Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Here We Go Again!

I spent a long time looking over the Girls, Inc. web site. Most of it didn't bother me, although what did bother me was what wasn't there. No reference to possibly being a wife and mother someday that I could find. There were suggestions for reading material regarding gender issues for parents and girls. There was a statement supporting a women's right to choose as stated in Roe v. Wade. They supported political involvement for girls by giving info on contacting elected officials, state by state (not a problem, of course), and then gave current and past legislation, state by state. I have no problem with this. Then they give Girls, Inc.'s position on the legislation, and encourage girls to contact their representatives. This is political advocacy. In my state, they opposed a bill that encourages abstinence only sex ed in the schools. Girls, Inc. supports an abstinence "plus" program, similar to Planned Parenthood's programs.

I know birth control, gender issues, and abortion are a rather small part of what Girls, Inc. does. But it is an evil lie to make a girl think it is ever a good thing to kill her own child so she can persue her dreams. It is a grave omission to not inform girls that having an abortion can put their health at risk, both physically and mentally. Besides, if there was only a small amount of dog-doo in a pan of brownies, would you still eat them?

Okay, so does a fund-raiser by American Girl for Girls, Inc. deserve my outrage? American Girl was chosen by our family as an acceptable toy on which to spend a great deal of time, as well as money. We whole-heartedly endorsed their products, because they reinforced the values we hold dear, such as innocence, kindness, diligence, and modesty. American Girl dolls stand head and shoulders over most other dolls on the market, but are much more expensive. My girls really look up to American Girl, and believe what they say. This is why I am so disappointed in this endorsement of American Girl for Girls, Inc. My girls now can not trust AG, and feel betrayed. Sort of like when a favorite sports hero is caught doing drugs. A big let down.

I don't know if this will be resolved, as it appears AG is really digging in their heels. My girls and my dh went down to the AG store the day after Thanksgiving and took part in a peaceful protest. They walked in front of the store, in a circle, carrying signs saying, "Girls for Life". They didn't say anything. Some of the other adults had fliers that they handed to the adults going in the store explaining why this protest was taking place. That was it. Here is the statement AG released that day, "We are appalled that this radical group is using intimidation to create a disturbing situation for young girls and their families. Given this group's purported focus on family values, we find it particularly hypocritical and shocking hat these protesters are deliberately accosting innocent children with inappropriate and distressing messages to simply further their own political agenda."

First of all, their was no intimidation. The only yelling was by pro-abortion supporters driving by. Their was no "accosting", there was no inappropriate and distressing message. The only message was "Girls for Life", "Mom's for Life" and "Dad's for life". I just asked my dh, and he said there were a few circle with a slash through Girls, Inc, and American Girl, like 2, compared to 30 Girls for life signs. Their statement was purely false, and sounds like a Planned Parenthood press release. This really, really makes me mad. This made my girls cry, because they said they feel like AG is now their enemy. They feel like AG thinks my girls are their enemy. Not true. The only reason my girls would take the time to be interviewed, protest, and be on T.V. and in the newspaper, is because they love AG, and want it to go back to being just a toy store. This whole thing is giving me a headache.

The girls have wanted to do every public statement in which we have participated. They are now growing weary of the controversy and ready to just get other dolls, and other doll clothes. I hate to see them so demoralized, feeling as though their efforts are having no effect. I hope the lessons they learn from this are worth the emotional toll it is taking on them. After tomorrow, we are done with the media and American Girl. Please pray for us, that we can state our thoughts clearly and charitably, and that we can have some good effect.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Quickie

Baby says, "mommy" now. So sweet. She also says, "Thankyou" and "Blankie". This makes up for the fact that the only word she consistantly used up to this point is, "NO!".

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Cliff Notes version on the rest of my thoughts on marriage, headship, theology of the body, and my spiritual journey

I am discovering how difficult it is for me to articulate my thoughts on headship, marriage, and theology of the body. So, to quote "Princess Bride", let me 'splain, no, not enough time, let me sum up.
(From Ephesians, Chapter 5)
5:23. Because the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church. He is the saviour of his body.
5:28. So also ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
5:29. For no man ever hated his own flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, as also Christ doth the church.

I am going to cut to the chase here. If you remember I inferred that the church was contaminated by Jansenism, that left a somewhat Platonic whiff. Again, this was condemned by the church, but the effects were not completely wiped out. By Platonic, I mean, quickly, that the soul is the important part of humans, the body just a prison to be discarded, a skin to be shed. Now look at the Biblical texts I quoted. If the head (knowledge) is superior to the body, if the body must be subjugated by the will, if the body is an unfortunate encumbrance to the soul, then St. Paul's exhortation that "the husband is the head of the wife" and "So also ought men to love their wives as their own bodies," might be misinterpreted. If, on the other hand, we look at this through the lens of the Theology of the Body, that in a "sound bite" says, "The body reveals God", then " So also ought men to love their wives as their own bodies," means something quite different.

