Friday, December 30, 2011

28 Days on the Pill

Interesting to think about. How much DO we know about the birth control pill?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Lady Gaga: A Struggle?

I'm curiously and oddly fascinated by Lady Gaga. After all, she's catchy . . she turns heads . . . she's crazily successful in the music world . . . and she's a talented vocalist. And yet, that odd fascination is just that: odd. I can't think of a more odd persona than Lady Gaga in the music industry at the moment. Her music has always made me wonder, "What the heck . . . really . . . is up with her music?"

She's an interesting woman to take a look at.

I was glancing through this today, and this caught my eye:

"What we see in Ste­fani, or Lady Gaga as she is called, is a strug­gle. A con­stant inner con­flict, between express­ing and explor­ing her dark­est and most ter­ri­fy­ing thoughts and feel­ings, and doing what she knows is right and what will make her the hap­pi­est on the deep­est level, the level of truths that don’t change. It’s a strug­gle between find­ing a way to be unique while still try­ing to be pop­u­lar. It’s about fight­ing to expose the things we think are great about our­selves, while hav­ing a war with those things that hurt our con­fi­dence and self-​​image. . . We all do our best to present an image that will impress oth­ers, but when life presents ques­tions we can’t fig­ure out, where will we go for answers?"

A struggle. Lady Gaga's music, music videos, and the image she's created have always seemed to me to be one of a struggle - a breaking away from what is traditional in an attempt to create something, to rebel against something, a shock, to be a "goddess" in some sense, all in an attempt to get something she can't find. It's not something that is spelled out, but the struggle seems to be present. We all struggle. And then the question comes: where do you go for answers?

Read the whole article here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Dating Culture: A Renaissance

**Sorry, I thought I had already posted this!**
A while ago, I got to spend time with some of my favorite high school girls and guys—the kids in my home parish’s youth ministry. On this year’s Puritas retreat, the girls learned that they should be pursued, and were now asking, “Why doesn’t that ever happen?” They must not have been satisfied with the guys’ answers, because when I entered the room, the flustered kids all but demanded to know my answer. My initial thought was that more guys would pursue girls if they had male role models and if girls were more modest (I’ll explain another day). I still think those are two important factors, but the more I thought about it, I realized that if I were an average, well-intentioned, adolescent boy, I wouldn’t be pursuing anyone either.
I would pursue a girl if it was as simple as going on a date, non-committally, to spend time together and get to know each other better, but not if it segues into this weird, amorphous crescendo from friendship to exclusivity. Putting myself in the shoes of an average, well-intentioned high school boy who is interested in an average, well-intentioned high school girl:
They know each other and they’re interested in/attracted to each other—this is good and healthy. But then if he initiates any sort of “pursuit,” he’s expected to suddenly be pseudo-committed to her, even if all he wants is to get to know her better. Now they’re “talking but not official,” and there’s this unwritten rule that he can’t be “talking” with any other girl, even though they’re not “official” (I resent the term official here, by the way. There’s nothing official about being boyfriend/girlfriend). “Talking” nebulously escalates into something more serious, and the boy had better be happy with how things ended up because if he backs out now, he’ll be labeled a jerk and everyone will say he led the girl on. When, again, ALL HE WANTED in the first place was to get to know the girl!
I could go on and on, but my point is: no boy in his right mind would pursue a girl in the way that the high school dating culture encourages him to do so. It is purposeless sacrifice (considering the low number of high school relationships that lead to marriage).
In the last blog posts, I have set out to describe the dating cultures I’ve witnessed, from junior high school to college. The characteristic that weaves each group together is ambiguity. Neither parents nor the culture at large communicate an expectation of “how far is too far.” Instead of a clear dating vocabulary, we have adopted phrases like “talking” and “hooking up” that give multiple impressions of what is going on. Texting and chatting online tend to diminish authenticity, accountability, and boundaries. Where previous generations have had clear stages with understood social implications and levels of commitment, we have a total lack of structure. Unintentionally, today’s young couples often end up “sliding instead of deciding” into undefined, pseudo-committed relationships without purpose.
A riveting conversation with my grandparents (married since 1955) confirmed my suspicion that their generation was right on track in one place where my generation gets fuzzy. Imagine a world where you could accurately perceive the intentions of someone of the opposite sex. Envision going to a school dance and being certain that you both consider this a date. Picture yourself spending a couple hours at dinner with someone of the opposite sex without the pressure of misleading him. They had this clarity! We can’t rewind the culture to 1955, but we can pause and clean up this mess a little.
My fellow adolescents, I propose a change in how we roll. Let’s bring back definition and intentionality in how we develop relationships. I propose four stages with names and purposes that could help us think about dating differently:
  1. Dating: spending time with individual member(s) of the opposite sex
    Purpose: Developing friendship with one or more members of the opposite sex and
    learning the sort of person you would like to marry
  2. Boyfriend/Girlfriend: Maintaining a steady, devoted relationship with one member of the opposite sex
    Purpose: Deepening friendship while mutually discerning whether God is calling
    you to marry each other
  3. Engagement: Preparing to receive and live the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony
    Purpose: Deepening friendship with your fiancé, while making arrangements for your
    wedding and your marriage
  4. Marriage: A covenant or partnership of life between a man and a woman, for the purpose of the spouses’ well-being, and for conceiving and raising children. For Catholics, marriage is a Sacrament.
    Purpose: Helping each other get to heaven through family life
Approaching dating in this way will not solve all of our dating troubles, but it might open the door for more clarity. Once we understand what we’re doing and why, we can more easily recognize what behavior is appropriate, with whom, and when.

Monday, December 12, 2011

My Last Baby?

I found this on one of my favorite blogs today and thought it was worth sharing....Happy Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe!

- Pat Archbold @ the National Catholic Register

We’re not supposed to feel this way. We’re supposed to be the strong ones. Us men, we face facts, we see things as they are and we move on.

Except I don’t want to move on.

My wife loves babies. The smell of them, the feel of them. She likes ‘em chubby and happy. I do too.

My youngest turned four years old a few weeks ago. She is getting to be so big it is amazing. But her growing up creates a situation in our house that we have never had before. There is no baby.

Ever since our first baby 11 years ago, my wife and I have had a baby in the house. One baby didn’t get to 2 years old before a smelly little playmate joined the household. There was always a baby and that is the way we like it.

But the thing is we got married a little later in life and now we find ourselves on the back end of our forties. We thank God every day for the blessing of five beautiful children. We never imagined we could have even that many and I am eternally grateful.

As my little one celebrated her birthday, my wife made some comments about how she might very well be our last. We are always open to life, but biology is biology. At the time my wife spoke wistfully of missing that anticipation of a new life, a new family member, a new beautiful little person for us to take care of coming to us. She will miss it, she said. I would miss it too, but that is life. We move on.

So the last few weeks she has made a few remarks about how one day we will have grand-kids and how great that will be. She seems to be accepting it. Good. I laughed, but I didn’t really give it much thought at the time. But I did today.

At mass today, a young couple with a little baby sat right in front of us. I looked at the little guy and I felt this big gaping hole where my heart was supposed to be. I felt a sense of loss for the babies I will never have. I am not supposed to feel this way, am I?

I realized there and then how much I would have loved to have another one (or five) and that I don’t like the fact that the door to that part of my life may be closing. I don’t want to face facts, I don’t want to move on. I want to hold another little Archbold in my arms, a chubby little smelly Archbold.

My wife and I have been so blessed by a good God and if this is the family He wanted then so be it. And I am sure we will make great grandparents one day. But I think I will hold onto the crib a little longer. Facts are overrated anyway.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

TLC’s Virgin Diaries: Everything You Need to Know About Virgins?

     Well, no one can accuse TLC of false advertising. As expected, “Virgin Diaries,” was an hour-long, nearly painful display of awkwardness. Throughout the show I asked, “What do the producers want us, the audience, to think? How do they hope we will react?” The answer to those questions was pretty obvious: the six protagonists were portrayed as little less than a circus side show, as TLC implicitly hollered, “Step right up, ladies and gentlemen! Come see six real, live, abstinent adults!”
     The word of the day is syllogism. This may help you on the SAT. Wikipedia tells me “A syllogism … is a kind of logical argument in which one proposition (the conclusion) is inferred from two or more others (the premises) of a certain form.” For example, the producers wanted their viewers to arrive at the following syllogism:
Major premise: All the people on this show are incredibly weird.
Minor premise: All the people on this show are virgins.
Conclusion: All virgins are incredibly weird.
     Here’s the problem: the show focused on the one thing that all six people were not doing, having sex. This makes about as much sense as producing a show (and drawing conclusions) about six people who don’t eat broccoli or six people who have never had braces.
     A virgin may or may not be weird. A weirdo may or may not be a virgin. I have friends who have reserved kissing for marriage. Not one of them regretted it, and not one of their weddings imposed a moment of repulsion or discomfort upon their “dearly beloved” family and friends.
     I am a 22-year-old virgin, by choice. It’s not that I have never had the opportunity or desire to have sex, it’s not because I believe sex is bad, it’s not because I’m afraid of the consequences. I am a virgin because the virtue of chastity is such a worthwhile pursuit. I strive to be pure in my thoughts, words, and actions so that I can see others as God sees them, and treat them as such. I dress modestly because I recognize that my body is valuable and therefore worth protecting, and because I profoundly respect men who train themselves to look lovingly at women, not lustfully. I practice chastity because I desire to give myself (which includes my sexuality) to my future husband with as much integrity and wholeness as I possibly can. As a result, I live a life filled with confidence, joy, and freedom. I am enjoying this season of my life (which, gasp, does not include sexual activity) but I look hope to get married someday. When “someday” comes, I can guarantee you, I will not regret choosing virtue over “experience.”

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dating Culture: College

I began my undergraduate career at a liberal, secular college and finished at a conservative, Catholic university. Both were small, private schools in Ohio, but the two had vastly different dating cultures.
The first is a party school. A day in the life of a typical student consists of attending class, eating, exercising, studying, hanging out or partying with friends, and sleeping. A typical student is often a member of one or two extracurricular clubs, too. Outside of that, there wasn’t very much to do because the school is out in the middle of nowhere. I was blessed with great friends on the soccer team, though, so I was never bored. There are more girls than guys, I think about 3:2. People hang out in common areas such as the cafeteria and the student center, but spend most of their free time in each other’s living quarters (there are various types), which are either co-ed or have very relaxed rules on mixed company. I don’t recall a penalty for staying the night in the room of someone of the opposite sex. Although there are exceptions, hooking up is the cultural norm. Many girls have a “no strings attached” attitude on sexuality and don’t want anything serious. Contraception is widely accessible and widely used. Dates are rare, but steady relationships do exist. The school is tiny, so everyone’s news travels fast, whether they like it or not. Still, I had a very positive experience there overall.
The second is a profoundly Catholic school. A day in the life of a typical student consists of attending class, eating, participating in a faith community known as a household, studying, playing an intramural sport, attending daily Mass, serving as a regular member of a ministry, hanging out with friends, and sleeping. Most students are ridiculously over-committed. Obviously, boredom was not an issue there either. There are more girls than guys—once again, the ratio is about 3:2. Guys and girls primarily hang out together in the cafeteria, the student center, common rooms, outside (weather permitting), and other public places. Girls spend a lot of their free time in each other’s dorms or apartments, which are single-sex and have very strict rules on quiet hours, common room usage, and when/where a member of the opposite sex may visit. Although there are exceptions, chastity is the cultural norm, goal, and expectation. Many girls are there for their “MRS” degrees and hope for a “ring by spring”; that is, getting engaged by the time they graduate. Contraception is not necessary before marriage, and not a moral option afterwards. Many people do go on dates and there are a lot of steady, serious-as-a-heart-attack relationships. However, due somewhat to the fact that many students are actively discerning priesthood or religious life, and due largely to the ratio of girls to guys, and most people are single. This school is also tiny, so once again everyone’s news travels fast, whether they like it or not. Overall, I had a wonderful time there too.
The first school is a better representation of typical college life than the second. Colleges (especially larger ones) feature countless other cultural factors, from active Newman clubs to active Greek life. Going away to college is a blast, and it is possible to have good, clean fun anywhere.

Thanksgiving: For those who stand up for what is right, even when they stand alone.
Prayer requests: That leaders/administrators of colleges take seriously their responsibility to create an environment of true respect.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Leftover Q&A

We interrupt this blog series on dating to bring you answers to the questions we couldn't answer before the bell rang in some of our classes last week! All our students have the opportunity to anonymously ask us anything they would like about chastity (and anything else relevant to what we've discussed). We had such a great batch of questions and we were crushed when the bell rang! SO here are our answers:

How long have you been teaching/working for PCE?
Alicia has been working at the Center since June 2009. Kelly began in September 2011.

How/why did you get involved in PCE?
Kelly: I have been passionate about chastity education since I was in high school. When I saw the opening for this job, I knew it was perfect, and I was right! Working in the pro-life movement was an added bonus to which I was really drawn and that remains to be the case.
Alicia: I took this job because my decision to practice chastity in high school really changed my life for the better, and I wanted to work in area that I knew would truly make a difference in lives :) I love it!

Are you a virgin? Do either of you practice chastity?
Yep. We are both virgins and we are right there with you in the trenches, doing our best to practice the virtue of chastity!

Have either of you broken chastity? Would/do you regret it?
Yes, we both have made mistakes we regret. Impurity always results in heartache (at the very least). More important than regret is repentance. In the Sacrament of Confession, we have both found healing, strength, hope, and love. We have each been empowered by grace to begin again, and what a blessing it is to live the virtue of chastity!

How old is the youngest girl to come to PCE and found out she was pregnant?
The youngest clients we have had at PCE were 12 years old.

What do guys look for in girls?
A lot of boys, especially in adolescence, are focused on the physical. Rather than in building a lasting, healthy, balanced relationship that draws both people to God and makes them better, lots of guys are interested in what they can "get" from a girl. A lot of them grow out of that, which is a relief.
There are also great men out there who see women as God does. These men see each woman as a daughter of the King of kings and treat her as such.
It is impossible to be all things to all people, so my advice is this. Worry about what God wants you to become. Ask the Lord, "Help me become the woman you created me to be." The closer you are to becoming that woman, the easier it will be for the right man to find you!

What should we look for in guys?
If boys will be boys, then look for a real man! Here's some advice from a few of Kelly's guy friends:
A real man cherishes and respects the woman he loves.
Boys will say “I love you” to get girls to be physical with them. Some girls reinforce this by being physical in order to feel loved, but please don’t fall for it.
When a real man tells a girl “I love you,” he loves her for who she is as a Child of God, not for what she is on this earth.
If a boy gets a girl to be physical so he will say “I love you”, it’s a lie. “I love you” is not leverage.
For a real man, love isn’t a feeling or something he says; it is an action!
A real man would prove his love to you in what he does and how he does it. Only saying how he feels is not enough.
A boy will value a girl to the extent that he can see and experience her physically.
A real man will value going beyond physical features and value a girl for her personality, faith, and morals.

Do guys want someone who is more pure or who is experienced?
There are guys on both sides of that fence. Attempting to win them all over is setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. God has a perfect plan for you (cf. Jeremiah 29:11)! You are trusting him by pouring your energy into becoming the person he wants you to be. Let him figure out the rest! Live in the freedom that purity brings; don't fall prey to lust in the name of experience.

Where can we find chaste guys?
You deserve a man who has only one thing on his mind. No, not lust; doing God's will! The man who is capable of loving you properly is the man who is constantly seeking to love like Jesus. So what's the rush? A man like that is certainly worth the wait, and he deserves your patience. Learn to embrace singleness first. In the mean time, build the kingdom of God and enjoy being single! Loving yourself and others is a skill you will need regardless of your vocation and that is something you can learn right now. Get started on becoming a woman of God and let Mr. Right find you! Some ways to make yourself easier to find are dressing modestly, living and verbalizing your values, and spending time with peers who share your convictions. If you want to go where the good men are, I don't recommend looking for them in dark alleys, parties that feature alcohol/drugs, or detention. Try your local parish ;)

How do you know that you have the "right" guy?
There are several questions you should ask yourself:
1. Does this relationship make us both better people? Are we moving closer to heaven because of it or farther away? Remember that marriage is a vocation - your path to holiness.

2. Would this person be a good husband and father? Does he possess qualities that you hope your kids will have someday?

3. Do you both have a correct understanding of what a sacramental marriage is?

4. Is it love? Take the Love Test.

5. Pray about it! God wants the absolute best for you and will help guide you to your vocation and choice of a spouse.

Are you a virgin if you have oral sex?
"Technically" one loses his/her virginity when that person engages in sexual intercourse. However, keep in mind that purity is not just about the "technical" side of things - purity is in your mind and your heart - moving closer to God and authentic love and not of farther away from it. With that being said, sexual intercourse and oral sex outside of marriage are both serious sins.

If a guy wants to make out, should we assume he wants to have sex? Is it not practicing chastity when you kiss/make out with someone?
Making out can (and anything further does) prepare the body for sex. He may say that he doesn't want to go any further but, if he is aroused, his body is saying the opposite.
If making out causes one or both of you to become sexually aroused, then the boundary of "how far is too far" has already been crossed, purity has been compromised, and it's time to hit the brakes. Re-draw the physical boundaries of the relationship (take 2 steps back). If he has a problem with that, then his intentions are neither loving nor pure, and he can take that up with your dad.

Is getting fingered having sex?
"Getting fingered" is a type of masturbation and it is sexual activity, which means that outside of marriage, it is a violation of chastity, a mortal sin, and certainly not what is best for either person (ergo, it is not love).

My boyfriend thinks it's weird that I want to wait until marriage to have sex. He is not abstinent and wants to have sex before marriage. Is he the right guy for me?
See above for "Is this the right guy for me?" question.... I would ask yourself, "Is this authentic love?" Keep in mind that love is the action of doing what is best for someone else. And remember, marriage is your path to heaven! The issue of chastity is an incredibly important one to be "on the same page" with because chastity is a virtue and continues on in marriage - it has everything to do with loving rightly. Seek a man whose desire is to love you the way that Christ loved HIS bride - willing to sacrifice and lay down his life for you.

How many girls, after hearing how the baby is treated during the abortion, actually choose abortion? I [Alicia] don't know the actual stats for this, but at PCE I am guessing about 70% or more will choose life.

How can we make a difference and help abortion not happen? What are some things that we could do if we recently became pro-life?
1. Pray! We see miracles truly happen at the Center all the time...your prayers make a difference!

2. Volunteer at pro-life pregnancy centers. Even the simple action of sorting baby clothes moves us forward in our mission to protect life.

3. Bring the pro-life message into your everyday life - conversations with friends, facebook, school clubs, etc.

4. Educate yourself. There are so many aspects of the pro-life message:

5. Being pro-life is not simply about stopping abortion; it's valuing all human life. You can make a huge difference by your witness to seeing the true value of each human person - just by being present to them, loving them through your actions, respect etc.

Are there times when having an abortion is okay?
The only case in which it is morally acceptable to abort a child is when the mother's life is in serious danger, such as in an ectopic (or tubal) pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy, if not terminated, always results in the deaths of both the mother and her baby. In cases where the baby will survive, but the mother is in grave danger of death as a result of childbirth, the decision of whether or not to carry the child to term belongs to the family. In these cases, it is morally acceptable to terminate the pregnancy or, make the same choice that St. Gianna Beretta Molla, who sacrificed her own life for the sake of her child, did.

How many women die in childbirth these days?
This article shows the Maternal Mortality rate for the USA (16.7 of every 100,000) and many other countries.

How many types of STDs are there?
There are at least 25 different STDs (source).

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dating Culture: High School

     For a description of the dating culture in high school, begin with my description of junior high dating, and subtract a few more boundaries. Now add cars, cell phones, make-up, birth control, higher academic and athletic standards, access to alcohol, and plenty of hormones.
     The dating culture of my high school years was tacitly divided into three categories: single, couple, or hooking up. To their chagrin, the majority of students were single. I was single too, but I came to appreciate it, which has been beneficial both in and out of a relationship.
      “Hooking up” is an all-encompassing term for any sexual experience, usually outside of a committed relationship. Hooking up can refer to anything from French kissing to sexual intercourse. The girls who hook up usually gain a reputation for it, and are invited to a lot of the big parties. Hooking up often involves alcohol and a lack of adult supervision (or the “supervision” of adults with the philosophy that if their kids are going to party, they ought to do it at home). After singleness, hooking up was the next most common.The minority of students was in long-term, monogamous, boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. There isn’t much of a pursuit: a boy and a girl are single/just friends, then “talking,” then “official.” “Ken and Barbie are talking” is an ambiguous way of saying that they are paying extra attention to each other as they develop mutual crushes. “Talking” meant more flirting in person, on the phone, and via AIM instant messaging, which has been replaced by programs such as Facebook chat and Skype. In the past few years, “texting” has etched its way into becoming a sub-phase of talking.
     Talking was and still is the last step before dating/going out/being official/being boyfriend and girlfriend/being a couple. That usually consists of “just hanging out” and doing “whatever.” That could mean watching a movie at his or her house, inviting other friends over, walking around the mall, or anything.
     Couples enjoy one-on-one time whenever possible: between classes, at lunch, in study hall, after school, at parties, at each other’s houses, etc. There is no actual dating, except occasionally taking a date to a dance (and even then, you might be going as “just friends”). Although we had the means—some spending money, access to a car, etc.—real dates of any sort were and are very rare in high school.
     This post may seem verbose and/or downright confusing. That is because so many words in the dating vocabulary are used interchangeably. One word could have multiple meanings or no real meaning at all.
     The high school dating culture is ambiguous and fueled by hormones run amok. Need proof? If you ever go to the girls’ restroom during a high school dance, you will find that there is always at least one girl crying in there. It is the strangest thing! After spending time and money to look red carpet ready, Wendy McWeeperson finds herself surrounded by 3-5 friends, comforting her, re-applying mascara to her puffy eyes, and telling her, “You’re face isn’t that red. If I hadn’t seen you crying, I definitely wouldn’t be able to tell.”
     As I dived deeper into my faith, I became increasingly aware of how many talented, beautiful, unique, kindhearted girls in my school were looking for love, but wouldn’t have recognized it even if they’d found it. Every day brought stories of “He cheated on me,” “Did I tell you what happened at the party Friday?” “That blueberry has too many calories,” and “I heard they hooked up…”
There is absolutely hope for the high school dating culture. However, cleaning up that mess will require strong teens who know themselves, are committed to strong values, and desire the freedom that comes from establishing and maintaining boundaries.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dating Culture: Junior High

Heads up! This and the other posts in the series about the dating scene are simply my own perspective; it is not Church teaching, nor does it necessarily reflect the views of anyone affiliated with me personally or professionally. Okay, you can put your head back down.

