The Women’s March: Equity for All?

In these next few weeks, two big rallies are being held in our country: The Women’s March on Washington today and the Pro-Life March on Friday the 27th.  Both movements are fighting to uphold and safeguard the dignity of the human person; to work for peace, justice, and equity for all.

I was disheartened when I heard that pro-life women were not invited to the women’s march; disheartened, but not surprised.  I feel like this is yet another example of how the abortion industry has hijacked the women’s movement.  Feminism is the advocacy for women’s rights.  One group has been successful in defining feminism to suit a lifestyle of their choosing.  Their exclusion of anyone who doesn’t adhere to those ideologies, is discrimination at its worst.

I opened up an article today that was entitled “Everything You Need to Know about the Women’s March.”  One of the first things I read was the following: “Organizers say one of the goals of the march is to tell the new administration that on Day 1, ‘women’s rights are human rights.’ Despite the name of the event, leaders have made clear that all are welcome to join, not just women.”

Reading this I couldn’t help but to get a bit angry.  The lie that is perpetuated by the feminist movement, over and over, is that they are inclusive and fight for the rights of women everywhere.  They claim that all are welcome to join in the fight to protect the rights of a woman, but this isn’t true. In fact, there is an orchestrated effort to exclude certain women from this fight: women who are pro-life.  It is unfortunate that what defines the “feminine genius” in our world today is a message of female empowerment through abortion; that there is a movement by people of the same gender to silence any voice that is not their own; and that certain women claim that others have no right to stand up for the social, political, economic, and personal rights of woman…because of their pro-life beliefs.

The women of the feminist movement push certain women out when they have differing opinions, particularly on the issue of abortion.  They don’t feel like a woman who is pro-life should have a voice, because they believe that they are part of the problem.  They believe that they seek to remove certain rights and control pertaining to a woman’s body.  But the pro-life woman wholly agrees with the feminist in her belief that a woman should have complete control over her reproductive rights (which she can do both safely and naturally—without putting harsh chemicals in her body—through Natural Family Planning).  The difference is, the pro-life woman recognizes that with regard to abortion, what we are talking about is a separate body, inside of the woman’s body with unique DNA and a heartbeat.  The pro-life woman believes that among these little lives, are tiny little voiceless males and females–and they have rights that need protecting too.  They push pro-life women out because they shine a light on an issue that not only affects their “liberated” and “autonomous” way of living, but also touches on one of the most fundamental parts of their movement: the fight to protect the dignity of the human person.  If this is really what they seek, where is the debate?  Where is the dialogue?  Where is the compassion and willingness to listen to another sister in order to get to the bottom of things and work to ensure that all lives are protected?  There is none of that; there is just a door in the face to all those who seek to both protect the livelihood and beauty of the woman, as well as the lives of the unborn.   

What is the women’s movement that I wish to be a part of?

The one that fights for all human rights: for equal pay, the right to vote, right to work, right to hold public office; for a women’s right to earn fair wages, the right to own property, the right to receive an education, enter contracts, have maternity leave, and to have rights within marriage.  I wish to be a part of the one that fights for the protection of women against rape, sexual harassment, and domestic violence and the one that advocates for the dignity and integrity of the woman. And lastly, I wish to be a part of the women’s movement that fights for the rights of the least of us: for the vulnerable, unprotected, and especially the voiceless.

I will be praying that women everywhere learn to dialogue with one another, and that hate filled rhetoric and movements to exclude one another in this fight to promote the true dignity of the woman may cease. I will especially be praying for all of you pro-life women out there marching today.

God bless,

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7 Quick Takes: Stuck Indoors, the Inauguration of President Trump, and an Anniversary to Remember

Linking up with Kelly for another round of 7 Q Takes.

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Last Saturday was a really nice day because me and my family didn’t do anything at all.  I was just getting over a 24 hour fast and hard cold/flu type thing, so Saturday was reserved for reading and hanging out with my family.  In that time, I was able to read Mother Teresa’s book, No Greater Love.  I couldn’t put it down.  Every thought she had on prayer, love, family, sanctity, suffering, death—all of it—they were insights from the heart of a true saint.

