Thursday, November 24, 2016

Looking for Catholic Christmas gift ideas, from Catholic sellers? Here ya go!



All right! On Facebook a while back, I asked for and received links from Catholic vendors and artists, in anticipation of Christmas! The items/stores/shops by Catholic vendors are listed below, to make it easier to buy Catholic gifts for our loved ones while helping to support Catholic sellers at the same time. Enjoy "browsing," and feel free to add your own Catholic link in the comment section.

Personally, I think my book, Raising Chaste Catholic Men: Practical Advice, Mom to Mom, is a great gift idea, heh heh! Any young Catholic mom (or dad!) will benefit from the fun but substantive conversation inside.

Also, to make the gift more special, I am happy to sign and personalize a copy for you or your loved ones. In that case, you would buy it straight from me (don't purchase it online); simply email me at raisingchastecatholicmen@gmail.com, and I will let you know how to make that happen!



~~~~~~~


A great family (or parish!) gift idea is Bishop Barron's DVD/Blu-Ray set, The Pivotal Players




I have watched every one of the profiles (St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Francis of Assisi, Blessed John Henry Newman, GK Chesterton, and Michelangelo), and I can tell you that the riches you will mine from these mini-documentaries are worth every penny. Consider buying a set for your own family, splitting it between families who can share it, or gifting a set to your parish or Catholic school. Truly uplifting, spiritually edifying. 


For the children, I love the Shining Light Dolls so much! My grandchildren adore them, and I have it on good authority that Santa Claus (and Grandma and Grandpa) will be bringing them a few more this year. I just now realized they have books that go along with the dolls, too! 

Aren't these adorable? You know who they are! And there are many more to choose from, and new ones always on the way!



I love Becky's book, The Little Flower, and anything else on the Peanut Butter & Grace site. 




And I haven't seen this one in person, but I'm getting it for my own kids today, because it looks so good, and so instructive:  The Great Adventure Storybook. Looks like a fabulous way to teach the kids salvation history! 

For yourself, to become a better apologist in the New Year, day by day, I recommend Jimmy Akin's 
A Daily Defense: 365 Days ( plus one) to Becoming a Better Apologist.

Another great book -- a parenting book with a refreshing twist -- is Dr. Ray Guarendi's
Advice Worth Ignoring: How Tuning Out the Experts Can Make You a Better Parent. Doesn't the title alone make you relax and feel better about your parenting?? I am here to tell you after eight kids and 25 years of being a mom, he is really on to something! Save younger parents the trouble, and get them this book now.


For excellent Advent ideas, check out Holy Heroes site (which is always chock full of good stuff, in every season).

Newly added: I just got this lovely book in my hands, Graceful Living: Meditations to Help You Grow Closer to God Day by Day, and I think it's a great gift idea for your mom or your grandma (or your best friend). Aesthetically beautiful, small, hardback -- daily meditations prompted by Scripture and saint quotes. Check it out:





Now, on to the list of vendors and shops and items that my Facebook friends suggested. I will simply link them, in no particular order, and you can browse through. Isn't it fun? Catholic Christmas shopping from the comfort of your chair:





Travel With T (Catholic travel agent)





TelosArt (including liturgical calendars)


Peter's Square (dozens of Catholic vendors)






Zazick Designs (Lego rosaries)



Johnson Architecture (custom watercolor paintings)


Saintly Silver (saint softies)



Super Saints (quizzing cards)

Prayer Impressions (rubber stamps)






Faith and Fabric (quilt patterns)





Saint Benedict Medal (clothing/accessories)



Mazzoni's Handmade Shop (including mosaics)

Petite Fleur Studio (peg dolls)






Rodan + Fields (skin care)
Rodan + Fields (a second Catholic friend)

Caritas Press Catholic Books (for adults and children)







I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and may God bless us with a fruitful Advent!













Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A couple of housekeeping notes...



First: 

I did it!

I began a book club on Facebook primarily for the purpose of holding myself accountable for finishing a book. And it worked! I finished Evelyn Waugh's Helena ahead of schedule, and I had a blast with the folks who joined me!

And since the next book on the schedule is one that regular readers have heard me rave about, I'm now letting my blog readers know about the book club, in case any of you want to join in.

The book we will begin in December, great for Advent, is Fr. Wilfred Stinissen's book, Into Your Hands, Father: Abandoning Ourselves to the God Who Loves Uswhich I wrote about here and here.

The Little Catholic Bubble Book Club is private, but if you request to join (you must have a Facebook page), I'll ascertain your non-trollness and let you in. This book is life-changing; if you've ever wanted to read it, now's the time.


Second:

I'm working on my next book, which will give voice to the (now-adult) children of divorce. If that's you, I want to hear from you, primarily so those adults contemplating divorce today might have the perspective of the children -- things that adult children of divorce have rarely been able to say, for fear of hurting their parents or being dismissed.

If you are an adult child of divorce who would like your voice heard, please answer the following questions and send your responses to raisingchastecatholicmen@gmail.com, with the subject DIVORCE. All answers will be confidential, unless you let me know that you are comfortable with your first name being used.

