punchy line

...and he (Simon Peter) saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth ... not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. - Jn 20: 6-7
-Jn 20: 6-7

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Extreme Makeover: Q & A with Teresa Tomeo on the Greatest Threat to Teens Today

Bestselling Catholic author, talk show and radio host, Teresa Tomeo  recently spoke at Our Lady of Peace Church about her book: Extreme Makeover: Women Transformed by Christ, Not Conformed to the Culture.

Here are two questions posed to Teresa, followed by her insightfully brilliant answers.   We can all take her message and example, which is the message of the Church and the essence of the New Evangelization called for by Bl. Pope John Paul II, to heart. Enjoy!

Me: I’m a mother of small children and one of them is a girl, so she will be a teenager one day, and I personally wasn’t a teenager too long ago.  But, in my opinion, it feels like the morals of the country have just taken a real steep dive, just in very recent history.  Out of everything you’ve presented tonight, what do you think is the greatest threat now, or emerging threat to teenagers in general?

Teresa: I think it’s the over-sexualization of our teens.  And I think it is the attitude of this agenda that we have before us with the contraception mandate.  The whole idea is to sell sexual license. It’s about two things. It’s not about healthcare.  Everybody in this room knows that, but it's about sexual license and it’s about money.  

There is big money involved here, especially with Planned Parenthood and the International Planned Parenthood Federation.  If you go on Planned Parenthood’s website, you can see some of the things that they’re trying to do to young people.  And they want to get kids earlier and earlier and keep them sexually active.  Because the more they’re sexually active, the more they will need Planned Parenthood. 
And here's a screenshot from the Planned Parenthood website today, just to give you an idea of what Teresa is talking about.  Feeling warm and fuzzy, yet?
So I would say the biggest threat is the over-sexualization of our teens right now, in addition to the attcks on the Church.  It’s so important to start as young as you can to catechize (evangelize, first of all) at home.  It’s got to start there.  And I mean, really, even if you’re blessed to be with a good parish like this one, or even if your kids are in a good Catholic school, you have to back up what the Church is doing.  

It’s so important especially to get them young. I have women writing me and saying that their daughters, who are like 5 and 6 years old, are coming home from kindergarten and first grade and asking, “Mommy am I fat?” and making comments about their bodies.  And 'they’re' getting at them younger and younger and younger.  Start as young as you can.  Or you can do what I would do if I had kids: lock them in the basement.  With everything I see, it’s like, “You, are so not going out the door.”

Me: Just as a follow up. What do you see as our greatest strength right now, as a Church.  I know we’ve utilized a lot of media, what with EWTN and everything but what do you see as our greatest defense to these new attacks on youth?

Teresa: I think it’s the truth.  I think we’ve got to get the truth out there.  I mean, we’ve got to get the truth out there as well as all the information about the fallout from the over-sexualization of our culture.  We have to get the truth out there about abortion.  We have to make sure we are telling people and leading people to new insights when we’re speaking out about these issues and giving them the facts.  And even if you’re talking with someone online, whether it's on Facebook or whatever, and you know they are going to be turned off by religion, use some of the facts. 

That’s why I wrote Extreme Makeover. It’s got so many different stats in it.  Armed with them, you can ask someone, “Okay, well if this is so great why does the Center for Disease Control, say this or why does the World Health Organization, which is associated with the United Nations, saying this* about the birth control pill?"  There’s medical science and documentation that what the Church teaches is right and it’s not coming from the Church!  Use it!  Get it out there! 

There’s a blindness out there.  Because when you are in sin, as I was, you don’t want to see this stuff.  But you have to put it out there and once in a while you are going to get a breakthrough because people are miserable, even if they don’t yet realize it.  They are constantly looking, like that old country song, “for love in all the wrong places.”  And they keep on looking for the same thing and they keep seeing that it's not answering their questions.  So the biggest defense we have in the Church is what the Church gives us: the truth.

A rallying cry if there ever was any – just in time for the Feast of the Annunciation.   Buy Extreme Makeover (Ignatius Press, October 2011) and get those facts out there here.  The Integrated Catholic Life gives a wonderful book review here.

*The pill has been designated a class 1 carcinogen (also on the list are cigarettes, radiation, asbestos).

A heartfelt thanks Teresa Tomeo for permitting her answers to these questions to appear on The Theology of Laundry. JMJ

Friday, March 23, 2012

Live From the Religious Freedom Rally, San Francisco

Stay tuned for coverage of the Stop the HHS Mandate Rally, SF starting at noon, PST (and pray the kids survive the train ride to the City).

On the ground: 12:25 pm
Yay!  Ran into another Our Lady of Peace family!

 12: 30 pm:
"They want Catholics and people of religious conviction to go to the back of the bus!" Marjorie Campbell

Next Speaker 12:39:
"Mr. Obama, Let Catholics be Catholic!" 

"They're telling us that our Catholic hospitals are not an expression of our faith? That Catholic Charities is not an expression of our faith?! Unbelievable!"

