Tagged family

AlDub and The Thrill of the Chaste

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Of all the things I could write about here at Patheos, I didn’t think I’d be writing about a Filipino love team. And yet here I am, prompted by this video making the rounds. Here’s a good primer. Since I’m in the US, I comment as an outsider, piecing together what I’ve heard from friends and online sources, but here’s my 2 cents’ worth.

A few basics to understand the AlDub phenomenon:

  1. Filipinos are social media maniacs (and I say that in the most loving way possible). They’re into every new gadget and trend out there, so millions of tweets propelling this pair to world famous status isn’t surprising at all.
  2. Filipinos are nothing if not romantics. Courtship and dating rituals are part of our heritage.
  3. Filipinos are all about family.

Combine those and you get the winning formula that is AlDub. Let’s go a bit farther.

According to the latest survey, there are 2.3 million Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) — that means 2.3 million Filipinos separated from their families, often not by choice but by necessity. Family members often have to live in separate continents in order to survive, to finance educations, to seek greener pastures and secure futures, to develop independence and be able to start new families. Government corruption and unfavorable conditions for jobs and businesses in the homeland force people into these lifestyles, which often lead to broken relationships and broken families. Not surprisingly, many of the usual shows portray (and even glorify) what has become the norm for many — infidelity and mistressing.

AlDub is a refreshing break from the usual, and fills the gap that other shows have missed. It is entertainment that spans continents — it’s shared experience — one more way to connect for those who are physically separated. The values it promotes are values parents want to impart to their children: lessons on love, dating, and courtship that they are not able to teach firsthand because they are absent. Fans live vicariously through the celebrities they admire. Sometimes, that admiration even turns into emulation.

AlDub highlights what many Filipinos have gotten right: courtship, within the context of family, because relationships don’t develop and grow within a vacuum. Of course, people tune in for what Filipinos call kilig — roughly translated: THRILL. And though the majority of fans probably won’t even think about this, they tune in because of what Dawn Eden calls The Thrill of the Chaste.

What is kilig about? It’s excitement at POSSIBILITIES. People tune in because they anticipate that this couple will end up together, at least onscreen if not off. But beyond that, this early in the game, and despite historical evidence to the contrary, social media commenters are already imagining a lifetime for this pairing, using words like asawa (spouse), kasal (wedding) and anak (offspring). Though celebrity pairings are rarely permanent, it doesn’t stop people from hoping anyway.

The celebrity relationships that do last are seen as occurring outside of the norm, and therefore unrelatable. And yet people remain in want of stories showing exactly that. But it’s often seen as elusive, and therefore un-sell-able, hence the default to the common denominator which mirrors Filipinos’ lived experiences more: pain, suffering, heartbreak.

That’s something writers and producers could perhaps chew on, though AlDub is an accidental hit and one that’s difficult to manufacture or copy. While intrigue and melodrama will always sell, people’s hearts are most engaged when something hits them at their core — not just their Filipino-ness, but their human-ness. That AlDub fans are attracted to the concept of permanence demonstrates not shallowness, but truth. People are attracted to anything that ultimately speaks to the deepest longings of the human heart: the need to belong, to be loved, to find out what a happy ending is like. For many Filipinos for whom reality = separation, AlDub is not just an escape from the humdrum of daily existence. The thrill, excitement, and anticipation that a pairing could go on indefinitely keeps people watching. It’s the HOPE that they all have for themselves, and for their family. Everyone wants a happily ever after.


I was just about ready to hit publish when I stumbled on this interesting discussion on AlDub and The Four Loves (!!) in the combox of this post: AlDub Love Defines the Country. “You, me and all others who can see beyond the craze must draw up a plan or something to move the love to agape level, which is what Philippine love should be.”

Whether the AlDub pairing lasts remains to be seen, but the positive impact it’s making can’t be denied. Here’s one for starters: AlDub’s contribution to the common good: LIBRARIES!!


More reading:
The Social Significance of AlDub

Let’s Talk Submission, Part 2: Some Practical Suggestions

Miracle at Cana by Valerian Ruppert
Miracle at Cana by Valerian Ruppert

Let’s Talk Submission: Part 1
Let’s Talk Submission Part 3: Last Thoughts


We can do a lot towards rebuilding the husband’s role in our marriages:

  • We need to stop being control-freaks (speaking to myself here really) and let men take the lead whenever possible. Especially when it’s not life and death, or risking our children’s spiritual, emotional or physical well-being, then we can pick our battles and tame our tongues. Husbands have a natural need to be protector, defender and shepherd. It is by leading that my husband gains that confidence in his abilities to shepherd our family.
  • We can speak to each other with a respectful tone at all times, but especially in front of the children.
  • If I need my husband to take the leadership role on an important issue, simply telling him that that’s what we need from him and encouraging him can make a huge difference. This should not be difficult in a marriage where honesty and transparency are cultivated. I keep it straightforward: “I need you to take the lead on this.”
  • Presenting a united front when dealing with issues is key in teaching children the teamwork that goes into a marriage. Differences can be ironed out between spouses, in private. Children should not be made to feel like they have to take sides. What they need to see is that dad and mom are on the same page especially on things that may be confusing or troubling to them.
  • While discipline might require tag-teaming , the spouse who’s home the most plays the bigger role, just because he/she would have a better handle on habits that need correction, timeline of events, or whatever pertinent information there is. Whether it’s the husband or the wife is not the point. We have each other’s backs on everything, and reinforce whatever lessons we need to teach the children by referencing each other’s authority. Children need to see this interplay because it will be their pattern for when they have their own families.
  • Whenever a child questions my judgment, and especially if it’s a boy, I say, “Talk to Daddy when he gets home.” This demonstrates to my child that Dad’s viewpoint is necessary and important, something our sons need to internalize for the day when they need to lead their own household. If need be, I give Dad a summary via text or e-mail or a brief phone call, so he’s prepared to deal with it when he sees the child.
  • Consecration to Jesus through Mary helped me a lot in thinking these things through. Mary is our model for obedience. Of the very few quotes we have from her in Scripture, her speaking to Jesus at the Wedding at Cana shows a woman who brings her concerns to Christ but then lets Him take the lead, while she teaches others to “Do as He tells you.” Letting my husband lead doesn’t mean we say or do nothing. It means developing an awareness for what needs to happen in a situation, giving my husband a quick assessment of things from my view, and then letting him decide what action to take, if any.

    There will be times when we do need to take charge and grab the reins. My goal in my marriage is to make those times few and far between. I want to be a wife who has absolute confidence in my husband, and I want him to know it, and know it with a certainty that makes him believe in himself and his capabilities. Our husbands are under so much pressure these days to perform and to provide. On top of that, we have a culture that pulls him in so many different directions, putting temptations in his way. It should go without saying that we need to be praying for our husbands at all times, for him to not lose faith even in the face of failure and challenges. When he knows he can come home to a wife who trusts and believes in him, to children who see him as their mentor and guide, not someone who just metes out punishment when things have gone awry, his confidence in his ability to lead is magnified, and that’s exactly what we need to happen.

    Three weeks ago, my husband and I gave a talk to young Couples for Christ in Toronto. My talk was about “Becoming A Woman God Can Use” — God can’t use us when we don’t take the time to listen. As married women, God uses us THROUGH our marriages. And He can’t use us in rebuilding family when we are part of a culture that seeks to destroy manhood and men.

    Some last thoughts on this, tomorrow.


    Let’s Talk Submission: Part 1
    Let’s Talk Submission Part 3: Last Thoughts

Our Homeschooling Story, Part 1

Homeschooling in 2001
Homeschooling in 2001

[Reposting from something I wrote in 2013.]

This blog post is being written in response to a request from our dear friends E&C, who are embarking on a new journey to homeschool their children.  I thought it was an opportune time to answer their questions on beginning homeschooling by telling our own homeschooling story.

We were first introduced to the concept of homeschooling via a business venture that we were involved in.  We attended a conference and one of the speakers was a multi-millionaire couple who had homeschooled their kids.  The kids were all grown and had successful businesses of their own.  We got out of that business years ago, but thank God every day that we stumbled upon the homeschooling lifestyle because of it. Some of the things we learned:

Lesson #1.  A formal education isn’t a prerequisite for success in life.

At the time our child was enrolled at a delightful preschool run by our alma mater. WUNS utilized the Reggio-Emilia approach and we saw that our child really flourished in that environment.  At the time, Reggio-Emilia wasn’t as widespread as it is today.

Lesson #2.  A child flourishes when he/she is allowed to explore personal interests and when we don’t put limits on his/her learning.  The project approach is an excellent way for children to learn, although it’s only one of many.

After preschool we looked for a kindergarten school that offered a similar program, but the only one we found was unaffordable to us.  After our oldest child graduated from preschool, we were “forced” to put her in parochial school because that’s what we could afford and what was convenient.  We pulled her out after a month, for various reasons, mostly academic.  After the Reggio experience, their program just wasn’t good enough.

Lesson #3.  Educators need to pay attention to a child’s learning style, capacity, current skillset. There is no such thing as one-program-fits-all when it comes to learning. 

All this time I had been researching about homeschooling more.  The very first homeschooling book I read was the Colfaxes’ Homeschooling for Excellence — this family homeschooled their boys, three of whom eventually made it to Harvard.  I also read several homeschooling classics from the library:

Lesson #4.  There is nothing to be afraid of.  There are many who have paved the way before you, with great results.  Trust their experience and example, and trust your instincts as a parent.

I culled information from several secular and Catholic homeschooling groups on America Online and put together my first curriculum that way.  We joined a local Catholic homeschooling group, but it just wasn’t a good fit for us at the time so we quit going after the first couple of meetings.

Lesson #5.  You don’t need a homeschooling group to homeschool your child.  (I say this because I’ve heard people say, “But I don’t know anyone around me who homeschools.” Don’t let that be a hindrance. This is clarified farther in Part 2.)

At the time, we were still very much of the persuasion that all we needed to find was a good school district to live in and our worries could be put to rest.  So when we moved to Texas in 1998 for my husband’s job, and we found out that the school district was considered exemplary, we went ahead and put her in public school.

Just ten months after moving to Texas, his company decided to merge with another, and we were to be moved to Minnesota, which we didn’t want to do.  So the hubby interviewed with several companies, and one worked out — which meant a move to Ohio.  The move put us in a great, multi-awarded school district once again, so we put our daughter again in public school.

I kept up with both homeschooling and public schooling trends, and from time to time would wonder whether we should go back to homeschooling.  In the interim, the Columbine shooting happened.  We were also beginning to question certain elements of the public school system.  Our daughter was part of the gifted program, but every now and then a niggle of doubt would cross my mind if this was indeed the best fit for her.  I felt as a mom that it was both challenging and not challenging enough for my child.  On the one hand, she got to do things that the “regular” students didn’t, but there still seemed to be limits to what she could accomplish and many of the rewards associated with the program struck me as forced and artificial.

Lesson #6.  External rewards usually aren’t the best way to motivate children to learn.

We moved to Pennsylvania on assignment in 2001, and decided that since our daughter would have moved to a new school anyway, going back to homeschooling wasn’t going to be that much of an adjustment for her.  Boy, were we wrong about that!

I had continued to do research into homeschooling through the years, but still thought myself unprepared to design our own curriculum for 5th grade.  Susan Wise Bauer’s The Well-Trained Mind was published in 1999 and I had read it cover to cover, but it overwhelmed me more than anything.  We were also expecting our fourth child, and along with the move and two children ages 5 and under, it was all just too much for me.  We decided to enroll her at Angelicum for the year, just to see how it will go.

What followed next — our first year back homeschooling — we will always remember as “The Nightmare Year”.  She had been used to the public school schedule and demanded that we “do school at home”, i.e., a set time for each subject, lunch time, snack time, play time, etc.  Learning that homeschooling was a LIFESTYLE and not a PROGRAM was difficult for her and for me.  Between cooking and cleaning and changing diapers and grocery shopping and laundry, we had to figure out how learning was going to happen.  It helped that by that time I had found an awesome online support group and shortly after, a local one.

#Lesson 7.  Homeschooling is a lifestyle, not a program.  It is woven in the every day, in family, in faith.  It is not limited by place or season.

Part 2 is here.

If The Shoe Fits (Laudato Si’ )

my compost pile :D
my compost pile 😀

Laudato Si’ seems to have been buried under all the hubbub from the SCOTUS decision on same sex “marriage”…. so I’m just now catching up with commentaries and reactions to Laudato Si’, after finally finishing the encyclical, which can be found here, if you haven’t read it yet.

I had to comment though on the, well, childish reactions to the encyclical, because I tend to look at everything from the eyes of a mom, and they reminded me too much of my kids’ reactions to lectures.

“It wasn’t me!”

“I didn’t do that.”

“You don’t understand!”

We’re the parents of five kids. When we need to, we sit them down individually, or in a smaller group of two or three depending on need, and talk to them about specific problems or issues we need to pay attention to and work through.

But most of the time, we give general instructions, that everyone needs to hear, for the good of the whole family, whether there’s one or two or three “guilty parties” in the audience.

Why do people keep getting upset about things the Pope says, that does not apply to them?

Surely there were people who, when Humanae Vitae came out, said, “Yay us! We’re doing exactly as the Church teaches!! ITA with the Pope on this one!!” Others grumbled, or followed begrudgingly. Yet others shrugged and went their merry way. But some are just now looking at HV and saying, “Oh. THAT’S what he meant. Now I get it.” And then you’ve got the reverts and newbies saying “Wow. What awesome teaching! Why did no one ever tell me this?”

So I’m puzzled with the Laudato Si’ comments on how the Pope doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or that he’s condemning guns or air-conditioning or what have you.

If the lesson doesn’t apply to me, then it doesn’t. If I’m already responsible about my use of the earth’s resources — if I don’t waste food or water, if I reuse, reduce, recycle, if I’m not a hoarder — then yay me! If I’m already doing my bit to help other people, keep myself informed about ways to help those who are suffering from lack of water or food, then I can be happy that I’m part of the solution and not the problem. If I’m not promoting abortion or contraception, not advocating for depopulation policies because I believe that’s the solution to the economy or the environment, then the lecture isn’t for me.

If, however, I realize that in my own home or my own community or places where my pocket can reach, there are still things I could work on, then I will wear the shoe, for the simple reason that it fits.

The point is that there’s ALWAYS something that we could be doing more or less of.

My main take from the encyclical is this:

We are stewards of the earth, and we have countless innovations that ARE directed toward bettering life for ourselves and others. It’s when we get selfish that we take things to the extreme, and make gods out of our own creations, and allow these gods to rule us instead. We’ve become humans so far removed from the reality of our own humanity, that too many of us have forgotten our dependence on God’s plan and His providence.

A good place to start: Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church

Here in our own family, we’re talking about how we can be more self-sufficient in terms of food and develop a more personal relationship with the land and with our local farmers. We’re also discussing about how we can help with the water shortage in other places (there are many charitable organizations but which one to support?). And we’ll continue to minimize our personal consumption of the earth’s resources and make good use of what we already have.

If you have specific suggestions on any of these, please share in the comments section. I’d love to explore concrete solutions with you.


