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7 Quick Takes Abortion Getting to Know the Ink Slingers Ink Slingers Jeanne Respect Life Series Spiritual Growth

7 Quick Takes No. 21: An Interview with Leticia Adams

 

This week’s Quick Take features a friend and fellow blogger, Leticia Adams. She is a former pro choice supporter turned pro life. Her story of conversion into the Catholic faith and onto the “pro-life” side is nothing short of inspiring. Leticia, like many who are pro-choice, was convinced that abortion is a personal choice, and more so, believed that Planned Parenthood was helping women. Her priests convinced her of the dangers of Planned Parenthood through pro-life homilies, and suggested she meet with Elizabeth McClung, a pro-life activist. Leticia’s pro-life adventure began shortly after, and she now spends a lot of time in peaceful prayer on sidewalks outside abortion clinics, available to counsel women against abortion, in Texas. Leticia is a parishioner at St. William’s parish in Round Rock, Texas.

1.

How long have you been involved as a sidewalk counselor?

I was trained as a sidewalk counselor by Elizabeth McClung, about 3 years ago. At the time, I felt that I was being called to the ministry because I had been a teenage mother myself, and I knew my experiences could help the women facing unplanned, crisis pregnancies. After I came to the realization and truth of abortion, through books and photos, I had a great desire to be on the sidewalk.

2.

Can you share with us how a typical day might go while sidewalk counseling?

Most of the time on the sidewalk,  it is quiet and I just pray. If I see women go in, I try to talk to them, but for me, I realize that shouting at them isn’t very effective. So mostly I pray.

That is where I saw that truth for myself. No girl is going into that building with a smile on her face. I have seen the guys who take these girls just drop them off and the clinic workers just put them outside when it [abortion] is over to wait for their ride. I saw a girl throwing up outside a clinic once and nobody cared. I couldn’t go and help her because it would be trespassing, so I called the clinic to tell them and they said that it was none of my concern but they never came out to help her either.

3.

What has been the most challenging aspect when you are on the sidewalk? Does the pressure of the situation ever get to you?

Pride is the hardest thing. To think that somehow if I don’t say or do the right thing then the baby is going to die, or that it’s because of me that the baby’s life is saved. I realize it is not me at all. Every mother makes the decision by herself, and is responsible for that choice. I can only offer the mother resources, and allow God to talk through me, but in the end, it is the woman’s choice that she will have to live with. I can only make myself available.

There are times when taking care of my family must take priority over going out on the sidewalk and it is a reason that I have cut back my time spent out there.  It is very hard to step away because like I said, I suffer from the pride of thinking that I HAVE to be there or babies will die. God is in control, He has plenty of people who are helping moms and babies.

4.

What has been the most rewarding aspect?

It is the smiles on the moms faces, once they have decided against abortion and have chosen life. I have two girls who I am really close to. I am so proud of these girls, they both had appointments to abort their babies. One of them even after seeing the sonogram and finding out that she was having a girl. Both women have recently delivered their babies… one boy and one girl!

The most rewarding part is having them say they are grateful for my support because I know that I’m grateful for all of those people who supported me.

5.

At one point, you were a pregnancy consulate for the John Paul II Life Center. How did that gig come about?

I saw a post on Facebook that there was a position open at the John Paul II Life Center for pregnancy consultant. I really wanted the job, so I applied and got it. It was the best job that I have ever had. I loved talking to the girls. I loved telling them about my life and my grandbaby so they could see that there is always hope; that everything will be ok. I am no longer there because I was not very good at the office stuff. The director needed someone who could help her more than I could. I really just wanted to talk to the girls, but there is more than that to running a PRC.

6.

How has the recently passed law in Texas affected your work?

It didn’t really have time to affect anything I was doing, since I had left the Life Center before the law went into effect. But, I was present both times when it was being passed, and it was a very sobering experience. I learned more about the polarization that is being created by the issue of abortion and I stood in the middle of a “Us versus Them” crowd, with both sides shouting at one another.

