Monday, June 19, 2017

Patrick Coffin interviews me, re: Primal Loss!

Enjoy this video interview with the wonderful Patrick Coffin, as we talk about Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak. Please excuse the pink walls in my house (long story)!! 

(Friends and family: Don't let the title worry you; my mom and dad are still going strong after 52 years!)

Aaaaand, I'm still "blogging," but more in the form of my Catholic Answers Magazine Online articles, the latest of which is here:

Bubble readers, you are ahead of the game, because we have been talking Natural Law here for years! Now is the time to really step it up, and teach our children. After all, we live in a culture that, quite literally, rejects reality itself, so it's a real gift to be able to give our children a firm footing that makes sense, while the rest of the world is falling. By grounding our children and ourselves, we can then be in a position to help others climb out of the chaos. 

And as a reminder, if you miss the conversations here on the blog, I'm quite active on Facebook, and you can friend me there. Just please write me a note when you send a friend request so that I don't confuse you with a troll. 

Have a wonderful week!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The systematic silencing of the children of divorce (Or, "What I've learned recently")

This is a "what I've learned" post.

It's late, and I'm tired, but sometimes my clearest thoughts come when I just commit to throwing them out on the page, stream of consciousness.

So here it is. 

As you may know, I've been immersed in a subject that, up until a few months ago, held no real interest for me. I have been teaching the Catholic faith for some 23 years now, and a huge focus for me has been marriage, family, human sexuality, raising up holy Catholic kids, fighting the culture war on the redefining (un-defining) of marriage, etc. 

And in all of that teaching, for over two decades of my life, I never much cared or thought about the issue of divorce, aside from lip-service... "Oh, divorce is bad. Yep, it's bad. We Catholics are against it. Yep." And in the meantime, I have looked the other way for the most part, or even tacitly approved of some friends' divorces (much to my shame now).

Every now and then I would write a blog post about the cop-out that is most divorces, and sometimes I would counsel a Catholic woman not to divorce (usually after the rest of her Catholic girlfriends told her to go "be happy"), but then I put it out of my mind and went back to my intact, uncomplicated life. <----- a fact I never realized until I discovered the complications children of divorce deal with every day.

Never in a million years did I think divorce would be "my issue." I simply have no real connection with it. It has not touched my life in a meaningful way.

What I now understand is that I was blind. I had no idea what was going on all around me, and I couldn't see the walking wounded of divorce, because so many of them appear so incredibly successful and put together. 

Maybe it's more accurate to say that I didn't hear the walking wounded, and neither do you. But that's because--and here it is--they don't speak.

They don't speak!! 

After the rush of adult children of divorce who volunteered to fill out my little divorce questionnaire (98% of them on the condition of complete anonymity), I was exposed to a world that I didn't know existed. Pain, suffering, anger, confusion, sorrow, insecurity, grief, disconnectedness--often many long years, even decades, after the divorce of their parents. So many different circumstances, completely different stories, and yet the same universal feelings. (Since my book was published, the contributors themselves have remarked that they sometimes thought the words of fellow contributors were their own!) 

Because of the silence and the hidden pain, these adult children of divorce did not even know that there were others like them! I could write several blog posts just on that point alone, and how the knowledge of others who understand them has been a huge relief and help in healing. One contributor compared the knowledge and friendship of the others to a reunion of "old war buddies."

They are all veterans of those wars, indeed, but they thought they were the only ones still nursing the old shrapnel from the explosion that blew apart their families--and their foundational security.

And that leads me to what I really want to say: The absolute disbelief I have at the unwillingness of much of the general public to hear what the children of divorce have to say. I can't get over it. Every time I post the words of the children of divorce on my Facebook page, two things happen. 

First, I get a flurry of responses from children of divorce (or abandoned spouses), thanking me for giving them a voice. Usually this is done via private message, so as not to out themselves. 

And then, on my page and others' pages (those who post the link or commentary from Primal Loss), there are the "divorce defenders." They are not only unhappy with any talk that says divorce harms children, they also want no part in hearing what the 70 contributors to my book have to say. When someone really digs in, touting the beauty and goodness of divorce (and yes, many are Catholic), I have offered to email a free PDF copy of the book, no strings attached, just so they can hear the voices of the children. (Only one woman veeeeeeery reluctantly agreed to receive it, and I have yet to hear back from her.)

One woman went so far as to question why a book like mine was even written. She asked, repeatedly, What purpose does it serve? Why is it published at all? In fact, a book like mine, she said, should not be published. I kid you not.

So, what is this deeply offensive book? Aside from the introduction and a few other components, it's not my words. In fact, the bulk of the book consists of eight chapters that contain not a single word of mine. Eight chapters of "no Leila." I did not "write" the book. The children of divorce wrote the book. They answered eight simple questions posed to them about their experiences and feelings and thoughts about the breakup of their families. I did not cherry-pick and I did not censor. I let them talk. And yet, that, apparently, is going too far. 

