Friday, May 28, 2010


There has been a lot of talk about adoption lately on the blogs, and over the months I have truly been educated as to what adoption is and what it is not. I was always pro-adoption, but now it seems so much more personal. Not only has the blogger world been blessed with beautiful adopted babies in recent weeks and months, but my own dear IRL friend just came home from Ethiopia with her fourth adopted child, and our whole community is in love with this little boy!

It's been amazing watching all these adoptions take shape, from beginning to end.

So, when I saw this article from the Ruth Institute recently, I thought it deserved to be read far and wide. The founder of the Institute struggled with infertility for years and became an adoptive parent. Her insights here are profound, and they relate not only to adoption (and the invasive process of home studies, background checks, etc.), but she connects her experiences to the question of same-sex marriage. (Ruth Institute defends marriage as we Catholics understand it.)

Happy Memorial Day weekend to all!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Matchmaking: My fruitless passion!

Bold blogger that I am now, I teased you all a couple of times with the fact that I am a (self-described) Catholic matchmaker! I am probably enamored with the idea of matchmaking for the same reason that I am obsessed enamored with the IF bloggers: I love the idea of building up great Catholic families for the Kingdom of God.
Under no circumstances will I admit that I have never had a single success at matchmaking since I have begun my mission. So, don't ask because I won't tell you. Seriously. I won't. Ha ha, just kidding. I admit that I am, so far, a failure.
I believe I am on to something with Catholic matchmaking, though. Think about it.... What is more natural than devout Catholic parents wanting to match up their kids? If you are skeptical, I give you two letters: E and C. We are all romantics at heart, no? (By the way, Shannon was right and E will have to battle it out with my little Matthew for C's heart!)
So, here is the genesis of my matchmaking dreams, spelled out in an article I wrote for Catholic Exchange way back in February 2008 (I have edited out irrelevant parts for this post):
As a faithful Catholic parent, have you ever found yourself secretly "matching up" your children with the children of other faithful Catholic friends? Perhaps you've jokingly promised one of your infants to the infant of a dear Catholic friend who laughed with you and happily agreed to the "betrothal"? If you are like me, you secretly (or not so secretly) have scouted out future spouses for your children, hoping for the perfect in-laws, dreaming that your beloved offspring would have the best possible chance for Holy Matrimony lived out as Christ and His Church envisions.
Well, I've taken it all a step further, as the frustrated Yenta in me has finally burst forth into the public sphere in the form of Catholic Moms Matchmaking.
The idea for this apostolate is simple, and it grew naturally over some time. A few years ago, I started to notice an epidemic of unhappy marriages and the ripple effect that spread a couple's misery to children, extended family, and even friends. It then occurred to me that many parents are working hard to ensure their children's academic and career success, but few are sweating and sacrificing to ensure that their children are marriageable. This is a grave cultural mistake. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the single biggest factor in one's happiness is the state of one's marriage. And a happy marriage cannot be realized unless a parent teaches a child, by word and example, how to be a good husband or wife. We expect our children to find a spouse of worthy character, but do we make sure that our own children are themselves a "catch"?
During this time, I also started to learn more about the Church's beautiful teachings on marriage, specifically John Paul II's earth-shattering writings on human sexuality known as the Theology of the Body. I began to hope and pray for a way to give my children a chance at God's ideal, knowing this could only be attained by their finding a spouse with a shared vision of what marriage should be. It seemed pretty clear: For those of my children not called to a religious vocation, it would be imperative that they find a devout and believing Catholic with whom to enter into the Sacrament of Matrimony.

All these thoughts were ruminating in my head for a couple of years, when one day I came upon an article in a secular magazine about happily married young couples who met their spouses via an introduction from Mom. It made perfect sense to me, as who knows a child better than a mother? And who can a child trust more than a parent? And why shouldn't the family have some influence on whom a child dates, in order to keep the child from marrying the wrong person out of infatuation, immaturity or confusion? The idea of Catholic moms playing matchmaker became an exciting thought.
I talked lightly to a few friends about my desire to set up a "database" for a future mixer for our children as they approached marrying age. Each time, the response was positive. I was actually shocked at the enthusiasm I encountered! Eventually, it occurred to me that the Internet afforded opportunities for Catholic matchmaking which did not involve large, expensive websites (after all, I had, no computer savvy, no time, and no money). What about an email group like the one my former homeschooling community uses to communicate among themselves?

