Friday, September 12, 2014

Ted Cruz blew it.

Honestly, as a Palestinian married to a Jew, I am both compelled and repelled by the situation in the Middle East.

My dad was born in the Holy Land, and he was just ten years old when his mother left dinner cooking on the stove in the rush to get her five children out of the country during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948 (i.e., the establishment of the modern state of Israel). The young Catholic family fled to Egypt, forever leaving behind everything they had and knew. They were even for a while without their husband and father, as my grandfather ended up in a refugee camp somewhere in the desert, his wife and children not knowing for six months if he were dead or alive. Can you imagine?

The situation in the Middle East is delicate. It is complicated. It is nuanced. It has a history going back thousands of years, which is hard for Americans to grasp. I support Israel, but I do not support every action of Israel. I love the Jewish people, and I love my fellow Christian Arabs. I abhor the violence and persecution that is occurring in the Middle East by radical, brutal Islamists with no conscience, and I believe that unfathomable evil must be stopped. I stand with my Christian brothers and sisters who are undergoing hardships that we in the west cannot (yet) imagine, and that is why I am so disturbed by what Senator Ted Cruz said and did the other night at a gathering meant to support those suffering Christians.

I know the organizer of the In Defense of Christians Summit (IDC), and it is heartbreaking that the only narrative coming out of the days-long event are reports of "bigotry" leveled at persecuted Christians who are now being accused of supporting terrorists. This unfortunate outcome is largely thanks to Ted Cruz's stepping in doo-doo, then walking off the stage when his ill-advised comments were not embraced. He continues his self-righteous grandstanding in the regular and social media, and I can't make sense of his tone-deafness, arrogance, lack of finesse, and/or lack of geopolitical knowledge and insight. I honestly thought he was smarter than that.

But I guess I am getting ahead of myself.

If you are not familiar with the story, here's an overview of what happened that night:

Click and read the whole article, but here is an excerpt:
...When Cruz took the stage, however, after two days of declarations of Christian unity and recognition of the widespread persecution of peoples of all faiths, his remarks emphasized his devotion to the state of Israel. The crowd applauded faithfully as Cruz made the argument that ISIS, al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah, as well as Syria and Iran, were all equal participants in genocidal bigotry. Cruz then transitioned. After saying, “Our purpose here tonight is to highlight a terrible injustice. A humanitarian crisis. Christians, are being systematically exterminated,” Cruz then turned to the 1948 formation of Israel, a sensitive subject for many Palestinian Christians, and declared that "today, Christians have no greater ally than the Jewish state.” 
It was at that point that some in the audience objected to Cruz turning a celebration of Christian unity into a lecture on a divisive subject that many in the crowd experienced as part of their everyday lives. Cruz returned accusations of hatred. Even then, most of the crowd tried to reconcile with him as Cruz continued on to speak about “Jews and Christians alike who are persecuted by radicals [applause] who seek to—[applause]. If you hate the Jewish people you are not reflecting the teachings of Christ [applause].” As he continued to press the issue, however, the crowd increasingly urged him to “move on” and booed, leading him to lament those “consumed with hate” and depart. 

More analysis for those who are not familiar with the geopolitical realities of the region:

Some highlights:

When Cruz was supposed to give the keynote address and discuss the deadly serious topic of persecution of Christians, he instead insulted a largely immigrant and foreign crowd as a group that didn’t understand their own political situation and stomped out of the room after calling them a bunch of haters.

Yeah, that's not so smart.

Christians who are persecuted have political views that may not align with U.S. interests. Who knew? For many of us, our concern about genocide of Christians isn’t limited to those who are perfectly aligned with our views. 
Ya think?

And this:
One can certainly argue in support of Cruz’s statement — politically, at least — and yet also recognize how fraught the topic is for Christians in the region.

It's worth noting here that Ted Cruz is an evangelical Christian, and evangelical Christians have a different biblical and political understanding of the modern state of Israel than Catholics do. Catholics know that the "new Israel" is the Church. By contrast, evangelicals view the establishment of the modern state of Israel in 1948 as some sort of biblical fulfillment with heavy eschatological implications. Ted Cruz is an evangelical, and that influences (and skews) his understanding of things.

The Church herself is very sensitive to the plight of Palestinians and of Christians in the Middle East. While supportive of Israel's right to exist, the Church has always been prudent and measured in how she speaks of these delicate issues. Catholics must think with the mind of the Church, even more than we think of American or Israeli (or any nation's) interests. American Catholics too often default to the Protestant understanding of things in this predominately Protestant culture, but we would do well to stand with the understanding and experiences of our fellow Catholics -- the bishops, priests, and laity of the actual region.

I regret that the hard efforts of so many people working for unity and to help our persecuted brethren has turned into something divisive. Cruz is no dummy; he should have been savvy enough to know better, and he should not continue to agitate and grandstand this issue now. It's also sad (if predictable) that many in the media have taken to sound-byte sensationalism instead of taking time and care to give us real perspective, real journalism.

