Thursday, May 31, 2012

How Christ Visits Us

The last couple months has been a flurry of weddings, graduations, anniversaries, and birthdays in our family circle. Such joyful celebrating.

God is good and has graced us with His presence numerous times.

On the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Mother to her cousin Elizabeth, I am remembering in prayer not only those newly pregnant but, also, two mothers and their babies. One couple was told that their longed-for, much prayed and hoped for baby had the fatal birth defect known as anencephaly, while another couple was awaiting the birth of their second child, having lost their firstborn child to the same birth defect the year before. Both couples were at different levels in life’s journey. Both couples were struggling with life issues that some of us have never known and might never know. Both couples asked what God’s message meant. I don’t know if they wanted to really know, yet they did want to know. Madly so.

In reality, these times are not messages from God at all. They are, in fact, visitations from God.
Christ chooses to visit us in different ways. Sometimes He visits us for a fleeting moment and just as quickly leaves us with an unquenchable longing. These visits are much too short and we cry because He has left us with nothing to hold onto but a memory of what was or what could have been. He came and asked us to rock Him to sleep. And He was gone.

Sometimes His visits are extensive and the luggage He brings is greater. He asks us to accept Him, welcome Him, and let Him stay awhile. He asks us to make room in our hearts for His visit. He moves us out of our comfort zone and into another house entirely.

Sometimes He comes as the expected visitor who becomes the young adult who overstaying His welcome. He stretches us in patience, in virtue, in acceptance.

How do we receive Him?

Joyfully? Sorrowfully? Gloriously? Luminously?

How ever He comes to you, receive Him. Receive Him amidst the joy, the tears, the glory, and the light because these are the times that create Life and He is Life. Receive Him as He comes to you because through Life is where we find the answers to our questions and, thus, our salvation.

It is through our charity and hospitality to Him through others that we shall be measured:
“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36
naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ 37
Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38
When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39
When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ 40
And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ 41
~ Matthew 25: 35-41
No matter how briefly, no matter how lengthy, no matter how difficult, no matter how inconvenient, no matter how imperfect, no matter how…these visitations are simply what they are…visits from Christ.

How do you receive Him?

Let us pray that we receive him as prayerfully and joyfully as cousin Elizabeth did on the Feast of the Visitation.

To read rest of article complete with meditations and prayers, go to How Christ Visits Us

To Facebook or Not to Facebook

It's an old argument by now and one I've pretty much given up. I don't fight the system; I'm too busy fighting my own demons and human weakness.

I love Facebook but this article makes me want to give it up. I think the final decision of whether "to FB or to give it up" lies in the full awareness one's own identity.

Do you know who you are?
Do you know what you believe?
Do you overtly care what other people think?
Do you have a spiritual life?
Do you have your own sense of identity? Your own sense of self?
Do you serve the people immediately around you in your home, church, and community or are you always occupied by the business of others?
Do you remember that FB is not your life and never was your life?
Do you remember that FB is not the whole story and never was the whole story?
Do you remember that FB is not the reality and never was the reality?

"And our children will never have known a world without this sort of exposure. What does a worldview lacking an expectation of privacy mean for the rest of society?" Sultan and Miller conclude with the eeriest of questions. "What it means, of course, is that we are creating a world in which our sense of identity, of who we actually are, is defined by what others think of us. Social media's ubiquity means that we are losing that most precious of human things -- our sense of self."

~ Facebook Threatens to 'Zuck Up' The Human Race by Andrew Keen

Monday, May 21, 2012

If You're Picking Berries...

Berry picking here in Louisiana is waning, but what a rewarding pie pan of purplish-black "gold nuggets" we've "panned" up. :-)
We did not do the family communal garden this year. It's a lot of work and the family farm is more mobile than our forefathers' farms were. So we're giving the land a rest this year. But there is a furrow of mulched berry bushes along my brother-in-law's fence which flourished in due season this May.

When one grows fruit and vegetables (and has chickens), one realizes how generous God's hand is in providing for us. We tend to be the lazy ones.
My brother-in-law's three children are all married. Between our families, we gathered our fill and there are now crisp, clear bags of tart iced-candy taking naps on freezer shelves.
If you look on pages 176-177 of A Picture-Perfect Childhood you'll see a list of berry-delightful books to enjoy with your children. :-)
Two on our permanent bookshelf are:
Jamberry by Bruce Degen, a hands-down favorite with a rhyme that turns into a song. At Amazon you can click on the book cover and enjoy the lively colors and fun.
Mother Raspberry by Maurice Careme has beautiful folkart pictures and begins with a hidden threat to the town and secret possibilities found inside Mother Raspberry's home.
{Because our family is Catholic, we quickly noticed the little glass globe over the cooking mantle with our Blessed Mother and Christ Child enshrined within it. Little treasure finds such as this one are the many things seductive of picture books.}
I was anticipating a wonderful ending as we read it the other night but our reading adventure and hopes of a finger-tapping finis fell flat. This book could have been so much more than it was. The berry ink left sticky stains on our fingers. Still, we plucked some goodness from its pictures.
Lively folkart pictures of children picking berries in the woods and a baking scene in Mother Raspberry's kitchen made up for the unbaked finish. 
It is still a berry "sweet" book.
Friends came to our house last week and harvested the last of the harvest. My friend arrived yesterday with one of the sweet dough blackberry pies she had baked.
{It's already gone but above is the pictue I took this morning with Instagram.}
And here is the recipe my friend shared with her side notes included.  :-)
(If you have recipe book "Pots and Pans and Pioneers II" it's on pg. 440)
4 eggs                                         1 and 1/2 c. shortening
2 c. sugar                                   1 c. milk
6 c. flour                                    5 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. vanilla flavoring             1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Cream shortening, eggs, and sugar until mixture has turned very light yellow. (I used good, fresh Gibson eggs)
Add milk and mix well. Add flour and baking powder along with vanilla and spices. Beat until mixture is light and fluffy. Cool in refrigerator; the colder the dough, the easier it is to roll. Roll or pat dough into 9-inch pie plates. Add your favorite fruit filling and either strip or cover completely with more dough. Bake at 350 degrees until top is brown. This amount of dough makes 5 or 6 pies or make 2 pies and tea cakes with remainder of dough. Bake tea cakes only until light brown or they will be too dry.              
Beverly Foret, Evangeline Council, Opelousas, La.
(It made 5 pies for me but didn't have enough for last top of pie--don't know if this is same recipe my mom used to use but she says she would cut recipe in half if you don't want to make that much)
 (from "Sharing Our Best"-- Court Eunice No. 208, Catholic Daughters of America)

2 c. blackberries                           1 c. water
1 c. sugar                                       3 Tbsp. cornstarch

Place berries, sugar, and water in pot, bring to a boil. Add cornstarch, dissolved in little water. Remove from heat, stir until thickens. Makes 2 pies.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Not That the Face of Christ Needs Clarifying...

...but evidently my last write-up does. :-)

Which, on a side note, explains why I feel my blog has failed in recent years. I don't follow-up, I don't clarify, I don't solidify where I should. To think I need to address and clarify and solidify everything I write would be, at best, egotistic, and, at worse, neurotic of me. I don't care to leave the impression that my opinion counts for much. I know this blog is a small spider inside a huge web of banana spiders and flies and wasps and knats and mosquitoes and other insects.

So I don't excuse myself, which can also be an egotistical and neurotic state of mind but it is really simple. My family life is too busy and I like that. If I was always present here before this screen and not bubbling along with my family, that would be egotistical and neurotic. My blogging is sporatic and vague, so it remains a scrapbook and I love scrapbooks. Scrapbooks don't tell the whole story, they hardly clarify, follow-ups are random, and they are only solidified in the person's memories.

Still, sometimes, especially when you take one's writing into a serious realm of discussion, I think clarification is a good thing. Afterall, I am a Catholic wife/mom and this is a Catholic blog and I don't want anyone to misunderstand the Church's teachings or my obedience to God's law. This is one of those times I'm forcing myself to clarify on my scrapbook because the Church and its teachings so need clarification.

So, without further ado...

After my recent post, a faithful, passionate Catholic took me to task concerning it and I appreciate it. I enjoy constructive criticism actually because it makes me think outside the box, gives me another's perspective, and, in this case, helps clarify the Church's teachings. This time is also showed that we were more in agreeance than not and that reveals part of Satan's plan to make us think we are against each other so that we turn us against each other and do not listen (or try to listen) intently to what the other is saying.

Another reason I enjoy feedback from readers; I never want anyone to think that I think I have all the answers. It goes without saying that I don't.

