Friday, July 31, 2009

Question Box Friday: Birth Control

Is it okay for married people to use birth control?

Birth control, within or outside or marriage, is wrong. The purpose of sex within marriage is to unite the couple and for procreation. Using birth is clearly taking away the idea of being open to children and it also puts a barrier between the spouses. Our bodies have a language of their own, for example a smile, a wink, a raise of the eyebrow. All of these signs from our body convey a message. Having sex with someone also conveys a message. What does it say? Having sex with someone is telling them with your body that you want to be with them, totally and completely. It is saying to your spouse that they can have all of you. So, using birth control is lying with your body. You are telling your partner that you want to give all of yourself to them, except you are using birth control to separate you from them.

Sex is meant to express love, a love that is free, total, faithful, and fruitful. Free means freely given, not forced, total means holding nothing back, faithful comes with a lifetime commitment within marriage, and fruitful is the openness to new life produced through sex. If someone walked up to you and said, “Nice to meet you” but instead of shaking your hand, they slapped your face, their words and actions would not match up. They would be lying with their body. It is the same with sex. When we say that sex expresses love that is total, we mean that it isn’t holding anything back. When someone has been sterilized or is using a form of birth control, then they are holding back the possibility of creating new life, their fertility, so their love is not total. The other person is then not receiving a total gift of their spouse. If we don’t have one of these four aspects of what sex being free, total, faithful, and fruitful then we aren’t honestly expressing the meaning of sex.

This does not mean that a married couple is required by the Church to have 20 children. There is a method called Natural Family Planning that tracks signs from the woman’s body, like her temperature, to determine what time of the month she is fertile, or able to conceive. If a couple has a serious reason why this would not be a good time for them to have a child (like the husband just lost his job, not that they hope to buy a yacht), then they would just abstain from sex when the woman is fertile. This way they wouldn’t be lying with their bodies or misusing sex, they would not have sex during the week or so during the month that a baby could be created. Couples who use NFP say that it makes their marriage stronger because they have better communication and need to express their love for each other non-sexually as well. The divorce rate for a couple using NFP is about 4% (vs. 50% for the general population).

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"Is There Hope for the American Marriage?"

I was more than a little surprised when I heard through our office grapevine that TIME Magazine’s cover story a few weeks ago was on marriage. Marriage? In the wake of affairs of such public figures, like Gov. Mark Sanford, I was pretty skeptical about what TIME would have to say about marriage, but I was definitely curious nonetheless. So I read it.

And I was pretty impressed. The author, Caitlin Flanagan, brought up several thought-provoking points. Here are a few of my favorites:

o “When children are born into a co-habiting, unmarried relationship . . . they arrive in a family in which the principals haven't resolved their most basic issues, including those of sexual fidelity and how to share responsibilities. Let a little stress enter the picture — and what is more stressful than a baby? — and things start to fall apart. The new mother starts to make wifelike demands on the man, and without the commitment of marriage, he is soon out the door.”

o “ . . . We want something like that for ourselves; we recognize that it is something of great worth, but we are increasingly less willing to put in the hard work and personal sacrifice to get there. . . A lasting marriage is the reward, usually, of hard work and self-sacrifice.”

o "The fundamental question we must ask ourselves at the beginning of the century is this: What is the purpose of marriage? Is it . . . simply an institution that has the capacity to increase the pleasure of the adults who enter into it? Or is marriage an institution that still hews to its old intention and function — to raise the next generation, to protect and teach it, to instill in it the habits of conduct and character that will ensure the generation's own safe passage into adulthood?”

You can access the entire article here:,8599,1908243-1,00.html

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Say What?

In order to reform our view on sex we must consider our thoughts, words, and actions. My last blog talked about how our thoughts can influence us, in much of the same way our words also impact us. If it is common for someone to speak of sex in a degrading or disrespectful manner, that person’s actions may also be degrading or disrespectful to the beautiful gift of our sexuality. Talking dirty may be something that is popular, but it trains your brain to think negatively about others and have this distorted image of sex. It’s not just how we talk about sex, but beyond that how we talk about people. Each one of us is created with a special purpose and deserves dignity and respect as a human being.

If we refer to a person as a “piece of meat”, that is clearly not treating them with the dignity and respect they deserve. Since we are called to love and respect everyone through our words, we need to train the filter between our thoughts and what comes out of our mouth. At first it may just mean keeping our mouths shut until we have transformed our thoughts to this new view. In the ideal situation, we won’t have any impure thoughts, and therefore won’t have the temptation to speak any of those thoughts.

