Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On "The Moment of Truth"

Hello everyone! I wanted to tell you all about an article I read in the Plugged'n magazine about a new TV show called "The Moment of Truth." The contestants of the show are placed in a hot seat and asked questions meant to uncover their deep dark secrets while their loved ones watch from the crowd. Weeks before the contestants go on the television they are hooked up to a lie detector and asked 50 to 75 tailored questions. The results of the polygraph are not revealed to the contestants until they appear on the television show where they then attempt to match their previous answers. My first thought is that lie detectors are not a reliable source of truth so much so that they are not allowed to be used as evidence in any court case.

My second thought is even if lie detectors were reliable, "What is the point of this TV show?" The purpose of the TV show is to entertain Americans by destroying marriages and families. The contestants are paid to reveal their deep dark secrets on television for the whole world to witness. The more they reveal the more money they win. The article shares about one contestant who "admitted to extramarital sex wishing she'd married an ex-boyfriend - as her husband sat 20 feet away, head buried in his hands."

The article poses several great questions to ponder. One of them being the following question, "What does it say to teens when immoral confessions earn applause?" For a few seconds the crowd is shocked, but then they applaud the contestant when it is discovered that they have answered truthfully - even if they have answered honestly about something sinful. Is it okay for us to sin as long as we are truthful about it?

Here are some other good questions the article proposes for families to discuss about this TV show, as well as, insightful scripture references:

(1) What's the difference between a confession inspired by true repentance, and one motivated by greed or other selfish gain? (Proverbs 28:13; Psalm 51; 1 Timothy 6:9-12)

(2) When is better NOT to share our dislikes, temptations or other secret thoughts? (Ephesians 4:29; James 3; Proverbs 11:13)

(3) What is more noble, disclosing misdeeds under pressure or living a moral, upright life without a closet full of skeletons? (Proverbs 2:7-8; Psalm 11, 112 and 84:11)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Mexico City

This morning I read an article about the abortion debate in Mexico City.

It’s deceiving to even call it a debate. The article quoted the president of Catholic lawyers and he said it well: “It’s a debate over absolutes. It’s not really a subject to debate.” It’s important not to be deceived. A great trick of the Enemy is when he tempts us to think that God’s laws are open to debate. The right to life is necessary.

Also, there were others quoted that confused their religion with their fallen feelings. One woman said: “I am Catholic, but I have convictions.” Another was quoted: “I’m Catholic, but now that the law has passed [I’m having an abortion].” Are these Catholics uninformed? Regardless, once again, the media is sending mixed messages. Say, for example, you were an uninformed Catholic that reads the papers more often than you listen to your pastor. One would think, after reading something like this, that it’s okay to profess to be Catholic and supportive of something so grave that the Church condemns. It’s not okay.

The good news, though, is that 85% of the doctors in Mexico City won’t perform the abortion. Alleluia!

Please remember Mexico City in your prayers.

God Bless.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Opposite of Love

Recently, I heard some one say that the opposite of love is selfishness. That is a complex statement. I'd like to explore it a little.

Yesterday, I wrote that love is sacrificial. That coincides with the statement that the opposite of love is self-centeredness. On further reflectin, it's not that simple, I think. There are many times that love seems selfish.

A selfish or neglectful act does not mean that you don't love some one. I'm thinking, in particular, of my love for Christ. The natural conclusion, if I were to hold the statement "the opposite of love is self-centeredness," would be that I don't love Christ because I don't continually sacrifice for him.

I know that some would say "Christ has come to give mercy." Then, what about my love for my parents? There will be times when my mom or dad will call and I'll see their number on the ID. I won't pick it up. This doesn't mean that I don't love my parents. I love my parents and I love Christ even if I have trouble sacrificing for them.

So, then, what is love? Dante writes in Vita Nuova: "Love and the noble heart are but on in the same." There's something to that.

I'll think about that some more and write more later.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Reliance on God

How can one develop a more chaste life?

