The media silence in the United States about the situation in Venezuela is deafening- I was watching CBS News this morning and heard lots of talk about the Oscars and even recreational use of marijuana, but I didn’t hear anything about Venezuela and how its government is seriously oppressing its people! The government is responsible for murder and torture and news reporters don’t report it? I am hoping I missed it! Even the roundup of what is going on in the world, with a world map for viewers, did not include anything about Venezuela. I can’t figure out if this is intentional or not-
I suspect a lot of people don’t want to touch the topic of the serious human rights abuses because of the political implications- left leaning politicians probably don’t want to shed light on how socialism/ communism hurts people, and how government controlled society FAILS. Right leaning politicians probably don’t like the idea of the United States getting involved in something that may lead to people requesting easier immigration laws or involvement in foreign affairs not directly related to us, or they may not like a particular politician who has spoken out against the atrocities occurring in Venezuela- The fact is, this is a human rights violation and needs to be addressed regardless of one’s political affiliation! The politics of it can be sorted out later- right now these people are being murdered and oppressed by their own government and the world needs to know!
Catholics, indeed all Christians, must rise above politics to support what is RIGHT, not wait to comment until something fits neatly into a political box. Venezuelan families are suffering at the hand of a brutal oppressive government. The ‘demands’ of the people are simply peace and freedom, and to be left alone from the government’s repression of their rights. We must not let leaders of our political affiliations tell us how to react to this gross violation. We must be compassionate and truthful. How can we not speak out when people are being shot in the head, detained and tortured for holding signs?
Here is an updated video about the situation- Please view and share:
What can you do?
Prayer is powerful.
“Again [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.” (Matthew 18:19)
“He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)
“If then, my people, upon whom my name has been pronounced, humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and heal their land…” (2 Chronicles, 7:14)
“I can do all things in Christ, who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13)
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” (James 5:16)
Catholics, praying the rosary is powerful. Other Christians, please join us, or pray in any other way you see fit.
2. Share Information With Your Family and Friends
Link to this blog, send the link to the videos here, discuss what is going on in Venezuela at the dinner table, at mother’s groups, after Mass, with your sister, brother, parents, friends.
3. Ask Your Senator to Make a Statement About / Address the Venezuelan Crisis
You can find your senator by zip code HERE.
Dear Senator X,
As you surely must be aware, a crisis has emerged in our Latin American neighbor country Venezuela. The oppressive, socialist Venezuelan government has turned against its people with violence against their peaceful demonstrations for peace, security and safety. Below are some links that substantiate this fact.
Please address this issue with your colleagues and make a public statement opposing the atrocities of the Venezuelan government against its people. I wait for your response to this very important issue.
Sincerely and Respectfully,
4. Write to the major U.S. News Outlets and ask WHY they are not covering the gross oppression occurring just south of our country
Contact NBC News here
Contact ABC News here
Contact CBS News here
A few simple sentences asking for coverage of the event is sufficient. It only takes a few minutes, and could be done prior to your quilting group, homeschool meeting, dinner with friends, etc. This is so easy you can even do it while waiting at the doctor’s office or library on your cell phone!
5. Stay up to date on Twitter by following the following hashtags: #PrayForVenezuela, #SOSVenezuela, #VenezuelaPeaceful #Venezuela If you follow these hashtags you will often see photos posted by Venezuelans of what is happening to them at that moment- Most of these personal posts are in Spanish, but Twitter has and you can use the ‘translate’ function. Click ‘translate’ in the upper left hand corner when prompted.
Stay up to date on Facebook by ‘liking’ these pages:
Praying for Venezuela (my page)
Pray for Venezuela (It is my understanding that this page is posted by Ruben Blades a popular Panamanian recording artist and politician –It is a Spanish page- see below about translating) Allegedly, this page was actually responded to by Venezuelan president Maduro. Read the ‘notes’ section for more on that-
Some of these Facebook pages are in Spanish, but Facebook offers a ‘translate’ option when the page loads. Again, just like Twitter, you can choose the option of reading in English by clicking on ‘Translate’ on the upper left hand corner of your screen.
6. Write Letters to the Editor
Here is a list of and addresses for major news publications in the United States.
Sample letters to the editor would include information that the Venezuelan government is oppressing its people and the United States media is virtually ignoring it. Letters written could include any particular viewpoint, from pointing out the shortages and government control of all necessities, to the police shooting its own citizens to anything highlighted in news coming out from Venezuela. The point of the letter is to bring awareness and ask why there is no sustained and serious national media attention on this serious human rights issue.
Thank you for caring about our South American neighbors. God bless you!!!
UPDATE: New video from A. Nash, student whose first video on the situation in Venezuela went viral in a matter of days. This one addresses the updated situation and what people can do to help:
(Warning: Some sounds and images are disturbing. Do not view with young children.)
