Saturday, December 31, 2005

Our Wedding Anniversary, Modesty, and Fidelity

December 28, 2005 is the Feast of the Holy Innocents. It is also the day we were married in 2002.

After three years of marriage, Lucille and I were reflecting on the timelessness of it. Somehow, the last three years have past as though they were one moment in time. That, I believe, is a special grace in itself and a reflection of the time, energy, and work we have put into our marriage.

We have been blessed with a great first child in Anne-Marie, and are eagerly anticipating the arrival of Pitou, our second child now in the womb, in April. Great gifts are our children and very rewarding to have in our lives. Anne-Marie has taught us so much about life and ourselves. It has been a great education.

Just before our anniversary day, Lucille and I were discussing her article* on modesty. I must admit that modesty is something that is very much undervalued in our society today. It is practically impossible to go anywhere by car, transit, foot, or any other method without someone around having exposed flesh or some form of media environment and/or medium pushing something or other via flesh or sex.

Modesty protects the mystery of persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships; it requires that the conditions for the definitive giving and commitment of man and woman to one another be fulfilled. Modesty is decency. It inspires one's choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet. CCC 2522
Before marriage, I still found this tendency to expose flesh disappointing and disheartening. I tended to sense in my heart that something was amiss in the woman who dressed, or un-dressed if you will, in this manner. (For the purpose of this article, un-dressed is defined as one who is scantilly clad or dressed in very tight or revealing clothing).

To me, a woman's eyes are her most important feature. It is there, in her eyes, that I would discover whether she would be a worthy friend, someone who would hurt me, or someone who didn't even acknowledge my existence.

The first time I saw Lucille, something about her caught my eye. She was dressed modestly, and yet, I was attracted. Once the opportunity presented itself to look into her eyes, I knew in my heart that I had finally met someone who I could become good friends with. That much was very apparent as she has very peaceful and gentle eyes.

After Lucille and I married, I came to realize concretely why I have a real hard time with un-dressed women. My wife is a very beautiful woman, and she has a unique and awesome way that she carries herself. Back in the day we called it, "poise". She carries her personal worth, dignity, and integrity in her poise. Through marriage, she has gifted herself to me.

So why, since the mutual love and gift of self that Lucille and I share is so intimate and beautiful, would I even begin to want to see anyone else's flesh or physical items? Does this un-dressed woman not realize that she is sharing an intimate part of herself that only her (future) husband, or in the case of one consecrated to virginity and/or a religious community Jesus Christ, should see, touch, and experience?

What kind of male, as James B. Stenson* mentions, does the un-dressed woman want? A predator or a protector? A predator will focus on her, because to him she may be advertising sex. Without realizing it, to the predator she is also presenting her vulnerabilities. The protector will want to shield her to some degree, but in my experience, she will push him away for the predator.

As Lucille mentioned in her article, a woman who contracepts needs another form of attraction mechanism since, without realizing it, her phermones no longer flow due to constant infertility. Thus we have in many cases, the un-dressed woman compensating for her lack of phermones.

But I say this to you, if a man looks at a woman lustfully, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28
Whether married or not, what a man does when he sees the un-dressed woman is directly connected to whether he, while a teenager or young adult, chose to become a predator or protector. If predator, he will be thinking along the lines of what he can get out of and from the woman. If protector, if at all possible he will be averting his eyes and, if the situation permits, somehow making a connection through the eyes with the woman, the real person.
The acts in marriage by which the intimate and chaste union of the spouses takes place are noble and honourable; the truly human performance of these acts fosters the self-giving they signify and enriches the spouses in joy and gratitude. CCC 2362
A man and woman, in Sacramental marriage give themselves as a complete gift to the other. The gift of self encompasses the whole person, the spiritual, mental/emotional, and physical self. Here are some observations and questions on un-dressing and fidelity:
  1. A woman who is married and who un-dresses when she goes out is essentially sharing a part of her gift with other men than her husband.
  2. Does she see herself as a gift, or as an object for her husband, and perhaps other men?
  3. Does she allow her own eyes to get caught up in a male other than her husband?
  4. Does her husband see her as a gift to be received, and the gift of himself to be offered back and received by her mutually? Or, does he see her as a way to sexual gratification, or some other selfish need? This question can be asked in the reverse form for her.
  5. A man who is married and allows his eyes to be caught up in an un-dressed woman other than his wife is expressing a desire to share his self gift with another woman.