However, I have a tendency to speak before I think. If you have a similar tendency, it will be important to focus on training your thoughts to be pure as the initial step. Most people find it is easiest to work on filtering what words you verbalize first. Before letting something slip out of your mouth, think about how it may affect the other people involved. Discern whether or not the comment is respectful of our dignity as human beings. If it is not respectful, we should choose to keep our mouths shut, or come up with something more respectful to share. Changing our words in this way will be able to trigger our sensitivity to our thoughts and impact how we act on these thoughts and words.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Quote of the Week: G.K. Chesterton

"Chastity does not mean abstention from sexual wrong; it means something flaming, like Joan of Arc. In a word, God paints in many colours; but he never paints so gorgeously . . . as when he paints in white."

- G.K. Chesterton

Friday, July 24, 2009

Question Box Friday: Dating Age?

Q: When is a good age to start dating?

A: Each person is different, so I can't say that there is a specific age that you should start dating. I can, however, give you a few things to consider in making that decision. First of all, I would recommend talking to your parents about this. They know you very well and can give you give you a lot of good advice. They truly have your best interests at heart, so it's important to respect them in this decision.

Secondly, keep in mind that there is no rush to begin dating. Statistics showed that only nine percent of those who began dating at the age of twelve would still be virgins by the time they graduated high school, whereas eighty percent of those who waited until the age of sixteen to date remained virgins until they graduated ( In other words, the earlier a person starts dating the more likely it is that he/she will become sexually active in high school. Also, keep in mind that the vast majority of dating relationships in high school don't lead to marriage, which means that your future husband/wife is most likely still out there - does this relationship lead you closer to finding him/her? How would he/she feel if he could see you in this relationship right now?

Joshua Harris once said that a person is ready to start dating when he/she can "match wisdom with romance." It's important to use your heart AND your head when deciding whether or not to date a certain person. It's also important to remember that when you begin dating you also begin building a foundation for your future marriage. Dating is meant to help you decide whether or not to marry a certain person; if you're still quite a few years away from being able to make that deicision and follow through with it, then I would suggest that you use your time now to build a strong foundation of friendship, rather than dating that person.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Purity of Thought

When thinking about a new view on sex, I feel like most people are only thinking about physical aspects of relationships and sexual intercourse. However, there is so much more involved than that. It is important to not only look at our actions, but also at our thoughts and words. There are other actions involved as well, such as the way we dress, the way we carry ourselves, and how we use our body language. When we talk about someone are we showing our appreciation for their value or are we using degrading terms. Do we speak of sex as a gift or as a joke? Indeed our words and actions are important, but I think it all stems from our thoughts.

Training our thoughts for sexual purity takes time and effort. It is natural to make assumptions and/or judgments when we first see someone. When we see someone with a smile, we may assume that they are friendly. If we see someone that is homeless, we may make other assumptions. However, if we practice making positive assumptions that show respect and appreciation for individuals, we are taking a step in the right direction. The opposite of these positive assumptions, would be negative assumptions that disrespect a person’s dignity or imply that we are lusting after them or using them for our own pleasure.

Our first task is distinguishing between the pure and impure thoughts. Next, we should practice having pure thoughts. When we see someone attractive instead of thinking, that person is hot I wanna get with them, we should look at them as a person and appreciate their true value. When impure thoughts occur, we can pray for them to go away and be replaced with pure thoughts. Changing our thoughts will have an impact on our words and actions.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Quote of the Week

“Man was created by love; therefore he is so disposed to love. On the other hand, he is so great that nothing on the earth can satisfy him. He can be satisfied only when he turns towards God. Take a fish out of the water, and it will not live. Well, such is man without God.”
- Saint John Vianney, Patron Saint of Priests

Friday, July 17, 2009

Question Box Friday: Sleeping in the Same Bed?

Q: My girlfriend and I have made the decision not to have sex until we are married. Is it okay if we sleep in the same bed (without having sex), though?

