Can Someone Tell Me…?

I’m currently reading William May’s, “Marriage: The Rock on Which the Family is Built,” and I must note that I’m pretty stupid as regards the Theology of the Body, although I read a bunch of it and continually struggle to understand ever more.

Today’s challenge is in a couple of phrases that May seems to like to repeat a lot:

Men give in a receiving sort of way.
Women receive in a giving sort of way.

Can anyone explain these to me? Thanks!

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

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As Catholics, we are taught that the human person is a body-soul mix. It’s always both, or it’s not a person. It’s not a soul living in a body, but the two are thoroughly enmeshed.

For this reason, what we do with our bodies matters. And so the things that we do with our bodies have spiritual implications. This is why sexual sins are always grave matter. This is also why we do things like genuflecting, kneeling, sitting, and standing at Mass. Posture has significance. Your body has meaning.

A book I read on prayer recently suggested that if you have a hard time praying, make yourself sit in front of a tabernacle or the exposed Eucharist for periods of time. Prayer will follow. If you have a hard time submitting yourself to the Lord, try putting yourself into a submissive position, like kneeling or laying prostrate. Your bodily position will have an affect on your emotional and spiritual state.

Which brings me to my Pondering of the Day…

If we intentionally smile when we are mad, sad, or feeling bad… Can we make ourselves feel better?

Worth trying, I think. πŸ™‚

Why Does This Always Upset Me?

Baby

Okay. If you want to know how to upset me, here’s how:

Post somewhere visible that people who don’t have children are not allowed to comment about children or have any opinion regarding any topic surrounding parenting, etc. Say something like, “People without kids shouldn’t say anything.”

Recently, a friend made a comment like this and it really upset me. Again. So, I started thinking about WHY it is so irritating.

On one hand, I understand what I think they are saying. What I think they are trying to convey is that parenting is something that has to be experienced in order for one to fully “get it”. And perhaps their intention at making such statements is to express their irritation at people making stupid remarks regarding parenting, something that someone who has been through what they’ve been through would never say, or at least would say with caveats and allow for exceptions.

But what is upsetting is the way statements like these categorically say that any opinion/idea/comment that a non-parent has is frivolous. Futile. We (the childless) have NOTHING to contribute to the conversation. We are UNQUALIFIED. Our knowledge and experience is far inferior.

Wait a minute.

So, you are saying that even if I raised a kid since I was a child, but do not have a *biological* child and do not have one *right now*, that I don’t have any experience with parenting? What about an elder child with a lot of siblings? Foster parents? Pediatricians? Pediatric counselors?

Surely some of these people might have something valuable to say on the topic of children.

I think what is meant is that people who are *ignorant* of children and parenting ought not to state their opinions. In the same way that people probably shouldn’t make unsubstantiated statements about other things of which they are unfamiliar. For example, I shouldn’t go out there and say on every physicist’s Facebook page and blog that String Theory is complete bunk and everyone who believes in it is stupid. I don’t know the first thing about String Theory. My ignorance will either be laughable or irritating, but not particularly welcome. And this is a topic which isn’t as personal as parenting, where people tend to get defensive and think that people are judging them. I don’t judge, but I understand that a lot of others do. That’s sad. And, unless someone’s really endangering their kid, most likely unwarranted.

This situation seems similar to when people say that priests shouldn’t say anything about married life or marriage, not being married themselves. My priests note that although they do not have a wife, they have probably more experience with the trials of married life than any particular married couple, as the couple only knows *their* experience, while the priests have heard hundreds of spouses’ experiences, both in counseling and in the confessional.

The other problem that I see with this type of statement, is that it unnecessarily divides people. It is Us (parents) vs. Them (the childless). And I haven’t noticed that situations where people are pigeon-holed into rigid categories work so very well to foster dialogue, compassion and understanding between the two groups. More often than not in this world, things are not black and white. Just because you are a parent, this doesn’t mean that you know everything about parenting, even if you have several kids. And just because you are not a parent, doesn’t mean that you are completely ignorant. There’s room for a whole spectrum of knowledge and experience.

So, instead of hurting each other with all the judging and labeling, why don’t we just try to be understanding to each person’s unique situation (there are no two lives that are the same; everyone has their own experience of the world, even if they live together), and love each other more?

Devaluing all of my thoughts on a broad topic is so close to devaluing me as a person. I’m worth something, even if I don’t have all of your experiences. You’re worth something, even if you don’t have all of *my* experiences.

I am terminally ill. Most of the people who might read this are not. Should I say that none of them have any right to say anything to me because they aren’t in my shoes? Of course not. You may not be dying, but you are probably familiar with being sick or injured or frustrated.

Anyways. I’ve vented my frustration and, hopefully, said something that might make sense.

Effects of Holy Communion

In his book, “With Us Today: On the Real Presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist,” Fr. Hardon gives us 9 effects of Holy Communion produced in one who receives in a state of grace:

  1. Sustenance of Supernatural Life
  2. Promise of Bodily Resurrection from the Dead
  3. Remission of Venial Sins
  4. Protection Against Future Sins
  5. Curbs the Urges of Concupiscence
  6. Spiritual Joy
  7. Perseverance in Grace
  8. Growth in Supernatural Life
  9. Remission of Sin

Now, can anyone truly say that they get nothing out of Mass? Β And also, reasons why you want to make sure you are in a state of grace if you are to receive the Body and Blood of Christ.

Pope Francis’s Grandmother’s Creed

This was written to Pope Francis in honor of his ordination by his grandmother. It is very beautiful and worthy of some reflection, perhaps particularly during a moment of silence before the tabernacle as we prepare ourselves for Lent, which is not too far away.

May these, my grandchildren, to whom I gave the best my heart has to offer, lead long and happy lives, but if one day hardship, illness, or the loss of a loved one should fill them with grief, may they remember that one sigh directed to the tabernacle, home to the greatest and most august martyr, and a glance toward Mary at the foot of the cross, may cause a soothing drop to fall on the deepest and most painful of wounds.
— Pope Francis: His Life in His Own Words

Pope Francis on Prayer

In your opinion, what should the experience of prayer be like?

In my view, prayer should somehow be an experience of giving way, of surrendering, where our entire being enters into the presence of God. It is there where a dialogue happens, the listening, the transformation. Look to God, but above all feel looked at by God.

— Pope Francis: His Life in His Own Words

Preparing for Marian Consecration

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Fr. Steve Mateja decided to lead a bunch of us at Our Lady of Good Counsel in a 33 day retreat, ending in a Mass on the feast of the Presentation of the Lord tomorrow where we will consecrate ourselves to Mary. Our retreat started on December 31st, and I joined on that day while attending the Mass for Mary, Mother of God. However, since our celebration lasted through midnight, I technically began the retreat a day late. πŸ™‚

What is Marian consecration? Basically, it is giving all of yourself to Mary. You are entrusting yourself to Mary, in the same way that Jesus entrusted Mary to John (the beloved disciple) and John (standing for all of humanity) to Mary at the foot of the Cross. This consecration is to be a whole-hearted giving of self. Nothing should be held back from the blessed Mother.

In the past, I haven’t had or felt a strong connection to Mary. I’m sure she’s a great saint and an amazing woman. Clearly. But I just didn’t have a great relationship with her. And I was still working on my relationship with the Trinity. These relationships are always capable of further growth. I just feel, in my personal journey, that it is time to reach out to the Blessed Virgin.

As I was participating in the retreat, there is a day where we are reflecting on what this consecration means and we are told, “When we fully consecrate ourselves to Mary, we lose the unconditional right to distribute the value of our prayers and good actions to others.”

This took me aback for a moment. Because I’ve always been “in charge” of my prayers and intercede for others routinely. Does this mean that I can’t pray for specific other people any more? What am I agreeing to?

Luckily, Fr. Michael Gaitley, who wrote this retreat, anticipated my questions and answered them in the next couple paragraphs. Basically, you can still pray as you always do, but you leave it up to Mary as to the direction of the efficacy of your prayers. So, if I fast and pray that the spiritual benefit of that fasting will be applied to person X, I give Mary the authority to re-direct that spiritual benefit to person Y of her choosing, who may be in more need of that spiritual gift.

Why is this okay?

First, because Mary always makes the good things that we give her more perfect. So, whatever meager spiritual benefit someone may receive from my efforts will be increased at the hand of Mary, if I give them to her. This makes sense on a couple different levels. What son would refuse a request made by his mother? And surely a son who is perfect would not refuse his mother. So Jesus would not refuse a request made by His mother, Mary. Also, in James, we learn that the prayers of holy men are especially heard by God. The holier one is, the more efficacious one’s prayers. And who is holier than the woman who was born without sin, lived without sinning, and is now reigning in glory in Heaven with her Son?

Second, Mary is never outdone in generosity. “If we are so generous as to give her the right to distribute the grace of our prayers and good works, she will surely be especially generous to our loved ones. In fact, she’ll take even better care of our loved ones than we ourselves can.” This reminded me of a (traumatic) section in the book, “The Gift of Faith” where we were told to have no attachments, including attachments to people we loved. We are to give them over to God and trust in Him entirely, giving Him everything that we are, all that we have, and everything that we hold dear.

This is a hard thing to do. For me in particular, it’s not so hard to give *myself* wholly to God and submit to His Will; He can do with me whatever He wants. I don’t care so much for what happens to me, but I care everything for those I love. To give them, wholly, to another, is difficult.

But what am I worried about, though? That Mary or Jesus would love them less than I do?

Clearly, this worry is unfounded. And so, I’m going into this consecration tomorrow with all of my reservations put to rest. I do not enter into things lightly and have a keen desire to live with integrity. So, when I promise something, I mean it. Fr. Gaitley tells us that Marian consecration is a serious commitment, and I intend to do my best to live that out.

Everything will change tomorrow, because after the consecration, she will live in my heart and I will live in hers.

Please pray for me.