As has already been mentioned, a husband essentially belongs to his wife and she belongs to him. If one of the spouses in any way has given themselves over to desiring after another, or allowing another to desire them, then some part of their gift no longer belongs to their spouse! It now belongs to that other! Remember, the gift is spiritual, mental/emotional, and physical. No one part of who we are is exclusive of the other.

Fidelity expresses constancy in keeping one's given word. God is faithful. The Sacrament of Matrimony enables man and woman to enter into Christ's fidelity for his Church. Through conjugal chastity, they bear witness to this mystery before the world. CCC 2365

Fidelity to one's spouse by guarding one's gift for them is important to maintaining a strong marriage! It is important to note that this fidelity can be eroded in very tiny steps ... just an overt glance here or there, taking the time to turn one's head to catch another glimpse, or flirting with another, etc. Essentially one makes a conscious decision to share one's gift with someone other than their spouse in some way, shape, or form. The temptations and the decisions start very small and work their way up to terrible consequences in a hurry!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to be faithful to our spouse or future spouse. Help us to discover our true dignity and self worth that we find in You alone. Help us to live chastely in our marriages. Teach us to discover the true meaning of the giving of ourselves to the other as You do Sacramentally in the Eucharist, and did in Your Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Help us to keep the focus of our entire self on You and our spouse.

Thank You Jesus for the self giving love that we can offer in the gift of ourself to our spouse in marriage. Thank You Jesus for the total gift of love that we receive from our spouse in marriage. Thank you for the gift and fruit of our married love that we discover in our children.

Fidelity to one's future spouse, whether Jesus or a person in the future, also starts from a very young age. It involves something that can be very difficult for a young person to grasp: looking at the big picture or having a long sighted view on life. And yet, if the young one has made a birthday gift for their parent or friend, and they open it before that day, how would the gift giver feel?

The parents, father and mother, are instrumental in teaching the child to have the long sighted view on life and love.

With the understanding of self as being sacred and a gift; being formed with the humility needed to have a deep prayerful relationship with Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, Church, and others; the witness of a father who chastely loves his wife and a mother who chastely loves her husband the child will have the tools needed to grow up understanding the foundations they need to dress modestly and protect their virtue. These tools will also give girls the ability to see whether a boy is a predator or protector, and the boys the ability to realize that they must make a choice as to whether they will be a predator or protector.

As parents, we turn to Our Lady and St. Joseph for the ultimate witness in bringing up our children in relationship with God the Father.

Prayer: Mary, our Mother, teach us as parents to bring up our children with a deep relationship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

St. Joseph, teach us to live chastely, teach us to have a pure heart that is focused on our spouse, or future spouse alone.

Thank you Mary and Joseph for giving us such a beautiful example of love and fidelity in marriage. Thank you both for sharing with all of humanity the gift of your love for Jesus Christ!

Pax vobis,


Lucille's article on Modesty.

James Stenson's Web Site.

Update: A work in progress. Some changes to the grammar and the addition of a couple of CCC quotes. Pax.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Women, Men, and Modesty

When I was in college in early 1990, I didn't see too many women in public dressing provocatively, for example by bearing part of their breasts. But these days, it seems the trend to show a little more than cleavage is growing and almost seems to be the norm. I must say that if I was single, it probably wouldn't bother me as much but being that I am married, it does bother me. I have heard a variety of perspectives on the root of this behavior. I have listed them as follows:

  1. poor self image/low self esteem
  2. the person wants sex
  3. the person wants to simply attract the male of the species but may not realize or know better how their manner of dress affects the male. He may look upon the women in an objective manner. The original intent of the person dressing immodestly may not have been to attract the man in such a way.
  4. the person is lacking attention

In the book called "The Decline of Males" the author Lionel Tiger (1999) discusses the contraceptive effects of the birth control pill. He further states that the pill inhibits the natural scent of women (that is their pheromones) because they no longer go through a monthly fertile phase. Therefore, without realizing it, the woman needs another method to attract the male so she tends to dress provocatively to garner attention from the male.