You may also be interested in:
-Top Three Reasons American Media Needs to Pay Attention to Venezuela (short video with interviews actually in Venezuela, comparing what’s on television there that the government is broadcasting and what is actually happening outside) Mariana Atencio
–This blog by “Daniel”, a pseudonym for a Venezuelan citizen who writes extensively about pro-democracy in a post Chavez Venezuela. For safety purposes (government is not appreciative of his viewpoint against Chavez ) he does not give his real name. The perspective is decidedly ‘insider’. I do not endorse or disapprove of any posts- I simply offer the blog as a real life view of one who lives through the Maduro regime.
Open your door?
They got that.
Hold your coat so you can slide in?
Real men still behave like knights in shining armor and there are, despite some ideas to the contrary, still plenty around. Moms and dads are training their sons even as I type….
Here is my latest from Today’s Catholic News: Chivalry is not dead with Catholic men….
You will not hear about this in many places. Please pray for Venezuela and share this video so others will know what is happening there. The video starts to mention that country around 4:45, but it’s worth listening to the whole video from start to finish, to get a good understanding of what is going on there, and also the dangers of socialism-
How is this relevant to every family who cherishes freedom?
When countries look the other way at the human rights violations happening right here in this hemisphere (government representatives, fully armed, attacking unarmed, peaceful students), that allows the evil and errors to fester and spread. To cherish our freedom, we must first pray for these people, second bring awareness about the situation, and third, do what we can to safeguard our own freedom.
Please pray for Venezuela!
What are you doing for National Marriage Week, which begins today?
If you’re panicked and at a loss, no worries- here below are suggestions from Marriage Missions, which seeks to help those who are married or preparing for marriage, to have a long, loving life together- .
Read through the list and apply those points you feel are most relevant for your marriage, or print them out, cut all suggestions into individual strips, put them in a jar and pull out a few every day to work on-
Photo courtesy of Spotonlists.com
100 WAYS TO LOVE YOUR HUSBAND HIS WAY
1. Respectfully communicate with him.
2. Let him know he’s important to you.
3. Purposefully try to understand his feelings—even when you disagree with him.
4. Show interest in his friends giving him some time with them if they’re trust-worthy.
5. Let go of the small stuff. We all have annoying habits and preferences that are different from our spouse’s. (Dave Ramsey)
6. Tell him you both love him AND like him.
7. Either show interest in his hobbies or allow him space to participate freely. (D Ramsey)
8. Protect his dignity on a daily basis.
9. When confronting him, realize he has feelings also.
10. Foster an atmosphere of laughter in your home. Look for ways to laugh together.
11. Try not to make sudden major changes without discussion, giving him time to adjust.
12. When you go out on a date together don’t bring up problems—have fun instead.
13. Focus on what he’s doing right, instead of focusing so often on the negatives.
14. Show interest in what he feels is important in life.
15. Give him special time with you apart from the children.
16. The first minutes after a spouse comes home often sets the stage for how the rest of the evening will go. Try to make that time a positive experience. (Ease into the negative.)
17. Give him time to unwind after he gets home from work. Your evenings will be much more enjoyable. (Dave Ramsey)
18. Don’t allow family members to treat him disrespectfully. Defend him to anyone that dishonors his place as your husband.
19. Compliment him often.
20. Be creative when you express your love, both in words and in actions.
21. Talk with him about having specific family goals for each year to achieve together to feel closer as a marital team.
22. Don’t over commit yourself. Leave time for him.
23. Extend God’s grace to him and be forgiving when he offends you.
24. Find ways to show him you need him.
25. Give him time to be alone. (This energizes him to reconnect at other times.)
26. Admit your mistakes; don’t be afraid to be humble. Peel away your pride.
27. Defend him to those who disrespectfully talk about him. Love protects (1 Cor. 13:7).
28. Respect his desire to do well—not his performance.
29. Rub his feet or neck, or scratch his back after a hard day.
30. Take time for the two of you to sit and talk calmly (schedule it when necessary).
31. Initiate going out on romantic outings (when he’s not tired).
32. Email him when he’s at work, telling him how much you love him.
33. Surprise him with a fun gift of some kind that he’d really enjoy.
34. Express how much you appreciate him for working so hard to support the family.
35. Tell him how proud you are of him for who he is (giving him specific reasons).
36. Give advice in a loving way — not in a nagging or belittling way.
37. Help your husband to be the Spiritual head at home (without “lording” it over him).
38. Reserve some energy for him so you’re not so tired when he wants you sexually.
39. Don’t expect him to do projects beyond his natural capabilities.
40. Pray for him to enjoy God’s best in life.
41. Take special notice for what he has done for you and the family.
42. Brag about him to other people both in front of him and even when he’s not there.
43. Keep conversations brief when he’s tired—so he isn’t “flooded” by too many words.
44. Tell him 3 things you specifically appreciate about him.
45. Honor him in front of the children (differ respectfully in private when necessary).
46. ”Look straight into the eyes of your husband when he talks to you or if you’re speaking to him. This will make him feel that you are interested in what he wants to say.” (J. Clain)
47. Get up with him, even when he gets up earlier than you want to and pray with him (you can go back to bed afterward, if possible —it’s a sacrifice worth making.)