But hope springs eternal, and Christ will bring good out of this unnecessary debacle. From IDC president Toufic Baaklini:
For more than 48 hours, our initial IDC conference was successfully bridging divides of faith, language, geography and politics. It has not been easy, and not without challenges. Tonight’s events make clearer than ever, that the [IDC] is desperately needed in a world that remains divided to the point where even the most fundamental value of life and human dignity are cast aside.

Amen, and Lord have mercy.

**UPDATE: Here's an excellent summary of what happened in that room, from Catholic Vote...

What I saw at the "In Defense of Christians" Summit 

And here's an excellent interview with IDC Executive Director, Andrew Doran, who is the brother of a dear friend of mine. He explains all the amazing and seemingly impossible things that were accomplished at the summit, despite the Ted Cruz sideshow:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Where were you on September 11, 2001?

Such a painful day for America.

Thirteen years later, it almost seems like it was just a bad dream, doesn't it? Then again, it's such a part of us that I don't really remember what life here was like before the terror of that day.

I cannot imagine what it is like for the survivors when this anniversary comes around.

Today, I want to ask you to share your memories of that day. Where were you when you found out what was happening? What did you do? Did it affect your faith? Did you know anyone who perished or lost a loved one? Feel free to mention those people so that we can honor their memories and pray for them.

I was 34 years old in 2001, my husband and I having recently settled into our new home with our five children, all under the age of ten. It was very early in Arizona when the Twin Towers were attacked, and I was awakened by a call from my friend Bethany. She was crying and told me to turn on the TV. Groggily, I did, and what I saw was like something out of a movie: The first tower had black smoke billowing around it. The second tower had not yet been hit. As the second plane hit, and then the collapse of the first tower, and later the second tower, I watched with a combination of shock and horror. The reporters were as stunned as the rest of us.

Somewhere in those first minutes I went downstairs to tell my husband what was happening, and we watched together until the children woke up, at which point we turned off the family TV and denied access to the TV in our bedroom. We didn't tell the children anything as far as I can remember (it was too traumatic and confusing to sort through at the moment), and all but the youngest (a one-year-old) went off to school.

My husband went to work, but within an hour or so I asked him to come home. He worked for the government at the time, and I was terrified that government buildings were going to come under attack. No one knew what to think, so my husband, like so many others, came home. Together, we took our baby to his scheduled Gymboree class, and the few people who showed up were as subdued as we were, exchanging somber, worried looks, but barely talking to one another as we went through the motions of singing and playing with our children. We came home, and the rest of the day was spent watching news coverage in disbelief. I've lost the memory of when the Pentagon was hit, or when the heroes of United 93 took down their plane in a Pennsylvania field. There was much confusion about how many airplanes may have been hijacked, and the nation was bracing for more attacks. I don't remember how or when my older children got home.

It was surreal.

Nothing would ever be the same.

I kept repeating to myself, "Lord, have mercy."

May we never forget the victims and their families, and may we continue to pray for all of those who suffered so terribly at the hands of brutal mass murderers.

Please tell me your story of that day.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Happy Birthday, Blessed Mother!

Today we joyfully celebrate the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother! Mary made herself known to me in an extraordinary way when I was just a little girl, and she waited patiently for me, with a mother's love, while I wandered in the darkness for many years. I thank my wonderful parents, and my father especially, for instilling in my heart a deep love for Our Lady.

To honor our Heavenly Mother on her birthday, please leave a comment telling us what she means to you, how she has affected your life and faith journey, or how she has led you to her Divine Son. I can't wait to hear!

"The day of the Nativity of the Mother of God is a day of universal joy, 
because through the Mother of God, the entire human race was renewed, 
and the sorrow of the first mother, Eve, was transformed into joy."

-- Saint John Damascene, Father and Doctor of the Church

Mary, Mother of God, by Tracy L. Christianson

“In trial or difficulty I have recourse to Mother Mary, 
whose glance alone is enough to dissipate every fear.” 

-- Saint Therese of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Quick Takes: Barely on time, but full of good stuff!

1. Sooooo, here I am, doing so much better and back to normal (whatever that means)! It's funny how much I have leaned about myself (not always pretty!!) and also about God. I'm still pondering it all, and it's been a rich source of spiritual growth, even as I would not wish panic attacks on my worst enemy.

There is the fun irony of how NaPro Technology has helped me get relief from my peri-menopause symptoms. Why ironic? Because, as longtime readers know, my blogging came about because of the support of the IF (infertile) Catholic bloggers, who took me (a crazy fertile) under their collective wing. These ladies were often helped by the amazing medical treatment pioneered by Dr. Hilgers at the Pope Paul IV Institute in Omaha, who has since trained many other doctors and health care workers. The philosophy of NaPro is to pinpoint and treat the actual underlying disease or disorder in order to fix and heal the body so that it works properly, rather than simply to mask or override the problems by using IVF or ART, or by reflexively prescribing the Pill for every known female/menstrual disorder. 

