Tag Archives: Relationships

Happy Father’s Day

father and son walking-dad quote-2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Father’s Day!

Fathers are so important. It is easy to forget that, especially in a society torn by divorce and mixed messages about marriage. As a great reminder, Dr. Greg Popcak has listed 15 Reasons Dads Matter. I can personally attest to many of these as I witness them in my own home, especially in regards to language and social development.

Reading (3)Ever since she was a baby, I could always see a positive change and growth in our daughter each time Daddy interacted with her. Her facial expressions and mannerisms have always been different with him than with me. As she has grown older, I can see changes in her speech and vocabulary after each playtime with Daddy. Suddenly, she is a big girl with loads of self-esteem because Daddy, her prince, has spent time with her, even if only a few minutes (of course, the more time the better, but we work with what we have). These are precious development, precious moments for both her and us.

How grateful I am that we have an entire day dedicated to celebrating and honoring fathers! Their presence and support is irreplaceable.

On behalf of all of us at Mid-MO NFP, I’d like to wish a special day to all fathers, natural and spiritual, those who are with us and those who have gone before us, to those whose children are in heaven, and especially our NFP dads. Your loving support, protection, guidance, and witness mirror the love of our heavenly Father. May He bless you for it and all the sacrifices you make in service of Him and your families. We pray especially for our spiritual fathers, our priests, pastors, brothers, whom we also honor and thank today for their ministry to us. May God bless you all!

50 Shades of Grey: A Picture of Distorted Love

rock

Home, sweet home.

Apparently, I live under a rock. A big one.

Until recently I had no idea about the book 50 Shades of Grey being made into a movie. Back when the book was first released and all the rage, I knew of a couple of women who had read the book, but instantly chalked it up to yet another book that denigrated women, men and marriage.

Essentially an erotic story of a couple’s sadistic relationship, it was hard for me to understand why so many people, especially women, would buy into such a story until I read this article by Dr. Greg Popcak, Why is 50 Shades of Grey So Popular. As Dr. Popcak says, there is always more than one explanation for such things, but his theory that it is linked to repressed femininity strikes true with me.

I’d like to quote his entire article – it is all worth reading and not very long – but I will restrain myself and stick to this blurb which might capture his meaning:

“[T]here is a major theme that I have observed that contributes to the tendency for many–even, apparently, a majority–of women to desire and/or submit themselves to this kind of treatment. Namely, our prevailing culture’s secular-feminist ethic makes it taboo for women to want to be vulnerable in any healthy ways. Women are told they must expect to take care of themselves. They must be strong, self-sufficient and powerful. Of course there is nothing wrong–and everything right–with being a capable, competent woman. But many women are taught that they must take this a step further. They can never allow themselves to be vulnerable. They must be competent at all things, and at all costs. They don’t let themselves need anyone, least of all a man.”

It is at times like this when I feel the message of NFP is needed more than ever. Regardless of the reason couples choose to begin using NFP, through its practice men and women inevitably gain a greater appreciation of the beauty and gift of their sexuality, and a greater respect for each other. Respect leads to love, not use and thus abuse. We were made to love people and use things. The 50 Shades message would have us believe otherwise.

I encourage you to read his article, and then his subsequent one if you would like ideas on how to Fight the Power of 50 Shades of Grey. In addition to Dr. Popcak’s book, Holy Sex!, below are some books you might want to check out if interested in learning more about true femininity and masculinity:

 

A Time of Waiting

Advent Calendar

Advent Calendar

I love the liturgical seasons! Right now we are celebrating Advent, the days leading up to Christmas. Beginning Christmas Day, we celebrate the Christmas season for almost two weeks (this year it is eleven days, leading up to the Feast of the Epiphany). For now, daily Mass readings and liturgical observances allow us to slow down, enjoy each day, not live tomorrow before it comes, while also building anticipation and thus a more joyous celebration when Christmas begins.

I have appreciated the daily Advent reflections by Fr. Robert Barron (if you haven’t heard about or receive them, you can check them out here). Reflecting on the idea of waiting, I have been thinking about the concept of abstinence, and how it is misunderstood today. (I feel compelled to clarify that Fr. Barron does not mention sexual abstinence in his Advent reflections.) It seems that some people see NFP as some sort of non-sex program. (Yet, others equate NFP with large families…?) These misconceptions are often are based on assumptions, hype, and inadequate information.

Couples using Natural Family Planning plan intercourse around the naturally occurring times of fertility and infertility they see on their personal charts. If they desire children, they use the fertile times to have intercourse. If they desire to postpone pregnancy, they use the infertile times. The counter-cultural idea here is that a couple would have to wait before satisfying a sexual desire. What many, many people miss is that intercourse that is truly loving is not a matter of merely satisfying sexual desire: it is becoming one with your spouse through an act of self-giving. When the desire to become united with your spouse comes at a time that would not best serve the other, couple or family, couples practice self-discipline and find other ways to show love for each other, and they often find that these practices strengthen their marriage as well.

Abstinence is self-discipline. We discipline ourselves through exercise, by refraining from eating sweets while on a diet, and establishing routines and schedules in our lives, all to achieve goals. Discipline can be difficult, but when we value the goal it is worth the sacrifice, and it makes the goal more worthy, while making us healthier persons.

Abstinence means practicing self-discipline and waiting, as in Advent, to celebrate the gift of each other at the right time. And then! When the time of waiting has passed, the celebration is that much richer.

May God bless us with all the graces needed during our times of waiting, and may we give thanks for them.

The New Evangelization & NFP

How do the two go together? Kind of like this…

800px-Pope_Francis_hugs_a_man_in_his_visit_to_a_rehab_hospital

Photo by Tomaz Silva/ABr (Agência Brasil)

Usually I am a fast reader, but when it comes to papal documents I can only absorb bits at a time. I am only a few pages into Evangelii Gaudium (the Joy of the Gospel), but already I feel the joyful spirit of Pope Francis’ words reinvigorating my zeal for proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ. In this document, Pope Francis is asking us to do just that, you and me, in our own homes, communities, in our everyday interactions with those we meet, to renew our lives with the love and joy of Christ. Personally, while reading his words I hear the Holy Spirit calling me to increase my efforts in proclaiming God’s Good News particularly in promoting Natural Family Planning. How is that evangelizing?

Natural Family Planning (NFP) builds up a culture of life, which means a society that respects the dignity of life from conception to death. NFP does this by freeing couples, and thus society, from the harmful effects of contraception, and the mentality that often corresponds to its use (i.e. “It is okay to harm my body to satisfy my desires or for convenience”). When couples begin to use and understand NFP, they naturally begin to understand and respect their bodies more, and they come to see themselves as more than just a body. They are persons.

When men and women begin to see themselves as persons with dignity and worth, they begin to see others that way as well, and so a proper self-love grows and also becomes a love of “my other self.” Parents who have a proper self-love and love of others transmit this image to their children. Then these people who see themselves and each other as beautiful become a beautiful, holy family. This beautiful, holy family, in turn begins to evangelize society with their loving witness. This is the work we do person to person, couple to couple, when we teach and promote Natural Family Planning.

And thus, this is one small way I can participate in the New Evangelization.

Do you feel Pope Francis’ call to spreading the Joy of the Gospel?

A Reflection on Extended Breastfeeding

I feel as if I am coming a bit “out of the closet” as I disclose that I am still breastfeeding my almost 3-year old daughter.

Of course, it is heartening to have at least one professional organization, such as the World Health Organization (WHO), encourage breastfeeding up to two years and beyond Breastfeedingwhenever possible. I also draw support from books such as these, which reaffirm me in the true physical, psychological, emotional, and economical benefits, and offer tips for certain situations. But when I take a personal inventory of acquaintances, I find I know not one other person who is currently breastfeeding a toddler as I am (unless they too are in the closet?), and knowing that there may be others like myself who desire community of this sort prompts me to share some encouraging thoughts.

Most moms of young children these days cease breastfeeding relationship early because they must return to work, sometimes by 6 weeks. As we prepared for marriage, Jeremy and I agreed to work towards the goal of my being able to stay home to raise our children when the time came. This has not happened easily. There have been many challenges, and it is something we pray for guidance to continue to do. When our daughter turns 3, we will have breastfed for 156 weeks! Not something I can put on her birthday cake I suppose, but I would like to celebrate it anyhow. Those 156 weeks will represent for me a mother-child relationship I never dreamed could be so close.

I could go on for hours (and have!) about all the benefits of breastfeeding we have experienced. Another post, another time. Simply, though, it has given our daughter a healthy start in life in those areas previously mentioned (emotionally, physically, etc.).

One humbling thought: no one will ever have this same relationship with her. No one will ever be able to experience the closeness we share, the snuggles, smiles, and caresses we have exchanged. I wonder how many hours, minutes it has been? A million indescribable moments remain fixed between us in a bond that will last forever.

We also co-sleep (there goes another closet!), and I wish I could describe for you the joy of waking up together. From the time she was a tiny baby, it was the most precious, magical 4427378_f520time of the day. Some may imagine that the rest of the household, the husband/father and/or other children, suffer from this consumption of the mother’s time and energy, but that is like imagining that parents have only so much love and that another child will take away from everyone else’s share. It simply does not happen, and is only imagined by those who do not know that it can be any other way. When the quality of any relationship increases, it benefits the entire family, and in the case of breastfeeding, the result is a joy-filled child and mother whose cups brim over and spill out to the whole household.

A bit too poetical? Not even close.

In the same breath I will attest to the many challenges of breastfeeding, but they seem entirely inconsequential when I hold this growing child close and realize it will not last forever. And I must add, it is all made possible and easier by a loving, supportive husband who is entirely a blessing to me.

And so we thank Our Lord for having this time together, for it is a blessing from Him. Those who doubt the existence or closeness of a loving God-Father may doubt my prayer, but I don’t. There is something of Truth and Beauty reflected in this love my child and I share. He is in every moment.

Awesome Resource: 1Flesh.org

Have you heard about 1Flesh yet? A new movement (circa 2012), their goal is to promote natural family planning (non-method-specific) through University chapters and media campaigns, such as the one below.

Their tagline, “Bring Sexy Back,” reminds me of the words of Bl. Pope John Paul II. Though speaking about pornography at the time, it translates well in regards to human sexuality in general (taken from Theology of the Body I believe):

“[…]The problem with pornography is not that it shows too much of the person,
but that it shows far too little”.

Taking it a step further: the problem with Society’s portrayal of sex is not that it shows too much, but far too little. When people learn the truth about sex, the full and beautiful truth instead of a twisted one, they are liberated. Therefore, I wish 1Flesh all the best in their endeavors!

On CCL’s blog, The Art of NFP, there is an article Christina Ries wrote about her interview with 1Flesh’s president, Marie-Claire Reer. You should check it out here.

Incidentally, there is a 1Flesh chapter at Truman State University. Go Bulldogs!

Pope Francis’ Letter to Families

Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, wrote the following letter to all families. I have reposted it here from the vatican website. Here is the original link. It is so worth taking the time to read…and reread.

Dear families,

With this letter, I wish, as it were, to come into your homes to speak about an event which will take place at the Vatican this coming October. It is the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which is being convened to discuss the theme of “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization”. Indeed, in our day the Church is called to proclaim the Gospel by confronting the new and urgent pastoral needs facing the family.

This important meeting will involve all the People of God – bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and lay faithful of the particular Churches of the entire world – all of whom are actively participating in preparations for the meeting through practical suggestions and the crucial support of prayer. Such support on your part, dear families, is especially significant and more necessary than ever. This Synodal Assembly is dedicated in a special way to you, to your vocation and mission in the Church and in society; to the challenges of marriage, of family life, of the education of children; and the role of the family in the life of the Church. I ask you, therefore, to pray intensely to the Holy Spirit, so that the Spirit may illumine the Synodal Fathers and guide them in their important task. As you know, this Extraordinary Synodal Assembly will be followed a year later by the Ordinary Assembly, which will also have the family as its theme. In that context, there will also be the World Meeting of Families due to take place in Philadelphia in September 2015. May we all, then, pray together so that through these events the Church will undertake a true journey of discernment and adopt the necessary pastoral means to help families face their present challenges with the light and strength that comes from the Gospel.

I am writing this letter to you on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the Temple. The evangelist Luke tells us that the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph, in keeping with the Law of Moses, took the Baby Jesus to the temple to offer him to the Lord, and that an elderly man and woman, Simeon and Anna, moved by the Holy Spirit, went to meet them and acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah (cf. Lk 2:22-38). Simeon took him in his arms and thanked God that he had finally “seen” salvation. Anna, despite her advanced age, found new vigour and began to speak to everyone about the Baby. It is a beautiful image: two young parents and two elderly people, brought together by Jesus. He is the one who brings together and unites generations! He is the inexhaustible font of that love which overcomes every occasion of self-absorption, solitude, and sadness. In your journey as a family, you share so many beautiful moments: meals, rest, housework, leisure, prayer, trips and pilgrimages, and times of mutual support… Nevertheless, if there is no love then there is no joy, and authentic love comes to us from Jesus. He offers us his word, which illuminates our path; he gives us the Bread of life which sustains us on our journey.

Dear families, your prayer for the Synod of Bishops will be a precious treasure which enriches the Church. I thank you, and I ask you to pray also for me, so that I may serve the People of God in truth and in love. May the protection of the Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph always accompany all of you and help you to walk united in love and in caring for one another. I willingly invoke on every family the blessing of the Lord.

From the Vatican, 2 February 2014
Feast of the Presentation of the Lord

 FRANCIS