It’s Holy Week!

It’s Holy Week; my favorite week of the year. Yes, even more so than Christmas!
Why? Because this week is when we remember (if we’ve done nothing else for the 40 days of Lent previous to this) exactly what Jesus did for mankind, and that He “conquered the world” (Jn 16:33)

I won’t be posting anything else for the rest of this week. Have a beautiful, meditative week. I hope everyone takes time to know the presence of the many blessings in each of our lives this week.

You are loved
You are needed
You are on purpose

If anyone is interested, here’s a YouTube vid about Holy Week (2 minutes in length):

And here are last year’s posts about Holy Week from yours truly:
Bible Readings for Holy Tuesday
Bible readings for Holy Wednesday
And “What is Easter Triduum?”

Until Easter, then! Have a blessed week my peeps!

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Baby, You Were Born This Way.

I want to write about something that may be obviously apparent to parents of multiple children.
But to the parents with only one child, they might not yet have fully grasped it. For I only began to REALLY notice it after our second child was born.

Especially to the individuals who’ve never had children before, though, is who I write for: DOUBLY especially, to the pro-choice, pro-contracepting individuals who’ve never had children, is who I write this for; for perhaps they’ve never thought about this to quite the extent they should.

I’m sure there’s much more intellectually stimulating writings than mine out there. In fact, I’m absolutely aware of the world of scientific research to support what I’m sharing.

The average, curious Joe may do a tiny lifting of his finger to find this information. I’ve done it and so can you. I’ve generally found that whether or not I litter my blog with links and endless amounts of scientific research backing up what I have to say, whomever reads my blog ultimately rejects what they’re reading on an obstinately angry prejudice or is open to finding out more and does the research him/herself. So there you go, do what you will.
Moving on!

I believe that babies are born, with their personality, their disposition already intact.
I believe that babies are given their personality from the earliest moments of conception.

Because otherwise, when is a human being given his/her personality, his/her predisposition to the way s/he handles emotion, the way s/he communicates, his/her temperament?

At 6 months in utero? 9 months? AFTER birth, a random string of personality traits, plucked from the combined genetics of the mother and father, just spontaneously erupts within his/her brain?

Or perhaps the baby is born with absolutely no personality whatsoever and it’s only developed after coming into the world and being influenced by the environment and people in the human being’s life?

I believe that common intelligence will tell us that the latter must be mostly false.

Common intelligence, from a parent of more than one child, will observe that at the first moments after birth, if the parent is a perceptive one (trust me, not all are) each child is very different than his/her older sibling.

The cry not only sounds different, but a parent can perceive the urgency, the demanding or un-demanding of the cry. Parents more closely observe, over the next few days after arriving home from the hospital, how their baby handles the daily routine of the family: the changing of the diapers, baths, feedings, naps, “tummy time” …etc. All of these mundane events sound like pathetic material to have for observations and conclusions, but if one can consider the newness of life, how drastically different these events must be for the newly born human life, can one not wonder how that baby might handle the situation, depending on his/her disposition?

The differences are sometimes subtle, but if you’ve had more than one child, you can attest to the observation that the baby isn’t JUST yet another baby, like any other baby. Each new baby speaks his/her own personality differently.

My first son- beginning with his kicks within the womb! -was much more vocal about his presence. He was wound tight: vocal from the very beginning. If a diaper was too tight, or a bottle not warmed enough (I only breastfed him for the first three months: he went on a screaming nursing strike after I felt pushed into introducing the bottle to him very early on.) he let me know, loudly. He was up at all hours of the night. He was walking at 7 months and literally running at 8. He was talking before he was one year old and then varying his octaves and tones of voice before he was a year and a half. (I could ask him to say “momma” in a very high-pitched tone or a very low-pitched tone, and he would do it and then replicate the tones with other words.)

My son, now almost 3 years old, is a running, jumping, rollicking, screaming, yelling, non-stop talking wild child in a blaze of endless energy. I truly believe that he has only now begun to reach a satisfactory communication level (according to him) equalling the personality he has been given.