I have a dear friend, a doctor and a fellow Catholic mommy, who is a NaPro practitioner. She used her knowledge to help me in my quest to feel healthy again, and suddenly it was I who was receiving (and teaching my husband how to give) injections of POI (progesterone in oil)! I never thought I myself would be the happy beneficiary of all the great NaPro innovation that I have been advocating for years. God is good!

2. I am so excited to report that for the first time in six years, I hopped on an airplane! I went to see both my daughters (and granddaughter) in Omaha! My mom and sister came with me from Phoenix, and my younger daughter, whom none of us had seen since her wedding, flew in from the east coast to join us for a baby shower that my elder daughter's wonderful mother-in-law and sisters-in-law were hosting! So, it was a spectacular girls' reunion! Omaha is a fabulous city with the nicest people ever and a stellar diocese, and I'm just gonna say right now that there is a reason that the zoo there is considered one of the best (if not the best) in the nation. Wow! Yes, there are a lot of exclamation points in this paragraph!!!!

What's that you say? You'd like to see photos of the amazing shower in which no detail was left unconsidered? Here are just some of the lovely touches that I marveled over -- it was like breezing through a Parisian fair:

Yes, that is a cupcake ferris wheel!

This was the coolest thing!
Cups filled with cotton candy, and we filled them with pink and/or blue lemonade!
The sugar dissolves in the lemonade, and voilĂ !

My daughter loves hot air balloons, and look at those little stuffed animals in the baskets!

Here is our incredible hostess, Kathy, who is the sweetest and most gracious woman in the world! We share grandma duties, proudly!

Loving grandmas! We can't get enough of our little Felicity!

And what an incredible treat to finally meet -- in person -- the woman who found the perfect "match" for my daughter when I asked her to scout around! Dear Mary, one of those original infertile bloggers I was just talking about (now with a precious little daughter of her own) was able to come to the shower!

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, make me a match! She did!

Without beautiful Mary, there would be no Felicity...

Thank you to all the amazing people who made the fun and joy possible. I sure do miss them, but now I feel like I have a home away from home in Omaha, Nebraska.

Can't wait to see my girls again soon....

3) Speaking of amazing people, Teresa is a dear friend of mine, and has been since I knew her as a mere girl in my kids' first Catholic school. She's now all grown up, an incredible intellect, a pure and holy soul, and currently hoping to join the cloister, to pray for all of us in silence and love for the rest of her life. 

Before she can enter the cloister, she has to retire her student loan debt. If you feel moved to help her, in any amount, I promise that your generosity will be returned to you tenfold in the power of her prayers before the Throne of God. I vouch for her personally... she is the real deal, and she will flood us with the grace she merits in her vocation of prayer and sacrifice. Read her story:

The Sparrow Has Found a Home

An excerpt:
A cloistered nun commits herself to a particular monastery where she prays and sacrifices for the rest of her life. This life of prayer is her "job", and therefore, she does not leave the walls of her monastery except for a grave reason.   
So, when I visited the monastery, I had no intention of joining. How could this boisterous Catholic gypsy remain in any one place for the rest of her life--and in silence?? Yet, I went anyway. Who could have imagined that it would be here that I would finally find what I had sought so ardently? 

If you cannot contribute any funds, please pray for her. Like I said, she is the real deal, and a fervent believer that prayer is more powerful than any gold. Your prayers will connect you efficaciously in the Communion of Saints.
I love this woman!!! 

4) While I'm at it, I want to draw your attention to another friend who has a time-senstive need to meet his goal for a special project. Catholics, you all know the wonderful, wacky, brilliant Patrick Coffin, from Catholic Answers! He has teamed up with a quality movie-maker to make Call of the Void. In Patrick's words:
[The movie] is about a man named Steve who struggles with a very difficult past. He has had, among other things, a bad car accident, which not only haunts him but has led to delusional thoughts. We can’t give away the ending but a major theme is the cost of refusing the help of other people and the burden placed on us by the gift of free will. Not everything Steve sees or says is rooted in reality. We the audience do get a glimpse by the end, of what’s real and what’s a figment. The film stands in the tradition of noir, with a touch of suspense.
To finance the film, he's started a Kickstarter campaign that will get things rolling. The culture is screaming for something different, and here's our chance to help. Even one dollar is accepted and appreciated, and every level of donation comes with a gift or gifts if the goal is met (if the goal is not met, your keep your money). Only days to go, so click below for more info and a video:

Call of the Void

5)  So, up at the top I mentioned that I've been pondering all I have learned, spiritually, after my two-week long, basically unrelenting, panic attacks. One of the big issues that came up was the issue of trusting God in suffering. So when Connie Rossini introduced me to her newest book, Trusting God with St. Therese, I told her I'd be thrilled to promote it. 