12:43 pm - Reggie Littlejohn Takes the Stage

 She founded Women's Rights without Frontiers. If you haven't checked out her site, do so soon!

12:51 pm 

"For too many years the Church has closed its eyes to the movements of politics ...and evil has flourished everywhere..."

1:04 PM  Bill May!!!! 
Those who came to heckle us were standing just to the left of this photo (which is why some people are looking in that direction, in case you were wondering)

"We...will...not...do...harm!" -Bill May

1:12 pm- Speaker: Morales 
"There are Davids and Joshuas arising all over the nation... Let freedom ring!"

1:15 pm-

With Rev. Hoye

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Society Stands By The Bishops When The Bishops Stand By Their Church

And it's not hard to understand why.  Who wants to support anything when some of its most prominent, and presumedly supportive representatives remain shakily dedicated to it?

The bishops' unanimous (a milestone, if there ever was any) opposition to the HHS contraception mandate provides a great lesson: when they unite, a fair minded public will support them.

I mean, why not?  They're the United States bishops, for goodness sakes.  And the Church has been around for a long, long, long, long time.  If we were a business, that fact alone would earn us some managerial seniority.  As current history proves, when it comes to forming the moral compass of society, people do respect us especially when we believe in our own teachings.  

Now that the bishops are standing firm, and enjoying the nonsectarian support of the public, it does make one wonder what would have happened if the same had been the case with Humanae Vitae. I'm willing to bet that people would have responded much more positively if the bishops' conference had, at that time, shown a united front. And even if the public hadn't been quite as vocally supportive, they might at least have been much more amenable to listening to the Church's reasons for its moral teaching, instead of dismissing it outright as too archaic, unrealistic and 'out of touch' with the physical urges of human beings.

Because it was assumed that modern, "sophisticated" had moved 'beyond' Church's teaching on contraception, and there was no bishops' conference to say otherwise, people bought the lie that artificial contraception is a good thing.  I suspect that there was also a fear of 'losing people' underlying the tragic alignment of clerics, lay leadership, and powerful religious orders with the popular culture's endorsement of artificial birth control.  

The present HHS contraception mandate debacle is the fruit of that  laissez-faire, "people are going to do it anyway," let your impulses be your guide, line of thinking.  Only now it's a "people are going to do it and we all have to pay for it" stalag imperative.

Imagine if it had been assumed that people could and would handle as well as appreciate the wisdom of the Church's wise birth control teaching?  Would the firm, fatherly leadership of the bishops have caused a whole nation of individuals to be more cautious and deliberate in their choices?  Would it have led to a deeper sense of our bodies as temples of the Holy Spirit, so as to not poison them with chemicals nor negate our fertility with awkward physical barriers?  More importantly, would the basic morals of our society not have degenerated as quickly as they have?

No one can predict the future, or the past in retrospect, of course, but, in view of the ongoing support for the bishops's stance against the HHS mandate, the possibility still remains that it could have been.  And if not, it still should have been.  But, hopefully we can all now take away the lesson that it can be again.

It's time to stop blaming Humanae Vitae for the mass exodus of Catholics from the Church and start admitting that it was dissent from the Church's teaching on contraception that caused it.  Not to mention that it is those Sebelliu...oops, sorry... I meant, rebellious sentiments of the sexual revolution that are probably at the heart of why contraception has become a central political issue today.

Now may be the perfect time to unify and catechize the faithful on those moral teachings which underly why the Church is opposed to the contraception mandate to begin with.

It's not too late.  We can be a united Faith again.  We just need someone to keep leading the way.  Enter stage right: a fully convinced bishops conference together and in support for all of the Church's teachings...that is, I hope so, one day.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Domestic 'Miracles' We All Need

"Stuff happens"(which is my euphemism for what really happens) at home especially when said home contains children within it's walls.

Due to its dense population of parents, Heaven sympathizes with the interminability of the run-of-the-mill chaos that comes with raising children, and Heaven answers with exactly the kind of miracle your family needs in the given moment.

I'm not referring to cleaning-related miracles.  I'm thinking of the practical 'miracles' the 'other side' catapults into domestic life just to help you survive that day without completely tearing your hear out or collapsing in a heap of frustration.

Some may argue that these aren't 'miracles,' per se.  But, whatever, you know when something shouldn't go right but miraculously does.  Such in the case of the following domestic 'miracles' (really!) that I'm convinced we all need:

Miracle 1: The infinity-of-space miracle.
Heavenly miracle synonymous with "space bag,"?  How can that be, you may be wondering?  Wonder no more, dear reader...it just is.

Freezers, purses, under the stroller baskets: this is the miracle that happens when your items grossly exceed the capacity of your "stuff holder" and yet somehow something else (read: your water bottle, purse, the kids' sand bucket/shovel combo, and hey, even the soccer ball!) fits.

