Eye of the Tiber publishes Ground-breaking Catholic Exposé

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It will make you laugh. It will make you cry. It will shock you. You cannot finish this book without being moved.

Eye of the Tiber, the leading website in Catholic news, has published some of their best eye-opening articles in a handy book form you can read when you’re stranded somewhere without the internet. All of the news stories you care about: liturgical tragedies, papal statements, the daily trials of being Catholic and more, written about in a way that will make you laugh and, if you want to, think. I loved the article chosen to be the last in the book, but you won’t appreciate it until you’ve read the whole book first, so no cheating!…

To read more of the review (and some more of the stuff I’ve written over the years) head over to Ignitum Today!

Editors note: You’re not crazy, I did accidentally publish another review this morning. It wasn’t quite ready for the world yet, so it’s been sent back to drafts to be published again at a later date.

Henri Nouwen on Today’s World

 

I know a lot of people out there are worried about the state of the world. I’m currently reading a book that is a collection of letters by Catholic scholar and spiritual writer Henri Nouwen. One letter written in 1981 is in response to someone who wrote to him concerned whether humanity would survive to the end of the century. Here is his response:

Dear George,

I really don’t know if our civilization will survive the century. Considering the growing threat of a nuclear holocaust, there certainly is reason to wonder. But important for me is not if our civilization will survive or not but if we can continue to life with hope, and I really think we can because our Lord has given us His promise that He will stay with us at all times. He is the God of the living. He has overcome evil and death and His love is stronger than any form of death and destruction. That is why I feel that we should continually avoid the temptation of despair and deepen our awareness that God is present in the midst of all the chaos that surrounds us and that that presence allows us to live joyfully and peacefully in a world so filled with sorrow and conflict.

Please be sure of my prayers for you in these tempting times.

Peace,

Henri Nouwen

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Stay tuned for my review of this book coming soon.

A Call To Mercy from Mother Teresa

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This lovely book published just in time for the Year of Mercy and Mother Teresa’s canonization contains many previously unpublished stories and quotes by and about the world famous saint. When I read it this weekend, I honestly didn’t know much about her aside from the basic outline of her life and a very short book of quotes from her I read in college. I feel I know her much better now and have some practical tools for how to imitate her in my everyday life.

That might sound strange coming from a stay-at-home mom in New York, but bear with me. This book refers to Mother Teresa as nothing other than “Mother.” Seeing how she interacted with everyone, from the sisters in her order to the poorest person on the streets, there is actually a lot that a biological mother can relate to in this book.

Her example of patience and love can teach a biological mom just as much as it can a spiritual mom. Her struggles are much like our own. For example, several of the stories in the book feature Mother Teresa being up late at night to care for one of the sisters or for one of the poor or sick in their homes. Every biological mother can relate to that!

For everyone, the author, one of her spiritual children Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC, breaks down the 7 corporal and the 7 spiritual works of mercy and shares insights from Mother Teresa and about Mother Teresa on how best to live out the calling of Christ.

This would be a great book to take a couple weeks and really meditate on each chapter. Since I did not have that luxury this time around, I can also say that reading it more quickly is also not without merit. I hope to return to this book sometime later, but this time was not a waste.

I got the opportunity to read this book through my membership in Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. I would honestly recommend this book to anyone. And perhaps buy a copy for your mom or mom-friends as well.

Theology of the Body Thursday #31: Women’s Viagra

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I talked about it before and I doubted they’d do it, but they did.

Late last month the FDA has approved a Viagra for women called Addyi. To the FDA’s defense, they have approved it with a number of unusual restrictions such as only a physician trained specifically in this drug can prescribe it and it has to have a major warning label forbidding use of the drug with alcohol.

An odd mix of sex activists, sex therapists and social conservatives who will likely never agree on anything else ever again are all criticizing this medication. It has only a 15% success rate and even then, it only makes a small positive change in the patient’s sex life. It has some awful side effects including a risk of fainting.

Unlike Viagra, Addyi has to be taken daily for months before you can feel any affects. This puts you constantly at the risk of fainting, unable to drink or to safely drive or use heavy machinery even if you have no immediate plans of having sex. It was originally made to be a anti-depressant, but after the drug company failed to get FDA-approval, they repackaged it as a treatment for low sex drives in women. Speaking of the drug company, this isn’t the first time Sprout has messed up.

Pretty good illustration of men's sex drive vs. women's sex drive

Pretty good illustration of men’s sex drive vs. women’s sex drive

Anyone can tell you, sex is much more complicated for women than it is for men. Women need to feel safe, they need to feel like they can trust their partner, and they need to feel an emotional connection. It makes sense given a woman’s amazing capability to bring new life. They need to feel like the person they are with will stick around for the long haul to raise whatever potential life could come from this act. All of these very natural, understandable things cannot be fixed by a simple pill.

Starting in October, a drug company will start to try to sell women a drug to solve problems that cannot be solved by drugs and their particular medication is not only ineffective, but outright dangerous.

Here's what it looks like so you can avoid the trap.

Here’s what it looks like so you can avoid the trap.

I Am An Angry Mom: A Response to “No More Angry Mothers”

A few days before Mother’s Day, an article was published on Huffington Post entitled, “No More Angry Mothers; Embracing Accessible Abortion and Affordable Contraception” Basically, she decries a whole generation of women who didn’t have access to contraception and abortion. She characterizes them as miserable and lacking freedom. She trumpets the grand (and failed) solutions of contraception and abortion. I have two questions for her:

  1. Is a little anger really a bad thing?
  2. Are these really the solution?

I am an angry mother. My son was unplanned. I had to completely rewrite my career plans when he came into our lives. I never in a million years thought I would ever be a stay-at-home mom.

But isn’t a little anger a good thing. As another pro-choice feminist once said:

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Change hurts, especially when that change runs counter to our plans. But it is through the hurt that we grow. The change makes us better people. My little change brought me to my position at Feminists for Life. It has given me the opportunity to chase my childhood dream of writing. He has taught me patience, endurance, living for the moment and enjoying the little things. Anger allows us to grow and is usually a good indication of where we need to grow the most.

I’m sure the article comes from a place of pain from being called by her mother “her final mistake” and seeing the vocation of motherhood vilified in her childhood home. However, even now, 50% of the children who survive the womb were unplanned. I think that our silence about that is a sin. We’re all worried about our kids being labeled as unwanted and ourselves being labeled as irresponsible. Instead of being worried about our own self-image, we need to be worried about our children’s classmates who will never see the light of day. I would bet everything I own that for every woman entering an abortion clinic today, there is at least one mother in the world that was in her exact shoes and chose life. We need to shout our stories from the rooftops so these women know they are not alone.

My name is Bethanie Ryan and I had an unplanned pregnancy a month into my marriage while I was still in collegeMy son wasn’t planned by me, but, more importantly, he was planned by God (fate, destiny, whatever you want to call it). 

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Abortion and contraception aren’t the solutions to lack of community support, poverty, abuse, and the disrepute of motherhood. A woman who has an abortion is still going back to her previous impoverished, abused, lonely existence. A woman who pops a pill doesn’t learn to understand and respect the cycles of her body.

We need to learn the art of being neighbors. This is all the more important in an economy that seems hell-bent on tearing families apart as people travel to find work.

We need real solutions to poverty. No woman should have to choose between a job or education and her child.

We need to be more aware of abuse in our communities and make substantial steps to protect abuse victims.

The vocation of motherhood has rightfully been taken down from it’s pedestal as the end-all and be-all of womankind. No woman should be held as less than for not having children. Motherhood, however, does deserve a better place. There are few fish to fry bigger than creating and nurturing the next generation. “Smart”? Many stay-at-home moms are college-educated like me.