My favorite commentaries on Laudato Si’:

The New Encyclical: Laudato Si from Robert Royal
“Laudato Si” focuses on the heart of man and the disorders of our age from William Patenaude
“Laudato Si'” and Romano Guardini from Fr. Robert Barron

100 Ways to Rebuild the Culture of Life

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Family

  1. Celebrate life: birthdays, name days, anniversaries.
  2. Celebrate the living. Spend time with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins.
  3. Get your marriage right. Seek spiritual direction if you need to, as individuals or as a couple.
  4. Have kids, have more kids, adopt, or sponsor a child.
  5. Nurture relationships within the home especially among siblings.
  6. Document your family’s important moments. Take pictures. Start a family journal if you don’t have one yet.
  7. Teach and model self-sacrifice.
  8. Be joyful as you serve one another.
  9. Learn/teach how to value internals over externals.
  10. Teach and model delayed gratification — material, spiritual, physical. Learn/Teach the difference between want and need.
  11. Be kind. Learn your spouse and children’s love languages. Speak them.
  12. Cultivate a spirit of detachment and poverty. This will determine daily decisions. Abby Sasscer’s book might be helpful.
  13. Teach your kids the concept of “offering it up”.
  14. Pray for and model grace in suffering.
  15. Talk about natural death — it’s part of who we are. Pray for a happy death.
  16. Don’t be afraid to shepherd your children. Fear is not of the Lord.
  17. Moms, teach modesty and model it for your daughters. Dads, teach chivalry and model it for your sons.
  18. Hold on to your children’s hearts, especially during adolescence — it doesn’t have to be the nightmare people say it is.
  19. Your kids are paying attention to what you’re watching, reading, or listening to. Be a good example.
  20. Date your kids. Have late night conversations. Whatever it takes for them to be able to pick your brains and get answers to life’s most important questions. Don’t forget the hugs!
  21. Meet your kids where they are. Some of them will be voracious faith-wise. Don’t worry if they seem to outpace you.
  22. Let your children teach you as well. They have unbelievable insights about life!
  23. Be a parent first and foremost. Sometimes they’ll need you to be their friend, but more than anything they need you to be the parent.
  24. Teach and model how to be discerning with regards to friendships.
  25. Get your/their hands busy, cooking, baking, making, building, growing.
  26. When you need help as a parent, default to Scripture, the Catechism and your own experiences.
  27. Don’t be afraid to tell your kids about mistakes you’ve made. It helps them to know you’re not perfect either.
  28. Don’t forget the 4 most important things you can say to your children: Please. Sorry. I love you. Thank You. Say them often.
  29. Set the bar high, but make it a different kind of bar; raise children for heaven, not Harvard.
  30. Learn to relish swimming against the tide, as individuals and as a family. Read Familiaris Consortio and take it to heart.
  31. When they make mistakes, forgive, and help them move forward.
  32. Tackle the difficult topics: sex, drugs, alcohol, violence. They need to know they can come to you with ANY concern, and they will be treated with respect and understanding.
  33. Be their first role model and their first line of defense.
  34. Pray for their vocations and their future spouses.
  35. Fill your home with good music and art.
  36. Keep sacramentals and use them.
  37. Surround your family with reminders of your faith.
  38. Know where your food comes from. If you can, grow your own. Eat meals together.
  39. Keep physically fit.
  40. Develop awareness for spiritual oppression. Be quick to recognize attacks on the family, so you can immediately take recourse in prayer.
  41. Get out and enjoy God’s creation whenever possible.
  42. Education

  43. Build your library. Fill it with classics and wholesome literature that teach virtue.
  44. Raise readers, thinkers, writers. The world needs more of these.
  45. Study biology, paying special attention to the life issues. Older kids read Fides et Ratio.
  46. Study the encyclicals, particularly Evangelium Vitae and Humanae Vitae.
  47. Read and digest JPII’s original Theology of the Body. Bit by bit.
  48. Teach your kids the five non-negotiables.
  49. Stay away from pornography. Remember, Once In, Never Out
  50. Teach your daughters to chart their cycles — this is real empowerment.
  51. Understand the sexual revolution and how we got to where we are today.
  52. Teach and model Ephesians 5.
  53. Teach and model 1 Corinthians 13.
  54. Read Divini Illius Magistri. Homeschool if you can.
  55. Learn history.
  56. Faith

  57. Get serious about passing on the faith. Learn apologetics.
  58. Hone your children’s thinking and their argumentation. Kids who know how to think critically won’t be prone buying the lies that society tries to sell them.
  59. Learn the basics of natural law.
  60. Join pro-life groups; there are many to choose from.
  61. Encourage your college-aged kids to get to know their professors. Chances are, even in a secular university, they will find one or two faithful Catholic professors who will be willing to give off-hours lectures or seminars for Catholics. Take advantage of those.
  62. Read Mulieris Dignitatem. Get to know women in Scripture: Sarah. Rachel. Hannah.
  63. Read about the saints and cultivate a devotion to them. Let the kids pick their favorites.
  64. Invoke the help of St. Joseph and our Blessed Mother at all times.
  65. Go to Mass regularly, daily if possible.
  66. Go to Confession regularly.
  67. Pray for souls in purgatory. Pray for those who don’t have people to pray for them.
  68. Spend time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
  69. Pray the Rosary daily. Encourage your children to make the consecration.
  70. Say the Prayer for the Unborn.
  71. Have your child attend Catholic youth conferences. Go with them if possible.
  72. Go on pilgrimage at least once a year. Masstimes.org is your friend.
  73. Cover your children in prayer.
  74. Live the liturgical year.
  75. Retreat periodically from the world, even for just a few days at a time. Learn to appreciate silence.
  76. Let the kids go on missions.
  77. Pray for our religious, our priests, our bishops, and our Pope.
  78. Church and Community

  79. Build relationships with fellow Catholics, young and old. Hang around other Catholic families. You are each other’s support group.
  80. Involve your kids in Trail Life, American Heritage Girls, and other Christian youth organizations. Better yet, get involved yourself.
  81. Keep abreast of current events. Add Catholic sites and blogs to your reader.
  82. Develop an awareness for what’s happening globally. Be thankful for your blessings. Read Laudato Si’.
  83. Volunteer at church — have your boys help as altar servers. Be cantors, lectors, etc. Get to know your fellow parishioners.
  84. Tithe. There is no way to outgive God.
  85. Get your kids around good nuns and priests. Encourage a vocation to religious life. Pray for it.
  86. Encourage your young adult to join local Catholic young adult groups. Have their friends over and get to know them.
  87. Encourage your young adult to attend Theology on Tap and other Catholic functions, so they can meet other people their age who are also on fire for their faith.
  88. Establish lending libraries.
  89. Support Catholic businesses. Buy titles by Catholic authors. Listen to Catholic radio. Purchase works by Catholic artists. Watch movies that promote Christian family values.
  90. Get to know people around you — neighbors, people at work, people on the street, etc.
  91. Cultivate relationships with young families. Mentor young parents.
  92. Pray at abortuaries.
  93. Help out at pregnancy centers. They’re always in need of something.
  94. Study the Church’s social doctrine — great material for discussion at the dinner table.
  95. Volunteer. There’s always some local charity or soup kitchen the whole family can support.
  96. Make sure your children understand the political process. But don’t fall into the rut of thinking that politics is THE answer.
  97. When your kids are old enough, discuss Roe v. Wade, Obergefell v Hodges.
  98. Learn to navigate and make good use of social media. Involve your kids in the new evangelization. Populate social media with what’s true, good, and beautiful.
  99. Find ways to serve those with special needs or are disabled.
  100. Keep care packages in the car, to give out to the homeless.
  101. Support local farmers.
  102. Pray for our nation’s leaders.
  103. Pray for peace.

Related reading:

Catholic Families in Crisis: New Study Finds Catholic Homes Are Spiritually Bankrupt
Are You Ready to Change the World?
Recovering God’s Plan for Marriage and Family: A Sermon on the Feast of the Holy Family

Deconstructing Contraception | Sweetening the Pill

LaudatoSi11

Especially after Pope Francis’ words about birth rate reduction, I’m really excited about this new documentary that’s coming out! It’s called Sweetening the Pill, produced by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein. Their Kickstarter page is here. Nine days to go!!

As a Catholic, I have several reasons to get excited about it:

1. It’s not Catholic, so those who automatically plug their ears and close their eyes when they see/hear “Catholic” might actually pay attention.

2. I’m hoping that even though it’s focused on The Pill, the film will also open people’s eyes to the general risks of contraception — in all its forms — that too many would rather sweep under the rug, because knowing and understanding those risks might have to mean a change in lifestyle, and nobody likes change.

