Saturday, February 6, 2016

Margo's faith story!

I really mean it when I say that I write this blog for the lurkers. Lurkers are that huge and hidden part of the iceberg that stays below the surface; we rarely, if ever, get a glimpse of them. However, the lurkers are out there reading, and they are especially watching the debates and dialogues that go on in the comment box. 

Several times a month, lurkers email me and tell me how those discussions have affected or deepened their faith life, prompted a conversion or reversion to the Catholic Church, or perhaps just broadened their perspective. Because the comment box is so compelling to them, I tip my hat to all of you on all sides of the issues, because you are essential to what we do here in the Bubble. It's an unexpected little family that we have created together, and I am sure I do not thank you enough.

In my last post, I gave a little teaser about Margo's conversion story and her deep passion for the virtue of chastity, and how even a feminist abortion supporter encouraged her to write it for the Bubble. So, for a powerful example of how you all have helped work in a person's faith life, I give you our very own, very active, always respectful and beloved Bubble participant, Margo!!

Margo Basso: My Conversion Story

Hello to everyone in my favorite Bubble :) I am honored, thrilled, and appreciative of Leila providing me this opportunity of guest posting in her Little Catholic Bubble, a blog that I’ve been following for nearly 5 years now! The following is my story of first discovering it…

First, a bit of backstory. I am 25 years old, and I grew up as a “cradle Catholic”, attended Catholic school from kindergarten - 8th grade, then switched to public school for two reasons: 1) I was SO sick of uniforms haha, and more seriously 2) the Catholic high schools in my area are better known as “college prep” schools, and at the time, I was just an average student who wasn’t sure I’d actually end up going to college; my local public high school offered a vast variety of classes in areas besides the standard Math/Science/English/Social Studies.

Having gone through nine years of Catholic school, I knew a lot of superficial facts about the Catholic faith: I knew all the common Bible stories, memorized several prayers, and I knew that Jesus loved me unconditionally. But I never learned any reasons behind the beliefs, and I had an "all roads lead to God/it doesn't matter what religion you are" understanding of things. Thus, I began high school with a more relativistic view on life (though I couldn’t have defined relativism if you asked me). To me, religion was something private and personal, not to be "imposed" on others. It didn’t matter what religion a person was or if they practiced a religion at all…as long as they were a “good person” and didn’t do anything horrible like murder or steal.

Although I was at a public high school, I still got deeply involved with my parish’s high school youth ministry and Confirmation-prep program (I received Confirmation in the spring of my junior year of high school). I instantly hit it off with Jim, the youth minister, who was a fun, enthusiastic, wacky, caring man in his early 30s. He even started a “teen mass” where he gave the homilies and had Christian rock music (present-day Margo cringes at this). I actually enjoyed going to mass and youth group because of Jim and my other friends. I learned the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the fruits of the Holy Spirit. But anything in terms of morality or Catholicism being the fullness of all Truth? Nope! Heck, Confirmation was presented to me as a “Catholic bar mitzvah” -- I became an adult in the Church and could choose to practice the faith however I wished. By the time I was confirmed, Jim was no longer youth minister (a tragedy for teenage Margo). After that, the youth ministry fell apart and I fell away from a regular practice of Catholicism.

I never, ever stopped believing in God, I just began to be Catholic "on my own terms". This meant maintaining a relationship with God through prayer, occasionally reading the Bible, and treating others nicely. Mass and the other Sacraments? Those were boring, and I couldn’t see how they related to or were necessary for my life at all. During my senior year of high school, I got involved with a Protestant bible study for high schoolers called YoungLife. One of my favorite parts of it was that it didn’t align itself with any specific denomination. This comforted me, because I really had no label for my faith besides “Christian”. Fast forward to the summer before college (yes, I did end up deciding to try college at a mid-sized, private, non-religious school called Bradley University in central Illinois), and I distinctly remember praying for God to reveal what religion I should follow since I saw merits to both my cradle Catholicism as well as Protestantism. Within a few days of arriving at campus, God led me to the Newman Center, and He gradually introduced me to new depths of the Catholic faith. Peoria, Illinois just happens to be the hometown of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, so once I found out that the diocesan Cathedral (which was a few miles from Bradley) was where Fulton Sheen once served and was ordained, I quickly got my hands on his books and fell in love with his old television show, Life is Worth Living.