Talk about suffering. Connie has a sad story to tell:

On June 10, 1974, our family was driving to the annual Catholic Charismatic Conference at the University of Notre Dame. We began our journey in Spokane, Washington, where we had spent a weekend on retreat. Just outside Missoula, Montana, the car rolled over three times, landing in the median of the freeway. I was in the back with the seat down and no seat belt. So were two of my siblings and two friends. 
I ended up with stitches in my leg and a bump on my head. My sister Terri, who had been sitting next to me, was thrown from the car and died. She was ten years old. 
Why did God let this happen? Didn’t He know where we had come from and where we were going? Hadn’t He heard Terri’s voice, when she had volunteered that morning to pray for a safe trip?

It's the kind of tragedy that everyone fears, because it hits right at the heart of trusting what Jesus told us. When someone has been through a horror of that magnitude and comes out with deeper faith and peace, I listen to her. And when she pairs her experiences with the experiences and teachings of St. Therese, I can't resist.

Are your fears, weaknesses, doubts, and anger keeping you from intimacy with Christ? Do you struggle with despair? Let St. Therese teach you perfect trust. 
Learn how Therese of Lisieux trusted God through tragedy, scruples, spiritual darkness, and physical suffering. Connie Rossini pairs episodic stories from the saint’s life with memories of her own quest to trust. With Sacred Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and insights from psychology, Rossini leads readers to surrender their lives completely to Jesus. 
Practical and accessible, Trusting God with St. Therese includes questions for reflection that make it perfect for book clubs and faith-sharing groups.

The books seems awfully timely to me.

6)  I know this is a couple of weeks old, but I just love seeing our universal Church, uniting us near and far. We are all members of the same Body of Christ:

7) These brothers need a home! Trey and Trent are very close and love each other dearly. The younger boy is 9 and has some mild special needs. The older boy is 11, developing on track, and has no special needs.

Can you see these boys as members of your own family? They would thrive with the love of a mom and dad (and siblings!).

For more information on Trey and Trent, click here.

Please pray for them and pass along their information to your friends. That's the way these kids find their way to permanent homes.

Have a blessed Labor Day, and thanks to Jen for hosting!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It's been awhile!

Or at least it seems that way to me!

I'm not gonna lie, I've had a rough couple of weeks. Lots of massive life changes and crises all at once (maybe six?), and thus I experienced my first real (and for a time, unrelenting) anxiety/panic attacks. Peri-menopause/menopause hormonal changes can help to fuel such things in a perfect storm of stressors, as I understand.

I know that many of you can relate.

At the moment, I'm feeling much better (thank you Jesus and Mary!), but to combat any future attacks, I'm still working on all fronts: Physical, mental, emotional, and definitely spiritual -- anyone else sense the growing spiritual warfare lately? And thank goodness for holy priests who make house calls for deliverance prayers!

Meantime, my eldest daughter and my grandbaby flew off to join husband/daddy in Nebraska, and that makes both daughters gone within just a few weeks' time. I am missing the feminine around this place more than I thought I would (I cannot understand how some folks believe there is no difference between male and female!!!). I've also begun homeschooling my 3rd and 4th grade boys this year, and it's going well, praise God. And in just a few short days, I will become a student again after 25 years, as I begin my graduate studies at Holy Apostles College and Seminary.

All that to say... forgive me if my blog posts lag while I adjust to the many new normals around here.

In the meantime, those who were asking can check out some of my younger daughter's recent wedding photos at this link:

Here are some of my favorites that are not included on the site above (there were over 600 pictures we received; so many favorites, but I can't post them all):

Mother and daughter.

Daddy's little girl (and best of friends).

I love the following two photos. Three branches of military represented. My husband's Great Uncle Alan is 97 years old, a WWII veteran who still fits into his Air Force uniform! God bless him, and God bless all those who serve.
The groom's brother-in-law (Army), the bride's great-great uncle (Air Force), the groom (Navy)

How I love who's in the background of this one! St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle!

Oh, and grandbaby pictures, you say? Here you go:

Such a look! Cracks me up.


Thanks for your prayers as I adjust to all of my new circumstances. I know I'm not the only one in a blogging funk, but I hope to be back before long!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My answers to questions about gay "marriage"

Have a seat, this is a long one. Here is a list of the questions I come across most often, with my brief answers:


"Why are you against gay marriage?"

It's not that I am against gay "marriage" per se, it's that gay "marriage" is an ontological impossibility. It's like asking why I am against square circles. Marriage has an essence, a meaning. It has always been a certain kind of union of persons, specifically a conjugal union rooted in biology itself; it is complementary and heterosexual by its very nature. The particulars of marriage contracts have varied over time and cultures, but the essence of male/female has not. Brides have always presupposed grooms.

The fact that marriage is a "universal" throughout human history indicates something huge, namely the recognition that this one particular type of personal relationship is unique among all others: It is naturally ordered toward procreation. That children result from the union of man and woman (now mother and father) is the foundational reason that human societies have had an interest in protecting, elevating, and/or providing benefits for this type of union. 