These are just a few perspectives that come to mind. Looking back, I haven't really been one to dress too provocatively. My reason would have related more to the above third point. While growing up, not knowing better I occasionally would wear the tight pants and short skirts. I could never really muster the ability to deliberately show my chest to the rest of the world.

The older I became the more I realized that dressing in a provocative manner would not attract the right kind of men. It would attract men who looked at me not for me but for my body. They only wanted one thing, and that was sex. The more I grew, the more I realized and tried to respect those wondering eyes by not wearing tight clothing. If I did, I would have an inner desire to cover my bottom with a longer shirt if the pants were on the tight side, or wear a cardigan over my top if it was a little too tight. The more fashion changed, the more it was difficult for me to find a top or pants that weren't so tight as to show my form per se and that bothered me. And yet, the more I wore the tighter clothing, the more the self consciousness of my clothing being too tight faded away. Basically, I became desensitized partly because that is all what the women around me wore too.

I remember a speaker named James Stenson who spoke at a family conference who said that by dressing modestly you are forcing the man to look into your eyes and not at one's breasts or some other part of one's body. It wasn't until I got married that I began to understand more about the male perspective on women who dress provocatively. My husband helped me understand in a deeper sense what males truly can think or do when they see a women dressed immodestly. Unless a man has trained himself not to look at a woman with a lustful eye, that is with an eye of innocence or purity, he should look away.

You have heard that it was said, "You shall not commit adultery." But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Mt 5:27-28).

I believe our bodies are sacred, temples of the Holy Spirit therefore must be guarded and covered modestly in a respectful way.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been purchased at a price. Therefore glorify God in your body(1 Cor 6:19-20).

By covering ourselves modestly we are reserving and keeping our sensuality as a gift for our future husband. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1992) stated that:

Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate centre of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity (2521).

As a married women, I wish more women around me would choose to dress more modestly because if not, it has the potential to turn my husband's head. I know that if his head does get turned he knows how to guard his eyes because he knows and I know he only has eyes for me but it took a long time for this to sink into my being. We women can be very protective and perhaps jealous of where our husband or fiance/boyfriend looks unless they keep reassuring us that they don't look at these women in a lustful way or they purposefully divert their eyes. As a woman, we must learn to trust the latter to be true. We must also learn to respect not only our bodies by dressing modestly but respecting those around us who may be tempted into sin.

Teaching modesty to children and adolescents means awakening in them respect for the human person (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2524).

(For the sake of simplicity I made reference more towards women and modesty but it also relates to modesty in men)

A recommended read and the book by Lionel Tiger. Thank you for supporting us!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Dignity, Integrity, and Boundaries discovered in Jesus Christ

For many of us who have been a victim of abuse, being the victim is all we know. We survive. Some of us even go so far as to put ourselves into situations where the abuse will happen again. This perpetual cycle of entering into abusive relationships primarily to reaffirm what we already "know" as a victim.

Upon discovering the reality of Jesus Christ, and the abuse He suffered willingly at every human being's hand through sin, one needs to find somehow the strength and perspective to begin breaking the cycles or leaving the abusive situations or environment.

The key to this is discovering that Jesus is a willing victim:

...Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron valley where there was a garden into which he went with his disciples. Judas the traitor knew the place also, since Jesus had often met his disciples there, so Judas brought the cohort to this place together with guards sent by the chief priests and the Pharisees, all with lanterns and torches and weapons. Knowing everything that was to happen to him, Jesus came forward and said, 'Who are you looking for?' They answered, 'Jesus the Nazarene.' He said, 'I am he.' Now Judas the traitor was standing among them. When Jesus said to them, 'I am he,' they moved back and fell on the ground. He asked them a second time, 'Who are you looking for?' They said, 'Jesus the Nazarene.' Jesus replied, 'I have told you that I am he.' John 18:1-8
"They moved back and fell on the ground." It is made very apparent to those about to take Jesus away that they were not in control. Jesus, especially by challenging them a second time, makes sure to let them know that He is going of His own will. They would not have been able to take Him away if He did not want to go.

