7 Quick Takes: 7 Greetings of “Happy Women’s Day” from a Politically Incorrect Full-blooded American Woman

Here we go again with our 7 Quick Takes Friday hosted by Jennifer Fulwiler over at Conversion Diary. We reciprocate links to her blog and then post 7 “quick-takes” on our blogs.

Solomon-with-babyInternational Women’s Day (IWD), originally called International Working Women’s Day, is marked on March 8 every year.  Started as a Socialist political event, the holiday blended the culture of many countries, primarily Eastern Europe, Russia, and the former Soviet bloc. In some regions, the day lost its political flavor, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. In the West, however, the political and human rights theme of the policies of the United Nations takes over—The UN as usual messes up a good thing.

1.  Happy Women’s Day to the American women that have been persuaded and lied to by a so-called “feminist movement,” which tries to convince them having an abortion will solve their “problem.” These women have suffered emotional and spiritual consequences because they believed the lie that abortion was a simple “choice,” one choice among many choices. Abortion is harmful to women. As a mother of two American boys, I re-commit today to raise them to support and love women. And instruct them if they God forbid get a young woman pregnant before marriage they are to encourage and love her, support her financially and never give her a reason to abort her baby.

WomenSaintsPoster6352.  Happy Women’s Day to the women in Africa who are being inundated with representatives from our country and the United Nations with slogans like, “Reproductive Rights” and “Reproductive Healthcare.”  The push to infiltrate developing countries with the “solution” of condoms and the morning after pill will no doubt create the same failed scenario we have here in the US—record numbers of abortions, children being raised without fathers, more poverty for women and children and deteriorating attitudes of men towards women sexually. And more importantly, these reproductive “rights” policies harm women emotionally and spiritually. Condoms have not solved America’s AIDS or STD problems, but we still push it on African women because we believe the lie.  I recognize the “good intentions” of these programs (to curb sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies) but the “results” are staggeringly unsuccessful.

3.  Happy Women’s Day to all the young girls and women here in Atlanta, who have been swept up into the sex traffic trade.  Atlanta is one of the top US cities for sex trafficking of young girls (and boys).  Despite valiant efforts of local and national authorities only a little progress has been made to stop this horrific situation. Prayers and money and an all-out assault on the organizations that engage and profit from this industry is greatly needed. And let’s publish the names of the men who are the “customers” of these abominable acts.

4. Happy Women’s Day to the underprivileged and poor women suffering real in-equality throughout the world. While money is funneled into “reproductive health care” initiatives for developing countries, real women are suffering real discrimination and inequality in places like Africa, Afghanistan and the Middle East. Women are raped, murdered, beaten and suffering from forced genital mutilation by a sick misunderstanding of cultural and religious traditions. If only the enormous resources and funds that go to the abortion industry would be directed to the real suffering women we could possibly change minds and attitudes in other countries. We could save many of these women from these abuses.

5.  Happy Women’s Day to all the tireless women (and there are many of us!) who without resources continue to pray, fight and advocate for women against the formidable and well-funded opponents like the Obama Administration, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and the women who grew up believing the lies that abortion is a “choice.”

6.  Happy Women’s Day to the working mothers in our country who struggle to balance work and family life. Tax policies in the US make it nearly impossible for single income households to survive and thrive, so women who would rather work part-time or stay home while their children are young are unable to do so and still make ends meet.  And Happy Women’s Day to the women who do want to work full-time but they stress themselves out and sacrifice so much to make sure their children have excellent, nurturing child-care; and they manage to give quality love and attention to their children despite the difficulties of balancing it all.

women friends7.  Happy Womens’ Day to my five sisters.  All of you are truly my personal heroes.  Each day you work and care for your families in ways that are heroic. Number 2, your tireless work with middle and high school youth to help them combat the pressures on them through your talents as a playwright and artist. Using art and drama, you bring these youth out of their shells so they can face and fight peer pressure and bullying. Number 4, your amazing courage and fortitude, leaving an abusive marriage and raising your son to be a fine young man despite his father’s shortcomings. Number 5, your hard work at the high school planning all the events, running the back end of your husband’s business, and running a household with three children, plus maintaining your ministry to encourage and instruct others on the Faith. Number 8, you amaze me. As young parents, you and your husband have relied on faith and hard work and have raised two amazing young adults who are sure to make a difference out in the world. At the same time you’ve moved up the ladder in your career, gotten a Master’s Degree and achieved so much success. And Number 11, oh my only baby sister! You are a brilliant doctor and your decision to stay home with your girls while they’re little took a lot of sacrifice but you didn’t hesitate to do it! You’re a natural and wonderful mother! You keep up with your continuing ed and are instilling your brilliance into your sweet girls—I am still blown away by how well they can read and their vocabulary at three years old!