I believe that as a parent, after giving birth to our children, it’s not a matter of “training my baby” to do this or that, or follow a certain schedule that I desire. I believe that instead, my job is to get to KNOW my child. My already uniquely made child. (hence, my Attachment Parenting style of parenting… check out Ask Dr. Sears and this: )

A baby is a human being before s/he is born. This human being is born with limited abilities to communicate his/her personality until s/he reaches the earliest age possible to fully communicate his/her needs. Until then, a parent needs to be perceptive enough to read and understand the newborn human being’s personality.

My second boy barely cried after birth. He slept through the night from the get-go. He only cried (if I could even call it that) when he was hungry. He grunted instead of bellowing or screaming. He is now 1.5 years old and still has yet to purposely say “mom” or “dad”. He started walking at 10 months. He still only becomes whiny when he’s hungry, if I haven’t already fed him. Normally, he’ll just walk up to me and arch his head backwards and look at me with huge, chocolate brown eyes, raising his arms for me to hold him, and I know it’s the “feed me something, Momma,” look.

One might say that the differences in my son’s personalities lie in how I ate while I was pregnant or whether or not I had medication during birth.

First, being medicated isn’t going to be the source of development for my child’s personality. I was given an epidural for my first, wild boy. For our second, laid-back boy, the epidural was placed too high, never reaching lower than my belly button, and was ceased to be administered 2 hours before I began to push. We know that, instead, medications during labor may affect the health of the baby (i.e. drowsiness, unresponsiveness, lack of interest in nursing right away… etc.).

Secondly, I barely consumed any caffeine at all with my first crazy boy. I drank coffee (nearly daily) and Coke a Cola with our second, very calm boy. This third time around, I have had coffee daily.

I understand that environmental influences DO affect the health of the new human life. I do understand and acknowledge that if I were a smoker or consumed alcohol abusively or ate obese levels of sugar while pregnant, I would definitely be putting the physical health of my child in danger. But I cannot agree that I would be putting his/her personality in danger of alteration. This is a difference that many people misconstrue: especially the pro-choice, pro-contraceptive lot.

These people do not understand, or refuse to acknowledge that at the very moment of conception, parents have created, in union with the Ultimate Creator Himself, a very literal separate and unique human being. Like a snowflake, non-replicable. A snowflake the size of a zygote.

To the people who do not or will not understand this, they view having a child as either a commodity, or as an inconvenience. They may contracept, willfully, yet ignorantly flushing down the toilet all other human life that was “accidentally” conceived while on the Pill or IUD or Patch or shot.

We know this happens for a fact. We know that women get pregnant while contracepting. Google “pregnancy rates among contraceptive users” and you’ll find that even Guttmacher Institute (Planned Parenthood’s research arm) gives statistical evidence of failure among chemical contraceptive use. Yep, there’s failure for all types of birth control, natural and chemical. Honestly, the percentage rate does not matter… 0.1% or 10%, the failure rate is absolutely present, and who am I or you to put full faith into a failing chemical that will harm the newly created life, just banking on the assumption that “certainly I’m not likely to be that 1-10%”?

ESPECIALLY when the percentage of failure weighs upon the death of a human life.

But the even more questionable concern rises when we understand that when pregnant, a woman must not continue using her contraceptive because the chemicals will kill or greatly harm the already conceived life.

THEREFORE, how can we pretend to be blind to the “unsuccessful zygotes” that are the result of the effectiveness of the chemical abortions that take place without the knowledge of the poor mother and father who do not view each human life as sacred and unique (even though they think they do)?

We know that within hours of conception, the brand new human being’s DNA is fully formed (check my link below); DNA unique to the mother, unique to the father, unique to any other human being in the world. Hence, my snowflake allusion.

From what minimal biological knowledge I acquired from my college education, in combination with the light scientific research I have found through general internet searches, I am aware that fundamental personality cells are stored within the human DNA.

I have read that complex personality development is later developed and influenced by environmental forces; Yet we are born, already having been given our base personality. At the moment we are given our DNA. at conception.

Yikes. The people who think that contraceptives are OK and that abortion is OK have some answering to do.

What I have written is in the most elementary, rudimentary basics of human development. Pathetic, to some it may be, I really think that one doesn’t need to be a scientist to fully acknowledge these truths. One only needs to have a willful stubbornness to adhering to his/her personal convenience, though, to reject them. And sadly, so, so many people do.

http://www.ehd.org/dev_article_unit1.php

Tiny intro to the Holy Rosary

This is only a tiny intro because I read this blog (linked in the title above) and HAD to share it right away.
It’s the evening, I’ve got my boys cuddled by me in the living room, and they’re not going to let me write a lengthy entry. (I normally write in the morning before one of them is awake). 