Fast forward to the summer after my sophomore year - July 2011 - when I came across the Little Catholic Bubble blog. At this point, I had a much improved grasp on the Catholic faith, had received Confession and was a daily-Mass attendee (shout out to my Newman Center for having 9 PM daily Mass for students!). I still didn’t have a firm grasp, though, on the teachings regarding sexuality. I agreed with the Church’s teachings out of obedience.

So how did I find the Bubble? One of my good friends, Will, was a senior when I was a freshman in college, and I originally had a crush on him. Then he went to seminary after graduating, so I completely stopped crushing on him and was a perfect angel…LOL, not quite, but that’s a WHOLE other story…. Anyways, being me, someone with anal attention to detail, I noticed that he “liked” a Bubble link on Facebook that one of his seminarian friends posted. What was the link? It was the “Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine” post.

The fact that Will “liked” it plus the intriguing title drew me in and boy did it. The only way I can describe it is the Holy Spirit lighting a fire on my heart for the virtue of chastity…somehow it all clicked in my mind, and I wanted to know how to discuss this powerful virtue with others. So, I checked out the comments section of Leila’s blog and wow! I was so impressed with how REAL it was! Unlike other comment sections that filled with nasty language, these comments actually had meat to them.

So then I spent the entire rest of my summer reading through not only every Bubble post, but every comment as well! It was like a story to me as I got to know the regular commenters. My favorite memory is from my low-tech days. Back then, I was mostly relying on my iPod touch (especially on a road trip with my father to the east coast to visit relatives), which at the time would only allow me to have a maximum of seven browser windows open at a time -- so I would have seven Bubble posts open while on the road, and then would get seven more opened at rest stops/hotels, so it took me awhile but by golly I did it!

Ever since, I’ve been super on fire for the virtue of chastity (as the regulars here have probably noticed). I’m even heading out to San Diego in just a few weeks for the Catholic Answers’ National Conference “Restoring Marriage Today”. It’s crazy to think of how far I’ve come. Back in high school, as I mentioned earlier, I was relativistic about everything. I didn’t even really know what abortion was, though I considered myself pro-life because it seemed like the better side. But who was I to expect other people to feel the same way? My favorite television show was The OC (teen soap opera VERY heavy on hookups, fooling around, etc.) now I can’t stand to watch that show.

I’d like to be able to say that I am 100% pristine and have never struggled with chastity myself, but that would be a lie. I was tested heavily during my first serious relationship that lasted for five months in 2014, and I now have a much better understanding of the true difficulty of mastering this virtue.

Recently, God has brought this story full circle in my life, as He blessed me with the friendship of a young man (10 months younger than I) who is extremely similar to “Steve Gershom” (Joseph Prever), the author of the “Gay, Catholic, and Doing Fine” post that initially drew me to the Bubble. His name is Tom and we have the BEST conversations about life, emotions, following Christ, why same-sex marriage is impossible, etc. And he is even discerning a vocation with the Oblates of Mary in Boston. Gotta love how God works, right??

Thank you, Margo! The Bubble has been made richer by your presence, and now we know how God was working with you all along, bringing you ever more deeply into your Catholic Faith! And thank you again to all the members of this great Bubble family -- contributors, commenters, and lurkers alike! 


  1. Thanks for sharing! We have similar faith stories. And my faith has deepened and become so much more solid since beginning to read the Bubble back in 2010! God Bless you Margo.

  2. Thanks for sharing, Margo.
    We're big Life is Worth Living fans, here, too. Bishop Sheen had such a gift for analogous teaching. I always appreciated how systematically he made parallels between teachings of the faith and societal evils on his simple chalkboard. Easy to grasp, easy to compare, easy to digest and come away with a solid lesson about life in general. I often invoke him for intellectual assistance and for bigger things like work/projects, because he was so articulate and could convey a lot with a little. His meaning was always direct and never lost.

