Sunday, December 30, 2012

Teach the Lesson You Want Learned

When I heard about the shooting in Connecticut, and about the shooter, I thought, “That young man is a genius, and he learned well.”

For the past year, we have screamed, “Birth control! Birth control!” as though preventing the existence of children is the single most important concern of our lives. Oh, the assertion that contraceptives must be had or else women will be completely and utterly useless has been around for quite some time—about eighty years now. However, people have been particularly vocal about it recently. It does not matter why the discussion began anew or who began it. The assertion is clearly there, and it always has been: that preventing the existence of children is a wonderful thing and we are proud to be able to do it.

For the past fifty years, we have been saying that if we fail to prevent the existence of new human life, we should kill it; with certain restrictions, of course—the main one being that we can only do it if we have no sense of emotional attachment to aforementioned human life. We go so far as to call an unborn child a child when we want it and a “blob of tissue” when we don’t.

And if these new human individuals, these blobs of cells, happen to defy this attempt to make certain they are never born, we give them comfort rooms. We are proud of the fact that we helped them die among blankets and flowers, and conveniently ignore the fact that we did nothing to help them live. Some say that this doesn’t happen and no one wants that. Yet I have had long discussions with more than one individual who said that we should not put forth any effort to save infants who have survived abortions, even if they are viable. “Imagine the emotional trauma that would put a woman through, knowing that she wanted an abortion and it failed and the child is out there living in the world!” one woman said. Another man stated that it would be “too expensive” to try to save the infants “no one wants anyway”.

We told this mother that she should have killed her son before he was born, simply because he was born blind. We tell something similar to mothers whose children have Down Syndrome, and boast of the fact that about 80-95% of human individuals with Down Syndrome never see the light of day. I guess caring for them would be “too expensive”.

When we saw that two disabled adults had been in homes since they were ten, when we heard their mother say that they had no joy, we did not have the bright idea of trying to bring them some joy. Instead, 90% of us cried, “Yes! Kill them!” Many of us are advocating that we make it happen, legally and frequently. Why keep a human individual alive through “extraordinary measures” when it is cheaper to let them starve? Why put forth effort to bring them joy when we can prevent their suffering by killing them?

We are good at finding reasons not to want human individuals. We are equally good at doing mental gymnastics to prove that these reasons justify getting rid of these human individuals, or that they make it impossible for such human individuals to, in fact, be human individuals.

For a good half-century and longer, we have done just about everything in our power to prove—in word and deed—that we do not value the lives of human individuals…unless we happen to want them. And then we have the audacity to act surprised and horrified when one of our children comes along and actually puts that philosophy into practice.

That young man was a genius, and he learned well. He learned the lesson that we as a society have been preaching for so very long, and we are hypocrites if we condemn him for it. We are hypocrites and idiots if we tell a young man with a disorder that inhibits him from connecting to other human beings that it is wrong to kill them, and then turn around and argue we can kill other human beings because it is impossible to establish a connection with them*.

From Here

People are looking at the tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook, and asking, “How could this happen? Why did this happen?” Some assert that it is the fault of guns. Others postulate that it happened because of violent video games. Still others accuse mental illness. I say that it is our fault. Your fault. My fault.

We did it.

It happened because we teach our children that the lives of human individuals do not matter and have no value, and we have proven via our actions that we stand by this belief.

It happened because we made it happen. Because we taught that it should.

And the only way to prevent it from happening again, is to change. Change the way we think about our fellow human beings. Begin valuing lives; not just the ones we naturally are inclined to want, but every human life. Every single one. Everywhere.

That young man was a genius, and he learned well. We have a great power to teach. Now, let’s change the lesson.

*I am NOT saying that those with Asberger's are naturally violent, or that it was autism that caused the shooter to do what he did. I am merely pointing out that he validly had the same excuse we use to defend ourselves: lack of empathy with those human individuals we want to kill.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Music is the Language of Heaven

I have heard this saying before by many, many people. A casual Google search did not reveal to me who first said it, but I like the quote just the same. It is very easy to see--or rather, hear--why music would be the language of heaven. It has some magnetic attraction to it; there is not a single culture in the history of the entire world that did not have music as a part of its fabric. There is also something otherworldly about it; it has the power to move us, lift us, bring us to our knees or to our feet. Yes, there is something great and grand about music that makes it a fitting tongue for the angels. I think that music touches our soul because it reveals to us who and what we are supposed to be; it speaks to us of an eschatological reality. That is, the communion of saints.

(Commence random, rambling reflection)

We all struggle with finding the meaning of difference, with balancing our desire to be accepted, to have a place and a purpose, with our desire to be recognized as individuals with individual value. Some of us, in our struggle to be accepted, deny that there is any difference between us. We are all the same, with the same purpose and meaning. The remainder of us are so focused on the fact that we are ourselves, that we are individuals, that we deny there is any purpose or place for us in the larger scheme of humanity. Balance so easily escapes us, yet we long for it. We long for it because we were made in the image of Communion, the image of the Trinity. Our nature reflects that of an indivisible whole with distinct parts: One God and Three Persons. We humans are just such an organism; distinct, but not separate; together, but not un-individual.

Music captures this aspect of our humanity better than anything else I can think of. Each note is distinct; no one would ever argue that they are the same. Yet, they are equal, and all play a part in the composition. The highest, softest C makes the song just as much as the lowest staccato G#. The beginning of a sonata is no less or more important than the end. By themselves each note is equal and pretty, certainly. But together…they make something beyond beautiful. And the composition would not be the same if a single one were missing. In losing themselves in the entirety of the composition, they find their own individual, distinct beauty.

We are each music notes in the communion of saints. Each pretty, each distinct, and altogether ineffably magnificent. Music captures the essence of communion; the essence of human nature. Music is what we are. Music is the language of humanity.