Without this sexual complementarity, and without the ability to consummate a marriage, there can be no marriage. With bodies of the same sex, the marital act cannot be completed and consummation is not possible. A bride implies a groom in the same way that a lock implies a key. Two locks make no sense together. Two keys make no sense together. The union of husband and wife, like the integration of lock and key, is a relationship different from any other. 


"But what about heterosexual couples who are infertile? 
They are allowed to marry even though they can't procreate!"

The completed sexual union of male and female is always ordered toward procreation, even if the couple does not actually conceive a child. Age or illness or a defect in the reproductive system may make individual unions infertile, but that doesn't change the nature of the act, which is ordered toward generation. Producing children is not the basis of a valid marriage, the conjugal union is. Whether or not children are conceived is beyond human control. It's not the conception of children that makes a marriage, it's the total, one-flesh union of husband and wife. The conjugal union itself, not the fruit of the union, is the seal of the marriage. 

And as we've all known infertile couples who've eventually conceived years or even decades after their weddings, we can never say with certainty who will or will not be childless. God and nature have ways of surprising us. However, we can say with complete certainty that two men will never conceive a child from their sexual acts, nor will two women. The sexual "union" of two men or two women is always barren, as nature and right order would have it. It's the way it's supposed to be.


"What about men and women who are handicapped and 
not able to consummate? Are you saying that they cannot be married?"

This is a very delicate subject to discuss precisely because we have forgotten that marriage is a conjugal union. If there is no possibility of a conjugal union, not even one time, then the essence of marriage is missing. A relationship between two people without the ability to have sexual intercourse (i.e., to become "one flesh") is called a friendship. That sounds cold to the modern ear, since we want everyone to feel good and "be happy". But feeling good at the expense of what is true can never satisfy, not ultimately.

Impotence or the inability to consummate is an impediment to the Sacrament of Matrimony for sure, but even the secular state will annul a civil marriage on the basis of non-consummation.

Now, with today's technology, thank God, there are many ways to cure impotence and allow for marital relations, and that is a blessing.


"So you think marriage is all about sex! 
Can't you see it's about love?"

No, marriage is not "all about sex", of course, but sex is an intrinsic part of marriage. As mentioned above, a close and intimate relationship without sex is called a friendship, and neither church nor state would have reason to validate or elevate or give special status to that, as wonderful as friendship is.

Also, while romantic feelings (what people usually mean these days when they talk about "love") are ideal and desired between spouses, they've never, ever been a prerequisite for valid marriage. To say so would be to deny that many of our own ancestors (and even some of our parents and grandparents!) were actually married. My grandparents, for example, did not know each other well when they became husband and wife. Yet they were married for over fifty years and had many children and grandchildren (and great-grandchildren, and now great-great-grandchildren). A romantic feeling at the time of their wedding was not a requirement for a valid marriage.

Heck, if you ask Golde and Tevye (you all are huge Fiddler on the Roof fans like me, right??), they'd say their marriage turned out just fine, even though they met on their wedding day:

(Yes, I know they are fictional, but they are also representative. And you might notice that their understanding of love is closer to what authentic love actually is: A choice, and a willing of the other's good, not a "feeling".)


"But the state says that gay people can marry, 
so that means they can!"

There are many things the state has said that are legal fictions, i.e., that are not true or based in reality. For only a small example, governments have declared at various times that certain human beings are less human than others (slaves, Jews, the unborn), or that women are men and men are women (transgender laws). None of those laws can change reality. The law is not magic, and it cannot make black people less human, it cannot make women turn into men, and it cannot make marriage between two men (or two women) possible. The state can play with words, but it cannot change essences. The playing with words is a problem unto itself, and we should be very wary when any political agenda bursts forth in a frenzy, redefining a word to mean something foreign to anything it has meant before.

So, when someone says to me, "Look, if the state says two men are married, then they're married!" this is what I hear:

"Look, if the state says that a woman is now a man, then the woman is now a man!"
"Look, if the state says that all chairs are now clocks, then they are!"
"Look, if the state says that Jews are not human, then they aren't human!"
"Look, if the state says that black people can be the property of others, then they can be!"
"Look, if the state says that the unborn are not human beings, then they aren't!"

(Four out of five of those "truths" have happened, by the way.)

I teach my children not to lie. I will not go along with a lie. I will not teach my children to go along with a lie.

Marriage is pre-political -- no state invented it, nor can any state redefine it. Heck, even the etymology of the words "marry" and "matrimony" (derived from the word "mother") excludes the very concept of a homosexual "marriage".

Of course, the government can give out specific benefits and services to whomever it wishes (that's within its legitimate authority), but what it cannot do is redefine an institution that it did not create in the first place.

