other things. (Moms and babies who "graduate" from Maggie's Place are forever part of the Maggie's Place family).
  • Gives high school pro-life and chastity talks, and leads curriculum development for life and love topics. Recently co-created a pilot program for teen formation in our diocese.
  • As an adoptee herself, gives adoption talks at 1st Way Pregnancy Resource Center (see below), along with an adoptive mother (Danya!) and two "veteran" birth moms, providing women in crisis with life-giving, loving options.
  • Organized Theology of the Body classes for teens, which includes formation in human dignity and healthy sexuality. She hosted dozens of lively teens for eight months in her own home.
  • Asked to teach in a high school with high pregnancy rates, helping both girls and guys to realize their innate value and how right relationships work, all with an eye toward the creation of healthy families in the future.
  • Gets personally involved, because love is an act of the will: LeeAnne befriended one young woman, "Anna", 18 years old, a refugee, all alone, who had been brutally raped and impregnated. When the young woman decided to parent, LeeAnne and another Catholic friend took Anna under their wings. Anna and her beautiful baby girl have been a part of their lives ever since. No one is abandoned and everyone is loved in the pro-life Catholic "bubble".


As a follow-up, LeeAnne reminded me that meeting a woman's immediate needs in the moment of crisis is only one part of the pro-life witness. Pro-lifers work forward from the point of crisis, in the form of future support and the building of relationships. It can take years and many setbacks for women to break old habits and make good choices; pro-lifers stand by these women for the long haul. They also work backward from the point of crisis, teaching/mentoring junior high and high school kids, offering practical and sound formation before they make the poor life choices that often lead to a crisis pregnancy.

So, it's a continuum of care, support and service, not just a moment in time.

Now, I have shown you the pro-life activities of one of my friends, but there are so many others just in my area who do amazing work for no worldly gain.


For example, there is Maggie's Place, an organization started by five young pro-life Catholic women (recent college grads) who wanted to provide a home for pregnant women with nowhere to go. There are now multiple homes established, staffed by women who have cared for hundreds of new mothers and their babies, and supported by the greater community. Here is their mission statement:
Maggie's Place is a community of homes that provide hospitality for pregnant women who are alone or on the streets. We have a two-fold strategy in assisting mothers to grow. First, Maggie's Place provides for the immediate physical and emotional needs of our guests including shelter, food, clothing, and a supportive community. As such, we are a family and a community! In addition, Maggie's Place connects the mothers to the appropriate agencies and resources including prenatal care, health insurance, low-cost housing, and education programs. In doing so, we are supporting the mother in both her short-term and long-term goals!
Our local pro-life community also supports several pro-life crisis pregnancy centers, such as 1st Way Pregnancy Resource Center:
We the people of 1st Way believe that each woman and child is a unique and valuable human being.
The mission of 1st Way is to provide education and assistance to any woman or teen who is pregnant or thinks she may be. This is accomplished through the free, loving, and non-judgmental provision of information, counseling and practical services.
During pregnancy and afterward, we continue to educate and assist these women in whatever way is needed to support their decision to choose a better way of life.  We educate pregnant women about pre-natal care and assist them in finding jobs and planning for their futures by gently helping them objectively and realistically explore their options. 
Life Choices Women's Clinics (the doctor on staff is a friend and fellow mom) and Aid to Women Center


Our pro-life Catholic community runs and supports the local St. Vincent de Paul Society, which cares for so many families, women and children in so many different ways that it would take ten posts to describe it all. I am honored that SVdP's executive director is a close family friend and a member of my parish. Please read about the first-rate Medical and Dental Clinic there, where over 160 doctors and dentists volunteer to treat over 15,000 patients per year. Or the awe-inspiring Charity Dining Rooms, which serve over six million meals annually to needy families and individuals. Or the Family Eviction Prevention program, the Help for the Working Poor program, the Ministry to the Homeless, the Ministry to the Incarcerated, the Transitional Shelter for those over 50 and the physically or mentally disabled, the Youth Mentoring program, and on and on and on....


The pro-life philosophy is at the heart of everything they do. 


I could continue at length describing programs and outreach just around my own pro-life community and Catholic diocese, but instead I will now ask my pro-life readers to please tell us about your own outreach and that of your local community. Send this post to your pro-life friends as well, so that they can add their own witness to the comment box.


