Friday, January 23, 2015

7 Quick Takes On The Pope, Rabbits, And Prudence

1.  The Pope kicked over a hornet's nest this week when he spoke off the cuff about issues of sex and marriage.  The Internet exploded with interpretations of what exactly he meant and why he said it.  I'm not sure I'm going to add any new insight to the conversation, but I can't stop myself from writing about it because this issue is one so relevant to my life.

  Here's an excerpt from the entire translated interview:

That example I mentioned shortly before about that woman who was expecting her eighth child and already had seven who were born with cesareans. That is a an irresponsibility.  That woman might say 'no, I trust in God.’ But, look, God gives you means to be responsible. Some think that -- excuse the language -- that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood. This is clear and that is why in the Church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this matter, there are pastors, one can search; and I know so many ways that are licit and that have helped this. You did well to ask me this.

2.   The pope calls to task a woman who is expecting her eight child and will undergo her eighth c-section when the baby is born.  When I read his example, I imagined this woman coming to Francis about the serious medical risk she will face when it's time for the c-section.  I pictured her crying out of concern for her family should something happen to her and I pictured Francis speaking with her at length, encouraging her to use prudence when discerning whether or not to add to her family.

But all of this is my educated guess...

In using this example, Francis has information we don't, information which make this woman's situation--I think--pertinent to the discussion of discernment and prudence. 

Some are offended by the use of such a specific example, but I think it's relevant to what it is to be a responsible parent.  Not all women who have multiple c-sections are warned by their doctors about the danger repeat procedures imposes, but some are.  Those whose doctors express concern about more kids, should heed the doctor's warning and discern carefully whether or not to have more children.

The health of the mother and whether or not she will be able to care for her kids is nothing to snub our noses at.  

Since Francis is a former pastor, my guess is this is not the first time he has seen an orthodox Catholic family, who has embraced the church's teachings on family planning, be imprudent with regard to their decision to have more kids.  The lack of prudence is not limited to a woman warned by her doctors that having multiple c-sections is dangerous.  Hang around in the groups I do and very quickly you might  observe a wife and husband who might adopt a "throw caution to the wind because we trust God" mentality, even though they are clearly struggling to keep their heads above water.

Instead of following the proper steps of discernment, these types of couples are really just making poor decisions. 

To be honest, at various points in our own marriage, John and I have been the imprudent parents Francis is talking about!   We haven't always carefully evaluated whether or not we were up to the task of welcoming additional children into the mix.  We haven't always discerned well our ability to emotionally and psychologically care for more kids, even though we behaved like we were OK with more.  

That's not to say we aren't happy about our "unplanned" children;  I'd be lost without each one of my kids.

What I am saying is that at various points in time, I haven't been jumping up and down when I saw the lines turn blue on a pregnancy test because...I behaved imprudently and didn't discern properly.

Monday, January 12, 2015

On Giving What I Can Instead of How I Want

Last Tuesday, a lackadaisical snow storm left us with a few inches of white powdery stuff on the ground.  It was pretty while it lasted but then the temperature dropped ridiculously low and all that snow went and froze into slick patches of ice.  A few days later, when the kids looked out the window and saw our neighbor's driveway still covered from the storm, Patrick and Mary begged me to go shovel it.

I told them no, but they insisted.

I'm not sure why, but they were dead set on shoveling the neighbor out.

"No one has cleared their driveway yet, Mom!  They need help.  Please, let us go over there?" Patrick said.

I thought of all the reasons they shouldn't:

*the neighbor might be working and they may annoy her,

*they might not do a nice job,

*they will get bored and quit mid attempt, and/or

*they will make more of a mess. 

I refused multiple times--convinced they would only hurt the situation and definitely not help it--but each time one of them countered my argument, showing a true desire to help someone else.  It dawned on me while we discussed the issue that I was squelching their desire to do a good thing. 

"If you want to go over there, you cannot disturb her," I said.  "You just shovel the driveway quietly and make sure you finish the job.  You may not take any money for the work.  If you want to do a good deed for someone, do it well."

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Simple Woman's Daybook: The Back From The Break Edition

Outside my window:  It's still black outside, but I can tell we had a snow dusting last night.  It wasn't much but it did stick and it's cold.  I am wrapped up in my new faux fur blanket John gave me for Christmas.  It's the softest, nicest blanket I've ever owned.