Please answer any/all of the questions you feel comfortable answering. I will not know until the compilation of the book how much or how many of your answers will be included.

I am not worried about style; I am grateful for your heartfelt, thoughtful answers, even off-the-cuff. This is not a scientific survey, as you will quickly see. Here ya go:


1. Basic info: Are you male or female, and please give your age at the time of your parents’ separation and/or divorce and the age you are today. Are you married? Do you have children? (Give your name if you want to be identified.)

2. Were your parents Catholic? Married in the Church? Received subsequent annulment? Remarried? 

3. If you wish to remain anonymous, please tell us why.

4. A very broad question, but what affect has your parents’ divorce had on you? 

5. What is the difference between how you felt about the divorce as a child and how you feel about it as an adult?

6.  Has your parents’ divorce affected your own marriage or view of marriage?

7.  What do you want to say to people who say that “children are resilient” and “kids are happy when their parents are happy” and “kids of divorce will be just fine and will go on to live successful lives”?  (Note: I know that many kids of divorce do go on to live happy, healthy lives and have good marriages. So, rest assured the book won’t be about how “wrecked” you all are; we can’t gloss over the pain and consequences, though, even if kids of divorce have gone on to live lives of virtue and goodness.)

8. What would you want to say directly to your parents about the divorce and how it affected your life then and now? Would you advise them to do things differently, and if so, what? (For the record, one or more young divorced parent has told me that adult children of divorce only want to speak to me because of “unconscious revenge” against their parents, and that they simply have not “forgiven” their parents, which is the only way to heal. Thoughts on that?) 

9. What do you most want adults in our society to know about how divorce affects the children?

10. What role has your faith (if you have a faith) played in your healing?

11. What would you want to say to any children facing their parents‘ divorce today? What would you want to say to those parents now considering divorce (absent cases of danger and abuse where separation is necessary)? 

12. Any other thoughts you have or anything you’d like to share that I have missed, please feel free to include. I want all your thoughts! 


When I asked for participants on Facebook, I was overwhelmed. I had at least a hundred willing people by the end of two days. Since that time, have received about 35 responses from that group. Many of the original group have let me know that attempting to answer has been too painful/emotional/difficult, and they have not been able to follow through. That's why I am taking my appeal to the blog, to get a bigger pool of participants, so that you all have a bigger voice.

If you decide to answer the questions, please have them back to me by the end of the year. Better yet, by mid-December. I truly appreciate it. By January, I have to go forward and assemble the responses.

Please note, again: Your answers do not have to be polished or well-articulated. I am fine with your stream-of-consciousness responses, and I will fix any grammar/syntax issues.




And just a heads-up: In a day or two, I hope to have a post up (God willing!) that links to many great Christmas ideas from Catholic vendors, authors, crafters, etc. So, hold off on your online shopping until you see what your fellow Catholics are selling!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! And to my fellow Mayflower descendants -- mine are John Howland (The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower, or John Howland's Good Fortune), and Elizabeth Tilley -- let's be extra thankful that we even exist!












Friday, November 18, 2016

Why I am so political



It could be that I'm writing this post for my children, because it is their history, and it might as well be written down.

In case you've ever wondered why I am so political, I can only offer that it's in my blood.  I have always been a political animal, and I live with another political animal, my husband. In fact, it's how we met.

I grew up in a Republican household as a proud patriot and a fiscal and social conservative. I am the younger daughter of an Arab immigrant/Navy veteran/doctor father and a Protestant-turned-Catholic/nurse mother who was raised poor in small-town Ohio.

I have voted in every election since I was eighteen, and in 1985 I went off to Boston College as a conservative Republican. Nothing could sway me, even liberal Massachusetts and the university's Jesuit influence. I was rooting for Robert Bork's confirmation in 1987 and was outraged that the left derailed that good and brilliant man. I voted for George Herbert Walker Bush (and had a Bush/Quayle placard on my dorm wall) when he ran against the Massachusetts governor, Michael Dukakis.

I have also always been pro-life. I was raised to believe that abortion is wrong, but the truth of it was hammered home to me while spending a lazy afternoon browsing through my mom's well-stocked bookshelves one day.  My 10- or 11-year-old self came across a full-color booklet called "Handbook on Abortion," which included several pages of photos of aborted children from the earliest stages. I was rightly horrified, and concluded then that such an obvious evil should never be legal. (This was in the first few years after Roe v. Wade sullied our land.)

At Boston College I studied English, but politics and Washington, DC (the city where my own parents met) was calling to me. So, while most of my friends went on study-abroad programs during junior year, I became the first English major at BC to be accepted into the Washington Semester Program at American University. There were a few concentrations to choose from, and I chose Foreign Policy.

A big part of the program was completing an internship. I had an interest in journalism, so I interviewed and got the job at a now-defunct national TV news station, Independent News Network (INN). I helped to edit news stories and raw feed, and I occasionally went on assignments, sometimes with a camera crew, but always with my trusty notebook and pen (there were no Smart phones or tablets then).

Some of the highlights for a 20-year-old girl: I sat in on the Oliver North trial, I covered press conferences for Dick Gephardt and Al Gore (it was 1988, a presidential election year, and they were running -- and dropping out), I said hello to Vice President George H.W. Bush in the lobby of INN offices (he would go on to win the presidency that year), and I ran into Senator Teddy Kennedy on the sidewalk near the Capitol (he gave me the creeps).

