3 Arrow Prayers to Keep in Your Back Pocket

I was at the gym after just finding out we were pregnant with #4; this baby was a surprise, so I was feeling uneasy and anxious. My gym-friend came by to say hello and asked how I was doing. I told her the truth.

“We just found out we are pregnant with #4. We are happy, but honestly, I am also really scared. Will you pray for me?”

This friend is a special person. She is not like most people who say, “Of course! You’re in my prayers.” Nope. She stopped everything she was doing right there in the locker room and extended her hands over me while she prayed a beautiful prayer out loud for the whole world to hear. She finished by saying, “If I don’t pray over someone right when they ask, I always forget.”

Most people won’t do that. I have never done that. I am the one who says, “Yes! I will be praying for you!” And, not to toot my own horn, but I follow through. I used to forget. I used to tell people I would pray for them, and that was nothing more than a platitude. So, I had to come up with a better method.

These perfect prayer life hacks will be music to your ears. Never forget to pray for someone again! You organize every other part of your life; try organizing your spiritual life. | i love you |

I came up with three prayers that work in just about any situation where prayer is called for. I can quickly offer up these words for someone in need and do my merciful duty right on the spot. I mean, I can always pray more later, but at least I know I have put in a good word for that person already.

So, what are these three prayers?

Lord, have mercy.

Someone’s Facebook status is asking for prayers for her mom who just had a heart attack. A friend’s husband is being laid off. Another tragedy has taken place in the world. “Lord, have mercy.” This is a way for us to ask God to be kind and forgiving toward us and to help us in our time of need.

May perpetual light shine upon him.

Praying for the souls in purgatory is so important. They cannot pray for themselves. We need to do our duty to pray them into Heaven. Whenever I hear of a death (an acquaintance, friend of a friend, a celebrity, a world event), I offer up this prayer.

God is good!

And, it’s always important to thank God. When you or someone else is celebrating good news or an accomplishment or a blessing, let God know you recognize his goodness!

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Now, can we always pray this way? Is this type of arrow prayer* a great substitute for thoughtful time with the Lord? Um, no. But, when we say these three short prayers with sincerity, we can assure that God hears us, and he honors those prayers. We can never forget to pray for one another!

*quick prayers we shoot up to God in the midst of our day

Fighting for Our Marriage: The Secret Weapon

Happy 48th birthday, Humanae Vitae! Read my thoughts along with Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop Chaput, Sister Helena Burns, Tommy Tighe, Sheila Liaugminas, and Janet Sahm Easter. A donkey among horses, I am.

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Do you know what creates the tightest bonds? A common goal. Or a common enemy, if you will. My husband and I are on the same team fighting the same fight – and no, the opponent is not natural family planning. Instead, that is our weapon.

Every single day we must choose to stand together and fight off the culture of death in the media, in the people we know and in ourselves. We have to humble ourselves when we find out we are pregnant with our fourth after broadcasting that we wanted to take a break from having kids for a few more months.

Read the rest here.

And follow Couple to Couple League in the following places:

 

 

Should Catholic Makers Share Their Business Secrets?

You put hours of work and research into your crafts, and then someone emails you with, “Could you share how you make your product?” What is the Catholic answer to this situation? It might be a little different than your instinct.

Like most things in life, I don’t think there is a prescriptive “Catholic” answer to situations like this. Womp womp. So, I decided to ask my husband, and he came up with some bangers.

You put hours of work and research into your crafts, and then someone emails you with, “Could you share how you make your product?” What is the Catholic answer to this situation? It might be a little different than your instinct. | diy | diy crafts | life hacks | etsy tips

photo credit | dollar photo club | nikolaydonetsk

So, Mike’s company makes parts for planes that are often used in combat. It is a top secret 007 facility, so they don’t share industry secrets because it is a matter of national security (much fancy). The processes of his company also create jobs for thousands of people, so sharing those things would eliminate the livelihood of tons of people.

Those reasons seem pretty obvious. If it is a matter of security or livelihood for your family or business, then, no, it might actually be wrong to share your secrets.

What about something with lower stakes like personal recipes? If a friend asked you for your recipe at a potluck, 99% of time you would share it. But maybe you don’t want to share your secret sauce because it is special to you – it makes you stand out. And that’s ok to keep it to yourself.

Is what you’re doing something very special to you that makes you unique? In this case, you can choose whether or not to share, and either way is equally fine.

Sometimes the info that you’re being asked for can easily be looked up; it might be public knowledge. While it may be annoying to have to answer these questions for someone when you took the time to figure it all out yourself, the charitable thing may be to share the information or point the person in the right direction to finding it.

Then again, the time that you put into research and development is part of the product cost. If the hours that you put into trial and error and picking and choosing is integral to the quality of your product, sharing might jeopardize that.

