Veiled in Grace

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Here are a few of the test pictures from my new camera. I bought a Fuji semi-pro digital compact camera to take with me on my trip to France next month. I took a couple of test pictures (freehand) at home and at Parliament Hill before the sky opened up on me last night. Luckily I had an umbrella in my backpack and so my camera was spared, but my new suede sandals were not. I’m looking forward to taking my camera and tripod out on a nature walk when it is sunny and really get familiar with the features.

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To Spare the Rod and Spoil the Child

That’s right, I’m talking about spanking. Slapping. “Corporal punishment”. I’m going to go on a little bit of a rant after watching a frustrated mother slap her toddler on the bus today.

Many Christian parents claim that they are ordered by God in the Holy Bible to use corporal punishment on their child. “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” I call bull. The “rod” used in this expression is that of a shepherd. “I am the Good Shepherd” says Jesus. Would a shepherd hit his sheep? No! A shepherd values his flock and lovingly guides his sheep using his staff. He uses his staff to protect his herd from danger and guide them to safe pastures. To hit his sheep kind of defeats the shepherd’s purpose. Christian parents are called to raise their children with love, patience, compassion, and wisdom - not violence. Above all, parents need to keep themselves accountable. They have been entrusted by God with the privilege of raising these children. Children are a precious gift, which are not to be abused.

In Canada we have the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees everyone the right to life, liberty, security of person, and the right not to be subject to cruel and unusual punishment. Unless you’re a child. If you’re under 18 and your parents decides to “discipline” you by hitting you, that’s acceptable. If you’re over 18 suddenly that’s assault. Does something magical happen to a person when they turn 18, that all of the sudden their human rights come into effect? First, you’re not really a “person” until you’re born. Now you’re not really worthy of your full rights until you’re 18.

"Well, I was spanked as a child and I turned out ok". So what? In the 1960’s seatbelts weren’t mandatory but lots of kids "turned out ok". In the 1960’s women used to smoke and drink while pregnant, and their kids "turned out ok". That’s just pure luck. While corporal punishment may produce obedience, it does so out of fear, pain and humiliation. What does spanking really do to a child? How does it really affect them?

I will use an article written by Alice Miller:

"Why are spankings, slaps, and even apparently harmless blows like pats on the hand dangerous for a baby?

1.    They teach it violence

2.    They destroy the infallible certainty of being loved that the baby needs

3.    They cause anxiety; the expectancy of the next break

4.    They convey a lie: they pretend to be educational, but parents actually use them to vent their anger; when they strike, it’s because, as children, they were struck themselves

5.    They provoke anger and a desire for revenge, which remain repressed only to be expressed much later

6.    They program the child to accept illogical arguments (I’m hurting you for your own good) that stay stored up in their body

7.    They destroy sensitivity and compassion for others and for oneself, and hence limit the capacity to gain insight

What long-term lessons does the baby retain from spankings and other blows? The baby learns:

1.    That a child does not deserve respect

2.    That good can be learned through punishment (which is usually wrong, since punishment merely teaches the children to want to punish on their own turn)

3.    That suffering mustn’t be felt, it must be ignored (which is dangerous to the immune system)

4.    That violence is a manifestation of love (fostering perversion)

5.    That denial of feeling is healthy (but the body pays the price of this error, often much later)

How is repressed anger very often vented? In childhood and adolescence:

1.    By making fun of the weak

2.    By hitting classmates

3.    By annoying the teachers

4.    By watching tv and playing video games to experience forbidden and stored up feelings of rage and anger, and by identifying with violent heroes. (Children who have never been beaten are less interested in cruel films, and, as adults, will not produce horror shows).

—In adulthood:

1.    By perpetuating spanking, as an apparently educational and effective means, often heartily recommended to others, whereas in actual fact, one’s own suffering is being avenged on the next generation

2.    By refusing to understand the connections between previously experienced violence and the violence actively repeated today. The ignorance of society is thereby perpetuated

3.    By entering professions which demand violence

4.    By being gullible to politicians who designate scapegoats for the violence that has been stored up and which can finally be vented with impunity: “impure” races, ethnic “cleansing”, ostracized social minorities

5.    (Because of obedience to violence as a child), by readiness to obey any authority which recalls the authority of the parents, as the Germans obeyed Hitler, the Russians Stalin, the Serbs Milosivic. Conversely, some become aware of the repression and universal denial of childhood pain, realizing how violence is transmitted from parents to children, and stop hitting children regardless of age. This can be done (many have succeeded) as soon as one has understood that the causes of the “educational” violence are hidden in the repressed history of the parents.”