I understood clearly that I and another intern were the only conservatives in the newsroom. I'm pretty sure I kept that on the down-low, but my memory is hazy. I do remember that my boss and the lead male reporter both hit on me, subtly and overtly, but I just chalked it up to "dirty old men" and didn't give it much of a thought. In fact, I probably haven't thought about it in a quarter century.

It was fun taking a camera crew into the White House Press Room and then heading out to the South Lawn of the White House for the annual Easter Egg Roll, where President Reagan gave a speech to the egg-gatherers for the last time in his presidency. Emmanuel Lewis was the celebrity entertainment that day.



Here I am with my camera crew that day. I'm on the right. In the skirt. 
(My apologies to the nameless camera lady for showcasing her in those heinous 
parachute stone-washed jeans that I am sure she has since disavowed.)


The White House Easter Egg Roll took place on April 4, 1988. How do I remember the date so precisely? Well, it was the very day that I officially began to date my future husband! I had just turned 21 the previous week.

Yep, a handsome Jewish guy named Dean Miller was on the Washington Semester Program that spring as well, a political science major at Emory University in Atlanta who also was entrenched in the political scene, but on the opposite side of the aisle. When I met Dean (who was in the American Politics concentration), he was a diehard liberal, pro-"choice" Democrat.

Dean's first real foray into the political world was as a teenager in Las Vegas, when he canvassed neighborhoods door-to-door on behalf of candidate Harry Reid, who was running for his second term as a United States Congressman. (Let's just say that Dean is, ahem, no longer a fan of Harry Reid.)

When he went off to college, Dean interned at the Carter Presidential Center, which is located on the campus of Emory University. There are many good stories from his days at the Carter Center, but that's for another day. 

Dean with President Jimmy Carter


When Dean arrived in Washington junior year for the exchange semester, he got an internship on the Hill with Democrat Senator Wyche Fowler of Georgia.

When Dean and I met, we obviously did not agree on politics; as we began to fall in love, we tolerated a lot of what the other had to say.

Except when it came to abortion.

I remember sitting with Dean in my dorm room (in a building that was was formerly a Catholic convent, by the way!), listening to him recount the recent talks his American Politics group had attended, one at Planned Parenthood and another at National Right to Life. He was complaining about the pro-lifers, saying that they were "a bunch of nuts" and "loonies" (if I remember that correctly). I reminded him that I was staunchly pro-life, and I told him that his words were offensive to me personally. He walked back his words a bit.

It amuses us both, looking back, as we consider that Dean is now 100% pro-life, sits on the board of our local crisis pregnancy center, and often leads his children at our bishop's rosary in front of local abortion clinics. It's fun to see what God can do, isn't it?

By the time we were married a couple of years later, politics were still a huge part of our lives and discussions, and although Dean was still a Democrat, he was starting to let go of some of his liberal leanings.

During the 1992 presidential election, I was uninspired by President Bush (the elder) and not so convinced about third-party candidate Ross Perot, and so I personally did something unthinkable: I registered as a Democrat and voted for Bill Clinton for President of the United States. Dean voted for him as well. I was "inspired" by his wife Hillary's "advocacy for children" (I had a baby by then), and I convinced myself that her pro-abortion views could be ignored because of how much she "helped" born children. (I know, I know. But it gives me insight into others who use the same arguments today.)

Dean knew within one day of voting for Bill Clinton that he had made a huge mistake. I was more optimistic for a few months, but by the time Clinton gave his first State of the Union address, I was filled with regret. I re-registered as a Republican and never looked back. Within a couple of years, Dean registered as an Independent, and by 1997, he was a registered Republican.

Although still registered Republicans, Dean and I have long been disgusted with the establishment Republican Party, and consider ourselves "conservative" more than any other political label.

Dean's career path has kept him in the mix of politics. His first job was for a non-profit taxpayer watchdog group, and then he worked in state government for a long time (Arizona Department of Commerce, Arizona Corporation Commission) before moving to the private sector of consulting and lobbying. He helped to draft and pass many bills within the Arizona Legislature during those early years, has worked with countless politicians and private businesses on regulatory issues, and knows a lot about the process and the people.

Meanwhile, my public writing began in 1994 when I became an editorial columnist for The Arizona Republic, and my co-writer Kim Manning and I discussed and dissected politics as a matter of course. In fact, it was the exercise of writing about truth and goodness through a political lens that brought Kim to Catholicism and me to a full embrace of Church teaching and practice.

As you can see, there is a deep history and love of politics in the Miller home, and a passion for the direction of our beloved country. So when folks suggest that I become less political, I can honestly say that I don't see that happening. And, I wouldn't want it any other way.

Our Catholic Faith encourages and even obligates us to be engaged in the public square, and so long as I am not transgressing the moral law or the laws of our Church while doing so, I am happy to oblige.

God bless America! It is a privilege to live in this still-great land.









Wednesday, November 9, 2016

And it's over. And it's beginning.



Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA TODAY




What a night. Unexpected. I have so much to say, but I'm exhausted, as I suspect we all are!

For now, I will just say that we have bought some time. There is a blessed reprieve for crisis pregnancy centers, for religious liberty, for the courts around the nation, for the beleaguered middle-class.