(Now, listen to THIS)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Reflection on the Imitation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

“Learn of Me because I am meek and humble of heart’ and ye shall find rest for your souls.” We should Learn of Jesus. We should imitate him because by doing so we can hope to attain eternal life with God. By doing so we shall pass the perishable wealth of this finite world and inherit the eternal wealth of God, our infinite creator. All that Jesus taught is contained in this lesson, of learning of Him and imitating him, as he practiced his teachings before he taught them. This lesson is all we need and the first step towards learning it is prayer. We must then see what we must fix in our lives so that we will be imitating Jesus. Finally we must practice what we have learnt. To do so we must become “meek and humble of heart” in what we both say and do.
If we learn the lesson then we sill receive the promised reward, rest for our souls. We will be resting in God, He who has created us for this very purpose. He loves us so much that he wants to share himself entirely with us.
As we gain this rest we will be making our way towards our end, eternal union with God. This end that we are destined and made for is the reason that people are always searching for something to complete themselves. Unfortunately these people often look on earth for these things. Even more unfortunate is the fact that people often look for these things in sin which has the appearance of happiness but will in the end cause only pain. Nothing of this world will last, and nothing of this world will give us the unceasing happiness that we so desire. The only person who can provide us with the eternal rest and happiness which we desire is God. So in this light can there be any more honorable and worthwhile task for us to do than to imitate the Sacred Heart of Jesus? ~Jacen Marx

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Prayer to Saint Francis

Father Francis, you were known during your life on this earth for your Joy. Even now, long after your exile here has ended, you are still known for your Joy. You are the saint who befriended all of the birds, and tamed the wolves. You are the saint who preached on the street corners to anyone and everyone. You are the one who kissed a leper.
We know and admire you for your constant happiness...yet we also know you for your suffering. You embraced Lady Poverty with a will and exuberance that I can hardly imagine. You owned nothing, not even your next meal. You suffered through many long and difficult journeys, through the desert and across the borders of nations. You struggled with scorn and ridicule and disrespect both from within and from without your own Order. And you bore the Stigmata.
In my world, Father Francis, joy and suffering--joy in suffering--is rarely heard of. We lose ourselves in a million mundane, meaningless, and even harmful things, drowning joy in happiness, and mistaking the latter for the former. We are too afraid to face the pain that must be gone through to attain true joy: the pain of self-denial, self-giving, selflessness. Little Father, please teach us your secret. Please teach us how to find joy in suffering, and through suffering, joy.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Little Playthings

"I had offered the Child Jesus as His little plaything.  I told Him not to use me as a valuable toy children are content to look at but dare not touch, but to use me like a little ball of no value which He could throw on the ground, push with His foot, pierce, leave in a corner, or press to His Heart if it pleased Him." 

Well, as you can see, I am still here.
Writing, not entering.
A student insread of a postulant.

Others are beginning to notice.  Just today one of my former students came to me and asked, "Aren't you gong to be a nun?"

The honest answer is, conventiently enough, also the shortest:  I don't know. 
Quite a while ago God told me to wait...and wait...and wait...  Now, it seems as though I am not just waiting to know what to do about my future and my vocation, but as though my entire life is on hold.  This quote from Saint Therese has always been one of my favorites from her, and it has been much on my mind lately.  It really feels as though God has "left me in a corner". 

Saint Therese, please help me to truthfully make your request my own.  I want to offer myself--my entire will--to Jesus, for Him to do with me as He pleases.  I want to Love whatever circumstances or position He sees fit to place me in, and not merely resign myself to His Will.  However, this takes a humility and patience which I just do not have, and it is so very hard.  Please teach me your childlike trust, your simple Love of Jesus and lack of self, so that I, too, may happily be His little "plaything".

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Vindication of Humanae Vitae

by Mary Eberstadt

"Perhaps the most mocked of Humanae Vitae’s predictions was its claim that separating sex from procreation would deform relations between the sexes and “open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards.” Today, when advertisements for sex scream from every billboard and webpage, and every teen idol is sooner or later revealed topless or worse online, some might wonder what further proof could possibly be offered.

But to leave matters there would be to miss something important. The critical point is, one might say, not so much the proof as the pudding it’s in. And it would be hard to get more ironic than having these particular predictions of Humanae Vitaevindicated by perhaps the most unlikely—to say nothing of unwilling—witness of all: modern feminism.

Yet that is exactly what has happened since 1968. From Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem to Andrea Dworkin and Germaine Greer on up through Susan Faludi and Naomi Wolf, feminist literature has been a remarkably consistent and uninterrupted cacophony of grievance, recrimination, and sexual discontent. In that forty-year record, we find, as nowhere else, personal testimony of what the sexual revolution has done to womankind.

Consider just what we have been told by the endless books on the topic over the years. If feminists married and had children, they lamented it. If they failed to marry or have children, they lamented that, too. If they worked outside the home and also tended their children, they complained about how hard that was. If they worked outside the home and didn’t tend their children, they excoriated anyone who thought they should. And running through all this literature is a more or less constant invective about the unreliability and disrespect of men.

The signature metaphors of feminism say everything we need to know about how happy liberation has been making these women: the suburban home as concentration camp, men as rapists, children as intolerable burdens, fetuses as parasites, and so on. These are the sounds of liberation? Even the vaunted right to abortion, both claimed and exercised at extraordinary rates, did not seem to mitigate the misery of millions of these women after the sexual revolution.

Coming full circle, feminist and Vanity Fair contributor Leslie Bennetts recently published a book urging women to protect themselves financially and otherwise from dependence on men, including from men deserting them later in life. Mothers cannot afford to stay home with their children, she argues, because they cannot trust their men not to leave them. (One of her subjects calls desertion and divorce “the slaughter of the lambs.”) Like-minded feminist Linda Hirschman penned a ferocious and widely read manifesto in 2005 urging, among other bitter “solutions,” that women protect themselves by adopting—in effect—a voluntary one-child policy. (She argued that a second child often necessitates a move to the suburbs, which puts the office and work-friendly conveniences further away).

Beneath all the pathos, the subtext remains the same: Woman’s chief adversary is Unreliable Man, who does not understand her sexual and romantic needs and who walks off time and again at the first sashay of a younger thing. What are all these but the generic cries of a woman who thinks that men are “disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium” and “no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection”?

Perhaps the most compelling case made for traditional marriage lately was not on the cover of, say, Catholic World Report but in the devoutly secular Atlantic. The 2008 article “Marry Him!” by Lori Gottlieb—a single mother who conceived her only child with donor sperm rather than miss out on motherhood as she has on marriage—is a frank and excruciatingly personal look into some of the sexual revolution’s lonelier venues, including the creation of children by anonymous or absent sperm donors, the utter corrosiveness of taking a consumerist approach to romance, and the miserable effects of advancing age on one’s sexual marketability.

Gottlieb writes as one who played by all the feminist rules, only to realize too late that she’d been had. Beneath the zippy language, the article runs on an engine of mourning. Admitting how much she covets the husbands of her friends, if only for the wistful relief of having someone else help with the childcare, Gottlieb advises: “Those of us who choose not to settle in hopes of finding a soul mate later are almost like teenagers who believe they’re invulnerable to dying in a drunk-driving accident. We lose sight of our mortality. We forget that we, too, will age and become less alluring. And even if some men do find us engaging, and they’re ready to have a family, they’ll likely decide to marry someone younger with whom they can have their own biological children. Which is all the more reason to settle before settling is no longer an option.”

To these and other examples of how feminist-minded writers have become inadvertent witnesses for the prosecution of the sexual revolution, we might add recent public reflection on the Pill’s bastard child, ubiquitous pornography.

“The onslaught of porn,” one social observer wrote, “is responsible for deadening male libido in relation to real women, and leading men to see fewer and fewer women as ‘porn-worthy.’” Further, “sexual appetite has become like the relationship between agribusiness, processed foods, supersize portions, and obesity. . . . If your appetite is stimulated and fed by poor-quality material, it takes more junk to fill you up. People are not closer because of porn but further apart; people are not more turned on in their daily lives but less so.” And perhaps most shocking of all, this—which with just a little tweaking could easily have appeared inHumanae Vitae itself: “The power and charge of sex are maintained when there is some sacredness to it, when it is not on tap all the time.”

This was not some religious antiquarian. It was Naomi Wolf—Third Wave feminist and author of such works as The Beauty Myth and Promiscuities, which are apparently dedicated to proving that women can tomcat, too. Yet she is now just one of many out there giving testimony, unconscious though it may be, to some of the funny things that happened after the Pill freed everybody from sexual slavery once and for all.

That there is no auxiliary literature of grievance for men—who, for the most part, just don’t seem to feel they have as much to grieve about in this new world order—is something else that Humanae Vitae and a few other retrograde types saw coming in the wake of the revolution. As the saying goes, and as many people did not stop to ask at the time, cui bono? Forty years later, the evidence is in. As Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver observed on Humanae Vitae’s thirtieth anniversary in 1998, “Contraception has released males—to a historically unprecedented degree—from responsibility for their sexual aggression.” Will any feminist who by 2008 disagrees with that statement please stand up?"

If you have not read the entire article, you must do so HERE 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Meaningless and Repetitious Prayer

Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:7 “When you are praying do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do for they suppose they will be heard for their many words.”

All Catholics should be familiar with this verse; it is thrown at them by anti-Catholics frequently enough for all of us to have heard it close to one million times. And, I daresay, some Catholics are guilty of praying vainly and repetitiously, thinking that if they merely say the words they are praying. I remember being younger, sitting restless in my pew, Rosary in hand, mouthing the words along with everyone else as I remembered the movie that I had seen the night before. The Rosary! The height of Catholic repetitious prayer! Taking at most twenty-minutes to say and consisting of fifty-three Hail Marys (among other prayers), is it any wonder it seems mind-numbingly repetitive to those non-Catholics who don’t understand it? No, it isn’t. But, to those of us who understand it, it is not repetitious at all, and it is far from meaningless. So, the question is, “What is the Rosary?”

For years too many to count, monks and religious would pray the 150 Psalms of the Bible as part of their daily prayer. Many of the common folk would have imitated this pious practice and prayer; however, they could not read. Therefore, something had to be offered them which they could pray. The answer? The Paternoster Beads, as they came to be known as: 150 Our Fathers, divided into fifties, and kept track of by counting pebbles into a bowl or knots onto a string. Time passed, and a parallel Psalter came about: the Marian Psalter, prayed with the “Hail Mary” instead of the “Our Father”. Saint Dominic was a great promoter of the Marian Psalter. While in France fighting against the Albigensian heresy, he would preach the life and death of Jesus Christ while simultaneously praying the Marian Psalter. It is said that Mary appeared to Dominic during his missionary work and told him to continue praying her Psalter while meditating upon the life of her Son. Over time, the 150 Hail Mary prayers were divided into three sets of fifty, and each set was divided into five decades. Specific points in Christ’s life and death came to be meditated upon. They came to be known as the “Sorrowful Mysteries,” the “Joyful Mysteries,” and the “Glorious Mysteries”—each group consisting of five points in Christ’s life, and so one mystery for each decade. These three sets of Mysteries were officially approved by Pope Pius V in 1569. In October 2002, Pope John Paul II added another set of Mysteries—the “Luminous Mysteries”—therefore bringing the number of decades up to twenty. Hence was born the Rosary as we know it today.

Why is all this important? One must remember that Catholics do not merely say the Rosary. Catholics pray the Rosary. It is not meaningless utterance of myriad Hail Marys! Rather, the Rosary is a continued meditation of the Life and Death of Jesus Christ. While one is saying the Hail Mary, they are (or should be) simultaneously remembering every moment in Jesus’ life that his mother cherished, as mothers will do. The meditation is not meaningless. The Gospels themselves are a meditation on the life and death of Christ!
Is the Rosary repetitious? When one considers the twenty different points of Christ’s life and death and the myriad aspects of each upon which one dwells during the meditation, the Rosary is hardly repetitious! Look at Matthew 6:7 again, “as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their many words.” Catholics do not put the worth of the Rosary on how long it is or how many words they say. Catholics do not pray as the Gentiles did. And, if one insists on having a problem with the fact that the Hail Mary is prayed multiple times, they must remember: for something to be repetitious, it need only be said twice. Jesus, in the garden of Gethsemane, prayed three times to be delivered from death. “And going away again, he prayed, saying the same words.” Mark 14:39 tells us. If saying the same words again and again constitute repetitious prayer, then Jesus prayed repetitious prayer.

For more info on the Rosary and its history, go HERE.

On the Impossibility of Sola Scriptura

I’ve heard many times, here and elsewhere, Protestants advising Catholics to “read the Bible.” They speak of it as though it is that simple. They don’t seem to understand that language is not simple. Every time you see a letter, your brain ascribes to it a sound; to every combination of letters, a meaning; and to every combination of words, another meaning. It is a long process and there are many variables. In considering just how complicated this is, I am reminded of a sentence I came across just this morning:

“For the Christian life is full of meaning.”

