Category Archives: Culture

Why I Bought My Toddler Books On The Theology Of The Body

*Please Note: I was not asked to write this post or to review these books.  I just really am liking these books and wanted to share them with whoever might be interested.    

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The way of the world has always been a little “off,” hasn’t it?  As much as we are warned against the dangers of our confused culture of today, the truth is that the mainstream culture has really never been capable of producing on its own the kind of thoughtful and faithful human beings we are each created and long to be.  If cultures throughout history have been closer to the living out truth than we are today, it is only because of a handful of thoughtful individuals who– rather than running and hiding from a corrupt or confused culture– lived their lives in such a way that would end up being transformative to the culture as a whole.

I certainly don’t want “the culture” to raise my kids.  I don’t think anybody does, no matter their beliefs.  But the fact is that my kids (and myself) are going to be influenced by the culture in which we live; there is just no way around that.

We might visit an airport restroom and be greeted by this sign, for example:

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Gender identity or expression…What does that mean? And what’s with that strange-looking drawing?”

It’s all about as new to me at 26 as it would be to my toddler, who–let’s be honest– wouldn’t even notice the sign for a few good years yet.  But that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?  By the time he is old enough to actually notice stuff like this, it’ll likely go unnoticed.  It might even be considered “normal.”  Maybe words like “gender identity” will be learned along with words like, “boys” and “girls.”  Who knows.  That’s obviously the hope of a good many people who are influencing the culture today.

I say all this not to fear-monger.  Like I said, the culture of tomorrow will be shaped by people like you and me and my son, who hopefully will have a heart for truth that is eventually able to see through falsehoods like the pretend genders we might draw on bathroom signs.  While I wait, and pray for the culture to get there, I’m going to do my best to make sure my kids have every opportunity to see through the falsehoods being presented to them as truth today.

What Is The Theology of the Body?

When it comes to individuals who transformed the culture of their day by seeking to know and live out the truth, perhaps one of the greatest examples from the 20th century is Saint John Paul II.  His commitment to living out the truth helped bring down communism and inspired thousands of young people to follow Christ.  I think our culture today, with its frantic attempts to deconstruct and redefine fundamental truths of gender and sexuality, is thirsting for the profound wisdom to be found in John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.  That’s why I’m introducing it to my children now.

Most people hear “Theology of the Body” and think of it as synonymous with “the sex talk,” but that’s really only a part of it (and it’s not the part I am interested in reading about with my two-year-old!).  In a more general sense, the Theology of the Body is what it says it is: It’s theology (the study of God) as it relates to our bodies.  Meaning, our bodies reveal to us truths about God, and because we are created in His image, our bodies also help reveal to us who God created us to be.

Theology Of The Body (For Toddlers!)

A few years back, TOBET released a series of books aimed at little ones (they have a set for older kids, too) which lays the foundation for a lifetime of learning and unpacking John Paul II’s timeless teaching on the Theology of the Body.  The three books are:

Everybody Has A Body: God Made Boys And Girls

Every Body Is Smart: God Helps Me Listen And Choose

Every Body Is A Gift: God Made Us To Love

“Everybody Has A Body: God Made Boys And Girls”

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This book is about as fundamental as you can get, but increasingly important in a culture that says our bodies are meaningless.  Our bodies are a part of who we are!

 

 

 

“Every Body Is Smart: God Helps Me Listen And Choose”

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“I have a body, and I learn from my body,” this book states.  We learn from our bodies, and we can choose to act (or not) based on what our bodies are telling us.  What an important concept to understand!

(I particularly love the page in this book that says: “When my body tells me that I want to run around, but I am at mass, I can choose to wait to play like a big boy.” Still waiting for the reading comprehension to kick in on that one! ;) )  

“Every Body Is A Gift: God Made Us To Love”

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“Every body is a gift! God made us to love.  We do this with our bodies!”

This book touches on the concept of love as a free gift: A concept taught perhaps in high school theology, now being ingrained in my two-year-old’s subconscious.  We are created to love!  As beings of both body and spirit, our bodies play an essential role in how we give and receive love. My two-year-old may not understand all of the complexities of this reality yet, but we are already laying the foundation, and I think that is pretty fantastic.