Jesus tells us in Mt. 7: “Ask and it will be given; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened.” I’m sure you have asked and still struggle. Yet, Jesus cannot lie. He is the perfect spouse.

Is it that your will is not strong enough? The consequence for sin is more sin. The more one submits to an ungodly temptation, the more often one will do it again. Therefore, it is important to cultivate holiness in the repetition of good deeds. Start small and work to larger deeds.

Is it that you rely too much on your will? There comes a time when Christ hands us a cross and tells us to walk with him. Yet, there are two points to remember: 1. Christ gives you the cross, or the desire to become holier, and 2. He walks with you and helps. When you fall, he comes to pick you up and asks you to start again.

I don’t think that this is quite enough. The nature of love is to sacrifice. Is it that you must grow in love for Jesus? Love is reciprocal, which means that it’s shared. Jesus loves you and you must return that love. Sacrifice comes easily when you love the other so much.

The fact that one fails so often is discouraging. Sin is insatiable and the temptation continues to grow each time that one commits it. It can feel like Jesus isn’t helping. Why not? He is helping. Every time we repent he takes the situation including our mistakes and builds on it. We learn from it and share it with others.

In the Mystery, one is always left with questions. Do not let it stop you from asking.

May we constantly be reborn and strengthened in the Spirit.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Reflections on the Assumption

In the Catechism (n.966) it states: “Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.’ The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians:

In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.”


1. I can’t fathom the profound holiness and sanctity that she, our fully human Mother, has. The Lord regards her so highly that he chose for her to join him, in her full humanity, in the Kingdom. I keep stressing “fully human” because humans, in a biological sense, are dirty and base compared to the divinity of God. How humble and loving is our God to bring this creature into his full presence? This is infinitely more humble than what a human could consider humble: Washing the feet of the homeless, caring for the wounds of lepers, etc.

2. Here’s a deep thought: Since Our Lady was bodily assumed into heaven, her body occupies the space of Heaven (mass, her body, occupies space). Does this mean that Heaven is a physical place out there somewhere? Or, since this assumption is “an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians,” was she assumed in a glorified body (Christ calls the bodies of the resurrected “glorified”)? What is a glorified body? Is it matter that necessarily occupies space? Some deep, deep questions, huh?

I know that these questions and thoughts are pretty philosophical and abstract. Yet, they are fun to think about, huh? Sometimes I can almost imagine Heaven and the choirs of angels and saints, the Holy Family, and the Glory of the Trinity. I try to reach it in human terms, through my senses. Yet, the reality of Heaven is indescribable. A professor in seminary told me once: “We have to use words to talk about God. Yet, He is infinitely more complex than any set of words.” Therein lays the mystery.

God Bless.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sex and Cohabitation vs. Marriage

Many people today think that things such as cohabitation and sex before marriage are healthy ways of testing out how compatible two people are. I worked in the restaurant business for two years where I was surrounded by people who lived very different lifestyles than my own. At times it was hard and I felt like an outcast, but by the grace of God and with time, I was able to build some pretty good relationships and report with the people there. On several occasions, upon learning that I was a virgin and saving myself for my husband, my friends there would ask me, "Well, what if he's not any good?" referring to sex. I'd smile a little and reply, "I'm not marrying a man for how good he is at sex." That was usually enough of an answer for them. Some would even reply, "Good point." I was always baffled that they hadn't thought of it first. When did love become dependent on how good some one is at sex? When a man and a woman take the time and effort to really get to know each other through conversations and quality time and are attracted to each other's character and values, the two don't need sex or cohabitation to show them how compatible they are.

