Birth Control? No, Self-control

When people want to lose weight, our TV shows & magazines flood us with talk about diet and exercise, self-control and moderation. People aren’t advised to pop pills, become bulimic or anorexic (although some people definitely do).

With sex, it’s COMPLETELY the opposite. Our culture tells us to indulge and gorge in every passion and desire we have, regardless of the harm it does to our body, mind or soul. People aren’t advised to have self-control and live a chaste lifestyle (although thankfully, I know a ton a people who do.)

I saw this picture in a friend’s post yesterday, which made me want to write this blog:

It definitely made me laugh. Why? Because it’s totally the answer of a person who’s living a chaste Catholic lifestyle.
Is it difficult to be chaste? Of course! God made us with sexual desires that sometimes feel like the fireworks of 4th of July going off inside us. Does that mean you have to lose all passion if you live a chaste lifestyle? Heck no! The world around us says, “Well, you’re an animal, go indulge in those sexual desires however you please.” That’s like telling hungry people to gorge themselves with as much candy and syrup as possible. Buddy the Elf could would like that, be we would get sick to our stomachs after a while. Reminds me of the scripture that says, “They promise them freedom, though they themselves are slaves of corruption, for a person is a slave of whatever overcomes him” (2 Peter 2:19). But what’s our other option? Do we have to become stoic puritans and shove our desires deep down inside, pretending we don’t have any? Of course not! That’s like telling a hungry person to starve. There is another way, a perfect way.

Our passions and desires can be used for evil or for good, for Hell or for Heaven, for selfishness or for selflessness, for sin or with virtue. It’s very easy to use our passions of ANGER, PRIDE and LUST however we want. But is this Christian? Of course not. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says, “Emotions and feelings can be taken up into the virtues or perverted by the vices” (1768). It is much more difficult to have self-control with our passions, especially when someone cuts you off in traffic and you want to be ANGRY, or when someone criticizes you and you want to retort back with sarcastic PRIDE, or you are in the passion of the moment with someone you’re attracted to and are tempted to LUST. Our religion is not one that tells us to do whatever we want, but challenges us to die to ourselves, so we may rise with Christ (see Gal 2:20). Patience, humility, and love are difficult, but Heaven is worth it.

We have a choice. Our feelings, emotions, passions and desires can either dominate and have power over us (which is called “slavery to sin,” because we aren’t actually free to choose love and good), OR we can have power over them (which is called “slavery to righteousness”). The GOOD NEWS is that it IS possible. I know this myself, since from 8th grade I made a decision never to get drunk or have sex, and now am 27-years old and have stuck to these things. I DID NOT do this on my own. Only by the grace of God, through prayer, and through accountability of community, have my desires been transformed (and are still be transformed). Saying “no” to PRIDE, I am able to grow in humility. Saying “no” to ANGER, I am able to grow in patience. Saying “no” to LUST, I am able to grow in love. All your “no’s” allow you to say even greater “YES’s!” With God, ALL things are possible, even our corrupted desires becoming holy and new! If you’ve made A LOT of mistakes in your past, know it’s possible to be made new in Christ and start saying “Yes” to Him!

Be passionate for God. Long for Him alone. “Delight in the Lord and He will give you your heart’s desires” (Psalm 37:4).

Peace and joy to you, my brothers and sisters in Christ!
Jackie

“Now the works of the flesh are obvious: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you…that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. In contrast the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control… Now those who belong to Christ (Jesus) have crucified their flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also follow the Spirit.” – Galatians 5:19-25

What does scripture say?:
“Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” – Romans 12:1-2

“I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control. Do not be ashamed of your testimony…but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.”- 2 Timothy 1:6-8

“Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

“For God did not call us to impurity, but to holiness. Therefore, whoever disregards this, disregards not a human being but God, who (also) gives his Holy Spirit to you.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:7-8

Wanna Get Revenge?

