Archive | August, 2013

For My Beloved Wife

31 Aug

My Wife With Mickey Mouse

My Wife With Mickey Mouse

For my beloved wife:

I would like to take a moment to “out” myself as being hopelessly in love with my wife of over 21 years. Call me crazy, but I look at her and still see the lovely girl I married all those years ago. Of course, it’s one thing to say it to her in in our home, on the phone, when passing her in kitchen, when waking up, or going to bed – but I wanted to say it more loudly, without shouting it from the rooftop.

My wife is a woman of very deep emotion, and often few words to indicate what swirls in those depths. I cannot usually read the details, but the emotions are loud and clear most of the time. This year her birthday was a milestone at that point in life when birthdays just serve as a reminder how much older you’re getting. As usual, disasters tend occur on her birthday – either environmentally catastrophic ones like Hurricanes Isaac and Katrina, or personal ones like children destroying old photographs, the cat shredding the VHS video of her wedding, or the children shattering one of her favorite things. This year circumstances conspired with me to do something for her and the children simultaneously (our youngest daughter would turn 7 our first day at Disney!) and avoid the birthday disaster zone for her. I wanted to give her memories, happy ones. Both of us are big fans of Disney in general and I dare say we would both call it our “Happy Place”. Her parents never took her as a child. So when we first went to the one in Anaheim while I was stationed in San Diego, she too was hooked. I thought about this beforehand and moved heaven and earth in the background to make it happen for the whole family – so we would all have those memories together.

You see, of all the things I could give to her or the children – happy memories are one thing they can never break, never lose, and they can never be stolen. The best part is that when viewed in hindsight even the small burbles in the trip are filtered out by the brain and the happiest moments are the ones in sharp focus. We have both reached a point where neither of us want things anymore. I still bought her a bouquet of flowers on her actual birthday and took her to dinner – but did not bother with trying to purchase useless trinkets to clutter our lives or desk drawers. One day both of us will be gone, and unless we are very lucky (like a few recent couples in the news) we will endure some period of time on earth with nothing but our memories of each other to sustain us outside of God. After we are gone from this world, we will only exist in the memories of our children and the memories of people whose lives we managed to touch in some special way. Make those memories happy ones.

Literally a couple of weeks prior I had taken her and the whole brood, unexpected by everyone in both the style we stayed and the timing, to DisneyWorld in Florida. Our 7 year old got to eat with Winnie the pooh for lunch, and attended Cinderella’s wedding banquet and got to meet the entire wedding party for dinner! My wife loves the characters, as much as the children – and all the roller coasters you can find. I saw to it that they got to eat lunch and dinner almost every day in a character dining experience and put them in an upscale resort, instead of the value resort or the Days Inn an hour away. Having done Disney many times over the years – this was by far the best trip of them all. We had time in the middle of our park hopping to enjoy the nice resort, and with the deluxe dining plan the ability to sample restaurants and cuisine at the parks finer venues which thrilled my culinarily inclined wife to no end. The children cheered over not having to eat chicken nuggets or Pizza every time we supped, as the quick service value dining plan reduced us to previously. Most importantly, the week was filled with smiles and happy memories of time together for all from end to end. (Highly recommend the Port Orleans Riverside Resort, Park Hopper passes, and the Deluxe Dining Plan!)

Whether you are a Catholic or not, there is a lesson here. Life is not about money or things, it’s about experiences and memories. Whether they be catching a fish, floating a river, exploring a cave, hiking in the woods, throwing a ball, playing a game, floating down a river, going to the beach, or going to Disney World. Memories are more valuable than things – all the expensive gifts in the world will never make up for your presence, for saying I love you, and for all those moments we fail to take the opportunity to make a happy memory. What do you think?

Yours in Christ,

Colin

Time Enough for Love…

28 Aug

Cutting the Wedding Cake as one

Like all of Marriage, How symbolic is the act of cutting the cake together. Showing that everything we do going forward will done by two working as one in purpose.

It’s really easy to forget the simple things. It’s gotten too easy to fall into a rhythm of thinking that you can take care of it later. Love very much suffers from this mindset. How many times have we put off a touch or a kiss because we assume we can do it later. How many loving words are never exchanged, or sweet nothings whispered into one’s ear. Did you ever wonder how many hands went unheld or how many kind words went unsaid because we shied away at the moment of decision. We decided in our minds we could do it later, we got nervous about public displays of affection, about what people might say if they saw us acting that way. Sometimes we let our anger or hurt get the best of us and we even withdraw on purpose – withholding our affection to our detriment and the detriment of our spouse.

All these things are important. They hold the power to bond us and heal us. It is these small things that provide our most cherished memories and our deepest regrets. As anyone who has been close to death can tell you, approaching death brings a painful clarity. All too often, while previously you couldn’t recall hardly any missed opportunities – now you feel the weight of a tremendous number of them as they flood your mind. The worst part is that you know you are running short on time and there may not be a later. You learn that now is the only moment you have – and you resolve to make the most of it. You’ll fail of course, especially as time softens your memories of those moments you thought might be your last.

