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Ink Slingers Patty

Shame…what happened to it?

SHAME
Definitions:
1.) a painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety
b : the susceptibility to such emotion
2.) condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute : ignominy
3.) something that brings censure or reproach; also : something to be regretted.

He felt shame for his lies.
How could you be so rude? Have you no shame?
Her crimes brought shame upon her family.
He had to endure the shame of being fired.

I have heard and read as the emotion of shame has been belittled, mocked and derided as though no person should lower his or herself to the level of feeling guilt for their actions. When did this happen? Why is it that a person can take the life of an unborn child or be complicit in that act and yet deny they should feel the least amount of shame?

Why is it that very young teenagers on up to the elderly engage in sexual promiscuity and won’t even blush when their behavior comes to light? When did it become appropriate for men and women to expose so much of their bodies that the imagination is not needed in the least to fill in the (very small-as in minuscule) blanks? Pornography, masturbation and the open lusting over both sexes on television, movies and in print is accepted as ‘normal and healthy’? Students from high school on up to college don’t think twice about cheating on tests; employees steal from their employers and boast about it afterwards while employers have no qualms about cheating both their employees out of their just wages and the government out of taxes. As for the government…well, the government is the prime example of an organization with no shame and precious little moral compass but it is also a post for another time.

Within the last few months I have read about a toddler in China who ended up out in a street and was run over twice. She laid dying in the street as dozens walked past her, unmoved by the child’s suffering. In the last year I cried as I read about a sick doctor in Philadelphia who severed the spinal cords of dozens if not hundreds of infants born alive in his abortion mill. In that same year I have watched a wildly popular teen-aged musical sitcom popularize pre-marital sex, drunkenness with a huge dose of homosexual lifestyle promotion thrown in for good measure. The show was clever about it, gradually introducing these reprehensible behaviors in small doses until present when the immorality is full force ‘in your face’.

Our Lady of Fatima said the following:
‘More souls go to hell for sins of the flesh than for any other reason.’

This is very easy to believe in our society. No vice is as promoted or exalted as the vice of impurity. Homosexuality, fornication, adultery…you can find all of these sins and more as the glorified centerpiece in sitcoms, movies and television show.

‘Certain fashions will be introduced which will offend Our Divine Lord very much. Those who serve God ought not to follow these fashions. The Church has no fashions. Our Lord is always the same.’

Women are dressed in the scantiest of clothing and at the same time loudly condemn those who would objectify them when they are busy doing everything in their power to draw attention to their bodies. I certainly do hold ‘Hollywood’ responsible for slowly but surely desensitizing young and old to sexual sins. I am reminded of the story (albeit false) of the frog that is put into a pot of tepid water and never bothering to jump out as the water is heated to boiling with the frog eventually dying. That IS our society and that of so many others in the world. Morality, and ethics and a sense of right and wrong based on the ten commandments have been watered down bit by bit over the last four decades until the evidence of morality and a sense of right and wrong comes as a surprise when it is evident.

I worry for my children and your children in a society that has lost shame about issues such as killing, impurity and the respect and honor due to all life from conception to natural death. I worry about a society that doesn’t feel shame when it should and tries to force shame on those who are strong enough to point this out. I worry that any person who does not have a strong foundation in faith and morals will too easily swept away in an avalanche of socially acceptable sinful behavior.

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Ink Slingers Patty

What I learned about marriage.

I don’t profess to be an expert on what makes a marriage work. I haven’t been married terribly long; I don’t have a PhD in marital counseling and I haven’t had the privilege of seeing many strong marriages in my life. I do not remember much of the time when my own parents were still married, they divorced when I was about 8 and the memories I do have were of anything but a harmonious marriage.

When I was in my early 30’s I came to the revelation that even as a parent, I was pretty clueless about both parenting and marriage. I had seldom seen parenting OR marriage done the right way. I HAD saw dozens of relationships crash and burn. I witnessed people who should have been looking out for the best interests of their family instead focus on when and where the next party was rather than working on being a good parent and spouse.

When I was younger, and I’m going to include my 30’s in this time frame, I had few very firm ideas of what I DIDN’T want in a marriage. Here are a few of my former brilliant concepts, and how I think now, after almost two years of marriage to a wonderful, kind, considerate, loving husband and father.

1.) I would NEVER be one of those women who have to ask my husband ‘permission’ to do something, to say, ‘I have to see if it’s okay with Frank’.