First of all, it helps to know the mindset I was addressing in my last write-up. I was thinking of, not the issue so much as the younger generation involved. I was writing the issue from the thought-process of today's young people who have been infiltrated, sometimes despite the parents' best efforts, with society's perception of marriage in the 21st century. I'm surrounded by kids and I love it and I love them. I try to respect their ideas and their views, knowing that when I was their age I neither understood the Church's teachings and certainly wasn't all that interested in it, if truth be told. It wasn't that I was against it as much as I didn't care.

Going to the beach this Memorial Day weekend, worrying if I'd make passing grades, wondering if so and so liked me, irritated by what so and so had said about me...that was life and my reality. My immature brain couldn't think beyond that. There were truths I was told that irritated the heck out of me and I didn't have the time or desire to discern what was Truth.

The people who brought me closer to my faith were the ones who simply smiled at my immaturity and lack of focus. (Well, they probably did more but it was their smile and kindness that welcomed me.) They smiled and they listened. At times they told me the Truth, gently and patiently, then resorted back to just listening, no matter how goofy and ignorant my reasoning was. Their smile told me that they understood, that they weren't judging me, that they remembered when they were my age, and that they were listening. For some reason the simple understanding I saw in their smile was what changed my heart and then my mind and, from there, my will. I learned to quite talking and to start listening. And when I listened, God spoke to me.

"I was brought closer to God and my Catholic faith by people who were kind and respectful of my ignorance, not in contempt of it.

"The Church is a Mother and a Bride. There's a reason it is portrayed under these images. The heart of a child is guided towards home by his mother. After he arrives home, it is because of the warm love of his mother that his heart is open to listen to the instruction and wisdom of the father. A child must be led kindly and gently into the Church before he is receptive towards the power of Its wisdom.

"So...onto the clarifying which I think, in this matter is a very good thing, because our Catholic faith needs to be evangelized and renewed and all Catholics are called to be part of this renewal process...I share the concerns brought to my attention the other day. Because I addressed the reader it in a ragtag fashion, I will tidy up my writing and sharpen the points here a bit better.

I wrote the following:

"There again, the image of looking through the bedroom keyhole disrupts our whole image of the world and those in it. We keep our sinful eye on that keyhole and label these people as corrupt and nasty. We don't pause and remember the people themselves. Very nice people, all of them. People we worked with. People we went to the beach with. People we partied with. People we got into trouble with. People we once spoke to on a daily basis. We remember them as funny, polite, kind and, chances are, they still are."

Concerned reader wrote:

"To me, (this is) not what I feel. we don't hate homosexuals. ...Most times it's our defense against what is posted; like that poster picture. It's not a hostile defense, it's a saddened defense, that all that we hold holy is being trampled upon and we are suppose to just lay down and let it happen. I don't agree with that."

 My response:

"I know you and others don't hate homosexuals. I never said y'all did. My exact words were: While there are brash homosexual people out there we love to hate, there are also brash hetrosexual people out there as well (meaning it doesn't matter if you're homosexual or hetrosexual, there is someone out there we clash with and I think personality has more to do with it).

"We are Christians, so we love instead."
"A saddened defense? I agree! You think I'm not saddened and grieved as well? I even wrote in the original post: I told all three younger generational people that there was nothing 'funny' about the poster above. It's a sad situation, I said, for our country and for our culture. Just sad.
"I'm also a realist. These battles have been around since before Christ. Being saddened doesn't change anything. Being aware, being realistic makes me change the way I treat others...for the better.
"I never said to lie down and let it happen. I am saying, as Christians, we should feed someone...with Mother Teresa as our model."

Concerned reader wrote:

"Also, what does happens in the bedroom does affect the Body of Christ. If people leave the Church, no, we are not to blame and shifting their free will actions upon us is unfair."

My response:

"Emphatically agree which is why in this blog post {What About Those Sinners} I wrote: 'I personally think sex needs to go back into the bedroom where it belongs. It does not need to be on our streets, in our schools, on the Internet, on our library shelves, etc.'

"Something beautiful and holy, something that fuses our will to God's Will, something that is ordained by God should be kept sacred and never exploited."

Concerned reader:

"I understand and agree with what you're more or less saying here but think about it. To you it's important that you write and share like your share what's important to you....but yet, it feels as though you're saying that others can't and shouldn't do that."

My original answer:

"I never said others can't and shouldn't share their thoughts. Anyone can write and share a blog. The comments are open at my blog and discussion is always welcome."

Plus my additional thoughts added to my disjointed original:

"Oh, dear, I hope I don't stiffle people's input here. True, Facebook has taken over much of the discussions that used to happen on message boards, eloops and blogs but I hope I'm not a wet blanket. I don't mean to be.

