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CWBN BlogHop – The Role of Women in the Catholic Church

Dear Ones,

We live in a world that would have us think our Church is backwards, sexist, and antiquated because women aren’t Priests, because we don’t marry same-sex couples, and a plethora of other reasons. But we must hold on to the truths in our Church and continue to honor the strong and faithful women who came before us, reaching as far back as the Old Testament, and live our lives on the path they forged for us.

Our Church began with a resounding YES from our Blessed Mother Mary.  That young girl, long ago, who gave her resounding yes to carry Our Lord in Her blessed womb. She helped start our Church, the first Church that all others have sprung from. She is our guide for what Women should be in our Church. She is our model in our Faith and how we live our lives.

We may not always get it right, like she did, but in our striving to do so, we change the path of our Parish Churches, by living our lives faithfully in our Domestic Churches.

In the CWBN BlogHop this month, on Allison’s Blog, we are challenged to share our opinions on Strong and faithful women in the Catholic Church. I would encourage you to read articles like these:

When we think of Our Blessed Mother and all the Catholic Female Leaders who came before us, we think about things like their Faithful Example, Comforting in Motherhood and leadership, the way they forgave others, and their humility; but, mostly we admire them for their tenacity, integrity and their focused YES to Our God’s direction and plan for their lives.

Probably my two favorite Catholic women role-models that formed my faith, besides Our Blessed Mother, have been Mother Angelica and Mother Teresa, now Saint Teresa of Calcutta.  I watched these women live their faithful lives (of course, from afar)… but I will never forget their examples. The way they reached out to the poor, the way they taught us to love the Lord, the way they admonished themselves and therefore our sinful nature and brought the reality of Christianity into our hearts, souls and our decisions in our Domestic Churches.

Christ ordained men to be Priests, so I will not discuss any chance of ANYONE in the True Catholic Church ordaining women Priests. I pray it never happens. And, if I am being honest I don’t like to see women serving on the Altar at all, beyond the position of Cantor or Eucharistic Minister. HOWEVER, because of the shortage of men/boys to serve, I get that in some areas, for many reasons these things take place. And I will not speak out against it, except to say, it’s not my preference.

There are MANY choices for women to influence our Church in leadership positions.  Women can become Nuns/Sisters. Women can serve on Financial Advisory Councils and other councils in our Church. In fact, there is a National Council of Catholic Women (and I’m assuming other groups as well). I am involved at the Parish/Diocesan Level in this group. There are many more ways we can serve as great role models, and I urge you to get a list and pray about what ways you can serve best.

Since 2011, I have taught 3rd Grade Religious Education, they call the position a Catechist.  Through this position, I have had the awesome task of teaching children about Our Lord and Our Faith.  I have volunteered through serving on the Altar Society, and in the Religious Formation Office as a Volunteer to help organize various church functions.  I have volunteered with Catholic Charities and the local food bank. We all have great roles we can play when we say YES to God and lead with love.

However, I think my most important function in our Church, as a woman… My biggest and most important role in the Catholic Church is the responsibility that God has given me is as WIFE and MOTHER.

As a mother, I am everything to my child. In this way, I can only hope to imitate our Blessed Mother in preparing my child for his life. You see, Faith Formation starts at home. What we do in our homes lays the very foundation for how our children approach their faith outside our homes. Before our children learn from others, they learn from us. So teach them well. Show them the unconditional love our Father asks us to live by. 

Do I get it right all the time? – NOPE. But I try. Is this about fancy meals and art and comparing myself to other mamas? – NOPE, not all the time. LOL It’s about teaching my child about our faith in a way that weaves that faith into EVERY LITTLE THING WE DO.  And sometimes it’s exhausting and more than I could manage if I was doing this by myself. BUT the Good Lord and many mamas I know – have been integral to a) my knowing what to do and b) my not losing my mind.

