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Books Faith Formation Fatherhood Ink Slingers Kerri Matrimony Reviews Sacraments Vocations

Marry Her and Die for Her: A Book Review

Doing book reviews is always interesting. You never know what you’re going to get! I was definitely curious when, last fall, I was asked to review a book titled Marry Him and Be Submissive. What a title!! Controversial for sure, but a great read. Then more recently I was asked to review the companion volume Marry Her and Die for Her. I didn’t even realize there was a companion volume but was thrilled to hear it.

In her first book, author Costanza Miriano tackled what it means to truly be a woman. Go back and read my review (and get the book) to get an idea of the topics she tackles. In this second book she is focusing on men. I will admit that the title of this one tricked me a bit. I assumed the audience was male-focused and thought this might be the kind of thing that could make a good Father’s Day gift (it’s just under a month away). Boy was I wrong!! Sort of. While I think men should still read this book (and I’ll be sharing it with my husband), this is also a great book for us ladies to read.

In this book, Costanza challenges women to be of service to their husbands (continuing the challenge from the previous book) with a focus on helping them to be real men who want to protect us, our children, and be willing to die for us. She discusses standing by your man in his decision making (even if you would have made a different decision), keeping him as a priority over children and other commitments, giving him the benefit of the doubt, and much more. She does this with the same humor, tangential discussions, and bluntness as the previous volume.

The chapter set up this time is a bit different, and for me it was easier to get into the rhythm of the book. Although I liked the last book and understand why she set it up as she did, I preferred the organization of this one. These chapters are broken into two parts. The majority of the chapter is a discussion of the topic punctuated throughout with her same blunt opinions, humor, and supporting Church teaching. At the end of each chapter she offers a short letter, often a suggested letter for the female subject of the chapter to write to her husband or boyfriend.

I really enjoyed this particular book. I was pretty much hooked from the very beginning (maybe I was also already used to her writing style) and really did laugh out loud at many parts. I found myself reading selections to my husband at times and I even did a lot more underlining and took a few notes in my copy. A few times I felt convicted by her thoughts and will take that away as food for thought in my own marriage. My favorite chapter was the last one. In the last chapter she looks more at herself as she considers how she might have turned out. She does this by addressing the chapter to a single male friend of hers, focusing on men growing up to be real men rather than overgrown adolescents (not an uncommon occurrence in our highly secular world). She talks about suffering and how our personal crosses help us grow in maturity, she discusses the value of work and how work means different things to men versus women, and she focuses on how family and/or religion make us better people.

Throughout the book there are these discussions. I love how she brings in stories from the Gospels, from St. Paul’s letters, quotes saints and other Christian writers to support her objective that men should be the decisive, strong presence in the family and women should be the supporting, nurturing presence that builds up the man and gives him that desire to keep his inherent role at the top of his game. This is all very contradictory to what the secular world teaches us. Costanza acknowledges that the feminization of men is growing rapidly around us. As Catholics, we should be living lives contrary to this secular world. And in the end, we find greater happiness and greater freedom in this life.

Something about this book made me want to get to know the author herself a bit more. In the first book, I walked away kind of glad I was not friends with her. Oh, what would she have to say to me?! But with this one I started feeling warmed up to her. She seems like someone I would enjoy talking to and discussing the state of our modern world with. And her bluntness is actually refreshing. I would actually even recommend reading the Acknowledgements section (a section of most books I usually overlook but happened to read this time) at the end of the book. She obviously has a real love for all her many friendships and an authentic love of the Church and God.

I highly recommend this book (and it’s companion volume if you haven’t already read it). Read it and then give it to your husband/boyfriend/father/uncle/adult son to read as well. If you are interested in buying this book it is currently available at Tan Books for $24.95. As like the previous book, this one is also a translation. Originally published in Italian, Tan Books is now making it available in English.

Go grab a copy. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

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Current Events Domestic Church Faith Formation Fatherhood Ink Slingers Michelle Motherhood Parenting Pro-Life Issues Resources Vocations

Raising Chaste Catholic Men: A Review

When we only had four little ones!
When we only had four little ones!

As a mother, I am constantly thinking about and worrying about my children. I think about their health, their education, their friends, their religious upbringing, their happiness, their sadness, their hopes and their dreams. I contemplate what kind of people they will be when they are grown, what will their spouses be like (if they have one), and whether or not I am doing a good job raising them. From the very first moment my heart began to long for a child those thoughts have occupied my mind.