"What I write here are my thoughts, my ideals, my concerns, my words. My writing is certainly not the beginning and end of the means. Never. 

"Anyone can write; few do."

Concerned reader:

"As you've said before, you don't claim to be a theologian, but there are theologians that do know what they're talking about."
My response (one I am hesitant to share but...):

"Several theologians also do not agree with one another." (and, because this reality makes things so incredibly sticky for the common layman...) This is a sad reality. When theologians cannot agree with one another and openly disclaim one another, it confuses and disheartens the public. The people begin to believe the zealous blogger over the dissenting theologians.

"And yet...

"We no longer live in a world where only the town pastor is giving us the Church's message and instruction; we live in a world where we can go directly to the Holy See and read the Apostolic Letters by the Predecessor of Peter, read that host of glorious encyclicals online, and, if reading and personal study is not our thing, we can tune into the Eternal World Television Network and get taught the rich Catholic faith.

"I am not saying we do not need theologians but today's Catholics can (and should) take it a step further. Theologians do not reach every Catholic layperson, but we are all give a mission at the end of Mass every weekend. We are told 'Go forth, the Mass is ended/ Go and announce the gospel of the Lord/ Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life.' We are intructed to take God's word to others. One must (and can) look further, study harder, explore deeper. It is your duty to cloth yourself in knowledge and pray for wisdom.

If any lay Catholic feels inferior to the task, I challenge you to look into the lives f the saints and see how many were certified theologians. And share you findings with us all. 

Concerned reader:

"A lot of times it's not so much us looking into the keyhole but that 'they' are taking it out of the bedroom and shoving it in our faces. That cannot be denied."

My reply:

"How true that is.

Additional thought:

I'm thinking most people do become this way because they feel no one is listening to them. Like a young toddler whose parent cannot understand his request in the grocery store so he becomes demandingly louder and madder because the parent will not stop, go down on bended knee, take the small hand, and patiently, gently listen to his plea.

"Now I know that sounds trite. I know it is not realistic to think a mom can always be calm and collected with a demanding toddler in a grocery store. Believe me, I know!

"I had a child like this: Pebbles in my Pocket so, yes, I know what I speak of.  But we must strive for an ideal. Kind of like that Aaron Tippin song "You've Got to Stand for Something or You'll Fall for Anything". Which brings me full circle to my point about how Holy Mother Church instructs her children and sets standards (which some say are too overbearing and burdensome) towards that ideal. If there is no one to set an ideal for us to move towards we become no better than the animals which God set us in dominion over, we would act by instinct and nothing else, with no greater goal in life than to eat and sleep. If we have no Mother guiding us towards that ideal, we remain unruly and demanding. If our Mother does not listen to us, we dissolve and become no better than that screaming toddler in the grocery store.

"A Mother must be strong and consistent, but always listen with her heart.

{That's the 'ideal', anyway. (-: }

"My point is that maybe if we listened to these brothers and sisters more intently we would know their story and, in listening, win their hearts. Like the demanding toddler, if we took their hand and listened to their story they might not be so angry and vocal. If they had someone who listened, there is no need to yell. Christ did not win the heart of the adultress by casting a stone at her. Instead He cloaked her with His protection."

 Concerned reader:

"When something that offensive and against a Sacrament occurs it (should be defended).  I love my faith more than anything so I want to share the beauty of it; all of it, as God intends it."

My reply:
"Agreed! So share the beauty and the Truth shall make itself known."
{Again the perfect analogy of Mother Church being a both a mother and a bride.}

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Face of Christ Facing Humanity

I'm taking a deep breath in writing this post and I don't know if it'll express anything new under God's sun but I'll ask the Holy Spirit to guide my thoughts and fingertips and I'm just going to write.

In our new world of clicks and beeps, little poster-pleasers such as this one makes the rounds quickly on Facebook. We are a generation that lives in time with quick diddies and quick words of wisdom. We like things like that. The quicker, the better. If it sounds good, it is. If it sounds true, it is.

Our young people hardly pause to analyze or seek the wisdom behind the words. They simply move on to the next click, the next button, the next beep-beep.

So in three days I've confronted three young people about the poster-pleaser above. And the response was typically the same. "It's funny. You don't have to support it to think it's funny."

