Pull up a chair in my domestic church and let's chat!

I have worn many labels (Not in any particular order): Catholic, Wife, Mom,Gramma, Doctor, Major, Soccer Mom, Military Wife, Professor, Fellow.

All of these filter my views of the world. I hope that like St. Monica, I can through prayer, words and example, lead my children and others to Faith.
"The important thing is that we do not let a single day go by in vain without putting it to good use for eternity"--Blessed Franz J├Ągerst├Ątter

Friday, May 30, 2008

I know I said, "Thy Will Be Done" but....

The diagnostics are over. We have an answer. My daughter tore both her ACL and MCL in her knee. That means surgery. That means no freshman soccer season in the fall. That means hours and hours of physical therapy and rehab if she wants to play again. And she does want to play again.

The good news is that these challenges, pains, and sufferings are not for naught. As my daughter commented, the souls in Purgatory are probably feeling hopeful since she will have plenty of trials ahead to offer up on their behalf.

It is times like these that the words “Thy will be done” come to mind. I pray these words every day, but do I really mean them? Am I really ready to accept His will when it hurts like Hell? Christ shouldered the sins of the whole world—past, present, and future—through His Passion and Death. He redeemed the whole world—past, present, and future—through His Resurrection. He calls me to cooperate with Him in the world’s salvation history. I really shouldn’t be surprised if that means I have to suffer for my own sake or for the sake of others. Whatever happens, I know that God will use it to bring about a greater good.

The next time you offer an Our Father, pause and reflect on those words “Thy will be done”. Understand what you are saying. God only wants the best for you, but sometimes the best means suffering.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Prayer Request

My daughter seriously injured her knee on Monday during the final game of a soccer tournament. If you have been following my blog for a while you know soccer is a big part of my daughter's life and she was on track to play soccer in college this fall. Her injury is probably not soccer career ending, but it very well may be freshman season ending. We are in the middle of the diagnostic portion of the process. I have no doubt that our prayers are being heard since it is nearly miraculous that we have managed to schedule both an MRI and a follow up appointment with an orthopedic surgeon within four days of her injury. Such speed in the military medical system is nearly unheard of. In any case, she has both a physical and emotional challenge ahead of her. I would greatly appreciate it if you would add her intentions to your daily prayers. Thank you.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Catholic Carnival 173

Sarah has done a beautiful job of setting this week's Catholic Carnival to a Rosary theme. Do enjoy and reflect on these lovely posts.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Holy Matrimony vs "Marriage"

Remember what a hard time my seventh grade CCD class had when we studied the sacrament of Holy Matrimony? The societal portrayal of marriage just doesn’t match Church teachings on marriage. The California Supreme Court has now increased the confusion with their ruling that a ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. Fr. Robert Araujo offers an astute analysis of the legal morass that will follow such a ruling:

Prior to the Goodridge decision being handed down, I argued in the Wardle-Strasser-Duncan-Coolidge anthology Marriage and Same-Sex Unions: A Debate, which was published in early 2003, that there was no discrimination, no inequality in the laws that restricted marriage to the union of one man and one woman. These laws applied equally to all persons regardless of their sexual orientation. But now, with Goodridge and In Re Marriage Cases, the meaning of equality has been given a skewed definition. Thus, I think it is now possible to expect that the actions of states which target those in committed polygamist relationships will face challenges based on parallel liberty, dignity, autonomy, and equality arguments. These arguments will be founded on the interesting but flawed judicial interpretations of the Goodridge and In Re Marriage Cases majority opinions. Moreover, I think that those states which have recently targeted polygamists with the compulsion of their regulatory authority can expect legal challenges to their actions which contravene the liberty, dignity, autonomy, and equality of polygamists.

These challenges will be the fruits of Goodridge and In Re Marriage Cases that likely were not intended but will follow if the concepts of liberty, dignity, autonomy, and equality defined by these decisions and granted to some persons are to be granted to all. It will be interesting to see what others think about these matters.

From my own view as a lay Catholic, a parent, and a catechist, I see a very serious problem with the language. Both the Church and the California Supreme Court are using the word “marriage”. However, they mean two very different things. The Church means the sacramental union of one man and one woman. They are joined by God in a relationship that mirrors the love of Christ for His Church. God uses this totally self-giving love to bring forth the gift of life itself. Two men or two women cannot form this kind of sacramental union. It is impossible for them to be truly married.

When the state refers to marriage, it refers to a contractual relationship between two people. They possess a joint legal identity. Up until now, these two people have always been a man and a woman. But now the state sees no secular reason to restrict these legal unions to one man and one woman. Using the legal logic currently in vogue, I think Fr. Araujo is correct when he predicts state sanctioned polygamy as the next step in the evolution of the state definition of marriage.

