Friday, August 31, 2007

The Splendor of Chastity

"Only the chaste man and the chaste woman are capable of true love."
~Pope John Paul II

Chastity has gotten something of a bad rap in the modern world. Rather than being lauded as the guardian of pure love and well-intentioned affection toward the opposite sex, society has labeled and rejected what it perceives to be a restrictive and puritanical notion of repressive denial and asceticism. In fact, there is nothing more thrilling, more exhilarating, more sexy, than a true understanding of chastity. The daunting power and the majesty of the human spirit cannot be captured so well in any other earthly experience, for nothing elevates the soul more efficaciously than a selfless denial of the good for the greater; we have only to look to the Cross for conviction on this matter.
A relationship founded on chastity and a mutual disinterest in self is the pivotal foundation stone whose absence paves the groundwork for impossible, embattled marriages. How low would our divorce rate be today if every couple who came to the alter brought with them an unshakable commitment to die to self and to ceaselessly seek the good of their spouses and their future family? A chaste love is soul stirring and spirit lifting, enabling the human to more perfectly imitate the divine. Chastity draws us into a Trinitarian love capable of total self emptying, and therefore capable of a total self gift. And let's be honest, there's nothing hotter than holding nothing back. God knows this to be true.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

A Father Who Keeps His Promises

"Girls become lovers, who turn into mothers, so fathers, be good to your daughters too"
~John Mayer

I wish more girls had dads who loved them. Really and truly loved them, with a conviction and a self-sacrificing desire to protect and to serve, to cherish and to shield from harm. The idea of God as loving Father is laughable to most of the world, if not blatantly contradictory to the experience of earthly paternal love familiar to far too many women and men. The idea of a Father who keeps his promises, of a Father who willingly and readily sacrifices his time, his energy, his resources, his very life for his children, this is a foreign concept falling on deaf and damaged ears.

It doesn't take much to be considered a good father these days. Provided that a man pays his child support on time, doesn't publicly cheat on his wife or girlfriend, and isn't sexually, verbally, or emotionally abusive toward his offspring, he is considered quite a catch. What a commentary on the sad state of affairs that has left in its wake a trail of broken, bleeding hearts desperate for the love and affection of a man.

The hypersexualization of our women at an increasingly younger age, coupled with the rising scourge of pornography addiction and a general cultural acceptance (or at least tolerance) of sexual promiscuity has wrought a distorted and damaging concept of beauty that every good Cosmo girl knows by heart: To be loved by a man, you have to be desired by a man; in order to be desired by a man, you have to take your clothes off. Bluntly put and blatantly oversimplified, but fundamentally accurate and certainly consistent with the message women receive subtly and overtly in a thousand different ways every day.

How then can we expect fathers to relate differently to their daughters if they are quite familiar with viewing females as sex objects? The virtues of chastity and heroic self-mastery and temperance are not exactly being promoted in our sex-saturated culture. What a contradictory and confusing message to give to a little girl, telling her she is beautiful and worthy of respect, possessing intrinsic worth and immeasurable dignity, while lusting after her mother and older sister in magazine spreads and on billboards and movie screens. Girls are not stupid; we see what we're being asked to become in order to be lovable. If there's one sure way to a man's heart, it's no longer commonly regarded as being his stomach...

The point we come to is this: How can women who have known nothing of true chivalry, of the chaste and faithful love of a man, hope to enter into a familial relationship with God as Father? Dads, there is so much riding on your relationship with your little girls. If you don't show her what it means to be a man, what it looks like to love a woman, then who will?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