Let us pray for Donald Trump. Let us pray that the Republicans, who hold not only the presidency but also the House and Senate, will not squander the trust and opportunity that the people have given them.

For today, I am just so very happy, so very relieved.

Please, please, let us pray!


Sunday, November 6, 2016

Some final reflections on the election





In light of the fact that several Catholics (yes, Catholics) have recently, repeatedly, and definitively informed me there is "no threat" to our religious liberty or conscience rights in America by the Democrats, I thought I'd repost Why Trump Will Get My Vote. Just hours after I posted it on October 4th, it became the most popular piece on this blog, ever. And it didn't slow down for weeks.

The points are still valid as we approach the final hours of the most horrid election in my lifetime, and as you read it again or for the first time, here's one more specific to keep in mind:

Of the 13 appellate/circuit courts in America, four were considered "liberal" when Obama came to power (including the notorious 9th Circuit), and nine were considered "conservative" (i.e., less likely to infringe upon the basic rights of life, marriage, and religious liberty/conscience). Today, after eight years of Democrat appointees, those numbers have been reversed. There are now nine left-leaning circuit courts, and only four that lean conservative. We are rightly concerned with the Supreme Court, but many thousands more cases are adjudicated in the lower courts. Dear Catholics, think long and hard about the future of our religious liberty before you cast a vote to put the Democrats in charge of our land.

Here's the post that made the rounds:





I believe that retention of religious liberty is the most pressing political issue we face, as that is the natural right we are most rapidly (illegitimately) losing. Whenever I quote Pope Benedict's words to the concerned US bishops, that we Americans face a "grave threat" to religious freedom here at home, those on the "Catholic left" instantly dismiss me and inform me that it is actually I and other Catholic Trump-voters who are "the biggest threat to religious liberty" -- to foreign Muslims.

What I try to explain to these politically left-leaning Catholics goes something like this:

"At this moment, though, it is your own brothers and sisters in Christ, both Catholic and Protestant, who are being legally persecuted. Right now. This moment. In America. And with a revamped Democratic Party platform that promises much more of it. That is the immediate fire, the one I'd like to try to put out. So you can speculate about non-citizen Muslims based on a hypothetical, but meanwhile your fellow Christians are already afoul of the law thanks to Democrats and their core beliefs and legislation. Your co-religionists, including moms and pops and Little Sisters, are the legal "discriminators" today, fighting our government in the courts, losing their businesses and livelihoods, shuttering long-standing charitable agencies -- in this nation, now. That means something to me. Does that mean anything at all to you?"

The answer always comes back, No.

It means nothing to them.

Because they deny it's happening at all. "There is no threat to Christians' religious liberty and conscience rights from the Democrats." Nothing to see here, move along.

It makes me wonder: If the Democrats do get into power and make good on their Party Platform promises to double-down on the legal persecution of Christians who wish to refrain from participating in gravely sinful events or activities, will our left-leaning Catholic friends finally stand up for us when we begin to go to jail?

Or will they continue to say, as they do now, that it's our own fault for "not following the law," and that we "need to learn to get along in an increasingly diverse (read: post-Christian/secular) society."

I have my suspicions. But personally, I hope we can keep the Democrats out of power for at least a few more years so that I don't have to find out the answer anytime soon.


Lord, have mercy on the crazy experiment called America. The way things have been going, we surely don't deserve Your mercy, but we will take whatever cross you allow us, and we will be sanctified by it. 

And for any anxious readers, just remember that whichever way the election goes, Jesus is bigger.









Sunday, October 30, 2016

Joseph Sciambra is one of my heroes. Please, get to know him.




I have a few heroes in contemporary America, folks who are not afraid of speaking and living Christ's Truth, in season and out, no matter the cost, no matter the derision they face, and when there is no (worldly) personal gain. These heroes speak that Truth in love. They don't seek to hurt souls, ever, but only to help them attain Heaven.

Joseph Sciambra is one of those personal heroes (though he barely knows me and likely does not know how highly I regard him).

Day in and day out, Joseph works to reach those caught up in pornography and homosexuality, as he himself was for many, many years. He was not only an active homosexual in the San Francisco area (Castro district), but he was also an amateur gay porn star who fell into the occult as well.

When I first heard/read about Joseph, I admit my initial reaction was admiring but dismissive. His story was so "over-the-top," so extreme. A gay porn actor in San Francisco? A man caught up in perversion, sexual violence, and even Satanic influence? I believed it all of course (I am not naive to what Satan can do to a soul, and how easy it is to spiral downward into boundless depravity), but I didn't think someone like Joseph could be relatable to others.

But I friended him on Facebook, and I kept reading his posts and watching his videos. I began to look at his blog. This was not a man who dwelled on the sickness and evil that permeated his own life for so many years, but rather a man actively ministering to those still caught up in darkness.

Joseph not only talks the talk, but he walks the walk by meeting with and talking to the men at the gay street fairs and "pride" events in California, often to his own detriment. He still suffers many health effects from his years in the brutality of the gay/porn lifestyle, and he is weary, both in body and soul. He cannot get volunteers to go with him to these gatherings anymore. Some will go once, but not again -- it's simply too overwhelming. There are many of us who pray for him now, but almost no one who will accompany him into the heart of it all.

