Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Russell Brand on porn.... Whaaat? He even quotes the Pope!

This is completely unexpected! Whoa. Way to go Russell Brand!

You see, this how Natural Law works. We can understand the universal moral law by the light of human reason. Almost every word he says here is in harmony with Catholic teaching (the "priest" of whom he speaks is none other than Pope St. John Paul II):

Don't be thrown by the fact that he is apparently naked in bed. He's making a point: He himself is not free of the scourge of porn in his life.

But he totally gets the big picture. 


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

What a weekend!

I just had one of those transcendent weekends that only come along once in a blue moon!

First, on Friday I was privileged (understatement) to take part in the Mini-Synod on Masculine Identity and Mission with our wonderful Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and 18 august and faithful presenters. 

This is something so needed, so important, so necessary for the  health of family and culture, and right now this initiative of the Holy Spirit is in the germination stage, sprouting right here in the Diocese of Phoenix. I cannot wait to see where the Spirit takes it. Trust me, you all would have been blown away and so happy at what is percolating here. We had presenters from all walks of life, from scholars to generals to ordinary folks like me, some who flew in just for this gathering. I will keep you informed as things develop, and I ask for your prayers!

Then on Saturday, I was so honored to be a speaker at the 5th Annual Phoenix Catholic Women's Conference! What an amazing gathering of 500 beautiful sisters in Christ! The theme was "That Which is True, Beautiful, and Good". 

The speakers were gifted with these beautiful, commissioned icons
of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Such a blessing! 

My talk focused on the "True" for the most part, but I was struck by the talk on "Beauty" by sacred artist Ruth Ristow, a recent convert, who blew everyone away (and I was stunned and thrilled to realize that she is a member of my parish!). Former model and America's Next Top Model contestant Leah Darrow had everyone rapt with her powerful reversion story (baby #2 due soon!!), and Sr. Alison Conemac, SOLT, took us deep into the transcendentals (Truth, Goodness, Beauty). 

Dear friends, there is so much good happening. The Spirit is moving powerfully. Trust me on this. 

Okay, back to my regular life now! I hope your Lent is going well. :)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Getting ready for Lent!

It's Ash Wednesday, everyone! No, it's not a Holy Day of Obligation, but yes, attending Mass and receiving ashes is a profound and wonderful way to begin Lent. And yes, today is a day of fasting and abstinence (more about what that means, here).

I'm going to focus on spiritual posts this Lent, as usual. The last two years I posted some of Blessed Fulton Sheen's reflections on Jesus' Seven Last Words on the Cross, and you can find that again here. Those words can never be meditated upon too much!

For a simple but thorough look at the meaning of Lent and Lenten practices, go here:

If you feel so inclined, I'd love to hear what you're doing for Lent this year!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Remember my correspondence with an abortionist?

As I read yesterday that prolific abortionist and sexual predator Brian Finkel had lost his appeal (thank you, Lord!), it occurred to me that newer readers of this blog may not have read the personal correspondence I and my friend Kim Manning had with Finkel long before his arrest and conviction.

In addition to the tens of thousands of children he killed, Finkel sexually abused at least 60 women during abortions and exams, even as he told Kim and me that he was "much loved" in the community, a "servant of women" and his "only regret is that their are so many women that need my help, and that there is so little time to help them."

Indeed. And those women's testimonies helped to put him behind bars.

This a very sick man. Pray for him. We cannot concede even one soul to the devil.

And to get a glimpse into a very dark mind, go here:

Friday, February 13, 2015

Quick Takes: 50 Shades of BS

I wasn't going to talk about it. I just wasn't. But now I'm going to. And not because pornography is anything new (there is plenty of it out there to protest), but because this particular bit of porn is just so mainstream and so popular -- heck, I see Christian women giddily anticipating this movie!

1) I mean, what a crappy thing to have to associate with St. Valentine's Day. A badly acted adaptation of badly written books about the objectification of a young virginal woman by an older billionaire with a lot of... issues. BDSM: Bondage and Discipline, Sadism and Masochism. Pornography for the mainstream. Terrific. Happy Valentine's Day!

