An Examination of Conscience for Married People

Confessing the ways you’ve fallen short can strengthen your marriage

It’s a quiet Saturday afternoon at my parish, and I’m sitting soberly in the line of chairs in the back of the church outside the confessional. Sinner that I am, I am no stranger to this great sacrament of mercy, where I have found such amazing forgiveness, healing and grace. But this time, my examination of conscience takes a different direction. Father is going to hear a lot about the big and little ways I have failed to fully love my husband. How in my thoughts, words and actions I’ve hurt him and weakened our love, or missed the opportunity to think, say or do the loving things I should have done.

A good sacramental reconciliation is excellent preparation for Easter. Many parishes offer special penance services during Lent, and our priests generously make themselves available for more opportunities for confession. But how often do we examine our conscience for the ways we have missed the mark in loving our husband or wife? This Lent, instead of giving up chocolate or lattés, consider dedicating the season to working on your marriage. A good marriage-focused confession would be the perfect start! Continue reading “An Examination of Conscience for Married People”

The Work of the Synods on the Family: 2014-2015

The pastoral needs of the Family in the world today are the focus of the two synods of October, 2014 and October, 2015. On February 4th, 2015, I presented a talk outlining the work of these two synods, as well as a little explanation about the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

This talk was a real high for me. Over 900 feet high, to be specific! I spoke in the swank Columbia Tower Club to the Seattle chapter of Legatus, a group of Catholic business leaders and their spouses. What a fun group they were!

Here is the Prezi slideshow for this presentation:

Towards the Ordinary Synod on the Family: October 2015

The Dignity and Vocation of Women

What a joy to speak on the Feminine Genius with the St. Rita’s Court Catholic Daughters of America! This presentation was given at St. Mary Magdalen parish in Everett, WA on January 31, 2015.

References are included in the Prezi slideshow, here:

Slideshow for Talk on the Dignity and Vocation of Woman

I also spoke about the amazing study group, Endow (click for link), and the stunning Humanum video series (…and that’s also a link).

I recommended the website Culture of Life Africa, where you can find An Open Letter to Melinda Gates, by Obianuju Ekeocha

Salt and Chastity

A pure gaze focuses our desire on our husband or wife alone

When people defend pornography, they often say things like, “It’s not hurting anybody. What harm is there in just looking? It’s not like you’re doing anything.” Remember Lot’s wife, whose wistful gaze back at Sodom and Gomorrah caused her to turn into a pillar of salt? (see Genesis 19:26)

She “just looked” back at the town where sexual immorality was rampant, and it destroyed her. She turned into something sterile, the stuff that tears are made of.

The way we look at others is morally and spiritually significant. Looking with lust objectifies others and harms marriage. A pure gaze, on the other hand, sees the other in the full dignity of their personhood, created in the image of God, and it strengthens marriage. A pure gaze is an important part of marital chastity. Continue reading “Salt and Chastity”

7 Tips for a More Peaceful Christmas

Looking to the Holy Family can help you rise above the stress of the season

The Holy Family had the first stressful Christmas. Imagine what it must have been like for the Blessed Virgin Mary. Cross-country trip by donkey while nine months pregnant. Arriving late to a Bethlehem crowded to maximum capacity. No reservations. Dealing with a whole town full of in-laws. Giving birth in the equivalent of someone else’s garage. Visits from unexpected guests describing unusual visions. And, overnight, her husband decides that they need to flee the country. Because of a dream he had.

Not that it was any easier for St. Joseph. He must have felt torn between the pressure of getting to Bethlehem in time to fulfill his legal duty and concern about his very pregnant wife and the baby. Finding parking for the donkey. Finding a place to stay. Leading the family out of mortal danger. Hoping that Mary would understand about the whole “because an angel told me in a dream” thing. Continue reading “7 Tips for a More Peaceful Christmas”

What Can You do to Build a Culture of Life?

Help bring St. John Paul II’s vision to fruition through everyday acts of service

One evening around this time last year, our doorbell rang. With my newborn daughter tucked in one arm, I opened our front door to discover an entire family — mom, dad and two school-aged children, a boy and a girl — all dressed in matching Seahawks jerseys, standing on our front stoop. Seahawks Mom held a giant lidded Tupperware bowl full of chili, and Seahawks Dad was carrying a grocery bag with tortilla chips peeking out the top. Seahawks Son carried a plate of cookies. They were from the parish meal-train ministry, and they had signed up to bring us dinner that night to help us out after the birth of our new baby. Their much appreciated act of service is one great example of how families can help build the “culture of life.” Continue reading “What Can You do to Build a Culture of Life?”

Top 10 Reasons Why I Love NFP

It’s pro-life, pro-woman, pro-family and green!

When we were engaged, Nathan and I took a natural family planning class. Word got out that we were planning on using NFP when we were married, and some folks took the opportunity to tell us the old joke. “What do you call people who use NFP?” they asked, with a knowing chuckle. “Parents!”

It’s true, we are parents thanks to NFP, but that is because the information it gave us has helped us know when we can conceive and when we are not likely to. Using NFP has actually been a huge blessing in our marriage. As newlyweds with years of college and grad school ahead of us (complete with attendant student loans!), we were a little anxious at first. Giving up control requires trust. This is all the more true with birth control. But when we trust God and our spouse with our fertility, the rewards are amazing. Continue reading “Top 10 Reasons Why I Love NFP”

Preparing to Meet Your Future Husband or Wife

First nurture your relationship with God, and he will take care of the rest

My grandparents recently reminisced about how they first met at an amusement park and dance hall on the bank of the Columbia River in Portland. A mutual friend arranged to set them up. “It was going to be my last blind date,” Grandpa recalled.

“And it was,” Grandma affirmed, “… wasn’t it?” Fortunately for their children and all of us grandchildren, it was. They fell in love, married, and are enjoying a fruitful and faith-filled union now in its seventh decade. Continue reading “Preparing to Meet Your Future Husband or Wife”

Date Mass: Unlock the Romantic Potential

The Eucharist is a ‘communion of life and love’ and so is marriage. Why not celebrate them together?

You’ve probably heard a common piece of advice to married couples for keeping romance alive: Have a regular date night. Good idea! But have you ever tried a date Mass? Though it may sound unconventional, the idea of a date Mass actually points to the heart of Catholic sacramental marriage. And this is not just romantic, it’s passionate. So, Catholic husbands and wives, good news! Something as routine as going to church together can have a powerful effect on your marriage.

Nathan and I planned our first date Mass a few years ago when we were members of St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Everett. We sang as part of a small schola at the Saturday vigil Mass. We usually had our young school-aged daughters in the choir loft with us. Continue reading “Date Mass: Unlock the Romantic Potential”