That, I think, is the scariest thing. Doctors throw these pills at us like they are candy cure-alls when there REALLY hasn’t been enough research done on their effects, especially long term. They just don’t know enough about them. I spent HOURS and HOURS on Google, on different women’s health forums and discovered that so many others had had similar situations to mine. Some had the mental symptoms, others felt like they were no longer themselves. Some likened it to menopause. It was comforting, eye opening, and also made me completely livid. How could doctors do this to us?! How could we let them? How could we not be educated that this was a possibility? How was this feminism, when we were basically losing control of our bodies, of ourselves??
Source: Why I Will Never Take the Birth Control Pill Again

3. I hear that NFP and NaPro are included, which is great since those don’t get nearly as much coverage as they should receive.

4. I’m hoping that they’ll explore the relationship between contraceptive usage and environmental impact, i.e., the state of our waters.

17a-ethinyl estradiol (EE2) is a component of combination oral contraceptives designed for women, of which approximately 16–68%of dose is excreted in the urine or feces19. A substantial amount of EE2has been found in aquatic environments downstream of wastewater treatment plants.
Source: Transgenerational effects from early developmental exposures to bisphenol A or 17[agr]-ethinylestradiol in medaka, Oryzias latipes

5. I’m hoping that they’ll explore the relationship between contraceptive usage and body burden, whereby women pass on chemicals in their bloodstream on to their babies.

6. The film will be a great addition to the growing body of material that dares to expose what has been unknown or hidden for so long.

To illustrate from a UK survey of 1000 women:

– More than a quarter (27 per cent) said you didn’t know what hormonal contraception was doing to your body.
– More than a quarter (27 per cent) of you said you were ‘worried’ and ‘nervous’ about taking it.
– One in three women (35 per cent) said they felt that women were just expected to ‘put up’ with the side-effects of hormonal contraception.
– More than a third of you (41 per cent) said you were only using your method of contraception because a doctor or nurse suggested it.
Source: Telegraph Wonder Women launches Take Back Birth Control campaign

I don’t expect them to discuss, but would be a pleasant surprise if they touched a bit on these at least:

1. The abortifacient methods of action built into every contraceptive, since the producers are still pro-birth control.

“We believe that the birth control pill was one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. But we think women deserve more and better options, not less of them. Hormonal birth control often dominates the conversation, but, like a hospital birth or cesarean, it’s not always the best choice for all.”

2. An admission that Humanae Vitae was correct after all: the role that contraception plays in the male-female dynamic and the objectification of women, and contraception’s contribution to the destruction of family as a societal structure.

3. Birth control’s connection to abortion. A discussion of how “conception” was redefined in 1959 to mean implantation, how embryology and microbiology textbooks to this day still adhere to the original definition of “conception” as “fertilization”, and how that redefinition contributed to the legalization of contraception, and to the eventual confusion of when life begins.

5. Fertility issues like endometriosis and PCOS that taking the Pill masks and worsens.

6. The role of contraception in aging populations and demographic winter.

7. Something that the Church has known forever: every life is a gift.

All in all, I’m curious to see where this will lead, as I think it could be the beginning of a new era in real comprehensive sex education. I hope you’ll support the project too.

If you’re dying (no pun intended) to find out more about Fertility Awareness Methods as alternatives to the Pill, here’s a great (secular-produced) vid you can watch in the meantime:

There are also more films coming up!! Read about Natural Womanhood and the film Natural Love Stories here.

Further reading:

Bad Feminists: Why It’s So Hard to Critique the Pill
Brianna Heldt: Ricki Lake and Birth Control
Telegraph Wonder Women launches Take Back Birth Control campaign
Birth Control in Drinking Water: A Fertility Catastrophe in the Making?
NuvaRing Caused My Daughter’s Death | Like So Many Women, She Had No Idea of the Risks
Natural Womanhood

(More information on Body Burden + Contraceptives on Page 2)

No To Divorce (A Guest Blog Post)

[This is a blog post from Veronica Cleofe-Alejar. Nikka is wife to Dong Alejar, and mother to four, two girls and two boys ages 2 to 10. She gave up her broadcasting career after the Lord converted her, but continues to use her skills and talents in the service of the Lord in church activities. She is also a baker and co-owner of Veronica’s Kitchen. You can read her whole life story and eventual spiritual conversion in Peaceful Wife Philippines.

As a young teenager, I would usually get teary-eyed at old couples who held hands in church. I would stare from my pew, and pray to God, “I want to grow old with my husband like that…”

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Well, God answered my prayer and I am growing older with my bestest friend in the world who still holds my hand, kisses me in public, and considers me the “hottest woman on the planet”, eleven years after our wedding and after four (body-altering) children.

This is nothing short of a miracle considering that the marriage of my parents was far from ideal. It was full of deafening silence and a dearth of warmth. I do remember thinking to myself that when I did get married, I wanted it to be full of joy and laughter, because I seldom heard my parents talk to each other with fondness, and they rarely exhibited loving gestures to one another. They even slept in separate beds! I remember that our family outings were the most awkward ever, but despite this, we were a unit. They almost separated at one very low point in their lives, due to the extreme jealousy of Mama over an alleged affair of Papa… but, thank God, they still managed to stay together.

Some would think that given my parents’ “miserable situation”, they should just have separated. “It would be better for the kids to have their parents separate than to be witness to a ‘loveless marriage’”; “If the husband philanders, the wife should not put up with it and leave him to show him that she is not a martyr.”; “The modern woman must not put up with any failings of her husband. After all, he is just a man. One can find another husband!”… or so the modern and feminist society says.

Well, they stuck it out with each other! This, despite that Mama was every bit of a modern, feminist woman. She, it was, who believed so much in superstition, she stepped on her groom’s foot after the wedding, so as not to be “under” her husband. She, it was who had a kick-ass career and who competed with Papa in terms of achievements… But, despite her unsubmissive nature, she stuck it out with Papa even when she could have very well given up on him and their marriage.

When she got cancer in 1992, it was Papa who took care of her. Whereas before, I never saw them hold hands, I then saw them giving each other tender kisses on the cheek or on the lips, and would even hear them locking the master’s bedroom’s door! On Mama’s death bed, she told Papa, “If God would give me a second chance, I will make our marriage work. I will prioritize you…” But that was not the Lord’s Will for her. She died at the young age of 43, but not without first realizing that “Ah, mahal pala niya ako…”

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I am now nearing the age that Mama died. In three years, I too will be 43. I have been married for 11 years to a very loving (and handsome) man — my best friend, my lover, my greatest moral support. We were not without our own trials though. I got my mother’s feministic streak and refused to submit to my husband as head of the family. Before the Lord converted me and transformed me in September 1, 2013; I was very prideful, judgmental, self-righteous and controlling. I was, unsurprisingly very miserable and seething in resentment against him. But, if there is one thing I learned from my parents, it was that “marriage is ‘for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death do you part’.” It was from having observed this, that despite our lowest point, I told myself, “I am in this for the long haul, even if it seems so bleak right now…”
Mama was not given that chance to “fix her marriage”. But with God’s Grace and Mercy, I was able to “fix” mine. My whole life journey leading up to that could be read in the blog that the Lord directed me to write and which my husband encouraged me to do after my spiritual conversion. My journey from frenetic wife to peaceful wife can be read in http://peacefulwifephilippines.blogspot.com.

Divorce is never the answer. The person you said your vows to before the Lord is a flawed and imperfect human being. But wonderfully enough, these very same flaws and imperfections are the very means by which the Lord will use to hone us, smoothen our rough edges, and mold us according to His Image. Marriage, as a sacrament, is truly a married person’s means towards holiness. Use Holy Matrimony as your means to get to heaven.

When the Cake Becomes the Cross

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Today, while my hubby cleared spaces of dried brush and old wood, our 6-year-old ran around enjoying the sun and the chill air; I planted seeds. “As soon as the ground can be worked”, said most of the packets. This was as good a time as any to get started. I’ve had one heck of a Lent, how about you?