I groand in despair and begged them not to sound like O'bama on FB but I realized that there's our answer. It's all about entertainment, folks. Anyone who takes anything too seriously nowadays is a Loser with a capital "L". That's the message I translated, anyway. Life is short and if you take anything too seriously, you're neurotic. Get over yourself.

In a society where too much is assumed through media and little diddies and poster-pleasers, no one takes the time to address the people sharing these media-plugs and seeing what their true thoughts are. If it's funny, you simply laugh and click...or not. Simple. Never assume anything about anyone. And the more of a public display it makes, the funnier it is. If you can't laugh then it sucks-being-you.

Now I don't know if I'm at all correct in translating this or not but that's the mixed message I'm getting and I think I'm, realistically, pretty well "plugged" in to the younger generation. I may be wrong but bear with me.

{For those who like statistics, I am the mother of five: ages 24, 21, 19, 14, and 10; I am the D.R.E. at our church parish overseeing 200 little public schooled souls, and I assist at a homeschool co-op where I've lost count of the number of students attending every Monday}

And so...I told all three younger generational people that there was nothing "funny" about the poster above. It's a sad situation, I said, for our country and for our culture. Just sad. I found this write-up the day after and "plugged it" on FB. I didn't know what else to say about it. But now I'm writing and I can align my thoughts more carefully and fruitfully.

I realized something while looking at this new generation of young people. In my generation we knew people who were "different" but the differences weren't talked about except behind secretive hands. Today the differences are vocally tooted and in-your-face. The media probably makes it a broader thing that our children do. While there are brash homosexual people out there we love to hate, there are also brash hetrosexual people out there as well. I want to look at a different face, the face my children see despite the medias portrayal and the assumptions we all make because of the media and their agendas.

My husband and I have noticed, through our FB exchanges and reunions of people we grew-up with and went to school with, the people living in same-sex unions. At first we were disturbed by the lives presented there when, in reality, social media gives a very micro-vision of the whole person. There again, the image of looking through the bedroom keyhole disrupts our whole image of the world and those in it. We keep our sinful eye on that keyhole and label these people as corrupt and nasty. We don't pause and remember the people themselves. Very nice people, all of them. People we worked with. People we went to the beach with. People we partied with. People we got into trouble with. People we once spoke to on a daily basis. We remember them as funny, polite, kind and, chances are, they still are.

Yet we wave an agenda in front of their micro-space on FB in the name of Truth and all they see is us, whom were once called friends, now calling them sinners. Poster-pleasers, while brief and contrite, simply don't tell the whole story. Each person in those micro-pictures has a story, a hidden story, and we don't know what it is nor can we assume to know.

This younger generation, at least the generation I live with and work with, aren't looking through the proverbial keyhole the way their parents and grandparents are. Today's children work with these people, they go to school with them, they care for them in hospitals, they have lunch with them, they play on ball teams with them. These people are not faceless entities on the social media screen, they are living, breathing people in real life and today's younger generation (at least the children I know and a few I have raised) care about their feelings and their lives.

They call them friends and they feel their pain. They see the whole face, not through a keyhole, but across the lunch table, in the classroom, side-by-side at work.

They look at the whole face and they are not appalled.

It reminds me of this picture of Mother Teresa...

I really love this picture. It's the true face of Christ facing humanity.

She is not asking, "Are you an illegitimate child? Were your parents married? Are you homosexual or hetrosexual?"

She is not worried about how many friends one has or what people are posting on FB (even though FB was not around when she lived, you get my point).

She is not walking in a demonstration line.

She is simply and intently, with great love, feeding a child. It's a beautiful, fruitful act of love.

She fed us too, with her words because there is still need in this world for the prophets and we need to know the Truth and we need to be led towards it. The Truth needs to be spoke, Yes! Emphatically, Yes!

But not with brash superiority.

This past Mother's Day the Sisters of Reparation visited our church parish. I went to the mission that evening and it was beautiful. The sister who was speaking told us that Yes, the Truth should be spoken but then you need to leave it in God's hands and walk away. Leave it to God.

I wish more people would take that advice to heart. I see these young people being beat to death with the Truth and, because of the constant flogging, they leave Mother Church and all it's wisdom and beauty.

We need to get off our social media and do something feed a child, smile at someone, reach out and help a friend.

Many times, actions speak louder than words and, sorry, but poster-pleasers (for lack of a better definition) do not cover the Truth with the justice it deserves. We have the Scriptures and the Holy See to help us discern the Truth. We fool ourselves into thinking we can possibly do a better job. We can't. We are not that wise or that holy.

