“Rabbits?” We’re never supposed to be like animals

There’s so many reasons NOT to get overly excited over every little thing that Pope Francis says. First of all, he’s just expressing his own opinion–not everything that any pope says is actually “infallible” unless explicitly spoken “ex cathedra” (more on that here). Secondly, the media is always misconstruing what’s being said! It’s useless going into a frenzy unless you take the time to really read the text and context of whatever the Pope says.

"like rabbits?" photo by Andre Mouraux via flickr

“like rabbits?”
photo by Andre Mouraux via flickr

In this case, was he saying we shouldn’t be open to large families? Was he saying that NFP should always be used to avoid? No, he said that the Church doesn’t require people to constantly have children. He was saying that we are human beings, called to exercise responsible parenting. In context: the Church doesn’t say the poor in the Philippines have to have children–then he adds that the poor in the Church often see children as their greatest treasure. It’s beautiful!

Once again, Simcha Fisher has provided great explanations and some of the full text to provide context.

About the Pope’s “don’t be like rabbits” remark

Family size and NFP…

My post about couples’ struggling with infertility was about not judging people based on few and far-between children. But what about people who can’t have more children for other reasons–financial, psychological, emotional, physical. That’s for each couple to discern.

Simcha Fisher defends it on her blog and in her new book, The Sinner’s Guide to NFP (of which I still need a copy of my own!). Simcha says “generosity sometimes looks different from having another baby.” Enjoy this exchange and her Biblical reference at the end: Holiness is a numbers game.

 

 

MrsF3 and Family is on twitter: https://twitter.com/MrsF3andF and Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/mrsf3

Pro-life? How much do you care?

Everyone has heard, been nominated for, or done the ALS ice-bucket challenge by now. Many Catholics have also been made aware and helped raise awareness of ethical research groups that do not use embryonic stem cells. Catholics feel very strongly about NOT supporting research involving embryonic stem cells. Some people go further and feel as Fr. Faulkner does in refusing the ice-bucket challenge.

It’s been awhile since I wrote my viral post, “Things you don’t say to couples with few or no kids,” so maybe it’s time for another post that will either hit home or hit controversy…

This post isn’t about the ice-bucket challenge.

I have another question!

Why aren’t more Catholics raising awareness and questioning the use of human fetal cell lines in vaccines?!!

Catholics should raise awareness and complaints about the use of aborted babies in developing vaccines.

Catholics should raise awareness and complaints about the use of aborted babies in developing vaccines.

Regardless of your stance on vaccines for other reasons, whether for or against, nothing should justify the destruction or support of the destruction of innocent human lives. Right?

Sadly, even many Catholic diocese schools and doctors’ offices promote and require vaccines that use embryos. This must be changed!

Let me be clear: Vaccines do not contain aborted humans. BUT, specific vaccines are made using fetal cell lines developed from aborted babies. We are supporting the culture of death when we use these vaccines. To learn about which vaccines you should avoid, this article from Right to Life of Michigan is very helpful.

I’ve heard the arguments that “we’re not actually supporting the use of embryos since we are far removed from that part of the process” and “that it’s just a line of cells developed decades ago from an aborted baby way back then.”

Nope! I don’t think that justifies it.

Please, spread the word about the use of human lives in the making of vaccines and complain to your doctor, to your pharmacy, and to the pharmaceutical companies. We, the consumers, can make a difference!

Best of all, this plea does not come just from me. The Vatican has issued an official statement regarding vaccines that use aborted fetal cell lines:

“Therefore, doctors and fathers of families have a duty to take recourse to alternative vaccines (if they exist), putting pressure on the political authorities and health systems so that other vaccines without moral problems become available. They should take recourse, if necessary, to the use of conscientious objection with regard to the use of vaccines produced by means of cell lines of aborted human foetal origin. Equally, they should oppose by all means (in writing, through the various associations, mass media, etc.) the vaccines which do not yet have morally acceptable alternatives, creating pressure so that alternative vaccines are prepared, which are not connected with the abortion of a human foetus, and requesting rigorous legal control of the pharmaceutical industry producers.”

Another statement comes from the document Regarding the Instruction: Dignitas Personae:

“…everyone has the duty to make known their disagreement and to ask that their healthcare system make other types of vaccines available.”

 

Personal Litany: St. Raphael

The first saint in my own personal litany of friends in Heaven is St. Therese. She has been my friend and patroness since I was a very little girl.