I realized that if we are going to say that we are pro-life, we have to respect ALL life, not just that of the unborn. I listened to countless women yell about their abortion experience; both those who regretted it and those who thought it was the best thing they had ever done, and I realize that we do not listen to one another enough. I heard some of the craziest accusations from both sides about the other. It is really something that I will never forget. It changed how I talk to pro-choicers. I can disagree with them all day long on the issue of abortion but the second that I don’t talk to them with the respect owed to them as human beings, I have failed. I have failed before to respect their dignity and that is what this fight is really all about, the dignity of the human person.

7.

Are there any events coming up that you would like to share about?

There is not much going on right now that I am aware of, but I might just be out of the loop since I have taken some personal time away to be there for my family and to begin writing a book. Pregnancy centers are always looking for volunteers and resources, so it is good to get involved.

Information for the 40 Days for Life campaign and upcoming life chains in your area can be found here.

Leticia and one of the babies she helped to save from abortion:

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Leticia’s personal blog can be found here.

Want to read more interesting Quick Takes?  Visit Jen over at Conversion Diary!

Categories
Abortion Current Events Doctrine Erika Evangelization Faith Formation Ink Slingers Motherhood Prayer Pro-Life Issues Respect Life Respect Life Month Rosary Spiritual Growth Testimonials Vocations

Lady Ribbon’s Entry Into Our Lives…

By now, hopefully, you’ve noticed our ‘Lady Ribbon‘. Well, here’s how she came into our lives…

iPhone scribbled first draft of the Lady Ribbon

Quite late one night some of the Sistas were posting on FB. We were trying to decide if there were any ribbons that truly spoke to us as Catholic women with regard for October as Respect Life month. We came to the conclusion rather quickly that none of the current ribbons really fit the bill.

I was riding in the car that night on my way home from Houston, TX. Although we (my husband & I) had enjoyed one day of our visit (Galveston Island — Moody Gardens), the majority was spent at MD Anderson Cancer Center. In 2009, I was diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant. Since then I have been struggling with my recovery. In other words, October is firmly in my mind for another reason: breast cancer.

Alternative iPhone scribbled Lady Ribbon

Since I had nothing else to do, I began doodling on my iPhone. I submitted a few designs that were pretty horrible. Note to self: never try to draw something nice on an iPhone. I can be artistic at times, but mostly I have ideas that never get put on paper. I’m too much of a realist — both in accepting my artistic failures & in trying to draw like a photograph. However, this became a personal issue with me.

I became obsessed with designing something that could identify our group,but also speak directly to others with an uplifting message. I’m still not 100% sure that breast cancer awareness was ever intended to be so front & center with the design, but it was on my mind. I kept sketching — this time on paper. I finally submitted a design that I was very proud of. Then came some criticism… Let me tell you, when you’re this close to an issue and you personally identify with your art, even constructive criticism stings. I was very personally invested in my design. I apologize now for perhaps being irrational, but at the time I was hurt (& if I’m completely honest, some of the criticism still hurts).

I chose to use the ubiquitous pink ribbon because of my breast cancer journey. My journey has lasted over 2years, yielded an adorable (if somewhat fractious) little girl, and constant spiritual upheaval. I also feel called to ‘take back the pink’ from organizations, like Susan G Komen, that ignore the medical & moral implications of supporting birth control and abortion while professing to be searching for a cure for breast cancer. So replacing their pink ribbon with one of my own was a goal.

My first draft hand-drawn Lady Ribbon

Again, because of my journey, I chose for the ribbon to be the pregnant belly & legs of the Lady. However, the pregnant belly was not just for my journey, but also for the Catholic teaching of ALWAYS being open to life. No, that doesn’t mean we all have to be pregnant all the time. However, it does call us to always accept that possibility. Since we are the Sistas I was not concerned with fully representing all Catholics. However, I did get my husband’s opinion and approval at various junctures in the design process.

As Catholics, we are also taught (hopefully) to be unabashedly and unequivocally Pro-Life. While the pregnant belly spoke of both my story and our openness to life, it didn’t necessarily scream Pro-Life for Respect Life month. The universal Pro-Life symbol seems to be the 8 week feet. So placing them in the middle of the belly not only clarified the pregnancy, but also qualified the Lady as Pro-Life.