Just a few thoughts from someone whos been there. Kiss your wife very day – a gentle loving kiss, not a teen-aged tongue down your throat epitome of ineptitude and inexperience. Never ignore her when she tries to talk to you, and listen intently when she does – as it is often what is not said or how it is said that is the most important communication. Tell her you love her every day. Reach for her hand when you’re close to her, hold it gently if she takes yours when offered. Whenever you think that she looks pretty or sexy would be a good time to just blurt out what you’re honestly thinking. She doesn’t need disingenuous compliments as they will just damage her self esteem, but real and honest ones are an opportunity never to be missed. A kind word honestly spoken from you can make her hour, day, or week! Next time you make love, remember to tell her you love her afterwards and discover the joys of clinging to each other afterwards for more than 30 seconds.

My wife and I hold hands when we sleep, whether I am behind her or in front of her. Without this small comfort, I can’t sleep until sheer exhaustion causes my collapse because I keep realizing she’s not there. I’ve found that our heartbeats and breathing sync up involuntarily after just a few minutes sitting or lying down together. I even love to watch her sleep safe in my arms. With her eyes closed and a gentle smile on her lips she looks more lovely than I expect no matter how many times I have watched her. Before I slip off, I try to make it a point to make sure she has not just heard my words or felt me holding her tenderly – but knows with certainty just how deeply loved and cared for she is. Then I can be content that if tommorow never comes, there will be no regrets.

Just my thoughts…

Colin

Impediments to Embracing Catholicism

27 Aug

Buddy_christ

So many seem so lost and confused about the faith today. I’ll call a spade a spade, say the unpopular,  and attribute it to poor catechesis and an overly permissive clergy and catechists who have allowed a few bad apples more concerned with “butts in the seats” than the truth to run with the ball. Take this for example before you get your shorts all in a bunch about my thoughts.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23473169

The job of the Catholic Church is to lead you to Heaven, not to coddle you and make you feel good. Sometimes that means telling you uncomfortable truths and rebuking you for heretical beliefs, gently sometimes – but firmly always. God is my father, not my “Buddy”, and to think of him otherwise demeans both Him and our relationship.

Here are some of the most common issues people struggle with. If you answer “Yes” to any questions below immediately consult the Catechism and keep reading and rereading all the references until you understand – understanding is at the root of believing. Keep questioning and investigating your Catholic faith. I have, and the more I learn the more I find that the faith comforting rather than conflicting. It also becomes easier to trust, and surrender to yourself to God and his will as expressed through the magisterium.

  • Faith – Are you struggling with submission to God? Do you still believe some things, but not all of what the church teaches as required beliefs? Do you avoid the confessional at all costs? Have you participated in any way in an invalid sacrament (such as a wedding involving a divorcee who does not have an annulment)?
  • Sex & Marriage – Do you think that the sexual morality taught by the church is out of touch with reality? Do you think the Church is morally “out of date”? Do you support Gay Marriage? Do you think that Divorce is OK? If you are married do you use artificial contraception?
  • Sin – Do you have trouble accepting that which the church defines as sin? Do you have issues believing that sin creates a barrier between yourself and God? Do you think that the Church needs to revise what it defines as sinful to keep up with modern standards? Do you doubt the efficaciousness of confession?
  • Real Presence – Do you not believe in the literal real presence of Christ in the eucharist or believe it a symbolic only? Have you ever received the Eucharist with unconfessed mortal sin?
  • Infallibility – Do you think that the Pope is infallible in all things? Do you truly understand how limited and tenuous the thread of instability is?

To be honest NFP was the biggie for me. I was adamant about not letting the church dictate my sex life. It made me angry, it frustrated me, and in the end it changed me. Learning the church was right and understanding why in a very personal way very much put the whole issue of obedience into perspective. It is only when we have humbled ourselves that we can truly learn and grow in faith. You can read about that experience here:  https://catholichusband.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/sex-intimacy-and-nfp/

Remember that faith is a work in progress, not a destination. We will all fall and falter. The important thing is to pick yourself up and keep pressing towards a goal you will only attain when this life has ended. Never let doubts or hesitation keep you down – root out heresy and disinformation in your faith and stay the straight and narrow path.

Godspeed on your journey,

Colin

My Birthday, and The Gift that Keeps on Giving

24 Aug

20130824-150643.jpg

Today I get another day older. I’m a little wiser, and a lot less narcissistic. I also know that nothing material of this world will last, but that small things done with great love are eternal. One small act of kindness, love, or compassion can change a persons life. At the very least it can bring a moment of happiness to another.

That said, my birthday wish this year is that everyone who reads this post might perform some small act for another with great love. It can be something as small as a kind word to someone in need or as large as you desire, as everyone has different gifts and different means at their disposal. Be creative, and bring a moment of happiness or solace to another – I promise you that you will not regret these actions when you face judgement.

This does not have to be to a stranger. Learning to love, be kind, and be compassionate begins at home – but it should not stop there as we are all God’s children. Even the grandest designs are accomplished in steps. If you finds it suits you, then by all means keep walking – we all have a long journey together ahead.

Pax Christi,
Colin

“I can’t believe I married him/her!”

21 Aug

couple-fighting-on-couch

Recently I have had more than a few husbands and wives ask a similar question. It basically boils down to this:

“He/She was great before we got married but now that the honeymoon is over I feel like I don’t even know this man or woman sharing my life, my home, my bed. This isn’t the person I thought I was marrying, what recourse do I have?”

Or this:

“He/She isn’t the person, I married and I don’t even know them anymore – much less love them. I’m unhappy, this is not what I signed up for and I want out!”

I have some feelings many would consider unduly harsh about breaking a sacramental vow. Unless the persons discovered flaws are serious enough to warrant an annulment, I tend to believe they should let duty, honor, loyalty, and sacrifice carry them until they establish the intimacy from which love is born. People change every day, they will never be static and we have to make a decision to love them as they are every morning. I can attest that the love of a good woman will change a man in ways he cannot imagine, and the inverse is true as well. However, people seem to be making a veiled request for absolution or an excuse to break a holy vow because is inconvenient. I wish people took their vows more seriously.

That said, this article is not intended to address issues involving violence, spousal abuse, and any circumstances which constitute grounds for the annulment of the marriage.

Now to actually deal with the situation. I know this is not what you want to hear, I can almost see you putting your fingers in your ears and singing at the top of your lungs, but here it is. When you married in the Catholic church you made a gift of yourself and your service to your spouse for life before God, and they did the same for you. It’s not a you do for me, and I’ll do for you agreement. Your obligation to your spouse nor to God is abrogated because they are not keeping their vow. Every marriage has ups and downs. I recall time when my wife told me “I still love you, but I don’t like you very much right now”.

Love is a choice. What most think of as love are the heady feelings that are a just a symptom of true love and not love itself. If you don’t know you spouse anymore, make it a point to get to know them. Take the time to talk, touch, and bond anew. Make a choice to adapt and grow together. This is what you promised on your wedding day. People will grow and change; and just as your spouse has changed, so have you. Accept them as they are. Make a choice to love and serve them each morning, put their needs before your own, and do whatever is in your power to brighten their day or bring them a moment of happiness. If your spouse isn’t coming around then pray for them. Recriminations and fighting simply tear you apart, and words blurted out in anger are the leading cause of broken and wounded hearts and marriages. Act toward your spouse with the love and compassion of Christ in all things, and leave room for God to work in both your lives – if you do so, He will.

Marriage is only a rose garden if you make it so. It is a consecrated life of service to your spouse. That service can be joyful or miserable, the choice is made by your attitude, your thoughts, your actions – all things you have control over. Your service to your spouse is consecrated to God, as is theirs. Never forget that in serving your spouse you are serving God in a Holy calling, a calling harder than it is given credit for.

Choose your thoughts, words, and actions carefully to cultivate friendship, intimacy, and love (in that order) with your spouse. Always remember that your spouse is a consecrated servant and not a slave, and never forget that you are as well – neither of you are slaves to the other. Every day make a decision to serve joyfully, enjoy their companionship, abide in friendship, find comfort in intimacy, and joy in love. Just as you expect God to love you in spite of your faults, so he expects you to love your spouse in spite of theirs.

Yours in Christ,

Colin

The Hard Truth of Contraception and Abortion

16 Aug

sauppe_pic2-240x336

The picture above is Fr. Timothy Sauppé, S.T.L. is pastor of St. Mary’s Church, Westville, Illinois, in the Diocese of Peoria. He wrote an article you really need to read.  It addresses the heart and soul of the Catholic Church and the next time someone tries to tell you that their marital choices aren’t affecting other people, or that  it’s none of God’s business – direct them to his article (or mine if you’re feeling generous). Contraception and Abortion are destroying the body of the Catholic Church, it is wasting away like that poor hamster your 7 year old can’t seem to remember to feed. Very literally, what you do to HIM you do to yourself, and if this article does not help you see the hurt you are inflicting on the Church, or if you are one of those many selfish cafeteria Catholics, then you may be beyond any compassionate outreach.

He opens like this:

June 24, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A stranger came into the sacristy after Sunday Mass. In an incriminating huff he said, “I have been away from the area for fifteen years; where are the people? And now you are tearing down the school? I went there as a kid.”

I put my hands up to quiet him from further talking and I calmly said, “Let me ask you a question: How many kids did you have?” He said, “Two.” Then I said, “So did everyone else. When you only have two kids per family there is no growth.” His demeanor changed, and then he dropped his head and said, “And they aren’t even going to Mass anymore.”

Go here to read the rest:  http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/priest-youve-contracepted-our-parochial-school-out-of-existence/

Yours with Prayerful Meditation,

Colin

Meditations for the Assumption of Mary

15 Aug

Fulton Sheen

I’m a huge fan of Fulton Sheen. For the feast of the assumption I have taken a few selected quotes of his to recommend for meditation. The Assumption seems like an excellent time to pray for our wives, the mothers of our children, entrusted by God to be the vessels and caretakers of his ongoing work of creation. It’s also a good time to meditate and pray for ourselves that we might be worthy of them.

Here are the four quotes to meditate on:

“In every friendship hearts grow and entwine themselves together, so that the two hearts seem to make only one heart with only a common thought. That is why separation is so painful; it is not so much two hearts separating, but one being torn asunder.”

― Fulton J. Sheen

“When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”

― Fulton J. Sheen, Life Is Worth Living

“It takes three to make love, not two: you, your spouse, and God. Without God people only succeed in bringing out the worst in one another. Lovers who have nothing else to do but love each other soon find there is nothing else. Without a central loyalty life is unfinished.”

