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

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Loving Mom

Today is my mother’s birthday. She died in 2011. The void is still gaping. My mother was complicated, as I suppose we all are to some degree. Our relationship was not always smooth and easy. Sometimes, depending on the phase of our relationship, picking out the right Mother’s Day card was a challenge because nothing accurately reflected our bond. But deep down I always knew she loved me and I hope she always knew I loved her too.

Love between a mother and a child evolves through stages. In the beginning, a mother is the mooring. She is the center around which everything revolves.
 A child counts on the stability of her mother to satisfy her hunger, kiss the boo-boos, teach her to cross the street, and guide her into the bigger world.

Then as we make forays away from Mom we discover aspects of the world that she never showed us. We learn things Mom never taught us. Sometimes we react with anger. “How could you have kept this from me?”  Sometimes we react with disdain. “How could you have not known this? How could you have thought that? How could you have done that?” Our perceived imperfections of our childhood loom large.

Gradually, perhaps with the wisdom that comes with age or the experience of becoming a parent ourselves, and most definitely by the grace of God, we see Mom as the imperfect, wounded, but very loveable human being that she is. It is at that point that we really love our mothers.

I spent a lot of time trying to figure out why my mother did some of the things she did. I was looking to justify the things that made loving her difficult. Then I realized that it didn’t matter. There were some things that were not going to change. I could make the choice to love her and all her foibles, or I could walk away. I stayed. We spoke on the phone at least once a day. I didn’t always want to talk to her. The conversations could still occasionally be uncomfortable. But our frequent interactions allowed me to see her as a woman who was so much more than just my mother. I grew to appreciate her tenacity as she finagled help for women in crisis pregnancies. She never backed down from her principles. She always put God first. And there was absolutely nothing she would not do if she thought her kids or grandkids were in emotional, physical, or spiritual danger. She could still drive me crazy but it became much easier to silently “offer it up” and smile.

Every tear I cried in hurt or anger was dried by the joy I found when I finally let myself love my mother. And it hurts a lot to have her gone. But her legacy is that I learned to love. Not just the Hallmark cards or Disney movie kind of love. But the real love that happens when the road is bumpy and the destination is unknown.

So now I am hoping that my own kids eventually understand. I know I am imperfect. I am doing what I think is best. I am sure I drive them crazy sometimes. There is absolutely nothing I will not do if I think their emotional, physical, or spiritual welfare is threatened. And no matter what, I always love them.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Do you really believe you are right?

Debate has taken on a negative connotation. In the name of tolerance there can be no defense of principles that seeks conversion of others.

We have evolved into a society that embraces lukewarm dialogue, but rejects spirited debate. In the former, we are free to express personal opinions as long as we do not ascribe an exclusive rightness to our views. Any suggestion that others are wrong is labeled as bigoted, hateful, uncharitable, and even extremist. In contrast, debate requires a commitment to the veracity of our principles. We seek through reason to demonstrate the superiority of our position and persuade others to follow.
Read it all here. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Why I include political information in my blog, Facebook page, and Twitter feed

Lisa Hendey offers an interesting question at her blog: Should political engagement and social networking mix? It was a rough few months leading up to the presidential election and it hasn't exactly been easy since the election when it comes to social networking. I have not been shy about expressing my views though I have tried to avoid hysterics. I can't say I have always been successful. I know that some Facebook friends have blocked me or "unfriended" me because they did not want to face my opinionated posting. Sticking to food, kids, pets, and garden pictures is a much safer strategy if I am concerned about increasing the number of folks who check out my homepage. One of the commenters from Lisa's article says:
Unfortunately, I still need to unfriend people on social networks because of talking about politics and especially ‘the other side’, or because they find it necessary to post pictures of aborted fetuses, maltreated animals in my timeline. My policy is blocking all nastiness from my social networks, no matter how good the friend or how worthy the cause. I stopped watching the news for a reason and want to keep my social networks clean as well.
This commenter sounds a lot like blogger Jen Hatmaker did last summer when she suggested we all just go hang out in her basement until the political season passed. (I responded to that suggestion here.)

But the world I live in is messy. It is mean. Evil exists. It would be so much easier to just post about my unbelievably cute grandchildren, but I am worried about the world my grandchildren will inherit. I need to do what I can to make it better for them. So I pray. And I encourage you to pray with me. And then I pray some more. And then I act.

How can we band together to fight evil and bring goodness and holiness to our families, our communities, our countries, and our world if no one knows about the evil. It will not be reported in the press unless it conforms to the agenda the press is peddling. I know from firsthand experience this is true. When National Public Radio was looking for someone to do a radio interview on the HHS mandate they called a major pro-life organization that had issued a statement opposing the mandate. Since I had written quite a few articles addressing the mandate, the organization reached out to me to do the interview. When NPR found out they were going to have a female, Catholic, pro-life physician do the interview they backed out saying I did not fit their narrative. It is hard to push the misogynist "war on women" agenda when your opponent is a well-educated woman. My friend, Michelle, had a similar experience when reporting on the HPV vaccine.