The current solutions of contraception and abortion lead to nothing more than more pills and more abortions. We need to look for real solutions to the pains of unplanned pregnancy, not quick fixes that don’t actually fix anything. And those solutions are certainly the last thing anyone needs to be celebrating on Mother’s Day.

Theology of the Body Thursday #24: Caitlyn Jenner, Compassion and SSDD

Once again, we see people talking past each other instead of to each other. Far too many people on both sides are using inflammatory language and shutting one another down. Truly SSDD. What is the hot-button topic this week, you may ask? Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair.

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Our bodies are fundamental to who we are. They aren’t just an add on. They aren’t a tomb and they aren’t a tool. Or as one otherwise objectionable blog post points out, “We are not minds in meat suits; we are not blocks of animated carbon with interchangeable parts.” To insist otherwise is supporting a dangerous dualism that pits the body against the soul. God made both the body and the soul and both are part of who we are.

 

I could imagine that someone who is transsexual likely understands this truth more than most. Transsexuality is one of those things that you can’t possibly understand unless you’ve been in the person’s shoes. If I were to meet someone who, let’s say, lost their parents, although both of my parents are still with me, I could still fall back on the deaths of other close relatives and friends in effort to understand. There is no such fall back for transsexuality. It’s in a league of it’s own.

Someone who is transsexual would understand the truth as to the importance of the body because they want their body to reflect who they believe their deepest self to be. This idea of the body reflecting truth is a fundamental teaching of TOB.

Problems arise when we consider that the body we are born with is designed to reflect our identity. While we can choose our behavior, we cannot choose our identity. God doesn’t make mistakes. We fallen, imperfect creatures do.

I have no idea how to help those with gender dysphoria. Humans naturally gravitate toward quick fixes and easy answers. We do not want to spend time and wade through the murky, messy questions of life. We seem to have a philosophy of “if it feels good, do it.” Of course, we all naturally want to be happy and to experience pleasure. Various church leaders have said in the past that if the option is transition or suicide, by all means choose transition.

The best Catholic article about transsexuality that I found was from the Minnesota Catholic Conference. Here is the advice they gave:

The Church must actively extend the mercy of Jesus Christ and the healing and compassion he brings to all people. This includes contesting destructive social trends, imprudent public policy and harmful ideologies.

 

Yet, we also need to do something in the lives of real people. This requires not just talk, but an encounter with actual persons — persons who struggle with gender-identity confusion or sexual brokenness — and actively listening to their needs and concerns.

 

We must defend their authentic rights; protect them from cruel, dehumanizing acts; pray for them; and help them to know the father’s plan for how he created them.

The Church as Mother and Teacher needs to be a voice of Truth and Love in this fallen world. We, as her hands and feet, need to address the problems of the world with this same Truth and Love.

Theology of the Body Thursday #23: Check out the Mom-bod!

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You may have seen the viral article “Why girls love the Dad Bod?”

This has led many to ask hard questions on why there is such a double standard for beauty. No one can doubt that while both genders feel the pressure to attain unrealistic beauty goals, women feel this more acutely. We have a higher rate of eating disorders and self-esteem problems. We spend more money on products designed to make us “look prettier” like make-up and diet aids.

As the parody video above explains, “”Most women who ate this year epitomize the mombod” and “If you’re a woman, you can be proud of your boobs, or your butt, or your lips, or your thigh gap, but not yourself or your body as a whole because you’re not a person.”

What would John Paul II say? I believe he’d point out that you are more than your body. He would point out that the woman’s body is beautiful as a womb for new life in whatever form (spiritual or physical).

I am disappointed that no one has yet mentioned that there is already a group hard at work promoting the mombod. 4th Trimester Bodies is a group I have been following for a while. They work to celebrate the bodies that have brought forth new life. Here is some of their work:

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The pictures are accompanied by each woman’s childbirth story. So if you are looking for a dose of mom-power or are currently suffering from depression from your childbirth experience, I would definitely direct you to their site.