Sturm und Mom

The Storm & Stress (& Joy) of Motherhood

Archive for the tag “Catholic”

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Advent


Around here, it’s starting to look a lot like Advent. I was inspired by Like Mother, Like Daughter‘s post on decorating for Advent, and Elizabeth Esther’s post on her Christmas decorating, and I thought that I would share what we were doing around here. Advent, by the way, is the four weeks leading up to Christmas, a time to get ready and anticipate the birth of Jesus. The tradition of Advent is a great antidote to the over-hype and over-spend of Christmas today.  Why?  It means that you don’t actually start celebrating Christmas until December 25.  Instead of being sick of the holidays on December 26, and Boxing Day is notable as the  day you burn your Christmas tree, the 25th means that the party has just begun.  So, if you are tired of seeing holiday decorations beside the Halloween candy at your local Wal-mart, give Advent a try.

In addition to our Advent Wreath, we have a couple of Nativities missing Jesus:

(guess which ones the kids made!)  …and I made a new Advent door wreath…

Is anyone else celebrating Advent?  How does it look in your house?

Looking for more Advent info? Try these links:

Catholic Culture
Like Mother, Like Daughter (look at the sidebar for more articles)
The Advent Conspiracy

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New Names for Right and Wrong

There’s a debate right now on the Internet, inspired by the comments of this woman, recommending a maximum age that a woman be allowed to have a baby.  Or rather a non-debate, because the fact is that biology has all ready determined that some women will be too old to have a child.   So what’s to debate?

This kind of phoney, fuzzy thinking debate is part of what drove me from “progressivism” and into the arms of the Church.  Ms. Tollefsen decided to have IVF at the age of 57, with her male partner and a donor egg.  In other words, she “gestated” the biological child of her partner and another woman.  Sort of the high-tech version of what Sarah cooked up when she sent Abraham into Hagar’s tent.  Maybe that should be the litmus test for new technologies — whether or not we would balk at using the “low-tech” version of the procedure.

So, if desperate, childless women have been resorting to this kind of thing for thousands of years, I ask again:  Why are we calling it a debate?  Most women, when they read Genesis 16, know that it is wrong.  Yes, we sympathize with with Sarah’s plight, and no, we don’t hate Hagar and Abraham’s child, Ishmael, but the moral of the story is clear.  This was never God’s plan.  When Hagar and Ishmael are finally driven out, in Genesis 21, it’s not surprising.  The story is foreshadowed to end badly.

The last I checked, the modern debate had descended into “selfish woman” versus “you go girl!” versus “who can really know what’s right or wrong, anyway?”  This misses the point entirely.  So does the personal situation of Ms. Tollefsen.  As to her age, many grandmothers (including my own) raise their grandchildren with no problem, and a lack of funds has never been a impediment to a happy family.  I also do not want to minimize the suffering of those who are unable to have the children they so desperately crave.  But the main issue remains. Just because we figured out a new way to do something, doesn’t make it an entirely new situation morally.  Natural law still applies.  Human nature is still human nature.  It is not right for a married couple who want children, to engineer a child with a third woman.  Especially if we want to turn around and deny that child’s claim to his or her biological mother.

In Genesis, everything is fine for a while.  Until Isaac is born.  Then Sarah stops calling Ishmael “Abraham’s son”, and he becomes “that woman’s boy.”  The scales fall from her eyes, and she allows, sadly, her heart to harden.  And a similar realization has occurred to Ms. Tollefsen:  that she was very misguided in her decision to bear that little girl.  Just because modern man has come up with new language and tidier methods, doesn’t mean we get to come up with a new and tidier right and wrong.

Stuck in the Ditch

Once I met a very nice lady who lived out in the country, and she told me a funny story.  She was driving into the city from her acreage and the falling snow caused her to slide into the ditch.  Standing at the side of the road, a fellow female motorist stopped and kindly called her father.  He had a 3/4 ton truck, and could pull the car out.  When he arrived, she recounted laughing, he hopped in the drivers seat, and proceeded to drive the car out of the ditch.  She was never stranded at the side of the road at all.

That’s how I’ve been feeling lately — like I wanted someone to come along and shout “just drive yourself out!”