Jonah (star of the “Jonah and the Giant Fish” saga in the bible) is the quintessential wimp and drama queen. He runs away from God’s voice like the cowardly lion from Oz, hoping that he can escape the call to convict the entire city of Ninevah (capital of Assyria) of their sin in order to lead them to repentance. But Jonah is not a fan of the Ninevites. They are mean people. Imagine Gotham City people—corrupt, immoral, evil—and then imagine no indoor plumbing, and you have the Ninevites. Jonah, as a Jew, wants God to give these pagans what they deserve. He wants God to smite them with His all-powerful arm and turn them into a pillar of salt like that dude’s wife back in the day. When the city does repent and God shows them His mercy and graciousness, Jonah whines like a little kid whose parents won’t let him go to space camp for the summer, but send his friend instead.

Jonah, like many of us, does not love as God loves. Jonah, in his concupiscence, does not want the best for these people, but wants them to get what they truly deserve. And Jonah was not even personally close to these people! How hard is it, then, for us to love and want the best for those who have hurt us, especially if they are close to us? What about those who have abandoned us? Betrayed us? Abused us? Well, without God, it is impossible. But with God, all things are possible (Mt 19:26), and we can do ALL things because He gives us the strength (Phil 4:13).

In our humanness, we want to hate and hold grudges, gossip and compare, wish harm and get revenge. Since not all of us are as naturally virtuous as St. Therese of Lisieux, who purposely showered her “enemy” with as much love as possible, what can we do? The first step is to pray for the people who have hurt us or those we can’t stand. Why? Well, for starters Jesus told us to (Mt 5:44). Secondly, because prayer will not only affect that person, but even more will transform us. If we pray for humility for that person, we, in turn will also become humble. (I personally think praying for “humility” is the best “revenge” prayer.)

Next, we must forgive. Not seven times, but seventy times seven times. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Forgiveness is a high-point of Christian prayer; only hearts attuned to God’s compassion can receive the gift of prayer. Forgiveness also bears witness that, in our world, love is stronger than sin. The martyrs of yesterday and today bear this witness to Jesus” (2844). Maybe we’ve been told, “Forgive and forget,” but the truth is, “it is not in our power not to feel or to forget an offense; but the heart that offers itself to the Holy Spirit turns injury into compassion and purifies the memory in transforming the hurt into intercession” (CCC 2843).

If we want to truly be Christians–“Little Christs”—we must be merciful as God is merciful and forgive trespasses as God forgives ours. Love will conquer all.

“Do not be conquered by evil but conquer evil with good.” – Romans 12:21

“Since you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere mutual love, love one another intensely from a [pure] heart.” – 1 Peter 1:22

“We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God* whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” – 1 John 4:19-21

7 Books I’m Reading Right Now

If you didn’t know already, I’m a big nerd. I love reading, especially when it is helping my soul and my intellect. Some books I can finish in a day or two (“Confessions of a Mega Church Pastor”) and others I can only read a few pages at a time either because of the spiritual depth (“World’s First Love”) or because of the intellectual intensity (“Love and Responsibility” by JPII).

These are a few books I’m reading right now, plus a few bonus books I just finished reading at the bottom. I like to have a mix of theological, historical, spiritual, inspirational, devotional, referential, practical in my reading, so I hope these are representative of that!

Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible by Tim Gray & Jeff Cavins

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

7 Levels of Intimacy by Matthew Kelly

Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila

My Life With the Saints by Fr. James Martin

How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul: 21 Secrets for Women by Jason & Crystallina Evert

Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly

Aaaaaaaaaand, I just finished reading 2 AMAZING books:

The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God by Fulton J. Sheen

Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love: Practical Insights on JPII’s Love and Responsibility by Edward Sri

Where Are Your Children? by Fulton J. Sheen

There is one page in Fulton J. Sheen’s World’s First Love that I cannot forget and I cannot stop sharing.

It happens to relate to today’s Gospel reading, so I am thrilled to share it with you!

To set up the framework of this quotation, in the chapter, “Virginity and Love,” Fulton Sheen talks about how Virginity (specifically referring to those in consecrated, celibate vocations: priests, brothers, sisters, lay consecrated) is neither the opposite of love nor the opposite of generation (meaning “bearing life”). He makes a case that bearing children of the spirit is greater than bearing children of the flesh (physical parents are supposed to bear both), using today’s Gospel as an example.

