And Baby Makes Five

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After an emotionally and physically rough pregnancy, my husband and I welcomed our third child on May 21st. It has been a very joyous, sleep deprived four weeks.

I’m very thankful for my loving husband who continuously takes great care of his family, my two older children who adore their little sister and have been great helpers, for my dad for coming out here to help with my other two while I was in the hospital and they still had school, and for my mother for allowing my father to come out here to help and for her help when she was able to come out as well. I’m also thankful for all of my family and friends who have prayed for and with me during all of the difficulties I faced. I am forever grateful to you all.

Faith and Science

Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth—in a word, to know himself—so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.  –Blessed John Paul II, Fides et Ratio

Faith and science do not oppose to each other, they compliment each other. I’ve never fully understood why someone would negate years of scientific study and insurmountable evidence to cling to a past hypothesis that has been proven incorrect. The Flat Earth Society is a great example of clinging to such a hypothesis.  And no, that is not a joke.

Perhaps the biggest problem is when people confuse the Bible for a history, science, or biology textbook. It is none of those things. The Bible is the story of salvation and the truths that are needed in order to achieve it. The Bible is not one book but it is a collection of books, a library if you will. There are books of poetry and prose that are meant to be read allegorically and then there are books that are more biographical in nature that are to be taken more literally. Oftentimes within the same book we find both allegory and literal passages.

The creation story found at the beginning of Genesis is a great example of allegory. It isn’t a literal explanation in how God created everything. Always at the forefront of the faith and science issue is the question of young Earth versus old Earth. Was all of creation created in six literal days or billions of years? The overwhelming evidence points to billions of years. Does that somehow negate that a higher being created the cosmos? I don’t think so.

Here’s a great article on what the Church’s views on the age of the cosmos as well as evolution.

Humans are extremely curious and we are always trying to understand our surroundings. Science is the conduit by which we learn about the world around us. For me, science is another way to have an encounter with our creator. It’s not something big and scary, but it is extremely complex, magical, and awe-inspiring.  At the top of this post I quoted soon to be Saint Pope John Paul II from his encyclical on Faith and Reason.  It is an excellent starting point for anyone who has questions concerning faith’s role in science and vice versa.

Throughout history there have been many Catholic scientists that have increased our knowledge of the world around us.  Here is but a tiny list of such scientists:

  • Georgius Agricola – founder of geology.
  • Nicolas Steno – Catholic convert who would go on to be a Bishop played a crucial role in the development of modern geology, and contributed to the study of paleontology.
  • Roger Joseph Boscovich, S.J. – a Jesuit who is famous for his atomic theory, given as a clear, precisely formulated system utilizing principles of Newtonian mechanics. He also gave many important contributions to astronomy, including the first geometric procedure for determining the equator of a rotating planet from three observations of a surface feature and for computing the orbit of a planet from three observations of its position.
  • Maria Gaetana Agnesi – She was a linguist and mathematician, and is credited with writing the first book on both differential and intregal calculus.
  • Gregor Mendel – an Augustinian friar who is the father of genetics.
  • Georges Lemaître – a priest, astronomer, and professor of physics who is also the father of the Big Bang Theory.

The Church has always embraced scientific endeavor.  Yes, there have been times when the Church doubted certain scientific discoveries, but the same is said within the scientific community when something new comes about.  In the world of archaeology there is a debate over when the America’s was settled, and if you are on the “wrong” side (ie-Pre-Clovis) of the debate you might have your reputation tarnished at best and career over at worst.*  Just as there is debate within the scientific community the Church also enters into the debate from time to time because she too has a love of science.

* Hopefully the debate isn’t as fierce as it was ten years ago while I was at university.  I don’t know because since that time I’ve been busy either a) trying to save money so I could attend Grad school or b) putting that dream on hold and raising a family.

I am Switzerland

Dear family, friends, and strangers on both sides of the same-sex marriage debate,

I am formally declaring my position of neutrality on this matter.

Yes, I am Catholic. Yes, I believe and hold firm to all of the teachings of the Church. And yes, I believe in sacramental marriage which is between a man a woman and God.

However, we do not live in a society that accepts nor understands God’s laws. Our job as Christians is to educate people of God’s laws, and we are to do so with un-judgemental love, charity, and by example. We cannot force someone to believe what we believe, but we are to educate them about the whats and whys of them.

Our government is not a theocracy and it does not cater to any one religious or nonreligious viewpoint. And at the same time it should not force people of any religious affiliation to go against its moral views. For example – the government should not require people to pay for another’s abortion, abortifacient, or contraception if they find such things morally offensive.