Lent means withdrawing into silence, to spend time in communion with our Lord, to listen most of all. And yet this year, out of that silence, many of us were drawn and challenged to speak, almost against our will, like Simon of Cyrene.

The past weeks, we have been hit with news and issues ranging from pizza to cake to the RFRA to Obergefell vs. Hodges, Patricia Jannuzzi, the PCUSA, Archbishop Cordileone, to Dolce and Gabbana, to Ryan Anderson, to divorce. And as we fight here for religious liberty, elsewhere fight for their very existence.

Stepping back and surveying the landscape, these questions appear at the base of the chaos. What is marriage? What is family? What is love? The world asks us to define these things, but no longer is the Christian answer taken at face value, for we have failed. Confronted with horrible examples of this once-respected institution, too many people now look askance at our definition of marriage and family, because it lies in stark contrast to what they live with and see around them daily. It has become more difficult to speak in truth and with charity, because even our truth and charity are suspect. We may speak the same language, but the words come off as gibberish. Our words ring empty and we can’t seem to reach each other’s hearts.

In Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI said,

It is thus becoming a social and even economic necessity once more to hold up to future generations the beauty of marriage and the family, and the fact that these institutions correspond to the deepest needs and dignity of the person. In view of this, States are called to enact policies promoting the centrality and the integrity of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, the primary vital cell of society, and to assume responsibility for its economic and fiscal needs, while respecting its essentially relational character.

I watch as others try to grapple with these issues. Fr. Zuhlsdorf and his commenters offer some ideas, as do Marvin Olasky and his readers.

Whether we can arrive at one answer that works for all remains to be seen. Sometimes cake is just cake; sometimes the cake becomes the cross. As when the Pevensie children got pulled into Narnia without warning, it feels like we are hurtling into something dark and unknown. We want more time to plan out our responses, put together a plan of action, but the time is denied us, because tolerance is over. And yet despite feeling powerless, we crouch down on the ground, kneeling, planting seeds, praying that we’re still making a difference somehow. Let it not be said that we didn’t do or say anything, especially for the voiceless and the persecuted.

As a Catholic homeschooling mom, I look for teachable moments. And this Lent, we have had a hundred thousand of them. But not every moment is a teachable moment. As the seed packet reminded me today, the seeds need to be planted “as soon as the ground can be worked”. Much of the ground we have to work with these days is either yet untilled, or lie frozen under the snow. Some of it will warm up naturally with the sun, others will require more gentle, maybe even rough, digging.

This pithy comment struck me, from King Prawn, over at Ricochet:

The natural question will be: what are we to do now that the ship has sailed? I agree entirely that marriage as understood as a permanent, exclusive, and complementary relationship between a man and a woman fulfilled by the bearing and rearing of children could never have been attacked by gays if it had not already been dismantled almost entirely by straights. Now that we have done this to the institution it sometimes seems a lot hypocritical to man the barricades against assault by those who simply want to share in the despoiled social convention we are only now so protective of.

The world is hurting, begging to know what love is, and all they can see are fragments of truth here and there, with no cohesion or integrity. The message of the Cross seems blurry as of late. Like some I beg for more time, or at least more wisdom. But as Archbishop Chaput reminds us, now’s the time. We hurriedly plant these seeds and point to Christ’s cross, its shadow cast on the ground, in the magnificent light of His Resurrection. Perhaps right now, that’s all we’re called to do. The seeds will grow in His most perfect time.

@D&G&E: #blessthechildren

While the “adults” are having a Twitter war and calling for boycotts, there’s this:

Lettera a Dolce e Gabbana da sei figli cresciuti da coppie gay: «Grazie per il vostro coraggio»

The English translation is here: Dear Dolce & Gabbana- a letter of support from children of gays and lesbians

We want to praise your courage and thank you for your inspiration. We also implore you not to surrender when the backlash grows in intensity. If you back down from what you said and apologize, it will leave the children of gay homes even more vulnerable and discredited. It is important for our sake, for the sake of Italian children as well, that you not apologize or capitulate. Please support the idea that all children need to be bonded with their mothers and fathers. It is a human right.

This is an important part of the conversation that should not be ignored or silenced. In all the anger and noise and talking over each other, could we please not forget about the children?

I find boycotts a bit annoying, but mostly funny and ridiculous. Is this really how we have conversations now? I buy something because of quality, purpose, beauty: because it adds some kind of value to my or my family’s life. There used to be a time we patronized manufacturers because we believed in the quality of their products. Now we’re supposed to buy/stay away from certain brands because the maker’s beliefs don’t match ours? I want to rail about the politicization of everything, and therefore the connection to money and lobbies and activism, but all that will have to wait for another post.

I fully support Dolce and Gabbana’s original statement, because I believe in traditional families, and I believe that every child is a GIFT from God, not things to be bought and sold.

But I don’t have a single D&G item (don’t even know where to purchase them) and I’m not going to suddenly start buying their items because of this. AND I love Elton John’s music, always have, and I won’t stop listening to it. Because doing that would just be SILLY.

But I will say something about children, because it’s THEIR VOICE that needs to be heard here, and unfortunately not enough people are speaking up for them, and the ones that are are being told to shut up.

Children are not designer items we pick up from a shelf, though many seem to think of them that way now. They don’t exist simply to become the muse for our songs. The commodification of human life is a dangerous thing. The same thinking that says I can have the child I want, when I want it, however way I want it, is the same thinking that says, if a child is imperfect, or comes at “the wrong time”, it doesn’t deserve to live. See how our concept of “love” can be very skewed sometimes?

Elton John himself said about his child:

It’s going to be heartbreaking for him to grow up and realize he hasn’t got a mummy.

I hope that one of these days he’s able to take some time and listen to his heart and what it’s saying, because he KNOWS the truth. And I hope he remembers singing these words from his song Blessed:

And you, you’ll be blessed
You’ll have the best, I promise you that
I’ll pick a star from the sky, pull your name from my hat
I promise you that, promise you that
Promise you that, you’ll be blessed

I need you before I’m too old
To have and to hold
To walk with you and watch you grow
And know that you’re blessed

“I need you before I’m too old.”

Yes, we all have needs. But because we are imperfect people we don’t always know for certain what our loved ones need or what’s best for them. Real love is about sacrifice, and desiring and doing everything for the good of our loved one, even if it sometimes means giving up a dream. Prayer and discernment are essential, to be able to see someone’s needs, especially those that go beyond the material, beyond what’s visible. If we all really cared about the children, then our first question shouldn’t be “Who’s the best IVF doctor out there?” or “What color should we paint the nursery?” The question we should be asking is, “What do the children need?”

Recommended Reading:

Nature vs. Synthetics: What’s at Stake in the Dolce and Gabbana Controversy
We Are ‘Synthetic Children’ And We Agree With Dolce & Gabbana

Where I Get My Pro-Life News and Commentary

newssources

A friend, Francis B., requested a list of my sources for pro-life news. So, in no particular order, my favorites:

General

Crisis Magazine
First Things
Catholic World Report
MercatorNet
NewAdvent.org
National Catholic Register

Abortion
Live Action News
Americans United for Life
Students for Life
National Right to Life News
Priests for Life Blog

Politics, Legislation, Religious Freedom
Susan B. Anthony List
Alliance Defending Freedom
American Center for Law and Justice
Judicial Watch
Catholic Vote

International
Turtle Bay and Beyond
Human Life International

Bioethics
Charlotte Lozier Institute
National Catholic Bioethics Center

Marriage and Family
National Organization for Marriage
Family Research Council
The Public Discourse
Ruth Institute Blog
United Families International

Education and Education-Related
Catholic Education Resource Center
Catholic Education Daily (from Cardinal Newman Society
Intercollegiate Review
Circe Institute

Conservative
The Heritage Foundation
Ethika Politika
American Thinker
PJ Media
Taki’s Magazine
The Imaginative Conservative
The American Spectator

Catholic
Ignatius Insight Scoop
Catholic News Agency
Catholic Herald
National Review Online
Sandro Magister
Touchstone
Catholic Culture
Women of Grace
PewSitter
What Does the Prayer Really Say?
Homiletic and Pastoral Review
Vatican News

and because sometimes, I just need a humorous take on all those:

Eye of the Tiber
Creative Minority Report
Curt Jester
Ironic Catholic
Catholic Memes (there’s a whole lot more on FB, plus Tumblr)

Two ways I organize my news sources:
Feedly
and when on Facebook, Lists, where I have lists for a) Pro-Life Leaders and Writers, b) Current Events, and c) my mom friends and other close friends who keep up with the same concerns.

