Category Archives: Culture

Spread the Word! Valentine’s Day is February 13th This Year!

What’s red and white and pink all over?

All retail stores since January 1.

That can only mean one thing. Valentine’s Day is fast approaching!

Now, you may have noticed that the little signs next to the seasonal section of your local WalMart probably read something like:

Valentine’s Day is Wednesday, February 14th.

But this is actually a super embarrassing mistake made by virtually all corporate retail centers nationwide.

See, this year, Ash Wednesday is what actually falls on Wednesday, February 14th.

Ash Wednesday. You know, that day that begins the season of Lent. It’s the day we are supposed to recall that we come from dust, and to dust we shall return. It’s one of the *very few* days that the Church requires that we fast and abstain from meat. On Ash Wednesday, and all throughout Lent, we are to offer sacrifice, prayer, and almsgiving to remind us of Christ’s sacrifice for us.

Don’t be that guy (or gal) who shows up with candy and chocolate on a day your sweetheart is required to fast. That’s just mean.

Thankfully, the date of Valentine’s Day is kind of arbitrary as far as its secular celebrations go, am I right? I mean, aren’t people always criticizing Valentine’s Day for being cheesy and inauthentic precisely because it’s forced on us and limited to a specific date?

The date shouldn’t matter! Show the one you love that you love them regardless of the date on the calendar! 

Now, normally I am pretty agnostic about whether someone makes a huge stink out of Valentine’s Day or not. I mean, I’m not gonna fault someone for wanting to give their beloved flowers, even if it was “corporate America” who gave them the not-so-subtle suggestion to do so. However, this year I’d say that, since the date doesn’t really matter much anyway, and since Ash Wednesday is, like, kind-of-a-big-deal, it’ll be way more romantic and appropriate to move your Valentine’s Day celebrations to a different day. And for simplicity’s sake, let’s just all agree to move our celebrations to the day before, shall we? (That way, if your Valentine gives up chocolate or candy for lent, you won’t be a jerk for showing up with some on day 1 or 2).

So, spread the word! This year,Valentine’s Day is Tuesday, February 13th. 

 

 

 

Giving Our Thanks

Imagine if the President shut down the government for a day, and declared it a recurring holiday in which we all were to stay home from work and offer praise and thanksgiving to God for His blessings to us.

I can’t even imagine the controversy and the cries of “Separation of church and state!” that would ensue if this declaration happened today, yet somehow—even in the midst of the tense political climate of 2017— the American tradition of Thanksgiving carries on without controversy or fear of offending.

I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

(Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, 1863)

Of course, being thankful is not particular to those of us who believe in God, but it is worth nothing that “thank you,” is necessarily an address to someone outside of ourselves. 

We say “thank you,” because we recognize that someone else has been generous or kind towards us when they did not necessarily have to be.

So I can thank my neighbor for his kindness, or my husband for his help in cleaning the house. But, for those really big things in life—those things that are hard to even put into words—like the blessing of family (and not just “family” in the abstract, but my family, who I can’t even take credit for choosing myself), or the unconditional love of a spouse, or the particular talents I was born with, etc. For these things, I am personally thankful that I know that I can turn to God to offer my thanks. I have done nothing deserving of the many blessings of this life I have, and I thank Him not only for the obvious blessings, but even for those things which do not always appear to be blessings, but that I nonetheless know my Heavenly Father is using to draw me into His perfect love.

I hope you all have a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving!  To God alone be the glory! 🙂

 

Remember Your Death, And Have Some Candy

“Mom! I want to drive by the SCARY DRAGON!!” my daughter yells, emphasizing the words, “scary” and “dragon” with a growl from the backseat.

Our neighborhood has been getting prepared for Halloween with skeleton decorations, orange lights, and lawn inflatables (i.e. “scary dragons”). Thankfully, most people around us are keeping it pretty kid-friendly, and I haven’t yet had attempt to explain any front-yard execution scenes. (On a related note: Sometimes I think Halloween might be a pretty good time for law enforcement to take a walk around some neighborhood “decorations” and update their watch-lists…just sayin’.)

Halloween isn’t my *favorite*, but I don’t have anything against it, per se. I used to not like the “scary” element to it…why can’t things just be nice and happy? And maybe it’s just all this memento mori: remember your death,” talk in the Catholic blogosphere lately, but I’m becoming less averse to the graveyard scenes and skeleton décor as of late.

I’ve always known that Halloween is a Christian-friendly holiday (holy-day!). It’s All-Hallows’ Eve, the eve of All Saints’ Day, and the kick-start to the three days in which we are supposed to remember, pray, and offer sacrifice for all those who have gone before us. As Christians, we should always be mindful that we will one day meet the end of this life on earth. We will all experience death. Thanks to Christ, death does not have the final say, but that does not make death any less serious of a matter.

Where Halloween gets weird for me is when we jump from, “Death is scary!” to, “Death is fun!” That sort of perverted obsession or glorification of death, and making Halloween a time of “playing around” with evil gets a big NOPE from me.

To me, Halloween only makes sense as a fun holiday because Christ came to conquer death. Without Christ, Halloween is just a day that says, “Hey everyone! Look at all the evil in the world! And one day- we’re going to DIE!” Sounds terrible.

With Christ, we know that sin (evil) and death do not have the final say. So yeah, that skeleton looks creepy, but Christ conquered it. Yeah, that monster is ugly, but it’s evil is powerless over me, because I belong to Christ. Now give me some candy.

So while I don’t think I’ll ever swap my seasonal pumpkins and autumn foliage decor for ghosts and skeletons, as a Christian I can actually somewhat appreciate the graveyard displays and skeletal reminders of our mortality that this time of year brings with it. And if you want to give my kids and me candy while we’re at it, well hey, no complaints here.

A Contemporary(ish) Playlist For Holy Week

I put together a playlist of some more contemporary(ish) songs to pray along with during this Holy Week! There is soo much out there to choose from so I obviously couldn’t include everything, but below is what I came up with.

Anything you’d add?

Hosanna – Hillsong

“I see His love and mercy washing over all our sin / The people sing, “Hosanna!”

Come As You Are – Crowder

“Come out of sadness from wherever you’ve been / Come broken hearted, let rescue begin / Come find your mercy, O sinner come near / Earth has no sorrow that Heaven can’t heal”

Jesus – Chris Tomlin

“There is one born for our salvation, Jesus”

Letting Go – Matt Maher

“I stand in awe of You, and everything You’ve done for me.”

Dry Bones – Gungor 

“My soul cries out for you … Jesus you’re the one who saves us / Constantly creates us…Surely our Messiah will make all things new”

Love Has Come – Matt Maher

“Love has come to show the way”

Lead Me To The Cross – Hillsong

“Lead me to the Cross, where your love poured out”

Cry Out To Jesus – Third Day

“There is hope for the helpless, rest for the weary, and love for the broken heart / There is grace and forgiveness, mercy and healing / He’ll meet you wherever you are / Cry out to Jesus”

Watch The Lamb – Ray Boltz

“‘Daddy, Daddy, what will we see there? There’s so much that we don’t understand.’ So I told them of Moses and Father Abraham. And /i said, ‘Dear children, watch the Lamb'”

The Old Rugged Cross – Alan Jackson

“So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross, till my trophies at last I lay down / And I will cling to the old rugged cross, and exchange it someday for a crown”

Thy Will – Hillary Scott

“Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is, ‘Thy Will Be Done’ “

Amazing Love – The Newsboys

“I’m forgiven because you were forsaken. / I’m accepted because you were condemned”

Were You There – feat. Andrea Thomas

“O, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”

 

Why I Bought My Toddler Books On The Theology Of The Body

*Please Note: I was not asked to write this post or to review these books.  I just really am liking these books and wanted to share them with whoever might be interested.    