    All the best as you navigate the post-college era of your life. Your love of virtue will keep you well-grounded ;)

  3. Lurker here!!! Been reading for over a year now!!

  4. A very nice story. May Our Lady pray for you always.

  5. "So then I spent the entire rest of my summer reading through not only every Bubble post, but every comment as well!" You did that and managed not to comment on all of them yourself? I'd go through thinking, "That's so true! But why hasn't anyone mentioned this?" And then I'd have to resist sharing my "wisdom" on a five year old post. But at least now I know someone might see it some day!

    Thanks so much for sharing your story, Margo! Thank God for that Newman Center.

  6. I would love to "like" your facebook articles and I have sent you a friend message but you won't friend me!!!

    1. Christine, please try again and if you could include a note, that would help! :) Or, just send me a fb note if it's still pending.

  7. Hi Margo. Thank you for sharing your story. I had no idea that the Bubble played such a large role in your devotion to your faith.

    I have a question. You say you are "on fire" for chastity. I have no argument with that but I'm not sure how someone can be "on fire" for not doing something?? Isn't chastity simply the state of refraining from sexual activity? Is it more complicated than that? Or do you mean that you are inspired to share the value/virtue of chastity to others?

  8. Hi Johanne! Yup, the Bubble/Leila was HUGE in my growing devotion/realization of the fullness of Truth being found in the Catholic Church. By "on fire" for chastity, I mean that I love love love sharing that virtue and explaining/discussing it with others, especially with all the negative issues resulting from the rejection of chastity - abortion, same sex marriage, gender fluidity, euthanasia, contraception, divorce, broken families. And no, chastity is not refraining from sexual activity --> that is the definition of celibacy. Even married couples such as Dean and Leila are called to practice chastity within their marriage --> meaning they don't use contraception and they are always open to life when engaging in the sexual act and they always give themselves completely to one another, holding nothing back including and especially their fertility.

    Does that make sense?

  9. Just piping in quickly...

    Chastity is a way of life, properly integrating our sexuality, that we are all called to, no matter our state in life. Here is from the Catechism:


    2337 Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man's belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman.

    The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift.

    The integrity of the person

    2338 The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him. This integrity ensures the unity of the person; it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. It tolerates neither a double life nor duplicity in speech.125

    2339 Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy.126 "Man's dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end."127

    2340 Whoever wants to remain faithful to his baptismal promises and resist temptations will want to adopt the means for doing so: self-knowledge, practice of an ascesis adapted to the situations that confront him, obedience to God's commandments, exercise of the moral virtues, and fidelity to prayer. "Indeed it is through chastity that we are gathered together and led back to the unity from which we were fragmented into multiplicity."128

    2341 The virtue of chastity comes under the cardinal virtue of temperance, which seeks to permeate the passions and appetites of the senses with reason.

    2342 Self-mastery is a long and exacting work. One can never consider it acquired once and for all. It presupposes renewed effort at all stages of life.129 The effort required can be more intense in certain periods, such as when the personality is being formed during childhood and adolescence.

    2343 Chastity has laws of growth which progress through stages marked by imperfection and too often by sin. "Man . . . day by day builds himself up through his many free decisions; and so he knows, loves, and accomplishes moral good by stages of growth."130

    2344 Chastity represents an eminently personal task; it also involves a cultural effort, for there is "an interdependence between personal betterment and the improvement of society."131 Chastity presupposes respect for the rights of the person, in particular the right to receive information and an education that respect the moral and spiritual dimensions of human life.

    2345 Chastity is a moral virtue. It is also a gift from God, a grace, a fruit of spiritual effort.132 The Holy Spirit enables one whom the water of Baptism has regenerated to imitate the purity of Christ.133

    1. There's more of course, but that's a lot so far, ha ha.

  10. Isn't chastity simply the state of refraining from sexual activity? Is it more complicated than that?

    No, Johanne. Chastity (or any other virtue for that matter) is not just a Catholic thing. Virtues are not Catholic inventions created by repressed men who wore white collars, because Aristotle, Plato, and Cicero (Roman who wrote 3 books on moral behavior) all listed them, as well. They all talked about, and wrote at length about, what it should look like for man to make good mental and physical habits in accordance with human reason and human nature in order to take the high road of life.