I recall the first time I heard a woman say this when I was a teenager and I was absolutely appalled, after all-what woman would possess so little self-respect and dignity that she would have to ask her husband’s consent for something as simple as going swimming???? Fast forward to my married life-wow, I was really such an arrogant, unmarried fool. Now I see this as a mutual respect between spouses. I would not think of agreeing to go anywhere if doing so would or could cause my husband inconvenience and I know he feels the same. We love each other enough to always be cognizant that the other should be included in certain plans that we make.

2.) I wasn’t going to give up what I enjoyed, just to make my future husband happy. After all, isn’t that what the media and today’s society teach us, that we should be selfish, even after we have promised to bind our life to another’s?

When we married, we truly did (gradually) become one. We were both in our 40’s and we acknowledged that it would probably be very difficult for us to incorporate the wants, needs and quirks of another person in the lives we had lived alone for so long. I am happy to say that we were wrong, about this: in fact, joining our lives together seemed to happen naturally (though there were a few bumps in the road.) The way we thought changed, the way we made decisions grew to encompass not just ‘me’, but ‘my husband/wife’ as well. I believe that opening oneself up to see beyond one’s own desires and needs and include your spouse’s desires and needs on an equal level, or a HIGHER level is a truly beautiful part of being in a marriage. It is a loving sacrifice which every dedicated spouse embraces. Do you recall when you were a teenager and you were on the phone with the crush of the week? You are getting ready to hang up but neither of you wants to be the one to break the connection.
Her-‘You hang up.’
Him, ‘No, YOU hang up.’
Her (giggling, of course) ‘No, YOU hang up’…you remember how this goes…

Marriage has become like this for Frank and I. We engage in dialogues in which we both are insisting that we do what the other wants. We both want sincerely to make the other happy, even if it means giving up something we personally enjoy in order for the other to have what they would like. I would surmise that the joy of making the spouse happy surpasses the joy of having our own way. That is how it should be!

3.) The good Catholic wife must be obedient to her husband. This was the BIG ONE for me. I had a number of failed relationships with men I did not respect so there was NO WAY I was going to be an ‘obedient’ wife.

I scoffed at this idea-how could I possibly demean myself; lower myself to be obedient to a man? Why should I be the one of whom this is required? The devil truly did a dandy job of making me hate this idea, though I do have to take the credit for how this came about. I was the one who chose to become involved with men who had nothing in common with me spiritually or morally. How could I possibly have expected myself to respect someone like that? God led me to a man who I not only deeply love, but who has earned my respect in more ways than I can count. I pray constantly that God gives my husband the grace and wisdom to lead us and our children in holiness and down the path in life which He wills. Then, I let go of my internal struggle and I placed my complete trust in my husband’s hands. After all, I married this man. I promised to love, honor and obey him. If I had enough faith in him to bind my life with his until one of us dies, surely I can offer him my trust that the decisions he makes as the Head of our home will be in our best interests! Thus far in our marriage, we have agreed on major decisions but when we have found ourselves at odds on minor decisions, I swallowed my pride and reminded myself that I trust and love my husband and this is how I show it.

I’m tired of watching the way spouses are portrayed on television and even in books. There is a level of self-centeredness present that makes it absolutely impossible to have a successful marriage. I believe that marriage involves more than living in the same home, enjoying marital relations and being monogamous. It is about wanting to grow together, in the same direction when possible, and to always, ALWAYS make your spouse and your marriage your first priority after God. If they would show THAT kind of marriage on television and if children were to grow up seeing their parents enjoy this kind of marriage, I believe our entire society would benefit in more ways than I can count.

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Ink Slingers Patty

Kindly address me as ‘Your Royal Highness.’

When I had my first child I couldn’t wait to hear him say that one treasured word every mother anticipates with great joy. Over the months I endured hundreds of ‘dada’s’ and a mash-up of consonants and vowels which only the most skilled linguist could have deciphered. Finally one day, my chubby-cheeked, tow-headed, spring-loaded Tigger of a boy gazed intently into my eyes, and slowly opened his mouth. I held my breath in anticipation with my hands clasped together just knowing this was going to be it-I wanted to treasure this moment, make a mental video of it which I could play over and over again in my mind as my toddler grew into a teen and then an adult. Matthew’s lips formed the word with care…’cookie!’…okay, that REALLY wasn’t what I was expecting or hoping for but it was a start, after all, if a child can say, ‘cookie’, surely the name of the woman who carried him in her womb, loved, cared for and nourished him would not be far behind…right????