 

One of my favourite examples of calm and respectful Christian parenting seen in the public eye today would be the Duggars. Michelle is ever calm and patient with her children. She gets down to their level and speaks with love and compassion. This is her answer to the question of whether they spank their children:

"We have people ask us that all the time. We’ve really chosen to focus on praising our kids for good character, for Godly character. And as we do that, we find that we have a lot less trouble with correction when we are constantly looking for ways to praise them.

When we see them do a kind deed we praise them publicly. We always say, “You deserve praise.” You praise someone publicly, but if you’re going to have to correct someone, you correct them privately. You take them aside and talk to them privately so that you don’t humiliate them in front of people.

And by doing that I think it really sets a tone in your home of peace and harmony and a joyful place to live – it really is a happy place to be. The kids don’t dread coming home because they know this is the place they’re going to get strengthened and encouraged, and they’re going to have the energy to go out and do great things from here. To be able to stand alone when tough things come their way and know in their heart, “You know, that’s not right. I don’t want to partake in that because I can see the destruction that’ll come.” So when the home is the center of their worth as far as them being strengthened and edified and encouraged, they know they can go out and do anything set in front of them and do great things for God. That’s our goal.

So in training the little guys, day in and day out, if I see the little ones not being kind to each other, I will take them aside and I will deal with them and talk to them and have them work this out amongst themselves and learn to communicate and be kind to each other. And then when I see them being sweet and doing what’s right, I make a big deal! “Oh, Jennifer, you were such a sweet big sister! You got Jordyn a cup. You are so sweet! What a kind thing to do!!”

We’ve learned all the character qualities — we’re working on that for these little guys now. But the bigger ones, when they were little, we [talked about the] the definition of kindness: Seeing needs in the lives of others as opportunities to demonstrate love for Christ. “So when you got your sissy that cup of water, you were showing her love and kindness by doing that. You didn’t have to that; it wasn’t your job. But you saw that she was thirsty and you did that just because of your love for your sissy and because you love Jesus and Jesus tells you to be kind to others.” I always point them back to the reason why they want to do what’s right. And when you praise that character of kindness, they want to be more kind. Every time they get an opportunity, they’re going to look for a way to be kind.

And it doesn’t just have be our kids. Our spouses, the people we work with every day, people at school, all of us need to be encouraged. That’s why God gives us that scripture that says, “Encourage one another and build each other up, for this is right.” So often the natural inclination of us would be to look at all the negative, “They didn’t empty that trash. They know that’s their job. I can’t believe they didn’t do that …” We usually will spot the negative things – those tend to be the first things we see.

I think biting your tongue as a parent and saying, wait a minute, hold on. Let me look for something good. Surely there’s one thing good that they did! (Laughs) I’m going to find that one thing and then I’m going to find the character quality and praise them for it. Even the tiniest little effort they made, you’re building character. When you focus on the Godly character, it makes a much happier place to live. Learning to bite your tongue when you want to be negative and praising each other – it’s contagious. Then our children learn to praise by example. And so there’s a lot less correction going on.”

I’ve recently discovered that a particularly gruesome “Christian” book about child beating is being carried by Amazon. “To Train Up A Child” by Michael and Debi Pearl. It teaches parents how to whip their child with a flexible plastic plumbing hose whenever the chils ”acts up”. The Pearls write about how they started hitting their own children when they were just 6 months old and were crying to be held. Several parents in the USA have been found guilty of beating their children to death, and claim to have been following the teachings of this book. How this behaviour is not illegal just boggles my mind. We make a big stink in the media about Muslim books shops carrying books that talk about beating your wife, but we could care less when these Christian books are being praised by Bible-loving parents? Come on people…

"When in Sweden legislation prohibiting corporal punishment was launched in 1977, 70% of the citizens asked for their opinion were against it. In the latest survey, 20 years later, the figure dropped to less than 10%—most of them fundamentalists. These statistics show that the mentality of the Swedish population had changed radically in the course of a mere 20 years. A destructive tradition, upheld and acted upon for thousands of years, has been done away with thanks to this legislation. Where is the rest of the world?" - Alice Miller

I pray that we all rise to the call of treating everyone, regardless of age, with dignity, love and respect. Love your neighbour as yourself.

