Monthly Archives: May 2012

Too Bad, I Like Parties

So now that gestation is winding down, baptism plans have entered the scene. Like any decent Catholic event, that means there’s going to be food and mingling afterwards to celebrate. Now I don’t pretend for a minute that the baby is really who we’re focused on, mostly because the little tyke will only be about 2 weeks old and therefore will undoubtedly be more interested in nursing, cuddling, and napping than WOOHOO PEOPLE AND FOOD! I mean… technically yes… since that’s who received the sacrament and the reason we’re all there… but really. At our wedding reception, we were just short of ignored because people were eating and catching up, and that’s just the way it is. (Well, I was also largely unsuccessful in dragging people out onto the dance floor with me so maybe my isolation is more justified.) What I mean is, no one expects the newly baptized baby to stay awake or congenial or give a speech. So really the planning itself is geared towards the attendees and the theme.

I actually miss planning things like this. It’ll be a year on Monday since we got married, and goodness knows I did planning and prep right up to the zero hour. I am, of course, not hosting the baby shower so that planning and prep is out of my hands. So, baptism party plans, yeah!

The first question is of course where to have it. That mostly depends on how many people we have and whether my parents would be ok with having it at their house. The question exists only because our apartment is on the small side. By “small” I mean the biggest table we can have is two card tables put together, and that takes up just about all of the living room. So seating and milling around space is very limited. Note: the public areas of this place are the living room, the two-person kitchen, and the bathroom. There’s nowhere else to go unless you count our tiny not-covered porch, but it’ll be hot as blazes in the August afternoon. By card tables I do not mean to give an example for size purposes; I mean that we would be using one or two very rickety card tables. We also do not have real chairs; just a couch, rolling office chairs, and metal folding chairs. Did I mention this would all be on our carpeted living room floor? My parents live about the same distance away from the church as we do, although in the opposite direction – which doesn’t really matter much. They have an actual decent house, so of course there would be no space or seating issues at all.

Then there is the food. Truly the best part of a party. No matter what party I am at, if I don’t like the people or the music or the decorations or the location or the occasion or whatever, if there is plenty of great food then to me that was not a terrible party. I will be happy to make conversation with the punch bowl, sing karaoke with the hors d’oeuvres, and slow dance with dessert. I love planning, making, and eating food. In fact usually I have too many ideas. I’m going to throw a bunch of them on here and see what sticks.

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7 Quick Takes: Super Quick Day

Having accomplished very little over the past week – except for one memorable day when I actually felt like a productive human being – there was not much to say. So here I am again, feeling lousy, but wanting to talk about it.

1. I need to figure out a sane approach to grocery lists. I used to have one. But I just spent a few days working on this one… who else makes multiple drafts of their grocery list? Maybe this is a bizarre manifestation of nesting. Now I don’t feel like shopping because the list has gotten long and I can’t do big grocery trips by myself anymore. I tried it a couple times but when I’m sitting down on the floor in the aluminum foil and pickle relish aisle because I just. can’t. stand. anymore and the cold stuff in the cart is getting warm, or when I’m leaning on my forearms at the register swaying back and forth in the hopes that this pass-out-or-puke-but-definitely-large-muscle-strike-and-headache feeling will be appeased long enough for me to fall into the car, the idea that I will be an Amazon this time and power through it isn’t convincing at all. And I’ve been putting off shorter grocery runs for this whole week due to the dauntingly hot weather, so it has to be done today.

2. My birth kit came today. Even though I know what all is in it, I’m excited to be able to open it up and see everything, and have it be that much more real.

3. After three Saturdays spread out over six weeks, my dad, mom, sister, and I have finally finished a respectably deep cleaning, rearranging, and de-junking of this place. It’s amazing, and I have never had a place where I was living look this good before.

4. We had the preliminary meeting with the deacon before signing up for the baptism class. He and I must have extremely different senses of humor, or something, because every time I make a joke there is just no response, and I kinda want to curl up and disappear. I crack jokes as a nervous habit to dispel tension. This just creates more tension. Great. Also we’ve been completely stonewalled on the Extraordinary Form baptism front. Oh well, time to lay down arms and just do what has to be done for now. Next baby, I’m asking the next priest on down the EF-friendly list.

5. It is really hard to figure out a quick, easy way to reheat Chinese leftovers which results in them tasting as good as the first time around. I’m looking at you, shamefully-non-crispy crab puffs.