― Fulton J. Sheen, Seven Words of Jesus and Mary: Lessons from Cana and Calvary

“Most of us love a non-self, or something extrinsic and apart from our inner life; but a mother’s love during the time she is a flesh-and-blood ciborium is not for a non-self but for one that is her very self, a perfect example of charity and love which hardly perceives a separation. Motherhood then becomes a kind of priesthood. She brings God to man by preparing the flesh in which the soul will be implanted; she brings man to God in offering the child back again to the Creator.”

― Fulton J. Sheen, Life Is Worth Living

 

Yours in Christ,

Colin

Catholic Sexuality and the Marital Embrace

12 Aug

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

There is nothing in the world more contentious among Catholics themselves than what is permissible in their bedrooms by their religion. While the Catechism is fairly clear on this issue (and the Catechism represents that which must be followed and believed), many follow a variety of philosophies. These range from what I call the “Augustinian” view that sex is only for procreation and nothing more, only in one set position, and God forbid the woman actually enjoy it because an orgasm for her is a sin – all the way to the “Progressive/Rationalist” view, that what happens between consenting adults in their own bedroom is none of the Church’s or God’s business and basically anything goes.

The truth is a fair distance from each philosophy and it is clearly laid out in the Catechism (read it here for yourself  http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm). No matter who you ask you will get different answers on what is acceptable and what is not (trust me, I’ve asked priests and never gotten the same answer twice). The answers are in the Catechism for those who will take a moment to read it, and greatly expounded upon in the series of sermons that make up the Theology of The Body.

The “Augustinian” view is derived primarily from the writings of St. Augustine who though a Doctor of the Church and very wise did not write with infallibility, nor do his writings and recommendations constitute Dogma, nor Canon Law. Due to Augustine’s rather debauched early life and his need to reject his own sensuality, as he wrote in “Confessions” which is still widely read today, his harsh recommendations were his prescription for combating the lust and sin so prevalent in his earlier life which of which he was extremely averse. In paragraphs 2360-2363 of the Catechism it is made clear that sex is for bonding a couple, bring joy a pleasure as a gift from each to the other, and that it must always remain chaste and open to life. There are no prohibitions on positions, or frequency – but there are prohibitions on using your partner solely for your physical gratification. In remaining open to life and chaste, marital sex must be performed with no barriers to contraception and only with the person to whom we are sacramentally bonded in marriage.

The “Progressive/Rationalist” view throws the Catechism out the window. People tell themselves that anything they want to do with their partner is OK regardless of whether it fits in the context of sacramental marriage. Masterbation, trying to avoid pregnancy by pulling out early, bringing other partners into your bed, and using your spouse for relief instead of in a mutual giving where both of you give the other a gift of themselves and the other graciously receives it – are right out.

Sex in a Catholic Marriage is a chaste expression of love, the giving of a gift of oneself to another and receiving that gift in return. We men especially, often fail here to recognize that 30 seconds of foreplay and 10 seconds of thrusting, followed by 8 hours of snoring does not constitute a gift to our wives. Such crude behaviour masquerading as marital intimacy only breeds resentment, distrust, and unhappiness in the recipient of your “gift” who you just treated like a common whore, or inflatable female facsimile. The marital embrace should always be open to life and a spiritually bonding experience for the loving couple. This does not mean that a quickie in the morning as a gift from your wife is wrong, so long as it is a gift freely given and not demanded. Such gifts are much more likely to occur if there is a whole-hearted attempt to return that gift at an appropriate time and place when you can focus yourself on returning that gift rather than your own gratification.

Exercised in the proper context and within the principles of the Catechism, the marital embrace can bring Husband and Wife both to new levels of both pleasure and intimacy – bonding them inseparably in the process. Outside the confines of the Catechism, sex becomes the greatest  weapon in damaging relationships that there is. Infidelity, using your wife as a receptacle for your lust, and making demands instead of accepting gifts do more to damage marriages than anything else I know of. Such actions destroy the trust and intimacy that is the basis for both Love and the sacramental marriage and hurt both parties physically, emotionally, and spiritually. If you have concerns about a particular issue, then open the link to the Catechism above and see if it qualifies there as well as being loving gift to your spouse which is open to life. Ask yourself if you are having to apply pressure to your spouse. Even fearing your anger, disappointment, or disapproval will constitute an inability on her part to give herself freely to you. Take the time to learn each other both physically and emotionally and let your wife surprise you with her gifts. I assure you, a woman in love can be more creative than you can imagine in your wildest fantasy when she wants to please you. You should be setting an example for her to follow.

I know this post will likely produce a plethora of comments and additional questions, I welcome all of them – but ask that you keep them civil and polite.

Colin

Pregnancy, Change, Marriage

10 Aug

12-01-2007 03_53_47PMWhether expected or a surprise, pregnancy is a time of great change – for you as a husband into a father, for your wife into a mother, and for your marriage which becomes a new family. In truth this is a time of great change and transition for you as  well as for your wife. Each woman is different and each pregnancy is different. This makes setting any specific expectations impossible. I can however assure you of one thing – this too shall pass, it may pass like a kidney stone, but pass it will.