My free advice —

Find a small group of like-minded mamas and their like-minded families who understand what you are trying to accomplish by raising your children in your faith.  Give your children good examples of friends to play with, learn from, etc. AND give yourself the gift of women who understand and won’t challenge everything you are trying to accomplish. This is a sanity saver. TRUST ME.

Those same women could be the women who build you and your marriage up when society doesn’t understand what you are trying to accomplish in it.

What do I do? Amongst other things…

  • Love my husband, their father. Do right by him. Pray for him.
  • Love my children. Pray for them. Spend time with them. Listen. Talk. Pray more.
  • Over the years I have  — 
    • Introduced Feast Days.
    • Read Catholic Children’s Stories.
      • I read the Bible to my child every day, starting with Children’s Bible stories for infants and toddlers – over and over again. As he got older, the stories got more detailed. Virtues and Commandments were introduced. 
    • Read Books on Virtues for children – and discussed them with my children (age appropriately).
    • Participated in Catholic Art projects. 
    • Homeschooled (though this is the last  year).
    • I am involved in our Parish, Diocese and Philanthropy. And therefore, so is he.

Most importantly – I lead by example and apologize when I get it wrong. LEAD THEM!  Just so you know, my husband has three children from previous marriage who I include as my children. We went through an annulment process, for those who may be concerned with the integrity of our marriage. I really owe no explanation, but I do intermittently use plurals when speaking of children. So there you have that.

I don’t need to give you countless examples of how to raise your children and how to live out being a good wife and mother, because you’ve read blogs, books, etc.

Sisters, you have many options to lead and grow in the Catholic Church. Find what you love and do it. But while  you are having children – I implore you to concentrate on your husband and on them, and you will be doing exactly what God had lead you to do.

This includes those who work, run businesses, write books, etc. Bottom line – they put their family first. For sure. It’s the way God intended it.

We must all learn to say YES to God. And to stand firm in our roles in the Catholic Church.

Lastly, I want to say that God does not ask me to deny I have more talents in addition to being wife and mother. I just want to put that out there, lest anyone not get where I am coming from.

I think I will go write a post about what I’ve learned since becoming a mom… about myself, the world, etc. I mean – the laughter that has ensued and the wisdom I’ve gleaned. HA! It’s like Joan of Arc and Lucille Ball mixed with Saint Teresa of Calcutta and The Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz. Am I right? HAHA

Many blessings ALL!

Emily

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CWBN Blog Hop – Human Imperfection in the Vocation of Marriage

Happy Freezing January Y’all.

Can I just share with you that the media hyped up the invisible Snow again? It is so cold here (for Texas) and was in the 20’s this morning. But so dry and cold, we have no white stuff. BOOO. But we are in our home and getting things done – because here, if there is NOT snow, there is no point in playing outside in the cold.  Can we agree on that? LOL
I am joining up with Allison Gingras and crew for the CWBN Blog Hop. It’s a monthly, blog post geared toward a pointed topic. And it’s awesome. This month’s topic… Exploring Vocations – From the Religious Life, to Married Life, and Beyond 
I’m a convert, so I am going to attempt to do this subject justice. Here’s my post:
First of all, let’s start with the definition of Vocation as deemed so by Merriam-Webster, just to show the difference between secular definitions and that of the Catholic Church.