6. I have become entranced by ombre cakes and desire to make one in the near future. There was a rumor that one might show up at the baby shower. It’d be cool to have one that’s pink on the inside and blue on the outside. Or whatever colors. They’re pretty any way you slice it.
(Har har har.)

7. Out of six fortune cookies, five of them were platitudes and one was an actual fortune, wow! It says “You will soon be surrounded by good friends and laughter.” Boy I hope it comes true. That’s exactly what I could use.

 

(7 Quick Takes is hosted by Jen Fulwiler of Conversion Diary.)


7 Quick Takes: Saints Who Get Me Through The Day

This week has been a pretty nasty one, not because any real bricks have fallen on my head, but because of the endless rasp of sandpaper making everything raw. But instead of complaining – which I would very much rather do – I figured this blog needed some positivity. So here are all the people I turn to when life gives me old rotten lemons that can’t even be turned into lemonade, which I don’t like anyway.

1. St. Jerome.
Recently I have been put in a lot of situations where my options are a tart, witty smackdown or just walking away. St. Jerome is practically the patron saint for grumpy curmudgeons (I wonder if he would have gotten along very well with St. Teresa of Avila if they had been contemporaries) and was known for some tart, witty smackdowns of his own. Sometimes, though, you just have to move into a cave and devote your energies to a gigantic project so you’ll have something better to do than write other people snarky letters. Sigh. I have a 700 square foot cave and my project is crocheting baby hats and booties. 7 down, 17 to go.

2. St. Martha
Have I mentioned that I’m really lazy? I’m really lazy. However, I still need good-smelling clothes, tasty food, clean dishes, a neat bed, and floors I can see. St. Martha gets me to the grocery store, among other things, when I don’t want to get dressed and I don’t want to go outside and I don’t want to drive and I don’t want to stand around and I don’t wanna… I don’t wanna… anything. I picture her leaning on the “peninsula” which forms the top of the half-wall separating the kitchen from the living room, giving me that librarian look over red-framed pointy-corner glasses as I say, “Ok, fine, it’s good to have cleared and washed counters, an empty dishwasher, a wiped-down stove, and a clean microwave interior. I’ll do it. I’ll even not only think of something to feed the husband when he gets home, but I’ll even make it in time for it to be done at a decent dinner hour.” The ironic thing is that I do enjoy doing household work – otherwise I would not be so gung-ho about staying home – but it’s really hard to get started. St. Martha is a great motivator.

3. St. Gerard Majella
In case you missed it, I’m pregnant. One of my aunts sent me a St. Gerard holy card and I taped it up on the bathroom mirror along with my St. Jude holy card. Now I time brushing my teeth to them – bottom teeth St. Gerard prayer, top teeth St. Jude prayer. They’re both relatively long so I imagine my dentist will be happy. Anyway. Being in week 31 has brought its aches and pains, moans and groans, whines and grinds (seriously, sometimes when I stand up and sway from side to side, I can feel joints in my pelvis go “clickclickclickclickclick”), but they’re all stuff that’s supposed to be happening, so fortunately I haven’t had to worry about anything. Hopefully his intercession will keep me complication-free for the rest of this pregnancy through labor, birth and postpartum.

4. St. Jude
He’s my Confirmation saint. I keep him busier than a draft horse in planting season.

5. St. James Matamoros
One of my cousins is in the Army. St. James keeps me from turning into a saltwater puddle.

6. St. Raphael
Not only is he a major character in my second favorite book of the Bible, but he’s also my husband’s patron saint. Speaking of that delightful man, he bikes three miles to work every day, which often gives me reason to tug insistently on the angelic robes of St. Raphael, such as when he had to ride home during a rainstorm and he was an hour late. I alternated between watching out the window like an expectant puppy and pacing the floor, and my prayers alternated between eloquent, respectful pleading and “HE BETTER NOT BE IN A DITCH SOMEWHERE, AND IF HE IS YOU’D BETTER GET HIM OUT!” Try the patience of a saint? Who, me?

7. St. Anthony
I must confess. I have a superpower. No matter where I am, no matter what the object, no matter how junkless the surroundings… I can lose things like you wouldn’t believe possible. Without St. Anthony, my life would come to a shuddering halt and I would spend the rest of my days hunting for whatever I was foolish enough to let leave my hands.