From my viewpoint there are two types of marriage: a civil marriage and a sacramental marriage. A civil marriage is a contract recognized and issued by the government that grants a couple certain legal rights and it can be broken via divorce. A sacramental marriage is also recognized by the state with the same legal rights, but it is also a covenant between a man a woman and God that can never be broken.

Am I okay with the state issuing civil marriages? Yes. Am I okay if the state decides that same-sex couples should be granted a civil marriage? Yes. Should the state force religious institutions to perform or recognize civil marriages? No.

What frustrates me the most about this topic is the lack of love and respect from both camps.

Many of the people who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman say hateful things about people who are attracted to members of the same gender. I’ve seen and heard many hateful, unloving things from this group. It makes me feel as if they have forgotten that we are called to “love your neighbor as yourself.” – Mark 12:31  That doesn’t mean you have to agree with nor accept everything that others think or do, but you must love them. And last time I checked loving someone does not include name calling or violence.

Now those who are in support of same-sex marriages are equally guilty of saying and doing unloving things towards those who disagree with them. I often hear from this group that they want tolerance and acceptance, but the actions from some in this group say differently. Several months ago, the owner of Chick-fil-A stated that he was against same-sex marriages, and instead of accepting that this is one man stating his own personal opinion (which he is entitled to even if you disagree with him) many of this group went off and boycotted, staged sit ins at the restaurants and said vile things about this one man.  If you want others to tolerate and accept your choices in life than you too must accept and tolerate those who disagree with you.

I’ve known people who have ended long-standing friendships over this and witnessed strained family relations as well. This is sad.

There are so many terrible things wrong in this world and the simplest way we can make life in this imperfect world a bit more bearable is to show each other love. We all have our crosses to bear, and they are equally difficult to each of us.

I’m not saying that we should always get along, and I’m not saying that we have to like everything that our fellow-man says or does. What I am saying is that we are all equals and we should treat each other with the love and respect that we want shown to us.

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you”  –Matthew 7:12

Habemus Papam!!

Viva il Papa Francesco!!!

Today the college of Cardinals selected a new Pope to guide Christ’s Church.  I might be thousands of miles away from Rome, but what I felt at the announcement that a new Pope was chosen must  have been akin to the emotions of everyone in St. Peter’s Square. I was getting MRIs done of my knees during the evening papal votes and I checked my phone as soon as I was done to find that a new Pope had been selected.  It was on my drive home that Pope Francis was announced and came out to speak. Awesome moment in history.

Not only is he the first Pope from the “New World,” he is also the first Jesuit and the first to choose the name Francis. To quote Abed from Community, “Cool, cool.”

Before and during this Papal election I had ideas of who I would love to see as Pope, but I was completely aware of my limited knowledge of all the Cardinals. Due to that I didn’t want to speculate as to who would be selected. I’m just excited to see what lies ahead for Christ’s Bride (ie- the Universal Church the Catholic Church).

Prayer for the Church

The Knights of Columbus (KofC) has organized a prayer campaign for Pope Benedict XVI, the Church, and the future Vicar of the Church.  Please join me in this daily prayer until the next Vicar is selected.

O Lord Jesus Christ, Supreme Pastor of Your Church,
we thank you for the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI
and the selfless care with which he has led us
as Successor of Peter, and Your Vicar on earth.

Good Shepherd, who founded Your Church
on the rock of Peter’s faith
and have never left Your flock untended,
look with love upon us now,
and sustain Your Church in faith, hope, and charity.

Grant, Lord Jesus, in Your boundless love for us,
a new Pope for Your Church
who will please You by his holiness
and lead us faithfully to You,
who are the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Amen.

Children at Mass

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“At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?  He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.”  –Matthew 18:1-5

My parish is currently undergoing growing pains. Over the past several months I’ve watched the number of young families attending mass has grown exponentially.  When my husband and I became members of our parish, I would venture to guess that at least 75% of the parish would have fallen into the “senior citizen” category.  There were hardly any children to be seen.  Now when I look out I see more and more families with children ages ten and under scattered throughout.

While I find this to be uplifting (as do many others in our community) there are those who wish that the children would just *poof* disappear. Or perhaps they desire for us parents to duct tape our children’s mouths and duct tape them to the pews so they don’t wiggle. Since neither of these two ideas are going to happen they’ve decided on a different “solution.” My parish has what is called a “cry room” and the folks who desire that the children not only not be heard but to also not be seen want ALL families with children to use this room. It’s a tiny room that is off of the sanctuary with a window and some speakers. This room is a great resource for parents when their children are having either a meltdown or a tantrum. It is not a room that should be forced on families to sit in during the entire service. Besides, there isn’t enough room for all of the families to utilize this room at the same time.