Think about the goal of your business. Is it to help humanity in some way? The CEO of Tesla, Elon Musk, put it this way: “If we’re all in a ship together, and the ship has some holes in it, and we’re sort of bailing water out of it, and we have a great design for a bucket, then even if we’re bailing out way better than everyone else, we should probably still share the bucket design.”

But maybe your goal is to make some extra money for your family. Is divulging information about your craft going to dilute the field and take away from your income? Or perhaps you just create for fun, and there is no consequence for giving up that knowledge.

In the end, whatever you decide, you do need to respond to inquiries in a Catholic way. It ends up being more about why you choose whether or not to share trade secrets and how you go about interacting with the person asking.

Has this ever happened to you? What was your response?

Check out my shop for your embroidery needs and anxiety remedies.

Color Me Prepared

disclaimer stuff: got a product, words are mine, etc.

The little Christmas tree the kids begged me to keep up until Candlemas (hello and goodbye…), is mocking me in the corner. It knows Lent starts next week. Next. Week. As in the 10th.

What are you going to abstain from? How are you going to make it meaningful? What are your grand plans for sainthood? I don’t know!

I do have the coloring pages covered. We all know coloring pages are code for “I don’t have my act together, but I want to live liturgically with my kids.” (p.s. I am working on a new book for families called The Lazy Liturgical. Keep your eye out for it.)

But what if coloring pages weren’t lame, and they were actually thebomb.com, or more specifically, illustratedchildrensministry.com?

The kids and I plan on working through An Illustrated Lent for the next 40ish days. Coloring is my jam, and my kids share the love too. It’s the one thing I do right as a parent. (And if you’re looking for over-achiever status, try the Family Edition package with easy and adorable devotion pages.)

And these suckers are HUGE. Check it out. There are nine of these bad boys:

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2ft x 3ft x 2 cute feet

These nine original, meditative coloring posters each have a word in the middle to use for reflection, meditation and discussion. I can do that.

So, you just need to go over and get them now. Because Lent is next week. Next Week. And use the promo code CALLHERHAPPY for 20% off because I’m magic like that.

 

 

30th Birthday Mess

Instead of writing a bunch of separate posts, you get this big old mess of a post, but it’s my (30th!!!) birthday today, so maybe just roll with me?

Dia de los Muertos

Today is All Souls Day. Remember to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory. And learn more about today’s indulgences here. I’ve got some pics of this year’s sugar skull makeup. See past years here.

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We spent yesterday at the Detroit Institute of Arts where they had an ofrenda exhibit. I was in Dia heaven, while the kids were less than thrilled and more than scared.

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made by my cousin, Patti Pfaendtner!

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The best gift? My brother surprising me from Cali <3

Etsy News

  • I’m having a sale in my shop until the end of today. 15% off with code DIADELOSMUERTOS. Get some Christmas shopping done, maybe?
  • Also until the end of the day (7:30 est), there is an Insta-auction going on to support the Van Drie family. Kristen is a fellow Michigan maker, and her family recently suffered the loss of their sweet 6yo daughter Kaylee. Consider supporting her family by bidding on one of the hundreds of donated items in the Instagram auction located at @candlesforkaylee.
  • My friend Kathie just opened up her Etsy shop, and it is just in time for the chill coming in. Adorable hats and high quality photography. I mean, check out my kiddos:

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I think my favorite item in her shop right now is the Cinderella hat. Supah clever! Click over and give her a heart on Etsy.

 

Blog Announcement

Now that my book is done I feel like my blog has come to fruition – like it was all building up to this: a resource to really help people battle a cause I feel passionately about.

I’m not done blogging; I’ll still post here from time to time, but I’m going to focus my efforts on my embroidery shop and (if the winds of the spirit blow me in that direction) homeschooling. Oh, and God wants me to write another book coming next year: The Lazy Liturgical (all about how to celebrate and observe the many feasts and solemnities of the Church without any preparation at all) – so there’s that too. 

Ashley will be taking over 5Faves starting Nov. 11. She’s so incredibly qualified that it ain’t even funny.

And my site will remain as well. Consider it more of a landing page for all things Call Her Happy: the blog, the book, the shop, the girl.

And, if you’d like to keep up with me, I’ll be over on the gram peeking on you too.

El Fin

If you made it all the way down here, good on ya. Leave the names of your faithfully departed in the comment section. I would love to pray for them today.

#5Faves: Catholic Jewelry

In honor of Papa being in the States this week, I thought I’d get real.deep. on your and talk about my favorite pieces of Catholic jewelry. I mean, if you can’t be at the party in Philly with him, you can celebrate by looking fancy at home.

5faves

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Sacred Heart Leather Wrap Bracelet from Tartan Haus

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Our Lady of Guadalupe Cameo-style Ring by In the Lavender Haze

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Pope Francis Earrings by Please Buy My Art

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Mary Locket by Chloe’s Vintage Jewelry

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Miraculous Medal Brooch by Bad Chihuahua Designs
(No one buy this unless you’re buying it for me, then have at it. I want it hard.)