For those of us who have lived in an abusive environment, we know where that challenge would initially lead: A flurry of violence to oppress and extinguish any more challenges. Never mind trying to challenge yet a second time!

Jesus here gives us the ability to discover that we have a right to our boundaries. That as human beings we have dignity and integrity. It is by virtue of the Incarnation that we truly come to realize those gifts. We have a right not to be violated by anyone for any reason.

Boundaries: A boundary is the line over which someone has to cross into our personal physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual space.

One generally sees about a metre or yard around one as the physical space belonging to them. We have all had the experience of having someone standing very close to us while talking to us and the discomfort this can bring about. We have the right to ask that person infringing into our space to step back. Especially if we have gently moved back to regain our personal space and they keep moving back into it.

Words and actions can be used to attempt to manipulate or abuse the other emotionally and mentally. A put down, whether as a joke or intentionally, is a classic example of this type abuse that can be commonly accepted as okay to do. Generally the one doing the put down is building themselves up at the expense of another.

For some abuse victims, the words and actions are designed specifically by the abuser to keep them in their "place". It is the emotions that are the last to heal. It is these cycles of mental/emotional abuse that are the hardest to let go of and allow Jesus to heal.

Spiritually, one who is abused is attacked by the spirits attached to the abuser. Given the nature of the ongoing battering of the abuse victim's will, these spirits eventually work their way in via the words and actions of the abuser. They entrench themselves into the heart, mind, and spirit of the victim. It is only in Jesus Christ and through the Sacraments that one can discover these spirits and their hold on the one who is trying to leave or has left the abusive environment.

Dignity: At Christmas time we celebrate the birth of Jesus. He, God, has become a human being. Read that again: Jesus Christ, God, has become a human being.

When one embraces Jesus Christ and the true freedom and healing that He has to offer, one can participate in the divine. One can realize that one is an adopted son or daughter of God the Father by virtue of Jesus becoming human. One can realize that one is heir to an eternal inheritance. One can step beyond the seeming limitations of one's humanity and embrace the divine.

One can discover that one is not another's play thing, punching bag, sex toy, or anything that takes away one's personal dignity. One discovers in Jesus that one is valued for who they are in Him. Jesus values us, places us in such high esteem, that He made sure to show us that He loves us by embracing our suffering, by accepting willingly and gently the abuse he received during His Passion and death, with such an open heart, mind, and spirit.

Jesus Christ is the true source of human dignity.

Integrity: In Jesus we can discover wholeness, completeness. Those of us that have lived in abusive environments can begin to break away from the external and internal elements that are the result of being abused, especially if that abuse spans many years or decades.

Upon discovering our boundaries and how they can be crossed whether we have allowed them to be crossed or someone has crossed them against our will, and realizing our personal dignity found in Jesus we can establish our personal integrity.

One can begin to realize how to make one's own decisions as to when the boundaries are to be crossed. One can also learn how to gently stop anyone who tries to cross those boundaries without permission.

If someone attempts to cross our boundaries without our permission, by virtue of our dignity found in Jesus, we have the right to defend ourselves. We have the right to say no. Just as Jesus did at that moment when Judas appeared with the guards to take Him away.

"They moved back and fell on the ground."

Jesus Christ is the only foundation upon which one can build one's integrity.

It is in Jesus Christ that one can discover the true meaning of being human. It is in the innocent little Child at Christmas that we discover this: Incarnation. It is in that Man standing in the Garden that we discover the true meaning of our suffering and being a victim.

Lord Jesus, help us to discover the true meaning of humanity. Help us to discover in You the value of who we are. Jesus, deliver those who live under constant oppression and abuse. Heal the abuser, heal the abused.

Thank You Jesus for the gift of life. Thank You Jesus for becoming human and redeeming us. Thank You Jesus for bringing us back to the Father. Thank You Jesus for opening the door to heaven!

Jesus, I love You!

Pax vobis,


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Discernment of Spirits Our Lady's Way

In the Gospel reading for the Mass celebration this last Sunday, which was the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Our Lady is presented with a proposition by the Archangel Gabriel (Luke 1:26-38). In the dialogue that ensues between Mary and Gabriel we are given an ideal method for the discernment of spirits.

