Friday, June 27, 2008

Disney movies gave me unrealistic expectations of love...

I have always loved this facebook group, mainly because I have always looked at it and thought THAT IS SO TRUE!!! I grew up watching Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella and spent my days dancing around my family room in a pink tutu singing "One Day My Prince Will Come." Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but I did always want to be a princess and I longed for the day when my dashingly handsome prince would sweep me off my feet and together we would ride off into the sunset of "Happily Ever After". So, I have learned now that Happily Ever After sometimes has a few bumps in the road and storybook love does not just happen effortlessly. And the Prince? Handsome and good equestrian skills does not make the perfect man. So maybe, things aren't as rose-colored as Disney paints them... but does that mean I will never have my Prince?

Leslie Ludy writes in her book Authentic Beauty about how she met her Prince after years of heartbreak and failed relationships...

He was someone who I had known for years. He had been a close family friend. He had many appealing qualities, but I had never really thought about him in a romantic way. It was true that he had a sensitive and tender side that I had seen on a few occassions. But he was also extremely passionate about truth, and I felt that sometimes he came across a little too strong on certain points. To be honest, he intimidated me. It also seemed that he was a little too involved with “church stuff.” When I thought of him, I was reminded of Sunday School lessons with flannel Bible story characters or gold offering plates – this was not exactly the atmosphere for true love!

He was one of those people with a piercing gaze that can see straight into the depths of your soul. Because of this, I had gone out of my way to avoid him for the past few years. For some time now my life had been a chaotic mess of compromise and confusion. I didn’t want him to see what I had become. If he found out what I had done, I was sure he would sternly reprimand me and remind me that it was too late for me to ever discover anything more. But I soon realized I was very, very wrong about him.

I found him waiting for me by the apple trees near my back gate one day as I headed out for a morning walk. I was startled to see him there, surprised that after all these years and all the times I had ignored him, he still wanted to spend time with me. I gave him a tentative glance, and he smiled at me – a tender, intimate smile that made my heart lurch in spite of myself. I quickly looked away. “Can I walk with you?” he asked in a gentle voice. I nodded, still avoiding his gaze, and he fell into step beside me. We made your way in silence for a while, listening to the occasional chatter of a squirrel or high-pitched chirp of a robin. I kept my eyes on the gravel path at my feet.

“I missed you,” he told me simply. Though it was obvious to both of us that I was the one who had put the distance between us, there was no hint of accusation in his tone. I bit my lip and nodded again, unsure what to say in response.

We walked a little further, and I realized his presence was both refreshing and comforting. I could feel his tender eyes watching me, silently telling me how important I was to him, though I could not figure out why. Nothing else was said during the rest of our time together that day, but I sensed that something more was about to happen between us. I just wasn’t sure if I was ready. Our friendship slowly grew. The more time I spent with him, the more I realized how utterly different he was from any man I had ever encountered. In him, there was nothing of the sex-hungry glances I had received from the guys at school growing up, not a trace of the flirtatious teasing that had always surrounded me, and not a strain of the seductive charms I had grown so accustomed to in men. But somehow I knew that he loved me. That he deeply desired me. That he found me beautiful. I hardly dared to hope that I had finally found the one man that could fulfill those long-forgotten dreams of mine. Even if he could be my prince I was sure I had found him too late.

"This is completely crazy," I told myself aloud one night as I tossed and turned in my bed. “He wouldn’t want someone like me.” I was convinced that his love for me would shrivel up in a second if he truly understood how many mistakes I had made. I didn’t think I could risk becoming attached to him. I had been hurt so many times I didn’t know how much more pain my heart could handle.

I had another worry. He didn’t live his life the way anyone else did. He stood out like a neon billboard on a lonely desert highway. He was mocked and misunderstood by quite a few people in my life. I knew he would not fit into my world, would not be accepted by my friends, and would not be at home in most of my surroundings. How could I possibly love someone like this? What did he expect me to do – walk away from everything in my life just to be with him? I wrestled with my fears for weeks. He never pressured me to make a decision. He simply reminded me, in a hundred different ways, that he loved me and that he longed for me. He was infinitely patient, tender, and sensitive...the kind of prince I had dreamed of for as long as I could remember. He made the immature romantic wanna-be’s that had historically gained my affection seem like pitiful counterfeits. After seeing the real thing, I couldn’t believe I had fallen for such poor substittues. but at the same time, I couldn;t help wondering whether or not he jsut might be too good to be true.

The more time I spent around him, the more something inside me desperately wanted to just surrender and fall into his waiting arms. But I was afraid to let myself trust him. I was afraid of what that decision might cost me.

Over time, gradually, like the moving of the hour hand on a wall clock, my guard came down. No matter how many times I pulled away from him, his love remained unmoving, like a majestic unwavering mountain overlooking a tumultuous ocean. I had even tried to convince him that I was not good enough for him. I’d told him in detail, with hot tears flashing in my tormented eyes, exactly what I had done with my life, heart, and body over the past years. But instead of judging me, I sensed he was inwardly weeping over every piece of my shattered heart. Coming face to face with this kind of infinite kindness left me stunned.