If you’re interested in ordering these books (or in checking out the set for slightly older kids), visit the store at TOBET.org.

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Do More Than Just Survive Your Single Years (Free Book Available Now!)

A little over two years ago, I received a question from a reader. The gist of it: “Why are we women in such a rush to get married?”  I thought it was a good question deserving of a good answer, so naturally I deferred it to someone else ;) A close friend of mine (who is practically my big sister), Lisa Marie Hunt, wrote a two-part answer about Why We Long For Love and How To Glorify God In Your Singleness:

“…I wondered why God didn’t think it was time for me to get married.  Was I not holy enough?  Not pretty enough? Was God upset with me for something?  Did he want me to be a Sister, even though my desire to be a wife and mother was so strong? Was I ever going to get married or would I be stuck as a lonely, old, lady… who couldn’t even have cats because I am allergic to them!?  And then about five years ago I read the very first paragraph in the Catechism: “He calls man to seek him, to know him, to love him with all his strength”.  Nowhere in that sentence, or the paragraph that encompasses it, did the authors mention marriage, religious life or singleness.

I had been dwelling on the longing in my heart and thinking it was for a man, when in reality that longing was for Him and my purpose was to seek Him, to know Him and to love Him.  If getting married would help me to do that, then Praise God! if becoming a Sister allowed me to do that, then Praise God!  And if for whatever crazy reason God wanted me single, then Praise God!  That moment was a life-changer for me.”

(You can read Lisa’s whole answer by clicking here: Part 1  Part 2)

Why talk about this today?  Because yesterday Lisa published a book!

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The Moment Is Now: Do More Than Just Survive Your Single Years, Practical Tips to Live Them For God’s Glory is available to download on Amazon FOR FREE today and tomorrow only (after that it will cost money, so download it today and tell your friends to do the same!).

I had the chance to read the book ahead of its release, and–even as a married mother of two–I kept finding myself nodding along with Lisa’s words. There are books on chastity in dating and how to date the “right” way as a woman of God, but The Moment Is Now delves into a less-discussed topic. What does a single person who understands– and truly finds beauty in–the call to chastity and the vocation of marriage do to make the most of the time of singleness God has given her beyond just…waiting?

Lisa is very up front that this is not a book about waiting. The Moment Is Now is about what to do with the gift (and it is a gift!) of singleness that God has given you.  I very much recommend that you check it out! (And it’s FREE today, so why wouldn’t you?!)

You can download the book on amazon by clicking the picture of the cover above, or by following this link: The Moment Is Now: Do More Than Just Survive Your Single Years, Practical Tips to Live Them For God’s Glory.

Don’t forget to share with your friends!

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Sin Always Hurts

 

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one:

“Well, I believe that ____ is a sin because I am a Christian, but I just don’t feel I have a right to force my beliefs on others…  

…I mean, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone…

It sounds straightforward enough, right?  And in our culture, one of the the worst things you can be accused of doing is “forcing” your beliefs on someone.  Unfortunately, the underlying premise of this sort of statement is that sin doesn’t always hurt.

But that’s simply not true.

Sin always hurts.  Sin hurts God, first and foremost.  But sin also hurts us, because we are created to live in communion with God, and sin damages our ability to come into relationship with our Creator.  Choosing to sin stems from passions that are out of order which, when not corrected, lead us to choose things that might seem appealing, but in reality are not good for us.

This is true of all sin and for all people–whether they are Christians or not.  Lying is bad for the believer and the unbeliever alike.  Unchastity hurts both the Christian and the agnostic.  Sin is not good for us, no matter who we are.

But wait, there’s more!  Sin doesn’t just hurt God and the one sinning, sin hurts everyonebecause no one sins in a vacuum.  Our choices always have an effect on those around us, for better or for worse.  Lying is an affront to the dignity of whomever you’re lying to, because you’re effectively saying they aren’t worthy of the truth.

Even the sins we call “private,” these still affect our neighbors, because we carry the effects of our sins around with us, to everyone we meet.  When I habitually choose to do things that are damaging to my soul, it absolutely affects me as a person, and so it absolutely affects my ability to engage in the kinds of healthy and constructive relationships that I am supposed to have with other people.  When this happens on a large enough scale, everybody loses, because it facilitates a culture in which virtually no one is capable of true, virtuous friendship.  So sin—even so-called “private sin”— creates a culture of selfishness.  Sound familiar?