7quicktakesSo that’s it. I know I’m not “politically correct.”  And I’m so glad I’m not. I’m so glad I didn’t believe the lie pushed at me growing up that feminism means abortion rights.  I credit my strong mother, her incredible example (she’s a doer–not a talker, like me) of devotion to her Faith, her children and her husband.  I watched you, Mom. I was always watching you. And I am so grateful for the gifts you’ve given me and the worldview you’ve instilled in me without saying a word.  I love you, Mom!

Number 9

Sunday Snippets: A Catholic Carnival

In Western art, vanity was often symbolized by a peacock,

In Western art, vanity was often symbolized by a peacock,

Hello, and welcome to Sunday Snippets–A Catholic Carnival. We are a group of Catholic bloggers who gather weekly to share our best posts with each other.  For this third Sunday of Lent, we’re linking up with RAnn of This, That and The Other Thing. My offerings this week:

Have you had “The Talk” with your middle-schooler where I wrote about having the alcohol talk with my kids is actually more important to me than having the sex talk.

In Thank you, Papa I say thank you and happy trails to Pope Emeritus Benedict.

In my 7-Quick Takes, I wrote about the 7 Things I like About Alcoholics Anonymous.

And in Dear God, I write a thank you letter to God for the blessings in my life.

So that’s it!  Head on over to the Catholic Carnival and add your own link to participate.  Be sure to check out the other posts as they’re always filled with such hope and inspiration!

Dear God

Iron Kids Triathlon, Alpharetta, Georgia

Iron Kids Triathlon, Alpharetta, Georgia

Dear God,

Hi. How are you? Thank you for keeping me sober yesterday and please keep me sober today, too–I keep following your instruction to do this sober thing one day at at time. I was surprised yesterday when I realized I will have six months sober on Easter. I’ve been counting the days and didn’t realize how many months had added up.  By your grace, I’ve been able to get back to my sober life.

After being sober for three years, I really didn’t think it would be a big deal to have wine on my anniversary. But since I hadn’t been to AA the last year and a half of those three years, I didn’t have the regular reminder that I can’t drink like normal people.  And it took me three years of trying really hard to get sobriety back before I have been finally able to. Please don’t let me lose this?

I look at those three years and see your lessons.  One of the things you taught me was that financial security isn’t something I can count on, nor should I.  And through all that, here we sit in a teeny house with our life downsized 2/3 the size it was before. I never want to go back to big.

The blessings in having this little simple life are enormous. The boys share a room. We all four share one bathroom!  What character you’ve built-in all of us from all this sharing and physical closeness.

In my downsized life I actually get the laundry done.  The laundry room is right there.  I walk past it every time I go to the bathroom or to my room, so it’s easy to just throw a load in or take a load out.

Remember in the old house, the 5 bedroom, 3 bathroom golf and country club house?  Remember how the laundry would pile up in the playroom so high that my Mom would have to come over and help me fold it all?  I felt like such an incapable mother that I couldn’t keep up with the laundry!

Waverunners in Perdid Key, Florida

Waverunners in Perdido Key, Florida

Working full-time then and trying to run and manage that big house and big life really was too much for me. Sure I could handle it. I won the sales awards and the sales contests. I made really good money and we had amazing benefits for our whole family.

But none of that worked for us. Husband, the boys and I were all always running around, low-level anxiety permeated all of us. It wasn’t until we left all that behind, on a whim almost, when we decided to purchase this 1300 square foot 1925 farm-house and renovate it, that life began to get simpler.

Not at first, though. All the work the house needed before we could even move in! We were still drinking, and I can still see some of the trim I painted drunk that needs to be touched up.

Settled now, for the most part, I started my own small marketing firm, took a few clients immediately and learned the ropes of my new endeavor. Then, I got pregnant–and the boys were out of school for the summer–I gave up the clients and focused more on our home and family.  I was really happy. Giving up drinking when I was pregnant was a no-brainer, piece of cake. It was fun imagining the baby would be a girl and finally having some pink around our house. I remember thinking how grateful I was to you, discovering we were pregnant at age 42–I thought this must be Your way of getting me back to sobriety. We had decided to name her after my mother, Elizabeth Claire.