TODAY’s GOSPEL: Matthew 12:46-50
While Jesus was speaking to the crowds,
his mother and his brothers appeared outside,
wishing to speak with him.
Someone told him, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside,
asking to speak with you.”
But he said in reply to the one who told him,
“Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”
And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers.
For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father
is my brother, and sister, and mother.”

FULTON SHEEN, p. 170 of World’s First Love:
“When the woman in the crowd praised the Mother of Our Lord, He turned the praise to spiritual motherhood, and said that she who did the will of His Father in heaven was His mother. Relationship was here lifted from the level of the flesh to the spirit. To beget a body is blessed; to save a soul is more blessed, for such is the Father’s Will… There would, therefore, seem to be implied in all virginity the necessity of apostleship and the begetting of souls for Christ.
God, Who hated the man who buried his talent in the ground, will certainly despise those who pledge themselves to be in love with Him, and yet show no new life–converts or souls saved through contemplation. Birth control, whether undertaken by husband and wife, or by a virgin dedicated to Christ, is reprehensible. On Judgment Day, God will ask all the married and all virgins the same question: ‘Where are your children?’* ‘Where are the fruits of your love, the torches that should be kindled by the fires of your passion?’ Virginity is meant for generation as much as married love is.”

*the bold is my emphasis, not Sheen’s

How to Find Your SOULMATE…

I just bought the book How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul: 21 Secrets for Women by Jason and Crystallina Evert.

I am so glad they wrote this book, so that I wouldn’t have to!

This book is perfect for young women to help them recognize their dignity and worth, and to make a stand never to SETTLE!

I would even say guys should read it, to know what kind of man NOT to be, and what kind of woman they should look for: a woman who knows who she is in Christ and leads others to him, as well.

CLICK HERE to buy the book

You can even buy in bulk (over 44 copies) at $2 per book, so if you want to do a book study at your church or girls’ group, you can do it for cheap! There are also downloadable study questions on their website.
CLICK HERE for the study guide

This is a PERFECT way to continue a “girls’ session” you may have experienced at a conference, retreat or convention. It’s also a great GIFT for any young woman you know!

Rosary Novena Book

If I mentioned a 54-day Rosary novena that I did in a women’s session you were at, here is the book I used:

Rosary Novena Book on Amazon.com

This novena is powerful, because Mama Mary’s intercession is powerful! (James 5:17)

When you pray for someone, pray with faith, for faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains!

God bless you!

Running the Race

EWTN: Life on the Rock

This Thursday, May 26th, I’ll be on the TV Show “Life on the Rock” on EWTN, 9pm CST (so 7pm for you California people!). (It will re-air on Friday, as well).

EWTN is the largest Catholic TV network in the world and reaches between 6 to 7 million viewers!

I am flying to Birmingham, Alabama to tape the show, and I will be singing 3 songs (2 from the first album, and 1 from the forthcoming album!).

I’m super excited!

Here is the link to “LIFE ON THE ROCK” page:
http://www.ewtn.com/tv/live/lifeontherock.asp

Here is the link to find out what station EWTN airs in your area:
http://www.ewtn.com/channelfinder/

peace and joy!
jackie

What’s the point of the Eucharist?

I hope your Holy Thursday is beautiful!

Music Runs in the Blood

I always joke that my family is like the VonTrapp family, singing in 3-part harmony at even the birthday song. But it’s true. Music runs through our blood.

My dad sings and taught himself how to play both guitar and piano. He also used to be a mean disco dancer back in the 70s, with his tight white John Travolta Saturday Night Fever-inspired suits, and he still can cut a rug out on the dance floor. There’s no doubt I get my moon-walking skills from him (see here: Jackie Moonwalking)

And over on my mom’s side (which is of Polish/German descent), half of the siblings formed a Polka band, and we can’t have any type of wedding reception, reunion or anniversary without doing the Polka!

My Uncle Bob, who is #4 out of 11 kids on my mom’s side, recently got inducted into the Concertina Hall of Fame!

I am so proud of him, and I have video, so you can see for yourself: