“The Unconscious Catholic Cultivation of Homosexuality”

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This is an incredible reflection (written, incidentally, by a friend of my husband’s. But I didn’t realize that when I first read it and loved it, haha!) There’s probably room for much more discussion on this topic, but I think he really has a point that needs to be heard.

Here’s the entire post.

And here’s a preview snipet:

“You see, all the time I hear Catholic speakers at talks, conferences, and parishes talk about how men and women should behave within their sex. I hear that men always desire to be leaders and competitive. Women are always more nurturing and better suited for child rearing. I hear that men should like to hunt, and women should like to cook. Men should like sports and drinking beer, while women should like ballet and romantic comedies. The list goes on and on, ad naseum.

“While there are masculine traits and feminine traits, these specific traits don’t make a man a man and a women a women. These rigid definitions that are espoused by a great number of Catholics are straight up hurtful, oppressive and yes, sometimes lead others in choosing to be homosexual . I’ll explain.”

“Yes, We Still Need Feminism” by Simcha Fisher

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Read an amazing blog post today on why We Still Need Feminism. Here’s an excerpt for those of you who are short on time. It doesn’t necessarily summarize the article, but I found it one of the more profound and relevant points of the whole article:

“And if you think these outrages only exist in the godless secular world, you are sheltered indeed. Men and women in some Catholic circles believe that marital rape is impossible, because the marriage debt means that women never have the right to say “no.” They believe that if men use porn, it’s the woman’s fault for not being compliant or submissive enough. I know a woman whose priest told her that it’s a mortal sin to refuse her husband sex even one time, for any reason.  I know women who’ve gotten an annulment after enduring years of rape and physical and emotional abuse, and the congregation shuns . . . the woman. And her children. Because marriage is sacred.

“This is why we need feminism — yes, still. This is why we need it more than we needed it twenty years ago.  Yes, the movement went astray. Yes, some evil people call themselves feminists, and do dreadful things in the name of feminism. So what?  People do dreadful things in the name of democracy, and people do dreadful things in the name of beauty. People do dreadful things in the name of Christ our savior. That doesn’t mean we abandon the name. That means we rescue it, we rectify the misuse.”

The Need for Christ: a Small Reflection for Pascha from a Non-expert

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This weekend marks the final and pivotal acts in the redemption of humanity.

Having grown up in the Roman rite of the Catholic Church, one of my favorite reflections on the mystery of Pascha comes from the Exsultet: “Oh happy fault, that earned so great, so glorious a Redeemer!”

Without that original sin of Adam, that sin that separated us from God and thus from Life, and consequently brought suffering and death to the world, there would be no need for Christ to take on human flesh. There would be no need for Christ to become man “that we might become God” (St. Athanasius).

How desperately we need Christ.

Sometimes Lent become a focus on my deeds, on what I can do for God, and I forget that even those good deeds I do out of love of the Lord are only possible because the energies* of God himself are at work within me.

I need Christ. We need Christ. We need his death, and we need his resurrection.

We have been fasting (some moments more successful than others) this Lent to the point of feeling a physical need. Let us also remember our spiritual hunger and Who it is who comes to fill us.

This season comes every year for me, and every year I am in awe. I try to contemplate the mysteries and they continue to elude me. But I do know for certain–this year more than others especially–that I need Christ, and I need his glorious death and resurrection.

“Christ is risen from the dead! By death, he trampled Death, and to those in the tombs, he granted life.”

Russian icon of the Resurrection. Christ is pulling Adam and Eve out of the grave.

Russian icon of the Resurrection. Christ is pulling Adam and Eve out of the grave.

*”Energies” is a term in Eastern spirituality to describe a concept that is comparable to, though not completely the same as, “grace” in Western theology.

Free Love is Not

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Today I participated in a conversation on abortion rights. Now, if you know me, you know I spend a lot more of my time calling out the pro-life movement on its lack of initiative of support for pregnant mothers and other areas than I do calling out the pro-choice movement. My thought is to pull the planks out of our own eyes first, right? But I felt a desire to participate in this discussion, which began with a post by a friend lamenting Texas’ new laws that require abortion clinics to be certified ambulatory surgical centers and a few other changes.