Fast forward to a four year old. The word I waited for with such eagerness was starting to get old. ‘Mama, what are you doing. Mama, how does that work, Mama, can I have some ice-cream, Mama…mama….mama…MAMA!

I readily admit there were times when the constant repetition of my title of matriarchal status caused my eyes to glaze over and I involuntarily entered into a catatonic or semi-comatose state. I was once informed that I stood for a full three hours with my right hand raised in the air, mid-pancake flip-while my precocious pre-schooler ran circles around me chattering incessantly, ‘mama, mama, mama, mamaaaaaaaaaa’ Well, it may have only been 30 seconds but it seemed like three hours.

Research has not been initiated as of yet to determine the cause of these episodes of stupor in mothers, however, I have a sneaking suspicion that the repetition of the word, ‘mama’ at a certain frequency and pitch will inevitably cause any mother of any age to gradually lose all awareness of her surroundings. I further hypothesize that this is a survival mechanism developed first in Eve as young Cain and Abel pummeled her with their newfound ability to talk-constantly and with little need to intersperse words with breaths. I am presently collecting data which I plan to sell for billions to the military so they can use this information during times of conflict, by crippling entire armies as my evolving research demonstrates fathers also experience identical results from similar stimuli.

The pre-schooler rapidly (and sneakily) grows into an adolescent at which time ‘Mama’ shortens to ‘Mom’ and subtly, almost imperceptively, the vowel in the word lengthens and contorts until it becomes ‘Moooommmm’. This version is almost exclusively expressed with dramatic effect, either embarrassment, angst or some emotion strangely resembling pity, a pity that is directed at the parent when the adolescent comes to the full revelation that they (the adolescent, of course) knows absolutely EVERYTHING. If they had the foresight to recognize that a few short years later they would be stumbling around in a world in which they realized they knew nothing, their demeanor might change. However, even after thousands of years of mankind walking the earth and advancing in all areas of knowledge and science, this revelation still does not manifest itself until, at the soonest, the early 20’s or when the individual has a child of their own, whichever comes first. Sadly, in some unfortunate souls this knowledge never does manifest itself.

The teenage years are challenging, to say the least. So I, in my finite wisdom, decided to infuse as much humor as possible into my interactions with my teens. Generally, this involves embarrassing them as much as possible with as few words or actions as possible. Maximum embarrassment can be obtained by
a.) revealing there is a relationship between oneself and the particular teen-for example, ‘Hey sweetie!’ yelled across a crowded room of your child’s peers is an ideal and effective method of embarrassment.
OR
b.) any physical contact initiated by the parent involving the child. I find that something as inconsequential as brushing one’s fingers across the teen’s sleeve results in immediate mortification on the teen’s part. I myself, do not waste my time with such minor acts of affection, I choose to ‘give it my all’ which includes a bear hug (if I can catch my child) and if I am quick enough, a brief kiss on the teen’s cheek. Please note that these actions MUST take place within ¼ mile of other teens in order to have effective results.

If you have a child who is persistently doing poorly in school or doggedly pursuing some other course of undesirable behavior, visibility is truly the best weapon. When I discovered my ninth grade son was falling asleep in one of his classes and pushing ‘D’ work to his instructor, I took swift and dramatic action. In an e-mail to my son’s teacher following a parent-teacher conference which did not result in the requested behavior improvement, I informed the teacher that if my child were to persist in his underachievement, I would be quite content to attend class with my son-wearing my high school prom dress. It certainly was helpful that the teacher announced this to my son’s entire class. The attention and fascination my son quickly developed for this particular course was truly inspiring.

My humor did not culminate with my quest to embarrass my children; it extended to our private family interactions at home. Having quickly tired of the teenage ‘moooooommm’ and the associated rolling of the eyes and heartfelt sigh, I directed my children to simplify things and address me as ‘Your Royal Highness’. It is impossible to stretch out three words and imbue them with an appropriate level of drama when the teen is giggling uncontrollably. Hey, I’ll take giggles over angst any day of the week and hopefully, one day when they have teenagers of their own I will hear ‘Your Royal Highness’ out of my grandchildren’s mouths, and I will know I started a beautiful tradition.

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Ink Slingers Patty

All Soul’s Day


Some people love Christmas best, others find great happiness in Easter, but my favorite Religous Day is All Souls Day and my favorite time of the year is the Octave of All Saint’s day. Far too many people forget All Souls Day because they are taken with the celebration of Halloween, or ‘All Hallowed Eve’, which is the day before All Saint’s Day.

Our beloved Church is divided into three groups of people: the Church Militant includes those of us on earth, the Church Suffering are those in purgatory, and the Church Triumphant consists of those souls who are enjoying eternal bliss with God and the angels in Heaven. All Soul’s Day is November 2nd, the octave of All Soul’s Day is November 1-8. We, the church militant, have an obligation to our brothers and sisters suffering in purgatory. Our deceased relatives distant and close may yet be suffering in the torments of Purgatory, what faithful Catholic does not feel pity for those souls and want to have a hand in their release? We have the unique opportunity to directly obtain the release of these souls during the Octave of All Saint’s Day.

I have always been the kind of person who cheers for the underdog. When two teams are playing, I root for the losing team. My heart aches when I see a child who is bullied and if I were to choose one particular cute little puppy or a kitten out of a litter, it would probably be the runt. Therefore, it is not a stretch to understand my sympathy for the poor souls in purgatory, many of whom have no one to pray for their release and have long ago been released from the confines of their physical body. The sufferings and torment of these souls is touchingly described in the book “Purgatory, explained by the lives and legends of the saints” written by Fr. F.X. Schouppe. I encourage everyone to read this book and not just to themselves, but to their families as the message of the poor souls is one that should be shared with as many as possible.

Many of us think that we are lucky if we go to Purgatory after we die, but the pains of those temporarily condemned to Purgatory are painful beyond belief and not one of us should want to spend so much as one second there. A moment in Purgatory seems to the souls suffering, as a week; an hour seems a year and a year feels as though a lifetime has passed by. Allow me to quote from “Purgatory:

 

Speaking in general, the Doctors (of the Church) agree in saying that the pains are most excruciating. The same fire, says St. Gregory, torments the damned and purifies the elect.’ Pg 33

 

We, of the church militant may feel at a loss to help those around us. Our most valiant efforts to save the soul of a loved one may be met with scorn and contempt. Our tears and pleadings may fall on deaf ears and our only recourse for these souls treading Satan’s path may be continued prayer and sacrifices.

Our prayers and offerings for the Poor Souls, on the other hand, are met with gratitude beyond imagination. The ability to release a soul from the agony of Purgatory is a gift beyond measure and one which the receiving soul will repay a thousand fold in prayers for the one who obtained his/her release. Can you imagine the joy of a suffering soul as he/she is released from the pains of Purgatory and radiant in the robes of sanctity immediately flies to the Heaven to enjoy the eternal company of Our Lord and Savior? Our feeble understanding of the majesty of God struggles to understand this unutterable joy. WE have the ability bring a Poor Soul to perpetual bliss all year through our prayers, offerings and sacrifices, but during the Octave of All Saints we are able to give the gift of release so easily!

How so, inquires the faithful Catholic? Well, I’d love to share that with you! These are the conditions in which a person may obtain the release of a soul each and every day from November 1st-8th.


[N.B. The grants of indulgence are contained in the Enchiridion Indulgentiarum (4th ed., 1999), in special grants of the Holy See, such as for the Year of the Holy Eucharist, and in special grants which bishops may establish for their dioceses.

To gain indulgences, whether plenary or parital it is necessary that the faithful be in the state of grace at least at the time the indulgenced work is completed.

N.B. Thus, one must be a Catholic in communion with the Pope, i.e. not excommunicated or in schism.

A plenary indulgence can be gained only once a day. In order to obtain it, the faithful must, in addition to being in the state of grace:

—have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin;

—have sacramentally confessed their sins;

—receive the Holy Eucharist (it is certainly better to receive it while participating in Holy Mass, but for the indulgence only Holy Communion is required);

—pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff- Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be while visiting a cemetery.

 

This indulgence, when obtained for a poor soul each day, is a Plenary indulgence, meaning all of the temporal punishment that the individual poor soul owes for the sins committed, is forgiven. ALL OF IT! In other words, upon successful completion of all requirements for the Plenary Indulgence, a soul is immediately released from Purgatory. I have known the power of Plenary indulgences since I was a child and yet I am still in awe of their power. Each year, my family (all of the children included) go to communion and confession and we visit a cemetery (when possible) every day. The kids are under this foolish notion that cemeteries are scary. I don’t comprehend this, ever since I was a child I found a sense of peace in cemeteries, more so now when I am an adult. I hope that one day, they will sense the tranquility of a cemetery too.