God Bless :)

(Source: nospank.net)

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What does it mean to be “pro-life”?

I consider myself to be very “pro-life”. As Christians, we are called to protect and honour human life and dignity. So what does it mean to be “pro-life”? To me, this means protecting ALL life, which includes being against euthanasia/assisted suicide, abortions AND capital punishment.

Canada is the only country in the Western world that has absolutely no regulations or restrictions on abortions. A girl or woman can have an abortion up until the moment she gives birth. Obviously finding a doctor to perform a late-term abortion would prove to be difficult, but it is 100% legal. Scary.

Assisted suicide (aka euthanasia) puts life into the hands of a human being. Also scary. I recently watched a documentary on BBC2, “Choosing to Die”. It follows the story of several British men with chronic illnesses that choose to go to Switzerland for assisted suicide. They show one of the men commiting suicide. It was extremely disturbing. How does one decide that their life is no longer worth living? How does one weigh such a value?

Most pro-lifers are against abortion and assisted suicide, but what disturbs me the most is how many of these people believe in capital punishment. What?! So, all of the sudden human life becomes less valueable when that person commits a crime? Isn’t that a bit of a slippery slope? When Cain killed his brother Abel God did not strike him dead? No, he sent him out to live his life with a visible mark upon him so that all people would stay clear away from him. His life was spared. A recent public opinion poll conducted this past February by Angus Reid concluded that over 61% of people in Canada are for the death penalty. This just gobsmacks me.

Are we to play God in judging the value of a human life based on that person’s age, development, health status, or criminal record? Life is life. We are to value and protect ALL human life! I don’t understand how a person can be “pro-life” and then advocate the killing of another human being based on a crime, as if it made them any less human or alive. It’s hypocricy, and just vicious. Is this what Jesus would do? Is this Christian charity and compassion? Yes, some crimes are terrible and some people are dangerous and mentally disturbed. Yes, keeping them in prison or mental care facilities costs a lot of money. However, I would rather pay for these criminals with my tax money than to have their blood on my hands. To end a criminal’s life is to bring you down to their level. Two wrongs does not make a right.

So what does it mean to be pro-life? It means standing up against popular opinion and doing what is right and just. It is being loving, compassionate, and charitable.

The March for Life is this coming Thursday on Parliament Hill. I invite you all to think about what is the value of a life.

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Here is the mantilla that I sewed. I think I did a pretty darn good job considering it is the first one I’ve ever made, and I sewed it by hand while sick in bed. Awesome!

Here is the mantilla that I sewed. I think I did a pretty darn good job considering it is the first one I’ve ever made, and I sewed it by hand while sick in bed. Awesome!

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Is the Inevitable Correction to the American 'Annulment Machine' Finally Near?

The failure of Marriage and Individualism

IMHO the breakdown of so many marriages in the West is an indirect result of society’s problem with “individualism”. We’ve become a very self-centered society where the majority of our actions are based on what will directly benefit us.

Individualism is also one of the reasons why I became a Catholic. I saw so many people in my family and circle of friends “church hopping”. They would go from denomination-to-denomination trying to find a church that would fit. After a while they would get bored and switch churches again. Even the services were centered on the individual and their entertainment. They would have a time of worship, get the emotions soaring high, have the pastor give a sermon (which better ”speak” to them), and more time of worship (so they leave feeling good). If they don’t leave feeling that emotional high, then they switch churches and the circle continues. Going to church no longer becomes about experiencing God or being part of the body of Christ, but rather “what do I get out of it?”. It seemed shallow and empty to me - a bit fake too. I don’t say this to play down the faith of Protestants or even generalize them. Rather I am just stating my experience as a former Protestant. I’m trying to stress the growing trend of our attitudes in the West on being geared toward the individual rather than a community and the greater good of society. There is obviously something wrong with our mentality if every time there is a dispute in a church it breaks apart into new denominations. It’s like a divorce. There are currently over 33,820 different protestant denominations in the world, each one developing as a result of a dispute.

I’ve noticed the same attitude towards marriage. Forgive me for being a bit judgemental seeing how I have never been married, but I’ve been engaged and in long term relationships so I can understand how the breakdown works. I also come from a “broken home”. My parents had a rather nasty separation and divorce when I was very young.  You know there is something wrong when 50%+ of marriages end in divorce. We can’t look beyond ourselves to see the other and care for their needs above our own - which is what marriage is all about.

The partners in a marriage no longer work at being married, but rather fulfilling themselves and their own happiness. If they’re no longer “happy” then they need to leave. Both parties are guilty. They both neglect each other. There is a breakdown of communication and effort, or it is mostly one-sided. We don’t want to work at fixing marriages anymore, it’s easier just to get out and be free to do what I want and make myself happy again as soon as possible.

In the Catholic faith marriage in the Church is considered a sacrament. Something that no human being can undo. You vow to be a spouse to that person until death. Have we lost that meaning of “until death do us part”? To care for the other as you care for yourself? The two becomes one flesh? It boggles my mind how society can be so callous about something so beautiful and holy.

Yes, I know there are cases of legitimate annullments. I also understand that sometimes situations can be abusive and requires separation of the married couple. The Church allows for civil divorce, however in the eyes of the Church those two people are still married sacramentally. They cannot remarry or that would be adultery. They must live a chaste life according to their married state - i.e. not having any intimacy with another unless it is with their spouse. It might not seem “fair”, however, the laws are known by each party before they get married. This is why couples are required to go through a marriage prep course before getting married in the Church. It’s a tough course - I’ve been through it and luckily realized I was with the wrong person and called off the wedding. Marriage is not disposible. Yes, it requires sacrifice, but everything worthwhile does. Yes, it is difficult to stay married to someone who has been unfaithful, but it does not mean the marriage is not salvagable or that it voids the marriage vows. This is where our pride gets in the way. Nobody wants to admit their faults, and people don’t want to sacrifice their pride in order to save the marriage. I’ve seen many cases of one person going to marriage counselling because their partner refuses to admit they need help. Marriage counselling generally only works when both parties participate. Anger. Pride. Lack of compassion. Selfishness. Laziness. Avoidance.

The Church in North America has been doling out annullments based on the pettiest of circumstances that are not seen anywhere else in the world. This should not be tolerated. The Church does not change her teachings to fit the change of values in society. No! The teachings remain consistent with the teachings of Jesus in the Spirit of our faith.

Having my parents divorce when I was very young was extremely difficult for me. I don’t have any real memories of my parents ever living together. I grew up without a father. This is the reality for millions of children in the West. It breaks my heart to think of all of the broken families, all of the hurt. Many argue that when divorce was still taboo many people were unhappy, stuck in loveless marriages. Do you really think divorce is the solution? Do divorces and breaking up of families really solve problems and make people happy? Because it sure doesn’t seem like it.

So what is the solution to this? I think firstly the Church needs to remain firm in her teachings on the Sacrament of Marriage and stop giving in to worldly changes. The Church needs to spend more effort on ensuring its faithful receive a proper and thorough catechesis. The Church also needs to spend more effort in outreaching to those families where the marriage is in danger of collapse. Marriages don’t just magically fix themselves.

The main two problems with marriage today is pride and individualism.

And that is my rant on the woes of marriage in the West today.

(Source: prairiecanonist)

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Coverings

Several years ago I remember seeing young women hurrying to Mass at the FSSP parish in town. As they climbed out of their cars they threw on chapel veils and hurried up the steps. I was shocked. The feminist in me was outraged. Don’t they know?! They don’thaveto wear those!! All they are doing is being slaves to men. They are going backwards and undoing years of hard work accomplished by many feminists.

Today, I think of those ladies with admirition. I’m ashamed of how I once thought, and amazed at how God has transformed my heart. It is puzzling to think that this was something never discussed during my four year theology degree. Why is it no longer seen? Why have headcoverings in church disappeared?

Headcoverings is not something foreign to me. Growing up Mennonite, I would often see women and girls with kerchiefs on their heads, pinned in place. Some women in my own extended family wear headcoverings. One of my aunts used to wear a chapel cap to church. More orthodox Mennonite women cover full time, not just in church. I was taught that a woman’s hair is her glory, her source of pride. I think of just how much time I can spend in front of a mirror getting myself ready to go out. Yes, it is a source of pride.

