Be fruitful, multiply…and have a good time!

A recent U.S. News and World Report article offers yet another reason to attend church every week.  Several studies cited by USN&WR staffer Elizabeth Flock suggest that devout Catholics have more and better sex than any of the other demographic groups studied.  Leave it to Denise McGonigal, OLMC’s Director of Adult Religious Education and resident expert on The Theology of the Body to uncover, as it were, this gem of an article.Cute-Romantic-Love-Couple

The research studies themselves aren’t new, one having been published in 1992 and the other in 1994.  For those of you interested in crunching the numbers, you’ll find plenty of links to the studies, as well as the organizations that conducted them.  Plus, there’s a link to the Amazon page for a 2008 book that, were I not already Catholic, might send me running to sign up for RCIA.

Holy Sex!

Critics will contend that the studies are biased, that the sponsors have an axe to grind, etc. etc.  Bah!  The world’s full of critics.  Personally, I’m happy to find a small oasis in the desert of anti-marriage, anti-spiritual popular culture.  We are called to evangelize, and many of us find it hard to do.  Sharing this article with our unchurched brethren may be a step in the right direction.  Think of it as the good news about The Good News.

Here’s the article–

Devout Catholics Have Better Sex, Study Says

Group presents data showing those who go to church weekly have most frequent, enjoyable sex.

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Fr. Robert Barron on Sex, Love and God

We bring you a YouTube video featuring one of our favorite pastors, Fr. Robert Barron, who offers his counter-cultural thoughts on three of our favorite topics.  Here is a little about Fr. Barron from his Word on Fire site, for those of you who have not experienced him:

Father Barron is the creator and host of CATHOLICISM, a groundbreaking, award winning documentary series about the Catholic Faith. The series has aired across the country on PBS and EWTN (and here at OLMC) and has been seen and broadcast in parishes, universities, schools and media outlets throughout the world. The documentary received a Christopher Award for excellence. Father Barron and Word on Fire will be releasing a highly anticipated new documentary “CATHOLICISM: The New Evangelization” in 2013.

Father Barron currently serves as the Rector/President of Mundelein Seminary University of St. Mary of the Lake. He was appointed to the theological faculty of Mundelein Seminary in 1992, and has also served as a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame and at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. He was twice scholar in residence at the Pontifical North American College at the Vatican.

Take nine minutes out of your life to appreciate the video.  And God bless you.

Do it for the Kids

Written by Christine Burrows

In this age of divorce, we hear lots of talk about staying together (or not) for the kids. I say we not only stay together, but work on making our marriages true sacraments for our kids’ sake. Each generation deserves an opportunity to be better at Christian living and growing in God’s favor.

CBurrowsphoto #3So, why not use our own marriages to help our kids make it to heaven? Just as we try to advance a culture of marriage in the wake of a rising tide of divorce and casual sex, we owe it to our children to establish this culture at home so that they see strong marriage as the norm, aspire to enter into a holy marriage one day, and see such a blessed union as a step toward heaven.

How do we do this? While I’m certainly not a pro, I’ll throw out some ideas to ponder:

