Sunday, July 10, 2011

Vocation Day's

Roy and I were out to dinner with friends of ours a few years back. They asked me about homeschooling and why I chose to take that route. Within my litany of reasons, discerning their vocation was up there on the list. It is no surprise that the Catholic Church has a shortage of priests. I believe that one of the reasons for this is that parents are not providing opportunities for their children to discern their vocation. Truth be told, I never "discerned" the vocation to married life. The possibility of being a nun was so distant. Sooo distant. My only childhood memory of a Sister was the mean, little one that grabbed everyone by the ear when it was their turn for their hearing test. I'm so glad that was her only job. It was not the greatest memory.  I wanted...I mean...I needed to introduce my kids to their real life. They are learning how the priest and Religious live, who they are, the stories of their calling, their jobs, feelings, prayer life, community service, daily activities, and what it truly means to be a Priest, Brother, Monk or Sister.
I believe that the vocation of marriage is the norm. My kids have many fine examples of good marriages in their lives. It is not much of a stretch to bring their attention to this vocation. The vocation of the Priesthood and Religious life, however, takes a little more work..., a little more planning.  After all, if my kids really had an equal view of both of these vocations, they will have attended as many vows and ordinations as they have weddings. Correct? Something to think about. I think I can let myself off the hook on this one since "few are called but many are chosen" Mt 22:14.  There will be more weddings then vows or ordinations which makes this task of equality in need of some creativity.
Fransiscan Spirit Camp is a camp for 6-8th grade girls once a year in June. They spend the day playing with the Sisters.  It is not boring daily tasks, its playtime with apparently, much water usage. Samantha loves to go their every year.

Mary Kate volunteers every Monday at the warehouse at the Fransiscan Center. She helps the Sisters sort clothes and bag them up for the missions overseas. Mary Kate is perfect for the annoying, time consuming tasks that the normal person would despise. Her current job is to check every single pen and marker to make sure it works before it can be bagged up. Why waste shipping $$ on bad markers? She loves this job.

Every other year, my good homeschool friend, Tina Dotson, puts together an enormous Vocation Day for kids K-12. She has dozens of priests and Religious come out and do crafts, play and talk to the kids about every question they (and the rest of us) have about their job. If I can be pried away from the vendors, I can listen in on the talks for the parents on how to bring opportunities to my kids to pray and discern their own vocation.

Nick has been going to Companion Camp at Conception Seminary for 7 years in a row. This is a weekend camp for boys 6-8th grade to play and pray with the seminarians. What a gift. Nick has made many sacrifices to attend, including giving up his 10-day Boy Scout camp this year. It is just that important to him. He has been on staff since he was a Freshman.  So many of his homeschool friends go on to the Seminary, so this gives him another chance to visit. 

Mary Kate, Samantha and Theresa visit the Servants of Mary convent every other month. The Sisters have a detailed 3 hour plan for several girls that always include prayer and fun. We have not been able to attend the precious times that one of their novitiates takes her vows and receives her wedding ring. One day. One day, I SO look forward to that beautiful day.

Mary Kate and Samantha go to The Little Sisters of the Poor once a month to spend 5 hours helping the Sisters with their patients, chores and activities. They are called the Hospitality Club. Fitting name as they learn and practice their hospitality.

Lastly, having a personal relationship with the priest and Religious in our own parish is a MUST. I say that but don't always follow my own advice. From a distance, we look like a well-mannered, big, happy family. I don't want to ruin that by getting too close. LOL. I'm just going to have to bite the bullet and make it happen. Fr. Hansen is scheduled for our family dinner on July 21st. Somehow, we need to make this zoo look like a domestic church and don't have much time to do it! Keep us in your prayers!
Fr. Hansen's 2nd day on the job and playing softball with the youth group in 100+ degree's. What a man!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Artificial Birth Control - No tomato throwing, please!