2) I may not want to talk about this movie, but the actors have to, and they don't much seem to like this filth they made, either. Good news! It appears their consciences are still working on some level. Let's take a listen to what lead actor Jamie Dornan has to say about his "research" for the role, and then his application of said research:
After visiting the sex dungeon and returning home to his wife and daughter, he admits, “I had a long shower before touching either of them.” In fact, the dichotomy between his life as a family man, and what he was being asked to do on set, seems to have bothered him quite a lot. "The first day [of filming] was kind of an out-of-body experience. I got there and they said, 'Action!' I’m like, 'What the f--k is happening? I’m a dad. What?'" 
And then, about the actual process of shooting the BDSM sex scenes: “There were times when [lead actress] Dakota was not wearing much, and I had to do stuff to her that I’d never choose to do to a woman.” And then, most cringeworthy, in an interview with Glamour, he observed that while he has “played a couple of sick, sick dudes, serial killers…and characters who don’t treat women the way society deems  appropriate,” still, “Christian [Note: that would be the romantic heartthrob that apparently millions of women are fantasizing over] was a massive challenge.”
Fabulous, no?

Now let's hear from the lead actress, Dakota Johnson, who is hoping that maybe no one actually goes to see the movie:
“I don’t want my family to see it, because it’s inappropriate. Or my brother’s friends that I grew up with. Also there’s part of me that’s like, I don’t want anyone to see this movie. Just kidding.”
Haha. Yeah. Just kidding.
Except maybe not. “Sometimes I did walk off the set feeling a bit shell-shocked,” she told Glamour, admitting that while shooting the sex scenes, “there were some painful moments.” “I got whiplash once from him throwing me on the bed; so f--king painful.” And just in case you thought that maybe there was something sexy about shooting a sex scene. Nope. Definitely not. "It's just sweaty and it's not very comfortable. And on top of that, my hands and legs were tied, and I was blindfolded, and I was being hit with this bizarre tool. ... It was emotionally taxing. At first I was like, 'Oh my God, this is the worst thing ever,' and then I was like, 'All right, let's get on with it.'"
But no worries. “The drive home from work always helped me snap out of it. And a big glass of wine.”

Okay, then.

Like I said, there are still two working consciences in there somewhere.

"Who is interested, as a woman, in reading about abuse? Why have these books taken off if they are about abuse?" said James, who discussed the film with the AP over the weekend. "Domestic violence, rape, are unacceptable. They are not entertaining in any way. Let me be absolutely clear. Everything that happens in this book is safe and consensual. .... What do I need to do to convince people?"
I don't know, Ms. James. Apparently you can't even convince your own lead actors. 

So, does this really need saying? Just because a sin or an exploitation or an abuse or an objectification is "consensual" does not mean it's moral or right or good. We know this, don't we?

And really, Ms. James? You had to go and name the main character "Christian"? Weird. 

4) Okay, so we all know -- on some level -- how slimy, sick, and uncomfortable this all is. But then why do so many women seem to be going crazy over these books and this kind of fantasy? I think Dr. Greg Popcak is on to something:

St John Paul the Great’s Theology of the Body reminds us that receptivity is an essential characteristic of femininity.  A healthy woman can be strong, competent, capable, and powerful, but still want a man to to love her, take care of her, and, yes, to lead. The secular feminist culture seeks to prohibit women from expressing this desire for natural, healthy submission, in which the woman wants a man to cherish and care for her, in which a woman allows herself to be vulnerable–in the healthiest sense of that word–to a man. 
But that receptive impulse is so much a part of the feminine character that it cannot be denied. Attempt to repress it will result in that desire for receptivity being expressed in distorted ways. As I’ve pointed out previously, dominance is Satan’s counterfeit of  healthy submission. Where a dynamic of healthy mutual submission is denied, dominance will emerge. Poorly formed men will seek to seek to dominate women and poorly formed women will willingly submit to being dominated–just like the female protagonist of 50 Shades. 
The point is, what 50 Shades powerfully reveals is that women want more. They want to be able to stop having to be powerful all the time. To be in charge all the time. To have to take care of everyone and everything all by themselves all the time. They want to be able to lay down their defenses, to stop having to pretend that they can be everything to everyone, and to just be vulnerable for a change. But they don’t know there is a healthy way to do that. They don’t know where to look for it. And the best they can do is fantasize about someone who will come into their lives and force them to give up the control they never really wanted in the first place.