And yet he never stops reaching out and truly loving those who are so lost, those who are in the place where he used to be. He is right there, ministering to the walking wounded, i.e., the gay men (and women) who need the light of Christ so desperately:




















Joseph is doing all of this while at the same time trying to alert the Church in America that her outreach to the gay community is largely ineffective, counterproductive, and even harmful: The "gay ministries" in too many dioceses seem to affirm the "gay" rather than point toward repentance, redemption, renewal, and the joy of salvation found in obedience and surrender to Christ Jesus.

So much of what he says, and warns, falls on deaf ears.

Joseph does not get asked to speak at Catholic conferences, he does not get asked to advise those in gay ministries (even though he has so much wisdom and experience!), he does not get profiled or consulted by the major Catholic news outlets. It's baffling and confounding. The more I get to know him, the more I scratch my head at how this gem of the Church can be consistently ignored.

Some might argue that his story and all he encounters now is too gritty, too explicit, too graphic. The details of his life in gay porn and the gay community are dark and ugly, yes, even to the point of physical revulsion for those who are exposed to it. And yet... we know that when the subject is abortion, for example, we Catholics do not shy away from the ugly truth of it. The wonderful Abby Johnson speaks all over the nation at diocesan events, even though the details of abortion are gruesome, violent, bloody, deadly, heartbreaking. That she and others speak, and are welcome to speak, is as it should be! It is right and just that the evil of abortion is exposed.

Why, then, are the rules different when the sin is homosexual activity? Why do we not wish to see, and why do we even sugarcoat (or celebrate) this particular sin?

If you follow Joseph (and I encourage it), you will see that he gets frustrated and disheartened. He is often burnt out. And yet, somehow he keeps going. I'm not going to lie -- I worry about him and so do many others. He needs massive prayer coverage (his ministry is incredibly dangerous, spiritually), and he needs friendship and physical support as well. He carries a heavy burden that most of us cannot imagine.

For months, I'd wanted to read his full story, which is laid out in his book, Swallowed By Satan: How Our Lord Jesus Christ Saved Me From Pornography, Homosexuality, and the Occult, and this past month I finally did. I highly recommend it, not for its literary perfection (it really deserves a professional editor and publisher) but for its content, insights, wisdom, truth. His is a powerful, tragic, and ultimately hopeful journey, one that every Catholic, especially every Catholic parent, should understand -- especially in this age of pornography. But be warned: It is not for the faint of heart, and not for overly sensitive souls. 



Joseph is two years younger than I, and I found myself nodding along with his description of his Catholic upbringing and the poor catechesis that our entire generation received in the '70s and '80s. Some of his words were eerily similar to my own story, and culturally I knew exactly what he was talking about at all times. We both went off the rails, morally, and so when he spoke of his own dark years, I recalled where I was at the same time, my sins just manifested a bit differently.

His book is available on his website (click here), or you can get the Kindle edition (click here).

And now I want to lay out where Joseph's true courage comes in, a courage that is only possible when one's soul is full of the grace of Christ and when one is willing to take whatever consequences may come.

As I said above, we have a big problem with "gay ministry" in the Church today.

Joseph unceasingly calls out the scandals in our Catholic parishes. Scandals that harm the very souls he is trying to help save and that are not, for whatever reason, addressed and corrected. Just a few examples:

In the Diocese of San Jose, there is a longtime LGBT ministry leader, Young Adult ministry leader, Mass Coordinator, Eucharistic Minister, and Lector who is "married" to his same-sex partner.

In the Archdiocese of San Francisco, there is the longstanding, ongoing, and truly inexplicable scandal in practice and leadership positions at Most Holy Redeemer parish, including with the Parish Manager (if you scroll down, be prepared to be heartsick at what you see). In another parish, the bulletin directs parishioners to a retreat led by an outspoken pro-gay "rights" activist priest. And honestly, I don't have words for the fact that the man in this article is a candidate for Deacon (Holy Orders!) in the diocese. How can this be? I feel sick to my stomach when I consider it.

In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, there are leaders, including speakers at the 2016 and 2017 Catechetical Congresses, who celebrate "gay" and confuse the faithful about grave sin. There are even altars draped in "rainbow pride" colors. A mother whom I know personally pours out her heart about what she encountered when trying to find help and support for her lesbian daughter. Joseph is one of the only people who would hear of her heartbreak and would tell her story.

There is never a time when the "gay pride rainbow" is appropriate on the altar of God.
(St. Matthew's Catholic Church in Long Beach, CA)

In the Archdiocese of New York, one parish's official LGBT outreach recently celebrated the Supreme Court's gay "marriage" ruling; this Facebook page of St. Francis of Assisi LGBT outreach is full of "love is love" and rainbows, including "Pre-Pride (event) Mass" and a link to a hospital that does transgender surgery.


St. Francis of Assisi parish, New York City


Parishes in Boston, New York, Hartford, Atlanta, Sacramento, Chicago and elsewhere confuse the faithful and contradict the teaching of the Church on homosexuality and the seriousness of sexual sin, which has eternal consequences. Christ came and suffered and died to save us from grave sin; how can Catholics downplay or celebrate sin? How can those who celebrate gay "marriage" be in leadership positions in our dioceses, especially in ministry to those with same-sex attraction? It is unconscionable.