I don't think that the theology of the body is really telling us anything radically new. The fact that we as humans were created of Spirit (soul) and Matter (body), in the image of God, comes straight from Genesis, and has been one of the cornerstones of Christian Philosophy. That fact that the Resurrection of the Body has been taught, and is in our Creed, shows the inherent dignity with which our bodies have been given from the earliest of Christian thought. But uniting the teachings on the soul and the body, with the husband and wife, in line with Christ and His Church needs to be shouted from the roof tops. This isn't new, it is just extremely important.

As far as the rest of my spiritual journey, when I left off I was intellectually filled and spiritually hungry. I received a truly Liberal Arts education in college, and began to see the transcendence bubbling up through the scholasticism. I went to a variety of Catholic churches, led and attended a number of Bible studies, and began to teach our faith to my children. This is when my desire for the heart of my faith came screaming to the surface. I didn't just want my children to know God. I wanted them to LOVE Him, to treasure Him, to be passionate about Him. Eventually we ended up attending an Eastern Catholic Church, and that's where I found it. The transcendent prayers, icons, every sense exploded with the power and beauty of the Risen Lord. I couldn't get enough. I learned iconography, fell in love, truly, with Christ the Teacher, the Mother of God, The Holy Prophet Elijah, St. Nicholas, and each and every venerable window into heaven I wrote. Oh, the intimacy, the joy, the absolute fondness for which I beheld my Savior, who is good, and loves mankind.

I am not saying that the only way to experience the transcendence of God is through my path to the Eastern Catholic Church. But I do know this is where God led me, for my own good, knowing me as well as He does. Between diving into the Sacred Scriptures, the writings of the Early Church Fathers, the glorious Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom ,the graces received from the Holy Mysteries (Sacraments), and the writings of JPII on the Theology of the Body, I feel I am on the journey of my life, no, my eternity.

Not to mention, my marriage ROCKS!!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Headship, continued

First, my spiritual formation. I was born and raised into a "Traditional" Catholic family. I had always attended the Tridentine Mass, and learned my faith from the Baltimore Catechism as well as many spiritual classics of the church. I pretty much ignored the rest of the church, as I saw no fruits there, and was quite fulfilled, intellectually and spiritually speaking. I attended church at a Society of Saint Pius X church for most of my formative years. I was confirmed by Archbishop Levebvre. This was all prior to the 1988 consecrations that caused the charge of "schism" to be used. After that, I didn't really know where else to go to church, so I stayed there, and figured God understands my "tight spot" and will lead me where he wants me to go. I am grateful for my time at the church of my childhood. I did learn my faith, was exposed to eternal spiritual truths, and beautiful music and traditions of our church. But whether as a consequence of where I attended church, or as a outcome of my own weaknesses, I definitely intellectualized my faith, and it became a faith of my head, not my heart. I followed the rules, (thank God I knew them) out of obedience, not love. I attended church out of duty, not love. I recited my prayers out of duty, not love. I could defend my faith against any number of attacks, and did so out of duty, and by using my intellect, not my heart. The mystical portion of our faith was not opened to me at this time of my life. While the western tradition did offer me mystics and mystical theology, I had no context with which to digest it. It seems in my experience, in the Western Tradition, the intellectual life of the soul is emphasized over the mystical work of the soul. There seems to be much influence of Jansenism in the pre-Vatican II era. I see this as the "head" is superior to the "body", i.e. intellectual knowledge is superior to soul knowledge. The body is to be subjugated, ignored, mistrusted. It's only the soul that counts. I know this hasn't ever been the formal teaching of the church, as a matter of fact actual Jansenism was condemned, but the effects of such a heresy sunk in, and poisoned the Church for many generations.

Don't forget to answer my question from last post. And for those readers who are not Catholic, please bear with me, and feel free to ask questions about things I don't make clear. I am already struggling to make this clear to Catholics, and realize I may assume understandings that my non-Catholic brothers and sisters don't have.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Marriage Question

Finally, a lull. The family and I went to a wedding today. My brother and his wife renewed their vows. It was so sweet. My sister-in-law wan't Catholic when they married, so they didn't have a nuptual mass. She converted shortly after their first child was born, and has wanted a "do-over" ever since. So, on the 15th anniversary of their meeting, it was done. Their oldest son served the Mass, their other 6 children escorted their mother down the aisle, and when the two of them exchanged their vows, they really knew what they were saying. *Sigh* quite lovely.

My husband and I want to renew our vows next year. We switched from the Roman Rite(Western) to the Romanian Rite (Eastern) last year. At the time of our wedding, neither of us felt completely engaged in our vows, as we were too nervous and felt a little on display. Now that we have a better idea what the vows are for, and to be able to participate in the beautiful Eastern Rite wedding ceremony, we are going to renew on our 14th anniversary. Here is a question for you all. When you got married, did you have an appreciation for the truly covenental bond that you were undertaking, and a trust in the unbreakable union you were entering? A conversation over at Caelum et Terra about annulments has unnerved me a bit regarding the indissolvability of Catholic marriage. (There are 97 commets at this time, so if you want to read it all, allow some time). This has led to the question (regarding the high numbers of annulments) too many anullments, or too many invalid marriages? Does anyone really understand the gravity of their vows, have an appreciation for the life of service one has undertaken, or are most looking for their own happiness? Not a couple I know hasn't struggled with their marriage. At what point do you investigate annulment? And why did people in previous generations stick out unhappy marriages, rather than use the possibility of an annulment when things seemed unbearable?