I don’t think that I thought much about chastity when I simply had little ones. Instead my days were filled with diapers, naps, crayon on the walls, gum stuck in long, pretty blond hair, broken arms, food on the floor, and Barney- lots and lots of Barney.

As my children grew older and I soon had both tiny kids and older kids who were facing a world that wanted to educate them in a way that I did not want, my mind often turned to questions about chastity and what I wanted them to know and learn. I wondered how I would tackle tough topics, what exactly I needed to teach them, and when I needed to teach it.  Looking back I can see that teaching about chastity began far before I actually thought about it. It began when my little ones were tiny and I taught them about the preciousness and sanctity of their bodies. It began when I started teaching them about the differences between boys and girls and how every person is made perfectly in God’s image.

Today I have 11 children in just about every age range- adult children, teens, preteens, elementary school kids, and toddlers. We are a very open family that can talk about anything. If the kids have a question (and boy do they have questions!) they know they can come to me about anything and I will answer to the best of my ability. It doesn’t mean that sometimes I don’t falter or wonder if I’m saying the right things or handling it the best way. But it does mean that I always try to do my best and to welcome them no matter how uncomfortable the subject.

raising-chaste-catholic-menI was recently blessed to review Leila Miller’s new book Raising Chaste Catholic Men. To be honest, I wanted to review the book because I wanted to know what I could do differently to help impress upon my younger boys (ages 10, 4, and 3) what I obviously lacked for my older son who chose a completely different life than we had taught. I wanted to see if there was a magic trick to keeping our boys chaste. What I found out confirmed what I knew all along…

Raising Chaste Catholic Men is an amazing book. To begin with it is a simple conversation between two Catholic moms- Leila and you. Reading the book is like meeting up with a friend, sitting down for lunch, and spending the afternoon drinking coffee (or Diet Coke in my case) , and just talking for hours, so engrossed in conversation that you don’t realize the time slipping away from you. The book is short in length and is perfect for a busy mom to pick up during her hectic day and read. Leila intended the book to be this way. She knew that we have questions, need suggestions, and simply need Catholic support from a mom who has been there and is still knee-deep in the trenches; but she also knew we are often pressed for time. The length of the book and the way it is written acknowledge and respect both our time and our needs.

Leila tackles some truly difficult topics. When my oldest children were little I had no idea that one day I would be talking to them about transgenderism, gay marriage, the demasculinization of our boys and men, or pornography available at their fingertips all day and all night. Raising Chaste Catholic Men doesn’t shy away from these issues. In fact, these and a number of other- masturbation, navigating pop culture, dating, contraception, premarital sex, how to be both parent and friend to your children, video games, computer usage, and how to cultivate manhood- are all part of the book.

Combining Church teachings, the Bible, the Catechism, profound words from popes and other Catholic teachers, as well as a plethora of other resources, Leila helps us understand not only the Church’s teaching on chastity (which is different from abstinence!) but why chastity is imperative to our children’s overall growth and development- heart, mind, body, and soul!

When I finished reading Raising Chaste Catholic Men I felt like I had my own little cheering squad! Despite feeling like there were many times I have failed and even though I have a son who has veered from the path that we have tried to show him, Leila reminded me that all the work we have done has created a firm foundation to which he (hopefully!) will return.  My doubts that I was “doing it all wrong” melted away and I knew that regardless of what our children choose (and they can choose to deviate from what we know to be good and holy) the efforts we put into teaching our children is never lost or wasted. She gave some great lasting advice that I know will help me both now and in the future. It was a message I truly needed to hear.

In a world that wishes to strip away what it means to be male and female, Raising Chaste Catholic Men reminds us of the inherent goodness there is to our maleness and our femaleness. We are each perfectly made in God’s image and likeness and while we are made this way, we are also made very differently from one another. This is so that we can complement the opposite sex. We aren’t made for competition but we are created to be one. As Leila so beautifully pointed out, “The reproductive system is the only system in the human body that is completed with someone else.” We are made to complete one another… this is a powerful and important lesson we must impart to our children.

While my way of doing things almost mirrors Leila’s, I will say that even if you choose to do things differently, this book can help you navigate the often winding, rocky path to teaching our children about their sexuality, chastity, and the inherent goodness of their bodies. Building a firm foundation where our children can find peace, hope, love, and joy is imperative. We can only do this if we are willing to tackle tough subjects, keep the lines of communication open, and live a faithful, chaste life ourselves.

leila-millerI strongly encourage you to read Leila’s book Raising Chaste Catholic Men. You will come away feeling empowered and hopeful. Our sons deserve the best we can give them- that means always teaching the truth and showing them the right path. Raising Chaste Catholic Men will help you in your quest to do this.

If you’d like to purchase Leila’s book, Raising Chaste Catholic Men, you can do so here.

Stop by her website as well to check out her other inspiring and thought provoking articles!

 

 

I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I have not received compensation for this review.

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Charla

Real Men

umbrellaI love men. I love real men—men of chivalry and honor, men who are enabled to embrace their masculinity. In a very sad way, we have a skewed perception of what a real man is. However, a real man is who God made him to be. The major traits of a real man are 1) responsibility 2) protectiveness 3) sincerity 4) honor
All too often we are presented with a distorted understanding of what manhood is. Be sensitive, we tell men. Take what you want, say other voices. In reality, a real man is somewhere in between. A real man is considerate and respectful; that is where his sensitivity comes from. A real man also has self-respect, initiative, and gumption, and this is the means by which a man gains what he wants. Men are conflicted by our confusing expectations and then feel like failures when they do not live up to contradictory unimaginable standards.
Responsibility: A real man takes responsibility for many things. He owns up to his actions, good or bad. He follows through on his commitments. A real man is responsible for caring for those in his charge. He provides protection, sustenance, and shelter and puts the needs of others before his own. A responsible man also has great self-control, because he is not a slave to his emotions or inclinations.
Protectiveness: A real man protects not only those he loves, his wife, his children, but he protects those who cannot protect themselves. Soldiers who are trained well and with conviction are protectors; there is a respectability of policemen and firemen for precisely the same reason; they protect others. Protection not only involves taking care of one’s physical security, but protecting others’ emotional and spiritual well being as well. Our faith dictates this as the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. A real man follows this code of protectiveness and finds his God given duty in the works of mercy which are a real man’s means of protecting others.
Sincerity: A real man is honest with his feelings and acts with purity of heart. A sincere man is one who is humble yet steadfast in his love and devotion. When a man is real, he is authentic and does not try to be that which he is not. This authenticity returns a man to who God made him to be. Some men are naturally very masculine and physical, while others are intellectual or creative; some are a combination of all of these things. Not all men are the same, but each must embrace who he actually is and the man God intended will come to fruition. Honesty is truly a crucial character trait that is the difference between a good man and a farce.
Honor: A real man is honorable. Honor is a product of all the character traits portrayed here. Honor is a word used in the Ten Commandments. We honor the Lord our God and we honor our father and mother. A real man is respectful and respectable, learning these traits and making them habitual. 
JP2Why profile a real man? We seem to be in a crisis of manhood. Have we only as of late, or have we always been in need of real men? Some men take what they want forcefully from women, and some men fabricate a life for themselves in hopes gaining respect, but under false pretenses, these men are simply pretenders. Men are emasculated so often they cannot become men of responsibility. We fail to hold men to a standard, yet lament when they do not achieve a standard they know nothing about.
Raising good, God-fearing men is difficult because of the unattainability of this manhood. Why not let our men embrace their natural masculinity; let us hold them to a clear level of responsibility; let us make them respect women through our own expectations and actions. We often set them up to fail us as women by not needing the gifts they have. So, we can let them, expect them to, take care of us, provide for us, and protect us as well as those who are vulnerable. That is not to say we are incapable of doing the same, but rather we complement them and partner with them in their desire to be responsible and honorable men.

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Domestic Church Ink Slingers Matrimony Sacraments Same Sex Attraction

They Just Don’t Get It…

They Just Don’t Get It… Marriage

I used to wonder if it has always been like this.  Has it always been so intense?  Has it always been in such danger of being lost? Is it because it’s my turn in the front lines? Am I more aware of  who wants to take it from us?  Or has the trend of wanting what one can’t have made it fair game for those who don’t understand its purpose?

It is the beauty that God infuses into all things He creates. The stability and joy that come with perfection – because God does not do things halfway – are so desirable to the human spirit because He made us to long for Him. We are created in His image and likeness, so it is unavoidable. The peace that emanates from those who understand this becomes a much coveted attribute for those who don’t. And so they seek it but, alas, refuse to succumb to it.  This insatiable longing with resistance is what brings us to the present battle over marriage, family and adoption.

God ordained marriage between one man and one woman. He commanded that we procreate, form families, numerous ones. Thus, the family is a reflection of the biggest mystery of our faith, the Holy Trinity. A family, as God detailed it must be, reflects love and joy because it reflects God and God is love. Sure there are struggles, sorrow and anger in marriage and family, but there are also endurance, trust, and peace of heart and mind. The sacrament of marriage creates a bond that far exceeds the pressures of this world. Guided by Our Lord, it overcomes all obstacles. It is enviable to the point that people who do not follow the teachings of the Church want it. They covet that stability and peace that a true marriage emanates.

However, it is a grace that does not come without hard work and commitment.  That marriage that they desire is the result of conscious decisions, sacrifices, acts of obedience, complete surrender, immeasurable faith in God, trust in your spouse, painful humility and persistent selflessness. It is the result of dying to self and living for others, of loving so much that it brings you joy to forfeit your fair share for the benefit of those you love. In return, those you love, live and die for you. And there is peace.  So to just want it is not enough. To claim rights to the name of the institution or sacrament will not bring them any of what it is they seek.  To demand inclusion in a rite of passage does not guarantee or even offer the benefits that come to those that do it the way God intended. If He designed it and defined it, He gives the rewards for the effort and discipline put into it.  Without God, marriage is just a civil union, a partnership that can be dissolved at any point by any qualified human being, a simple contract. A lifeless word.  To reject the very source of that which they covet makes it impossible for them to attain it. And this is why they just don’t get it.

From marriage comes children, family, a clear reflection of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When a marriage begins under false premises (calling a marriage something that is not), the family does not stand a chance against the temptations of this world.  It’s trapped like a fish in a barrel, waiting for the one earthly thing that one of its parties will treasure all the more.  Children, whether naturally born into a family or adopted, deserve better. Adoption,  a loving and selfless vocation, is reserved and should be reserved for legitimate marriages. In God’s design, every child should have a mother and a father, both living under one roof. That He permits families to survive with one parent is completely irrelevant. Permissive will as a result of sin does not redefine the original terms laid out for the success of a family.  God made man and woman distinctively different on purpose. There is the complementarity needed in both genders to raise children with balance.

Men are natural providers, detached. They put themselves first because it is ingrained in them that if they are not well, they cannot provide for their family. They are rough, physically stronger. They look at the big picture and try to fix anything that they consider broken. All of this is important, especially for women who embrace their femininity. We are emotional, attached, sensible, pay attention to detail. We nurture every living thing in our path. We put ourselves last in order to embrace that servant’s heart God has so lovingly placed within us. We see things completely differently than men do – and it is good that we do. It is imperative that we do. In creating us so different and yet so complementary, He created the perfect balance for humanity. Again, He does not do things halfway. And that is why, when both men and women embrace and work hard at perfecting their gender specific roles, families thrive and children grow up content, satisfied, fulfilled.  Those families create that sense of longing for normalcy within the people who just don’t get it.

The progression of courtship, marriage and child bearing and rearing is very simple, organized. God is a God of order. When done according to his specifications, it becomes one of those coveted and unattainable things for people who refuse to follow the natural order of things. The safeguards placed by God himself into the institutions of marriage and family are not present when a same sex couple tries to adopt children in order to feel complete and normal. Changing  laws to meet needs of acceptance or affirmation will not fix or change anything. Civil laws are shaped by moral laws, not the other way around. Any attempts to reverse the natural order adds turmoil, restlessness, not peace.  There are no guarantees in any union, be it a marriage or a civil agreement, that no one will sin. But, in a true marriage, a true family, the sacrament, the presence of God himself, multiplies the odds of resolution by way of forgiveness and charity. When there is nothing greater than self in a relationship, there is nothing but self keeping that relationship together . When God is right in the middle of it, we persevere and humble ourselves to do what is necessary to honor the promise we make before Him. And so, that  peace, love and joy that radiate from a traditional family is impossible to attain by those who just don’t get it.

So, I am not sure if it has always been so. Is it just my turn, our turn, to defend the lines? Has it jumped to a whole new level? What I do know is that we must operate from the understanding that what the liberal moral relativists seek is that which only God can provide. We must be clear in communicating that because of their staunch rejection of God and His creation, they just don’t get it. Maybe then we will be better equipped to have the conversations that will need to be had in the coming months and years with regards to marriage, family and adoption. More importantly, we will be able to point out the difference between what their hearts long for and what they end up getting in its place.