But here’s the real crux for those of us who say we are Christians.  If we can pretend that it is possible to commit sin “without hurting anyone,” what we’re really saying is that Jesus or no Jesus–it doesn’t really make a difference.  We’re effectively saying that sin is just some arbitrary, made-up construct, and our Savior has nothing real to offer the world.

Is that what we believe?  Because it is certainly not what Christianity teaches.

If Jesus is real, then sin always hurts.  And if Jesus is real, then sin is what He says it is.  Meaning: We don’t get to decide that just because something Jesus calls sin doesn’t look like it is hurting our neighbors, that it is somehow not a sin in that case.  Even when we are not fully culpable for our sinful actions–due to poor formation or whatever–those sins can still cause damage in our lives.

That’s the truth of the matter.  If we say we are Christians, then we cannot ever hold that sin is harmless. Because Jesus isn’t a liar.

So what does this mean for our day-to-day lives?  I think it means that we start, if we haven’t already, to pray that the Holy Spirit would “inspire us with the horror of sin.”  Because I think that if we are striving to live our lives according to the Spirit of God, we would be horrified by sin–all sin.  And if we’re not horrified by sin, then it means something is off in how we relate to God and to our neighbor, and needs to be made right.

So let’s ask that Jesus would “break our hearts for what breaks His.”  Let’s ask that He show us how we are to really love Him and how we are to really love our neighbor.  Not by pretending that sin is harmless, but by giving us the conviction that our Savior who died for our sin invites us—all of us— to freedom from sin.

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If You’re Looking For A Way Around The Teachings of The Church, That’s On You, Not The Pope

It happened again.  The Pope changed infallible Catholic moral teaching while on a recent flight during an interview with the press.  And as everyone knows, this is exactly how Church teaching changes.  On an airplane.  With reporters.  And an individual pope totally has the power to change infallible, unchanging doctrine of the Church.

Ok, nothing in the above paragraph is true.

Still, people (mostly Catholics in “damage control” mode) are freaking out over the most recent pope-in-the sky interview.  The latest revelation: Contraception is ok, sometimes, according to Pope. (Oh, and Donald Trump isn’t a Christian.  But you probably already knew that).

By saying what he said, he is “relaxing” the teaching on contraception, according to some.  He is opening the door to understanding contraception as not always being an absolute evil.  He is misleading and confusing the faithful, according to others.  He should just stop conducting interviews with the press, if many had their way.

I would just point out that what he actually said was in answer to a question regarding “avoiding pregnancy,” not contraception.  Of course, to the world, the phrase “avoiding pregnancy” is totally synonymous with “contraception-” I mean, is it even possible to not get pregnant without using birth control?!  Yes, in fact a much more surefire way to “avoid pregnancy” is to practice abstinence.  If you’re married, practicing periodic abstinence, or NFP, to avoid pregnancy has always been perfectly acceptable in the eyes of the Church if there are serious reasons for doing so.  Potential disease is obviously a serious enough reason.  Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil.  That’s what the Pope said.

In the process, he also mentioned a case in which nuns were supposedly allowed to use contraceptives as an act of defense against rape, which, yes, confuses the issue a bit.  I’m not going to dive into it too much here because I don’t pretend to know the Holy Father’s heart.  If the contraception in cases of rape thing is news to you, here is an article that explains what that is all about.

The Real Crux Of The Issue:

My intention in writing this post isn’t really to take part in the damage control efforts.  It is pretty well covered by now, and by people much smarter than I am :)

I wrote this post really just because I wanted to say that if you’re looking for a way to bend God’s teaching to your own whims, my personal feeling is that you’re probably not waiting on the Pope to tell you it’s ok to do so.  Case and point: Every time this happens that the Pope says things in ways different than the faithful would have wanted him to, you have the media reporting major changes in Church teaching, faithful Catholics reiterating what Church teaching actually is, and some angry Catholics finger-wagging at the Pope to be quiet.

The truth is, not a whole lot will be different two days from now.  The people who take seriously the teachings of Catholic faith will still believe in the truth of humanae vitae, those who think they know better than the Church will still practice contraception– regardless of what the Pope said or didn’t say in this interview– and the rest of the world will go back to thinking us Catholics are just as crazy as we ever were.