You see, I’m a “great big plan” kind of girl.  I liked school because I could accumulate credits.  I liked work because I could add completed projects to my resume.  My favourite vacation was hiking because I could mark off completed trails on the map.  I like to get things done, and then stand back and admire what I had completed.  I like feel like I’m making progress, and to have something concrete to show for that progress.  I like to accomplish something.

That’s one thing about the Mommy-life that drives me crazy.  Go ahead — cook a great meal.  It’ll be history in 20 minutes.  Bathroom spotless?  Wait until after the bedtime routine.  The counter will be covered in toothpaste, and the towels will be on the floor.  Again.  So you tell your kids to pick up after themselves.   Yeah, and then tell them again, and again, and again….you get the picture.  Everything with being a Mom right now seems to be get up in the morning and spend the day re-doing everything you did yesterday.  Then get up and do it all again tomorrow.  I was feeling stuck in the ditch.

I was whining to my husband about this.  “I used to have a narrative in my head as to what I was doing with my life.  When I worked, I wanted to get promoted.  When we homeschooled, I had to get the kids to the next grade level.  But now I don’t have a plan.”

“That’s because you can’t have a plan, right now.”  He said.  “You have to live in the moment.”

In other words, just drive yourself out of the ditch.

So, while I now ironically have a plan to just live in the moment, it struck me how much I kept returning to this theme.  The challenge to not just live in the moment, but live my faith in the moment.  When I first returned to the Church, I was keen to start racking up the Good Catholic Credits.  I joined study groups, read lots of books, attended all sorts of retreats and started joining any ministry that would have me.  Before long I was a Reader at Mass, a Eucharistic Minister, a Catechist at RCIA, in charge of scheduling for all the readers for Mass, and running both a Children’s Liturgy and a Mom’s Bible Study Group.  All this with three kids under 5.  Then we moved to a new Parish, and I vowed I would never sign up for anything again. (I kid — but I did massive prune my volunteer commitments to something more manageable.)

Perhaps part of the reason Jesus warns us so much about the danger of material riches to the fate of our soul, is in part because of what those riches represent in the world at large — wealth is usually associated with accomplishment.  Our bank accounts correspond with the esteem with which others hold us.  Usually when people advance in their careers, they do so with a growing paycheque.  No one says, “I’ve done so well at my job, I now work for nothing.”  The higher you get, the more they pay you, the more you are admired.  At least, that’s the way of the world.

But to grow in virtue, is mostly an interior struggle, unnoticed by the world at large.  How many Saints have passed from this earth completely anonymously?   And how does the world notice that instead of secretly fuming inside at your relative’s dig, you decide to forgive and let it go?   Or instead of coveting the huge houses you see on the way to pre-school drop off, you decide to look away and be content with what you have?   That’s what makes the Christian life so hard — all the hard work that no one sees.

Have I given up on my goals?  No, not at all.  My “great big plan” right now is to live each moment the best I can.  This of course is completely lacking in milestones, certificates and general external validation.   And being a sinful creature, pretty darn hard. (Mea culpa — I just finished snapping at my kid.  But I burnt my hand on a hot pan from the oven so I plead the pain defence. 😉  But I’ve realized that this is my way out of the ditch — work so hard and accomplish so much that no one can notice.

7 Books on Catholicism for the Jaded and Secular

As I’ve mentioned before, I was quite the secularist, atheist type, and now I’m (trying to be) the orthodox Catholic, Mommy type. These are some of the books I read on the journey that helped me leave that old life behind.

The Holy Longing: The Search for a Christian Spirituality by Ronald Rolheiser

I fondly remember reading this book when pregnant with my second child. Fr. Rolheiser is able to reach out to a Church-ed and non-Church-ed audience alike, and speak about the inherent tension between the world as it is, and as it should be, and what that means for the spiritual life. In his writing, I felt that I had finally found a path connecting my a secular world view to a Christian one.

Salt of the Earth: The Church at the End of the Millennium- An Interview With Peter Seewald by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger and Peter Seewald

My perception of the Magisterium for many years was a bunch of old guys with Axis powers’ accents shouting “because I said so!” This interview with then Cardinal Ratzinger demonstrated the intellect, rationality and charity of the Church. I even bought a Pope Benedict XVI mug after reading this.