Here is some advice from someone who has been through this 4 times:

Your initial reaction is important. More important than you know! Don’t make the mistake of letting your fears and apprehensions overshadow the joy when you respond to the news of an impending birth. First impressions matter, and she needs your support at that moment more than you will understand. Allow your happiness and pride to be what shows, hold any apprehensions and fears until you can work them out. Truth is that most of those fears and apprehensions will work themselves out. I know how the rush of mixed emotions can be overpowering – but this is a place where a little care with your speech and actions can make or break the tone for the next few months, and even the whole marriage.

The only thing for sure is change, and your wife will be undergoing physiological changes beyond her control. She may happy and stable one minute and in tears and despairing the next, especially if this is her first child. She will also be undergoing physical changes as well, more than just the expanding belly – her hips will be widening to accommodate the coming birth, and her breasts may be tender in preparing to feed the coming child. During some periods her hormones may make making love more pleasurable for her than ever before, and at other times painful, or even distasteful. Enjoy the glow which accompanies pregnancy, it will make her seem more beautiful than ever. Be emotionally and physically supportive, so that she is reassured. As at all times in marriage, but especially now ,she will need your love. She alone carries a gift of God to both of you, but it is a heavy burden to bring that life to bear and you must help to carry her through it.

Most importantly, you need to focus on adapting to the new reality and embracing it joyfully. Your life is changing and God will give you the strength to adapt to your additional responsibilities. Your marriage is also changing to accommodate the new addition to your family who will consume necessarily your wife’s time and attention as well as your own. Sharing in the care of the child will not only help you bond as a father, but also help bond you to your wife even more deeply than you imagined. Set aside/arrange time for yourself and your wife to be together alone, and set aside breathing room for your wife to pursue her own interests at least a few hours a week. Even letting her have a respite to go shopping alone while you hold down the fort for a few hours can have a tremendous effect on her mental state and morale.

Your marriage will continue to change as children are both born, and move away to start their own families. Never view your family as an impediment to your dreams but rather as support in achieving them, and let them be your inspiration. Most importantly, they are the ones with whom you can share your joy and your achievements with. You will even find that those dreams change over time, changing from your dreams for yourself to dreams for your family – this is that seminal moment when one discovers what it means to me to be both husband and father.

Please feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section –

Colin

What to Expect when #5 Comes Along

9 Aug

Pregnant

First of all – this is reblogged with permission from the friend who wrote it. She is expecting number 5 and is catching the wave of popular public interest. I know this drill all too well as my wife and I have only 4 and even just having the youngest 3 in tow in the supermarket checkout often generates stupid questions and ignorant comments. Anyone with a large family will identify, and those expecting one – brace for impact.

She has managed to couch in humor something very serious – I’ll start you with this:

“Here, let me just answer all the questions and save folks the trouble of asking. I want to spare you the trouble, and also spare you the dirty looks you’ll get, plus the tone of voice, and sharp responses of which I’m capable of providing. Because like I said: It’s lame, and it does nothing to entertain me. And it’s just not funny. I’m easily amused, but the same questions just don’t do it for me. Step up your game already. Be original and humorous. Give me something I haven’t already heard.

Are you ready for it? Here goes:

1. Yes, we know what causes it. We’ve had 21 years of practice. We’re damn good at it. We like it. We’re married to each other, so we’re SUPPOSED to be doing it with each other, not someone else. It’s not wrong to actually LIKE your spouse. We’ve worked a lot of years to get where we are, and we like where we are. Don’t be jealous that you can’t get in on our party, ok? Just go get your own.

2. Yes, we have tv, cable, dvd’s, etc and we utilize them. We actually have multiples of each. Oh, ANNNND we have computers with internet access, plus smartphones. We have friends. We have access to entertainment. And we have access to each other – you know like I said up there^ in that spousal thing.

3. Yes, *I* am Catholic, but my husband is not. Our inter-faith marriage is always a work in progress, and we don’t follow any one strict tenet versus another. Ours is an interesting dance of sorts, melded together the last 21 years with a lot of compromise after a lot of trial and error. Apparently, I’m a better Catholic than I thought I was, though. And apparently, I’m the kind of Catholic girl the Southern Baptist boys like. Take that as you will.

4. Yes, we’ve heard of birth control, and condoms, and at some points, we HAVE utilized a variety of all of them. I don’t have to share this topic with anyone outside of my husband, I am not going to share the details of why, how, etc of what we do in that regard. I don’t say a word about your decision to do permanent sterilization, hormonal birth control, barrier methods, etc. Be respectful of what we do, just like I’m respectful of what you do. In short, I stay out of your uterus, you stay out of mine.

5. Yes, everything OBVIOUSLY functions just normally, nothing is broken, so please tell me what is there to fix?

6. Yes, I have my hands full. I have a head and heart full too. The van is full. The house is full. The garage is full too. Our lives are full. How is yours? Is it full of good stuff or just junk and drama and crap?

There are people who completely ache and pay lots of money to ATTEMPT to even get a tenth of what we have. I’m truly and completely blessed, while my heart breaks for those who long for the simplest part of my life, and some may never have it. Don’t tell me the obvious, because somewhere in earshot of your comment is someone else who you’re insulting in the opposite manner, by reminding them of their empty hearts and arms. And there are those who have suffered the losses of 4, 5, even 8, or 12, or more babies and pregnancies. They are so grateful to have a baby make it into this world, while forever mourning the loss of those who grew wings before seeing light of day. They happily bring as many into this world as they humanly can. It hurts and it stings and it drives the knives deeper, while you twist them. Do you still feel brilliant saying that one?

7. No, I don’t know how YOU do it with just one, or two. Seriously, I need balance in my life, and I need my own interests and hobbies. I don’t know how you can helicopter- and lawnmower-parent a completely normal child who has zero no neuro-challenges and come out the other side with your dignity and sanity intact, or theirs for that matter. I delegate stuff to the kids to do, as they become independent and capable enough to handle things. I’ve blogged about that before. Simply put, it’s my job to create independent people who can function outside of me, and handle the hiccups of life. I have my own interests because one day those buggers will fly the nest and I don’t want to be that mother-in-law that gets ranted about on the internet. I want my children and their families to feel like I respect their adulthood, and parenthood, and I will do my best to allow that by knowing my place in their world and not encroaching where I do not belong. I blessedly have a fair selection of wise in-laws who may not agree with how we do things, but they know it’s not their family or household.

8. No, I didn’t realize that we didn’t need to have any more kids. Thank you for telling me that. I didn’t realize I was still 6, and asking for a second dessert an hour before bedtime. Last I checked, we are well beyond age 18, and still married to the same person after all these years. If I have my wits about me, we have kids who are 20 and almost 19. So unless there’s some strange science or miracle, I think we are qualified to decide what my husband and I need, or don’t need. I think your words simply speak of your own insecurities, and lack of time spent with us and getting to know us sufficiently. We are raising our kids in a manner that rivals most any other way modern parents do nowadays, and we’ve got one who was trained for management at his job as soon as he graduated high school, and another about to head off to MCRD Parris Island for boot camp. The Marines don’t take *just* anybody. Our oldest daughter has life skills her peers can’t fathom, and a perspective they won’t achieve till they’re much older. Our preschooler is articulate, funny, well-adjusted and capable of handling things kids her age still have a tantrum over happening, and she’s fiercely independent. But they’re still capable of being kids. We haven’t robbed them of anything. We’ve sacrificed our own self-serving desires to give them what they need. We have indulged in some things, because we need balance and they need to see us doing our own thing, chasing our own goals and dreams, and they need to see us sacrifice for the greater good or to achieve those goals. Despite the fact that I’m running headlong toward 40, and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, either.

9. Yes, they were all surprises. No, we didn’t plan or try for any of them. They were all not in our radar at the times they appeared on it, and now we can’t imagine that radar without them there. Then they brought friends to the party, who we mistreat just the same as we do our own. I have birthed and borrowed children, and never imagined this many people would call me Mom. I’m just glad I didn’t have to change all of THEIR diapers, or potty train them.

10. No, we don’t know if we’re done yet. We thought we were done with the last 5. No, we don’t know if we’ll have any more. Every time we have thought “done” and laid plans of our own, another mini human comes along and mucks up the plans. But it’s cool. We make pretty babies with brains and a sense of humor. And they think it’s pretty neat that mom & dad ride motorcycles. Well, dad does, mom’s just good at dropping them and then getting pregnant again.

One other side note about the variations of these questions: Again, when you’re asking a parent of one, or ten, about the number of kids, you’re insulting them. And the ones who only have one or two who like previously mentioned, utterly ACHE for more kids and can’t attain that are once again stabbed by your words. Why must you be so intrusive? Don’t be offended if one of us snaps back with “Why? were you looking to hire me as your surrogate, because I don’t know if I’m the one you want doing that. I might not want to give up a child to be raised by twits like you.”

11. No, I’m not easily offended. I married a Marine and had a bunch of children with him. When you have that combination, you recognize when God laughs at you (in my case, it’s almost daily since the early 1990s), and you learn to live by that other Marine motto: Semper Gumby. If you think you can offend me, you can, but it requires extreme stupidity, lack of consideration and forethought, no sense of humor, and downright intrusive and demeaning foolishness. I am not sure you want to test the mettle of this Feisty Irish Wench. Some of the things slung at me verbally by strangers, meant to offend, really didn’t do that. I’ve survived a number of things, including two teens at once – and one was a daily test of my faith and ovarian fortitude. I have reasonably thick skin, and some of you will be lucky I don’t have him with me when you open your mouth.

So, please, I absolutely encourage you to get creative when you see me or my larger-family cohorts. Ask us something we have NOT already been asked. Or for poops n giggles, maybe say something encouraging to the mom whose day is shot because of that series of wackadoodle events instead of “well you chose to have that many”. Yep, we ultimately did. Someone has to combat the stupidity of the world, and it may as well be us, because YOU are sucking at it.”

And encourage you to take a moment and read the rest here: http://feistyirishwench.blogspot.com/2013/08/originality-and-humor.html

Remember being hateful and hurtful never helped anyone, and whatsoever you do to the least of his pregnant people – that you do unto Him DOUBLE.

Many thanks to “FeistyIrishWench” for letting me reblog her post!

Colin

The Veil – A Husbands Experience

6 Aug

Beautiful Mantilla image from http://rosamysticamantilla.com/

Beautiful Mantilla image from http://rosamysticamantilla.com/

When I was a boy, I remember that women in the church always wore the most beautiful chapel veils at mass. Never to hide themselves, as the veils were generally fine lace, but rather to stand out as women of faith.

1 Corinthians 11:10
Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

Paul was very specific about this because it was important. The apparitions of the Virgin Mary are always veiled as well. There is a very good history on the veil here: http://christianfamilyoutreach.com/pamphlets/theveil.pdf. It’s a good read and will clear up many incorrect assumptions and impressions people have about the use of the veil in the church.

The issue of the veil (or Mantilla) is making all kinds of waves in the church right now. Long favored by “traddies” and the old alone, many of the younger Catholic women have been adopting the veil in a growing movement. This movement has not been pressed by priests or husbands. It has not been pushed onto women by peer pressure, but rather peer pressure has been applied to women to abandon it. As their numbers have grown in many parishes, the snide comments and the murderous glances get more frequent – yet they persevere. My wife is one of those women who felt this call, I’m going to do my best to tell her story as seen through my eyes in the hope that others will better understand the veil and the power of the Lord’s call to those who wear it.

One day my wife came back from her adoration hour very troubled, she felt the Lord was calling her to cover her head during adoration. This carried into later evenings until one night she grabbed a floppy tigger hat because it was the only one she could find and an went back into His presence. It was at that moment that she knew. She knew that she should always have her head covered in the Lord’s presence as a sign of her submission and obedience to God. To her it became a strong outward sign of God’s authority over her.

Over the intervening weeks she used a variety of makeshift methods for covering her head. Hats, scarves, bandannas, and other options were tried but she was mesmerized by an old lady who came to pray in the middle of the night wearing a mantilla. The beauty of it and the grace it seemed to endow this woman with made a tremendous impression on her and she resolved to get her own mantilla. At this time we were attending a Novus Ordo parish primarily and veils were almost never seen at mass. Worse, nobody locally carried one for her to purchase. We searched the internet and quickly found several locations from which they could be reasonably purchased. She choose one that suited her and ordered it.

At first, she would wear it only during adoration and switch to a hat or scarf at mass. Even then, she could sense the stares and uneasiness especially among the women wearing tanks tops, short shorts, and miniskirts at mass.  She looked so very pretty in her sunday dress with her scarf or hat that she did stand out. From my perspective she practically shone, and it was as if whenever a beam of light entered it fell on her. Yet she was still troubled. The Lord was still calling her to obedience it seemed, and very the next week she took a very deep breath as we left the car and put her Mantilla over her head and walked into the church.

I don’t know which of us was more uncomfortable with the initial stares, but I do know this – she was much more at ease in the Lords house than I had ever seen her. She had a peace and serenity I  had never seen before when she prayed, and I was stuck with a sense of awe and beauty just watching her. Then reality struck and on my way to the lavatory as I was pulled aside and admonished to “get that rag off my wife’s head before she embarrassed herself”, on the way back another person informed me that I was a “neanderthal for making her wear the veil” and that she was “setting women back 100 years” by wearing it. I was shocked – the veil wasn’t my idea, I would never have forced any such thing on her, nor even thought to ask it of her. I couldn’t understand the hostility until the following mass when one or two more women showed up with their heads covered, then a few more, soon a small cadre of veils dotted the congregation. It didn’t take me long to find out that it was the courage of the first few who listened to the call which paved the way for the others to act as well. This call had not been exclusively to my wife but to many women throughout the parish. A few thanked me for “allowing” my wife to wear the veil, as it set the example they needed to see. Apparently, many husbands had forgotten that God’s calling to their wives was far more important than their desire not to make waves. I was never against her following both her heart and The Lord’s instruction on this issue.

My wife still veils, as do my daughters – and we usually attend the Latin Mass where the veil is the norm, rather than the exception to the rule. To be honest she was not the only one of us feeling the Lords clarion call to orthodoxy in our Catholicism. Both of us have felt the call – not to practice our religion, but rather to live our religion – and there is a difference. For me the chapel veil represents more than her commitment to God, it represents the commitment of our entire family to the obedience of God. Whenever I see another woman entering the chapel with her husband and children in tow with all the girls wearing their veils, it gives me hope. Hope for the church and the world, that if only a few have to respond to the call that it will give others the courage to follow. Her example of leadership has taught me that I can make a difference in the smallest ways, even if I influence only a few other people in being a faithful Catholic husband. It is by doing the little things in obedience with great love that we build a sense of community and an understanding of who we are as Catholics. We also serve as a candle in the darkness for those trying to discern their path – and like candles, the more of us that stand together the brighter our light becomes.

When I think of the candle analogy I remember the last time a hurricane took the power out. When you’re used to being in brightly lit areas a single candle does not seem to give off much light. However, when you are accustomed to the darkness the light from one candle is enough to bring calm, hope, and light to every corner of the room – the darkness is dispelled with just a single flame.

Sincerely,

Colin

Expectations of A Catholic Husband

4 Aug

God holding your Marriage

I’ve been asked more than a few times what the building blocks of a successful marriage are. Recently a few readers have sent questions to me looking for advice in new marriages and prior to marriage on what their future wives will be expecting of them. Aside from some very candid discussions with your current or future spouse, there are some givens that she will expect and from which all the others are merely outgrowths.