Every so often, I go on Twitter to see what people are talking about, but I prefer getting my current events from the above.

I also like taking a peek at how the Catholic youth view their faith and current events from time to time, so I check out Catholic Tumblr blogs.

Note that many of these overlap in terms of the news they report/comment on. It goes without saying that I am not capable of reading all these sources every single day, so it just depends on what time I have. Sometimes I go on FB to catch up on news, sometimes I go on Feedly, other times I rely on friends and family to keep me informed. I try to not to overwhelm myself with too much input, especially during Lent. I process/digest things throughout the day — blogging and journaling helps at times — and when I feel that I’m inundated I shut things down and focus on prayer and family.

Hope that helps!

Fiat and The Family

An entry for Filipinos for Life’s December Blogging Event, What Child is This? Bearing Children as the World’s Salvation

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Christmas season is the perfect time to discuss the bearing of children. That today is the Feast of the Holy Family makes it particularly appropriate.

In Three To Get Married, Archbishop Fulton Sheen says:

It takes three to make Love in Heaven–
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

It takes three for Heaven to make love to earth–
God, Man, and Mary, through whom God became Man.

It takes three to make love in the Holy Family–
Mary, and Joseph, and the consummation of their love, Jesus.

It takes three to make love in hearts–
The Lover, the Beloved, and Love.

You can see how the phrase “making love” then takes on a new dimension when viewed in light of God’s mandate. In our society today we throw this phrase around and render it meaningless: making love = sex, and vice versa. And sex according to the world is but a recreational activity, a physical need, a stress reliever, an animal instinct — and those are just the milder terms I’ve seen used.

If we are to recognize that sex is God’s gift, however, then every instance of the marital act, as God designed it, becomes an essential part of every married person’s salvation. God means for it to be free, total, fruitful, and faithful. It is unitive and procreative, because the marital embrace is not simply a communion of bodies and minds, but a communion of souls. Making love with our spouses according to God’s design becomes our personal annunciation. Every instance, blessed and open to life, becomes sacred, because that is when we give our personal Fiat: we say YES to God as much as we say YES to our spouse, and YES to the possibility of new life. Life, a newly created soul, is God’s greatest gift to us. In keeping ourselves open to life, every man becomes another Joseph who says, YES, LORD, I am ready to take on the responsibility of fathering a child. I say yes to whatever it takes, to bring up this new soul, to work for him, to house her, to clothe him, to protect her, to defend him, to teach her. Every woman becomes another Mary who says, YES, LORD, to this new body planted to grow within my own, this new soul to grow as my own soul grows ever closer to You. This is how, as man and woman bound together in Matrimony, we truly participate in this work of salvation. That’s why being unequivocally pro-life in our own homes, in our marriages, in our families, is a non-negotiable.

Bearing a child, as the Holy Family demonstrated, did not end with Mary giving birth. The proper raising of children is a lifetime commitment. While we have the responsibility to see to our children’s physical, mental and emotional well-being, more important than any of those is their spiritual well-being. Every child we bear is another FIAT to life. Continuing to emulate Joseph and Mary, we see that each child is called to be another Christ, and how we raise him/her necessarily becomes reflective of that. Our job as parents is to teach them how to give that wholehearted Fiat as well when their time comes.

Our FIAT then, collectively and individually, enables us to follow in the Holy Family’s footsteps, and to see our role in salvation history, crystal clear and staring us in the face. We not only grow bodies, we grow souls. The unique crosses that we carry, big and small, often come to us via the family, but likewise, we fill our lives with big and small “fiats”, and as we do so, mold our hearts and our wills to His will. It is not an easy trek by any means, but there is no more worthwhile goal than getting each other to heaven so we can enjoy His as well as each other’s company there. It is thus foolish and pointless to wish or expect married and family life to be a bed of roses, especially when we already know that the crown of thorns comes before the crown of glory, and that salvation passes by way of the family.


Additional suggested reading:

Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization
The Family, Gift and Commitment, Hope for Humanity
Gratissimam Sane

Where Have All The Men Gone? The Quest for Authentic Fatherhood

Have you ever thought about the word “father”? It is so commonplace, and yet has such profound import as to signify the initiation of a man into parenthood: “He FATHERED a child.” We don’t say, “She mothered a child” until later. Fatherhood is attached to the BEGINNING of something great, a leap into a new phase of manhood. So much meaning and expectation is woven into it, that when a man doesn’t deliver, disappointment is exponentially magnified.

We have a shortage of authentic Catholic fathers because we have a shortage of authentic Catholic men. Feminism and the sexual revolution set into motion a seemingly endless cycle. Second-wave feminism, particularly, was supposed to correct wrongs both perceived and real, but has instead led to more egregious wrongs. Instead of holding men to a higher standard, we have lowered the bar, expected mediocrity, and now have to live with exactly that. Equality sounds good and noble, but the role reversal especially as concerns sex has all but gutted and emasculated men. No need for authentic men in the “liberated” women’s world: an oversimplification of The Pill’s long-term effects, perhaps, but not too far from the truth. Too many of our stories today do not begin with the aforementioned initiation into parenthood, because a man’s role as FATHER — with all that that implies — has been seriously eroded.

Today’s world paints a picture of extremes, of fatherless homes or of abuse, of men who abdicate responsibility, of men who have little to no understanding of what responsibility is, of men who unleash aggression on their wives and children. On the other extreme we have Peter Pans, men who have never grown up and are perpetually tied to their wives’ apron strings, sometimes even their mothers’: a scary tug-o-war scenario played out in everyday life, with no winner in sight — not husband, wife, nor children. It is not a pretty picture. A non-dysfunctional family today seems almost unreachable, a fantasy for many.

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Research statistics show the frightening magnitude and depth of mis-fathering and fatherlessness. One could almost argue that all the ills in the world have these as the root cause! It is an epidemic that affects both the USA and the Philippines, though the manifestations are different. In America and other Western nations, cohabitation and divorce are seen as normal and have resulted in “modern families” of all sorts of configurations. In the Philippines where there is no divorce, we find instead men with second or even third “families”, recognized neither by the Church nor by law.

If we are to turn society around from the state it’s in, then our sons need to learn how to become men. There are three pieces to this puzzle:

a) Only a man can teach and show a boy how to be a man; a mother can’t do that.
b) For fathers to be effective, we need to allow them to BE fathers.
c) In the absence of fathers, we need to find suitable, positive role models for our sons to emulate and follow.

The only way to rebuild a culture that appreciates and promotes Christian/Catholic manhood, is to decide that the buck stops here: in our homes, our families, the circles in which we move around, and in our hearts. The cycle has to be interrupted and reversed. We need more Godly men to step up to the plate, no question (see resources below). The onus is on them. But the rest of us have a role to play as well.