Your Life is Worth Living: The Christian Philosophy of Life by Fulton J. Sheen

This series of short transcribed talks, quickly, neatly and effectively defends the Catholic faith, without diluting it. Fulton Sheen was a true spiritual genius in the way he could describe human nature, and explain the Christian response to it. Contains the oft-repeated truth, that no one would disagree with the Catholic Church if they knew what she actually taught.

Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To: Divine Answers to Life’s Most Difficult Problems by Anthony DeStefano

I read this book at a difficult period in my life. I thought it would be a treacly pep talk, but I was desperate, so I started reading it anyways. Boy was I wrong. DeStefano pulls no punches as he deals with the Christian response to tragedy, doubt, and other tough subjects. Still my go-to book when I’m looking for some perspective and inspiration.

Rome Sweet Home: Our Journey to Catholicism by Scott and Kimberly Hahn

Surprised? This conversion story of a dedicated Protestant Pastor and his wife, was way out of my comfort zone when I first picked it up over 10 years ago. I remember thinking, “Can’t these people write a sentence without the word ‘God’ in it?” When I gave it to my husband, he handed it back after about 10 pages, and dismissed it as “un-readable.” But I stuck with it, and by the end it was one of my favourite books. Why? Scott and Kimberly’s journey in search of the truth is full of doubt, difficulties and personal sacrifices. It is also full of grace, joy and ends in a beautiful reconciliation of their family. It showed me that Christians weren’t a bunch of unthinking, Ned Flanders types. Rather, they were just like me. (P.S. My husband did eventually read it, and pronounced it “great.” )

The Catholic Mystique: Fourteen Women Find Fulfillment in the Catholic Church by Jennifer Ferrara and Patricia Sodano Ireland

This collection of converts and reverts covers everyone from Evangelicals to died in the wool secularists. It was a great comfort to me to see that I was not alone in my journey as I was separating myself from my old ways. A wonderful book that shows the great diversity, and at the same time unity, of the Church.

Could You Ever Come Back to the Catholic Church? by Lorene Hanley Duquin

This short little read answers many of the questions that poorly catechized Catholics may have. It covers both theological controversies, and answers basic questions about the Mass and other Sacraments. For someone who hated to admit she didn’t know it all, I was shocked to discover how much mis-information I had picked up over the years.

Of course, I have added many more books to my list of “favourites” over the years, but these were the ones that reached me back then. Several of these volumes I need to replace, having lent them out and lost them. I pray that God continues to use these books to reach those lost souls who, like I was, are looking for answers and ultimately, God Himself.

Part of 7 Quick Takes Friday at Conversion Diary.

Remind Me Again How I’m the Loser

Reading this article left me the most disturbed I’ve been all week (h/t Kathy Shaidle.)  (The second most disturbed was when my little kids came out of the bathroom with a Dixie cup exclaiming “We made you tea — with cream in it!”  But I digress…)

The author of this column, Liz Jones, seems to be one of those women newspapers employ because they write bizarre, unbalanced and salacious stuff, and generate a lot of “controversy,” and therefore lots of readers (1000+ comments on this story alone.)  The gist of her tale is that she was desperate in her late 30’s to have a baby, and resorted to all sorts of nefarious plots to try to unknowingly entrap her boyfriends/husbands into impregnating her.  She then claims that many of her middle-aged female friends are doing the same thing.  It ends with the warning to men about these shifty gals:

If there are any men out there even contemplating getting close to a woman in her late 30s or early 40s, I suggest you tread very carefully.

She might be the woman for you; she might be totally honest if she says she doesn’t want to rush into motherhood.  But she might also be a duplicitous creature willing to go to any lengths to fulfil her dreams of having a family.

When I was in my 20’s in the 1990’s, and hopped-up on feminist-gender theory, I would have considered a married mother of six (i.e. myself in 2011,) as being an oppressed baby-factory, her true dreams and aspirations suppressed by religious fundamentalism, no more than a domestic servant that you don’t have to pay.  The “traditional gender role” for women, everyone knew, meant spending your life begging your husband for money, at least until he abandons you to a lonely existence with your cat, hoping against hope a man will call.  Everyone knew, there was no dignity in being a housewife.  No dignity at all.