I'm praying that together we can begin to debunk the myth of "the uncaring pro-lifer who does nothing to help people after they are born".


Oh, and if just one pro-"choice" person who has used that line before would promise never to do so again, it would really make my day! :)



**Update: Whoops! I forgot to mention that off the top of my head, I can think of at least seventeen children adopted by my pro-life friends and acquaintances, many of them foster children and older children.


**Update #2: I also forgot to mention our local Catholic program called DIGNITY, which helps girls get out and stay out of a life of prostitution (most girls start at the tender age of 13). These exploited and abused young women receive hope and dignity and lifelong friendship from those who have been there. I hope you will read about this program!


Also, we have Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity here in town. Those sweet sisters care for countless children for no earthly reward. 


I'm sure I will think of countless more ways that pro-lifers help people, but I'm going to force myself to leave it at that, and look forward to your additions in the comments section.





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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Watch, and pick a side.


The contentious debate over Planned Parenthood funding has spawned some interesting videos recently.

First, Mary sent me this gem, a rather disturbing display of teens and young adults giddily declaring that they have sex, in an attempt to support Planned Parenthood. I can't imagine any but the most left-wing parents being proud of their kid in such a video. It's cringe-inducing, but try to get through it:



Next, there was Sew's blog post entitled, "This is What I Imagine Hell Would Sound Like", which included the following video of a recent Planned Parenthood "Walk for Choice" rally. The anger and coldness of the participants is hard to take. Ultimately, my heart breaks for these people who have seemingly lost touch with their own humanity. It's ugly stuff, but I thank God that it's available for all to see:



As always on this blog, I ask our pro-"choice" friends to comment on the videos and defend (or critique) what you see. I am truly interested to know if you think these are effective tactics to win people to your cause, and if you are proud of these efforts. I can't wrap my mind around the things I see in these videos, and yet I know that the pro-"choice" camp is supportive of this. Help me understand.


I would be remiss if I didn't represent the other side here. Everyone is free to choose the side of life, where there is love and hope, mercy and peace. 






As you can see, the lines are drawn, and the philosophies and practices diametrically opposed. Ultimately, the two sides are irreconcilable. 

You really must pick a side. 



Sometimes we all just need a little Catholic humor

As Nero fiddles while Rome burns (what were you thinking, America?!), I have to distract myself with some Catholic humor. Some of these made me laugh out loud!


Good Catholic Pick-up Lines

(Hat tip to my friend Deb at Litland Reviews!)


1. Confess here often?

2. Did you feel what I felt when we reached into the holy water font at the same time?

3. You've got stunning scapular-brown eyes.

4. I bet I can guess your confirmation name.

5. Let's get out of here. I know a much cozier little Catholic bookstore downtown.

6. You don't like the C
ulture of Death either? Wow! We have so much in common!

7. What's a nice girl like you doing at a First Saturday Rosary Cenacle like this?



8. Sorry, but I couldn't help but noticing how cute you look in that ankle-length, shapeless plaid jumper.


9. Hi there. My buddy and I were wondering if you would settle a dispute we're having. Do you think the word should be pronounced HOMEschooling, or homeSCHOOLing?

10. Man does not live by bread alone. So how about dinner and a movie?

11. A little bird... the Holy Spirit actually... tells me we should get to
know each other a little better.


12. Do you need help carrying your Bible? It looks heavy.



13. May I offer you a light for that votive candle?


14. What do you think Peter meant when he said, "Greet everyone with a holy kiss" (1 Pet 5:14)?




#2, 6, 13 & 14 are my faves!! How about you?





Sunday, March 13, 2011

How to raise eight children without even trying

(Just kidding about that last part, ha ha ha!)


First, apologizes to all the mothers of eight kids (and more) that I know. You all do a fabulous job, much better than I, and I hope your good reputations are not impugned by what I am about to reveal about my own wayward ways! 


A wonderful (non-Catholic) reader, "Anon 11:11", is the latest to ask me about having eight children. Her words are in red italics.


I would love to hear the logistics of having 8 kids. 


I will stick to logistics in this post, then, and save the spiritual side of things for another post.


Like I said, I'm pregnant with #2 now, and I can't imagine having any more kids. Taking care of my 3 year old through a miserable pregnancy is just about breaking me. 