So I speak out. I use this blog. I use Facebook. I use Twitter. Who would know about the horrors of the Gosnell abortion clinic if social media users and bloggers had not kept the story alive? How would we get the truth about Benghazi if alternatives to the mainstream media do not report what CNN, MSNBC, et al refuse to acknowledge for fear it will hurt the Obama agenda? Only after bloggers, tweeters, facebook users, etc refuse to let go of a story do major media outlets sometimes relent and and provide coverage. As David Burge tweeted today: "Journalism is about covering important stories. With a pillow, until they stop moving.”

So those who want their social networking space to be clean and free of the unpleasant intrusions of the world, block me now. Those who are at all interested in following what I think and what I find important and what I am worried about keep reading. And don't worry. I will still talk about my garden

my dogs


and my unbelievably cute grandchildren!

Friday, May 10, 2013

The fruits of complacency on marriage

My latest article on Zenit was published yesterday. It ended up being a sort of "part II" to last month's article. Last month I wrote about how the cultural forces seeking to redefine marriage are also redefining the relationship of parent and child. This month, I wrote about the advances in assisted reproductive technology that are doing much the same thing.

We currently find ourselves in a battle to preserve and protect the institution of marriage as a union of one man and one woman that brings forth the gift of life from that union. I was privileged to attend the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast yesterday morning.  Both Dr. Helen Alvare, law professor at George Mason University, and the Most Reverend Michael Sheridan, Bishop of Colorado Springs, focused on the defense of marriage in their addresses to the assembly. Their words were both insightful and informative. (Their remarks will be televised tomorrow morning at 10:30am ET on EWTN)

We all need to be engaged in the defense of marriage. The fact that we have progressed to the point that our culture now excludes children from the purpose of marriage and defines it as an entity that is independent of the gender and even the number of adult participants is the result of our failure to defend marriage from earlier  assaults.

From the time of Christ, there has been an attempt to pervert marriage from its original intent. The Jews questioned Jesus about divorce and his response left no question that the institution of marriage as God ordained was an unbreakable bond. The Anglicans separated procreation from marriage in 1930 when they accepted contraception within marriage. When the purpose of marriage became focused on adult pleasure then divorce seemed logical when the pleasure was gone. If marriage lacked permanence, then why bother with it? Cohabitation became the norm. And if marriage is only about the affection of adults, then why does the gender of these adults matter? And if the complementarity of the adults is not important, then the number of adults in the marriage is irrelevant as well. Do not think that the twisting of marriage will stop with same-sex relationships. Polyamory is the next permutation on the horizon.

We are here because of our complacency. Pope Paul VI promulgated Humanae Vitae in 1968. It was a hard teaching during the time of a cultural sexual revolution. We did not want to offend or appear judgmental or seem backwards so we did not speak up on the immorality of contraception. When I say, "we", I mean Catholic clergy and laity alike. Our Catholic friends got divorced and when they remarried outside of the Church, we attended their weddings and celebrated with nary a thought to the sin of adultery being committed. We did not recognize or acknowledge that when our friends lived together before getting married they were making a mockery of the institution of marriage.  And now, because we have been so cavalier with the institution of marriage, we are facing its destruction. These are the fruits of our complacency.

The pastor at our parish has instituted a policy that cohabitating couples cannot be married with all the frills and flourishes of a big wedding. No wedding gown. No special music. No procession of bridesmaids. No Nuptial Mass. They may have a simple ceremony, attended by friends where they exchange vows. I am sure he has taken heat for this stand. But imagine if more priests had respected the sacrament of matrimony as much as my pastor does. We might have done a much better job of preserving the sanctity of marriage.

Likewise, I know of parents who told their daughters that if they choose to cohabitate, they will not provide a big wedding and reception. The celebration is supposed to mark the inauguration of a sacramental life together. If they choose to treat a wedding as a mere formality or an excuse for a party instead of the holy sacrament it is, then they forfeit all the trappings of a traditional wedding. How many mothers and fathers today are willing to look their children in the eye and deny them their dream wedding in defense of the institution of marriage? I am immersed in the planning of my daughter's upcoming wedding and I know how painful such a decision would be. I am very grateful that my daughter and her fiance have not made me make that choice.

But it is exactly these kinds of choices that are all the more urgently needed now. We have to defend marriage from the assaults of same-sex relationships and from polyamory as well as from the more subtle but equally damaging affronts that trivialize children as a primary purpose of marriage. Contraception, abortion, divorce, and cohabitation are also attacks on marriage. Complacency on any of these issues is no longer an option.