By the time I was about 12 years old, most of my friends were “going out” with someone. It became clichĂ© for our parents or our friends’ parents to sarcastically ask, “Oh? And where exactly are they going?” We would roll our eyes at the irritating, patronizing, and embarrassing question. Sometimes, if we felt up to it, we would push back: “Mommm, it doesn’t mean they go places. They’re boyfriend and girlfriend. [Insert deep, exasperated sigh here].”
“Going out” in junior high meant couples held hands, talked on the phone, couple skated at Friday Night Skate, passed notes in school, walked around at the mall together, sat together at lunch, etc. Physical boundaries varied from hand-holding, to hands venturing to where they certainly do not belong. Many of the serious conversations were accomplished through a liaison, some mutual friend who would go back and forth between the boy and the girl, bringing messages such as:
“Barbie likes you.”
“Ken says he likes you too. I’m going to push him at you when we pass your locker.”
I desperately wanted a boyfriend. I don’t know if it was because I wanted to be just like my friends, who were the coolest girls I’d ever known, or if I thought that having a boyfriend would make me feel pretty. It was probably a mixture of the two.
Fortunately, I didn’t have a boyfriend during this period of my life. That poor boy would have been saddled with the burden of my insecurities—a burden that could only be lifted by God (and eventually was, when I allowed him to do so). Thank God, I grew up experiencing the love of Jesus in my home life; otherwise I probably would have been even more desperate for a boyfriend, and more disappointed if I’d had one.
Junior high is tough. Everyone is fighting to fit in, while balancing new freedoms, looking at different high schools, hitting puberty at different rates, and more. The unwritten law of junior high culture is: if you don’t want to get made fun of, the best defense is a good offense. Be exclusive or be excluded. If someone is making a joke that you don’t understand or that you don’t like, you had better laugh anyway, or you’ll be the next punch line. It’s no wonder that junior high girls want boyfriends to make them feel beautiful, popular, and loved*.
Dating is not the solution. A girl longing to feel beautiful and loved needs solid relationships with friends, family, and above all, with God. Interest in and curiosity about boys is normal, natural, and healthy. But why would we leave her to her own devices to figure out what to do with that interest? She may not always admit it, but she needs guidance. Instead of treating junior high culture like a joke, those of us adults who have a relationship with a junior higher ought to encourage her to practice her unique talents, improve at being a good friend, develop a relationship with Christ, develop firm values, and think for herself.
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it." –      Proverbs 22:6

*This statement is based on my own observations, experiences, and conversations with junior high girls.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dating Culture: What Parents & Publishers Don’t Know

What the parents of my generation seemingly don’t realize or weren’t prepared for is the fact that, at some point, dating structure and boundaries mostly went out the window. I’ve been through countless great books and programs about Christian dating/relationships that still operate under the assumption that teens date. In reality, dating has (d)evolved into a formless, nameless social scene. These otherwise great books and programs presume an order and a vocabulary that, in my experience, are more or less obsolete. As a result, parents and publishers are outdated before they open their mouths or type a word.
I’m told that knowledge is power, so my hope is that the next few posts will empower parents who might not realize how my generation rolls. My other intention is to encourage my peers to re-think “dating” as we know it, by taking an honest look at some of the dating cultures that we have survived.
I assume that most of my readers share my genes or at least know me personally, but for any outliers: I grew up in a friendly, middle class suburb, graduated from a Catholic high school in 2007, attended a very secular college, and transferred to a very Catholic university. I am 22 years old, and have always had close friends who have dated in every dating culture that I intend to describe. If this were a court, I’d be a witness. What I mean is that my perspective is that of a friend, not of a girlfriend (since my only direct dating experience took place in another country with a very different dating culture).
If you want the perspective of an experienced “dater,” I’m afraid you are reading the wrong blog. However, I encourage you to verify them with your son or daughter. If their culture doesn’t match up with mine, have them explain the differences! It would be a great way to deepen your understanding of their world.
Parents, your kids need you to be “in the loop.” They are probably more willing to talk about their dating culture than you realize, but they might not know how to talk to you about it. They might think that you won’t listen, or that you will react in an unloving way. I say this, not to tell you how to parent, but as a young daughter who has had to learn the benefit of discussing dating and sexuality with my parents and with other adults who share their values.
When it comes to teen “dating,” it’s kind of a mess out there. However, the mess can absolutely be navigated, especially if you know what your child faces, and how to dodge the traps that lie in wait to break his or her heart.

Please note: This blog is aimed more at teens, so if you think you know of a parent who would appreciate reading these posts, please send it to him/her. More importantly, this and the following "dating culture" posts are simply my own perspective; it is not Church teaching, nor does it necessarily reflect the views of anyone affiliated with me personally or professionally. Some restrictions apply. Batteries not included. Please see store for details.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Gift of Self on 9/11/01

Authentic love courageously perseveres and selflessly sacrifices, putting others' well-being first.

"To humanity, which sometimes seems to be lost and dominated by the power of evil, selfishness and fear, the risen Lord gives the gift of his love which forgives, reconciles and reopens the soul to hope." - Blessed John Paul II

Friday, September 9, 2011

What's in a Name?

In preparation for the upcoming school year, I have been redesigning and reordering many of the materials we use for the In Control chastity education program. I was particularly struck by one that lists some of the freedoms gained through practicing the virtue of chastity:

Freedom from:
1. Sexually transmitted diseases
2. Being used
3. Guilt
4. The hazards of birth control
5. Cervical cancer
6. Unintended pregnancy
7. The pressure to abort, the pain of making an adoption plan, and the demands of pre-marital parenting
Freedom to:
1. Build relationships
2. Understand sex and sexuality
3. Overcome temptation
4. Put others first
5. Follow Christ
6. Become who I was created to be
I couldn't help but notice that the first list is conditions/outcomes, while the second is free actions. Chastity often makes the difference between "ending up" with negative results and voluntarily choosing a course of action.