48. Be his “help-mate” in whatever ways you sense he needs it.
49. Participate in shoulder-to-shoulder activities with him (like watching a movie and such) without talking. Sometimes men just like to BE with you and not talk.
50. Be a student of his ways so you show your love in ways he best comprehends it.
51. When your husband is in a bad mood give him time to recover. Don’t crowd him.
52. Help him to finish his goals, hobbies, or education when your see he needs it.
53. Treat him as if God has stamped on his forehead: “Handle With Care.”
54. Work to get rid of habits that annoy him.
55. Be kind and thoughtful to his relatives. Don’t make him choose between you.
56. Don’t compare his relatives with yours in a negative way.
57. Thank him for things he’s done around the house. (It means a lot to men).
58. Don’t expect credit for all you do for him. Do it as “unto the Lord.”
59. Make sure he agrees with everything important that you’re planning to do.
60. Do little things for him—let him sleep in, bring him coffee, etc.
61. Don’t belittle his intelligence or be cynical in your words with him.
62. Initiate sex periodically. And respond more often.
63. Sometimes let him enjoy his day off work without having to “work” at home.
64. Get to the point in your discussions. Spare him details unless he wants them.
65. Discover his sexual needs.
66. Surprise him with a 15 second kiss when he gets home from work.
67. Wink at him from across the room when you’re out at a group function.
68. Give him the benefit of the doubt when he mis-speaks.
69. Don’t quarrel over words.
70. Be kind and courteous with him. (Don’t be kinder to strangers than to him.)
71. When things go wrong, instead of assessing blame, focus on how to do better.
72. As a kindness, don’t say, “I told you so.”
73. Try not to argue over money. Peacefully discuss future expenditures instead.
74. Take him out on dates—pre-planning all of the details ahead of time.
75. Hold his hand and snuggle up close to him at times both at home and in public.
76. Praise his good decisions; minimize the bad ones.
77. Tell him you love him more often.
78. Put love notes in his pockets and brief case.
79. Sit with him while he’s watching TV—even if the program doesn’t interest you.
80. Don’t expect him to read your mind (despite your thinking he should— extend grace).
81. Periodically, give him time with his family alone.
82. Check with him before you throw away his papers and stuff, when possible.
83. Put effort in to keep yourself in good shape so he’s especially proud to be with you.
84. Let him express himself freely, without fear of being called stupid or illogical.
85. Carefully choose your words. Remember to “speak the truth in LOVE.”
86. Don’t criticize him in front of others—keeping his dignity in tact.
87. Visit his childhood home with him.
88. When you’re angry, express it in respectful ways. Don’t give the silent treatment.
89. Pray for him.
90. Make him homemade soup when he’s sick.
91. Look your best—dress to honor him and make him proud to be seen with you when you’re out together.
92. Support him when someone tries to put him down. Be his best cheer leader.
93. Don’t disagree with him in front of the children.
94. Take him for a weekend get-away without the children.
95. Cheer his successes whether in business or in other areas of everyday living.
96. Graciously teach him how to demonstrate his love for you.
97. Give him coupons to redeem—maybe for a back scratch or a shoulder rub.
98. Buy him a gift certificate to his favorite lunch spot and put it in his wallet.
99. Hide notes for him around the house where only he will find them.
100. Thank him for just being himself.
100 WAYS TO LOVE YOUR WIFE HER WAY:
1. Start and/or end each day by holding hands and praying together with your wife.
2. Pray for her every day and make it a point to pray with her when she is troubled.
3. Communicate with her instead of talking AT her or shutting her out emotionally.
4. Talk to her respectfully without demeaning her or hurting her feelings.
5. Compliment her for the giftedness you see in her. Be specific.
6. Show interest in her friends and give her time to be with them.
7. Do something active together to lift her spirit —even taking a walk hand-in-hand.
8. Express to her that you need and value her.
9. Show enthusiasm for the things that she’s excited about—let your actions show it.
10. Find something that makes you laugh together.
11. Put your arms around her when she needs comfort, holding her silently.
12. Surprise her by doing something you think she would want done before she asks.
13. Try not to make sudden changes without discussing them with her first.
14. Show interest in that which she values as important in her life.
15. Allow your wife to teach you things without being defensive.
16. When you feel you must correct her, be gentle —speak the truth in LOVE.
17. Let go of the small stuff. We all have annoying habits and preferences that are different from our spouse’s. (Dave Ramsey)
18. Show her that she matters more to you than any one you could be with, that threatens her security in your marriage.
19. Be a good listener. Show her you value what she says.
20. Plan a mini-honeymoon, where the two of you can spend quality time together.
21. Go shopping with her and don’t sigh or look at what time it is even once.
22. Take her out to breakfast or make her breakfast (cleaning up afterward).
23. Make the time to set specific goals with her to achieve together for each year.
24. Give her grace when she offends you and forgive (even as you want to be forgiven).
25. Find ways to help her know you are her partner in all areas life.
26. Be polite, courteous, and mannerly with her—not taking her for granted.
27. Exhibit humility, admit your mistakes, and ask for forgiveness. She’ll appreciate that!
28. Defend her to others—especially to your family.
29. Don’t belittle her intelligence.
30. Scratch her back, rub her feet, or her rub her neck—whatever she’d prefer.
31. Get up in the middle of the night (let her stay in bed) to take care of your upset child.
32. Be especially helpful when she is not feeling well.
33. When she asks how your day went, don’t just say “fine” —actually give her details.
34. Thank God for her by name when the two of you are praying together.
35. Try not to argue over money. Peacefully discuss future expenditures instead.
36. Don’t embarrass her by arguing with her in front of others.
37. Lead your family in their spiritual relationship with God. This is important to her.
38. Make eye contact when she is talking to you and when you are talking with her.
39. Show her that you prefer her to others—give her your attention whenever possible.
40. Relate what happened at work or whatever you did apart from her.
41. Keep away from anything that gives you sexual gratification, other than your wife.
42. Be helpful, both before and during the time you have visitors in your home. (If you’re not sure of what to do, ask your wife “What can I do that would help the most?”)
43. Brag about her to others, both in front of her and when she is not with you.
44. Surprise her from time-to-time with a card and flowers or a little gift.
45. Remember to tell her or call her as soon as you know you are going to be late.
46. Give her your undivided attention when she wants to talk.
47. Guard your tongue from saying “unwholesome words” or down-grading her.
48. Refuse to compare her unfavorably with others.
49. Encourage her to relax in some way while you clean up after dinner.
50. Be an involved partner in helping with the children and spending time together.
51. Maintain good grooming habits so you look and smell good. It shows you care.
52. Be supportive. Help her to finish her education and goals that are important to her.
53. View and treat her as if God put a sign over her that said, “Make me feel special.”
54. Run errands without complaining.
55. Give her the love gift of being thoughtful and considerate to her relatives.
56. Don’t negatively compare her relatives with yours.
57. Sit close to her —even when you are just watching television.
58. Be verbally supportive and honor her in front of the children.
59. Do not making plans without her agreeing with them (unless it’s a surprise).
60. Pro-actively do things that makes her feel cherished as a woman and as a wife.
61. Keep her trust at all costs. Leave no gray area when it comes to other female relationships, money and your word. (Dave Ramsey)
62. Ask for a list of 3 things she’d like done in the home. Priortize to do them ASAP.
63. Ask her and then listen to what makes her fearful and insecure (without judging).
64. Pray about and act upon what you can do to alleviate those fears.
65. Find out what her sexual needs are (and then try to fulfill them).
66. Surprise her with a 15 second kiss (with no expectations to go any further).
67. Put effort in to keep yourself in good shape so she’s especially proud to be with you.
68. Make it a point to write a mission statement together for your marriage and family.
69. Take the time to touch every day—even if it’s only for a minute or two.
70. Be polite and kind. (Often we’re kinder to strangers than we are to our spouse.)
71. Be sensitive enough to ask her if you offend or hurt her sexually in any way.
72. Go out of your way to help her feel valued over everyone else.
73. Consider her as your marital partner in how you spend money.
74. You dated your wife before marriage, and fell in love. Date her now to STAY in love.
75. Be careful to choose your words, especially when angry.
76. Show affection for her in front of friends.
77. Make sure your children speak to her and treat her in respectful ways.
78. Make a point of honoring anniversaries, birthdays, and other special occasions.
79. Make sure she has money to spend any way she would choose.
80. Hold her close and verbally express your love when she is hurt or discouraged.
81. Surprise her by giving her a special gift from time to time.
82. Share the responsibilities around the house (without looking for special recognition).
83. Don’t tease and belittle her, saying “I was just joking” when she doesn’t find it funny.
84. Allow her to express herself freely, without fear of being called illogical or dumb.
85. Don’t forget to hold her hand in public like you used to when you dated her.
86. Don’t criticize her in front of others—keeping her dignity in tact.
87. Don’t focus on the physical features of another woman (It dishonors your wife).
88. Be sensitive to her needs—looking for ways to bless her.
89. Let her know you want to spend special time with her and the children.
90. Fix dinner for her sometimes.
91. Be sympathetic when she’s sick—and help her however you can.
92. Let her sleep in sometimes and you get the children ready for the day.
93. Honor her by not disagreeing with her in front of the children.
94. Don’t ignore the small things that bother her and let them build into bigger issues.
95. Surprise her by doing some things around the house that she’s wanted done.
96. Tell her (and show her) you love her often.
97. Call, email or text her when you’re apart so she knows you are thinking of her.
98. Surprise her by suggesting a marriage seminar or weekend retreat you can attend together.
99. Express your love and appreciation for her in a love note which you give to her.
100. Show her affection without sexual intentions.
I was invited to talk to a mother’s group last week and the subject of brother and sister relationships came up. How do you get your children to get along? What do you do about building sibling bonds?
