Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Open to life."

Since beginning a second journey through an HG pregnancy, I have often felt almost removed, like a spectator to some gigantic upheaval in my family. My body, also, seems other most of the time (probably thanks to the meds keeping me hydrated). It is as if I'm not the one carrying any cross, but rather the one forever being carried.

This has given me a new perspective on the Church's teaching that we be "open to life." The emphasis with the teaching is usually that each conjugal act be open or that married couple be open.

But it's much more than that.

In our experience, being "open to life" has affected each and every family member and most of our closest friends. Everyone has sacrificed for this new little life and (thanks be to God) everyone looks forward to meeting the "new one."

My parents, happily married for almost 32 years and empty-nesters for 3 years, have taken two very energetic small children into their care. 24-7 care. Not to mention footing the grocery bills for an 18-month-old who eats like an adolescent male.

The Scientist's parents have given up weekends and evenings to help out my parents.

Back home, our employers, friends, neighbors and doctors have been outstandingly generous with their time and flexibility. And most of all: prayers.

This pregnancy exemplifies what healthcare should look like--openness to life, eagerness to serve, and understanding hearts full of encouragement and wisdom.

Being "open to life" is a call, I have found, to every single one of us. It is a love of God's own plan, not just for one couple's happiness and joy and sacrifice, but also for everyone around them.

We are filled with joy.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mercy Minutes

My latest sampling from The Catholic Company (Mr. Government, I received a free copy of this book in return for this review) was Mercy Minutes: Daily Gems of St. Faustina to Transform Your Prayer Life. Compiled by the Rev. George W. Kisocki, CSB, it offers two or three short quotes from the Diary of St. Faustina for each day of the year.

Be warned: Faustina is intense. "Nothing disturbs my peace." "O Jesus, my heart stops beating when I think of you!" "I do not know how to love partially!" There were days when I would read the excerpts, eyebrows raised, and shelve it with an exasperated sigh. But that tells you more about my weaknesses than about the book.

This would be a great companion prayer-book for those of us with little time and who find brief excerpts inspiring and motivating. I have to admit that I prefer the whole thing--just buy the Diary! But that is 800 pages of overwhelming love; this smaller book is a good way to get to know Faustina a little more slowly.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Mercy Minutes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Opening the doors: UPDATE

Today's announcement and reports of Benedict XVI's big fat "Welcome!" to the Anglican communities seeking full communion with Rome: Very Exciting. From what I understand, which may or may not be clear, the Church--in a new Apostolic Constitution, which is in itself a Big Deal--is opening the doors in an unprecedented way to full and visible communion for those who love Peter and also love the Anglican liturgy and (little-t) traditions.

I'll let the Anchoress do the reporting while I sit in my recliner and give thanks. Ut unum sint.

UPDATE: Creative Minority Report has its share of comments, too. Hilarious.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

An angle: "Every sperm is sacred."

The Anchoress dug into her archives today and re-posted a 2005 entry: Every Sperm is Sacred. It's a great, lay (as she insists on framing it) explanation of the Catholic Church's teaching on this whole fertility thing. She puts it in her usual, humorous way, which I find gentle and others find abrasive.

The best bit is when she ties the sort of Thomistic "ends-means/essence-final end" explanation to the Whole Point: openness to God's will. A tidbit:

"One of the jobs of the church is to help us find our openness to God – to help us to maintain that openness to His will, so that we might reach our own best and highest spiritual potential; we are not called to dwell in darkness but to live in the light, and in holiness. We are called to holiness: “Be holy as my Father in heaven is Holy.”

Holiness is not something that we can compartmentalize.
If we are holy, it is a permeation of our entire being, and our holiness will be reflected in all that we do, in our every action and choice, and the path to holiness begins with an openness to God, in whom we live and move and have our being. If holiness is our quest, there can then be no limits to our openness.

This is not a difficult thing to understand, at all. It is difficult in practice, but the church is not here to baby us along and make the roads wide and smooth. Christ told us the way is narrow, and not easy. What was it Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” Quite right."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Teresa of Avila, October 15th

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the feast of Teresa of Avila, one the great Doctors of our faith. Reading her Interior Mansions was one of the great steps of my, as of many others', conversion, and I am grateful to remember her each year. One of her most beloved prayers for you today:

Let nothing disturb you
Let nothing affright you.
All things are passing.
God never changeth.
Patient endurance attaineth all things.
Who God possesseth
Nothing is wanting.
God alone sufficeth. Amen.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Self-control and obedience.

Magnificat had a splendid, if predictably opaque, little meditation by Hans Urs von Balthasar today. It struck me particularly as I wrestle with a few sickness-related demons. But first, the quote:

"Christ's act of creating space in himself for God is not self-mastery, but is itself already obedience, an obedience willing to take on whatever task the 'ever greater Father' gives."

He's drawing a profound distinction here between self-mastery and obedience, which is at the heart of our relationship to Christ, "who became obedient to death, even death on a cross." The difference is that in self-mastery I am the one doing great things, I am the one accomplishing the will of the Father. In obedience, however, it is not I but Christ living in me. Obedience is not only the perfect imitation of Jesus himself, but is also the forgetting of myself even to death.

This distinction has been driven home to me these past weeks (almost months now) of illness. Early on, the demon that plagued my heart was fear: "How can I do this again? What if I have to go through this three more times? Five more times? I can't do this!" I had multiple people telling me that we were being so obedient to the Church, so open to life, so brave. But their encouragement was a burden to my tiny, contracted heart: "What if I give in? What if we're not obedient to death?" And I cannot tell you how all of the sudden the world became full of women saying, "Oh, three is enough for me" or "I was done at two."

And it was all wrong. You see, I was trying to be strong and trying to master my fear. I thought that Todd and I had to do it. Buckle down, folks, and bear your cross! It was all wrong.

When it comes to these intimate and (sometimes) frightening invitations from God--especially the invitation to accept our fertility in all its seeming brokenness--He doesn't ask us to show how brave and strong we are. All he asks is obedience, a simple yes. Letting him come and do it for me. Is three enough for me? It doesn't matter, because that's wrong question. The only prayer that matters is this: "Lord Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner. All of you is more that enough for me." All he has for us is enough for us.

Obedience unto death, even death on a cross. The willing heart will simply say, "Do in me whatever task the Father has given." And he will do it. Not me.

An Easter Alleluia.

Monday, October 5, 2009

All six.

So, you may (or may not) wonder how it's going here in preggersville.

The good news is: 1) the baby is still fine and happily sucking away in the womb; 2) the girls love living at my parents' house; 3) my mother is surviving a new shot at stay-at-home-mommyhood.

And I am 9 weeks and 1 day along. This is no sprint to the finish, though. I've been sick now for about 5 weeks, and if Isabella's gestation was any precedent, have about 9 more weeks of this to go. I move like an 85-year-old and eat like the pickiest 4-year-old. I've lost about 12 pounds so far--though on bad days it's more like 15 because of dehydration. Today's a good day, so I think I'll eat a popsicle!

Deep thoughts have included, "Wow. Dorothy Sayers was a genius," "St. ________ (fillintheblank), pray for us!" and "One day at a time." Sometimes I hum Johnny Cash, "And it burns, burns, buuurrnnssss, that ring of fi-yer!"

One deep blessing this weekend: My home parish church--St. Matthew/Holy Trinity--offered the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick at the Saturday evening Mass. My dad, dear and glorious physician that he is, took me along. I realized that now I have received all six sacraments for which I'm eligible at this one little church building: Baptism, Eucharist, Confirmation, Confession, Holy Matrimony, and this Anointing. Such a humble little building, with such banal and offensive music, and one of my favorite crucifixes.... and so much grace. God does not withhold any blessing from our lives.

In spite of emptiness, the good Lord visited my heart on Saturday: "My yoke is easy, my burden is light." Whatever that means, it is good. I'll think about it later, and just love it right now.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Love, God, and Lies.

Amy Welbourn says it beautifully: Belief in God is no pie-in-the-sky ticket to inner peace. Let's keep it real, people.