These laws brought about the closure of all but six abortion-performing clinics, six clinics that must be up to some high health standards. The author of the article argued that this was causing women to cross the border to procure backalley abortions and abortifacient drugs administered improperly. The author did not disclose how often this had happened in the past, nor did she disclose any information about the clinics that were shut down. When I suggested, in the wake of these closures, offering women services to help them keep their baby, it was radically denied by one reader and garnered the response that “convincing a woman to keep that baby is not the answer here.” The person arguing this also said that even if it was a viable answer, it was the responsibility of the pro-life movement to do this. The pro-choice movement is not interested in providing that kind of help and would prefer to focus on abortion rights. I am not kidding about this response.

(I also had a second idea to provide bus passes and housing to women in order for them to be able to visit one of the open clinics. This got me accused of not knowing a thing about what these women need due to my “white privilege.” I had no idea being white could illegitimize every ounce of ministry I’ve ever had with those less fortunate, my experience as a parent who is still in school, and the number of women I’ve known or know personally who live in very poor, can’t-put-food-on-the-table situations. I also had no idea being white still made me as a parent less of an authority on what it’s like to be pregnant than a childless man whose race was undisclosed.)

What I realized is the people with whom I was discussing this, people who have never had children themselves, really thought the only answer to help these women was to have abortion clinics–even if they were less than ideal in health standards–readily available. Any other idea, especially those that require work and personal relationships, was bad.

What I also realized from this conversation is that what this version of the pro-choice movement really wants is free love. Sex without cost. But there is no such thing.

In sex, one must always make some kind of sacrifice regarding their fertility:

1) They pay for birth control (or have someone else pay for it) and understand there is a small possibility of pregnancy.

2) They don’t pay for birth control and understand there is a greater possibility of pregnancy.

3) They practice a fertility awareness method, abstain during fertile times, and understand there is a small possibility of pregnancy.

4) They abstain completely with no possibility for pregnancy.

There is some kind of sacrifice to be made in each situation, even if that sacrifice is abstinence.

So, if you believe your only option for an abortion is to run to Mexico, you have to decide:

Do I have sex, and risk getting pregnant, and then risk a bad abortion procedure?

Do I have sex, and risk getting pregnant, and then take responsibility for that child, even with the option of giving them up for adoption?

Or do I not have sex in order to avoid getting pregnant?

(Rape is obviously a different story and not what I mean to discuss here.)

Sex is not for children; it’s for grown-ups, precisely because these are the grown-up decisions one has to make. Who is educating these men and women to that point? Who is not just showing them how to put on the condom, but educating them on how to pre-meditate the possible outcomes of their choice to buy and use that condom? Who is empowering them to stand up for their decisions with regard to their sexuality? Who is empowering them to follow through with those decisions?

Neither the popular pro-choice nor the pro-life movements (except a few factions of each) seem concerned about this kind of sex and relationship education. It all seems centered around how to use birth control or how to stay abstinent, but learning how to make your own choices and to take responsibility for the outcomes of those choices is not part of the curriculum. Perhaps it shouldn’t be. Perhaps it should the onus of the parents or guardians to teach this. But what happens when they don’t?

There are many who want to provide merely “free love” and sex without cost to these men and women, but what good does that do? True, divine love is not possible without cost. Personally, I have experienced no truer love than what I have in being a mom, and I say that because it changes even the way I love my husband and so many others. There are moments where I regret getting pregnant and wonder what I was thinking, whether that’s because I miss my dance career or because I feel inadequate as a mom. But the moments of joy and the moments where I see my daughter grow and become more and more the incredible human being that she was made to be far outweigh any feelings of regret. I see that there are so many other people out there who can fulfill the world’s need for dance, but I–despite all my inadequacies–am the only one who can be my daughter’s mother. She needs me. I may find it annoying on occasion, and I may have to make insane sacrifices for her needs that drive me to exhaustion, but it is so incredibly beautiful and powerful to be needed and to have to love like that, to have to love on terms other than my own.