It's normal for you to feel like your breaking at this point, because (aside from feeling lousy) you are in "The Mommy Tunnel": Your children are little and totally dependent on you for everything. You have no older kids (tweens or teens) to help you, and your little ones can't do much to help themselves. This is a passing phase! A mom can't objectively judge her long-term future childbearing at this stage. When you emerge from the tunnel, your whole life changes. In my own experience, I was surprised to find that having four children was much easier than having three.


I love my kids, and I love being a mom, but I think I'm at my limit. 


I relate! I used to think that, too. And yet, clearly, I wasn't at my limit. :)


How do you handle laundry? 


Ahhhh, laundry. It took me almost twenty years and eight children to figure out the obvious: All is well with the world when you stay on top of the laundry. Keep it moving. That's all. If you make sure you are moving your laundry every day (and teaching your kids how to fold or put away), then it's really not so bad, and even becomes relaxing. 


Before I figured this out, my laundry often looked like this: 


Photo taken about a year ago.

For perspective, that is a large white laundry basket on top of the washer there, to the left. 


Oh, yeah, and there was stuff in the dryer, too:




Trust me, it is much worse than it looks, ha ha! But today things are different. I read a life-changing blog post (ironically written by another blogger named Leila), which said that if you want a peaceful home, stay on top of just two things: laundry and meals. She was so right! I started being more disciplined about daily laundry, making it a priority, and finding a routine. Now that it's a habit, it's not such a big deal anymore. 


And, for perspective, look at what amazing things come from having eight kids' piles of laundry to sort through:


What the...?



Surprise!!

That's kid #8! True, I'd have less laundry without him, but I'd accept ten times the laundry just to keep him! And by the way, kid #8 was put in that pile by kid #4:






groceries? 


True confession time. I don't grocery shop, because I don't cook. I am a disaster in the kitchen (I cannot multi-task). I felt such guilt about it years ago that I almost stopped having babies after four children. I didn't think I should bring a fifth child into the world because of my lameness at such a basic part of motherhood. 


But then I realized that God had already provided the answer, in the form of a dear husband who actually enjoys cooking. He and I have struck a nice balance to keep thinks running smoothly in the two areas I mentioned earlier: I am on top of the laundry, and he is on top of the meals (grocery shopping and cooking).


Yes, he grocery shops for the family, and there are two reasons why it's he and not I. First, I am paralyzed (or awestruck?) in a grocery store. I can make huge life-changing decisions easily, but if you tell me to buy a can of beans, I will stare endlessly at all the varieties, not knowing how to decide. If I shopped, I would be gone for hours! Second, on the few occasions when I have gone grocery shopping, I have come home with lots of amazing snack food, but not much in the way of meal ingredients (the one who cooks really should be the one who shops, for nutritional as well as financial reasons).


Now don't get me wrong. If I had a husband who didn't cook and buy groceries, I would do it myself. As it is, his amazingness just allows me to put my energies in another area:


(Thanks, Sew!!)


I know some folks who've had a good experience with home delivery of groceries, and I myself have begun to order my fruits and veggies from a local farmers market online, with a convenient weekly pick-up at my kids' school. Since I never know what items will be included, and since I hate waste, I have begun googling super-easy recipes for the food I receive, and I'm actually making some healthy, delicious stuff with those fruits and veggies (not full meals, of course). I'm kinda proud of myself at this turn of events!!


One other logistical thing: If at all possible, do not take small children along when you are shopping! Try to shop in the evenings or on the weekends so that the kids can stay home with your spouse. I do everything in my power never to bring small children out to any stores by myself. In fact, I can't remember the last time that happened. I either go sans kids, or I have an older child or my husband with me. You may think I'm a wimp, but it works for us, and it's part of the reason I've been able to have lots of babies and stay (mostly) sane!


clutter? 


I married a man who throws things out with an obsessive flair (that's a story in itself). There is clutter here, as in any large household, but not much. We throw a lot of things out, and we have stopped acquiring things. This tendency to be detached from "things" (including toys) gets stronger as the number of children increases. I would love to throw out or donate most everything I own, but I don't have enough time yet. When the last child goes to school, the massive purgation will begin.


changing bed sheets? 