Before the article ran, I'd already established my little yahoo email group, had received the blessing of my priest, and had several friends sign on. The day the article ran, I had over a thousand hits on the (now defunct) Catholic Moms Matchmaking webpage my friend Lisa had set up for me, and about a hundred people joined my email group (which still exists). Most of the members have small children, so the fruits of the apostolate will not be seen for many years.... Activity on the group has slowed up, however, and things are fairly inactive now.
Nevertheless, a couple of interesting things have come out of my endeavors in recent months. A dear blogger that we all know and love is looking for her husband. I thought I would stick my nose right in and boldly proclaim my assistance in this matter! Although I did not know her at the time, I emailed her and asked what her "type" was, offering to put the word out to my matchmaking group. She pretended I wasn't a nut and graciously agreed. Fast forward, I almost flipped my lid when a date actually materialized! A pretty great date, too, save for one teensy weensy issue that could not easily be resolved -- a little something called the truth and meaning of human sexuality. But, there were great graces for both parties that came from that experience (or so I keep telling myself, as I feel like a heel that it didn't end in vocational bliss), and God knows what He is doing.
I had another near miss recently with another single Catholic lady seeking a spouse. I sent the word out again to my group, and something bizarre happened! There was one response from my group (someone suggesting her brother-in-law), and it turns out that this same man was someone the seeking lady had singled out on a Catholic dating site weeks before, out of thousands of men! What are the odds? I thought I saw God's hand in this pairing, and that He would lead them straight down the aisle and to the altar. Alas, I was wrong. It didn't work out. Sigh.
So here I am, the least successful matchmaker on earth (batting .000), ever hopeful that someday, somehow, I'll score a Catholic match! I have several children of my own who will need to find good spouses if they are called to married life.... Maybe that's another reason I am praying so hard for all the IF bloggers: I need your children to marry mine! There is always room for more in the little Catholic bubble!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Funny NFP vs. Contraception "commercials"

Oh wow, this is so clever! A group of seminarians has made a series of NFP vs. Contraception "commercials" (spoofing the Mac vs. PC commercials). Here is the first one, but be sure to check them all out (I think there are seven). A fun way to get the message out!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Answer to Doctrinal Quiz Show! And Awards...

Man, we have some smart Catholic cookies out there! I am duly impressed! I may have to relinquish authorship of this blog feature and let the rest of you write it. My little ol' answer may pale in comparison to the commenters' answers, but I am going to give it a whirl. (And be sure to check out the awards for blogger answers at the end.)

The question was: Do we become angels when we die?

The answer: No!

The elaboration: Angels and humans are completely different creatures. Both are made in the image of God (possessing an intellect and will), but we are distinct creatures who cannot "turn into" one another.

Humans are body and spirit. Angels are pure spirits, without bodies, and are neither male nor female (though they can "appear" in bodily form for God's purposes). We humans are not complete without our bodies, which is the reason that death is so unnatural for us, as death separates the body and spirit. We were not created to be disembodied spirits like angels.

Those dying in friendship with God (i.e., dying in a state of grace) will enter Heaven, generally after a much needed purgation/cleansing.* Once in Heaven, we will be saints. So, it is correct to say that when people die and go to Heaven, they become saints, not angels.

Other interesting points: Angels are actually a higher order of creation than humans. Did you ever wonder why Lucifer and a third of the other angels rebelled against God before the creation of the world? Well, it is traditionally held that God had revealed to the angels His plan for His Son, and that Lucifer and his minions could not stand the thought of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity becoming a lowly human instead of an angel. Such a humiliating plan was too much for them to bear.

At the Final Judgement (which is the judgement at the end of time when Jesus Christ returns, as opposed to the Particular Judgement, which each soul receives upon his or her death), the souls of all humans will be reunited with their resurrected bodies. The souls in Heaven will have glorified, transfigured bodies (and that's a really cool topic for another time). We will be again as we should be: body and spirit.

Any personal being (angel or human) who is in Heaven can rightly be called a "saint" since the word itself means "holy" or "sanctified." This is why we can speak of St. Michael the Archangel, or St. Gabriel, or St. Raphael (all angels).

Some saints in Heaven are "canonized" saints, which means that they are given the special honor of an official feast day on the Church's calendar. The rest of the citizens of Heaven, i.e., the uncanonized saints, are celebrated on the Feast of All Saints.

Finally, the fact that we humans are only truly integrated when we are united body and soul is important. Many Protestant groups see the body as "less than" the spirit. To them, the body is seen almost as a necessary evil, shackling us until the day that we can be "released" from the body at death, our souls then "free." But how wrong this is! As Catholics, we know that God created humans as body and soul, and called it "good". Our Savior then deigned to become human Himself, taking on flesh. When He redeemed the fallen world by offering His human body on the Cross, He redeemed all bodies and all matter. The Incarnation (God becoming man) has implications in all we do as Catholics.

Oh, but you guys already knew all that! Sheesh! I am going to have to work a lot harder next time to stump you.

Now, for the awards:

The Brown-Noser Award (or, The Most Enthusiastic Respondent Award) goes to... Second Chances!