And I’m not just making up this idea of love requiring suffering all on my own. In case you weren’t yet tired of me quoting Kahlil Gibran from The Prophet on love:

“But if in your fear you would seek only love’s peace and love’s pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love’s threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears.”

So to those pro-choice people who find me and other pro-life people ignorant of a woman’s needs, I would urge you to remember the human need for love.

Not for sex.

Not for satisfaction.

Not for convenience.

But for self-giving, life-giving love.

And then ask yourself whether or not the answer really isn’t to encourage and support a woman in keeping her child.

If you or someone you know is struggling with difficult emotions related to an abortion, please visit abortionrecovery.org, the website for Abortion Recovery International (ARIN). This is an excellent organization that can set you up with a counseling program that meets your spiritual and emotional needs.

“Being a Good Mom is Making Me a Bad Wife”

I love that I can be myself with my husband.  He honestly doesn’t care if I’m wearing makeup or anything like that.  I know that he loves me.  I know that he loves how we’ve created a family together.  We’re partners and we signed up for this life together.

But I want to be fun and interesting and sexy when I’m with him, at least sometimes.  I want him to know that I’m more than just a frazzled nutcase in an applesauce-covered Target t-shirt.  And I’m sure he does know that, in a sense, but how long is he going to believe it without any evidence to the contrary?  How do I give him my best?  How do other stay-at-home-moms do it?  Does he worry about any of these things too?

I didn’t write this, but I feel like I could have.

I also love that this woman is not offering a solution for the problem in the entirety of her post, but she is simply expressing.

Can I be honest? Sometimes I hate bloggers who have to end every single post with a solution to their problem, despite the fact that I know they are actually doing a good thing by trying to find solutions. Sometimes, I just really need to commiserate, and I just want empathy, not a problem solved. (Then again, sometimes I want solutions. I’m fickle that way.)

And that’s why I love this post from Scary Mommy.  Her story rings so incredibly true to my story: somehow, my husband always catches me at my worst, and the sexy, kind, not-covered-in-sleep-deprived-acne wife who used to greet him with kisses instead of “SHHHHHHHHH! She’s finally sleeping!!!!” is gone. The thing that’s replaced her on most occasions can only be described as out of the abyss.

What bothers me most is I remember totally judging the women whom I perceived as acting this way. “Why do you give everything to your children and nothing to your husband?” I’d think to myself. “I’m never going to be like that. I’m still going to be an awesome wife.”

That’s what I hate about judging, especially everything I ever judged about parents. Somehow, it always comes around to bite me in the ass.

I will be the first to say my husband and I need more date nights.

But I also wouldn’t mind getting a strong drink with author Kate Parlin and commiserating over how being a good wife while being a good mom is hard as hell.

 

The Glory of God Shared with Mere Mortals

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As someone whose writing is dedicated to human fulfillment and human experience, I should have something to say today, of all days, when we celebrate God becoming man.

I don’t have anything to say. I am simply in awe.

I’m also sleep deprived. But I would prefer all of you to think this is completely and totally due to my great spiritual advancement.

So, once again, I will simply pass on this reflection from Father Stephen, titled “Our Conciliar Salvation.” This line is perhaps my favorite:

 It is feared that a conciliar mode of action shares the glory of God with mere mortals.

It is true. This understanding shares the glory of God with mere mortals. But, interestingly, St. Paul says that man is the ‘image and glory of God’ (1 Cor. 11:7).

Happy Annunciation!

Small Success Thursday #1: Something Rinsed, Something Spinned, Something Pooed

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I am barely making it in time to post these for “Small Success Thursday,” hosted by Catholicmom.com. However, I didn’t have the time today to figure out how to link up CM for this, but I think the idea’s great–and expresses one of the essentials of our human experience–so I’m going to share anyway.