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What are your pieces of Catholic jewelry? Tell me in the comments or link up your #5Faves (about anything!) below.  .

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#5Faves Things About BIS

 

Blessed Is She started almost one year ago. Time to love on it a little more than I already do.

What is Blessed Is She?

“Blessed is She is about a deep spiritual honesty, transparency and authenticity; remaining true to the Magisterium throughout. We want to reflect upon the lives of the many women that contribute to this site while also allowing the contributor’s voice to share peeks of individuality to show that we understand from experience, the collective of women who could be reading our work. Keep in mind all that they could be facing and focus in on how we can best help them to find their way to prayer each day. Daily grace for pondering hearts.” {from our style guide} Check it meow-t.

Blessed Is She is a daily devotional community of women online and in person. Find your local Jesus lovers and start savoring His Word with them today. | christian | catholic | Bible | community | sisterhood | inspiration

 

© Deyan Georgiev / Dollar Photo Club

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The Sisterhood: Not only is this a daily readings and devotions site for women, it’s a community. I’m talking super Sister Sledge. If you are part of BIS, you are part of a greater group of women who have.your.back. Find your regional group on Facebook, and start attending brunches and other fancy yet laid back events.

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The Devotions: So, each day I read a little bit of The Word, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t speed read down to the bottom to get into the devotions. The authors write from the heart, pouring out some truth. These women relate The Word to our own lives – whether you’re a mom, a wife, in the workplace, at home or in school. Or maybe you’re just a hobo for Christ.

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The Gear: I’m a big fat one for pretty thangs. And BIS is all about the gorg. Not suprisingly, they have the cutest shirts, journals, prints et-set-er-uh. I wear the classic tank so much that I would be embarrassed if I actually cared about that ish. Shop here.

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The Images: I told you, BIS is all about what is beautiful. People are drawn to what is pleasing to the eye, no? So, what better way to bring women closer to the gift of Christ than to wrap it up in some pretty packaging. The Gram is full of beautiful shots that in which you can imagine yourself.

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The Giveaways: And, of course, to celebrate a year, BIS is giving away tons of pretty goodies. Enter the Rafflecopter below. Best of luck, dears.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

How has Blessed Is She impacted your life? Tell me in the comments or link up your #5Faves (about anything!) below.  .

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#5Faves: Articles About NFP

It’s NFP awareness week, my people. So, I’m here to, uh, make you aware. All of the honesty without any of the details! And, since I am doing a craft show this weekend, I will keep this as brief as my Phase 3…ha. Kidding. Sometimes.

| nfp chart | nfp humor | nfp catholic | birth control methods | birth control pills

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5 Ways We Bring Life to Our Marriage

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NFP: Why We Practice

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How to Ruin Your Marriage With NFP

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The Thing I Wish People Would Stop Telling Me

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Why I Don’t Do NFP

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How to Discuss Gay Marriage

I can take absolutely no credit for this post. I simply asked two very intelligent friends of mine to chat with each other about the recent SCOTUS decision regarding the legalization of gay marriage. So, before I let you read their conversation, let me give you some background and ground rules:

Background and Intros

Cara has been my friend for 23 years now. She lives in CA where she works for an organization that helps philanthropists achieve greater good with their resources. She has her Master’s from University of San Fransisco.

Jenny lives in CO and has three children with one on the way. She writes for Catholic News Agency which hosts her blog, Mama Needs Coffee. She studied theology at Franciscan University of Steubenville. 

ha. Just realized they both were schooled in St. Francis of Assisi inspired locations. Anyway.

Both people agreed to email back and forth so they would have time to process and respond.

Ground Rules

I invite you to join the conversation these two women have started, but. BUT. I am completely aware of the fact that the readership of this blog will tend to disagree with the SCOTUS decision (myself included), so let me make this crystal clear: please be genuine and tactful in your comments and questions. Both of these women are wonderful people (who I love) with intelligent thoughts on the matter. Please engage them in conversation while respecting their humanity.

Tips for Online Debate

So, let’s get this party started. I hope you’ll enjoy seeing how this conversation unfolded. It was amazing to watch how they were able to

  • address ideas without personal attacks
  • defend their beliefs while inquiring about the other’s
  • understand that they weren’t going to change each other’s minds, but they could clearly lay out their case for others who may be reading
  • know they could help the other person understand but not agree
  • come to a polite conclusion when they felt they had finished

What do you feel the effect of the legalization of gay marriage will be on the future of our country?

p.s. this is long, but oh, so worth it.

With SCOTUS recently ruling wedding rings for all, we are all finding ourselves in need of a lesson in online etiquette. Learn to stay true to your beliefs while still tactfully engaging another in conversation. | gaylove | gaypride | gay marriage | internet safety | debate topics

© Masson / Dollar Photo Club

 

 

Cara:

I was sitting at work in DC when I heard the news of the ruling. It was coming off the heels of another SCOTUS decision upholding the ACA, and it felt to me like a SCOTUS magic week. The news started to ripple through my office, and we all cheered, breathed sighs of relief, and a few people were walking around waving equality flags that HRC was handing out across the street.

I dove into my iPhone to be sure I knew exactly what this ruling meant and when/how the decision would be implemented. The fact that it was immediate law and that couples could get married right away sounded almost too good to be true. I live in California where marriages have been legal and then annulled with the back-and-forth laws that have been state-driven. Throughout the day, I started to hear stories like Jack and George, and I shed my cynicism and believed this could really be a turning point.

Quite simply, when I think about what this ruling will mean for the future of our country, I think it means that we are one step closer to equality and that the future is a little brighter. It means stories like Jack and George can finally be a thing of the past and that from this point forward, individuals can marry who they love and enjoy the legal and societal privileges that come with that. I believe that the next generation will be astounded that this was ever a debate, much the same way that our generation can’t fathom that interracial marriage was illegal less than 50 years ago.

I do still have a very real concern for the future of LGBTQ rights in this country. Same sex marriage is a huge win, but it’s not the end of the fight. There is still incredible discrimination in employment and housing, for example, and the trans community remains one of the most marginalized and vulnerable populations in the US. So, I know there’s a real possibility of the movement losing some momentum after this, which concerns me. I must say though, this ruling has given me so much hope that hearts and minds really are changing and that acceptance in a concrete, legal form has finally been given to a large community.

Jenny:

My heart sank that Friday morning, when news of SCOTUS’ decision filtered down through my newsfeed. I was scrolling through the news and periodically raising my eyes above the screen to see my kids diving off the couches in the family room. My first thought was “what is this world they are going to inherit?”

My next thought was one that I’m convinced of more and more with each day that has passed since the ruling was handed down: “this is the Roe v. Wade of their generation.”

What I mean by that is twofold, one, that the High Court issued a mandate against the will of the people, as she did back in 1973, further eroding State’s rights and, along with them, the integrity of the American experiment a little more in the process, and two, my children will not grow up in a world without gay “marriage.”

Just as I have never known a world without abortion.

I’m not naive enough to think that our present culture places much value on marriage in any form in 2015. No fault divorce and contraception are rampant, and are lauded as fundamental human rights, so on the one hand, why not allow gay “marriage,” along with polygamy and incest and any other sexual arrangement that happens to come into vogue? We’re certainly not living, culturally speaking, an experience of marriage as a covenant of life-long fidelity and fruitfulness.

But I want more for my kids. I want them to see (please God, let them see) in their parent’s marriage the fruitfulness and the sanctifying grace of Christ present in the exchange of love between spouses. I want them to recognize the profound gift of new life in the face of each new sibling that comes along, and the awesome responsibility that we, their parents, have in co-creating and raising them.

And I want that for everyone else’s children, too.

I want them to experience this impossibly wide, self-denying and cross-carrying and soul-stretching love, whether they are called to the married life or to a celibate vocation. Because that is where real happiness lies. That’s where fulfillment of the deepest variety resides. And nothing the world can offer them in terms of popular sentiment or trending behavior can compete with that.

And so my job as a mother got a little harder on June 27th. Because now I must explain to these children of mine that not all laws are good, and that wherever our human laws stray from the natural law which is written on each of our hearts, there is tremendous suffering.

I see a unique opportunity here to impress upon them the incredible dignity of every human person – no matter their race, religion, sexual preference, socioeconomic status, and all the rest. Because there is surely a wrong way to teach the truth about love and human sexuality, and I’ve seen too much of that these past couple months.

But it’s scary to think that in teaching them the truth about their sexuality and how they were made – for communion with one unique and unrepeatable member of the opposite sex, if they are called to marriage – I am exercising what is now considered “hate speech.” I’ve been called a bigot 100 different ways online these past 3 weeks, and worse than that. Not because I’ve spoken ill of any gay person or suggested homosexuals deserve inferior treatment in the eyes of the law, but because I maintain that marriage is a unique arrangement fundamentally ordered toward the creation of new human life and,because of those new lives, is worthy of protection and distinction in the eyes of the law.

I don’t hate gay people. I don’t hate anyone. And I don’t believe there is such a thing as gay “marriage,” no matter what 6 unelected public officials and the far more important court of public opinion says about the matter.

People should be allowed to love – and to contract legally binding arrangements with – whomever they please. In my own state, that way already the case.