Joseph is also one of the few people (and the only one I've heard lately) who is being honest about the health risks and high rates of sexually transmitted diseases inherent in gay sex acts right now in 2016. He is one of the few people who explains the real reason that gay men leave the Catholic Church (and it's not because the Church is harsh and mean).

I have so much more to say about Joseph Sciambra and his ministry, but I hope that I have given you a glimpse into the heart and mission of this wonderful man. Please, stand with him. Please, support him. Men with his strength and courage are few and far between, and while it's a lonely place to be, let's make it a little less lonely.

Friend him on Facebook. Buy his book. Read his blog. Pray for him.



God bless you, Joseph!










Friday, October 21, 2016

Notice: I'm giving up matchmaking!



Yep, it's true! I'm quitting my little hobby of many years. My yenta days (outside of family) are over.


Golde and Yenta, Fiddler on the Roof, United Artists


I'm a tiny bit sad about that, since I still get messages almost weekly asking for help in finding a good Catholic spouse, either for the inquirer or a loved one. I started a Catholic matchmaking yahoo email group (for like-minded Catholic moms) over a decade ago, and then a few years ago I started a private matchmaking blog that continued until recently. I even tried to get a couple of Catholic matchmaking Facebook groups off the ground.

But there is just not enough fruit to keep it up anymore, and very few people actually follow my advice anyway, which has been the deciding factor for me. There is so little time in life, and we all have to decide where to direct our energy most productively.

So, I'm going to throw out some (usually-rejected) advice here, and folks can decide whether or not that advice is worth implementing.

First, in my experience, the vast majority of people actively looking for a Catholic spouse are women in their late twenties to late thirties, well-educated, and situated in good careers. Very few men come on my radar screen, and very few solid Catholic men (meaning, faithful to Church teaching and with jobs and appropriate social skills) are still single past their mid-twenties. Most of those men are marrying young (a good thing!), but that leaves a problem for the ladies: There is a vast pool of lovely, accomplished, faithful Catholic women seeking, and not a very big pool of good men to complement that search.

And yes, that is depressing!

What I always say first to these incredible women: "Have you tried Catholic Match or Ave Maria Singles?" Often the answer is no, as they "don't want to do the online dating thing". Immediately I lament, because one must go where the Catholic men are to find Catholic men, and if they aren't finding them in their parishes (and they obviously are not), there is little chance that they will find a faithful Catholic man at the grocery store or in the corporate world.

God is not going to drop a husband into your lap from the heavens, ladies. You worked very hard getting that college degree (and then that master's degree), so you need to work just as diligently at your own vocation, which is much more important than your job or career in the long run.

Sometimes the women will tell me that they are already on Catholic Match or Ave Maria Singles, but that they have had no luck or have gone inactive. Some thoughts:

1) Yes, there are a lot of men on those sites who are not going to be good husband material, and some are downright awful (one of my first blog posts ever was about the pitfalls of Catholic Match), but it only takes one good guy out of thousands. You are looking for one, that is all. Keep going.

2) You may be way too picky. Life is not a Nicholas Sparks novel, and you are not likely to find an Eduardo Verástegui. If a man is decent, faithful, has good hygiene, and has the means to provide for his family, he is a catch, ladies! If you find that he is "not your type" after the first view of his profile, maybe give him a chance anyway. (I will be writing my next book about Catholic dating and marriage, and I will include the stories of how two of my own children married spouses who were "not their type" at first glance; praise God they persevered!)

3) If you insist on principle that the man must be the initiator while you passively wait for him to make the first contact, well, you may be waiting alone all of your life. I'm just being honest. If you want to find a husband, initiate the first conversation! I am so glad my daughter-in-law did that with my son. And I am glad I was the one who actively pursued my own dear husband so many years ago. :)

4) If you limit yourself to men in your geographical area, eschewing long-distance relationships, then you will indeed be limiting yourself. All three of my married children, and even Dean and I, had long-distance relationships while dating. Not one of us lived in the same state, much less the same city, when we met and dated the other.


Bottom line, marriage is not something magical like fairy dust or wishing on a star that just happens to you like a dream. Like holiness in general, it requires hard work, both before and after the vows.

I have a lot more to say on the matter, as you can imagine, and I will! But one last thought for this short blog post: Pray while you work. The 54-day Novena for finding a spouse is an amazing grace-filled prayer that can make your work of finding a spouse fruitful! Be open, be courageous, be prayerful!


Anyway, it's been fun playing yenta for so long, and I have loved getting to know so many wonderful folks through the process! Go out and promote marriage and family, my friends, as it's the only way to reverse the corrosive effects of the culture. The Church, as always, has the answer! We just need to stop standing in her way.




Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Hillary's campaign manager works for "revolution" to undermine Catholic teaching




We've already considered this, this, this, and all of this, which should be enough to make practicing Catholics fly away from Hillary and the Democrats or, better yet, fight their ascent with all we can muster.

But today we see a leaked email from John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary's current campaign for president, discussing how he set up groups to stir up "revolution" against Catholicism:




You should not be shocked, as this has been going on for a very long time. Really think about that last paragraph.

His bio from Wikipedia: "Podesta previously served as Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton and Counselor to President Barack Obama. He is the former president and now Chair and Counselor of the Center for American Progress (CAP), a liberal think tank in Washington, D.C., and is also a Visiting Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center." <---------- Catholic institution, as you know. 