You either want to follow God and His commandments, or you don’t.  Perhaps the Pope thinks that those who want to love God with all their hearts will read further than a USA Today headline for their moral formation—I’d like to think so, at least.  I understand that it is frustrating to read a CNN headline that says: “Pope suggests contraceptives could be used to slow spread of Zika,” but I find it much more troubling that so many of us would buy into the notion that a one-liner from the Pope on an airplane would reasonably give any halfway serious Christian the impression that the Church is changing Her moral teaching regarding contraception.  If you love God, I have to believe you’ll give it a bit more thought than that.

That’s my two cents on the issue, anyway.  If you’re looking for what the Church teaches, stick to the Catechism, not the latest news headlines.  And instead of rolling our eyes and wagging our fingers, why not just rejoice at the opportunity to share the beauty of the Church’s teaching with others!

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“The Catholic faith is like a lion in a cage. You don’t need to defend it – you simply need to open the cage door.”

– Archbishop Fulton Sheen

 

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Abortion Advocates: I Am Not Your Enemy

Tomorrow is the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States 43 years ago.  There are forecasts of a potential blizzard in Washington D.C., but the 2016 March For Life is still expected to go on as scheduled, as will the other walks and demonstrations planned throughout the country.

On the pro-abortion side of things, you might notice on social media today and tomorrow that women are being encouraged to share– proudly– their stories of abortion.  It is said to be an attempt to “lift the stigma” and “free” these women from the “shameful silence” they have been sentenced to because of people against abortion–people like me.

It might be an empowering narrative, the only problem is: It’s not true.

Please understand, I am not saying the stories are untrue, or that these women are in any way lying.  Nor am I denying the bravery it takes for any woman, regardless of her beliefs, to come forward and speak about something as personal and difficult as an abortion.  I am, however, calling out the “movement” for what it is: It is a lie.

Abortion advocates, I believe I can speak for virtually all of the pro-life movement in saying: 

I am not your enemy.

The one who has made you feel shamed into not being able to bring to the light what was probably the hardest decision of your life?  That was not me.

But I can relate.

See, I have made decisions in my life that have caused me to feel ashamed and cowered into silence.  I have done things I felt might be better hidden or kept in the darkness rather than discussed openly in the light.  In those times it has often seemed easier for me to blame others for my feelings of guilt and shame (“Society” has deemed this behavior “bad.”  It’s just my “Catholic guilt,” etc.)  than to acknowledge that these things were, in fact, mistakes that hurt me.

The truth is that the desire to hide in the darkness of shame comes not usually from other people, but from the real Enemy, the one who comes only to kill and destroy.  Satan wants nothing more than for us to feel ashamed, to hide, and to be kept in silence by those sorts feelings.

So abortion advocates: Do you want to talk about your abortion?  Please, let’s talk about it.  Let’s talk about it with honesty and compassion, without name-calling or condemnation.  

The truth is that this is what the pro-life movement has been after all along.  Bring it to the light.  Let’s be honest with women about what abortion actually looks like, about what the stages of development of life in the womb looks like.  Be honest that abortion stops a heart from beating, and terminates the development of a unique life never to be repeated again.  Perhaps most important of all, let’s be honest about the emotional pain an abortion so often brings with it.  Be honest that abortion so very often ends up hurting tremendously the very women it claims to help.

The truth is that calling something bad good will not make it so, no matter how much we try.  Uploading a video or tweeting 140 characters may bring with it a brief feeling of empowerment and pride, but if we are honest with ourselves, that gnawing emptiness will come again in the silence of the night and we will be faced with the grim reality of the lie we have been sold:

Bad is not good.  False is not true.  Darkness is not light.

The Enemy wants you to stay in the darkness that says that bad can be good; to stay in that darkness that says the antidote to shame is pride.  But the antidote to shame is humility and truth.  The antidote to shame is Jesus.  He is the only one who can truly free us from our shame and cleanse us of our guilt–not through vain tweets or social media campaigns, but through real healing that lasts.

All we have to do is take that grace-filled first step, out of darkness and into the light.

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Jesus, We Trust In You!

http://hopeafterabortion.com/

 

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