  • Make your faith part of your family identity. Go to mass as a family. Regularly receive the sacraments together. Pray together. Read about saints and discuss the mass readings. Make sure your children know what it means to be a Catholic Christian so that they can explain it. And, just as importantly, try to help them see the marriage and the family as the core unit of their faith, and part of the larger community of the Church. This will help them begin to see faith as a central characteristic of their future spouse.
  • Talk to your children about sex and the church’s teachings on sex.  Do not leave this up to others – educators, friends, or the media. You will earn major points with your children even if you simply share with them the biology of their bodies BEFORE they learn it in health class. But, don’t stop there. Teach them about the beauty of marital sexuality so that they don’t become lured by extramarital sex and view birth control as normal. You don’t have to answer personal questions about your own sexuality, but do spin marital sex and the creation of babies as a true gift from God.
  • Be physically affectionate with one another in front of the children. I’m not suggesting groping in the kitchen and then running upstairs while the kids sit down to eat dinner. But, it’s certainly good for kids to see their parents hug, kiss, touch as a healthy way of being affectionate – versus witnessing on TV or in movies non-married people, sometimes even strangers, jumping into bed with one another and calling that affection or love.CBurrowsphoto #2
  • Encourage your children to think about their calling. It’s important to think of marriage (or religious life) as a vocation–something God has a say in– not just an event they get to participate in.  Speak openly with your children about why you got married to one another, and on what part of that decision you consulted God. If they think of marriage as a calling (not just a wedding day), they may begin to view dates and crushes as potential spouses who they might want to run by God before moving forward.
  • Surround yourselves with other married friends. Do this not only for yourselves, but for your children. Feed the culture of marriage so that you feel bolstered in being part of a community of people who believe in marriage and want to see marriages survive. As far as the kids go, they should see that there are plenty of married people whose marriage might look different from their parents, but are still clinging to one another. They also need to believe that marriage doesn’t put an end to friendship and fun.

CBurrowsphoto #1I have great hope for my children and their generation. While statistics don’t favor their ability to get married and stay married, I see a beautiful trend among them as they seek to find more meaning in their lives. They crave true intimacy and are beginning to see that casual sex isn’t the way to get there. So, let’s all join forces and give them some real inspiration – some hope in marriage that can reflect God’s true love for us through the gift of our spouses.

Let’s do it for the kids!

5 Reasons to Speak Positively about your Spouse at Work

This is a nice short piece explaining why it’s a good idea not to speak badly about your spouse at work, by Kevin Lowry at The Integrated Catholic Life.org.  Like me, Kevin is a convert.  Unlike me, he is devoting his life to evangelization and bringing Protestants into the Catholic faith.  Here’s his post from earlier this week:

“Sorry, I can’t do it tonight. The old ball and chain gets ticked off if I’m out late.”

How many times have we heard derogatory comments like this about spouses in the workplace? Even worse, snide remarks can give way to all-out whining: “My husband is such a jerk sometimes” or “My wife completely lost interest in me after we began having kids.”

Sacramental marriage should be in a different league than this, but we all live in a culture that hasn’t done the greatest job honoring the institution. In reality, we also know that even the strongest sacramental marriages sometimes go through serious challenges.

So what’s a good Catholic spouse to do?

Well, brace yourself for some good news. There are things we can do to honor our spouses in the workplace, and not be swayed by the cultural winds that sometime blow all around us. How about this one: always speak positively about your spouse at work. Why? Here are five reasons – and they just scratch the surface.

  1. Complaining about your spouse lacks class. Oh, maybe it’s fashionable to gripe and assume an attitude of superiority over your spouse. But does that make it right, and does it really make you happy? Probably not. Besides, if your spouse is such an idiot, what does that say about you, the person who made sacred vows to him or her?
  2. How you speak can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Have you ever noticed how good spouses make each other winners, and bad spouses make each other losers? Words matter. Speaking with honor is part of acting with honor – even when your spouse isn’t around.
  3. It protects your marriage. Even when things are rough at home, airing your grievances at work is the wrong venue. Co-workers who complain about their spouses open up an avenue for support from other co-workers, including those of the opposite sex. This can progress to inappropriate emotional intimacy, and worse.
  4. It’s good for your career. Many of the virtues that make for a faithful spouse also make for a great employee or co-worker. Besides, getting in the habit of speaking positively about others (including your spouse) behind their backs helps build a better culture for everyone in your workplace.
  5. It’s good for your co-workers. We are affected, for better or worse, by the attitudes and behaviors of our co-workers. Demonstrating charity and understanding towards our spouse might just inspire others to do the same.

We can’t single-handedly change the state of marriage in the world, but we can do our best to honor our own marriage vows – and our spouse. Speaking positively about our spouse in the workplace is a great way to improve our marriage, our workplace, and our walk with Christ.