It was in college that I grew close to the Archangel, St. Raphael. Of course, I knew his story from the Book of Tobit. He came disguised as a guide and led young Tobias on a journey for his father. Besides helping Tobias to collect money, Raphael also directed him to land a fish that they brought home and used (in a miracle!) to heal Tobit’s eyesight. But that’s not all that Raphael did for Tobias, he also led him on a journey to Ecbatana, the home of Sara–the spouse that God intended for Tobias.

St. Raphael leads Tobias on a journey to his vocation!

St. Raphael leads Tobias on a journey to his vocation!

As I discerned and waited for my own vocation and spouse to become clear to me, I placed myself under St. Raphael’s guidance as well. My motto became “Ambulo Ecbatanis,” “I journey to Ecbatana.” Ecbatana was the town where Sara lived and where Tobias and Sara were wed.

St. Raphael had instructions for Tobias as he entered into marriage:

“The fiend has power over such as go about their marrying with all thought of God shut out of their hearts and minds, wholly intent on their lust, as if they were horse or mule, brutes without reason. Not such be thy mating, when thou hast won thy bride.” (Tobit 6:17-18)

St. Raphael certainly guided me. When we prayed the prayer of Tobit and Sara on our wedding night, we too put our marriage firmly in God’s hands. My husband and I continue to seek St. Raphael’s protection and guidance on us and upon our children and their journeys in life.

St. Raphael, pray for us!

Our personal litany of saints: Saint Therese

Our family prayers in the evening are very short. Typically 3 Hail Marys followed by our litany to our own special patron saints. Honestly, we still don’t all remember to say our prayers before we start dropping off to sleep, but we’re working on making it a habit earlier in the evening!

When we first began our courtship, we only had four saints in our litany. Two of my special heavenly friends, and two that were especially close to The Hunter.

My first and dearest patron is St. Therese of Lisieux. My mom read me a TAN children’s story of The Little Flower many years ago. I loved her striving for holiness as a young child and the story of her fishing trips with her father. When the time came, I chose St. Therese (she chose me?) as my Confirmation saint.

 

St. Therese and her papa. Both such an inspiration!

St. Therese and her papa. Both such an inspiration!

St. Therese has been with me for many years–and our relationship changes as I grow. I can still learn so much from her! I loved reading the account of her sister, Celine, who followed Therese to Carmel and was a novice under St. Therese’s formation. I thought that with Celine, I can learn from Therese!

10399121_104728174748_7768017_n

The dining room of Therese and her family. The clock on the mantel was made by her father.

Five years ago, I was blessed to visit Lisieux, and the home of Therese and her family, her bedroom, her toys and dresses, her parish church, and many scenes from her life that I am so familiar with!

The view from Therese's front door.

The view from Therese’s front door.

Now, I also try to learn from Therese’s parents–but that comes a little later in our litany. Check back soon for the story of our litany and how it has grown!

Weddings and kids

Bridal party walking to church on the day of our wedding.

Bride, bridesmaids, and “junior” bridesmaid walking to church on the day of our wedding.

I read this post lately as it made the rounds on Facebook, The One Thing I Regret About My Wedding, and I hearkened back to my own wedding. (Yes, this is another wedding post–but ’tis the season!)

Our wedding list included almost everyone that had ever been close to me or my family–and I’ve lived my entire life in the same community, so you can imagine, the list was pretty big. Over 300 people came to our Wedding Mass and reception–and I’m sure more than 60% of that crowd was made up of kids.

I’m from the Midwest (or technically, as I learned in a geography class in college, the “Great Plains”…), and I actually wasn’t aware until I was an adult that some people don’t invite kids to weddings.

I clearly remember a summer in the ’90s when we had three big Catholic weddings in one year. I was about 10-years-old, and those Masses blew me away. So beautiful, so prayerful, so loving. The parties were fun too–no one parties like little kids. Those three couples that got married that year have over 20 kids between them now, so they’re still no stranger to the commotion of kids.

Perhaps it’s something about the Midwest that we just have big parties open to all ages (for instance, rehearsal dinners are often a barbecue in someone’s backyard with all the extended family participating, and our ancestors always had barn-raising parties, so it’s in our blood…).

But perhaps I was blessed to be surrounded by a Catholic community and culture where even the young people were starting out their marriages with a total openness to life and all that it brings. How much did that influence my own vocation and my own calling to marriage?