A question I have taken to asking those who resent the book's existence: Do you think that the voices of the children of divorce are too frequently heard? Do they talk too much? Is their view presented too often? Or...could it be the opposite? Could it be that the adults, the divorced parents, the culture of no-fault divorce get the bulk of the time and attention and sympathy? If we are honest, we know it's the latter.

Seeing how quickly the children of divorce are pounced upon and their perspective invalidated, I now understand why they don't speak, or only speak anonymously (and even then, with terror of being found out). Grown men and women, afraid to say how they really feel about their parents' divorce, even decades later! Why? Because they don't want to hurt their parents, whom they love; because they don't feel secure enough to tell the truth (if one has seen that conflict leads to permanent separation, one learns to avoid conflict); because the divorce narrative cannot be contradicted without serious consequences and penalties; because when they do speak, they are reminded--scolded!--that they are wrong and the divorced parent is right. 

I've seen it happen now, with my own eyes, and it's as shocking to me as it is (now) predictable.

When my friend Alishia (the inspiration for the book) told me carefully worded and oh, so casual stories over the course of a few years about the effects of her parents' divorce on her life, I encouraged her to write about it--but she always demurred. Turns out, it was wise that she did not write her own book, as that would have set her up as a target... which would have been devastating. Not only would she have been accused of having an ax to grind against her parents, but she would've had to beat a hasty retreat from the onslaught, to protect herself emotionally (something children of divorce learn early). 

As for me, I have no skin in the game. I can take the attacks and not be wounded. I can give the children a place to speak, where they can be free to say what they could never say to their own parents, much less the rest of the divorce-affirming culture. (By the way, I can count on one hand how many of the 70 actually disclosed to their parents that they participated in this book; in fact, most have told only their spouses and very few others; this is how guarded they still are.)

Okay, it's late (actually early). I've got to get to bed. But please, allow this book to have its place in the divorce discussion. Let the children of divorce have their small say. We hear from the divorced/divorcing adults all the time. Surely there is a little place at the table for those who are most affected and least able to have any say in the break up of their families. 

And please, pray for them. They are incredible and strong, but they have a lot of healing still to do, and I hope we will allow them that. And the healing begins by giving them their voice and actually listening to what they are telling us. 

The Foreword to the book can be found, now as its own explosive article, here:

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Paperback is here!!

Join us on Facebook tomorrow morning if you'd like, for the release event! Yippee!!!

The paperback of Primal Loss: The Now Adult Children of Divorce is here and can finally be ordered!

(If you would like a signed copy, send me an email (look at the right sidebar) and I'll tell you how.)

I had to CANCEL the e-book indefinitely (all who pre-ordered will not be charged for it), as I discovered JUST NOW (yes, I'm having a heart attack) that the e-book I uploaded is an older, unedited version.... I am so sorry, and please forgive me if you pre-ordered the e-book. I hope to rectify that soon.

I just uploaded the correct version and hopefully it will be back online and available in the next day or so! Whew! Again, my apologies if you were one of the pre-orders.

Thank you for all your support!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Primal Loss: a preview

God willing and the creek don't rise, my second book, Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak, will be in your hands on May 22, in both e-book and paperback format (the ebook, and only the ebook, can be pre-ordered here).

If you haven't been following all the conversation and drama on my Facebook page over the past few weeks, I want to give you a little taste of it here.

First, the reviews of the book are in, and I am so humbled and honored to have the encouragement and endorsement of these incredible people, including my faithful and holy shepherd, Bishop Thomas Olmsted:

Primal Loss records for us the actual pain of those most wounded by divorce--children. This makes it countercultural in the best of ways. Some suffering today is not allowed to be called suffering. It is not politically correct to say that children suffer greatly from the divorce of their parents. This book needed to be written, and it needs to be read. It will help children of divorce know that they are not wrong in feeling this awful loss, which, once named and brought to Christ and His Cross, can find healing and even be redemptive. It will help all who bear wounds caused by broken marriages, including divorcĂ©es themselves, not only to see in truth what has happened, but also to seek the One whose mercy is greater than our sins and whose Cross is our only hope. 
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, Diocese of Phoenix

“For I hate divorce, says the Lord” (Malachi 2:16). In Primal Loss, adult children explain the life-long impact of learning that horrific concept that “love stops” because their parents divorced. These voices must not be snuffed out by the political correctness that has silenced the suffering brought on by actions that are deemed sinful by the Church. “Open thy mouth for the dumb, and for the causes of all the children that pass” (Proverbs 31:8 Douay-Rheims). 
Monica Breaux, PhD, MSW, Catholic speaker and therapist, 2010 Catholic Social Worker of the Year, creator of Wholly Men and Women programs

We all need to listen to the voices in Primal Loss because their pain is significant and motivating. Those in marriages will be inspired to elevate their relationships and inoculate against divorce; those who have suffered should take comfort that they are not alone, and that hope and peace can return.
Diane Medved, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Don’t Divorce: Powerful Arguments For Saving and Revitalizing Your Marriage.

