Thursday, October 31, 2013

Just to clarify...

…because it can be confusing:

Halloween (or Hallowe'en), October 31: 

The word derives from "All Hallows' Eve", which denotes the evening before All Hallows' Day (All Saints' Day), a Christian feast day.

All Saints' Day, November 1:

Also known as the Feast of All Saints. It's the day we Catholics honor all the saints in Heaven, not only the canonized, recognized saints who have their own particular feast days on the Church calendar. There are many millions of saints in Heaven who are not canonized, most of whom are obviously unknown to us, and this is the day we celebrate those myriad holy men and women.

All Saints' Day is a holy day of obligation, and so to willfully miss mass on this day is a grave sin for Catholics. (In other words, get to mass!)

All Souls' Day, November 2:

This is the day we remember and pray for all the souls in Purgatory. These souls are not forgotten by the universal Church, and they benefit from the prayers of the faithful as they steadily approach perfection and the Beatific Vision. Often, Catholic parishes invite parishioners to write the names of their deceased loved ones in a "Book of Remembrance", to have prayers and masses offered for these souls during the month of November.

All Souls' Day is not a holy day of obligation.

And, I guess this very little teaching qualifies as a Little Teaching, so it gets the icon!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Just Curious: Where are you from?

I would love to get a feel for where you are geographically!

It's no secret that I am from Arizona, a desert dweller down to my very soul. I was born in Maryland (the Land of Mary -- that fact is not lost on me, considering my journey), lived in Michigan through my preschool years, then moved to and grew up in Tucson, Arizona. I attended college in Boston, then lived in beautiful Atlanta for two years until our first child was born. Headed right back to Arizona and chose to settle in Phoenix, where we have lived and multiplied (physically and spiritually!) for 22 years. I never want to live anywhere else.

So, how about you? I will leave the comments open to anonymous readers as long as everyone behaves. ;)

Sahuaro cacti in my beloved Sonoran Desert.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Follow-up to my "save your marriage in five minutes" post!

Remember this post?

Well, the feedback started pouring in almost immediately, and the responses were just as I'd expected. With permission of the women who wrote to me, I'm reprinting some of their messages in the hopes that those of you who were skeptical at first will take a second look.


From a facebook friend, who I assumed had an excellent marriage:

Just read your blog.  I can't even see to type right now. Can hardly breathe. I who you wrote that for. My marriage in shambles and I'm married to a saint! Have been praying and begging God to direct me.. somewhere, anywhere. My husband has been pleading with me to go to therapy or counseling and I just couldn't. I knew I would shut down , cop an attitude and walk away. I know the problem is me. I don't need a stranger to tell me. But i did need this post. Oh, pray for me Leila.  Going to order the book.

Hours later, from the same woman:

I fell asleep begging God to help me last night.Started a novena to the Blessed Virgin Mary today too.  I cannot stand  how i am, hurting my husband for no apparent reason. I find fault with everything he does. Even how he freaking drinks. How stupid is that? But he's so good to me. You have no idea Leila  the ray of hope i have right now. Thank you! Already ordered one book.... Will keep you posted!

She got the book, read it, and I received this:

THAT BOOK! lT'S WORKING! Listen to this. Last night [my husband] thanked me for supporting his newest interest. I'm laughing as i type this. He's got this strong and sudden interest in metal detecting. Seems we have some pretty old battle sites here in [our state] that are intriguing him. Normally I would just roll my eyes and give a whatever to something like this, but i actually listened to him and agree that this is soooooo up his alley that he should just pursue it.   Last night he thanked me for supporting him!


Part of a message from another woman:

…Oh, and about Dr. Laura's book, there was an improvement in my outlook before I even finished the first chapter. No joke, before I had even finished reading the thing my husband came home with chocolates for me. We have a good marriage. We've been married for 23 years and have seven kids but now, finally, I feel like a grown up, married woman. I feel like I should explain that more, but I'll leave it at that for now. I see things trickling down to the kids as well. I also see skills I can gain in loving my kids. Society sure has messed with marriage!


From a Dr. Laura skeptic:

I wanted to say I really appreciated your blog post recommending "The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands." My mother used to listen to Dr. Laura on the radio and I absolutely hated her growing up, so there is little chance I would have ever thought to pick up her book on my own. I trusted your recommendation, picked it up from the library, and although my marriage of three years is by no means awful, after going through postpartum depression twice I saw a lot of myself in the women Dr. Laura described.

My husband is a great gift and really works hard both away from home and helping me take care of our boys, and I was ignoring almost all of it. While reading the book I caught some glimpses of the radio personality I didn't like, but overall, the message is sound. I made a few changes based on her recommendations and although my husband and I are just as tired and busy as we always were, I can see a dramatic improvement in both of us - even with our four month old in the midst of teething!


Saw this note on pinterest!

this book changed my marriage -- Little Catholic Bubble: Women: Save your marriage. In five minutes.


And this from a reader:

Proper Care has helped our marriage so much!!! It's easy to feel selfish every once in a while and start feeling resentment. I then have to humble myself and remember what Dr. Laura says in the book. It works every time.


A child of divorce recommends the book:

...I also want to say AMEN to her discussion divorce and stepfamily so far. On so many levels... the errors stepmothers are tempted to make and the errors children of divorce are especially prone to make. I say if you come from a split/remarried family, grab this book! We can never get too much help in that arena, really.

And feminism... oh my goodness, pile that on top of a history of divorce, and it's no wonder there are so many miserable marriages.

So to summarize, I started reading it last night, and we had one of our first great nights in a week! It brought me back to when we were dating - when he was a clear priority. For some crazy reason, he likes that! :)


And this beautiful, honest testimony:


I had a very long response for you all typed out but decided to not waste your time on what could be said simply:

I can finally see what people are talking about when they say that I have a "great guy" and "I am so lucky." Yes, I am!

I have been extremely self-centered for the past 10 years.

I have been miserable for past 10 years because I was not RECEIVING my husbands love, as in accepting it, even though he was giving it all along.

I think despite my husband's questions of the faith, he may get into heaven before I do.

He has been scared of me for the past 10 years.

He is not "extremely passive" like I told you. He has just been scared of me and my temper and what I will do next to cut him down.

My children do not respect him because I have not respected him.

My family is lopsided because I have taken over.

I realize now it wasn't necessary to take over my husbands role; he would have done just fine had I made him feel more like a man.

I have not gotten in any arguments with him since reading the book because I see everything so differently now.

I apologized for my behavior and he said he's already forgiven me.

So many people love Mother Teresa because of her simplicity. Men are so simple and yet we think of that as a weakness???

Though we have to answer for our own actions, I see now how society has manipulated our minds to think that men truly are stupid, childish, immature and pigs that only want sex.

There's so much more I could say but this is the gist of it. Thank you for recommending this book! It has changed my life! As soon as I'm done with it, I'm going to donate it to our Adoration chapel. Hopefully some good woman praying for her marriage will read it.


There was more, but you get the gist. Quick, cheap (free at the library!), easy, and it works to turn marriages around.

I was shocked and honored that the Diocese of Omaha, Nebraska found the post worthy to link on its website, and Dr. Laura's website picked it up as well, via a note from one of her listeners

Ladies, if you bypassed the marriage post the first time around, please give it another try. The devil works to destroy marriages in the littlest ways, a thousand times every day. Don't let him near yours. Kick him out in five minutes.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Quick Takes: They met Pope Francis!

1) Generally, this is not so much a mommy blog, and I don't write a whole lot about my family. But lately, obviously, I've been a giddy mom. Turn away if you can't stand any more, but I am seriously over the moon. My daughter and her new husband met Pope Francis this Wednesday as he greeted the section of newlyweds during his normal Wednesday audience. I can't post the pictures here, as I have not yet coughed up the zillion euros I need to buy the many photo files that I desire. Oh, don't you worry, I will eventually! But for now, you can see the entire ring-kissing, laughter-filled, joyful sequence here, if you scroll through page 12:

Her flame-red hair makes them easy to spot -- I knew it would come in handy someday! Also, click here for a couple photos of them earlier, as they wait. (That's not her actual wedding dress but a $14 dress she bought for the trip, easily balled up and thrown into a suitcase.) 