#1) I rinsed my quinoa.

For those of you unfamiliar with this healthy grain, it probably sounds like I just shared something a little too personal.

After complaining of bitter-tasting quinoa, a friend of mine recommended that I actually try rinsing it, like the directions say.So holding cheese-cloth over a small bowl, I rinsed my quinoa, one third of a cup at time, prior to cooking it. And guess what?

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It still tasted bitter.

But the point is that I rinsed it!

PS–Cooking quinoa always makes me think of this song and the line that says, “It’s so good to see you, Quinoa, you’re the protein source I chose. Still it looks as if I’ve seen ya coming out of someone’s nose!”

#2) I figured out what “Fresh Spin” is on my washing machine.

My parents got us a new rocket ship washer and dryer for all of the gift-giving holidays of this year, and I’m still learning what all the buttons do. Granted, I’ve never been awesome at laundry. For six weeks in my sophomore year of college, I washed my clothes only in fabric softener, thinking it was the same thing as detergent. And I was a dance major who spent all day in sweaty, clingy leotards and tights, so….yeah.

This is pretty much what all those buttons look like to me:

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And only six weeks later would I realize that it’s not actually a washing machine but a wireless control panel for a fancy Japanese toilet.

Anyway, I noticed our washing machine staying on and the door staying locked even after the final rinse, and couldn’t figure out what was going on. After a few days of this, I finally caught the machine in action: after a long interval of inactivity, it nonchalantly tumbled the clothes around for a few seconds while a light flashed next to the “Fresh spin” button.

I either accidentally pushed this button several days ago, or this washing machine is so advanced that it noticed my propensity to leave clothes in the washing machine for too long and to then have to rewash them about four times before they ever make it to the dryer.

#3) I figured out what my daughter’s been eating.

Pookie Bear had a couple of diapers containing poop and red threads. Not blood. I did a close examination. They were red threads. There was even a little lint ball. That led to a few days of closely examining everything she touched to try to figure out where these mysterious poo anomalies were coming from.

Then I went over to my mom’s house. One of Pookie Bear’s favorite toys there is an old-but-lovable, naked Raggedy Andy Doll with–yes–red, yarn hair. So I immediately put two and two together when I saw her grab him and start nibbling on his head.

“So THAT’S what she’s been pooping!” I said, which then made me have to explain the issue to my mom, who was super embarrassed.

Whatever, Mom, no harm done, and at least it wasn’t the lawn mushrooms, right? Because what kind of mom doesn’t see her kid eating the mushrooms off the lawn? Right, Mom?

HA! With my luck, I’ll be bringing Pookie Bear to the hospital for the same thing in four years, while my mom laughs.

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#4) Pookie Bear has not eaten any mushrooms off of the lawn. Yet.

The Five Stages of Your Sex Life

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Dani Ryan over at ScaryMommy.com wrote this brilliant piece about “The Death of Your Sex Life” as a parent. However, a couple of the stages she outlined didn’t really jive with my experience as a practicing Catholic, so I decided to write a version for that kinky part of the population who want to wait until marriage to have sex and who make like hippies and use Natural Family Planning for pregnancy avoidance. I’ve written it from and for the female perspective, but I’m sure that will shed a lot of light (maybe too much light, there should be a dimmer…) for any men out there.

Disclaimer: Obviously this post talks about sex. If you don’t feel like you should be reading it, I trust your judgment to stop right here and go Youtube “babies and puppies” instead. (No, seriously, you need to Youtube that, it’s how I get through everything in life). If you want to read it, by all means, scroll on. But then Youtube “babies and puppies,” because it’s freaking cute.

The Five Stages of Your Sex Life

1. Honeymoon Stage

As a friend of mine once said, “121 more days until I get to have sex, um, I mean, get married.” Yes, the wedding night for the obedient Christian generally indicates that first, awkward, awesome-because-you’re-both-naked but weird-because-you-don’t-know-what-you’re-doing night getting to know each other in the Biblical meaning of the word. Unless you’re practicing NFP and you’re in Phase 2 and trying to avoid pregnancy. Then the wedding night means a game of Scrabble and crazy anticipation for when your chart finally tells you you’re in Phase 3.