No family is perfect. We all try, and sometimes fail and then simply get up and try again, but truth be told there are ways to foster great relationships between our children and their siblings. Here are a few ideas:
First, recognize that selfishness is the result of the fallen nature of man. And many sibling squabbles and rivalry comes from selfishness. That selfishness is a tendency does not mean it is acceptable, but recognizing the root will help eliminate it. The primary way to build sibling bonds, then, is to lead a rich sacramental life as a family- frequent confession and Mass- and to have parents authentically loving one another and demonstrating patience and unselfishness.
Second, experts often tell us that siblings will seek out conflict to gain the attention of parents. Pre-empt this by making sure you are fully present for your children every day. Limit YOUR time on the computer, phone and watching television. Look into your children’s eyes when they speak and really listen. Children who feel they have the attention of their parents are less likely to misbehave, tattle, or fight with their siblings.
Third, implement some family-building strategies. These are in no particular order:
Find ways for siblings to work together.
This may be setting the dinner table when they are very small or in joint meal planning and preparing when they are older. Solving problems together is a team building activity, so anything that involves working together toward a common goal can help. Cleaning the garage and making jigsaw puzzles together both can help improve relationships.
Give them time apart.
Everyone needs some personal space, to allow positive interaction with others. Let your children have some space and time alone to think, pray, read, or do nothing. This will help recharge them mentally, physically and spiritually and help allow them to be their best selves when they interact socially.
Help your children respect others’ personal spaces by reminding them to knock before entering their sibling’s room, to not touch personal and private belongings of their brothers and sisters, and to respect the opinions of their siblings. Do not allow interruption or demeaning or sarcastic remarks. Begin young. Teach by example. Encourage encouragement in your home.
Manage your children’s outside activities and teach service.
It is difficult for children to learn unselfishness if they are immersed continually only in activities that benefit them. While certainly it is our responsibility as parents to help our children develop their gifts and talents, we must balance that with opportunities for genuine service. If we can afford music or dance lessons, or participation on a baseball or swim team or the like, those can be wonderful ways to help children develop teamwork and skill. But even families with the best intentions can become slaves to those activities so these activities must be balanced with service to others.
How can families help their children learn to serve? They can learn simply by their parents providing opportunities for them to do so. Children can help watch younger cousins at grandma’s house, giving a frazzled aunt a few minutes break. They can participate in a Life Chain or accompany Dad to the soup kitchen when he volunteers. Children learn to walk by walking. They learn to talk by talking. And children learn to serve by serving. There really is no other way.
Public places are not the only venues in which to serve. Opportunities also abound in the home. An older sister can help a younger one wash up, brush her teeth and get in to her pajamas, read her a few books before mom and dad come up to pray with them. A teenaged brother can throw the football with his younger sibling, offering tips and learning patience in the process. This will help build a sibling bond.
Something you do the same way over time, will become a tradition and can create treasured memories. Saying nightly prayers together, having short weekly family ‘meetings’ over Sunday dinner or instituting an occasional family ‘poetry reading night’ or family backyard game of baseball or croquet are all ways to cultivate family time and encourage bonding. Family trips do this too- and even mishaps can become treasured memories. If finances don’t allow for a week’s family vacation, try a day trip up to Lake Michigan or other county park. Bring picnic baskets for lunch and Frisbees for entertainment. Now that the weather is shifting you might rent skates and plan an ice skating outing. Note: Definitely ‘forget’ to bring the cell phones.
Consider your children’s friends.
Are they a help or hindrance in sibling bonding? If an honest assessment reveals your children are too peer dependent, think of ways to gently pull them back to the family unit.
Engage your children in birthday planning for their sibs.
Long ago (maybe 15 years?) our family instituted the birthday quiz tradition. One of the siblings of the birthday person creates a quiz about that person. (Favorite movie, best memory, which vacation would he/she choose, etc.) This quiz is given on the birthday and of course the answer key is the birthday person’s answers. We have great fun with this! Little children love to be a part of planning surprises, so let them help make family birthdays special. Make rhyming clues around the house, ending in one birthday present. Flip through baking books with your girls and ask them to help you find a perfect cake design for their sister. When these types of activities are implemented over time, the benefit is building thoughtfulness and sibling bonds.
* * * * *
Also, consider your own attitude toward YOUR siblings. Model what you hope to see in your family some day. Pray that God will bless your children’s relationships with one another. Resist the urge to interfere every time they squabble. Give them a chance to work out their differences. Unless a major offense or injustice has occurred, just let them be.