(7 Quick Takes is hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary.)


Cracking Open the Good Book

I’m not big on straight-up reading the Bible. I use it more as a reference text, since I’m already familiar enough with the stories, evidence, and goings-on to get by on a daily basis. Occasionally I’ll go back and read favorite bits, but it’s when I need something from it.

One of the pieces of “homework” we had for our childbirth class series was to write up a list of “birth affirmations” to help orient ourselves, boost confidence, give comfort, and generally be useful or strengthening things to keep in mind during pregnancy and labor. I tried to think of some on my own, but they were pretty lame, and when I went online to find out what other sorts of birth affirmations there are out there that other people use, a lot of it was pretty hippy, birthing in the ocean at sunrise with dolphins stuff. Oh well, it’s the nature of the beast. So I figured, what the heck, people always find inspirational stuff in the Bible and plaster it all over greeting cards, posters, notepads, picture frames, wall plaques, garden stones, etc. Normally I think that sort of thing is simplistic and kinda twee, but people wouldn’t go to the Bible if it didn’t help.

So first I just started reading through Proverbs because those are short, pithy, and cover a wide range of topics, but I wasn’t finding anything that really fit so I decided to change tactics. Conservative Protestants have this kind of Bible verse plucking thing in the bag, so I hitched up my evil man pants and looked for the most crunchy-Christian Providentialist forum I could find, stumbled across a “What Bible verse did God send to you while you were pregnant/laboring” type thread and was instantly submerged in Bible verses. Pig in clover. These women were amazing. There was one lady who just posted HUGE strings of book, chapter, and verse. I had a list of over 100 selections to look up at the end, and they weren’t all single verses; some of them were paragraphs and a few were entire Psalms. I went through and crossed off the ones which didn’t really resonate with me or which seemed like a stretch (but if someone else found them inspiring, more power to them, they just weren’t for me) and came up with these results:

1 Samuel 1:27 I prayed for this child, and the Lord granted my request.

Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.

John 16:21 When a women is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world.

Matthew 11:28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.

Psalm 127:3 Children too are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb, a reward.

Psalm 139: 13 You formed my inmost being; You knit me in my mother’s womb.

Isaiah 40:31 They that hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar as with eagles’ wings; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, I am with you; be not dismayed, I am your God. I will strengthen you, and help you, and uphold you with My right hand of justice.

Isaiah 66:9 Shall I bring a mother to the point of birth, and yet not let her child be born? says the Lord; or shall I who allow her to conceive, yet close her womb? says your God.

Philippians 4:6-7 Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guide your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:13 I have the strength for everything through Him who empowers me.

Joshua 1:9 I command you: be firm and steadfast! Do not fear or be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.

II Timothy 1:7 For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather of power and love and self-control.

I know the first part of this post sounds pretty flippant, like I was just “using” the Bible to fill in some superficial feel-good assignment. Well, I hate to admit it, but I was out of my comfort zone when I began this project, so in my mind I was keeping it somewhat at arm’s length. I felt like it was cheating to take verses out of context and reinterpret them to fit childbirth – especially the ones about preparing for battle, surviving attempts at cultural genocide, resisting temptations to sin, and standing for the truth when other people want to stone you to death. I felt like I was cheapening these verses, turning them into some kind of sentimental Footprints in the Sand or Thomas Kinkade thing.

But I kept reading, and letting the words rumble around in my brain. And eventually I realized that this is exactly the kind of language that resounds with me. Pregnancy and birth are already saturated in femininity – also the nature of the beast, since it’s females who do it – and to read all these verses written by men, using masculine language, getting that masculine perspective (all right, the one from Samuel is a quote from his mother Hannah) on matters of importance which – yes! – can be applied to childbirth without compromising their integrity. I think God in His wisdom allowed much of the Bible to be worded in such a way that it is both clearly rooted to its concrete context, but also is deeper than that, has more layers than that, and can be applied to many different situations. What I’m trying to say is that God didn’t limit Himself to talking about the matter at hand. He really does talk about all aspects of the human condition for everyone everywhere (maybe in more general terms than they’d like, which is why I think it’s weird when people consult the Bible to find out things like what car they should buy, as though the Bible is some kind of oracle) through a very old collection of documents written by Hebrew/Israelite/Jewish men about things which largely pertained to their people and, later, their converts. To some extent I already knew that – Catholics aren’t literalists, after all – but this project really drove it home. I wasn’t co-opting the traditions of someone very different from me and forcing them to mean what I want them to mean – they’re written there for me too, to come across and adopt for myself.

I need battle language because I’m fighting an environment that tells me to call it off, get the drugs, and obey the nurses and doctor without question or concern. I need battle language because I’m fighting my own fears, insecurities, dislike of pain, impatience, and desire for control. I need survival language because I need to be able to last through a contraction, shake it off, and brace myself for the next one. I need survival language to hang in there while there’s bone pushing against bone, and then the baby’s crowning and my perineum’s suffering skid marks or tearing. I need resistance language not to give up, call myself a failure, tell myself I’m not going to be able to do this, or just plain whine and complain the whole time. I need strengthening language to know that I am not doing this alone, I am not working with merely human assistance, and that I do not have to rely solely on my own efforts.

So God said, “Hey, I want to talk to you; I have some things to say that you need to hear.” He just happened to say them thousands of years ago.

Well, I’m listening.


7 Quick Takes: Things People Talk Around

Crimeny, it’s Friday again already.

There are a lot of important conversations which Catholics and people at large engage in rather frequently. I want to address some aspects of the conversations that usually don’t get brought up at all.

1. In modesty discussions: Among the other burning important issues such as pants versus skirts, ankle versus knee, elbow versus shoulder, collarbone versus “as long as nothing chasm-y or rounded shows”, there is the side discussion of where to find modest clothes. Oh yeah, just go to Shabby Apple. Oh yeah, just go to Land’s End, Coldwater Creek, Christopher and Banks, LL Bean, or Blair. Oh yeah, just go to the J. Peterman Company. Oh yeah, just go to Boden or Shade or Nordstrom’s.

Oh yeah? You know what they all have in common? THEY’RE EXPENSIVE. Out of my league. I went to Target yesterday and spent almost $80 for two dresses and two nursing bras. That’s “only” about $20 per piece, and I guess women who are able to shop at the above listed retailers would JUMP at such a price and declare it an amazing deal. I don’t. I think it’s uncomfortably close to my upper limit, if not over it. $45-145 dollars for a single dress? Not a chance.

Then there are consignment stores and places like Goodwill. Consignment stores are very picky about that they take and give a pittance for whatever they do, then charge slightly-lower-than-“average” prices for stuff I would never wear because it’s either not modest or it’s hideous. (Buffalo Exchange is a particular offender in this vein.) Goodwill has great prices but it has an extremely high miss-to-hit ratio. People are getting rid of clothing they don’t want, and a lot of it is clothing nobody should want.

So when women criticize other women, especially the younger set in college or just getting started after graduating, for not dressing modestly, maybe it’s because they can’t afford it.

2. In NFP discussions: Simcha Fisher wrote an article about a week ago about the tiresome arguments between some Catholics who practice NFP and some Catholics who don’t. I completely agree with the bulk and theme of her statements as I find the arguments ridiculous as well. It’s as though neither side allows itself to listen to and comprehend what the other side is actually trying to say, so in order to defend their own position, they create strawman arguments which only serve to discredit their own positions, thereby inflating the issues and arguing about stuff that no one really thinks.

However, I object to her label, characterization, and advice to those whom she calls “providentialists” for a few reasons.

— “Providentialist” is a loaded term as they are an actual category of people who embrace certain beliefs about reproduction, among other things. A Providentialist believes that any attempt by married couples to prevent the conception of a child – including artificial birth control, periodic abstinence (NFP), and total abstinence – is tantamount to distrusting in God’s ability and willingness to provide for the material needs of His people, frustrating God’s plan for families (as they believe He will “open and close the womb” as He sees fit), and therefore is a sin. Groups affiliated with this mindset – also called the “Quiverfull” mindset, referencing the Old Testament verses in Proverbs about how children are like arrows in the quiver of a warrior; blessed is he whose quiver is full (not a direct quote by any means) – include some VERY sketchy religious organizations (cults, really) like the Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches, Vision Forum, and Institute of Basic Life Principles/Advanced Training Institute. Calling someone who doesn’t happen to practice NFP at the moment a “providentialist” is like calling someone who believes that fathers are important role models and should be the head of the household a “patriarchalist” or someone who wants to get down to brass tacks a “fundamentalist”.