As Catholics, we believe that the word vocation “is the calling or destiny we have in this life and the hereafter. God has created the human person to love and serve Him; the fulfillment of this vocation is eternal happiness….” The definition continues and is on page 903 in the glossary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition. Additionally, in the CCC, there are over 30 entries in the index explaining the word Vocation and what it means to Catholics. In fact, here is roughly a third of the Index under the word Vocation (pg. 857, CCC).
I highlighted 2a above in the Mirriam-Webster dictionary, because to be honest with you, before I met my husband I had gone away from the Church in terms of regularity, and I though my vocation was Event Planner/Executive Admin, because in the secular world that was my vocation. 
When we first married, I know we loved each other and wanted to be married, and we went through counseling with the Pastor at the Lutheran church, and talked about marriage. But I don’t think we ever really got how sacred the Sacrament of Marriage was until it all almost fell apart. 
When we got married, we were Lutheran. In fact, I was going to RCIA and he didn’t want to be Catholic, so since I was Lutheran, we stayed there. He got Baptized and we got married. But neither of us knew the Vocation. Neither of us ever had Godly examples… I mean no one ever talked to me about becoming a Nun/Sister, nor did anyone talk to my husband about becoming a Priest. In my family, girls got married and didn’t have a college education (for the most part). And we certainly didn’t have examples of what a solid vocation to Marriage or Parenthood would look like. So our marriage was rough for a long while.
Don’t get me wrong, we spent plenty of time together. We were a career couple. We threw dinner parties, and worked on my fertility issues. And when we were finally able to conceive and carry to term – most of my focus switched to my child. Yes, when my husband was home (he traveled a lot, including two tours in Iraq), he was fed and cared for. But my true focus was mothering my son. I’d waited till I was 40 to have him. I’d been through miscarriages and so much disappointment…. that when I finally became a stay home mom – I took my planning and organizational skills and became Chief Home Officer – and not in a great way. HA Looking back makes me want to laugh and cry. Sigh.
We were so unhappy! Both so determined to have our own ways. Both trying to work through bad things from childhood, and him from past marriages. We put everything but each other first. God allowed us to tear it down so we could rebuild it. I’ll not go into more detail because that is not the point of this post. But when God reveals His plan to you, for you, YOU need to be open to listening. Against all odds, we are happily married, imperfect as we are, because we believe in God’s calling and His Rules for marriage.
Through so much prayer and hard work, we know that the vocation of marriage is:
  • praying with your husband when his only biological spouse dies and he feels alone because he can’t find his birth mother. Not, yelling at him because he’s short with you.
  • taking care of the home front when your husband is away in Iraq, and putting aside your fears so that you can function.
  • laughing with your spouse when your four month old child, who has reflux has vomited so violently on you that your glasses come off and there is an outline of your person on the pastel, plaid, oversized comfy chair with floral pillows, and when he comes in from running to get ice cream and finds a trail of clothes on the way to the bathroom and you and said child in the bath. The looks on all our faces! ha
  • trying a new recipe and epically failing.
  • laughing till you cry.
  • crying till you laugh.
  • a range of emotions you never knew existed.
  • praying endless prayers for each other and your children, families, friends, our world.
  • facing special needs of your child head on and not letting them tear a wedge between you.
  • overcoming the grief of infant loss, the loss of your parents and many other types of loss AND still finding time to care for one-another. 
  • tending to one-another in sickness, surgical recovery, etc.
  • mending childhood scars of your spouse.
  • raising Godly children and not letting their needs come between your needs as a man and woman.
  • knowing that no matter what transpires you are not alone and you are loved, if only by your spouse.
  • balancing everything life throws at you and knowing that God ordained this crazy mess of a life and that you will get through it as long as you stay strong.
  • …. and so much more.
We have been together almost twenty years and married for 19 this Summer. And perhaps the biggest thing we know about marriage is this:
We are called to put nothing before our Spouses, except for God. When we are true to the bonds of our vocation, which is Holy Matrimony, our divine calling from the Lord, we build marriages with God at the head of them and with NOTHING between spouses except their shared love and devotion. 

Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

Please don’t ask me if I am perfect. I’m not. Neither is he. But we have come a long way and we are on a holy path… it may have lots of turns or bumps, but it’s a path y’all, that we never thought we’d be blessed enough to be on. We love Jesus, and our Faith… and as Mother Angelica says:

As for the other vocations, my sister bloggers will tell you about those. In every Catholic home we talk about vocations because we know that we are all called to work for God, and increase in holiness while seeking His will for us….ultimately leading us to heaven. 
I chose to share the imperfection of humanity in my post about marriage because someone, somewhere, needs to know they aren’t alone. They need to know that just because marriage is hard, and maybe failing in some ways, that you can turn it around by changing yourself, whilst praying for your spouse. Imperfections are like clay to God, let him sculpt your marriage. Whoever you are..
Lastly, here is a great link with prayers for Vocations – USCCB Prayers for Vocations. The one I like is this one:

Loving and Generous God,it is You who call us by name and ask us to follow You. Help us to grow in the Love and Service of our Church as we experience it today.
Give us the energy and courage of Your Spirit to shape its future
Grant us faith-filled leaders who will embrace Christ’s Mission of love and justice.
Bless the Catholic Church by raising up dedicated and generous leaders from our families and friendswho will serve Your people as Sisters, Priests, Brothers, Deacons and Lay Ministers.
Inspire us to know You better and open our hearts to hear Your call.
We ask this through our Lord.

I’m excited to read the other blog posts. Please go to Allison’s blog and check out all of the other bloggers in the CWBN Blog Hop. There is so much talent! And if you like a post, leave a comment. Bloggers LOVE that!
Have a great day all, and thanks for stopping by.
Love, Hugs & Blessings,
Em
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CWBN Blog Hop — How I Stay Focused During Mass…

… OR TRY TO!

To be honest with you, I can hardly stay focused in life. So much has gone on I haven’t posted in two months… I mean – my brain can hardly keep up. Enter Prayer, Essential oils, change of diet, cutting back on doing… but still – it’s hard to focus these days.  Heck, I have been trying to finish this post for days, y’all, THE STRUGGLE IS REAL! ha

Welcome to the CWBN Blog Hop.

This month’s Topic is How I Stay Focused During Mass…. And the Blog Hope can be found on Allison Gingras’ blog Reconciled to You.  
Here we go…

On any given Sunday, as you know, it is hard to get to Mass without one or more of the following happening:

  • Someone not wanting to go.
  • The toddler throwing a fit and getting something all over your only ironed skirt/blouse.
  • Family arguments.
  • Remembering you meant to go to confession and stressing about it.
  • Arguing with one or more people because you are running late.
  • Forgetting the envelope and feeling bad for it.
  • Insert your own things here… I mean we know there are more.

Add societal issues, bills to pay, major life issues and whatever else you can think of… AND while you know you need Mass, you need the Eucharist, you need the Gospel… life can be a source of chaos, even in the most pious Catholic people and their families.

Then you get to Church, boy child is on time to Altar Serve, front pews have availability, you have the envelope, everything went well that morning, everyone gets settled and you kneel to pray.  AHHHHH it’s so nice.

And then one of your people announces they are hungry because they forgot to eat, there are babies crying, someone comes late and needs to sit in your pew, someone forgot to put on their whole outfit and you catch yourself starting to be judgmental, the cantor has on leggings and when she bows, you think – Dear God, I hope she has on undergarments. Or the odd times that you are so exhausted you actually nod off in Mass and do the head-bob, etc. Sigh… Oh yes, all of this has happened (and more).  Then you think – Oh no, a bad attitude in the Sanctuary, Jesus is right there and I’m acting like this. That pesky old Satan, he needs to leave me alone. Sound familiar?  Sigh.

But we know this — we must stay close to Jesus and His Mother – our Mother. Do you remember when Mother Angelica said this?

Focus on the LIGHT! You are never closer to Jesus than when you receive the Eucharist. Focus and Faith are about discipline (clearly I lack it from time to time).

What Can You Do To Focus…

For me, I look at Our Blessed Mother, the Angels and Saints… and breathe. It’s so beautiful at Saint Patrick Cathedral.  I pray for Mary and the Angels to help me focus. I look around at all the Saint Statuary and ask them to help too. I’m serious. They know I need to be there, to listen and to learn. Because no matter how many times I hear the same readings, there is always something to learn. The sense of calm that comes over me when I know the Saints and Angels are right there with me, praying for me…. it really helps me focus.