Her blog entry gives a great example of how Catholics are *supposed* to meditate when they pray the Rosary. Unfortunately, many “Catholics” don’t even know how to pray the Rosary, and cannot even tell you what it’s about. 

Many people unfamiliar or just blatantly bigoted towards the Catholic faith will tell you that when we pray the rosary, we are worshipping Mary. 

And that, as we know from my previous post, couldn’t be further from the truth. 

The rosary contains 4 Mysteries of The life of Jesus Christ. (ummm… Not the life of Mary…*cough*) 
There are the: 
Joyful Mysteries 
Sorrowful Mysteries 
Glorious Mysteries 
Luminous Mysteries. 

Each of these mysteries actually contain a set of 5 mysteries within. 
And depending on which type we are praying, those five are what we mediate upon while praying. 

In her blog linked above, she attaches the beatitudes to the Sorrowful Mysteries. 

With each Hail Mary, each Our Father and each Glory Be, we meditate on the scriptural basis- the events in Christ’s life.

For example, the Sorrowful Mysteries are about the: 
1 Jesus’s agony in the garden 
2 the scourging of Jesus at the pillar 
3 the crowning of Jesus with thorns 
4 Jesus carrying the cross 
5 Christ’s crucifixion 

We pray, meditating on these events of Christ’s life all while ALSO bringing to Jesus our struggles and personal prayers for our life and loved ones. 

This is not easy to do. 

To someone standing on the outside of a group of people praying the rosary, it would appear that we are just chanting meaningless repetitive “prayer”. No. We are praying the prayer of the Gospel. 

We are praying the words of the bible WHILE lifting up our own struggles and praises! 
It is emotionally challenging. 

There is SO much to meditate and reflect upon. So when someone tells you that praying the rosary is a shallow, meaningless worshipping of Mary, you are now equipped with a tiny knowledge enough to know that, that person has absolutely no idea what he or she is talking about. 

And now Elmo is over and I have to get my boys to bed.

Here’s some further info: 

http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/devotionals/rosaries/how-to-pray-the-rosary.cfm 

Prayers of the Rosary 

An inspiring explanation of the Hail Mary

Tiny intro to the Holy Rosary

On Horoscopes and Other Evils.

I’m a scorpio.  As a teen, I enjoyed sneaking Cosmopolitan, Vogue, and all of those kinds of women’s magazines into my bedroom (my mom never liked me buying them), soaking-in the pages of fashion and latching on to my monthly Horoscope.  
The horoscope would always read something along the lines of this:

As Saturn aligns with Jupiter this month, you will find yourself feeling more inspired to succeed… your love life will flourish… that thing you’ve been worrying about will solve itself…don’t take no for an answer.  Even though you’re a dominant Scorpio, let someone else take the wheel this week….

Yes… I just made all of that up. right now.

I would live out my month, with that horoscope at the back of my mind, actually believing that it could predict some, if not all of the situations I faced. Because, you know, Jupiter and Saturn were aligned after all.  
The next month, I would read my horoscope and realizing I must have done something wrong because of whatever problem that had arisen, I slowly found myself becoming superstitious about things.  

I thought, “if I don’t do this, or I don’t do that, then something bad will happen.”
“If I listen to this song, or if I arrive at this time, or make a wish at 11:11, something good will happen to me.

***

So I’ll just dive right into the problem with this kind of thinking then… as a Christian.  

Christianity teaches us to have no false idols nor to put our faith in magic or spells and to avoid superstition.  

Why is this? I wondered to myself, many years ago.  Is horoscope reading becoming a false idol?  Surely not!
Simple answer:

“I am the Lord your God.”  (First commandment)

By putting even a tiny faith into anything by thinking that it actually has the divine power to alter my life for the better or worse, I am denying God as my Lord.  Note that I use the word divine.  Divine, as in, supernatural: from God. I don’t mean that putting faith into a band-aid to protect a scrape from injury makes it a false god.  Divine power is the focus here.

God is my creator. Not my scorpion horoscope.  
Only God can “giveth and taketh away”.  Not the ladder I just walked under.  

Oh, Carolyn, I don’t actually believe that my horoscope is my God… I am a Christian, I enjoy having a little fun and reading my horoscope now and then.  I don’t take it seriously.” 

Are you sure about that?  If I opened up an umbrella inside your house, would it make you twinge? Why is reading a prophesy from someone other than God amusing to you? To see if it actually comes true?  …and what if it does?  Then you may continue to read your horoscopes each month- just to see, just for fun.   Then, unbeknownst to your initial intentions, you may (or may not, if you’re not particularly introspective) actually discover yourself somewhat depending on what these “harmless” fortune-telling amusements.

The lurking, much darker side to these seemingly harmless amusements is that they are encouraged by the evil one.  As a Christian, it is important to recognize this.  
It’s not comfortable to think about, but it is essential.
 By ignoring evil, or the potential for evil to arise, we are giving the evil one exactly what he wants: sneaking into our lives, infiltrating in the most quiet way possible.  The evil one is the one behind the true events occurring from our horoscope-reading.  Oh yes, that’s right… if you “wish upon a star” and it comes true… who have you given your faith to by that wish?  I read a book by Fr. Thomas Euteneuer (a nationally recognized exorcist) titled Exorcism and the Church Militant which expounds on all of these thoughts in intense detail and depth.  (I may get some flack by referencing Euteneuer amid the scandal that closely followed the publication of his book but I do believe, on this issue he is genuine, although I recognize him to be just as failingly human as the rest of us.)

 By recognizing evil in idolatry, horoscopes, superstition and magic -by acknowledging that it exists-  it renders powerless the devil.  I have read that the devil’s favorite type of evil is the kind that encourages apathy and lukewarmness, ignorance and even the denial of evil altogether.  I believe it was C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters.  

I digress.
Let’s take the superstition thing a step further.

In praying to God, do we find ourself believing that if we forget to pray for someone that then, God won’t help that person?   Do we recite off a list of the people who need cures or help, not ever truly opening our heart to God?  Like a selfish teenager, do we dump our laundry at the bottom of the stairs demanding to our parents that it needs cleaning, and how to clean each article of clothing?  “DO NOT machine-dry that shirt! Wash my jeans by themself!”

Or, do we pray a complete outpouring of our soul, surrendering our strengths, weaknesses, victories and failings- offering God our suffering, our anxieties, our fears, our gifts and talents- giving it all to Him, allowing those people to drift into our prayer out of love and not of a “If I don’t tell God, then it won’t get taken care of”?  
This is what people mean when they say, “offer all that you are up to God”:

You give God complete control.

This takes a great ACT of faith.  Having faith alone is not enough.  One must ACT upon it.  One must spiritually and mentally give God one’s faith. That is difficult. 

I like to materialize it by thinking about Carrie Underwood’s song, Jesus Take the Wheel.  (roll your eyes, whateverrr- it only takes listening to it once for it to stick for a long time) 
By obstinately holding onto the wheel, your arms become exhausted, sore.  They might even break. By holding onto that wheel, by mindlessly reading off that list of prayers, you can’t fully have complete faith in God- even if you profess that you do.

By holding onto that wheel, we are telling God, “I don’t really trust you.”  
By reading a Horoscope “just for fun” or curiosity to see if it comes true, we are telling God, “I don’t have all of my faith in you, I just want to see if this will happen”.
By telling God that we don’t really trust Him, that we can’t let go of that control that we believe we have, we are telling him that we believe that WE have greater power.  

False Idol. Have we created ourself a god?

Too far of a stretch? I don’t think so.  I think I needed to recognize this in my life in order to be able to see and accept  the gifts and graces that God has been trying to shower upon me my whole life.  It only takes the faith of a mustard seed.  tiny.

Again, this brings everything back to only putting our faith, our trust in something which gives Glory to God alone.  Not to a shattered mirror. Not to hanging a wedding ring on a thread and seeing which way it spins to predict the sex of your baby.  

Call me a prude, call me boring. It has no power over me.

 As always, what I have written is merely an introduction, an elementary brief on these topics… there is a world of deeper info out there that is founded in legitimate resources.  If you’re interested to know more, contact me.