As a Catholc, not only have I been asked thousands of questions about my faith, I have also been the one asking questions. Why do we believe this... Why do we believe that.  I can't imagine a person out there that knows everything that has been revealed to us so far. I want to spend the rest of my life learning about my faith and all of its beauty. There is one moral subject in the Catholic church that I have never questioned. Oddly enough, it happens to be the most controversial. It is about the use of artificial contraception.  I have some theories as to why I never questioned their usage. Let me go through a couple of them with you.
#1 My mom had perfect timing. When I started menstruating as a young teen, she explained to me exactly what was going on. She explained about my body preparing for the egg, the signs I will see to know it is preparing itself, the release of the egg and its short-lived life, and the release of all this preparation as a result of no conception. It was a beautiful and perfect story. God had designed a woman's body just perfect and, pardon the cliché.... like clockwork. He designed it in a way that makes all of us active participants with God in the building of our families. The reason I say that my mom had perfect timing is because I didn't learn about  the Pill, condoms, IUD's, etc. until I had a good couple years of getting to know my own body and its cycle. I remember thinking, "Why would someone need any of this stuff if God already gave us the information about when we were fertile and when we weren't?" I never felt like the sharpest knife in the drawer ;) so I thought everyone knew how babies were made. All these years and hearing , "Don't you know what causes that?", it was really them that didn't know. If they really knew how babies were made, they wouldn't need to be on birth control. The Pill in particular can be so deceptive. As I googled around about the Pill, I saw "Women can now have control of their reproductive cycle..." How deceiving! These women are not going to have one bit of control of their cycle now. It will be out of their hands and the Pill will be doing all the work. Which brings up the next subject. .
Just what does this "Pill" do for us? Before I get into the diseases, infertility and all of the cancers women are now more inclined to contract,  let me tell you what the Pill was originally designed to do. The Pill was supposed to stop ovulation from occurring. After some time and too many women getting pregnant, another feature was added to the Pill. A much more devastating feature.  Now, a synthetic hormone was added to the  Pill which will thin out the inner lining of the uterus from the 5-13mm it is to about 1mm so if fertilization DOES occur, the baby will slip right through and no one will be the wiser. More unborn babies will die in America then there are people living in it by 2003.(1)

  Lovely right? Hence, this is one of many reasons that Blessed John Paul II called our culture the culture of death.  Here are a litany of other things the Pill can give us...
                * increased risk of breast cancer by 40%
                *infertility is increased by 70% if the Pill is used for 4 or more years
                *High blood pressure
                *blood clots
                *Heart attack
                *weight gain
                *increased sugar level in diabetics
                *increased risk of disabilities to the baby if conceived while on the Pill
                * 15 times more likely to develop cervical cancer
                * The Pill allows cancer causing agents to have access to your body because it lowers your           immune system, causing you to become sick easier and contract an STD easier as well

#2  I had grown up believing that God was the giver and taker of life. It is pretty simple. I don't think that needs any follow-up information. It was just a matter of putting 2 and 2 together.   "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you" Jeremiah 1:5. God gives us life. I have heard from some of my fellow cafeteria Catholics, "If God really wants you to have a child, don't you think He will give you one?" (This question is in defense of our "NO" to God via artificial birth control.) In which my reply is, "God can do anything of course. But our free will can say 'no' to Him which is what we do when we contracept. God does not want us to sin but we do it anyway.  So, yes, we are perfectly able to say 'no' to God, even in area's as important as when life should begin."
A couple is incapable of truly giving themselves completely to one another when contraception is used. They are saying, "I give everything I have to you, except my fertility." This is not what Jesus did when He gave His life for His bride. He did not say, "Go ahead and nail my hands to the cross, but please not my feet." He gave His entire body to His church totally, faithfully, freely AND fruitfully. If we are to imitate Him, we must give ourselves to our spouse totally, faithfully, freely and fruitfully too.
So, let me repeat my question. Why are so many women on birth control if we are given the means to control our cycle naturally?  Reason #1. The most common problem that I hear about is from the women who do not have normal cycles. They are, in fact, painful, and not regular. My 16 year old daughter started menstruating when she turned 14. In that short time, she has had 2 cycles that lasted between 30-45 days with bouts of surprises in between. Our first stop was the Gynecologist at Childrens Mercy. Her solution was to put her on birth control. Her exact words were, "She's getting to that age where it would serve 2 purposes." Now, let me tell you again, I am not the sharpest knife and I do not know what is best for a woman in this position. All I know is that Mary Kate can not live like this and I would do whatever it takes to regulate her and take this ugly and painful fact of life away from her which, YES, includes putting her on the Pill. Being on the Pill for medical reasons is not a sin. Before I decided to do that, I went to a Pro-Life Catholic doctor. There are other alternatives! She takes medication 10 days a month to regulate her cycle and it has worked like a charm. We are praying that she can be off of them in 3 months and be regular naturally. Go figure. Of course, this will not work for everyone but I was able to come up with an answer to others responses when they bring up this subject. The answer is, ask for other alternatives! You will get a good and honest answer if you see a pro-life Catholic doctor;) ....even if your not Catholic (I didn't have to check that Catholic box on the paperwork. lol). You may be surprised to find out that there are really other alternatives that will not disrupt your fertility. Also, the Pill does not fix any fertility problems. It only masks the effects. Have you ever heard of any woman who has taken the Pill for a time and then got off because she was now cured? The pains, irregularity and pains with fertility need to be healed, not hidden. Ask your doctor about healing you and not just hide the symptoms.
Reason #2.  The thought of taking the reigns is very scary. Uh, yeah! It's very scary! Even though my mom told me the fundamentals, I didn't start taking the NFP (Natural Family Planning) classes until after the birth of my 2nd baby. I needed more then just "My mommy told me so.." classes. Mary Kate had special needs and I felt I had reason to avoid a pregnancy for a time. Actually, the thought of having another baby terrified me. We didn't want to practice the NFP method. We needed to already know it. These classes are taken during the engagement process but my lovely pregnancy got in the way. We managed to get through the first couple months with no pregnancy and had a confident feel for my body and its cycle. I was able to wipe the sweat off my brow. Whew! I imagine that a woman  feels that this NFP method is too good to be true. After all, I have 8 kids which discredits me, right? lol. Don't let me deceive you. I do NOT use NFP anymore. I have been open to life and have never had a serious reason not to be. Plus, my body is too good for me. I've been blessed with a perfect design in there.  My advise to all women is to really try to take control of your reproductive cycle. Call your local hospital and ask about NFP classes. It's not just for Catholics! Or, call a Catholic church and ask how you can take these classes. You will feel healthier and more empowered. YOU will be in control.  It will require you to get off all artificial birth control and avoid relations with your husband for a time but putting yourself in control of your own body will be worth it, I promise! You will be proud of yourself. If you or your husband can not avoid sex for the greater good then your love really needs to be put into question. Which brings me to another topic!....
Reason #3. Couple's don't want to abstain! I don't know why....I look forward to abstaining. LOL. TMI, sorry. Back to the subject. Couple's have to abstain for a million different reasons. One of you may be sick. If you can't abstain, your love has to be called into question. One of you may be out of town. If you can't abstain, your love and even marriage will be called into question. You may be in public. If you can't abstain?...You get the idea. Um, we're not animals. We can abstain during the fertile periods. Have you ever heard someone use the expression, "That's enough birth control for me!" when they witness a crowd of unruly children? Its a joke but really, it is the key to NFP.  When my husband and I wanted to avoid a baby, it was all TOO easy to abstain. You won't be having convulsions next to your spouse in a time of abstinence. As a matter of fact, coming back together will be as exciting as a honeymoon night. If that is not true for you, take a Theology of the Body class. The way you view your spouse will forever change...for the better;)
In conclusion. A woman's fertility is not a disease that needs pills or shots to neuter us so we can now be sexually available to have lifeless love with our spouse. Our fertility is beautifully designed by God to make us all active participants in our reproduction of God's little people. When the serpent came to Adam & Eve, what did he say to convince them to eat the forbidden fruit? He said, "You will be like God..." What are we doing when we take God out of the equation?  We have made ourselves our own god. We can not say that we want God to be part of every aspect of our lives....except here....except with our fertility. Our lack of trust and faith has brought us into this culture of death. I know it can be hard to have that trust in God and trust in His design in our flawed bodies. If it were easy, what would our faith really be worth?
(1) Kuhar, Bogomir. Infant Homicides through Contraceptives, Eternal Life, 2003.