Because we are the ‘Catholic Sistas’ it was imperative to include an obvious Catholic symbol. Initially, I started with a cross and the Lady’s folded hands. However, another Sistas idea of a ribbon composed of a Rosary piqued my interest of including a Rosary. After all, our Rosaries are immediately recognized as Catholic. So the Lady’s folded hands resting on her baby belly came to hold a Rosary.

Colored hand-drawn Lady Ribbon

At that point the Lady was ok, but she didn’t show our sense of humor. Although we are all joined by our Faith, there is much more to us than the staid, sometimes boring, religiosity. One of the Sistas has an absolutely fabulous collection of smokin’ hot shoes. We all, at one point or another, have commented with envy about these shoes. I erased my simple ribbon ‘feet’ and added some woman power heels instead. Now our lady was rockin’!

I also initially didn’t have hair on the Lady, but while bald was simple & reminiscent of my final pregnancy, it was not flattering or all-encompassing. So the lady got a generic hair-do. She also received facial features including a simple smile.

While the Lady was not met with unanimous approval, most recognized that she did show our Catholicity and the founding reason for Respect Life month. My sketch of the Lady was sent to a graphic designer friend of a Sista. He gave her the look she carries today. Although she lost the shoes and facial features, she gained a more elegant & streamlined look. The final touch was, instead of flat 8 week footprints, to use actual footprints. That crowning touch added volumes of meaning to the Lady.

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So now, our Lady Ribbon now has a biography of sorts. To me, she represents me. I am staunchly Pro-Life & Catholic. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 20 weeks pregnant. Without constant prayer from others as well as a trust in God I would not be here to tell this story. Every aspect of the Lady Ribbon coincides with my life. However, she also portrays some of the basic tenants of Catholic womanhood: Pro-Life, prayer-filled, and open to life. She also can serve as a reminder that millions of women, Catholic or not, suffer from breast cancer (some even while pregnant) and need our support.

 

 

The CATHOLIC PINK – now available as a bumper sticker!
Categories
Abortion Alessandra Campaigns Current Events Ink Slingers Prayer Respect Life

40 Days of Prayer for the UNITY of ALL Women

I wonder if the organizers of 40 Days for Life expected it to become as successful as it has just five short years after it’s “birth,” in 2007.  Now, in early 2012, it has groups in 440 different cities that have participated in the United States and Canada, and has already yielded the following amazing results:

  • exactly 1,895 individual campaigns
  • more than 525,000 participants
  • more than 15,000 churches from various denominations
  • more than 5,928 babies have been  saved from abortion
  • exactly 69 people who worked for and now have left the abortion industry and joined the pro-life movement
  • exactly 23 abortion facilities have shut their doors following local campaigns
  • thousands of women and men have been spared from the psychological damage of an abortion including living a life of regret and “what ifs”
  • more than 2,100 stories have featured 40 Days from coast to coast using all forms of communication: print, digital, and broadcast
  • and the uncounted thumbs up from supporters around the campaigns whom may not walk the sidewalks but join in prayer

If I was on the other side of this successful campaign, I would be worried and scared!  As they say, the last line of defense when someone has lost an argument on the facts is to turn to insult or, in the case for an Planned Parenthood clinic in California, mockery.   Former Planned Parenthood clinic manager, now 40 Days for Life campaign manager, Sue Thayer in Iowa says that they call the pro-life campaign, “40 days of torture”.  As Martina first shared here in Catholic Sistas in her post entitled “40 Days of Abortion?” this particular clinic has “taken it up a (mockery) notch” and their most recent, and as Lifenews defined it, repugnant, campaign: 40 Days for Prayer for the abortion providers who help women who have been burdened by an unwanted pregnancy.  What is the message they are sending the world?  Simple.  When the results of those who are countering your line of argument are so strikingly successful, you turn to mockery.

Anyone involved in basic argument/dialogue knows that if you have all the facts to back you up, you should be able to win your argument.  This time, it seems to me, that the numbers speak for themselves.  If the momentum continues at this pace, 40 Days for Life, in another five years can, at the very least, double the numbers listed above and they can continue to corner the abortion industry by killing it with kindness and prayer (soft and steady wins the race).  When this happens (and folks it’s happening right NOW) I would like to see if  Planned Parenthood will be courteous and concede the win.  You should always be graceful in defeat as nothing is worse than a person who tries to argue simply for the sake of it and absolutely will not give in, no matter how definitely obvious their loss is.  So what is the message they are sending the world?  Simple.  When the results of those who are countering your line of argument are so strikingly successful, you turn to mockery.  The 40 Days for Life Campaign worries Planned Parenthood, apparently, and so they are now pathetically attempting to make the world think that they too “pray”.