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The way of the world has always been a little “off,” hasn’t it?  As much as we are warned against the dangers of our confused culture of today, the truth is that the mainstream culture has really never been capable of producing on its own the kind of thoughtful and faithful human beings we are each created and long to be.  If cultures throughout history have been closer to the living out truth than we are today, it is only because of a handful of thoughtful individuals who– rather than running and hiding from a corrupt or confused culture– lived their lives in such a way that would end up being transformative to the culture as a whole.

I certainly don’t want “the culture” to raise my kids.  I don’t think anybody does, no matter their beliefs.  But the fact is that my kids (and myself) are going to be influenced by the culture in which we live; there is just no way around that.

We might visit an airport restroom and be greeted by this sign, for example:

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Gender identity or expression…What does that mean? And what’s with that strange-looking drawing?”

It’s all about as new to me at 26 as it would be to my toddler, who–let’s be honest– wouldn’t even notice the sign for a few good years yet.  But that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?  By the time he is old enough to actually notice stuff like this, it’ll likely go unnoticed.  It might even be considered “normal.”  Maybe words like “gender identity” will be learned along with words like, “boys” and “girls.”  Who knows.  That’s obviously the hope of a good many people who are influencing the culture today.

I say all this not to fear-monger.  Like I said, the culture of tomorrow will be shaped by people like you and me and my son, who hopefully will have a heart for truth that is eventually able to see through falsehoods like the pretend genders we might draw on bathroom signs.  While I wait, and pray for the culture to get there, I’m going to do my best to make sure my kids have every opportunity to see through the falsehoods being presented to them as truth today.

What Is The Theology of the Body?

When it comes to individuals who transformed the culture of their day by seeking to know and live out the truth, perhaps one of the greatest examples from the 20th century is Saint John Paul II.  His commitment to living out the truth helped bring down communism and inspired thousands of young people to follow Christ.  I think our culture today, with its frantic attempts to deconstruct and redefine fundamental truths of gender and sexuality, is thirsting for the profound wisdom to be found in John Paul II’s Theology of the Body.  That’s why I’m introducing it to my children now.

Most people hear “Theology of the Body” and think of it as synonymous with “the sex talk,” but that’s really only a part of it (and it’s not the part I am interested in reading about with my two-year-old!).  In a more general sense, the Theology of the Body is what it says it is: It’s theology (the study of God) as it relates to our bodies.  Meaning, our bodies reveal to us truths about God, and because we are created in His image, our bodies also help reveal to us who God created us to be.

Theology Of The Body (For Toddlers!)

A few years back, TOBET released a series of books aimed at little ones (they have a set for older kids, too) which lays the foundation for a lifetime of learning and unpacking John Paul II’s timeless teaching on the Theology of the Body.  The three books are:

Everybody Has A Body: God Made Boys And Girls

Every Body Is Smart: God Helps Me Listen And Choose

Every Body Is A Gift: God Made Us To Love

“Everybody Has A Body: God Made Boys And Girls”

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This book is about as fundamental as you can get, but increasingly important in a culture that says our bodies are meaningless.  Our bodies are a part of who we are!

 

 

 

“Every Body Is Smart: God Helps Me Listen And Choose”

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“I have a body, and I learn from my body,” this book states.  We learn from our bodies, and we can choose to act (or not) based on what our bodies are telling us.  What an important concept to understand!

(I particularly love the page in this book that says: “When my body tells me that I want to run around, but I am at mass, I can choose to wait to play like a big boy.” Still waiting for the reading comprehension to kick in on that one! 😉 )  

“Every Body Is A Gift: God Made Us To Love”

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“Every body is a gift! God made us to love.  We do this with our bodies!”

This book touches on the concept of love as a free gift: A concept taught perhaps in high school theology, now being ingrained in my two-year-old’s subconscious.  We are created to love!  As beings of both body and spirit, our bodies play an essential role in how we give and receive love. My two-year-old may not understand all of the complexities of this reality yet, but we are already laying the foundation, and I think that is pretty fantastic.

If you’re interested in ordering these books (or in checking out the set for slightly older kids), visit the store at TOBET.org.

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