But I also don’t actually believe this was ever about securing a legal right for a certain class of people, but was rather about abolishing one of the last vestiges of Judeo-Christian morality from American civil law. And it’s going to be a slippery descent downhill, as mentioned above. Because polygamy, incest, and the like are all coming. And on what grounds can we deny anyone a legally-binding and civilly-recognized sexual relationship with any other person – or creature – of their preference? No matter how self-harmful. No matter how disordered. No matter how utterly incapable of producing new life or of investing in the future of a stable and just society.

We can’t. And that’s the world we’re passing on to our children. Not a world of greater equality and opportunity, but of darkened reasoning and of bizarre sexual deviance that everyone will be required, by law, to applaud for with a straight face, affirming that each choice is equally good and loving and valid, because the tyranny of the individual will now rule over the greater common good.

Cara:

Regardless of how absolutely opposed our views are on this, I do appreciate you sharing your thoughts with me. The shock and sadness I experienced while reading your words made me think about how I really surround myself with likeminded people, for better or worse (no pun intended), and that because of that, I so rarely hear this side of the debate. So, in that way, I’m grateful to hear where you’re coming from and how you think through this issue as it’s honestly a side of the debate I so rarely am up against. Did I mention I live in San Francisco? ;)
There are about a million things I want to say in response, but I thought it might be interesting to look at three big areas where I think we start from the same place and then diverge wildly from a similar origin.

First, I think we both have strong relationships with God and that in big or small ways that is guiding our view on this issue. I was raised in a liberal Catholic home and have kept the main lessons from my childhood as pillars in my adult life. These lessons all center around an impossibly loving and accepting God who creates each of us as intentionally unique and strong individuals who are put on the earth to connect with one another. The God I have known since birth is 100% behind supporting loving gay marriage, and he doesn’t even put quotes around the word marriage! He would urge all of us to fight for the equal rights of everyone in our communities to ensure a safe, just, and loving world. A couple weeks ago, I marched in the SF Pride Parade with my Jesuit-run graduate school. It felt so great to represent a side of the church that is open and excited about this, as I think our voices are often muddled into “religious people” who are categorically opposed to gay marriage.

Second, I think you’re absolutely right that soul-stretching love (I love that wording!) is where true happiness lies. Marriage is an incredibly beautiful commitment between two individuals. I would bet that both of us know of strong and weak marriages. I can tell you with absolute certainty that two of the strongest marriages among people closest to me are gay marriages filled to the brim with soul-stretching love. One of these marriages was put on hold for decades because of archaic laws, while the other marriage is between two young men who were able to commit themselves to each other through marriage own their own clock because they happen to a reside in a progressive state. I am so happy that couples like these no longer have to hide their love away for their whole lives.

Finally, I think we both agree that the creation of a family within a marriage is something very special and something to protect. While I in no way believe that marriage has anything to do with some responsibility or calling to “create new life”, I do believe that a married couple can provide a loving home for children and a great foundation for a family. Same-sex couples do this equally as well as hetero couples, and this ruling offers an opportunity for the creation of so many more families to be formed with such greater ease and stronger protection. How can one not celebrate that?

Jenny:

I’m actually really enjoying that we can go back and forth without fear of misunderstanding or emotional fallout – so refreshing from what I spend a lot of time doing. Because of work I’m actually in fairly regular debate/discussion with people on both sides of the issue, so I’m not shocked by really…anything, at this point.

Oh, and ha! Just to cement our uncanny likeness a little further, I was born in San Fran and raised in the Bay Area. And my spiritual director is a former Jesuit, and my mom is a Santa Clara and USF grad, so maybe one of those is your alma mater too?

To address your first point, I want to challenge the logic of making an appeal to popularity or common option (the other alums and students who dissent from Catholic teaching on gay marriage.) That’s a valid emotional experience for you, but logically it falls under the fallacy “argumentum ad populum,” so it doesn’t strengthen your argument.

I was also raised – and am still a practicing – Catholic, and I don’t like the labels “conservative” or “liberal” – I really think they do more to divide than to unite, and we’re a big ‘ol universal church.

For those who will be reading this, I’d like for us to clarify what marriage is, and what it was created for. Since we’re both coming from a faith angle I think it’s safe to bring that into the conversation, but it could also be made solely from a natural law perspective, so really we could leave God out of it.

He’s already here in our email thread though, so let’s examine what He says about marriage and about human sexuality: first, He created us male and female with a purpose and with a distinct complementarity between our sexualities, to image in a particular way the life-giving exchange of love within the Persons of God, the trinity. And then the first instruction we receive from Him? Be fruitful, and multiply.

This lays 2 clear imperatives from the creator, first that there is something intelligent and intentional about our sexual differences, and second, that we are intrinsically ordered toward the creation of new life, just as God Himself is.

You say that marriage has nothing to do with children, in your mind, and that is probably the most difficult piece of your argument for me to answer, because it leads me to think we’re not actually discussing the same thing.

If marriage is not primarily ordered toward “the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring,” then what, exactly, is the purpose?