One morning as I was sitting alone on a bench in the crisp spring air, I felt him softly approach me. He didn’t have to speak. I took a long look into the unfathomable depths of love in his eyes, and I melted. With tears coursing down my face like a cascading waterfall, I fell into his arms and told him passionately that my heart belonged to no one but him. At that moment, my life, my pursuits, my friends, everything I had built my world around faded away into nothingness. None of it seemed even remotely important anymore. Nothing mattered now but him.

As I whispered my devotion to him, a brilliant peace crept steadily into my heart and began to quietly mend its broken pieces. His eyes were wet with tears of unspeakable joy. I felt like an eagle gliding freely along the majestic mountain peaks following an afternoon storm. I had finally found my prince. He had gallantly searched for me and rescued me from my horrible dungeon of captivity. He had loved me in spite of my wretched ugly condition. He had taken the filthy rags I was clothed in and given me the sparkling gown of a beautiful princess. His amazing love had fully revived my shattered, wounded, bleeding heart. And though I knew that now I must sacrifice all I had ever known in order to be with him, there was not a shred of doubt lingering in my mind. It was like giving him a pile of worthless pebbles and receiving a houseful of priceless jewels in return.

In the following paragraphs Leslie speaks about her husband Eric...

Yes, Eric and I did have an amazing love story (in fact, Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe don’t stand a chance against us!) However, my love story with Eric is only a small reflection of a much deeper intimacy that I share with someone else...the prince I wrote about earlier. The one who passionately loved me, tenderly held me, and deeply cherished me in a way I had never before experienced, in a way that fulfilled all my childhood longings and desires. The one who rescued me from the dingy prison cell I had wandered into, cut the iron chains away from my feet and hands, tenderly washed me clean from my life of sin, transformed me into his princess, and carried me away into the sunset to His land.

My true prince is not Eric. My true Prince is Jesus Christ. Eric, with all his amazing qualities, could never meet the deepest needs inside my heart the way my true prince has. If not for the tender love of my true prince, my love story with Eric would not have even been possible. The romance of my love story with Eric is only a faded glimmer of the spectacular beauty of the love story I share with my true Prince…Jesus Christ. In fact, my childhood longing to be loved and cherished by a tender knight that I could follow to the ends of the earth, was placed in my heart by Him. Jesus Christ alone can fulfill that desperate longing.

Maybe they didn't give me unrealistic expectations of love. Maybe Disney does not even realize how fully enrapturing the love, how dashing and valiant the Prince, and how the happily ever after will exceed our wildest dreams. Maybe I was just to busy watching Cinderella on my laptop to turn around and see my Prince already there... waiting for me to ride off into the sunset.

The End

When doctor doesn't know best

This article was passed on to me by blogger Tony Rossi, who tells the story of Miss America, Angela Baraquio Grey's Catholic faith and the faith of her parents whose choice for life resulted in Angela being alive today. Read it here.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Regarding Mary...

"She is the one whom every man loves when he loves a woman- whether he knows it or not. She is what every woman wants to be when she looks at herself. She is the woman whom every man marries in ideal when he takes a spouse; she is the secret desire every woman has to be honored and fostered; she is the way every woman wants to command respect and love because of the beauty of her goodness of body and soul."
-Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Friday, June 20, 2008

Selena Gomez

As websites and news services update the world concerning the birth of Jamie Lynn Spears' daughter, another celebrity is making known her intention to practice chastity. I hesitate to highlight celebrities who announce their views of chastity, because one never knows if they are truly committed or are pulling a publicity stunt, but it appears that Selena Gomez may be for real. In this article she explains her desire to wear a purity ring since she was 12 years old. And in a stunningly counter-cultural comment, she answers the question, "Do you have a boyfriend?" with, "I'm fifteen. I don't need a boyfriend." Read the whole article here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Walking to spread theology of the body

A group of college students dedicated to John Paul II's theology of the body is in the midst of a 1,300 mile walk down the East Coast. During the summer journey, they will be speaking to complete strangers -- at churches, in grocery stores, at youth groups and along busy (and not so busy) roads -- about the Catholic faith and the insights of John Paul II. To learn more about their journey, read their blog, which is updated as often as they are able, considering nights are often spent in church basements or with a host family.

Four years ago I was blessed to take part in a pro-life walk with a similar route in the Northeast. I know that the reason it was such an incredible experience was due to the prayers of so many people across the country. Please join in praying for the Missionaries of the Eucharist as they take the Gospel to the streets.

Monday, June 16, 2008

It's finally here!

Catholic Exchange's new theology of the body "channel" has officially launched. There is already a great range of articles posted on the site. I expect this site to be a consistent source of unique commentary on current issues and events through the lens of John Paul II's unique and revolutionary work. Bookmark this site!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The spiritual fatherhood of John Paul II

As Father's Day approaches, it is appropriate to look at one man's incredible ability to reflect the meaning of fatherhood to the world. When Pope John Paul II died, many remarked that they felt that their own father or grandfather had passed away. Millions of people mourned his death with tears, and yet most of them had never met him, never hugged him, never had a private meeting with him.

George Weigel recently addressed a group of men on a pilgrimage in Poland with remarks concerning Pope John Paul II's spiritual fatherhood:
During the many years this son of Poland walked the world's stage, he became a spiritual father to tens of millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, of people. He became a father in a world looking for fatherhood, and often failing to find it. He became a spiritual father to men and women who do not share our Christian faith, as he had been a father to his archdiocese of Cracow during his years as its bishop. How did he do this? How does it happen that so many millions of people, in very different situations, come to experience one man as a father? And what does that tell us about our own responsibilities and opportunities as fathers?
Perhaps the answer will begin to come into focus if I tell you a bit about my experience in writing the biography of John Paul II.


Be sure to read the whole article here.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Generation TOB

On Monday, Catholic Exchange will debut a new "channel" dedicated to theology of the body. Plans are underway for frequent columns, forums and opportunities to apply John Paul II's dynamic work to our everyday lives. I am honored to be joining the ranks of columnists soon. The site promises to be one of the most engaging resources available to those interested in unpacking John Paul II's work.

Note: I apologize for prematurely linking to the site previously. It has not been officially launched yet, but we will be sure to notify you with the direct link when it is.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

An abortion survivor speaks out

Gianna Jessen was aborted. The procedure used is no longer common, but it involved the use of saline, which basically burns the unborn child. Miraculously, Gianna survived and was placed for adoption. Watch her discuss her story here.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Practical theology of the body, Part I

In my final theology of the body segment on Sacred Heart Radio on Monday, I will be giving some practical suggestions for how to apply the principles of theology of the body to one's life. Here's one to start with, but you can listen for several more on Monday morning.

Main point: Our bodies reveal God.

What it means:

We were made in God’s image and likeness which means that we have intellect and will, but also that we were made from Love and for Love (God is Love).

The fact that God created us male and female (with the ability for union and communion with another) is meant as a reminder of our call for union and communion with God in heaven.

Pope John Paul II says we image God more in our communion than in our solitude.

Practical application:
Try to look at others as gifts from God – reminders of our call to heaven. If someone is tempted to lust or to use another, ask God for the grace to see another as God sees him or her (a reflection of God’s love for us).

It's... "More than a feeling! (more than a feeling!)"

Love. We hear the word and our thoughts can vary from childhood crushes to a man and woman standing at the altar saying their vows. But when trying to describe love, more often than not our explanations begin with, "It's this feeling when...." or "It's when you feel..." Yes, love can involve some amazing feelings and emotions. God desires our happiness and His design for our lives is amazing. But I hate to burst your bubble... love is not just a feeling. It is so much more than a feeling.

As John Paul II described in his Theology of the Body, love is a decision to will the good of the beloved. It is a decision, something we choose to do or not do every day of our lives. Do you wake up every morning feeling butterflies when you think about your mother? Probably not, but you love her, and would probably do anything for her... because you
love her and this love is unconditional.

Feelings can accompany love, and this "head over heels" physical feeling that someone gets is more than just happenstance, it is programmed into our bodies. As explained in Theology of the Body for Teens, one reason for these physical reactions is, "Because of the chemical known as phenylethylamine (PEA). It is a natural amphetamine in your rain that triggers a release of dopamine, giving you blissful feeling. " At the same time, "Another chemical known as norepinephrine kicks up the level of adrenaline in your body, making your blood pressure increase."

Great! However, it is hypothesized by some scientists that the body can develop a tolerance causing the chemicals to "wear off" somewhere between eighteen months and fours years. For teenagers, the duration is believed to be even shorter: between three and four months.
"So, then what happens," you might be asking yourself. I think this is where the confusion lies among many today. We date and then when we feel like we don't love him/her anymore we break up. And we do this...over...and over... and over. So why is marriage any different? What is to stop is from wanting to call it all off once the butterflies calm down? It is this choice, the choice to continue loving even when the feeling is gone. The love does not diminish as the feelings lessen in intensity, the love actually

John Paul II says that the true magnitude of love, "Is put to the test most severely when the sensual and emotional reactions themselves grow weaker, and sexual values as such lose their effect. Nothing then remains except the value of the person and the inner truth about the love... If their love is a true gift of self, so that they belong to the other, it will not only survive, but grow stronger, and sink deeper roots."

When you see that cute old couple still holding hands as they walk down the street, do you think they have butterflies every time they look at each other? Probably not. "Young love is a flame; very pretty, very hot, and fierce, but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable." Their love is more than a flickering flame, so much deeper, more pure and true... definitely more than a feeling. I wonder if Boston knew how profound they were when writing that 70's hit?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

National Rock for Life in Cincinnati

Pregnancy Center West has informed me that they will be organizing a peaceful and prayerful vigil outside of a local abortion clinic on Sunday, June 15. The national Rock for Life tour will be in the area, so this is your opportunity to join with them for an hour of prayer to stand up for the gift of life.

For more information, call Rachel at 513-244-1097.