I’ve put some real thought into this. That means both brain cells were parallel processing until they started releasing their magic blue smoke. You see, I’ve been married for over 20 years and in terms of expectations – well they seem to change if you focus on the minutiae. However, if you look at the bigger picture, the little things all fall into line, if you remember the big ones. There are a core group of things every woman expects from her husband whether she even realizes it or not.

One major disclaimer – I have no more insight into a womans mind than any other man. Women are like the trinity in that they are a mystery which cannot be understood by man and must simply be accepted. The disclaimer does however, provide me a good segway into expectation number one.

Acceptance – This one seems so obvious, but I hear neverending stories of women whose husbands/fiancee’s threaten a divorce over 5 lbs. or will only marry if she can fit into a certain size dress. Stop and pray before you act, speak, or think like this and here is why. Neither of you know what the future is going to bring, or where it will take you together. Just like with God, you must simply accept each other joyfully. In the long view – your wife is likely going to be like the weather in Louisiana. Don’t like it? Wait a bit, it will change. Your wife will change sizes, her personality will change, her interests will change, her health will change – the one thing that must never change is that you accept and love her for who she is each morning. It’s critically important to both of you that you do. If she was disfigured in a fire or accident would you love her any less? What if she was barren? Would you continue to love and keep her? Time ravages all physical things and she needs to know that regardless of what changes happen to each of you both physically and emotionally, as long as it remains compatible with sacramental marriage, that you will make  anew that decision every morning to accept and love her as she is. Always don your rose colored glasses and see the best in her and about her.

Commitment – Your wife rightfully will expect that that you are fully committed to a lifetime of joyful servitude of her and any children you are blessed with. Your commitment is to the covenant you made with God when you accepted the Sacrament of Marriage from your wife. It is expected that this commitment is unbreakable, treat her accordingly – never make mention of or threaten divorce and choose your words carefully. A man must lead a family and not subjugate them by force or fear. You must nurture your wifes commitment to you, but ensuring that she is always secure in your commitment to her and to your marriage. Never take this commitment lightly, treat your wife, always, as if her commitment must be earned  – through the commitment itself does not need to be earned, her respect and trust do. Know in advance that there will be moments in your marriage when God and commitment will carry you through, and that without commitment to your covenant before God your marriage is doomed to failure – harming both you and your spouse irreparably.

Togetherness – All the hurdles and caveats life throws at you are going to be relying on you facing the challenges together. Whatever comes it is expected that you will work as a team to solve each and every crisis. Regardless of whether that crisis is emotional, physical, financial, professional, sexual, faith based, or something else. She is counting on you to help her, and it will be important to her to also help you. Remember that whatever hurdles you face, you will face them best as a well coordinated team who can react quickly to change, anticipate the other’s moves, and most importantly acknowledge each others strengths and weakness and understand which roles each is best suited to for any given problem. This may mean adjusting roles temporarily or permanently to best face your current situation in life. Work as a team not just to achieve those things necessary to your marriage, but also necessary to each others hearts and souls. The joy of shared experience is just as powerful as the bonding forged between two who share and overcome adversity together. Rather than let adversity tear you apart, let it bind you more tightly together. Rather than allowing marriage to overshadow each of your personal dreams and goals, make it a vehicle for you both to share in achieving them.

Love – Another one that seems obvious, however it is quite critical that you understand what this one means. Love does not mean liking someone, nor is love a feeling – rather that feeling is a symptom of love but not love itself. Love is a choice we make, and we must renew that choice each day. Love endures hardship and pain, it weathers squalls and storms. You cannot love one whom you do not accept as they are.  Your wife must be your best friend, your lover, and your partner through life. You must love God above all things, and love your wife above yourself – not as yourself, but below God and above you. She cannot return to you that which is not given to be returned. While romantic love and erotic love will come and go like squalls, and even hurricanes, throughout your marriage – your true love for each other must be like the ocean, fathomless and unending.

Trust – No love and no marriage can survive without this. Trust has more aspects than verbal honesty. Your wife must know you are being emotionally honest with her at all times. She is not a mind reader or clairvoyant and for her to learn to read you accurately over time she must really understand what you really think and feel. While she too must do the same, you need to make sure she feels free to do so. This means listening without judging her when she opens her heart to you, and for her to understand you – she must do the same for you. This is the basis of intimacy, for without feeling able to truly open up to each other and embrace not just what is outside – but what is inside we can never be truly intimate. Her sense of safety and security depend on her knowing that no harm will come to her. She is entrusting this care to you, you must never betray this sacred duty or her ability to trust in you will be lost. This does not always mean you will succeed, nor that you must do it alone – but together as God intended. By both of you acting selflessly for the good of the other party you will only increase that trust, and either party acting selfishly will serve to decrease or eliminate it. This applies to threats to your marriage that are violent, physical, emotional, financial, and otherwise. In short, she must trust unconditionally that you would never harm her nor knowingly allow her to come to harm.

There are a bunch of other things, I grant you – but after much introspection I believe that these are at the core. If you can manage these the others are extensions of them and will naturally follow.

Yours in Christ,

Colin

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