Beach bag about to rip at the seams (can you tell I'm from California?)?  No way, says Heaven!  That trip to the sea is necessary to avoid those counseling session you will need from being cooped up all day and falling victim to another case of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

That's not for you, dear child rearing, child of God!  Heaven to the rescue! Bing!  Now it all goes in, more or less precariously.  Blessed Mother knew ahead of time that you would need that extra hand to push your stroller, and eat that ice cream cone.  She understands...

This miracle also applies to cabinets, pantries and refrigerators.  Freezer door not closing?  Meh, just squish the max pack of fish sticks in between the fries and whatever that packet of meat was when you first bought it (now, oddly enough, it squishes).  Don't worry! God provides! It'll 'fit.'  And anyway, God also invented duct tape to help you out.

Miracle 2: The"reappearing in the place where you should have left it" miracle.
Your keys, wallet, or that universally annoying remote you keep misplacing; isn't it nice to know that St. Anthony 'has your back?'  I can't tell you how many times something has 'appeared' out of the blue either where it is supposed to be or just randomly, even in places that I've already searched and previously came up empty handed.  Without this one I would either die or be stranded somewhere...and then die.

Miracle 3: The"lasting longer than it should" miracle.
Your bottle of hair conditioner (toothpaste, cosmetics or anything else that makes you feel normal), the gas tank, or that hot dog condiment that starts to seem bottomless, I'm convinced the hand of God is been.  Why not?  Look at the gas prices...and look how many hot dogs your kids eat! God knows what you need!  He knows when his people are being economically squeezed unjustly.  And anyway, God is all about 'solar,' ...and probably hot dogs too.  Probably.

Miracle 4: The "unexpected snack/dinner-in-a-pinch" miracle.
You're in public.  The kids are screaming "snackyyyyyy!" at the top of their voices in a way directs everyone's gaze to your direction.  As you dig frantically in the bag for snacks, you imagine that all parents within earshot are assuming your kids must subsist on a cruel diet of banana skins and the salt that falls from saltine cracker.     You wonder to yourself , 'Why didn’t I pack the fruit snacks?! " when, Bing! a bag of fishy crackers suddenly manifests itself.  Thank you, Heaven!

Look, this definitely qualifies as a miracle, especially when you don't know how those fish got there, nor do you even remember shopping for them.   But, hey, they're there, they smell fresh-ish and the kids can nom nom their way into a contented cracker coma.  Yay! Now, you are beaming with the confidence that everyone is thinking you're parent of the year! Because it's all about image, when you're a parent.

This miracle also applies to when a 'dinner' (read: a can of Spaghettios) appears in your pantry or when that duct tape on the freezer door finally gives and 'dinner' falls out (even if it is frozen pierogies).

Hey, I can take a hint.  Frozen food falling out of the freezers may the closest we get to manna from Heaven these days.  No complaints here...and I'd probably prefer perogies to manna anyway.

Now it's your turn.  Can you think of anymore domestic miracles we all need?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

And Then... God Stopped the Rain (Sidewalk Snapshots Vol. 2)

Praying outside of the local Planned Parenthood is always surreal for me (made all the more uncanny by its situation just across street from the YMCA that my family frequents almost daily).

Today was no exception.  It was a cloudy, drizzly morning.  I bundled the kids in their raincoats and warm hats as we headed 'across the street' from the "Y" where we spent our morning, to fulfill our 40 Days for Life vigil commitment.

Even my kids at two and four years old understand what going 'across the street' means.  Well, kind of.  Their strongest impression of sidewalk ministry so far may only be the fishy crackers they gorge themselves on and the sidewalk chalk they play with while I pray.  My daughter has recently shown signs of growing in her cognition of what's actually happening.  She understands that mommy prays the rosary and offers people 'information' (a few times, she's been the one to call out, "Want some info-may-shun?").

It was rainy all this morning and the night before.  Still, we managed to get out to the sidewalk and took our 'station.'  I seated the kids on the sidewalk under their little umbrellas and just prayed that no gust of wind came along to blow them away.

And then... God stopped the rain.

People doubt that things like this actually happen.  Why or how could God just randomly stop the rain for the hour that a mom with her small children stood praying outside an abortion clinic?  Plus, how can we know if it really was God's doing?  Maybe it was just the weather pattern changing at the exact moment we began our vigil?

I don't know.  Maybe it was just the weather.   There have been plenty of times that we've participated in a 40 Days for Life Vigil during a downpour.  Why didn't God stop the rain then?  Again, I don't have the answers to these questions.

What I do know is that as soon as we were back in our van, the rain began again.  And it has continued intermittently ever since.

In the few moments that the sun has come out today, I couldn't help but wonder, "Who's praying outside the clinic now?"

You never know.  God may just do things such as this, such as stop the rain for his battle wearied follower to show them, or perhaps to show those we pray for during 40 Days For Life, that He is watching and that He is with us after all.

Dear readers, have any of your ever had a similar experience, by any chance?