Tag Archives: catholicism

Does Contraception Bring Freedom?

Today we have a guest post from The Practicing Mammal.  I encourage everyone to read it because it speaks well of her experience of moving from a contraceptive mentality to the freedom a life without contraception can bring.  I asked her to write this because it speaks of her experience of living these two realities and the freedom that is experienced in a non-contraceptive lifestyle.  Please keep the comments charitable.  I don’t post this to be antagonistic, but to offer the personal side of something Catholics hold dear and the freedom it brings.


At the risk of sounding trite, I have been there.

I have stood firmly against the idea of a God at all, and I have stood firmly not caring if there was a God.  What possible impact could that have on my life?

I am a convert from the Dark Abyss.

I have walked the secular walk and laughed at the God fearing men and women beneath me whose lives were upheld by the crutch of religion.  I have viewed my own body as a useful tool.  I have had mountains of fun and have wielded my feminine power.    It was a lot of fun. Sort of.

For a while.

What would convict a young woman, the world her oyster to give up the life of freedom and fun?  I’m smart.  Smart enough to know that I wanted my life to have meaning.  Because smart women know there is so much more.

One day it occurred to me that I was worth so much more than this.  I actually remember the moment that everything changed.  I was young, travelling, in a bad marriage and, moments earlier, found out I was pregnant with an unplanned child.

I was euphoric.  Over the moon.  Exalted.  It was my first true experience of a profound joy.

In a bad situation, yes.  I realized that, but I also remembered who I was and how I had been raised.  And it was the first time ever that I considered that there must be a God.  This was too big.  Too big a gift.

This gift of a baby.  An opportunity for redemption.  Sound familiar?  Nobody knows the power of a baby like God does.

I grew up with a father who would have been called sexist.  He’s also the man a hundred women would have married.  Why?  He opens doors, he brings the first pussy willows every spring to my mom.  Never forgets anniversaries and birthdays.  He thanked my mom every night of my childhood for making him dinner. Nothing she ever did, no small menial task, was trivialized. He would have been ashamed to have his wife working.  Not because he didn’t think women had a place in the workforce.  But because he thinks that womanhood, motherhood is so valuable that you wouldn’t entrust in to anyone else.

He asked my mom to marry him and that meant, I love you and my love means that I will care for you and for the fruit of our love, our children.  I will make your life as pleasant for you as I am able, because you have a hard and profoundly important task.  And I should support and uphold and care for such an important vocation. Because it matters.  More than anything.

We are equal.  But not the same.  You are the life giver.

What woman doesn’t want to be upheld like this by a man?  What woman doesn’t want a dragonslayer?

As a young woman, I was honoured.  I saw my mom honoured.  No one had to ever tell me to fight for equality.  Equality did not come to me because I could get grades, pay scale or respect equal to a man’s.  The honour bestowed on me transcended equality.  Why would I settle for equality?

Let me give just one powerful example of how our culture is duped by the message of equality.   Contraception.

You cannot tell me that relinquishing the one profound thing that a woman can do that a man CANNOT do, carry and nurture a human infant, makes women equal to men.

It makes me a slave.  A slave because I am now making myself available to a man, or many men, without responsibility.  I am slave to a pill.  I am slave to the success of that pill.  I make myself lesser to be equal?

Not me.  No way.

Even as a non Christian woman, one using contraception, I thought this isn’t right.  I’m not broken.  My fertility means I’m working.  I’m healthy.  So now I am taking a pill which will take my perfectly healthy reproductive system and render it useless.  And maybe even cause it damage?

You see, we think the pill is going to give us freedom.  Freedom to get the career I want, freedom to earn what a man earns, freedom to choose my sexual partner, freedom of choice.  After choosing that life, I found I was not free.  I was enslaved and unhappy.

I chose again.  True freedom this time.

This is freedom; to marry a man, for life who will care for me and respect me and love me because I have intrinsic value.  This is freedom.  Freedom to educate myself, or choose a career, or work at something because I want to, not because I have something to prove or equality to attain. To love him and share union with him and have babies with him.  And not every worry about another pill, another unhappy chapter in the book of non committal relationships.