It's no wonder that our program is called In Control.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Nice to Meet You!

Hi, I'm Kelly, the new girl. I am 22 years old and the fourth of five children in a cradle Catholic family. I have played soccer since I was four, and I love to sing and make people laugh. For as long as I can remember, I have had the habit of twirling my hair and an irrational fear of needles. I laugh loudly and often, my favorite color is pink, my favorite food is sushi, and my pet peeves include morning radio and losing things.
I transferred to Franciscan University of Steubenville as a junior catechetics major and, in my two years there, I sang in music ministry, was a cast member of Pun Intended (an improvisational comedy team), and active in the household Carae Domini. I played varsity soccer my junior year, became captain my senior year, and served as the assistant women’s coach during my final semester at the University.
I founded Puritas Ministries when I was 18 years old as a response to my friends’ need and desire for an understanding of the virtue of chastity. Since then, with the help of amazing volunteers, I have developed and expanded the mission of the program to serve young women more holistically. The program continues to emphasize chastity with a wider focus on understanding how to be women of faith as God created each of us to be.
Spreading the message of the freedom found in chastity is one of my favorite activities, so of course I am super pumped to jump in the classrooms and talk to students in the Cinci area. Working with this beautiful organization (plus the wonderful staff, board, and volunteers) is a sincere privilege, as serving women is a deep desire of my heart. I am so pleased to be joining Pregnancy Center East as a chastity educator and I look forward to all that lies ahead. May God bless those who read this blog.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ten inspiring young Catholics!

This is great news for the Church . . . Inspiring to see so many amazing young people! Including Matthew Fradd of the The Porn Effect and Lila Rose of Live Action . . .

"Meet Ten Amazing Young Catholics." - posted in the UK Catholic Herald.

Friday, August 19, 2011


I love our Pope!


“Planted and built up in Jesus Christ,
firm in the faith” (cf. Col 2:7)

"In every period of history, including our own, many young people experience a deep desire for personal relationships marked by truth and solidarity. Many of them yearn to build authentic friendships, to know true love, to start a family that will remain united, to achieve personal fulfilment and real security, all of which are the guarantee of a serene and happy future. . . . Part of being young is desiring something beyond everyday life and a secure job, a yearning for something really truly greater. Is this simply an empty dream that fades away as we become older? No! Men and women were created for something great, for infinity. Nothing else will ever be enough. Saint Augustine was right when he said “our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you”. The desire for a more meaningful life is a sign that God created us and that we bear his “imprint”. God is life, and that is why every creature reaches out towards life. Because human beings are made in the image of God, we do this in a unique and special way. We reach out for love, joy and peace. So we can see how absurd it is to think that we can truly live by removing God from the picture! God is the source of life. To set God aside is to separate ourselves from that source and, inevitably, to deprive ourselves of fulfilment and joy: “without the Creator, the creature fades into nothingness” (Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 36). "
- Message for the XXVI World Youth Day, 2011

You can read his addresses and WATCH LIVE here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

So, what is it?

1. I am a girl. Which means that I am partial to chick flicks, enjoy chocolate quite frequently, and just so happen to love the color pink, and really like flowers. [Not that you have to be into chick flicks, chocolate and the color pink to be a girl, but it hasn't hurt me yet.]
2. I am a chastity educator. Which means that I spend large quantities of my time and energy talking about, thinking about, blogging about, and reading about the subject of LOVE. [Because chastity has everything to do with authentic love. It does. Think about it. For a very long time.]
2. I love love. Real love - not just the chick flicks that are saturated with it [all you have to do is read the synopsis of Crazy, Stupid, Love - which speaks for itself. But I won't even go there...] or the Valentine's Day roses, or even the chocolate. We are literally surrounded with the idea that love is a feeling . . . that it's the fireworks, the infatuation, the chick flicks, Katy Perry's songs etc. Not that loving sappy chick flicks or flowers is bad . . .

But. True love? Real love?

Check this out. I have read this at least three or four times today (remember, I am a chastity educator) but it is absolutely beautiful. Beautiful. Deep down, I think we all realize that we're called to more than what we're surrounded by. Especially when it comes to love. Because this is what we were MADE for.

Just to give you an idea . . .

One day two disciples were walking down a dusty road with their Teacher, and the conversation turned toward marriage, and how the only enduring foundation for marriage is true love.
“Teacher,” one of them asked, “please tell us, What is true love?”
And the Teacher said to them,
“If a man and a woman find joy in one another’s presence,
if they can scarcely keep themselves apart,
if to her,
He is like the sun rising in its strength and beauty,
if she loves to hear his voice, to look at Him and to feel his arms around her,
and if to him,
She is like the moon and ten thousand stars shining on a summer’s night,
or like the fragrance of roses at dawn….
if her touch is like magic and her kisses sweeter than wine,
if they love to laugh together, sing together, dance together, cry together—
this is a gift from God, it is good.
But, I tell you solemnly, this is not true love . . . "
So what is it? Find out.

Friday, August 5, 2011

"The King's Men" Fight Porn

The title of Dave Dinuzzo's blog post the other day caught my eye: "Local Group Takes Porn Protest into Adult World . . . " These men have dedicated their time and energy into showing the world what Real Men look like - and it's making a difference.

Check out Dave Dinuzzo's website and blog Incidentally, Dave is also a fellow Benedictine College grad - Go Ravens!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The "Feminine Genius"?

The "feminine genius" . . . this whole summer during True Beauty we've talked about what John Paul means by this term. As I was reading John Paul II's "Letter to Women" recently these words jumped out at me - words that embody the "feminine genius" and the dignity of women that he speaks of so often: motherhood, obedience, help, mystery, service, complementary, human, beauty and love.