The Statistics:
  • The average length of a live-in relationship is 1.3 years.
  • Cohabiting couples have an 80%+ chance that their relationship will end. (40% breakup before they marry; the other 40% divorce within 10 years of marriage.)
  • The U.S. Justice Department found that women are 62 times more likely to be assaulted by a live-in boyfriend than by a husband.
  • Living together doubles the risk for child abuse for any children in the home of a couple cohabiting.
  • Cohabiting women have rates of depression 3 times higher than married women.
  • Approximately 1 in 5 women living with someone has a sexual relationship with someone other than the guy with whom she lives. On the other hand, only an estimated 1 in 25 married women has a sexual relationship outside of marriage.
  • If the couple abstains from sex before marriage, they are 29-47% more likely to enjoy sex afterward than those who cohabit.
  • Married couples who pray together and practiced Natural Family Planning (NFP) as opposed to artificial contraception only have a 3-5% divorce rate.
  • Currently, there are 12 married couples for every cohabiting couple
A marriage certificate will not provide a guarantee for a successful marriage, but it will help you avoid the above risks of living together. God wants us to have healthy, happy and meaningful relationships. The sacrament of marriage provides graces and strength for God to more fully work in your life and to allow you to have a better relationship with your spouse.

Friday, August 8, 2008

There was an article in The Catholic Telegraph about a book entitled Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America's College Campuses. I have not read the book, but I think that the author, Donna Freitas, discovered an interesting point. Through her discussions and survey, Freitas discovered that many college students today cannot make a connection between their faith and their sexuality.
Today, our culture works hard to separate the two. Our society down plays God's role in our sexuality. "If it feels good it must be right." But who created and gave us our sexuality? God. So, would He not also know best what is the meaning and purpose of our sexuality? Our sexuality is so much more than a feeling.
The connection between our sexuality and our faith is crucial to understanding the true meaning and purpose of our human sexuality. Only God can reveal to us the true beauty and depth of our sexuality as men and women and how the two really complement each other.
The article reports Freitas saying that students are struggling to deal with the disconnect between what they really want and what they think is expected of them. So what do college students really want? Like all of us, they want authentic love - love that is real and total. Who wants to be loved for just their body and what it can do for another? I dare say no one. What is expected of them? The college environment expects them to join the party scene of excessive drinking and excessive casual sex with whomever, thus, denying themselves their true worth.
It is hard when the pressures of our society pull us in one direction and the yearning of our hearts pull us in a different direction. Wouldn't it serve us better to listen to our hearts so we can really live to the fullest?

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Abortion and its Natural Consequences

A study conducted by Dr. Willy Pedersen reveals that women who have had abortions are more prone to clinical depression and anxiety. The study was published in a peer-reviewed journal, which means that it was published by a respected objective, scholarly journal. They have scientifically confirmed what pro-lifers have suspected.

The Norwegian researchers studied 5,768 women between the ages of fifteen and twenty seven. The women were psychologically and physically hurt. Women who have had abortions consistently tested as having signs of depression and anxiety. To add, many reported abusing alcohol and drug use, which is not uncommon among traumatized persons.

One pro-choice argument is that terminating an unexpected pregnancy (abortion) saves the woman the psychological trauma of raising a child. No, says the research. Actually it exposes the mothers to psychological harm.

Relation to Church Teaching

This evidence points toward what the Church has always taught. “The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,” Paul tells us. If we sin, there are certainly spiritual consequences that can be alleviated in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. There are also natural consequences for sin that may or may not be healed. For example: If a married man commits adultery, which breaks the sixth commandment, the man is in sin and must repent to God. Yet, even after repenting to God, he must reconcile his self with his wife. God will accept his repentance- but his wife might not. So, there are natural, or bodily, consequences of sin. In the case of the post-abortive mother, the natural consequences (to name a few) are depression and anxiety.

Pray for the healing of these women. Also, “hate the sin and not the sinner.” We have to love and support post-abortion mother.

God Bless.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My Journey to Chastity

Hey everyone! Karen here again. I introduced myself the other day. Today I thought that I would share with you all how I came to care about chastity. I wanted to share with you my own journey to understanding and appreciating the gift of my sexuality. It has been a long journey and one that I am still on.