“It is a sad sight in a church when nobody comes to the Lord’s Table but the older people, and the young men and the young women all turn away. But it is a sadder sight still when no children are to be seen in a church, except those who come to the Sunday School, and are often obliged to attend. Let none of this guilt lie at your doors. There are many boys and girls in every city, besides those who come to Sunday School, and you who are their parents and friends should see to it that they come with you to church.” –J.C. Ryle

For about four years I sat in this room with my children. It’s a horrible place to be. You feel as if you are a spectator peaking in the window and dreaming of one day being a part of the group. You get nothing out of the service. During those four years I heard not one homily unless my husband and kiddos were sick and I was able to come to mass sans children. My children didn’t even think we were at church. No, they thought this was a play group and they could hang out with their friends. The children cannot see out of the window to see what is going on inside the sanctuary and if they see no reason to be quiet and sit still they won’t.

A couple of months ago, my family and three other families decided that we were going to sit in the sanctuary. That it was way past time for us to introduce our children to the service and because we adults desired and needed to be a part of the rest of the congregation. Our children did an amazing job from day one. None of our kids ran around playing tag in the sanctuary, there was no screaming, no fights.  Sure they wiggled and moved and said a few things during the service, but they were never loud.  Our four families decided to sit together so that we could keep an eye on all of our kids collectively and so our children would be able to still be near their friends. It has been an amazing change in my children since we moved into the sanctuary.

“Parents are called to make their children discover the value and importance of the response to Christ’s invitation, who calls the whole Christian family to Sunday Mass.” –Pope Benedict XVI

Apparently not everyone in our parish agrees. A couple of weeks ago our parish priest reminded the congregation that we do have a “cry room” and that due to other members of the congregation who do have some difficulties hearing that those of us with small children should use it. What?!? Was he saying that children were no longer welcome in the service? I sincerely hope not.

Yet, this past Sunday a member from the choir came over to us as we were entering the pew to say, “Fr. X (X is not his name, but I don’t feel that it is necessary to put it out there) wanted me to remind you that children are to be in the cry room.” One family was so incensed at this that they were prepared to leave the church that very day and not look back. I had been helping with the RCIA program as I do every Sunday and saw them getting ready to leave. My husband had our children in the “cry room” by the time I arrived, and so I gathered my children and moved them back into the sanctuary. The same lady came up to me and said the above to me, to which I informed her that no I would not be using the “cry room” unless my children were misbehaving. There were other words said that don’t need to be reiterated here.

“Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked them, but Jesus said,”Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” –Matthew 19: 13-14

The most hurtful thing about all of this is that this same lady did NOT go around the entire parish speaking to all the young families. No. Instead she focused on the group of families that sit together.  I felt as if we were being singled out by her and that she was doing her best to kick us out of the church. Also, upon talking to Father afterwards we discovered that he did not say any such thing and that all are welcome.

It’s a very good thing that I am strong in my faith. If I weren’t I just might leave not only the parish but my faith all together. I don’t know how the other three families will react to such an unloving, unwelcoming gesture from a prominent member of the parish. I for one am standing my ground. I will continue to attend Mass and I will continue to fill the pews, not the “cry room.” This Thursday we have a meeting with the priest at our parish to discuss this incident. My hope is that the meeting will go well and that I can still feel as if I am a wanted member of this community.

Here’s is an excellent article as to why children belong at Mass.

Seeking God’s Guidance

I have been exceedingly happy and full of joy with life lately. Sure there are things out there that are a source of great stress for me, but over the course of life I’ve learned to manage the stress and get everything done.

*sigh*

There are however certain events that cause someone (me) to begin to prayerfully discern if they are still needed in particular ministries. I am involved in several, and I’ve felt a tug to get involved in one or two more, however before I get involved in anything else something is going to have to give. And so I have prayerfully begun to discern where it is that God wants me, where would my time and talents be the most beneficial, and all that jazz. Any extra prayers for my being able to hear and listen to the will of God would be great.

I feel almost as if I’m at a crossroads of sorts, and I don’t want to let anyone down, but I know that I’m going to have to do what is best for me and my family.

O creator past all telling,
you have appointed from the treasures of your wisdom
the hierarchies of angels,
disposing them in wondrous order
above the bright heavens,
and have so beautifully set out all parts of the universe.

You we call the true fount of wisdom
and the noble origin of all things.
Be pleased to shed
on the darkness of mind in which I was born,
The twofold beam of your light
and warmth to dispel my ignorance and sin.

You make eloquent the tongues of children.
Then instruct my speech
and touch my lips with graciousness.
Make me keen to understand, quick to learn,
able to remember;
make me delicate to interpret and ready to speak.

Guide my going in and going forward,
lead home my going forth.
You are true God and true man,
and live for ever and ever.

               –St Thomas Aquinas, 1225-74