Job number one is to shore men up, not tear them down. There should be no place for man-bashing of any sort. As a wife, I am aware that we women are naturally verbal, and if we are not careful we can easily silence our husbands. My children need to be able to look up to the man they call “Daddy”, to know that he is someone I deeply value, respect, and admire. It is worth following a Godly man who doesn’t compromise his integrity, and who knows he’s in charge of shepherding his children into heaven. But I cannot model this mindset while undermining him at the same time. One cannot be proud of a father who is dominated or treated like a doormat by his own wife. The lessons on authority that my children learn at home carries over into how they regard other authority figures, most especially their own Creator. And they need to recognize His authority in their lives if they are to conform themselves to His will. The cycle continues: men who know how to follow Divine authority become men who know how to lead, and who become worthy of being followed, not only by their own children but by their peers as well. Moreover, I cannot tell my daughter that the man she will marry is probably not going to be good enough, intelligent enough, rich enough, and that she’ll have to take the reins or she’ll be going nowhere. We parents have a tremendous responsibility here, if we don’t intend to prime our children for feminaziland in their future domestic churches! My son needs to hear the message, “Be like your father.” And I need to be able to tell my daughter, “That’s what you look for in a man.”

One of the most important things we can do is to shine our light on the fathers who live lives of quiet sacrifice and self-gift, but who are hardly ever paid attention or celebrated. Authentic Catholic fathers are the Atlases of our world today — they bear so much on their shoulders. They provide the bones and musculature our weakened, battle-weary society needs. Entire generations have been affected by the sexual revolution, and undoing its damages may take several more. Not every man will feel up to the task of living an authentic Catholic life, but heroic fatherhood is needed now. The only way to restore Catholic fatherhood to its rightful place is to allow men once again the dignity they’ve inherited as sons of God.


Resources for Fathers:

Your Daughter Needs A Hero
Fathers for Good
What Is A Real Man – Part 1
What Is A Real Man – Part 2
Practicing the Art of Catholic Manhood
Fatherhood (1)
Fatherhood (2)
Restoring the Fullness of Fatherhood
Reversing the Deculturation of Fatherhood
On the Demise of Fatherhood – A Review
Fatherless and Hopeful in America
In Defense of Fatherhood
Men of the Church
The Essential Father
Gratissimam Sane
Toward a Theology of Authentic Masculinity

Burden Or Gift? The Audacity of Trust

This is a repost of my Filipinos for Life blogging event entry for August. Thanks to DBoncan for hosting my post when I couldn’t get into my blog. 🙂

greying

There was a time in Philippine history when the words “sa awa ng Diyos” could come out of anyone’s mouth at any given moment. Trust in God’s grace, mercy and love, was a basic but significant part of the Filipino psyche. We used to be able to see God’s hand in all things, both joy and suffering. This profound abandonment to Divine Providence gave us comfort, and allowed us to take risks, armed with the courage that we could leave whatever needs leaving in God’s capable hands.

I know that’s how my mother and her nine siblings were raised. Their parents started out without much, but due to hard work and this characteristic reliance on God, “sa awa ng Diyos”, all ten kids finished college degrees, raised families of their own, and as far as I know are still eating three meals a day. Some have even achieved a certain degree of success by this world’s standards.

I saw this same spirit of trust repeatedly lived out in other large families that I grew up with. Even as they struggled with day to day needs and other life challenges, the Godly focus and dependence remained evident and rarely wavered. It’s a huge contrast to today’s prevailing attitudes, when the old confidence in God’s loving provision has been exchanged with an often-unjustified belief in material goods and government assistance. Like a frog set in cold water and slowly brought to a boil, the change wasn’t instantaneous, but we observe that even Filipinos who used to see children as gifts, now quantify them. Babies are now set on invisible scales, and the determination of whether they’re blessing or burden falls to him who operates the scales.

Pro-RH folks argue that mandating a two-child policy in the Philippines is a stop-gap measure, meant to be implemented only for a short while “until things get better”. What these folks must not realize is that ideas and attitudes can take hold not only of the individual but entire countries, and that’s exactly what happened to those who took this disastrous route: Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Greece, Canada, and even the USA. There are numerous signs that show this contraceptive mentality to be wrong and incompatible with long-term, sustained progress. Once an abhorrence of marriage, family, or childbirth becomes “normal”, we are left with a void that cannot be filled with the snap of a finger. An instant paradigm shift cannot be created, as these countries experiencing a birth dearth are finding. They offer incentives, but few are biting. The thinking that babies can be quantified isn’t connected to a switch that can be clicked off at will. Once material wealth is given a greater value than the human person, it becomes easier to simply keep going down that road and not even look back. “It’s not going to happen here” is a foolish pronouncement when there is evidence to the contrary.

Once a upon a time, the formula was simple. People fell in love, got married, reproduced. Children grew up, became consumers and producers, their parents aged and died. Cycle repeated. Somewhere along the line we decided simple wasn’t a good thing. So we invented complications: people can fall in love but not get married, or get married but not be in love, or get married but not reproduce, or reproduce without getting married, aging can be optional because now we either have miracle drugs and cosmetics or surgery, or if those don’t work, and if aging starts becoming a real drag, there’s always euthanasia. Forget about people becoming consumers and producers and keeping the economy stable, we’ll just pretend that part of the equation doesn’t exist.

What people seem to forget is that when discussing matters of population and economics, we are dealing with HUMAN BEINGS here. I’m not an expert on the economy, but I do have a good understanding of people. And in the above formula, the main ingredients are PEOPLE. People want happiness. But governments have gotten adept at selling the lie that happiness is determined more by material wealth than anything else. See Exhibit A from a Filipina who has bought the lie:

rdlss

In this case, notice how happiness seems to have been equated to remaining childless. From the point of view of someone who has borne children, the reasoning sounds empty and heartless and cold. Poverty of the heart is much, much worse than poverty of the pocket. If this person remains childless by choice, I can’t imagine the scene at her deathbed, when no offspring is there to hold her hand and pray her into heaven.

In the natural order of things, men and women fall in love, get married, and bear children, not so much because a child will bring material wealth, though that certainly could happen, as it has in the families I know. Most people have babies only for one reason, even against impossible odds: because LOVE.

When we forget that babies are tangible proof of our love for each other, that God is the ultimate Provider, and that each new life is a gift we are given to embrace, we begin to walk the slow road to extinction.

Reasons Why Love from Babies is the Best Kind of Love
Related post: The “Ideal” Family Size

Homosexuality and Real Solutions

sexualrevolution

In Part 1, I talked about the band-aid solutions offered by popular culture being inadequate to address the prevention of same-sex attraction/homosexuality itself.

Speaking to those causes listed by the Catholic Medical Association, I’d like to make the following suggestions, based on 22+ years of parenting experience, the collective wisdom of the parents and fellow Catholics I’ve networked with over the years, and books/authors that I’ve/we’ve read and that helped us in our parenting journey.

