You saw me in the parking garage and just saw me for my body - but I'm so much more than just my body.
For some millennials, littles are not anywhere on the radar. In a 2016 article , Rooster interviewed millennials and asked them their reasons for not having children. Although some of the concerns given for avoiding children were understandable and grounded in facts, the reactions that millennials had to the facts were problematic, to say the least. Check it out on today's blog!
March 8th is International Women's Day. If you logged onto Facebook this morning you were reminded that today is a day to "celebrate the amazing contributions women make to our world and our future"
And if that was what International Women's Day was, I'd agree. But after doing some research on the origins of the holiday, I have to take a step back and ask the question only a huge Theology of the Body and history nerd like myself would ask -
Would Saint Pope John Paul II approve of International Women's Day?
An International Women's Day was celebrated on March 8, 1917 in Petrograd. Women who worked in the textile industry gathered in the capitol of Russia and rioted. This was the start of the Russian Revolution, which caused Emperor Nicholas II to abdicate the throne just one short week later. The women's day march-turned-riot was an incredible turning point for the rise of communism. The provisional government that took the place of Emperor Nicholas granted women the right to vote. But the communist governments around the world also issued in a reign of terror.
For perspective, Hitler and his Nazi regime killed between 11 and 12 million people, 6 million of them Jews. Communist leader Mao Zedong of China is responsible for the deaths of somewhere between 40 and 75 million Chinese people. His political decision of the Great Leap Forward alone is responsible for the deaths of 18 to 45 million.
Stalin is estimated to have been responsible for 20 million deaths, placing him second on the list of dictators who killed the most people.
For the almost sixty years, the holiday was celebrated mostly by socialist movements and communists countries - including the Soviet Union, China, and Spanish communists in 1936. In commenting about the women's march, Stalin said:
"I wish them every success...in making the two sections of the oppressed masses, which are still unequal in status, a single army of fighters for the abolition of all inequality and of all oppression, for the victory of the proletariat, and for the building of a new, socialist society in our country. Long live International Communist Women’s Day!"
So with its roots in the communist movements, I am hard pressed to believe John Paul II would be involved. After all, communism played a significant role in the life of John Paul II. In fact, he fought it so strongly that Mikhail Gorbachev said, "I did not destroy Communism, John Paul II did."
John Paul II spent a majority of his life standing up against the forces of Communism - but also standing up for the beauty of the feminine genius and the beauty of masculine and feminine complimentary. His first mission after he was elected pope was a series of 129 Wednesday audiences discussing the importance of men and women in today's world in order to bring about a better understanding about the beauty of God, sex and our universal longing for fulfillment. He saw people as persons to be loved, not things to be used. This didn't sit well with the strong belief of the Communist government that people were meant to be used.
"He [John Paul II] knew that people do not exist for the good of the state. Rather, the state should exist in order to serve the people. This wasn't about making the government more religious, but about making it worthy of the human person. In Wojtyla's mind, injustices such as violence and the suppression of of human rights are lies spoken against the truth of humanity. When the laws of a state are not based upon the truth of the dignity of the human person, inhuman conditions and acts inevitably follow. This is especially true under communism, which sees man as a purely material being" (Jason Evert, Saint John Paul The Great: His Five Loves).
In 1995, John Paul II released a letter to women, in which he said:
Thank you, women who work! You are present and active in every area of life-social, economic, cultural, artistic and political. In this way you make an indispensable contribution to the growth of a culture which unites reason and feeling, to a model of life ever open to the sense of "mystery", to the establishment of economic and political structures ever more worthy of humanity. (Letter to Women, 1995)
But finally, I don't think that John Paul II, who was amazingly pro-life (from natural conception to natural death), an advocate for masculine and feminine complimentary, and a fighter for the true definition of love would stand for what the women's moments of today stand for. Can you picture John Paul II standing with any one of these signs?
Is is it wrong to celebrate the beauty of femininity in today's world? No! In fact, the world could use more appreciation for the inherent amazing feminine genius that women offer. But we need to promote the beauty of a woman's dignity by fostering a culture that understands, embraces and appreciates the beauty of her fertility and femininity. Not by seeing her as an ends to a mean in a communist mindset, or rejecting her fertility as if it was a disease.
So I respectfully decline the celebration of International Women's Day. Not because I hate women (I am one, after all), but because I've been inspired by John Paul II to appreciate women at a much deeper level than a holiday steeped with communist roots can ever supply. To realize the beauty and dignity of woman is incredible and out of this world. In the words of John Paul II, "The basic plan of the Creator takes flesh in the history of humanity and there is constantly revealed, in the variety of vocations, that beauty-not merely physical, but above all spiritual-which God bestowed from the very beginning on all, and in a particular way on women."