My plan for the month of February is to share her thoughts on particular issues with you, so be on the lookout for that soon.  For now, here is a quote that especially struck my heart:
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After I got bit by the bug, the kids came down with it too.  Eli was having a hard time sleeping, which we found out was due to a mean ear infection, and Lucy…well, not quite sure what was up with her, but she was especially trying.  I felt a bit like I did back when she was a newborn, because she wouldn’t let me put her down, and when I did, she resorted to screaming and throwing herself on the ground.  It was a tough couple of days, but I had to keep reminding myself that she lacks the words to explain when her little body is aching and in pain.  When I remember that, I only feel selfish for wanting a moment to myself, or at least a moment when the kids are not crawling all over me.  I found myself pondering the paradox of love a lot this week—the paradox of having to completely pour yourself out for another—and found Jenny’s post, which perfectly summed up everything I was feeling.   She has a real knack for doing that.

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I was coming up short with ideas to keep the babies busy while we were stuck indoors, so I tried painting with the kids.  Eli loves painting, but I’ve always avoided it with Lucy because I figured she would just end up eating the paint by the container-load.  Well, I was right.  The paint brush went straight into her mouth, and the only interest she had in painting was eating it.  I was ready to give up, but found an idea on pinterest to use yogurt as paint.

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 Genius!

It was really easy to make (just one drop of food-coloring in a small tub of yogurt), and Lucy went to town on it.  She mostly just ate it, but I like to think the work of art was in the mess she made.

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Only my Lou could make a mess this beautiful.

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I was feeling pretty antsy and down by Wednesday.  Since the babies were sick, we hadn’t left the house much other than to go to Mass and to the doctor’s office.  When my husband came home to the second day of me sighing to myself and obviously frustrated, I told him the only way I could describe how I was feeling was depleted.  Five days indoors with the kids was getting to me: I needed some adult time.  I needed some me time.  Good thing it was Wednesday, because I got a lot out of my RCIA class that I teach.  Nothing brings me out of a coma like RCIA; the people going through RCIA are so inspiring to me.  They are so receptive to God’s will and ready to listen and ask questions, and it is always refreshing being around them.

I also got a huge boost by going to my women’s Bible study on Thursday.  This has been one of the greatest blessings in my life lately, because the women who are a part of it are so very inspiring.  They have an openness to God that is exciting, and all of our talk on suffering, trials, and obstacles (especially in marriage and motherhood) are always examined under the light of God’s will.  How is he working in our lives?  What is he trying to say to us? Where is he calling us to go?

It’s amazing that most of the time I feel I need air, it’s not so much to get away from my kids and my family, but rather silence my own negative and frustrated thoughts enough so that I can hear God speaking to me and evaluate where He is working in my life.  When I do that, all I end up feeling is a sense of gratitude: gratitude for every elbow in my rib when I’m trying to relax on the couch; gratitude for every over-zealous kiss my kids tackle me with when I am trying to get something done; and gratitude for all the desperate cries and pleas for love when I am trying to accomplish something separate from them.  My family is my life’s greatest gift, and I am so very thankful for them and especially that they continually draw me out of myself.

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This morning I watched the Inauguration of President Donald Trump.  I have to say, it was a bit of a surreal moment.  A few days ago, a quick commercial for the inauguration came on TV and I couldn’t help but flash back to a year ago, and think to myself how I never thought it would come to this.  But here we are: Donald J. Trump is the 45th President of the United States of America.

I was thankful when a friend of mine invited us over to watch him be sworn in.  I thought, Beats hiding under a rock and pretending this isn’t happening. But really, all joking aside, watching it with friends while our kids played was the best thing for me to do.  It reminded me that we live in a country that, albeit in ways divided, is free.  We are free to practice our faith. We are free to worship our God.  We are free to speak our minds and voice our opinions; to educate ourselves on the things that matter; and to get involved when and where we can.  I am thankful for that.  Today, more than anything, I am proud to be an American.

If you’re angered that Donald Trump is our president, I plea with you to pray for him.  Really, really pray for him.  I love what Hallie Lord says in her book, On the Other Side of Fear:

“Someone once told me that if you pray for your enemies, you will no longer be able to hate them.  That the moment you begin to advocate for goodness in their life is the same moment that your animosity will begin to exhaust.  This is because the light of love and the darkness of hatred cannot possibly exist in the same space.”

Remember that his goodness, is goodness for our country.  I will be praying for the good of our President Trump.  Will you join me?

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My sixth point was on the women’s march which begins tomorrow, but decided to save it for then.  Check back in with me tomorrow!

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Today is the 4th anniversary of the death of one of my dear friends from college.  This day always saddens me.  Any reminder that we won’t see his smiling face again, or feel his wild and carefree spirit is enough to bring me to tears. He was so full of life; always ready to jump head first, spreading laughter and light wherever he went.

Though today is a sad day, it’s also a reminder to me that I have a friend who has seen God face to face.  I have a friend on the other side who I can pray for, and who can pray for me.  I have a friend who blessed my life with memories and love, and shared the light of his life with all those around him—a friend that I pray I will see again.  He reminds me that hope is real, and that love lives on through Christ.  I miss him, and I know many others do as well because in his short life he touched many people’s hearts.  I’m telling you about this today, so that whoever is reading this might say a quick prayer for him and his family with me.  Pray that God’s perpetual light is shining upon him, and pray that those who miss him are comforted by God’s love and presence.

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Lord, Peter is gone from this earthly dwelling, and has left behind those who mourn his/her absence. Grant that we may hold his memory dear, never bitter for what we have lost nor in regret for the past, but always in hope of the eternal Kingdom where you will bring us together again. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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7 Quick Takes: Resolutions and Resistance

This week I am linking up with Kelly for 7 Quick Takes, but the content this time around is a little different.  This week I am going to offer 7 thoughts on a word that continued to pop up throughout my week.  The word is “resistance,” and I think it an especially good word to reflect upon just a few short weeks into the New Year.

The New Year, for a lot of us, marks a great starting point for growth, transformation, and change.  But why is it that so many of us, elated with the idea of becoming better versions of ourselves, allow for those desires to fizzle out just a few months into the New Year?  How do we stick to our goals?  I think this is where the word resistance comes in.  It is a great word for understanding the battle of self-will we find ourselves in, and a great word for conquering our moments of weakness.

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I mentioned before how I never really make New Year resolutions.  I have always felt that they were kind of useless.  It wasn’t so much about me never trying to accomplish these things, but it always seemed silly and unrealistic to give myself set dates and goals for them just because everyone else does that.  I’d give myself passes and excuses as to why accomplishing my goals within a set amount of time was unrealistic and a waste of time.  I always fell back on the fact that I am a busy stay at home mom, I already do a lot, and if I want to accomplish these things…well, I’ll get to them eventually, when I’m ready.

I think what it comes down to, though, is that I was allowing myself to be moved more by fear and apathy than anything else.  The big problem was that the stirrings to better myself remained, but what were planted and put into action instead of achieving these goals were the seeds of jealousy and envy.  So often I would look around at all of the other women (many of whom are busy moms like me) who accomplish amazing things, then think to myself: Well it must be nice. She must have a lot of help to be as fit as she is.  She must be very wealthy since she started her own company.  She must have a fleet of nannies.  She must have a lot of things that I do not.  But these were all lies I was telling myself.  Instead of recognizing the incredible amount of work these women put into the things that they were accomplishing, I rested in these falsehoods.  They were the reasons why I didn’t have to set new goals and work my butt off towards accomplishing the things I still feel called to do.    

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If we look back to the very beginning in Scripture, we see right away man’s first encounter with the Devil.  Adam and Eve were created and placed within the Garden of Eden, and within this environment, they were perfectly happy: they experienced harmony with their surroundings; fulfillment in their work; perfect unity and love with one another; and a clear unity with God—in both their intellects and wills.  Then the Devil enters and immediately begins using fear and doubt as a tool to manipulate them.   He conned their hearts into believing that they could be better people—more fulfilled and happier—if they stepped away from God’s law and relied on their own thoughts, separated from him.  He instilled doubt and fear in them, and as we know, Adam and Eve followed the insinuations of the Devil.  In doing so, they removed themselves from the good grace of God and all that he had given them that was good and holy.

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Two fruits given, one sweet…one bitter

I think it is vitally important to recognize that we are still a part of that story. Here we remain today, longing for what we lost in the great Fall (a sense of accomplishment, fulfilment, unity with our Creator and with one another) and in our movement to find our way back, each one of us is met with the Devil’s RESISTANCE.

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Today, most of our impulsive and immediate desires are easy to fulfill, and we live in an age in which we can have what we want when we want it.  We are presented with endless amounts of entertainment—catered to our own particular interests—to keep us busy and generally happy.  The problem is that deep down, we are all greatly restless.  Our hearts are always seeking for something more—something greater to fill the void.  Often times, the things we fill it with are those things that don’t make us better people, and because we find a certain level of contentment in them, we end up becoming apathetic with our state and fearful of the work it takes to reach greater heights.  This is a big problem, because when we rest in this apathy and fear, letting our self-doubts control us, we remain unchanged and our lives become sterile.

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Jennifer Fulwiler talked about the word resistance in one of her podcasts this week.  She talked about her resolutions and how she was slowly beginning to realize that when you want to accomplish something good (no matter what it may be) you are almost always inadvertently faced with resistance.  She explained that this is why, when you go to find your shoes to work out, you may get distracted and then end up feeling defeated about it all and give up before you even begin.  This is also what happens when you are trying to complete a diet, and all you can think about is desert and reasons to go back to your old way of living.  I think we have all felt resistance at some point in our lives.  I know I feel it every time I sit down to write, when I’m immediately confronted with feelings of insecurity and doubt in myself and my abilities.

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It is very important to put a name and face to this resistance, because ultimately, it is the Devil’s great tool to pull us out of growth and transformation.    The kinds of doubts, thoughts, and distractions that enter our minds that are motivated by fear and apathy are all the whisperings of the one who doesn’t want our advancement.  He wants us to remain right where we are at.  He wants us to be lukewarm people, who move through life without any real cares in the world.  He wants us to be apathetic, lazy, and unaccomplished, and he will actively get in our way to prevent us from living our lives to the fullest.

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The important and key thing to keep in mind, though, is that resistance isn’t a one-sided phenomenon.    The dictionary defines resistance as “the attempt to prevent something by action or argument” (this would be the devil’s attempts to move us through fear and doubt), but at the same time resistance is “the refusal to accept or comply with something.” This is where we enter.  The devil will consistently pull at our lives, calling us in directions that seem attractive yet lead us into dark corners, but our job is to pull back.  If we don’t, what we are ultimately doing is giving in.  Each one of us has an opportunity for greatness, and we have to ask ourselves: In this cosmic battle, who is going to give in?  Me, or him?

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So, how do we strengthen ourselves for this fight?

The best place to start is by asking what would Jesus do?

Well, we don’t have to imagine what Jesus would do, because thankfully for us, by entering into humanity, he did encounter this cosmic battle in a very real and human way.

He had his own battle with the Devil when he entered into the wilderness to fast and pray for 40 days in preparation for his great mission.  After the 40 days, he was confronted with the temptations that were a resistance to his main goal of complete obedience and faithfulness to God.  It is important to note that though he was fully divine, he was also fully human, and in his humanity Jesus experienced everything that we do as humans (all, except sin).  This means that Jesus knew what it meant to be hungry, exhausted, warm/cold, and lacking energy.  Christ felt all of this in his physical form, but by uniting himself with the will of the Father through prayer, he was able to crush the insinuations of the devil before they had any chance to take root in his heart.  The Devil played to Jesus’ humanity: Come on Jesus, I know your hungry, tired, and weak…But you’re God! Make food for yourself! Save yourself! Worship me, I will bail you out!  All of these efforts of the Devil were made to thwart Jesus from his big picture: to pour himself out in love for all of humanity, on the cross.  Through prayer and fasting, Jesus was able and ready to encounter and WIN the resistance of the evil one.  To say no to him, and yes to his mission.

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So, that is where we start. We look at the actions of Christ when he was confronted with fear and doubt, and we put his examples of faithfulness, obedience, and discipline into action in our own life.   

What can we do?

Fast and pray.  Both are essential to true growth and transformation in the faith, because what you do with your body has an impact on your soul, and what you do with your soul has an impact on your body.  Strengthening them is a great way to change how you choose to live each day and work towards the heights that you are inspired to reach.  Fasting and prayer helps us break free from being slaves to our bodies and to our apathetic spirits.  If our bodies are not strong, and if our spirits are not shaped by Christ’s guidance, we will have a harder time fully accomplishing and saying yes to our missions.

– Recognize when thoughts of doubt, fear, or apathy are entering into your mind, and work hard to resist them.  Recognize that these are seeds planted by the evil one who wants you to fail and give up before you even begin. Pray for the Holy Spirit to strengthen you in your resolve to get things done.

-Focus on the process, not the end result.  If we focus on the day to day work we have to accomplish to attain our goals, we will progress.  Most of us want to reach the top of the mountain, but we forget that we have to climb to get there.

I’ll leave you with some words from Saint Jose Maria Escriva, which I think prove useful in this battle:

“Give in? Be just commonplace? You, a sheep-like follower, you were born to be a leader! Among us there is no place for the lukewarm.  Humble yourself and Christ will kindle in you the fire of love.”

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Interested in reading more like this?  Click the links below!

Inspired by Greatness

I Rejoice in My Sufferings

Perfection in an Imperfect World

Worry in the Midst

Packing Christmas Away

Today we celebrate the last official day of Christmas, and for me the closing of this season carries with it a tinge of sadness.  The idea of carefully packing away all of my beautiful Christmas decorations leaves me feeling a little blue.  I know our house will look very plain and empty without all of the greens, reds, and golds…the very visible signs of hope and of the promise fulfilled in Christ’s coming.

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This Christmas was very special for me because I think it was the first time ever in my cradle catholic life that I paid close attention to what God was trying to say to me during both the Advent season and the Christmas season itself.  I believe that this preparation allowed me to continue to see all the signs of Christ’s coming everywhere I looked, well after December 25th.  I’m very thankful for that.

Yesterday at Mass we celebrated the last Sunday of Christmas, and it felt so very fitting that it fell on the Feast of the Epiphany—the day we celebrate the Wise Men bringing gifts to the baby Jesus.  I was lucky enough to cantor at this particular Mass, and it was special because it allowed me to sing the words from Psalm 72: Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.  Every nation on earth will adore the Christ-child; the one who is High Priest, Prophet, and King over all the world.

It was also incredibly special because it gave me the opportunity to notice things that I usually don’t. Right before the Gospel Reading Father incensed the psalter.  We read about this kind of offering in Scripture often, and it is carried on in the Tradition of the Mass.  It is a reminder through our sense of smell that our prayers and daily sacrifices, united with the Words of God and his passion, are lifted up to heaven together in oblation to God in the Mass.  Yesterday in Mass I got a unique visual of this, because as Father began his homily I saw the incense resting above the altar, and fanning very, very slowly to the giant crucifix behind it.  I could almost see the Lord smelling it…taking in a deep breath as he hung on the cross in the most perfect offering.  It was as if he was breathing in deeply the beautiful fragrance and offering of the Mass and exhaling it all back.  It was a stunning image, and one I think perfectly captured the reality of the Mass.     

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After this vision, I was called back to Father’s homily in which he spoke of the three Wise Men.  He told us of their journey to see the Messiah who was to be born, and how they went out of their way to follow the star which shone brightly in the sky.  Father reminded us that their journey was treacherous, but despite the obstacles they would face, they showed immense courage.  They allowed the bright shining star to lead them on an unknown journey—a journey which they hoped would take them to see the King.  And it did. It led them to a tiny baby resting in a humble and meager manger: a poor and lowly image that nonetheless radiated such beauty and profound light.  All they could do was kneel in thanksgiving, offering their finest gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to their King.

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The gifts that the Magi brought the Lord are deeply rooted in significance and meaning.  The three gifts pointed to and foretold just who the baby in the manger was: the gold was a gift associated closely with royalty and endurance; the frankincense had medicinal purposes; and the myrrh was an embalming and anointing element.  Through these three gifts, the Magi were acknowledging that Jesus was a King whose kingdom would never end, that he would take on the role of High Priest, and that his life and death would significantly be involved in our salvation (the True Prophet who brings the Good News).

