Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Heroes

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

I met the most amazing people today. We had a long meeting with Jesse’s foster parents. These folks, late 60s, have three boys in their home, a seventeen year old adopted son, a twelve year old foster son and nine year old Jesse, an orphan waiting for a home (possibly ours!!). They have fostered dozens of children over the years. This in addition to the seven adult children they have raised. One of their adult children is raising thirteen children, four biological and nine adopted from foster care. That acorn didn’t fall to far from the tree.

These people are heroes. They may never receive any recognition beyond the occasional certificate at an awards dinner, but they are heroes nevertheless. They spoke with us about Jesse and the other couple of dozen foster children with whom they have shared their home over the years. Mrs. Hero teared up when she spoke about saying goodbye to Jesse. It is clear that they care deeply for the children who come to them. These kids, who arrive at all hours of the day and night, often battered and bruised with nothing to their name. They spoke of kids who will only sleep in their clothes, even their hats, living in a permanent fight or flight zone, ready to flee at all times. They described children who are in crisis in need of someone, anyone who cares.

Mr. & Mrs. Hero’s first question for us was about continuing contact with Jesse. I think that would be best for us all. Who wouldn’t want these folks as surrogate Grandparents for their child?

Lord bless Joe & Lucy, and all the men and women who care for widows and orphans. Amen.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Man I Feel Like a Woman - Authentic Femininity vs. The Feminist Ideal

This is a topic that just keeps cropping up for me. What is authentic femininity, what is Godly womanhood, who has God made women to be, and what does natural law have to tell us on the topic? Conversely, what is the feminist view of womanhood, the media’s view, and how about the culture at large?

As he always seams to, God has been guiding me to insightful writing as these topics steep in my brain. Jennifer Roback Morse goes right to the heart of the matter.

"… feminism is a revolt against the human body." …"feminism is a revolt against nature."

The various forms of feminism have tried to teach us that our "real self" exists somehow independently of our gender. According to some feminists, gender differentiation is a cosmic injustice, that demands correction or compensation. More modest forms of feminism hold that gender differentiation is insignificant, or irrelevant to anything important. And the social changes that feminism has inspired have attempted to minimize anything distinctively feminine. The proper goal for a woman, especially an intelligent, promising woman, is to behave exactly as a man her age would. She should get an education, pursue a career, and work long hours to establish her financial independence.

Read the rest here: Feminism: An attack on the human body

Our Lady of Good Counsel pray for us.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

One of those days when everything changes

Every life has them, days when the world shifts and our world will never be the same. Sometimes we know the world has shifted for us. The day we graduate, get married, find out we are expecting, or a child is born. Sometimes we don’t know on that day that our world has shifted, the day our spouse is born, the day we meet our spouse, or the day we come to believe that Jesus is who he says he is, although some folks do know that everything has changed on that very day. Collectively as a people we have these days the world shifts. The day JFK was shot, the day Elvis died, and the day the towers fell. On these days we experience a sort of stunned awe, a numbness, both a sharpening and a dulling of the senses all at once. Yesterday I had just such a day.

As it turns out there really is a young boy in need of a family, and his name is Jesse. Yesterday we had one of the last meetings with all the adoption agency folks prior to actually meeting young Jesse. Assuming all continues to progress well he will be living with us in about three weeks when school gets out. This is big, the world is shifting, mind numbing and at the same time sharpening of the senses news. Hubby is beside himself, A SON. He can hardly stand it. I’m pretty excited too, but I’m a bit more guarded. The agency is telling us that this is the most endearing foster child to have ever come through their offices in seventeen years, and I’m like oh come on now people. Still I’m excited too.

Several weeks ago as I was blogging through the loss of our girls I asked our Priest if Mass could be said for the souls of children lost through miscarriage, and he said yes. That Mass for our girls was yesterday too. Our Tuesday Mass is in the evening followed by Adoration so it was after the meeting at the adoption agency. The last lines of the Gospel, on this day the world shifted for me, “Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me; and whoever receives me, receives not me but the One who sent me.” Coincidence or Godcidence? You decide.

Jesus I place my trust in you. Amen.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Anger Management and the Sacrament of Reconciliation

I have a temper. Not to pretty and I’ve noticed that one of the common themes among the Saints is tranquility of temperament. You know the peace that surpasses understanding. My confessor has mentioned St. Jerome a couple of times, apparently he was a hot head too, “and he made it to heaven,” he tells me. So what’s a gal to do?

As I’ve grown in the faith I’ve come to at least have the desire to keep my temper. I’ve come to recognize the triggers that incline me to lose my temper. I have the desire to grow in the virtues and control my inclination to the sin of anger, one of the seven cardinal sins and I’m told even a violation of the 5th commandment against murder. Oh man. So you mean that (hypothetically speaking) if I get ticked off and swear like a construction worker (if I knew any such language) I would be placing my soul in mortal danger, offending God, potentially violating another human being and generally fouling the landscape of humanity. OH THIS IS NOT GOOD!! The problem here is leaping from the realm of hypothetical to the arena of the practical in terms of the exercise of the virtues. It’s all fun and games until someone desperately deserves (at least from my perspective) to have the snot pounded out of them (verbally speaking).

I am well aware of the difficulties with this last sentence. I’m well aware of the fact that to even consider that someone’s got it coming is to elevate myself to a position reserved for God alone. I’m well aware that another’s bad behavior does not give me license to add to the mix. I’m well aware of the beatitudes, and the aforementioned saintly tranquility of temperament. It’s the practical application in context of an inclination toward sin that’s so very difficult. So what IS a gal to do?

I’ve daydreamed that perhaps a life of gardening and crafts might do the trick, but God has not yet allowed me to retire to such a life of leisure, and this morning I got a flash of clarity as to why that might be. Uh, God loves me. He really does want me to exercise my tiny little virtue muscles until they become strong. He wants to give me ample opportunity to grow in humility and in his grace until I can avoid the temptation to sin in anger. He in his providence will continue to orchestrate my world to allow me to grow in him, to help me recognize the near occasions to sin in anger and to follow Adoro's advise to call in an air strike to help me in my weakness. He gave me just such an opportunity yet again today.

I did not get into a tussle with the client who wants to stiff us for several thousand dollars. No I calmly outlined his options and presented him with a change order for each one.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this strategy works out, and in the mean time I’m off to confession tomorrow to apologize to God for the times since my last confession that I’ve fallen short of the mark, to seek an outpouring of his Grace to help me, to carry me along my way, and to make straight my path to heaven.

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven, and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Eucharistic Adoration

Watch With Me

I found this video trailer at All You Who Hope via a link at Perfect Joy. She is producing a documentary about Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. It looks fantastic!!!! Check it out and link to her to get the word out.

Watch With Me

Saturday, May 10, 2008

My Mantilla and the Law of Unintended Consequences


I was born in the 60s, pre Vatican II 60s. Our parish had a beautiful church with a marble alter and beautiful stained glass windows. The communion rail and the marble alter are still there along with the statues and the stations. My brother and his family are still members of this parish, where my niece just made her first communion. The same church where her grandparents were married, her father and aunts and uncle were baptized and confirmed and she attends the same parish school her dad was kicked out of, but that’s not the point of this post.

One of my favorite things about church as a young girl was my little white veil and my little white gloves. I thought they were really cool. We all wore veils back then. I remember simple little chapel veils. I’ve heard other women my age talk about their Mom pinning a napkin on their head for church if they forgot their veils. Such was the importance of covering our heads back then. I don’t have a recollection of that ending, I was very young at the time.

A few months ago I began to feel a prompting of the Holy Spirit to wear a veil to Mass. When I first read 1 Corinthians 11 3, Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5And every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is just as though her head were shaved. 6If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off; and if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut or shaved off, she should cover her head. 16If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God, the little veil of my childhood made sense. Just like so many other things the church does began to make sense as I read scripture. Still I thought to myself, no one does that any more, but every so often I would notice women on EWTN with veils and then I would read a blog post here and there about veils, and like so many of the other things God has shown me, the topic started to crop up on a regular basis.

So a few weeks ago I asked Hubby if he would be bothered if I wore a mantilla. I asked because I would be the only woman at our Mass to wear one, and neither of us is to wild about standing out in a crowd. He was OK with it so I’ve been wearing a mantilla to Mass for the last few weeks.

This small act of obedience has brought me more than I bargained for. My simple little veil has brought insights into the nature of womanhood as God intended. It has helped open my heart to God’s healing of my self-image as a woman who hasn’t borne children. It has opened doors to my understanding of the family and the roles of men and women in society at large.

I can be a bit dense. Often times I will sense the underpinnings of one of God’s precepts rolling around just below the surface of my comprehension, but I don’t quite get it, and I most defiantly can’t articulate the concept. During the process of my conversation I had vague notions of the illicit nature of a concept such as IVF. I could sense that all was not right here, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. During the Retrouvaille years of my marriage, I had this inkling that our marriage while important to us had much further reaching implications and to walk away would impact many lives beyond just our own, even tear the very fabric of society at large. Often times my soul senses God’s position on the matter but I can’t articulate or even identify why I feel the way I do. My solution in this type of situation is to simply back away, watch and wait for further insights into the matter. My obedience to the Holy Spirit has been key to gaining insight and understanding.

When I feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit to take action I usually stop and pray about the issue, and then, because the Bible tells us to test the spirits, I will look at how the prompting lines up with Church teaching. I’m so grateful to have the wealth of the deposit of Christian faith in the Church. With all the competing voices in the world, Christian voices or those who claim to be, even competing voices in the Catholic Church, we aren’t left to fend for ourselves. Jesus told us he would be with us until the end of time and so he is, in the Eucharist, and in the Magisterium. The teachings of the Church are available to anyone who cares to look them up.

I realize that to cover my head in Church is a minor little act of obedience, but the insights and the healing I’ve gained have far surpassed the efforts. To phrase in business parlance my ROI has been huge. My mantilla is a tiny piece of lace that carries a lot of weight.

Lord, please accept my small offer of humility. I ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

He Created Them Male and Female and Blessed Them.

“Now women are just the same as men.” Says my Father to round out his argument that women have arrived at parity with men in the legal profession. “When they first started they were terrible, weeping and week, but now they are the same as men.” This on the heels of a discussion of the deterioration of our society in general as we sat around the dinner table after my Niece’s first communion. It was just lobed up there so pretty, I couldn’t let it pass. Deep breath, glance down at the table and pray, “Come Holy Spirit”.

“Dad, I’m not so sure that’s a good thing, for women to be just like men. I’m not so sure that isn’t one of the very issues undermining the fabric of our society. I’m not so sure that the very foundation of the problem isn’t the advent of artificial birth control and the radical feminism that followed on it’s wake insisting that women should be just like men. It seams to me that to devalue the very nature of what it means to be a women to suppress our natural inclination to nurture home and family and to alter our very bodies to accommodate the insistence that we be just like men is ground zero of the destruction of our society. Moreover, the Church saw it coming though our American clergy has been rather quiet, it has always been the Church’s position that birth control would lead us to exactly where we stand in terms of the dedregation of the family. Once the family is undermined the very underpinnings of our society have been removed and chaos ensues. Furthermore by removing God as the baseline of morality individual opinion becomes the baseline of morality. Without Truth anything goes.”

A hearty Amen from my Brother at the end of the table, the brother I’m not as close to so I wasn’t sure how he would take my little diatribe. “No, no Anne, you are wrong says my Mother, men do dishes now and laundry and help around the house, and women used to be treated as chattel.” “I’m not talking about sharing domestic tasks Mom, I’m talking about an expectation that women elevate professional achievement above the care of her husband and children.” “Well look at your brother (the other one, who’s position on such things I am much more familiar with) Heather works and what you’re saying is disproved right here in this family.” “No Mom” Heather chimes in, “I only work when the kids are in school, and only then just for something to do during the day. My family always comes first.”

With that the little dinner party ended, my parents befuddled, my generation united, and the kids with questions after the grandparents left. My parents were both born in the early 1930s. In their lifetimes society has undergone radical change. Concurrent with that their Church shifted radically in the aftermath of the second Vatican council. Not the doctrines or dogmas of the faith, but the practice of the faith, the day in day out rhythm of Parish life shifted. My parents have been carried along by the currents of American culture, and in the process have lost their marriage and their faith. This evening, their kids lowered a lifeboat from the barque of Peter, on a search and rescue mission. Hoping to bring them back to Jesus the same way they brought us to Jesus, hoping to close the Sacramental loop from Baptism to Last Rites via a stop for First Communion along the way.

Lord teach us to honor our father and our mother, as the LORD our God has commanded us, so that we may live long and that it may go well with us in the land the LORD our God is giving us. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

American Foster Kids - The Walking Wounded

Hubby has always been keener on adoption than I. He always felt that a child in our home would fill the hole in my heart left by the loss of our pregnancies. I wasn’t so sure, but when a friend who parented both adopted and foster kids invited us to a foster mixer we went. I’ll never forget the first and only conversation I had with one of the foster parents there. The man was telling me all about a little girl he was caring for. She had oppositional defiant disorder and was on a host of medications. She regularly needed to be physically subdued and would scream obscenities for hours on end. She came into care with her brother who explained how he would horde his fries from MickyDs in his pockets so that he could shove them under the door of the closet she was locked in so she could eat. I recall physically recoiling at the tale, I still do today as I write the words that describe the reality of her life. I remember feeling my knees weaken, and feeling like I wanted to retreat to a corner of the room to politely wait out the duration of the event in stunned silence. What I really wanted to do was run as far away as quickly as I could.

I had great empathy for this child, but wondered how I could possible parent such a child when I could barely stomach a telling of her story. My friend had a toddler on her lap. The child was so subdued and quiet, not the least bit toddler like. She sat almost in resignation with her little shoulders slumped and her eyes downcast. She came into care at around six months when her mother was incarcerated, but remained in care because the mother hadn’t made any efforts to retrieve her upon her release. I was shocked. I didn’t have any frame of reference for the daily experience of these children’s lives. These children who lived in my hometown, not in urban blight, or a third world country half way around the world, in my rural county!

Our first brush with foster adoption came four years before our conversion to Christ. I didn’t have a frame of reference to process a world in my backyard with such intense pain, and I had no understanding of the issues these kids face. I knew I wasn’t prepared to parent these children. Since that time I’ve done some research into the issues common to children in foster care. For me Reactive Attachment Disorder is the most intimidating. Kids with RAD require therapeutic parenting, and a host of interventions that I’m not sure Hubby and I can handle. We set the entire adoption discussion aside for several years as we explored options.

Still these children never left my mind. They have been an important part of my conversion in many ways. Their lives, and their experience would flash through my mind as I was learning the Church’s position on right to life issues. The pieces of the puzzle began to click into place like the tumblers of a lock as I began to comprehend how removing the procreative aspect of human sexuality naturally leads to dehumanizing of the human person. Once we treat sex as entertainment rather than a procreative act we are naturally more inclined to consider the byproduct of the act disposable. Foster kids survived the abortionist only to get ground up in the aftermath of the destruction of the American family brought on by a little tiny pill. And the Catholic Church was the only one who saw it coming.

Thank you Lord for sending your Holy Spirit to guide and protect your Church. Teach us to speak out boldly for you and for the most helpless among us. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.