Kids' bedsheets are changed very rarely! If they bathe before they go to bed, their sheets aren't really getting dirty anyway, right? Okay, there is the occasional bedwetting, and that does motivate me to change sheets. Another great discovery: Older kids can change their own sheets! It's a life skill they need, correct? It would be a disservice to them if I didn't let them do it.


school lunches? 


Another life skill that my kids have learned at a very young age. One over-achieving son was packing his own lunch in first grade! Also, we keep lunches very simple. And of course since it's food preparation, my husband packs any lunches that can't be packed by the child. [Note: It's over three years later, and I actually pack lunches now. But only one, since I'm homeschooling the other elementary school kids.]


keeping track of what's going on in each one's life? 


It's funny, but I have never even thought about this as a problem or concern. I  don't have time to micromanage the kids' time or schedules (which is a good thing), but because I have to coordinate everyone's day, I am always aware of where everyone is and what they're doing. As far as homework, I only help the little ones, and only when they need it -- the older kids don't expect or want the help. When it comes to their moral formation and safety, however, I am all over it. I have their passwords to facebook accounts, and they fully understand that their texts and emails are subject to (unannounced) parental oversight. We give them privacy as long as they are trustworthy, but they also know that as long as they are minors and in our home, privacy is not a right. Our children know that their parents love them and will keep them accountable. This approach has worked well.


talking to your husband with a moment of peace? 


This is the absolute glory of having teens! We have built-in babysitters! I never thought that the day would come, but when our oldest finally was able to sit for her siblings, my husband and I started going out on dates, even on a whim! Currently, we have four teens! This is not only like having four sitters, but also like having four nannies! Think of it this way: We have eight kids, but it's almost like we have four young children and four nannies to help out with those last four. That seems doable, right? 


Before folks start yelling about how "unfair" it is to "burden" the older kids like this, I need to say a couple of things. First, every single older kid is head over heels in love with the little ones. And they all (old and young) ask for a new baby pretty much weekly. The babies are the light of our lives, and they'd do just about anything for another one. (Don't believe me? Ask them.) Second, I have absolutely zero guilt or angst about expecting all family members to do their share of work and to help others when needed. I don't do the coddling thing, because I don't think it's helped the last couple of generations who were raised that way. I want my children to have responsibilities and learn to care for each other, and I will never apologize for it.


who's grown out of what clothes for what season? 


Yeah, that whole thing is a pain. One thing helps us here in Arizona: No hard winters. So, the majority of the year it's shorts and t-shirts. When we switch to jeans and sweatshirts, I do a little inventory. It's not always fun, but in a way it's cathartic. Another thing that helps me is that my oldest three kids are done growing, so their clothes are their clothes. The rest of the kids are all boys, so that helps, too, as the clothes just keep getting handed down. For in between sizes, I just stick those clothes in a box with a label (name and season) for the next kid in line. 


Also, it took me a while to learn that kids don't really need as many clothes as they have. As I've had more children, the idea of "less is more" is quite freeing. (Though I have a long way to go.)


everything else?


I always say that if I had to do all the things that our culture says must be done for kids today, I couldn't have so many kids. So, each non-driving child gets one or two activities a year. Maybe one sport, maybe music lessons. For the smaller ones, maybe nothing at all for a year. I used to do Gymboree with every baby/toddler and start kids in T-ball when they were 3. I've let that go, with no ill effects. They are all just fine. In fact, we are all happier, and the kids play with each other out in the backyard, where we installed a sport court and a concrete track for scooters and bikes. 


Basically, it's simplify, uncomplicate, don't try to follow the Joneses. Angst and guilt get in the way of good mothering, so I've tried to drop that. It's non-productive. 


Another thing to consider: Children grow up and move out. I have one who's already gone, and another one leaving in the fall. By the time baby #8 came, baby #1 was already at college. The years do fly by. When my first sweet girl left, I missed her terribly. It was a blessing to have little ones still at home to cuddle.


Last thought: Anyone with more domestic skills than I have (i.e., everyone) can handle the logistics of raising eight children better than I can. But there is an intangible in all of this, of course. Have you noticed that big families these days are almost always religious families? There's a reason for that.


But like I said, that's a post for another day. :)




Related posts:

Why I never should have had eight children

Is having eight kids "sketchy"?