When I first came across it, I read:

“For the Christian life is full of meaning.”

In other words, I understood it as saying that only a Christian life has meaning, as opposed to any other type of life. Reflecting on it later, I realized that it was probably supposed to read:

“For the Christian, life is full of meaning.”

Which reading implies that Christians view life as meaningful, while atheists, for instance, may not. The word “Christian” can be taken as a noun or an adjective, the sentence as a degrading fact or a hopeful view. The sentence seems simple, but the interpretations are radically different. Also take for an example the sentence “I did not steal it.” If you read it “I did not steal it,” you imply that someone else stole it. If you read it “I did not steal it,” then you imply that you borrowed it. And if you read it “I did not steal it,” then you imply that you stole something else. Even the simplest sentences are not so simple when it comes to interpreting them. When it comes to the Bible, the sentences you are reading are infallible. However, your interpretation is not. The second you read something, you cannot help but interpret it. So, the second you read the Bible, you introduce fallibility to the equation.

“But I have the Holy Spirit to guide me!” these Protestants cry in response. Yet nowhere in the Bible was the Holy Spirit promised to individual persons for their private edification. Rather, the Apostles were sent to educate. They did not hand the people Bibles and say “You believe now. The Spirit will guide you. You don’t need me!” Paul certainly did not think the people had a Spirit to interpret Scripture when he wrote so many letters to them correcting them! Furthermore, one wonders, if every faith filled and good willed person has the Spirit to guide them, why do Protestants not agree? There are millions of Protestants and thousands of denominations, each believing something different. They all love Jesus. By their criterion, they should all be led by the Spirit. However, they are contradicting each other. We can thus come to two conclusions:
1) The Holy Ghost actually is inspiring them all, but is telling some one thing and some another, giving them contradictions and falsehoods.
2) The Holy Ghost isn’t actually leading them all.

The first is not possible. Therefore, the second must be so, and that leads to a disturbing question. Who is really being led by the Spirit? Is it I, who doesn’t believe in infant Baptism, or that Methodist who does? Is it I, who believes in the Trinity, or that Jehovah’s Witness who doesn’t? You do not know. You can never know. Protestants put so much stake on the Bible, but with their view of Sola Scripture they have rendered the entire Holy Book null and void, because they have no way of being sure they understand what they are reading. Hopefully, some will realize this and ask—as did the eunuch in Acts—“How can I understand if no one instructs me?”

Another disturbing aspect of Sola Scriptura is that the Catholic Church compiled the Bible. There is no argument here. The fact of the matter is, there was no established canon in the early centuries. Some books like Revelation were accepted in some places and rejected in others. Some books like The Gospel of the Hebrews were accepted in some places and rejected in others. This is fact. Also fact, is that when it came time to remedy the “What is Scripture?” question, Bishops threw out books like the Gospel of Saint Peter for no other reason than that it was being used to contradict their pre-established beliefs. Protestants readily admit that the Catholics had their canon wrong in including Maccabees, Tobit, Sirach, etc. Five hundred years ago, they introduced to the world a canon contrary to every other canon before it. If Catholics had it wrong in including some books, what is to say they did not have it wrong in excluding others? Protestants must go back and find the books that Catholics threw out, and see if those actually do belong in the Bible just as Maccabees did not.

This leaves the idea of "Sola Scriptura" in a sorry state indeed.  For by this idea, one cannot be certain if they even have "the Bible," much less if they are reading it correctly.  Needless to say, I won't be converting very soon.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Value of Motherhood & Children

It was Margaret Sanger's birthday a few days ago, so she inevitably ended up on my facebook home page.  Thus, in honor of the event (and in response to the facebook comments), I decided to read a bit of her work.  While reading THIS, I came across a very surprising quote.  After waxing eloquent on the harships of poverty and disease upon women, children, fathers, and society in general, Sanger ended with, 

"Shall [woman in general] say to society that she will go on multiplying the misery that she herself has endured? Shall she go on breeding children who can only suffer and die? Rather, shall she not say that until society puts a higher value upon motherhood she will not be a mother? Shall she not sacrifice her mother instinct for the common good and say that until children are held as something better than commodities upon the labor market, she will bear no more? Shall she not give up her desire for even a small family, and say to society that until the world is made fit for children to live in, she will have no children at all?" (emphasis is mine)

It sounds so very ennobling, which makes the irony all that more poignant.  If Margaret Sanger did truly care about impoverished and unhealthy women, her vision for a better world has failed miserably. 

Margaret Sanger did little in her life to actually alleviate poverty.  She basically said that, "You are poor, you are diseased, and life sucks for you.  At least it doesn't have to suck for the kids you don't have!"  Her idea of helping those children already born into poverty was to kill them, as she so succintly stated when she said that, "The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it."

Artificial Contraception has not helped our society to value motherhood.  One need only go to a few comment pages on blogs about birth control, the HHS mandate...or anywhere, see this.  Both women and men freak out at the mere idea of getting pregnant and having children.  I once had a discussion with a guy who called children "little leaches" and was thankful that his girlfriend was naturally sterile.  More mild stances go along the lines of: "We decided not to have children because we discovered we were happy without them."  One Mom was told that she was greedy to want more than two children.  I know many mothers of "large" families who have been considered crazy for having more than one or two my aunt who, upon walking through the store with her four children, was accosted by a woman who asked, "Are they all yours?" and, upon receiving an affirmative answer, said sincerely, "I am so sorry".  Perhaps the most telling recent example is this familiar piece internet rhetoric:

The very idea of motherhood is likened to drowning!

I think that it is safe to say that motherhood is not valued highly in our society.  Women (and men) are not being self-sacrificing.  They have not sacrificed their mothering instincts, their love of mothers and children, for the sake of some noble statement and higher good.  They have smothered these "instincts".  They are happy without them.  The "common good" has become the personal good.  Children are more of a commodity than they have ever been; commodities and children are things to be had when you want them and discarded when you don't.  And that is just the contraceptive (and abortive) mentality. Sanger did nothing to right the wrongs she saw in the world.  She has, if anything, made them worse.  Those who praise her for allowing and feeding society's lack of value for motherhood and children misunderstand her efforts.  Those who agree with her assessment of poverty and disease had best find a better who actually saw problems and decided to fix them.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A College Student's Prayer

When you go to a secular school of higher learning, you are bound to run into more than a few professors and/or students who think they know everything about the Catholic Church, from history, to doctrine, to finances, to all those evil pedophile priests.  Ana has kindly provided all us unfortunate college Catholics with a lovely little prayer....