    To get really technical, chastity is not about repressed sexual urges. Chastity is all about self-mastery, self-discipline, and moderation as far as human passions and behaviors go, because it falls under Temperance.

    What does Buddhism say about virtues? Are they to be avoided because they hinge on desire of some type (i.e., desire for self-mastery) and all desire is to be extinguished for nirvana?

  11. Margo, your courage, strength and wisdom is wonderful to see. The discipline you practice and embrace, like all things that are hard and challenging, build strong bones and will serve you your entire life. I love the counter cultural approach and it shows real wisdom in recognizing a path away from the predictable mess that society considers normal. Rock on sister. Just the fact that you love Sheen at your age says a lot. The guy was/is a flipping genius. Talk about laser clarity. Nobody jams more wisdom and insight into so few words as Sheen. He is one of those wise figures that can give a one word response and you can say "yes"! Got it! Btw I like to refer to saints like Sheen in the present tense. He seams so close to us with his words. I guess it's just a communion of saints thing.
    I love the "reading all the comments" part. I too went though a spell on this blog where I couldn't get enough. Some of us learn through dialogue, point counterpoint. I was first hooked when I read Leila's reversion story. The first line , " I was robbed" , made me literally say "no sh& too". From the lurkers standpoint, hearing someone else craft their thoughts on a topic is really a learning experience unlike vocal conversation. You can can see the point (or lack thereof) more clearly without the emotion and theatrics That occur in person. The exchange in the comments is far more distilled and the bs becomes plain as day.
    Margo, I'll try my best to send you home from San Diego without a hangover ...but no guarantees.

    1. Margo, I'll try my best to send you home from San Diego without a hangover ...but no guarantees.

      Hahaha from virtue to hangover...Well, temperance just went out the window. LOL nosedive

  12. Margo
    Thanks for that--definitely an education for me. I thought that chastity and celibacy were the same thing and I now I can see they are not the same at all. Once again, I learn something new on the bubble.

  13. Johanne, you are not alone! I grew up Catholic and I always thought that "chastity" meant "not having sex"!

    And to go further, the word "celibacy" actually simply means "unmarried". So, an unmarried person lives out the virtue of chastity by refraining from sexual activity, which is a privilege of marriage. So, when someone takes a vow of celibacy, they are simply vowing to remain in the unmarried state. :)

    But all human beings, married or not, are called to the virtue of chastity, every day. (Just like we are called to the virtues of patience, kindness, diligence, temperance, obedience, loyalty, etc., every day.)

  14. Chris, awesome comment, my brother!!! And oh gosh, I think of Margo as my own daughter, so I was like, she can't drink alcohol! Then I remembered that she is 25!!!! (As my oldest will begin September!) Bwahahahahaha!

    I can't wait for a report from that meeting of Chris and Margo! It will be almost as anticipated as the Chris and Nubby Show (still waiting on that YouTube channel)!

  15. Thank you for sharing Margo! Keep on keeping on in the faith :) I love Ven. Fulton Sheen too, he has such wisdom for our day!

  16. Oh, man, Leila-speaking of youtube/podcasts...I stumbled upon this feminist podcast where the level of whining about men was enough to give me bone spurs. Literally, they were like, "why do men get applauded for this and women don't?? They think we're annoying!" I was like, "That's because you ARE annoying, has nothing to do with accolades." I was 2 seconds away from dropping them a line and setting some things in order, ya know... Then I thought, wait, what better idea than to launch our own podcast. And what better person to recruit than a MAN who keeps his wife pregnant and under Catholic misogyny (Chris!) LOL What better person to converse with about man-hate... HAHA I think we'd be able to um, counter the feminist stance pretty good between the two of us...I'd love it. Totally love it.