2. Plain Old Marriage Stage

Now that you’re married, you’re going to have wild, passionate, Somewhere In Time, crazy sex like every day, (except during Phase 2, again, if you’re avoiding pregnancy, but that will be a piece of cake for good Catholics, right?). And every time is going to be beautiful. You’ll never fart during your marital embrace. You’ll never struggle with how to actually “do it good”. You’ll always orgasm. You’ll never say something stupid or think of your grandparents. Right? Ha!

This is your rookie year. This is when you get to figure it all out and learn the ropes. And it will take months. Several months. But several very fun months.

You may want to take that into consideration before actively trying to move onto the next stage, although many people have gotten pregnant early on and lived to enjoy happy, sex-filled marriages.

3. Pregnancy Stage

Just when you think you’ve figured it all out (or even before you’ve figured it all out), you pee on a stick, and it shows you two blue lines instead of one.

(Or maybe you skipped Stage 2 because you decided to consummate your marriage on your wedding night during Phase 2. More power to you combining Stages 2 and 3!).

Hooray! No more avoiding sex during Phase 2 or having “work” sex during Phase 2, whatever option you were doing (unless you were the lucky, laidback folks who said, “Ah, we’ll just do it when we want and see what happens”). Now you’ll have sex all the time and whenever you want!

Which will be never. Well, okay, we’ll increase that to rarely. While your husband gets excited over that thick, shiny pregnant hair and those bouncy, preggo boobs, you can’t imagine anything you’d rather do less than gyrate any part of your wildly growing torso, especially during the tired, nauseating, first trimester. There’s usually a glorious two or three days during the second trimester that you’re actually excited to get it on, but inevitably your husband will be on a business trip. Come the third trimester, you just won’t be up for the Olympian acrobatics that it takes to navigate an intimate experience with a gigantor belly. But you’ll do it a few times anyway, because you know you might never have sex again after that baby is out (or so it seems).

Let’s not forget the roller coaster of emotions you’re riding, thanks to those wonderful preggo hormones, and how they will make you react–or overreact–to any part of the sexual experience.

There are some rare women out there who actually want to do it more during pregnancy. These are generally the same bitches who never get acne and keep a perfectly clean house and who no one likes.

4) Postpartum Stage

Your doctor tells you that you can’t do the deed for at least 6 weeks (maybe more), and you couldn’t feel more relieved. After my own postpartum check-up, I played with the idea of telling my husband that the doctor told me we’d have to wait another 6 weeks just to buy my sleep-deprived, energy-drained self some more time. Plus, I’m pretty sure the men-folk need some time to recover from the trauma of seeing a small human being distort, tear, and emerge from your once-known-to-be-sexual organ. Then, when you finally decide to “do it”, you realize the doctor was right when he said it might take a while for things to feel normal again. Meanwhile, you stock up on KY.

5) Child-proofing Stage

There are days you wonder if you’ll ever sleep again, let alone have sex again. Thankfully, there’s Grandma’s/Aunty’s/Friend’s house and date night. Things still don’t feel like they used to, and you’re hesitant to take off your bra during the deed lest your boobs (A) hit you in the face or (B) leak all over the place. But you’re getting used to the new circumstances around your horizontal tango. You’re getting used to rushing into the deed because kiddo only naps for half an hour or planning sex for date nights. You’re getting used to foregoing acting on every spontaneous whim. And you feel much more prepared to repeat Stages 3, 4, and 5 all over again with the next kid.

P.S. By that time, Stage 5 will include trying to come up with clever cover-ups to give to your now-older children so they don’t know what you’re up to. My husband and I have decided we’re going to call it “doing our taxes”. Oh, and you will also likely need to be prepared to explain to your child what they just saw when they inevitably walk in on you “doing taxes.”

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Even bunnies do their taxes. A lot.

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