But you knew there were other plans for me, the miscarriage and subsequent D&C–gosh all that was awful. All the blood and painfulness. I was so sad.  The boys were so sad.  But it wasn’t meant to be. And I was able to see that if that wasn’t your will for me then I am okay with that. There must have been a reason – beyond my understanding – for losing the baby.

I’m sorry I went right back to drinking. And it was worse, more. After two months of that Husband had had enough and he threw me out. And in those dark, dark days that followed, I quit you. During those days of unspeakable brokenness and tears, I finally, finally broke.  I even felt something break in my head, like a physical sensation. It was the moment I told you I hated you, didn’t want you in my life and that I had no use for you whatsoever and I meant it with my whole being. I completely 100% for the first time in my life ever hated you. I told you out loud that I consciously choose to kick you out of my life.

And then something broke.

family2But then you sent an angel. my sister Liz who took off work and took me into her home and showered me with love and all of her religiousness.  Everything in her house is touched by you–the crucifixes, the rosaries, the Mary statues, the prayer cards, all of it. She set me up in her son’s room for ten days and I remember staring at that picture of Jesus of the Divine Mercy that she had tacked up on the wall right next to my pillow at eyes height. I remember staring into Jesus’ eyes. And they penetrated me, warmed me, filled me. I remember telling you I was absolutely broken and scared.  And I started writing.

I filled two journal books in those ten days, and I smoked three packs of cigarettes a day LOL!  And my sister who hates smoking never said a word to me when I smoked full-time on her back deck! She even brought me an ashtray. And I wrote two full books full of talking to you, praying to you, begging you and reaching out to you.  Every day my journal started out with Dear God.  And you filled me like you had never filled me before.

Thank you.

Within two weeks, I was reunited with the family and within two months I’d gotten back into AA and started working the steps. And now here I am, dear God, writing to you filled with peace and gratitude for all the wonderful gifts of my life. If I had to plan my life, it wouldn’t have looked like this.  And thank you for that! Because if I had planned my life, I wouldn’t have the joy and peace that you give that surpasses my understanding.

Love, Reg

New Evangelists Monthly Meta-Magazine, March 2013

badge_new_evangelists_monthly

This is the March 2013 issue of New Evangelists Monthly, an informal, dynamic, crowd-sourced “meta-magazine” showcasing the best posts faithful Catholic bloggers publish each month. Here you will find many different, but faithfully Catholic viewpoints, insights and perspectives. Each issue publishes the first Saturday of the month. Be sure to submit your best post from February, as well. I look forward to reading the posts at the end of today!

Adopt-a-Cardinal: Prayers for Godfried Danneels

Adopt-a-Cardinal: Prayers for Godfried Danneels I have adopted this Cardinal and will be praying for him before, during and for 3 days after the conclave.

Godfried Danneels, from Belgium, born 4.6.1933. He’s been a Cardinal since 2.2.1983 and his function is: Archbishop emeritus of Mechelen-Brussels, Belgium

He is one year younger than my Dad and makes the 80 year old cut off for the conclave by just three months. In 2003, Danneels was voted “Most Remarkable Personality” of the year by Flemish television viewers. He speaks Dutch, English, German, French and Italian fluently. May my prayers for this Cardinal be deeply blessed. Adopt a Cardinal yourself at adoptacardinal.org

100 Followers!

Yay! Party! I just got my 100th follower!

Thank You, Papa!

full moon vatican feb 27 2013Just 24 hours left in the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and I am more in love with my Church and my faith than ever before. I’ve been pouring over blog posts from so many of you and eating up all the history and catechism refreshers.

I truly admire and love this Pope. I pray the conclave does God’s will and I hope God’s will is to bring a new springtime in.  What BXVI started in this year of faith really has created a mission heart in me and so many others–I don’t have to go to Africa or India to be a witness for my faith. I can do it right here in my little world, here in Alpharetta, Georgia and also here in my little place in the blogosphere.

Thank you Pope Benedict for your life of service to the Church. I am so happy you will be able to live out your days in prayer and comfortable brown shoes from Leon, Mexico.  XOXO, Number 9

***

“The upcoming Year of Faith is a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world” (Porta Fidei 6). In other words, the Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him. The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church.”