To aid in the success we are making our part of pushing that momentum of the Campaign, Catholic Sistas has produced a counter brochure of sorts:  40 Days of Prayer for the UNITY of ALL Women, born and unborn (here is Page 1 and Page 2).  Join us by praying along with us and help spread the word…all it takes is a push of a button, a simple Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest share.  We challenge you to be part of history, part of the winning team – for Life!

Our Prayer Campaign begins on Tuesday, May 1st and ends on Saturday, June 9th.  Join us on Facebook.

      (Copyright: Catholic Sistas)

 

 

                  ( Copyright: Catholic Sistas)

 

 

UPDATE:  From the 40 Days for Life Website, Matching Gift Donation:

We also announced that a few generous donors put up a matching gift to help expand these efforts in this critical year of 2012.

Make any tax-deductible contribution to 40 Days for Life before midnight next Tuesday, May 1, and your gift — or the annualized amount of your monthly pledge — will be DOUBLED … up to 89,500!

REMEMBER: The matching challenge will ONLY double gifts or pledges made by midnight Tuesday, so don’t wait — please give now.

We’re off to a good start — thanks to those of you who’ve contributed $34,170 so far — but together we still have a long way to go to meet this match … and we certainly don’t want to leave any of this generosity sitting on the table!

If God is weighing on your heart to make a tax-deductible one-time gift — which will be instantly DOUBLED — go to:

http://40daysforlife.com/donate.cfm?selected=onetime

If you feel called to make a tax-deductible pledge of monthly support (the annualized amount of your monthly pledge will be DOUBLED,) go to:

http://40daysforlife.com/donate.cfm?selected=monthly

Many people have asked for our mailing address to send tax-deductible donations. They can be mailed to:

40 Days for Life
10908 Courthouse Road, #102229
Fredericksburg, VA 22408

PLEASE NOTE: For any mailed gifts to be doubled, they must be postmarked by Tuesday, May 1.

Categories
Abortion Mary P. Respect Life

“America, defend life!”

The month of October is designated by the pro-life community as Respect Life month. This is a time for us as Catholics and pro-life people to focus our efforts on promoting respect for all persons at all stages of life—from conception until death— and spreading the message that all human life has intrinsic dignity (after all, we are the only creatures that God made in His image).

Traditionally the primary focus of the month is on promoting respect for life in the womb. There are a few reasons that the issue of abortion seems to take priority above other facets of the Respect Life theme. First, it has to do with sheer numbers. Over one million innocent lives are lost through abortion every single year in the United States alone. Since Roe v. Wade in 1973, when abortion was enshrined in national law and States were forbidden to ban it, there have been over 50,000,000 abortions. That number is staggering when you think about it.

Second, respect for life begins with life in the womb. The baby in the womb is the most defenseless of human beings, and the womb should be the safest place on Earth. If we as a culture cannot respect life in the womb, then there is no reason that we should be expected to respect any other life at any stage in development. The arguments that are put forward in defense of abortion have scary implications for the rest of society when they are carried to their logical conclusions. For example, if abortion is okay because some babies are “unwanted,” or will be too difficult to care for, then what about children whose mothers decide after birth that they don’t want them or can’t care for them? What about the the elderly who are unloved and unable to care for themselves? If abortion is okay because ‘fetuses’ don’t have sophisticated mental capacity, then what about already-born people who are brain-damaged or severely developmentally handicapped? If abortion is okay because some unborn babies have diseases or deformities that may doom them to a very short life or a life filled with suffering, then what about people who develop a debilitating or terminal disease or physical handicap after birth? If we can take some human lives–the most innocent among us–why not others? (In answer to this question, pro-choice people will start throwing out words like “personhood” and “sentience,” which are arbitrary and subjective standards… but that is a post for another day).