Wikipedia



I'm sure there is and will be a lot more to come (the Democrats have been doing this for a long time), but here's another email leaked yesterday, from a Democratic operative to John Podesta, regarding Catholics:




We should take that second-to-last paragraph as a badge of honor, by the way. (And I believe "SC" means "Supreme Court.")

For those Catholics who still feel inclined to vote for Hillary, you might want to rethink your support for a candidate, a campaign, and an entire political party that directly, gleefully targets your own Mother









Sunday, October 9, 2016

Read it and weep



The article below is something that must be read. The first half is for the Democrats and the "progressive," secular left. The next part is for the establishment Republican right. The conclusion states, quite rightly, "You reap what you sow."

This is how we got here. Every Democrat who believes in "fluid" morality, and who defended Bill Clinton's right to his "private sexual life," and every Republican who said social/religious/moral issues should be off the table for the GOP -- you are responsible for this. Own it. The rest of us are doing our best with what you've handed us. 

Will I still be voting for the Republican candidate (who as of today still appears to be Trump)? Yes I will, because my aim, as always, is to at least slow down the enshrinement of sexual sin and degradation into law -- an enshrinement which is integral to the Democrats' philosophy and vision.


I don't like the headline (because some of us Americans have been condemning both Democrats AND establishment Republicans), but trust me, it's worth it to read and see how exactly how we got here. We have no one to blame but ourselves for these two candidates:






Note: If anyone claims I am endorsing, condoning, or excusing Donald Trump's vile words and behavior over the years, then you don't know me. So shush. And if you are pearl clutching because you simply never knew before yesterday that Trump was a lech and a cad, then you also need to shush, because you are lying. We all knew it, including you. 



Now, get to mass and pray. Get on your knees and pray. 

We have a lot to atone for as a nation. 






Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Why Trump will get my vote



Well here it is. The post that many people have asked me for. I'm sure I'll take a beating from some, but the stakes are too high for me to care much about that.


The necessary caveats to begin this post:

-- Trump is not a stellar man. He is not a man of virtue. He is a blowhard and a jerk. I am not defending Trump as some sort of saint or model of goodness.

-- I voted for Marco Rubio in the primaries. I would have been fine with most of the other candidates as well, and would have voted for them over Trump. The primaries are where we must fight hard for the purest, best candidates. But now the primaries are over, and we are discussing the general election, where it is a truth that either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be our next president (believe me, I understand the consternation).

-- I personally do not ever vote for non-viable third party candidates in the general election. I work with what we have on hand. If I wanted to vote for someone who cannot win, I would vote for my husband. Or my mom. Or my friend Danya. I would vote for myself, even, since I agree with everything I believe in, ha ha. As it stands, I want to do more than simply make a statement, so I look at the viable candidates in any election and vote for one of them -- the one who will do the least damage to my Church and my family and my country -- because we are going to get stuck with one of them, for sure.

-- You, dear reader, are not obligated to vote for Trump. <--------- Did you see that? Because if I get comments saying, "But, Leila, Catholics are not obligated to vote for Trump!" I am going to refer you back to this bullet point. Please respect the fact that I have made this very clear, with a little red highlight and all. There is no mandate that you vote for Donald Trump. Do whatever your well-formed conscience tells you with regard to voting.

-- Having agreed that you are not morally bound to vote for Trump, I don't see any possible moral way that a Catholic can give one's vote to Hillary Clinton. None. Maybe some of you can see a way. I cannot. However, going along with my third bullet point, I will say that if it were Hillary running against someone like Hitler, I would vote for Hillary in that case. But we don't have a situation like that. (And if you believe Trump is a Hitler-figure, then we have nothing more to talk about.)


Now that I am done with the caveats, here is why Donald Trump will get my vote:


For me it's very simple. I vote policy. This is politics. Hillary's policy positions are diametrically opposed to all I hold dear and believe. Trump's are much more in line with my own. Read his policy position statements, read the Republican Party Platform and compare it to the Democrat Party Platform, listen to Mike Pence, his vice presidential pick.

Whether or not Trump is personally pro-life, he is at least not anywhere near the slobbering, slavish love of abortion that characterizes Hillary and her party. Not even close. And while politicians greatly tend to flip-flop and gravitate toward whatever position is politically expedient, I'd rather vote for the guy who is flip-flopping and gravitating in the right direction!

Trump is not determined to take away religious freedom and conscience rights of Catholics. Note well the brand new parts of the Democratic Platform, and see the rapid progression of Hillary's party in actively working to erode religious liberties and conscience rights. All her people will stand firmly for this inverted, perverted view of "religious freedom" that means Catholic teaching is bigoted discrimination that will not be tolerated. Trump's people do not and will not uniformly and aggressively stand for those things.

A huge question for me is, "How can I preserve my religious liberties just a little bit longer?" <------Please re-read that question. This is vitally important to me, and it should be to every Catholic. Even Pope Benedict warned the US bishops of the "grave threats" to religious liberty in America*, and the same US bishops went so far as to establish an annual Fortnight For Freedom to address the ongoing and growing crisis. This threat to Catholics began and continues under Democratic rule. When it comes to retaining our liberties, Christians have more of a shot with Trump than with Hillary. Never in my lifetime could I have imagined a sitting president going to court against the Little Sisters of the Poor, for example. These are the Democrats, the "progressives," Obama and Hillary's people who did this, not Trump's party.