We need to quit assuming the worse in people by what they micro-manage on their social media. If it disturbs your soul and takes away your peace than Satan has latched onto your weakness and you have fallen into the trap of paying more attention to the debate than to the person. The debates take our vision away from the people. The media knows this; Satan is tipsy with delight because of it.

Life is not about topics or agendas or protests; it's about the people involved and if we got off our media soapboxes for just a second and tried to understand the people involved there would be no protest, just quiet compassion from behind a coffee cup or a bowl full of mush.

What is the saddest of all is that the world and everyone in it has been downgraded to just a political agenda, debate, and protest. In the name of saving souls, we have lost sight of the souls God puts into our lives. We want so badly to prove ourselves right or wrong that we do not feed one another with love but, rather, with too many words. And I sadly fear I'm doing that here, right now. So in closing, let us listen to Pope John Paul II's wise words:

"We shall not be saved by a formula, but by a person." ~ Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte ("At the Beginning of the New Millennium")

That homosexual person God puts into your path might be your salvation. Think about it.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Best Part of a Child's Education

A lovely quote from Rebecca's Garden that I want to tack onto this personal scrapblog and never lose sight of....

"Every child should have mud pies, grasshoppers, water-bugs, tadpoles, frogs, mud-turtles, ....

"elderberries, wild strawberries, acorns, chestnuts, trees to climb, ...

"brooks to wade in, water-lilies, woodchucks, ...

"bats, bees, butterflies, various animals to pet, ...

hay-fields, pine-cones, rocks to roll, sand, snakes, huckleberries and hornets; ...

 "and any child who has been deprived of these has been deprived of the best part of his education."
-Luther Burbank

Rainy Days Make Me Hungry

Yesterday was a bright, beautiful May-day and our 26th wedding anniversary. Today is a rainy May-day and very lazy.

The kitchen is smokin' due to both.

Rainy days make me think of food. What about you?
 I'm sharing our anniversary candlelight-dinner-which-became-dinner-with-several-of-our-children-present which makes us happy so everything is dee-licious.

Anniversary Dinner

Grilled New York Strip Steaks
Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus Bundles (do NOT try to improve these, just don't---stick to the recipe)
Herbal Roasted Potatoes
Ginger Sweetened Carrots

Breakfast on a Rainy Morning

Almond & Cranberry Oatmeal
Cup of Sweet Coffee w/ Almond Milk

Friday, May 4, 2012

What About Those Sinners?

Least anyone misunderstand what the truth of the matter is, let me clarify something concerning my last post: God and His Church Do Not Hate or Exclude Homosexuals

Sex, to be good and holy, must be compatable with the ideal which God intended it to be.

Go here for direct teaching of the Church's position on the sexuality dignity of man and woman.

I would not be so righteous or assumptive to try to explain (much less teach) in a short blog post the beautiful teachings of Christ's Church about sex and the sanctity of this act within marriage. I encourage anyone wanting to learn wisely to read Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body and escape to the Theology of the Body website if you want to delve into it more thoroughly. Not to demean anyone but there is a middle school version for those of us, like myself, who are light-weights when it comes to theological thoughts and teachings, in general. ;-)

Regarding homosexual acts; they are wrong, as are sexual acts outside of marriage, sex crimes against children and perverted acts including animals. 

Why? people ask, and immediately hate the explanation before it is even given (much less understood) and despise those of us who try to explain the why.

The simple Why, as I understand it, is because homosexual acts, as well as sex crimes against children, are not life-giving and cannot be life-giving and they also attack a person's dignity. These acts are wrong because they are perverted forms which do nothing in bringing us closer to God, go against the natural order, and tear at the dignity of man and woman. These acts exclude God from the natural order. They slander the relationship between God and His creation. They turn their back on the opportunity to unite with God in the wonder of co-creation. These acts do not give life, they take life...selfishly so.

Sex, to be holy and part of God's plan, must be life-giving; it must allow us to embrace our role in the sovereignity of creation and the privilege (yes, the incredible privilege) to CO-create with our Creator. Through the sexual act God reaches out, takes us by the hand (in the actual joining of hands in holy matrimony) and invites us to receive His gift of life.

Isn't that awesome? Isn't that impressive? Isn't that empowering?

So many people think not.

They blame the Church for being out-dated, hardened, secretive, bonding and restrictive.

Bonding, yes indeed.
Restrictive, no indeed.

The Church bonds us into the ideal Body of Christ. She doesn't restrict us; she raises the bar, she challenges, she lifts us above ourselves.