Yes, respect for life begins with respect for life in the womb. But, we also cannot ignore the other ways in which our culture offends against human dignity and promotes an agenda of death over life. This includes embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, assisted suicide, the unjust use of the death penalty, and the disrespect for the ill and elderly (many of which have become much more accepted by society as abortion has become more accepted).

Elizabeth McClung, Executive Director of Austin Coalition for Life, at the 40 Days for Life kickoff in Austin, TX. Photo by Arlen Nydam.

Over the course of this month, the Catholic Sistas will be doing our part to promote respect for human life by blogging about abortion and other topics encompassed by the Respect Life theme.  Many of us will also be participating in local Respect Life month activities and engaging in personal prayer and fasting for an end to abortion and other offenses against human dignity. Some of us also will be participating in the national 40 Days for Life campaign that began on September 28 and goes until November 6. We encourage our readers to find some way to participate in the efforts of Respect Life month/40 Days for Life as well (as October is also the month of the Holy Rosary, you might consider taking up praying a daily Rosary if you do not already do so).

Amidst all of this Respect Life activity, there is something else going on during the month of October, which is especially important to some of the members of our blogging team. It’s also National Breast Cancer Awareness month. It’s fitting that two issues that affect women, especially, so very deeply are converging in this one month, and the goals of these two campaigns should fit together nicely. We Catholics and pro-lifers want to support and promote the dignity of those who are dealing with cancer and whose lives may no longer meet our society’s utilitarian standards of who is worthy of respect and who is not – who has dignity and who does not. It is the very ill who are the target of our culture of death’s misguided “compassion” that says that a life of suffering is not worth living. And it is women who suffer from cancer while pregnant who are told that they must choose between their own lives and those of their unborn children (and very often are pressured to abort their children).

Additionally, respect for life and concern about breast cancer are intertwined in a way that most of society chooses not to recognize. Uninterrupted pregnancy and nursing both have a protective effect against breast cancer; so, the more children you give birth to, the better your odds against breast cancer. Conversely, studies show that there is a link between breast cancer and both abortion and hormonal contraception. There is controversy over whether abortion and contraception actually increase your risk or play a part in causing breast cancer; but at the very least, the link is indisputable in that abortion and contraception obviously both prevent you from reaping the protective effects of childbearing and nursing.

Yes, you see, our Church got it right again. Her moral teachings (in this case, against the artificial prevention and destruction of pregnancy) are not just about the protection of our souls, but also the protection of our bodies.

There should be no conflict or competition between those wearing pink ribbons and those wearing precious feet pins. Yet, the most well-known and highly visible charity related to Breast Cancer Awareness, Susan G. Komen for the Cure (SGK), contributes YOUR donor dollars to the nation’s largest abortion provider and a major dispenser of hormonal birth control (which can act as an abortifacient*) – Planned Parenthood. This is wrong from both the standpoint of respecting the unborn life routinely destroyed by Planned Parenthood through abortion and hormonal contraception, as well as the standpoint of respecting the lives of the women who are (or may be in the future) victims of breast cancer. Women deserve to know that the pregnancies they are trying to prevent or destroy could protect them against breast cancer, and that there is a possibility that their use of hormonal contraceptives or their procurement of abortions may directly increase their risk. 

So, as controversial as this may sound, we as pro-lifers should not support SGK. Unfortunately there is also a long list of other charitable organizations that we should not support because of where that money would be going, including the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute. Some of them are also “in bed with” Planned Parenthood, but in many cases, the reason we should not support them is because they support or directly fund embryonic stem cell research as part of their effort to discover treatments and cures for various maladies . Apparently, they think that it is okay to disrespect and destroy some lives in the pursuit of caring for other lives.

Most of society seems to be on board with that concept these days. They think it’s okay to sacrifice embryos in pursuit of medical advancement. Or they think it’s okay to allow a fraction of our charitable donations given to cancer organizations to go toward supporting Planned Parenthood because of the good that may be done by the rest of the donation. But we as Catholics know that these are human lives that we are talking about, and that we do not and cannot value one innocent human life above another. This is what sets us apart from our secular society. We understand that we can never choose evil no matter what good may come from it.

Taking a stand on this principle can put us in an awkward position. I’m sure most of us have been in the situation of being asked to support SGK or other questionable organizations through donations or participating in walks. If we refuse to do so, it can make us appear as if all our talk about respecting life only applies to the unborn and that we don’t really care about anyone else, especially not women with breast cancer (it doesn’t help that Catholics are routinely accused of not caring about women in general). We can appear callous and ideologically-driven rather than compassionate.

The truth is, however, that we don’t have to choose between being compassionate and adhering to our beliefs. We as Catholics can, and do, respect both the lives of the unborn and the lives of women (and men) with cancer (and it is hard to believe that SGK or Planned Parenthood respect either).

If we are going to take a stand on this issue and refuse to compromise on our support for any vulnerable persons, it is a good idea to arm ourselves with information, and be aware of alternative charities that we can support – there are some out there that don’t force us to choose between the unborn and the born. I have a hunch that this topic will be covered more extensively by other Sistas during the month of October, but here are just a few bullet points to help you to educate and defend yourself on this topic:

  • Planned Parenthood’s main business centers around sex (consequence-free sex, as a matter of fact), and it’s safe to say that breast cancer is not high on its priority list. It doesn’t make any sense for cancer organizations to be partnered with Planned Parenthood. SGK defends this practice in part by claiming that Planned Parenthood offers mammograms. However, this is untrue. Planned Parenthood clinics do not provide mammograms. It’s unclear from their website what services they actually do provide when it comes to combating breast cancer, but whatever those services, the fact is that there are plenty of other medical establishments that provide the same ones without also making money off of taking human life.
  • Funds at Planned Parenthood are fungible. That means that when organizations like SGK give your money to Planned Parenthood, there’s no telling whether it’s going to pay for an abortion or for whatever cancer screening services they offer.
  • While most mainstream medical organizations deny the link between breast cancer and abortion, many studies have shown a relationship, and many other medical groups state that there is one. These medical groups include National Physicians Center for Family Resources, Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, Catholic Medical Association, Polycarp Research Institute, and American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
  • Regarding the support of organizations that promote or fund embryonic stem cell research, it’s important to understand that embryonic stem cell research has produced no real-world results, whereas there have been many successes with adult stem cells. Again, we don’t have to compromise our values in order to support effective treatment options! We can care for women and men suffering from cancer (and other diseases) AND protect tiny embryos from being used and thrown out like garbage.
  • On a related note, there are many charitable organizations that respect all human life.** The American Life League provides information about many well-known charities so you can determine whether or not a particular charity is one that you can ethically support.
My oldest daughter at 20 weeks gestation.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Blessed John Paul II (taken from a farewell address given in Detroit’s airport, at the end of his 1987 pilgrimage to the United States):

 America, you are beautiful and blessed in so many ways […] But your best beauty and your richest blessing is found in the human person: in each man, woman and child, in every immigrant, in every native-born son and daughter […] The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless ones. The best traditions of your land presume respect for those who cannot defend themselves. It you want equal justice for all, and true freedom and lasting peace, then, America, defend life! All the great causes that are yours today will have meaning only to the extent that you guarantee the right to life and protect the human person.

It is our solemn duty to defend life. All life. Life in the womb; life created in a petri dish by overzealous scientists; life that is laden with suffering; life that is nearing its end.

And we can’t let anyone persuade us away from this mission by trying to force us to pit one life against another. We can’t let anyone guilt us into believing that we can’t take a stand for the unborn without taking a stand against women with cancer. There need not be any dilemma here. When we foster respect for life in general, we foster respect for all lives in particular.

 

 

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

*Hormonal birth control works primarily to prevent fertilization; however, the “backup mechanism” is the thinning of the uterine lining to prevent implantation of an already-fertilized egg (ie a tiny human being).

** The Sistas will be providing in future posts information about “safe” charitable organizations, especially those related to Breast Cancer. In the meantime, if you are looking for a good organization to donate to, there is a new charity called Journey 4 a Cure that raises funds for Pediatric Cancer research (which does not get a lot of attention or money). It was founded by a family that I am acquainted with, and I personally confirmed with this charity that they did not support or fund embryonic stem cell research.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Shiela

Lose 20 Pounds by Christmas

I know what sells magazines.  Tell people how they can look and feel better than their neighbor as defined by our secular and materialistic media.  And, if you do want to lose 20 lbs by Christmas, you can.  There are about 2,000 different diet plans that will get you there.  The keys to success are setting goals, having accountability, eating less, and moving more.  It’s not rocket science.  But, I did not really want to write a post on weight loss tips.  What I wanted my title to read is, “How to get closer to God by Christmas.”  How do we get closer to God?  Closeness to God is difficult to quantify, but I think we can use the same approach to spiritual well-being as we do our physical well-being.

 

First, we can set spiritual goals.  Goal setting helps us to be mindful and intentional in our behavior.  Have you ever set a spiritual goal?  What would that look like?  A good goal is both measurable and achievable.  For example, I will do spiritual reading for 20 minutes each morning for 2 weeks.  Reading daily for 20 minutes might be achievable for some, but not for others.  So, know your abilities and  limitations.  Once you achieve this goal, you can reflect on your experience by asking yourself if you feel that your faith is strengthened.    We will face many challenges to our faith everyday.  Setting spiritual goals will help us to be better prepared to accept those challenges.  Moreover, if you set apart a time to think about discuss, and write your goals, you will be more likely to achieve them.

 

Next, incorporate accountability into your spiritual growth.  You can get your spouse to do this with you.  Or you can ask a friend or group of friends to join you.  Being a part of the Catholic Sistas has helped me immensely.  We chat online daily and share ways that we are “dying to self” each day.  In other words, we discuss challenges and sufferings that we are offering up without complaining.  Or, if you want to keep your growth personal and private, you can keep a journal and check off each time you make your goal. The journal can also be a place to record your thoughts about your spiritual journey.
Families can set goals, too.  My family would like to get together to say the rosary.  But, often, life gets in the way and days and weeks pass without a family rosary.  However, if we set a goal together as a family, one that is measurable and achievable, then, we are much more likely to sit down together.  A daily family rosary with five kids, two of whom are toddlers, is not achievable for us.  However, we can gather at least once a week, perhaps on Sunday evenings, to say a family rosary.  If we do this with success for 2 weeks, then maybe we can start gathering twice a week.  Kids are great for accountability.  They know that gathering for the rosary is a special family time and they will begin to remind you and request a family rosary.  I know, because my son often reminds us.

 

Eat less and move more?
Well, that doesn’t apply to spiritual growth, directly.  But, you can certainly sin less and do more works of mercy. How do you sin less?  First, start with a clean slate.  Make a thorough examination of your conscience.  Then, go to confession, as James says, “Therefore, confess our sins to one another”  We can always just bow our heads and pray.  But since Christ instituted the sacrament of confession by saying, “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven. If you retain the sins of any, they are retained,” we know that to be the most pleasing way to confess our sins.  Therefore we will be absolved of all our sins and receive sanctifying grace.  At this time, we can pray that we avoid those same sins in the future.  Set a confession goal, too.  My family makes it a goal to go once per month.  Frequent confession is the key to sinning less.

 

Increasing works of mercy is another way to grow closer to God.  And, goal setting will help you achieve this.    The 40 days for life campaign starts today.  This is a wonderful work of mercy that will increase your faith, grow closer to God and help the most innocent members of our human family.  My daughter and I participated in the Spring.  It was a wonderful thing to share with her and to be able to instill in her not only the value of every human life but also her role in protecting life.  And, we enjoyed the fellowship with others who were working towards the same personal and community goals.

 

Having accountability partners will also make it more likely that you will do more works of mercy.  My husband and family are also my accountability partners.  We have a family friend who is in a nursing home.  And, if we do not set a goal and schedule a visit, life gets in the way.  And before we know it a week goes by, or a month or several months before we realize that we have not visited our friend.  We cannot let that happen.  If we do achieve our goal, we not only please a friend but also and we find ourselves in compliance with Christ’s greatest commandment, to love one another as He loves us.

Of course, I might want to think about those weight loss goals, too.  I mean, what is Christmas without cookies and candy canes? It might be good to make a little exta room for all that yumminess without feeling too guilty.
What are you doing to increase your faith?  What goal can you or your family set that will inspire others in their spiritual growth?