  • Parents need to learn how to be parents. If you come from a family where you weren’t exposed to positive parenting, network with like-minded parents who can give you information and guidance. Don’t be afraid to look at fruits. If they have kids who are polite, seem to be well-rounded and well-adjusted, have a positive outlook in life, are even-mannered, these are indications that the parents are doing something right. Ask them what they do. Your faith community would be a good place to start networking with other parents. There are family programs out there — look for them. One example is CFC-FFL. If you’ve got a homeschooling network in your community, that may be a good place to start as well; homeschooling parents tend to be very committed to their roles as children’s primary educators. Even if you don’t homeschool, you can learn a lot from them.
  • Parents need to be secure in their own sexuality. Network with parents who are clear examples of authentic femininity or masculinity, and who are not afraid or apologetic about their womanliness or manliness.
  • Addressing physical separation: For Catholics, I think it is essential that we educate ourselves on Catholic Social Doctrine. Children should not have to endure prolonged physical separation from their parents. Unfortunately, many are forced to endure this because of work. I think that one of the solutions we need to talk about as a society is how to bring the parent home. If this is an unavoidable situation, then the parent who stays home with the child needs to find suitable mentors within the community, within a parent network, within the Church, where children can be exposed to positive role models. Of course, this can be tricky especially in the current moral climate, so remaining ever-vigilant is key.
  • Many of the statements I’ve seen from LGBT reveal destructive behaviors of the father — abandoning the family, “starting over” with a second family, being an alcoholic, exposing children to pornography, etc. In one news article I read, a father beat up his own son after the son revealed that he was homosexual. These are parental behaviors that need to stop.
  • Parents, your children need to see you being affectionate with each other. It is in the home that they are first exposed to healthy expressions of love for each other — if mom and dad aren’t modeling these behaviors, where would they learn? We are educating our children with our actions, even more so than with our words.
  • Don’t skimp on physical expressions of love for your children. Hugs are spiritual and emotional vitamins, they need them on a daily basis. We give each other back rubs here at home; they do the spirit good.
  • Don’t forget four essential words/phrases: Please, Thank You, Sorry, I Love You. Say them often, say them and mean them. (If you think about it, these are the same sentiments found in the Lord’s Prayer, except we’re addressing them to our Heavenly Father.)
  • A shoring up of marriage and family is sorely needed. Develop an awareness of what’s happening globally in relation to parental rights and traditional marriage. There are many laws being proposed and advanced that undermine marriage and family. Our help is needed if we are going to stem the tide.
  • The parent-child connection needs to be established early on. One way to do this is to support/practice breastfeeding. Learn about Attachment Parenting. Network/share ideas with parents who practice this as well. Filipinos are naturals at this since it’s usually the way we were raised (family bed, close ties, etc.).
  • Addictions like alcoholism or substance abuse need to be addressed professionally. These are highly destructive to the family and will likely start/perpetuate a cycle that could have dire consequences.
  • Commit to spending time together as a family. Family dinners are a great way to connect with everyone at the end of the day. Guard this time fiercely. There should be nothing interrupting it like social media (cell phones at the table are a no-no).
  • Be picky about your friends and about your children’s friends. There is nothing wrong with this. You don’t choose to be friends with everyone, do you? Teach your kids to choose wisely.
    From Colleen Hammond:  http://www.colleenhammond.com/
    Used with permission, from Colleen Hammond: http://www.colleenhammond.com/
  • Read good parenting books, such as Hold On to Your Kids. More info here. You can listen to the first chapter here. Below are sample videos of the authors. You can find more on YouTube.

  • Be careful what you allow into your home. If you wouldn’t allow a prostitute into your home, there should be no reason you allow pornography into your home. If you are viewing pornography on your computer and you think your kids aren’t seeing you, think again. If you don’t want your child to read a certain book, or watch a certain movie, or listen to a certain song, ask yourself, what makes it right for ME to read/watch/listen to it?
  • Pray, pray, pray. Teach your children the power of prayer. Cultivate the habit of prayer in them by praying a family Rosary nightly, for instance. Say grace at meals.
  • Let them fall in love with the saints. They are powerful examples of people who chose to swim against the tide, often at great odds, to follow Christ. They will not lead your children astray.
  • Protect your child from harmful teasing, either from yourself, from siblings, or from other people. Teasing has different effects on children, depending on their particular sensitivities, personality, temperament. Some teasing can actually be perceived as a subtle form of bullying. Avoid inflicting emotional hurt; often these have the most devastating effects of all. A helpful book — life-changing, really — about learning to be a kinder, gentler parent is The Hidden Power of Kindness. If your child comes to you with a complaint that he is being teased, discuss ways on how he/she can respond; if necessary, talk to the parent of the teaser. That is your job.
  • Learn appropriate ways of expressing anger. I tend to be a yeller, so over the years, I’ve had to learn to tame this monster. I still have occasional outbursts; it’s something that needs to be worked on constantly. For Catholics, prayer, the Sacraments, getting to know the saints, are all immensely beneficial. If necessary, seek professional help.
  • Read up. There’s no reason in this information age not to be able to find help to help you improve your parenting skills. Fathers for Good is a good website. So are Catholic Mothers Online and Catholic Mom. There are many others.
  • Remember that your children are not yours, they are on loan from God. They are not your mini-me, and their personal journey will probably look very different from yours. They will make mistakes, just like you.
  • If you find you need to change something in yourself or your child, focus on one behavior at a time. If, let’s say, you go out and drink on a weekly basis with your friends, consider cutting that time down to once a month so you can spend more time with your children. Parents should ideally be spending the bulk of their time with family anyway, but I see this phenomenon happening everywhere, where parents still act like they’re singles even when there are children needing their time and attention. Know that how much time you spend your children will have lasting effects on their psyche.
  • If you don’t seem to have the communication skills necessary to effectively communicate with and parent your child, How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk is a classic that has helped countless parents. Some of it will come naturally to you, others will take work. At some point after you practice the skills in the book, you’ll find a way to personalize the techniques and make them your own.
  • When talking to your kids, speak from the heart. Nothing touches your child quite like knowing that you’ve been where they are. Share your sufferings from when you were young, tell them how you coped. If you’ve suffered from same-sex attraction, been addicted to pornography, etc., figure out a time when you can talk to your child about these things — you know best when they’re psychologically, mentally, spiritually prepared for that talk. But don’t wait until it’s too late.
  • Find wholesome ways to occupy your time. Sports are good. If your child isn’t interested in team sports, consider an individual sport like martial arts, where they can go at their own pace.
  • Find out and cultivate your child’s interests. If you can find a common interest you can pursue together, so much the better. In our home, it’s been martial arts and scouting. Find ways to bond outside the home.
  • Demonstrate moderation and self-control; your kids are watching you. Watch for addictive tendencies and behaviors.
  • Early on, encourage a positive view of the human body and sexuality. How you talk about sexual topics will affect how they see things. Catholic parents need to immerse themselves in the teachings found in JPII’s Theology of the Body. Talking about the beauty and sacredness of sex in marriage is not something we should be shying away from as parents, so if we don’t have the language or terminology to address these issues adequately, then this needs to become priority ASAP. There are way too many people out there eager to educate our children on things we are not willing or ready to educate them on.
  • Lastly, unconditional love and acceptance of children. This should go without saying, but sadly, very much forgotten today. Whatever problems our kids have to go through — bullying, a mean teacher, peer pressure, same-sex attraction, etc., we need to establish a relationship with them BEFORE THE PROBLEMS COME, so that WE are the first people they approach for help. We need to be their first line of defense.

Essential Reading:

Gravissimum Educationis
Divini Illius Magistri
Casti Connubii

Related Post: 100 Ways to Rebuild the Culture of Life

Humility and a Shared Vision: Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer

shared

Continuing to read Fr. Thomas Dubay’s Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer. Pages

The second main root of conflict is seldom even noticed in our day. It is called illuminism. – emphasis mine

I like to call this form of the aberration the privileged-pipeline-to-God idea.

It is clear that disagreements with an illuminist spouse, relative, friend, fellow worker or parishioner will go nowhere until humility enters the picture — and that requires conversion.

The final root of suffering in communal life is a lack of what the New Testament calls having “one mind”, or as we now term it, a shared vision about the main issues of life: God, religion, why we exist at all, the principles of morality, the nature of one’s state in life and its obligations, a balanced use of money, chastity, raising of children, what real love is and is not.

Saints do not fight at all (in this sense). Once again the New Testament therapy alone works adequately. The conflicts of which we are speaking in this chapter are fully healed or case only when deepening conversion happens.

The gospel picture of beautiful human community is not only largely absent from secular thinking, it is not nearly as prominent in our popular Christian milieu as it ought to be.

Some thoughts to take away from all this:

Humility is key in any relationship.

– I don’t have all the answers.
– I readily admit to the fact that I could be wrong about this.
– I am open to your ideas and new possibilities.
– Just as I seek to be understood, I also seek to understand.
– I try to see things from your perspective.
– I try to put myself in your shoes.

Shared vision is essential.

– We can work on this together.
– If we can’t agree about this now, let’s set it aside and talk about it again tomorrow.
– Where do we see this issue, and ourselves, 5, 10, 15 years from now? How do we get there together?
– What is our ultimate goal here? Let’s not lose sight of that.
– Your ideas and my ideas, put together, can be beautiful, cohesive, exciting.
– Shared vision means we can come to an agreement that works for both of us. And that means we come out of this stronger, wiser, closer. Shared wisdom is also a good thing.
– The world has enough strife. Let’s not allow it to conquer us here. Home is our haven from all that.