I do not know if requesting a certain soul be released is effective, but when I pray for a suffering soul I usually pray for the most forgotten, a soul who has committed sins like those I have committed, the ones who are the furthest from release and for family members. Knowing that I have been able to obtain the release of a poor soul makes my own soul sing with joy.

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Self-Forgiveness

When I was 19 I made the mistake of seeking love from a man I dated in the wrong way and I started down a path of impurity that lasted, on and off, until I was 29 years old. I won’t say that I didn’t know better, I was completely aware of the gravity of the sins I was committing and I was mortified that I allowed my desire to be loved become more important than the salvation of my soul. There truly was no excuse for my taking a long ride down the slippery slope of immorality and I won’t offer one. I will offer this insight though:

I remember hearing James Dobson say that women give sex when looking for love and men give love when looking for sex. That was the mistake I made and how I wished I had been taught that bit of knowledge when I was in my early teens, it would have saved me from SO much heartache and sin.

During the years I lived in sin, there were dozens, if not hundreds of times when my shame would envelope me in a dark and ominous cloud of fear and regret. I would shut my eyes and visualize my soul, blackened, twisted and damaged as a result of my sins. At times I would hang my head and weep with the knowledge that for each mortal sin I had committed, my Lord and Savior had to endure yet another stinging lash of the whip as it ripped off one more piece of skin from His already aching and bleeding body; or perhaps it caused the centurion’s hammer to come pounding down again on the nail in Jesus’ hand, sending waves of pain so excruciating through His arm and body that words alone can not adequately describe the depth of His agony. MY sins caused this. I could not escape from this fact and in the end, it was this knowledge that gave me the strength to finally choose to once again live a life of sanctifying grace and leave sin behind.

My guilt for my former actions haunted me, even after I had gone to confession and began to practice my faith in earnest . I did not volunteer information on the mistakes I had made in my past to others, nor did I hide them when asked. I especially recall the reaction of one Catholic man who wanted to date me, ‘Wow, you were so much worse than me!’ Those words rang through my mind and heart for months afterwards and caused my self-loathing to increase by leaps and bounds.

I could not erase the pages I had written in the book of my life, as much as I desired to, and I wasted precious time repeatedly leafing back through them, berating myself for my weakness, foolishness, gullibility and general lack of appreciation for God’s love. I began to think I would never find peace in my soul due to my past. Perhaps, I thought, this was part of the punishment for my sins-to scald my soul in a bath of remorse at frequent intervals.

I began dating a very intelligent, kind Catholic teacher named Eric about three years after I returned to practicing the faith. Inevitably, after a few weeks, the time for my, ‘this is my past’ monologue arrived. Eyes cast down, face burning, I once again reopened the wound in my soul that my actions had created. When I finished speaking I reluctantly raised my eyes to meet his, completely expecting derision and shock. Instead, kindness and compassion were reflected in the depths of his eyes and he uttered these words.

‘My opinion of you is not based on who you were in the past, but who you are now.’

This may not seem significant to others, but for me, it was as though I had been handed a key to my self-imposed prison of shame. Never had I heard or even thought that I, God, or anyone else could see past the mess I had formerly created in my soul and life. Those words changed all of that. Over the following days and weeks I turned his words over and over again in my heart. I allowed them to open my eyes to the realization that when I had received forgiveness for my sins in confession I was also given the gift of forgiving myself. However, I had hidden this gift away and forgot about it for years, not retrieving and opening it until I heard the words Eric spoke. Eric and I ended up taking different directions in life but he remained my friend and my debt to him can never be paid. He allowed me to see that although I had scuffed, damaged and tarnished my soul for years, I had also spent years repairing that damage, polishing and shining it with the sacraments, prayer, Eucharistic adoration and a life of morality.

I know that there are some out there who have not experienced falling so far from God’s grace and I truly hope you thank Him for the strength and grace He gave you to preserve your souls. I direct this piece at those who have fallen repeatedly, those who have, as I did, fallen into sin, struggled to get up and to confession, only to fall again. I also address this to those who have done something in their past they deeply regret and yet, despite going to confession, they continue to harbor pain and self-loathing over this past indiscretion. I say this to you: It is not who you were, or what you have done in the past I see, but the person you are now, the one who struggles to live a life that brings them closer to God, the valiant soul that attempts to die to self on a daily basis, or the parent who begs the Lord for the strength to model the virtues of a good Catholic parent and give those children the tools to save their souls. THAT is who you are, take your gift of self-forgiveness out, dust it off and open it up. It will enable your soul to soar and bring you that much closer to God.