The St. Thomas Aquinas Award for Thoroughness of Doctrinal Explanations in a Small Comment Box goes to... Mrs. Mike!

The Greatest Publicly Revealed Past Humiliation Concerning the Subject of Angels and Humans Award goes to... Wheelbarrow Rider!

The Best Integration of Scripture AND a Frank Sheed Reference Award goes to... Lauren!

The Brevity is the Soul of Wit Award goes to... Beth, answering correctly with just nine words and an emoticon!

The Most Creative Use of a Cuss Word During a Doctrinal Discussion Award goes to... Sew! (Who was also the first to supply the correct answer, so she also receives The Quick on the Draw Award for Speed and Accuracy!)

The Best (Worst) Disguise of a Blogger Identity Award goes to... my daughter Cecily (can you figure out which comment was hers?)

And finally,

The Most Courageous Response by Admitting to Being Educated in the Public Schools Award goes to... This Cross I Embrace! (Just kidding -- I was a public school kid, too!)

Anyway, that was really hard, because you all deserve an award. You all got the answer RIGHT! Don't feel bad if you didn't get an award this time... It's my way of making sure you come back next time!

Tune in next time (well, sometime in the future) for the next installment of Doctrinal Quiz Show!

*The doctrine of Purgatory may be discussed in a future post.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Doctrinal Quiz Show! Play along....

To show my versatility and prowess in blog writing, I am shaking things up a bit. I am introducing a new series that I will revisit periodically: Doctrinal Quiz Show!

Actually that sounds dopey, and I hate it, but I couldn't think of anything else. Maybe "Theological Bloopers"? "Faux Pas of the Faith"? I will take any suggestions.

So, by going with a neat little quiz, I can make it seem like fun when I slam you down for not knowing your Catholic Faith as well as you should, ha ha ha. Just kidding. None of us was raised knowing our Faith very well (see my story for proof), unless you were one of the very, very, very rare and lucky ones.

My goal with the Doctrinal Quiz Show posts is to help clear up misconceptions about the Catholic Faith (or Christianity in general), and to clarify things that even many Catholics are not sure about (or often get wrong). So, feel free to play along! Your prize if you get the right answer? Five milliseconds off of Purgatory! Just kidding again, since I have no ecclesiastical authority to strip any time off of your purgation. :)

One caveat to make it fun and fair: Competitors are not allowed to look up the answers! Put down those Catechisms, people! And, no Dr. (of the Church) Google, either!! This needs to be "off the top of your head" stuff.

My daughter Cecily is not allowed to participate, because she has been schooled by the master. Sorry, Cec! (But remember, I can be bought.)

So here is the question of the day:

Do we become angels when we die?

Feel free to provide your best answers and explanations (don't be shy!), and I will be back in the next post with the official response....

(For next post, and awards, go here!)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

How a fertile found the IF bloggers: The Sequel

(See Part One here.)

So, to continue....

I don't think I would have become a regular reader of the IF blogs if it weren't for one blogger in particular. Catching my attention like a neon sign at midnight was this dynamic woman calling herself "Sew Infertile"! Such a clever name, and so many, many, many, many exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!! I liked her immediately!

I also wondered if she sprinkled crack on her morning Corn Flakes.

But no, that was not possible, because we all know that crackheads are incredibly fertile... ba-dum-bump! (Did I get the IF humor right?)

Sew kept me hooked (My gosh what is this woman gonna say next??), and then I started to look around, clicking on her substantial blogroll. So many amazing ladies, so many pretty blogs.

I must confess that initially I had a hard time telling some of the bloggers apart. Lots of hope and prayers and trust in their blog names (a good thing!!) and every variation of flower imaginable, in various stages of bloom. A couple of bloggers had a similarly colored background, and I mixed them up for months. I have since gotten everyone straightened out. :)

I know this will sound strange, due to my advanced age (let's face it, I could technically be a mom to some of the IF girls), but I initially pictured many of the bloggers as older than myself, due to their profound wisdom and depth of faith. Their pictures and ages were often jarring in contrast to my mental image of them!

For the first few months I stayed quiet. I felt like an outsider, peeking into an exclusive and sacred space. I was a new kid on the block who definitely didn't fit in. I did not feel right intruding; however, I couldn't stay silent forever....

Now I will humiliate myself by recounting the first time I came out of lurkdom to comment on someone's blog. Keep in mind, I have grown since those days!

Okay, so someone had posted about the expense of home pregnancy tests, and many others responded in agreement. I thought, "Aha! I can be of help to these wonderful ladies! I'll make myself useful!" So I posted a comment informing the bloggers that -- wait for it -- the dollar store sold pregnancy tests! Yup, didn't ya know?! ("Um, yes, Leila, everyone knows...."). Hey, at least I didn't pop in during the early weeks spouting my brilliant knowledge that flax seed oil was the cure for infertility. (cringe!)