An Inconvenient Myth

I spent this morning in front of an abortion clinic, watching women make what will quite possibly be the most destructive decision of their lives. It's the knee-jerk reaction that they've been sold on by the media and by a culture that plainly labels them and their "illegitimate offspring" as an inconvenience. "Take care of it or I'll leave you" say the fathers; "You're putting your whole future in jeopardy" say the grandparents; "The most socially responsible choice is abortion" says everyone else.
What does she say though? The daughter, the sister, the mother, the friend... The woman agonizing over a decision she should never have been asked to make in the first place. Her pregnancy itself is evidence of the poor decisions she has made, the new life within her womb a foreign invader hell-bent on destroying her every hope and dream...
Or is this so? How many women have had their lives honestly destroyed by pregnancy, planned or unplanned? Is it the pregnancy itself, the physical and emotional toll on the body that saps a woman of her joie de vivre, her motivation for success, her positive self-image? If pregnancy is the greatest threat to quality of live facing women today, then our gender is in serious trouble. I mean, the worst thing that can happen to us is that our bodies function the way they were designed?
The 2 critical elements largely responsible for the success of the abortion distortion are the misinformation and the ignorance surrounding the issue. Women are lied to by the media and by well-intentioned friends and family, denied adequate (let alone accurate) medical information by clinic workers, and for the most part enter into their first abortion experience as blind as the abortionist performing their D & C...
Oh, that's right, a 1st trimester dilation and curettage abortion is performed blind, meaning the abortionist is relying on his sense of touch and his "expertise" to ensure the success and completion of the procedure.
"The first step in a D&C is to dilate the cervix, usually done a few hours before the surgery. The woman is usually put under general anesthesia before the procedure begins. A curette, a metal rod with a handle on one end and a sharp loop on the other, is inserted into the uterus through the dilated cervix. The curette is used to gently scrape the lining of the uterus and remove the tissue in the uterus. This tissue is examined for completeness* (in the case of abortion or miscarriage treatment) or pathologically for abnormalities (in the case of treatment for abnormal bleeding)."[1]
"Because medical and non-invasive methods of abortion now exist, and because D&C requires heavy sedation or general anesthesia and has higher risks of complication, the World Health Organization recommends D&C as a method of abortion only when manual vacuum aspiration is unavailable... "[2]
I guess my follow up questions would be these: what could possibly be considered a "non-invasive" method of abortion, and why on earth would any woman risk her body, her future fertility, and her very life for a $300 "solution" that delivers immeasurable suffering in lieu of promised relief? Are we just too stupid to ask the right questions, too scared to demand better for our sisters and our friends? History will judge our civilization not by the revolutionary advances that have been made in human rights, but by the bloodstained oppression and manipulation of the fairer sex. Ladies, wake up, the chains have never been heavier and the cost has never been greater. We are enslaved to the spirits of lust and convenience and selfishness that rule this world, and we are willingly extending our wrists to be fitted for shackles named "freedom" and "choice".

God help us, for we are nearing the point of no return past which we cannot help ourselves.

1 Dilation and sharp curettage (D&C) for abortion. Healthwise. WebMD (2004-10-07). Retrieved on 2007-04-29.
1 Hayden, Merrill (2006-02-22). Dilation and curettage (D&C) for dysfunctional uterine bleeding. Healthwise. WebMD. Retrieved on 2007-04-29.Nissl, Jan (2005-01-18). Dilation and curettage (D&C) for bleeding during menopause. Healthwise. WebMD. Retrieved on 2007-04-29.

*completeness refers to the process whereby the abortionist and clinic staff account for all numbered parts of "retained pregnancy tissue", otherwise known as POC (products of conception) It's a highly advanced procedure involving the numbering and counting of human body parts, e.g. Head= part 1, left arm = part 2, etc...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

"One less"

Become "one less" today...
Gardasil... the latest revolution in health care. Prevent your daughter from becoming a statistic, the perfect solution for girls and young women ages 9-26. Can anyone offer a coherent rationalization for immunizing 9 year old girls against a sexually transmitted disease? It's being billed as a preventative measure to protect against cervical cancer. Interesting marketing strategy, considering HPV is not the sole cause of cervical cancer, and did I mention it's a sexually transmitted disease? I think we can safely assume that Merck, the pharmaceutical masterminds behind Gardasil, have a vested interest in "sexually activating" their lucrative clientele base at a younger and younger age. What might this vested interest be?
The following quote is taken from Merck pharmaceuticals Germany-based homepage: "On March 13, 2006, Merck announced a takeover bid for Schering, the world's largest producer of oral contraceptives."