After 25 rocky years of marriage, my parents divorced. That was just four years ago. My mom and dad were good parents who loved their four children very much, but they were not so good at being husband and wife. They were not able to set a good example of marriage for my siblings or I. I got two very different messages on sexuality from my parents. My mom told me all the good stuff like, “You are a precious treasure and if a guy really loves you he will love ALL of you, not just parts of you.” “If a guy really loves you he won’t pressure you to have sex. He’ll wait until he has committed himself to you forever in marriage.” On the other hand, my dad caused me to have the impression that all men look at women the same –“Guys will be guys,” “We like to look at women and we like the women who are thin and sexy the best,” “Don’t try to change us, accept us for who we are.” "You are a treasure, but just make sure you stay fit and don't let yourself go, or else. . . " These are the types of things my dad would say to me and the type of lies I half-way bought into. The other half bought into the things my mom told me. I wanted to believe my mom, but I mistrusted her wisdom because of the things my dad would tell me. I was confused.

I decided to listen to mom because her message range true in my heart. I committed myself to living a chaste life. Well, living chastity through high school was pretty easy because I never dated anyone. Chastity is easier to live when you are not in a relationship because you just have to worry about yourself. You don’t have to try and convince a boyfriend to live it with you. I just never found a guy that was mature enough to treat me with the respect I knew I deserved.

I had my first serious relationship the summer before college. The guy’s name was Curtis. At first things were great! He treated me really good. He waited a whole month to kiss me for the first time. We went off to the same college together. I wish I could say things remained innocent and good, but they did not. Curtis and I never discussed boundaries in our relationship and because I liked Curtis so much and thought he really liked me, I comprised myself. We never had sex, but we did things beyond the proper boundaries for a young dating couple. What I thought was an expression of our love for each other soon felt like regret and guilt. I tried to talk to Curtis about it, but it was just too awkward for both of us. Our relationship began to suffer. We didn’t talk anymore and we grew apart. After 7 months, we broke up. I was left with a wounded heart that still from time to time bleeds. You never get over your first love completely.

To help heal the hurt, I had a few flings in the following months. None of them were healthy. They were all dumb. I was using them to fill the void that now existed in me. They did not help me heal at all. I decided to stop dating and let God help me heal. I decided to give myself time to figure out who I was as a woman. I transferred colleges. I started attending a great Catholic college that was eight hours away called Franciscan University. For the first two years, I did not date anyone.

In the spring of my junior year of college, I studied abroad in Gaming, Austria. This was such an exciting time in my life. It was so much fun getting to travel all around Europe! It was there that I took a course titled Christian Marriage. This class did a lot for me. It was the first time I came in contact with the Church’s beautiful message on the meaning and purpose of human sexuality and marriage.

And, it was there that I met Francesco. Francesco was from England and he had the cutest British accent. He worked at the university over there in Austria. When we only had a week left of school over there, he bravely told me that he liked me and wanted to keep in touch with me. We gave the long distance a try. Again, Francesco was so sweet and very kind to me! I was his first serious relationship and his first kiss. Again, because I liked him and thought he really liked me, I compromised myself physically thinking it was an expression of our affection for one another. I convinced myself that this time it was okay. This time it was different than with Curtis because Francesco was much more kind, he was Catholic AND we were not going as far as Curtis and I had! But again, guilt and regret soon followed and again it was awkward to talk about it. Regret and guilt made me feel insecure about our relationship and made me act in a way that was not myself. After a year and two months, I got a “dear john” letter in the mail from Francesco informing me that he didn’t think we that we had enough in common. I wrote him a letter back in which I agreed. I initially felt the hurt and pain of yet another failed relationship, but nothing hurts as much as the first time and as time passed God granted me His peace. That was just about a year ago.

I have had to learn the hard way how much not living chastity hurts. I have ruined two very good relationships through not living it!

This past year was my senior year of college. I decided to make chastity the topic of my senior seminar. I had to do a lot of research and again came in contact with the Church’s beautiful message on the truth and meaning of our human sexuality. This time the message really captured my heart! A passion for chastity and purity flowered in my heart and I yearned to be truly loved by a man in chaste way! I am so thankful for my job as a chastity educator because it gives me a chance to tell my little corner of the world about what I had learned the hard way! Not living chastity only brings regret, hurt and brokenness. Living chastity brings true freedom and joy!

I have recently started dating a guy named John. I have shared with John my desire to live a Christ-like and holy life. He admires me and likes me MORE for this! John has also been waiting for a Godly-woman to come into his life! We are a new relationship and still in the very early stages of our relationship, but things are looking bright for us. We pray together and we are concerned with leading each other closer to God. The lies of my dad will always be in the back of my mind and the distorted message of our society will always surround me, but I have chosen to ignore them and embrace the beauty and truth of my sexuality. I hope you will do the same!

Girls there are good men out there desiring good Godly-woman! And guys there are good girls out there desiring a good Godly-man! Wait for each other!

Pro-Choice Politicians and Communion

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) is a leading supporter of abortion in our government and a Catholic.

Catholics consider the Truth to be founded on three “pillars”: Scripture, Holy Tradition, and the Magisterium of the Church (its teaching and interpretive branch). The three branches, or pillars, are inseparable. It is what makes Catholics so special. When one willfully defies any of the pillars that person is culpable for that sin and perhaps more because his or her example may lead others into sin. Our politicians and notable Catholics must be held responsible for their misleading faith example. Nancy Pelosi is defing our Tradition and our Magisterium, which is based on Scripture and the teachings of Christ, when she continues to go to Communion while supporting abortion.

Bishops all over the United States have started to deny Communion to loose-cannon Catholics. Some Bishops are more vocal than others. For example: There is the recent, famous incident when the Archbishop of Kansas, His Excellency Joseph F. Naumann, had to asked Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to not present herself in the Communion line because of her advocating pro-abortion policy. This is a bold and brave move of His Excellency. I pray that more bishops follow his example.

The Archbishop of San Francisco has yet to make that statement to Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi stated that “It depends on the bishop of a certain region and fortunately for me, communion has not been withheld and I’m a regular communicant so that would be a severe blow to me if that were the case.” She is giving a bad witness to the faithful. It is important for every Catholic to defend the integrity of our Mother, the Church.

Brothers and sisters, pray for the integrity of the Church and that Her teachings may be respected.

May Christ always lead us in every action, word, and prayer.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Just My Introduction

Hey everyone!

Karen Courtney here! Just wanted say hey and wanted introduce myself! Thom and I have taken over Emily and Nicole's jobs and are now in charge of this blog. Thom has already done a great job with the blog so far! I hope to be able to contribute helpful and interesting information as well! God bless you all!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Tears from the Soul


One day recently at the Center I heard crying that can best be described as tears from the soul. A routine phone call to check up on a client who had been to the Center turned out to be anything but routine. She wanted to come in right away to talk. As she walked down the hall to the counseling room, tears began to come and weeping followed. From my office I could hear the crying and the anguish coming from this 19 year old woman. While I didn't know right away the reason for the crying, I had a suspicion. My feelings were right, she had aborted her baby and the abortion had occurred just 5 days prior. I have counseled several women and talked to men who have been through abortions, but what I heard on this day was so much different. I usually am dealing with someone who has hidden their pain and masked it for years. This young lady had a fresh wound. Her soul was still bleeding. The staff at the Center could do nothing but pray for her and the client advocate who was with her. A somber attitude filled the Center that afternoon. We knew she was in pain. We could almost feel it ourselves. The crying and weeping would stop and then begin again. For two hours this young lady poured out her heart and anguished over an abortion she did not want. She was forced into the abortion by a relative. She knew what she had done was wrong and now every moment of every day she was in pain. Our call that day to see how she was doing was a divine appointment. This girl needed someone to talk to. She needed to begin the healing process. She still has a long way to go but has taken the first steps. Those tears for the loss of her child were the first steps in this long journey. I can't help but think of all the women and the men who abort their children and the pain they feel. It is one thing to know that this atrocity of abortion goes on every day in America. It touches you in a different way when you hear the tears of sorrow that pour from the soul of a mother who has lost her child through abortion.