Book Review – Chastity Is For Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin

Ave Maria Press recently gave me the opportunity to read and review Arleen Spenceley’s  Chastity Is for Lovers: Single, Happy, and (Still) a Virgin.  I was given the book free of charge, but the opinions in my review are 100% my own:

 

Arleen Spenceley was a journalist for the Tampa Bay Times when, in 2012, she “outed” herself as a 26-year-old virgin in an op-ed that went viral.  Chastity Is For Lovers tells that story (and so many others), while inviting young people to discover the meaning of chastity in our universal call to love.

I was intrigued to read Spenceley’s book not only because I am a sucker for chastity books but also because it sounds like the beginning of a romantic comedy (another thing I can’t resist).  Young spunky journalist writes op-ed about being a virgin and is caught in the midst of a media frenzy—hilarity ensues.

Chastity Is For Lovers did not disappoint, and Spenceley’s unique voice and style of storytelling was a refreshing change of pace on a topic that can often feel over-saturated with voices merely repeating one another.

The risk of a chastity book written by a self-professed “happy virgin” is of course that it has the potential to come off as prideful or judgmental to those who have walked a different path.  Or, to compensate for this fear, often those who preach chastity are so afraid of coming off as judgmental that they end up all but apologizing for their virginity. But Chastity Is For Lovers succumbs to neither of these pitfalls.  Spenceley is bold enough to be authentically herself—neither apologizing for her virginity nor boasting of it.  And it pays off.

All in all, Chastity Is For Lovers is a solid book on the Christian virtue of chastity that I would definitely recommend for young Catholics of dating age, or anyone looking for encouragement in navigating the world of dating.

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New House, Same Home.

The sky is grey and a thunder storm looms.  In Southern California, a day like today would be a once a year opportunity to stay in pajamas, listen to the rain, and maybe turn on a movie, (or 3).

In the Dallas area, it’s just another Thursday in April.

We are going on two weeks living in our new house in a new state, and as I am getting acquainted with the concept of storm closets, and trying to muster up the courage to use “y’all” in casual conversation, The Church continues the celebration of Our Risen Lord!

How wonderful it is to belong to a Church that can remain a constant for my family and myself in the midst of such a major life change.  While we’re still looking for a parish to call home, part of the beauty of our Catholic faith is that we are by no means “homeless” with regard to a Church.  The same liturgy, the same sacraments, and the same Jesus are all present no matter which Catholic parish we attend on any given Sunday.  And that is pretty fantastic!

Happy Easter, Y’all! ;)

Easter 2015

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Confession: I Take Confession For Granted

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I’ve written in the past about why I think it’s a good idea to make a habit of going to confession every other week. The way I see it, going longer than a month without confession is usually too long, and it’s just easier to ask myself, “Did I go last Saturday?” than, “Have I gone yet this month?”

So when my husband and I talked a while back about making this “every other week” thing our normal routine, I thought it sounded like a great goal to shoot for.  As in: if it works out, great!  But if we can’t go here and there, no biggie.

I’ve since learned that, for Tyler, this “every-other-week” thing isn’t just a nice idea to shoot for.  In a similar way to how we approach going to mass on Sundays (i.e. – We’re obviously going, and day is planned around it), my husband sees to it that every other week our Saturday has time carved out for reconciliation.

I’m almost to the point where I’m not caught off guard by this.  When “every other week” rolls around, I’m still asking myself, “Is it convenient for me to get to confession today?”  Whereas Tyler is asking, “How will we get to confession today?”

I recommend adapting my husband’s attitude, not my own!  Because, more often than not, there is some sort of reason I can come up with of why it would be easier to skip.  I don’t “feel” like I need to go, it’s far away, it’s right in the middle of the day, it’s not like I’m sinning in not going…etc.  But I’m always glad when we go.  (And, as it turns out, I always have something to confess!)

It’s easy (for me, at least) to take the Sacrament of Reconciliation for granted.  It’s always there when I know I need it.  But God is calling me to experience His mercy and His grace even when I don’t “feel” like I need it.  Usually, He shows me that’s when I need Him the most!