College Student's Prayer:Lord, grant me the wisdom to keep my mouth shut when it wouldn't do any good to open it, the courage to speak up when the words won't fall on deaf ears, and the patience to wait until after class to laugh at a professor's ignorance. But above all, please help me to remember Your own words: "Forgive them, for they know not what they do." Amen.

May it help us all when we are tempted to become depressed and/or spout something uncharitably snarky.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Been Fishing Again

It is always inspiring to see someone give up their future, their dreams, their possessions, and everything they have for the Church. Though no such sacrifice is small (like the widow with the two coins, they give all that they have) sometimes these people very obviously give up *a lot* this athlete who surrendered a promising career to join the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal: HERE It always makes me reflect on how little I trust in God, myself, and how little I have really given Him in His service.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Highlighting Orders

I wanted to take a moment to bring to your attention a certain religious order that I thought you might find interesting.

The Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles

I met a couple Sisters (Srs. Mary Philomena and Grace Helena) from this Order some three years ago; they came to my part of the country to speak to a youth group.  When I began to actively discern, I looked into their Order briefly (I'm just too Franciscan to be Carmelite.  Sorry.).  Theirs is a very traditional, orthodox Order with a great apostolate and charism.  If you like to spend time with Sisters because, frankly, nuns are cool, you should check them out.  And if you have recently begun actively discerning I strongly suggest you add them to your list of Orders to Contact.

I'd write more about them here, but their website already says it all.
Go give it a look.  Be sure to read this page if current Catholic events interest you.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Searching for Peace

“May the Peace of Christ reign in your hearts.” ~Colossians 3:15

Everyone, at some point in their spiritual journey, experiences a moment when peace (and the joy attached to it) suddenly and often inexplicably flees.  This lack of peace leaves behind doubt, fear, uncertainty, and that uneasy feeling that since your heart is restless, it must not rest in God; “what did I do wrong?” 

A while back, my spiritual director told me to read a little book called “Searching for and Maintaining Peace” by Rev. Jacques Philippe.  Today, I would like to recommend it to you.  It is a very insightful and inspiring work that I found unspeakably helpful.  It explores the reasons we lose our peace, how we should react to this loss, and it offers concrete steps to take in order to regain our peace.  It even gives advice on how to trust in the Lord despite our doubts and fears, what we should do when we are struggling with matters of conscience, and how to deal with the suffering of our loves ones.  For being little more than one hundred pages long, it is surprisingly thorough!  And though I especially recommend it to those who are searching for their peace, it really is for everyone.  If we aren’t searching for peace, we are trying to keep it, and as the title implies, this book covers both.  I highly recommend it.

It is available on Amazon and as an iBook.

“Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O God.” ~St. Augustine

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Adopting the Unborn

The idea of spiritually "adopting" an unborn child has been around for quite a while.  People ask God to "assign" to them one child who is in danger of being aborted.  They give this child a name and promise to pray for them, not only while he/she faces abortion, but even after they are born and throughout their entire lives.  Saint Padre Pio said that God's power triumphs over everything, but that humble and suffering prayer triumphs over God Himself.  Prayer makes all the difference.  I would like to encourage you to spiritually adopt an unborn child today. 

"Dearest Lord, please guide and and guard this unborn child whom I have spiritually adopted.  Never allow me to forget to suffer and pray for him and, Sweetest Jesus, for his sake, do not ignore my plea.  Make him holier than I, Lord, provided I become as holy as I should.  Command Your angels to take this child by the hand and lead him through this life on earth, following closely in your footsteps.  Never permit him to to stray from Your path, I beg You, Merciful Lord, and when this child's time on earth is through please send Your Most Holy Mother to gather his soul and bring Hhim to live with you in happiness forever.  For this I pray, that You might be glorified in heaven and on earth.  Amen."

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Religious Family

As you may already know, I am a young Catholic woman who has been discerning a vocation to the religious life for a number of years.  I have looked into countless communities, contacted upwards fifty of them, and become close to three.  I have studied their Rules, their community life, their habits, their charism, their apostolate.  I am only a lowly discerner and have never joined, but I know quite a bit about nuns.  And I like them.  A lot. 

As of late, the goodness of nuns has been much praised in the news.  People all over the internet are exclaiming over the experiences they had with wonderful teaching Sisters.  The speak of how Sisters are women of God, and are doing good, and are just trying to be holy followers of Jesus.  I would be very pleased and touched to hear all of this and see all of this support.  However, after reading only a few comments and articles, I realized very quickly that there is an itty bitty problem:  none of these Sister-Praisers even know what a nun is!

“Strike ladies, just strike.  Tell the men in the church to **** themselves”

“Keep doing Christ’s work ladies, let the Pope and his corrupt power driven staff play politics by themselves…”

“the Vatican and the bishops want to rein in the various women’s religious communities?  Good luck, boys! you are up against some of the freest spirits and thinkers in the church. your battle is lost befoe it has begun.”

I have always liked the religious life and have always been open to a religious vocation.  I first became interested in the idea of living in a community, and after a bit of research eventually became attracted to certain apostolates, certain charisms, and the idea of being a Bride of Christ.  I fell very much in love with nuns, all by their feminine selves.  However, despite my interest and attraction I made no move to actively discern or to in any way claim this vocation for myself.  This inactivity continued for three years.  What finally changed my mind?  What transformed mere attraction to longing?  What turned interest into wanting?  No, it was not some new information as to Orders.  It was not some discovery about women.  It was not even the stirring speech my Spiritual Director gave on needing to join to truly discern (though that was a part of it).  What really made me want to claim the “sisterhood” was the priesthood.

I was on a trip with my Spiritual Director, a seminarian, and a youth group.  We were going on a week-long road trip, the primary focus of which was a youth conference.  However, on the way, we stopped to see several religious communities and visit with the Sisters.  One of these Orders was the Nashville Dominicans.  We spoke with them, were given a tour of their convent, and even went to Vespers with them.  It was very beautiful and after it was all over I climbed into the van still wondering at the splendor and peace I felt there.  Then the seminarian with us said from the front seat, “Seeing all those Sisters…it gives me strength.”  He said it to himself, but his tone and his words struck me more than all the beauty and even the Sisters themselves. 