And so I started my endless quest for more information about headcoverings. One website I found intriguing was the Catholic Knight (http://catholicknight.blogspot.ca/2007/12/chapel-veil-veiling-or-head-covering.html). I found his articles to be abrasive, but it did get me to think about it. As Catholics, we sit in the Real Presence of Christ in our churches every Mass. We receive Him into our bodies. How amazing and humbling is that?! And yet, I did not prepare myself to meet my King. If I were going out on a date I would dress up, and yet when I go to meet my King in His house I do not? I started to feel more convicted and called to cover myself. I also liked the imagery of covering things that are precious, such as the Tabernacle, the Eucharist, Mary - who is the Tabernacle of Jesus, etc.

I asked my mother how she would feel if I started to wear a headcovering to Mass. I thought perhaps she would be discouraging, since she dismisses most things Catholic as being nonsense. To my surprise, she was very encouraging of my veiling in church. She started to tell me stories of all of the women in my family that wear them. It some how connected me to my past (being a Mennonite) and my present (being a Catholic). And the search began!

What kind of headcovering should I wear? I spent countless hours pouring over different websites to find a style that might suit me. I’ve ordered some large lace headbands (they look like I’m wearing a kerchief, but the bottom part is elastic rather than being tied in place), a lace mantilla, and I’m looking at some tichels and snoods. I also tried pinning a scarf around me like a hijab. I’ve got my eye set on a beautiful gold Spanish lace mantilla. I’m going to try different styles out and see what I most feel comfortable wearing.

I can tell you one thing: I feel so much more reverant when I cover my hair in Mass. I feel protected, enshrouded in His love. I’ve been sheltered in the protection and love of Our Lady’s mantle. It allows me to concentrate more on the Mass. I’ve become more Orthodox in my devotions - being enrolled in the brown scapular and St Benedict’s medal, receiving Communion on my tongue, joining a Third Order Religious community, etc. I can honestly say that I’m extremely happy. I’m confident in the love and mercy of our God, and feel blessed to utilize the sacramentals given to us for our benefit.

I’m still discerning what kind of covering I will use. The Bible tells women to cover when they pray and preach, and it also tells us to pray without ceasing. I’m still trying to figure out if I will cover full time or just in Mass. Baby steps. I want to make sure I cover on my heart before I put it on my head.

Recommended sites for headcoverings:

http://www.etsy.com/shop/asnoodforallseasons 

http://www.veilsbylily.com/ - I ordered a champagne coloured chantilly lace mantilla

http://www.headcoverings-by-devorah.com/home.html - I ordered several lacy headbands from here

http://www.lands-faraway.com/shawls_mantilla.htm - stunning spanish lace mantilla’s that I’ve been eyeing for a few weeks now

http://rosamysticamantilla.com/ 

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Finding a New Parish

Ever since I have moved to Ottawa in 2005 I have been attending a very liberal church downtown. I am a member of one of their choirs and have been active in the community. They are run by the OMI and provide an important outreach to youth, and the marginalized. I’ve been blessed to see the university student Mass go from 20 people to over 100 each Mass. The people there are wonderful and so warm and loving. This was also where I met my late partner, and where we attended Mass together. I have so many wonderful memories invested in this church.

However, I seem to be increasing in my Orthodoxy. I’m having problems with the way certain things are done at this parish, and it is no longer meeting my needs. A lot of my friends have also left this church, mostly because they have moved away. I feel like I’m stuck in the middle. I have a fondness for the memories I’ve created in the church, and yet I feel like I no longer really fit in there.

This past Sunday morning I ventured out and attended Mass at a different parish downtown. It was much more traditional. I didn’t feel like a freak for wearing a headcovering, or receiving Communion on my tongue. Afterwards, a group of people invited me out for lunch at a local café. It was very nice to feel like I could fit in somewhere.

However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was a traitor. I was betraying the happy memories of my late partner by going somewhere else. I was betraying my love of the people at my church for looking elsewhere. I felt like a cheating spouse. Torn. Has anyone else ever had to make the difficult decision to attend another parish?

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Québec City, Canada Day 2011. On the wall of the Plains of Abraham overlooking the St Lawrence River.

Québec City, Canada Day 2011. On the wall of the Plains of Abraham overlooking the St Lawrence River.