Science, Spirituality, Religion and Alcoholism

brain1“Science teaches us that the earth is not the center of the universe. Faith teaches me that neither am I.”

Growing up Catholic, by osmosis I instinctively “knew” that science and religion were compatible. My parents were primary proponents of education; and academic achievement was encouraged in our home. Additionally, my parents ensured we were educated in our faith, through parochial schools or Catechism classes.

Both science and faith were priority and entirely compatible. Nobody told me this. I just understood it to be true.

It wasn’t until I became an adult, when worldly views made their trek through my life experiences that I discovered there were those who thought religion and science were at odds with each other. I learned there were two camps: either life was guided by faith or it was guided by reason/science.

In recovery from alcoholism, I’ve encountered this same spirituality vs science phenomenon. The two schools of thought are either to take the AA 12-Step spirituality road to recovery or take the Science-based medical and knowledge road.

My Catholic perspective lends itself to me approaching recovery in an “all of the above” manner. And for me, my Catholic faith is the perfect bridge between the two schools of recovery thought: spirituality and science.

Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit, argued in a 1959 book The Phenomenon of Man that science and religion were two vital sides of the quest for perfect knowledge. And in his 1996 encyclical Fides et Ratio, Pope John Paul II wrote, “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.”

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “Methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, never conflicts with the faith, because the things of the world and the things the of the faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are”.

(this from Wikipedia): Catholic scientists (many of them clergymen) have been credited as fathers of a diverse range of scientific fields – including physics (Galileo), acoustics (Mersenne), mineralogy (Agricola), modern chemistry (Lavoisier), modern anatomy (Vesalius), stratigraphy (Steno), bacteriology (Kircher and Pasteur), genetics (Mendel), analytical geometry (Descartes), heliocentric cosmology (Copernicus) atomic theory (Bošković) and the Big Bang Theory on the origins of the universe (Lemaître).

Look no further than the Vatican Observatory or the Pontifical Council of Science to glean how the Church feels about science.

In his 2011 book, Hi-jacking the Brain, Louis Teresi, MD explains the science behind 12 Step programs. An alcoholic himself, Teresi  credits 12 Step recovery for helping him quit drinking. He had science and knowledge, but was unable to beat this disease because his approach at first lacked the spiritual component.

He grapples in the book with the paradox that alcoholism is an organic brain disease but with a spiritual remedy.  To his scientific mind, this spiritual remedy did not make sense until he experienced it for himself and was able to ascribe to the phenomenon in scientific terms.

The author uses examples from animal sociobiology, as well as sophisticated human brain-imaging studies to demonstrate that empathic socialization and altruism are instinctive and ‘naturally rewarding’ and, along with Twelve-Step Work, act as a substitute for the ‘synthetic rewards’ of drugs of abuse.

While his approach is commendable—and I love the book– it seems to me that science can never adequately explain why spirituality works. To me, it’s more than the internal workings of the limbic system within my brain that keeps me in balance spiritually. It’s God. It’s that power greater than me that fills my soul.  It’s not within me and my brain matter or synapses that keeps me from taking a drink. It’s my faith in God that enables me to do what I wouldn’t normally be able to do without God’s help.

Dr Teresi grew up Catholic, but now considers himself “Christian-lite.”  Perhaps it was his Catholic upbringing which provided him the foundation to embrace science whole-heartedly, achieving a Magna Cum Laude in Biology from Harvard and an MD from Harvard with an honors concentration in Neuroscience.

On my bookshelf are Alcoholics Anonymous (the Big Book), Healing the Addicted Brain, Hi-jacking the Brain, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Holy Bible, Catholic Catechism, Womens Guide to Recovery, 24 Hours A Day, Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius Loyola and Living Sober.  My recovery experience also includes today’s best addiction medications which helped get me going in the right direction in the beginning. Add face-time at regular 12 step recovery meetings to this and I’ve got myself a pretty good chance of staying sober today,  by the grace of God.

Discovering the Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary

10 evangelica virtues of mary

According to Pope Benedict XVI, with God’s help, the evangelical virtues forge character. What are the evangelical virtues?