I’m guessing you’re going to say romantic fulfillment and life-long companionship, which are two goods of marriage, but are somewhat periphery to the two primary ends mentioned above. So could it be that we’re not actually talking about the same thing at all?

Like I said in my earlier email, our culture jettisoned the idea of marriage as something intentionally ordered towards bringing forth new life and raising that life in faithful, committed love, but does that cultural rejection actually alter the nature of marriage? What I mean is, can we redefine a thing based solely on popular opinion, considering we didn’t create marriage to begin with?

Finally, I want to challenge – so gently – the notion that children adopted into same sex partnerships do equally well as children raised by their biological parents. It’s simply not been borne out in all the research, and many adult children of loving, homosexual couples are coming forward and saying that no matter how loving their two “moms” were, and no matter how much they loved them in return, there was a void where the opposite sex parent was missing. And that void impacts them in a real and irrevocable way. I don’t think it’s right to discount the real experiences of children who are living on the front lines of our cultural experimentation and have something hard to tell us, even if it’s difficult to hear. That invalidates their lived experience in the name of furthering an agenda, and unfortunately many of these kids – now adults – are afraid to speak out or do so knowing they’re going to be alienated and rejected by the very community within which they were raised. Katy’s story of her experience being raised in a lesbian household is worth reading.

One final thought: of course children deserve a loving home and of course, orphans and single parent families and all the other impoverished and imperfect arrangements we find ourselves in, when parents die or the crushing demands of poverty overwhelm them, or when teenagers get pregnant or women are abandoned by the men who helped them create the child in question… because we live in a fallen world, and we’re all sinners. But neither of us would, I think, look at those aforementioned situations and call them ideal.

To intentionally deny a child their right to a mother and a father is a grievous injustice to that child. My favorite Jesuit – Pope Francis, says it well: “Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.”
So if marriage has nothing to do with children, what is it for? And why should our government take any interest in it, in the first place?

Cara:

So funny – USF is my alma mater! Go Dons!

I think we’re getting somewhere because I didn’t even need a deep breath for this one.

I want to be crystal clear here that my support of gay marriage and equal rights for all forms of sexual orientation and gender expression have exactly zero to do with appealing to some popular opinion or “common option.” There is nothing new, trendy, or popular about this. Same-sex love has been around since the beginning of time and all that is news here is that our country is finally coming around to showing this type of love and commitment the respect and legal rights that this community should have been entitled to for all of history.

My point was that there are many people who identify as Catholic who dissent from the fundamental bible-based Catholic teachings on gay marriage (and so, so many other traditional teachings of the Catholic church). A large group of people who believe in God and feel a connection to the Catholic church fully support LGBTQ rights and full acceptance and love of all people (backed by actually supporting all people to love who they love). Because we have such different core values, it does make sense to me to clearly delineate conservative and liberal Catholics. They are, in practice, such vastly different approaches to life, and to be honest I would be horrified to be bucketed into the traditional Catholic mold. Unfortunately, I think the conservative approach to Catholicism has been much, much louder on a variety of social issues, so the liberal portion of the church has gotten lost in the shuffle. I do think Pope Francis is doing a lot to improve this, and I’m happy to hear we can agree that he’s the best. :)

As far as what marriage is and why it is so important, I think you’re right we can leave God out of this, and I want to do just that. While religions all around this globe treat marriage as a sacred and monumental event, that piece is far more complex than what was decided on a Friday in June. The fact is that while religion can put many (valid and important and beautiful) layers on top of marriage, marriage is a legal contract in which each marriage is as unique and diverse as the individuals within the commitment. Some marriages are religious, some are secular, some are between young or older individuals, some span across states or countries, some include children, and some are between same-sex individuals.

 You guessed that I think the point of marriage is for “romantic fulfillment and life-long companionship” and I find that phrasing incredibly empty and not even close to capturing what marriage is. When two people decide that they want to marry, that is an intimate decision that carries with it so many different intentions and goals. Because of that, I don’t believe there is one “reason” for marriage. I think it depends entirely on the individuals within the relationship. This diversity does extend to whether or not they decide to have children. Deciding to be a spouse and deciding to be a parent are such different decisions and roles in life, and it is for no one but the couple involved to make decisions about this. Do you know any married couples who have decided to not have children? Do you know any who are unable to conceive? Who have fostered or adopted children? Any who have blended families but have not “created life” together? Do you honestly think these marriages are not valid or living up to some “ideal”?

Your point about children being raised by their biological parents being somehow better off than children of same-sex couples just holds absolutely no water with me. I’m very familiar with the argument that some children raised by same-sex parents are somehow dissatisfied with their upbringing, and I had actually read Katy’s letter before. Some children of ALL forms of childrearing are dissatisfied with parts of their upbringing. There are just as many stories coming from children who are happy with their families, like Zack Wahls. So, this kind of “proof” isn’t proof at all. The stories of all families are complex with varying degrees of success and levels of overall happiness, regardless of the sexual orientation of the parents.

Jenny:

iiiiit’s a small world :)

And brace yourself, this is long, because I’m suuuuuper pregnant and was up thinking about it between 4-6 this morning…

Okay, after thinking it over, here’s what I pulled out as your three main points “pro” gay marriage:

1. Same sex attraction/homosexual behavior have been around forever, so therefore it should be legally recognized as marriage. This necessitates a change from the fundamental definition of marriage (which I’ll define as a legally binding, life-long, exclusive public commitment to a spouse of the opposite sex and any children which may result from that union) to a broader range of various sexual behaviors. I’m reading that you don’t believe children have anything to do with marriage unless the individual couples wills for them to, and then pursues them in whatever fashion they see fit. Is this accurate so far?

The main issue with this point is the final piece, because this view of marriage radically alters the nature of the institution, which is ordered toward the creation and development of a family, which is the fundamental building block for our larger communities, and turns it into something else entirely: a sexual partnership which is not outwardly-focused, by it’s very nature, but which is focused inward, on the mutual satisfaction and “happiness” (quotes because it’s a completely subjective state unique to each couple) of the spouses.

This is not to say marriage should not equal happiness, but that marriage in the traditional definition often results in happiness but is not contingent upon it. Happiness is a happy aftereffect, if you will, but it’s not proper end. So we contract marriages because we love the other person and want to build a life and a family with them, but the vision is directed outward, away from the individual couples, and that other-centered love physically begets new life. Children are a natural good of marriage – and an essential part of the purpose for marriage – precisely because they draw the spouses away from one another and toward a common good, and ultimately, the future.

You rightly mentioned adoptions and couples who struggle with infertility. I set those aside for the purpose of our argument because they’re tangential, but since you brought them up I’ll answer that when a couple cannot conceive this is a poverty in their relationship. Yes, they may be able to adopt and take great joy in building a family through alternative means (moral means, but that’s another topic entirely), but you’ll never hear an infertile couple say that their infertility hasn’t been a great sadness or a source of suffering. Is their marriage any less valid? Of course not. That’s like saying a cancer patient’s life has less value than a healthy person’s because her body has succumbed to a disease. It means something has gone awry physically.

For a homosexual couple, the sterility of their love is fundamental. That’s part of the reason I said in our first exchange that I don’t believe there is such a thing as gay “marriage;” marriage, by definition, is open to life and directed to the propagation of future generations. A homosexual relationship can never bring forth new life on its own, and so it cannot be rightly called “marriage” in the real sense of the word. Legal partnership? Sure. Civil union? Ok. But while the government has seen fit to radically alter the definition of marriage to include couples who are fundamentally incapable of fulfilling the essential duties (I’m using that word philosophically) of the office, there is nothing that can be done, legally or semantically, to actually alter the reality that only opposite sex spouses can contract a marital union.

2. When homosexual couples determine that they would like to acquire a child, either through adoption, IVF, surrogacy, etc., this results in a profound commoditization of the child. It reduces the child to a product, if you will, to be added on to their relationship as a kind of familial upgrade.

Do homosexual couples sincerely love the children they bring into their homes and raise as their own? I’m sure they do. But especially in the case of assisted reproductive technologies, there is almost total disregard for the dignity and the autonomy of the child. Their humanity is utterly secondary to wants and desires of the parent(s). Surrogacy is perhaps the saddest example of this commoditization, as it outsources the most fundamental human experience – gestation in your mother’s womb – to an unrelated third party. Does the child have no say in this? And can there really be no consequences to such an impoverished arrangement?

3. I didn’t present Katy’s story as any kind of definitive proof of the inability of a gay couple to raise a happy child, just as food for thought that maybe the children involved in these unions are not being afforded their full rights. We disagree on the nature of marriage as being ordered towards procreation, but there is still an innate drive, even among homosexual couples, to build a family. So the question becomes, what of the rights of the child? Does a child not, as we have legally recovnzzed up until this point, have the right to a mother and a father|? Is it not wrong to preemptively deny them a parent of the opposite sex, simply because two men or two women decide to build a life together?

My final thought is this: if marriage has nothing to do with procreation and building families, then why is the government involved in the first place? Traditionally the government has extended legal protections and benefits to married couples recognizing the unique benefits of marriage to society as a whole, (stable, intact families, healthier citizens, lower crime rates, greater economic stability, etc.) But these all tie into marriages begetting families.

Marriage has been recognized in a unique way because marriage – the sexual relationship between a man and a woman – is uniquely capable of bringing forth the next generation of civilization. Can it be done outside the context of marriage? Well yes, of course. But it’s always at the cost of the children involved, never to their benefit.

Also, if marriage means completely different things to different couples, as you said, if each couple contracts marriage on their own terms and for their own reasons and just wants to call it something that starts with an m….how can there be any kind of legal precedent at all for differentiating what makes the cut and what doesn’t? Can’t I marry my sister? Can’t I marry a second spouse of either gender while my husband is still alive? How is there any grounds, legally, to deny me that?

I’ve really enjoyed the peaceful nature and tone of this exchange (seriously, soooooo refreshing for someone who works on the internet) but I’m not sure we can go much further since it kind of feels like we’re talking past each other on a certain level. We’re using the same language, but we don’t mean the same thing, at all, when we say “marriage.”  So I guess maybe I’m up for one more round of closing arguments, if you will, and then we call it a day?

Cara:

I agree on two points: I really have enjoyed the tone of this, and I think we’re getting to the point of talking past each other in many ways.

There are a number of things I’d like to push back on with what you’ve written here (i.e. those are not my three main points pro gay marriage). I think the fact is that we have wildly different approaches to marriage and family — beyond gay marriage or this particular ruling. I don’t feel the need for closing arguments, per se, as I (thankfully) saw this much more as a conversation than a debate. I would like to offer a couple reflections though.

I will admit that I was a bit nervous going into this. After your first email I had tears in my eyes and ended up going for a couple mile walk with my dog on the beach to de-swell the lump in my throat and unknot my stomach a bit. These types of conversations can be really painful and difficult, but I’m so happy that by this last email I feel better about it all. So — I’m glad we went the email route with this so there was some reflection time built in and an opportunity to compose our thoughts.

Another thing I noticed is that maybe the trick to this is that it didn’t really feel like a debate. We both have clearly thought a lot about this issue and have extremely deep seated beliefs about what is right here. Given that, I think we both quickly knew that we weren’t going to sway the other or “win.” What we could do was explain our stance calmly and (as hard as it may have been for both of us) openly listen to the other side. I think there’s a lot of value in that, and I’m grateful to Jenna for framing this up front that this was to be civil and productive, not a battle or a gotcha debate.

Honestly, I still don’t empathize with your stance at all and I think a lot of what you believe is incredibly harmful to our society, but at the same time I can respect you as an individual and hope that somewhere down the line you have a change of heart as so many people have. And I bet you feel the same about me! At least we’re not apathetic members of society, right? ;) I do feel sure that we both want what we think is best for our world, and those opinions have been informed and shaped in very different ways.

Best of luck with the tail end of your pregnancy, and sincere thanks for having this conversation.

Jenny:

Well, I have to admit I’m a little relieved, haha. Not because it wasn’t encouraging to engage this way overall, but yeah, because it was a little personally devastating to hear someone so passionately opposed to the deepest knowledge of my heart and my faith.

I was telling my husband last night that it our conversation was making me sad, not for you necessarily, but for our culture at large, just because relativism is so overpowering and pervasive, and it makes fruitful dialogue so difficult.

But He is bigger, and I’ve seen firsthand the fruits of continuing to question and seek and wrestle.

I had a massive reversion to Catholicism in college when St. John Paul II died, and I credit him with saving my life. I’ll be asking him to pray in a special way for both of us,

Enjoy your weekend and God bless your willingness to engage in this.

Jenna again. Just popping in to repeat, “please be genuine and tactful in your comments and questions. Both of these women are wonderful people (who I love) with intelligent thoughts on the matter. Please engage them in conversation while respecting their humanity.” xx

When You Find Yourself Paralyzed by Big Emotions

Friday’s announcement came with a lot of emotion, did it not? The nation was divided between shouts of joy and outrage. There were tears of relief and tears of mourning.

Being the Catholic of the non-cafeteria variety, you can imagine where I stand on this issue, BUT that is not the point of this post – believe it or not. (If that’s something you want to tactfully talk about, email me, friend.)

Instead, I want to talk about big emotion.

Do you ever find yourself so overwhelmed and indignant over something that you can’t stand and fight? You know that point where you are just so emotionally distraught that you feel so small and insignificant that you can’t make an impact on an issue that you hold close to your heart? It’s like you are paralyzed with grief, and at the same time, you feel guilty for not doing more, being more, saying more.

What if at that moment you aren’t being called to be a voice? What if, instead, you are being called to be still? What if in your despair, God is asking you to reflect on Him so He can give you the strength to do His work?

So next time I find myself in this situation, I’m not going to beat myself up for finding myself speechless. Instead I am going to be still and know He is God. In that stillness and silence, He will tell me what needs to be done, and He will qualify me when I am called.

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Thank you to Kristen from Vine of Plenty for illustrating one of my favorite Psalms. Check in with her every Monday this Summer for her Summer of Psalms project. Each beautiful illustration is yours to download and print for free. So generous of her! Thanks for using your gifts to glorify, Kristen. Follow her on Instagram for the latest xo