I admired that seminarian (now Father) very much.  I admire my Spiritual Director.  In fact, I know a lot of priests and most of my friends are seminarians, and I admire them all.  Why would I not?  Priests give so much.  They wake up at all hours of the night to bring the Sacraments and comfort to the dying.  They pour hours and years and their health into forming loving, charitable, faith-filled communities out of recalcitrant parishes of self-absorbed and change-despising old people.  They put immeasurable amounts of effort and care into involving apathetic teenagers and teaching those poor, wandering souls what Love is.  And then, inevitably, not uncommonly at a very bad time, they are torn away.  All of the relationships they established and the progress they made are taken away from them and given to someone else as they are shuffled around the diocese from parish to parish.  The whole process begins again, and again, and again, repeating itself in six-or-so-year cycles.  I can only imagine how frustrating it must be; I have seen how lonely it is.  They give so much, they sacrifice so much, and they get so little in return.

When I heard that seminarian say with such feeling, such emotion, that those Nashville Dominicans give him strength…I wanted that.  I wanted to be one of those women who lend priests strength.  I wanted to serve those who serve.  I wanted to be a Clare for Francis.  That was all.  That was what made me want religious life. 

This is not a strange reason to be attracted.  It is quite natural, evident in the very words we use to describe the people involved.  Anyone who knows a crumb about the Catholic Church is well aware that she—while being the sum total of her members, and all together the Body of Christ and His family—has also a sort of “family-within-a-family”.  Father, Brother, Sister, and Mother are very common terms in the Catholic Church, not only on a mundane and physical level, but also in a spiritual sense.  These special men and women devote their entire lives and give their very souls to Christ and His Church, and in doing so form a sort of spiritual family of their own.  Commenters such as the above wish to divorce this family; what they do not understand is that in doing so they would destroy exactly what they claim to defend. 
How can one be a Sister if they do not have a Brother?  How can one be a Mother if there is no Father?  These titles we call our religious by reveal a deeper truth about their vocation: they do not stand alone.  These selfless people are not defined by themselves but find their identity in the other.  To advocate their separation is equal to an act of violence upon a very real family; to shout eagerly “away with the bishops and the Pope; the sisters are the conscience of the church!” is paramount to wishing away the sibling of a sister or brother. 

“You go ladies!! The days of follow the leader are over, especially when the leadership is exclusively comprised of only one gender.”

When people speak like this, I have no idea what they are talking about.  They certainly aren’t speaking of nuns, since sisters would be nothing without priests and the Church.  I can only conclude that they do not know of that which they speak.  Or perhaps they hate religious sisters AND the Vatican, and wish to bring about the destruction of both.  Either way, it offends me greatly for it threatens a family I have long cherished.

As for the Sisters of the LCWR themselves…if the comments attributed to them are true…I feel sorry for them.  I do not know how or why, but they have forgotten who and what they are.  How very sad it is to see women who have given their lives forget what they gave it for!  To see a Sister who remembers not her Brother, a Mother who doesn’t recall the Father of her children, makes me cry.  To know that a woman calls herself a nun, places herself in name at the core of the Church, and then would defy and deny that Church…I really have no words.  I just hope and pray that the reform the Vatican is implementing for the LCWR will cure these sisters of their amnesia. 

 As for me…when it comes to religious life, I do not want to be a woman.  I want to be a daughter to a loving Father.  I do not want to be a single sibling; I want to be a sister.  I do not want to be an old maid; I want to be a mother.  I do not want to marry feminism; I want to marry Christ and serve His Church, and without priests there is no Church.  To call myself a sister without these would make no sense.  I would not be a Sister. 

“Thank God, I mean that literally, your thinking is dying out, as the old right-wingers of Catholicism make their final gasps.”

There are no poles in this issue; you either stand with the Church, or against her.  I do not want your substitute, your broken family, your amnesiac mothers and sisters.  I, along with countless other young Catholic women, want the Church and we want Francis.  I’d be proud to be one of the many, many reasons the CMSWR is growing.

If you want to see some Sisters who know who they are, visit this website: CMSWR
If you want to see how Brothers care for their Sisters, go HERE
And if you want to know more about the Nashville Dominicans, visit their WEBSITE
Please pray for our priests, and those who support them.  They are Fathers as surely as those you celebrated with yesterday!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Quotes for Reflection on Saturday #2

Sorry I skipped out on this little series last week; I was very busy.  I hope this one will make up for it.

“Man is certainly stark mad: he cannot make a worm, yet he will make gods by the dozen.”

~Michel de Montaigne

I’ve been familiar with this quote for a long time.  I do not know much about the author, aside from the fact that he was a respected politician, is a respected essayist, and was a devout Roman Catholic (which makes it very amusing that after all my years of loving this quote I should find it HERE.) 

I have not only loved this quote for years, I find that I have most unfortunately lived it for years.  Yes, dear friends, I am stark raving mad, and for the longest time I never even knew it. 

It used to be that when I thought of the First Commandment (“thou shalt not have strange Gods before me”) I would think—quite naturally—of the pagans.  False gods, in my mind, meant Baal and Thoth and Thor and the like.  It meant making statues of creatures, killing calves before them, and other such strange and recognizable practices.

However, gods are much more easily and subtly made.  A god can be anything to which we attach the value and attributes of the One True God; worship is not just in blood, but in attention, time, and love.  How much time and attention does it require to make a “strange god” of something?  I believe that question is best answered with another: how much time, attention, and love does the True God require?

Well, all of it, frankly.  He Who gives us our very existence…He Who commands us to pray without ceasing…He Who is infinite…He demands all of our time, all of our love, and all of our attention.  Nothing can have value outside of an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent God because nothing is outside of Him.  I cringed when I realized this.  If a false god is anything  given what belongs to God—and all attention, love, and value belongs to God—that means that if we place value on anything we have made a false god.  Every time I watch television without God as my end, I’ve made a false god.  Every time I read a book without reflecting upon how that action serves God, I have made a false God.  Every time I love my loved ones without viewing that love as a service for the Lord, I have made a false God.

Now, I am not saying that we live in mortal sin all the time.  We are human beings; it is in our nature to love others and to enjoy pleasure.  We unconsciously attach God-less value to all sorts of things, and an unconscious sin is hardly a sin.  Yet…

Dear Lord, how many Gods we make!