Reading Primal Loss is akin to watching footage of the Hindenburg disaster. Its message is so rivetingly compelling that it's impossible to tear your gaze away, even though it documents a profound tragedy. Regardless of your current views on divorce, this book will impact you deeply."
Patrick Madrid, radio host, author of many books, including Life Lessons: Fifty Things I Learned in My First Fifty Years

Primal Loss is shock treatment for anyone rationalizing the effect of a broken home on a child. Leila Miller presents the raw words of adult children of divorce, exposing the myth that “the children are all right.” Every pastor and counselor should read this book! 
Leila Marie Lawler, co-author of The Little Oratory: A Beginner's Guide to Praying in the Home

In the most bizarre twist that can only be a result of the Holy Spirit, my bishop, prior to writing that review, had given a homily that I just happened to be in the congregation to hear, that just happened to be the first homily in my 50 years as a Catholic that spoke directly to the suffering of the children of divorce. I almost fell off my pew. My jaw was open the entire rest of the Mass, I am sure. Listen to his words for yourself:

Please share that homily with any children of divorce that you may know. I am not a child of divorce, and I knew very little about this whole subject before I started this project. One thing I have learned--and which has shocked me--is that most children of divorce, even decades later, have never been asked by anyone how they feel/felt about their parents' divorce! They may be asked about why it happened, when it happened, how it happened, and even how their parents are doing, but rarely does anyone ask the child himself. Even therapists seem to give coping or communication skills, but apparently many (most?) do not ask how the child feels and what his thoughts are about the divorce itself.

There are 70 anonymous contributors to my book. As the project came to a close, I put the word out to them that I was seeking a quote that might encapsulate how they feel about the divorce of their parents, something I could use as a catch-all quote for the back of the book. I was stunned by how quickly I got back an avalanche of words. Here is some of what I got, and this will give you an idea of the kind of pain these people have been keeping inside for decades:

“My childhood was a lie.”

“I had to lie about what I thought and felt.”

“No one took our pain seriously.”

“I felt lost and alone.”

“I felt like a tree that had been pulled up and its roots exposed.”

“I hid my pain, emotions, and everything else until it came to a head in my teens and I had to cut myself for relief.”

“I knew something was terribly wrong with how my ‘family’ was structured, but I lacked any framework to understand it.”

“I never knew who to be, since wherever I was, half of who I was was found wanting.”
“They said we were family...”

“If I’m not the daughter of Mr. and Mrs.____, then who am I?"

“I still wear a mask to hide my true self.”

“The children did not get the attention that was so desperately needed.”

“The divorce was like a storm with unspeakable wreckage.”

“My heart is broken, and a hole as big as the universe is made in my soul.”

“I struggle to believe in unconditional love.”

“My parents moved on, but I’m still picking up the pieces.”

“Just how many ‘families’ have to be strung together before enough is enough?”

“Instability, abuse, and depression. Broken homes are terrible for children.”

“Divorce is a brokenness only God can heal; each story is different, but in each is an experience of great loss.”

“If my parents couldn’t figure out how to love, where does that leave me?”

“I feel displaced. Dejected. Despairing.”

“My family is gone. Forever.”

“If we can’t learn to fight for love and family from our parents, then from whom?”

“Children are NOT resilient.”

“Dear parents, you should have tried harder.”

“No, the kids are not okay; yes, we are hiding it, because you are not a safe place for us to bring our pain. You may not get it, but it is time we have a voice.”

“Divorce destroys, always.”

“Parents are supposed to speak up for their children, not crush their voice.”

“I’m 50. When do I get to stop protecting my parents and be me?”

“Every day, I weighed the feelings of my parents and acted accordingly. My entire life felt like a balancing act, beginning at 12 years old. It still does, even at 35.”

“Yep, kids are resilient. Or so you think they are... until....”

“Whether six months or 80 years old, the divorce left a lasting wound that we deal with every day, and only God consoles us.”

“They were unhappy and they separated. I pretended to be happy so they wouldn’t leave me, too.”

“Divorce is a loss. A loss of marriage. A loss of family. A loss of life once known. And with loss comes pain and grieving. Shouldn’t the child of divorce be allowed to express his pain and be given time to grieve?”

^^That was answered by another, who said: “To allow that would be to admit they did something damaging. Most people refuse to see it that way.”

“Watch the Hindenburg crash... that is what divorce is like.”

^^That was answered by another, who said: “In slower--more excruciating--motion.”

“Where is this resiliency that everyone is talking about?????!!!!! I mean that.”

