Sunday, October 17, 2010


I have been married only about 20 months and marriage, mystery though it may be, is still a topic I ponder often. As I teach and study Salvation History I think about that first marriage, the marriage of Adam and Eve and I wonder what it has to teach me and what warning signs it gives us as my husband and I journey that path.

Strictly speaking their marriage was not sacramental and ours, of course, has that benefit. But just as obviously their marriage had something that ours profoundly lacks. Their marriage pre-dates original sin. The unity that they experienced is almost beyond my imagining; knowing one another without the filter of shame or fear, without actual or original sin. What must that have been like – and why, with all of that, were they willing to risk it all?

Most probably, because of their innocence, they did not understand what could be lost. In contrast we are painfully aware of how vulnerable marriage, specific and universal, is today.

God lists the punishments He metes out for the sins in the Garden; sickness, death, pain in childbirth, physical labor, darkening of the intellect, weakened will and most profoundly, the loss of our intimacy with God. But I’ve never heard anyone talk in depth about the damage to their marriage. Right away we see the damage; they clothe themselves and thus create new barriers. Adam attacks Eve in the face of God’s questioning when they should have stood shoulder to shoulder in humble regret. As Adam and Eve face one another, accusing and wounded, they are no longer facing God. The focus of their world, and thus our world, is fundamentally changed.

I am so aware of the barriers between myself and God; the intimacy that I long for, that I was created for, just beyond my reach. I am taught that marriage is one of God’s tools for overcoming that distance but I cannot forget the damage of the first marriage. Can we truly close the triangle and be one with God again? Are my husband and I faced, as we should be, toward God? Or do the trivialities and tasks of the day turn our faces away too often?

Cain and Able are the first fruit of this marriage. Are Cain’s actions in someway a reflection of his parent’s disobedience? Does generational sin begin here in the first family? Was this Satan’s hope and plan?

All I have are questions. To some of these questions I have the “right” answers. But have I the will and strength to implement them and become what God desires of me?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mourning motherhood

Accepting the will of God and the reality of life on a fallen world is not easy. Well duh! Since my earliest days I have wanted to be a mother. I was the kid that ran the church nursery, the hotly competed for babysitter, the one the kids always run to greet. But I have no child.

Many years ago – much under the influence of the outside world and convinced that I must be “responsible” above all else – I had an abortion. No other event in my life has been as painful. Physically the pain was over quickly but the emotional and spiritual pain has reverberated through the decades – gaining in intensity instead of fading. Sometimes I have been able to push the pain and guilt away – but it creeps up on me on days like today.

I am 43 years old. The chances of my conceiving are ridiculously small. I know many things – some of them contradictory but holding equal weight in my heart. I know God has forgiven me. I also believe that He might question the wisdom of entrusting another soul to my care. I know that my role as a woman is not limited to biological motherhood, but that I am (as all women are) profoundly called to spiritual motherhood. I have taken great joy in spiritual motherhood – I have had great sadness every month when the stick shows a minus sign. I know that when God and the Church demand that my marriage be fruitful their definition is far greater than the biological. I also know it is biological mothers who are honored in our parish today and biological parents who are so frequently entreated to open their lives to more frequent conception.

This is my first Mother’s Day as a married lady. At least 10 people, including my own Mother, wished me a happy Mother’s Day. Why? It is true that I have 3 stepchildren – 2 of whom are on the brink of adulthood and have little to do with me. One is nine. She shares secrets with me, allows me braid her hair, rests her head on my shoulder when we read at night – she has even acquiesced to the idea that I can send her to time out.

But she also knows – and reminds me frequently – that I am not her mother. These reminders aren’t malicious, she is just experiencing torn loyalties and responding with the only tools she has available. Mostly I affirm her when she offers up these reminders. “No, you are right – I am not your mother – but you still have to get out of bed and get ready for school.” “That’s right – I am not your mother – but you still have to come inside for dinner.” But the reminders wear. I like to think I have a generous and giving spirit – but in truth I am selfish. While I love my stepdaughter, I want a child who doesn’t weigh her every response to me in light of the potential (or demonstrated) reactions of her mother, step-father and siblings. Where I should be full of gratitude that God has allowed to be a part of the life of this child, I am resentful that I have to share and the portion I get to share is miniscule.

Pray for me

Notre Dame

Notre Dame – the name itself evokes an image in almost everyone. For some it is the stalwart institution of American Catholicism. It evokes that image in only a minority now. Most obedient Catholics have looked with askance at the University for many years.

Most of you know that Fr. Jenkins had aroused much angst by inviting President Barak Obama to give this year’s commencement speech and gifting him with an honorary degree for his trouble.

I guess I’m scratching my head wondering why anybody is surprised. If you were to stumble upon this story with no background information you might think this was a surprising anomaly. It is not.

As far back as 1967 Notre Dame signed the “Land O’Lakes Statement” declaring that “To perform its teaching and research functions effectively, the Catholic university must have a true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of the authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical, external to the academic community itself.” Even more disturbing from my perspective is the claim that “theological investigation today must serve the ecumenical goals of collaboration and unity.” A quick review of the signers reveals that most have long since given up on any sense of Catholic identity. One simply cannot be authentically Catholic absent humble submission to the hierarchy or by valuing ecumenical collaboration above truth.

Since the implementation of the 1983 Code of Canon law all professor of theology at colleges and universities have been required to sign a mandatum which states: “"I hereby declare my role and responsibility as a teacher of a theological discipline within the full communion of the Church. As a teacher of a theological discipline, therefore, I am committed to teach authentic Catholic doctrine and to refrain from putting forth as Catholic teaching anything contrary to the Church's magisterium.”

Notre Dame won’t say if their professors have signed; Bishop D’Arcy has apparently not sought enforcement and at least two of ND’s theology professors, including Father Richard McBrien (whose presence at the University is independently problematic) have publically gone on record as refusing to sign.

If you are surprised that Fr. Jenkins invited the most pro-abortion President in history to speak at commencement then you just haven’t been paying attention.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Why Blog?

Why a blog? Vanity plays a role I suppose - but so dies the desire to share what am thinking and noticing in the hope that I am not alone; that others are seeing and noticing the same things. Mourning and rejoicing just as I mourn and rejoice.

My husband and I are both converts, desiring to embrace our faith and share it. We are also newlyweds, facing all the struggles of older newlyweds who are trying to create normalcy in the completely un-normal reality of blended families. Our children face mixed signals, mixed values and have to walk an unfair path between their mother’s home and ours. It is a burden that no child should have to face; and yet it is not within my power to eliminate the struggle for them. They need our prayers and yours.

Add to all of that a culture that refuses to accept the basic truths that our ancestors regarded as inviolable just a generation or two ago. Everyday is a new day to try and find our footing; to try and follow a path once so clearly marked and now so eroded by the culture of death that it is far to easy to drift away if you give into cultural complacency.

In short – I want a place to say what I think, what I feel, my struggles and my gratitude. I hope I can find that place here. I figure that even if no one reads what I post I will have a least spoken my piece – and perhaps found some peace.