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Friday, December 23, 2011

Novenas The Easy Way

     Earlier this year I stumbled across this wonderful little "movement" started by a young man named John-Paul. It is called PrayMoreNovenas.com, and he started it to help people like himself to remember to say novenas.  I have been receiving reminders since the Little Flower novena back in September. It doesn't take but 5 minutes a day to say the novena prayers, and as most of us check our email at least once a day it is also extremely convenient.  

     For all you bloggers out there who might be interested, here is a link that will lead you to little buttons and such that you can enhance your own blog with:  http://www.praymorenovenas.com/your-site.  

     If there is one thing this world really needs, it is more people faithfully praying. With such novenas, we not only have our brother and sisters on earth praying for us, but also our departed family in heaven whose intercession we are collectively beseeching. Just think what could be done with so many prayers bombarding the gates of heaven!

    Please, I urge you to try this out. Furthermore, it is our duty to pray for both the living and the dead (7th spiritual work of mercy right there). Why not give it a go?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Laughter Means Acceptance

WARNING:  THE FOLLOWING POST CONTAINS MATERIAL THAT MAY BE CONSIDERED OFFENSIVE BY SOME READERS.            
     For all of us, I'm sure that we understand laughter to mean a good thing,that things are going well. Laughter is a sign of acceptance, of things being okay. This is a good thing, and perhaps something that not too many of us think too much about. But I think we should. Therefore, I hereby challenge you to stop and consider the effects your laughter has, the message you are sending, and the things you may not really be aware that you are giving your approval to by it.  

     Most parents will tell you that much of what babies do is rather funny, especially if it is something that they really ought not be doing, whether it is tugging and pulling at Mom's earrings, or slapping their Dad's around the shin when they don't get their way. Such antics often cause grown-ups to let loose a chuckle or two. Good parents do their best to repress this almost instinctive reaction, because they know full well that the child interprets the laughter as a sign of approval. If a parent laughingly tells the child no, and removes the child from whatever act it was, the child will most likely do it again because it has become a game, and it makes Mom/Dad happy - see, they are laughing!

     So it is in the rest of life too:  how many of us can lay claim to infamy in the number of time we have laughed at a dirty joke, some hurtful racist comment, the sight of someone getting the snot beat out of them? Though we may have protested and expressed disapproval afterward, (perhaps even in the midst of our laughter), "Oh! That was terrible! You ought not say things like that!" such words have no force because the laughter which preceded them carries such weight of approval.

     Many Christians wonder how the world has become such a degenerate place, and don't even stop to think about how they themselves may have helped to contribute to the current state by what they found entertaining. Homosexuals, when first portrayed on T.V., were comic relief type characters; now they have become main characters with shows of their own. How? Because good people, though they disapproved of the lifestyle, gave consent with their laughter - "No, I don't agree but it sure is funny!" Take promiscuity:  yes, there have been elements of it in shows since forever, but it used to be shameful. Add some comedy to it, and ta-da! Instant acceptance! Who cares what kind of moral lessons such characters are sending, they are funny!

     Take the soon to be released "romantic comedy", The Pill*, for example. From what I gathered from the preview, some guy has a one night stand with some girl, who he was hoping was on the pill but actually wasn't, coerces her against her wishes to take the morning after pill, which is actually 2 pills, of which she only takes one, and he then spends the rest of the movie trying to figure out how to get her to take the other one. Talk about a movie which objectifies women and focuses on forcing them into actions they do not want to make, taking away their freedom to choose! She clearly did not want to take the pill and he badgers her into it. And here are the reviews such a movie got:  "Refreshingly Original" - Suite101.com; "Damn Entertaining" - ManILoveFilms.com; "Joyous to Watch" - SameNightMovieReview.com. Great review of horrible things, all because such horrendous things were set in a funny way.  

     So the next time you go to laugh at something which you don't agree with, stop yourself and consider what you are really communicating by your laughter. Do you really want to grant approval to X, Y, or Z? Perhaps not...

*Many thanks to the folks at Aggie Catholics for unknowingly providing incentive and examples for my post, which I had been intending to write for a while now.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fetal Development

Here are some interesting insights as to what goes on in the womb.  Btw, did you know that fetus is derived from the Latin meaning 'offspring'?


Nativity, Anyone?

Here is a wonderful re-enactment of the Nativity story:  

May it help you keep in mind that which we are eagerly anticipating during this season of Advent. 

Reflections

     It is awesome to me how almost everything in this life is a reflection of God in some way. It is even more amazing when such a resemblance is not intended. Take love songs, for example:  they are not meant to be anything other than what they are at face value - songs about human love. But, if one listens to them with the intellect, and not just the ears, we can easily see how it could be a retelling of God's love for us. How He loves us with a deep and passionate love; desires greatly to be united to us; is jealous when something else comes along and turns our affection away; is so ecstatic when we finally return His love. Such themes may not be so manifestly evident, but they are usually there if one seeks to listen with an intellect inclined toward the Divine.