This got me thinking about Christmas in our culture today and what it seems to have become all about.  The center focus has greatly shifted away from Christ, moving more towards other things like Santa Claus, goofy Christmas songs, and the countless hours of prepping and buying, storing and wrapping, giving and receiving gifts with one another.  One has to sit and wonder if this is what Christ wants of us during the Christmas season.20170109_120103

Yesterday, though, I couldn’t help but think that the practice of gift giving isn’t too far off from what God wants us to realizeHe doesn’t necessarily want us to focus on the material goods, but he wants us to understand what it means to be given a gift, and in return pour ourselves out in love for one another as a gift to each other.   In Christ, we receive the greatest gift of all: we receive the gift of salvation and the divine opportunity to enter into communion with the Lord; to know him, to love him, and to put him on for ourselves through the Holy Spirit.  Yesterday I realized in a deeper sense that the Christmas season doesn’t just end abruptly, but rather ends with a calling.  Through the guidance of the Christmas season we are brought into the New Year with the most perfect gift of Christ’s love, then sent forth to carry his light and his love out into the world. Christ perfectly lived out his calling to be priest, prophet, and king, and in doing so he gave us the capacity to live this out in our own lives today.  We are called to daily make an offering of our lives to one another and to the Lord in a gift of love; we are called to boldly proclaim God’s goodness to the world; and we are called to become kings like Christ, masters of our own desires and selfish whims, and people who seek always to prioritize and will the good of the otherIn this three-fold way, we become Christ’s light in the world, a gift to one another.  Through Christ, we become the visible signs of the promise fulfilled.

I think just as there is a time for all seasons, it is fitting to pack up and store our Christmas supplies away.  Just as Christ walked forward in his life and resolutely journeyed towards Jerusalem, we too have to go forth and live our lives day by day.  We cannot live in the Christmas season forever.  We have to encounter all the joys and celebrations, and obstacles and pains that come with a New Year.  Hopefully, though, as we continue on in this journey we remember to merely store the Christmas decorations in the dark and dank basement of our homes…not the spirit of Christmas itself.  That, we should remember to save and store in the inner recesses of our hearts.

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7 Quick Takes: Friend Visits and Adventures in the New Year

Back joining Kelly with my 7 Quick Takes for the week!

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Like I mentioned last week, my friend from NM visited me for a few days this week.  It was really nice having her here!  We went to a fancy dinner for her birthday, and it was great sharing in conversation and doing things I don’t normally get to do with her since she’s so far away.  Karrie and I have been friends since we were 16—we bonded in Choir over Capri Suns, and Avril Lavigne. (Nerd alert!)

One of the things we did that is something I don’t usually do is go to the mall for the Dillard’s New Year sale, her annual tradition.  When I got there, I realized quickly that it was Black-Friday-crazy, and seeing the crowd made me kind of want to run for my life!  There were so many people backed up to get in, but the atmosphere was actually kind of fun.  Everyone seemed genuinely excited to buy quality items at an extremely low price, and all the waiting in line made for some really fun conversation with strangers.  It’s funny how putting yourself into such public situations (that I would normally dread) offered opportunities for charity and a good time.  And the sale was really worth it overall, so I’m pretty glad I went.  I bought a few things I wasn’t expecting because the sale was that good, and I think I might actually go again next year!

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I did a few other things that were kind of crazy, but not all around out of the blue, like piercing my ears and chopping my hair off! The actual piercing of my ears was kind of spontaneous because I decided to do it on a whim after passing by Claire’s in the Mall, but I have been thinking about doing this for years.  Going to the mall with my friend instead of my kids was enough for me to finally pull the plug—and I’m glad I did!  I love them!

Getting my hair cut short wasn’t entirely my fault.  I communicated to my stylist that I wanted to go a bit shorter, but she definitely went a bit shorter than I was thinking.  I am still not used to it or convinced I really like it, but you know what—change isn’t so bad.  It’ll grow out eventually if I don’t come to love it…and besides, you don’t choose the cut, the cut chooses you.    

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Awkward selfie.