Funny how all the “dignity” that these social progressives keep promising us, doesn’t seem so dignified when you actually have to live it.  Take euthanasia, for example.  Two days I ago, while waiting for my appointment, I over heard the older Doctor warn his much younger employee to get married, or when she was older, no one would take care of her.  “They’re bringing in euthanasia now,”  he told her.  “You better watch out.”

While she laughed it off, he wasn’t smiling. Death with dignity, or death because people get tired of footing the bill for your nursing home?

Raising 6 kids may not be the most dignified job (heck, I’ll be the first to admit that,) but I’ve never, ever, even considered doing something as humiliating as retrieving a used prophylactic from some guy I could barely tolerate, with the hope of having a baby.  Or listened to different men tell me that they had too many “sexual offers” to continue seeing me.   Or decided that I should abort one of my children’s siblings, because funds were tight this month.  Or strap my kids into their car seats at 5:30 am on the way to daycare, while later that day my spouse goes out boat shopping.  And while my husband could try to withhold money from me, he might have a problem with all the joint bank accounts, credit cards, mortgage, and the titles to the vehicles and house.  Not to mention he hates to pay bills and budget.

However, I guess they got me with the “lonely old lady with her cat” future that awaits me.  Oh, hold on….

I still have days now when I wished the sperm-theft had worked; that I had a daughter or son my husband felt compelled to visit.

Not, I’m ashamed to say, because I think I’d be a particularly good mum, but because our relationship would not have been a complete waste of time, with nothing to show for it but bad memories and a shared cat.

Yeah, sometimes winning seems a lot like losing.  Count me as a happy “Loser.”

 

What’s the Quality of the Quantity?

Is this the over-crowded wienie roast of our future?

Yesterday, Michael Cook at MercatorNet, posted this great overview of the demographic issues facing the planet.  Rather than the neo-Malthusian “People are bad!  Contraception!  Where’s the Margaret Sanger of today?” rhetoric, he summarizes what the changing composition of 7 billion people really means, in particular, the overwhelming agedness of so many Western societies.  One of the problems he lists is loneliness:

How caring will society be? Families in countries as diverse as Korea and Singapore and Spain and Germany are having only one child – the Chinese population ideal achieved without a whit of coercion. So, as in China, the only relatives many children will have are their parents and grandparents – no siblings, no cousins, no aunts and uncles.

Furthermore, many women are choosing childlessness. In an increasingly atomistic society, who will cherish them in their declining years? In France, or Singapore or the United States, childless men and women may have an adequate social support network. Japan is creating cuddly robots, but will they be able to afford them in China? In Tunisia? In Thailand? At the moment almost half the world lives in countries with sub-replacement fertility. The future for people with small families looks bleak and lonely.

I already am seeing this effect in my own social circle. Compound this by divorce and remarriage, and you have a situation of one young(er) person, being pulled in multiple directions when it comes to duties to their aging parents and step-parents.  If Boomers thought they were the Sandwich Generation, then Gen X and Y will be the Smorgasbord Generation — spread in tiny little bits on a whole bunch of plates.  I can see the moral dilemmas now:  How many times per month do you visit your Dad’s ex at the nursing home?   What if she has no one else?  How many years of step-parenting are required before she has claim as a “real” parent?  What if they married and divorced after you left home?

Barbara R. Nicolosi identifies another disturbing trend on the horizon, thanks to our aging population (h/t Mark Shea and The Anchoress):

Do not think me flippant in suggesting that pastors and teachers of the faith must quickly provide substantive, moral reasons for GenXers not to euthanize the Boomers; for them, the Entitled Generation will quickly morph into the Expensive Generation as they and Millennials are bent low under the weight of social programs that were strapped on their backs without their consent.

Doesn’t the future sound great?  Acres of ill-maintained nursing homes, with the occasional distant relative showing up at your bedside with a cup of Helmlock, trying to tell you how you need to preserve your “dignity.”

The problem with kids is that when you really need them, it’s too late to have them.  Yes, my little ones are a drag on my lifestyle — now.  When I was overdue with my third, I was sent to the Hospital for an ultrasound to ensure the baby was doing okay.  In the waiting room, I started chatting with two middle-aged ladies.  Turns out the were accompanying their 80 year old mother for tests.