     What absolutely floors me, though, is experiencing God's love directly through the love of another person. This is one of the kind of things that many of us know, but don't fully comprehend or realize that we know it. Over these past four months since my husband and I have been married, I have had abundant time to reflect on life and I keep coming to realizations of truths I already knew, but have never really understood in a real way before. (A future post will expound upon why I have so much time on my hands.)  Such as the way God is reflected in the love that others show us. It became real for me a couple of weeks ago:  There had been a misunderstanding and a disappointment (again); I reacted poorly and unfeelingly; there was a terrible black cloud made of my own pride floating around the apartment all day; and at dinner, after I had finally subdued my passions, I asked forgiveness. And oh! How readily absolution was given! Forgiveness was not only given, but came with assurances of wholehearted faith and love for me, no matter what I do. Just like God! In my husband's expressions of forgiveness and love, I completely saw the reflection of the love God has for not only me, but every single person He ever created.  

     That was an awesome understanding for me. I knew intellectually that when we act and live in love according to the Word of God, we are reflections of God in the world, but I had never really seen it in such a real way until that night. God is reflected in everything in this world, from the almost imperceptible resemblance found in nature, to the more potent and real images of Him to be found in our human relationships. Perhaps something to reflect on regarding our daily interactions with others.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

More Blog Sharing

Okay, so here is another stolen thing from someone else....I promise one from myself soon.  But in the meantime, I think you all should take a look at this blog, That Most Holy Heart by Fr. Rich Mastrogiacomo.  I found it after watching a video of him playing the drums (posted on Aggie Catholics) which had in its description that he is the youngest ordained priest in the history of the Church in the U.S.  I am currently having a difficult time authenticating this claim, but I found his blog in my searches.  He quite obviously says it better, but he is very musically inclined, and uses his talents in an interesting and unique way (Fulton Sheen with music overlay, anyone?).  Go and check him out.  

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Good Men...Gone? (Part 2)

     What does a lack of father-figures have to do with a lack of good men? Much. There are two basic ways of learning:  observation and doing. Most of what children learn is derived from watching their parents - how to walk; how to talk; snakes and spiders are scary; caterpillars are nice; blacks/whites/Muslims/Jews are evil; everyone is good and deserving of respect; etc. If there is no constant example of a good man for a little boy to observe and imitate, it would therefore follow that he would have a difficult time trying to be one, especially with so many definitions of manhood out there.  


     However, many families do have steady father-figures, and yet there is still what the circles have labeled a crisis in men. Why would this be? I would posit family size as a reason. Observation is one part of learning; doing is the other - children from larger families have more opportunities to practice what they observe. The average family now only has 1 or 2 kids, reduced by nearly half since 1850. Only children often exclusively have their own well-being to be concerned about, and few responsibilities. Some may have a pet to take care of, which takes some of the focus away from themselves and is a way to teach children responsibility and compassion. Children from a larger family, however, have not only themselves to look after, but their siblings as well. It is in such a situation that the character of a man is made. A boy who protects his sister from spiders; comforts his brother, bandaging his wounds when a stunt goes awry; stands up against bullies who pick on his siblings; treats his sisters with respect as his father shows respect to his mother; gives his truck to his brother who lost his, as he has seen his father give to others who have lost; such a boy has the makings of a man. An only child does have the potential to act in such a manner, but the boy from a large family has more opportunity to do so. An only child may go to school, practice sharing and caring , but once they return home they don't have to concern themselves with anyone else. A child with siblings always has someone else depending upon them - home does not give relief from responsibility; the opportunity to develop character is always present. The decreasing number of large families in our society may very well be an overlooked contributing factor in the lack of good men.   
     Just a thought.  

          
         

Good Men...Gone? (Part 1)

     Where have all the good men gone? What has happened to the male species? These were questions which I remember hearing some years ago among conservative, religious, and family centered circles. The members of such circles were wondering what had become of the quintessential man:  one who had convictions and stood by them; who protected the weak and assisted the less fortunate; who was faithful to his God, wife, and family; who would work hard and honestly for what he wanted; who was not afraid to be gentle and kind, but would not let emotion cloud his judgement. They had seen the definition of manhood swing from one extreme to another - from the tough-talking, hard-hitting, no crying, emotions are weakness, "I don't need anyone anyway" macho-masculinity of the '70s to the ultra-sensitive, dare not to offend anyone, effeminate masculinity of the '90s. Speculation abounded among the different circles as to the causes behind this, and the general consensus was that there was an appalling lack of father-figures in our society due to the growing rates of divorce and bastard births. Some even went so far as to posit the liberal feminist movement as the original source undermining the common understanding of what it is to be a man.
     
     Now, from my general observations, the conclusions drawn have a great deal of truth to them. The liberal feminist movement, in spite of the claims of elevating women, really does no such thing. They desire to have what men have, and if a woman cannot get to it by virtue of herself, they rip it away from the man that does. If a woman wants to be 'X' but does not actually have the ability and consequently is turned down, then the feminists become outraged such "discrimination", demand that the standards be changed to allow for the woman to become 'X'. The rules change, and woman is now 'X', but there is no equality - she still does not have the ability that is required for 'X' and the position is now weakened. The liberal feminists desire to tear down men and lower them to a level below that of women, but doing so actually does nothing to raise women to a higher status. This degradation of men seeps from corporate life to the home life. A woman is told that unless she has the freedom to walk away, she is oppressed; that reliance upon a man in any way is repression; that she is fully capable of being both father and mother to a child because men don't stick around anyway. Such thinking leads to increases in divorce and the number of children born out of wedlock, and a lack of father figures in society.