— Perhaps I am reading too much into her words – and if I am, I apologize – but there is an undercurrent of “NFP teaches self-control in the sexual arena; therefore those who do not practice NFP do not learn or practice self-control in the sexual arena.” Where am I getting that? From these two paragraphs:

Here’s a handy example:  Here I am with nine kids, with another ten years of likely fertility.  For me and my husband, learning how to reach the fabled marriage-building aspects of NFP was a slow and tortured process.  You’d think that a couple who practices NFP would grow more and more entrenched in an attitude of control — that learning self-control and prudence would, almost by definition, make a couple less and less willing to accept and be at peace with the unexpected.  You’d think a couple using NFP are all about saying no, to each other and to God.  That’s how the then-me imagined the now-me, fifteen years ago, when I thought about learning to use NFP.

But in fact, the opposite has happened:  as we learn self-control, we are both a thousandfold more at peace with the idea of giving up control to God — accepting the unexpected, adapting, being grateful.  This is what self-control has taught us.  That was unexpected!  You never know.

That undercurrent is totally wrong in so many ways. If that is NOT what she was implying at all, then I’ll be content to let it go without a fuss.

— Her advice to “providentialists” is directed at their attitudes towards NFP-practitioners, and reads like scolding, while her advice to NFP-practitioners is gentle encouragement for themselves and does not address at all how they ought to behave towards those who do not practice NFP:

So if you are a providentialist, please be a providentialist right now.  Don’t assume you know the first thing about couples who use NFP, because you may be one some day, and you might even like it.

And if you practice NFP and are satisfied that you have good reasons for doing so, don’t assume you’ll be in this situation forever.  Don’t think about how now-you will handle all those potential then-kids if you stopped charting:  just think about what to do now.

I think this is a very unfair double-standard, as though “providentialists” are the naughty children who need to clean up their act because “yoooooooooou’ll see-eeeeeee,” one day they’ll have to practice NFP too, and the NFP people are the good children who just need a tiny pep talk to reassure their flagging spirits. NFP practitioners can be just as cruel, assumptive, ignorant, and name-calling to those who do not use it, and those who do not use NFP can be just as needing of a gentle reminder that things will be ok and they don’t have to be faced with having 10 children in 5 years (counting possible Irish twins and multiples).

 

Full disclosure: We attended the full Sympto-Thermal NFP course as part of our marriage prep, and I charted faithfully and accurately for about 4 months. Then we got married. We decided that we neither needed to postpone having a child, nor did we need to have a child right away, so practicing NFP for the time being was unnecessary. We simply engaged in intercourse when we wanted to and could, and refrained when we didn’t want to or couldn’t (there’s that self-control part; we never had bad blood because one wanted to and the other didn’t. It was simply accepted out of concern for the other person’s well-being). It took us almost six months to get pregnant, and that is not a problem. We both see NFP as a tool to use when you need to use it for either avoiding or specifically achieving pregnancy. A shovel is useful for both digging and filling in holes, but we don’t use it every day because we don’t need to use it every day. Calling us “providentialists”, which has incorrect connotations about what our sexual beliefs are and lumps us with the above-mentioned cults, is inaccurate and darn close to insulting.

 

3. In abortion discussions: Women who are “pro-choice” because of hard cases never talk about what the real problem is. Let’s look at the Guttmacher Institute’s list of reasons women say they have abortions. The list was complied in 1987 and 2004. The numbers will probably have shifted since then but since we’re just talking about reasons and not numbers, I think using an older study still works.

 

Having a baby would dramatically change my life
—Would interfere with education
—Would interfere with job/employment/career
—Have other children or dependents
Can’t afford a baby now
—Unmarried
—Student or planning to study
—Can’t afford a baby and child care
—Can’t afford the basic needs of life
—Unemployed
—Can’t leave job to take care of a baby
—Would have to find a new place to live
—Not enough support from husband or partner
—Husband or partner is unemployed
—Currently or temporarily on welfare or public assistance
Don’t want to be a single mother or having relationship problems
—Not sure about relationship
—Partner and I can’t or don’t want to get married
—Not in a relationship right now
—Relationship or marriage may break up soon
—Husband or partner is abusive to me or my children
Have completed my childbearing
Not ready for a(nother) child
Don’t want people to know I had sex or got pregnant
Don’t feel mature enough to raise a(nother) child
Husband or partner wants me to have an abortion
Possible problems affecting the health of the fetus
Physical problem with my health
Parents want me to have an abortion
Was a victim of rape
Became pregnant as a result of incest

 

So. What’s the real problem in these cases? I’ll pull out a few to get started and then the rest can be food for your own thought, since these are supposed to be Quick Takes.

