Monday, April 27, 2009

A request for my readers

I ask all readers of this weblog to have the common courtesy and respect to contact me directly, whether via the comments or the new email link on the right, if they have a complaint about this personal blog.

Thank you very much.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Thoughts on marriage

Megan over at Reflections on the Snow-Covered Hills is having an amazing discussion about the nature of civil vs. religious marriage, especially in light of gay marriage. One of her commenters, Jason, asked us to detail the differences between civil and religious marriages.

Below is my reply. I invite Megan's crowd of commenters to come on over and continue the discussion here, if they wish.

Taking up Jason's challenge -- much of my marriage, in its day to day workings, is similar to Jason's. My husband and I love and support one another, raise children together, share a home and household expenses, pool our earned money, file a joint tax return, claim each other on our benefits, take care of each other when sick, are intimate. Jason and his husband also do all these things, I'm guessing.

The differences are harder to quantify (and I'm going to talk about Catholic marriage in terms of what the Church teaches now -- many Catholic couples you know may not be living this commitment fully -- heck, I know I don't fully live up to it, but Hubby and I try.)

A major difference is the idea of the purpose of marriage. In Catholic thinking, marriage is NOT about romantic love at all (although that's very nice and encouraged.) It's about love as an action, as a set of choices. It's committing not to the feeling of love, but to the idea of raising and caring for a family. Of course many, many married couples also raise families, including Jason and his husband, but I would argue the secular view of marriage is that it is about a commitment to romantic love first. For Catholics, romantic love is secondary, although still very nice and encouraged.

As Catholics who practice our faith, my husband and I have pledged to procreate -- the Catholic wedding service requires you to state you are open to new life and will accept any children God sends through the marital act. (Notice I didn't say parenting, because Jason and his husband do that as well, as do many if not most straight and gay married couples.) That means no artificial birth control. We also accept the indissolubility of our religious marriage -- in other words, we accept that we are married until one of us dies, period. No spiritual divorce (although we have the legal right to divorce the civil aspect of our marriage, and the Church accepts that legal separation is sometimes necessary for the safety of members of the family.)

My husband also has different duties as a married Catholic man than Jason and his husband would -- Hubby is responsible for the entire family's religious education and direction, and that includes me. It's his job to feed my faith and to help me in my religious learning. He will answer for that when he meets the Lord in a greater way than I will for his education. Now, if he abdicated these responsibilities to me or the kids, I would need to step in and teach my kids my faith on my own. And of course, I am very involved in their education, but I take my lead from Hubby.

I also have a different duty as a Catholic wife, and this is a doozie -- I have committed to obeying Hubby's spiritual direction. That doesn't mean going against my personal conscience, ever, but it does mean accepting he has the duty to be involved in my religious life, and I have a duty to accept that and to at least listen to him. It also means I have to accept his primary spiritual direction of the children.

The most important difference of all, I guess, is the Catholic belief is that marriage is a sacrament, not just a ceremony, and therefore confers special graces to the couple through the Holy Spirit. It is a marriage of three, really, a promise to each other and to God, and the Holy Spirit helps us live the vocation.

I hope I haven't totally butchered this, and it is all given with respect. I know other Christians see marriage slightly differently, as will people with different spiritual beliefs. This is simply what my faith teaches, and I think the additional layers on our marriage, the non-civil stuff, is more obvious once explained like this.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Isaiah 55:8-9:
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Our thoughts: only the physically attractive, those who spend their time thinking about themselves and how they can get ahead, are talented and successful.

God's thoughts: A frumpy, lonely, poor, loving, compassionate middle-aged woman who spent her adult live selflessly caring for her elderly and sick parents has the voice of an angel, and is a commanding presence when she sings.

When I watch this talented and passionate woman sing, every single sacrifice for my family seems insignificant in comparison to her sacrifices for her parents.

Well done, Susan Boyle. Keep singing!

Click the link, you will not be disappointed. But I promise you will be surprised.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Adventures in kitchen paleontology 

Big I. is obsessed with dinosaurs. All small children seem to enjoy the ancient lizards, but Big I. is fixated. He now owns two separate encyclopedias on dinos. My four-year-old son can tell you about the different types of skulls each dino has, and why they have sails or plates or horns or massive claws. He can't spell my name, but he can read the names of such dinos as Baryonyx and Xenotarsosaurus.

Big I., you see, has decided he is a paleontologist.

So when the men were at Toys R Us today, and they saw a dinosaur excavation kit, all plans for baking Easter cookies were off. Big I. had bones to dig, and he needed an excavation team.

Chief paleontologist Big I. prepares for the dig.

The first strike of the excavation.

The excavation continues. Digging dinos is hard work.

Excavation team member Daddy chips in.

Chief paleontologist Big I. gives the team instructions and praise.

Putting the skeleton together.

It's a velociraptor! Well done, excavation team!

Quick Easter pic

Sorry I don't have more Easter pics to share (long story), but here's one of the kidlets after Mass on Easter Sunday.
Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

First, why I am a Catholic. The Lord and His Truth never change.

Second, why I am a Christian. "The grave became a place of Hope."

I have a soft spot for Michael Card's music. :-) Happy Easter, everyone!

(For my Christian friends, please do me a favour and pray for me. I need some help. Thanks.)