We may not legitimately demand the change of a thing's essence, simply because we have strong "feelings" about what we want. The truth about marriage is what Hillary Clinton so eloquently stated just a few years ago, before her "evolution"* on the issue. She believed:

"...the fundamental bedrock principle that [marriage] exists between a man and a woman going back into the mists of history, as one of the founding foundational institutions of history and humanity and civilization, and that its primary, principle role during those millennia has been the raising and socializing of children for the society in which they are to become adults.”
“Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman.” 

Politicians cannot suddenly pass a law or judges sign some papers and change the truth of it.


"Why not support civil unions if you can't support gay marriage?"

That was tried and it didn't work well, to say the least. Clearly, gay rights advocates were not satisfied with that accommodation, as they barreled right past that and now demand that the word "marriage" apply to gay unions. Gay unions must be seen as on par with and equal to true marriage. Nothing less will be tolerated.

But even before the demands for full "marriage" recognition came, the problems with civil union laws were evident, as they effectively forced the closure of Catholic ministries, including foster care and adoption agencies, some of which had been serving the needy in their communities for a century. This happened despite the fraudulent assurances by the civil union supporters that the law would have no effect on faith-based services [which only begins to answer another common question, "How does gay 'marriage' affect you, anyway?"]

Ultimately, the concept of civil unions was always just a stepping stone to the bigger prize, and it never protected religious liberty or traditional marriage anyway.


"You should be concerned about all the ways that heterosexuals have weakened marriage!"

Oh, I am incredibly concerned about that! Divorce (especially the pernicious "no-fault" divorce), adultery, polygamy, swinging, pre-marital sex, contraception and abortion, etc.... All of that has harmed the institution of marriage and, of course, children. However, just because we've severely damaged marriage, that's no argument for demolishing it completely! The proper response to the sad state of marriage today is to strengthen it, not un-define it into oblivion. 

Besides, every marriage that is weak, irregular, or even broken has at least the potential to be strengthened, regularized and restored. But with two men (or two women), there is no potential for marriage in the first place (see #1). 


"The Church cannot impose her views of marriage on society!"

There are a couple of things wrong with this argument. First, no one is saying that all Americans should be married in a Catholic Church and have a sacramental marriage. In fact, the Church herself recognizes the valid marriages of billions who are not Catholic or even Christian. Valid marriages do not have to be sacramental. 

Second, the idea of the Church "imposing" the heterosexual nature of marriage is silly. One cannot impose something that has always been there. One cannot impose the status quo. The imposition, as I have written about before, is coming only from one side, and it's not coming from the Church. 

And of course there is the question of atheist regimes, which do not recognize gay "marriage". How can that be explained? Certainly, no one is going to try to blame the Catholic Church for that, right? After all, atheistic regimes are all about condemning and persecuting the Church, not acquiescing to her.

Clearly, marriage as conjugal union is a natural law issue and not a "Catholic" issue.


"Why do you talk about gay marriage so much?"

I wish you could see my face right now. How I wish and even fervently pray that I would never have to speak or write on this topic ever again. It's a cultural obsession (not too strong a word!), with the elites' only aim to beat us down into silence and/or submission on this topic. We are not to utter a peep against gay "marriage", or we will pay a price, whether that price is simply ridicule, mocking, and harassment, or a more serious penalty such as loss of friends, family, job opportunities, or livelihood. Perhaps jail one day? I wouldn't bet against it. 

I long for the days where gay "marriage" was not integrated into every news story, every college course, every television show, every court case, every sports event, every holiday, every legislative session, small school children's textbooks, car commercials, hamburger wrappers, etc., etc., etc.

I have gay "marriage" fatigue  (like everyone else I know), and yet there is no option but to speak for what is True, because that's who we are as Catholics. It's what we are called to do, in season and out. We won't hurt you or hate you or ask the government to fine you or ruin you if you disagree with us, but we will speak the Truth in love, because lies are no good for anyone. It is always better to understand what a thing is, and then to use that thing according to its nature. That is how human beings and human societies flourish, after all.

This is a blog about ideas and about truth. We dialogue here as mature adults (I hope), striving to draw closer to what is True, Good, and Beautiful. I assume that my readers are Truth-seekers on some level. None of what I have said above should be construed as "hateful" or "bigoted" or "mean". It is neither mean nor hateful to say that a dog is not a cat, or that a man is not a woman, or that a chair is not a clock.

Love is not a feeling. Marriage is not a construct. Society's very foundation may not be un-defined on a whim of "But I want it!" Happiness cannot be found by going against our human nature and dignity. Truth does not change. All of this must be talked about. And as much as I don't want to, I will continue to talk about it, because marriage is just that important.

*Can "evolution", by its nature, be something abrupt? A quick, 180-degree turn on a dime? I guess for politicians it can....

Related posts:   Should the Children Sit Down and Shut Up?
                           Was Jesus Really Silent on Same-Sex "Marriage"?


Monday, July 21, 2014

Please read, and act.

This tears at my heart, as my own ancestors hailed from Mosul, in what is now Iraq.