Not gonna lie, the whole episode just makes me want to jump and scream! I am so happy for them. And a shout out to my wonderful parents for making the trip possible. It's a dream come true. 

2) Okay, I have been waiting and waiting till I could tell you about Simcha Fisher's new book! I was privileged to get a full preview this summer, and I have been promoting it in comboxes all over the internet since then, even though it was not yet available. 

As you know, I am a proponent of the great gift of Natural Family Planning, and I have written about attitudes towards NFP in somewhat impassioned terms. Simcha's book, The Sinner's Guide to Natural Family Planning, hits on many of the same issues with just as much passion, only she's funnier and more profound. Best of all, she does not sugarcoat NFP use at all. 

Adam and Eve, you started this!

Here's the review that I put on Amazon:

Simcha had me at "It is not possible to use NFP with a 'contraceptive mentality' so stop making up new sins, people!" (Yes, that is a paraphrase; yes, she says it so much better; yes, that's when I started cheering and didn't stop.)

This is not a book about how to chart your cycle or how your body works, it's a book about how human nature and husbands and wives work. Clear writing, refreshing logic, profound wisdom, practical, detailed advice, and laugh-out-loud humor (hooray!) make this unlike any other NFP book you have ever read.

It's hard for me to pick a favorite chapter, but Simcha's gentle admonition in the "You Don't Know" section is worth the price of the book and should be required reading for any Catholic who's ever expressed a public thought on NFP. Heck, while we're at it, the entire book should be required reading for every secular sex and marriage therapist on the face of the planet -- they might learn a thing or two (or 50) that never even occurred to them and save a million relationships.

If you love NFP, hate it, are confused by it, or have never heard of it, this is your book -- and the one you'll be discussing with your spouse and sharing with your friends.

3) Sorry, but this made me laugh, especially that last one!

4) My husband and I are going to the annual Bioethics Defense Fund event here in Scottsdale, Arizona on November 1! We never miss it. Please join us and let's have a blast, eat delicious food, drink with oodles of friends and hear the best, most inspirational speakers of the year. 

There really is no one else who does what pro-life attorneys Nik Nikas and Dorinda Bordlee do on the worldwide legal and educational front, and they are fearless in defending the dignity of all human beings from conception to natural death. Click the banner below to register, and I'll see you there!

5) Two good videos to recommend today.

First, what most economists don't want to talk about is the intimate connection between the health of the American family and America's economic health, but we ignore that connection to our peril:

Second, a brilliant 5-minute video from Prager University addressing the question of God and suffering, featuring Boston College philosophy professor (and a hero of mine) Peter Kreeft. Whenever Dennis Prager and Peter Kreeft collaborate on something, I am all ears, and I hope you will be, too:

6) I don't play the grammar nazi too often, but I'm doing it today, folks. I've been talking marriage on the macro and micro levels lately, and let's get two words straight:

Your father is going to walk you down the aisle, not the isle! If he walked you down the isle, you might fall into the ocean.

And what makes marriage marriage is that man and woman are complementary in nature, not complimentary! Well, I mean, they can compliment each other of course ("Nice hair, sweetie!"), but that's a whole other issue. 

Whew, thanks for letting me get that out. 

7) Here is a little beauty from Eastern Europe, Lydia, who might complement your family well, and one day even walk down the aisle with her daddy…. if only she could find a family to take her home and love her. She has cerebral palsy and would thrive in a loving home and with good medical care and nutrition.

Click here for more information on this seven-year-old beauty. 


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

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The myth of the arrogant Church

Back in July, my article entitled "Sorry, You're Not Allowed To Do That" ran at Catholic Exchange. In a nutshell, I repeated the unbroken Christian teaching that Christianity is a revealed religion, and that Jesus Christ entrusted His divine revelation to the Apostles and their successors under the protection of the Holy Spirit. Neither you nor I have the authority to change the teachings of Christ, nor are we the arbiters of Truth.