I am thankful:  for the wonderful Christmas break.  Even with the two weeks of the Bubonic plague we endured, we still had a great holiday.  John was off for a chunk of it and we spent time together eating and watching movies and lounging in our pajamas.  I'm not going to lie, it was hard to go back to the real world yesterday.

Christmas morning

Williamsburg "Vacation"

I am creating:  Lenten plans.  After focusing on a Christmas with less material things (overall a rousing success), I'm geared up to try the forty bags in forty days.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

On Slaying Dragons And Other Noble Pursuits


In the three minutes we had been sitting in our church pew, Christopher, my five year old, had managed the following:

  • He “accidentally” tore several pages of the green Gather hymnal,
  • He took off his brown leather school shoes and tossed them under the pew (revealing large holes in the big toes of his socks)
  • He then retrieved the scattered shoes by army crawling under the bench, unintentionally smashing the ankles of the lady sitting in front of us,
  • He initiated the long, arduous and loud process of putting his shoes back on his feet,
  • And he re-enacted an audible toyless version of a Thomas The Train episode with his hands. 

To be fair, Christopher’s antsy antics weren’t entirely his fault.  We had just asked him to stand in line for an hour while we waited for an open Confessional and now we were asking him to sit still for another sixty minutes for the Vigil Mass.  His meter for good behavior in Church had long expired. 

Read the rest at ICL.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

What I Learned From Not Buying Toys For My Kids This Advent

The Bubonic plague descended upon the house last week.  Five of my six children fell victim to this wicked sickness and we've been battling it as best we can. (Read:  many days spent in our pajamas and in front of the television.  It's called survival.)

All in all I'm grateful this happened before Christmas because I've stayed true to my resolve to not purchase toys for any of the kids this year, except for small stocking stuffers.  We are making good on the promise to take the kids somewhere special during the Christmas Octave and John and I are quite happy about it.

Let's hope the kids will be, too.

It's funny, though.  I thought I would find some kind of new peace this Advent without the added stress of securing gifts for all my kids.  While the decision to stave off consumerism did help me prepare for Christmas a little better, I still found myself chasing my tail.

I mean, there was a house to decorate and

teacher gifts to acquire and

cards to mail (though that never did happen) and

cookies to bake and

extended family to think about.

Incorporating these extra things to my to-do list into daily life ON TOP off the craziness that comes with raising and homeschooling six kids is stressful.

Although my decision to refrain from gift giving this year was rooted in my desire to offer quality time as a family with my kids and to lessen the emphasis on things this Christmas, I realized I also had a selfish agenda nestled into my decision.

(I can't escape myself even when I try!)

I also wanted to avoid the excessive hustle and bustle during Advent and the fact is, buying Christmas presents creates lots of hustle and bustle.

But guess what?  Even with removing shopping for everyone from my list, I still felt pangs of unrest this holiday season.

There was still a lot to do...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

When My Martha Tendencies Highjack My Desire To Be Like Mary During Advent


 I woke up one morning recently and panicked about my failure to "plan" Advent.  After a few hours of agonizing about an approach, I concocted a plan of attack. 

 “If we get an Advent wreath, make a calendar, prepare an empty manger with sacrifice straw and pull out all fifty of the Christmas books, I think we’ll be in good shape to help the kids prepare for Christmas,” I said to my husband, John, as we drove to church.  

Did I check with him to see if he agreed with my ideas?  No, I probably should have.

Did I ask for his input about favorite Advent past-times?  I forgot about that one, too.  

I simply outlined our various stopping points after Mas and John humored me, without enthusiasm.

(This, by the way, was my first tip-off I needed to go back to the drawing board.) 

Read the rest at Integrated Catholic Life.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Why We Need Joyful Witnesses

Over the Thanksgiving holidays, I found myself in multiple conversations with people who were distressed about the evils of the world today: the lack of faith, poverty, injustice, and pornography, ISIS, abortion, euthanasia, and materialism, to name a few.  While all the concerns expressed were valid, I walked away from the discussions feeling depressed and hopeless about the state of affairs.

It’s easy for faithful Catholics, who desire to concentrate on the good, the true, and the beautiful, to be distracted by the abundant grotesque around them, to feel discouraged when it seems as if the darkness consistently overshadows the light.  It’s also easy to allow these feelings to dictate our conversations with our friends and family. Instead of focusing on the goodness and making conscious efforts to share the tid-bits of beauty we see in daily life, we fixate on the negative, talk about the evil ad nauseum, and then walk around with a general feeling of uneasiness about the world in which we live.

Read the rest at ICL.
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