The Christian community there is ancient -- nearly 2,000 years old, almost as old as Christianity itself. But this cradle of Christianity may soon be eliminated, as the terrorists of ISIS are now driving out or executing the last Christians still living in the region. Very few people in the western media are watching or reporting, but we need to be aware of what is happening to our brothers and sisters in Christ. They are on the cross and it is agony.

From The Anchoress:

If you want news on this impending genocide, thank God for the Near-Eastern press because the Western leadership hasn’t much to say about it, and the press coverage is rather thin. Nothing like the saturation coverage of the World Cup, or the launch of a Beyonce album.

This is the latest piece I could find from Western media: The last Christians in northern Iraq are fleeing from places where their communities have lived for almost 2,000 years, as a deadline passed for them to either convert to Islam, pay a special tax or be killed.

One of Christendom’s oldest and deepest roots is being ripped from an ancient garden, and many in positions of power, even among so-called “Christian” nations, seem content to let it go unremarked upon and unchallenged.

Perhaps they feel inadequate to the task of pleading on these Christians' behalf.

Perhaps they believe that any engagement in their defense would embroil them in a larger conflict they are unwilling to face — as though mad tyranny will simply burn itself out if left uncontested.

Perhaps they think there is nothing to be done but fling hands to heaven, in which case they expose not only a lack of imagination, but a distinct misunderstanding of time and space, which they want to accept as linear.

Read it all, and five things you can do to help, here:

Pray for the Body of Christ. We are one, and we are suffering.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Quick Takes: More life updates....


So many life changes lately (you're going to want to read #4), but one that has left me heartbroken is the closing of my younger kids' little Catholic school. We were like family, and now we will all be scattered. I can't even really talk about it.

Surveying all my options, I've decided that beginning next month I will be doing what I said I'd never do again...homeschooling! And you know what? I'm actually getting pretty excited about it! I always say, I can do anything for a year. So, one year at a time, and we'll see what God has in store as we go along.

I will be using Catholic Heritage Curricula, if anyone wants to know. It is clean and simple, which is just my style.


This fall was to be the first time in 23 years that I would have had no one in the house during the day. I'm not gonna lie; I was looking forward to those many hours alone. Instead, I will have more people in the house than I did last year, and right as I am starting a masters degree program! I dreamed of a quiet, empty house to get my work done and papers written (instead of typing away at night, like I'm doing now, and never getting quite enough sleep). I even dreamed I'd have tons more time for blogging. Ha ha, I am just laughing at God's funny ways. Okay, God, I am sure you know what you are doing! Jesus, I trust in you.


About five months ago now, my daughter's fiancé (now husband) injured his back. It's been a terrible ordeal, which brought with it a change in his Navy orders among other things. He was able to get through the wedding last month with grit and grace and a transcendent joy, but soon he will be undergoing back surgery to relieve his pain, as months of physical therapy has not done the trick. Would you wonderful people offer a quick prayer for him, his surgeons, and his new bride? We would be most appreciative!


Aaaaaaaand, since it's already Facebook official, I am ecstatic to announce that the newlyweds are... drum roll, drum roll, can you guess?? ...expecting a baby!!!!!!

YES, I am over the moon, and so are they! And yes it was very quick, just like her older sister, who also conceived a honeymoon baby! I guess it's a tag team thing? Older daughter gets married; nine months later, younger daughter gets married. Older daughter has a baby; nine months later younger daughter has a baby. Thank you for prayers, and for sharing in our joy! It's been a whirlwind of emotions and I am still trying to catch my breath! Thanks be to God for all of it. Including...



Here's what I said on Facebook:
The girls' room now stands stripped and mostly empty. Soon to be transformed into a guestroom. My feelings alternate between melancholy and anticipation. It occurs to me that that is the state of every soul as we work our way through this world to the next, no?
In the end, everything really is theological. And it all has meaning at the level of our souls. I am going to miss my daughters terribly. Neither one will be living within driving distance. But there can be found great joy in suffering. It's what we know as Catholics, it's what the saints have taught us, and it makes everything okay.


Johanne requested more pictures of my adorable and perfect granddaughter Felicity, so here are a few....

She was still pretty skinny and new here, Little Miss Frog Legs, 
being held by one of her many proud uncles!

"Back off, paparazzi!" 
(She was actually sleeping in this suspended animation. Or else she is a mime.)

Hey, what's wrong with a cardigan in July in Phoenix? 
She'll outgrow it by fall, and it's just too cute not to wear.

Wait... you wanted a photo with her eyes open? 
It's tough to get, but here you go. 
She's at her first girls' lunch! 

Isn't she a sweetie pie and the best baby in the world??????? Grandma thinks so!!!


As many of you know, I reserve Quick Take #7 for the promotion of adoption, mostly special needs and international adoption. Today I want to share with you an amazing series of blog posts by a huge friend of the Bubble (and now a personal friend), Annie, who is in China adopting two precious babies. 