"Necessary emphasis should be placed on the "genius of women", not only by considering great and famous women of the past or present, but also those ordinary women who reveal the gift of their womanhood by placing themselves at the service of others in their everyday lives. For in giving themselves to others each day women fulfill their deepest vocation" (Letter to Women, 1995).
My passport is not stamped with a Polish stamp. I don't have pictures with new international friends. I have yet to taste a pierogi. But my heart is moved and full from World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow.
When I look at those pictures on Facebook, read the tweets, talk to friend and hear about the amazing adventures God had in the hearts of His children, how can I not be inspired in my Catholic faith?
It's common knowledge that Europe is not the safest place to be right now. Terror attacks occur frequently and a large crowd of people may have drawn conflict. Yet Catholic young adults still flocked to get a glimpse of the Pope. They still hiked 10 miles to camp out for a candle-lit vigil. They still fell to their knees in the rain to worship Christ in the Blessed Sacrament.
Why? Because perfect love drives out fear.
"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has torment, and he that fears has not been made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18)
Love creates, it moves, it acts. When you're in love you have to do something - love requires action. Fear, on the other hand, immobilizes. Paralyzes. The founder and creator of World Youth Day, Saint Pope John Paul II once famous said, "Be Not Afraid." What does that look like? How do you not be afraid, and how can you tell that you're living this beautiful JPII motto?
If you're not afraid, you're in love. And people in love do crazy things.
Love tells 3 million people to pack up clothes and rain ponchos in a backpack and board flights that last 10 hours. Love pushes people out of their comfort zones and connects them with others who don't even speak the same language. Love emboldens some to fundraise for years, take time off of work or a summer vacation, and sleep on a gym floor. Love gets them up at 3:00 AM and doesn't let their mind rest even when they're supposed to be sleeping.
Love widens eyes, but more importantly it widens hearts. It widens hearts to mercy, compassion and action. It demolishes comfort zones and calls us out of sin and into grace.
"The world has no need of couch potatoes" (Pope Francis)
“Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” (Pope Saint John Paul II)
Are you ready to fall in love with a God who loves you? Perhaps, more importantly, are you willing to let that love move you?
'Let my eyes stream with tears, day and night without rest, over the great destruction which overwhelms the virgin daughter of my people, over her incurable wounds. If I walk out in the field, look! Those slain by the sword. If I enter the city, look! those consumed by hunger...why have you struck us a blow which cannot be healed? We wait for peace, to no avail. For a time of healing, but terror comes instead.' (Jeremiah 14: 17-19)
'When will it stop' is the question I ponder every morning as my phone pings with news notifications. At least 80 dead in a truck attack in Nice. 3 injured in a machete attack in Germany. A priest martyred in France. An unceasing, untiring parade of human anguish, sorrow and fear.
So we post inspirational quotes on our social media profiles, possibly send funds to the relief efforts, exchange sentiments over the coffee pot in our office. Then we go home for the night, sigh, tuck littles into bed and bunker down for the newest tragedy tomorrow.
We have a wound that won't heal. We pray for peace but are greeted instead by the news of terror. For the glory of your name, Lord, deliver us.
No time before now has evil been so accessible, acceptable and available. Pornography is a click away on the internet, abortions are protected by the law and on demand, and marriage is now defined by legality and not morality. The reaction that I had to a recent shooting was 'Only 20 dead?'...life is a commodity and we fail to see the human lives that are slipping away from this earth due to human sin and despair. The side-effects of our throw away culture.
The pain is on a cosmic level ...each action that one human being does ripples and touches the lives of others. The story of the grandmother who was embraced by the airplane passengers when she found out about the death of her grandson. The first responders who pull up to the carnage of the latest mass killing and have to try to push the gory images aside as they return home to their families that night.
Day after day we are bombarded with evidence that the world is heart-wrenchingly broken. Mothers murder their children, airports are riddled with bullets, human beings are objectified, priests beheaded, and our Lord in the Eucharist dishonored.
What better time to become a saint?
There is our alternative to despair....the realization that our desire for sainthood can very well be fulfilled at a much quicker rate than expected. Each death toll is a string of notes, compiling in a unending 'Dies Irae' reminder that this life is temporary and the next is eternal.
Before You, humbled, Lord, I lie, my heart like ashes, crushed and dry, assist me when I die. Full of tears and full of dread is that day that wakes the dead, calling all, with solemn blast to be judged for all their past. Lord, have mercy, Jesus blest, grant them all Your Light and Rest. Amen.
Each headline that comes across our Facebook feed or phone notifications reminds us of one thing: we are offered opportunities that saints who have gone before us have never had. Evil has never been so accessible. Neither has sanctity.
This modern day culture is a saint making machine. Look at all of the evil that there is to stand up against. Beautifully, thankfully, there is more grace and mercy in God than there is sin in humanity.
Tertullian once said 'The blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church.' Are you ready to be saints together?