Moving right along....

I slowly, steadily, began to comment on different blogs, with riveting and memorable gems like, "I'm praying for you!" or "That's such a cute picture!" Profound stuff, no?

At some point, and for what reason I don't remember, I got up my courage and... I emailed Sew!

All right, I admit it! I was a groupie!! These were rock stars to me, and Sew was the lead singer! She was so kind when she responded, and I swear I felt like I had just been allowed backstage! Yee-haw, I was in with Sew!

I had infiltrated the IF bloggers.

It was a happy day. :)

Since those early days, I was peer-pressured into starting my own blog, and more IF Catholic bloggers have come on the scene. Wanna know how boldly confident I feel about my place in the IF blogger world now? Well, get a load of this: Check out who welcomed Hebrews when she first introduced herself! Ha! The gall of me, but I did it! You all have created a monster, ha ha ha!! (Sometimes I feel like the self-appointed house mother of this IF sorority!)

Now, I have often said that I wish I could somehow transfer my fertility to the IF bloggers. Of course that is impossible, and yet... there sure has been a tidal wave of pregnancies and adoptions 'round these parts. Some folks (who have right reason and sound judgement) might conclude that the awesome prayer buddy network at Advent and Lent have something to do with all that. Or, Jeremiah's pilgrimage to Lourdes. Or all the petitions, prayers, and offered sufferings.

But it seems to me that it all began after I arrived on the scene. Hmmmm.....

Just sayin'.

Tee hee.

Monday, May 3, 2010

How a fertile found the IF bloggers....

Okay, so this fertile walks into a bar.... Wait, that's not it.

So, this fertile surfs into some blogs and finds a boatload of infertile Catholic bloggers and slowly infiltrates their numbers in sort of a sneaky, stealthy, underhanded, fertile-y way until she fools them all into thinking she is really cool and that she can fit right in without being beaten up, and.... Wait, that's not exactly right either.

Let me try again. How did a fertile like me end up entranced by and embedded with an amazing sisterhood of infertile Catholic bloggers?

It started with my interest in Catholic matchmaking (read a post about that here!).

Many years ago (when most of you young IF whippersnappers were still small), I became interested in Ave Maria Singles, and the idea that devout Catholics could find each other through the internet. Fascinating and fun! I have a cousin who was a member of AMS, thanks to my obnoxious urging, and I loved to surf the profiles with her and help her shop at what amounts to a Catholic "man store" (I believe that's the correct theological term).

I especially loved reading the success stories. I am a sucker for romance and orthodox Catholicism, so those stories were pure entertainment for my pathetic self. I couldn't get enough. I would follow a couple's story from engagement to marriage, and then I would wait for the pregnancy announcements and the baby pictures. I'm all about building families for the Kingdom of God (or watching from afar and rejoicing when that happens).

One couple that I followed on the AMS site, Katie and Devin Rose, had a created their own blog. I became a periodic reader, and I followed them through IF, miscarriage, fostering, adoption and pregnancy. At the time, the only other blogs I read were political blogs.

Then came the summer of '09. I was newly pregnant with my eighth child, and we were thrilled. I was also acutely aware of the pain of two dear friends, devout and worthy, who were suffering from infertility and secondary infertility. I wanted to be sensitive, and I also wanted to help in some way.

Here's where it gets fuzzy.... I know that I got to an IF blog (Maria Therese, perhaps?) by clicking on a comment on the Roses' blog. Somehow, I think, that led me to the Apostolate of Hannah's Tears. I emailed those blog references to my friends, but I am pretty sure I was more compelled to keep reading than they were! Or, maybe my friends were actually attending to their lives instead of sitting on their butts at their computers all day like me? Hmmmm....

Anyway, over the next days, I kept clicking.

There, still solidly within my little Catholic bubble (which extends into cyberspace), I discovered a goldmine of faith in an IF Catholic subculture that I never knew existed! A small but powerful sorority of Catholic IF bloggers were being made strong in their faith through their suffering, and were supporting each other as they carried their crosses. In a world of IVF and other artificial reproductive techniques, these women bravely held firm to Church teaching -- no easy task, when even most Catholics don't "get it." It was so incredibly moving to watch faith in action, and see profound Christian charity among believers.

What was a silly fertile to do? I became a stalker... um, lurker. :)

Okay, stay tuned for my next post, where I will talk specifics and name (blog) names! You'll hear my first impressions of the bloggers (heh, heh, Sew!), and my boneheaded early moves on the comment boards (it's good for my humility to recount).

(The Sequel, here.)