“No One Told Me It Was Wrong”

December 11th, 2014 Comments off

The California Catholic Daily picked up my MercatorNet article, with this new and I think, more appealing title.

My husband and I traveled to St. Joachim’s parish in Madera CA to participate in a marriage preparation/marriage enrichment weekend. This parish is manned by an order of priests, the Oblates of St. Joseph. They have been perfecting this particular retreat, “Life-giving Love” for quite a few years.

The title of my article comes from this anecdote that I recounted from the weekend:

The betrothal of Mary and Joseph, by Raphael

The betrothal of Mary and Joseph, by Raphael

Another couple shared that they had each been married before. One of their marriages had ended through death, the other through an annulment. Each of them had sterilized themselves during the course of their first marriages. The husband had made the decision to have a vasectomy. The wife decided to have her tubes tied. She decided this without consulting her then-husband. She had it done while she was in recovery from delivering her third child.

This couple was the most powerful couple of the whole weekend. They sat in front of us weeping openly about these decisions to sterilize themselves. They came to see that the reasons they gave themselves originally were not good enough. They spoke of their regrets. The most powerful regret was that they could not become parents together with their new sacramental spouse.

They spoke of their love for the church. “No one told me it was wrong.” The man said repeatedly, through his tears. “If only I had known. If only someone had told me.”

This is the down-side of the clergy not talking about the Church’s teaching on marriage. People have to figure it out for themselves by trial and error. And the “errors” can be really painful, and irrevocable.

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Recipe for Peace: Overcoming Doubts

December 10th, 2014 Comments off

Christmas, the season of peace and joy, feelings which sometimes elude us. When our reality does not live up to our expectations, we feel disappointed. And that disappointment can cause us to doubt: doubt the love of our family for us, or doubt God’s love for us, or doubt ourselves and our worthiness. We need an antidote to this kind of doubt.

Have you ever seen the sign “Believe” that is based on The Polar Express children’s book? I always wonder exactly what the author wishes us to believe in.Faith versus doubt, religion or confidence concept

I think the idea is that we Believe that there is goodness in the world. We allow ourselves to have the Faith of a child. We let go of our jadedness, our suspicion, our way-too-adult-worn-out-ness. Even if the people in our lives have given us reason to doubt them, we actually do not wish to carry this doubt within us. In our hearts, we want to Believe.

Part of our Ruth Institute Recipe for Peace campaign has to do with each of us becoming Peacemakers. That means we begin with ourselves. So we choose to Believe. We take steps to protect ourselves and take care of ourselves if we need to. But we do not give in to cynicism, or suspicion or doubt.

Jesus is the King of Peace. He told us to believe in Him. And we can do this! We want to believe in Him!

God is in His heaven. You are right where He wants you to be. If you are in a good place, thank Him. If you are not in a good place, ask Him how He wants to transform you and your situation for some greater good.

Here at the Ruth Institute, we offer a Recipe for Peace. No matter what may be going on in your life, we think you can contribute to creating an atmosphere of peace within your own families, work places and circles of friends. In this way, we can participate in the peace of Christ the King.



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A Recipe for Christmas Peace

December 8th, 2014 Comments off

Christmas, the season of peace and joy: sometimes, the peace and joy seem elusive. We have too much to do. Or we have old family wounds. Or we are dreading another year of non-stop driving from the afternoon of December 24th, and all day on blogPostPic1Christmas. Going between all the broken and rebuilt families can be stressful, even if everyone is on their best behavior, (which they aren’t always.)

Everyone longs for the peace and joy that this season of Jesus’ birth promises us. Here at the Ruth Institute, we offer a Recipe for Peace. No matter what may be going on in your life, we think you can contribute to create an atmosphere of peace within your own families, work places and circles of friends.

Here is our plan to create a Recipe for Peace.

Have you ever participated in a cookie exchange? Everyone bakes a batch of their favorite Christmas cookies. Everyone gets together at church or at someone’s house. I bring my chocolate chip cookies. Annie brings cranberry date bars. Nick brings Elves’ Cookies. Rob brings oatmeal cookies. Justin brings gingerbread cookies. Jennifer brings fudge. Robin brings a Christmas yule log. Judith brings coconut macaroons.

Each person gets a fresh plate, and takes one treat from each person’s plate. When you go home, you have a delicious variety of cookies to share with your family. And you only had to bake one batch!

Our family at the Ruth Institute would like to share our “cookies:” bits of advice and encouragement. We will be posting ideas for overcoming negative self-talk, handling challenging situations, and creating a place of peace for ourselves and those around us.

We invite you to visit our Facebook page over the next few weeks. You can post a festive or funny photo, or add words of advice and encouragement. You will find that you are not alone, no matter what your situation may be.

We hope you will be ready for Christmas Day with a recipe for Peace!

Visit the Ruth Institute Facebook page to participate in the Recipe for Peace! 

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As if there were any doubt…

December 5th, 2014 Comments off

More Proof that My Oldest Daughter is Truly My Child:

I was listening to one of my favorite songs when she wandered over and said, “I like this song. It attracted me the way an introductory paragraph should.”

Ah, my darling nerd. How I love you!

Read more funny parenting stories here.



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101 Tips for a Happier Marriage: Simple Ways for Couples to Grow Closer to God and to Each Other

December 3rd, 2014 Comments off
Your guide to a happier marriage. Start now with Tip #39 and Dr J's challenge.

Your guide to a happier marriage.

Reviewed by Mary Ann Paulukonis

This review was originally posted at For Your Marriage here.

Where some books have a dedication, this book has a page with three centered lines.

“God is God.

You are not.

Your spouse is not.”

Those ten words sum up the philosophy of 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage. It is a slender, easy-to-read volume of 101 pages (plus an introduction and a few chapter heading pages), each with only two paragraphs: one spelling out the marriage tip and one saying a little more about it. How long could it take to read 202 paragraphs? But this book is not for speed-reading. Each tip needs to be thought about and practiced for at least a day, more likely for weeks and months. Therefore I would suggest reading no more than one page—two paragraphs—per day. Add another day, really just a few minutes, to read the Introduction. Read more…

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The ambiguous legacy of The Pill

December 3rd, 2014 Comments off

Contraceptives didn’t solve all of women’s problems. In fact, they created whole series of new ones.

by Jennifer Roback Morse

This article was first published at Mercatornet.com on December 3, 2014.

I am in the process of writing a book which argues that the Sexual Revolution has been a rich person’s hobby horse from the beginning. The rich and powerful like the idea of separating sex from child-bearing. While this idea is sometimes wrapped up in a disguise of helping woman and the poor, the fact remains that the rich and powerful pioneered and implemented these ideas, quite often at the expense of women and the poor. Read more…

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Children of Divorce and the Holidays: a Stressful Time

December 2nd, 2014 Comments off

InequalityDo you know a child of divorce? Maybe you are divorced and you have children. Maybe you have a young relative or a young neighbor whose parents are divorced. Maybe your child has a friend whose parents are divorced. The holidays can be stressful and chaotic for a young person who must navigate between the two–often shockingly different–worlds of their parents. As a child of divorce myself, I thought it might be helpful to share some thoughts so that readers can understand what these children go through during the holidays.

Sometimes holiday stress can manifest in anger, combativeness, tears, sadness, stubbornness, withdrawal… all of which may seem inappropriate or unjustified to an untrained observer. People might wonder, “Why is this child acting out?”  If you know a child of divorce, please be sensitive to their feelings during the holidays. The holidays may serve as a magnifying glass as to how broken their family feels to them. For example, they might feel very divided. They might not know how to talk about the division they feel. Whether real or imagined, they might not feel like they have permission to talk about it. In point of fact, they might not have permission to talk about it.

Here are some situations that the child of divorce must navigate every holiday season: Read more…

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Christianity without Christ

November 30th, 2014 Comments off

Jody Bottum’s new essay at The Weekly Standard explores the way religious themes are emerging in some of the most radically secularized movements of our time. He observes that “white privilege” has become the modern equivalent of original sin. Political correctness includes the “shunning” of sinners, akin to that practice by sects such as the Amish and Jehovah’s Witnesses. He notices that book burning has returned. The apocalyptic nature of radical environmentalism allows its advocates to abandon the practices that are part of normal life, in favor of taking radical measures to deal with the impeding Weekly Standard cover .Bottum.DaveCleggend of the world as we know it.

This is all very interesting, and no doubt, mostly correct. I feel called to add to Bottum’s point, however. I take as my starting point, the unapologetic position that Christianity is true, and that the Church is not just another political or social institution. Accordingly, I believe that each and every person has a desire for God, implanted into their hearts by God. The desire for Truth, Goodness and Beauty are all manifestations of that desire.

This is why the attempt to create Christianity without Christ has failed. It is why the further attempt to eliminate all vestiges of Christianity has not worked either. Even its enemies cannot resist using Christian tools. Almost in spite of itself, the modern world smuggles Christian concepts back into society.

Even more pointedly, Bottum asserts that the modern world uses these Christian concepts but without the coherence and systematizing of Christianity. So for example, the secular version of the public shunning of sinners does not include any Read more…

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What should Conservative Catholics say when someone says “I just love this new pope?”

November 24th, 2014 Comments off

We are in the midst of a curious phenomenon. Everyone loves the pope except conservative Catholics.

Elton John loves Pope Francis

Elton John loves Pope Francis

Elton John loves the Pope. I think he thinks the Pope is about to change Church teaching on homosexual practice and the definition of marriage.

“He is a compassionate, loving man who wants everybody to be included in the love of God,” John said of the Pope. “It is formidable what he is trying to do against many, many people in the church that opposes. He is courageous and he is fearless, and that’s what we need in the world today.”

James Robison, conservative Evangelical Southern Baptist, also loves the Pope. I think he thinks the Pope is leading people more to have a fervent, personal experience of Jesus Christ. Robison described his meeting with Pope Francis this way:

He said he wanted everyone to have a personal life-changing encounter with Christ and enter into a personal relationship with Jesus and become bold witnesses for the Gospel. Religion is not the way; Jesus is.

So fervent was his message that as he concluded I said, “As an evangelist, I want you to know what you just said deserves a high five!” The translator communicated what I was saying and in a moment of exuberance he raised his hand and gave his first high five ever. What a beautiful picture of love and supernatural oneness for the sake of the Gospel and those Jesus came to redeem.

Read more…

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Watch Dr. Morse on EWTN

November 23rd, 2014 Comments off

November 26 at 8:00 pm and 28th at 7:30 am–FIFTY SHADES OF GRACE NOT GREY: FINDING PURE LOVE IN A PORNIFIED WORLD: A discussion of Bishop Paul S. Loverde’s letter: “Bought With A Price”, the impact of pornography on EWTN’s The Catholic View for Women.

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