I have lived the last twenty years of my life without fear.  Of pregnancy, of contraceptive failure, of being dissatisfied with my life.

Hardship, yes I have experienced that.  What life doesn’t?  But fear enslaves us, hardship does not.





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Daily Round Up – November 4, 2011

The first link is just awesome.  I love the series of James Bond films with Daniel Craig and so am happy to hear that they are moving forward with a new one.  News here.

It turns out there is going to be a major advertisement by Catholics Come Home.  The news about the ambitious advertising campaign to bring Catholics back to Church just before the Christmas season can be found here.

For the more intellectually minded, there is a brief blog post over at the Word on Fire blog.  The post is about technology, idols, and humanity and how liturgy is the only thing to move people back to a human culture and away from the techno-culture we live in today.  It links to the article in Communion which the post is based on, which I recommend for reading.

As a side note, re: liturgy as the basis of culture, I recommend one of my favourite all-time books.  It is called “Leisure: the Basis of Culture” by Josef Pieper.  It is one of the most profound, provocative, and influential books that I have ever read.  I have read it a few times, actually, and always get something new out of it.  It is not super dense, but it is a book of philosophy.  It is very short, but the argument is, essentially, that leisure is man’s true purpose – whereby he critiques the contemporary concept of leisure as a “break from work in order to be rested for more work”.  In short, leisure is too work centered.  He blames this all on the Protestant work ethic, and it is just a really fascinating and engaging read.  I can never recommend it enough.

One of the blogs I faithfully follow is Shirt of Flame.  Heather King is a very honest, soul-revealing, insightful individual.  I am always happy to see a new post on her blog.  I was also happy to see, also on the Word on Fire blog, a review of her book by the same name of her blog: Shirt of Flame: A Year With St Therese.  I look forward to reading it, perhaps during my Christmas break when my papers are over :).

Over at “The Public Discourse” there is a great article about the financial benefits of having children. I am so happy I stumbled upon this blog yesterday, I think I will be going to it much more often.  The article is here.  I do not think that “happiness decreases as number of children increases”, as Caplan argues, strongly holds.  I know many families with many children who would say that the more children the happier!  But it is an intriguing read and worth checking out.

A friend posted this article from Fox News on her facebook wall.  I saw it, read it, and thought I should share it.  It has to do with the decline of masculinity in men in our culture.  It is something I have seen all too clearly in men in my generation and this article tends to reinforce the experiential fact: men are no longer men.  Give it a read.  It also goes hand in hand with my article on extended adolescence.

Finally, we have at Word on Fire a reflection on the importance of St Charles Borromeo, who’s feast day we celebrate today.  The article can be found here.

I will not be putting an article together today as I simply do not have time.  We are going on a 24 hour silent recollection this evening and I needsome time for homework before it begins.  I will be back with a post on either Sunday or Monday.

In Christ


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John 17 Reveals the Heart of Prayer

Today, I did my weekly preaching in the parish and preached on the Gospel (for those concerned about liturgy, fear not!  I do it before the sign of the Cross, thus outside the bounds of the liturgy, a place and time anyone can say anything 🙂 ).

I decided, first, to approach it differently.  Instead of focusing on the whole text, I focused on a little.  Instead of writing it out, I sat with the text a lot, I wrote down a couple points I may wish to say, and attempted to preach from the heart.  All in all, I will say, it was a successful strategy.

It began with the statement that “as the hour approached for Him to pass from this world to the Father.”  This “Hour” is the time of His atonement, it is the fulfilling of the will of His Father.  He fulfills this will by passing from the world to the Father.  The way by which He passes is the Cross.

We too can enter into Christ’s hour.  If the hour is to fulfill the will of the Father, then it is our duty to seek out His will and participate in Christ’s hour.  We do so by seeking out the Cross in our lives, for it is the Cross that is a gift to us and aids us in being saved and bringing salvation to others.  Jesus says in Luke 9:23 “Unless you take up your Cross daily and deny yourself, you cannot be my disciple.”  But what is the Cross we are called to carry, how do we seek it out?