So that is how we deal with the sin. What about the sinner?

We must pray that they become the saint that they (that we) are all called to be and quit interfering with God's plan.

I will not get into the whole homosexual debate of it being choice vs. born-that-way. I knew people who seemed "that way" back in school. Some guys were more feminine than I thought they should have been; some girls were rougher around the edges than I thought they should have been; but God didn't ask my opinion when He created them, much less when He created me. That's the only conference call I will have with Him when I enter into eternity. I have my own ideals of the origin of sexual identity but for the life of me I can't understand why people focus on this type of navel gazing. I do not navel gaze at what people do behind bedroom walls. I just don't. Those people I grew up knowing who were more feminine or rougher around the edges were some of the nicest, most helpful people I encountered. Even now when I drive up to a local hamburger joint and am met by a crew-cut hairdo with pierced eyebrows and a woman's voice, all I can think of is how politely and cheerfully I am met every. single. time. With a smile. And she always gets my order right. :-)

For us to exclude and judge people by what they do in the bedroom insults our intelligence as Christians. We overlook a host of good qualities because we're so very busy waging our tongues about how evil they are. Who says? As Mark Shea says, "It's really none of our business!"

God sees all. Why are we forever playing the role of Peeping Tom and eyeballing through that bedroom keyhole? That is a perverted sin within itself and we are the ones doing it.

I personally think sex needs to go back into the bedroom where it belongs.  It does not need to be on our streets, in our schools, on the Internet, on our library shelves, etc. I say this because I am personally so tired of everything being defined by sex. Everything! How we act, how we dress, how we play ball, how (and what) we draw, how we mentor, how we eat. It's exhausting. Don't we have anything better to do than to worry about what people do behind closed doors?

People will justify this to extremes, I know. They will proclaim that we must speak the truth and...I agree. We need the prophets and the voice of God to intervene. Christ left us that voice in the Holy See. We must gently and lovingly guide people to the entrance into that Jerusalem on earth and welcome them in...then get out of the way! We must remember that the person we are speaking "the truth" to may have already heard "the truth" proclaimed by fifty different people in fifty different way and they are sick and tired (and defeated) by it. Those good people, in their fevered pitch don't shut up long enough to let the lost sheep hear the voice of God calling them. They hear the cries of the wolves and the bleating of the other sheep and cannot hear the Master's call above the noise.

Man and woman, He created them. We are blessed to have been created differently, yet in perfect union with our Creator and able to co-create in His creation.

Still, we are imperfect and live in an imperfect world. I remind myself daily we live in a fallen world. I am under no illusions. The streets that Christ walked were also full of prostitutes and adultresses and murderers and cheats.
And what did He do?

Christ stood between the stone-faced crowd and the adultress woman. He acknowledged the demons in the man rather than disown the man His Father created. He forgave the friend who denied him and made him our first Pope. He forgave, not one, but a Calvary-side of murderers.

I believe that, as humans, we all process thoughts in the lifespan of a day and some are dark, foreboding thoughts which we quickly dash upon the rocks of our memories and leave dead and hidden. There are thoughts we don't dare dwell on much less act upon. We know they are not good, holy thoughts. They are not worthy of God. At one time acting upon homosexual thoughts was considered a desecration of the human body, today is it accepted as an expression of love. But it is not life-giving.

This leads Christians to question the possibility that things which are unacceptable today may become acceptable tomorrow, such as homosexuality has become. Sex was once strictly understood to be for marriage and within the sanctity of marriage. Today it has exploded into a bomb of self-corruption and self-distain which is quickly destroying our families, our homes, our society, our culture and our self-worth.

Pope Paul VI famously predicted this corrupting series of events in his encyclical letter Humanae Vitae. Again, I would be foolish to try to expand upon the wisdom of this document within this short blog space.

But in handling the line of events to where we are today...

Can homosexuals be Christian? Yes indeed. Can they be life-giving in caring for family members and the sick in hospitals, in foster care, as the parent of an abandoned child? Yes indeed. Can they worship side by side with you and me? Yes indeed.  As one commenter shared: they also have gifts, talents, and loving hearts the same as you and me. If they have grown hardened and harsh it is because they are tired of defending the person that God made them to be. {Disclaimer: I am not speaking here of the new wave of young people who are choosing this lifestyle without fully knowing it's implications or the wisdom of the Church. This is where the wisdom of the Church and the instruction of elders need to tell adolescents what a false god this is and pray they are open to the message over false sirens in the distance.}

These people carry a heavy cross. Do we help them to carry it?