  17. DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Nubby, Chris, please, please, do it!!!!!!!!! WE NEED IT!!!

  18. YESSS!!! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!!!! I need some Chris & Nubby podcast/video/whatever in my life!!!!! :) :) :)

  19. Ha, wow, I guess I better get to unpacking Episode One content. Titled, "Temperance: Overcoming man-hate, high-pitched whining, and excessive margarita consumption" Yo, Chris! I honestly think I'd be laughing too much And I'm gonna crash your party, Margo! No one gets a hang-over without me, dang it.

  20. Haha get on it, Nubby!! And whoa! If you crash my party with Chris that would involve me learning your true identity and I don't know if I can handle that!!!! Hehehe seriously though I would LOVE to meet you! Maybe we Chris and I can get you and Leila on Skype during my visit?? :)

  21. Now that'd be interesting ;O) Seriously, when you visit Cali, don't do anything I wouldn't do but if you do, name it after me.

  22. Thanks for reminding me Nubby. My wife has not been pregnant for 3 years and she has developed all kinds independent attitude. Speaking out turn, giving opinions without being asked, wearing shoes and even leaving the house! She asked for her own cell phone and email account recently!! Totally out of control! I need to put lid on all this "I'm important too" business. Perhaps I'll sneak up on her after a dinner date at McDonald's and then get her all liquored up ya know. That'll fixer.
    Ok , people are truly whacked with their canned assumptions. I once had a small conversation with somebody about having a bunch of kids and how great it is and how contraception is just not a part of our relationship. Total gift to each other etc etc. they actually then asked " does your wife agree with that"?. Really? I'm like "No, she has no say in the matter, she knows her place"
    I mean come on. You immediately assume some kind of domination? She couldn't possibly have a brain and understand exactly what she believes? Who's being sexist now?
    The most independent , strong minded, kick-butt world changers I know are moms. Please! And someday Nubby we can do something with a podcast. I have not a minute to spare these days. Of course that is because I have a real life ( unlike my wife). Sheesh!
    So I recently came to the conclusion that I happened to marry the wisest person I know. Really, I just realized that a while back.
    The richest man in the world.

  23. And Margo , you do realize that the party will likely consist of adults drinking and playing Apples-to-Apples with a bunch of kids. The best

  24. I love reading your comments, Chris!!

  25. Really? I'm like "No, she has no say in the matter, she knows her place" I mean come on. You immediately assume some kind of domination? She couldn't possibly have a brain and understand exactly what she believes? Who's being sexist now?

    Classic! They assume a domination thing all the time, because they assume men are selfish -- ya big jerks! waaaaaaah! :( :( :(

    It's like the conversations I have when women ask me, all nosy, "Are you gonna have more kids?? Is your husband okay with more kids??" I'm like, "Considering I didn't marry an immature wuss or a vain man, um, yea. He's called, 'selfless'. There's no conflict between us as far as more kids goes because we're not hung up on hotly contested BMW purchase or guys/gals Vegas trips. We get our joy from our family-ya know, smallish people. Strange, I know."

    And, you're playing your cards wrong, Chris! You got the wifey at home with the kids-- why aren't you making her work, too?! Ya know, 1960's mentality. You dropped the ball on that one.

    Anyway, considering you've already got Margo pegged for drunk and her plane hasn't even taken off yet, let me and Leila in on the party when you all settle around your gameboard. Skype me, bro! If it works out, I'll catch you guys on videochat- margarita in hand and a copy of Aquinas, to boot.

    Until next time: You men are all meanies! And I don't need your validation, yet I do! And I don't want your applause, yet I complain when you don't give it to me! And I'm really strong, but I'm whining like a weakling!

    There, that satisfies the daily requirement, I believe...

  26. Ha ha, Nubby! That reminds me of when I had my third, and an acquaintance said, very seriously, "but you're not going to have any more, are you?" Like that would have been the worst thing to happen to someone!

