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

%d bloggers like this: