Category Archives: Politics

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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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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Love Hurts Sometimes

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Last Friday morning, I watched somewhat numbly as article after article filled my social media feeds, some in celebration, others decrying a national tragedy.  After the Supreme Court issued their ruling legalizing same sex marriage nationwide, the world of social media seemed to become a haze of rainbow profile pictures, name calling, and both sides of the “debate” co-opting the “LoveWins” hashtag to draw two conflicting conclusions.

I say I watched numbly as all of this unfolded because my heart had already been broken several hours before the Court issued their ruling, and I frankly didn’t have a whole lot of emotion left to care about what the Supreme Court said about marriage.

Thursday night around 9pm, my father in law passed away after a ten month battle with esophageal cancer.

“Battle.”  Personally, I think I am beginning to dislike the term in its association with cancer.  Or at least I don’t like the typical implications of it.  I don’t like the characterization of my father in law “losing” the battle because he died.  Cancer didn’t win.  Even in death, God is victorious.  Isn’t this the message of the cross?

This was certainly what my father in law believed.  My family was blessed—yes, blessed— to be able to witness, over these past few months, a powerful example of suffering and of embracing the cross God gives you.

It also sucked.  Watching someone you love suffer is painful.  For my father in law’s part, allowing those who love you to watch you suffer is painful.  In our being there for one another, we also added to one another’s pain.  But you know what?  That’s what you do for love.

Sometime over these past few days, a friend on Facebook shared an old blog post of Jennifer Fulwiler’s.  It was about “the whole gay marriage thing,” but I found something she said in it to be a comfort in my grief.  She said:

“I have converted to the religion of the crucifix, a belief system that promises joy in exchange for losing it all. Most people don’t want to sign up for that. I get that. I hope they consider it, for their own sake, since their lives would be better if they did — but it doesn’t change how I feel about them if they don’t.”

“Joy in exchange for losing it all.”

The message of the cross.

The witness of my father in law’s life.

Yes, sometimes love hurts.  We don’t go seeking pain in the name of love, but when the pain inevitably comes, it doesn’t mean it’s not real love.  It just means that the time to witness to the depth of your love has arrived.

“If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”
-Jesus

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4 Things I’ve Learned in the “Pro-Life Movement”

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Being that this Thursday is January 22—the 42nd anniversary of Roe v Wade—I told myself that I’d use this week’s post to talk about abortion.

Easier said than done. It’s hard to write about abortion without feeling like you are just adding to the noise—saying things that have already been said a million times, playing into stereotypes, etc. But it’s a topic that needs to be talked about. Especially as followers of Christ, we have an obligation to speak up for those least among us who cannot speak for themselves; and we need to be unafraid to speak the truth lovingly to those who might otherwise never hear it.

So after a lot of prayer and thinking, I decided that this week I’d just share with you all a bit about what I’ve learned from my experience within “the pro-life movement.”

 

1. I’ve learned that if you’re going to talk about abortion, it is absolutely imperative to speak from a place of genuine love for whomever you are speaking to.  As Saint John Bosco put it: “It’s not enough to love, people have to feel they are loved.”

Something to keep in mind whenever talking to anyone about abortion: it has been said that as many as one in three women will have an abortion in her lifetime. Whether that stat is accurate or not, it is a good practice when you are speaking with someone to consider the possibility that she (or he), or someone very close to her has been personally impacted by abortion. So always, always speak with love and compassion.

2. As someone who has joined with groups in prayer outside of abortion clinics in both the San Diego and Dallas areas, I will say I have never encountered anything resembling the reports you’ll read on sites like Buzzfeed or The Huffington Post about angry mobs of “anti-choicers” harassing clinic workers and patients. The majority of us are there to pray not much higher than a whisper, and may occasionally sing a hymn. One or two people are there as “sidewalk counselors,” who calmly engage those going into the clinics in conversation, sharing literature and just lovingly letting them know they have better options available to them than abortion. It’s all very calm and non-confrontational. [But don’t take my word for it, you can check it out for yourself by signing up for 40 Days for Life].

3. I can’t make it to the clinic on a regular basis to pray. And there’s not always an organized march or protest going on to take part in. But something I can do on a daily basis is pray for the end to abortion. It’s something my husband and I do every night when we offer our family rosary. Admittedly, praying for the same thing night after night can feel monotonous, or even unfruitful at times. But I believe that God hears our prayers, and so we continually offer them for the end to abortion, and for abortion-minded women and men to not give into despair. Which brings me to the final thing I have learned…

4. God is working. Even when we don’t see it, God is working.  And we need never despair, because the battle has already been won.  With abortion as with every struggle we face in this life, all we need to do is continually offer it over to the one who has already conquered death.  He will lead us into His Victory.

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Young and Catholic on HuffPost Live!

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I just finished up being on a segment on HuffingtonPost Live: “If Pope Won’t ‘Judge’ Gays, Will Others?”.  You can watch the recording here:

http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/pope-francis-remark-on-gays/51f678bd78c90a3ef5000647

Thanks to all who prayed!

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