All-in-all I think it is better for me to just steer clear from malls for a while.  They make me do crazy things.  

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While Karrie was here we went to a couple of movies together.  We saw La La Land and Manchester by the Sea.

I absolutely loved La La Land.  I mean, LOVED it.  I don’t think I have ever smiled in a movie as much as I did La La Land, and wished so very badly that human life and emotion were expressed in such dreamy song and dance.

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The movie went well beyond my expectations, and one of the things I loved most was that it perfectly combined music with storytelling.  Many pivotal moments in the movie were better expressed through the music and through singing and dancing than through dialogue.  The acting, music, choreography, and imagery…it was all so beautiful.  It was transcendent to the point where a hand hold, a kiss, or even a look became simply breathtaking; a typical love story, but there wasn’t anything typical about it.  There was no need to focus primarily on a sexual relationship or unnecessary drama between the two main characters.  The story simply revolved around two people who fell in love, helped each other rise to new heights, and achieve dreams they never thought possible.  It was dreamy, and sultry, and lovely and I highly recommend it.   I hope you like it as much as I did.

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I wished I had seen La La Land as our second movie, because I absolutely hated Manchester by the Sea.   mv5bmtyxmjk0ndg4ml5bml5banbnxkftztgwodcynja5ote-_v1_sy1000_cr006741000_al_

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I had high hopes for it because it got rave reviews and had incredible actors in it, but the whole movie was downright depressing and miserable.  I knew going into the movie that it would be a bit of a downer because it’s obvious from the trailer that the characters are reeling from the death of a loved one, but I still I had high hopes that there would be an underlying message of hope.  I thought that maybe those left behind in the wake of death would find comfort and love in one another.  I hoped that that the connection between life (both here and beyond) would be made, and the movie would offer some light even in the midst of terrible awful pain.  (Spoiler alert) In the end, there really was no light.  There was just pain and suffering and no room for any real transformation of the characters, and because of that I think it really lacked substance.  The main character wallowed in his pain and suffering in almost a masochistic sense, and there was no hope in his future but to live day by day in a sort of zombie-like state.  It was just so sad because it offered no room for redemption in his life.  In my humble opinion, just stay home on this one.  While the acting was out of this world good, sitting through that movie and balling your eyes out is just not worth it.

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I forgot to mention last week that one of my New Year Resolutions is to read the whole Bible in a year.  I read Scripture daily, but my reading is very sporadic.  I’ve kind of always chosen scripture passages this way because I’ve found that when I attempt to read cover to cover I get extremely bored at places (cough, cough Book of Numbers).  In order to do this, I knew I needed a plan.  I was inspired by this post by Brandon Vogt, and found a great plan to stick to for the year.  I am already really loving that the plan makes my daily reading simple and organized.

Give it a try!  Let’s do it together! ( I chose the Catholic Bible in a Year reading plan.)

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It snowed in KC!  I never used to be one who loved snow, but it has really grown on me.  I was up late when it started at night, and the glow of the sky reflecting off the soft white ground was so perfect and beautiful.  Plus, seeing my kids enjoy it is so worth sitting out in the cold.  The only problem is I’m still unsure how to properly handle it.  My go-to is to just never leave the house, so when I do I am always severely under-prepared and me and my kids are never properly dressed.

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This one in particular was a major parental fail. 

I’m going to just start making them wear like 12 layers so we’ll be good.

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For the first time, I used the Saint generator to pick a Saint for the year.  I am so happy I did it and feel so lucky I picked Saint Bonaventure.

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I already know a bit about him, but think that he is a great Saint for me because he was a Italian scholastic theologian and philosopher, and I love that he was good buddies with Saint Thomas Aquinas.  (If only I could have been a fly on the wall during any one of their conversations.) I’m excited to develop knowledge and a friendship with him throughout the year!

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Our little family ventured out in the snow for a very fun night of basketball, and not just any basketball, but my favorite kind of basketball: Aggie basketball!  I love that we can bring the Aggie spirit all the way over to KS, and that my family represents the crimson color.

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That’s all for me this week!

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January 01: Solemnity of Mary Mother of God

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God!

Last night we went to the Vigil Mass for this Holy Day, and while the cantors began singing Hail Mary, Gentle Woman, I couldn’t help but think how very fitting it was that we were at a Vigil to celebrate Mary’s motherhood just one week after celebrating the Christmas Vigil.   It’s just the gift that keeps on giving.

Mary is known in the tradition of the faith as the Theotokos which literally translates to “God bearer,” making her the Mother of God.  Similarly, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The Virgin Mary is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and of the Redeemer.” (CCC 963)

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As Catholics, we honor and revere our blessed Mother and count her as incredibly special…but why do we refer to her as the “Mother of God”?  Some people are greatly shocked that we honor her with this title, but I think this stems from a misunderstanding of the teaching.

So, where does the title “Mother of God” come from and what does it mean?

This teaching is both essential to the faith (especially to our salvation), and to understanding who Jesus was.  The reality of Mary as Mother of God surrounds and protects the mystery of the Incarnation of Jesus, who is God made flesh.

Let’s break it down a bit:

What makes a woman someone’s biological mother? Two things: Carrying the child within her womb, and contributing to the baby’s genetic makeup.  So, to say that Mary is the Mother of God is to acknowledge the fact that she carried the baby Jesus within her womb and contributed to his human nature.  Scripture clearly reveals this in Luke 1:26-38 and Galatians 4:4. Now of course Mary’s motherhood also extends in other deep ways, but this title first and foremost references her role in carrying, birthing, and raising our Lord, Jesus Christ.  Acknowledging Mary’s motherhood of Jesus is important because it tells us that he is one person with two natures.  If we denied that Mary is the Mother of God and said that she is merely the Mother of his human biological nature, then we would end up dividing Jesus’ person hood in two, and this is impossible; Jesus’ human nature is inseparable from his divine nature.  Jesus is one person, God, with the First and Third members of the Holy Trinity, the Father and the Holy Spirit and to separate the two would be to separate his very person.  God created Mary specially for being the Mother of Jesus, the Second Person of the Trinity, who has two natures: one human and one divine (this is the “hypostatic union”).   

Now, this is not to say that Mary gave Jesus his divine nature or person hood.  Jesus is fully divine–fully God–simply because he IS God, the Word made flesh.  What Mary did give Jesus was a nature identical to her own: an immaculate human nature. 

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She gave birth to a Son who was truly God, making her the Mother of the God.  

The denial of Mary as Mother of God also greatly complicates and damages our salvation.  If Jesus was separated into two persons then which died on the cross for us:the human or the divine?  If it was the divine alone, we’d be saying that God himself could be put to death (which clearly doesn’t work).  If it was the human alone, then our redemption is compromised because no mere human death could bring about salvation for all of mankind.untitled

As mentioned above, Sacred Scripture supports that Mary is the Mother of God.  Sacred Tradition is also especially rich with quotes from many early fathers of the faith.  Here are a few:

  •  “The Virgin Mary, being obedient to his word, received from an angel the glad tidings that she would bear God” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 5:19:1 [A.D. 189]).
  • “We acknowledge the resurrection of the dead, of which Jesus Christ our Lord became the firstling; he bore a body not in appearance but in truth derived from Mary the Mother of God” (Peter of Alexandria, Letter to All Non-Egyptian Bishops 12 [A.D. 324]).
  • “The Word begotten of the Father from on high, inexpressibly, inexplicably, incomprehensibly, and eternally, is he that is born in time here below of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God” (Athanasius, The Incarnation of the Word of God 8 [A.D. 365]).

And even the father of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, had something to say about it:

  • “She is rightly called not only the mother of the man, the human nature of Jesus, but also the Mother of God.   It is certain that Mary is the Mother of the real and true God.  Men have crowded all her glory into a single phrase: the Mother of God.  No one can say anything greater about her though he had as many tongues as there are leaves on trees.” (Martin Luther, Commentary on the Magnificat)

Amen?

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This reality is honestly so very beautiful.  God, in his infinite Wisdom, brought the Woman Mary into his life in a very special and familial way.  She was the one who would be there with him, loving him in a perfect motherly way, at every significant moment in his incarnate life.

It just goes to show us that our God is truly a God of love…a God for the family.

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