As is typical, some readers reacted by accusing both me and the Church of being "intolerant", "foolish, "self-righteous" and "hypocritical" among other things. Some highlights:
"…religion was created by human [sic] because they are social beings. They gather together to make themselves feel superior to others by believing they have it right."
"Do you think yourself superior to someone because you are Catholic, because you are not. We are all equal. Nobody and I mean NOBODY has the right to look down upon someone else because they are different from them."
"This attitude that our way is the only way has led to countless crimes against humanity throughout the history of the Church."
"The authority of the Church does not give you the authority to condemn others….[H]ow can you dare to judge and criticize others who are following the plan God has for them?!… [D]o you hope to lead others to Faith by condemning them?...How can you limit your love only to those the same as you?"

My first thought when I read such things is always: How does one "feel superior" for simply repeating and submitting to truths and ideas that are not one's own? If I were to declare the sun hot or the Pietà beautiful, could I legitimately be accused of self-righteousness? Neither declaration has anything to do with me, and both would be true whether or not I had ever even existed must less opined.

And as for the accusations against the Church, these folks have it exactly backwards. The Church, after all, does not claim to have the fullest Truth in order to condemn anyone, but in order to save everyone! Being entrusted with and then proclaiming revealed Truth is not arrogant, it's a sacred duty at the service of all. The mission and authority of the Church is a gift to every human being, so that no one is lost.

Think about it: What kind of God would not leave a source of clarity and truth for all to see? How cruel that would be: We would be relegated to a lifetime of groping in the dark, never knowing what is true and what's a lie, never understanding our place, never really knowing our Creator. The result would be existential angst and moral/social chaos. A loving God would not leave us there.

Clarity of doctrine and the moral law is a gift, not a curse, and a Truth-telling Church is mercy and inclusion, not judgment and exclusion.

We all understand that a lighthouse beacon does not exist to oppress and limit a ship as it navigates its way into the harbor, but exists to illuminate the way. If the lighthouse keeper dimmed or diverted or distorted the light, would it help or hurt those on the journey to the shore? Wouldn't those souls aboard the ship benefit from the piercing clarity of light in the surrounding darkness? Who could believe that their course -- their very lives -- would be better served by hazy, inconsistent, or scattered points of light?

Which would you prefer?

The human heart longs for direction, light, clarity, and Truth. And God, who created the human heart, understands that perfectly.

I came to testify to truth....He who hears you hears me....A city set on a hill cannot be hidden….The church is the pillar and foundation of truth….On this Rock I will build my church….The gates of hell will not prevail against it….I give you [Peter] the keys to the kingdom of Heaven….Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in Heaven….I will lead you to all truth….I will not leave you orphans….

A loving, merciful Jesus has kept His promises. The Light of the World has left us a beacon in His Church, and a recognition of this fact is not arrogant, it is humbling. And the beacon itself is not condemnatory, it's a lighted path to eternal safety, perfect peace, and unending joy.


A slightly edited version of this article ran at CE last month. 


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Quick Takes: Wedding edition!

1) I am still not quite ready to move past the wedding high! Long ago I heard someone describe the difference between chronos moments and kairos moments. Chronos (think "chronological") is the ordinary passage of time. Kairos are those moments that are transcendent. As one writer put it:
Kairos moments…allow us to get a glimpse of the "other side." We peek around the corner at eternity. We actually glimpse how God works. 
Witnessing the holy sacrament and experiencing the love and grace that flow from it have placed me in kairos time, and I am not altogether ready to leave that eternal moment. So how about some more photos?

2) My oldest baby and my youngest baby:

3) Placing the veil:

(With Jesus' high priestly blessing!)

4) Three Miller women, soon to be two…

5) United as husband and wife!

6) Dancing the night away…

And they're off!

Kairos moments, all the way. Thank you, Jesus. 

7) I'll be back to "normal" blogging soon, but here's a warning that when the professional photos are available, I will be doing at least one more wedding post! Meanwhile, thanks to my daughter's bridesmaid and friend for taking all these wonderful pictures. xoxoxo

Now, with my younger children all saying that "we need more weddings", I will just say that I have two other adult single children, heh, heh, heh. You know I'm always up for a good match!


Have a wonderful, blessed Sunday, and thanks to Jen for hosting!