An Evening with Vicki Thorn

Vicki-Thorn

Vicki Thorn

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel welcomed Mrs. Vicki Thorn to our parish on Thursday, January 31, 2013 for a talk on the biochemistry of sex, which she refers to as “the biology behind the Theology of the Body.”  Vicki has devoted her career to raising awareness, especially among teens, of the consequences of the so-called Sexual Revolution as they relate to the physical health of all involved.  Vicki is the Founder of Project Rachel and the Executive Director of the National Office of Post-Abortion Reconciliation & Healing located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

During her 90 minute talk, Vicki revealed a theme about God’s world and plan for humanity.  The theme was inter-connectedness, and the message was that God’s power, as it pertains to procreation, is immense beyond our understanding, and we mess with it at our peril.  Looking at my notes, I came away with a number of ideas worthy of future discussion:

  • I learned about “menstrual synchronicity” and the biological significance of the “alpha female.”  (And here I thought “alpha female” meant only that she maintained the checkbook.)
  • How we, as a society, have become “disembodied”, such that we make decisions regarding our behaviors without full awareness of what those decisions mean to our health.  In Vicki’s words, we are “stone age people living in a high tech society.”
  • That my mother’s observation–“before you marry some gal, check out her mother”–was dead on, as Vicki gave a great segment on mitochondria, how women carry the genes from seven generations of their mothers.  And how the Y chromosome that men carry has 72 genes, compared to the 3500-6000 genes on EACH of the two XX chromosomes in women., explaining in part why women are so much more complicated than we men are.
  • That the whirlpools you find attached to the swimming pool in cheap motels, which I refer to as “DNA swap meets”, have nothing on the real world.  That women carry in their bodies the genes of their parents, their older siblings, their children, and children they may have conceived but not borne, as well as residual DNA from every man they’ve ever had sex with.  Reset, for me anyway, the concept of a person’s sexual “dance card” and how it’s actually even longer than we might have thought.
  • That what I had heard previously about the presence of estrogen in public water supplies, and what that means for the health of both men and women, is true.  A great example of how we, as a community, suffer from the actions, sinful or otherwise, of our neighbors.
  • That chemical contraception alter’s a woman’s subconscious biologic assessment of potential mates.  That the blocking of her reproductive hormones causes her to seek a mate with a higher level of testosterone than she otherwise would.  And that men with high testosterone levels are more likely to hit, cheat on, and leave women.  She suggested, too, that birth control pills lower a woman’s libido.  And, to make things worse, when the woman goes off the pill, she doesn’t like him anymore!  Message:  that when we play God, which is what we do when we practice chemical contraception, the spiritual prohibition is now supported by the biology behind it.

There was plenty of other good stuff involving immune system issues, pheromones, micro-chimerism, testosterone, cellular communication (biological, not iPhone), and the health benefits of seminal fluid.  All of which you can find discussed at length at the sites listed below.  This is a brief video of Vicki speaking on biochemistry and God:

Here’s more of Vicki’s stuff :  Come Holy Spirit Conferences       Healing after Abortion  Vicki’s Facebook page       “What They Didn’t Tell You in Sex Ed” video

Submission

Posted by Christine Burrows

happiness image #2 Christine

Let’s break it down. Sub= below. Mission = calling, duty. To put oneself below or under the calling or duty which one answers.

Huh? Not words or concepts that resonate in today’s culture. In fact, they seem rather contrary to the contemporary spirit of individualism, independence, and self-promotion. How do we begin to discuss submitting to God or our spouse, when the concept of submission isn’t one most of us often consider? I started with a surrender…

Several years ago, I read Surrendering to Motherhood:  Losing your Mind, Finding Your Soul, by Iris Krasnow.  Krasnow was a journalist with 4 boys under the age of 4 when Ethel Kennedy finally returned her call for an interview. She was hip deep in little boy issues, and simultaneously trying to focus on conducting the interview.  It was bad timing, to say the least. Finally, Ethel said, “You go do what’s important,” and hung up on her.  Iris was devastated, but went on to describe this incident as a catalyst for her surrendering to her calling as mother.

I understood her conundrum. I had 4 kids under 7 at the time, and was doing some balancing of my own – unwilling to surrender one vocation for another.  Krasnow’s story made me smile, and I wondered who would need to hang up on me to give me the push to prioritize my callings, and to do so without resentment.

My own surrender was just beginning.

Flash forward to my first exposure to Theology of the Body. I’m pretty sure I was pregnant with our third child when I first heard a woman give a talk at a retreat about Theology of the Body.  I definitely didn’t get it.  Even though I was a “practicing” Catholic, I had never heard anyone bring God into the marital embrace like this woman did. I thought I was doing well by being a faithful wife, and being willing to have more than 2 babies, albeit on our schedule.  While I may have been surrendering to my vocation of motherhood, I wasn’t all that keen on the idea of submission. I’d say at that point, I was a controlled submissive.  I controlled when and how I submitted to God’s will in our marriage.

Thank God for women like my sister who desired more knowledge and were bold enough to want to share what they learned.  These true evangelists are responsible for spreading the beautiful messages of Theology of the Body my way.  As I learned more, I became more inspired to share, and more submissive to God. It radically changed the way I viewed my husband, my vocation as a mother, our family, my call to evangelization, and my love for our faith.happiness image Christine

Through the grace of God and the courage of these evangelists, I slowly found peace in submitting to God’s plan for me and my marriage.  How many children we have, where we end up living, how much income we generate, how we manage challenges like illness and financial stress, etc. – all managed by peacefully surrendering to God and trusting in his divine providence.

This week I heard a news update about how fewer people are marrying. The analyst spoke about how fewer men want to marry, and perhaps that’s because women have become more aggressive (their words, not mine). Something in this story made me think about that reluctance to submissiveness that we as a culture have. Rather, we have a stronger drive for independence and self-determination. Yet, if we could pause to think about WHO we are submitting to, and from whom we are asserting our independence, this might change. If we openly submit to God, we would desire to enter into the most sacred union God has created for us – marriage.

Surrendering, submitting, and accepting God’s will.  It’s so incredibly humbling!  But in that humility, there is grace and joy.  I strongly encourage all of us to give it a try by taking baby steps in our marriages.  Seek a moment in prayer to ask God for His will in your relationship, and see where that selflessness takes you and your spouse.

A challenge

I came across an interview with Christopher West the other day.  He was asked a question that I am sure many parents struggle with – how do you introduce Theology of the Body to your children?  His response was profound.  Among other things, he said, “we can’t give what we don’t have. As parents, before we can pass the TOB on to our children, we have to immerse ourselves in it.”

His answer really struck me.  Gary and I cannot teach our children this beautiful theology until and unless we truly embrace the TOB – together.  As married couples and parents we cannot give to our children what we don’t already possess ourselves.  As Christopher West describes, evangelizing the TOB to our children is so much more than “the talk,” we must witness the TOB to our children.  As if parenting wasn’t hard enough!

Recently, the USCCB had its annual General Assembly.  In Cardinal Dolan’s address to the bishops he said “[w]e cannot engage culture unless we let Him first engage us; we cannot dialogue with others unless we first dialogue with Him; we cannot challenge unless we first let Him challenge us.”  He added that what is wrong with the world and what is wrong with the church “is not politics, the economy, secularism, sectarianism, globalization or global warming … [w]hat’s ‘wrong with the world?’ is just two words: I am.”  Wow.  Very powerful, especially when we remember that Cardinal Dolan was speaking to a room full of Catholic Bishops.

Cardinal Dolan did not speak these words in the context of the TOB, but doesn’t it make perfect sense?  Take a minute to think about the secular meaning of sex and sexuality in our culture.  Let’s be honest here, most of us buy into at least part of it don’t we?  So, as Cardinal Dolan suggests, the true evangelization begins with “me.”  We must first allow Christ’s message of the TOB into our hearts.  If, and only if, we open our hearts to the beauty of Gods true love can we begin to evangelize to our families, our communities and the world.

Is your heart open?  Mine is … I think.