I first discovered the them when reading about one  of my favorite saints, Teresa of Avila. I googled the term “evangelical virtues,” and there was very little information out there. However, in a transcript on Vatican Radio,  Pope Benedict XVI mentions Teresa’s intense program of the contemplative life...which at its heart were the evangelical virtues and prayer.”

In this year of faith, efforts to increase in these virtues is a worthy exercise. We are called to evangelize in a variety of vocations, as a mother, a daughter, a sister, an employee, a wife. Modeling our behavior on the Blessed Virgin is an excellent way to bring others to Christ.  Who more than Mary has brought more of us to her son?  How does Mary evangelize?

 Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…1Peter 3:15

These ten evangelical virtues are derived from a combination of the human, moral, cardinal and theological virtues, described to us in the Catechism. They are actually qualities of Mary, the Mother of God who by her example is the epitome of evangelization.

The Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary is a wonderful synopsis of Mary’s character:

1. Chastity (Mt 1:18, 20, 23; Lk 1:24,34)
2. Prudence  (Lk 2:19; 51)
3. Humility (Lk 1 :48)
4. Faith ( Lk 1:45; Jn 2:5)
5. Devotion  (Lk 1:46-47; Acts 1:14)
6. Obedience (Lk 1:38; 2:21-22; 27)
7. Poverty (Lk 2:7)
8. Patience  (Jn 19:25)
9. Mercy (Lk 1:39, 56)
10. Sorrow (Lk 2:35)

We notice in this list, there is no mention of being obnoxious when we evangelize others.  Quite the contrary, evangelical Catholics are to remain humble, be patient, prudent. Evangelizing to others is as simple as happily proclaiming our love and support for the Faith and the church. This is sometimes tough for cradle Catholics who grew up thinking “evangelism” was a sales tactic, associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses and Fundamentalist Christians.

The Catechism tells us, “A virtue is an habitual and firm disposition to do good. It allows us not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of ourselves.”

As Catholic mothers, we’re called to instill these virtues first in our children.  We don’t keep our love of the Faith to ourselves. We bring it into everyday activities.  We direct our focus into our own homes, become evangelizers in the midst of our work, the laundry, the dishes, diaper changes, the cooking, carpool, the cleaning and paying bills, our marriage. By pro-actively instilling these virtues in ourselves and in our children, we develop the character of Mary, rather than the character of the world—isn’t that our objective?

“It is far from easy to sum up in a few words Saint Teresa’s profound and articulate spirituality. In the first place St Teresa proposes the evangelical virtues as the basis of all Christian and human life.” Pope Benedict XVI

On the ceiling of the 18th century Marian Church of Gozlin, Poland, there is a ten-pointed star symbolizing Mary’s evangelical virtues dear to the Marians. Mary’s virtues are like the rays of a star enlightening our path and inspiring our behavior.

One way to integrate these virtues into your life is by praying the Chaplet to the Ten Evangelical Virtues of Mary.  Let’s get started.

Spirituality vs Religion

These are my thoughts based on my experience. I have sometimes felt out of place in AA because I am a traditional, practicing Catholic.  I love my faith and rely on my faith in my daily life.

However, in AA meetings, occasionally members will put down my faith—from their own perspective of course, and I am supposed to overlook this because I am supposed to have an open mind and realize each person has their own experience.

But this makes me feel uncomfortable.  I want to defend my faith… if they truly understood the beauty and the truth of the Catholic faith and the Church they wouldn’t be publicly (anonymously?) putting her down.

Many alcoholics in my meetings insist they are “spiritual” but not religious.

The whole “spiritual” but not “religious” thing bugs me.  I explained to my sponsor Amy that my spirituality is within the context of my religion—that the two are one and the same, not separate. To Amy’s credit, she was kind and suggested I was lucky to hold this understanding.  Many members, Amy included, were disillusioned by their childhood religion.

GK Chesterston said, “The purpose of having an open mind — like having an open mouth — is to remain open until you find something worth shutting it for.”

I can’t think of anything more spiritual than the holy spirit coming down to the altar and transforming the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ.  Or, the incense representing our prayers being raised to heaven.  Or, the meditating nature of the rosary bringing me peace in the midst of an anxiety attack.  Or, being transformed by grace while meditating in front of the cross.

No, for me there is no way to separate spirituality from religion.  In fact, it doesn’t make sense to do so unless I’m trying to convince somebody that religion is “bad” and spirituality “good.”

What’s wrong with religious?