The next part of the opening verse gives us a hint: “Jesus looked up to heaven and said.”  Does it mean that Jesus looked up with His head?  No.  It is something deeper than that.  He resides in the heart of the Father, and the Father resides in the heart of Jesus.  The heart is where they give themselves to each other in an intimate dialogue of love.  So, Jesus looked into His heart.  It is the “Room” He speaks about where we are to go to speak to our Father in secret.  Yes, we can go to places which are private, but the most private, intimate room we have is our heart, where we can speak to the Father in the intimacy that only He can know.

Now, how do we pray?  If we pray in our hearts, if it is the place of communion between us and the Father, what do we do next?  The rest of today’s Gospel gives us a hint.  Jesus uses words in the imperative: Make them, sanctify them.  He is asking, but it is an asking that tells: Do this.  Do we do this in prayer?  Do we involve our will in prayer, or do we simply rattle off the words necessary?  When you start paying attention to prayer, you start noticing that, in fact, prayer expresses itself in demands.  St Paul says in one of his letters that God is always faithful, even if we are unfaithful, for He cannot deny Himself.  God gives us Himself in a covenant and to refuse the “terms” of the covenant is to refuse Himself.  God will not do that.  He has made a promise, He will keep it.

If you begin listening to prayers of the Mass: the Collects, the Our Father, the Confiteor, the Eucharistic Prayers, etc., you will notice that there is a demanding tone to the prayers.  Father, send forth your Spirit, lead us not into temptation, deliver us from evil.  Just as a child has a boldness in demanding what it needs, so are we to be bold when approaching our Father in Heaven as His children.  And we must remember: this is how Jesus prayed.  In fact, this is how all of Scripture prays!

This means, ultimately, using our will in our prayers.  The will is the place where the act of faith happens.  We cannot say “I believe” unless we involve the “I”.  Sure, we can say the words, but they are not coming from the will, from our hearts, and thus have no effect in our lives.  Plus, in this case, prayer becomes dry, boring, and burdensome, whether spontaneous or formal.  We must involve our heart in prayer.  When we do, it becomes effective in our lives because we are using the will that God has graced with His redemptive love.  Our will has been sanctified, but for too many of us, we let it sit there, motionless, uninvolved.  When we begin to use the will, things change.  I recall one priest saying that in prayer we do not say “God, look how big my sins are” but rather “sins, look how big my God is!”  Do we believe?  If we do, God will work in our lives.  This is not pelagianism, because it is not our work: God’s grace is always primary.  But we must cooperate with it, we must answer the call of grace in our lives.  To do so means to involve our I, to wake it from it’s sleep, and to bring it into the “I” of Christ.

So, let’s start to use our will in prayer.  It is only this way that we can give ourselves to God, when we actually involve our whole self, and that includes the will.  This makes prayer come alive because we are finally starting the life God wishes us to live, we are finally answering to His call, we are finally living in the life of grace.

in Christ


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Now that my talk for the Northwest Family Education Conference is done (it just needs some tweeking and some memorizing on my part for the BIG TALK on Saturday), I am now turning the focus of my life to the early Church Councils.

Why, you may be wondering, am I bothering with that?  Well, first and foremost, I’m crazy, and if you know me well enough, that should suffice as an explination.  You see, 3 or 4 months ago, I was looking at my summer calendar.  Looking at it, it looked particularly dull, empty, and thus boring.  So, I decided “I need to do other things!”  Thus I am leading a bus trip to the Chemainus Theatre, getting a golf tournament together, a few other things and, most importantly, I said to myself “Hey, wouldn’t it be a great idea to do a four week course on the first four ecumenical councils?!”  Great idea, but I forgot about how much work it is to prepare!

As I’ve been researching the topic, I’ve been re-invigerated with their absolute and essential importance.  Currently I’m doing some reading on the historical precursors to the council and have come to see that, essentially, Arianism is a sort of synthesis of the varietys of Gnosticism that reigned supreme in the early Church.  But, and this is I think the most important thing, we seem to not realize just how important these councils were not just for the Church, but for the world!

One set of talks I have been listening to made a good point: truth hangs by a thread.  The truth is so delicate and one mistake one way or another will force the thread of truth to break.  When you begin to read early Church history, you are struck by the confusion of the culture and the difficulty of allowing the Gospel to strike its final blow against the pagan worldview.  There is a saying, for example: Athanasius contra mundum (Athanasius against the world).  It is used in regards to St Athanasius, the great defender of orthodoxy, because it seemed at times that he was the only person in the Church who was fighting for the true position.  In the end, his position was the one held, but not without difficulty, exile, and persecution suffered by him.

The essential issue, I am finding, is the disdain the ancient world had with the idea of God taking apart in the messiness of Creation.  You see, for example, the argument that it was not in accord to God’s dignity to mingle with that what changes, suffers, and dies.  It was seen as a sign of weakness among many people in the ancient world.  Furthermore, they hade a hard time reconciling unity and diversity within God.  In short, they held eternal things (ie: God) to be beyond humanity and beyond difference.  By virtue of this, they were unable to reconcile revelation with their pagan worldview.  That Christianity’s positions held ground is, to me, a demonstration of God’s care for the world, to bring the truth forward in the end. 

This is important because, really, we face the same issues today.  The early Church councils are important to know precisely because they give us the tools to discern between truth and falsehood in our world.  We may think that the heresies of the past are gone.  They are not.  They are alive and well today, and we need the intellectual tools to discern between what is for our sanctification and what will lead us away from Christ.  The early Church councils are an important tool in that matter.

in Christ


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The Importance of Catholic Culture

Before I begin my post, I must rejoic – albeit brielfy – in the dominating victory of the Vancouver Canucks over the San Jose Sharks this evening.  7-3!  It is looking good for the Canucks to be going to the Stanley Cup Finals.  So here is hoping they continue their dominating play :).

I was in New York for 6 days to attend the ordination of my friend – Fr. Brian Graebe.  He and I met in 2007 at the Tertio Millennio Seminar on the Free Society.  In fact, Brian is one of the guys who really helped me make the decision to finally enter the seminary, and I am grateful to him and the other seminarians I met there who motivated me to take the leap of faith.

I have a lot that I brought back from the trip that I am going to continue to reflect on, but I wish to point out only one thing today (I am zonked after 18 hours of travel yesterday!).  I experienced in New York a Church in which its Catholic roots are both rich and deep.  It was amazing to hear from many of the guys how natural it was for them to simply consider the priesthood because “that’s what Catholic boys do”.  There was an ease in their faith, a joy in their lives, and a deep sense that being Catholic is not something that simply happens in the Church: it is something that pervades one’s entire life.

This really struck me because I am from a diocese who’s roots are old, but who’s impact on the lives of her faithful is not always as easily pervasive.  It doesn’t come naturally for Catholics in this diocese to allow their faith to be lived out in every element of their lives.  This is not universally true, but being in New York when coming from Victoria, it becomes very evident very quickly.

I was also amazed by the priestly culture there.  I met priests in their 70s and 80s – not to mention their 20s and 30s – who were so very much in love with being a priest.  It was contagious.  I wanted in.

And, in a way, that is the best way to define culture – it is that lived reality by a mass of people which aids (or hinders) people from living lives of fulness, integrity, virtue, and holiness.  Culture is not neutral.  It aids or it gets in the way.  Going to New York convinced me of asking myself one question over the coming years: how can I build this up, with God’s help, in my own diocese?  How can I aid parishes in allowing the families to be penetrated by a culture of faith instead of a culture of secularism?  This, really, is the answer in getting more vocations: living the faith in every aspect of our lives, allowing it to become our culture.  I am thankful for the trip because this has really been brought to my mind.  I felt at ease both in myself and in my vocation in ways I never thought possible while there for those few short days.  Yet nothing extraordinary happened.  What was beautiful was that the life of the Church there was perfectly ordinary, which to me was rather extraordinary!

What can be done?  At this moment, I don’t know.  Yet, now I have an experience to draw from in my coming years, an experience which gives me a goal to work towards and thus encourages me to continue on my path.  To an extent, it is difficult to argue for the importance of a Catholic Culture.  If you do not know what I am speaking about, then go to a Diocese with history and strong Catholic roots.  Just spend time getting to know Catholics – lay, priests, and religious – and you will see what I mean, and you too will be convicted by it.

I really believe that we, at times, have a difficulty in living out our convictions as Catholics because we don’t have the support around us.  This is why I think that we must attempt to create in an organic way that Catholic culture that will aid and strengthen us to live and bring our faith in and to the world.  In the end this is nothing but the logical conclusion of the concept of the communion of saints, for culture is nothing than experiencing that communion in the concreteness of life.

in Christ


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Radical Christianity

I have always been a believer in the idea the Christianity is a faith of radicality.  Radical comes from a Latin word which means root.  Christianity, therefore, is radical because it goes to the very root of the person, calls them out of therselves toward the dynamic and exciting life in Christ.  In short, Christianity is radical: it calls our whole being to renewal, to transformation in Christ.

This is all well and good, I am sure you are saying.  I must admit, first and foremost, that I am always weary about talking about this, only because I know myself that I am a weak individual who fails daily at livnig out the radical call of the Gospel.  Christ lived poverty: I go to starbucks for a coffee.  Christ lived obedience: I kick and scream (in a figurative way) when things don’t go my way.  Christ lived chastity: I am unable each day to give myself completely in my being to Christ.  So I am weary of this because I am also called to that renewal, that deep call of Christ because I too am a weak individual in need of the grace, love, and mercy of Christ.

Yet, despite my weakness, I know that the Gospel is rather uncompromising in this regard.  While we are not all called to live the same radicalness in our external lives as Christians, we are called to live it internally, and the means for living the image Christ desires for us comes through living the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience.

I will say more about all this in a future post, but I say this all as a pre-amble to a great article I read on Patheos today.  It is worth your reading because it is from a woman who is not religious, but who believes that Christianity is meant to be radical, and that it is meant to be lived by everyone according to the evangelical counsels.  Please give it a read and, if you like it, please post your feedback.


in the Risen Christ


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A New Blog!

Well, here I go again.

I’ve given the blog thing a try a few times.

First off, I started off with a blog that had a small bit of success. However, things began to be too much and I had to let go of something. The blog was the victim of my over-commitment.

Secondly, I started a website that would be a bit more robust. That was a ambitious, but a total failure. I had high ideas for the website, but I believe that such an idea needs to develop more organically (I had intentions of it being a blog where news pieces would be posted, where academic articles could be posted, as well as ensuring those who would read it would have the opportunity to be up to date on all that is happening in the Church and the world).

So, I have decided to give it a shot. Again.

This time I hope to apply a bit more moderation. I will post on a regular basis, but not excessively. Sometimes the posts will be reflections, sometimes they will be simple links to world and Church events with a bit of commentary by me. All in all, it is my way of having a small voice in cyberspace for the beauty of the Catholic faith and its presence in a secular world.

To start off, I wish to point to the title of the blog and the reason behind said title. The title is extracted from a book that I have found to be enormously important in my life: The Christian State of Life by Hans Urs Von Balthasar, one of my favourite theologians. The book examins the roles of Christians and how to pursue and live out the Christian vocation in one’s life. He argues, for example, that the evangelical counsels of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience are to be lived by all Christians, though not in the same manner. Balthasar argues this because, he states, this was the mode of our first parents and the mode of life of our Lord.

I chose the title because, in a sense, everything that will be discussed here is a way of pursuing those counsels, that Christian perfection. Everything we believe as Catholics has an impact on our spiritual and practical lives. The counsesl of poverty, chastity, and obedience are the major means through which we live our lives. Therefore, if the counsels are the means to live out what we believe, then everything we discuss on this blog is a means to pursuing these counsels in our lives as Christians.

I hope my small blog will be a means for discussion and conversation as we all journey on the adventure towards holiness. May the risen Lord be the inspiration of our lives and the form of our actions.

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