“There’s 4 of us,” one sister said.  “So, we all take turns helping Mom.  That way it’s not too hard on any of us, and we don’t have to worry about her.”

There is a whole world of people entering their Golden Years, with not even one person to help, who will forced to rely on the State or charity.  I remember hearing a story about Aldous Huxley, the author of Brave New World.  He was speaking with some students about his Dystopian vision and was shocked so find that they saw it as a Utopia —  they couldn’t wait to get started on this grand project.  It’s hard not see that these same young people, having had their crack at civilization building, are now the elderly of today.

Hopefully, unlike government, people don’t get the old age that they deserve.

Happy Birthday Baby 7,000,000,000!

Happy Birthday baby 7,000,000,000!  We’re so glad to meet you.

The best stuff I’ve read about the world population so far was at Spiked online and the Population Research Institute.  I love the way the PRI sums up it up:

People are our greatest resource. Extraordinarily gifted people have helped to enrich civilization and lengthen life spans. But the fact is, everyone, rich or poor, is a unique creation with something priceless to offer to the rest of us.

Baby Seven Billion, boy or girl, red or yellow, black or white, is not a liability, but an asset. Not a curse, but a blessing. For all of us.

Welcome to the world! It’s great to have you here.

The Heroism of Everyday

(T)he great poems of heaven and hell have been written, and the great poem of earth remains to be written

– Wallace Stevens, 1879-1955

When I was a kid, George Bailey was a hero. Every Christmas, I would look forward to watching the movie It’s a Wonderful Life on TV, the 1946 classic by Frank Capra. The story revolves around an everyday fellow in crisis, who is given the opportunity to see what the world would have been like if he had never been born. That movie (and Black Magic Chocolates) were probably the highlights of the season for me. Why? George saved a boy’s life, George built houses, George saved the family business, George stood up to Mr. Potter, George was a good father, George helps an angel gets his wings, etc. His hometown without him is a den of sin and despair. I loved the idea that the famous and powerful, whom we all worship, are in fact harming the world, while the guy in the back of the room that no one notices, is saving it. If I could only be like George Bailey, I thought.

Somewhere along the way though, I started to question my hero worship. I mean, George was for all intents and purposes, a loser. He missed out on college and his honeymoon, he was the propertior of a failing business that had to bailed out by crumpled up dollar bills from all his buddies, his house was falling apart and full of screaming kids. His dream was to see the world and become an architect. Instead he got travel posters and a paper-pushing desk job. Was this all propaganda? Feel good hokum?  More pap churned out for the masses to keep them in line?  “Oh sure, little guy, you matter so much! If you weren’t here to turn on the lights, how could you admire your betters? If you didn’t keep having children, who would pay our taxes and fight our wars?  Consider yourself lucky — do you know how stressful it is to have something different and exciting happen every single day? The stress and responsibility of being successful?”

Now as a grown-up, I feel like these two Georges – the winner and loser – sometimes wage a battle in my soul. The life of a mother of small children can seem an uber-exercise in self-mortification. Don’t get me wrong — I totally get my vocation. But sometimes, what with a toilet-training two year old, a pouty, attention-hungry four year old, a baby up all night, school age kids with all their assorted crises, part of me yells, “You’ve been duped! You’re a chump to be doing all this work. When will it ever be your turn?” The time to pursue the dreams that my adolescent self thought it should pursue — wealth, fame, infamy — is slowly slipping away, even if I were to try to chase them. But what surprises me most about this life is how hard the little things are. It requires amazing amount of effort and self-control not to snap, scream, to act patient, to explain, to discipline instead of ignore, to forgive again and again. Heather King writes about this force of will in her new book Shirt of Flame: A Year with Saint Therese of Lisieux. She describes how “Therese trained herself, literally breaking into a sweat from the effort,” to keep from turning around and glaring at an annoying Sister during prayers.

Try that the next time someone jumps the line at the bank, or cuts you off as you try to merge onto the freeway, or insinuates you aren’t working hard enough! Begin to ponder the years of discipline, prayer, and the turning of the will toward God required for such a ‘tiny’ taming of the instincts.

Rather than being the life of a weakling, of a bumbler, or the unambitious, the everyday grind with its constant self-denial and sacrifice, is actually a work of unnoticed heroism.