She writes beautifully, her descriptions of the regions are riveting, and her photographs are so good that I will be using them with my children for homeschooling. Check it out, and praise God! Infertility is a heartbreak beyond words, and yet look at what the Lord has done for this beautiful family of (now) seven:

(You didn't miss the centipedes on a stick, did you??)


And that, ladies and gentlemen, is my first on-time Friday Quick Takes in I don't know how long! Have a great weekend, and thanks to Jen for hosting! 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Just Curious: What are YOU up to?

So, you guys have heard a lot about my life lately, and it's been really fun sharing the big events with my wonderful blog family.

But now it's time to hear about you!

I'm just curious...

What is going on in your life? Have you had any milestones lately? Are you celebrating any special blessings? Are you doing anything adventurous this summer? Have you lost a loved one that you would like us to pray for, or have you been struggling with something lately?

Fill us in! I'd love to share in your joy and also pray with you through your sorrows, and I know the rest of the readers would, too. Life is not meant to be walked alone, and I love getting to know you all better.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Quick Takes: The Groom sees his Bride!


I don't normally post personal videos on the blog, but the groom wanted me to make this one public. 

There is that magical moment at every wedding when the bridegroom sees his bride for the very first time. The video below captures that moment, and the groom's reaction has actually made people (who don't even know the couple) cry. Not kidding. The pure love and elation that breaks on his face at the moment he sees my daughter cannot adequately be described in words, but my new son-in-law attempted it anyway: 
It was like an ocean of happiness poured down upon me all at once, and I was filled with a crushing joy....
If you can't wait, go to the 3:50 mark and enjoy! 

(And yes, my son the ring bearer's pants were apparently falling off, so kudos to Matthew for holding on tight and doing his duty valiantly anyway.)


So, I watched that magical moment on video about a hundred times, and then as Divine Providence would have it, someone posted a four-year-old article on Facebook that speaks directly to the heart of what was being established at the nuptial mass and also explains the look on the bridegroom's face, both in the video and below.

The truth about woman as bride

An excerpt:
“The Bridegroom is the one who loves. The Bride is loved: it is she who receives love, in order to love in return.” (Dignity and Vocation of Women, 29, St. John Paul II) 
That is, that the essence of marriage reveals the nature of man and woman: the man gives the gift of himself to the woman, who receives it in order to return it – and this relationship also forms an image of the spousal meaning of Christ’s union with the Church. The Bridegroom is the man, and also Christ. The Bride is the woman, and also the Church. 
And furthermore, if in His image God made him, male and female He made them, and God’s reality is Trinitarian, then the image is Trinitarian also. Not identity – equal plus equal, congruent, the same – but giving, receiving in order to return the gift, and the gift. Equal but different. 
You see?

Yes, I think I do.


Sometimes with transcendent joy comes acute sadness. As full to bursting as my heart was at the wedding and reception, it was also aching -- because we knew that this beginning would end with a good-bye on the same day. After the reception (and after many tears from her parents and siblings), our daughter and her new husband left immediately for their home in Charleston where the groom is stationed in the Navy. Charleston is not around the corner from Phoenix.

Mommies' hearts do funny and unexpected things when their babies finally fly away. I wasn't expecting it to hurt this much, but how can I be sad? Everyone said they have never seen a happier bride, and I must agree. These two are without guile, she a walking smile and he a walking heart. I am so very grateful to Our Lord and Our Lady that they found one another. I miss them. But they have something to do in the world, namely, to radiate God's love and goodness to everyone they meet. I wish you all knew them. 


Now, as you may know, there is a little something that has kept me from dwelling on my younger daughter's absence, and that little something is named Felicity Virginia: 

Grandma loves you!!

I will not think on the fact that she and her mommy and daddy will themselves be moving away in mere weeks.... Pray for me to not be such a wimp about saying good-bye again. I am incredibly blessed, and I know it. And it will be great being the only female in a house full of males... correct??

By the way, a shout out to my amazing older daughter who served as Matron of Honor at three days postpartum. She is a better woman than I! 


I think we all need to tattoo this on our inner arms:

Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life; rather look to them with full hope that as they arise God, Whose very own you are, will lead you safely through all things; and when you cannot stand it, God will carry you in His arms. Do not fear what may happen tomorrow; the same everlasting Father who cared for you today will take care of you then and every day.    -- St. Francis de Sales


I just had to post this meme 1) because I find it hilarious and 2) because it cuts through all the nonsense of the Hobby Lobby decision hysteria:

C'mon, you know it's funny.


There are bigger problems in this world than (chronologically) adult women in America who can't get people to pay for their contraception. For example, two-year-old Frankie needs a family!

Frankie loves to dance, and his favorite toys are cars! Who can resist him?? Please click here for more information, and let's pray that his family finds him soon!

God bless you all and thanks to Jen for hosting!

PS: I will post professional pics of the wedding when we get them! :)