Radical feminism has not served us well, ladies. And we know this. 

“I wonder what it is about this set of books that has, excuse my pun, penetrated the global market. Mass appreciation doesn't always equate to something good. Think of Hitler! But I think, in this case, it must. It simply must. There's got to be merit in it if so many people agree.

Talk about trying to justify evil and get around one's own conscience! Wow! And I wonder how many people who read the book and go to the movie will use the same line of justification? Professor J. Budziszewski explains that those with guilty consciences must seek companions as guilty as themselves, seeking not to become just, but to justify.

6) I can get behind these shades of grey, though!

7) And since I cannot bring myself to put any innocent children on the same page as a discussion of mainstream pornography, I will end by giving you a little info about St. Valentine to cleanse your palate! 
Valentine was a holy priest in Rome, who, with St. Marius and his family, assisted the martyrs [of] the persecution under Claudius II. He was apprehended, and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith ineffectual, commanded him to be beaten with clubs, and afterwards, to be beheaded, which was executed on February 14, about the year 270. 
One legend says, while awaiting his execution, Valentinus restored the sight of his jailer's blind daughter. Another legend says, on the eve of his death, he penned a farewell note to the jailer's daughter, signing it, "From your Valentine."

St. Valentine is the patron saint of engaged couples and happy marriage. Oh, and of beekeepers! :)

St. Valentine, pray for us! 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Suggestion for First Communion gift ... and GIVEAWAY!

It's just ingenious and so simple! The most beautiful book, in which every page corresponds to one bead of the Rosary and showcases one work of sacred art upon which to meditate! It's the perfect First Communion gift in my opinion, and I want to walk you through.

First, here's the book. The Joyful Mysteries: Illuminated by Sixty Works of Sacred Art (The Illuminated Rosary). Glossy cover, full color pages, quality stuff. And a really cute kid holding it (who is looking waaaaaay too big these days, sniff!):

Like I said, each page is a bead! So, you see where my finger is?

I'm pointing to two beads down there at the bottom. So we are on the second Hail Mary bead of the Visitation decade!

Now turn the page...

You can easily see that we are now on the third bead! Another Hail Mary, and a new scene of the Visitation on which to meditate!

Ten beautiful scenes for each of the five mysteries, one for each Hail Mary, artwork from different cultures, eras, and nations. Isn't it amazing? What a beautiful way to pray the Rosary with your child!

Of course there are pages with the Our Father as you begin each new Mystery:

And all the beginning and ending prayers as well.

I am always frustrated when I look for First Communion gifts, because usually the things in my price range are... chintzy. I love that this book is elegant, beautiful, affordable, and actually useful!

I wouldn't restrict its potential to kids and First Communion, though. Honestly, I find it hard to pray the Rosary myself, and the format and pictures help keep my mind and eyes focused all the way through. Adults who are new to the Church or the Rosary will really appreciate this book, too. (Just this moment as I'm typing, I thought of how perfect it would have been for my mother-in-law, Carol, who asked me to teach her to pray the Rosary the last time I saw her....)

Check out a slideshow preview of the book here to see more of the captivating artwork.

The Sorrowful Mysteries edition is coming next, and it should be available to order from Peanut Butter & Grace by mid-week, and from Amazon by Ash Wednesday. The Glorious Mysteries book is slated for Easter, with the Luminous Mysteries following in May.

Isn't that the coolest thing?? I want all four.

And now for our giveaway! The author of The Illuminated Rosary, Jerry Windley-Daoust, also wrote a wonderful little book called 77 Ways to Pray with Your Kids (A Peanut Butter & Grace Guide for Catholic Families), which will end up in the homes of five lucky readers!

This is practical help for Catholic parents who are looking for effective and interesting ways to pray with their children. This is the kind of stuff I love; look at how clear it gets (and I need clarity), even providing icons to tell me right away which of the activities and prayers will be appropriate for a particular age group:

More features include:

Articles on a wide range of practices: Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary, Contemplative Prayer, Daily Examen, Lectio Divina, Novenas, and more.

Talking Points...explanations of prayer practices that kids might have questions about.

Cross-references to the Catechism, Scripture, and Church documents.

An appendix containing thirty-three common and useful Catholic prayers.

A quick-find index that makes it easy to find prayer ideas, and doubles as a checklist to track your progress.

Would you like a copy? Well, email me at, and put "77 WAYS" in the subject line. In one week, I will use to pick five winners. And if you want to double your chances to win, tell me in your email why you would like this book, or a little bit about your family, and I'll give you two entries! I love hearing the real life behind the emails.

Good luck everyone!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Matchmaking: We are going to find Jen a match!

Okay, so I am still riding the high of the recent engagement of two people who were featured on my private matchmaking blog, so I'm doing a rare Bubble matchmaking post, with Jen's enthusiastic permission! Jen was the very first woman I profiled on my private blog, over two years ago. She is amazing. Simply amazing. She has yet to find a special Catholic man with whom to share her life, so we are pulling out all the stops. Everyone, meet Jen! And call your devoutly Catholic sons and brothers!

My name is Jen (obviously!) and I recently turned 30! So far, 30 has been awesome and I can only imagine that my thirties will continue to ROCK! I live in Florida and am a school nurse.

I am a girl who loves her life, faith, family and friends. I am proud of my Catholic faith!  I desire to be part of a vibrant Catholic community, and I am really involved in my parish. I help with our youth group and coordinate the young adult program activities. What I love most, though, is the ability to give Christ in the Eucharist to others as a Eucharistic Minister. It's one of the most amazing and humbling encounters with others!

One of the first things people learn about me is this: I love kids!! I always have and I always will. :) It's why I am a pediatric nurse. It's why I chose to live and serve at an orphanage in Honduras. Some of my favorite moments are hanging out and snuggling with my goddaughter, Zuzu. Kids bring absolute joy to my heart. There is never a day that goes by and I am NOT smiling because of some adorable child.

In my spare time you can find me hanging out with friends, drinking coffee, blogging, eating (that can be a hobby, right?!), reading and catching up on some TV shows. I love being around people, but I also enjoy the quiet, downtime at home.

I guess the obvious question is what I am looking for, right?! I am looking for a strong, loving and passionately Catholic man! Not a perfect man, but someone striving for holiness, who seeks God's will in everything. He will stand up for what he believes in. Hold me accountable. And encourage me.

We will also be able to laugh and be silly! Go on adventures! Serve others! Learn new things! And banter. I'm kind of sarcastic, so I'll need someone to play along with that. :)

And, that's me in a nutshell. My email is if you would like to chat!  You all will be in my prayers!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Quick Takes: Only if you want to LAUGH OUT LOUD!!

1) There is a reason this video has been viewed millions of times. I think I've watched it at least a dozen times myself, and it gets funnier with each viewing! It's my hometown weatherman, Cory McCloskey, with the most hilarious save I've ever, ever seen. And knowing the towns and cities in question makes it just that much better.

Go ahead, claim your laughs for the day:

There, I was right, wasn't I? Now, watch it again.

2) Last year, I laughed so hard at this event that my cheeks literally hurt. Everyone who attended (well over a thousand people!) belly laughed for two hours straight. I would not miss this for the world, and if you are in Arizona, you shouldn't either! The icing on the cake is that Bridget Hurley, who conceived and runs Laugh4Hope (which was inspired by the Blessed Mother), is a dear friend of mine here in the Phoenix Bubble, a mommy in my inner sanctum. She and her volunteers get an event of this magnitude up and running with little children running around underfoot. Please join us, because we all need to laugh more! And laughing for a good cause is the best thing I can think of....

Click the image above and get your tickets now! And yes, Tom Wilson (a Catholic) is the actor who played Biff in Back to the Future!