Read "Letter to Women" here - it's short, easy-to-read, and packed with JP2 goodness!

"The basic plan of the Creator takes flesh in the history of humanity and there is constantly revealed, in the variety of vocations, that beauty-not merely physical, but above all spiritual-which God bestowed from the very beginning on all, and in a particular way on women. . . The Church sees in Mary the highest expression of the "feminine genius" and she finds in her a source of constant inspiration. Putting herself at God's service, she also put herself at the service of others: a service of love. " - "Letter to Women" by Pope John Paul II

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Leah Darrow: "The Real Beauty is Truth"

I just ordered this from Catholic Answers today, and I am pretty excited to check it out. Leah Darrow has been on the speaking circuit for the past year or so, and this is her new video:

Leah Darrow has an awesome strory - the title of this DVD says it all: "From Top Model to Role Model." Leah was on "America's Next Top Model" before she experienced a huge transformation of the heart and came back to her faith. I think her witness is set to make a huge impact on our youth today, especially for young women, because I believe that beauty is incredibly misunderstood, and very one-sided, in our culture today.
This interview on EWTN's "Life on the Rock" is fantastic to take a look at, too. She pretty much hits it all - her testimony, fashion, the reality of "reality TV," the brokenness in the beauty industry, and purity.

"The human being is single, unique, and unrepeatable, someone thought of and chosen from eternity, someone called and identified by name" ... ~ Bl. Pope John Paul II

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

THE EUCHARIST - an amazingly intimate encounter with God!

Last night in Theology of the Body for Teens we talked about the Eucharist and marital love - "This is my body given for you" (Lk 22:19). This YouTube video does a great job of explaining it! Also, Jackie Francois is an amazingly gifted singer - I really enjoy hearing her music and reading her blog....

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Want to Change your View on Sex?

Come to PCE for the summer!

Theology of the Body for Teens

Looking for a way to learn about chastity, eat FREE Chipotle, and meet new friends?

Who: All male and female teens who are incoming high school freshman through incoming college freshmen.

When: We are offering two separate five-week classes on Mondays and Wednesdays from July 11th - August 10th. The afternoon class will meet twice a week from 1– 3 p.m. The night class will meet twice a week from 6—8 p.m.

Where: Pregnancy Center East @ 3944 Edwards Rd in Cincinnati. (513) 321 –8584.

Cost: The program is free and includes lunch or dinner and a copy of the workbook.

More Info: If you are interested or would like to register, please contact Alicia at 321-8584

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Thoughts on Marriage and Modesty . . .

There are some days that I really, really enjoy reading Simcha Fisher's blog over at the National Catholic Register. Today was one of those days.

Head over to see why!

1. Fast Girls: these high school girls who dressed modestly did better in track meets.
2. Should I Marry Him? (Or, ladies, should you date him?) Good answers to a classic question.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Theology of the Body for Teens Essay Winners

Kudos to these teens for their inspiring essays on how Theology of the Body has impacted their lives as young men and women in today's culture. The winning essay is "The Search for True Manhood" and can be found here.

Friday, May 27, 2011

"He's My Hero."

A beautiful witness to authentic love. This is a clip of a husband who gave his life to save his wife from the destruction of one of the recent tornadoes in Joplin, MO. You can see the interview with his wife, Bethany, here.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Is Chastity Possible?

Check out this video made by Salt and Light Television, a Catholic media source. This video was made in response to the pastoral letter on chastity put out in January by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. The letter can be found here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"She was going to give this baby every chance she could . . . "

Speaking of sacrifice and love, this is a beautiful story that just came out of a young woman with cancer who chose to sacrifice her own life in the hope that her unborn baby would be given a chance to live. Her baby "baby Jessi" was delivered by C-section at 23 1/2 weeks, weighing in at 1 lb 3 oz. Doctors say that she is doing well.

I was really struck by her husband's perspective - what a great amount of love and sacrifice it must have taken on his part, as well.

He recently blogged "A Note about Questioning God" and ends it with:

"Those who are hurting, be comforted. God knows that we are dust. God gave us emotions, and He knows that life is full of pain. He hears our questions; He collects our tears; He felt our pain as He became sin for us on the cross. He does not turn up his nose to our questions. True, He may not answer our questions directly, but He does not despise us for them. In the end, my Friends, all we can do is put our hands over our mouths and worship and trust Him with our lives. God is good all the time."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Suffering and Love

It's Holy Week! Hands down one of the most amazing weeks of the year. This year I'm staying "home" here in Cincinnati and am getting pretty excited to experience Holy Week at my parish, and all of the Cincinnati traditions that come along with Holy Week and Easter.

So, it's been a little while since I've blogged. But I knew right away what I wanted to talk about: suffering and love.

I think a lot of the time we have a somewhat skewed vision of what love honestly is. When I ask someone in "In Control" what love is about nineteen times out of twenty someone will respond "it's a really strong feeling when you really care about someone." That's not bad, but we're missing something important: love isn't just about feelings. Love is a choice, a decision to put someone else above yourself. Or, in other words, it's about sacrifice.

I was reading an amazing book this week called I Believe in Love, and in this book there is an awesome thought: "What is a love that does not prove itself? I told you that love is a choice. What merit is there in choosing Jesus if we only have to follow Him on a path of roses? How would we know if it was He or the roses on the pathway which we were following?" Love proves itself in suffering. I think Holy Week is a great time to reflect on this. What is my attitude towards the Cross? What is authentic love? It is not simply the roses, but the suffering, too.

"See, I will not forget you. I have carved you in the palm of my hand." ~ Isaiah 49:15.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Goodness Reigns ~ Beauty

Check it out! This video clip comes from Goodness Reigns, a short film contest for teens/young adults on the Catholic faith and what makes it so awesome. The contest runs from April 1 - May 1, 2011 and the winner will receive $1,000 in cash. There are tons of topics in these videos (confession, the sacraments etc.) but here's one that focuses on authentic beauty from the inside out. "Remember, take care of your body and your soul because I am in your heart."

