This Catholic Life #9: Remembering my grandfather; Review Divinity Game
I recall some memories from the life of my grandfather, including the take of his friendship with Pope Paul VI. I discuss what may have been God reaching out to me OR complete coincidence. I tell the story, anyhow! Take it with a grain of salt.
– Humane Vitae by Pope Paul VI (Cardinal Montini prior to Papal election)
– Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalksa: Divine Mercy in My Soul (specifically passages 810; 811)
– John 16:22 (link to shop and image)
– A Refutation of Moral Relativism by Peter Kreeft
Preface: I want to be completely transparent and say that I do still contribute to my family income, albeit not near as much as when I worked outside the home. I, also, do not mean to denigrate or belittle those who must or choose to work outside the home or those who are well-to-do. I only mean to share my experience. I felt a strong call to go be at home with my children, and with that call, has come every grace that one could imagine. Pax Vobiscum. 🙂 #MommySolidarityNotWars
The 5 ways in which being a stay-at-home-mom strengthened my faith:
#1.Reliance on God:
Nothing will make you pray quite like having a hospital bill arrive at the same time the car needs new tires and the toilet decides to irreversibly back-up, after a toddler threw some Legos in it. When I worked outside of the home, I had faith, don’t get me wrong, but now, I must put much more trust in the Lord. I have to believe that if I am living His plan, He will not abandon me.
We continually must turn to prayer and ask the Lord for guidance. I can no longer just buy my way out of every situation and sit smugly, knowing I can fix my own problems, completely of my own accord. Undoubtedly, I have a much greater appreciation for the Lord and how He cares for His flock. Time and time again, He has presented us with small miracles and clear paths. Thanks be to God! Matthew 6:25-34 is my constant motto!
#2. Reliance on the Christian Family:
Recently, my grandfather’s health took a turn for the worst. He lives far from me, and as it was somewhat unexpected, I need to round-up funds quickly to fly to visit him. When I was working, I would have just paid for overnight care for the kids, bought a ticket, and gone to visit him. Done deal. That would have been fine and good, but because of my situation, staying at home with the kids, our finances do not allow for impromptu splurges, no matter how necessary.
I took it to prayer, instantly. I talked with my friends about my internal struggle, and they prayed with me. As I shared my story with women close to me and we prayed together, no small miracle was granted to me. Many women who had heard of my sadness and plight, rounded-up funds, and they presented me with a paid in full, plane ticket. I weep when I think of the love and generosity that was shown to me that day.
I felt the true Christian spirit that day. I relied upon my sisters in Christ to hold me up when I was down, to pray together, to give to those who were in need, and I needed to be humble enough, not to deny this gift. I still weep when I think of the kindness of these women, many of whom, also, come from families with tight budgets. They did not cast judgement upon me, sneering at me for not making more money. They just loved me and were Christ to me. Again, I was reminded that He will never abandon us. I will never doubt God or His children, again!
#3. Money and marriage: This is probably sounding a little redundant, at this point, but it’s important. Having a much tighter budget means that I MUST discuss purchases with my husband. I must get creative, and I must sort out what is truly necessary. My husband and I talk more than ever! If we need groceries, we can get them, but I must discuss with him what it is that he thinks is necessary and compare it with my idea of necessary.
This near constant finance dialogue may sound stressful, but it has actually been instrumental in reestablishing conversation. When I worked full-time, we both felt us slowly drifting apart. It wasn’t intentional, but it just happened. We simply did not need to talk as much, and so, we didn’t. Now, we are a team; we are in this together. We are both called to this life by God, and as we live His plan together, He has showered grace upon grace into our lives through friends, gifts, peace, and love. I appreciate my husband as a reliable and earnest provider, and he appreciates me as a loving and caring steward of the home. We are definitely more in love, and communicating better than ever!