A: It is natural to want to be close to someone you love, and sleeping in the same bed, even without having sex, is very intimate. Lying so close together stirs up powerful desires and emotions within the person. You may have heard that sexual desire is like a fire; once it is lit, it’s can be difficult to control without proper boundaries. Lying together in bed is like lighting a match – it can be dangerous and difficult to keep the fire from igniting. Why take the risk? If you’re committed to saving sex for marriage, then sleeping in the same bed is not the best way to guard that commitment. Intimacy (and not just sex) is a wonderful thing, and it will be the greatest joy to share that with your wife. If this girl is the one that God has chosen for you, then you will have the joy of going to sleep and waking up next to her for the rest of your life! Until then, guard your heart and your body for her alone.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Speaking of Beauty . . .

Last week Cosmopolitan magazine hosted the 2009 Cosmopolitan Beauty Awards in London, where awards were presented to the top beauty products in the business. Awards went to the “Best blemish buster,” the “Best body-firming potion” and the “Best age-busting night cream." Reading about these awards made me smile, because I am always amused by the enormous amount of attention given to beauty products, designer jeans, hair salons, and expensive pedicures. The covers of magazines like CosmoGirl sport catchy headlines such as “909 Tips to Look Amazing this Fall” or “50 Ways to Get Sexy Hair.” Our culture puts an incredible emphasis on being beautiful . . . that is, on the outside.

Sadly, not nearly the same attention is given to inner beauty. While the war is raging on the outside to have the perfect body, complete with the perfect clothing and perfect skin, it’s sometimes hard to remember how incredibly important it is to cultivate one’s inner beauty, or focus on developing a beautiful soul. What makes a person beautiful? It’s someone’s dedication to growing in virtue that makes him or her truly beautiful. Every time you take steps to become more courageous or more generous you’re growing into a more beautiful person; every time you go to Mass or spend time learning to pray, you grow more beautiful; every time you come out of yourself and selflessly seek someone else’s good you become more beautiful. The closer you grow to Christ, who is Beauty itself, and the more you become like Him, the more beautiful you become. It’s your character that makes you a beautiful person.

This week we celebrated the feast of another awesome saint: St. Kateri Tekakwitha. This girl had smallpox when she was very young, and so her face was permanently covered in scars. Based on her outward appearance, others probably would have labeled her as “ugly.” This girl, however, truly had a beautiful character. She consecrated her virginity to Christ and dedicated herself to the Virgin Mary. The scars on her face miraculously vanished when she died, revealing a woman of incredible beauty. This quote from a priest always reminds me that true beauty is a matter of the heart and comes with great responsibility: “A girl’s real beauty is still within. It is a thing of her soul . . . It is something by which she makes men aware of the truth and beauty and goodness of God by reflecting that beauty and goodness herself.”
(Fr. Poage, In Garments All Red, 1950).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


This year the Church is celebrating as a Year for Priests, I subscribe to a daily inspirational quote from a priest. Today's quotation is about marital love and celibacy. I think this gives us a new way to look at our vocation and how we express love in marriage and celibacy.

Many people think that vocations are only to the religious life or the priesthood. However, each one of us has a vocation or special calling from God. Our individual vocation will help us most to grow in holiness and experience salvation. The main goal in life is to be in union with Christ. Full union with Christ will happen in Heaven and nothing on earth can equate to that perfect union.

Marriage however is the mirror image of the trinity, so in a sense marital love is the closest we get to experiencing that complete unity on earth. Many people through their marital love can find that complete union and bring their spouses to a deeper understanding of that ultimate unity which we will experience with Christ.

When people take a vow of celibacy they are putting that sexual passion aside and experiencing an even more intense passion out of their love for God. It can be viewed as a sacrifice but it is really a matter of love. Celibacy is the ultimate realization that nothing on earth can compare with our complete union with God in Heaven.

"Marital love uses sexual energy to express exclusive, sexual love between a married woman and man. Celibate love uses sexual energy to express inclusive, nonsexual love to everyone. Celibacy does not reduce love, but multiplies it. Celibacy is the hardest when one falls out of love with God.... Once we see it in relation to God, then it is less a problem and more a matter of love. Celibacy is not the absence of a passion; it is rather the intensity of a passion."
- Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Monday, July 13, 2009

Quote of the Week: JPII

"The person who does not decide to love forever will find it very difficult to really love for even one day."

- John Paul II

Friday, July 10, 2009

Question Box Friday: Boyfriend/Girlfriend

Q. What should you do if your boyfriend/girlfriend is getting carried away and about to go past your boundaries?
A. This is such a difficult issue, because you have feelings for your boyfriend/girlfriend. However, if your boyfriend/girlfriend really cares about you, he or she will also care about your beliefs. Stick to them, you know what is right and wrong, don't let anyone push you into doing something you aren't comfortable with. You should tell your boyfriend/girlfriend to stop. If he or she continues to push your boundaries, then I would seriously evaluate where this relationship is going. There are so many components to a healthy relationship and if your relationship is not healthy you should break up with that person. If he or she does not respect you and your boundaries, then why are they in a relationship with you? If someone really cares about you, then they will respect you and your beliefs. Know that you deserve the best and shouldn't settle for anything less than that!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

St. Maria Goretti: The Strength and Courage of a Pure Heart

Since I had the day off work, yesterday morning I woke up early with the determination to resist the snooze button and to get out bed and go to morning Mass. Some days I’m not a morning person, and today was one of those days. Well, to make a long story short, I ended up trying to go 8 a.m. Mass, didn’t quite make it, and by sheer grace ended up in a neighborhood near my apartment in front of a Church with a 9 a.m. Mass. Perfect. I was more than a little surprised, though, when I saw the celebrant walk out in a red garment. Red? It's a martyr's feast day? Who is it? As soon as the priest made the sign of the cross, I remembered. It’s July 6th - the feast of St. Maria Goretti.

St. Maria Goretti is one of my all-time favorite saints. She is a “modern” saint, dying in 1902 at the young age of twelve. St. Maria has an amazing story. Even though she was just a young girl, she had the strength and courage to prefer to die rather than give up her purity.

She grew up near Nettuno, a small city on the coast of Italy. One hot afternoon in July she was approached in her house by a young man named Alessandro, who tried to rape her. Maria refused to give up her purity, saying over and over again “No! No! It is a sin! God does not want this!” Many years later, Alessandro stated that at this moment something inside of him snapped, and he ended up stabbing Maria fourteen times.

St. Maria forgave Alessandro on her deathbed, stating that she wanted him to be with her in heaven someday. Alessandro had a profound conversion of heart during his prison sentence, and later he joined the Brothers of St. Francis.

Pope Pius XII gave a beautiful address on the occasion of her beatification, praising the courage and strength of this young girl. I read it often, and each time I am struck by the depth and beauty of this remarkable girl’s life. Pope Pius XII says that the characteristic virtue of young saints, especially martyrs for purity, is strength of soul. It requires great courage, he says, “to live firmly . . . amidst the baseness of the world. . . we must admire the strength of pure hearts.” It takes great courage and strength to stand up for purity and to live a life that is dedicated to protecting it in the world. It is my hope that we might all have the same strength and courage of St. Maria to live a pure, chaste, courageous life today and everyday :)

(St. Maria Goretti: In Garments all Red, Fr. Godfrey Poage, TAN Books and Publishers, 1950).

Friday, July 3, 2009

Independence Day

I have always loved the 4th of July, but as I was reflecting on what Independence Day actually means the following thoughts came to me.

What does it really mean to be free? How can we follow the teachings of scripture and the Church and still have that freedom? I have found in my personal experience that the more I learn and know about the truth, the more freedom I have to follow God's plan and live freely in His truth.

God loves us so much that he gave us free will, so not only do we have an independent country, but we also have personal independence. With this freedom comes a great deal of responsibility. The saying, "The truth will set you free," really speaks to how we can find that independence. We must live in the truth and act in the truth if we are going to remain free. If we abuse the truth then we will lose our freedom.

"Let’s thank God for our freedom, but let’s not sit by idly while the forces of darkness divorce freedom from truth." - Fr. Corapi

As we celebrate Independence Day, let's reflect on what we can do in order to bring more truth into our culture of darkness.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Introducing PCE's New Chastity Educators

Hi! My name is Alicia, and I'm one of the new Chastity Educators at PCE. I'm from Kansas City, MO, and I recently graduated from Benedictine College in Atchison, KS with degrees in Theology and English. Andrea and I are both very excited to be working with the center and can't wait to meet all of you. We've put together a list of our "favorites" so you can get to know us a little better.


Book: "A Severe Mercy" by Sheldon Vanauken
Movie: Pride and Prejudice
Saint: St. Gianna Beretta Molla
Ice Cream: anything Graeter's!
Book of the Bible: the Song of Songs or Tobit
Song: He's not Finished with Me Yet -- Brandon Heath
Color: Pink
Mysteries of the Rosary: the Luminous
Vacation Spot: the Colorado Rockies
Prayer: the Hail Mary
Food: Chocolate :)
Catholic Author: Pope John Paul II