So many of us don't help. We judge and we hinder. We don't offer them something more attractive, we tattle and condemn. We spend more time with our eyes glued to bedroom keyholes than upon the Eucharist within our churches. We spend time judging them, questioning them, debating our rights and their wrongs...

...when all Christ said was "Your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more."

{There are so many loose ends to this rambling. So many misunderstood equations. So many mysteries within God's creation. I beg you to know that I know I am illiterate in trying to explain all this. Go and read the writings of the Church and Church Fathers regarding these issues. The Church is sensitive to these issues. Anyone who has made you feel that the Church is inconsiderate and insensitive are individuals who, like myself, lacked the best way to explain it and messed it up in the effort.}

God and His Church Do Not Hate or Exclude Homosexuals

{Photo from Our Daily Bread}
I don't think I've ever gone into this realm on my blog but after reading this post by Mark Shea...

A Gay Man I Consider a Saint by Mark Shea

I was compelled to clap my approval.

After reading the comments (a commendable thoughtprovoking task), I again hesitated to offer my applause but like Lisa Mladinich, I believe...

"It's very important, as Catholics, to dispel the myth that the Church hates or excludes homosexual persons from the life of faith. The CCC's section on human sexuality is surpassingly beautiful and compassionate, and strictly prohibits bigotry of any kind. We all sin, and we're all 'not finished yet'." (Lisa M.)

and this...

"So many of us love gay or lesbian friends or family members, and they should know that we love and accept them, the way we want to be loved and accepted. But it doesn't mean we celebrate sin. We join in unity with them as fellow travelers, finding our way gradually to God." (Lisa M.)

* * * * *

I know far too many people, sinners like myself, who have left the Church, avoided the sacraments, felt forever isolated because of the way "Christians" acted towards them and how they were made to feel when caught in their sin. They are forever trapped and condemned, by their fellow sinners.

These people feel as though God doesn't forgive them, accept them, or love them when, in fact, God never said such a thing. As the Body of Christ, we are stepping upon our soapboxes and, rather than charitably speaking the truth, we are spouting our arrogance and self-pride.

God probably doesn't like the way they are behaving, acting, or doing things at that time in their life (much like the times I correct my own children for their thoughtless behavior) but He will forever forgive them, accept them, and love them unconditionally. He is not done with them yet.

Most of the greatest saints were also the greatest sinners and God's love and mercy was revealed to them in the depths of their sinfulness and the need for God's love and mercy; partly because they could not find it in the other sinners around them.

We should speak the truth in charity and mercy then step out of our short-term space capsule and let God slide back into the driver's seat to be left in charge of his long-term hospital of mercy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Litany of Cells

This baby's expression made me laugh.
The caption with it made me think.

Why does this poster, going around Facebook, make us laugh?

1) The baby's expression is the same one we'd have on our face if someone called us a "lump of cells"---we'd be indignant, for sure, because we know we are so much more
2) the truth is we are all (actually) a "lump of cells"---contradiction, for sure

Let me explain.
We really are all a lump of cells, breathing cells, dancing cells. Our bodies are made of millions, ja-ga-zillions lumps of cells. So #2 is a true statement.  

But we are more than just a "lump of cells" and that's what makes the abortion reasonings so ridiculous.
We are so much more.
That's what makes the baby expression so funny.
To think of him a just a "lump of cells" is an insult to his personhood.
A person who...thinks. A person who...reasons. Will grow to serve. Capable of reaching out. A person who...considers. Who rationalizes. Who debates. Who loves.

A mere "lump of cells", found in other animal species, is not capable of deeper thinking and reasoning and rationalizing.
We are on a higher plain.
That is a truth as well.

We also have a piece of our Creator within us.
This soul has no cells and cannot be seen under a microscope; yet it is the litany that makes those "lump of cells" so much more than mere "lumps of cell". This litany makes our cells sing.

This litany allows our "lump of cells" to think, reason, consider, rationalize, and debate the very being of our Creator, of why He made us, and why we are here. With that litany our very cells serve our God, we reach out to Him, and we love Him.

A "lump of cells" can't do that.

Makes me sad for those "lump of cells" who are content to think, reason, consider, rationalize, and debate that they are only a "lump of cells" and nothing more. It is the litany of the Creator within us that transforms us, mere "lump of cells, into something so much more.

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