From Saint John:

My dear friends, not every spirit is to be trusted, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets are at large in the world. This is the proof of the spirit of God: any spirit which acknowledges Jesus Christ, come in human nature, is from God, and every spirit which does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God... 1 John 4:1-3
When the angel Gabriel comes before Mary and starts his announcement, she isn't jumping for joy, or all excited about having some sort of spiritual "experience". She is, "deeply disturbed by [his] words and asked herself what [his] greeting could mean" (Luke 1:29). And here we have presented the first concrete step in the discernment process:

Step One: Challenge the angel and/or experience. When presented with some form of spiritual experience, whether it be the visiting of an angel, a prophetic word, a vision, or any kind of mystical experience, one should challenge it.

There is always a danger to our very salvation, and the salvation of those around us, if we embrace mystical experiences enthusiastically. There is also the danger that we may grow comfortable in those experiences, allowing them to become the focus of our faith experience, and use them as some form of gauge of holiness. Holiness is ultimately found in a deep, Sacramental, relationship with Jesus Christ and not His gifts.

As Saint Paul tells us:

The Spirit has explicitly said that during the last times some will desert the faith and pay attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines that come from devils, seduced by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are branded as though with a red-hot iron..." 1 Timothy 4:1-2
Step Two: Listen carefully to the angel and/or experience. As St. John told us, the spirit or spirits who are participating in the experience will either lead us to Jesus Christ or they will either blatantly or subtly lead us away from Him.

Saint Gabriel makes his point by drawing Our Lady's attention to God, and to whom she is being called to bare in her womb. He clearly makes every effort to maintain his focus on God's work, and how that work will become a part of Mary's life.

It is in the very details of the experience that we will discover whether it is from God or to be discarded.

Step Three: Question everything and anything at all. We should not let our hunger for consolation and the mystical experiences to overcome our ability to carefully question every aspect of the mystical experience.

Once the Archangel Gabriel has indicated to Mary what is to happen, she challenges him with a question, "But how can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man?" Luke 1:34.

The questions we ask will need to be blunt. Her question directly challenges everything Gabriel has presented to her, since she has made an offering of love to God in a vow of virginity. It is now up to Gabriel to bring her closer to God by explaining how she would not be breaking her vow. Or, reveal that he is indeed not from God, but appearing as an angel of light as Satan can do (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).

The questions must challenge the authenticity of the experience. We are called to:

Beware of false prophets who come to you disguised as sheep but underneath are ravenous wolves. You will be able to tell them by their fruits ... a sound tree produces good fruit but a rotten tree bad fruit. A sound tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor a rotten tree bear good fruit. Matthew 7:15-18

Our questions must always be honest. Even if that means discovering that what we have just experienced was not from God but from ourselves or the devil.

If we discover that what we have experienced was indeed from ourselves or the devil then we must discard it. If however, we see that it does indeed draw us closer to God, then we can move on to the next step.

Step Four: Share the experience with a few close friends who are gifted in discernment (1 Corinthians 12:10). The best person to share the experience with is a spiritual director. One to whom we have submitted to in obedience. If he or she helps us to see that what we have experienced is not of God, then we must be obedient and let it go. This is one aspect of the Lord's wisdom in sending out the disciples in pairs (Mark 6:7, Luke 10:1). Each member in the pair would be able to be a check and balance for the other.

This step is important because if we go into the community and share the experience with them, we risk the danger of becoming the centre of attention. And we all know where that leads. We also all know that most of us in some way shape or form enjoy being the centre of attention!

When Our Lady went to Saint Elizabeth's home, Saint Elizabeth immediately knew that Our Lady was carrying Jesus! (Luke 1:42). This is a very powerful witness to the gift of discernment in Saint Elizabeth. Her relationship with God must have been very deep and very intimate. Elizabeth indeed was attuned to God's Spirit.

Where we go from there is something we would need to discern further. Is the experience a gift from God to us alone? Or, does it need to be shared with a few key people, or even the general community? It is important for us to realize where the Lord wants us to take the experience.