So should the Church continue to cooperate with the state as a minister of marriage? I am not sure. In the United States, the religious rite of marriage qualifies as a civil marriage as well. This made sense when the state and the Church were talking about the same thing when they spoke of marriage. However, now that the state and the Church have such divergent definitions of marriage, perhaps it is time for the Church to clearly distance itself from the civil aspects of marriage. Perhaps the Church should continue to offer the sacrament of Holy Matrimony just as it always has, but couples who want their relationship defined as marriage by the state will have to be married by the state as well. This sounds like a royal headache for newlyweds, but it also clearly differentiates the sacramental wedding from the legalistic state defined marriage. Of course, the risk is that more couples would forgo the sacrament and just have a civil wedding. But maybe that is preferable to having Holy Matrimony lumped in with the endless permutations of state defined “marriage”. Would that make it easier for my seventh grade CCD students to understand the sacrament of marriage?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Running the Race

My daughter will be playing soccer in college next fall. The coach sent her a day-by-day exercise plan that begins this week. This regimen will make sure she is ready for the August pre-season. To say it is intense is a major understatement. Of course my daughter already trains hard but preparing for the college level of play steps it up a notch. The program requires a lot of running--and more running--and more running. Sprints, shuttle runs, distance runs—they’re all there. Like any good Catholic, she looked at this challenge and figured there had to be a saint ready to help her out. A Google search found St. Sebastian to be the patron saint of athletes. He is an acceptable prayer partner but she was hoping for someone a little more connected to her specific training. John Paul II was a soccer player so he is probably happy to offer his prayers for her endeavors. He was a goalie, not a field player, but that’s closer than just general “athlete”. Then this Bible verse came to mind:

"Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore, I run in such a way, not as without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified." (I Corinthians 9:24-27).

St. Paul! He understands what it takes to be a champion. He understands running. Looks like we have a whole team of saints for this training endeavor.

St. Sebastian, John Paul the Great, and St. Paul, please pray for my daughter that she may compete with honor and play soccer for the Glory of God.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Rosary for Soldiers and Their Families

I have a lot of connections to the military. I was a military dependent when I was born because my father was in the Air Force. I served as a doctor in the Air Force for three years. My husband has served over twenty years in the Air Force. Now my son begins his service to our country as an Army lieutenant. That is why this article in the Arlington Catholic Herald caught my eye.

As she was driving back from a memorial service for a young family friend and four other soldiers killed in the war in Iraq, Lynda MacFarland felt compelled “to do something” to bring comfort to the grieving.
Inspired and humbled by the strength of the family members the soldiers left behind, MacFarland’s first thought was to immerse herself in prayer for troops and their families — with a “rosary for warriors.”
It was “divine inspiration,” said MacFarland, who conceded that she never had a devotion to the rosary nor did she know all the prayers.
After learning the prayers she didn’t know, MacFarland decided that the rosary for warriors should be prayed with the sorrowful mysteries in mind, and each decade would be prayed for a specific intention, including prayers for deployed soldiers, those wounded and deceased, and for the families of soldiers. She then passed the idea along to “every Catholic in my address book,” said MacFarland, who was living on a military base in Germany at the time.

These are the recommended intentions for each decade of the Rosary:

Using the sorrowful mysteries:
Agony in the garden: for deployed soldiers and their safety
Scourging at the pillar: for wounded soldiers and for their healing
Crowning with thorns: for deceased soldiers and repose of their souls
Carrying of the cross: for families of deployed, wounded and deceased soldiers, and for strength and comfort.
Crucifixion: for our nation, for the victims of war and for peace in the world.

I will be making this part of my Rosary devotion. I invite you to do the same. And I thank you for your prayers.

Where's Catholic Mom?

I know I've been absent for the last week, but I have a really good reason. I've been to Aggieland (College Station, TX) for the graduation and commissioning of my oldest son.

My cadet graduated!

Then he became a Lieutenant! (Dad is administering the oath of office )

I got to help pin on his gold bars

Regular blogging will resume soon. Right now I am feeling a little teary-eyed as the first one leaps from the nest, but I am also very proud. He may be out of my house, but he will never be out of my prayers. There are prayers of thanksgiving for the privilege of being this young man's mother and prayers of supplication as he continues his journey.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Pizza, Prayer, and Peter Kreeft

What would you think if you were seated in a room with six eighth-grade boys and they spent an hour and a half talking about God? That was my experience last night and all I could do was say, “Wow!” A group of us with eighth-grade boys who were confirmed this past fall decided to have the boys read Because God is Real by Peter Kreeft and get them together every couple of weeks to discuss it. Last night was our first group session. We began with a prayer and some pizza and then it was time to get the discussion rolling. The book is a series of questions and answers. The boys talked about the questions that most impressed them, the questions that surprised them, and the questions and answers they just didn’t quite understand. The discussion also took tangential trips into their experiences explaining their faith to those who do not believe and standing firm in their faith when others dispute it. We touched on the papal visit and Pope Benedict’s thoughts on faith and reason. These are normal middle-school boys. They can go from unbelievably goofy to profoundly intellectual and insightful in a matter of seconds. It was an incredible sine wave to ride for ninety minutes.

I taught most of these boys in my seventh grade CCD class. I have to tell you it made my little catechist’s heart go pitter patter to hear them identify the three kinds of sacraments (initiation, healing, service) or to hear them speak of the Magisterium as the teaching authority of the Church. They learned something! (insert contented sigh here )

The boys were extremely enthusiastic about this book. Reading it seemed more like a conversation than a lecture. My son said he looked forward to every opportunity to pick up this book and read a few more pages. The writing is easily understood without being simplistic. Profound philosophical thoughts are presented with humor. As Peter Kreeft himself describes it, this is an adult book that kids can understand.

Of course, I am not one to become complacent. These boys are open to spiritual reading. What should we put in their hands next? I think the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is a good choice. Hollywood is making this classic into a movie so I want them to read the original before their image of this story becomes formed by the silver screen edition. If you have any other ideas, please post them in the comments.