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Caeli (with a “ch”)

 

After just a few short hours of labor, our baby girl—Caeli Elizabeth— was born in the very first minute of Friday, February 20th.
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I’ve never been one to care particularly about the “unique-ness” of a name, and my kids’ names aren’t really a place I’d like to try my hand at being creative.  So we didn’t come to “Caeli” because we were looking for something unique or particularly clever.  Honestly, Mommy just thought it sounded pretty :)

It wasn’t until we were in the hospital introducing Caeli (pronounced, ‘Chay-lee’) to nurse after nurse that it really hit me— outside of Catholic circles familiar with some ecclesiastical Latin, hers is a name that may take some explaining!

So for those that are curious, Caeli is a Latin term usually translated as, “of Heaven,” or just, “Heaven.” For example, Regina Caeli are the first two words of an ancient Marian Hymn traditionally sung after night prayer and prayed during Easter Season in place of the Angelus (“Mary, Queen of Heaven”).

Queen of Heaven (Regina Caeli)
V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
R. For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
V. Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

So far, she’s gotten “Kaylee” and “Kylie,” and I have no doubt that when she’s older baristas will come up with all sorts of interesting variations of “Chaylee” to write on her coffee cups.  On the bright side, all of these encounters will hopefully teach her the art of politely correcting people—a great skill for a classy young lady to have! :)

Today I am praising God for healthy, snuggly baby girls (and their doting big brothers).  Thank you, Jesus, for our sweet Caeli Elizabeth!

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Ask Mary: Would God Really Send Me To Hell For Skipping Mass?

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Catholics: Do you make it a point to go to mass every Sunday and on every Holy Day of Obligation— without exception?

If not, why not?

If you don’t know, our faith teaches that missing mass on a Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation without a serious reason is a grave sin. That means when you skip mass without a good reason (assuming that you know doing so constitutes a grave sin), you are cutting off the life of grace in your soul, and you need to go to confession in order to get yourself back into the state of grace.

The Catechism teaches that those who die not in the state of grace do not go to Heaven.

That might seem a little harsh. So I was tired and didn’t make it a point to go to mass last Sunday morning. God would really send me to Hell over that? 

(It’s worth noting here that the Church has never stated definitively that any particular individual is in Hell. I say that because while it is the infallible teaching of the Church that missing mass is a serious sin meriting Hell, God alone is Judge, and God alone searches the heart. So we would never say that just because “Jerry” skipped mass here and there that we know he is in Hell—we would just pray for God to have mercy on his soul as we do for anyone else who passes away)

Clearly, our attendance at mass is important to God.  So important that choosing to skip is in fact a sin meriting spiritual death.  The important question we must ask is: Why?

Simply understood: God is God, and we are not. Devoting ourselves to regularly attending mass without exception is one way that God invites us to proclaim this truth with the way we lead our lives. Think about it. Each time we skip mass without a serious reason (e.g. Soccer tournament, too busy hanging out with friends, sleeping in, etc.), it says something about the place we give God in our lives—even if only for that day. Knowing full well that God requires us to go to mass on Sunday, choosing things above that obligation is a kind of subconscious way of telling God we don’t give worship of Him the first priority in our lives. And whether we realize it or not, making the choice to place other things above the worship of God has a direct impact on our relationship with Him.

See, it’s not that God needs our worship. It’s not that He needs us to give up an hour on a Sunday in order to check our time card to accumulate enough hours to get into Heaven.

No, you see God knows that we need Him. We need to regularly offer Him our worship, because without placing Him at the center of our lives, we inevitably will place ourselves there. Our comfort, our pleasures, the false idols we build in God’s place… The mass is where God calls us to Himself. It’s where God invites us to leave our sins on the altar. It’s where God gives us Himself, holding nothing back.

Scripture tells us that if we love God we will keep His commandments. If you’re not already in the habit, I invite you to give the worship of God in the mass the first priority in your life.  (I promise regular attendance at mass will do much more for you this lent than giving up soda or chocolate :) )

I am in no place to judge, but I do believe that for most of us going to mass every Sunday is simple—it just requires a decision. In life, we do what we need to do for what is most important to us. Most of us would rearrange our schedules if it meant lunch with our favorite celebrity.  Well, the God who created us is a much bigger deal than even the most wonderful and respected person on Earth, and He invites us to table with Him every week!  What does it say about the place we give Him when we reject that invitation?

 

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