This article by Michael Kirke from MercatorNet, really spoke to me. It summarizes the work of Professor John Paul Wauck on the role of the everyday in Christian literature. Professor Wauck asks where is this heroism of everyday life portrayed in literature?

“How might one, then, in practice,” he asks, “convey the heroism of ordinary Christian life? To appreciate the difficulty, consider, for example, the following point from The Way by Saint Josemaría Escrivá, the champion of sanctity in ordinary life:

‘We were reading – you and I – the heroically ordinary life of that man of God. And we saw him struggle whole months and years (what an ‘accounting’ he kept in his particular examination of conscience!) one day at breakfast he would win, the next day he’d lose…. “I didn’t take butter… I did take butter!” he would jot down. May we too – you and I – live our…. ‘drama’ of the butter.’ ”

Kirke ponders Wauck’s question, whether it is even possible to capture the struggle of everyday life in literature.  Kirke too feels that this epic struggle requires more attention.  For it is, quite plainly, in the boring everyday that our souls are lost or saved.  Most people don’t wake up and declare “Today’s the day for Mortal Sin!”  It’s the constant little choices, the turning of the will either toward or away from God, that determines the fate of our eternal life.  To paraphrase Peter Kreeft, we need stories of heroic virtue.  The virtue required to tend small children, provide for your family, return rudeness with kindness, and persevere when no one seems to notice or care.

So is George Bailey off the hook?  Overall yes, but not in the most important way. The movie sums up with “No one’s a failure who has friends,”  which does seem to be the sort of feel-good twist of a Hollywood movie.  The real drama is a lot harder to accept:  He who chooses failure in the World’s eyes for the sake of Truth, is a hero.  I hopefully await someone to take up this challenge in his or her art.

All Hallows Eve

Today we passed a car driven by a young lady who was desperately missing a young man named Nathan, who passed away about a year ago at the age of 35. How do I know? Because she had used a Sharpie to write his name, birth and death dates on the hood of her trunk. This is as we passed by at least six “Spirit of Halloween” stores full of pagan, death orgy decorations. (Not that I have anything against Halloween per se. It just gets a bit much when you have to rush your preschoolers out of the costume store, because they’re screaming in terror at the disemboweled man lawn ornament.)

Which made me think of the original meaning of Halloween – All Hallows Eve – All Saints Day, followed the next day by All Souls Day. The time of year when the whole Church comes together to pray for those souls in heaven, and those souls who will soon be in heaven, including our own. Without this hope, without a way to connect to our loved ones, without a way to reconcile with those with whom we never had a chance to, without a way to make sense of our own mortally, this is what happens: Zombie decorations on your lawn and a car turned into a moving tombstone.

Things that I thought I would be after 10 years in the Church

It’s been 10 years since I returned to the Catholic Church after I became pregnant with my oldest daughter. It doesn’t seem that long, and it struck me that there were a few things that, when I think back to those days, I thought I would be, or not be, after that many years of trying to walk in my faith.  Here’s a quick list of the things that come first to mind:

1) Sacramentals – Shouldn’t I “get” that more by now?

People are always showing me things that are blessed, or giving me Holy Water, or I see people drinking Holy Water, and I just don’t get it.  Everyone seems a lot more excited than what I can muster up.  Not that I have disdain or disrespect for sacramentals.  I have my blessed palms from Palm Sunday on display in my house, and I surely appreciate the effort of the people who get gifts blessed for me (as well as the Priest’s time.)  Yet when someone says “It’s blessed!”  the best I can muster up is a “Oh, isn’t that nice.”  If anyone can tell me what I am missing I would be very appreciative.

2) I thought I would be better doing the “Holy Praise Talk”

You know what I mean.  When it’s time to lead a prayer in a group, I never have a good repertoire of good holy things to say.  Some people just seem to be able to speak about putting on Christ, they know all the names for Mary, have a billion Saints memorized, and they have all the phrases of blessing, praising and who does what through who.  Me — no matter how many biographies of the Saints I read, only four ever spring to mind in these situations (I guess I should include the Evangelists, so okay – 8.)  When I try to discuss spiritual matters, I still sound like I am reading out of a cook book.  No, actually it is more like the driving directions from Google maps.  I need a gift of tongues or something.  (Last sentence being more evidence of what I am talking about.)