 

—“Having a baby would dramatically change my life.”

It would interfere with school? Then maintaining a productive, manageable education routine and long-term plan is the issue. Solve that issue. Advisers and other support personnel are there for a reason, and the reason ain’t twiddling their thumbs.

You have another child or more? Then being able to care for one more child in a probably already hectic lifestyle is the issue. That’s solvable too. Re-evaluate the home routine, time commitments and priorities, and your stress coping mechanisms, among other things. It’s a lot more intensive and involved than scheduling an abortion, but taking a step back and tidying up the day-to-day activities will help out a lot more in the long run, regardless of having a new baby or not.

 

—“Can’t afford a baby now.”

The issue: financial circumstances. There are resources available to help people work through and solve all the problems listed under this heading. Seriously. Major help is out there. You just have to seek it out and use it.

 

—“Having relationship problems.”

Not sure about relationship? Husband or partner is abusive to you or your children?? Good grief, do these women listen to themselves? An undefined relationship is the issue! An abusive husband or partner is the issue! The baby is NOT the issue! Do the hard work of figuring out where your relationship is at. If your husband or partner is abusive, GET OUT! An abortion will not fix the problem. It will just allow it to continue getting worse. If your husband is raging at you because of your dogs, your mother, or yourself, would you offer to kill your dogs, your mother, or yourself to pacify him? No. (At least, I really hope the answer would be no.) Then why would you offer to kill your baby?

 

—“Parents want me to have an abortion.”

The problem is your unsupportive, coercive, bullying parents. Get support, get help, and GET OUT. There are many resources at your disposal.

 

Pregnancy and babies often cause underlying problems to surface and become more important. That does not make the pregnancy or the baby the problem, and getting rid of the pregnancy or the baby will not solve the problem. The problem will still be there, and since nothing has been done to address it, it will probably only get worse. Identify the real problem. Search for a viable solution to that problem. Implement the solution. Cleaning up your life is a lot harder than sweeping it under the rug, but it’ll never get better until you do.

 

4. More in abortion discussions: The claim that pro-lifers care only about the baby and not the mother, and once the mother decides not to have an abortion, pro-lifers drop her like a hot rock and she is on her own. Dude. You have to be seventeen shades of stupid to believe this.

 

Maggie’s Place

Christian Homes and Special Kids (for babies diagnosed with special needs)

Baptists for Life national but not exhaustive list of resource centers, support services, care centers, and maternity homes

Knowledge is Empowering resource list for financial assistance, healthcare, education, housing, food and nutrition, childcare, and rights advocacy

National Crisis Pregnancy Helpline 1-800-852-5683

The Nurturing Network

National Life Center (24-hour international hotline) 1-800-848-5683

Birthright International (24-hour international hotline) 1-800-550-4900

Catholic Charities

Rachel’s Vineyard

CareNet Pregnancy Centers

Pregnancy Ministries Inc.

Gabriel Project

Hope Pregnancy Ministries

Breath of Life Maternity Ministries

 

This is just a tiny list from about 30 minutes of using Google.

 

5. In Confirmation discussions: Some people argue that we should lower the age of Confirmation to around the age of First Holy Communion. They say that it will solve the problem of teens and parents seeing Confirmation as the end of the line for catechism classes and ending their attendance. I say, How? The problem exists right now because Confirmation is the last “routine” milestone sacrament before “you’re on your own” to forge ahead and eventually decide between Holy Orders or Matrimony. It doesn’t matter which sacrament is the last one in line or when it takes place; it will still be the end of the line and kids will stop going to classes. Do we want them to stop going to classes at 16/17 years old, or do we want them to stop going to classes at 7/8 years old?

 

Another quick thing here: People keep saying that we should switch the order of sacraments so that Confirmation comes before First Holy Communion. They say it we should do that because that is what the Eastern Churches do. Well, I say, Who cares? We’re Latin Rite Roman Catholics. There are lots of things we do differently. Why can’t we have our way of doing things and they can have their way of doing things? If I wanted to do things exactly the way some Eastern Rite or other does things, I’d change rites to theirs. Should we also change the Mass to the Divine Liturgy? Should we trade our birettas for skufias? Should we abandon receiving the Blessed Sacrament kneeling with our hands folded for receiving It standing with our arms crossed? Should we junk all our art and statues in favor of icons? We do things the Roman way. Why is that so bad?

 

6. I have been writing this darn thing all day. Do other people experience this too? Also I know I’m having some crazy formatting errors but I need to leave about 5 minutes ago.

 

7. In political discussions: Not going to vote because all the candidates are nasty and icky? Congratulations, you just helped Obama win. I hope you’re happy under the reign of terror that man is going to bring down upon this nations. You can aid and abet evil just as much by doing nothing than by doing something.

 

 


Better Late Than Never

This is going to be quick. I’m reading a book compiled and edited by Donna Steichen (she of Ungody Rage fame) titled Prodigal Daughters: Catholic Women Come Home to the Church. Briefly: “In this memorable book, seventeen women of the Baby Boom generation tell their poignant personal stories of apostasy and repentance.” I’m only into the second story so far but man, everyone needs to read this book, especially women and those whose friends or family have difficulties with or have left the Church.

A passage struck me from this second story. Most of it is lifted straight from journal entries which the woman wrote while she was going through her gradual process of returning. It made me think about what’s going on with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) right now, what with the bishops saying, “Hold up! We noticed you’re not just going off the rails, but have in fact been off the rails for quite some time now. Usually we wouldn’t say anything but we’ve cut waaaaaay back on the Kool-Aid so we’re concerned about this and are actually going to do something.”

Now apparently there are a lot of people out there who have a very wrong notion about what the bishops are objecting to and what they’re trying to fix. These people are evidently laboring under the impression that the bishops do not like that the nuns are right here on the front lines helping the poor, the sick, the addicted, and the imprisoned, or speaking out about human rights violations, or teaching kids in schools, or running food banks and soup kitchens; basically doing works of mercy and living out the social teachings of the Church.  This is both false and foolish, but it makes a great stick with which to batter the bishops.

What the bishops are actually concerned about is exactly along the lines of what Juli Loesch Wiley, at the time an affiliate of Pax and the Erie Sisters of St. Benedict who, although a liberal in every other way, is a pro-life activist despite strong opposition, expresses in this journal entry:

Monday, August 8, 1983

In Erie, “peace” means Benedictines. “Feed the poor” means Benedictines, too. Srs. Augusta Hamel and Lynn Weissert power the food bank: fork lifts, refrigerated warehouses, tons of buns; Sr. Agnes is the food bank’s generalissimo; Pax started the soup kitchen nine years ago, and Mary Miller, who runs it now, so lovingly, and with so much respect for the sad, sodden, pocked, flawed, sour-smelling, appealing, scheming people who come there – Mary is becoming a Benedictine. The Mount has no lack of novices. The Erie O.S.B.s attract those who love those whom Jesus loved most.

So, peace and the poor. Sound priorities. And pro-life? Lord, these nuns are so overworked I don’t expect them to do anything for pro-life, really. A nod, a few rhetorical crumbs. They’d be amazed how little it would take. Just the widow’s mite – if their hearts were in it.

If they would just refrain from siding with the enemy.

What good is it to feed and clothe and shelter the whole world if you lose your soul… and help other people lose theirs?


3 1/2 Time Outs: Discoveries

Third time’s the charm, right? I even have stuff to say today! :)

1. I have broken the code. HEEHEEHEE. I mean the code about whether or not beliefs should be forced on other people. It goes like this:

—If your beliefs stem from a religious source, they are PERSONAL and should be hidden from sight lest someone else think you might be forcing them on some innocent bystander. It is downright impolite to even mention your crazy inappropriate religion-fueled beliefs in front of someone else who does not have exactly the same religion-fueled beliefs, because even the mere statement is a judgement upon the other person for not believing the same thing. In this case, beliefs are not restricted to articles of faith, such as believing in a particular deity, nor practices of faith, such as keeping kosher. “Beliefs” in this case cover everything from one’s philosophy, morals, and opinions, to scientific evidence and the results of reputable studies. If it happens to be compatible with your religion (or any religion even if it’s not yours), it’s inadmissible, not to mention gauche. There are a few religions which get free passes, though.