3) I was absolutely thrilled to come across this company, because I do love tea. This delightful, delicious tea not only comes straight from China, but my purchase directly helps and supports Catholics in that Communist nation. Check out their gorgeous website and variety of teas: I think you will be impressed, too:

I love the Church in China. They are heroes.

4) Speaking of Catholics in foreign lands, I received an important email from a woman in Slovakia, asking all of you for your prayers:

Hi Leila,

I would like to ask for prayers and also perhaps your blog community.
I am from Slovakia and I do not know whether you have heard about it
already or not but on February 7, Slovakians will have the opportunity
to support marriage and the natural family in a nationwide referendum.
You can imagine how the media are crazy about it and are trying to
ruin the referendum or at least to negatively influence people.

The referendum questions:

1. Marriage: Do you agree that no union but that between a man and a
woman can be called marriage?
2. Adoption: Do you agree that it should not be permitted for same-sex
couples to adopt and raise children?
3. Sex education and euthanasia: Do you agree that schools should not
oblige pupils to attend lectures on the subject of sexual behavior and
euthanasia if their parents do not approve?

I believe that this is a really big thing happening and even though
we are a small country, in case the referendum is successful it may
lead other countries to follow. Please pray for us, with God's help
everything is possible.

Thank you very much.

United in prayers
one of your readers Michaela

In a follow-up email, Michaela lamented that "lately there is such a terrible push from the Western countries [for us to accept same-sex 'marriage' and adoption]", and that "many people want to be 'modern' as the West."

What a tragedy! A huge push from the West for Eastern Europe to accept the Culture of Death, just like the push that is happening in Africa. And the Slovakians want to be "modern" like us -- which is just what our wonderful friend Obianuju Ekeocha (Uju) said to me about her own Nigeria, and of Africa in general: Young people there want to be "sophisticated and modern" like Westerners. Oh, how sad that anyone would want to emulate our painfully confused and disconnected culture. The "modern and sophisticated" things they see the West doing are not worthy of emulation! There is nothing sophisticated about sin and moral relativism. Not one thing. The Culture of Death brings death and nothing more.

Please pray for Michaela's countrymen as they approach the referendum on February 7, and for Uju as she continues her amazing work with Culture of Life Africa (COLA).

5) Remember Pope Francis and "RabbitGate"? What a silly dust up that was, but hopefully we all understand the context now. As someone who has said things in conversation that I wish I hadn't said in just that way, I feel for Pope Francis, and he clearly feels bad about the whole misunderstanding, too. Through a statement by Archbishop Giovanni Becciu, the Pope offered an apology for anyone who might have been hurt by what they thought he meant:

“The Pope is truly sorry that it created such disorientation. He absolutely did not want to disregard the beauty and the value of large families,” Archbishop Becciu stated. 
“Seeing the headlines, the Holy Father, with whom I spoke yesterday, smiled and was a bit surprised that his words were not fully contextualized with regards to a very clear passage of Humanae Vitae on responsible parenthood,” Archbishop Becciu stated.
A lot of us were surprised, dear Papa.

6) We talk a lot on this blog about the defiling and misuse of human sexuality that manifests in so many forms and is always contrary to human dignity, but I don't think I've mentioned sex trafficking yet, which is a massive global tragedy. Thanks to a reader, Elizabeth, I want to direct you to the site of Operation Underground Railroad, whose business is rescuing kidnapped children from slavery.

As a mother, I can't even let my mind go there. I can only thank God that there are ways we can help, and that there are brave people who do this work of saving the innocent. Please check them out if your heart is moved to help.

7) Another way to save the innocent is to adopt those in great need. Just look at sweet Emery! This bright 5-year-old boy has dwarfism and is in need of a family.

Click photos for more information. 

Oh, my goodness, this little one is ready to take on the world, as soon as he gets out of that orphanage! Pray for him, tell the world about him. Maybe you are called to go and make Emery your own son.


Well, everyone, have a beautiful Sunday, and after Mass and family time, enjoy the Big Game!!