(Now please enjoy this off-topic quote:
“There is one thing worse than being alone: wishing you were.”
~Bob Steele
Thank you for reading!)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Quotes for Reflection on Saturday, #1

"Man approaches God most nearly when he is in one sense least like God.  For what can be more unlike than fullness and need, sovereignty and humility, righteousness and penitence, limitless power and a cry for help?  This paradox staggered me when I first ran into it..." -C.S.Lewis, *The Four Loves*

Me, too, Lewis.  Me, too.

Firstly, I would like to say that if you have not read this book, you must go out and purchase it immediately, clear your afternoon, and consume its contents as fast as possible.  I pulled this jewel from the Introduction!  C.S.Lewis is arguably one of the greatest religious authors of all time.

This quote recalls to my mind Matthew 19:14
"Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for the kingdom of heaven is for such." (DRV)

Lewis strikes at the heart of our relationship with God.  It is as little children that we approach Him; small, meek, humble, and needy.  And He receives us as a Father; strong, guiding, providing for us in our weakness.  Were we to be anything other than the opposite of these attributes that are God's, our relationship would not be that which it is.  In fact, it would not be at all.  God is God precisely because He is a Father.  If we were anything other than children, we would be gods.  If we thought we were anything other than children, we would make ourselves gods.

In fact, not only are we opposites of God in this sense, but we are a lack.  We are needy because we lack what is necessary to be full.  We are penitent because we lacked the righteousness necessary to prevent ourselves from falling.  We cry for help because we have no means to help ourselves.  We are not simply opposite; we are nothing.  And it is in the realization of our nothingness that we approach God to become Something in Him, to become one with Him.  It is only by emptying ourselves that God can fill us with His Grace.

Of course, I didn't come up with that last bit.  That's all Chesterton:
"It is the root of all religion that a man knows that he is nothing in order to thank God that he is something."

Great minds think alike.

Lewis says that this realization "staggered" him.  I would argue that one must stagger before they can realize it.  Only when we are brought to our knees and forcibly reminded that we cannot depend on ourselves or our fellow human beings, can we truly realize our nothingness, and so approach Our Father as children.

Thursday, May 31, 2012


I fished up an interesting blog.Okay, I lie.  Someone else fished it up, and told me about it.  But, no matter.  Here it is just the same.  If you are discerning and trying to find your Order, or if you just like learning about Orders, you might find it interesting:

Click me!  Click me!

And please enjoy this cool picture I found while surfing the internetz:

It's the Eye in the Sky!

(Challenge: Find Christian meaning in this^ song)

God: Only In Hospitals

(Warning: coffee- and sleep- deprived post; read at your own risk!)

Our parish has a door to door evangelization team to rival that of the local Jehovah’s Witnesses!  Okay, no, we don’t.  I’m just kidding.  Our team is much smaller, only goes out once a month, and is much, much less annoying.  They just go out in teams of three to different neighborhoods.  One person does the talking, the second team member writes prayer requests down, and the last prays for both the team and the people they are visiting.  At each house, a simple question is asked:

“How can we help you?”

 I’ve been out with the Evangelization Teams only once.  That time, I misunderstood the schedule and arrived at the church hall a day early for a discernment talk, only to find myself caught up in an E.T. meeting.  On a spur-of-the-moment decision, I figured I would go out with them that day, and I did.  After being paired with two older women and taking up the position of Pray-er, we drove to a neighborhood of about twenty houses and began knocking.  The majority of the houses we visited were empty, their occupants out a-visiting themselves on that rainy Saturday.  Nevertheless, a few persons came to the door, and were asked our question.

“How can we help you?”

 We never specified what sort of help.  We’d do anything for them, spiritual or menial.  Change a lightbulb, fix a Rosary (it was a beautiful Job’s tears Rosary), get Father to bring them communion, etc.  However, the majority of people understood us as asking if they needed prayers.  Their responses generally ran like this:

“Nope, I’m good.  The family’s good.  No one’s sick.”


“Well, there is this girl that lives over-the-way and she has leukemia.  Can you pray for her?”

 Now, as nice as it is to hear of other’s care for the sick, and as cheering as it is to know that a family is in good health, I noticed a trend in these answers that soon unsettled me, not least of all because I recognized them in myself.  Why is it that we only ask for prayers when we are in trouble, especially illness or other things too large for us to handle on our own?

I’m not certain why I do this.  If I am brutally honest, it is probably because I am too independent.  I harbor the mindset that I can handle things; I’m strong, and smart, and completely capable of taking care of myself.  Besides, God helps those who help themselves, right?

Wrong.  Not only is that verse not in the Bible, it is completely inaccurate.  God wants us to come to Him like little children.  And what do little children do but come openly, with humility, for *all* of their needs?  Not just the big ones, but *all* of them.  A toddler turns to her father to have her teeth brushed.  An infant turns to his mother for *everything*.  Children are not independent; they are needy, with an expectant, trusting sort of need.   God wants us to come to Him like that. 

Perhaps our hesitation to come to God with anything but big troubles is because we think we have nothing else to tell Him.  What is my joy over a new job compared to that girl-over-the-way with leukemia?  What is my joy over my puppy compared to the loss of that child whose mother overdosed?  Okay, God wants the small things.  But surely He doesn’t want happy things.  He has more grave concerns, more troubled people to help, than my quite contented self!  This is an understandable mindset, from our own point of view.  I mean, if you had a choice between listening to someone squeal over a bunny, or helping a person in a car accident, which would you choose?  However, I think this mindset, this perspective, misunderstands the nature of God. 

God doesn’t need to choose.  To say that God cannot pay attention to “this” because He is busy doing “that” is to forget that God is omnipotent and omnipresent.  He has more than enough mental capacity and attention span to listen to *everything* anyone could ever bring Him.  God can never be too busy for each of us individuals.  Furthermore, and to put it all in another light: if you only went to your friend when you needed something big from them, would you consider yourself as having a good relationship with them?  I wouldn’t, and the fact that I do this with God reflects pretty heavily on the sort of relationship I have with Him, I think.

We act as though God is available for a limited amount of time, and we save that time for Bad Things.  We think as if we believed that God is a last resort, only to be called when we can no longer handle the situation.  We pray as if God is only interested in our troubles.