  27. Beth, how could you not know that having a fourth child will cause your legs to fall off. All happiness and peace will drain from your life and you'll be stricken with isolation and loneliness.
    Most people are just being curious but some act like they have heard some terrible rumor and must find out if it's true. As if to save you assured disaster before its to late. Since when is having more kids than average considered some dangerous lifestyle choice. Just weird.
    And thanks for the compliment . I'm clearly more important than my wife.
    And Nubby, my wife makes tamales during the holidays and sells them for $. She totally funds all Christmas expenses and then some. Once in while somebody will be horrified at idea of 7 kids/homeschooling and making tamales into the wee hours. Clearly all my fault.

  28. Chris
    I may not be Catholic but I'm a fan of yours.

  29. Chris, you appeal to everyone, not just Catholics! Get on it!

    (Johanne, you would love him even more in person. What a joyful, wonderful man!)

  30. You guys are so kind to me , thank you.
    Johanne I'm sure we would be fabulous neighbors and friends. I know everyone appreciates your honesty and curiousity and good heart. It surely wouldn't be the same around here without you. As a Christian we are called to love and will the good of the other. And though we all fail, that is our charge. We're not supposed to hide under a bushel basket. Trust me I'm not the extrovert that everybody thinks I am but I do feel like I have found the pearl of great price and really can't claim any credit based on my actions. Faith is a gift and God is a very generous hound Dog. He works outside of time and never goes away. We are all wired so differently but all seeking some greater understanding. I have no doubt that my understanding of God falls a mile short of the reality and immensity of God. Like a small child's understanding of how a computer works. He just knows it's real. And even understanding that much doesn't stop our hard wired brains from falling back on our perceptions which are so limited. I just saw this video that maybe speaks to our inability to get over our limitations. I immediately thought " this is me trying understand God". Me trying to do one of Nubbys math problems.
    Thanks again and you're more than welcome to come get sloshed with Margo in San Diego.

    1. Hahaha-- here's an easy one for weekend homework. You can surpass your limitations. I believe in you.

      Expand and calculate: 4 x (6+3)

      Incidentally, one math teacher here said she didn't want fractions reduced on homework and I basically went into an immediate left eye twitch. If the child knows how to reduce, let him/her reduce. Do not hold them back with the rest if they already possess the skill and understanding! Oh, it's Lent, alright. I had to zip my lip. Darn near caused a fainting spell.

      I wanna see a highlight reel from Margo's trip. Be ready with the accurate timing for the trim-edits when the margaritas kick in... we don't want that viral. Catholic Underground ParrTayy...ohhh boy

    2. No reducing fractions?!?!? My OCD can't handle that yo!!!

    3. And this is a straight-A student, advanced mathematics, too. Not a problem for anyone at that level in that class. Man. Time for that double shot of whiskey...

  31. Oops , here is that video

    1. Whoa!!!! MIND BLOWN!!!!! How bout I try riding that backwards bike after a few Margaritas????

    2. This is kind of the same thing as when you set your gaming controller on your device to read up as down and down as up (inverted). Just takes a while to recognize the pattern because your logic (or balance, in the case of riding this bike riding) is impeded. Interesting.

      Also, the video proves we can, indeed, overcome our limitations if we start practicing a new way to consider things or practice thinking (i.e, in this case understanding balance, momentum, force, friction, etc. or even as it all pertains to logical understanding of Christianity, history, archaeology) The right answer is always found in the simplification, not the complication. Our brains are wired to simplify to find understanding, if not truth. ;)

    3. Exactly. And it shows how hard it is for us to transition to a simple truth even when it should be fairly obvious. Or something like that. Truth can be hard to grasp without humility and a ability to keep digging until it's reduced down.

  32. Where's the virtue of temperance my brother??? I'm a virtuous woman, darn it but I do enjoy my "fun drinks" :D 20 days until I'm in San Diegoooooo!!!!!!!!

  33. I'm sure we have an crusty old baby bib in case you out of control. Haha

  34. Hahahahaha Chris! I just want to make a highly amusing video for our Bubble fans and Leila..."What happens when 2 Bubblers Meet in Person...." I WANT NUBBY there too!!!!

  35. Rest in peace Anton Scalia. Such a good man and great mind. Feels like a kick in gut right now.


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