—If your beliefs stem from anything other than a religion, then they should be forced on other people as often as possible! They are no longer considered “beliefs” or even “positions” or “opinions” but are rather treated much the same as cold hard facts which other people must be made to view exactly the same way you do, and they must be made to react to them exactly the same way you do. Whether these beliefs come from economic theory, quotes by political leaders, one’s own particular brand of logic, or inspiration borne of a dream had after eating far too many past-due pork rinds, they are perfect shining lights with which to lead the masses to The Future, whether they like it or not.

This is how we get to ridiculous situations such as:

—Mary is against government coercion of companies to provide free contraception in their health care plans, especially if the people responsible for funding that insurance coverage have a moral objection to doing so, based on her knowledge that regular sexual activity is not a basic human need without which human beings will suffer and die, and contraception does not treat or cure any illness (and either is incapable or is not 100% effective at preventing any, either). Mary is told to stop trying to force her beliefs on other people.

—Martha says that all women need immediate access to free contraception, so all companies must be forced by the government to include it in their health care plans backed by the threat of fines and other legal actions, based on her belief that no women cannot possibly live decent lives without having regular sexual activity and regularly using contraceptives, coupled with the belief that all women are oppressed if they do not have access to free contraception covered by insurance. She is applauded and allowed to go forward with her plans.

2. I’m not as cool with stretch marks as I thought I would be. (Note for context: I dinged 28 weeks on Friday.) I don’t have any on my belly, and I’m pretty sure I still wouldn’t care too much about those since I already have growth spurt stretch marks across my hips and lower back anyway – classy thin silver lines by now – but now I have these short but THICK purply-red squiggles on my chest… Not Happy. I know that they’re largely caused by the utter ridiculousness that is trying to find the proper size of nursing bra in my area. Target carries almost nothing even close to my size to try on, Walmart doesn’t have a maternity section at all, and I don’t want to drop $40+ on a dang bra, so I did some measuring and online shopping just to find out that bra sizes, even though EVERYONE pretends that the band and cup size correspond to real numbers, are actually lying. I ordered the exact same size from two different stores, just to find out that one is a little too loose even on the smallest hook setting and the other is just barely too tight even on the widest hook setting. I laid them flat and there is almost a two inch difference between the two bands. INFURIATING.

On the other hand, the position of these stretch marks is making me face some things that I hadn’t really considered before. If anyone had told me, “You know, motherhood changes your whole life and you can’t just go back to the way things were except with the addition of a baby and all its responsibilities,” I would have said (to myself) Well DUH, I know that, I’m ok with that, it stands to reason, and that’s not what I’m expecting to do anyway. But I found out several days ago that two of my favorite bands (although technically one and a half, sort of, since one of them switched out the lead vocalist and is going in a slightly different direction than I’d like) are coming to the area in October and the ticket price is not insanely high. At first I thought awesome, I’ll be over 3 months postpartum so I can rock out without worrying, hopefully by then my husband will be getting used to this whole being a dad thing and won’t mind a whole evening of being in charge all by himself, and best of all my body will be back. Ah heh heh, back it up lady. Now I will have big ol’ stretch marks all over my decolletage. I didn’t even know how attached I was to being a certain kind of young and attractive, and now at the first hint of that changing or being taken away, I’m all a-quiver. Guess I’d better sit down and work through it.

3. My parents and sister have been helping me de-clutter, clean, and organize the apartment over the past couple of weeks. Right now the last of the stuff that needs to get sorted through, junked, donated, or put away is piled in the living room. I’ve gotten down to the difficult things and I just don’t want to touch them… Blargh. I also don’t want to change out the tired-looking flowers on the altar. Well, I want it to get done, and doing it isn’t the problem, I just don’t want to get started. Inertia – gets me every time. :( Maybe the guilt provoked by telling everyone that I’m a lazy slug-a-bed (couch) will spur me into action.

3 1/2. I spontaneously put “star wars cake pan” into my search bar and one thing led to another when……. I FOUND THIS.

Tiny baby Jedi! Although really, what responsible mother would let her Force-sensitive baby go to sleep with Daddy's lightsaber?

They’re so cute! I should have thought of having a Star Wars baby shower earlier! (Originally I was thinking fish, which in comparison seems pretty lame.)