Looking up at Mary above the Altar @ St. Patrick Cathedral, Fort Worth


Put Electronics Down at least 1/2 hour before Mass.  You don’t need news, weather, email, FaceBook, etc.. when you are walking into Mass.  It’s truly not the right time to be on electronics. You know this.

Read the Readings before Mass. I try to read the Daily Readings before Mass, and I also follow along while especially the Gospel is being read. I have to be honest, there are times we are in Mass and we can’t hear or understand the Priest, so  preparing ahead and reading along are great ways to stay focused. We go to Mass to learn and preparation always helps the message sink in better. You remember high school/college right? I mean you didn’t go to class unprepared did you? Don’t go to Mass unprepared either.  I use my Magnificat, but there is also an App called the iMissal. My husband uses it.

Wear the Veil. One thing that helps me is wearing a veil. I wear the veil because Mary lead me to wear it, but one of the benefits of it is that you can hide behind it and you can wear it so that you can’t look around you. This truly helps me some days.  It has helped me focus on Jesus and the Altar.  Here are some in my collection.

I love them all. Four Veil Companies represented here. ❤

Get to Mass Early and get settled. This is essential, especially if you have littles. You want to get the bathroom breaks and the who’s sitting by whom’s out of the way.

Sit Towards the Front Near Jesus. First of all JESUSis physically present at Mass. The same Jesus who healed the sick, turned water into wine and died for our sins. You must concentrate because He calls us to be there. And, the Priests, Deacons, Cantors, and Altar Boys can see you, and in our case the Bishop… you pay attention in Mass. I mean – it’s just the truth.  You want to be both a good example and a willing participant, which brings me to…

Require Participation. You must participate and you must require your children and spouse to participate too. For some reason it’s very distracting to me if they are not participating
too. Participation breeds focus. You have to look up the pages for the songs. You have to follow along in the Hymnal/Missal.  You know what is coming next and you are ready for it.

I will leave you think about this…

Don’t you just love her?

I don’t focus every Mass, but I try…. and when I falter in Mass, I redirect myself quickly. God knows your heart. Do your best.  Focus takes Perseverance. Remember the old saying, “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” That, for infinity…

Thanks for joining us on the CWBN Blog Hop this month. Please check out the other bloggers and leave them some love. We are all so busy right now. And they need it!

Hugs & Blessings,

Em

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CWBN Blog Hop – Why I Love My Catholic Faith

Happy Tuesday!

Today I am joining up with Catholic Women’s Bloggers to share with you our experience on how our Catholic Faith has shaped our lives in a Blog Hop titled Why I love my Catholic Faith.  The hop is hosted by Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You. And y’all, these women are super talented. I’m not sure why they let me hangout with them, but I’m thrilled they do.  Go check out their posts for inspiration and great stories.

Welcome back to my sorely neglected blog. Y’all, I’m in a season of neglect. The evil one has thwarted several attempts to draw closer to God, by seriously causing chaos – in my life and in my mind. I have so much to do, I do nothing. For example, I don’t finish a Bible study. Why? Because I’ve taken on three, and  have so many other things on my mind, I end up not doing any.

Rest assured, this is a season. If you have not walked through something like it, you will. So know that you are never alone in anything you walk through. Currently, in our life season, my husband continues to travel, our house is up for sale. Our realtor is not great… I could give you a list, but in charity, I shall keep it to myself. My child is needy – because he can sense the tension and therefore, I don’t get things done – like blog posts, card making, baking for friends catching up on reading, AND to top it all off, an old injury creeped up on me and I’m having surgery tomorrow.  I seriously feel like I may have lost all or part of my mind. HA

So many things have gone wrong, I actually said to my husband, “I give up. I can’t do this anymore. I’m a good person. I thought God was on my side, but you know what – I’m over it all. Why do bad things keep happening?  God has forsaken me/us!” I thought to myself, “I never deserved the life I was given… the abusive mother and all that entailed, the miscarriages, the lack of money, etc. etc. etc.” I was a very abused child, and made bad decisions in my life – and all of it came bubbling to the surface in an angry and emotional hour or so.  I could go into more detail, but I’m hopeful we’ve all had those moments and I don’t really need to give you a bigger picture of my little hissy fit/breakdown, etc.

Before I go on, let me share with you the definition of Forsaken:

I looked it up because I wanted to prove to myself, you see, that God had in fact forsaken me.  And then I laughed and cried…  Do you get why?  I’ll explain… staring at me from the page was ME! I was so frustrated, I actually said aloud that I was done with God – in that moment, I meant it because I was so upset. Sigh. Um – I’m the one who was forsaking Our Lord.

Reading the Magnificat the next morning, the first Bible verses was Jeremiah 29:11 (I’ve added 12 & 13 as well(:

Jeremiah 29:11-13:  For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and com and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart.

The Psalm was #38. With this explanation: The penitential psalms very often speak of sin as a sickness brought on by the attack of enemies. Their vivid descriptions of the sinner’s sufferings, remind us again and again that the misery of sin is not what God wants for His beloved children.

I could go into a long explanation of my Faith and why I love it. I could talk to you about The Rosary, Confession, Mass and the beautiful Prayers and hymns… I could tell you about the Body of Christ – both His body and blood He gave up for us, AND the Body of Christ that is His great Church. I could tell you about how I thought I was Catholic, and when I found out I wasn’t I embraced Lutheran Faith, and how glorious and right it was when I finally came back and brought my husband with me. Our son was already Catholic.

However, what I want you to know is that every day, I am reminded how much God loves me. No matter what I have been subjected to in my life due to someone else’s poor choices or mine, God loves me!  We live in a great time, where social media brings Faith to our inboxes; bloggers like this group of faith-filled  Catholic Women Bloggers, The Magnificat, and so  many other books – DAILY, minute by minute – I am reminded that God is all around me.

The Catholic Church has given me a zillion tools to hone my faith and be closer to God, whether I feel close to him every moment or not. I don’t know why my faith is so immature sometimes. I wish I did. But I know that God always reminds me of His presence – and I am so thankful for that. Daily reminders y’all! ❤

Personal Request:  Prayers needed. Things will be difficult in our home the next few weeks. I am having surgery on both feet. Let me explain. In the left ankle – an old fracture needs to be fixed, some bone spurs need to be shaven and arthritis cleaned out. Currently it’s bone on bone. On the right foot, the big toe joint will be partially replaced, arthritis cleaned out and the bone shaved.

Through the weekend, I will be in bed, legs propped up and icing my legs one hour left, one hour right – only getting up to go potty and such.  For the following 3+ weeks, I will not be able to drive or do a whole lot – though I am allowed to walk. I will be on major meds – which I am not good at taking.   Soooo – In your charity, please pray for my husband as he endeavors to take care of me after surgery.  That the house runs smoothly and he and my child survive. I know they will. But I do everything, so it will be interesting. You know how it is, Mamas.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post. I would love your feedback. And please, stop by the Original Post, and check out the others!

Oh and let me leave you with one last thought. Last night, I said to my husband, “I’m afraid. I’m afraid of the surgery and how much pain I’ll be in and how you guys will do, etc.”  I literally then opened my email, and this was there:

Ok, it’s not a great picture, but you get my point, right?  God works fast y’all. There are reminders everywhere.

Photography by Emily Davis

One last thing – one of the best parts of the Catholic Faith, to me, is the study of Saints. They struggled, they went through awful things.. and they managed to serve the Lord in such glory they were canonized for it. Amen! Let’s be like them.

Why I love my Faith, is because all day, every day, there are so many examples of how much God loves me and how blessed I am.

Pray for me – I’m praying for you!

Many Blessings, love and hugs,

Emily