Personally, I love seeing my 17 year old daughter, who aims for a career in animation, ask her seven year old sister if she wants to draw with her or to hear that my adult son who lives in Atlanta is planning a trip to Los Angeles to visit his brother, just for fun. Sometimes, I will overhear a conversation between two sisters, one encouraging another or giving advice about how to handle a delicate situation with another person. And it is wonderful when I peek outside while making dinner on a cold autumn Saturday afternoon and spot four sisters sitting on the back swing, laughing and talking together.
I’m sure you’ve experienced moments like these in your own families. They really warm a parent’s heart. With a little planning and effort all of us can help encourage strong sibling relationships in our families. They will, after all, continue to bless our children long after we are gone.
-This originally appeared on Integrated Catholic Life
Yes, you with the baby in your arms…
I see you, out there, sitting at your table, your desk, or your kitchen island, and I notice you are a little discouraged. You switched on the computer a few minutes ago to check your mail and a couple websites, the most exciting contact you’ll have with the outside world today, in between your hourly dates with your almost-potty-trained toddler in the bathroom and picking up Cheerios off the floor of the kitchen for the umpteenth time. You are disheartened, tired. Maybe you passed a mirror earlier today and thought to yourself, Where is that super-trim figure I had in college? Didn’t my step used to have a little more bounce? Why am I doing this?
You love your family with ferocity but you are just running out of steam. Your husband is working hard to allow you this privilege of staying home with your children, but sometimes it doesn’t feel like a privilege. You may even feel like it would be easier to get an outside job.
You may feel that you do the same thing over and over, and the days blur together. You have always held that moms should be present in the home during a child’s early years. You believed it with all your heart the day you got married and you believe it now. You want to be the best mom you can be, but somehow that rings a little hollow at the moment, as you break up a tussle between two preschoolers wanting the same Thomas the Tank Engine cover, quickly throw in some laundry and get back in the room with the little ones before someone gets hurt. Is this how it is supposed to go? You ask. You wonder.
May I offer something? I’ve been in your slippers. And that bathrobe. That torn bathrobe with Gerber’s best all over it and a tear next to the right front pocket. You know, that one you keep meaning to mend but also keep forgetting about… I would like to tell you something. In fact, I want to tell you a few things. So go get that coffee refill and meet me back here in a minute. Yes, you can fish the toilet paper roll out of the toilet first – I heard that scream too – and while you’re up set the little one in the swing for a few minutes… She’ll be okay. You need to hear this.
Are you back? Good.
As I was saying, in all sincerity, I’ve been in your slippers. I truly understand where you’re coming from. I’m on the other side of Babyhood now, with my oldest in his twenties and my youngest being school aged. Chin up, pretty mama. Here are a few things I want you to know:
1. What you do is important.
That’s right. Read it again. What you do is important.
I know it doesn’t seem important to be answering kids’ questions all day and reading the same books to your children over and over, or patiently responding to mishaps and unexpected spills as you cook and clean and love the little ones, but let me assure you that what you do might be one of the most significant things in the world. Let me explain.
Do you see those policy makers on TV, voting on bills, which will become laws? (Oops – Of course you don’t- you don’t have time to watch TV, but you’re smart and you can recall at least a few modern legislators, state-wide or national figures.). Think of them for a moment. Also think the teachers of today, the professors and other educators who, right this minute, are standing in a classroom, explaining a theory, proposing a philosophy, forming young minds. Recall too the modern doctors and scientists who make life and death decisions and ethical considerations. Think of how they, and others like them, affect and in essence because the way the world turns and moves. They make laws, form opinions, and establish protocol in institutions for good or for naught. They create society.
Now think of this: Someone once put these influential people to sleep at night; someone sang to them (or didn’t), read to them (or didn’t). Someone once stirred thoughts of goodness and justice (or evil and apathy) into their minds. Someone once introduced them to big ideas and learning and if they were lucky, God and faith, morals and truth. That someone most likely was their mother.
Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Men are what their mothers made them.” Of course, free will comes into the picture, but a good mother can set a child on the right track, and it is more difficult for him to veer off onto the wrong path if she has set him straight. “Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
Now, mama, look at that baby you just put in the swing, your little angel with sweet downy hair and a sleepy, milky smile or look at your toddler in his diaper who is dancing around the room. Your treatment of these children now and the way they see you interacting with them and others, the manners you use, the tone of your voice, the gestures you make, will be the model in their minds, their ‘default mode’ of thinking and behavior for the rest of their lives. Most likely what you model will affect how they treat others one day – their employees, employers, patients or constituents, and surely their spouses and their children. Their decisions will be rooted in what you provide and teach and demonstrate now.
Mama, your softness is important. Your sweet coos and songs to your children will help them feel loved and calm and know the gentleness of God Himself. Your firmness is important too – you must gently but surely hold your children accountable for their actions and help them overcome natural vices in order to reach the pinnacle of self-control and temperance. Your mind is important to them as well. It is through your thought and your expression of thought they will gain knowledge about the world around them, others, and God. The values you teach them, the stories you read to them, the words they hear you speak an the expressions they see you make are all very important to them and also to the world they will influence in years to come. Most importantly, your faith will be the foundation for their own faith. Your trust and belief in God will pave the way for their own acceptance of and love for Him.
Our nation depends on the work of the mothers in the previous generation. The future of the human race depends on mothers like you.
2. What you do is good.
Good is defined as “morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious”. Raising children well is good.
Have you ever been in a greenhouse? Greenhouses are warm and clean, perfect places for plants to grow. They are protective environments where no damaging insects can destroy the young, tender plants. When the plants are hearty and strong they can be safely transplanted outside the greenhouse. Your home is like a greenhouse. You control what comes in and what goes out. It is not just a protective place to keep out the harmful, but it is a place to let in the light and where it is warm and nurturing. Children without a good home may grow up fine, but chances are better for the ones who are tended to, cherished and cultivated. It is good to protect the vulnerable against harm. What you do as a mother is good.
3. What you do is beautiful motherhood
Artists create art; Musicians create music. You, as a mother, in cooperation with your husband and God the ultimate Designer created something more awe-inspiring and amazing that all the artwork and music combined. You created a human being with an eternal soul, the most amazing of all of creation. This child is bodily and spiritually beautiful. Train him well and he will be morally beautiful too. Enough said.
Now also remember two more things…
You’re not just teaching your children; they are also teaching you.
It’s kind of like continuing education without the diploma. As you tackle those piles of laundry from wet beds and baby spit ups you are developing fortitude. As you avoid caffeine and a favorite glass of wine while pregnant in order to give your unborn child the best possible start in life you are developing temperance. And when, at night your husband comes home, looks around at the mess and asks what you did all day and you hold your tongue and just smile sweetly, you are developing patience. And by the way there is nothing wrong with making a list for just such an occasion and handing it to him upon questioning – I’m just saying. Those nights you walk the floor for hours with a colicky baby will do more for your development of generosity than reading 25 books on the subject. So you see, you raise your children and your children raise you. It’s a win-win.
Take heart – it will get easier.
Well, kind of. The sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion will subside when the baby starts sleeping through the night and the toddler can make it without bathroom trips every few hours. You won’t be juggling nine things at once forever- I promise. There will be a day when the baby will stop crawling up your curtains and pulling down things from the shelf, thus making you feel like your whole morning is a marathon scooping- from- danger race. Your life will surely move out of the absolute fatigue stage and morph slowly in to the next one.
The next stage, as your children convert into pre-adolescents, then teens, then young adults, will have you hopping more mentally than physically. Now I will tell you that while it’s not nearly as bad as everyone portrays it to be, that next stage is not easy either, but at least you’ll get more sleep. Instead of trying to get them to go to bed you’ll be trying to get them to get up. But don’t worry about that now. Shrill alarm clocks never go out of style and will be there when you need them.
So, yes, dear tired mama, this is how it goes. You will be fine and your little ones will be better off for your sacrifices. Our country will even benefit, although it might have to wait 20 years.
Now, go splash some cold water on your face, add a dab of lip gloss and powder to lift your spirits if you want, and get ready for another tedious, difficult, wonderful, day. I hope by now you realize how important, good and beautiful your work as a mother really is.
So chop, chop!! Get moving! Time is short and you have much to do! You have some bodies to nurture, some souls to inspire and a nation to advance. No more stay-at-home-mom blues. Go build a culture – or maybe just a Lego tower for now – one thing at a time…
Prayer for the graces of Motherhood
Powerful is your intercession with God, Mary, for you are His mother.
Tender, too, is your love for us, for you are our mother.
Confidently, then, I come to you as a child, poor and needy, to seek your aid and protection.
In every trial of motherhood, I beg your aid.
For the grace of a happy delivery, I come to you.
For your holy assistance in guarding and directing each tiny soul with which God entrust me, I call to you.
In every sorrow that comes to me in my motherhood, I confide in you.
That I may have strength to bear cheerfully all the pains and the hardships of motherhood, I lean on you.
That the sweetness of motherhood may not through my neglect be embittered in later years by pains of regret, I trust in you.
That the will of God may always be fulfilled in me through each act of my motherhood, little and great, I beg your aid.
Never forsake me, dear mother, my hope, my consolation, my confidence, and my trust,
But ever be at my side to aid and protect me, your needy child. Amen.
Mother of love, of Sorrow, and of Mercy, Pray for us!
From “The Mother’s Manual” by A. Francis Coomes, a prayer book for all occasions suited to mothers can be purchased on Amazon or Free Catholic Shipping.
Today you’ll find many articles on the internet and other news sources about the infamous Roe v. Wade decision of January 22, 1973, which allowed a mother the legal right to abort a child growing in her womb. Likely you’ll see many examples today of people sharing how to promote the pro-life cause by doing great things- writing letters to or speaking before legislators, attending the March for Life, volunteering at pregnancy help centers, writing articles, jump-starting the pro-life group in their parish. These are good. Actually, they are great.
But they are not enough.
The culture of life will take hold in this country not just from what we do, but from who we are and become, individually, and eventually collectively. Becoming a country that values life from conception to natural death, which respects the dignity of every man woman and child, starts with the state of being, not doing.
Most of us will not influences thousands, but we all can bring the message of love, hope, peace and life to those with whom we come into contact, our small circles. Like the man walking along the beach who was throwing starfish back into the ocean, one by one, noticed, “What I’m doing may not make a difference to them all, but to this one it certainly does.” We influence others by who we are. Here’s how we can BE pro-life:
Some statistics tell us that one in three women will have had an abortion by age 45. Chances are you know many women who have had abortions. You may have even regrettably had one yourself. In the quest to eliminate abortion, to protect mothers and their children, we must be compassionate. We must be compassionate toward those who have had abortions under circumstances we do not know, and toward others who have different suggestions and ideas on how to promote the pro-life cause. A good way to be compassionate is to mentally put ourselves in the other fellow’s shoes and sit there a spell.
Most women who have aborted have done so under great stress and pressure. Some had little to no support in consideration of raising the child. Many were ignorant of facts about what the abortion would do to their baby, or to them emotionally and physically. Many were frightened teenagers or had boyfriends or spouses who bullied or pressured them.
Abortion hurts three people and society. It eliminates the life of one- and all that one person could have accomplished, enjoyed, lived and offered the world, including an entire generational line. It hurts the mother and the father. Studies show a higher risk of suicide for a woman following an abortion. And after an abortion, society misses out on the unique gifts and talents of an individual that cannot and will not ever be replicated. Abortion wounds current family relationships and strains new ones. People touched by abortion are people touched by pain, past and present. So compassion is the right response when we venture into a discussion of an experience with abortion. When we judge the action (rightfully harshly) , but not the person, whose culpability we do not know, we are being the kind of person that will help turn the tide toward life.
2- BE firm
While we must be compassionate, we can’t mince words, folks. We can’t whitewash what abortion does. It kills a child. It wounds a family. It is a heinous, evil, terrible thing that hardens hearts, increases selfishness, individually and collectively, and destroys humanity and a culture. We must speak plainly and factually about abortion. While we should exercise kindness and not ‘knife the wound’ by rambling on in front of those who will feel pain about abortion, we should not be delicate in our description or attitude in the fear of offending .”Truth in Charity” is a good motto.
3-BE in control
Wild, emotional rants do not help the culture or the cause for life. Impassioned speech can persuade some people, but there is fine line between that and hurling insults and doing more harm than good.
4-BE an authentic feminist
If we are to eliminate abortion in society, we must help women recognize authentic feminism (this is literally, “the state of being feminine/ a woman”, which of course includes the special ability to sustain life of another living being and to give birth to another person). An authentic feminist recognizes the uniqueness emotionally, psychologically and physically of being a woman. She does not fight her natural nurture tendency. She does not fight the urge to protect her child, and is not swayed by others to reject her feminine qualities. She knows that being feminine is being equal in value but different in purpose from a man. Individual women demonstrating this model in sweetness and joy cannot help but positively influence other women to do the same.
Practically speaking, this means we demonstrate the joy of life and of embracing life. We smile. We are open. We listen. We care.
Being joyful might not be what we are thinking when we are trekking through the grocery store with three toddlers, a long list and little time, but people do watch how our choices affect us so we must be cognizant of it. When we not only CHOOSE LIFE but also CHOOSE JOY we show a demonstrable reason WHY others should do the same.
When my children were younger, I took great care in tidying them and my own appearance up whenever I ventured out into the world, whether it was the grocery store or doctor’s office. I made sure they were wearing neat clothes, had their hair brushed, and were well rested (this, I learned very early, was critical in encouraging everyone’s right mood). One of my earliest cultivated habits even during the busiest mothering days with many young children under 9, was to dress appropriate-to-my-task but as attractively as I could, styling my hair and freshening up with make up and pretty scented powder. This not only helped me feel good about myself and my family, but also projected the right image- that children are good, that family life is worth it, that I loved my life (which I did and do) , and that life is worth protecting.
We are living advertisements for the culture of life. We must demonstrate through our BEING the joy that that brings.
Mom, who gave birth to twelve children, adopted one and fostered many, exemplified the pro-life lifestyle to me. Her warmth, love and compassion encouraged me to embrace and welcome life too.
Bing Crosby has a word for good, busy mamas who are conscientious about taking care of their homes and their children. From the husband’s point of view, Bing croons, “Remember me….”
Good advice. Listen for yourself, and go love your man.