In the words of one seminarian (now deacon) that attended our wedding:

“If every wedding was like that, there’d be no more deacons or priests…”

Yes! Let our living of the married vocation be truly a sacrament and a vocation that attracts others to holiness!

MrsF3 and Family is on twitter: https://twitter.com/MrsF3andF and Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/mrsf3

Wedding season reminiscing

My whirlwind month of weddings has come to an end. After ordinations, I then had/was in a wedding every weekend.

I really wish I’d taken the time to write down a thought after hearing each homily, but I’ll try to recall what I can.

1. The first wedding we went to, the newly ordained deacon quote The Princess Bride:

“Mawwiage, mawwiage, is what bwings us togethew today…”

And went on to explain that “kindness” as spoken of by St. Paul is really a word in Greek that doesn’t translate very well to English–it’s much more than “kindness,” it is welcoming, loving, and opening one’s heart to another.

2. The second wedding we attended was at the church where we were married. I don’t remember much from that homily… Probably because I was caught up in remembering and reliving all I could of our own special day.

3. This wedding was on a beautiful spring day. The sun shone in the windows, the singers sang beautifully, and everything seemed so lovely with the soft yellow and gray colors. The priest’s main point was that there was little need for a homily since the prayers of the Nuptial Mass teach and inspire so perfectly already.

4. My last wedding, at a little church in a little town, was another beautiful day–at least inside the air conditioned church. A smaller wedding, it seemed intimate and beautiful. The priest thanked everyone who was present because it may be more fun to just go to the reception, but being present to pray for them is an eternal gift greater than any toaster or rug or [insert gift] that will break or get lost in a few years. He shared how he instructed the couple to pray the “Our Father” and hold hands every day. Some days, they might hold each other tight as they pray, other days they might hold hands at arms length and just want to get it over with… But by praying, they’ll be remembering what’s important.

JEAN-FRANÇOIS_MILLET_-_El_Ángelus_(Museo_de_Orsay,_1857-1859._Óleo_sobre_lienzo,_55.5_x_66_cm)

Let us remember to pray together every day! credit: “The Angelus” by Jean Francois Millet

He asked everyone to continue to pray for the couple too…tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year.

That’s what I’ll be trying to remember over the next few weeks–praying for these still newlywed couples and thanking God for my own marriage as our fourth anniversary quickly approaches.

 

MrsF3 and Family is on twitter: https://twitter.com/MrsF3andF and Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/mrsf3

Opening to God: A lesson in prayer

It’s hard to write a review about this book. Opening to God: A Guide to Prayer is a short book of only 126 pages, so I practically want to quote every bit of it! Here are just a few things I loved and learned from it. I highly recommend it for anyone–it is written by a spiritual director of many years and many souls (both laity and religious in the U.S. and Philippines and beyond). I already mentioned Opening to God in this post about prayer, but I wanted to share a little more about it (especially as I’ve just reread it).

Opening to God is really a timeless guide to prayer and speaks to every pray-er desiring to encounter God.

Opening to God is a timeless guide to prayer and speaks to every pray-er desiring to encounter God.

1. Fr. Green defines prayer as “an opening of the heart and mind to God.” Each word of this phrase has a special meaning–and most importantly, he wants us to realize and remember that we cannot pray without God first coming to us. He says it better than me, but basically, we don’t pray under our own power, the first thing to realize in prayer is that we open to God, and He comes to us and touches us in an encounter.

2. This book was written not long after Vatican II, and Fr. Green has an interesting perspective, able to see the good in prayer practices both pre- and post-Vatican II. Just as with anything in the Catholic Church, there is always a balance between extremes, and Fr. Green helps us to see that in regards to ways of prayer.

3. Prayer is “irrelevant”–one chapter is about the irrelevance of prayer, while the following chapter is about it’s extreme relevance. Fr. Green enjoys the paradox in this, but he is right. Prayer is not “relevant,” in the way we look for relevance in our modern world. Is it useful? Does it help us get ahead? Do we get what  we want out of it? Well, no. Not as the world sees it. His image in this chapter is of a married couple, if you asked your spouse “how is our love relevant?” It would be a puzzling question–love, relevant? No! It is love because you love one another. So it is with prayer. We’re not praying to get something out of it, we’re praying because our relationship with God is one of love. And that is why prayer is relevant–our relationship with God becomes the foundation of all our life.