Need further encouragement? Here's an e-card you can send your daughter to remind her how precious her sexuality and her feminine dignity is:

ecard message: "Now that you're getting older, you have some important decisions to make... pink or red? No matter what you decide -- I'm always here to support you. Pick a color to paint your nails. "

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Vocational hazards

I ain't settling, for just getting by...
That really ought to be the rallying call for our generation. At what point in life does it become acceptable to switch over into autopilot and simply live a happenstance existence determined solely by chance and circumstance? The art of discernment has become an all-but-forgotten, antiquated notion best left to religious fanatics and wine sommeliers. What use does the average college grad have for contemplation and consideration of their particular plan, their life's mission, if you will? Their lives have been progressing nicely on track since that fateful day in 10th grade when an aptitude test identified them as "proficient in language arts", neatly listing a printed column of potential suitable occupations. See, we've taken all the guess work out of the process. Rather than wasting those precious formative years searching, dabbling needlessly in a diversity of interests, we can pinpoint individual strengths and capitalize on them with soccer camps, drama workshops, and of course SAT prep courses beginning in middle school based on revealed potential.
What gives then? Why aren't we happy? Everyone should be extremely satisfied, so perfectly suited are they to their field of work and study. There's no reason not to be. But... What about the deeper desires of the heart? The things we long for but hesitate to hold out for? What does the world say to a man with a desire for the priesthood, a desire to dedicate his earthly existence to a life of sacrifice and service? What do you say to a woman who seeking her Master's degree, even her PhD, who has every intention of using her education in the home, broadening the horizons of her future children? The world says to these desires, unacceptable, seeing in them an unpardonable squandering of resources, of time, of money. The most selfish thing a woman can do in our society is to waste her college education and her husband's income by loafing around at home with her children; for a man, nothing is more contrary to the distorted, over-sexed hyper masculinity so widely embraced by our culture than the Catholic priesthood. In a world where few can accept and even fewer choose to embrace the notion of monogamy within a marriage, the discipline of celibacy is utterly alien.
But I digress. Discernment is not a refinement process culminating in a lucrative and fulfilling career. Not primarily anyhow. Discernment is an openness, a softening and a quieting of the heart in the hope of gaining greater clarity in the area of the heart's desires. Sitting on a porch watching the snow fall at night, lying on a beach listening to the pounding of the surf, serving dinner in a shelter, changing a diaper, changing a tire... these are the opportunities where an open heart and an open mind might catch a glimpse of infinity, a further revelation of the unique and individual path to holiness each of us is called to walk down. We must not be afraid to enter into the silence, to seek the desires of the heart. Don't fear fulfillment, even if it is unrecognizable from a distance. Get closer, there is freedom in clarity.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Ask my dad...

Courtship vs. dating: what does a woman need to do to truly guard her heart, and how can she be certain that a man is pursuing her from a purity of heart and with a clear purpose to the relationship in mind? I'm not recommending full disclosure or even pretending it's possible to have all the necessary information up front in a dating relationship or any other for that matter, but I do believe there are steps that can be taken to ensure the quality and the integrity of a developing relationship while lowering the risk of heartache and regret.
Not every woman has been blessed with an earthly father who loves her as she deserves; in fact, more women than not have strained and even unhealthy relationships with their fathers in the aftermath of divorce or separation. If a father cannot or will not protect his daughter by guiding and guarding her heart, what can she expect from her dating relationships except regret, heartache, shame and disillusionment? The feminine heart is a treasure entrusted by God to a father's protection, and there is no greater failure than for a man to shirk the responsibility of this mission. Girls who are starved for love and longing to be cherished and nurtured will settle for the cheapest of counterfeits when they've never tasted the authenticity of sacrificial love.
Every woman has been granted an intrinsic dignity by nature of her creation in the image and likeness of her Heavenly Father, and even the noblest of earthly dads fall short of His glory. So ladies, send him there when he comes asking. Be sure he's checked with the author of your heart's desires before any attempt is made to fulfill them. It's the ultimate weed-out process;
a man who is willing and ready to pursue a woman will do so, there need be no manipulation nor concession and certainly no compromising of standards on her part. If he won't lay down his life for you at the outset, won't crucify his pride and delay gratification, won't be a man, it is very unlikely he will learn to do so during the course of your relationship.
Women need to embrace the responsibility to hide their hearts in the Lord, trusting that the right guy will be more than willing to go there to claim it. So be sure and ask my Father before asking me...

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The Abortion Distortion

After spending an evening with a dear friend who's life was "destroyed" by an unplanned pregnancy in college, I have a message for the world, that baby saved her life. This beautiful little girl is now being raised by the parents who thought their world was ending 3 years ago when a little pink line derailed their five-year plan. Fast forward to the present day, mom's a college grad with an impressive gpa and an even more impressive salary, and she's in love with her husband and their little unexpected miracle. At the time of her conception, this child faced a 25% mortality rate as an American citizen as 1 in 4 children conceived in the US are aborted. Her chance at survival was further compromised by her status as an "unwanted" pregnancy: over 45% of pregnancies in college-age women end in abortion. In reality, this event was life-altering, certainly life-postponing, but the one thing it was not was life-ending. And that has made all the difference.

She graduated a year later than she had originally planned, got married, and is now living a life beyond the wildest expectations of a young, carefree hard-partying college student with plans and an agenda that most certainly did not include late night feedings and potty training. But she doesn't wake up at night in agony, grieving for the life she ended. She isn't numbing the pain of her abortion experience with drugs or alcohol. She isn't searching for love in meaningless sexual encounters; she's found love. She found love the day she put down that pregnancy test and made up her mind. In saving the life of her unborn daughter, in sacrificing her dreams and desires for the unknown future of this little one, she saved her own life just as surely. Physically, spiritually and emotionally, she is whole today, as is her little girl. No regrets, no painful memories or flashbacks, no lasting physical or psychological damages, just a joy bred from selflessness that few could claim to comprehend. Thank you my friend, for chosing life, for your daughter and for yourself.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The Genius of Women

Nobody does it better than JPII, who waxes eloquently on the beauty and the dignity of the intrinsic "otherness" of the sexes in his Theology of the Body. But what relevance can the writings of a deceased, celibate, elderly man possibly have to a modern, evolved culture such as ours which extols not the diversity but the sameness of the genders, emphasizing the superiority of inherently masculine qualities to the detriment of true femininity? Quite a bit, it turns out, judging by the growing enthusiasm that is reviving an entire generation who are emerging from adolescence shell shocked and disillusioned by secular sexuality. The prolific writings of this post-mortem pontif are awakening modernity to the startling reality that men and women are profoundly different and inherently complimentary. The progress made during the last century for the advancement of the feminine cause and the equality of the sexes has, in a very real sense, rejected much of what is naturally and innately female in favor of masculinity. Women of this generation are taking a stand though, rejecting the notion of equality by assimilation and reclaiming the dignity that is rightfully theirs. The battle is being waged on intimate grounds, however, with the female body bearing the brunt of the attacks. A woman is not really a woman unless she is embracing her sexuality- (Translation: baring her assets for popular admiration and approval, engaging in meaningless and necessarily contraceptive, consequence-free sex with multiple partners, rejecting the outdated and oppressive institution of motherhood, and striving to achieve professional prowess at any and all costs to her personal life) In other words, become a man. In fairness to the good and righteous men of the world, this is a gross simplification and over-generalization of their gender, but the comparison holds. Women, become what you are, who you are. There is beauty and strength and nobility in femininity, such beauty as the world can scarcely recognize in its present condition. Become the civilizing force once again, calling society to a higher standard. You are more powerful and precious than you can imagine.

Monday, August 6, 2007

trashy tots

Ladies and gentlemen, we, of the 21st century, have officially arrived. It is now possible and even preferable to dress our infant children in playboy bunny paraphernalia with all the fashionable accouterments one might expect to find in any juniors department or kinky mail order catalogue. No longer must our youngest and most stylistically neglected feminine citizens be denied the basic necessities of halter tops and daisy dukes. No, now you can dress your little princess in a sweet pink onesie emblazoned with the following charming turn of phrase: "All mommy wanted was a back rub". No? Doesn't satisfy your penchant for haute culture with a young, fresh twist? Well, how about a little purple number that plaintively wonders: "Does this diaper make my butt look big?" Yeah, move over middle-schoolers; eating disorders and sexual victimizations are going to make great strides in the preschool set this season...