Friday, March 11, 2011

The short biography of Ke$ha

Kesha Rose Sebert was Born in 1987 and is currently a pop singer and pop icon recognized as Ke$ha. She was not always the seductive, foul lyriced girl she is today, here is a short biography.

Kesha lived with her older brother and mother in Los Angeles, CA and her mom was a struggling songwriter that was rather unsuccessful. The family lived off welfare and food stamps, on her website she says "One of my first memories is my mom telling me, 'If you want something, just take it.'" When Kesha was 4, she moved to Nashville with her family, where her mother landed a songwriting contract.

Kesha went to music school and spent a lot of time with her mother in recording studios singing and making demos being very inspired by country music (wouldn't of guessed that one, huh!?) Kesha dropped out of high school at 17 to pursue her music career and moved back to Los Angeles and changed her name to "Ke$ha". She started out by being back up vocalist for Brittney Spears and Paris Hilton (both wonderful influences for a 17 yr old drop out... NOT!)

How did she make it BIG, then? She dropped an unpaid cameo in Flo Rida's hit song "Right Round" (Possibly the gnarliest and dirtiest song of that year) She then got a record contract with RCA and began pumping out her first album "Animal".

Ke$ha's lyrics are very dirty and trashy and there is nothing more sad than walking into a 6th grade class and asking the kids who they listen to and all of the girls yell out "Ke$ha!" has a documented conversation about her fans and her suggested lyrics. "I'm not a babysitter," the singer says. "It's their parents' responsibility to take care of them." For Ke$ha, her life provides much of the inspiration for her songs. "I'll go out with my friends and get rowdy . . . I'm not sorry, and I will write about it."
The album, "Animal" reached the top of the billboard charts after its release in 2010. In addition to "Tik Tok," Ke$ha has even more big hit singles "Blah Blah Blah" and "Your Love Is My Drug."

Rocky, why are you writing about Ke$ha? Look, the reason i am putting putting out biographies on pop icons is because we all need to realize that first off, these people are normal human beings, they get sad, money does not make them happy, they are not God, they should not be your idol and they all are fake for the cameras and to be "famous/infamous".

When you live on welfare and move around with your mom growing up in recording studios, it is hard to not want to be a famous singer to make your parent proud. As a high school drop out looking for a way to survive, when you come along and start hanging with super rich Britney and Paris, you are going to be influenced. Have we not had most of our bad influences come from older "friends"?! You want to fit in, be cool, be like them. Way to go Ke$ha, you are just like them and now thousands of middle school girls want to be just like you, seductive, trashy, drunk and no respect for your sexuality or your beautiful soul.

Info found at:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Latest Stats Say. . .

. . . That most teens are abstinent. The CDC released a study recently that confirms that the majority of teens are not having sex.
The stats:
  • 68% of boys and 67% of girls between the ages of 15 and 17 have never had sexual intercourse
These numbers are up from 2002, which said that 46% of boys and 49% of girls had never engaged in sexual activity.

You can read the full report here.

"Women We Love" Bares Lingerie, Not Souls

"It distracts us from the truth and scatters our power. It's one big acid trip fantasy with no connection to improving our lives, being good fathers and husbands and advancing our careers." Tom Matlock at the Huffington Post posted an interesting article recently that caught my eye. . . "Esquire's Women Bare Lingerie, Not Souls." His response to Esquire's popular "The Women We Love" feature challenges men to consider the dangers of lust, masturbation, and porn and to ask, "What is it that we love about these women? Their twirling-banana-swing fantasies? Their factory-fresh "breasts"? Their naughty smiles? Are those things truly what men at their best love about women?"

Saturday, March 5, 2011

'Satan should hold a party when we die'

Well worth a look! A few days ago the UK's Catholic Herald ran this article about Matthew Fradd, a twenty-eight year old who battled a porn addiction and started the website to help others who are fighting to overcome the same addiction.

“We want to be the kind of men that, when we’re dead, Satan throws a party. He says: ‘Thank God he has gone, he caused my kingdom too much damage.’ That’s the kind of man I want to be. And I think that’s the kind of man most men want to be.”

Friday, March 4, 2011

Katheryn Hudson a.k.a Katy Perry

I love seeing where people came from, why people do what they do and act like they do. Everyone loves a good story right? Well here is a quick Bio about a girl named Katheryn and how she came to be known as the (in)famous Katy Perry.... buckle your seat belts cause its quite the tale.

Katheryn Hudson, originally from Santa Barbara moved to Nashville with her parents when they got a recording contract to put out a GOSPEL ALBUM! Katy Hudson put out her first album at 16 in 2001... it was a Christian Pop Album! It didn't go too well and in 2008 she ditched her Christian fan base and moved onto Capital Records changed her name to Katy Perry (she didn't want to be confused with the actress) put up a bunch of pin up photos and her big debut song "I kissed a girl"... she continues her fame and later puts out a new album with "California Gurls" and "Teenage Dream" etc...

Blah Blah Blah... My point is this, Fame and Spotlight can destroy a person. It can make them loose their morals and can turn you against yourself for the sake of vanity. Brothers and sisters, I fear too many of our neighbors are dying to be recognized, long to be on the spotlight... and they are willing to drop all morals and respect to do so (see image below, haha, partial joke, but not really).

This biography is just a friendly reminder, you can grow up Christian, you can even put out a Christian Album, but Satan will offer you anything you want if you are willing to submit to the world.I am in no way judging her, just using her as an example of how the Devil can use those on the right path and flip around their desires. Whether or not she goes to Church every Sunday or whatever, her music and appearance speaks for itself.

Information taken from: