Saturday, January 15, 2011

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Could I Love You Without Approving the Way You Chose to Live?

It seems more and more I am coming across articles and comments from others about this false notion that to love someone means accepting everything about a person and supporting their choices, even if those choices are inherently bad for them or go against our conscience.

Love and Acceptance ≠ Supporting or Encouraging Bad Choices

This post could be lengthy and explore deeper concepts of love, but instead I am going to just skim the surface to make my point.

First of all we have to understand and acknowledge that individuals can and do make choices that are wrong. Yes, there is right and wrong, no room for relativism here. We can and do make choices that can be detrimental to our physical, emotional and psychological well-being.

Secondly, we also have to realize that our choices affect others. Nobody lives in a vacuum or on an island. When we make a choice for our own lives it affects our family, friends, our community and the whole world.

Lastly, we need to be aware that our wrong choices actually lead us to that dreaded 3 letter word we are all guilty of “SIN”
As we read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church
# 1850 Sin is an offense against God: "Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done that which is evil in your sight." Sin sets itself against God's love for us and turns our hearts away from it. Like the first sin, it is disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become "like gods," knowing and determining good and evil. Sin is thus "love of oneself even to contempt of God." In this proud self- exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus, which achieves our salvation.

I’ll focus on two of the comments I have come across lately.
#1: “God is all loving...He loves all His children”
Certainly there is truth in that comment, so I say “Amen” to that, however part of loving His children includes providing guidelines and teachings on what is good and what is evil. What is beneficial and what is damaging for his creation.

#2: “The God I believe in...” Wait a minute....
Are we created in His image, or trying to create God in our image? If we can create God then we could do so in a way as to justify all our actions to aid us in drifting through life on a cushy marshmallow cloud as we justify everyone’s individual choices and fail to acknowledge the damage being done to ourselves and the world around us.

Christ says it many times in scripture, He does love each of us, and he came specifically for those who were making bad choices, living sinful lives, in fact he was criticized for hanging out with sinners – He came for sinners, he loves them but he never justified their lifestyle. He came to show them there was a better way and called them to repent and once they experienced His love they did make their free will choice to repent, to change their ways and follow Him.

Best to read it in His own words, so here are some references:

Mark 10: 21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, "One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him.”
John 8:11 Jesus addresses the woman caught in adultery and says, “Go, from now on sin no more.”

Luke 19:1 -10 After Jesus dines with the chief tax collector, he promises to give half of his possessions to the poor and to repay those he defrauded four times the amount, Jesus says to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."

So if we are so sure that God loves us, we should be working to repent, not to justify our own sinfulness.

God created us; He’s the loving Father, calling us home to heaven. He designed our bodies for a specific purpose. He created our human nature, so He knows all there is to know about His creation. Any act that goes against this specific purpose, this human nature that God designed is the sinfulness we need to repent from, after all, Christ came to redeem the sinner, not to justify the sin.

So that is why, following Jesus’ example, YES, I can love someone even though I don’t support or encourage the lifestyle they may have chosen to live.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Our Halloween Dilemma...

Since our conversion we have always felt a pull to shy away from all the happenings of Halloween night, we know that if we had converted before our children were born we would have never started the tradition of participating in Halloween.

We didn’t want our children to think our conversion meant they no longer get to take part in fun activities like Halloween. After all they don’t see the harm in getting candy from the neighbours and dressing up as their favourite super hero. If we are going to stop being a part of Halloween we’d have to replace it with another fun activity.

I enjoy hearing about other Catholic families who still hold costume parties for their children with an “All Saints Day” theme. I am going to seriously consider hosting one next year. I guess now that I have put that in print, someone may hold me too it.

In the last few years we have made a point of coming to know and understand the background of Halloween, and it seems depending on which resource we refer to we find varying stories. My favourite is found at American Catholic

We are uncomfortable with entire notion of glorifying evil, so we have placed rules on the types of costumes our children can wear, etc., However, this year there was a new concern for me, as a Mom of a pre-teen boy... the costumes are not just becoming more horrid, now we are finding hyper sexualized costumes for young girls and adult women as well. Hagelin of the Washington Times says is best.

This year when our older son expressed that he has no desire to participate in Halloween, I have to say we did breathe a sigh of relief. We left the decision up to him, but we also did not try to change his mind when he mentioned he’d rather stay home that evening.

Our youngest says, “I’m not missing out an opportunity to get free candy!” We reminded him that the candy is not really free, because Mom and Dad are buying candy to hand out to the children who come knocking on our door. For the candy to be free, we’d have to take him out trick or treating and not buy any to give out. I’m not sure that made any difference to him.

We may do things differently next year...time will tell.

However, what really amazes me is that we live in a society that readily accepts images that are gruesome and horrifying. Why are we so fascinated with walking corpses and representations of supernatural beings like, witches and vampires? Yet, it is so difficult for some to accept that a supernatural being that is all good and loving could exist?

I think about the way Christ and the first Christian martyrs suffered and those images can be pretty gruesome, perhaps for those who are so attracted to those gruesome images for the mere shock value could benefit from a party where we dress up as a one of the martyrs, that could make for some pretty gruesome costumes. St. Thomas More without a head; Blessed Jose Luis with bloody feet after they were skinned off; and many more you can read about more Christian Martyrs.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sink or Swim

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to sit among a group of young adults and overheard one of them say, “I don’t really believe any of it (God, or the church) I just do all of this for my parents.”

I have to say I was very sad to hear this. Even more sad, that at the time I couldn’t think of a reasonable response.

However, as a parent what struck me was the awareness that one day, one of my children might say this – so I began to ponder, what if...

I’ve seen so many families who have had a child turn away from the faith, so I know my children are not immune. This would certainly pierce my heart, but not enough to make me despair or give up on them.

When I look back on my own youth, perhaps at some point I might have been able to say this very same thing. In fact, my actions did say this to God, loud and clear. I was going through the motions of a Catholic youth because I knew my parents expected me to, but I had not made the faith my own.

What would I have liked to have said that day, to that youth who made that statement?

It is the responsibility of us parents to pass on the faith to our children. We have to have an authentic faith, filled with hope and love. Of course, our hope is that our children will make this faith their own, but until the time comes when they are old enough to chose, parents must embrace the challenge of this responsibility.

If I had a swimming pool in my yard, I have the responsibility to protect my child from falling in, or teaching them to swim and how to engage in safe water play. It would be irresponsible for me to leave it up to my child to learn the hard way, risking that they might fall in and then wait and see if they would sink or swim.

However, just because I have a pool and have done my part to protect them or teach them to swim, doesn’t mean that one day when they are old enough to be left unsupervised (young adults) they might make a choice that proves to be detrimental or even deadly.

If I believe in fundamental right and wrong; I believe in the value of our mortal bodies and our immortal soul then it’s my responsibility to teach my children basic truths of the faith, which means I have to know the faith myself so that I have something to pass on to them. Even after doing all I can for them, if they still choose to turn away from the faith then I will hold on to hope against hope that they will come to see the truth, knowing full well that I cannot force them.

This reminds me of the parable of the sower. When we sow the seeds we don’t know what type of soil has been prepared for us, we hope some of it will land on good soil, and we trust that someday it will bear fruit. Even though some seed may land on rocks or thorns doesn’t mean we should stop sowing the seeds. If we stop then we risk that no seed will land on good soil.

When the time comes for our children to seek the truth, some of the seeds may at that time come to bear fruit.

This is one of the many things I find so awesome about how God works in our lives. He is not intrusive, and he never interferes with our free will. He sets up guidelines for us and then hopes we will come to appreciate that the guidelines are there to help us, not hinder us.

This same fatherly love that God has for us is how we as parents are called to love our children. We are not hindering their freedom; actually we are teaching them to live as free human beings and allowing them the opportunity to make an informed choice.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Discovering God’s Design...through the Life Cycle of a Butterfly

About a week ago we purchased a Monarch Butterfly rearing kit from a nearby Butterfly Conservatory. It’s a pretty interesting kit, includes 6 caterpillars, a milkweed plant, a cage and all you need to learn about their life cycle and how to tag them, so they can be tracked, usually as far as Mexico.

I should mention that I am usually uneasy around any type of bug or insect, so if someone had asked me if I ever saw myself with pet caterpillars, I would definitely have said, “No way”

Picture of our caterpillar on the milkweed plant in our cage, getting ready to change into a chrysalis.

I agreed to this undertaking for the benefit of my boys and the children I provide care for, especially since I have mostly boys in my care, I figured this was something they would totally get into, and I was right.

What I didn’t expect is how much I would get out of this undertaking. They are like our little pets, and now they have provided an opportunity for all us to appreciate God’s design for all His creatures.

I am sure most of you reading this know the life cycle of a butterfly, however, if you are like me, perhaps you haven’t given this process much thought. The Monarch egg hatches after 3 – 5 days, and the caterpillar will eat its egg shell. The caterpillar will shed its skin four times, this is called molting, during its 10 -14 days as a caterpillar. When the caterpillars are ready they will attach themselves with silken threads and will hang upside down in a “J” position, very soon they form a chrysalis or pupa. This pupa easily camouflages as it is the same colour as the milkweed plant. This stage will last another 10 -14 days. The butterfly will push itself out of the chrysalis and will hang upside down and it will pump fluid from its abdomen into its wings, which causes the wings to grow in size, in another 2 -3 hours the butterfly is ready to fly away!

What I marvel at is the transformation stage. How the caterpillar has everything it needs to be a caterpillar, and then somehow, instinctively knows what to do, positioning and all, in order to undergo the transformation into a chrysalis and then to a butterfly; at which time it has everything it needs to be a butterfly.

For me this is another affirmation of God’s perfect design; his awesome attention to detail!

The 4 and 5 year old boys I care for are marvelling too and their innocent questions like: How do they change? Why they change? When they take the position and hang like the letter “J” do they know what’s going to happen next? These questions led me to point them to God as well.

I am sure there are countless creatures we could examine to discover more about the mystery of God’s creative design, for now I’ll enjoy discovering it through the life cycle of a butterfly and through the eyes of a child!

Watch this awesome video for a time lapsed view of the process.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sharing Our Dirty Laundry

Letter from Linda Gibbons...

“Though weary, love is not tired; though pressed, it is not straightened; though alarmed, it is not confounded. Love securely passes through all.” Thomas รก Kempis

Greetings in the blessed name of Jesus...

I am glad you walked out your story journey. Yes, its putting out our dirty laundry but we do it so others won’t have to – their only dirty laundry will be in the diaper pail.

You know of the National Post article it was in depth (read long line of dirty laundry) the night before publication I had a few “nervous tremors” but then I said, “It’s worth it.” Too many are in let’s pretend land, we “fix it and forget it and move on” until it all comes back in spades.

When we write about our dark page others can identify with the struggle to get out of the social mess we’ve faced and our failure to take the moral high road. Our dirty laundry testimony tells them they are not alone in their situation and that abortion doesn’t fix anything and they’ll not soon forget! And moving on or getting over it is not the simple task the feminist tripe imagine. So thanks for the brave outing, may God use it to save a life and a lifetime for mother and child. Life and liberty lived in harmony.

Here is a quote from Steve Jalsevac – he’s with Campaign Life Coalition in Toronto:
“Each individual who values traditional morality and principles must take personal and courageous responsibility to act appropriately on what they know is wrong and harmful. There is no “they”. There is only you.”

Sending you a little poem I know you’ll appreciate:

His Number

While waiting as a mother-to-be,
I heard God firmly speak to me.

To cast aside the world’s device
And become a living sacrifice.

Namely, that my womb should bear
The one He planned to cradle there.

And that no humanistic creed,
Should limit my fertility.

Oh, how I wrestled with that word,
So unusual, so absurd.

Could God? Would God take control?
And what would His requirement hold?

After much debate and doubt,
I threw my own decisions out.

If God can measure earth and sea,
Can He not chart a family?

And if He names and number stars,
Then is His book is each of ours.

We therefore gave Him the right
To build the house and take the charge

A mother now with five on hand,
By faith and grace I have no plan.

But cast aside the things that kill
To let His number be fulfilled.

-Author Unknown

Peace in Christ. Love in Jesus

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Christ In The Details

As I contemplate today’s gospel, John 1:45 – 51 I find myself intrigued by Nathanael’s encounter with Christ. I can only imagine what Nathanael must have felt when he met Jesus for the first time and yet Jesus seems to know him; he is struck by this and questions him, "How do you know me?"

I have learned through the years that we all have a story, especially about our personal encounter with Christ, while some of us may share a story similar to St. Paul, I am certain that for most of us, God revealed himself to us in a subtle way, just as Christ did with Nathanael.

What strikes me about this is that Jesus is in the details. He cares about every moment of our day, and he is there with us, whether we realize it or not. He cares about us enough to be aware of every moment of our lives. Jesus and Nathanael share an intimate moment, as only the two of them know what is significant about Nathanael under the fig tree. Don’t we all long to share an intimate moment like that with Christ? Isn’t it awesome to acknowledge that we can have those moments, every day?

So whether I am washing dishes, writing this post or listening to the children’s make believe stories, whenever I turn my heart and mind to my creator, He is here with me. The fact that he is such a faithful friend motivates me to be accountable for the times I give into temptation to judge or criticize those around me, at those times I know I can rely on His help as long as I am ready to co-operate with him, he’ll help me overcome the struggles I will undoubtedly face today.

Reflecting further brings more questions to mind...

Could Jesus say the same thing to me that he said to Nathanael? “There is no duplicity in her.”

Am I as faithful a friend to others, as Christ is to me? Do I pay attention to the details in the lives of those around me?

Do I respond as Nathanael did, greeting Jesus as the son of God, and King of Kings?

Picture: Saying Grace by Norman Rockwell