“They said we would be resilient, but they were just pushing our pain under the rug.”

“The divorce forever changed who I was. I was a carefree, trusting, and joyful child. Divorce took my innocent childhood and replaced it with hurt and rejection, and I was lost. I do not get close to others. I just cannot handle rejection. It changed everything.”

"My sister and I weren’t given a chance to grieve the divorce because society sees it as 'normal' now--so we were supposed to be fine.”

“My family was an organic whole in its own right. Tearing that into two pieces tore ME into two pieces. That is not something I will ever recover from fully.”

“It’s like learning to live with a physical disability after being hit by a drunk driver. At least car crash victims are not lied to about their disability and are not told to be resilient so that the person who crashed into them feels better.”

“Tore me into a zillion pieces.”

“If you would’ve asked me how I was doing, I would’ve said ‘fine.’ That was a big fat lie.”

“Only the grace of God could restore what was broken!”

“The crosses of marriage were never meant to be transferred to the children.”

“I was expected to ‘just be happy’.”

“It wasn’t for the best, especially not for the children.”

“If they only knew how left behind I felt.”

“You said I’d be happy because you’d be happy. You were wrong.”

“I was given the message that if I was sad or hurt or struggling it was somehow my fault, because the divorce ‘fixed’ everything, and everyone else was great.”

“It was implied that any struggles or sadness I felt from the divorce was due to my weakness or selfishness.”

“The divorce culture is a culture of lies. Ours is a generation raised in the shadow of these lies.”

“Even though gaslighting is a very strong term, that's how I feel about so much of my childhood.”

And on and on....

For these adult children of divorce, the floodgates have been opened. How many others, millions, have never said a word?

Pray for all those who live with the pain and the scars of divorce every day.

PS: Due to some very unfortunate events, I have had to put the comments on "moderate." Thank you for understanding.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


... grandbaby #5!

Todd Xavier Miller!!!

Yes, my oldest son and his lovely wife had their little baby boy a week and a half ago, and I was able to spend a week with them in North Carolina! I am absolutely in love, and can you blame me?!! I miss him (and his awesome parents) already, but I was so thrilled and honored to accompany him, the day that I left, to his very first mass--Easter Mass! 

Here he is on Good Friday, right before we prayed a Divine Mercy Chaplet with him (again, his first!).

Meanwhile, at the end of March I turned 50 (which I hope to write about soon, because I've got some reflections I'd like to share), my book, Primal Loss, is coming along swimmingly, and my second article for Catholic Answers just published. 

As I think Todd would agree, life is good!

A blessed Easter Season to you all--and yes, it's a whole season, not just a day!


Monday, March 27, 2017

You must know these eight things the Catholic Church teaches on divorce

Twenty-three years ago, Catholic Answers helped bring me back into the fullness of the Catholic Faith. In fact, this amazing organization was the very catalyst for that sea change in my life, after my mom's famous words to me. I had no internet yet, but I read many tracts and books and magazines from Catholic Answers and was set on fire for the Faith.

So you can imagine why I am thrilled to tell you that I've had my first article published by Catholic Answers! I will be writing once a month for CA's online magazine, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity!

This month, I chose to write about the Church's teaching on divorce. Not because I am the child of divorce or divorced myself (I am neither), but because I am stunned at what I never knew until recently. We Catholics don't seem to know or understand the very clear and pointed teachings of Our Lord and his Church on this matter. Regrettably, even many priests are unaware of these teachings, which has led to poor counsel and untold heartache.

Here is my quick, easy primer; please read it all, and spread the word. The more we know and understand, the better for all of us, especially children.

As I've mentioned recently, I'm much more active on my Facebook page these days than here on the blog, and there was an interesting discussion that followed my posting of this article there--including this comment from Christopher Brennan near the end of that thread (emphasis mine):

Your whole article is straight out of the Catechism, is founded in Scripture, and as I read these comments, this seems to be news to a lot of people....
The fact is, life is about the cross. Take everything TV and movies say about marriage and throw it out the window. Marriage is a great source of joy. But real joy and peace comes from the cross. (Also in Scripture and the Catechism and 2000 years of wisdom passed on.) Some marriages will be exceptionally difficult. So what? There's a million things that can befall a person that would make life difficult. We are still bound by moral rules.  
The points in this article need to be preached over and over and over. They used to be well understood. They need to be made that way again.

On that note, I have news to share about my latest book. Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak is available for pre-sale for the Kindle/e-book version only. There will be a paperback version as well, but that version is not available for pre-sale. Both e-book and paperback will be officially published on May 22 (God willing!).

I have 70 contributors total, and their own words make up the bulk of the book. Primal Loss is not a "how to recover and heal from your parents' divorce" book (although there will be hope and help discussed and offered). It's a book of unmasking the pain and telling the truth about the short- and long-term effects of divorce on children. It ain't pretty.

My hope is that those contemplating divorce will read it and reverse course. I already know that it will make the adult children of divorce feel much less alone. 

The Amazon description of the book:

Seventy now-adult children of divorce give their candid and often heart-wrenching answers to eight questions (arranged in eight chapters, by question), including: What were the main effects of your parents' divorce on your life? What do you say to those who claim that "children are resilient" and "children are happy when their parents are happy"? What would you like to tell your parents then and now? What do you want adults in our culture to know about divorce? What role has your faith played in your healing?  
Their simple and poignant responses are difficult to read and yet not without hope. Most of the contributors--women and men, young and old, single and married--have never spoken of the pain and consequences of their parents' divorce until now. They have often never been asked, and they believe that no one really wants to know. Despite vastly different circumstances and details, the similarities in their testimonies are striking; as the reader will discover, the death of a child's family strikes the human heart in universal ways. 

Pre-order the e-book here, to be delivered to your device on May 22: 

Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak

To repeat: The paperback will be available on May 22, 2017, but is not available for pre-sale.

Please pray for me as I work to finish this project. I consider this work as a sacred trust; these seventy souls have entrusted to me the stories of the deaths of their families--stories that most children of divorce don't tell and that most people don't really want to hear.

God has given me a great passion for marriage and family (and the effects of divorce) all of a sudden, so don't expect me to shut up about it anytime soon. After all, as Sister Lucia, one of the seers at Fatima, said, the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Let's be on the right side of that fight!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

My son demonstrates his enthusiasm for A Family of Faith!

One of the great perks of having this blog is the opportunity to preview new Catholic books and programs. I don't end up endorsing them all, but this catechetical series for children from the wonderful Sophia Press (and endorsed by Scott Hahn and Patrick Madrid) is so worthy.

I am passionate about good catechesis (that's an understatement), which has been so lacking in recent decades in America. We have lost possibly two generations now, due to poor catechesis.

I think that's inexcusable.

So when I see a beautiful and thorough program like A Family of Faith, I want to shout it from the rooftops! This program is designed for both parish and family use, so it covers everyone. It even catechizes the parents themselves, the very same parents who are using the books to teach their children.

We have to do this, friends. We have to do better, and this is a means to that end.

What is interesting about this series is how quickly my own son Matthew was drawn to the books, and how enthusiastic he was about diving in! I was honestly surprised and thrilled to see that, so I grabbed my phone and took a spontaneous video, which I now I share with you:

Matthew was actually really excited that I was going to post this on the blog. :)

Anyway, the series includes an activity book, a parent's guide (home setting), and a leader's guide (parish setting).

And how cool is this? You can schedule a "tour" of the series to see if you love it. 

The books are high quality, glossy, beautiful--not schlocky or amateurish--and I was highly, highly impressed. Obviously, so was Matthew. 

Please spread the word. We have to turn things around for future generations, and that begins by teaching them the Faith well. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Sheen: The two trap-doors God put into your soul


Today I came across one of my grandfather's old books. The Love That Waits for You, by (then) Monsignor Fulton J. Sheen, 1949. I loved this part, excerpted from pages 9-11, and it makes a good Lenten meditation....

     When God made you, He put two trap-doors into your soul, and through them the Love that waits for you breaks in on you, though you may not always recognize Him.

     The first of these trap-doors is your love of goodness. 
     In chasing after the isolated tidbits of what is good, your soul is really in pursuit of Goodness, and Goodness is God. Your every quest for excitement, your every love of a good friend, your every comparison of good and better, implies some Goodness beyond all good things, and therefore is a want of God.
     To say that you want good things but not Goodness which is God-ness, is just like saying you like the sunbeams but you hate the sun....

     The second trap-door by which God enters your soul is your ennui, your satiety, your fed-upness, your loneliness, your melancholy, your sadness. 

     Every libido, every passion, every craving of the body is finite, concrete, carnal, and therefore bores you, but there is still one choice that has never been made, one great chord that has not yet been struck, and that is the infinite.
     Your ennui means there is still something to be had; you possess, but not all; you know, but not everything; you love, but not always....

     There is not a single soul among you at which God has not knocked thousands of times....

     Your discontent, confusion, fear and unhappiness is His way of telling you that you are restless without Him for Whom you were made....

Monday, March 6, 2017

If you or someone you know is a student at a Catholic high school or university, please share....

I'll be speaking again (my third time, yay!) in Reston, Virginia, just outside of Washington DC, for Young America's Foundation's Standing Up for Faith and Freedom seminar, which takes place April 7 & 8, 2017.

This program is amazing, and I'm not just saying that because I'm a speaker, ha ha. Two full days of articulate and exciting conservative speakers will teach students how to counter and resist the overwhelmingly leftist political agendas that are often forced upon him or her at school.