I call this the “God Is Only in Hospitals” mentality, and I am very guilty of it.  So, today I pray for the grace to always remember that the small things are never too small for God, and that He does not want just my sufferings, sorrow, and trials, but my pleasures, joy, and peace.

How Did Your Parents Take It?

At one of the discernment talks I gave to the children of my parish's Catechism class, I was asked the above question.  I didn't want to answer that question here, since it is a very personal one.  However, I changed my mind when someone found my blog by googling the query "How do I tell my parents I am discerning religious life?" I'm afraid none of my posts answered her question, and since I know it is an issue many struggle with, I thought I would lend what little assistance I could.  Here is it.

"How did you tell your parents?"

There have been three stages in my discernment--if you care to call the first "discernment".  It began when I was about seven; I had an enthusiasm for Orders, religious saints, and religious in general that waxed and waned from then until I was about thirteen.  I did not have to tell my parents anything about my being attracted to the religious life, because hints of it were everywhere.  It came as no surprise to them when, at thirteen, I announced I wanted to join a Third Order.  Though it was the first time I spoke of moving beyond interest and actually doing something, it was still a much easier topic to discuss than religious life proper, Third Orders being for lay people.  If I had to give any advice, I would say gradually let your parents know you are interested in the religious life.  Especially if they are of a different Faith, or if you haven't ever shown an inclination toward it before.  Chances are God didn't spring a religious vocation upon you; I would suggest not springing it on your parents.  That's what Father Francis did...and it didn't turn out all that well...

The second stage was when I began to actively discern (I was sixteen).  My Spiritual Director encouraged me to begin seriously considering actually joining an Order, and I began looking into Orders to join.  It was no longer a matter of "if" but of "where" and "when".  I did not sit my parents down and "lay the chips before them" at this point, but I should have.  And my advice would be to do this, when you tell your parents that you are actively discerning.  Schedule a dinner, clear an hour or two in the afternoon, sit down with them and just tell them you are seriously considering the religious life.  Be certain to tell them *why* you are drawn to it.  That, I think, is the most important part.  They need, above all, to know what this means to you.  They are your parents; they love you and want what is best for you.  When they see that this is what you feel you need to do and that this is what will make you happy, they will come around eventually, no matter how averse to it they might seem in the beginning.

"How did your parents take it?"

A vocation is difficult to accept, especially if it involves religious orders and especially if it involves girls.  A religious is not like a diocesan priest.  More often than not, becoming a religious involves your child moving very far away, with stringent visitation rules.  Parents struggle with letting their children leave the nest in the most normal of circumstances.  It can be devastating when they realize the "they'll be home from college at the end of every semester" expectation is now "I'll see them twelve hours a year".  Giving a child to God is big loss that can be difficult to cope with.

 My parents handled the prospect rather well, considering.  Oh, yes, I had to hear my mother joyfully exclaim how wonderful it would be if my brother became a priest even as she cried over my becoming a sister.  There was an occasion when she compared my leaving and joining to my being dead.  I have a friend who joined the cloister a while back, and her mom took the separation rather hard.  Their experience, I think, scared my mother very much even though I made it clear my "cloisterphobia" would never allow me to join such a convent as my friend.  But my parents never said that they did not want to me become a Sister.  They never forbid me from discerning. They love God, and know that it means to do His Will with an open heart.

My parents and I never had any difficulty with the fact of my discernment.  However, they did disagree with the way I went about discerning.  Actually, they disagreed with just about everything in that respect.  When I said I wouldn't be going to college, they began to wax eloquent on the benefits of a higher education.  When I said I'd join right out of high school, they protested that I needed to "live first".  When I refused to date, all of the previous rules ("you can't date until you are 18!") instantly disappeared.  If my spiritual director said to do X, they would find ten people (named or unnamed) to advise Y.  I felt guilty and indignant at their lack of trust in my judgment and my SD's, and they felt hurt that I didn't take their advice.  It was quite a while before the entire matter was resolved, but it was resolved eventually, and I will not exaggerate it: it was never very bad.  There have been worse cases, and better ones.

 Parents are supposed to prepare their children to make life decisions, and one of the greatest decisions is Vocation.  Parents, naturally, worry about their children making the proper choice.  However, they cannot make the decision for their child; and it comes to a point when they cannot even help.  The fact is, parents are involved.  Their love, their attachment, their worry...though not bad things (they are good things, and necessary!) can cloud their vision.  They cannot view the situation or their child's spiritual state objectively.  Meanwhile, the child--confused and worried over discernment itself--wants to please his/her parents.  S/he will feel guilty if s/he thinks she isn't doing what her parents would like her to do.  S/he will feel as though she needs to do what they want him/her to.  And sometimes, what the parents would like their child to do just isn't what is objectively best for the child and their relationship with God.

It goes without saying that it is good to love your parents.  It is good to listen to them, to weight their advice, and to learn from their wisdom.  But when it comes to your vocation and your relationship with God...that is between you, your spiritual director, and God; no one else.

A friend of mine gave some good concrete advice for dealing with conflict in the family:

"Pray for your mom.  Don't try so hard to make her accept your decision.  Do not try to defend your own.  It will only cause grief and the only thing that helps this situation is time -- lots of it.  Years of it.  Instead, focus your attention on loving your mom with all your strength.  She's likely thinking about loosing you every time she sees you.  If she offers you a barbed comment about your future choice, or that you should be dating, give her a hug and say "thanks for the love" sincerely and without sarcasm.  Then drop it.  You want your last months/moments with your mom to be memories she can hold onto when she wants to call and hear your voice but can't, when she wants to visit but can't etc......  Most of all --do not feel guilty.  You are not causing your mother pain by your decision - her own attachments are. (Don't tell her this.... her attachments are good attachments..... she should be attached!  She's your mom!)  Give your pain to Our Lady and ask her to love your mom with all She's got!  Rest in the arms of your crucified Beloved.  He understands."

Don't worry about telling your parents that you are considering the religious life.  Your parents love you, and that love will carry through anything.  If you are concerned about how to tell them, then ask your spiritual director about it, or someone who knows them and you very well.  Every parent is different and so every one will take it differently.  But it will all be fine in the end.  If you trust in God, He will never let you down.  Just pray, hope, and don't worry.

 Off-Topic Picture.  I like it.

(PS: for more than my limited experience, go to the Vocation Station to hear others' stories)