Of course there is the issue of the judges the next president will appoint -- including, we tend to forget, all federal judges, hundreds of them, not just those on the Supreme Court. These judges will be ruling our lives, promoting abortion and LGBTQ "rights," and limiting our religious liberties for decades to come, long after Hillary is out.

I often think of the Cabinet, which includes the the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs, and the Attorney General. Think about the power of these Cabinet heads! And every last one of them will be of Hillary's mind -- pro-abortion, pro-gay "rights," and against conscience rights of Catholics. Trump's Cabinet heads would not be 100% left-wing "progressives," not even close. The Vice President is a member of the Cabinet, and under Trump, that would be pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-family, pro-faith Mike Pence. To think that the rest would be secular "progressives" is just irrational.

And goodness, the military! Under Obama it is being slowly wrecked, being turned into an LGBTQ social experiment now, and getting so much worse with every new "progressive" directive, which are coming faster these days.

Trump wants smaller central government (unlike Hillary), which means less government interference in the lives of regular Americans. In other words, Trump and his people are more in line with the Catholic principle of subsidiarity, which is a subject Catholics don't tend to know about, but should.

Also, unlike fiscally irresponsible Democrats who promise "free" stuff to everyone and higher taxes, I personally believe in lowering taxes across the board, which Trump has promised. A tax cut will specifically help Middle America, which has been so damaged by, among other things, the Obamacare nightmare.

So for me, this vote is a no-brainer. I'm not the least bit troubled about my vote for Trump considering that the alternative is Hillary, the Democrats, and all her people. Personally, my conscience would haunt me if I did not do everything to defeat Hillary. The secular "progressives" are systematic and they are determined. If we let them in to rule us for four or eight more years, they will become even more emboldened, and nothing will stop them.

Some people, even people of goodwill, think that Trump is just as bad as Hillary. I cannot fathom it, how anyone could think that a Trump administration and the people he would put in place could promulgate even half as much evil as Hillary and her people would. The damage to this country and to Catholics would be unprecedented. So for me personally, it is my moral obligation of conscience to vote for her opponent, so as to mitigate the evil she and her appointees and staff will accomplish.

There is much talk about Trump being an ass, a jerk, a horrible man. He is a blustering blowhard, as I've mentioned many times. So were many of our presidents. So are many of our relatives (if you are Mediterranean like me!), and that doesn't reflexively mean they are politically wrong or evil. Some of the blowhards in my life are near and dear to me, and they would never "blow up the world" because of that temperament. I'd vote for a blusterer long before I would vote for a (publicly) calm but sinister person.

I have actually never seen a Catholic voter guide discussing whether or not a candidate is a jerk. Instead, Catholic voter guides talk about policy. The most important policies concern intrinsic evils like abortion, euthanasia, the rights of parents to be the primary educators of their children, conscience rights, and protecting natural marriage, i.e., all the things that Democrats are on the wrong side of. Apart from the intrinsic evils (the "non-negotiables"), the rest of the policy issues (immigration, education, welfare programs, healthcare, etc.) are issues of prudential judgment, meaning, Catholics are free to disagree with how best they should be handled. See the video below for more information on that.

Honestly, if using a slur or a bad word is enough to disqualify a presidential candidate, then Catholics pretty much can't vote for anyone, ever. I believe a lot of this anti-Trump over-the-top rhetoric is a way to keep Catholics out of the public square. After all, this is politics, where corruption and sleaze is the norm. If we may only vote for near-saints, then we lose our place at the table, our way to shape policy that affects us. It's the attitude that kept a decent man like Romney out of the presidency -- good Catholics wouldn't vote for him! -- and kept Obama and his terrible, anti-Catholic policies in. This is politics and not theology, friends, and we are not canonizing a saint here.

Some assume that I have angst having to vote for a deeply flawed candidate. Nope, none at all. The different between Trump and Hillary is just that stark. For those who do have angst in casting a vote for Trump, I remember well the words of a holy Opus Dei priest who told me years ago that once you make a decision (that is within the moral law), stop worrying about it. So in this case, I would advise people to make the decision, vote and move on.

One last thought: If I can't convince you to vote for Trump in order to mitigate the evil that Hillary and the Democrats will surely bring to us, perhaps Fr. John Lankeit from the Diocese of Phoenix can at the very least show you why you may never, ever vote for Hillary Clinton and put the Democratic Party in charge. It's a spiritual warning that we would all do well to heed, including those Catholics who are actually encouraging votes for Hillary as a better alternative to Trump:



That needs to go viral, don't you think?


Okay, I'm happy to discuss in the comments, as usual. Please just have patience and mercy, as my son and his wife are visiting from out of town, and I am soaking up every minute I can with them. 

Above all, please pray for our nation, because we are in dire straits. As Catholics, we'll take whatever suffering comes, of course, but let us not enable and assist those who actively oppose us. We are an Easter people, not a suicide people, after all! 



_____

*The words of Pope Benedict to the American bishops, four years ago this month:

It is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life. Of particular concern are certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. Many of you have pointed out that concerted efforts have been made to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. Others have spoken to me of a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience. [Again, this was all about Obama and the Democrats. No one else is doing this. Hillary is quite set to double-down on the "progress."]





** Update: Trump addresses Catholic concerns, here.