In the words of Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America:

Standing Up for Faith & Freedom teaches students of all faiths attending Catholic schools that Catholic teaching is consistent with the conservative principles of human dignity and human freedom.

Believe it or not, the cost of the program is (wait for it) $20! I am not kidding. It's only $20 for the program, and that includes materials, two nights lodging, and four meals. The participant just has to get there.

I'm at the very end of this 1-minute video, so check it out, just for fun:

Register (or get more info) here.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Here are my suggestions for a simple, but powerfully fruitful, Lent!

So many good Lenten ideas out there, and so much information, so I've whittled it down to some basics.

First, for a general overview of Lent and lots of quick facts, go here:

Next, I really love my daughter-in-law Larabeth's list of easy suggestions for sacrifices during Lent. You could either do all of them one time, or pick a couple of them to do repeatedly:

A few of my favorites from her list:

2. When having an argument with someone, try to let him speak first. Truly listen to what he is saying and let him finish his explanation. Don't think about your response until he is done and you understand him.  
9. Do something to care for your parish priest. Offer to cook a meal appropriate for Lent, do a chore around the parish or rectory, or simply say a novena for him.  
14. Read through the lives of the Saints and find your new best friend.
18. Take the time to thoughtfully encourage at least two people.

Also, my friend Tracy Smith has an amazing post on what she and her family do for Lent, and the beauty is in the simplicity of activities!

It's not too late to make the Crown of Thorns or do the Bean Jar! I'm the worst when it comes to "crafty," and yet even I am doing those two.

In fact, the bean jar was a huge hit this morning (my boys were falling all over themselves thinking of "sacrifices" they could make in order to be able to put a bean in the jar (wait'll you/they see what happens to that jar on Easter morning!!).

And tonight after Mass, we are going to make the crown of thorns (yes, I'm a little behind!):

Finally, I encourage you to go through the "traditional" Lent posts that I have used more than once here on the Bubble. Venerable Fulton J. Sheen's 1940 meditations on The Seven Last Words and the Seven Virtues are so powerful, and shockingly relevant for us today in our wildly secular culture. I've broken down his words into easily digestible excerpts; check it out:

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Two courageous women, two evil court rulings

Long ago, I warned that Christians' misguided compassion would come back to bite them in the rear, and since that day, things have gotten so much worse. We Christians apparently still wish to be loved by the popular culture, and we don't seem to realize that the more we appease the beast, the more vicious the beast becomes.

Here is the latest, out of the very left-wing, very secular Washington State:

By a unanimous, 9-0 decision, the Washington Supreme Court...
... ruled that this 72-year-old grandmother [Barronelle Stutzman] who had employed gay workers and served gay customers for years, was required by law to participate in a gay wedding, even though this constituted a direct violation of her religious beliefs — beliefs which have been consistent and almost universally held among Christians for the last 2,000 years. 
Not only so, but the court upheld the attack on her personal assets as well — her house, her savings, her retirement funds — by requiring her “to pay the attorneys’ fees that the ACLU racked up in suing her,” fees which could reach as high as one million dollars.  [emphasis mine]

This kind and decent florist stated the following to the state's attorney general, regarding her motives and beliefs, and her refusal to accept an offer of "settlement":

You don’t really understand me or what this conflict is all about. It’s about freedom, not money. I certainly don’t relish the idea of losing my business, my home, and everything else that your lawsuit threatens to take from my family, but my freedom to honor God in doing what I do best is more important. Washington’s constitution guarantees us “freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment.” I cannot sell that precious freedom. You are asking me to walk in the way of a well-known betrayer, one who sold something of infinite worth for 30 pieces of silver. That is something I will not do. 
I pray that you reconsider your position. I kindly served Rob [the 'gay' plaintiff] for nearly a decade and would gladly continue to do so. I truly want the best for my friend. I’ve also employed and served many members of the LGBT community, and I will continue to do so regardless of what happens with this case. You chose to attack my faith and pursue this not simply as a matter of law, but to threaten my very means of working, eating, and having a home. If you are serious about clarifying the law, then I urge you to drop your claims against my home, business, and other assets and pursue the legal claims through the appeal process.

I pray that the Supreme Court will eventually hear her case and undo the evil judgment that has been rendered against her.

I'll tell you what: I would not want to be one of those nine Washington judges when the ultimate Judgment is meted out by the Just Judge at the Day of Reckoning. Shudder. Pray for them; they need it.

Please read the short piece, here, and consider sharing on your social media. It will not go well with us if we continue to remain silent:

We welcome any liberals of good will who will stand with us on this important issue of freedom of conscience, even if they disagree with us on gay "marriage". They will surely face a particular ridicule, venom, and attack if they speak against the liberal orthodoxy, but I beg liberals of good will to do what is right.

And if you want to understand how we got here, I implore you, watch Princeton's Professor Robert P. George explain. Take the time. It's so worth it. I was in the audience the night he gave the following talk, sitting next to our amazing Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, who nodded his head throughout. Some of our bishops truly understand, and we, as the laity, also have an obligation to SPEAK.

Stop being afraid, my friends! Cultivate the virtue of courage. It gets easier as you practice courage, I promise! God will give you the grace you need. Do you trust Him enough to take care of you, just as florist Barronelle Stutzman trusts?


And now to another strong and courageous woman, an unlikely pro-life hero who stood up against the powers-that-be. 

Yesterday, we lost this wonderful lady, Norma McCorvey, aka Jane Roe, the plaintiff in the tragic Roe vs. Wade abortion ruling. After years of being used and abused by the pro-"choice" side -- she never did have an abortion, and her little girl was placed for adoption, by the way -- she was won by love (wrote a book by that name), became a Christian, and joined the pro-life movement. 

Norma ultimately became a devout Catholic, fighting for the remainder of her days and with all her heart and soul against the evil Supreme Court decision that bears her name. May God welcome His good and faithful servant, His beloved daughter, to her heavenly reward. She had a hard life; may she have eternal rest. 

 Requiescat in pace

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse on "Healing Family Breakdown" retreats

Dear friends, I'm going to be doing and saying a lot on the marriage and divorce front in the next few months, as I get closer to releasing my next book, Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak. As a woman blessed with an intact family (my parents have been married 52 years), I had no idea what divorce does to children, other than the fact that I knew it was painful and they suffer. I took my parents' marriage for granted, and I barely gave a thought to what my life would have been like had they divorced. 

After reading through and editing the words of almost sixty adult children of divorce for my book, I can no longer turn a blind eye to family breakdown. 

Today I want to introduce you to the Ruth Institute's Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, whom I have admired for many years, before she ever knew who I was. She is doing so much good work, and I cannot say enough about her, her colleague Jennifer Johnson, and the mission of the Ruth Institute. Please take a moment to learn about one of the Institute's latest programs, from Dr. Roback Morse herself:

Divorce hurts kids. The wounds do not go away. When I saw the extensive discussion on Leila’s Facebook feed, I knew I wanted to share this report with you, her readers. 

Since 2013, the Ruth Institute has been creating materials and programs designed to assist what we call the Survivors of the Sexual Revolution. Our thinking is that every round of the Sexual Revolution has harmed millions of people. Future developments destabilizing marriage, including genderless marriage, will continue to harm even more people, even more deeply. Yet, the constituency for natural marriage has been eroded, due to the relentless promotion of the redefinition of marriage and related topics. 

The Healing Family Breakdown Half-Day Retreat is the latest of our innovative programs to help people see the connection between family breakdown in general, the ideology of the Sexual Revolution and the harms they personally have experienced. The Ruth Institute held its second Healing Family Breakdown Half-Day Retreat on February 4, 2017 in Lake Charles, Louisiana. 

The Retreat succeeded in several important respects. Participants: 
  • learned empathy for their family members 
  • felt permission to experience whatever emotions they may have had about the disruptions in their families. 
  • pledged to stay involved in further Ruth Institute educational programs. 

The Retreat consists of a combination of short talks, guided meditations, and small group discussions. This format gives people the chance to do more than just learn about family breakdown in the abstract. The Retreat format allows people to process the full impact of family breakdown on their families. 

This Retreat is a multi-generational event. We held it at the Catholic Student Center at McNeese State University in Lake Charles. Naturally, students attended. Because of our contacts in the whole community, adults of all ages attended. The mix of ages allowed people to hear the story of family breakdown from the perspective of others in their families. 

One woman said, “My son, from my first marriage, got kicked out of school at age 8. He told me that he felt as if he didn’t really fit into the family. I couldn’t understand what he meant until I heard others talking about their experiences today.” 

A young woman said, “My parents are divorced and I have issues with my dad. One man at my table, who has been divorced twice, is struggling with his daughter. I feel as if I can see my dad’s point of view in a way I never could before. Listening to him helped me a lot.” 

We introduced people to the concept of “disenfranchised grief.” This refers to a social situation in which people feel that they are not permitted to feel their sadness. My colleague, Jennifer Johnson contrasts the loss of a parent through death, with the losses of divorce. Grieving the death of a parent is perfectly understandable and socially acceptable. But the child of divorce or a reluctantly divorced spouse often has no space in the family system for grieving their losses. 

People seemed to feel relieved that they could experience the full range of feelings associated with the disruption of their families. 

Our goal at the Ruth Institute is to build up a network of people who can offer these Retreats in their own communities. After all, Jennifer and I cannot be everywhere at once! All these people will be better spokespeople for marriage within the wider culture. They will see the connection between the ideology of the Sexual Revolution and the serious harms they and their loved ones have endured. And most importantly, they will not be talked out of any of this by a slick advertising campaign, promoting the next round of sexual adventures or family deconstruction. 

The campus minister, Fr. Nathan Long, concurred with us that this Retreat was a spirit-filled event that benefitted everyone who attended. We are looking forward to spreading this new program throughout the cities where we have contacts, and beyond. 

Thank you to the Little Catholic Bubble Readers, for doing your part to support the Children of Divorce, the Reluctantly Divorced, and other Survivors of the Sexual Revolution. 

You can learn more about the Healing Family Breakdown Retreats here. The Ruth Institute Store has a variety of pamphlets, reports, and books to support healing. You may also wish to share your story of family breakdown and surviving the Sexual Revolution on our Tell Ruth the Truth blog. Or, just subscribe to our free weekly newsletter, and receive a free gift. 

Thank you, Dr. Roback Morse!!

Bubble readers, please feel free to share this with your friends and family, and with your diocese if they would be interested in hosting a Healing Family Breakdown Retreat. 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The marchers don't need men to degrade them

One of the milder photos. The "pussyhats" were everywhere.

Donald Trump's got nothing on the participants of yesterday's "Women's March" themselves.

The female marchers degraded themselves so much more profoundly and efficiently than any lecherous man ever could.

What Trump said years ago in a secretly recorded video was terrible. It was a loathsome way to talk about women; it disparaged women, marriage, and human dignity itself.

Trump's words, however, never made me ashamed to be a woman. Yesterday's march did.

I won't post the disgusting photos on my page, but please, click these links and read/observe all. See what was said at this march, listen to the speakers, look at the photos, look at the signs. Take in the scene, figure out the themes (it won't be hard to do):

The vastness of the proud display of vileness and evil was shocking. How far have so many women fallen from an embrace of the virtues, from simple common decency. It is shocking how many of our sisters, living in the freest nation in the history of mankind, have become as crude and shameless as the depraved men they decry.

Think about it, logically, for a minute: How did the women of the "Women's March" respond to their disgust of Trump's degrading words? By degrading themselves on a scale worse than anything Trump ever said. Multiply what he did by a million, and you start to get the picture.

As one friend put it:
I watched some coverage of the 'Women's March' in DC and I have to say: I saw and heard MORE foul language, MORE crude terms for female and male genitalia, MORE misogyny (and even misandry), MORE mockery, MORE derision, MORE thuggishness, MORE rudeness, MORE law-breaking and MORE lunacy in those few minutes than I ever saw from Donald Trump in the 18 months of his campaign.

Who but the devil himself could have concocted such a plan? Take the evil, and multiply it! Make throngs of proud, elated, deluded souls feel as if they are giving women dignity, when they are doing exactly the opposite. Deceive them into believing they are lifting women up to the sky, when they are actually smashing women down into the filthiest muck.

It's a trick from the pit of hell, but that's the point. These women are blinded.

In its essence, the entire anti-Trump march was nothing more than a pro-abortion, pro-LGBT march. No one can plausibly deny it. The names of the sponsoring groups prove it. The explicit rejection of pro-life women's groups confirm it.

My hope and my prayer is the crux of Christian mission: That Donald Trump's sins are not imitated and multiplied, but that his sins are met with virtue. Not only our own virtue, as citizens, but that the people surrounding Trump would present him with the alternative: A witness of Christian truth. A witness of prayer and goodness. And guess what? As far as I can tell, that is what has happened to Donald Trump in the past few months. He has been surrounded by good, prayerful Christians who have, by all their accounts, seen him change. Let's pray it continues.

Any Christian who mocks the possibility and the movement toward redemption of President Trump has missed the point of our Faith.

Redemption of sinners is the point of our Faith!

While Trump has apologized for the words he spoke in the past -- and so what if the catalyst for that was his public humiliation? If any of us had our sordid pasts exposed and were moved to betterment, that's a good thing! -- the women who (literally) hate him have become like him. Times a million.

And no, it's not somehow better because the women degrade themselves, it's worse. Far better that someone sins mortally against me than I sin mortally myself.

Dear Lord, what have we become?

To the good Catholic women and men who went to this pro-abortion march to make a pro-life presence known, to plant seeds, to reach lost souls, I applaud you. We need you. You are full of courage. Thank you.

But to see some good Catholics openly supporting this march? Well, at first I was truly stunned, and next my heart broke. To the claim that the march had "some" worthy messages and would promote "some" good, I say same with Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood does STD testing and very basic cancer screening, for example. These are "some" good things we can identify in a terribly evil organization. But no faithful Catholic would proudly, happily march in a Planned Parenthood parade and excuse the overriding evil of the thing, would they?

Women of the march who hate Donald Trump:

You multiplied him over a million times.

You slimed us all.

That's not a win. You lose. Women lose. Men lose. Children lose. We all lose.

God forgive us.

To a great extent the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.  -- Venerable Fulton J. Sheen