4. Self-worth and value: When I worked, I was definitely capable of much in my life. I am an intelligent, educated woman, who is good with critical thinking, with a love of science. I never felt very comfortable or sure of myself, though. I always doubted and felt the lesser party, in my marriage. I thought that would only get worse when I went home and quit my full-time job. I would be contributing even LESS, as I saw it.
I was so wrong! In order to make our budget work, I needed to become the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. I learned to cut hair watching hours of YouTube channels, because paying for four hair cuts every six weeks was not in the budget. I learned to sew and to knit. I re-purposed my husbands worn out shirts into beautiful, one-of-a-kind dresses for our daughters! I learned to cloth diaper. I learned how to bake bread from scratch. I learned how to knit sweaters. I learned how to make everything from scratch because pre-made is more expensive. I learned to soak beans and to use them, instead of canned. I learned to can and to preserve. I found and drove to dent stores to buy discounted goods, and knowing what I know now, I would choose it all over again. I am so confident in my abilities and in God’s grace being sufficient, in all cases, now. I, also, think I would survive the zombie apocalypse, in case you were wondering…. I had no idea of what I was capable before, but I am, now, a woman comfortable in her own skin and capable of so much. Whatever my family needs me to be, I am confident I can become it, through the grace of God, if He be calling me to it!
5. Humility: I was blessed in childhood and young-adulthood, as I came from a well-to-do family with loving and hard-working parents. We had a lot of enviable and wonderful things in our lives.
As a stay-at-home-mom, as an adult, given my husband’s single income, we are anything but well-to-do. I no longer have designer bags, shoes, or luxury cars. I don’t have fancy and restorative vacations. I don’t have new clothes. I don’t often get to indulge in splurges.
I must always be upfront about our means when we make plans with friends, about what we can afford. I have to be honest, and let go of my pride. So, Sally down the street knows that we aren’t swimming in money? Why does that matter? Admittedly, I thought it did at one point. I thought what I had was my status and my value. I was so wrong, and becoming a SAHM has lead me to that realization. I am not my bank account. Our bank account does not determine our value before God. The billionaire and the beggar will both go before the Lord, equal in His eyes. I needed to let go of a lot of embarrassment and preconceived ideas about what was a NEED. Sadly, the latest Marc Jacobs bag wasn’t a need. (Le Sigh!).
This baring of self and honesty about our humble means, has lead me to a lot of personal humility. I am, now, a part of the league of the have-nots, and that’s OK, because, truly, I have the Lord. I can never be a have-not.
A pervasive and expanding trend among Christians, is the practice of stating that whatever it is you want to do, God is calling you to do that. Perhaps in some cases, God is calling that person to do what they are doing, but in many of these cases, it is clear that is not what is happening. I’m certain many of these people are well-meaning and even believe they are being called by God.
We are certainly able to discern, pray, and use our well-formed conscience, but the conscience must be well-formed. To be well-formed, is to know that we can be deceived. We can be misled, just as Adam and Eve were misled. They didn’t want to do evil; however, that was still the end result.
We should and are able to discern God’s will in our lives, but there is a great detail that many Christians are forgetting:
God’s will for you is not going to contradict Himself. God will not ask you to do evil so that good may come of it. God will not ask you to act against what is good so that you might be “happy”. God doesn’t talk like that. You know who does? The Kardashians.
A woman told me God was calling her away from her marriage because she wasn’t happy anymore. Really? Are you sure it’s God calling you away? You might not be talking to God, but to yourself.
I have no doubt that she believes God is the one who is calling her, but self-deception is the strongest form of deception and the first consequence of sin. Read the Bible (my least favorite retort on the face of God’s green earth!). Did Jesus tell the woman at the well to just go be with whichever husband made her happy? No, He didn’t, and He was clear.
People like to pretend that Jesus was ambiguous and unclear because he spoke in parables. They like to pretend Jesus came to make everyone happy.
Jesus was very clear. There are clear rights and wrongs, and happiness is not guaranteed. If everyone is only concerned with his or her own happiness as the guage for goodness, then all of society falls apart.
No longer does the man consider the harm he brings to his wife, his children, society, friends and family, if he divorces and leaves his family. He only has to consider his “happiness”. He could also conveniently claim that God was calling him to leave his wife…then, who would dare argue with him? Well, I’m daring!
Jesus was so clear that there was little dissension among what He meant and said for nearly 1500 years after His death. The dissension and the problems in faith, almost always begin with us deceiving ourselves, that we know better because we have a special, direct-line to God.
Of course we all can pray and receive guidance from the Lord, but faith doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We are a Christian family, with structure and shared faith and life in Christ. We have priests who can give spiritual direction and stand in persona Christi. Go to them! They sit in the empty confessional every Saturday, for hours.
If you want to know if your desire is God’s will or your will, you need only compare it to what we know of the faith. Ask yourself: Am I making an exception? Is this contradicting the words of Christ? The ten commandments? The wisdom of the magisterium of the Church? Would this normally be considered wrong? Am I a “special” case? Do I mean to imply that what I’m doing is acceptable because I have a relationship with God unlike others?
If you are answering yes to any of these, you aren’t hearing a call from God. You are hearing the shouts in an echo chamber. Get out of that echo chamber! It is a chamber of spiritual death!
We all want our desires to align with God’s and when they don’t, we must change our will or be against God. For those who cannot stomach “thy will be done”, they create a third and devious option: claim God wants what we want.
If you need to claim that you have a “special” relationship with God wherein He communicates views that contradict the deposit of faith, you aren’t talking to God. You are probably talking to yourself, and at worst, the devil.
Extreme political correctness is fascism masquerading as manners. It was originally devised to silence dissenting opinions without the need to formulate an argument. It does this extremely well.
Predictably, this elicited some comments from the closest of friends, aghast at my response! They couldn’t believe I didn’t support something like being cordial or manners! I will share with you what I said. Take it with a grain of salt, if you will!
“Simply labeling everything that we don’t want to hear as hate speech is a lazy tactic. Someone doesn’t agree with me? Oh, well! It doesn’t “harm my physical safety” to have someone hold an opinion different from mine. I don’t need to scream until they are ultimately silenced like a sycophantic infant.
It is a fallacy that others are responsible for how YOU feel. We are all responsible for our own actions and emotional responses. We cannot merely be reactionary, or we aren’t more emotionally mature than my 1 year-old.
There are certainly groups who mean to spew hate and intolerance, but that isn’t what I am referencing. Holding an opinion that does not find its locus in the cultural zeitgeist, will get you labeled as someone who speaks hatred. This is simply false. Someone can have an opinion that isn’t in agreement with mine, much like yours right now, and it’s not hate speech.”
The response came, stating that political correctness and manners are intertwined, stating “I also believe that you can express those opinions in a PC, respectful manner. I don’t think being PC is about what you believe, it’s about how you express what you believe“. To this, I responded:
“I’m definitely talking about political correctness and not manners. Political correctness is the focus on the correct terminology which can change at the whim of any group, and not the decorous or indecorous nature of the address. How do we determine what is politically correct? Is what you deem the correct terms, correct, or is it what I do? Whichever you say, why? How shall we determine moving forward? This is a charge brought against many well-meaning people today.
I’m not talking about monsters who truly mean harm. I’m saying that it is ridiculous (and unfair) to vilify people for using terms when they meant no harm. What is acceptable should not be determined by an outside source. It varies culturally and colloquially, and heaven forbid something I say offends someone unintentionally. I hope they don’t crucify me, just as I will not crucify them for labeling me anything other than bi-racial or whatever designation I’m supposed to promote today.
I’ve had people in my own extended family refer to me as Oriental. Am I going to get bent out of shape and cry oppression and white-privilege because (he or she) doesn’t know that oriental describes inanimate objects and that Asian is the term for a person? Nope. Doesn’t affect me at all.
I’ve certainly been called everything from a “rice cracker” to a “mutt” to “Heinz 57”. None of these terms came from people who meant any harm by them whatsoever, and I choose not to let it dictate my self-worth, self-esteem, and mood. No one has that much power over me.
No one is responsible for my actions or emotions but me, and I think a good number of people could do with following that attitude of personal responsibility.
Do I think it’s awful when people throw out slurs? I don’t love it, but I don’t think their lives need to be ruined for it”
My ultimate worth is drawn from being made in the image and likeness of God. As the daughter of a King, the opinions of others do not bother me! I am only concerned with the opinion of one being, and I am not above my master. They hated Him, and so they may hate me.
These are some of the excerpts from ‘Amoris Laetitia‘, which I wanted to highlight. I hope you enjoy, especially, if you are not someone who can read the full document. If you can at all make time and are able, I would encourage you to read the document!
“Many people feel that the Church’s message on marriage and the family does not clearly reflect the preaching and attitudes of Jesus, who set forth a demanding ideal yet never failed to show compassion and closeness to the frailty of individuals like the Samaritan woman or the woman caught in adultery.” (paragraph 28)
“The sacrament of marriage is not a social convention, an empty ritual or merely the outward sign of a commitment. The sacrament is a gift given for the sanctification and salvation of the spouses, since “their mutual belonging is a real representation, through the sacramental sign, of the same relationship between Christ and the Church.” (paragraph 55)
“It is one thing to be understanding of human weakness and the complexities of life, and another to accept ideologies that attempt to sunder what are inseparable aspects of reality. Let us not fall into the sin of trying to replace the Creator. We are creatures, and not omnipotent. Creation is prior to us and must be received as a gift.” (paragraph 56)
“We need to acknowledge the great variety of family situations that can offer a certain stability, but de facto or same-sex unions, for example, may not simply be equated with marriage. No union that is temporary or closed to the transmission of life can ensure the future of society.” (paragraph 52)
“From the outset, love refuses every impulse to close in on itself; it is open to a fruitfulness that draws it beyond itself. Hence no genital act of husband and wife can refuse this meaning, even when for various reasons it may not always in fact beget a new life.” (paragraph 80)
“I feel it urgent to state that, if the family is the sanctuary of life, the place where life is conceived and cared for, it is a horrendous contradiction when it becomes a place where life is rejected and destroyed. So great is the value of a human life, and so inalienable the right to life of an innocent child growing in the mother’s womb, that no alleged right to one’s own body can justify a decision to terminate that life, which is an end in itself and which can never be considered the “property” of another human being.”(paragraph 83)
“With great affection I urge all future mothers: keep happy and let nothing rob you of the interior joy of motherhood. Your child deserves your happiness. Don’t let fears, worries, other people’s comments or problems lessen your joy at being God’s means of bringing a new life to the world.” (paragraph130)
“There can be a certain flexibility of roles and responsibilities [of a mother and a father], depending on the concrete circumstances of each particular family. But the clear and well-defined presence of both figures, female and male, creates the environment best suited to the growth of the child.” (paragraph 175)
“Couples should be helped to realize that surmounting a crisis need not weaken their relationship; instead, it can improve, settle and mature the wine of their union.” (paragraph 176)
“I certainly value feminism, but one that does not demand uniformity or negate motherhood. For the grandeur of women includes all the rights derived from their inalienable human dignity but also from their feminine genius, which is essential to society.” (paragraph 173)
“By thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and of growth, and discourage paths of sanctification which give glory to God.” (paragraph 237)
“Taking on domestic chores or some aspects of raising children does not make him any less masculine or imply failure, irresponsibility or cause for shame.” (paragraph 286)
“We cannot forget that “mercy is not only the working of the Father; it becomes a criterion for knowing who his true children are. In a word, we are called to show mercy because mercy was first shown to us”. (paragraph 310)