4. From praying the rosary, the office, to reading the Scriptures, meditating, contemplating, and taking a walk–Opening to God
provides examples, practical advice, and goals to achieve. I’ll be rereading this book again to continue to learn more.

5. Finally, something that will stay with me the most (and indeed gives an image to something I’ve always striven for), is Fr. Green’s example of a radio or tv. If we want to listen to the radio, we must first make sure our surroundings are quiet, then we must turn it on, turn up the volume, and make sure we are tuned to the right station–only then do we receive the signal being sent. That’s how we pray! First, learn to quiet our hearts, open our heart and mind, clear the distractions, and to tune to hear God’s still, quiet voice–we can only make the environment conducive to prayer, He is the one who makes prayer happen, just as the radio station is broadcasting, we don’t make the sounds happen!

6. Our goal in prayer? Learn to open to God.

This brings me back to the Bible verse I discovered when I was around 11 or 12:

Draw close to God and He will draw close to you.

-James 4:8

MrsF3 and Family is on twitter: https://twitter.com/MrsF3andF and Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/mrsf3

The Holy Spirit and water

On Pentecost, let us pray that we are open to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. photo Waiting for the Word via flickr

On Pentecost, let us pray that we are open to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
photo Waiting for the Word via flickr

As you may remember from my post Spirituality as a MotherI have been trying to use nap-time as prayer time using the iBreviary  app on my phone. I usually pray the Office of Readings each afternoon, and in the past week, the homilies and meditations on the Holy Spirit have been really wonderful.

Since today is Pentecost, the Birthday of the Church, and the coming of the Holy Spirit, here’s a quote from the Office of Readings for this past Monday, with an image of the Holy Spirit, that is now very dear to me since reading this:

But why did Christ call the grace of the Spirit water? Because all things are dependent on water; plants and animals have their origin in water. Water comes down from heaven as rain, and although it is always the same in itself, it produces many different effects, one in the palm tree, another in the vine, and so on throughout the whole of creation. It does not come down, now as one thing, now as another, but while remaining essentially the same, it adapts itself to the needs of every creature that receives it.

In the same way the Holy Spirit, whose nature is always the same, simple and indivisible, apportions grace to each man as he wills. Like a dry tree which puts forth shoots when watered, the soul bears the fruit of holiness when repentance has made it worthy of receiving the Holy Spirit. Although the Spirit never changes, the effects of this action, by the will of God and in the name of Christ, are both many and marvelous.

The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables another to interpret holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one man’s self-control, shows another how to help the poor, teaches another to fast and lead a life of asceticism, makes another oblivious to the needs of the body, trains another for martyrdom. His action is different in different people, but the Spirit himself is always the same. In each person, Scripture says, the Spirit reveals his presence in a particular way for the common good.

This beautiful explanation of the Holy Spirit’s work in our souls is from St. Cyril of Jerusalm (313-386 AD). How true that water is always the same, but when used by each plant, it helps each to grow in its own unique way, into what God intends it to be. So too, the Holy Spirit!

This Pentecost, I want to be more open to Water that is the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. How exactly will they bear fruit in my life? In ways different than anyone else, let me grow and discover God’s design for my life, my talents, and my gifts.

MrsF3 and Family is on twitter: https://twitter.com/MrsF3andF and Facebook:http://www.facebook.com/mrsf3

An overwhelming response

In just 24 hours since writing my Things you don’t say to a couple with few or no kids, it’s been shared over and over and viewed many times. Although I knew that there were others who had experienced these hurtful comments and “looks” and the longing for children, I had no idea that it would resonate with so many people.

Thank you for your positive response. The questions that I listed are some that I have overheard, some spoken to me, some spoken to my friends, and some were spoken to my own parents.

Your comments and stories are appreciated. Thank you for sharing–we know we are not alone in this trial we bear.

We long for children; we stay away from the temptation to try IVF and surrogacy; and ultimately, we must learn to “be mothers” in whatever way we discover that God had in mind all the time: mothers to one or two children, mothers to adopted children, and mothers to those we serve through work, volunteering, and at church.

St. Josemaria Escriva has a quote for us:

20140606-185445-68085403.jpg
Photo via http://www.runtomary.wordpress.com


MrsF3 and Family is on twitter: https://twitter.com/MrsF3andF and Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mrsf3