I am working on a response to these questions, incorporating many of my own life experiences. I will post my response tomorrow, detailing my initial faith formation (SSPX), my marriage ("regular church"), our church hopping (indult masses, SSPX again, various independent chaples, and local churches, and finally, our current Romanian Catholic church), and my recent studies of Eastern Chrisianity and Theology of the Body. I feel a convergence of many things slamming into my soul at this time, and that there is a common thread - one of headship, authentic authority as a servant, and the place of the intellectual vs. the spiritual life (i.e. head vs. soul). Stay tuned, as this will more than likely take many installments.

But first, back to my question - too many annulments, or too many invalid marriages? and can anyone know at the time of their marriage if it is annulment proof?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Home again, home again, jigiddy jig

After four days of shopping, eating out, talking and talking, and watching chick flicks, I can honestly say it's good to get home. I missed the little buggers, and my husband, and the house, and even the never-ending laundry.

I have tried to get caught up on my regular blogs, but doubt I'll be on the computer much this week. Some very good discussions going on around St. Blogs, and I'll try to link to some of my favorites later.

The addition is coming along. The bathrooms are mostly put together. Carpet is chosen, cork flooring is going in tomorrow. Paint the week after that, siding soon, and finally, moving in. We don't have to buy one piece of furniture once we move in. We are just SPREADING OUT.

I'll be back when I have time.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Cuteness, movies, advice and salutations

This photo has nothing to do with anything I will be writing about tonight. I just love it and wanted to share. I let my older kids use my camera, and they had the little ones dress up and then took some pictures. This is of my 5 year old daughter, taken by my 11 year old daughter.

I will be heading out of town tomorrow for an extended weekend with the ladies of my family. My mom, and 2 sisters-in-law will be staying in a cabin on a lake, just relaxing and getting a little respite from our usual routines. We do this every year, and this is the first time we are BFT (baby free traveling). All our babies are old enough to stay with their dads and siblings, so this really is a rare treat. One of my sister-in-laws is expecting her eighth baby, so next year there will be at least one baby with us.

I also wanted to mention that while my dh was out of town, I rented and enjoyed a slew of movies. First was "Red Hot Ballroom". This is a documentary about a program to teach 4th and 5th graders ballroom dancing, and the preparation for a competition. I would recommend it as enjoyable.

Next was "I am David". This is a story of a 12 year old boy who excapes from a Soviet concentration camp. It is a story of fear, anger, courage and trust. Highly recommended! It is said that Mel Gibson got many of his cast from this movie, and there is a particularly poignant moment that is reminiciant of "The Passion of the Christ." This is a delightful movie, appropriate for families (I would say 8 or 9 years old and up). A real delight.

Next was "Monsoon Wedding". This is a more mature movie, with adult themes and some language that is not appropriate for kids. This is a very colorful film, again with themes of hurt, anger, courage and trust. A feast for the eyes, as well as a glimpse into another culture and how it handles family life and celebrations. Again, highly recommended.

This weekend I will be watching "Babette's Feast" with the ladies. This is one of my all time favorite films, and I look forward to seeing it again. This film is very Eucharistic, as well as merciful, and full of Alleluia's (which means "praised be God"). If you are looking for a soothing, beautiful, meaningful movie, this is it!!

And finally, I was contacted by CBS Evening News about doing an interview about American Girl. Given that we went through this once to no avail, I am slightly hesitant. We are considering it, and maybe you all could give me a thumbs up or down to help me make my decision.

Til I return, God's choicest blessings to you today, tomorrow, and always.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Halloween Redux

We had a terrific Halloween. Everyone found a costume, and the 7 yods actually went through 2 costumes - he got wet in his ghost costume, and couldn't run very well, so during phase II of trick or treating, he did a quick change into blue pants, yellow shirt and Superman cape, and viola, a new costume. We have a huge chest full of costume parts, so now they are on their own as far as getting ready for both Halloween and All Saint's Day.

This year for the All Saint's day party, instead of each child dressing up as a saint, my kiddo's did a skit about St. Edmund Campion. They make it pretty funny, as the story was about a lady pushing St. Edmund in a mud puddle to avoid him being recognized by the police. He was alway being searched for, and as a priest was in great danger in England at that time. So they took a serious topic, and found a little humor. It was all good.

Of course all this activity means a houseful of tired children. The addition is progressing, and I think I am getting actuated to all the noise. Although there was nailing of the soffets going on all day, I barely noticed.

Somehow, CNN heard that I have daughters that love American Girl, and that they are so disappointed about the Girls, Inc. connection. They called me and asked if they could come out to the house tomorrow and interview us, and the impact AG's actions have had on our family. BAH! Pray that the Holy Spirit guides our words. All in charity, and clear thinking. That's alot to ask of an 11 yo and a 9 yo, and a nervous, protective mom. But if it brings the Cathoic view point into the public square, then I guess it's worth it.

I'll keep you all posted!