3) I was sure that I would be less materialistic

I thought for sure by now I would be happy giving away insane percentages of my income to worthy causes, and living off of borrowed goods and second hand clothes.  But I’m not.  Part of me wants to disentangle from material things, and the other half reasons that since the Patriarchs were rich men, then why not me, Lord?  Like, how can You know if I would give it all away for God, Lord, if you don’t give it to me first?  (That makes sense.  Isn’t our faith supposed be all about reason?)  Plus, I have a lot of stuff that I really, really want to buy — and then gift to charity!  See what I mean?  Anyone who has any tips on this, please, please help.

4) There was no way I would be totally okay with the Church’s stand on abortion, contraception, women priests, or gay marriage

This is the most shocking to me.  I was so socially liberal back then, that had I known what would happen to my views on these issues, that is, if I just stopped talking and ACTUALLY LISTENED TO WHAT THE CHURCH ACTUALLY TEACHES, I may have run in the opposite direction, or at least found a more liberal Church.  My problem is that I had never heard what the Church says on these issues, I had only heard what other people said that the Church says. Contraception is banned because priests are male celibates, abortion is wrong because the Church is patriarchal and hates women working, women aren’t priests because the Church won’t accept gender theory — and on and on.  Back then, I thought that I would just read the Church’s defence of its teachings, with the eventual goal of dissenting, since — let’s be serious, here — the logic and reasoning was bound to be faulty.  Cue laugh track.  I seem to remember something about truth making you free – or at least very uncomfortable at social gatherings with your old cohort of liberal friends.

5) I would have one child, because only crazy people have large families

Cue that laugh track again.  At one point, I was determined to arrest our family at 3 members — not counting all those dogs and cats we had, who were “our babies too!” (Gag.)  Back then, I thought the only people who had a lot of children were either stupid, irresponsible, on a farm, wore prairie skirts everywhere because they thought they were pioneers, Mormons, female-misogamists, rich or eccentric.  There had to be something wrong with them.  In fairness, all I ever heard growing up was that you loved your children in spite of how they ruin your lives, and the only people I knew with six kids were the Brady Bunch.  Even in my Catholic High School, the largest family I knew of had 4 kids.  And her Dad was a judge, so obviously rich (well compared to me.)  Other than that, no more than 3 kids, 2 preferably.  So this point is one of those “if it wasn’t God, what was it?” kind of thing.  Sort of a really minor, “if there isn’t a God, that how come the Church is still in existence?” question.  Not only that, I am way happier in my tired, stressed, never-completely-in-control life, than I was with no or one child.  And on that note….

6) I couldn’t be happy without a “career”

I sometimes I ask myself why I’m not miserable.  According to everything I was ever taught or figured out previously, I should be.  Don’t get me wrong — after 10 years of dealing with small children, I could use some intellectual pursuits (hence this blog,) but I am fundamentally okay with staying home, raising children, cleaning the house, and putting supper on the table.  I don’t necessarily like any of these things, and I wouldn’t do them in and of themselves, but I feel like all the work I do has meaning now.  And its a meaning that was missing when I just showed up at work because I was ambitious and wanted a paycheque (which, let me tell you, re: #3 above, I could totally use right now!)

7) I’d never get all this Mary stuff

My journey with and to Mary is an entirely separate post.  Suffice it to say that 10 years ago I figured that Mary’s chief purpose in our faith was to ward off Protestants, and as a decorating choice for Mediterranean types with a penchant for plaster statuary.

Seven seems like a nice, meaningful, traditional number to stop on, though I could probably list a few more if I thought hard.  However, biggest difference is that back circa 2000, I did a lot of “fake it til you make it.”  I would put on a really “pious” look during the homily, I would try to affect a what I thought was a “holy” position, I never admitted that I didn’t know something, or that I was confused by Church teachings.  Faith was less an invitation to a personal and transformative relationship with God, the Creator of the Universe, and more a clique that I was trying to insinuate myself into by learning its self-identifiers. But in fairness, that’s all I knew then.  And I am sure that’s all most of the nominally-Christian/functionally Pagan souls out there know  — unless we witness to them that Christianity isn’t a club, but a new life.  A new and totally differently life, that I could be more happy to be living.

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