Mary, help us to learn how to discern. Help us to listen to God's Holy Spirit and to His angels and saints. Teach us how to ask the right questions. Help us to be honest with ourselves and with our spiritual directors. Thank you Mary for your gift of discernment. Thank you for accepting the call of God through Saint Gabriel. Thank you for bearing and sharing Jesus Christ with us!

Pax vobis,


Friday, December 16, 2005

Aridity again is the norm.

Aridity again is the norm. The Lord has seemingly pulled away.

It was in the desert that Jesus was tested in Matthew 4:1-11. 40 days without food or water, without the comforts of home and His family.

A time where He was seemingly alone. It would have been a glimpse into the darkness, rejection, and abandonment that He experienced on the Cross, "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" (Matthew 27:46).

It would have been a time where He would have to struggle with the aches and pains of His body and the hunger, thirst, heat, burning air, and freezing nights.

The desert is a time where we stand utterly alone and naked before ourselves and God the Father. It is the Dark Night of St. John of the Cross. It is a time for the Father to cleanse us and draw us nearer to His heart.

And, it is a challenge to remain focused in eye, mind, and spirit on Jesus Christ and His Cross. For, it is now, in the desert, where one really discovers one's weaknesses and the reality of the Cross that we carry.

Pax vobis,


Update: Word from Adoration.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Michael W. Smith Christmas Concert Experience

Wow! I'll say it again, wow!

What an amazing concert. Michael is such a talented musician and writer. He had two concerts here. We decided to get tickets to the second concert as we could get better seats.

He had the local symphony orchestra playing with him as well. The orchestra had a few "solo" pieces to play at the beginning of the concert with Michael coming out with his band a bit later.

He played a lot of his Christmas music from both of his Christmas albums. I loved his sharing his experience of a heavy snowfall in Tennessee and the resulting song that he wrote, "First Snowfall". He then proceeded to play it. What an amazing piece of music. I could close my eyes and see the snow dancing and falling!

I am a long time fan of Petula Clark. I love her voice and the songs that she picked to sing. Michael sang a Christmas song that she had sung in 1969 called, "The Happiest Christmas". He played and sang the song so beautifully. He did indeed do justice to the original!

In the second set, he managed to play a couple of his popular non-Christmas songs. The one that struck me was the song, "Healing Rain". Wow. What a beautiful song. It speaks to me so clearly within my own experience of God's healing touch.

He also got us all to sing a number of Christmas carols together. The Glory of the Lord shone so clearly with all of our voices raised to praise the Lord's coming!

I must admit that I spent most of the first half of the concert, there was a 20 minute intermission, weeping for the sheer beauty that I heard and experienced in the music. Michael managed to convey the power and presence of God through his music. And, a lot of the music did not have any lyrics! The music moved the soul into a deeper communion with God. It opened us up to His working in us. Many times through the second set I was moved yet again. This concert was a powerful and deep experience to ponder and pray about.

Indeed, I would go and see him again!

Michael W. Smith's Web site.

An interview with Michael W. Smith.

Petula Clark's Web site.

Pax vobis,


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Emily's Hope - Book Review

I just finished a book called Emily's Hope.

What a neat book!

The story is about Emily, a character whose life we follow from a young age. We see some of the typical teenage needs and struggles that carry on into young adult life.

There is a parallel story that follows the life of Emily's Great Grandmother Katherine. Here is a woman who gets caught up in the liberation of women at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The book provides an excellent contrast between the world's view of the human person and sexuality and the Church's perspective on the meaning of the human person and sexuality. This contrast is done by sharing what is a very real story for many young teenagers and subsequently young adults today versus what can be considered a real attitude among the adult population against Life. The latter is a very real possibility for the teenager if they do not learn the true meaning of love and life.

Without giving away anything, the book is, in my opinion, a very good read. It is very well written. Ellen Gable's writing style is easy to follow as she takes the time to develop the characters and their environments. One is not left with any threads of the story left unanswered.

Something that is important to our family is what we could call a kid rating. This book receives a 5 out of 5. I believe that every teenager should read it. The book should be read by the children's parents as well. Together, they can sit down and talk about the various chapters. The book can be used as an excellent teaching tool for introducing our children to the Church's beautiful teachings on the Theology of the Body.

I also believe that our priests should read it. The book would provide some excellent and personal insight into the pains of living outside of the Culture of Life, and what the introduction and adoption of the Culture of Life can do for a person. There is plenty of homiletic material here for teaching the Theology of the Body.

And finally, couples considering marriage should read this book. I would even go so far as to say that this book should be mandatory for those preparing to marry within the Church. There could be some excellent teaching moments for the parish premarital preparation facilitators with their couples.

Pax vobis,


You can find the book at Full Quiver Publishing.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Word from Adoration

Aridity seems to be the norm now. No consolation, distance, and silence. However, it is a good thing.

When one is challenged by another during a close relationship, does one abandon that relationship? Or, does one accept the challenge and work with it to produce a fruitful end?

There are many times in life where there is another with whom we are close where that other seems to drift away. There could have been struggles with the other, there could have been communication difficulties, there could have been times where one thing is heard and yet another meaning was meant by the other.

The most difficult thing to deal with is silence from the other. Perhaps they are working through something extremely difficult and one needs to wait patiently at their side until they are able to articulate what they are struggling with.

Perhaps they need their space, and one must step back and give them breathing room.

When these occasions come to pass in a close relationship, there can be great graces attached. With the silence or distance, one can ponder how much one values the other's presence in one's life. One can learn that one needs to be a lot more patient while waiting for the other to articulate what it was they were struggling with. One can make the time to sit and contemplate the other's important role in one's life.

And thus comes the gift, the good thing, in the midst of the aridity: One can contemplate His silence and His seeming distance by delving into one's experiences of Him at other times where there was no aridity. One can take the time to contemplate just how much He has influenced and impacted one's life. And most importantly, one can take the time to listen and see what it is within one's self that He may be drawing one's attention to. It may very well be that the time of silence and seeming distance is His way of helping one to purge that which interferes in the relationship with Him.

Jesus, help us to focus on You hanging on the Cross when we are in the midst of the deepest of desert times. Help us to persevere in our prayer time with You even though they are seemingly fruitless. Help us to remain always open to Your Word that comes to us through our Spiritual Director. Thank You Jesus for this arid time. Thank You for purging us of all that interferes in our relationship with You. Thank You Jesus for filling us with Your Most Precious Blood!

Pax vobis,


Thursday, December 01, 2005

Pregnancy and the Advent of Christmas

We are currently in preparation for the Advent of our newest child. Pitou is due on April 11, 2006. As the due date gets closer, we will begin the process of getting the crib ready for its new occupant, get all of the newborn items that we have put away ready, and so on.

We were in the same place with our pregnancy with Anne-Marie. That is, celebrating the season of Advent truly preparing for the arrival of our first child.

It leads one to consider what Advent and the preparation for the coming of the Lord is all about.

For our first child, we were unsure of just what we were in for. We tried to prepare as best as possible for all possibilities: boy or girl, healthy or not; getting the crib, cloths and car seat; and the restructuring of our personal schedules. There are so many aspects to try and get a handle on. We eventually tried to get the basics together and then cover whatever was needed once the little one was born.

Now, with our second pregnancy, we are a little more in the know as far as what we will need and just how much of an upheaval of our lives the new little one will be.

There are a number of neat things about this whole process, the joy of preparing for a new child, the anticipation of finally meeting the little one who began to make their presence known in the womb around 20 weeks by movement and kicking, the excitement of making changes to our living accommodations, the welcoming of a new gift into the family, and finally the realization that the little one is the physical manifestation of our love.

Jesus is the ultimate gift and manifestation of God's Love. The efforts we put into preparing for a child in pregnancy should be similar to our efforts to prepare our heart for His coming at Christmas.

Will our heart be prepared and warm to His coming? Will we be receptive, or will our heart be as cold and dark as that winter night that He was born? Will we be ready to make the necessary sacrifices for His needs? Will we be prepared to nurture His presence within?

Mary, our Mother, help us to prepare for the coming of your Son. Help us to make our heart supple to the preparations of the Holy Spirit. Help us to be open to receiving Jesus. Thank you for saying yes.

Pax vobis,